The Scary Washing Machine

My washing machine is one that fits under the counter in my kitchen.  The kitchen is also where Jack finds his food and water bowls.  Both bowls are kept clean and fresh to take care of his hunger and thirst needs.  Throughout the day he can be heard happily munching or slurping away.

The other evening I became aware of Jack whimpering.  I looked to see what was the matter.  He was standing at the kitchen door and peering into the room with a very sad look on his face.  “Jack,” I called out, “what’s the matter?”  He looked at me and whimpered again so I got up to investigate.  Immediately I realized the problem.

Jack doesn’t like noises.  I had forgotten that he doesn’t like going into the kitchen when the washing machine is operating. It whirs and spins and gurgles; not his favorite sounds.  As I came closer he looked up hopefully as if to say, “will you go with me, please?” I did.

In Jack’s eyes I was some kind of super hero, bravely facing the big, bad, noisy washing machine.  As I stood in front of the white atrocity, Jack walked over and began to eat from his bowl.  Once in a while he looked up.  “Im still here, boy,” I assured my furry companion. I smiled and felt good all over to know that just my presence, in the midst of what causes him fear, could be such a great comfort to him.

As I stood guard waiting for him to finish his dinner I began to thank Father that He does the exact same thing with us.  He doesn’t chide or become exasperated when we are fearful.  No, He lovingly whispers His words of love like, “I will never leave you or forsake you,”  (Hebrews 13:5) or “I the Lord your God will go before you,  I will neither fail you or abandon you.”  (Deuteronomy 31:6)  

I take great comfort in knowing that as this world spins chaos loudly like a washing machine cycle that seems to be endless, He is right there with me, smiling, comforting, loving, just like I do for my goofy but dear dog, Jack.

In Everything Gives Thanks?

Yesterday in America, Thanksgiving Day was being celebrated across the nation.  For many it’s their favorite holiday.  It’s a day set aside each year to specifically take the time to be thankful for the blessings in our lives.  Yesterday, I was particularly reflecting on people who have significantly touched my life.  It was easy to be thankful for the deep love of dear friends.

No doubt, there was a great list of what people were thankful for yesterday, all over America.  Some may have been thankful for good health, or the nearness of loved ones.  Others may have been thankful they have a roof over their heads, or food on their table.  It’s natural to be truly thankful for any of the above; the gratefulness flows from our hearts without reserve.  All the above make being thankful rather easy.  But what about the hard things?

What if your health isn’t good at all?  What if loved ones are absent from your table?  What if having a roof over your head is an uncertainty month by month?  What if you rarely have a variety of things to eat and going to bed hungry isn’t unusual?  What then?  How can we be thankful for situations in life when they are less than pleasant?

There’s a tough verse in the Bible, found in I Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.”  This is one of those verses that we often wish wasn’t there.  We would rather read and meditate upon the “nice” verses; the ones that make us feel all loved and hopeful.

When our worlds are turning upside down, reading “in everything give thanks” does not particularly cause fuzzy, warm feelings to appear in our hearts.  We know God is love.  We know God cares about everything happening in our lives.  Why then, does He give us such a command, that seems to be rather heartless in times of great emotional difficulty?

You see, it’s all about the perspective.  Some read this verse and mistakenly believe they are to try and conjure up thankfulness for bad things that happen.  Good news — that’s not what God is saying at all.  We know that by what the rest of the Bible reveals to us about the loving heart of our Father God.  The perspective here is not the bad that happens; but rather, the goodness of God that is with us when turmoil comes knocking on our door.

When sickness comes upon us or a loved one, we don’t rejoice in the disease; we rejoice that God promised to be with us through it.  When loved ones have passed away, leaving an emptiness in our homes, we don’t rejoice in death that took them from us; we rejoice that our God is the greatest comfort.  We rejoice that He holds all our tears near to His own heart.  He cares deeply for the grieving hearts of all who hurt.  When lack of finances makes us wonder how we will pay the bills tomorrow, we don’t rejoice in the poverty of the moment; we rejoice in our Father who owns the cattle on a thousand hills.  We rejoice that He promised to make a way in the wilderness.  We rejoice that He promises to be our everything, through anything.

When we truly know Jesus, then no matter what turmoil or grief comes our way, we know the truth of what Jesus said in Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you.”  If He is with us always, being our everything to get through anything — then of a certainty — we can lift up our faces toward our Father, and we can “give thanks in everything.”  

When Someone You Love Is Hurting

For the past several weeks I have joined in the prayers for a child who is very ill.  His family members are distraught in heart and weary in body.  Doctors can’t find a cause; each day is filled with unanswered questions.  Some of the family are devout Christians; naturally, they pray for healing for this little one they love so much.  So far — nothing.

How difficult to watch someone you love, hurting so much, and you are helpless to make a difference.  You pray, even beg God, to please, please do something.  In writing this blog,  I wish I had a definitive answer to life’s dilemmas.  I do not.  I can only share what I do when I ,too, have to watch those I love suffer in great pain and difficult situations.

For me, it’s a matter of willing myself to choose on what I think about.  The mind is  powerful.  Our arch enemy, Satan, would have us to think on negative things.  Our enemy always directs our minds to false thoughts of God failing us, which leads to feelings of hopelessness and despair.

The Bible instructs us to, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”  Proverbs 4:23  What a statement!  “It determines the course of our lives?”  God knows that if our arch enemy wins by leading us away from God through negative thoughts planted in our minds, then, of course, we turn from God.  That can have terrible and sad consequences on the course of our lives.  We will miss great joy and peace and wisdom from God when we turn from Him.

Even so, it’s  difficult and painful to press on when someone we love, and pray everyday for, still suffers.  I encourage you to remember:  God created a perfect world — mankind messed it up.  Therefore, when we hurt due to mankind’s own foolishness that put a curse on the world, God feels our pain.  The Bible says that Jesus came to feel everything as a human feels.  He understands tears.  He knows our pain.  He understands fully what living in a fallen world has done to us.  He yearns to rescue, and to give abundant life right here on earth, in the midst of all the pain.

We must, therefore, “guard our hearts above all else.”  We must choose to say, “Father, I don’t understand why you are allowing this, but I choose to trust that you love, that your ways are perfect, that you are indeed working, in ways unknown to me, to bring this to a good end.”  We must cry out, as a boy’s father did in Mark 9:24, “I believe; help my unbelief!”  Being honest with God is the best thing to do.  Tell Him you don’t understand.  Tell Him you are weak.  Tell Him you are sinking in a sea of despair — then cling to Him with all your heart, like a drowning man clings to the rim of a boat.

He will lift you up.  He will hold you.  He promises to pour in His peace in the midst of the storm.  The waves are rough, but He is there.  Never turn your thoughts from that truth.  Remember, He said, “I will never leave you.”  Hebrews 13:5   

Continue on in those thoughts.  Let them seep into the wounds of your heart.  Never turn away.  Stay focused on the One who knows your pain; on the One who is holding all your tears in His own bottle.