When A Friend Suffers

This week I knew a friend had been emotionally wounded and asked what I could do to help. She lives out of town and I offered to drive there to support her. She simply said, “Pray.”

This is a woman everyone should know and have in their lives. If you are living alone, she’ll check up on you. If you have no family with whom to celebrate the holidays, she’ll invite you to join hers. If you need a friend to accompany you to an important event, she’ll volunteer. Her heart is loving, her spirit forgiving.

Knowing her adversity had come through friends she trusted, spiritual mentors who betrayed her, I could only imagine how deeply maligned she felt. Besides her request for prayer to withstand the torment she’d received, she asked me to pray for her ability to forgive, that she would not let bitterness settle in. I was humbled, aware that I might not have acted so lovingly were I wearing her shoes.

The scriptures  teach us to place our trust in the Lord. I Peter 5:7 “Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.”

In I Peter 3:14-16 we are told He will be with us through the trials. “If you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. Do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled. But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct may be ashamed. For it is better to suffer for doing good, than for doing evil.”

When the hardship ends, scripture teaches forgiveness. In Hebrews 12:14-15 it reads: “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one shall see the Lord, looking carefully less anyone fall short of the grace of God, lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.”

And for my friend I add this verse from Matthew 5:11-12: “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Thank you, my enduring friend, for letting me share in your pain and pray for you. In the midst of your difficulty you have ministered to me. For those of you reading this, I trust her example has blessed you as well.

 

Rocks Will Cry Out

 Do you have someone who adores you?  

 My admirer is black, with medium-length hair, golden eyes and goes by the name Pepper. He waits every morning for me to finish my exercise routine and then watches me sit on the floor and stretch the bones and muscles my chiropractor instructed me to do. As soon as I hit the floor, my adoring fan wedges himself up alongside my thighs as close as he can get, then stretches out full-length and purrs. If I pet him ( is there ever an IF? ) he angles his head up at me and follows my every move with those golden eyes of his. He makes me feel like the best thing that ever happened to him. 

I probably am. My husband rescued Pepper and his calico-colored sister Princess from under a house about three years ago. The mother cat had taken her kittens away from the cold November skies to protect them, but they were starving. Though he left food for them, my husband  knew the coming cold weather, with snow in the forecast, would probably signal the cats’ end.  He was able to catch Pepper because the kitten’s eyes were pasted shut and he couldn’t see where he was going. Princess had to be trapped. The mother escaped.

 His story of recovery is a long one, too long for a blog, but weeks of washing, warming and cuddling the depressed little kitten paid off. Pepper today is a healthy Siamese-mix male who thinks I am the greatest mother in the world. Being adored is humbling, and exhilarating at the same time. 

 Is it any wonder that the scriptures tell us to praise the Lord? Our heavenly Father made each of us in His own image, individual creations worthy of value and praise. He loved us so much that He sent His Son to die for us, to cover our disobedience with His sacrifice on the cross. In the 150th Psalm every verse exhorts us to praise the Lord. In verse six, the psalmist finishes with, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”

God needs our praise. Let’s not forget to give Him the thanks He deserves or, as the scriptures tell us, the rocks will cry out in our absence.

Saying Goodbye is Tough

Mary will not be forgotten.

Five feet tall, if that, with a crown of snow at  her top, Mary was a powerhouse of positive. She rarely missed church on Sunday and when you saw her she always carried a book in her hand and a smile on her face. Reading was one of her passions, praying was another. Her Bible at home was filled with underlined verses about the power of prayer and if she knew you needed prayer, Mary could be trusted to bang on the doors of heaven in your behalf.

Born in the South, Mary was one of nine children, five of whom reached adulthood. Precocious as a child, Mary wanted to attend school so badly the teacher told her mother to send her on with the others, even though she was only four.  She graduated high school at sixteen. She followed her job-seeking father from Oklahoma to Texas where she would meet her husband. When they married, the couple moved to Oregon. He worked in the timber industry and she cooked for the public schools. 

Though she remained childless, you would never have guessed that at her funeral yesterday. Not many people ninety-two have friends left to mourn them when they die, but Mary had adopted us, loved us and prayed for so many of us that letting her go was hard. The funeral home was packed, the family room overflowing, with people, youngsters, oldsters and everyone in between, who felt orphaned this week when their beloved Mary was called home to heaven. 

 To everyone she was Aunt Mary, the woman who admonished us to pray. No problem was too big for God to handle, all you had to do was pray and trust Him for the answers. The pastor who led the service challenged  us to carry on her legacy, to give as she gave, to love as she loved, and to pray as Mary prayed. Though her feet were tiny, she left us big shoes to fill. 

And so, I say goodbye to a woman whose example I hope to follow, but don’t expect to match, because Mary truly was one of a kind. We can’t wait to see her again. I know when I do she’ll be standing at heaven’s gates, a smile on her face and I’m sure somewhere in God’s heaven she’ll find a book to carry in her hand.

Philippians 4:6–“Do not be anxious about anything,but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

God Promises Blessings to Those That Seek Him

 I’ve been reading the book of Micah in my morning Bible time lately. Yesterday I was struck by a passage that really intrigued me. The sixth chapter opens with God lamenting the behavior of His people. Then, in verses 13-16, God says He will make them sick because of their sins, they will eat and not be satisfied, will be hungry, the olives they tread will not give them oil, the wine they make will not be drunk, they will become a desolation.

I thought, “What is God saying here?” So I went to the commentary and it said, God has so made us that there is no lasting pleasure apart from living righteously.

 Wow!

I don’t know about you, but living righteously in our culture takes a lot of commitment for me. If you follow the news, surf the internet, or pick up on television programming, you know there’s a whole lot of unrighteous living going on. Everywhere you turn, society seems to be walking away from values God has called us to in His word. Marriage is attacked, children are born of parents not wed, people are throwing away their lives on more potent drugs, trying to reach that ultimate high. Insatiable appetites drive people to more dangerous living, desperate in their search for more of whatever it is they seek. If their faces are any indication, their quest has left them empty and hollow.

 In the meantime, society suffers in the wake of all this sin. Innocents are harmed, robbed or neglected, caught in the paths of those seeking more. Many of us, myself included, wonder where it will end. This isn’t the world I grew up in.

But God knows. We will have no lasting peace living outside of His design. Our heart’s desire will never be fulfilled until that need is filtered through God’s plan for us.

Jeremiah 29:11 is often quoted. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. You will call upon Me, will go and pray to Me and I will listen. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”

Who could ask for anything more than this?