The pollen levels have been out of control the past few days. My normal allergy medicine has not been enough to combat the problem. Then the officials called for a Code Orange warning, which signifies poor air quality that will thereby impact those who are “sensitive.” This means people who are losing their allergy battle with pollen, people who have asthma, etc., should proceed with caution.
As I was walking the dogs, I was having intense breathing issues from the pollen. My great hope was the medicine that I would take after I finished walking the dogs. As I continued to drag my feet a mile, pollen from a tree blew right into my eye. Pollen 2, Tania 0. I spent the rest of the walk trying to get my watery eye to expel the bits of pollen, only able to walk with one eye open.
Life usually is full of struggle after struggle, whether small or large. It seems when we think we cannot handle anymore, something else is piled on top to cause us more of a burden. Sometimes it appears as if the world is against us. Truth be told, we aren’t meant to carry all this burden alone. Remember, we are not in this alone. Also, the world is against us. If we are living for Jesus, if we are not of this world, then we are standing against the world and the world will always be against us. Thankfully we know this world is temporary. God’s Word tells us that heaven and earth have been redeemed by the blood of Christ, that one day there will be a new heaven and a new earth. The world may be against you – but God is always for you!
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” – Romans 8:13 [ESV]
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” – Romans 8:31 [ESV]
Tonight as I walked the dogs, I proceeded down a street I walk every day. As I continued forward, I heard the sound of a drill sergeant from what I imagined. I couldn’t make out the words because it was in the distance, but I envisioned the scenes I had seen again and again in movies. When I got closer, I noticed the all-familiar face of a soldier I spoke to in passing many times.
As this soldier sat on his porch swing, he looked forward, staring at the flags before him—the American flag and the Gadsden flag (“Don’t Tread On Me”). He shouted orders as he stared until he saw the dogs and I approaching. Then he apologized and confided that he got papers today—a red one and a white one. These papers are not what you are probably thinking; they were divorce papers. We spoke for a bit. He was somewhat incoherent. My dog was getting antsy due to an approaching dog so I told him to “hang in there” and continued walking. He returned to his shouting. I felt great sadness.
I ended up crossing the street and passing by again. We again spoke briefly. I told him to “take care.” I started praying for him as I journeyed onward. A short distance ahead were police—two police officers speaking with a neighbor. In little time they made their way up to this man. I continued to pray as sorrow began to weigh me down. Why did I not stay longer to speak with him? Why did I not pray with him? So tonight I pray, I pray for this man who knew I didn’t understand. He said it numerous times during his incoherent mumbling. But I know a God Who understands. He understands even the groans when we cannot speak. He understands all the hurt, all the pain, all the temptations, all the struggles. He understands it all. Sometimes I cannot understand but I’m thankful He always does. Sometimes I cannot find the right words, but He always has a Perfect Word. And I’m thankful that the weight I felt from the burden of sorrow I can give to Him and rest in His promises.
Please pray for this soldier. I don’t know his name. But God does.
“Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” – Hebrews 4:14-16 [MSG]
During our morning walk there was quite a lot of water puddles to make our way around because of the crazy weather during the night. Being a Labrador, Max has no issue making his way through the puddles. I try to encourage him to walk around but sometimes he just walks right on through. With Marci it is a different story. She is a Shih Tzu. Some of the puddles we encountered this morning were like lakes to her.
As we made our way home, Max went ahead and Marci found herself right in front of a large puddle. She was frightened. She tried to run in the other direction but could not get far as she was attached to Max’s leash. I reached down to grab her and save her from the puddle. She did not know what was going on. She ran away from my hands because I think she feared we would start giving her a bath right there in the puddle. I tried to calm her. Finally I was able to get a good hold on her and I carried her over the puddle and placed her safely on dry ground.
We often reach puddles in our own lives. We are fearful to go through. We don’t know what direction to go and we can’t get very far no matter which way we turn. Sometimes we just need to walk up to the water’s edge in faith, understanding that God is right there. Our loving Father is always there. He reaches out and carries us across the turbulent waters in life. He holds us with His great strength. He guides us through the deepest waters and the darkest valleys. There is no safest place to be than in the hands of our Father. Stop squirming. Rest in Him. Let yourself be carried where He made you to be—to a place beyond our understanding. Step forward. It’s time.
“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” – Isaiah 43:2 [NLT]
Every day I am in pain but some days are worse than others. Today was a really high pain day because there was an incident that occurred when I was walking the dogs. A loose dog came after Max and Marci. My daughter held Marci and continued onward but this loose dog kept after Max and he wasn’t too keen on this new acquaintance. Somehow I got my hand twisted inside his harness and the more movement from Max meant my hand was being squeezed until it could not be squeezed anymore. Finally someone nearby made a grab for the loose dog and my hand was free. It was a great feeling to have my hand free—but the pain has been lingering ever since. That was my bad hand already; I’m not sure what to call it now.
On days like these, days when the pain brings tears to my eyes, I cling to God’s Word. You can page through your Bible and read about people suffering, about people in pain, about people in anguish. This morning I turned to Psalm 73. But as you page through God’s Word, you also read about His promises. Psalm 91 says “’If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,’ says God, ‘I’ll get you out of any trouble. I’ll give you the best of care if you’ll only get to know and trust me. Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times; I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party. I’ll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation!’” (v.14-16 MSG)
I am very blessed. Each day, I am grateful for another day—another opportunity to serve. I know there’s a purpose. I know He has a great plan. I know that one day I won’t have to wear braces on my knees, ankles, or anywhere else. I won’t walk with a limp. Things will be different for me and for you. No more pain. No more tears. No more struggles. Think about the party God is going to throw. Yes, there will be a day—oh what a day!
“Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For, behold, those who are far from You will perish;
You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You.
But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works.”
Psalm 73:25-28 [NASB]
When things are going well, it is very easy for us to rejoice. Everyone loves when things are going well. When we have free time to spend with family and friends, we are happy. When we have enough money to pay all of the bills, we are joyous. When we are healthy and feel energetic, we wear a smile. When we love our jobs, we love going to them. When we can get off for a dream vacation, we are ecstatic.
But then there’s the “other side” of things—when things don’t go well. We face trials. We face struggles. We face situations that are difficult and bring us pain, torment, tears, sadness. We don’t feel like rejoicing. We aren’t very happy. Paul says, “Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord.” Whatever happens.
There are moments in my life where I found it very difficult and nearly impossible to rejoice. My eyes were tired from crying. My head hurt from lack of sleep. My knees hurt. But I am reminded of God’s goodness, of His promises, of His blessings. Whether it’s a good day or a better day or a day we would like to forget, we rejoice. We rejoice knowing that He gives us everything. We rejoice knowing that this is not our final destination, but a small portion of something so much bigger. We rejoice for He is our Lord, our Savior, our God. We rejoice. Whatever happens. No matter what. We rejoice.
“Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith.” – Philippians 3:1 [NLT]
Life is not always easy. In fact life is usually not easy. Difficulty seems to find me. There’s always a challenge. There’s always a trial. There’s always something going on in a person’s life. That’s why there’s a quote that tells us to treat everyone nice because we don’t know what they are going through.
I’ve heard many times the question, “Where is YOUR God?” Where is God now? Why are things not easy for you since you accepted Christ? Why are you having these troubles—doesn’t your God care?
We are promised that the narrow road is difficult. It’s a difficult road and it does not make everything instantly smooth. Things don’t suddenly come easy. Mark 10 even tells us that yes, we will receive a hundred times as much as what we leave behind, but that comes “along with persecutions” (v. 30 NIV). The road is difficult but we are not alone. Christ is with us each step of the way. Keep moving forward on this difficult road. He is faithful.
“But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” – Matthew 7:14 [NLT]
Jeremiah mentions in Lamentations that he called upon the Lord from deep within a pit and was answered. God told him “do not fear.” True story. He was tossed in a cistern. Read Jeremiah 38 and see how this all worked out.
We each have different pits in life. We might have just fallen into a new pit or we might have been trying to dig out of a pit for months or years. Each pit is different. Each pit is a challenge. But no matter how deep the pit, no matter how wide the pit, God can hear your calls. We simply need to call upon the Lord.
God listens. God hears. God doesn’t want you in the pit but sometimes you need to be there for Him to rescue you out of the pit. Sometimes you need to be in this brokenness or imprisoned type situation for God to show you Who He is, Who is in control, and just how mighty He is—He can do all things. He can do the impossible. He can pull you out of that pit. Believe.
“But I called on your name, LORD, from deep within the pit. You heard me when I cried, ‘Listen to my pleading! Hear my cry for help!’ Yes, you came when I called; you told me, ‘Do not fear.’” – Lamentations 3:55-57 [NLT]