Life was going along pretty smoothly there for awhile, when suddenly and unexpectedly, alarm bells and concern poured in from several different directions practically at once. I was instantly on my default fix-it mode and my stress level was climbing. I was praying constantly, which is the best thing I can do when fixing is off the table. But it has been rough and we are still in the middle of it.
My husband took the photo from which I painted this picture, Cattle Chute, hunkering down as the rain poured over him. I asked him what the wood structure was, city girl that I am. He explained that this is how they direct the cattle to funnel them onto their path ‘to market.’ One minute they are grazing peacefully on this beautiful meadow, and the next, well, we know what’s next. So goes life. I need help in these rough patches. I pray these words from God’s Word will encourage you when it feels the hammer is about to fall. Above all, trust Him who loved you first.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God, and the peace of God which passes all understanding, will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 ESV
LORD, I wait for you; you will answer, Lord my God. Ps. 38:15 NIV
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair. 2 Cor 4: 7, 8
In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. Ps 5:3 NIV
Lord, we thank You for your promises and Your very Presence. Praying PSALM 46 over all who need You today in their troubled waters.
I have studied the Old Testament book of Daniel at least 4 times in the last several years and it never fails to be jaw dropping to me. It’s more than Shadrach, Meshak, and Abednego or the lion’s den, although those are miraculous events. It’s even more than the powerful King Nebuchadnezzar or the evils of Babylon. What impacts me most are the visions God, through his powerful warrior angels, gave to Daniel about how “things would go.” Some of these “things” were prophecies of future kingdoms that have since come and gone just as the visions described them. The last visions, the ones that troubled Daniel so greatly, are visions of the end times – the very end times. And these visions align with and help make sense of the visions the aging Apostle John had many years later and recorded in the New Testament book of Revelation.
In one of my Bible studies, we took the prayer of Daniel recorded in Daniel chapter 9 verses 7-19 (NIV) and wrote it out for our times. I ask that you pray aloud (if possible) as you read it, and believe the Lord of Heaven’s Armies hears.
PRAYER of Daniel “Lord, You are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—we the people, both near and far in all the places we live – we have been unfaithful to You.  We and our government, White House and world leaders are covered with shame, Lord, because we have sinned against You.  You, our Lord and our God, are merciful and forgiving, even though we rebel against You;  we have not obeyed or kept the laws You gave us through Your servants the prophets.  All THE WORLD has transgressed Your law and turned away, refusing to obey You. “Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against You.  You have fulfilled the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing on us great disaster on every side. Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like what is being done in our nation and world.  Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come on us, yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to Your truth.  The Lord did not hesitate to bring the disaster on us, for the Lord our God is righteous in everything He does; yet we have not obeyed Him.  “Now, Lord our God, who brought Your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for Yourself a name that endures to this day, we have sinned, we have done wrong.  Lord, in keeping with all your righteous acts, turn away Your anger and Your wrath from our city, our nation and world. Our sins and the iniquities of our ancestors have made our nation and Your people, Your church, an object of scorn to all those around us.  “Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of Your servant. For Your sake, Lord, look with favor on Your desolate believers.  Give ear, our God, and hear; open Your eyes and see the desolation of the nation that once bore Your Name. We do not make requests of You because we are righteous, but because of Your great mercy.  Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For Your sake, my God, do not delay, because our nation and your people bear your Name.”
Praying the words Scripture knowing His words do not return void and believing God works in heavenly places and in the hearts of men. Forgive us Heavenly Father as we so often forget You are here!
Some of these are from photos my husband and I took in Germany as we walked around Nuremberg, as we whizzed by in a bus, a couple are from photos friends took on their travels, and one I found in a magazine and just had to paint. I LOVE watercolors! What an amazing adventure it has given me. I’d love to travel in Europe again but we’re holding off on the big trips until the world and all the drama has settled down.
I read a quote from the 18th century Anglican pastor, George Whitefield this morning that was so powerful. If you are anxious or stressed by the world at large or your own world, I pray this encourages you:
“The safest place in the world is in the hands of the living God. The Father protects His children in the hollow of His hands, and His Son walks with them along the path He has chosen. The prayerful take no detours. They don’t play it safe, they walk in safety.”
Be brave, trust God, step out in faith and trust your Heavenly Father, the Holy Spirit who intercedes for us, and our loving Savior who loved us to the cross and back.
A LOT of people I know and love are being challenged physically, emotionally and spiritually in brutally painful circumstances lately. As I’ve gotten older and learned more about the world and how life works, I’ve realized that as prepared as we may think we are, life can throw us some significant curves. Many of us say we’re not afraid to die because the other side looks so wonderful! But the journey to get there will often be fraught with tragedy, pain and great loss. As ready as we may think we are, we may find ourselves in a struggle we could never have prepared for.
I confess I am a “fixer” by nature. Tell me your story and my first reaction will be to provide some kind of ‘helpful’ solution. But the older I get the more I realize that fixing is off the table in most cases. Sometimes it’s not what we say but what we do that speaks love and comfort to others: a hug, a card, a listening ear. I can also pray for you in your time of need that Jesus would be present and close to you where you are and that you would be comforted and find strength. Praying is not just something we can do. Praying brings the Holy Spirit and the power of God into the equation.
Galations 6:2 encourages us to carry one another’s burdens referring to helping others as they struggle. We are not commanded to fix, but to walk alongside and maybe give someone “our cloak” as it may be needed. I loved doing this painting as it is such a picture of doing life with others and being team players helping others get to the finish line.
This post is a heartfelt HUG to any of you who find life excruciating right now. Trust the Lord, keep on keeping on, share your pain with a trusted friend, reach out to someone who could use your counsel or extend such to you. Let’s keep the fire lit while we can and warm the hearts of others’ whose hearts are cold and broken and need the love of our Savior.