None of her friends or family understands why she has done it, and most of them would like to shake her out of her foolishness. Their objections make sense. After all, May is in her mid-forties and has been living alone ever since her daughter moved out. May is also in debt. And yet, here she is, raising her ex-husband’s child by another woman.
May married early and was divorced by her early twenties, but even before that, she had been raising her first child alone, as her ex-husband had a drug addiction and spent as much time in prison as out.
Sometimes, at the most unexpected times, we get little revelations that clarify perspective, give insight, and recharge our faith. I got one of those the other day.
It had been a long few months financially speaking, and now our vehicle was in the repair shop. As I waited for my husband to call me with the cost estimate, I asked God why this was happening to us now, of all times. “We’re already struggling,” I pleaded. “How can we afford an expensive repair on our vehicle?”
"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law."1
Jesus promised us peace. “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”2 Just as Jesus calmed the stormy sea when His disciples thought their ship was sinking and they were about to drown,3 He can calm the storms of life and give you inner peace.
A friend was showing me a photo that he took at Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden—a large park in the middle of bustling Tokyo. It showed a brilliant blue sky with green trees framing it. When I complimented him on a beautiful shot, my friend looked amused. “Actually, you’re looking at it upside down. This is the reflection of the sky on the lake.”
I looked closer and saw that he was right. What I had thought was scenery was actually its reflection on the lake’s surface, almost like an optical illusion. I was amazed at how clearly the sky and surroundings were reflected in the still water. It made me think how wonderful it would be if my life could so perfectly reflect heaven’s peace and stillness.
I can give you peace that defies understanding,1 that calms storms, and that overcomes stress and worry. The storms may come and the waves may rise, you may be buffeted and besieged on all sides, but you will not sink, because I am the Master of the sea and everything is within My control.
I will continue to be with you always—through hills, across rivers, over mountains, through plains and meadows, through rain, sun, and wind, through heat and through cold. Through it all, I will love you, hold you, and help you. And you will learn and grow and experience new things, profound things, transformative things. You will come to know Me in a truly deep and personal way, and you will come to know and appreciate the gifts that I have for you—how bountiful, how perfect, and enduring they are.
I grew up in a Christian home and have been familiar with the Easter story since childhood, but it wasn't until last year that I discovered what Easter means for me personally.
Last Easter, my thoughts were not on the glory of Jesus’ resurrection, the triumph of good over evil, or even the bright morning dawning outside my window. Just one week earlier, my best friend had phoned me with the sad news that her father had suddenly passed away during the night. My mind was still reeling with shock and grief. How could a life slip away so abruptly, with no time for last words or goodbyes? I thought about the grandchildren who will grow up never knowing their grandfather, my friend who will no longer have a dad’s support and advice, and the widow who would miss her husband’s loving presence.
I have come to realize that God takes His time. Perhaps that comes from being eternal. He has all the time in the world, so why should He hurry?
God is an investor, not a speculator. He doesn’t “buy” something today with the intention of “selling” it tomorrow. Sure, He wants to get high returns on His investments, but He can wait a very long time if need be. He invests in people, and He doesn’t seem to mind the time it takes for that investment to pay off. Knowing the future also comes in handy, no doubt.
If you think you have troubles, consider My apostle Paul: He was whipped on five occasions and beaten with rods on another. He was stoned and left for dead. He was shipwrecked three times, and spent a night and a day in the deep. He went through perils at sea, perils in the wilderness, and perils in cities. He suffered at the hands of robbers, his own countrymen, strangers, and even those who wrongly thought they were acting for Me. He was imprisoned and deprived of basic needs many times.1
Ben is a white-haired man whose house I pass on my errands route. He always calls out a friendly greeting, and over time we’ve become good friends. His cheerful demeanor and lively personality make him a joy for me to be around, despite our age difference.
Last spring, Ben slipped on a wet bathroom floor, fell backwards, and hit his head hard. The impact brought on a stroke that resulted in recurring dizzy spells and headaches, blurred vision, permanent damage to his left eye, and loss of stamina.
I asked myself recently what keeps me steady in times of crisis. What keeps me from giving up and saying, “I don't want to keep trying,” “I don’t want to give so much,” “I don’t want to care anymore,” “I don’t want my heart broken anymore,” “This burden is too heavy for me to keep carrying.”
What keeps me from doubting God’s promises when all of my faults and failures hang over me like a black cloud and my feelings threaten to overwhelm me? When I don’t know if I can cope, what keeps me from giving in to that feeling?