May you experience inspiration and encouragement in the reading of these meditations.
I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest…” Psalm 55:6.
WINGS OF A DOVE
Perhaps one of the most wonderful assertions that can be made about Holy Scriptures is that it clearly shows man in all his humanness. When David spoke the words in this text, he is hurting deeply. Not physically, but emotionally and spiritually. His beloved son, Absalom, was dead. His soul is heavy; his spirit is at an all time low, his heart pierced and his lips chapped with pain as he cries, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.”
This is a very human cry, is it not? Everyone at one time or another has felt the way David felt: those times in life when everything seems to go wrong. Perhaps you are feeling that way now. Sometimes all of us wish for wings to fly away. It is a very human cry and it comes in moments of intense frustration, pain and weakness. David wanted the wings of a bird to carry him beyond the sunset, beyond life’s troubles, beyond broken hearts, beyond a tormented memory and unfaithful friends. Oh yes, there are moments when we feel this way. We wish we could fly away to a place beyond our circumstance, beyond heartaches and heartbreaks and grief. But, like David, we know that a change of venue will not give peace. Peace does not depend upon flight because we cannot get away from pain. Pain, like our shadows, follow us everywhere we go.
David learned what we all must learn and that is that we cannot avoid the pains of life and we cannot escape on wings of a dove. But we can find refuge and comfort in the everlasting arms of Jesus. His arms are out to embrace you. He will soothe your troubled spirit right now. Go to Him in prayer.
O God of peace, I confess there are time when I wish I could fly away to escape the pain of my loss. Help me to put all trust in Your promise to be with me through it all. Envelop me in the warmth of Your holy arms. When I am tempted to run away, grant that I run into Your loving care and there abide until this weary soul find rest in Your bosom. In the blessed name of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? Psalm 139:7.
When life takes a turn in the negative direction; when sun filled days turn into stormy nights; when “all is well” turns into “all is hell”; when a significant person in our lives dies, we often find ourselves thrown into a state of disarray. And even though God is still revealing Himself to each of us in the midst of our suffering and chaos, we have a hard time realizing and recognizing His presence. The suffering is too great, the loss to deep. We do not feel that He is around or that He cares or that He really knows what He is doing. We feel abandoned and lost and may even question God.
When we are faced with a crisis, it is sometimes difficult to relate to God as all-loving, all knowing, and in full control. When we survey the reality of our soul-wrenching and excruciating experience, we do not see ourselves transformed by God’s grace and we cannot accept the knowledge that even then, the spirit of God continues to seek more intimate communion with us. It is difficult to feel God’s presence when we are tightly wrapped in the straight jacket of anguish.
Yet, deep inside of us is the nagging persistent suspicion that there is more to life than what has happened to us. All the meaning which existed prior to our loved ones death cannot be ignored. We recollect the hours and days when God came especially near to us and how deeply He moved our spirit. Gradually, by God’s grace, we recall how God brought us this far. We begin to open ourselves up to the reality of the presence of God. We begin to allow his spirit to console us in our sorrow.
Heavenly Father, when darkness comes over me and the storms of life beat down upon me, shelter me under Your wings. Lord, how precious is the assurance of Your presence. When I feel all alone, help me to remember that You are with me and I have nothing to fear; through the dying blood and redeeming love of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. Mark 4:36.
The disciples of Jesus made the same self-centered assumption that many people make. Out there on the Sea of Galilee, the disciples with Jesus thought that their ship was the only one in danger. It was not. Other ships were also out there in the raging tempest. The disciples experience, though frightening and discomfiting, was not unique because others had encountered the same troublesome waves and angry winds.
This is the lesson we must learn as we experience the turbulent waters of grief. We are not alone. Regardless of how traumatic or devastating the experiences you must endure in life, you are not alone. When you encounter the raging tempest, when howling winds descend and billows toss high, when your loved one has crossed from time into eternity, it is natural to feel alone and cry out for deliverance. But if you stop to look around the heaving sea, you will see through the mist and fog, others who are bravely sailing through the same storm.
The experiences of life are, after all, similar and commonplace. While you may think only of your boat because it is yours, do not forget all the other little boats which may be displaying even greater courage and bravery because they are weaker and more exposed. Being aware of those other little ships sailing and battling through the same storm will reduce the weight of your own distress. When you sink your personal fears and pains in the awareness of other suffering hearts, you not only help them bear their burdens, but you also take the sharp sting out of your own bitter experience. If you can manage to somehow wallow through the debilitating weeds of self-centeredness and self-pity, you will discover the miraculous. You are never alone.
Heavenly Father, how grateful I am that I am not left alone to flounder in weakness. The assurance of Your presence strengthens me. I love You, and I trust my whole life into Your hands. Thank You for keeping me company; through our Advocate and Mediator, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour. Matthew 15:28.
The Phoenician woman in this text portrayed profound understanding. She understood who she was and what she was. She knew she was one among the despised Gentiles. She knew she was not loved and she knew she was looked down upon by the Jews. But it is interesting to note that her perception of reality did not lock her into actuality. Her view of reality was not a static, stagnated one. She did not believe that what is now, will always be. This woman’s concept of reality included possibility. She not only perceived life in terms of what was happening to her, the actual facts, but she had faith in the possibility of what could be. What about you?
Do you believe in possibilities? Do you believe it is possible to transcend the facts? In other words, is it possible to somehow transcend where you are? Is it possible to be in the bondage of grief and at the same time be free? Is it possible to be thrown into a particular state and yet transcend that state?
This woman is telling us to look at possibilities. It may be dark now, but that does not mean the light will not glow after awhile. It may be raining in your life today, but that does not mean the sun will not shine tomorrow. Weeping may endure for the night, but that does not mean joy will not come in the morning. You ask today about possibilities and believers will assert that possibilities remain with God. God can transform any condition, any state, and any situation into something noble and wonderful. Believe in divine possibilities.
My Lord and my God, though I live in the world I am not a part of its nature. Help me to rise above my circumstances that I might be quickened in the spiritual sunshine of Your amazing grace. I rest in quiet confidence that You will keep Your promises no matter how impossible things may appear at times. I believe in divine possibilities; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 1 John 4:16.
MOMENT OF GRACE
The bedrock of the Christian faith is the good news about God’s love. Christian teachings about who we are and about our relationship with our Lord and each other is rooted in the fact that God is love and that He loves His creatures. When we are really hurting, we put up our defenses, become rebellious, and may even feel victimized. We keep trying to lighten the burden by using our own meager resources. We try all sorts of escape mechanisms, only to discover that we feel more and more isolated, lonely, and lost.
Our greatest need is to let God into our life. Do you realize that God really loves you and His love is here to heal you, renew you, restore you, and lift you up? You may be suffering under the burden of grief. Let God remove the load. Let God mend your heart. Right now, in this moment of grace, in this moment of spiritual renewal, discover God’s gentle healing power in your life.
God is reaching out to comfort you as you have never been comforted before. Why not allow God to hug you right now? Let Him put His loving, compassionate arms around you right now. Experience the dissipation of all your hurts and disappointments as you permit yourself to be soothed, comforted, and gentled by your gracious loving Father.
Gracious Father, in this moment of grace, in this moment of spiritual renewal, lift my burdens and bring Your gentle healing power into my life. Support me, O Lord, through this troublesome life, until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes, the busy world is hushed, the fever of life is over, and my work is done. Then Lord, in Your mercy grant me a safe lodging, a holy rest, and sweet peace at last; for the honor of our Advocate and Mediator, Jesus Christ. Amen.
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57.
Sometimes we fail to notice all the victories we experience on a daily basis. They are small victories, hardly noticeable, but victories nevertheless. Think about those times when you did not know how you were going to make it but somehow, God gave you the victory. Sometimes, it is in knowing when to keep silent, knowing when to back down or back away. Nothing big, but just being able to hold your peace gives you the victory. Sometimes, it is silently forgiving someone who has wronged you, saying a kind word to someone who has cursed you, lifting someone up who has put you down, or helping someone even as you hurt and may need help yourself. Nothing earth shattering, but they are victories just the same.
When you are able to affirm love in the midst of your own suffering, that is a victory. Sometimes, it is when you have gotten off your knees from a fervent prayer confident God has heard your cry; that is a victory. It may not be anything dramatic, but it is a victory nevertheless.
When you are able to perceive your whole life in the context of little victories, you will deepen your appreciation of how God is working in your life. Sometimes, we get so lost in our grief and in how we want things to be or wish they were that we forget about life's daily triumphs. Notice the little victories in your life and give God the glory.
O God of mercy and God of peace, the deep well of victory from which I draw strength in times of need, grant most merciful Jehovah, that as I struggle to overcome personal hurdles of loss and need the will and fortitude to go on, I will be enabled through the power of Your Spirit to draw from the cool depths of Your victory well that never runs dry; through Him who died and rose again in victory, Your Son and our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Daniel 6:10.
INNER PRAYER ROOM
One of the unfortunate truths about some of us Christians is that we do not have a prayer room: that sacred place within that infuses our heart and soul with daily strength. Do you not know that you need a prayer room? It has nothing to do with physicality or geography because we can go to our prayer room wherever we are and whenever we get ready. You can be in your car and when the spirit moves you, you retire to your prayer room. You can be in attendance at a meeting and in the midst, pause, and retire to your prayer room. To have a "prayer room" means simply to be shut-in in the spirit with God anywhere, anytime, giving quality, chosen time to yearn after Him, seek Him and call on His name for deliverance out of the deep waters of grief and despair.
Every believer needs a prayer room because every child of God must go down in life’s underworld. All of us will have a lion’s den. But if we have a prayer life, it doesn’t matter how deep it is or how dark it is or how scary it is. If we have a prayer life, the God who is able to shut the mouths of lions, will be there with us. Instead of lashing out, go to your prayer room, be still, and see the salvation of the Lord.
O Lord and everlasting God, who has given me the privilege of prayer and reserved a chapel in my soul for my visiting at will, what an honor I have today to know You as my Father and to have access to You at all times. Lord, I come to You in this moment desiring to be led, corrected, and instructed by You. I want to learn obedience, to understand Your ways. I want to draw closer to You in mind and heart, soul and spirit. Grant this I pray for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” ...Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will but as you will.” Matthew 26:36, 39.
THE GARDEN OF SORROWS
All of us are on a voyage through life. We are travelers through time on the road to eternity. Every man on his journey through life must come to Gethsemane, the Garden of Sorrows. Somehow, it is there where we die and it is there where we are resurrected again; or we are lost forever. Gethsemane is not a place of luxury but of agony. And perhaps the greatest torment suffered in Gethsemane is the fact that we must face it alone. This is true of all pain, is it not? Agony is an experience that we all must bear alone. Others can empathize and sympathize and support, but they cannot feel the pain that is ours alone.
The Garden of Sorrows forces us to move to another dimension—a dimension beyond the mundane, a dimension beyond the realm of ordinary common activities. This second garden is a place of bitter anguish and excruciating sorrow. Like Jesus, the only way we can make it through is to steal away somewhere and talk to God our Father. In the supreme despair of our spirit, we call upon Him to help, comfort and strengthen us. We call upon Him to stretch His mighty arm to lift us out of the deep waters of grief and to restore peace to our troubled souls.
Listen to my cry, O God, for I am hurting. My eyes are reddened from tears that will not cease and my heart aches with a pain that will not recede. My soul has grown weak with sorrow. Deliver me, O Lord, from my anguish. Have mercy and lift me from the depths of my suffering that I may declare Your praises; in the blessed name of Him who suffered for us all, Your Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
But no one says, ‘Where is God my Maker, who gives songs in the night…’ Job 35:10.
In life, sooner or later, we come to the midnight hour. The hour comes when all is black, when myriad shapes seem to haunt our paths, when the very blackness appalls and our hearts cry out in utter despair. We fear the night and we dread what the day may bring forth. We do have our midnights, do we not? We suffer nights of sorrow and nights of persecution, nights of doubt and nights of anxiety, nights of pain and nights of ignorance, nights of grief and nights of shame, nights of disappointment and nights of regret. We experience nights of all kinds which press upon our spirits and terrify our souls.
Sometimes in life, the most potent defense we have against the howling winds of adversity is the faith to sing songs in the night. When life begin to choke us, when circumstances push us into a corner, when God’s providence appears adverse, when our spiritual wiring short-circuits, we can still sing a song. While awaiting deliverance, we can still sing songs of triumph and praise. We sing because we have learned that even in the blackest night, there are still some little lamps burning in the night sky of our souls. However dark it may be, we can find some little comfort, some little joy, some little mercy, some little promise, some spark of hope to lift our spirits and elevate our souls. Let God give you a song in your midnight hour.
O God of grace and God of glory, help me to sing Your praises even as tears fall during the darkest hours of my midnight. I give all my cares over to You, blessed Lord, thanking You for the blessed availability of Your Spirit to sustain me. Give me grace and strength to persevere and an obedient heart to do Your will; through the merits and mediation of our Lord and Savior. Amen.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18.
Questions about God as a just God always arise when people are called to experience the pain and stress of human suffering. Questions about the dubious meaning of human life amidst intense and often irreducible suffering are not merely abstract theoretical reflections. They are inquiries arising out of the depth of our being. How can we make sense of the power and goodness of God if we open our eyes to the terrible presence of radical suffering and evil in the world, and in our own lives?
God gave us a unique privilege that we often do not respect. That is, discovering our purpose for being in the midst of chaos and confusion, trials and tribulations, death and disease. If God is on the throne, then our lives can be marked by confident living. We can see a good that goes beyond our own limited understanding. This is what faith is. We do not have to know all the “whys” that comes into our lives. We live on the word of God and we keep our hearts ready to receive His miracles. We only need the faith to believe that God is in charge and He is working everything out for our good and according to His divine purpose. Rise above your limited understanding.
Sovereign Lord, I trust You in all things. Even the mysterious and puzzling and tragic become but vehicles of Your spiritual power. Walk with me through my pain and through the difficult situations I am called upon to experience. Grant that I be a living reminder to the world of Your love and redeeming power. All glory and praise to Your holy name; through the might of Jesus Christ our everlasting Redeemer. Amen.
Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17.
If you are honest with yourself, you know that often it becomes necessary to let go...that you might hold on. Yes, you must let go of old hurts and pains, old regrets and old grudges, old enemies and old mistakes. We must let go of the old self and move with the natural process of growth. Let go of all the little bothers, dislikes, discouragements, and overreactions to things going on around you. Let go of your disabilities and inabilities, your weaknesses and your pain, those pesky little thoughts of irritation.
Letting go means releasing all those things that occupy God’s space in your mind and heart. Letting go means acknowledging your impotence; recognizing that something or someone else is in charge; accepting the truth and reality of the situation over which you have no apparent control. Holding on to what you are powerless to change is a self-created yoke you have put around your own neck. You only weaken yourself more and more.
God has breathed the breath of life into us, has planted in us living seeds of limitless possibilities. So dismantle the yoke, release the burden, and walk in the freedom of your own destiny. Let go and allow the spirit in Christ to fully begin to live in you. In so doing, you may discover that you have held on to the most precious and most important - LIFE.
Father God, I thank You that I do not have to hold on to that which immobilizes me and keeps me from growing in Your grace and sanctifying power. Help me to let go of all those things that separates me from You and me from my brothers and sisters. You desire my having life and having it abundantly. Teach me how to receive; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
‘You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.’ Genesis 50:20.
ORDERS OF WORSHIP
Nature has an order that man cannot change. It can be seen in the movement of the seasons. Fall gives way to winter and winter must submit to spring. Spring has its time but must eventually acquiesce to summer. Summer must succumb to fall. We must all go through the same seasons.
This order can also be seen in a man’s life. We do not stay young forever. Childhood gives way to adolescence, adolescence to young adulthood, young adulthood to middle age, and middle age to old age. No one is excused from this order.
But when we think about problems and conflicts, trials and tribulations, it is interesting that God has a way of taking that order and transforming it into an order of worship. Somehow, troubles and sickness and even death are to take us beyond ourselves to the great mystery which is God. This is tantamount to worship because there is something inherent in sickness that will compel us to worship. There is something about death that pulls us even closer to God. God, in His benevolence, takes that which we consider negative and extracts from it that which is good. If only we could perceive life more in those terms.
Let God take your pain, your difficulty, your hurt and walk with you through them; transforming your whole perspective on life. Let God convert your experiences into orders of worship.
Father, I bow before You in quietness and feel very near. How precious is the assurance of Your presence! I love You, and I trust my whole life into Your hands. Here are my problems. Help me to find Your way for me and I will be careful to give You all the glory; in the blessed name of Jesus Christ. Amen.