‘Those who trust in the Lord are…unmoved by any circumstance.’ Psalm 125:1 TLB
By age twenty-nine, author Carson McCullers had suffered three strokes. Then while she was still crippled and partially paralysed, her husband committed suicide. Despite her problems she forced herself to write every day, and as a result became a distinguished novelist. The English poet John Milton was blind. World-renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman had polio. Former Miss America Heather Whitestone is deaf. Stephen Hawking, physicist and lecturer at Cambridge University, has motor neurone disease. No wonder Thomas Edison said if we did all the things we were capable of doing, we’d astound ourselves! So, what’s the secret to enduring and enjoying life? It’s this: ‘Those who trust in the Lord are…unmoved by any [did you get that - any] circumstance.’ Despite how you feel today, your problems aren’t insurmountable.
The Bible says, ‘God can do what men can’t’ (Luke 18:27 TLB). And what’s more, He listens to ‘the prayers of the destitute…he is never too busy’ (Psalm 102:17 TLB). Einstein said, ‘In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.’ The same God who guided Abraham when he didn’t have a clue where he was going, gave Sarah a child in her old age, rolled back the Red Sea, and raised Jesus from the dead, is alive and working in your life. So ‘be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might’ (Ephesians 6:10 KJV). Remember, His chariots of deliverance ‘are…thousands and thousands of thousands’ (Psalm 68:17 NIV 2011 Edition). Today take heart! ‘The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you’ (Deuteronomy 33:27 NLT).
‘Anxiety in the heart…causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.’ Proverbs 12:25 NKJV
When Enrico took his first voice lesson at ten, the teacher said, ‘You haven’t any voice at all.’ But Enrico’s mother heard greatness in her son’s voice. She believed in his talent. And even though they were very poor she put her arms around him and said, ‘My boy, I’m going to make every sacrifice to pay for your voice lessons.’ Her confidence in him and her constant encouragement paid off, because he became one of the most beloved and widely acclaimed singers of all time. His name? Enrico Caruso. When the world tries to tear us down, we need people who build us up, people who recognise our talent and help us make the most of it. Consider these ‘commands for parents’, written from a child’s point of view:
1) My hands are small; please don’t expect perfection whenever I make a bed, draw a picture, or throw a ball.
2) My legs are short; slow down so that I can keep up with you.
3) My eyes have not seen the world as yours have; let me explore it safely, and don’t restrict me unnecessarily.
4) Housework will always be there; I’m only little for a short time. Take time to explain things to me about this wonderful world, and do so willingly.
5) My feelings are tender; don’t nag me all day long. Treat me as you would like to be treated.
6) I am a special gift from God; treasure me as God intended you to - holding me accountable for my actions, giving me guidelines to live by, and disciplining me in a loving manner. Today, be an encourager!
‘I have refined you…for My own sake.’ Isaiah 48:10,11 NKJV
Undercover Boss is a popular TV show where company owners disguise themselves as regular staff members and work with everybody else. Some of the discoveries they make are real eye-openers - leading to changes that make the company more efficient, profitable, and enjoyable for everybody to work in. To ‘understand’ people, you have to ‘stand’ in their shoes. Ezekiel said, ‘Then I came to the captives at Tel Abib…and I sat where they sat, and…the word of the Lord came to me’ (Ezekiel 3:15-16 NKJV).
In order to heal the pain, you must be able to feel the pain. The Bible says Jesus can be ‘touched with the feelings of our infirmities’, because He walked in our shoes (see Hebrews 4:15). He experienced family conflict, rejection, betrayal, loneliness, and hunger. He walked the path you’re on and He knows how you feel; that’s why you can turn to Him when you’re in trouble and get the help you need. ‘For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted’ (Hebrews 2:18 NKJV).
When you offer advice, people want to know if you're speaking out of experience or just head knowledge. So God will permit you to go through experiences you don’t enjoy or understand, to equip you and make you effective in ministering to others. Job said, ‘When he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold’ (Job 23:10 KJV). If you’re in the refiner’s fire today, it’s because God has something He plans to do through you and for you.
‘How long will you neglect to go and possess the land…?’ Joshua 18:3 NKJV
When it comes to building good relationships, you must be proactive. This calls for knowing who you are as a person, and what you want from the relationship. While it seems counterintuitive to focus on who you are individually versus who the two of you are as a couple, the whole is only as strong as the parts. Great relationships are based on each party being truthful and up-front about their real needs, desires, feelings, and values. While as a couple you must make decisions together, decisions about who you are as a person and what you want your life to be are yours alone to make. Allowing someone else to make those decisions for you is a mistake. When you let someone else decide who you are and what you want, you give away the power that God gave you. Understand this:
1) Doing nothing is not making a decision.
2) Sitting back and pretending not to see a situation for what it is, is not a decision.
3) Procrastinating about what to do until something happens where you’ve no choice but to go one way or the other is not a decision. It’s passivity, and in the end it won’t serve you well. Sometimes you have to accept unchangeable circumstances, but you always have the choice to decide what you want to be within them. This principle is taught clearly by what God told His people on the threshold of the Promised Land: ‘How long will you neglect to go in and possess the land which the Lord…has given you?’ So, be proactive.
‘They do not know what they are doing.’ Luke 23:34 NIV (2011 Edition)
Max Lucado writes: ‘It begins as a drop of water…Someone gets your parking place, pulls in front of you on the motorway, a waitress is slow and you’re in a hurry, the toast burns…Get enough of these seemingly innocent drops of anger and you’ve got a bucket full of rage…We trust no one…bare our teeth at anyone who gets near…become walking time bombs that, given the right amount of tension and fear, could explode…We can’t deny…anger exists. How do we harness it? Jesus said about the mob that killed him, “Father, forgive them…they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34 NIV 2011 Edition)…He saw this bloodthirsty, death-hungry crowd not as murderers, but as victims…He saw in their faces not hatred, but confusion…He regarded them not as a militant mob but “like sheep without a shepherd” (Mark 6:34 NIV 2011 Edition).
“They don’t know what they are doing…” think about it…they hadn’t the faintest idea…They were a stir-crazy mob, mad at something they couldn’t see so they took it out on, of all people, God. They didn’t know what they were doing, and for the most part neither do we. Much as we hate to admit it, we’re shepherdless sheep…born out of one eternity and frighteningly close to another…We can’t answer our own questions about love and hurt…can’t solve the riddle of ageing…don’t know how to heal our own bodies or get along with our mates…My point is: uncontrolled anger won’t better our world…sympathetic understanding will. Once we begin to operate not from a posture of anger but of compassion…we realise the lights are out…a lot of people are stumbling in the darkness…So we light candles.’