Katie taking football photos in Hutchinson, KS

Tears are okay

Yesterday afternoon, I watched my best friend board an airplane that is taking her to Europe for a year. I plan to visit, but I won’t be able to get there until the last part of June, assuming my workload even allows me to go. So it will be upward of five months before I get to hug her again. This is a major change considering she has spend nearly every other weekend at my house or with me in some form or another for the better part of two years.

If you’ve never had a friend who can finish your sentences, read your mind, or understand everything you haven’t said out loud, I don’t know if you can understand how empty the prospect of life without them close is. But God is good and has given me so many wonderful, awesome, incredible other friends–and we’re all friends with each other, so we can commiserate her leaving en masse!

I was marveling this morning because the entire event of her going out there is such a mixed bag of emotions. I miss her. Intensely. I was joking with her last night over Skype that I sort of randomly burst into tears at every other inanimate object that reminds me of her. I was in the store and saw flowers and thought of her and cried. Still in the store, I was in the produce area and saw vegetables and remembered she hates them and cried. I think I teared up in seven different sections of the grocery store, and I’m sure everyone around me was wondering what on earth was so sad about biscuits!

But at the same time, even though I’m torn up about her not being here, I’m so excited for her that I can hardly contain it. She gets to travel all over Europe, one of the most empty countries, so many people with no hope and no life, and the thought of all the joy that God has used her to bring in my life being implemented in such a hopeless field makes me so eager for her to get over there.

And I thought about how strange it is that in the blink of an eye, because of God, something that is heart-wrenchingly sad can become something immensely joyful.

Katie taking football photos in Hutchinson, KS

Katie taking football photos in Hutchinson, KS

Today’s verse is John 16:20.

I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy.

This is Jesus talking to the disciples, His “unlearned and ignorant” followers. If you read the whole passage, it’s kind of entertaining. The disciples are all so much like us, it’s really not even funny. But in this verse, Jesus is talking about what is going to happen to Him. He’s talking about how He will be crucified, how He will be tortured, how He will be killed.

But He was trying to prepare them, not just for the fact that He would be killed, but that His death wasn’t the end. Yes, they were going to grieve when He died, but He wasn’t going to stay dead. And after He rose again under His own power, there would be cause for great rejoicing.

Only God can take something so sad and turn it into something worth rejoicing over.

We can’t do that. That’s not an ability we possess. We aren’t strong enough to take a terrible situation and find hope in it without the influence of God in our lives. Maybe we can guess that it might work out okay. Or maybe we can pick some random ethereal feel-good concept out of the air and hope it will happen. But only God allows us to know that things will be all right.

So whatever is changing in your life, if you follow Christ, whether you’re moving jobs or moving friends or moving countries, you can know that God is working things out. And you can know it because He’s told us. And even the sad things in life aren’t going to stay sad, because God is a God who can turn sorrow into happiness.

It’s not wrong to mourn. It doesn’t make you a bad Christian to be sad, especially when someone you love isn’t around as much. For me it’s like losing my left hand. I’m a righty, so I can still function but life won’t be as easy for a little while until I adapt. But if you trust God, if you believe what He said, no matter what situation or circumstance you find yourself in this morning, He’s going to use it to help you and to help others around you and to bring glory to Himself. That’s what being a Christian is.

So it’s okay to be sad because God’s got lots of tissues, and one of these days, He’s going to wipe the tears away and they won’t come back. But until then, tears are okay. But don’t let them take over because you’ll need some tears left for when the sorrow turns to joy.

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Sunflower at Safe Haven Farm - Haven, KS

Superabundant

Are you facing a task that’s too big for you? Maybe work is too stressful. Maybe you have a baby on the way. Maybe the finances just aren’t coming. Maybe you’re in a position where you are the person who will lead someone to Christ or push them away from Him. Whatever it is, the responsibility just feels overwhelming, like you can’t ever get ahead, like every day is just another opportunity to get run over.

It’s moments like those, the stressful, overwhelming, agonizing moments, where we need to remember that we’re not on our own down here. And though we have responsibilities, God never has expected us to face them by ourselves or in our own power.

Sunflower at Safe Haven Farm - Haven, KS

Sunflower at Safe Haven Farm – Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Ephesians 3:20.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

I know I have more responsibility now than I ever did when I was younger. I have more on my shoulders now than I ever dreamed I could have. And at first, it was exciting. I mean, wow! To be my age (for all my grouching, I know I’m not old) and to have the responsibilities I do? That’s awesome! A real honor.

But once the newness wears off, once the wonder and the excitement fades away, responsibilities can become a weight around your neck. And there are days when it’s just too heavy. The weight of it pulls me down and makes my feet drag, and before I know it, I want nothing more than for these responsibilities to go away. What I once rejoiced about, now I loathe.

Is that the way it’s supposed to be? Talk to other Christians, and that seems to be the case. But is it right?

I believe that if you’re called to do something, you should do it. But it’s rare that God is going to ask you to do something that is outside your gift. So if you know 100% that you aren’t gifted with facts and figures, it’s unlikely that God is going to call you to be an accountant. Not unheard of, and if He does, He’ll have a reason for it and He’ll give you what you need to succeed. But generally speaking, He won’t ask you to serve Him outside what He has gifted you for.

But whether you are serving within your gift our outside of it, we all need to remember that doing things on our own will wear us out. Carrying the load by ourselves will exhaust us and discourage us. Because it is too much to carry on our own.

That’s why we have God. If you believe in Christ, you have the Holy Spirit inside you. God is with you, in you, working in your heart, working in your life, helping you grow closer to God every day that you seek Him.

Do you feel like giving up? And it’s a responsibility that God has given you? Don’t give up. Just ask God to help you carry it. If you feel like giving up the task that God has given you, maybe you’re trying to carry it by yourself too much. Because even if the task He’s given you is exactly what you were created to do, you still can’t do it all by yourself. You need to ask Him for help.

This is where I get caught. I’m not good at asking for help. I trudge along under my heavy burden of responsibility and refuse to ask anyone for help. I don’t want to seem weak. I don’t want to seem as though I don’t have enough faith. And that is nothing but pride.

We all need help, and God can do anything. He still does miracles, even today.

Today’s verse says that He is able to do anything, to accomplish “infinitely more” than anyone alive can imagine. This is the NLT version, but I love how the Amplified Version puts this. The Amplified Version says that He is able to do “superabundantly far over and above” what we can dream. Superabundantly.

Abundant isn’t good enough. It has to be superabundant.

Do we realize that? Do we comprehend the power we have at our fingertips? The strength? The endurance? The miracles that God can do through us? It’s so easy to forget because we get trapped in our day-to-day grind, but God is above all of that.

God has given each of us a goal to accomplish. And while we might be able to do some of it on our own, we won’t be able to do it “superabundantly” until we ask Him to help us. So if you’re discouraged this morning with a load that’s weighed you down, let it go. Ask God to help carry it, and He will. And not only will you find that it weighs less, you’ll find the joy you had when you first picked it up.

Storm clouds - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Nothing is too hard for God.

What do you need God to do for you? It’s difficult to understand, honestly, but God has opened the door for us to speak to Him one-on-one. Maybe not face to face yet, but we can bring our requests and our needs to Him at any time of day. And nothing is too big for Him.

Storm clouds - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Storm clouds – Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Jeremiah 32:17.

O Sovereign Lord! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you!

I blogged on this same verse a year ago today because apparently Biblegateway.com recycles their daily Bible verses. But I went ahead and decided to use this verse again because I am in pretty serious need of encouragement today.

Every now and then, I just wake up feeling gray. Does that happen to anyone else? There’s no real reason for it. There’s nothing really wrong. I just feel down. Maybe it’s burn-out from working too much. Maybe it’s exhaustion from not sleeping enough. Maybe it’s the onset of a cold. Not sure.

But on gray days, it’s important to remember the things that matter. On those days when I feel sad or discouraged or lonely or insecure, it’s important to focus on something that doesn’t change, on something that’s true no matter what. Because if I can anchor myself to something true, my emotions that are as fluid and changing as the sea won’t carry me away. I might get tossed around a little bit, but I won’t budge.

So this verse stood out to me today. It’s ironic because it’s the beginning of a prayer the prophet Jeremiah prayed, and it’s really not a happy prayer. Actually, Jeremiah isn’t really a happy book at all. There’s a reason he’s called the Weeping Prophet.

The prayer, as a whole (Jeremiah 32:17-25), really serves to recognize that God is sovereign and that He does what He wants. You see, Israel was on the brink of destruction. Jeremiah was actually a prisoner in the King’s palace because he wouldn’t shut up about a prophecy God had given him. God wanted Jeremiah to tell everyone that destruction was coming, that He was going to allow Babylon to destroy Jerusalem. As you can imagine, the King didn’t like that. So he locked Jeremiah up in hopes of getting him to shut up, but, like any true preacher, it didn’t work. And Jeremiah continued to preach even in prison.

And after he concluding a bit of business (you can read the whole story in Jeremiah 32), he prayed this prayer that starts with stating that God can do anything. He’s the only One who can do anything because He’s the only One with the right to do anything.

Even in our world, we grasp the concept of sovereignty. At least, we used to. We have the right to do what we want with our property, whether it be homes or land or our lives or our resources. If it belongs to us, we have the right to do what we want with it.

Well, God made everything. So He has the right to do what He wants with it. And we have no say, although for some reason God still listens to our requests and considers them. He still gives us the chance to ask Him for what we want, and if it fits into His grand scheme for everything, He’ll give it to us.

Do we really get that?

Seriously. Do we really understand how awesome that is? What privilege that is? I don’t. I don’t think I can really wrap my head around that. To have access to Someone Who can do anything, Someone Who made the heavens, Someone Who made the earth: if we really understood the power at our disposal, I think our lives would look different.

Nothing is too hard for God.

So if you are feeling like I am this morning, discouraged and weary, take it to God. He understands, and He cares. And He wants to hear from you. And He wants to help you. And no matter how big your problem might seem, it’s not too big for Him.

 

What God can do

Have you ever heard the stupid questions people ask to discover God’s limitations? The one that came to mind this morning is, “Can God create a rock too big for Him to move?”

Think about the answer to a question like that. If the answer is yes, that means there’s something God can’t do. If the answer is no, that means there’s something God can’t do.

Maybe there are generally curious individuals out there who sincerely want an answer to this question. But, seriously? Is this really something that matters? Aren’t there more important questions to answer about God than whether or not He can lift a rock?

The verse this morning is Jeremiah 32:17.

 17 “O Sovereign Lord! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you!

Many times I think we forget who we’re talking to when we pray. I think it slips our mind because God is so loving and He’s done (and is doing) so much for us on a daily basis that it’s easy to lose track of the fact that He made the universe out of nothing. His glory is so great that we couldn’t even stand in His presence without being obliterated. Our perception of God has been so altered by our culture that we view Him as this big friend in the sky.

Well, yes. He’s our friend. And we have access to Him through Jesus.

But we should never lose sight of who God is. We should never forget just how powerful He is and what He’s done and what He’s created and just how impossibly holy He is.

None of us can understand God. He’s too much for us. He’s too high above us. Can a grasshopper understand the way a person thinks? It’s the same deal between God and us. There’s no way we can ever comprehend the way His mind works, and I’m thankful for that. I don’t want a God I can understand, otherwise He wouldn’t be God.

But asking questions to discover God’s limitations when the Bible tells us He has none is a silly waste of time. As humans we can’t wrap our puny little brains around the state of being limitless. We have lived with limitations since we were born. Limitations like gravity. Limitations like needing sleep and needing air and needing food and water. Limitations like being vulnerable to sin–to doing wrong–to hurting other people–to letting people down. Those are limitations, and every human being suffers from those limitations because none of us is perfect.

But God is perfect. He has no limits.

The Bible says there’s nothing God can’t do, and I believe that. It’s hard to apply that in my life sometimes though, because it’s so hard to wrap my brain around the idea that God can do anything. But it’s true. He is strong enough to take any situation — no matter how awful it may seem — and turn it into something beautiful and wonderful that brings glory to Him.

So if you think asking if God can make rocks too big for Him to lift will tell you what you need to know about Him, I guess that’s fine. If you want to keep searching to discover God’s limitations, go right ahead. But can a limited being ever understand a limitless being? Can the finite ever grasp the infinite?

And why would a self-sufficient, infinite Person with no flaws and no needs create a world of people when He knew He would have to make an unthinkable sacrifice to even speak to them?

Now that’s a question.