What is “His Encouragement?”
Thursdays are always a really long day of the week for me. Since I’m a pastor, Sunday feels like the natural beginning to my week. By the time I get to Thursday, I am tired and drained. That’s why I’m excited to join with a group of blogging friends in order to offer you a weekly devotional which will be posted every Thursday. We are calling the series, “His Encouragement.”
It is my prayer that these words of encouragement inspired by scripture will help to carry you through the rest of your week My prayer is that this weekly series will be a much needed of reminder that God loves you.
For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
-Romans 10:13, NIV
It’s Been a Long Week
This photo is of my cat’s Thursday face.
It’s been a loooooong week here at the parsonage. Do you ever feel like your life is combination of very great joys and very painful lows?
Perhaps that is the human condition. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 tells us that there is a time for everything. It is one of my favorite verses, and one that I often preach from at funerals.
Sometimes, though, I feel as if the universe makes me pay for every great joy in my life with a great sorrow. Whenever something good happens, I can’t help but a feel a sense of what sociologist Dr. Brene Brown calls, “foreboding joy.”
Often, I’m afraid to be happy because I feel as if I am always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Some of this is because in my short life I have experienced a great deal of adversity; however, I think some of this is also simply my personality. I tend to be a worrier. Even so, I know that Jesus tells us not to worry because we are precious to God and God will take of us (Matthew 6:25-34). If God cares for the flowers and the birds, we can be certain that God will care for us as well, because we are even more precious to our Creator. We are God’s children and a good parent takes care of their children.
Nevertheless, I can’t stop worrying.
Joys & Concerns
Every Sunday, I tell my congregation that it is a, “good spiritual practice to always find something for which to be grateful.” I remind all of those gathered that, “When we come before God’s altar, we bring our whole hearts. We bring our hopes and joys, as well as our prayers, worries, and concerns.”
This week, I have so much for which to be thankful; however, there is also a great deal weighing heavily upon my heart.
Joys and Thanksgivings: Things for Which I Am Grateful
- My article, “Gender, Race, and Disability: The Aspects of Inclusion We Frequently Overlook,” was published by United Methodist Insight. I was deeply honored to have another article published by UM Insight. UM Insight is a respected publication in my field and I greatly admire their work. This article tackles the issue of an intersectional view of inclusion. I am very passionate about this issue and I am grateful that UM Insight gave me a platform to lift my voice in order advocate for the needs of underrepresented groups, especially people with disabilities, women, and people of color. (You can find the first article I wrote for UM Insight HERE).
- I have had three poems accepted for publication in small literary journals. I am not a poet. I am just a person who deeply loves the written word. As such, I am always thankful when I get to share my voice with others. For me, art is a way of experiencing God’s grace. In the past, I have been told that “women don’t write poetry,” or that no one wants to read what a blind woman has to say. As such, every acceptance feels like a small victory. My work is forthcoming in Bonnie’s Crew, Amethyst Review, and The Rest of Us
- Jeff and I are planning a trip to France in the fall. I am so happy that I will have the opportunity to see Notre Dame, the Louvre, and the Eiffel Tower! One of my goals is to see as much as possible because my eyesight is constantly getting worse. We have been saving to make this trip happen for quite some time.
Prayer Concerns: Things for Which My Heart Mourns
- Sickness has come to our family. My heart is deeply grieved because a beloved family member may have cancer. I know that in today’s world of modern science, cancer is often very treatable. Even so, my heart is deeply sorrowed for all who are involved. I have worked with families who have lost loved ones to cancer. I’m not sure if it’s better or worse knowing what to expect. Right now, the hardest part is not knowing as we await test results.
- I have another doctor’s appointment for my vision- that might not help. After my last trip to Will’s Eye in Philadelphia, my glaucoma specialist recommended that I see a retinologist as well as a low vision specialist. I see the low vision specialist at the end of the month. I am very hopeful that she will be able to provide me with stronger glasses to help me see. I miss reading print books so much. My shelves are overflowing with printed books I can barely see anymore; however, her secretary advised me on the phone that, “for your case, glasses may not be an option. They may not help at all anymore.” I have worn glasses all my life, and the thought that we may have gotten to the point that they physically cannot make my glasses any stronger makes my heart so sad. I’m only thirty- but glaucoma doesn’t care.
- Lent is harder than I expected. Last week, I shared about how I’m removing three items from the house every day for lent. By the end of lent, I will have donated 120 items and cleaned out my basement; however, every day it gets harder and harder. Every day, I need to lean more heavily upon the strength of Christ because I do not have the strength to do it myself.
The Liturgy of Life
“Joys and Concerns,” is an important part of our weekly liturgy at my church. The liturgy of worship in which we partake every Sunday morning is a dance that we do before God. That same liturgy is mirrored in our own lives. Liturgy simply means, “the work of the people.”
Sometimes, in life as in dancing, we miss the steps. Sometimes, we stumble and fall. Sometimes the music is fast and sometimes the music is slow.
However, in the end, I am comforted by the fact that, as Paul tells us in his letter to the church of Rome, all “who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
I have heard some people say that God never gives us more than you can handle. I respectfully disagree. I do not think that God gives us bad things that we need to handle. Instead, I believe that God helps us handle all the bad things in our lives.
Theology is what we do in the dark. When we lie awake at night and our minds turn to endless worries, where we look for comfort it is important. It is easy to have faith when our lives our full of joy. It is harder to trust in God when we find ourselves in the midst of loss, sickness, and death.
During the dark nights of my soul, I will continue to call upon the Lord, for I know and I believe that all who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
All who call on the name of the Lord will be saved-
which is a good thing-
Because I really need some Jesus right now.
I could really use some of God’s amazing grace.
Until Next Time,
What verse is encouraging you this week? Be sure to let me know in the comments below!
Also, please be sure to check out the other great bloggers involved in the His Encouragement weekly series!