You Will Persevere!

This past Monday, Americans woke up to a routine Monday morning.  That night, we went to bed with saddened hearts.  What began as a beautiful day in Boston, Massachusetts ended with a horrifying scene as loved ones tried to come to terms with what happened toward the end of the Boston Marathon.  Three innocent lives were lost in this attack and nearly two hundred individuals were injured.  Yesterday, an explosion caused mass destruction, causalities, and injuries in West, Texas.  In both of these tragedies, an infinite number of people have suffered emotional trauma that is utterly beyond comprehension.  My heart is saddened, just thinking of the coming days ahead as they gradually begin to pick up the pieces of their lives.  Still, I want to speak specifically to everyone in Boston and West and the surrounding areas.  Even though it may seem like a hopeless situation at the moment, you are going to make it.  While your lives have been turned upside down, you will find a new normal and life will go on.  With God on your side, you will persevere!

Tragedies like this one cause us to ask, “Why?”  Why should children’s lives be taken so suddenly?  Why should people have to endure such destruction and loss?  Why should a seemingly safe place quickly turn into a danger zone?  While I wish I had all of the answers, I certainly have no answers to many of the questions that are being asked.  I cannot comprehend why someone would want to cause any type of destruction, much less have a desire to harm another human being.  And there are no words to explain the feeling of helplessness I am sure is felt by many in Texas as they try to determine the cause of this horrific explosion.

While I do not have all of the answers, I want to encourage each and every one of you today.  Jesus Christ says, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).  When He was walking upon the earth, He encountered unimaginable trouble.  He was beaten and bruised and put to death on a cross.  But God had Him in the Shelter of His arms and now He reigns victorious.  Jesus knew that we would also encounter trouble in this world.  But He reassures us that everything will be alright.  Although there will be days when we don’t feel we can put one foot in front of the other, He will be with us every step of the way.  Why?  The answer is simple.  Jesus Christ has overcome the world.

Perhaps you are facing a battle of your own today.  You may be sitting by the bedside of a loved one who is terminally ill.  Maybe you just received news that you have been let go from your place of employment.  Or you may have been personally touched in some way by the tragedies in Massachusetts and Texas.  The Lord says to you and me, “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).  No matter what you are going through, Jesus is right there with you.  He will hold your hand.  He will walk with you every step of the way.  He will never leave you.  Even amid the questions that surround us, Jesus Christ is the answer for the world today.  Rest in Him.  Trust in Him.  He loves you more than you could ever imagine.  With Jesus Christ as our Lord, Savior, and Friend, we will persevere!

In Christ’s Love,

We're Gonna Make It!

Today, my students were reading a story about a man who found himself in a fishing boat that was sinking.  The termites had quickly begun eating the wood of the boat, compromising the hull.  Instead of immediately trying to find a solution to the problem at hand, he began to panic.  In fact, his first remark was, “We’re not going to make it.”  Eventually, he made an attempt to fix the gaping hole in the hull of the boat, and they made it safely to the shore.  By overcoming his fears, he managed to emerge victorious.

While this is simply a children’s story, I feel that it applies to our everyday lives as well.  So often we find ourselves in difficult situations, uncertain of what we should do.  We become frustrated and our ability to think clearly fades significantly.  Many times, our first inclination is to give up.  That is the easy way out.  Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  With Christ on our side, we don’t have to admit defeat.  Instead, we can confidently declare, “We’re gonna make it!”

How many times this week have you said, “I can’t?”  If you’re like me, I’m sure these two infamous words have graced your lips at least once.  As humans, we are imperfect.  We struggle and sometimes we fail.  But even when we face difficult times, we can rest assured that everything will be alright.  Romans 8:28 tells us that “All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.”  Bear in mind that this does not mean that everything will be good.  Instead, it means that everything we do will work together for our good.  God will never leave us hanging.  If we trust Him, He will ensure that our lives fit perfectly into His perfect will and His plan for our lives.

What struggles are you going through at this very moment in your life?  Are you trying desperately to lose weight?  Is it becoming more and more difficult to pay your bills each month?  Do you worry daily about someone in your family who is going through a physical or emotional battle?  I want to encourage you right now wherever you are.  God has not forgotten you.  He knows exactly what mountain you may be facing or what river you may be crossing.  Look around.  He is standing right next to you.  He will never let you fall.  He will help you remove all doubt.  Hold on to His hand and never, ever let go.

This world is ever-changing.  The news is full of sad, heart-wrenching stories of people around the world who are hurting, starving, or ailing.  There are those who are scared or depressed.  And some of them simply want to throw in the towel.   But even through the wars, famines, and destruction, we have a Hope that reaches beyond the most hopeless situations.  God’s hand is upon you and me.  He will be our Shelter from the storm.  He will catch us when we fall.  He will keep our ship afloat.  And no matter what comes our way, we can boldly proclaim, “We’re gonna make it!”

In Christ’s Love,

Last Sunday, over 11.7 million viewers watched the conclusion of the epic mini-series The Bible.  What a fitting way to conclude a day of Easter celebrations, from the sunrise services, cantatas, and dramatic performances, to the Easter egg hunts, delectable dinners, and time spent with family and friends.  Inevitably, Easter means a lot of things to a lot of people.  But one meaning of Easter outshines them all.  The Resurrection of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ, is the reason for this joyous celebration.  The Bible series may be over, but the story has just begun.

As I watched this moving depiction of the greatest story ever told, I was reminded once again of how the stories in the Bible are much more than stories.  Unlike fairytales, the stories in the Bible are real.  The people in the Bible are real.  Jesus Christ is real.  To sit and watch this movie, I felt as if I was watching a movie about my best friend.  When I was a little girl, I gave my heart to Jesus.  Since then, He has always been my best friend.  While tears welled up in my eyes as I watched Jesus cry out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me,” I was still smiling because I knew that God had not forsaken Him.  I knew that three days later, He would rise again.  I knew that this was not the final chapter in the book.
When they spoke of places like Ephesus, I relived the moment I set foot inside the theater where the Apostle Paul was run out due to the fact that He was preaching about the one true living God as opposed to the god of Artemis.  The same theater where my dad and I proudly proclaimed, “Great is the God of the Apostle Paul!”  Through experiences like this as well as our adventures in Rome, I have literally walked in the footsteps of many of Jesus’ disciples as well as Mary, the mother of Jesus.  I have stood firmly on the ground where they walked and I have tried to imagine what it was like when they walked upon this earth.
I must say that I have thoroughly enjoyed walking in their footsteps and I also enjoy watching dramatic representations of Bible times.  Nevertheless, there is one thing I love even more than these.  I love the fact that one day, we will no longer have to imagine what it was like to sit and have a conversation with Peter, Paul, or John.  We will not have to watch a depiction of Moses parting the Red Sea or a movie showing the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  For one day, we will literally be sitting face to face with these heroes of the faith and with Jesus Christ himself.
I recently saw where someone said they were sad to see The Bible come to an end.  While this particular series they were referring to has come to an end, I couldn’t help but think how the Bible itself has not come to an end.  The Bible is a living book with prophecies that have not yet been fulfilled.  We are seeing news every day that brings us one step closer to the long-awaited day when Gabriel sounds the trumpet.  Those who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ will rise to meet Him in the clouds.  All of the pain and suffering and heartache will be no more.  All tears will be wiped away.  The old will become new.  We will be changed.  In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.
Until that glorious day, we have a mission.  To share the love of Jesus Christ with everyone.  Like Jesus’ disciples, we are called to be fishers of men.  We are called to spread His light throughout a darkened world.  Perhaps you are still living in darkness.  I want to encourage you to call on the name of Jesus Christ.  Confess your sins.  Ask for forgiveness.  Your life will be forever changed.  You will have a personal relationship with the One who gave His life for our transgressions.  If you have already made this commitment, I want to encourage you to live for Jesus every day.  Bring the Bible to life through the way you live for Christ every day.  And one day, you’ll discover that the final chapter is really just the beginning of a forever life with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
In Christ’s Love,