Recognizing Cycles of God's Favor
Have you ever found yourself in a seemingly impossible situation, holding fast to faith in almighty God, but at the same time wondering "How can God possibly get me through this?" If you have, you are not alone! Testimonies abound of people who have overcome impossible odds to break through to the favor that God has planned for them. Before the breakthrough, that question looms larger than life.
We can look all throughout scripture for examples of God's amazing last-minute saving grace. Moses and the Israelites fled Egypt but found themselves stuck at the border of the Red Sea with Pharaoh's armies in hot pursuit. David fled from the relentless murderous spirit of King Saul, but could never lift his hand against Saul, God's anointed. Elijah boldly triumphed over the prophets of Baal under King Ahab and Queen Jezebel's wicked reign, but fled into the wilderness fearing for his life, exhausted and overwhelmed. Esther found favor to become the queen of Persia, but her kindred Jewish people were set to be annihilated unless she risked her own life to appeal to the king. All of these eventually triumphed with God's favor!
In our own lives, the worldwide pandemic this past year has brought fear, confusion, division, uncertainty, and loss. Many people are finding themselves in situations that appear to be hopeless. Work that once provided a steady income has disappeared. Many have lost loved ones or suffering with health complications. Others are weighed down by a mounting pile of bills and debt. The bonds with friends and family have been tested by the stresses of social and political turbulence.
It is important during times such as these to know that God's grace has not left us. We have reason to rejoice even in the middle of trials and tribulations. God's love for each one of us is deeper than we can fathom! When we cry out to our Heavenly Father, he hears us. "The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them." (Psalm 145:18-19) With reverence toward God, paying attention to His whisperings in our circumstances, and diligently following His leadings, we can celebrate with joy over the care of His hand on us.
Not every season appears to be a season of God's favor. God's favor comes in cycles as He prunes, purifies and prepares our hearts for the next season ahead. Recently, God reminded me how He pulled me out of small beginnings and multiplied my blessings five-fold in just the span of months. After enduring the humility of the current season, imagine my rejoicing as He imparted to me that a time of increase is coming again soon. God's favor is surely upon us, even as circumstances appear to say otherwise. In due time, God reveals the open door of favor He has destined for us all along.
Zoltán Szentkirályi is a researcher of spiritual and physical health. A statistician by training, he earned his statistics degree from the Ohio State University and is currently a professor teaching statistical software at Southern Methodist University. Relatively new to the Christian faith, he has a passion to share testimonies of miracles and empirical evidence of the power of the God in action. His ministry focus is on overcoming trauma and affirming the depth of God's love for every individual.
Cast all your cares on him because he cares for you.
—1 Peter 5:7
Have you ever received a text from your teenager/young adult saying, “Anxiety really bad this morning. Going to class late”? How do we process these words when our child is away from home? The feelings associated with not being able to help are far from fun. I have wanted to pack my bag, jump in the car or plane, and go make everything better. How about you? It’s hard, isn’t it? I’ve learned to slow down in the moment, get quiet, remember the promises God has given me about my child, and ask for prayer support.
When my child sent that uneasy feeling kind of text, I encouraged them to do their best to get quiet, turn on some worship music, pray, and allow God to meet them where they were at today.
By grace, I’ve been able to choose trust in God’s ability to meet my child’s need in every way. I intentionally thank him throughout the day for making himself known to my children.
I must give my children the freedom to choose Jesus and press into him. I can provide encouragement and tools, but I cannot save them or become their savior
I read an article recently on how anxiety, fear, and stress impact the brain. The amygdala is an almond-shaped section of the brain that is responsible for a chemical response when negative feelings occur. A simple way to combat these uncomfortable feelings is to breathe deep, practice meditation, and gratitude. Meditation will help calm and shrink the amygdala. Deep breathing will help get more oxygen to the brain and gratitude will shift thoughts away from the amygdala and move us toward the prefrontal cortex. The PFC is where we can think clearly, be creative and make good judgments about our circumstances. The amygdala lives in the back of the brain and is activated during fight, flight, freeze, or appease moments. Slowing down and taking time to develop a consistent habit of deep breathing and meditation will improve mental health. The benefits of adopting these practices will heighten your emotional intelligence and lessen your emotional response. In other words, it instills a steadiness or calm into your reply or being. Secondly, you gain more mental clarity. Third, you become more self-aware and your empathy increases. Lastly, your attention span grows giving you the ability to stay attuned and present.
There are many examples of meditation in the Bible. Genesis 24:63 says, “And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening.” The main reason God directs us toward meditating is to achieve perfect peace. “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you” (Isaiah 26:3).
How do we become steadfast in our minds? We focus. We get quiet. We meditate. God knows these thoughts will keep our minds in a good and life-giving place. We are to think on what is pure, lovely, and of good report.
Scripture points us toward obtaining peace in this world. Peace from anxiety and stress. God came to give us his peace. It is his gift to us. Don’t yield to fear or be troubled in your hearts; instead, be courageous!”
Patti Reed is wife to Frank and mom to Ryan and Hope. She homeschooled her children for 7 years with a commitment to impact the spiritual, emotional and intellectual health and growth of her children. She is an Entrepreneur and owned a Christian advertising business for 18 years here in DFW. Her most recent venture as a new author and certified coach in conversational intelligence®? began over three years ago when she answered God’s call to write a devotional for parents of teens/young adults coming this Spring.
Wash Day Grief
Have you ever noticed the settings on your washing machine as they relate to grief? Consider these common washing machine settings:
NORMAL: Normal responses following a loss may include mood changes, changes in eating and sleeping patterns, feelings of anger, abandonment, despair, loss of concentration, loss of energy, and the loss of motivation. These responses can vary based upon previous loss experiences, our relationships, and even our personality.
SMALL LOAD: Each person’s grief is a major life event. However, there may be some days the grief pain is not as intense. These days offer the time to catch your breath. Regardless of the relationship…regardless of the circumstances surrounding the loss…it is a major loss.
LARGE LOAD: Grief can bring on very intense feelings. These feelings can be overwhelming, even to someone with a history of always being under control. We can be paralyzed emotionally because of the shock a loss brings.
SPIN CYCLE: Several events can throw a griever into a “spin cycle”. Holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, photos, music, food, and even fragrances can begin the “spin cycle” of emotions. These are normal twists and turns along the journey of grief.
RINSE CYCLE: The rinse cycle is a time of refreshing. Tears provide a natural rinsing, a cleansing of the soul. Grief encompasses all of the confusing and painful emotions felt after a loss. Mourning is the outward expression of these feelings...whether through tears, words, or actions.
COOL DOWN: No one can take grief away. Expressing grief to a safe person, or becoming part of a grief support group, can provide a “cool down” time. These steps can help soften the pain of grief, but the awareness of the loss will remain.
Give yourself permission to be a “NORMAL” griever. Some days will bring a “SMALL LOAD” of grief…other days will consist of a “LARGE LOAD”. The “SPIN CYCLE” may be intense at times…while the “RINSE CYCLE” of tears can cleanse the soul as we mourn the loss. Peace and acceptance can offer a “COOL DOWN” phase…a time of rest.
Jesus did NOT say “Blessed are those who GRIEVE”! But, He DID say “Blessed are those who MOURN, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4. Grief is the confusing tangle of emotions and feelings that are within following a loss. These may feel like loneliness, sadness, emptiness, anger, guilt and regrets. No one can see our grief, it is personal and private.
But, when we talk about these feelings the grief becomes mourning. A good definition of mourning is “grief gone public”. Mourning may be talking about the feelings, or even actions to honor the life of a loved one who died. Every one grieves, but not everyone mourns in a healthy manner.
Find a safe person who will let you talk about your feelings. As you talk about your grief you are mourning the loss…according to Jesus, that is when you find comfort.
Psalms 147:3 “He heals the brokenhearted, He binds up their heart”.
Bob Willis has served as a Southern Baptist minister and hospice Bereavement Coordinator. He is a frequent speaker on grief, loss, and caregiver issues. His book “A Guide For Grievers” was released in June 2017, providing information on grief and supporting those who have experienced a loss. Bob has been a sculptor for over 25 years. In May of 2018, he became the Sculptor at The Great Passion Play, Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
Set your house in order because Christ could come today . . .
And some tasks may be unfinished if you are called away.
An angel may have told you at the early morning light . . .
“Your Lord will come this evening and you’ll be home with Him tonight.”
Our hearts may become clouded as we think of work undone . . .
Those seeds that weren’t scattered and the crowns that we might have won.
There were souls we meant to speak to and Bible verses we meant to share . . .
And there were a lot of wasted moments we could have spent in prayer.
Now there are a few short moments to set undone things right . . .
And feverishly we’d labor until we see the warning light.
We all have a slothful soul and a careless heart and some spiritual eyes that seem to have no sight . . .
We need to work, and not reap in vain regrets, because my Lord Jesus may come tonight.
“Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Matthew 24:44)
Tom Kesting was born and raised in Bluefield, West Virginia, and attended West Virginia University on a football scholarship. He worked in the marketplace doing sales and marketing for 30 years and worked at In Touch Ministries for 26 years. Tom became a Christian when he was 41 years old. Three days a week he broadcasts a 15-minute inspiration program on Facebook and sends out daily encouraging emails to friends and to those interested in positive encouragement and inspiration. Tom lives in Lilburn, Georgia, and has been married for 20 years.
I’ve never liked the board game Monopoly. There’s so much not to like. First and foremost, I was never any good at it. Even if I happened to be first to land on valuable property—which I seldom was, I was too cheap to buy it.
I personally find the game extremely boring. It takes forever to play. I could watch ten full seasons of “SpongeBob Squarepants”—with commercials—in the time it takes to play a single game. Around and around the board, and for what? Financial gain. Store up wealth with property, houses and hotels and collect from other saps playing along. Woo-hoo.
There have been times in my life when I’ve felt like I’ve drawn a “Go Directly to Hell” card. Times like this morning when Lenise, my twenty-two-year-old daughter who has Downs Syndrome, had diarrhea. She was determined not to sit on the toilet or even get in the bathtub with a handheld showerhead because she wanted to do her business in the jet tub—with the jets on.
Instead of sitting on the toilet, she ran. The results, diarrhea all over the house. Literally. In her bedroom. On the back porch. In the enclosed patio. And all over the living room floor where I pinned her down until she stopped purging. By this time her system was cleaned out so I relented to let her in the big tub. Score one for Lenise.
What appears to be a simple procedure actually involved a lot of yelling and screaming prayers for help—both on my part. I prayed for help in getting Lenise to the guest bathroom and for help resisting the temptation to do serious bodily harm to her. My latter prayer was answered, but not without yelling and leg slapping. Again, both on my part. We were both doused with feces. The difference being, Lenise was covered externally. I was minimally contaminated externally, but was internally saturated.
And so, as with similar times through the course of Lenise’s life, I’ve again felt I’d received the “Go to Hell” card for ungodly display of anger. Not to mention seriously ugly thoughts I have no wish to disclose. Fortunately, this is not a common occurrence, but still…
Yet, this time was vastly different. In the past, I’d easily fall prey to the feeling like I may go to hell because of these rare episodes. This time, however, while I received no assistance and no clue as to how to prevent further defilement throughout the house, God handed me a “GET OUT OF HELL, FREE” card. How?
“He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” —2 Corinthians 12:9
And as King David said, “How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered!” —Psalm 32:1
Though I didn’t like Monopoly, there was one time when I enjoyed playing. It’s the only time I recall our family playing any game together. I was nine years old. My father was the bank keeper. My brother Alan and I were losing so every now and then Dad slipped money under the table to us. He was cheating and I loved him for it.
My heavenly Father is cheated on my behalf, too. I was lost in sin. The penalty for sin is death, but God sent His Son, Jesus, to take my place. His resurrection cheated Satan and the grave. He continues to cheat death not for me alone, but for everyone who puts their trust in Him. Even when we fall short, we can come to Him in repentance and receive His loving grace.
“For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” —Col 1:14
That means we WIN! We win a victor’s crown of life which makes all the wealth of this world look like phony money.
My Father cheated death. And I love Him for it.
BIO: Vivien Chambers spent many of her early years in Tacoma, Washington. She moved with her husband to Texas in 1981 and now resides in the Fort Worth area. Vivien has served as a Stephen Minister and presently enjoys volunteering as an assistant in a Multiple Sclerosis swim class. Vivien is currently working on her first book. She has five grown children and six grandchildren.
Published on Monday, June 1, 2020 @ 2:30 PM CDT
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