Category Archives: goodness of God

Fear Is a Choice

Fear’s greatest deception may be that it carries an air of inevitability – as if fear is the only appropriate response to a very troubling circumstance. Yet the phrase, “Do not fear,” appears 57 times in the Bible. The Lord is not only encouraging us not to fear, but clearly indicating we don’t have to fear. Fear is, after all, a choice. Does the Lord make it too easy? Perhaps we just make it too hard.

The Bible and history provide a long list of those who scoffed at fear in the midst of the most daunting dilemmas. You can join this list. Still have some doubts? Honestly, I still struggle with fears and insecurities. I’ve been thinking recently about root beliefs that bring me freedom from fear. The Lord wants to be our Stronghold, not fear.

1) God is on your side.

The God and King of the universe adopts those who receive Jesus’ free gift of righteousness into His royal family. (more on how here). To make this possible, He gave us His very best – Jesus. All other needs are minor and He willingly meets those needs FOR FREE. Freedom from fear is one of the “all things” that He freely guarantees in Romans 8.

If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? – Romans 8:31b-32

 2) God guarantees victory over any fear.

Think about it – can anything be stronger or more powerful than God or His love? No possible way! So we can be totally victorious over fear in any situation – including sickness.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. – Romans 8:35 & 37

 Please note: the ability and power to overcome fear does not come from you – it comes from Him!

 3) God is not punishing you.

Sometimes we believe that we deserve something bad to happen to us. So the Lord will certainly not deliver us or even help us – we are on our own. This would certainly be cause to fear – if it were true. We must shake all guilt and shame through the work and shed blood of Christ on the cross. If you have trusted in Him and Him alone as your personal Savior, realize He has taken away all of your sins at the cross, even sins for which you’re struggling to forgive yourself.

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. – Romans 8:1

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. – 1 John 4:18 

Don’t ask for freedom from fear. Based on these passages, you already have it! So just claim your freedom now. Just thank Him now for granting it to you freely!

For a related devotional – check out “Panic Is A Choice.”

Lord, we fear NOTHING with You on our side!

93 Million Reasons Why

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:9

Could the Lord have created a solar system on a smaller scale? Well sure, He can do anything. Is there a message in the vastness of the scale He chose? Definitely! To quote Him: “As high as the heavens are above the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Now, do we really believe we could advise the Lord on how to better run His universe? The closest star in the heavens is a mere 93 million miles higher than the earth – quite the “knowledge gap.”cross & sun picture

To get a better grip on this gap, consider the quiz God gave Job after listening to him spout off about the mysteries of His universe. Yet realize God’s list of questions for Job continues on for several chapters.

Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Now gird up your loins like a man, and I will ask you, and you instruct Me! Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”

Job quickly got the point. To properly evaluate God’s choices, our experience, wisdom and capabilities must match His experience, wisdom and capabilities. Keep in mind, Job’s exchange with God came fresh from the pain of Job’s loss of his ten children, all of his possessions, and last but not least, his health. So even in the agony of the tragic storms of life we have to remind ourselves of the knowledge gap.

Recently Stronghold Ministry has been praying for two young mothers fighting Stage IV metastatic melanoma. No doubt our intensity has been miniscule compared to the wrestling of small armies of friends and family. Still, both mothers passed away this past month… and both had four children. I, along with many others ask, “Why, Lord?”

Let’s suppose the best, most insightful answers to this question forms a tall mountain, the Mt. Everest of human understanding. Still, while comparing our highest mountain peak to the height of the sun, our answers are dwarfed by God’s answers. Someday in heaven we’ll fully explore and grasp the wonders of His ways, but for now, what can bridge this gap?

At the top of our knowledge mountain stands a cross – The Wonderful Cross – which extends through the heavens, touching the outer edges of the universe, and forever declaring God’s good intentions towards us. Once we were totally undeserving, yet He sent Jesus, His Son, to sacrifice Himself on that cross to deliver us sinners from eternal death and punishment.

 For Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the heavens, You who have done great things; O God, who is like You? (Psalm 71:19).

 For me, the cross fully explains all that I don’t yet understand. How about you?

Lord, we struggle – but help us trust your heart.

Born This Way

Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. -Habakkuk 3:17-18

When my son and daughter were about 10 & 9 years old, we were walking along the shore of a lake. My son abruptly announced, “I smell Mexican food.” We were two miles from any restaurant, so I thought he might just be hungry. We walked another one hundred yards, and as we got closer to a truck parked along the lake, he said, “It’s in there.” Sure enough, as we looked at the seat of the unoccupied truck, there was a full bag of fast food from a familiar restaurant. I asked him how he could have detected the food from such a long distance, he said, “Dad, I was born to eat Mexican food.”

Now we all have different tastes and callings which we were born to carry out, but there is a common inclination in every human – praise. We are innately and unavoidably drawn to find things awesome. Though we are awe-struck by many things – singers, athletes, a sunset – our Designer intended the primary object of our adoration to be Himself. He certainly is worthy, not only because of His amazing deeds, but because of His incomparable nature. Words fail to describe Him.

Praising God may flow best when circumstances are favorable. Yet when we encounter adversity, our hearts may turn elsewhere. We may be unimpressed with His ability or willingness to spare us of troubles.

Yet one thing I want to practice this year is to praise Him always. Habakkuk grasped the unconditional aspects of true worship. He wanted to praise and exult God even if he had no food! The patriarch, Job, praised God after he lost all of his earthly belongings and all ten of his children.

Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” -Job 1:20-21.

Some of us are in very difficult physical or spiritual condition because of cancer or some other trial. We don’t feel like praising, but praise lifts us into true joy above worldly suffering into heavenly realms. There, all that matters is that God is good and He always has the last word. So praise Him! Praise becomes you. You were born for this.

Lord, give us a spirit of praise and worship of You – You are worthy!

Star Maker

To whom then will you liken Me that I would be his equal?” says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these stars, The One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, Not one of them is missing. – Isaiah 40:25-26

When Isaiah recorded these words of God, he knew the stars were numerous and beautiful. Little did he know the true scale of the vastness of the heavens. Astronomers tell us there are 200 billion stars residing in just one of the smaller galaxies, the Milky Way. The universe holds a mere 3,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars! That’s three thousand million billion stars, each of which God has assigned a name. I suppose remembering so many names is easy compared to creating them in the first place. (Oh and all of those movie stars – He created them too).

The sheer volume of stars boggles the brain, but their beauty is equally astounding. We are just beginning to capture images of what God has fashioned in the far corners of the universe. We call cloud formations of clouds of gas, dust and stars – nebulae. Do yourself a favor and take a moment to view these images of nebulae, allowing “the greatness of His might and the strength of His power” to sink in.

Is it any wonder that in hard times, God asks us to look away from our earthly dilemmas and look up to Him and His stellar handiwork? Still, how does this help if we’re sick and laying flat on our backs?

In May of 2003, when I was battling Stage IV metastatic melanoma, I remember lying in a hospital bed, shaken by doubts and fears which had broad-sided me in the wee hours of the night. As the Lord began redirecting my focus, He reminded me of the complexity and vastness of His creation, and how amazingly awesome He is. Out of nothing, He designed and launched this entire cosmos. Yet Psalm 139:17-18 tell us He thinks of you and me constantly AND with great fondness. Romans 8:28 says He works ALL things to the good for those who love Him.

So what is there to fear? The Star Maker loves us!

Lord, give us just a glimpse of your true nature and we will be lifted out of our troubles.

All-Wise, All-Powerful, and Amazingly Tender

And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.” – Mark 14:36

What a prayer! Jesus knew a few things about our Father, didn’t He? The following are some observations about Jesus’ understanding of His Father’s heart towards Him… and us.

1) The Father was tender.
Jesus called the Father, “Abba,” which is like calling Him daddy or papa. The Father enjoys intimacy with us. Do you want to have that closeness with Him? Do you let Him get that close to you? Open up to Him.

2) The Father was all powerful.
“All things are possible for You.”

During my cancer journey, I had seen enough of Stage IV metastatic melanoma to know it was bigger than me and modern medicine. Still, a thought kept bolstering my sense of well-being: cancer is absolutely no match for God Almighty.

He can do anything; nothing is too hard for Him. He could snap His finger and make it all go away. For me, that stripped ALL of the power from cancer, and put it all on God. He always has the last word.

3) The Father’s will is best.
“Yet not what I will, but what You will.”
Jesus was content to yield to His Father’s final decision. Still He prayed three times for “the cup to pass.” Jesus was asking for some other way to accomplish man’s redemption, which would not entail his crucifixion and “becoming sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Yet Jesus knew if the Father asked Him to go through with the crucifixion that He would be there for Him in the end. Even though He felt forsaken for a time, the joy of their relationship was soon restored.

So we can rest in His power, decisions, and heart towards us, while not fearing ANY outcome. He is good. Praying and rooting for you all!

Lord, open our eyes to Your awesome power and tender heart.

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Find out if getting to heaven is by being good – The Two Ways To Get To Heaven

How to Handle “One of Those Days”

The LORD is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble, And He knows those who take refuge in Him.
Nahum 1:7

At some point in our lives, we’ll endure a “day of trouble.” Wouldn’t it be nice if troubles lasted just 24 hours? But in Hebrew, “day” can mean some indefinite period of time, which some call a “season.” Perhaps you find yourself in the middle of “one of those days,” even a long fight against cancer. There is plenty of hope for you, because those who turn to the Lord will find great relief. Nahum 1:7 provides three key lessons on how to handle the day of trouble.

1) Trust the goodness of the Lord during our trials.

Nahum first focuses on the goodness of God, not the trial. “The Lord is good.” He is always good, and we can access His goodness as He pours out comfort, assurance and peace. Perhaps our greatest error is to equate His goodness with His removal of our trials. We mistakenly reason, “God, if You’re good, you will remove me from this trouble… now.” Trust Him, He has other ways to arrive at our ultimate good.

2) Lean on Him during our trials.

The term “stronghold” is a military term describing a fortified city that was well defended and hard to breach. It is a reference to the Lord’s mighty protection and strength. He guards our hearts from spiritual attacks such as fear, self-pity, condemnation and doubts. He provides a “refuge” or shelter from any storm.

He certainly held me up during my fierce battle with Stage IV metastatic melanoma. In May of 2003, after being given days to live, I had become so weakened by surgeries, treatments, and being human, that I found myself losing my grip. As I cried out to Him, He reminded me that though I was out of control, He wasn’t. Though I was worried, He wasn’t. He had a firm grip on me, and I found Him to be a powerful Stronghold. This is why we named our ministry to cancer patients, Stronghold Ministry, in honor of His promise to carry us through days of trouble.

3) Answer the Lord’s invitation to an ever-deepening relationship with Him.

Nahum uses an intriguing phrase here, that the Lord “knows those who take refuge in Him.” This reminds me of Psalm 139 where God tells us He knows everything about us. His thoughts are not only countless, but precious towards us. As we turn to Him, He reveals Himself in the form of an incredible companionship.

Nothing could be better than to be personally “known” by God Himself! Think for a moment of a human hero/heroine or yours. It’s one thing to know all about your hero, but it is quite another when he/she knows everything about you!

So when you’re confused and frustrated in your day of trouble, turn to Him, not away from Him. You’re not alone. He is good, and He is your Stronghold in the day of trouble.

Pie in the Sky Now

Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love him.1 Corinthians 2:9

This verse deals with heaven, right? Quiz time. To what time or era does it refer? Though many will answer, “Heaven,” this verse has already been fulfilled today on earth!

The verse is a quotation of Isaiah 64:4, where Isaiah longs for the day when God will reveal Himself. In 1 Corinthians 2, Paul declares that day has come. God has given us His Spirit, a Guide to explain His deepest thoughts. “Now we have received … the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God” (1 Corinthians 2:12). Note the past tense. He has already given these things, and they were free!

What are these things we already possess? Here is a short list:

  • His love (Romans 5:5).
  • His peace (John 14:27).
  • His wisdom (James 1:5).
  • His joy (John 16:24).
  • His comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

Some might wonder if we can possibly experience these blessings when we’re sick. Yet if one considers the context of each of these promises, they’ve been freely given to those in the midst of great tribulations!

If you believe in the goodness of God, ask yourself, would He allow us to go through hardship and not be our Stronghold through it? Will He fail to provide the necessary resources to handle the pain? He shows up greater when our need is greater. When I lean on the Lord in my troubles, I find my experience of His goodness is greatest.

“Pie in the sky” does not have to be “by and by.” The “things freely given to us by God,” and “all that God has prepared for those who love Him,” are for our enjoyment now!

Lord, please help us depend on you to discover all that you have prepared for us today!

Find out if heaven is freely given –
The Two Ways To Get To Heaven

Help

Hebrews 4:15 – For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 4:16 – Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Sometimes the concepts in these verses get separated, and we forget their amazing connection. The One who now dispenses grace and mercy from the universe’s throne struggled with the same human weaknesses which we experience!

Jesus Christ suffered and then became the perfect liason between God’s resources and our needs. He was tested, and mastered every type of battle – physical, emotional, relational and spiritual. Yet He did not seek out suffering, in fact He sought to avoid the agony of the cross. He’s felt the sting of man’s rejection. He was misunderstood, judged, and publicly humiliated. He knows what it’s like to cry out to the Father yet feel forsaken.

So with hard-earned sympathy, Jesus offers help, His grace, which is a supernatural ability to cope. He wants to be with us, and carry us through our battles. He is not some distant Monarch, but a tender Shepherd who guides and strengthens.

In addition to grace, He offers mercy. Unlike Jesus, I have not always handled suffering well. During my battle with advanced Stage IV metastatic melanoma, I complained, raged, and wallowed in self-pity. I was often frustrated that I could not handle the battle. Though He knew my sins and weaknesses, He continued to plead, “Don’t let the past stop you from seeking My help now.” This is mercy. He forgives if we approach through Jesus Christ’s work on the cross, not our own works (more on His forgiveness here).

In the end, His grace and mercy are “sufficient,” enabling us to weather impossible circumstances. He took on our substantial weakness, so we could partake of His incredible strength. So  let’s boldly ask and expect Him to help in our time of need!

The Great Consolation

That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. Philippians 3:10

We seek to encourage people who are experiencing considerable pain. When pain wracks the body, it seizes the attention of our entire being. We cry out for relief to God and man. When relief is not found or granted, what then? Could there be some redeeming benefit to pain and suffering?

Like us, Paul sought God to remove his painful trials, and Paul certainly understood pain. A partial list of his sufferings is found in 2 Corinthians 12:24-25, “Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned.” When release from these sufferings did not come for Paul, he discovered The Great Consolation, knowing Jesus Christ, the great soother of pain.

For Paul, having a tight relationship with Jesus became the overriding goal of his life. Pain relief was secondary. But why? What did he gain from knowing Christ?

Paul provides several points of gain in knowing Christ through pain:

1) Knowing Him is the ultimate discovery of life anyway!
“I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord”
(Philippians 3: 8). Paul reset his affections from lesser, worldly desires, to Jesus Christ. As a result, he experienced the incredible kindness, love, and comfort of Christ. Thus he was drawn deeper and deeper into experiencing the most attractive Being in the universe. Could pain be the unexpected catalyst to awaken us to life’s most rewarding relationship?

2) Sharing in His sufferings leads to sharing in His resurrection power.
“That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings”
(Philippians 3: 10). When we turn to Him in our pain, He touches us with His powerful presence. Then His resurrection power surges in and through us. His strength is perfected in our weakness. We find ourselves in His grip with an other worldly peace, and unquenchable hope.

3) Clarity of purpose to pursue eternal goals.
“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”
(Philippians 3: 14).
To word this another way, it is extremely wise to leverage our time and efforts for eternally rewarding purposes. Then in the end, the payoff will be crystal clear. We will have answered His call, and thereby stored up vast treasures… in heaven! This is the ultimate focus, to tell of His goodness in every circumstance.

When we take our suffering and pain to the Lord, He pulls back the curtain to show us Himself. He is the Great Consolation. Where are you turning in the midst of your pain? Let’s draw near to know Him through the pain.

Thankful in Everything?

In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Sometimes God’s requests seem illogical, sometimes impossible, and sometimes both. How can we give thanks in the midst of excruciating pain, or overwhelming grief? This is precisely, however, what He asks of us, and Paul seems to anticipate resistance. He adds, “This is His will for you in Christ Jesus.”

It may be His will for us to give thanks in everything, but is it our will? Honestly, during my battle with cancer, thankfulness was not often on my radar screen. Yet if a loving God wants us to do something, it must somehow benefit us, even if we don’t feel like complying. Once we shift over to thanksgiving, we discover the Lord’s wisdom, as perspective changes everything.

So thankfulness makes sense, but is it always possible? Job proved humans can give thanks despite great grief and pain. He praised and worshiped God after the death of his children, servants, and livestock. Then he blessed God despite an incredibly painful skin disease.

We can imitate Job because we have the same resources from which to draw. In fact, in this New Testament era, we have more resources than Job, if we depend on Christ’s supernatural power, which is available to those who have received Him as Savior (more on how to receive Christ).

So giving thanks in everything is not only logical, but possible. Here are three points for which I was thankful during my battle.

1) God’s nearness

He revealed His presence to me in tangible ways. More than once He gave me an “other-worldly” peace which could not be explained, especially given my physical and emotional condition. It certainly didn’t come from me!

2) People’s support

Though people could not take away my suffering, they sure did lighten my load. I was often amazed and thankful for the genuine care I received from so many. People’s love should not be taken for granted.

3) Clearer perspective

Being incapacitated revealed the shallowness of some of my normal pursuits. One example: I “saw” the emptiness of popular culture. Or did I see my own emptiness, to be so mindlessly entertained and distracted by basically nothing?

Lord, we hurt, but help us to focus on the many things for which we can still be thankful.

Strong Quiet Confidence

In quietness and confidence (trust) is your strength – Isaiah 30:15.

I’m adopting Isaiah 30:15 for a resolution this new year. I want to be quiet before the Lord and confidently trust in the Lord on a daily basis. This is the path to strength. Ecclesiastes 10:10 says, “If the axe is dull and he does not sharpen its edge, then he must exert more strength. Wisdom has the advantage of giving success.” I can work really hard, but if I’m not working wisely, my strength will be sapped.

If I practice quietness and confidence consistently, I will not:

  • Fret over things I cannot control.
  • Fume when people block my goals. Do I really think puny people are “bigger” than God, or that anyone can block HIS goals?
  • Fixate on figuring out my problems. How’s that been working out for me?

If I practice quietness and confidence consistently, I will:

  • Be proactive only after quiet discernment. Compulsion acts for action’s sake. In a crisis or in everyday life, wisdom pauses before the Lord to consider the most beneficial action. “Acknowledge Him in all your ways…”
  • Be patient trusting answers will come when I need them. What if roadblocks are designed to trigger heartfelt talks with the Lord? Sometimes I bounce off roadblocks to go in another direction; sometimes I try to bust through roadblocks. Neither method is wise with a personal God. The reason quietness leads to strength is then I can “hear” Him, not in an audible way, but in the form of wisdom and guidance, which He promises in James 1:5-8. He cares about the details of my life.
  • Be persevering even in the face of great setbacks, because I know setbacks are part of His grand plan. Someday I will understand all of the twists and turns of my life, though it may be in heaven. Psalm 46:10 reads, “Be still (or cease striving) and know that I am God.” This verse continues, “I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” So I want to trust His overall plans. A huge part of His exaltation is His awesome goodness. He is, after all, good; and He is good all of the time.

Amen?

Keep Yourself In God’s Love

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. -Psalm 139:17

When fighting cancer wracks our body with pain and rubs our emotions raw, it’s not easy to focus on God’s love for us. At such times, we may wonder if God even loves us at all! If He loves us so much, why doesn’t He say the word and remove our pain and heal our jangled emotions? David must have wondered about God’s love. God had anointed him king over Israel in Saul’s place, yet David did not consolidate his throne for 21 long years. Saul had made finding and killing David his life’s priority. David spent years running and fighting for his life.

Despite the toxic hate that surrounded him, David mastered a mindset that kept him experiencing God’s love. God did not have to circumstantially “prove” His love, by removing Saul from his life. Perhaps David’s secret was his focus. He learned how to tune into the loving whispers of God deep in His spirit. He didn’t let Saul or anything steal his sensing of God’s love, a love which is incredibly abundant. My daughter, Amy, wrote recently about David’s description of the extent of God’s love:

Think about all the sand grains in the world. Like at the bottom of the ocean floor… between your toes… sand volleyball… the beach & the sandy edges of lakes… the sand MOUNTAINS in the deserts… the little glass vases filled with sand in people’s bathrooms. That is a lot of sand! So God thinks about you MORE than the number of sand grains on earth. His thoughts toward you are precious. See Psalm 139 (verse 17).

God’s positive thoughts about you outnumber the sand grains in the world?! Focus on that; let it soak in deep into your spirit.

Carried Out of the Desert

Let his left hand be under my head and his right hand embrace me… Who is this coming up from the wilderness Leaning on her beloved? – Song of Songs 8:3 & 5.

I love the fall weather in Dallas. Some plants actually start blooming instead of wilting from the heat. Buds peak out, hoping more water and cooler air will allow them to fully bloom. Recently, while coming out of my own dry season, I feel afraid I will lean on those blessings too hard and they will disappear. Joe is playing basketball again after more than two years of sitting out because of neck and back issues. My son, Jesse, has found a job he loves after seven months of unemployment. My daughter, Amy, is scheduled to graduate from college soon. God has been good through this heat wave, but I didn’t always believe in His goodness, I was often just hoping.

Then I read in The Song of Songs in 8:3 & 5, “Let his left hand be under my head and his right hand embrace me.” And, “Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning on her beloved?” I see myself learning to walk out of the wilderness, feeling His right hand embracing me (Jesus is at the right hand of the Father – Ephesians 1:20)… and letting His left hand hold my head up to look Him in the eyes (Fixing my eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith – Hebrews 12:2)… as I learn to lean on my beloved for the next steps in my life.

Some days it is easy to see and feel His hold on me. On other hot, dry days, I just have to plain believe He has His hold on me. May this be a day you believe and feel He is embracing you.

Three Doctrines To Buoy the Spirit and Anchor the Soul

Nothing makes Bible doctrines come to life like desperation. While I was fighting cancer, I was reassured by three facts about God that buoyed my spirit and anchored my soul.

1) The Sovereignty of God

Despite pain, oppression, and confusion, it was comforting to know He was in absolute control over my life. Nothing was or can be stronger than Him, or stand in His way. Though man was powerless over the Stage IV metastatic melanoma which ravaged my pancreas, lung, kidney, stomach and lymph system, I knew God could remove every trace of cancer at any time. He would have the last word, because He always has the last word. Jesus expressed The Sovereignty of God this way, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God” – Luke 18:27. Does this begin to lift your spirit?

2) The Goodness of God

God is good all of the time. He proved this forever when He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for me while I was a sinner and enemy (Romans 5:6-8). After becoming a son and heir through Christ, how much more will He cause His goodness to sovereignly flow to me? Paul summarized The Goodness of God in this way, “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” – Romans 8:28. He pours out goodness so we can conquer anything.

3) The Incomprehensibility of God

A big word, but there is much we don’t understand about His ways. Asaph, the Psalmist, described His Incomprehensibility in this way, “Your way was in the sea and Your paths in the mighty waters, and Your footprints may not be known” – Psalm 77:19. As with Israel at the Red Sea, God may carry us to a place that confuses and upsets us. We don’t always see the way through on this side of heaven, and He doesn’t always explain why He allows painful seasons. But we don’t have to trust blindly. We can be so certain of His Sovereignty and Goodness that we don’t need to understand now! We’re just confident He will produce a good outcome. We don’t need to figure everything out! This lifts a heavy burden from us. We can let Him navigate and focus on relaxing!

These truths work together to provide a supernatural peace and stability no matter what happens. So when in pain, don’t turn away from Him, turn to Him!

Tear Collector

God has allowed some of His closest servants to suffer greatly. David was a magnet for suffering, attracting multitudes of enemies, yet God called him, “A man after my own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). David was chased around the wilderness by Saul, whom God allowed to usurp David’s throne. God also allowed Saul to seek to take David’s life. As David hid, he was often forced into the hate-filled Philistine’s territory. His soul had no rest from legitimate fears. He found himself exhausted and alone in the wilderness. His memoirs in the Psalms reveal the depths of his distress, and the sheer volume of his tears. Evidently, real men cry.

“Every night I make my bed swim, I dissolve my couch with my tears” (Psalm 6:6).

Did God notice David’s tears? Does God care about our tears?

Tears are deep and wholehearted prayers to God. He captures and collects them. He knows the journeys of those who wander in the wilderness and in the enemy territory of cancer. He is noticing and watching and mapping our steps.

“You have taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?” (Psalm 56:8).

It was many years before God completely consolidated David’s kingdom. In the meantime, David trusted God. Psalm 56 is often called a “trust” psalm. David told himself the truth; God is always worthy of our trust.

“When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid” (Psalm 56:3-4).

God is always for you, even when you’re wandering in the wilderness. He is definitely for you when you’re fighting for your life. So, like David, say to yourself,

“This I know, that God is for me.” (Psalm 56:9).