With everything going on in the world lately, I find myself often unsettled and needing God’s peace and comfort more and more. I also find myself wondering where do I go to find it?
God has shown me a couple of ways to return to His joy and peace.
~Be in each moment and embrace the gift that moment gives me—beauty in my blooming flowers, a candle lit on the coffee table, closeness in conversation with a loved one even if it must be over phone, cooking, enjoying what I’ve cooked with family, watching our grandsons get excited about the first raspberries of summer, and swinging on my porch swing.
All of these are gifts I can easily overlook if my eyes are not expectantly looking for how God will show up.
~But more than having a new perspective to see the gifts of God in each day, I need God’s Word in my heart and mind. I am currently using LifeWay’s Know His Word 2020* Bible reading plan. This month’s theme is suffering—Living in a Broken World. As they stated in the introduction for this month, when they chose this theme a year ago they couldn’t have known what spring 2020 would bring, but God did. These passages have been so helpful to help me see how God responds to suffering, how I can pray for those who are suffering, and see the hope in many different kinds of suffering. Among the questions I ask myself as I study each passage:
~How is God with those who suffer?
~How did the sufferer respond to God?
~How did God comfort those who suffer? How can I comfort others in a similar way?
~How can I apply what I’ve learned?
I want to share with you a few truths I’ve learned that calm my spirit, help me rest in God’s peace, and have joy in this difficult time:
- God uses problems and trials to develop my endurance and character (Romans 5:1-21). I wouldn’t put this goal on the top of my goals for 2020. But think about it. Without endurance and character, we are spoiled children—selfish, bratty, unpleasant to be around. I could go on. God loves us too much to let us become a spoiled child. As we will see in what comes next, He will be with us as we endure and develop godly character.
- Over and over I noted how God wants us to pray about the situation and how He answers our prayers (Luke 18:1-18, 2 Kings 4:8-37, Romans 8:18-39)
- When things are hard and beyond what I can imagine and I have no idea what to pray and I know I don’t have enough strength to pray what the situation needs, the Holy Spirit prays for me more powerfully than I ever could (Romans 8:18-39).
- No matter what has come into my life, God will use it for good. Again, I can’t understand this, but I trust God and on occasion I have seen the answers (Romans 8:28).
- God will give me what I need to do the work He’s given me and will make me “strong out of weakness” (Hebrews 11:1-40). This one especially encouraged me. Yes, life is hard, but God, He has me. He will give me what I need and trade my weakness for His strength.
- I love the story of Elijah meeting with God during his extremely down time (1 Kings 19:1-18). I am encouraged by a number of things in this story.
- Elijah tells God exactly what he’s feeling. He doesn’t hold back. And God gives him space to do so. God isn’t angered or offended. He lets Elijah vent more than once.
- God responds with what Elijah needs—food and rest at first.
- Then God speaks to Elijah in a way he can hear. I love that. God does that for each of us. Like Elijah, we need to be listening when God is ready to speak.
- God gives Elijah his next assignment and reassures Elijah that He has been working and has a plan. Evil has not prevailed and will not prevail. God has this.
- Now it’s up to Elijah to move forward from this difficult season of his life and do the next thing God has given him to do. Eyes on God, not the enemy.
Life is crazy currently. But none of it is too big for God. Pray, pour out your heart to God. Leave it with Him. Get in His Word. Receive His peace and comfort and joy. Then do the next thing He gives you to do. And don’t forget to enjoy the gifts He gives you each day.
Brenda Garrison is an author and speaker who empowers women with the confidence to live their calling. Brenda is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Ministry Leadership with a Concentration in Women’s Ministry at Moody Bible Institute. She and her husband, Gene, are the parents of three young adult daughters and live near Metamora, IL.