What a world….

What a world we live in. Most days I feel we live in a wonderful world and am thankful God has given me the chance to experience it. But on days when tragedy strikes I wonder why I think this world is so wonderful – its all just really scary.

The terrible explosions that happened April 15 in Boston on the day of the marathon rocked all of us to the core. Some of us knew people running in the race or knew people who were there to watch. We frantically texted them to make sure they were all right. We wondered if other bombs would go off there or even nearer to us. We wonder why these tragic events happened. We became afraid of what could happen next.

When some person or group takes out whatever their anger or hatred they have on innocent human beings it robs everyone of their joy and peace- at least for a time. Children wonder if a bomb will go off at their school or during soccer practice. Adults wonder if they should attend that major league baseball game for fear something might happen. Our lives are robbed of joy….and that makes me so angry. I pray and cry for the victims and those who died in the wake of those explosions, but I also cry for all of us because after each one of these tragedies we are changed forever in some way.

In a world that is out of control – we as humans look for some way to be in control. The harder we try the harder it seems to be to gain the control. When terrible things happen it makes us realize how unkind the world can be – and how not in control we really are. We look for a reason for why these terrible things happen. All the reasons n the world will not make sense of any of these tragedies. There will always be something out there trying to steal our joy- and fill us with fear.

So what to do? As Christians we know we are living in a temporary home. We know we will experience hard times and joys. The only thing we can do when darkness strikes is to reach for the light of our loving God. .                 2 Corinthians 4:18- So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. We may question God – wondering why these things happen and we may just never know- but keep reaching your hand up because God is there to comfort you in the darkness. Isaiah 49:13 – Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones. (NIV). God will take your hand and help to heal your heart.

We cannot let the bad things of this world steal our joy and make us fear. If we let this happen we are shrinking our lives and not living the life God wants us to live. We have no way of controlling what is around that next bend. But we do know that God is with us every step of the way. If we lean on him he will lift us from our fears. Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (NIV).

I am no stranger to fear and what giving in to that fear can rob you of. I lean on God every day to walk me through fear. In times like this I am more determined than ever to not let the craziness of this world rob me of more of my life. I will mourn with the country and pray for these things to stop happening but I will not allow it to rob me of my joy of life or make me sick with fear. I will believe what my God has told me and trust those words. Otherwise, I am chasing control in a world where gaining control is impossible.— Thank you for reading…

  •  Deuteronomy 31:8 – The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. (NIV).
  • Joshua 1:9 – Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. (NIV)
  • Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
  • Philippians 4:13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Gratitude

I recently wrote this for my church’s newsletter.——–

Perspectives……..by Anne Sweeney

Gratitude-

I had one of those God moments this month. Where a word or thought has popped into my head a number of times. I just felt like God wanted me to write about that word. That word was Gratitude- hence my topic for this month.

What is gratitude? Gratitude in defined on Dictionary.com as the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful.

What is gratitude from a Christian viewpoint? Gratitude in the Christian sense is a spiritual practice. It is about offering a deep thankfulness for the Lord’s work in our lives.

I don’t think I am always truly gracious from the Christian viewpoint. Oh, I give my thanks to those who help me, we say grace each evening, I pray and read the Bible when I can, and I try to thank God each morning that I wake up to another day. But I don’t find that I always have what I call deep gratitude. It’s more than just thanking God. It is the need to be more intentional in gratitude. As Christians we have so much to be thankful for.

When I realize what has been given to me by Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection I can hardly believe what I have been given. I surely don’t deserve it. The more I look into myself from a Godly perspective the more awful I seem. There is NO way I could ever get into heaven if it was not for Jesus Christ and His sacrifice He made. I have been given amazing grace!

In a society where we want this and that, and we feel entitled to this and that, we often feel angry when we don’t get what we want. We often blame God. We let the every day stuff stomp out the important things and the things we should have the most gratitude for – the love and grace from God.

Randy Alcorn from Eternal Perspective Ministries puts it like this (and I could not say it any better)” If only we could see our situation clearly—even for a moment. We deserved expulsion; He gives us a diploma. We deserved the electric chair; He gives us a parade. Anything less than overwhelming gratitude should be unthinkable. He owes us nothing. We owe Him everything. When you realize you deserve nothing better than hell, it puts a “bad day” in perspective, doesn’t it?

Uh- yes that gives me some perspective…how about you? When we realize what we , as Christians, have been saved from shouldn’t the gratitude to God and the smaller every day things just overflow from us? I know this does not always happen though. How can we be more intentionally gracious?
If we look at gratitude as a belief system and an intentional way of life- a choice – we can grow our spirit of thankfulness even when we are amidst the negative times in our lives. Jame A. Autry author of “Choosing Gratitude -Learning to Love the Life You Have” reminds us that “there will always be more reasons for gratitude than for despair.” In practicing gratitude the sorrow and bitterness will be replaced with joy and a humbleness for what we are being given but don’t deserve- grace and redemption. I have some work to do! What about you?

Thank you for reading!