Unity in Jesus

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head… For there the Lord bestows His blessing, even life forevermore. – (Psalm 133:1-3, NIV)

Oh, how wonderful, how pleasing it is when God’s people all come together as one! It is like the sweet-smelling oil that is poured over the high priest’s head… It is there that the Lord has promised His blessing of eternal life. – (Psalm 133:1-3, ERV)

How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along! It’s like costly anointing oil flowing down the head… Yes, that’s where God commands the blessing, ordains eternal life. – (Psalm 133:1-3, MSG)

God calls us to live in community with unity. His intent and purpose are for us to get along and work together as one body. When we do, it is like a fragrant anointing, as those around us can see and experience the goodness of God. His blessings are bestowed upon us as we do, for in such space we are continually reminded of His goodness now, and the glorious hope of all that is yet to come. Yesterday, amid mourning and heartache with a beautiful young couple from our church, we witnessed this in a very real and tangible way. Many gathered to celebrate the short life of their baby, who died a few days before his due date in the womb. Despite devastating heartache, there was joy in celebrating together the hope of being reunited one day in heaven. Though the precious boy never was able to experience life with his family, he will never know heartache, sickness, or pain, for he is already in the arms of Jesus where there is perfect peace. The love and support of their family and community was overwhelmingly evident. Together, we gathered as one to celebrate the life and grieve the loss of the precious baby boy. Incredibly, the blessings and joy were more evident than the sorrow. Only in Jesus, is such hope possible. My heart was blessed, despite the tears, in witnessing and supporting the beauty that is found in a community that comes together as one. (For more of Luca’s story, click here) May we ever seek the Lord and His purposes for us, as we rely on Him to help us be in communities that are united, not divided in His perfect love.

Oh, how wonderful,

Is community;

That stands side-by-side,

In true unity.

United purpose,

Love is what is seen;

Brothers and sisters,

Choosing live in peace.

This is the calling,

God give to us all;

Love one another,

Help up those who fall.

When the trials come,

To stand side-by-side;

Love well and support,

With arms open wide.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to be united in community. Thank You that You lead us and equip us to love one another and to encourage and support each other as sisters and brothers. Forgive us for the times that we have allowed differences to divide us rather than unite us, for each of us have strengths and gifts to share that make our community stronger. Show us how to see You in all those whom we encounter. Lead us to love and be in community as You intended. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and love one another, together as one. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. – Ephesians 4:3

Death and Disease No More

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away. – (Revelation 21:4, HCSB)

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, sadness, crying or pain. All the old ways are gone. – (Revelation 21:4, ERV)

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning no more, crying no more, pain no more. For the first things have gone away. – (Revelation 21:4, VOICE)

Though I seldom linger in the book of Revelation, today’s verse of the day was quite timely as I read of yet another friend who lost someone dear to them. It seems that we have been in a constant cycle of losing loved ones, finding out that dear ones are fighting serious diseases and illnesses, and the heaviness and grief of it can be overwhelming. Perhaps it is my age, as my peers and I are now facing the reality of aging parents. Whether it is the aftermath of the pandemic, our age, or simply one of those seasons, there is much comfort in the hope that is yet to come. One day, there will be no more death, grief, crying or pain. That is an incredible promise to hold. I know it is not always a comfort in the wake of immediate loss, yet it is an encouragement that it will not always be like it is right now. May we ever seek the Lord to be our comfort and our hope, for He holds us in the hollow of His hands both now and forevermore.

The weight of sorrow,

Shall one day be gone;

When death is no more,

And love will live on.

Sickness and disease,

Will exist no more;

Grief – nonexistent,

Only good in store.

May we find comfort,

In all that will be;

When love’s what triumphs,

And hearts are set free.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we have the promise and the hope that all that is heavy and hard in the here and now, will one day be no more. Thank You that in You, we have the hope that death, sadness, disease, pain and suffering will pass away, and only love, peace and goodness will remain as we enter Your presence. Forgive us for losing sight of hope when heaviness surrounds us. Teach us to look to You to be our comfort and peace as we hold our hope in You. Lead us to love as You love, so that those around us might find Your hope in seasons of struggle. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, our Prince of Peace. Be glorified O God, as we place our hope in You alone, and extend love to all those around us. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

Life When All Seems Lost

When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw Him, she fell at His feet and told Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died!” – (John 11:32, HCSB)

May went to the place where Jesus was. When she saw Him, she bowed at His feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” – (John 11:32, ERV)

Mary approached Jesus, saw Him, and fell at His feet. “Lord, if only You had been here, my brother would still be alive.” – (John 11:32, VOICE)

There is so much to the story of Lazarus. Though he was the one that Jesus raised from four-days dead, his sister, Mary, was also a key player in the miracle that Jesus provided for people whom He loved. In her grief, Mary spoke to Jesus, acknowledging the power He held in preventing death, and honestly shared her frustration and sorrow that He had not arrived four days sooner. It was not an accusation nor placement of blame, but rather a statement of faith in her sadness. She knew that had Jesus been present, He would have healed her brother. Jesus, full of compassion for His dear friends, wept, and then asked them to take Him to the tomb where Lazarus was laid. Once there, He asked that the stone be rolled away, and then He called out to God to bring Lazarus forth from the grave. Lazarus, still wrapped in grave clothes, walked out of the tomb. For Mary, this miracle went even further beyond her hope of what Jesus could do. Despite witnessing the power of God to raise a man from being four-days in the grave, faith again would be blinded by grief a short time later when Jesus Himself was crucified, died and was buried in a tomb. I wonder if Mary held hope that Jesus might do for Himself what He had done for Lazarus? Incredibly, she was one of the women to whom Jesus appeared after He had risen. Imagine her faith and determination when Jesus told her to go and let the others know. For me, this is a reminder that no matter how far gone things seem to be, God can bring life back to hopes, dreams, promises, and more. He can do immeasurably more than we could hope or imagine. Mary wished that Jesus had been there sooner, yet He still did the impossible. We may hope for answers or direction sooner, yet God can do so much more in His time. May we ever seek the Lord in faith, trusting that He has compassion for us and will move in ways that are even better than we could hope or imagine as we wait and trust in Him.

In disappointment,

And times of sorrow;

We forget who holds,

All our tomorrows.

The very same God,

Who raised up the dead;

Can still move mountains,

Lifter of our heads.

He can restore hope,

Where all seems but lost;

Restore life to dreams,

We thought had been squashed.

Sometimes the answer,

Is not what we’d choose;

Yet there’s always more,

For His love renews.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You restore life into hopes and dreams, even when we think that they are long dead. Thank You that You can do immeasurably more than we could hope or imagine. Forgive us for our faltering faith when things seem hopeless. Teach us to trust in You in all things and at all times, believing that You can do more than we could hope or imagine. Show us how to love those around us in ways that give life and hope and help where all seemed to be lost. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we call on You in faith to be our help and hope, and to bring life to that which seems lost. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

I rise before dawn and cry out for help; I put my hope in Your word. – Psalm 119:147

Quick to Listen and Slow to Speak

My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. – (James 1:19, HCSB)

My dear brothers and sisters, always be more willing to listen than to speak. Keep control of your anger. – (James 1:19, ERV)

Listen, open your ears, harness your desire to speak, and don’t get worked up into a rage so easily, my brothers and sisters. – (James 1:19, VOICE)

Again, we stand at a crossroads. A friend posted something that truly made me cringe at the brutal honesty of it: the only significant change that we have made since Sandy Hook is that we now have active shooter drills. This hit hard. I cannot begin to pretend to know the answer, but I do know that we must be more willing to listen to potential solutions that do not include: run, hide, fight, kid, and good luck. As an educator, I have seen a significant increase in the depth of kids’ struggles. Health, safety and belonging are at an all-time low. There are many talking heads that get angered at the mere suggestion of changes that might actually help. We must start listening far more than we speak, and set anger aside so that we can come together, hear each other, and seek to bring change that makes a difference. O God help us, for we all need to listen with intention.

Dear Jesus, please come,

Show us what to do;

Protect our children,

May purpose be true.

Lead us and guide us,

To bring needed change;

Make schools a safe place,

Of peaceful exchange.

Help fears dissipate,

Let answers be found;

To protect each child,

Keep hearts and minds sound.

Lead us in Your love,

To listen and learn;

Please safeguard our schools,

As to You, we turn.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You instruct us to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. Jesus, we need Your help to do these things to bring true change that lasts. Forgive us for allowing politics and sides of the aisle to distract us from how to find solutions that keep our kids safe. Show us how to hear one another, and to be slow to speak with purpose, keeping anger in check so that hearts can be heard. Lead us to love well, as students and staff alike will be shaken at the news. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, for in You we come to know peace, safety, comfort and care. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your wisdom to listen and pursue true change to keep our babies safe. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

But the wisdom that comes from God is like this: First, it is pure. It is also peaceful, gentle, and easy to please. This wisdom is always ready to help people who have trouble and do good for others. This wisdom is always fair and honest. – James 3:17

Community Brings Comfort

For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them. – (Matthew 18:20, HCSB)

Yes, if two or three people are together believing in Me, I am there with them. – (Matthew 18:20, ERV)

For when two or three gather together in My name, I am there in the midst of them. – (Matthew 18:20, VOICE)

This is one of the reasons we are meant to be in community. When we join together with one another, God is present among us. It does not mean that He won’t be with us on our own, but there is a powerful awareness of His presence when we gather with others. There is something tangible about the nearness of God when there are at least one or two others with You. I imagine that is the reason that we gather for weddings, funerals, baby showers, bridal showers, birthdays and the like – all are occasions to join with others in celebration, grief, expectation or gratitude. Tomorrow will be just such an occasion, as a friend, classmate, teammate and fellow coach has to lay her husband to rest. My hope and prayer is that God is tangibly present to comfort, provide, grant wisdom and His perfect peace. He is always good, even when our circumstances are not, so we can trust that He will move in the hearts of all who join together in remembrance. 

O Lord, we invite,

Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

Your presence come in;

Your hands to hold us,

As Your love floods in.

May peace be present,

In the midst of loss;

Your hope tangible,

As love comes across.

Across the heartache,

And what should have been;

In the loneliness,

May Your peace come in.

Lord, be ever near,

Your heart truly known;

May comfort surround,

And hope in You grown.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to gather in Your Name, for when we do, You promise to be present. Thank You that You are already preparing the way for tomorrow, as You know every need that will arrive. Forgive us for isolating when we are meant to allow others in. Show us how to reach out and be present with others so that they may experience Your love, comfort and peace, even when it does not make sense. Lead us in Your love to lift others up and be Your hands, feet, heart and voice made tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and praise You for knowing our needs and surrounding us with community in every season. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

When I am filled with cares, Your comfort brings me joy. – Psalm 94:19

In All Things, Pray

Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. – (Philippians 4:6-7, HCSB)

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. – (Philippians 4:6-7, MSG)

Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray. Pray about everything. He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come. And know that the peace of God (a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding) will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One. – (Philippians 4:6-7, VOICE)

This is a timely reminder, as it seems to be a season of tough news about people I love and care about. Yesterday afternoon, I found out that my nephew is in the hospital and dying of renal failure. I haven’t seen him in years, but when he was a little boy, he spent quite a bit of time with our family. Learning this heartbreaking news, I had to pause and pray; for I do not know what else to do. He is my boys’ cousin, their dad’s nephew, and their aunt’s first born. Sometimes, praying is really all we can do. Though I know not every need, I am able to pray for healing, health, hope and wholeness. I can pray for peace and strength and provision for the family. Prayer does not require eloquent words or religious utterances, it is simply talking to God with your heart, mind, and if it helps, your voice. He hears every word, thought and request. Incredibly, He provides what we need to get through each next moment, hour, day and beyond. His peace brings calm in the chaos and the ability to breathe when it feels as if we cannot. May we ever reach out to the Lord who hears our prayers, and seek Him for strength and peace in spaces where we have none.

O Lord, I draw near,

Seeking You for peace;

When I can’t fathom,

How You’ll bring release.

Somehow Your peace comes,

And fills up my heart;

Your love settles in,

Hope for a fresh start.

Be it a minute,

Or for a new day;

Your love and Your peace,

Always make a way.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are bigger than all of the trials and sorrows we face. Thank You that You flood us with Your love, surround us with Your care, and fill us with Your peace, even when peace does not make sense. Forgive us for worrying about having the words to pray, for You hear each cry of our heart as we reach out to You. Teach us to turn to You in trust in all things and at all times. Show us how to love those whom You have placed in our lives, and to pray without ceasing for Your love to be made evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give all of our worries to You as we call on Your Name and pray to You about all things, trusting that You hold us in the hollow of Your mighty hands. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

The Lord will send His faithful love by day; His song will be with me in the night – a prayer to the God of my life. – Psalm 42:8

A Time for Everything

There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven. – (Ecclesiastes 3:1, HCSB)

There is a right time for everything, and everything on earth will happen at the right time. – (Ecclesiastes 3:1, ERV)

For everything that happens in life – there is a season, a right time for everything under heaven. – (Ecclesiastes 3:1, VOICE)

This is such a strange truth. It amazes me how there can be a loss and a gain, a death and new life, mourning and celebrating – all in the same season. Yesterday was the first time in twenty-five years that I was not present and coaching gymnastics for the first day of practice at my middle school. Meanwhile, I was happily coaching at the high school. An exchange had to be made in positions, as there is an overlap in seasons. Incredibly, our athletic director figured out a way for me to join my friends at the middle school once my high school season is over. God raised up the right person to take my place, and blessed me to still be a part of it. I know that it is good for me to embrace the new, and wonderful to have someone new spread their wings and soar. There is a strange sort of mourning and celebrating simultaneously. When there is a shift in what we know, we are meant to live in the moment and experience whatever the change may bring. In every season, God is good. He is faithful to walk beside us, and to lead us into the new. May we ever seek the Lord in every season, and praise Him for His faithfulness forever.

A time for all things,

Each season to grow;

Blessings and mourning,

God makes His grace known.

Ever He’s faithful,

In love, He will lead;

Supplying goodness,

Meeting all our needs.

Let’s keep hearts open,

In each time of new;

Welcome God in it,

Watch what He will do.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are faithful in every season we walk through. Thank You that You provide Your goodness, kindness and grace, even in seasons that we are not sure how to navigate. Forgive us for our fears and doubts, for Your grace covers us and Your love provides. Teach us to trust all that You are doing in every new season, and to reflect back on all that You have faithfully done before. Show us how to love and encourage those around us in whatever season they are in. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your love and faithfulness forever. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

You shower him with blessings that last forever; he finds joy in knowing Your presence and loving You. – Psalm 21:6

Help Shoulder the Weight

Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. – (Galatians 6:2, HCSB)

Help each other with your troubles. When you do this, you are obeying the law of Christ. – (Galatians 6:2, ERV)

Love empowers us to fulfill the law of the Anointed One as we carry each other’s troubles. – (Galatians 6:2, TPT)

Right now, I know a couple of people who are in the throes of tremendous loss; one just lost her son, and the other’s best friend lost her grandson. The weight of grief is far too great a burden to bear alone. It comes in waves and threatens to pull us under. However, when family and friends and community surround the grieving, they provide a hand to help hold heads above water, and give buoyancy in the sinking spaces. What I have observed in both instances, is an incredible outpouring of love, prayers and practical, tangible help in the places where it is needed most. When we reach out, we are extending a hand that helps lighten the load. Nothing we do can lessen the loss, yet the reaching out, the outpouring of what is needed, reminds the burden bearer that they are not alone. Our hands, hearts and voices can be tangible evidence of God’s love when it is extremely difficult to see. Though we cannot take the pain away, we can do something to share the burden, thus fulfilling God’s law to love. May we ever seek the Lord to grant us wisdom and grace so that we are empowered to walk beside the burdened and help carry the load.

When life’s troubles come,

As they always do;

May we walk beside,

Help see people through.

For we are each called,

To above all, love;

Care for each other,

As God does above.

Each time we reach out,

In practical ways;

We show the Lord’s love,

And extend His grace.

Lead us, Lord Jesus,

To help carry loads;

Through helping, giving,

At life’s tough crossroads.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to help carry one another’s burdens. Thank You for the countless times that You have surrounded me with a community that walked beside me and lessened the load when it was too great for me to bear alone. Forgive us for the times that we see a need and neglect to reach out. Teach us to turn to You to guide and equip us to do what we can, whenever and wherever we can, to love as You love. Show us practical ways to come alongside those who are carrying weight that is far too heavy to bear alone. Lead us in Your love so that Your help, hands and heart may be made known. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we navigate our days with open hands and hearts, ready to reach out as You would. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

Each one helps the other, and says to another, “Take courage!” – Isaiah 41:6

Hope in Hard Spaces

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)

“I say this because I know the plans that I have for you.” This message is from the Lord. “I have good plans for you. I don’t plan to hurt you. I plan to give you hope and a good future.” – (Jeremiah 29:11, ERV)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Eternal, “plans for peace, not evil, to give you a future and hope – never forget that.” – (Jeremiah 29:11, VOICE)

Even though this verse is committed to memory and planted securely in my heart, there is something to be said about seeing it in print and bringing it to the surface of my heart and mind. God’s timing is perfect. He knows what we need, and when we need it most. I have not been in a good space the last few weeks, in particular, the last few days, as I am struggling with believing my purpose is found in the classroom. After more than a year and a half away from a “normal” classroom routine, kids are struggling to “do school” and I am challenged more than ever before to figure out how to help kids learn and grow when they choose distraction and avoidance rather than to try. I knew I was meant to be a teacher from a very early age. Clearly God purposed and prepared me for the position, yet after twenty-five years, I have been questioning everything. His plans for me are good, and include a future and a hope. On the roughest days, I have to remember and trust Him for the truth of His promises. May we ever seek the Lord, who has good plans for us all, and has a future and a hope that He is preparing for each of us.

Each life with a plan,

Purpose to fulfill;

Crafted with intent,

With strengths and with skills.

Let not obstacles,

Deter His intent;

For challenges come,

And strength’s heaven sent.

When things go awry,

Choose trust in what’s true;

Fresh hope, a future,

Are waiting for you.

Help us rise in faith,

To trust in what’s true;

Better is coming,

O Lord, bring it soon.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our hope and our future. Thank You that You have created each of us with a plan and with purpose. Forgive us for our fears and doubts when we become overwhelmed with the here and now. Teach us to lean into You to be our strength and our anchor through every storm. Show us how to love those around us well so that they may recognize the hope and future that lies before them is good. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for creating us each with a plan and purpose, and for being our hope both now and forevermore. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. – Psalm 31:24

Held Up in Heaviness

I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow. – (Jeremiah 31:13b, NIV)

I will change their sadness into happiness. I will comfort my people, making them happy instead of sad. – (Jeremiah 31:13b, ERV)

I’ll convert their weeping into laughter, lavishing comfort, invading their grief with joy. – (Jeremiah 31:13b, MSG)

This is a promise to hold when grief is great. Today, many will gather to celebrate a life well lived that ended way too soon. My heart is heavy for each life that she touched, for to know her, was to love her. I am hopeful that as we gather, the beauty of her life will bring joy and laughter that soothes the tears. The greatest comfort that I cling to in our loss, is knowing that she is home with Jesus. May God continue to bring gladness from the spaces of mourning, and comfort and joy in the throes of sorrow.

In sorrowful space,

May God’s love shine in;

Filling heavy hearts,

With joy, once again.

He is our comfort,

In spaces of grief;

His love surrounds us,

And grants us relief.

Lord, take the heavy,

Replace it with joy;

Blessings in knowing,

Hope that You employ.

God, lift up our eyes,

To truly see You;

Our help and our hope,

Your love leads us through.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You hold us up in our heaviness and bring us comfort in our grief. Thank You that You can bring joy in the midst of mourning, and hope in the heart of great loss. Forgive us for trying to carry the weight on our own rather than placing our hearts and our heaviness into Your loving hands. Teach us to lean into You in our losses, and to see the joy that You are placing before us. Show us how to love well, so that Your hope and heart are made known. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek and depend on You to bring gladness from our mourning and comfort and joy where sorrow is weighty. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

Now comfort me with Your faithful love, as You promised. – Psalm 119:76 (ERV)