Invest in Encouragement

May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal encouragement and good hope by grace, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good work and word. – (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, HCSB)

We pray that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father will comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say. God loved us and gave us through His grace a wonderful hope and comfort that has no end. – (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, ERV)

Now may our Lord Jesus (the Anointed One Himself) and God our Father (who has loved us, comforted us eternally, and given us a good hope by His grace) bring comfort to your hearts and strengthen your wills to accomplish every good work and word. – (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, VOICE)

Yesterday, our pastor finished a series entitled, “No One Stands Alone”. The big ideas in the messages have been about us all being called to community, not isolations, to find and be a mentor to others, and yesterday, finished up with a character study about Barnabas; as he was a fantastic example of what it is to come alongside others and be an encourager. Encouragement goes beyond simple “atta ways” and “you’ve got this”. To be an encourager is to be equipped by the Holy Spirit to walk alongside others to help them continue to grow and thrive as they seek Him. This can be physically, emotionally, financially, spiritually, verbally and the like. It is so much more than a kind word. Barnabas exemplified what it is to be an encourager, as he left what he knew and his community, to go encourage and build up the believers that were a couple of hundred miles away. Additionally, he helped provide finances for those who were lacking, which was a sacrificial demonstration of God’s love that was made tangible to those in need around him. As he closed out the service, Omar (our pastor) asked the questions, “Who are the people in your life who are like a Barnabas to you?” and “Who can you be a Barnabas to?” Both questions required little thought, as I am blessed with a long list of those who have invested in and encouraged me, and know many who are in need of encouragement in this season. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us to be an encouragement to those around us, both in word and action.

To choose to love well,

Be encouraging;

Is a lifestyle choice,

That we choose to bring.

Not in our own strength,

But led by the Lord;

Who shows us the way,

That grace is outpoured.

A love that is seen,

Not just by mere words;

But true investments,

That make actions heard.

May all that we do,

And all that we say;

Be encouraging,

Throughout ev’ry day.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the people whom You have placed in our lives to encourage and walk alongside us. Thank You for those whom You have called us to do likewise. Forgive us for the times that we did not listen to Your leading as to how we might lift up and encourage those around us. Show us how to be dependent on Your Spirit to lead us to love those around us in ways that build them up and encourage them forward to all that You have for them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, the ultimate Encourager to us all. Be glorified O God, as we look to You to lead us to encourage others well, and help us recognize and appreciate the people whom You have led to encourage us. Amen.

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

Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. – Philippians 2:4

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

Hope Provides Peace and Joy

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – (Romans 15:13, HCSB)

I pray that the God who gives hope will fill you with much joy and peace as you trust in Him. Then you will have more and more hope, and it will flow out of you by the power of the Holy Spirit. – (Romans 15:13, ERV)

I pray that God, the source of all hope, will infuse your lives with an abundance of joy and peace in the midst of your faith so that your hope will overflow through the power of the Holy Spirit. – (Romans 15:13, VOICE)

One of the best things about weddings and funerals is the opportunity to see and connect with those whom one has not seen in a long time. Yesterday, that held true for me as I attended a funeral. Though relatively brief interactions, I was blessed to see and greet a former teacher and colleague, a classmate and teammate, and a long-time friend with whom my path crosses regularly and randomly. There is something about being in the presence of those one has known that brings joy and peace. For those of us who hope in Christ, there is the comfort that we will see one another again; be it sooner, later, and ultimately into eternity. Goodbyes are merely “see you laters”. May God, the source of all hope, bless you with joy and peace as His love overflows in and through you.

The God of all hope,

Fills our hearts with peace;

For where there is hope,

Faith and love increase.

May we choose to trust,

And never let go;

God, our Provider,

From Whom all good flows.

Thank You, Lord Jesus,

That You are our Source;

Peace, joy and comfort,

As we run our course.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our Provider of every good and perfect gift. Thank You that You grant us hope, fill us with Your peace, and provide us with joy and goodness that overflows to those around us. Forgive us for the times that we attempt to navigate on our own. Teach us to trust in You in all things, for You are where hope and help come from. Show us how to love those around us in ways that pass on Your goodness and kindness and grow faith and hope in each heart. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to fill us with hope in You, and praise You for the peace and joy that follow. Amen.

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

The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace. – Psalm 29:11

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

Hope Through The Heartache

Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer. – (Romans 12:12, HCSB)

Be happy because of the hope you have. Be patient when you have troubles. Pray all the time. – (Romans 12:12, ERV)

Do not forget to rejoice, for hope is always just around the corner. Hold up through the hard times that are coming, and devote yourselves to prayer. – (Romans 12:12, VOICE)

This morning, as I perused my Facebook feed, I was met by the devastating news of a friend, former classmate and fellow coach, who lost the love of her life with no warning. Her immediate response was to get the information out there (for there would be far too many calls to make) and to ask for prayer for her and their five children as they navigate this horrendous loss. The hope to rejoice in is that one day, there will be no more death and no more pain. In the meantime, our patience and peace in the process is found as we pray. God hears and sees and knows. He provides strength, comfort, wisdom and peace in our spaces of greatest need. May we seek the Lord in all things and at all times, and ever be persistent in prayer.

Lord, help us rejoice,

In hope that is true;

Through ev’ry season,

We can trust in You.

Help us be patient,

When we see such pain;

Help us keep praying,

Throughout all our days.

Bring comfort and peace,

Where there is great pain;

Lead us in Your love,

You’re where good is gained.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our hope, comfort, strength and peace, no matter what life brings our way. I lift up my friend and her family in the midst of their great loss, and pray for You to provide for their every need – physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially, Lord be tangibly present. Forgive us for the times that pain and circumstances overshadow the hope we know. Show us how to hold fast to hope through all things with patience and perseverance, and to continually seek You in prayer. Lead us to love those around us through every trial and heartache, so that they may know the hope in You that does not waver. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the hope that we have forever in You, and for the love that You give that carries us through. Amen.

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

The Lord gives His people strength; the Lord blesses His people with peace. – Psalm 29:11

Quiet Rest

“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”. – (Matthew 11:28, HCSB)

“Come to Me all of you who are tired from the heavy burden you have been forced to carry. I will give you rest.” – (Matthew 11:28, ERV)

Then Jesus said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” – (Matthew 11:28, NLT)

Sometimes, it feels as if we are blissfully unaware of just how weary and burdened we have become. There is nothing like a good winter snowstorm to bring a sort of quiet rest that would not have otherwise been present. Though I have a four-wheel drive vehicle and loads of experience driving in the snow, I still find that I am spending far more time at home than I normally would be. It is almost as though messy roads and peaceful settings provide a sort of permission to just be still. I know for many that is not necessarily so, as my husband is one who needs to be at work to help keep all of the emergency and snow-clearing vehicles running, and emergency service personnel do not get a break in inclement weather, but for me and many that I know, it is a space to slow down and find rest. Even in the busiest seasons, when we seek our Savior, He provides the help, strength and rest that we need to persevere. May we look to the Lord and seek Him first, for He is the One that bears the burdens that are too much for us, and grants us rest when we need it the most.

Jesus says to come,

To weary and worn;

He wants to grant rest,

Bring calm in the storm.

We need to seek Him,

And trust in His grace;

For He’s our comfort,

And most peaceful place.

Just as snow softens,

And silences things;

The love of the Lord,

Helps everything.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us unto Yourself to find rest from our weariness. Thank You that as we call on You, You carry what was not meant for us, and provide rest so that we can press on. Forgive us for not seeking You in our spaces of weariness. Teach us to turn to You in trust, for You help us and strengthen us, and show us what is not ours to carry. Show us how to love those around us well, so that all might see Your light and love through all that we say and do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to find rest and equip us to love best. Amen.

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

He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul. – Psalm 23:2

Cares to Him Who Cares Best

Casting all your cares on Him, because He cares about you. – (1 Peter 5:7, HCSB)

Give all your worries to Him, because He cares for you. – (1 Peter 5:7, ERV)

Pour out all your worries and stress upon Him and leave them there, for He always tenderly cares for you. – (1 Peter 5:7, TPT)

Since God cares for you, let Him carry all your burdens and worries. – (1 Peter 5:7, VOICE)

This is far easier to say than it is to actually do. For me, it is an ongoing process that requires daily practice. I begin each day giving all to God, yet as new challenges and trials arise, I often find myself trying to carry them alone. It is not intentional, but rather is a habit of independence that seems to propel me to trudge forward with weight I am not meant to bear, stacked heavily upon my heart. Thankfully, the older I get, the more quickly I realize that I have allowed the worries to weigh me down and turn to God and give Him what was never meant to be mine to hold. He is tender and kind, and lovingly bears the weight that was never meant for us in the first place. In His loving kindness, He never rushes in and grabs things from us, but patiently and lovingly waits for us to turn to Him for help. His capable strong hands hold us up and have already bore the burdens that arise. May we ever seek our Savior and give our stress and worries to Him, for He will carry the weight and comfort and care for us well.

Cast every care,

On Jesus, our King;

For He is the One,

Who can bear all things.

The weight of the world,

He already bore;

Heaped upon the cross,

They are ours no more.

Yet it’s up to us,

To give Him all things;

And trust in His love,

As goodness He brings.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to cast our cares and worries upon You, for You already bore every weight upon Your shoulders on the cross. There is nothing new under the sun that You have not carried. Thank You that You exchange Your love and grace for our burdens that we hand over to You. Forgive us for our feeble attempts to carry what is not ours to bear. Teach us to hand our struggles and worries over to You, for You are faithful to meet us and uphold us and carry the weight in our place. Show us how to love one another well, so that we may come alongside those who are heavy-laden, and point the way to Your love and light that exchanges the weight for goodness and peace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we come before You each time we find our cares weighing us down so that we may place them in Your strong hands that lovingly lift us up and lead us forward. 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

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)

May Love Unite Us

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. – (Philippians 2:1-2, NIV)

Think about what we have in Christ: the encouragement He has brought us, the comfort of His love, our sharing in His Spirit, and the mercy and kindness He has shown us. If you enjoy these blessings, then do what will make my joy complete: Agree with each other, and show your love for each other. Be united in your goals and in the way you think. – (Philippians 2:1-2, ERV)

Look at how much encouragement you’ve found in your relationship with the Anointed One! You are filled to overflowing with His comforting love. You have experienced a deepening friendship with the Holy Spirit and have felt His tender affection and mercy. So I’m asking you, my friends, that you be joined together in perfect unity – with one heart, one passion, and united in one love. Walk together with one harmonious purpose and you will fill my heart with unbounded joy. – (Philippians 2:1-2, TPT)

Paul’s exhortation to the church of Philippi is still applicable and relevant to us today. If we know and understand the love, comfort, mercy and kindness that God has shown us, then we ought to go and do likewise. As we do, we are united in purpose. It does not mean we have to see the world through the same lens, nor have the same opinion about things, rather, it is a matter of us choosing to love one another as the priority. When we do, we discover unity and harmony in the relationships around us. Such things bring joy to all. May we ever look to the Lord and recognize His overwhelming kindness, love and mercy, so that we too, can choose to love as we are loved by Christ.

Choose be encouraged,

By mercy and grace;

Let love overflow,

From seeking His face.

For all that is good,

Comes down from above;

Love, mercy and grace,

Because God is love.

Love that’s unending,

Kindness that’s made new;

Fresh each new morning,

May all know the truth.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You flood our hearts with Your love, kindness and grace as we trust in You and seek You face. Forgive us for the times that we have not given out of the overflow of all that You have given us. Teach us to trust You more to lead us to love like You. Show us how in each situation and circumstance that we encounter. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us how to love and encourage best, so that love may unite us all. Amen.

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

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ. – Colossians 2:2

Blessings in Mourning

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. – (Matthew 5:4, NIV)

Great blessings belong to those who are sad now. God will comfort them. – (Matthew 5:4, ERV)

You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. – (Matthew 5:4, MSG)

One of the hardest things we face in life is loss. Though we all know that not one of us will live forever, there is always sorrow in the passing of those whom we love, especially when the loss comes far sooner than anticipated. Mourning is a challenging space for me, as I am not an external emoter. I feel deeply, yet seldom allow myself to give room for tears to escape. It is not intentional, but rather is a well-developed defense mechanism. As only God does, He has placed me in communities with loving, tender hearts, that create safe space to process however my heart needs to do so. For me, there is comfort in simply writing things down. In fact, that is often how I discover how I am actually feeling. Words in writing seem to bypass the filter in my mind and simply land on the page as they are. That being said, I guess my point is that despite my grieving in this space of loss, I am grateful for the comfort and kindness that I am blessed to have surrounding me. Additionally, the one whom my heart aches for the most, is clearly surrounded in community too. Even when life is hard, God is so good. May we ever seek the Lord in our spaces of loss and of blessing, for He loves us and provides safe space to process whatever our heart is holding.

In spaces of loss,

Where our hearts need mourn;

The Lord’s ever near,

To mend what is torn.

He blesses our hearts,

Surrounds us with peace;

Makes love tangible,

As our hearts release.

Release the heartache,

Place all in His hands;

His grace holds us up,

As we trust His plans.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in our spaces of loss and mourning, You come near and bless us with Your comfort. Forgive us for the times we delay in turning to You in our grief. Teach us to trust and lean on You, for You bless us with Your comfort and love in all things. Show us how to love, support and comfort those around us in the same way that You support and comfort us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You for Your blessings in our spaces of mourning, and for the communities that You place us in. Amen.

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

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. – 1 Chronicles 16:34