Jesus is Our Refuge in Suffering

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from Him. Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken. – (Psalm 62:1-2, NIV)

I must calm down and turn to God; only He can rescue me. He is my Rock, the only one who can save me. He is my high place of safety, where no army can defeat me. – (Psalm 62:1-2, ERV)

God, the One and only – I’ll wait as long as He says. Everything I need comes from Him, so why not? He’s solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul, an impregnable castle: I’m set for life. – (Psalm 62:1-2, MSG)

Though I have not been suffering, I have been navigating uncharted territory through this whole skin cancer ordeal. From biopsy of the unknown to a bigger biopsy to determine nature of what had become known, to the confirmation that my new normal will include a medical team to watch diligently, to make certain that what was surgically removed, will not return. In the coming weeks, I have two appointments with two different oncologists, and an appointment with a dermatologist. Again, I am not in a space of suffering, but I am in a space of uncertainty of the unknown. God has been faithful to be ever near as I have walked through two biopsies and two surgeries that followed. I can trust Him to be faithful to remain near as we navigate all that lies ahead. Thankfully, His peace has been present and He is helping keep fear at bay. Yes, the not knowing makes me uneasy, but the certainty in knowing that He will be with me grants the courage to keep pressing forward without allowing the unknowns to monopolize my thoughts. Also, He has provided financially, as being double-covered with medical insurance has kept the bills that have come to a minimum. The Message says it well, as it states, “He’s the solid rock under my feet, and breathing room for my soul…” May we ever seek the Lord in our uncertainty, suffering or sorrows, for He is our refuge and the One on whom we can depend.

Present through trials,

God is ever near;

Foundation to stand,

As He calms each fear.

Forever our hope,

Our place of refuge;

Comfort Provider,

Love that each day’s new.

Help us rise up, Lord,

Our strength comes from You;

All thanks and our praise,

Are unto You, due.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our help and our hope, and that You are our refuge in suffering. Thank You that You promise to be present through every trial as we call on You to be near. Forgive us for our fears and doubts, for in all things, the ultimate outcome is forever with You. Teach us to have an eternal perspective and to trust in You to be our strength and peace. Lead us to love those around us in ways that promote peace, pray for healing and wholeness, and bring hope to spaces that hope is lacking. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to be our comfort and praise You for Your unending faithfulness that we know is true. Amen.

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

But I will sing of Your strength, in the morning I will sing of Your love; for You are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. – Psalm 59:16

Abiding in Jesus

Remain in Me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. – (John 15:4, NIV)

Stay joined to Me and I will stay joined to you. No branch can produce fruit alone. It must stay connected to the vine. It is the same with you. You cannot produce fruit alone. You must stay joined to Me. – (John 15:4, ERV)

Live in Me. Make your home in Me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with Me. – (John 15:4, MSG)

As a middle school teacher in January, I recognize the truth of this in very tangible ways. If I do not begin my day with Jesus, my heart is not set right to abide in Him. Without Him, I would not get through the challenges that nearing the end of the first semester bring. Between the push to complete and finalize grading, kids in scramble mode to raise grades, behaviors break down and patience is challenged. When I rely on He who is in me, I am kinder and more patient. In the moments that I try to trust in my own strength, frustration rises, and I am ready to walk away. Remaining in Jesus means to listen to His leading in all things. This includes moments of frustration and challenge, as well as those of blessing and celebration. He is always good, and is faithful to supply what we need in all things. May we ever abide in Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith; for greater is He who is in us, than anything that is in the world.

Abide in Jesus,

As He does in us;

Our Hope and Helper,

The One who sees us.

He knows all our needs,

When we’re not aware;

And as we seek Him,

Always, He is there.

Present to help us,

To show us the way;

To live and love well,

As in Him we stay.

So, remain in God,

The Giver of grace;

Our Help and our Hope,

Throughout all our days.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are faithful to lead us and help us to bear good fruit as we remain in You. Thank You that You are for us, and that Your heart is to lead us to love well. Forgive us for the times that we rely on our own strength, for that is where our patience grows thin, and our resolve diminishes. Teach us to abide in You throughout every moment of every day. Show us how to love those around us as You intended, so that Your light and love are made known to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we abide in You and seek You to be the bearer of fruit in and through our lives. Amen.

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

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. – Ephesians 2:10

Forgiven by Jesus

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. – (Romans 8:1-2, NIV)

So now anyone who is in Christ Jesus is not judged guilty. That is because in Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit that brings life made you free. It made you free from the law that brings sin and death. – (Romans 8:1-2, ERV)

With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death. – (Romans 8:1-2, MSG)

All of us, by our very nature, are prone to sin. Consequently, we all deserve death as a consequence for our poor decisions. Thankfully, in order to have such a sentence, there must be a judge. In Christ Jesus, we are no longer judged guilty. Every sin has been wiped away as Jesus already bore the consequence on the cross. His Holy Spirit breathes life into the spaces that should have been dead and supplies what we need to walk in His way and do His will. Through Jesus, we no longer have hundreds of laws to remember and follow closely, but rather, His new command is to love God and love one another. If we truly do these things, we are choosing life in Him and making His love known. May we ever embrace the goodness and grace that Jesus gives so that we may walk in His way and do His will throughout all our days.

No longer condemned,

In Christ we are free;

To live and choose love,

As it’s meant to be.

The guilt that we bear,

In Him is removed;

Forgiven in love,

That’s constantly proved.

No more under laws,

That lead us to death;

Set free from the weight,

Through life-giving breath.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that there is no more condemnation when we come into a relationship with You. Thank You that You give us light and life, help and hope, as Your presence provides peace and promise to all who receive You as Lord of our lives. Forgive us for every word and deed that has not demonstrated love for You or for Your created. Teach us to turn to You to lead us in Your love in all things. Show us how to live free from the weight of our sin and to walk boldly in Your perfect love. Lead us to love those around us in ways that make Your goodness and grace evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we live and love boldly as You set us free to do. Amen.

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

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9

Give Praise

Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise His Holy Name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all His benefits. – (Psalm 103:1-2, NIV)

My soul, praise the Lord! Every part of me, praise His Holy Name! My soul, praise the Lord and never forget how kind He is! – (Psalm 103:1-2, ERV)

O my soul, bless God. From head to toe, I’ll bless His Holy Name! O my soul, bless God, don’t forget a single blessing! – (Psalm 103:1-2, MSG)

So far, it has been a strange winter break. My love and I spent Christmas morning driving south to my sister and brother-in-law’s home to enjoy time together with their family and my mom. My kids were unable to go, as they were recovering from a virus and did not want to share it with mom. Yesterday, we spent a few hours helping organize and set up mom’s new place near my sister. Change can be overwhelming yet being close to family in a space that is equipped to help and support mom well, is a positive change, as she was alone far too often. It is a tremendous blessing that mom was able to get in, as there is a long wait list to move into her new place. I mention these things because though not typical, I can see and celebrate God’s blessings through it all. For my kids, they had down time to rest and relax, and for us, we were able to visit and help, even with a quick turn-around. This morning, my love is back to work, and I am back to running practice for my gymnasts. I still have another week off from teaching, but coaching continues throughout. There is joy in this as well. Another praise is that my surgeries went well, and I am on the mend. The specialist was confident that she removed all the cancerous cells, and the reconstructive surgery of the site is healing nicely. For all these things and more, I am truly grateful to God and cannot help but give Him thanks and praise. May we ever bless the Lord and give Him thanks, for every good and perfect gift comes from Him.

All praise be to God,

I lift up His Name;

For all that is good,

His grace to proclaim.

Through all things that come,

On this road we take;

God will be faithful,

For a way He’ll make.

Faithful through valleys,

And on mountain tops;

He will never leave,

Our struggles He swaps.

He exchanges dark,

With glorious light;

Grants peace with presence,

In Him we delight.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we have so much to be grateful for in You. Forgive us for the times that we forget our blessings and focus on what we cannot control. Teach us to trust You more, as You are faithful to respond each time we call on Your Name. Show us how to praise You in all things, especially through how we choose to love like You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the countless blessings that You bring into our lives and for the love that You show. Amen.

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

Praise be to the Lord, who has given rest to His people Israel just as He promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises He gave through His servant Moses. – 1 Kings 8:56

The Blessings of Strength and Peace

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

May the Lord make His people strong. May the Lord bless His people with peace. – (Psalm 29:11, ERV)

God makes His people strong. God gives His people peace. – (Psalm 29:11, MSG)

I have experienced this so much over the last few days. For each surgery, God gave me the strength that I needed, and His peace was present. Yesterday, as I had reconstructive surgery on my lip where the cancer had been removed the day prior, I was at total peace as I was checked in and prepped for the process. Again, the procedure took less time than anticipated, and the pain has been tolerable. This morning, though I woke far earlier than planned, I felt good and was glad to be up when one of my kiddos wandered up the stairs not feeling great. Being able to offer advice, comfort and company is still a blessing, even when your kids are adults. It seems that the same sort of peace that I received, is now being passed on to my son as he is resting on the couch with me and the pups. God is good, and He is faithful to supply the strength we need and will be our peace whenever we call on His Name. As we move into this weekend of celebrating Christ, who came to us as a baby, grew into a man, and showed us God in the flesh as He lived, loved, and gave His life for us, only to rise again to sit at the right hand of the Father and constantly contend for us all, may we prioritize give Him praise for His forever faithful ways.

God is our comfort,

Faithful place of peace;

Strength when we’re weary,

All goodness released.

O Lord, we praise You,

For all that You are;

The Light of the world,

For all near and far.

When we’re uncertain,

Of what lies ahead;

The Lord will guide us,

In His strength we’re led.

Praise to You, Father,

And praise to the Son;

And to the Spirit,

Godhead, three-in-One.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our strength and our Provider of peace. Thank You that You are loving and kind and faithful. Thank You that You are our Healer too. Forgive us for our fears and doubts when we face unknowns. Teach us to trust You more in all things and at all times. Show us how to love those around us in ways that strengthen and promote peace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as receive Your strength and peace with gladness and give You all the glory because You are so good. Amen.

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

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You. – Isaiah 26:3

Love and Comfort

May Your unfailing love be my comfort, according to Your promise to Your servant. – (Psalm 119:76, NIV)

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

Now let Your unfailing love be my comfort, in keeping with Your promise to Your servant. – (Psalm 119:76, VOICE)

Yesterday, God was so faithful to be near me as I had my first surgical procedure done. What could have been many steps, layers, and hours, was instead completed in one deep cut and an hour and a half. His peace was with me, even in discomfort, and last night, I slept well. As I am up this morning before surgery number two, I am amazed that I have no pain at all; granted, I am merely sitting and unable to have my usual coffee, but in the just sitting with Thor beside me, I am good. I am grateful that today’s process involves sedation, as I should not remember nor feel anything. My hope and prayers are that the healing process is quick and tolerable, as we will be traveling in a few days to spend a bit of time with my mom, sister, and family. I am holding to the promise that God will continue to be my comfort and grant me strength and peace to be able to enjoy the time together. His promises are true, and His faithfulness knows no end, so I am holding closely all that He says in my heart and mind. May we ever seek the Lord to be our comfort, for His unfailing love remains present with us.

O God, You are good,

No matter what comes;

Your promises true,

The Most Holy One.

You are our comfort,

Our true place of peace;

Most generously,

Your love is released.

You are the goodness,

Throughout all our days;

The hope we can hold,

Both now and always.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your unfailing love is our comfort and peace. Thank You that You are faithful to go before us, remain with us, and make Your nearness known. Forgive us for allowing our fears to find a foothold rather than trust You completely. Teach us to cling to You, our anchor, through all that comes our way. Show us how to love those around us like You do, so that we may share the same comfort and love that we are given. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we hold fast to Your promises and receive Your overwhelming love. Amen.

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

I will be glad and rejoice in Your love, for You saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul. – Psalm 31:7

Courage Through Unknowns

“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.” – (Joshua 1:9, NIV)

“Remember, I commanded you to be strong and brave. Don’t be afraid, because the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – (Joshua 1:9, ERV)

“Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.” – (Joshua 1:9, MSG)

Today is the day that I need to keep this verse in the forefront of my mind, as I walk into the unknown. I know that there are many who have gone before me who have endured the same procedure that I will and have come through well with great success. I am still nervous, as having only local anesthesia for a many-hour procedure is not very comforting when I am one who is a struggle to keep numb. Additionally, not having any idea as to how extensive a procedure is going to be is a fear-producing space as well. This is where I must trust in the professionals to do their job well, and even more so, trust that God has gone before me, will be with me, and will carry me through the unknowns. Right now, I will choose to trust through the unknowns, and praise Him for His faithfulness to me thus far. I am so grateful that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. The same God who has been faithful to me throughout all my days so far, is the same One who will be with me as I go and will remain present through the stages of recovery and healing. He knows not only the number of hairs on my head, but He knows the exact location of the carcinoma cells on my face and is the One who will guide the surgeon’s hands.  Tomorrow morning will be part two, as a plastic surgeon will close the wound in a way to maintain function in my upper lip and to minimize the scarring from the procedure. Initially, I was stressed about having the two parts on different days, but ultimately, it might be better as there will be a pause to rest in between. God knew during the scheduling what would be best for me, and He holds me in the hollow of His hands. May we ever seek the Lord to be our strength and courage, for He is faithful to be present each time we ask.

O Lord, be my strength,

Today as I go;

In uncertainty,

You already know.

Provider of peace,

You have gone before;

Made way through unknowns,

Courage, You outpour.

Settle the spaces,

In me that still fear;

This space of unknown,

As You remain near.

Take my hand, Jesus,

Today as I go;

Grant courage and strength,

As Your love’s made known.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our courage and strength and the One who tells us to not be afraid nor discouraged. Thank You that You tell us these things because You have gone before us and promise to remain with us. Forgive us for our fears in spaces of unknown. Teach us to trust You more and to place all of our worries in Your strong and capable hands. Show us how to shine Your light wherever we go and in all that we do. Lead us to love big, even when we are facing things that cause fear. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to strengthen us and supply us with courage that comes from knowing that You are in control. Amen.

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

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6

Be My Strength

But You, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me. – (Psalm 22:19, NIV)

Lord, don’t leave me! You are my strength – hurry and help me! – (Psalm 22:19, ERV)

But You, O Eternal, stay close; O You, my help, hurry to my side. – (Psalm 22:19, VOICE)

One of the many things that I appreciate about the Psalms is that David was always raw and real before God. When he struggled, David cried out to God for help. In times of blessing, he gave God all thanks and praise. In all of the various roles that David filled, the common thread throughout was his dependence on God. This morning, I am reminded again to seek our Savior for strength. He knows my needs and He hears every prayer. Yesterday had some rough moments, but today is brand new. God will never leave nor forsake me, so I can trust in Him to provide what I need to navigate today. May we ever seek the Lord to be our strength, for He will be as close as our next breath.

O Lord, each morning,

I draw strength from You;

Your love holds me up,

And carries me through.

With kindness You breathe,

New life into me;

Strength to keep moving,

Despite what I see.

O God, Your goodness,

Sustains and lifts up;

Unending Your love,

That keeps filling us.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can call out to You to be our strength and trust that You are near us in all things and at all times. Thank You that You are faithful to meet us each time we call on Your Name. Forgive us for the times that we have tried to power through on our own, or have given up when You were calling us to keep moving. Show us how trust seek You to be the strength we need in all things. Lead us to love those around us as You do, so that we extend Your heart to others through the overflow of what we have been lavishly given. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to be our strength, for You are ever near. Amen.

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

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:10

Compassion and Comfort

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father compassion and the God of all comfort. – (2 Corinthians 1:3, NIV)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Father who is full of mercy, the God of all comfort. – (2 Corinthians 1:3, ERV)

All praise goes to God, Father of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One. He is the Father of compassion, the God of all comfort. – (2 Corinthians 1:3, VOICE)

Most nights, I wake and have little or no recollection as to what I dreamed about. This morning, however, I woke after having dreamed all throughout the night about the surgery that was just scheduled yesterday. It was neither bad nor good, but rather felt like an abundance of waiting. I imagine that it was sparked by the concern that has been weighing on me since I was told the appointment schedule, and it carried over into my dreams. It is no mystery that I am anxious about what lies ahead, yet I know I am in a space where I must simply trust and go through the process. Though I have never experienced anything quite like this before, I have experienced the unfailing faithfulness of God. God is compassionate and is our comfort, and time and time again, I can share His heart for these things in our lives. He has been with me, provided for me, and comforted me through some of life’s lowest valleys. God stayed beside me, held me up, and provided all that I needed to keep moving forward. In fifteen days, the process will have begun, and in sixteen, it will be complete. Right now, that seems like a very long wait. However, when I look back, it does not feel like gymnastics season is nearly a month in. Even when days drag on, the weeks have flown much more rapidly than realized. Time is tricky, as it goes quickly when we want it to slow down, and it seems to stand still when we desire time to speed up. God is faithful through it all, and when my focus is on praising Him and His goodness, time does not matter. May we ever seek God in all things and at all times, for He is compassionate and provides comfort as each is needed.

Praise be to the Lord,

In all things, always;

For He’s our comfort,

Throughout all our days.

When we are anxious,

We need not give fear;

A foot to stand on,

For God is so near.

His great compassion,

Comfort for the soul;

Soothes us in stillness,

As He makes us whole.

So, trust in the Lord,

Ever give Him praise;

Our hope forever,

The Ancient of Days.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You know our hearts and our needs far better than we do. Thank You that You are our Comforter, and You are full of compassion for us all. Forgive us for our fearfulness as we face unknowns. Teach us to trust and rely on You more, for You are faithful to go before us, stay beside us, and hold us up when we are unable to move forward without Your strength. Show us how to navigate the unknowns with faith in Your nearness, and grant us wisdom to know how to encourage and walk beside those who are in such spaces. Let Your love be evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we place our every fear and concern in Your capable and compassionate hands, for You are with us and will not leave us. Amen.

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

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. – Psalm 23:4

Let Thanks Be Present

Let them give thanks to the Lord for His faithful love and His wonderful works for all humanity. – (Psalm 107:8, HCSB)

Thank the Lord for His faithful love and for the amazing things He does for people. – (Psalm 107:8, ERV)

May they erupt with praise and give thanks to the Eternal in honor of His loyal love and all the wonders He has performed for humankind! – (Psalm 107:8, VOICE)

The Thanksgiving break was far different than what I am accustomed to, yet it was very good and had an excellent balance of rest and of time with loved ones nearby. God knows what we need and is faithful to provide as we seek Him. Because of my coaching responsibilities, I needed to stay home this past weekend. Though that meant that we did not get time together with my mom or my sister and family, we did have time with our four all in the house at once, and opportunity to spend time with our besties to celebrate a retirement, be present and involved at church, and there was time to get together with a lifelong friend who is really a sister to both my sister and me. There are some intimidating unknowns in the coming weeks, yet the same God who cared for me with such kindness over the weekend, will be faithful to continue through all that lies ahead. In fact, even as I go to get stitches out this morning, my best friend is coming along to help me ask all of the questions about the pending procedure that will be required. God grants us comfort and peace, hope and help, and He is worthy of all of our thanks and praise. May we ever praise Him and continue into the season with grateful hearts. Though we know not all that lies ahead, we know Who will remain beside us through all things, and the One who makes His love tangible.

Let thanks be present,

In all that we do;

For God is faithful,

He will see us through.

Our help and our hope,

His love knows no end;

All grace and mercy,

On Him we depend.

Our hope forever,

May our praises rise;

To God, our Father,

Where all goodness lies.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your faithful love and wonderful works, as Your love knows no end. Thank You that You are our reason to give thanks and praise. Forgive us for the times that we are blind to Your blessings. Teach us to see things through Your eyes, for even in challenges, You provide blessings. Lead us to love those around us as You do, and help us to be Your love made tangible to all who need Your touch. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You our thanks and praise for Your unfailing love and the wonderful works that You do on our behalf. 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