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

Jesus is a Miracle-Worker

He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey Him!” – (Matthew 8:26-27, NIV)

Jesus answered, “Why are you afraid? You don’t have enough faith.” Then He stood up and gave a command to the wind and the water. The wind stopped, and the lake became very calm. The men were amazed. They said, “What kind of man is this? Even the wind and the water obey Him!” – (Matthew 8:26-27, ERV)

Jesus reprimanded them. “Why are you such cowards, such faint-hearts?” Then He stood up and told the wind to be silent, the sea to quiet down: “Silence!” The sea became smooth as glass. The men rubbed their eyes, astonished. “What’s going on here? Wind and sea stand up and take notice at His command!” – (Matthew 8:26-27, MSG)

The disciples had spent much time with Jesus already, and they knew that He had the power to heal and do many great and miraculous things. However, when they were in the middle of the lake and a giant squall came upon them, what they knew to be true was somehow lost in the sound of the wind and waves. What they did know was to wake Jesus and ask Him what to do. Jesus, who had been resting after many hours of teaching crowds, woke to their fright and showed them again that He was indeed a miracle-worker, as He told the wind and waves to be still. Though they had seen and experienced His power in action, they were awestruck that even the elements had to obey Him. God knows our needs and can work miracles in all things, great and small. The same God who made the heavens and the earth, knows our names, our needs, and the hopes we hold in our hearts. Each time we see or experience God at work, we are experiencing miracles. I have seen His power heal sickness and disease and provide in ways that cannot be explained. He is always moving on our behalf. When we slow down and truly look around us, we become more and more aware of the miracle-worker that Jesus is. Tomorrow, my twins turn twenty-one. Despite being tiny preemies that spent the first five weeks of their lives in the hospital, they are alive and thriving into adulthood. They are bright, kind, healthy and whole, and are my constant reminders of the goodness and the miracle-working power of the living God. May we ever pause and take notice of God moving among us throughout our days and praise Jesus for being the miracle-worker in our lives.

Everything good,

That happens in life;

Blessings from Jesus,

All by His design.

He helps and He heals,

In love, He provides;

He shows us the way,

As we choose abide.

We pray for wisdom,

Please open our eyes;

To see You moving,

In our hearts and lives.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son, Jesus, to show us more of who You are and how You love and care for us all. Thank You Jesus, that You are still a miracle-worker. Thank You that we have the privilege of witnessing You moving among us in all things, great and small. Forgive us for our lack of awareness in the everyday miracles that transpire all around us. Teach us to have eyes to see and hearts to treasure all of the ways that You work in and through our lives. Show us how to have faith to prayerfully contend for those all around us. Lead us in Your loving kindness so that all whom we encounter would experience the miracle of Your goodness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we count the abundant blessings and miracles in our lives and all around us. Amen.

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

Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You. – Jeremiah 32:17

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

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

Jesus Is The Creator

Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son. God has appointed Him heir of all things and made the universe through Him. – (Hebrews 1:1-2, HCSB)

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds. – (Hebrews 1:1-2, NKJV)

In the past God spoke to our people through the prophets. He spoke to them many times and in many different ways. And now in these last days, God has spoken to us again through His Son. He made the whole world through His Son. And He has chosen His Son to have all things. – (Hebrews 1:1-2, ERV)

God, who is the same yesterday, today and forever, communicates with His creation. Before Jesus, God spoke to His people through prophets, angels, and more. When Jesus came to us, He lived among us and taught the truth using His own voice. Incredibly, even after His death, resurrection, and ascension, He still communicates with us by His Spirit. Because He is heir of all things, Jesus cares for and covers all of creation. He was there in the beginning, walked among us, and is seated on His throne in heaven. Part of His care comes through the gift of community. We are His image bearers and were created to shine His light to all those around us. Our charge is to love one another as He loves us. If we view every person we meet as His created, we begin to see His image in those around us, which inspires us to love more deeply and completely. May we ever seek the Lord, Creator of all, to show us His fingerprints on those around us and to lead us to be bearers of His perfect love as we shine His light through how we live.

Jesus, Creator,

The great heir of all;

Lead us and guide us,

Our Maker of all.

Show us Your glory,

Through all You have made;

Lead us in Your love,

Throughout all our days.

Help us to see You,

In everyone;

Show us how to love,

Like You, Holy One.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You spoke to our ancestors long ago, You spoke to those before us through Jesus, and You still speak to us today, by Your Holy Spirit. Thank You Jesus, that You are both heir and Creator. Forgive us for the times that we have not sought to see You in others. Grant us Your eyes to see those around us, so that we too, might see the glory of Your goodness in all. Lead us to love and shine Your light before all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to live as Your image bearers, and look to You to show us the beauty in all whom You have made. 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

Our Greatest Treasures

For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be. – (Matthew 6:21, NIV)

Your heart will be where your treasure is. – (Matthew 6:21, ERV)

The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being. – (Matthew 6:21, MSG)

The older I get, the more I find that my treasure is in God and all that He has made. Stuff is just stuff, but salvation, relationships, people, pets, and community are truly the greatest gifts we have been given. When I focus my time and energy on Him and those that He has placed in my life, I am overwhelmed with gratitude, not want. The things that matter to me are not ones of monetary value, but rather are either gifts or reminders of those who matter most. I understand now why photos have always been so important to my mom. Each snapshot is a reminder of God’s faithfulness in a moment in time that was captured. To look at the images is to be reminded that God is good. May we ever look to the Lord with thanksgiving and seek Him to help keep our priorities in order so that our treasures are eternal, and not temporary.

Lord, help us treasure,

That which is from You;

Life and creation,

Eternity too.

May our hearts choose hold,

All of our lives through;

Treasures from heaven,

That point us to You.

Show us Your own heart,

All that matters most;

Lead us in Your love,

Through grace, peace and hope.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our greatest treasure and that every good and perfect gift comes from You. Forgive us for the times that we have been more concerned with stuff than with that which matters eternally. Teach us to have a heart after You. Lead us in Your love so that we would treasure You and Your created, as these are the things that last. Show us how to love those around us in ways that make Your heart known. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we recognize our greatest treasures are found in You and from You. Amen.

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

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. – 2 Corinthians 4:18

Freely Forgive

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. – (Matthew 6:14-15, NIV)

Yes, if you forgive others for the wrongs they do to you, then your Father in heaven will also forgive your wrongs. But if you don’t forgive others, then your Father in heaven will not forgive the wrongs you do. – (Matthew 6:14-15, ERV)

In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part. – (Matthew 6:14-15, MSG)

If we love God and love people, we will walk in God’s way and do His will. God’s will is that we forgive others just as He has forgiven us. Once we realize the magnitude of His mercy and grace, we ought to be compelled to extend the same to others. Our grudges create a divide between us and God. Not because He cannot get past them, but rather because we are unable. Forgiveness means that we willfully choose to let go of the anger and frustration brought on by the words or actions of another, and hand them over to God. This is an active and ongoing process that we must choose. As we do, God grants us the grace to release the grudge that we want to hold so that it no longer has a hold on us. To forgive does not mean we forget, but rather that we no longer hold the hurt and allow God to heal. Often, we must choose to forgive repeatedly for the same action, as the offense arouses anger each time it is recalled. May we ever seek the Lord to show us how to continue to forgive others, so that we too, may continue to be forgiven.

We are commanded,

To choose to forgive;

As we’re forgiven,

A grace we must give.

For holding grudges,

Creates a divide;

Gets in the Lord’s way,

Of purpose inside.

Lord, help us let go,

Of hurts and offense;

Lead us in Your love,

And be our defense.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to forgive as You forgive us. Thank You that as we do, the weight is lifted, and we are able to walk as You intended. Forgive us for the times that we have been slow to forgive. Teach us to keep short accounts and to place all in Your capable hands. Show us how to love and forgive those around us as You intended. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we depend on You to help us forgive every offense. Amen.

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

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. – Luke 6:37

To Love All

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous. – (Matthew 5:44-45, NIV)

But I tell you, love your enemies. Pray for those who treat you badly. If you do this, you will be children who are truly like your Father in heaven. He lets the sun rise for all people, whether they are good or bad. He sends rain to those who do right and to those who do wrong. – (Matthew 5:44-45, ERV)

But I tell you this: love your enemies. Pray for those who torment you and persecute you – in so doing, you become children of your Father in heaven. He, after all, loves each of us – good and evil, kind and cruel. He causes the sun to rise and shine on evil and good alike. He causes the rain to water the fields of the righteous and the fields of the sinner. – (Matthew 5:44-45, VOICE)

Though few of us have experienced persecution like the early church, we all have experienced unkindness, irritation, and attitudes that we do not appreciate. As a middle school teacher, I am reminded daily of the need to pray for my students. The unkindness they display to others is usually a response to unkindness that they have received. At that age, one typically gives what they get. If I can show kindness, goodness and grace, perhaps a seed of the same will be planted in them. It requires God’s grace to extend the same to those who are all over the place when they are meant to be engaged. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us in His love, and depend on Him to show us how to love all those whom we encounter in the same way that He loves us all.

Show us, Lord Jesus,

How to choose love all;

Extend Your goodness,

Let love be installed.

Grant us Your patience,

And Your kindness too;

Despite what we get,

Let us reflect You.

Please grant us the grace,

To love as You do;

Be gracious and kind,

So good is shown true.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to love as You love. Thank You that there are no exceptions to whom we should give kindness and grace. Thank You that You love us all, no matter who we are, where we have been, or what we have done. Forgive us for our lack of patience and grace. Grant us wisdom as to how we are meant to love those around us. Lead us in Your love so that all feel valued and known. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your goodness and grace for us all and seek You to love likewise. Amen.

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

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. – John 13:34

Purposeful Peace

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. – (Matthew 5:9, NIV)

Great blessings belong to those who work to bring peace. God will call them His sons and daughters. – (Matthew 5:9, ERV)

You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. Thant’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family. – (Matthew 5:9, MSG)

When we truly seek the Lord to lead us in His perfect peace, we are equipped and empowered to bring His peace wherever we go. People recognize there is a difference when we operate from a position as a peacemaker, rather than as one who seek only to be right or to be heard. Peacemakers prioritize people. Their mode of operation is loving kindness and grace. Above all else, when we extend God’s peace to those around us, He calls us His own sons and daughters. Our place is in His family, and our hearts begin to more closely resemble His own as we follow after Him. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us in His peace in all things, and may we recognize and receive who we are as His beloved children.

Cooperation,

And purposeful peace;

Are brought together,

As grace is released.

The Lord equips us,

To in love, bring peace;

Living with purpose,

His good does increase.

The more we choose love,

As it’s meant to be;

The more peace will spread,

Intentionally.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to be peacemakers. Thank You that as we seek You, You equip and empower us to pass on Your perfect peace to those around us. Forgive us for the times that we have allowed our egos to get in the way of showing love and grace as You intended. Teach us to depend on You to provide wisdom, strength, and peace in all things. Show us how to love those around us in ways that promote Your perfect peace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and those around us, and by Your grace, extend Your purposeful peace wherever we go. Amen.

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

For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility. – Ephesians 2:14