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

The Work of Wisdom

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. – (Psalm 90:12, NIV)

Teach us how short our lives are so that we can become wise. – (Psalm 90:12, ERV)

Teach us to number our days so that we may truly live and achieve wisdom. – (Psalm 90:12, VOICE)

The older I get, the more aware I become of just how short life truly is. Each day is a gift, and we either learn and grow as we go, or life passes us by. Wisdom is the work of God in us as we seek Him to teach us more of who He is and how He calls us to love. To gain a heart of wisdom, we must be intentional to seek the Lord in all things and to trust Him as He walks beside us and leads us in the directions we are meant to go. This does not transpire overnight, but rather is a lifelong process. God has gifted me with access to wise women who have a few years more life experience than me to bless, encourage, challenge and model what it is to ever grow in wisdom. Each are acutely aware that every single day is a gift to be treasured, and their faithfulness models what an ongoing pursuit of wisdom in Him looks like. My hope for the coming year is to ever seek the Lord to grow in His wisdom so that I may walk out my days according to His purpose.

Please teach me, O Lord,

To number my days;

To grow in wisdom,

And walk in Your ways.

I need Your guidance,

Each day that I wake;

To love as You love,

And learn from mistakes.

Thank You, Lord Jesus,

That all that life brings;

Can be used for good,

Because You’re the King.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we grow and trust You more, we gain wisdom and insight in You. Thank You that You are faithful to show us how You can work all things together for our good, even when our circumstances are not. Forgive us for being flippant with our time and for the times that we have delayed in seeking You. Show us how to turn to You first in all things, and to listen to Your leading. Help us to love those around us as You do, so that all might gain glimpses of Your goodness and love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we recognize the gift that each new day brings and choose to seek You with intention so that we may continue to grow in wisdom as we go. Amen.

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

Reverence for the Eternal is the first step toward wisdom. All those who worship Him have a good understanding. His praise will echo through eternity! – Psalm 111:10

Make Room

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. – (Luke 2:6-7, NIV)

While Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem, the time came for her to have the baby. She gave birth to her first son. She wrapped Him up well and laid Him in a box where cattle fed. She put Him there because the guest room was full. – (Luke 2:6-7, ERV)

While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped Him in a blanket and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel. – (Luke 2:6-7, MSG)

Though we cannot go back in time and create space for Jesus to be born in a comfortable setting, we can make room for His arrival in our hearts. Back then, Mary and Joseph were an unwed couple in a time and space where such things were disgraceful and shunned. I imagine that if their circumstances had been different, a family member would have created room. However, that is not how the event unfolded. Today, in our fast-paced, instant-gratification needing world, we must be intentional to make time to remember Christ’s arrival, or we too, are sending the Savior to a stable. The incredible thing is that Jesus did not remain a baby. He grew and lived and loved and helped and healed, and ultimately gave His life for us so that we might know Him. Jesus conquered the grave and ascended into heaven, where He is seated at the right hand of the Father, contending for us. One day, He will return. Though no one knows when He will return, if we are eagerly anticipating His arrival, our hearts are in the right space to not only remember the Savior’s birth, but to welcome back the Overcoming King. May we be intentional this Christmas to make room for Christ’s arrival and recognize both the redemption we have been given and the hope that is ours as we make room for Christ to be the Lord of our lives.

If only they’d known,

The child she would bear;

Space would have been made,

They would have prepared.

No one can go back,

Instead, look ahead;

To welcome the King,

Let all praise be said.

For great is the Lord,

Who came down to earth;

Humble beginning,

So lowly His birth.

A baby no more,

Now Conquering King;

Defeater of death,

All hope He does bring.

So, lift up all praise,

Our best offering;

All glory to God,

The Almighty King.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son in a way that showed us that not only are You powerful, but You are also approachable. You can relate to all of us, no matter where we come from, where we are, or what we have been through. Thank You that You made the way for all to come into the hope that is found forever in You. Forgive us for the times that we have not made room for Your arrival. Teach us to fix our eyes and hearts on the meaning of this most sacred season. Show us how to love those around us in ways that extend Your peace, hope and love to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You and make room to remember the glory of not only Your arrival in a stable, but to anticipate Your return as the Conquering King. Amen.

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

“Anyone who welcomes you welcomes Me, and anyone who welcomes Me welcomes the One who sent Me.” – Matthew 10:40

Joy and Laughter

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. – (Job 8:21, NIV)

So perhaps you might laugh again. Maybe shouts of joy will come from your lips. – (Job 8:21, ERV)

He will fill your mouth with laughter; your lips will spill over into cries of delight. – (Job 8:21, VOICE)

Though Job’s friends were not the greatest at responding to the devastation and loss that he had experienced, this verse was spot on, as in the end, all that Job had lost was restored and then some. Joy and laughter were restored after such heartache, trials, and loss. Last evening, as my love and I attended his sister’s annual Christmas party, we were both in a space where laughter was needed. Gathering with family and friends, we were able to enjoy the company, love and laughter that burst forth when dear ones get together. There was much laughter, and the joy that dwells deep within, was reminded to surface. Today, I anticipate more laughter and reasons to shout for joy, as we will gather with our church family, and after, I will have the pleasure of time together with dear ones from college group that I met a few decades ago. I am so thankful for the opportunities God brings to grant us laughter and to remind us of the joy we have in and through Him. The people He places in our lives grant us reason to delight.

The gift of laughter,

Reminds us that joy;

An ongoing gift,

That love does employ.

For time together,

With laughter and love;

Show us God’s goodness,

His grace understood.

Trial or triumph,

God’s joy is the same;

Found in the blessings,

As we call His Name.

Joy’s not dependent,

On our circumstance;

It’s found in Jesus,

Not by happenstance.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that no matter what is going on around us or what lies before us, we can trust that there will be laughter and joy again. Thank You that joy in You exists even on our darkest days. Forgive us for the times that we have allowed the weight of our circumstances to steal our joy. Teach us to hold fast to the hope we have in You, for it is in that space of hope that we know and understand the joy in the promise of forever in Your presence. Teach us to choose to embrace the joy we have in You, and to allow love and laughter to overflow from our gratitude to You. Show us how to love those around us in ways that remind them that love and laughter, joy and peace are present when we know Your nearness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You all praise for the joy we know in You, and for the love and laughter that You provide through those You place in our lives. Amen.

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

But let all who take refuge in You be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You. – Psalm 5:11

Return to Rest

Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. – (Psalm 116:7, NIV)

My soul, relax! The Lord is caring for you. – (Psalm 116:7, ERV)

O my soul! Return and relax. Come to your true rest, for the Eternal has showered you with His favor. – (Psalm 116:7, VOICE)

Though Thor woke me at the usual time, there is something in my soul that settled this morning as I came upstairs to feed him and begin my usual morning routine. Perhaps it is the realization that I have a break from work for the next two weeks, or the recognition that being Saturday, there is a slowdown in the pace. Either way, my soul felt more at rest as I sat down to read than it is has in quite some time. Despite the busy and crazy of the last several weeks, the Lord has been good to me. He has strengthened and encouraged me, loved me through my fears and discouragement, and surrounded me with people who love and support me well. For this and so much more, I am incredibly grateful. Whatever the next two weeks holds, I pray that you will find rest and relaxation amidst the busy, and that You will be acutely aware of the Lord’s goodness and care for you.

Today, O my soul,

Embrace the sweet rest;

Provided by God,

Who knows our needs best.

In kindness, He holds,

Us each in His hands;

Supplies what we need,

To in His strength, stand.

No matter what comes,

He will remain near;

With strength, peace and love,

He holds us each dear.

Each heart, He blesses,

As we seek His face;

His love is outpoured,

And flooded with grace.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You provide the rest we need when we need it most, and You pour out Your blessings upon us. Forgive us for forgetting just how blessed we are in knowing You. Teach us to count our blessings and to embrace the rest that You provide. Show us how to encourage and lift those around us as we choose to love like You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, Lord. Be glorified O God, as we relax in the rest that You provide and praise You for Your overwhelming blessings as You grant us strength, peace, hope and love anew every morning. Amen.

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

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. – Psalm 62:5

No Matter What May Come

For since He Himself was tested and has suffered, He is able to help those who are tested. – (Hebrews 2:18, HCSB)

And now He can help those who are tempted. He is able to help because He Himself suffered and was tempted. – (Hebrews 2:18, ERV)

Since He has also been tested by suffering, He can help us when we are tested. – (Hebrews 2:18, VOICE)

Because Jesus was tempted in every way, and He suffered beyond what we can even begin to fathom, He understands and knows how to help us when we struggle. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that we are completely alone in the midst of struggle or suffering, but the truth is, God is always near. Jesus is ever moving on our behalf. The challenge is to slow down, seek the Lord, and simply sit in His presence. He is faithful to meet us in our seeking, and will hold us up and lead us through the trials that we face. May we ever seek the Lord, for He is faithful, and He will help, hold, and lead us so that we may navigate every difficulty that comes our way.

No matter what comes,

God already knows;

How to best help us,

In His strength, we grow.

Through great temptations,

Or true suffering;

God will be faithful,

Grace and strength He brings.

So, rise up and seek,

Each time you shall find;

More than imagined,

His love does exceed.

Lean into Jesus,

No matter what comes;

He’s present to help,

The great Holy One.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are gracious and kind, and that You understand every trial and suffering that we endure. Thank You that because You have suffered and been tempted in every way, You are able to help and strengthen us to navigate all things. Forgive us for our fears and doubts. Teach us to trust You in all things and at all times. Show us how to love those around us as You do, so that they too may come to know Your strength and help and hope in all things. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and trust You in all things and at all times, for in You, there is peace and hope and strength. Amen.

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

Whether it is favorable or unfavorable, we will obey the Lord our God, to whom we are sending you, so that it will go well with us, for we will obey the Lord our God. – Jeremiah 42:6

Remove Retaliation

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. – (Romans 12:17, NIV)

If someone does you wrong, don’t try to pay them back by hurting them. Try to do what everyone thinks is right. – (Romans 12:17, ERV)

Do not retaliate with evil, regardless of the evil brought against you. Try to do what is good and right and honorable as agreed upon by all people. – (Romans 12:17, VOICE)

In my college years, I had a dear friend who had an awesome strategy to keep himself in check when people were rude on the road. Every time someone would cut him off or do something that felt dangerous that could lead to anger or retaliation, he would yell, “Jesus loves you,” at the person who was driving offensively. Though the yell was through closed windows, the words were what his own heart heard, rather than an angry or rude response. It was a reminder to himself that he did not need to do anything to get back at the driver, and to hold onto the truth that they were indeed, loved by God. As a passenger, not only did it diffuse the frustration with the recklessness of others, but it planted a seed that I never forgot about what I could do instead of retaliating. This principle is useful in responding to people in general. If they are unkind, I can smile and walk away, reminding myself that they are loved by God, or I can extend compassion, despite the ugly that I received. God is gracious and kind, and He loves us, even when we are the most unlovable. If He can love and forgive and receive us, then we ought to extend the same to those around us. No, this does not mean we are meant to be a doormat, but we are not meant to return evil for evil. 

Wrong done unto us,

Should not be done back;

We are called to peace,

Not to choose attack.

Instead we are called,

Let love lead the way;

Give good undeserved,

Like God does each day.

He gives us His grace,

His mercy and love;

And we’re called to do,

As the Lord above.

Father we need You,

To show us Your way;

Keep us from evil,

Lead us each new day.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us and have shown us through Your Son, that we are not to retaliate and return harm. Forgive us for the times that we have returned evil for evil, be it in our words, thoughts or actions. Teach us to give all to You, and to trust You to move on our behalf. Show us how to make Your love known, even when love is the last thing that we want to extend. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us what to do when harm or evil is directed at us. Lead us in Your everlasting love. Amen.

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

Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. – Romans 12:2

Seek Now

Seek the Lord while He may be found; call to Him while He is near. – (Isaiah 55:6, HCSB)

So you should look for the Lord before it is too late. You should call to Him now, while He is near. – (Isaiah 55:6, ERV)

Seek God while He’s here to be found, pray to Him while He’s close at hand. – (Isaiah 55:6, MSG)

So turn your attention and seek the Eternal One while it is still possible; call on Him while He is nearby. – (Isaiah 55:6, VOICE)

The thing about this is that God is eternal and we are not. We all have an expiration date that we cannot predict. Our time to seek the Lord is now, and we can call on Him, for He is near. As we pray, we discover His nearness. This is not about being or doing enough, but rather taking the opportunity to get to know the Creator of all, personally. He knows us far better than we know ourselves and has a plan and a purpose for our lives. That being said, God is not pushy or demanding, and He did not create us to be robots. We were each individually designed with gifts and talents and a free will. It is up to us to seek Him to get to know Him. The more we know Him, the more we want to know Him. God’s grace, goodness, kindness and love go far beyond what we can comprehend. When our attention is directed to Him and our focus on being still before Him, we grow in our understanding and our heart grows in our own capacity to love as He loves us. May we ever turn our attention to God and seek Him, for He is faithful to meet us each time we do.

As we seek the Lord,

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

He’s near to be found;

Our time has limits,

Hope in Him is sound.

God is eternal,

On earth, we are not;

Our hope forever,

Granted as He’s sought.

So, turn to Jesus,

Lord God on His throne;

He’s waiting for us,

To make His heart known.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we seek You, You meet us and reveal more and more of Yourself to us. Thank You that we have access to You at all times and in all places. Forgive us for taking Your nearness for granted, or for assuming we will always have more time later to do what ought to be done now. Teach us to seek You with intention; to purposefully sit in Your presence and listen to Your leading. Show us how to love those around us as You do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and spend time in Your presence now, for we know not what tomorrow may hold. Amen.

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

Search for the Lord and for His strength; seek His face always. – Psalm 105:4

To Cultivate Good Fruit

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. – (Galatians 5:22-23, HCSB)

But the fruit that the Spirit produces in a person’s life is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these kinds of things. – (Galatians 5:22-23, ERV)

The Holy Spirit produces a different kind of fruit: unconditional love, joy, peace, patience, kindheartedness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You won’t find any law opposed to fruit like this. – (Galatians 5:22-23, VOICE)

As we nourish our spirits with the goodness of God’s word and spend time seeking Him to teach us and grow us, He cultivates this sort of fruit within us. We discover love and joy, peace and patience, kindness and goodness, faith and gentleness, and our self-control rises up. Though people decide they are opposed to following Christ, I have never met anyone who was opposed to being on the receiving end of the fruit that Christ within us produces. Perhaps the opposition that people feel stems from those who claim to follow Christ, yet do not spend time with Him and give God room to transform them more into His likeness. If none of the Spirit’s fruit is evident, then the soil of the heart is parched and unable to produce the good fruit. May we ever seek the Lord and spend time in His word, for it is through our time with Him, that the soil of our heart is nourished and good fruit is produced to share with those around us.

Lord, help us seek You,

With ev’ry new day;

And grow within us,

Fruit that shows Your way.

Water and nourish,

The soil of our hearts;

As You produce fruit,

Your ways You impart.

Let Your love and joy,

Peace and patience too;

Kindness and goodness,

And faith that is true.

May Your gentleness,

And great self-control;

Show others Your heart,

As You we extol.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that the fruit of Your Spirit is not something that we have to try to grow on our own, but rather is something that You plant within us and cultivate as we continue to come before You to listen and learn. Forgive us for thinking that we can just try to be better and do better, and that somehow, the fruit of Your Spirit will rise up within us. Show us what it is to give You our whole heart so that You can transform us into who You created us to become. Lead us to love as You do, in ways that make Your fruit evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to continue to grow Your fruit well within us, so that we can extend Your nourishment to those around us. Amen.

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

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification. – Romans 14:19

Live in Light

Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. – (1 John 2:10, NIV)

Those who love their brothers and sisters live in the light, and there is nothing in them that will make them do wrong. – (1 John 2:10, ERV)

Anyone who loves his brother or sister lives in the light and will not trip because his conscience is clear. – (1 John 2:10, VOICE)

The more we choose to love, the more we are living in the light that God has called us into. As we are in the light, we are able to see clearly the ways in which we are meant to go. However, if we turn from the light and do not love, we stumble and fall, and do the wrong that we never intended to do. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us in His love so that we love well and ever remain with a clear conscience in the light that He provides.

To love each other,

Is to live in light;

With a clear conscience,

In Him we delight.

With His light we see,

The ways we’re to go;

To care for others,

And make His love known.

Keep looking to God,

And His loving light;

Seek walk in His ways,

And choose to do right.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to love our brothers and sisters as You do. Thank You that Your loving light illuminates that way that we are meant to love. Thank You that as we do, we walk in Your light and You keep our path clear. Forgive us for choosing anything that is not love, for it is in such spaces that we stumble and fall. Teach us to look to You to lead us in the light of Your love in all things. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we may shine Your light before those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us how to love our brothers and sisters best. Amen.

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

As people understand Your word, it brings light to their lives… – Psalm 119:130a