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

Bloom Under Pressure

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. – (James 1:2-3, NIV)

My brothers and sisters, you will have many kinds of trouble. But this gives you reason to be very happy. You know that when your faith is tested, you learn to be patient in suffering. – (James 1:2-3, ERV)

Don’t run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. – (James 1:2-3, VOICE)

I most appreciate the Voice translation of this particular passage, as it is far easier to relate to finding joy in the midst of our trials, rather than considering them joy. The older I get, the more I both witness and experience this truth. Between the progression of aging in both us and our parents, the frequency of trials and health challenges in our lives and those of dear family and friends around us seem to be on the rise. What I continue to witness is faith rising up, and joy found in the midst of unpleasant circumstances as patience and endurance are provided. God is faithful to meet us every step we take, be it through the deepest valleys or on the highest peaks. One of the greatest things that I am continuing to learn is that God provides people that lighten our loads – be it physically, emotionally, or financially in the center of our storms. Throughout the early days and weeks following my mom’s stroke, people sent notes, called, encouraged and lifted up, which strengthened us and brought joy in the midst of the fearful unknown. On Thursday, I was supposed to have a consultation with a surgeon about a procedure to remove cancerous cells from my upper lip. The appointment turned into a bigger biopsy than I had previously had, and resulted in a couple of stitches, with further surgery still looming ahead. Incredibly, I feel total peace about the ultimate outcome of all this. My trepidation lies in the process. Even with the unanticipated procedure, God provided a kind staff that blended humor and compassion perfectly for me. Despite the unpleasantness of the process, their demeanor set my heart at ease and I left the appointment with much gratitude for those charged with my care. Additionally, I had a conversation with a colleague and friend whose father had undergone something similar to what is in store for me, and she was able to share great encouragement as he had minimal scarring and complete success. God is good and He uses our circumstances to grow and encourage us as He strengthens us with His overwhelming love. May you be encouraged by His goodness and kindness, even in the midst of challenges, today and always.

In heartache and joy,

Challenges and peace;

The Lord is near us,

And strength He’ll increase.

Through each new trial,

Faith He will increase;

As we choose to trust,

His power’s released.

In the dark spaces,

Keep seeking His light;

Endurance will bloom,

To joy and delight.

Delight in moments,

Where His love is clear;

Trust in the process,

God is always near.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You use our trials and challenges to grow us in strength and endurance. Thank You that You provide joy, even in the most difficult circumstances. Forgive us for our fears and frustrations in the midst of the unexpected trials that we face. Teach us how to lean into You for strength and endurance as we navigate whatever comes our way. Show us how to encourage and support those around us well, so that they may see tangible evidence of Your goodness and love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rely on You to be our strength in the struggles, and praise You for Your provision of joy despite our circumstances. Amen.

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

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him. – Psalm 28:7

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

Strength and a Clear Path

God – He clothes me with strength and makes my way perfect. – (Psalm 18:32, HCSB)

It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. – (Psalm 18:32, NIV)

God is the one who gives me strength. He clears the path I need to take. – (Psalm 18:32, ERV)

The True God who encircled me with strength and made my pathway straight. – (Psalm 18:32, VOICE)

As so many of us return to school today after what felt like the first “real” summer in the last few years, may we be equipped with the strength of the Lord for all that lies ahead. Teaching through the pandemic made for challenge after challenge, and last year, as we all returned to buildings, there were even more trials through the process of having to reacclimate to being on campus and interacting with live humans. This morning, though it marks my 26th first day of school as a teacher, the nervousness and anticipation are still securely in place. How will I create community in my classroom, and how can I help each student feel as if they belong? We all need strength and clarity to navigate this new year, and a clear path to lead and guide well. May we all seek the Lord to be our strength and to show us the steps we need to take to help each student feel as if they belong.

O Lord, bring the new,

Better than before;

Please lead and guide us,

To open new doors.

Show us Your goodness,

Lead us in Your way;

Each step that we take,

Throughout each new day.

Help all who enter,

Feel welcomed and known;

Valued and noticed,

Let Your love be shown.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our strength and the Light that leads us in the direction You want us to go. Thank You that You go before us, remain with us, and walk beside us as we navigate each new day. Forgive us for our fearfulness of what is not yet known. Teach us to trust in You to be our strength and lead us well. Show us how to love those around us as You intended. Give us clear direction in our classrooms so that we might create a welcoming community where every child knows that they belong. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we depend on You to be our strength and seek You to direct our steps. 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

Believe in All Things

Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. – (1 Corinthians 13:6-7, HCSB)

Love is never happy when others do wrong, but it is always happy with the truth. Love never gives up on people. It never stops trusting, never loses hope, and never quits. – (1 Corinthians 13:6-7, ERV)

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. – (1 Corinthians 13:6-7, NIV)

This can be the challenge in love. To bear all things does not mean to just attempt to deal with trials on our own, but rather it is in God’s strength that we are able to still stand when the storms sweep through. Believing all things is to trust in the truth, no matter how things appear; to hope all things is the confidence in knowing Who is ultimately in control. Lastly, to endure all things is to seek Jesus to hold us up and continue, even when circumstances feel impossible. It is Christ in us who will always protect, always trust, always hope and always persevere. When Christ is within us, we delight in what is true. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us in love, for He is love, always.

The love of the Lord,

Photo by Lukas Rodriguez on Pexels.com

Is what leads us home;

No matter how far,

In life we have roamed.

For God’s love endures,

He loves through all things;

Providing us hope,

As strength He does bring.

Strength to choose rise up,

Protection and peace;

Grace to keep going,

Help and hope released.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth. Thank You that You always protect, we can always trust You, in You we forever have hope, and You provide what we need to persevere. Forgive us for attempting to weather the storms on our own. Teach us to trust and rely on You to provide all that we need to press on. Lead us in Your goodness and strength to do all that You set before us. Show us how to love like You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to lead us in the light of Your love so that we can extend the same love that You give us to all. Amen.

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

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6

A New Creation

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God… – (2 Corinthians 5:17-18, NIV)

When anyone is in Christ, it is a whole new world. The old things are gone; suddenly everything is new! All this is from God… – (2 Corinthians 5:17-18, ERV)

Therefore, if anyone is united with the Anointed One, that person is a new creation. The old life is gone – and see – a new life has begun! All of this is a gift from our Creator God… – (2 Corinthians 5:17-18, VOICE)

When we give our hearts to God, He makes us new in Him. Beauty replaces ashes and hope rises from our spaces of despair; in Christ, all is made new. This does not mean that the struggles and trials disappear, but it means that we come to know that we never need to navigate them alone. We discover that even in the midst of darkness, we have the Light that cannot be extinguished. The Holy Spirit equips us with peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, faithfulness, love, self-control and joy. All of these things and more, grant us hope to persevere and pursue a life lived in love. May we ever seek the Lord and embrace the new He places within us, so that we might live and love as the new creation that God has made way for us to be.

United with Christ,

Our lives become new;

Hope everlasting,

Through love that is true.

In Christ, hope rises,

For He is our peace;

The Light in darkness,

Where goodness won’t cease.

He brings us beauty,

Where ashes once stood;

Hope out of heartache,

In Him there is good.

Good that delights us,

That brings what we lack;

Presence unending,

Love never held back.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in You, we are a new creation. Thank You that You forgive us, redeem us, and make us new in the light of Your love. Forgive us for not seeking or for not embracing all that we have in You when we invest our hearts and lives in You. Teach us to trust and seek You in all things, for You are our hope and our help in all things. Lead us to love those around us as You do. Show us how to share Your hope, light and love with everyone we meet through all that we say and do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we embrace the new we become in You. Amen.

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

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

To Know Peace

“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, NIV)

“And everything I’ve taught you is so that the peace which is in Me will be in you and will give you great confidence as you rest in Me. For in this unbelieving world you will experience trouble and sorrows, but you must be courageous, for I have conquered the world!” – (John 16:33, TPT)

“I have told you these things so that you will be whole and at peace. In this world, you will be plagued with times of trouble, but you need not fear; I have triumphed over this corrupt world order.” – (John 16:33, VOICE)

Because we live in a broken and fallen world, there will be times of trouble. However, with Christ in us, we can have peace despite what surrounds us. He has already experienced the same sort of trials, sorrows, and difficulties that we face and bore the weight of all on His shoulders. In the same way a parent can bring calm and peace to an upset child, God can be our comfort and safe place to rest in Him. His love brings comfort and calm, even through our greatest trials and places of pain. This is not just theoretical, for I have known and experienced God’s peace through heartache, hurt and helplessness. When there was nothing I could do to make my circumstances better or easier, He came alongside me and provided His strength and peace as He walked beside me and loved me through it all. Each time I have to walk through difficulty, God’s faithful, loving kindness meets me where I am at and leads me through; for He is my help, my hope, and my true place of peace. May we ever look to the Lord to be our peace, no matter what lies ahead.

Trouble comes and goes,

As it always does;

Yet God is faithful,

As He always was.

Peace in our chaos,

Calm through ev’ry storm;

Comfort in heartache,

And strength when we’re worn.

All that we’re facing,

And all we have known;

Jesus experienced,

So grace might be shown.

Lean into Jesus,

For He is the way;

To know love and peace,

He’s promised to stay.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our comfort and peace, no matter what challenges we face. Thank You that You know heartache, suffering, and sorrow, and are able to bring comfort and peace in places it seems impossible. Forgive us for our struggle to trust when things are overwhelming. Teach us to turn to You in all things, for You are our perfect peace no matter what comes our way. Show us how to love those around us through every circumstance so that they too, may know Your loving kindness that brings peace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in You to be our peace in all things and at all times. Amen.

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

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

Rising Up

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart rejoices, and I praise Him with my song. – (Psalm 28:7, HCSB)

The Lord is my strength and shield. I trusted Him with all my heart. He helped me, so I am happy. I sing songs of praise to Him. – (Psalm 28:7, ERV)

The Eternal is the source of my strength and the shield that guards me. When I learn to rest and truly trust Him, He sends His help. This is why my heart is singing! I open my mouth to praise Him, and thankfulness rises as song. – (Psalm 28:7, VOICE)

This morning, I am trusting God anew to do these things. I am so thankful that everyday is new. With Christ, each day we can find new strength and new joy; for yesterday is gone and today is full of new possibilities and hope for better. I know that God works in mysterious ways and that we go through trials to develop perseverance and character, yet He does not leave us to our own devices to navigate the struggle. He walks beside us and grants us the strength that we need so that we may find joy and gratitude even when our circumstances feel impossible. May we depend on God to be our strength and shield and rejoice in song for His faithfulness and love.

Sometimes, a song comes to mind and that is what fills my heart and mind. This morning, it is this one. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You bring songs to mind to strengthen and encourage us. Thank You for making all things new. Forgive us for our fears, frustrations and doubts, for in the natural, things can seem impossible. Teach us to ever rely on You to be our strength and our song. Show us how to love and encourage those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to be our strength and shield and praise You with the songs that rise up in our heart. Amen.

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

Rise up! Help us! Redeem us because of Your faithful love. – Psalm 44:26

The Throne of Grace

Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time. – (Hebrews 4:16, HCSB)

With Jesus as our high priest, we can feel free to come before God’s throne where there is grace. There we receive mercy and kindness to help us when we need it. – (Hebrews 4:16, ERV)

So now we draw near freely and boldly to where grace is enthroned, to receive mercy’s kiss and discover the grace we urgently need to strengthen us in our time of weakness. – (Hebrews 4 :16, TPT)

By Friday, I feel like I have finally reached the doorway to the throne of grace, as a break is at long last, in reach. However, I know that I can approach God anytime, for He is willing and ready to provide all that we need whenever we ask. It is interesting how much more we become aware of our need for God in times of difficulty and trials. He is good, and His mercy, kindness and help are always available to the seeking. This morning, as I prepare for the day, I again approach God to supply all that I need to navigate well. Each day is new, as are His mercies each morning. May we be intentional to come before the throne of grace to receive all that we need to persevere.

We have a high priest,

Photo by Harrison Haines on Pexels.com

Who is ever near;

His heart is for us,

His grace is made clear.

He grants us His strength,

When we have no more;

He leads us to peace,

Through His open door.

Show us, dear Jesus,

Your mercy anew;

Grant us peace and strength,

To live and love true.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we have an open invitation to approach Your throne of grace to receive all that we need. Thank You that You are loving and kind, and that You supply all that is needed as we come to You. Forgive us for thinking that we have to navigate on our own, or somehow power through things that are not ours to walk through alone. Teach us to seek and rely on You in all things and at all times. Show us how to love like You so that we may extend mercy and grace where it is needed most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we continue to come before You to be our strength and supply. Amen.

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

Indeed, we have all received grace after grace from His fullness. – John 1:16

A Way in the Wilderness

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. – (Isaiah 43:19, NIV)

Because I am doing something new! Now you will grow like a new plant. Surely you know this is true. I will even make a road in the desert, and rivers will flow through that dry land. – (Isaiah 43:19, ERV)

Watch closely: I am preparing something new; it’s happening now, even as I speak, and you’re about to see it. I am preparing a way through the desert; waters will flow where there has been none. – (Isaiah 43:19, VOICE)

This is a reminder of true hope. If God can make a way in the wilderness and bring streams to desert spaces, He can bring light and life and hope to us all. Right now, this reminder is needed. God is working even when we cannot see it or feel a change yet. It requires trust on our part, for He is faithful always. May we ever seek the Lord to do the needed new, and trust that He is making a way in our wilderness and sending streams to the dry spaces.

O Lord, You are love,

You’re goodness and grace;

You move great mountains,

That stand in our way.

You bring strength and hope,

In our weariness;

Refreshment and love,

Throughout each new day.

Lord, send flowing streams,

To lifeless in us;

Make way in trials,

Grant strength, Lord Jesus.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we call on You and trust in You, You meet us where we are. Thank You that You make a way where there seems to be no way, and You bring refreshment, strength and peace to the parched places in us. Forgive us for allowing our circumstances to dictate our capacity to choose joy in You. Teach us to hold fast to You and the goodness of Your love to fuel us when we feel empty. Show us how to pour into the lives of those around us in ways that make Your goodness and love evident. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to meet us where we are, and to supply all that we need to navigate each new day. Amen.

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

It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. – Psalm 18:32