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

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

Give Thanks for His Faithfulness

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever. – (Psalm 118:29, HCSB)

Praise the Lord because He is good. His faithful love will last forever. – (Psalm 118:29, ERV)

Give thanks to our Eternal Lord; He is always good. He never ceases to be loving and kind. – (Psalm 118:29, VOICE)

God is always good. He is worthy of our thanks and praise, for His faithful love knows no end. It has been an extraordinarily long week already, and today is only Wednesday. Between the dogs waking me well before my alarm, kids at school being extra with spring break coming up, and my own eager anticipation for a much-needed break, each day seems to drag on. That being said, it is now Wednesday. Two weeks ago, the countdown was much longer. Two more wakeups until we get to a break, and three wakeups until my love and I escape to a week in a warmer climate. There is so much to be thankful for. Two years ago, our spring break plans were canceled because of Covid. Now, two years later, our plans are firm and the countdown is about 72 hours away. Despite all of the busy and the crazy, I have felt His presence and His peace. I know anticipating something good has been helpful as well. In life, we should always hold that anticipation of something better coming, as we have hope in eternity with Him. No matter what lies directly before us, the ultimate outcome that we are waiting for is goodness forever. May we hold fast to the hope we have now and forevermore, and may we give God thanks and praise for His faithful love forever.

Give thanks to the Lord,

Forever He’s good;

His love surrounds us,

Kindness understood.

No matter what comes,

We’ve blessings to hold;

Hope in forever,

A love beyond bold.

His kindness and grace,

Fill and overwhelm;

Forever faithful,

He makes His love known.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good and that Your love lasts forever. Thank You that all hope is found in You. Forgive us for our fears, frustrations and doubts that sneak in when days overwhelm us. Show us anew, the hope we have in You. Lead us to love those around us as You do.  May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we embrace the hope we have in You and praise You for Your loving kindness that meets us where we are and leads us where we need to go. Amen.

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

Be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord. – Psalm 31:24

Far Greater

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.” – (Isaiah 55:8-9, NLT)

The Lord says, “My thoughts are not like yours. Your ways are not like mine. Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.” – (Isaiah 55:8-9, ERV)

This plan of mine is not what you would work out, neither are My thoughts the same as yours! For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than yours, and My thoughts than yours. – (Isaiah 55:8-9, TLB)

 

I am so thankful that the Lord’s thoughts, plans and ways are far greater than my own. So often in my life, I have thought things ought to go in a certain direction or were on a predictable path, and have found myself frustrated or confused as to why things took a turn that led an entirely different direction. However, hindsight is a remarkable revealer of the goodness of God. In the spaces that I assumed things would unfold in certain way, I can look back and see the hand of God in every step, and recognize the blessings and benefit of His plans, as the outcome has been far greater than I would have hoped or imagined. Often, there is a season of struggle prior the beautiful outcome. It is in the time of trials that He shows us more of Himself and strengthens and equips us for the more that He has in store. Without loss, we might never fully know the fullness of His love. Without need, we’d not truly know the Lord’s plentiful provision. In all things, He is good and His way is to lead to the ultimate outcome of an eternity with Him. May we ever trust in the Lord and His ways, for His ways and thoughts hold hope that lasts forever.

 

Though plans may be good,img_2019-03-03_09-00-141537211458818783495.jpg

And thoughts just the same;

Not one can compare,

To what God has claimed.

For the Lord’s great ways,

Are higher than ours;

We reach for the moon,

He gives us the stars.

In goodness and grace,

His ways lead to more;

Things so much greater,

Than ever before.

So, trust in the Lord,

For His plans are good;

Despite what we see,

Or think that we should.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and Your ways, far greater than our own. Thank You that so often we think things ought to go a particular direction, yet Your way always turns out far better than what we could hope or imagine. Forgive us for not trusting the process when things are painful or unpredictable. Teach us to trust You, even when we cannot see how Your hand is moving on our behalf. Show us how to love those around us in a way that encourages hope and trust, even when it is not seen. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You in the process, as Your ways are always for our very best. Amen.

 

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

 

Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You. – Psalm 63:3

Bold Faith in the Face of Fire

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if He does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” – (Daniel 3:17-18, NIV)

“If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. But even if He doesn’t, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference, O king. We still wouldn’t serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.” – (Daniel 3:17-18, MSG)

 

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had incredible faith as they faced King Nebuchadnezzar. They had been commanded to worship an inanimate object, when they knew the only one deserving their worship was the one true God. Because they refused, they faced a fiery death, yet they had faith that God could save them. Their bold declaration that initially infuriated Nebuchadnezzar was met by the faithfulness of God who saves and ended up so impressing the king that he created a new command protecting those who worshiped the living God, and promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to higher positions in his court. We never know who we will influence when we choose to remain faithful to what we know is true. Our faith and trust in God speaks volumes when we live it out practically. Though we likely do not face fiery furnaces nor such dramatic decisions, when we choose to be faithful in the small things, people notice and wonder why. May we ever remain true to God whom we can always trust, knowing that He is faithful and the ultimate outcome is greater than we could ever hope or imagine.

 

May we choose be bold, Fire Flames 1

With our trust in Him;

For He is faithful,

Beside us, He’s in.

He’ll make plain our path,

Show us where to go;

Raise up faith in us,

So truth shall be known.

Each giant we face,

Is small in His hands;

As we trust in Him,

He shows us His plan.

Walk forward in faith,

Despite what is seen;

Even so, choose trust,

On the Lord, choose lean.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible examples of faithfulness found in Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Thank You that through them, You show us how You meet those who are faithful to You, even in the fire. Forgive us for the times that we have not remained faithful to the truth we know. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would stay strong in You and that in great and small things we would remain true to You, always. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates Your faithfulness and goodness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You for strength to trust in You in all things and at all times. Amen.

 

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

Because of the tender mercy of our God, …the rising sun will come to us from heaven. – Luke 1:78

Faithful Beyond What We Can Fathom

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them. – (Romans 8:28, NLT)

We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love Him. These are the people God chose, because that was His plan. – (Romans 8:28, ERV)

We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan. – (Romans 8:28, VOICE)

 

Though I have seen and experienced this to be true again and again in my life, I still struggle when I cannot see how good could possibly come in the midst of difficulty. What I have to look at is not whether or not I see how good may come forth, but rather ask myself if I am walking out my purpose to which I have been called. I love God and know that which I have been called to do to live according to His plan. In that, I have to trust that He will be faithful to bring good from the battles and beauty where all seems to be in ashes. May we ever place our confident hope in He who is faithful, and trust Him to work everything together for good as we love Him and seek to walk out our purpose according to His will.

 

Let us have great faith, How Impossible Becomes Possible

As we love the Lord;

For He works all things,

For those who adore.

As we choose to trust,

He’s faithful to do;

What He has promised,

For His word is true.

In Him, good shall come,

Despite what we see;

He’s faithful always,

His love brings beauty.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You work everything out for our ultimate good as we love and trust in You. Forgive us for not trusting You beyond what we see and help us to know that You are faithful forever to those who love You and seek to do Your will. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would trust You for the good that is yet to come, rather than fixing our eyes on the struggle we are in. Show us how to love and encourage those around us so that they may trust You in the ultimate outcome of all situations and circumstances. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in Your faithfulness to bring good, even when we cannot fathom how it will be so. Amen.

 

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

 

God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me. – Genesis 21:6

Pay Back With Blessing

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. – (1 Peter 3:9, NIV)

Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with blessing. That is what God had called you to do, and He will grant you His blessing. – (1 Peter 3:9, NLT)

Don’t do wrong to anyone to pay them back for doing wrong to you. Or don’t insult anyone to pay them back for insulting you. But ask God to bless them. Do this because you yourselves were chosen to receive a blessing. – (1 Peter 3:9, ERV)

 

We are called to respond in the opposite spirit when we are hurt by the words or actions of another. Though this contradicts the very nature within us, when we choose to bless when we want to curse, extend kindness when we’d rather kick, and offer hope where we’d rather return harm, so often the situation turns around and we are blessed by the outcome. Even when we are not, we can go forward knowing that we have walked in obedience with a clear conscience, rather than agonizing over what we should or should not have said or done. The ultimate outcome is in God’s hands, so we need not worry when blessing seems to do nothing to help. A prime place where this practice plays out in my life is in the classroom. When a student behaves poorly and I try to redirect with kindness and calm, identifying their strengths and abilities, often it is enough to get them to snap out of their funk and return to what is appropriate. We all have days where we choose poorly or are less than kind, and the very things that help us to reset and choose better are the blessings that come through the kindness of those around us. May we ever choose to extend blessings, even to those who wrong us, as God has chosen to give abundant blessings unto us.

 

Don’t repay evil, Aquiring Armor

With more of the same;

Firing back insults,

Or pointing out blame.

Instead, give blessings,

To all whom you meet;

This is our calling,

Mission to complete.

As we choose to bless,

We become blessed too;

Because we’ve obeyed,

As we’re called to do.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your kindness and blessings unto us. Thank You that You direct and instruct us to steer clear of retaliating for the harm that people bring our way, and that instead, You arm us with strength to bless those who insult or do wrong against us. Forgive us for the times that we have repaid wrong with wrong, or returned insults instead of extending blessings. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would listen for Your voice and heed Your instruction as to how we can bless when we feel wronged, and give grace instead of retaliation. Show us how to love sincerely, even those who insult us or irritate us, as each is Your treasured creation. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we ask You to bless those who bring us pain. Amen.

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

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. – James 5:11

Gratitude is Not Conditional

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. – (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NLT)

Give thanks to God no matter what circumstances you find yourself in. (This is God’s will for all of you in Jesus the Anointed.) – (1 Thessalonians 5:18, VOICE)

 

Gratitude is the attitude that should be ever present among believers. Though our circumstances may be less than stellar sometimes, we have the assurance that our ultimate outcome will be far greater than we can even begin to imagine. This hope that we hold is reason enough to be thankful at all times, regardless of what we are going through. Additionally, even when we walk through our darkest times, we are never alone. Christ comes near and remains present, granting us further reason to be thankful in all things. May we give thanks with a grateful heart, not necessarily for what we are going through, but for He who walks beside us, and gives us help and hope and strength to get to the other side.

 

No matter what comes,The Benefit of Broken Barriers

give thanks to the Lord;

not for circumstance,

but hope He affords.

For all in this life,

is but a season;

hope is eternal,

our thanking reason.

Let every heart,

rise up and give praise;

not for what we see,

but for the Lord’s ways.

In each circumstance,

know that the Lord’s near;

each cry of our heart,

is heard by His ear.

Thanks be to the Lord,

for now and always;

in each circumstance,

let us choose to praise.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good, no matter what comes our way. Thank You that You goodness and faithfulness are not dependent on our circumstances. Thank You that when we belong to You, our hope is steadfast and secure forever. Forgive us for forgetting our reasons to give thanks in ALL things and at ALL times, despite the difficulties we endure. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would remember our reasons to give You thanks and praise, even when the things around us are less than ideal. Show us how to love others in a way that offers hope and help in the midst of challenging seasons, so that they may see the light of Your hope in us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be exalted O God, as we give thanks to You no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in, for You are ALWAYS worthy of our thanks and praise. Amen.

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

May God Almighty grant you mercy. – Genesis 43:14