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Having a Steadfast Heart in the Midst of Catastrophes

Steadfast

©JessicaVanRoekelPhotography

The Catastrophe

 

A bowl full of jello. Shaking. Quivering. Even after the bowl’s been bumped, the quivering continues. It starts on the outside and works its way to the inside. This is what I feel like when I hear bad news.

 

“He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” Psalm 112:7

 

We don’t have to fear the unknown or tomorrow’s headlines. But we do. We fear because we wonder whether God is who he says he is. We wonder if we are who he says we are. Our hearts are not steadfast.

 

The Rock

 

Imagine the lighthouse on the cliff. That rock? It doesn’t move. The lighthouse is firm and secure and able to do its job of shining a beacon of light to those who need it. Even when the storm rages and beats the cliff and waves overcome, the rock doesn’t move. 

 

What is your storm? What is the thing that is overwhelming you? Is it doubt, addiction, or failing relationships? Is it your thoughts, fears, or anxiety?

 

We all have junk. We all suffer. Sometimes it’s because of our own foolish choices and sometimes it’s because something comes to us uninvited like cancer or rejection or slander.

 

Our afflictions, as massive as they appear to us, can be used to bring about a brokenness in our lives that, in the end, make us the strongest version of ourselves. When I am weak, He is strong. When I cannot go on, He carries me. In my weaknesses I see the mighty strength of God.

 

Our weaknesses, our afflictions are not given to us in order to make us pay for some sin in our life.

 

Two Types of Schools

 

They are given to us so that we might know the power of God working in our lives. It’s not the School of Hard-Knocks that teach us grace. It’s the University of Suffering that cause us to know grace and the power of the Holy Spirit to transform us.

 

“For great is the his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.” Psalm 117:2

 

God is faithful through any bad news that comes our way. His love is so great that not only does he walk with us through our suffering, he is faithful to teach us the painful lesson of enduring. And it’s not the enduring, suck it up, stiff upper lip kind of enduring, but it’s the kind of enduring that grows our faith.

 

When we endure pain, we know Christ’s sufferings and the power of His resurrection.

 

Enduring teaches us to be faithful no matter what. It teaches us to understand that God loves us with a soft and gentle and fierce kind of love that is reliable and true.

 

The Hope

 

Bad news. It happens. It’s inevitable. But here’s the good news: God is faithful. He is steadfast. He is trustworthy.

 

Today, when you’re tempted to fall in the face of fear, fall forward into the arms of God. He’s got whatever life is throwing at you and He is big enough to hold it and you close to His heart.

 

Trust his heart for you: it is only good.

 

Coming Next Month. . .

 

Are you weary? Heavy-burdened? Are you at the end of yourself?

 

Next month begins The Refuge Series where we dive into the benefits of making God our refuge. Look for graphics and snippets on my Facebook profile, and weekly devotions here at Welcome Grace.

 

See you soon!

Why the Battle Needs Your Rebel Heart

battle training

The Battle

 

The battle rages within our hearts. We scrabble and crumble depending on the circumstance. If we’re feeling strong we get our scrappy little fists in the fight and knock the enemy out of the ring. We crumble when we receive an unexpected hit. It could be that pride sneaks from behind and knocks us off our feet and we lay stunned.

 

The battles within eventually get reflected into our visible lives because we’re who we are on the inside not what we display. If we struggle with submission to authority, but put on a submissive front, eventually a reaction will reveal the struggle. Pride shows up in a judgmental comment or a refusal to believe that God has chosen and loves you.

 

Our circumstances are distractions to the battles that rage in our hearts. Once we surrender our lives to Christ the real battle begins between the Spirit and the Flesh. Oftentimes I think of the flesh as my rebel self because I don’t seem to do what I know is right no matter how hard I try. But let’s flip the switch: The Spirit part of ourselves is our rebel heart.

 

Was Jesus a rebel? Some say he was. I say he was on a mission to reveal the Father’s heart to humanity and people have tried to pigeon-hole God and figure him out and make him like us: Easily swayed. Petulant. Angry. Abusive. Double-minded. And so man set up rules and regulations to follow in order to make God understandable and malleable. “If I do A, B, and C then God will do X, Y, and Z.”

 

The Rebel Heart

 

We need a rebel heart because the status quo threatens to lead us to apathy.

 

A rebel heart is our best defense against me-ism.

 

Ours is a heart divided: we have the heart of the spirit and the heart of the flesh. So often the flesh rebels against the spirit, but let’s flip that concept upside down. Let’s give the spirit permission to rebel against the flesh.

 

Once we surrender our lives to Christ we are given new hearts. God writes his heart on ours and places himself within us. However, the flesh still lives and needs to be crucified each day. This is why we need a rebel heart.

 

A heart that’s fully surrendered to Christ becomes a rebel heart. A heart that rebels against the status quo, the pride of life, lust of the eyes, and the flesh. A rebel heart doesn’t allow the flesh to take back the victory found in Christ.

 

I rebel against my flesh. I rebel against apathy. And I run straight towards God. There’s an insurrection with in my heart and the Spirit stakes His claim and turns my selfishness into generosity, my judgement into kindness, and my fear into trust.

 

The Win

 

The rebel heart wins when it’s strength and comfort is found in God. He is our help in times of trouble. He is our way of escape when we’re tempted. God is our commander and he is directing the greatest army in all creation. God leads us beside still waters where our hearts are refreshed and he also leads us into the battle where victory is assured.

 

1 Corinthians 16:13

Psalm 144:1

Psalm 140:7

 

We’re in this fight together. We face different challenges, but we serve the same God who arms us with his strength and makes our footsteps firm. I’m praying for you and would love to hear how your fight is going. You can email me at jessica@welcomegrace.com, write a comment here, or subscribe to receive weekly notes of encouragement in your day to day battle of transformation.

 

With love,

Jessica

 

 

 

Where is Your Refuge?

God is our refuge

 

Our world is in distress. It’s like I can hear it gasping for breath and flatlining as disaster after disaster overtakes. Yet within the disaster is a unifying, rallying cry of the human spirit. Collectively, we turn to the One who holds our hearts in his hand.

 

God is my refuge. He is my safe place, my rock and my salvation. He lifts my head when I cannot hold it up. I run to him and he hears my cry. He is my God and my Savior. Is he yours?

 

Do you turn to him when the world collapses? Or do you turn to your strength? When I face insurmountable odds, I’m reminded anew how weak I am and how strong he is. Fire. Flood. Health. Disappointment. Heartache. Failed relationships.

 

Life doesn’t make sense, and sometimes God doesn’t make sense. However, if we have ears to hear and eyes to see and a heart that runs to him, he reveals himself. The mystery unravels and new depths of God’s truth is deposited in our hearts.

 

He is our rock and our refuge, but we have to run to him. When literal storms come we head for shelter, and when emotional storms come, God is our best shelter. Sometimes his rescue doesn’t come in the form of removing us from the situation, but comes in the form of refuge.

 

He is our shield and our defense. We align our lives with his and find comfort and rescue even when our lives fall apart. I don’t understand why we’re facing so much natural devastation. It could be that the earth is crying out, the rocks are praising him, and the seas are roaring because we’ve failed to praise him. But I refuse to explain the reason for the multitude of disasters this world is experiencing, because God’s ways and thoughts are not mine.

 

But what I am willing to explain is this: God is for us not against. He is just and kind. His heart beats passionately for us and he is the safest place for us.

 

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a prayer for all of us facing life changing circumstances. Today I wanted to give you the prayer in a printable form so that you can see the reminders of God’s love before you. I know what it’s like to need those visual reminders of God’s goodness because sometimes the circumstances seem so large.

 

Please click the link for access to a printable pdf:

Prayer for Devastating Times-2

 

Praying for all of us,

Jessica

xoxo

 

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I write to encourage you that you can experience a vibrant, transformative relationship with God even if your past or your shame tells you otherwise. God invites you upward and onward, will you join him? You'll receive weekly devotionals straight to your inbox. 

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