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Cry for Victory and Find Your Way Home

Cry for Victory and Find Your Way Home

The cry can be one of victory or loss. It arouses a crowd in support of their favorite team. The battle cry sends warriors racing into battle, and the cry of a son lost rips from his mother’s heart. The cry begins and ends so many of our life experiences.

 

“The cry of pain is our deepest acknowledgement we are not home. We are divided from our own body, our own deepest desires, our dearest relationships. We are separated and long for restoration. It is the cry of pain that initiates the search to ask God “What are you doing?” It is this element of a lament that has the potential to change the heart.” Dan Allendar

 

The Loss

 

It seems as though my heart’s been doing much crying these last couple of weeks. Crying for lost relationships, lost dreams, and lost hopes. This world lies broken in pieces and it reminds me, once again, that this is not home.

 

As wonderful as life on earth can be, as amazing as Jesus’ good news is, and as constant as God’s presence carries me, this present life is not my final destination. I’m a wayfaring sojourner and every once in a while the pain of this life becomes my stark reminder that my life here is a temporary, albeit, preparatory journey for the life to come.

 

Living this life in the here and now, with an eye fixed on eternity, requires us to enter into this life fully, including all the joy and pain. The abundant life Jesus was referring to doesn’t mean a pain-free life, but a life lived with abundant faith, hope, and love.

 

The Finding

 

Our life: faith-filled, grace-directed, and always-transforming, grows more and more three-dimensional when we run towards God . . . even if it means running through pain and sorrow to get to him. Sometimes we want to skirt around the issue. We attempt to build a bridge over it or find an easier crossing, but there comes a time when we must wade in and go through it to get to the other side. Our breath catches in our throat as we take the first step because the temperature is cold. Pain shoots through our foot as we step on the rock’s pointy edge. The water climbs higher and higher and something brushes beside us and finally, a cry wrenches from our lungs.

 

Betrayal. Loss. Disappointment. They bring sorrows and pain and discomfort that we need to wade through in order to get to the other side. Betrayal slams our identity to the ground. Disappointment tempts us to bitterness. And loss, well, loss wants us to question God’s goodness. God gives us lament as a means to communicate the depths of pain in our hearts. The cry is an integral part of lament that propels us towards hope.

 

The Cry that Empties and Fills

 

Lament is a cry of pain, anger, sorrow, or confusion. It’s a cry that empties all the hurt in our heart at the feet of Jesus and a cry that points us back to faith in him.

 

Psalm 31 contains all the elements of lament and provides us with a model to follow. In the first two verses, we read David’s cry. But we don’t picture him stomping his foot like a toddler demanding attention, screaming at the top of his lungs. Instead we see David’s heart’s cry with pain and longing for rescue, while declaring attributes of God. He called God his deliverer, his rescuer, and his refuge. David’s sorrow took over his voice and he cried aloud that God would hear his cry and rescue him posthaste.

 

The Storms

 

I’ve seen storm clouds brew on the horizon and watched wild winds whip the grass into swirls. I knew I needed shelter as lightning blazed and thunder reverberated in my ears. Other times, the day started out in peace and ended in chaos. I had no warning. There was nothing on the wind to suggest devastation.

 

The day I lost my first baby was like that. I woke up that morning an expectant mother and went to sleep that night wondering what to do with the grief that threatened to swallow me whole. I passed through that valley alone. There was no way to reach my husband. No one picked up the phone when I called. I lay curled in a ball on my living room floor as waves of pain washed over me. There was no relief. Only cries for God to rescue and deliver me.

 

There are times when God prepares our hearts for the storm that’s heading our way and other times it takes us completely by surprise. But no matter whether we’re able to prepare for the upcoming maelstrom or are completely taken by surprise, the emotional response is still the same. Shock. Hurt. Pain. Questions. Anger. These well up within us and so we cry:

 

“God, I take refuge in you. Deliver me. You are righteous, don’t let me be put to shame. Lean towards my cry and come to me quickly. I need you, God. Be my rock and my refuge. Save me.”

 

The Cry of Lament Leads us Home

 

The lament opens with a cry of our pain that states what we need and declares God’s character. It’s in declaring who God is that gives us hope and reassures our heart and puts our faith into practice.

 

The enemy wants nothing more than to isolate you so that you feel as though you’re alone, that God doesn’t care, and that he doesn’t listen. However, by wrapping your cry in the truth of God’s character you insulate your pain-ridden heart against the deceptive wiles of the enemy. The enemy wants bitterness to take root. He wants you to question God’s goodness. Your pain is the enemy’s playground, but it can also be God’s way of leading you to greater healing.

 

So cry out your hurt to God. Cry out your fears and questions and doubts. But remind yourself that God is righteous, that he is your shelter, and strength. That he is with you, he is constant, that he hears you and longs to rescue you. Pour it all out and let him comfort you and lead you home to his heart.

When Pain Overtakes Joy and What to Do About It

When Pain Overtakes Joy and What to Do About It

Leaning into Lament

 

Lament is part of honest communication between God and man. It bridges the “give thanks in all circumstances and rejoice” with “in this world you will have many troubles.” Expressing both rejoicing and suffering is integral to a growing relationship with the Lord. It’s easy to think that rejoicing amidst suffering looks like gritting our teeth and pasting a smile on and minimizing how we really feel about all the difficulties we face, but it’s not. It’s so much more and lament gives us the language we need to express our deepest hurts, sorrows, and disappointments.

 

Afflictions like sickness, loneliness, mistreatment, aging, and death touch us on a regular basis. Disappointment plagues us and makes the soil of the heart ripe for seeds of bitterness. Bitterness then grows into an invasive weed that chokes out all that is good and right and pure in our hearts. Bitterness causes us to forget the comfort of God’s nearness and to neglect the transforming power of his word. It prevents us from looking to Jesus, our advocate. At its worst, it makes us question the assurance of our salvation.

 

Lament reconciles praise and thanksgiving when our hearts break with suffering.

 

Faith is the trusting of our entire selves to God.  We cry, “Why, God” because we’re desperate to find meaning in our suffering. Biblical lament leads us to greater faith because it returns our focus to God’s attributes and character while giving opportunity for our doubts and runaway emotions to experience God’s comfort. Lament leads us to hope.

 

Jesus was neither unemotional or ruled by emotions, but he kept them in the perspective of God’s character and will. We see this in the account of Lazarus, when Jesus waited two days to go to Bethany, how he wept, and when he raised Lazarus from the dead. In the Garden of Gethsemane, we see how Jesus didn’t deny his emotions, rather, he expressed them through drops of blood as he wrestled with the reality of what was to come. Because our hope is Jesus, we learn how to lament with hope supporting our sorrows.

 

Lament becomes the greatest song of hope despite how we may feel about ourselves or our situation. It reveals that God is able to do above and beyond anything we can hope for or imagine. Cry out your pain in your sufferings, let lament lead you to rejoicing in who God is. He is steadfast and faithful, ever righteous and trustworthy. Rejoicing in our sufferings leads to endurance, endurance leads to character, and character leads to hope. Biblical lament (the expressing of our heartache followed by rejoicing) becomes an expression of hope.

 

An act of faith, a proclamation of hope, and a refinement of love

 

Lament refines our ability to love others well. Disappointments happen in life. We’re disappointed by ourselves and others. Disappointing outcomes of cherished hopes lead us to doubt God’s goodness and kindness.  The language of lament gives words to our pain and sorrow. We’re commanded to love one another like we love ourselves, but what if you hate yourself and speak words to yourself that are filled with disgust and condemnation?  It’s exhausting to love others when you’re filled with negativity towards yourself.

 

When we live in community with each other, egos get bruised, hearts wounded, and offenses taken up, but if we don’t deal with the emotions of those situations, our relationships falter. Lament gives us the freedom to express to God our uncensored feelings about our sufferings. And when we fail to lament we can fall into the trap of slander, gossip, and revenge. Part of the healing of our hearts from heart-wounds involves learning to lament biblically.

 

We experience life, hope, faith, and love

 

Emotions are neither good nor bad, but they are indicators of your heart and if acted upon can lead to life-giving choices or life-stealing cycles. God gives us the language of lament as a healthy way of expressing all the feelings this life brings.

 

The structure of a piece of literature includes exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement, and a story isn’t complete without each of these elements. Lament follows a similar arc and if we miss a piece, we rob ourselves of authenticity in our relationship with Jesus Christ, and it robs society of solid answers to deal with heartache and suffering.

 

Biblical lament includes these five elements: The Cry for Help, The Expression of Emotion, The Confession of Trust, The Petition to God to Act on Our Behalf, The Vow and Expression of Praise. The coming weeks will feature posts on these and how they help us navigate uncertain times.

 

 

 

How Our Focus Guards, Guides, and Grounds

How Our Focus Guards, Guides, and Grounds

Focusing Power

 

I’m learning that my quick skimming of articles, emails, social media posts, and updates leads me to a lack of focus in my life. I use to be able to read for hours, getting completely lost in the journey the author takes me on. Now, I’m lucky if I can read for twenty minutes before I flip open my email or instagram. This lack of focus translates into other areas of my life — my inability to attend to what my kids and husband tell me, my prayer life, and my bible study. This concerns me because in order to live this “God-life” with power and grace, I need to be able to focus.

 

Romans 12:2 guides my life and gives direction. I know my mind needs renewing. I know the rabbit trails I go down that lead to disappointment, worry, and doubt. And every time I take a journey into that place, I regret it. Although I learn plenty, it reminds me of the power of focus.

 

Focus Affects Our Relationships

 

What do we focus on? How do we focus? Why is focus so important? Focus means to set our minds, eyes, and hearts on God. During a recent quiet time, I read Psalm 9:10, “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” Trust relates to knowing. Knowing grows through time spent in relationship. Relationship starts with faith.

 

While we grow and develop our relationship with the Lord, we discover the two-sided reality of the Christian life:

 

Acceptance in Christ and growing in Christ.

 

Status as kings and duties as slaves.

 

Presence of Christ and pressure of sin.

 

Made right with God and daily problems that help us grow.

 

Without an awareness of this two-sided reality, focusing our hearts and minds on Christ is a struggle. But, when we’re aware that we are accepted as we are and given opportunities to grow, our focus shifts from our circumstances to the One who guides, leads, heals, and loves. This focus helps guard our hearts, shows us where to serve, and grounds our hearts in hope.

 

Focus Helps to Guard Our Hearts

 

Our hearts need guarding. There is so much in this world that aims to demoralize our hearts through distraction and disappointment. We can guard our hearts by carefully considering what we focus on. Proverbs 4:23-27 lays out a delightful plan to teach us how to guard our hearts. Out of our hearts spring life. Therefore, what we think, see, say, and do makes a difference on our life.

 

Focus Shows Us the Next Thing

 

Our hearts need direction. Too much inward focus turns us into selfish minded people with a narrow view of ourselves and our world. However, when we look up and out, our hearts develop awareness of a greater view. Without purpose, the gifts God gives us languish and we never reach the fullest potential God has for us. Then others, for whom God gave us those gifts, do not benefit.

 

In John 4:35, Jesus tells the disciples to open their eyes to see the fields ripe for harvest. Somewhere someone is waiting for you to breathe a bit of the hope you have in Jesus into their hearts. That hope can be the difference between harvest languishing and going to waste or a harvest that does what it was designed to do: multiply.

 

Establishes Our Hearts in Hope

 

Hope is standing assured in what we cannot see. It is standing with our face to wind, feeling the sting of it on our cheeks and its power buffeting our bodies and knowing that the rock on which we stand will not give way. Sometimes we hunker down behind the rock, beside the rock, and sometimes we climb inside it in order to gain a reprieve from the blast. But no matter what, we know that our Rock never fails.

 

This is what fixing our eyes on Jesus does for us in the times when distractions and disappointments abound. It’s the one thing that we can do that grounds our heart in hope. God takes care of the rest, but we choose where to fix our gaze. Hebrews 12:2: “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning it’s shame, and sat down at the right hand of God.”

 

The Story Unfolds

 

Your story isn’t finished. Your faith isn’t perfected. And that’s okay. You don’t have to worry about the ending or the plot twists. You don’t have to worry if your faith is strong enough. That plot twist? God is with you. That unexpected ending? God beckons to you to follow him. Your faith? God strengthens you even in your doubts as you fix your eyes on him.

 

Focus matters. It protects our hearts, guides our steps, and sets our heart on a firm foundation. As you move into the new year, take each opportunity to reset your focus. As you do so, your heart will be guarded, guided, and grounded.

 

 

A Prayer for Wonder

A Prayer for Wonder

 

Hello dear friends,

December slipped in wearing white and displaying crystals dancing on delicate branches. Its beauty on display reminds me that even winter storms display artistry by a Master Artist. Will I have eyes to see? Will you?

The next four weeks will bring a letter from me with reflections from the Word and a prayer to focus our hearts on the Lord. As we walk into December with all the joys, sorrows, and the busyness it brings, our souls need a moment to reset, release, and receive. It’s my prayer that these little notes minister to your heart as well as whomever you choose to forward it onto too.

The Word

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever–The spirit of Truth.” John 14:16-17a

“But the counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26

Reflections

My heart swells with relief that I have a counselor, someone who listens and who guides, in the Lord. Do you ever have those days where you wonder whether your efforts make a difference? Or what about those days when you don’t know if it’s worth pushing against a tide that seems relentless?

It’s in those moment when I remember the psalmists example of pouring out our hearts to the Lord. To tell the Lord our silly thoughts like a “I love these socks!” and the gigantic heart-rending  concerns like “I can’t take another step,” brings our hearts to the One who can laugh and cry with us.

Jesus truly is a Wonderful Counselor. He’s wonderful because he knows all, loves perfectly, and stands beside us through the highest mountains and the lowest valleys. He’s a wonderful counselor because he guides us with wisdom, truth, and peace so our hearts can know rest.

The Prayer

Holy One,

I adore you and say with my whole heart, “O come let us adore you.” You make ways when I can’t see the way. You work miracles that I don’t understand. You part seas and walk on stormy waves. You shine light into my darkness. I stand in awe of who you are.

Make a way this Christmas season for my heart to experience a reset. I pray your counsel would guide me so that I would walk in your ways and know your peace.

You give me space to release all the angst that’s stored up in my heart. I release it to you and leave it in your hands. My fears. My concerns. My regrets. They’re yours and I release them to you.

I receive your wonder and grace this Christmas. Guide and counsel me as I rely on you. You are my wonderful counselor and I run to you with my joys and sorrows.

In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Final Thoughts

Have a delightful week as you lean into Jesus’ wonderful counsel. May your days be filled with the reality of his presence and may you know his wisdom for your circumstances.

Blessings,
Jessica of Welcome Grace

A Prayer for When You Need to Seek God

A Prayer for When You Need to Seek God

 

 

I’m reading a book on worship–what it is, what it’s not, and what it means for me as a follower of Christ. So often we start with the doing for God or we focus on becoming and we grow frustrated. Our doing seems unfulfilling and becoming becomes complicated so we either change our doing or chase after the latest way to “become.”

 

But what if we’re missing a couple of steps?

Seek

 

Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you.”

 

Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”

 

To seek: to go in quest of, to search, to find, to discover. Seeking is the first step in becoming and doing.  We must seek God. We must turn our heart to discovering him in our everyday lives. And we must fix our minds on searching for him and his ways in our lives.

Know

 

Proverbs 24:3-4, “By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.”

 

John 10:14, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me.”

 

To know: to understand clearly, to perceive, to have established in the mind, and to be aware of. The second step to becoming and doing is to know God. To know how he loves, his kindness, mercy, and grace and what it means.

 

The more we seek and know God, the easier it is to become who he intends for us to be and to know what we should be doing.

 

God doesn’t lead us on a merry chase, but guides and directs our steps–sometimes one step at a time–sometimes by leaps and bounds–but always closer to him.

 

If we’re frustrated with doing and despairing over becoming, let’s take a step back to seek and know God. Let that be our main focus and the other two will fall into place.

Prayer

 

Holy God,
We bow before you, awestruck by who you are. You are light and life, grace and mercy, just and right, and filled with love and power. Let our hearts draw near to you today. We seek you with all our hearts because we know that our desires are found and fulfilled in you.

 

We want to know you, Lord. You desire relationship and so we say, yes. Yes, Lord. Reveal yourself to us today as we seek your face. Without you our becoming loses its fire and our doing loses its purpose. Guide our steps and our hearts ever closer to you. Help us to know your voice and respond when you call.

 

In Jesus’ name,
Amen

 

I’ll be praying that you fill your week with seeking and knowing God more.

xoxo
Jessica of Welcome Grace

 

The book I referred to at the top of this letter (click on the picture for the link).

To Remain in Him–a Prayer for Your Heart

To Remain in Him–a Prayer for Your Heart

 

 

A Prayer to Abide

 

“Remain in me, and I will 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. I am the vine and you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:4-5

The Thin Place

 

We walk this in this thin place of living in this world while knowing our home is in the next. It’s a thin place because it’s far too easy to slide into living and doing according to the world’s philosophies or to lean so far the other way that we cannot relate to those around us. 

 

The key to living in the thin place is abiding. I know this world knocks us around and we wrestle between flesh and spirit. Will we trust God in the midst of trouble or will we accuse him of abandoning us? And if we choose to accuse then we miss an opportunity to grow in our faith. We must remain in him. 

Remain in Him

 

Abiding in Christ is to remain in him when life sparkles and when life darkens. It’s what enables us to walk by faith when we cannot see and to believe when we don’t understand. It’s remaining when leaving tempts us. 

 

In order to remain in him, we must choose endurance, dependence, and obedience. 

Endurance:

 

To choose grit over quit. Endurance isn’t glamorous, but it leads to some pretty spectacular results. 

Dependance:

 

Wait on God for the outcome. Dependence looks a lot like waiting on God for his outcome.

Obedience:

 

To obey is to trust God at his word. If he says to love, then love and trust him to supply. If he says to forgive, then forgive and trust him to enable. 

Let’s pray:

 

Holy God, 

 

You are mighty and most worthy of praise. I adore you, Lord, and thank-you for who you are. You are grace and kindness and mercy. Goodness and beauty. Lord, I want to abide in you and remain in you because that is the secret to living this life well for you. This life surprises me with its beauty and its ferociousness, but you are the constant through it all. 

 

Help me to choose you in the face of deep disappointment and to recognize you in the light of great achievement. You are my everything and I worship you. God, I choose grit, dependence, and obedience. Give me the strength to endure. Help me find my strength in dependence on you, and guide me in obedience. 

 

You are God, my rock and my refuge, and I am forever enamored by you. May your face shine upon me and your glory overwhelm me. Let me be caught by your goodness and mercy and may I forever depend on you. 

 

In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

A Prayer for Cups to Overflow in Your Life

A Prayer for Cups to Overflow in Your Life

 

Cups overflow or empty?

 

Our identity in Christ covers three basic needs: significance, security, and acceptance. It’s out of these three things that our ability to minister to others without experiencing twisting and turning based on their approval or disapproval flows. But so often, we forget who we are in Christ. We begin to think that the answers to this world’s difficulties rests on our ability to provide answers and service. 

 

But the picture in Psalm 23 of the good shepherd, leading me by still waters, through death’s valley, and near pain’s shadow that I realize that it’s not up to me to carry all the burdens. I am weak and weary. Exhausted from the battle. It’s here, in the presence of my enemies, that I realize that God’s abundance in the midst of mess is for me and for you. 

Our Cups Overflow

 

Further into Psalm 23 we read that He anoints our heads with oil and makes our cups overflow. In ancient Eastern culture, hosts anointed their guests with perfume as a sign of honor. The host would give their guest a cup and then were careful to fill it till it overflowed. This implied that while in the host’s presence the guest would have all the abundance the host could offer. 

 

This is a beautiful picture of what it looks like when we abide in Christ. Our cups overflow as we hold our cup upright to receive from him. But so often, when we see the urgent in our life, we run around, holding our cups in a pouring position. Then, when cups run dry, we dash back to the Father for more filling. But what if we changed the position of our cups? What if we held them always in the upright position? This would allow the overflow of what God is doing in our lives to flow to those around us.

 

Our agendas would change. No longer would we treat our quiet time as a fill-up station, only pulling up for refuel when we’re empty. No longer would we feel the burden of the world’s cares on our shoulders and be overwhelmed by the great needs around us. Our position would be one of upturned cups, being continually filled and overflowing into the lives around us throughout our day. 

Hold Your Cups Upright

 

This position, of holding our cups upright and realizing the overflow that comes from being together with Christ in every moment, releases us from the burden that service sometimes brings. Instead, we find ourselves able to do more than we ever imagined because our cups are always full. 

 

Carrying our cup upright allows it to overflow into other’s emptier vessels. We discover that our confidence has nothing to do with our strengths. At the same time we learn that our insecurities don’t have to bind us to inaction.

 

Hold your cup upright and receive this blessing: 

 

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that our of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:14-19 NIV

 

Other Prayers

 

Prayer for joy.

Prayer for release.

A Prayer to Find Joy When Joy is Hard to Find

A Prayer to Find Joy When Joy is Hard to Find

 

 

We help one another find joy because of our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s keep walking in faith as we live in our present. Sometimes our “nows” fill us with excitement, and other times they fill us with trepidation. But God, in his infinite wisdom, gives us each other, the body of Christ, to strengthen and encourage and love one another. 

 

Is your summer filled with joy? Or do you find yourself shaking your head in disbelief as you race to keep up with the days? God holds time in his hands as well as our hearts so we can trust him with these days. 

Find Joy Scripture

 

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:6-9 ESV

 

Joy and grief rest side by side. Trials and faith work hand in hand. Fire and praise pull a response from our lips. We don’t see yet we do. This is the mystery of knowing God. It is the infinite wonder of a life surrendered to him. That we might know the fullness of the love of God and the ability to rejoice even when life takes our breath away. 

 

How do we explain this joy? In these verses, Peter writes that it’s the type of joy that is inexpressible. It’s a joy that must be experienced to be understood. And to understand it, we must live our lives fully aware to our circumstances. 

 

So in the days of busy and crazy, remember to breathe. Let’s inhale and exhale. See the sunrise and sunset. And always remember God is with us in the good and the hard. Joy shines when we remember your goodness to us.

Prayer to find Joy

 

Holy God, 

 

We say, Holy, Holy, Holy are you, Lord. Your ways are higher than ours and yet, your thoughts are tender towards us. God, we ask that you would pour inexpressible joy on us as we believe you for peace, goodness, and your timing in our circumstances. How you love us and so we love you back.

 

Lord, we grieve. We grieve over our losses and disappointments, our wounds and our pains. We hold our brokenness up to you and surrender the pieces of shattered dreams to your healing touch. Touch us with your love that we might rejoice and bring you glory and honor as you reveal yourself to us.

 

Lord, we adore you. We surrender because you are love and even when we cannot see you, we trust you. Fill us with your joy as we walk in faith. 

 

In Jesus’ name, 

 

Amen

 

From the Joy Series:

Joy

 

 

A Prayer for Joy When You Need It

A Prayer for Joy When You Need It

A Prayer for Joy

 

 

Do you ever feel like joy hides like an elusive toddler? You can hear it laughing, but you can’t seem to find it? This week’s prayer for joy will help.

 

Life contains joys and sorrows. It brings us times of sweet fellowship and bitter loneliness. And sometimes these happen all in the same day!

 

Discovering joy, holding joy, and experiencing joy. We long for it. And it rests simultaneously with our sorrows and disappointment.

 

We can know joy even when we know pain because joy is a fruit that God’s spirit grows within us. And holding onto it in the midst of difficulties takes place when we turn out eyes to the Lord, set our hearts on him, and hold fast to courage.

Scripture

 

“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

Some thoughts

 

This verse hangs on a piece of art in my home. I walk by it multiple times a day, but it’s easy to let the assurances of it flow off my heart rather than into my heart. But if we were to let the truths it contains simmer in our hearts, joy wells up within.

 

God is with us. In the fire, in the rain, in the sun, and in the beauty in our lives.

 

He saves with might. His strength is directed towards us to save, not to harm, not to disappoint, but to help.

 

He delights in us. Not because he’s God and he should, but because he wants us. He wants you and me to know the delight he has for us.

 

His love quiets our hearts. Our inner worlds of worry and concerns, doubts and fears stirs up anxiety cyclones in our thoughts. But his love quiets us so we rest assured in his presence and love.

 

He sings over us. He rejoices because of us. This truth arrests me in my tracks because I don’t feel worthy to be sung over. I know my weaknesses and tendencies and I believe I’m worthy to be chastised, not sung over.

 

But this is grace and mercy in action. Let’s open our hands and in humility receive it the joy God longs to give us.

The Prayer for Joy

 

Holy God,

We praise your name and give you glory! You are with us and mighty to save. We need you now, right in the middle of our life’s stuff, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Let us rest in you as you quiet our hearts and doubts. You are good and your kindness and mercy is forever.

May you be so very real to us in this moment and let us hear your song for us. As you delight in us, we delight in you and know joy. Joy is your gift to us, to carry us through the sorrows and pains, to hold us together when we face our darkest nights. You are our joy and we rejoice because of who you are.

We love you and give you glory and honor and all praise. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

The Joy Series:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

 

An Article to help you respond in grace to judgmental people:

How to Answer a Judgmental Person With Grace

 

When Your Heart Needs Perspective in the Waiting

When Your Heart Needs Perspective in the Waiting

There’s hope for perspective in the waiting.

 

My perspective in the waiting gets clouded by my impatience. Waiting. I don’t love it. It can make me feel crabby and in the long waits for answers to prayer, it can make me feel hopeless. And hopelessness is a desperate place to be.

 

But what happens when the things of life drag us down to depths we never dreamed we would reach? What happens when hope seems as distant as the faintest star in the night sky? What happens when we lose our perspective in the waiting?

 

It’s easy to get stuck in a disbelieving cycle that God can and will come through for us. In fact, I daresay, it’s a tactic the enemy of our souls uses to isolate us even further. It’s in these moments of doubt that we must turn to the only one who can help us. In fact, we can bring our doubts to him and receive grace. 

 

This week’s Scripture passage

 

“We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.” Psalm 33:20-22. 

 

Positioning myself to wait in hope means that I need to recognize that God is my help and that he is working in ways that I cannot see, but I need to trust him. He is your helper. You can trust in him.

 

Then I need to hide in him–he is my shield. He is your shield. When we hide in him, we go where he wants us to go, and we stay protected from the tactics of the enemy.

 

One key component to this kind of waiting–the kind that knows hope–is found in rejoicing. We can rejoice because of who God is. He is kind, merciful, full of grace, loving, good, just, faithful. Think about his goodness towards you, remember his faithfulness, rejoice that he rescues you.

 

This week’s prayer

 

“Lord Jesus, King of kings, and Lord of lords, we glorify your name. You are most worthy of praise and there is no one like you. Our hearts bear burdens that steal our hope and we need you. We need you to be our hope. As we wait in you let your unfailing love fall upon us. Wrap us in your love like a comforting blanket on a cold and windy day.

 

You are our help and shield. You are with us, you guide us, and you defend us. May we rest in you, trusting and believing that you are working behind the scenes in ways that we cannot see. If we cannot see your hand at work, help us to trust your heart. You are for us and you never leave us nor forsake us. 

 

We praise your name and receive your hope. 

 

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

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