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Desiring to encourage, challenge and inspire believers to passionately pursue God, I started blogging. Sharing stories of faith in hopes that you will hang onto possible endings when unexpected and unwanted trials come unbidden into your life.
As a kindergarten teacher by trade, I have much to learn as I hone my skills for this new craft. Attending writer’s conferences stir my soul to search for words worth pondering. Gifts of grace found in proclamations of truth and expressions of encouragement to fuel faltering faith.
In the middle of my pondering and searching for words worth writing, I heard two ordinary phrases holding out extraordinary hope. They came from my friend as she addressed students and faculty during our weekly chapel service. In the midst of cancer treatments, she came. Head barren beneath her wig, she came. Future uncertain, she came.
I was captivated by her joy. Not the “I’m really happy to be here” kind, but the “joy of the Lord is my strength” kind of joy. Listeners leaned forward, eagerly anticipating the testimony from this former colleague, teacher and friend.
As I listened, I recalled a writer’s workshop I attended entitled, “Less is More”. Her message illustrated the point of the workshop perfectly. Her presence declared truth from God’s Word; he will never leave or forsake us. Then with two simples phrases, she held out hope.
I learned as much from what she said, as what she left unsaid.
I expected an update on her health. I thought perhaps she would testify of God’s goodness as he ministered to her, walking her through the unwanted valley of the shadow of death. How he’d given her opportunity to minister to others waiting in rooms for their treatments. What she’s learned through her journey with cancer.
Instead, she told the stories of four friends; Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, taken from family and everything familiar and forced to live in a foreign, pagan land. Highlighting their choice to honor God no matter the circumstance, revealed her choice and the reason for her joy.
Purposing not to defile themselves and follow God’s ways “even when” their unfair and unwelcomed circumstances presented themselves, Daniel and his friends held onto faith and hope; “even when” faced with the lion’s den and the fiery furnace.
“What if” God allowed hard, painful or worse yet fatal circumstances? Yes, even then they would trust in God’s sovereign plan for their lives. Their bold declaration of faith is found in Daniel 3:17-18:
“If we are thrown into the fiery furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us…but even if he does not, we want you to know, your majesty, that we will not serve your gods…”
When life is hard, God sees. He cares. And he has a plan.
These words utter what our hearts hope is true; God working all things for our good and his glory.
I have always loved words; wise words, comforting and even challenging words. I love to read them and if you know me, you know I love to speak them. I like the way the look, sound and create pictures in my mind’s eye. I love to say “Battlestar Gallactica” because I like the way it rolls off my tongue. I’ve spent over twenty years teaching children to read in hopes they will discover words of faith, hope and love found in God’s Word for themselves someday.
God’s words are powerful and he gets the last word on everything. His words never return void of the purposes for which he sends them. Especially in the hard and messy places of our lives.
When words of faith mingle with hope in the middle of our mess, miracles emerge.
Miracles changing us “even when” the unimaginable circumstances and our “what if’s” become reality. Miracles leading us to declare that God’s Word has everything we need and his joy really can be our strength. Miracles proving God can use all things for our good and his glory. Miracles found in ordinary words holding out extraordinary hope in the life of my friend.