Hope for the Hard Days

No one is immune to trouble.

Job 5:7 but man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.

For some reason, we tend to walk around in Christian circles believing that no one else struggles with the same challenges we have. Or that no one is dealing with sin like we do. We bury our real and true selves under a façade of fake smiles and trite expressions when in reality the moment we share that we really have had a bad day, or week and the other person smiles in relief with a “me too!”

If we are to bear each other’s burdens, there is a sacrifice that must be made. And make no mistake we are to do just this, but sometimes we underestimate the weight of that burden.

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

I don’t know about you but when I read the headlines of the latest news broadcast and check in on Facebook to see the latest child abduction post, political rhetoric from all sides, and just the debauchery that exists in our world, I find my mind goes to a very negative place. Add in the prayer requests and needs of those who have lost loved ones, who are fighting the vicious monster cancer, and yet others who bear unbelievable heartache and heartbreak, it’s easy to believe that life is just too much.

In these times I am reminded that while I am told to bear each other’s burden, I am not doing any of this alone. As a matter of fact, the One who has given me my purpose and job to do here on this earth has already told me His yoke is easy and his burden is light!

Matthew 11:30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

How can this be, when there is so much to be weighed down with that is just what’s outside of me? When I add the weight of the sin I struggle against, the unexpected bad news I hear, or the prayers I pray for my own family – I must immediately turn to the One who knows, sees and hears all.  Laying my burdens and cares at His feet is the ONLY way that I can move forward in this life and help care for others in the way that they need from me. Just a few verses before He tells us His yoke is easy, He tells us in vs. 28

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

The enemy is crafty –he seeks to steal our joy in a multitude of ways, including the words that others say or don’t say, the pressure he applies to those walking outside God’s protection, and the rampant sin at work in our world. All of this combine to bear much weight on the Christian and even more so the Christian in ministry – because we feel those things so keenly. My heart literally hurts physically when I know that others who I care about, or who entrust me with their cares and woes need my support and prayer. Speaking and ministering at conferences can weigh me down quite literally where I need to rest for several days after. Writing and laboring over words that others need to hear can be physically exhausting because of the spiritual battle that is also taking place. Physical rest becomes necessary because of the mental, emotional and spiritual battles taking place.

This is why I sympathize for those in any position of Christian ministry and for their families. The weight they bear is heavier than we can know. The weight of their knowledge can be unfathomable.  The hits in ministry continue without an end in sight.

If you’re not in ministry, you still know the weight. As women we bear these burdens as well. Burdens for our family, our friends, and our church.  The Christian life MUST be lived in our consistent walk in the Word. The consistent practice of filling our minds with the words of Christ, then combined with the act of submission in prayer leaving the burdens we bear at the feet of the only One able to carry them for us.  If we avoid this, or underestimate its importance, we run the risk that our minds will be filled with the difficult news, the negative attitudes and the disappointing and sorrow filled headlines that scream for our attention. And the truth is what we fill our minds with becomes what we live out in our lives.

This morning I read in Hebrews 12 and I continued thinking through this further. This is part of the race we run.  See vs. 1,2

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

And then further vs. 12-14

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

All of this rests squarely on our understanding that He is the source. The Holy Spirit power that resides in each of us at salvation.

Our hope truly rests in Him today. Without Him we can do nothing, and as much as we think we can carry our burdens on our own, we will fail miserably.

John 15:5  I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

If we can’t bear our own burdens in our own strength how can we even begin to think that we can bear the burdens of others as we are commanded in Scripture?

Obedience follows obedience and our comfort and peace are in Him alone. While we cannot live in a vacuum and avoid the bad news or negative spirits around us, we can and must prioritize the place of His Word and prayer and meditation in our lives above the other noise.

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Saying Yes When You’d Rather Say No

by Angela Jamison

While I was basking in the Friday afternoon quiet before the kids arrived home from school, my phone rang. I had plans to sleep in the next day as well as enjoy the freedom that comes with having nothing on the calendar, but the caller quickly thwarted those plans when they asked for a favor. Not a favor of insignificance, but a favor of the magnitude that would claim my entire day, cost me money and be rather exhausting.

I wanted to say no.

I wanted to say no and sleep in. I wanted to say no and go to the pool or stay in my pajamas until noon. I wanted to say no, but the word “absolutely” came out instead.

After I made the commitment, the phrase “the hands and feet of Jesus” ran through my head. It was incessant, evading the possibility of grasping for understanding. I mumbled it out loud, wrote it down and became frustrated with my inability to see the significance of the phrase in my current day.

Then someone said to me, “You are being the hands and feet of Jesus and even if the situation does not go as planned, you have to know that those around you are seeing Jesus in you.”

I’m the hands and feet of Jesus. You are the hands and feet of Jesus. We are the hands and feet of Jesus. I’ve used the phrase before and even said it to my own children, but it never felt so powerful.

What exactly does it mean to be the hands and feet of Jesus, though? We easily think of cliche Christian volunteerism like feeding the homeless or going on mission trips and although those things are important and necessary, they’re directly linked to church and not our mundane every day lives.

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

1Peter 4:10 NIV

In our daily grind it is much more difficult to actively be the hands and feet of Jesus. We get tied up in work, school, kids, ball games, traffic and stress and we simply ignore the call to serve others. We relate the phrase to the big to-dos of volunteering like described above and we miss the ever-present, simple opportunities to share Jesus’ love. We often say no because life is overwhelming and the reality is, we should say yes.

Being the hands and feet of Jesus is saying yes when you’d rather say no.

It’s hard! Believe me, I recognize the difficulty as I struggle to balance four children, a full time job and writing on the side. We can all claim understanding as each of our lives has its own plethora of struggles, but if we all continue saying no, what happens to the body of Christ?

Nothing.

Nothing happens to the body of Christ. It does not grow and He is not glorified.

Being the hands and feet of Jesus does not have to be an over-the-top act. It simply needs to be a genuine desire to show the love of our Savior. My moment of obedience came from a day trip that I’d rather not have taken. It came from saying yes when I wanted to say no.

Your moment of obedience may come from helping someone who has wronged you when you’d rather see them struggle or taking an extra minute to hold the door for a stranger when you’re already running late.

God does not call us to always be extravagant, He calls us to be obedient.

Today, I pray that you are presented the opportunity to be obedient, to be the hands and feet of Jesus. I pray you choose to say yes even if you really want to say no.


 

headshotAngela Jamison is a mother of four and works with young children as the Director of a Christian Preschool. She derives joy from children and is passionate about connecting with mothers to encourage and reiterate God’s design for the toughest job on Earth. 

 After struggling with infertility, Angela and her husband entered the world of foster care and began the journey to create their family on God’s terms

When she is not entertaining children, or buying LulaRoe, Angela loves to read, write and explore the path being laid before her by the most perfect parent, our Heavenly Father.

Read more of Angela’s writing and journey at www.angelajamison.com

Monday Mornings for Moms

My children all were once so small,

Now they are so very tall.

Some days were long and filled with tears,

Others filled with laughter now passed in years.

The seasons come, the seasons go

As we drive them to and fro.

Lean in sweet mama and hear me say,

“You’ve got just one job to do today.”

Love them hard and love them well,

Listen to each tale they tell.

Soon you’ll miss this precious face,

Respond to the challenge filled with grace.

They won’t remember each meal you make,

But they will recall the time you take,

To help them feel special and safe,

because of the smiles you share and the love you display.

By Victoria Duerstock

©2018

This is My Life

by Featured Writer Angela Jamison  headshot

Some days I’m exhausted by 9am.

The process of getting four, independent, listening-impaired, beautiful children out the door for the 8am school bus is comparable to an interval training workout. There are bouts of cardio while searching the house for lost items mixed with strength training of quite literally dragging sixty pound bodies out of bed.

Most days, we make it to the bus stop, with full bellies and a few minutes to spare. Most days, I don’t look too disheveled (I hope), but on the inside I’m feeling ragged and exhausted. I’m feeling grateful for the reprieve of school and guilty that my kids didn’t have a healthy, home-cooked breakfast with a June Cleaver-like mother.

We can all relate, right? Whether it be one child, four or simply getting ourselves out the door, we all understand the stress of the morning. We read articles, study Pinterest and a number of other things with the hope of achieving a flawless start to our day.

Today, my morning started as typical with a few bleary-eyed, blanket clad kids stumbling through my doorway at 615a while I desperately try to become presentable before the flood gates of life open. Clothes are picked, kids start getting dressed and it all goes down hill.

The oldest has managed to tie his shoe in a bazillion tiny knots, tighter than your jeans at Thanksgiving.

The youngest has the dog in a headlock, attempting to release the leg of her precious baby alive.

The middle daughter is still lying in bed, eyes fixed to Monster High on the television, oblivious of the chaos around her.

But the middle son takes the cake. He is grumbling, huffing and puffing as he tries to tie his shoe. He’s stationed himself in the middle of my bathroom floor, exactly where I need to walk to finish getting ready myself. I ask him to move to another location and when he puts his foot down, he begins frantically searching the bathroom.

“What are you looking for?”

A bit panicked he says, “My shoe is missing!”

…It’s on his foot.

He is frantically searching for his shoe that is solidly on his foot. The same foot he’s using to search for said shoe.

This is my life.

It may look strikingly similar to your life or you’re reading this with memories of the past flashing through your mind. Either way, we all have those moments of chaos, searching for something that is right in front of our faces. Sometimes what we’re searching for is Jesus.

Like my son’s shoe securely on his foot, Jesus sits right in front of us simply waiting for us to notice and we miss it because well…chaos. Our lives our chaotic and the devil uses that to separate us from our peace maker. How easy do we make it for him!

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

Zephaniah 3:17 ESV 

Take comfort in that the Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save. He is with us amidst our chaos; we simply need to seek him. Zephaniah continues to say that He will save and whether that means he will save me from my chaos, save the baby alive from the dog or the shoes from the garbage I am not sure, but what I do know is that even his smallest save is a big gift.

Some days I’m exhausted by 9am. Some days chaos overwhelms me. Even yet, all days, I am in the midst of a God who saves

Life isn’t all cupcakes and barbies

by Angela Jamison – featured columnist

Life is hard.

After a particularly difficult day not getting everything exactly how she wanted it, my daughter, age six, went into a meltdown. The stars were not aligning properly and she just knew that if she had new barbies life would be perfect. My eight year old son, clearly wise beyond his years, simply told her, “Well, life isn’t all cupcakes and barbies.”

Life isn’t all cupcakes and barbies.

Hilarious, yet pertinent and insightful commentary. It’s true – life isn’t all cupcakes and barbies. Sometimes we feel entitled to “cupcakes and barbies” because we’ve accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, but that’s not what is promised to us. Eternal salvation is promised. Earthly ease is not.

In fact, life is sometimes down right crumby.

As Christians, we have the tendency to assume our place in the family of believers as one of Christ’s children means the absence of trials, tribulations or difficulties. That’s simply not the case. Satan is hard at work here on Earth and he will continue to rear his ugly head.

Being a part of Christ’s family does not mean life will be easy, but it does mean that we will never have to travel alone. The burden of pain, heartache, or trial will be shared and there will be an unyielding hope that resonates within us.

Joshua 1:9 – Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.

God is not wishy-washy, he’s commanding. He commands us to be strong and courageous, not afraid or discouraged.  He commands these things because He, the Lord your God, will be with you wherever you go. Not once does he imply that we won’t face trials that frighten us or defeats that discourage us, but rather commands our behavior and attitude for when we do.

God prepares us with his word and his promise is steadfast. Even on the hard days, we are not alone.

Life may not be all cupcakes and barbies, but it is faith, hope and love.