Throughout the history of the world people have lived in circumstances which were unsettling, confusing, and even dangerous. This world has never been a comfortable place to live. Sin has ruined the Creation that the Father intended. Yet, also throughout history, those who have known God through the promise of Christ (either before His incarnation or after) have understood the principle of gratitude and thanksgiving.
This is another of those confusing and unsettling times to be alive. Not only are there wars and rumors of wars, but the intensity and frequency of natural disasters is increasing and our government has reached a state of political impasse. Our nation has fallen behind many other nations in terms of overall education and other spheres of general excellence. I cringe at the loss of civility demonstrated from the highest levels of government to the excesses of social media where immature and hate-filled trolls spew their ugly rhetoric. In spite of our advanced technology, civilization and culture seem to have declined to a much more primitive time.
When I was young the principles of kindness, selflessness, respect for the dignity of each individual and treating others as you would like to be treated yourself were taught to us by our parents, our schools, in our churches and by society as a whole. All these things now seem to be disappearing rapidly from our society. Violence of unprecedented scope by way of assault weapons in the hands of alienated and unhinged people, and threats of global economic collapse and the shadowy backdrop of potential for atomic war are among other frightening elements of our daily life. Yet we must have hope.
If I did not know God through Christ it might be a terrifying thing to be alive now, but because I know that God is Love I can carry on without being overwhelmed with worry. If we call ourselves Christians, we know where all this is going, and we can leave it all safely in the hands of a loving and infinitely wise God Who has a plan. In the meantime, I have a personal relationship with a loving but holy Father, through the sacrifice of His Son, and with the Holy Spirit in the role of guide and comforter .
I am blessed every day in many ways. Psalm 23 (NIV) expresses it very succinctly:
The Lord is my Shepherd.
I lack nothing.
Accepting Him as my Savior as a teenager, I have known Christ for almost 70 years. In all that time God has supplied my every need. There have been times when He has cut it very close, but in the end I have never gone without essentials, and sometimes the wherewithal has come in almost miraculous ways. He has supplied other kinds of needs as well: emotional, physical and spiritual.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He refreshes my soul.
He has provided times of solitude when I needed it, and given me the space to think problems through. Although I am somewhat fragile physically now, He has provided the help I have needed and has never put on me more than I have been able to bear in His strength. For various reasons, there have been many times of emotional pain over the years. The Lord has always been there to calm my fears. When I have felt particularly unloved, He reminds me just how much He has loved me and sacrificed for my sake. He has been my comforter, my peace.
He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake.
There have been times of temptation and times when I felt I just wanted to chuck it all in, or I may find myself thinking ugly thoughts about this or that person or situation. A quick look into the Word sets my mind back to His way of thinking, and I find I want to do His will rather than trust in my own will. He has the power to overcome my old nature and keep me moving toward being conformed to the image of His Son.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
At my age death is not that far off, and I find I am not afraid because I know to Whom I am going. He guides me and disciplines me in order to help me grow. He promises that death is not the end but a beginning: an eternity spent in the presence of pure Love and Holiness.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies,
You anoint me with oil; my cup overflows.
Although He is the Almighty God, the omniscient, omnipotent One, He honors me with His constant presence and oversight. I owe Him everything, Yet He continues to bestow blessing upon blessing, letting me know just how precious I am to Him. He has chosen me before the foundation of the world, and continues to treat me as His beloved child.
Surely Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
The ultimate blessing: to be in His presence forever. All of life has been a preparation for this. He has been teaching me to trust Him, to rest in His wisdom, and to recognize His sovereignty. He floods me with goodness and mercy. His grace is infinite, and even though He and I know I don’t deserve it, He pours out His blessing upon me for the sake of His Son.
We who know the Lord have an anchor that holds. We have the love of God as demonstrated in Jesus Christ, and the promises of God for the future, in spite of how dark it all looks today. We look for the soon coming again of the Lord. Maranatha!
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before Him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is He who has made us and we are His;
we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with Thanksgiving
and His courts with praise;
give thanks to Him and praise His name.
For the Lord is good and His love endures forever;
His faithfulness continues through all generations.
~ Psalm 100, NIV
Photo: Karmen Streutker Heckathorn copyright 2018