The Silent Treatment

Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.” Job 2:13, NIV

Friends, I cannot count the number of times I have witnessed someone in grief, over a tragedy or loss of a loved one, have an exchange with someone who simply did not know what to say.  One of two things will take place in that instance: something will be said that brings no comfort at all, or worse yet, something will be said that causes more emotional anguish.

As I read Job 2 the other day for my personal devotion, I was reminded of Job’s immense suffering. He experienced the loss of loved ones, the loss of personal property, he was even afflicted physically with painful sores all over his body. Yet, look at his friends’ reaction!

So what does this passage say to me? I see people around me suffering every day. I come into contact with people who are dealing with painful issues: a cancer diagnosis, a divorce, the loss of a child, the list goes on. So, what do I say? How can I help?

I actually see tremendous wisdom in Job’s friends’ initial response. They SAT with him! That hit me like a ton of bricks! Their mere PRESENCE brought comfort to Job. Wow! The passage goes on to say that they were quiet-not saying a word to him for seven days because they realized how much he was going through. Double wow!

Most oftentimes, we feel as if we HAVE to say something when someone is hurting! But the reality is, comfort can come in one’s presence with no words at all! Yes, it is hard to be quiet, but that can be the best way to minister to those who are hurting. Thank you God for that reminder!

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To Brush or Not to Brush!

I was out doing my weekly errands and stopped by the grocery store. It was very windy outside, but otherwise, a beautiful day. Suddenly, I see a lady walking towards the grocery store from the parking lot. With a hair brush in one hand, the wind blowing her hair furiously, she is simultaneously brushing it! The absurdity of her actions intrigued me and I began chuckling to myself, How ridiculous is that? Why doesn’t she just wait until she gets inside!

Our response to sin can appear just as absurd! While in the midst of sin, what good does it do to try to fix the mess or consequences without going back and eliminating the root of the problem? We are mistaken if we think going to church, saying our blessing or doing good things for others will counter the effects sin has upon us. Yes, those activities are important and expected if we consider ourselves followers of Christ, but if we continue to sin willingly and choose not to escape its grasp, our “act” of being holy is not genuine and will lead to spiritual catastrophe.

Think back to the lady with the hairbrush. First of all, she ANTICIPATED a problem because she was carrying the brush! She knew the wind was blowing and her hair would be entangled by it. Brushing her hair BEFORE exposure to the wind did no good, but neither would brushing in the midst of it! Her most logical option would be to wait until entering the store and then proceed with a good brushing!

God knows how easily we can become entangled with sin. That is why He teaches us in His word about the importance of pursuing holiness at ALL times, so we do not lose focus or become disengaged. Entering a battle WITH preparation is really half of the battle itself. When we approach temptation with this mindset, we will see sin from a different perspective. The next time you feel you are facing a battle with temptation, think about the necessary steps to avoid entanglement altogether.

So, to brush or not to brush…is that the question? Not really, I believe it’s all in proper preparation.

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The Important Pursuit!

The author J.I. Packer states it well in his book Knowing God,

“What is the best thing in life, bringing more joy, delight and contentment than anything else? Knowledge of God.”

Packer goes on to talk about what that knowledge involves, but I want to focus upon the statement’s simplicity.

Materialism is just one trend that is distracting.  Do you realize how materialistic our society has become? How so many of us get caught up in trying to out-do our neighbors or co-workers, thinking such ambitions will satisfy us? Why are we so drawn to these pursuits? Are we so out of tune with Who God is? Do we even recognize how fallen our world is, in contrast to how holy He is? Sometimes I just want to scream at the top of my lungs, “He’s God, people! Wake up! What are you doing?!?!”

Having things is oftentimes driven by a desire to be accepted by others or to feel as if we have accomplished something. Yet, being with the in-crowd and winning the popularity contests isn’t all its cracked up to be. Yes, it may bring some temporary satisfaction, but it doesn’t bring true joy.

Scripture teaches that we are ALL here for a purpose, “…everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” (Isaiah 43:7, NIV) We ALL have gifts and different personalities for the same reason…to glorify God!  In that glorification process, God wants to KNOW us! That is not my opinion, it is a biblical truth!

So get this, while we are doing what we have been created to do in the first place, we get the added bonus of feeling good about it!

Wow! A complex thought broken down in simple terms. What are you pursuing today?

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B. R. Day!

It was almost 29 years ago when I was involved in a tragic car accident which left me disabled for life. Not long after that wreck, God impressed upon my heart to write about it. I didn’t know how or when, but I knew this was a task I must accomplish in my lifetime. Years later, after enduring numerous other adversities in life and seeing God’s faithfulness through them all, God showed me clearly the time had come. Not knowing what I was doing but wanting to be obedient, I stepped out in faith. Methodically, the Lord put the right people in my path as I needed them…from Laura my collaborator, who helped me get the actual work organized and written…to my pastor, who graciously provided me with my first official outside manuscript review…to the publisher who just “happened” to be at a writer’s workshop I was attending. I did not force anything, God opened doors.

Finally, today is Book Release Day on! Wow, what a journey! I remain humbled that God has used my life experiences to encourage others and yet at the same time, I want to proudly shout the news from a mountaintop of all He has done in my life!

I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know Who holds the future…and what is important to me at this point in my life is that I have been obedient to the Lord. Therefore, may all who read this understand that it is not about ME.  I give this book, Laurie’s Story: Discovering Joy in Adversity, to God because this story is about HIM! May He use it for His glory, to draw people from around the world to His kingdom! I am just a vessel…an imperfect person, who through my brokenness found Christ. To God be the glory, great things He has done!

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The Adversity Effect

For with God nothing will be impossible.” Luke 1:37, NIV

My left eye was left dangling out of its’ socket and the left side of my face had considerable damage, i.e., a broken nose and a shattered cheekbone. My back had been crushed and I was left paralyzed from the waist down. I faded in and out of consciousness, unable to comprehend what had happened to me.

My family had been hit head-on by a drunk driver as we were driving to Florida for Thanksgiving. I remember the doctor telling me that my life would never be the same. I was going to live as a paraplegic and be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of my life. Though I underwent plastic reconstructive surgery, I was not expected to regain vision in my left eye.  The outlook was not encouraging…

I was overwhelmed and scared to even consider what my future was going to be. I cried out to God to save me, and He did! Right there in that Surgical Intensive Care Unit , I asked Him to be the Lord of my life. Immediately, I felt a peace and a strength which I had never experienced before. I also prayed for healing because I believed that God had the power and ability to heal me if He chose.  I came to cling to the concept that God was bigger than anything I could face, and THAT brought me great comfort.

The accident was more than 28 years ago. Today, I live with a new perspective on adversity. God has taught me to see adversity from His perspective instead of my own. His perspective offers me hope, whereas my perspective was not very encouraging at times. God’s perspective teaches me that everything that happens in life can be used for God’s glory and there is even a positive aspect to bad experiences.

What are you dealing with today? Do you believe that God is bigger? Give your adversity to God and sit back and watch the amazing things He can do through it. It’s all in perspective.

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Can You Wiggle Your Toes?

“…to stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD, and likewise at evening…” 1Chronicles 23:30, NKJV

The comment was rude and caught my mother and I offguard. “Can you wiggle your toes?” the lady inquired of me in the waiting room. Having been in a terrible car accident months earlier, I sat in my wheelchair waiting to see my doctor for a routine check, paralyzed from my waist down. Mom and I looked at each other in dismay that a total stranger would ask such a thing! After several seconds passed, mom finally spoke up and explained that I was paralyzed and, no, I could most definitely not wiggle my toes. What an awkward encounter!

The fact of the matter is, people will say things that are inappropriate or rude sometimes. The question to contemplate, is how will we respond as Christians? What good can be seen in such rudeness? In this particular situation, it led me to consider all the little things in life with which I have been blessed. Wiggling my toes…I never really thought about thanking God for that ability! Memories of my childhood experiences are sweet…the cool refreshing sensation when testing the pool water with my toes before diving in…dad holding me down mercilessly and tickling my feet until I could no longer breathe for laughing so hard…the time I had a dab of chewing gum stuck to one of my tiny big toe hairs and I was convinced it was some blood sucking insect that would not release my flesh from its grasp…the time I stepped on a honey bee while giving my horse a bath…memories I will hold tightly forever.

So, what have I learned? I have learned to thank God each day for the “little things.” These are things that I may not have even noticed years ago. Things which I have come to realize are just as important as the big things in life. I guess the lesson comes from taking what people say with a grain of salt, if necessary, but also turning a negative experience into a positive one.

Today, be challenged to thank God for the little things!

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Seize the Day-Carpe Diem!

“Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” James 4:14, NASB

The man died alone. He was an alcoholic and homeless. He had been so estranged from his family, they did not know he was living behind a gas station in town. After being contacted by authorities, his daughter arrived at the hospital to claim the personal effects of her father. He died with only two possessions, a pair of glasses and a watch, along with the dirty clothes on his back. She became emotional as she spoke to the hospital chaplain on duty, relaying with a heavy heart the circumstances of her family’s broken relationship.

How many people probably saw this man on a daily basis? How many just walked by him, too busy with their own schedules to notice or perform one small act of kindness? How many evangelistic opportunities were passed by? This is but one example of our culture today. We are so consumed with  schedules and keeping up with everyone else, we miss what God puts right in front of us!

As I heard about this man, my heart was broken…broken over lost opportunities…the possibility that this poor soul did not know his Savior. His death also served as a motivation for me…to SEIZE THE DAY! We have no time to waste.

Don’t miss an opportunity today to share the love of Jesus with someone who may be off your beaten path. None of us knows what tomorrow holds, that is why we must live each day to the fullest!

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X Pain, X Gain

“Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you.” 1 Samuel 3:18

It has been said, “No pain, no gain.” What does that statement allude to? The fact that pain is inevitable! Should that frighten us? Should we live in fear and peak around every corner before going anywhere or doing anything? Absolutely not!

The Bible teaches that we do not have to bear pain alone. As a matter of fact, we were not designed to handle it all by ourselves! What we have been designed for, is a personal relationship with our Creator. Through that personal relationship, we will find strength and help in times of need.

I challenge you to look at pain from this perspective. This passage reveals that we are to CAST, or literally throw, our pains to the Lord. It does not say that He may help or sometimes will help, the words are clear. It is a clear action that the Lord promises, “He SHALL” sustain you. That’s a promise!

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Don’t Be A Fainter!

“If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” Proverbs 24:10

Whenever someone faints, it can be from fear. How many times have we heard of a husband being overwhelmed in the delivery room and fainting? Or even a child with an insurmountable fear of shots who faints at the mere sight of one at the doctor’s office? There are other reasons we may faint too such as heat exhaustion, lack of proper nutrition or lightheadedness from something else, but the question which begs to be asked is, how EFFECTIVE is someone who faints? Obviously, he or she cannot offer much assistance to someone else at that point in time, much less, help themselves.

This passage is a reminder to be prepared for adversity. Scripture alludes to the fact that there IS a day of adversity, it is not a matter of IF it occurs, rather a matter of WHEN. So, if we know that time is coming, how can we prepare for it?

We need to be proactive. So, how can one prepare for adversity in order to assume the position of victOR versus victIM when adversity comes? Know the Word of God! Experience WHO God is on a daily basis! That way when tough times do come, truth is the source of stability instead of some ideology with no merit.

This verse in Proverbs demonstrates that strength is needed because adversity is VERY real. If we walk around fainting, we are not accomplishing anything. God loves us and wants to see us succeed. That is why He has filled His Word with biblical principles to help us. The bottom line is, don’t be a fainter!

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Accessing the Power!

How many of us use a hair dryer on a somewhat regular basis? How many times do we brush through our hair after washing it, pick up the hair dryer and start using it to style or dry our hair before even plugging the dryer in? That would be absurd! Exactly! Then why do we try to live life in a similar manner?

Do you realize the Creator of the universe is more powerful than anyone or anything that has ever been or ever will be? Do you also realize He promises to give us access to His power? So many times, we go through life trying to handle things on our own strength. That is not what we are designed to do! Just like a hair dryer must be turned on and plugged in before it can be used, we must plug into the power of the ultimate Authority in this life.

It is no secret that there are things which are going to overwhelm us, discourage us, and tear us down. With God’s power, however, we can be victorious. The battle ultimately is His! The next time you pick up that hair dryer, ask yourself, “Have I plugged into the ultimate Power in my life today?” If the answer is “no”, take a few minutes to spend in the Word or in prayer. Then, feel the power and engage your day with an attitude of victory!

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