In years past my girls and I would pick a word to symbolize what we wanted the new year to bring or a habit we wanted to develop. Friends, joy, intentional, kindness – words of hope for the future. Would you like to guess what word I should have picked for this year? (The fact that I am thinking about this in the middle of March rather than the first of January should be a clue.)
We’ve had a rough couple of years and with hope on the horizon, it seems we see more clearly the casualties of those last couple of years. Many around us are fighting serious illness, complications, chronic pain, depression, the loss of loved ones, family, change, and stability. On top of our personal sorrows and fears, we feel the burdens of those around us and desire to help.
And eventually, all those things overwhelm us and make us helpless. Even the simple things are set aside for another time, because “I just can’t cope right now.”
In conversations I’ve had recently with several pastors’ wives, their burdens are multiplied as they try to help everyone in their church and community. They watch as their husbands minister to those who have lost loved ones, pray with those who are seriously ill, and listen as people share their hopelessness. Their compassion and love for people, their desires to help, make the burdens overwhelming.
But God reminds us:
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” Isaiah 43:2
Water and fire refer to testing and God has promised to protect us not from testing but as we go through times of testing. Even though this verse was written to Israel, it is true for us, for me, today.
In the midst of the trials, God has also overwhelmed me in wonderful ways.
- When singing about His great love, I am overwhelmed by His favor
- Reading a note from a friend, I am overwhelmed by His care
- Praying for a loved one with cancer, I am overwhelmed by His promises
- As things change, I am overwhelmed by His plan
- When mourning with a friend, I am overwhelmed by His comfort
Continue to overwhelm us as we learn more about You. Open our eyes to see You in everything and to know Your peace and joy in the midst of overwhelming trials. Thank You for being with us as we pass through the waters and the flames. Thank You for Your promise of protection. Give us strength to keep walking, wisdom to know how to help others walk, and joy knowing that You are always in control.
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