Disrupting chaos

Credit: JC

By Snow

Life can be so overwhelming sometimes. Even without a global pandemic. Even without bizarre weather patterns. Without political disinformation and manipulation campaigns. Without the fabric of society seemingly being ripped apart.

Even in times of “average” trials in your family, career, and church, it can all start to be too much. Not just out in the world, but right at home. The stress. The hurt. The expectations.

What can you do when you are overwhelmed?

It only takes a moment to pray. Even if you can’t spare a minute (and, most likely, you can, if you take a step back), you can pray to yourself in the midst of whatever is happening. God always hears you.

Prayer is how we connect to Him, how we forge a personal relationship with Him. God created you for this.

Ask Him to let you feel Him, hear Him, and see Him in your life.

Find at least a couple of minutes a day to read the Bible. Keep a copy handy wherever you might have a spare moment. Yes, even in the bathroom if that is what it takes. Download YouVersion’s Bible app to your smart phone for free and you will always have the Bible with you – in multiple translations and languages.

It is imperative that you speak to Him every day and immerse yourself in His Word and His love.

You may do all of this and still feel overwhelmed. It is okay. Breathe.

Ask someone to pray for you. Family. Friend. Neighbor. Whoever. You don’t even necessarily have to tell the person your business. Just enlist her or him to pray for you to have peace or to hear from Him or to have focus or something of that nature. Or just ask, simply, “pray for me.” In two, we are more powerful:

“I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”
Matthew 18:19-20

Be sure to ask how to pray for your fellow warrior as well, and do it right then. JC and I ask each other this question at least daily. Her prayers and love have helped me through many situations that may otherwise have overwhelmed me.

If you don’t have someone you are comfortable asking, then JC and I are happy to pray for you. Reach out to us.

Find the blessings. Yes, it may seem like utter chaos and negativity is swirling around you right now, but close your eyes and think of all of the wonderful things in your life, too. Focus on those. At the top of that list, Jesus loves you. Focus on the good to invite more.

Thank God for every good thing in your life. The enemy wants you to see only the negative. The enemy wants you to lose hope. The enemy wants you to feel isolated. The enemy wants you to feel alone. The enemy wants you to give up. Fight.

Remember, you are a child of God (1 John 3:1-2)! You fight from victory (John 16:33).

God is all-knowing. All-powerful. All-present. All-loving. We are not. That is why you must give your cares to God.

Whatever is bothering you. No matter how long the list. He can take anything you hurl at Him. No matter how small or large the concern. If you care about it, He cares about it. Give it all to Him. Trust Him.

I have mentioned quite a few times here that I suffered from massive anxiety before JC led me to Jesus. I have found these verses to be a particular comfort. Perhaps they will help you, too:

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6-7

If you have tried all of this and are still overwhelmed, it is time more aggressively to seek Him. You need to find a place of peace where you can better hear Him. It may be the beach. The park. That bathroom again. Whatever you can use for your prayer closet (Matthew 6:6). Listen for Him. He is there. He always has been. He loves you.

If you are saved, feel the Holy Spirit within you. Let Him guide you.

If you do not yet know Jesus, then make today the day. Accept Him into your heart as Your Lord and Savior. Jesus is pursuing you.

Turn around. Open your arms. Jesus is right there.

Thank you for reading. May Jesus bless you.

The battle

Part 1
By Snow

A chapter of the Bible I turn to often is Romans 8. Perhaps it is because this is the chapter JC instructed me to read and re-read after she first led me to Jesus nearly three years ago. The final 12 verses of the chapter represent some of the most powerful words ever written in human history, and I find them uplifting whenever life seems a mess.

Becoming a follower of Jesus is not a magic elixir to fix all of your woes. Bad things happen to Christians every day. What it does change, or at least what it should change, is your perspective on dealing with those situations. In 2019, I faced an onslaught of events that no doubt would have emotionally and spiritually crippled me had it not been for my personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I was fired from my job, signed away my house, and saw my ex-spouse for the last time. And that was just one day out of that year.

Through it all, I did my best to stay focused on Jesus. I trusted Him and He gave me hope. He surrounded me with love, including by sending JC to me. A verse that we both turn to when facing challenging events is:

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
Romans 8:28

As humans we are, of course, incapable of comprehending God’s Plan in its full nature. Our minds can only grasp bits and pieces of it. One of the amazing and exhilarating aspects of being a Christian is occasionally seeing God put Romans 8:28 into practice.

When I lost my job, for example, He also provided for me. I was able to take the time to really heal from an emotionally and financially abusive marriage. I was able to take the time to really learn to trust Him. Would such depths of discovery have been possible while I was still pulling 50 or more hours a week at a toxic organization? These are just a few ways that He used losing my job for good. I could name several more.

I should be clear, we won’t always see how God uses apparent negative events for good. We may never see the connections this side of Heaven. But when we do, wow. We are seeing God’s fingerprints.

While I read the Bible in full about twice a year, I don’t separately refer to Romans 7 nearly as often as I do Romans 8. So, this next excerpt only recently jumped out at me.

“Sin used what was good to bring about my condemnation to death. So we can see how terrible sin really is. It uses God’s good commands for its own evil purposes.”
from Romans 7:13

In many ways, this verse represents the opposite of Romans 8:28. While Romans 8:28 reassures us that God will use everything, including evil, for good, Romans 7:13 tells us that sin can use good for evil.

For me, this is a reminder of how humans corrupt everything – even when we begin with good intentions. It is unfortunately part of our sinful nature.

We ultimately know that we fight from victory. Not because of any strengths we bring to the battle, but because we are part of God’s Army. Our Father is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving. While sin may be able temporarily to bring about evil, God indeed is able to use even that as part of His Plan.

“But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.”
1 John 4:4

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

Credit: JC

Part 2
By JC

Sin might attack us even when we did nothing to invite those circumstances. Romans 8:28 is God protecting us from those attacks. Even when we do sin, however, He still uses the consequences for good.

Romans 7:13 represents a full-on attack. Evil is using God’s commands to come at us. It is a warning to be on guard and fight temptation.

Sin mocks God because:

  1. Satan hates him
  2. Sin cannot create
  3. It is easier to lure humans with the slightly twisted rather than the completely outlandish

It is like the serpent with Eve. Compare what God actually said about the tree to what the serpent claims He said and to what Eve thinks He said.

“The LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. But the LORD God warned him, ‘You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden—except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.'”
Genesis 2:15-17

“The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the LORD God had made. One day he asked the woman, ‘Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?'”
Genesis 3:1

“‘It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, “You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.”‘ ‘You won’t die!’ the serpent replied to the woman. ‘God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.'”
Genesis 3:3-5

Satan knows Scripture. He even quotes it to Jesus.

“Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, “He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.”‘ Jesus responded, ‘The Scriptures also say, “You must not test the LORD your God.”‘”
Matthew 4:5-7

In that vein, evil can literally use the Bible as the map to attack us. That is why we must know the Word of God and wield it as Jesus did.

Romans 7:13 shows us that evil knows the Bible. How much more should believers know it?

Burning popcorn

By Snow

I love popcorn. I have researched techniques and assembled ingredients to make it taste as close to a classic movie theater experience as possible. It actually tastes better than most of the theater popcorn I have tried in the last few years.

Being a movie fan, however, I do miss the cinema in this age of COVID-19. It seems theaters are open again, but I’m not quite ready to go back. I no longer have an actual television, but I stream some movies and TV series on my computer – which is hooked into my stereo. I also play DVDs on it. It is not exactly a movie theater experience, but, hey, the popcorn’s good! Before I was saved, I was living a wasteful life, so I am very grateful for what I now have. Simple is better.

Yesterday, I was making a batch of popcorn with my Whirley Pop – a specialized pot with a hand crank for swishing around the kernels. It normally turns out delicious. This time, it turned out burnt.

Why? Because I lost focus.

If you don’t turn the crank often enough or take the pot off the heat at the right time, you get scorched popcorn. Let me tell you, no amount of toppings can help it at that point.

Focus is important. I have been praying for focus throughout 2021. It has been a struggle for me, and not just with popcorn.

It is February 7, and this is my first post of the year. I have struggled to focus on writing. Oh, the things that I can find around here to do in order to avoid writing. If I get my apartment looking sharp, it is normally because I am procrastinating on something else – often writing.

Due to a medical condition, I am supposed to lose a certain amount of weight, but I have struggled to focus on being mindful of my food. Prior to the issue coming up, I was actually in the process of losing weight anyway. Since then, I have instead gained weight. I have also failed to consistently focus on exercise. The steps tracked by my Apple Watch document my erratic behavior. 2,329 steps on one day, but 18,701 steps on another.

One year into my new job, and I am struggling to focus there as well. Projects are piling up, and I can’t seem to get the inspiration to attack them with the same determination that I once had. To paraphrase Apollo Creed, I’ve lost the eye of the tiger when it comes to work.

I still pray and read the Bible every day, even on the days I don’t feel like it. Especially on the days I don’t feel like it. I want to focus more on His Kingdom, but I struggle there as well.

Focus is everything. If I focus on Jesus above all else, I believe the other areas will fall into place. That’s His design.

Like you, friend, I was created to do more. He expects more of me. He has more confidence in me than I do. He loves me more than anyone ever could. I can’t let Him down.

It is time to do more. It is time to focus. On Jesus. On His Kingdom. On who He created me to be.

We are allotted only a limited number of days here on this Earth. None of us know how many we get. I may have less than a day left or fifty-plus years to go.

Each day needs to mean something. In her Wounded Butterflies post today, JC quoted from Matthew 22:37-39: “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

I’ve read those words at least a dozen times before, but they really spoke to me today. As someone who has been struggling to focus, I see in those words exactly what I need to do.

Jesus has spelled it all out for us right there. It is all about love. God is love (1 John 4:16), and we must fully and completely love God. He loves us unconditionally. Despite our sins, He died for us. We still sin, and He still loves us!

He also commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves. That is an interesting turn of phrase, for it is also how husbands are commanded to love our wives:

“Husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself.”
from Ephesians 5:28

Ultimately, the greatest commandment is love. That will be my focus.

Thank you for reading. I want to close with a brief prayer.


Father in Heaven,

Thank You for Jesus. Thank You for my beloved JC. Thank You for true love. Thank You for these words.

I lift up all of those who need to focus, Lord, including myself. Help us to focus on You, focus on our neighbors, and focus on love.

May Your will be done in all things, with the glory to Your Kingdom.

In the blessed name of Jesus.

Amen

Credit: JC

Baking with the past

By Snow

Well, another Christmas has come and gone. My siblings, nieces, and extended family members spent a few hours together at my brother’s house on Christmas Day – as socially distanced as possible in this year of COVID-19.

I am usually the last one to arrive, but I knew someone else was still missing. I kept looking around, trying to figure out who it was, waiting for that last family member to show up.

Then, I realized who was missing.

Mom.

This was the second Christmas since she passed away. While I was blessed to feel her very briefly a couple of times during the event, Christmas and other family gatherings are not the same without Mom’s physical presence.

Everything seems off. The amount of drinking has gone way up, for instance. This would not have happened in front of Mom. She almost never drank alcohol. Following her example, I don’t drink at all. I never have, and I don’t like being around it.

At the same time, I realize alcohol is how some people deal with pain. Some of my family members still seem to be in a lot of pain when it comes to losing Mom. While I certainly miss her – especially on Christmas, her favorite holiday – I know where she is. I also know she is free now, free of the earthly body that held her back in the last decades of her life.

I am blessed to have Jesus. I am blessed to have the Holy Spirit. I am blessed to have a personal relationship with God. Yes, life can be painful at times, but they help me through it by bringing me peace, filling me with joy, and blessing me with love. Yes, I experience perfect love through Jesus, and I experience true love through my beloved JC. I am so grateful.

Yes, I know where Mom is. She is with Jesus now. I have not really lost her. Rather, she is simply ahead of me on our eternal journey and interacting with me in different ways than before.

When Mom passed away, I was blessed to inherit a number of her personal items. The ones that mean the most to me are her Bible, her recipes, and her 45 RPM vinyl records.

Throughout the lives of me and my siblings, Mom baked special cookies at Christmas. Mom’s cookies were an indelible part of Christmas for us. Since I have her recipes, I have picked up the mantle of baking her cookies over the last two Christmases to continue her legacy.

Her 45s date back to the 1950s. She played and danced to them so much over the years that they can’t really be played anymore. Instead, I made an iTunes playlist of the same songs. I play her songs whenever I bake her cookies.

My apartment has memories of Mom everywhere, especially my kitchen – which includes elements of her kitchens past. In that kitchen, surrounded by memories of Mom, playing her music, using her cookie recipe, I baked seven sheets of Mom’s cookies on Christmas Eve. I say, “I” baked them, but really, I truly believe I was just being Mom’s hands through much of the process. I could feel her with me, almost the entire time.

It is hard to describe, but I feel her most often as small bursts of joy – about where she used to rub or scratch my upper back when I was a youngster. I can also “hear” her in my head at times – though usually more like a thought or a feeling than a direct voice. For instance, I knew she wanted me to give some of her cookies to JC’s mom this year. That is exactly what she would have done were she still physically here.

Mom loved Christmas and would decorate all over the house, including the bathroom. That is how I know if someone is truly dedicated to decorating for Christmas, if the bathroom is included. In the living room, Mom used to put out large, plastic figurines of an elf riding Rudolph, mice playing on a Christmas present, and a Santa Claus sleigh. There was also a Santa doll and a Santa mug. There were many other decorations over the years as well, but those are the ones I remember most from my childhood.

Credit: JC

Last month, I was thrilled to find a Santa mug at Hobby Lobby that was reminiscent of the one Mom used to display. Larger than the one Mom had, I realized these mugs would make the perfect containers to give my siblings Mom’s cookies this year. To better accommodate the mug, I made a few of the sheets of cookies in “bite size” portions – half of the size that Mom normally made.

When I pulled the mugs out on Christmas Day, my siblings immediately connected them with Mom’s mug. They also voiced hope they contained Mom’s cookies.

The cookies ended up being hits in their new bite-sized configurations. I was told they tasted like Mom made them.

That’s because she did make them.

Thanks to Jesus, Mom lives forever, and so will I. The Son of God suffered on the cross to save us from eternal death in Hell.

2020 has been . . . a year. None of us could have predicated how swiftly the entire world would change. My advice continues to be, look for the blessings and keep your eyes on Jesus.

Thank you for reading our little blog. Know that JC and I are praying for you.

May Jesus bless you with a wonderful, active, and healthy New Year!


“Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven. Earthly people are like the earthly man, and heavenly people are like the heavenly man. Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like the heavenly man. What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever. But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.”
1 Corinthians 15:47-53

Unwrapping Christmas

By Snow

“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.”
1 Peter 1:3-4

The last time I posted here, it wasn’t even Halloween yet. Now, Christmas is rapidly approaching.

My understanding of the meaning of Christmas has changed over the years. As a kid, though I was aware by age 5 or 6 that the holiday was in observance of the birth of Jesus, Christmas was about Santa Claus, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, Charlie Brown, and presents, presents, presents.

Now, I have to admit to you, 40-some-odd years later, I still love Santa, Rudolph, Frosty, and good ol’ Charlie Brown. When viewed in the proper context, each of these symbols can teach us something about Christmas – or, at least, joyful living.

Santa Claus: Finding joy through giving (Acts 20:35)
Rudolph: Accepting and finding value in misfits (Matthew 20:16)
Frosty: Living in the present (Matthew 6:34)
Charlie Brown: Seeking and recognizing the true meaning of Christmas (Luke 2:8-14)

Credit: JC

Here in the United States, retailers have all but commandeered Christmas and slowly corrupted its message. With endless “Black Friday” sales, we are constantly reminded to, “Buy! Buy! Buy!” The fate of the nation’s economy is in your wallet.

It has irked me as well that Christmas slowly has been genericized. For example, I recently heard a commercial that said, “Coming this holiday.”

Which holiday?

This holiday.

When is “this”?

December 25.

You mean, the holiday formerly known as “Christmas”?

Shhh! Don’t say that too loudly. Someone might hear.

I mention this because I have recently changed my mind on what I once perceived as an insult to Christianity. How recent? Since I started writing this post, as a matter of fact.

Around the time I made the mistake of getting married to someone I did not love, I got caught up in the annual shopping frenzy. For me, “Christmas” devolved into racking up thousands of dollars in purchases each year, most of which I “covered” with credit cards. While those days are over, I am literally still paying for them.

My point is, let them have their “holiday sales” and “holiday shopping.” Have your fun, too, within reason, but there’s no need to attach Christ’s name to any of that.

Christmas is about the birth of our Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ. We can’t even comprehend God, much less His power. He is all-powerful and all-knowing. He is present everywhere and every time all at once. He is the embodiment of love. God has all of this and more than I could ever hope to describe.

This same God chose to come to Earth in a physical sense over two thousand years ago, in the form of His Son, as a mere human – one of us, yet not. The Son of God became the Son of Man.

According to Genesis 1:27, we are created in the image of God. However, we are imperfect reflections of God. He is holy. We are sinful. Jesus, even in human form, is the perfect image of God, for He is God.

Matthew 2:1-12 tells us that wise men brought the young Jesus gifts – gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These gifts were of value to humans of the time, but of what value were such trinkets to the Son of God?

Today, we still give one another trinkets at Christmas. Oh, sure, the actual items slightly change over the years. Today, they might be a gold necklace, AirPods Pro, and a Yeti mug.

But none of these gifts, then or now, have any intrinsic value. They have no eternal value.

Let me repeat, they are absolutely worthless.

Even a handmade gift truly crafted out of love has no value in the item itself, but, rather, in the eternal quality of love (God) associated with it. See 1 John 4:16.

During His life, death, and life on Earth, Jesus gave gifts of eternal value. His gifts were crafted of the purest love. Perfect, eternal love. His gifts included His sermons, His perfect example to us (what we attempt to emulate today with “Christlike behavior”), unconditional love, joy, peace, and the Holy Spirit.

The most incredible gift, forged out of His love, His blood, and His body, Jesus ever gave us is our salvation. Despite the enormous weight of our sins, He made us right with God for all of time.

No other gift could ever top that one. No holiday sale could ever provide a better deal. No holiday shopping spree could ever compete.

Here’s the thing about a gift, though. It doesn’t serve its purpose unless you accept it.

Jesus has already bought and paid for your salvation. No refunds or exchanges. All you have to do is unwrap it by accepting Him (John 3:16).

If you do not yet know Jesus, will you pray with me to accept His gift?


Heavenly Father,

Thank You for Jesus. Thank You for the eternal gifts He has offered the world. Please forgive my sins, including those I do not see.

Lord, I accept Jesus in my heart. He is Your Son and my Savior. He took human form and died for me and my sins on the cross. He made me right with You for all of time. No matter what mistakes I have made or will make, He has already covered all of them with His body and His blood. On the third day after His death, He was resurrected. He has defeated death such that I, too, will have eternal life. I give my sins to Jesus. I lift up my hopes to Jesus. I give my fears to Jesus. I am His for all of time. I accept His gift. I accept His unconditional love.

In the precious name of Jesus I pray.

Amen


Merry Christmas, everyone! May Jesus fill your days with joy, love, and peace.

You are never alone

Credit: JC

By JC

Right now, there is a lot going on in my life. I am not talking about the virus. A tragedy occurred in my life a few weeks ago, and I am once again working to adjust to my new normal. I have learned during difficult times that we should not focus on “Why God?” He is more than okay with us asking that, though, and wrestling with Him, for we see every emotion in Scriptures. And, lets face it, He already knows how we feel – so just be honest, He can handle it. The key is not to dwell on the “Why?” Pray to have strength to move to the “What do you want me to learn?” and “How do you need me to grow and shine Your light in this situation?”

Moving from “Why” to “How” is not an easy process. I am learning to praise Him when I feel the “Why” creeping into my thoughts. I put on praise music or pray or read the Bible. I must take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). But why? Why are we told to take every thought captive? The enemy wants us to take our eyes off of Jesus. Whether it is the virus, job loss, betrayal by a loved one, death, paralysis, etc. The moment we take our eyes off of Jesus, the enemy owns us. He has our thoughts focused on him and away from Jesus.

One of the ways the enemy gets me is to make me feel all alone. I cling to verses that clearly demonstrate God’s love.

“Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?”
Romans 8:32

That one is a good verse to let seep in. I have a son and trying to process giving him up is beyond my comprehension. But God loved me and you so much, He gave us His son. So, of course God loves us. He sacrificed His son for us. He is not going to leave us. That is nonsensical, and, of course, there are plenty of verses that support Him being with us to the end of the age. As believers, we have the Holy Spirit. He is always with us. Even though I grieve Him with stupid thoughts and actions, He is with me. I am never truly alone.

The other way the enemy tries to get me is to attack my prayer life. Either I get distracted or shorten the prayer time or sometimes I do not feel like praying. I have an accountability partner, Snow. He kicks me in the backside when I need it. He prays for me when I cannot pray. And again, the Holy Spirit prays for me, too. And you know who else prays for you and me constantly? Jesus.

“But because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever. Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.”
Hebrews 7:24–25

Jesus lives forever to intercede with God on our behalf. Wow! I cannot process that. My Savior and my King lives forever to intercede on my behalf.

You are never alone. I know as a human, it is hard to go without other loving, human interaction. Sometimes, I just want to hear a loving voice praying for me or receive a prayer in text or email.

If you need or want someone to pray with you, contact me and Snow. We are happy to pray with you!

If you would like to make a public prayer request, so that other readers can also pray for you, then enter your request in the comments. Otherwise, click here to go to our new Prayer Requests page – also accessible via “Prayer Requests” in the main menu. There, you can send us a private prayer request.

You are enveloped in the loving arms of the Holy Spirit, you are interceded for by the King of all kings and embraced by the Father because of Jesus. And you have at least one brother and one sister praying for you daily.


Father in Heaven,

We lift up those who feel alone. Please remind them who they are in Christ:

In the blessed name of Jesus we pray.

Amen

When there is a loss, God provides a gain

By JC

With thanks to Dr. B., whose wise words inspired today’s post.

When people ask the question “Why?” to God, whether it is, “Why is there evil?” “Why didn’t You answer this prayer?” “Why did You allow this?” or “Why did they die?” an approach might reference we are the clay (Isaiah 64:8), His thoughts are higher (Isaiah 55:9), and God’s response to Job (Job 41:11). That is certainly one method to understanding the questions we have of God.

Another approach says to look to God’s character. Of course, we read the Word to understand who He is and what His patterns are – His character. No matter how much we question Him, He is Love, He is Truth, and He is Light.

Credit: Snow

I want to highlight one such pattern – how each time someone in the Bible lost something, there was a gain. We could look at Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:35-43) or Peter’s mother-in-law (Matthew 8:14-15) – they lost a life or lost an illness (were healed). I want to focus on Lazarus.

“A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. This is the Mary who later poured the expensive perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped them with her hair. Her brother, Lazarus, was sick. So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, ‘Lord, your dear friend is very sick.’ But when Jesus heard about it he said, ‘Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.’ So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, he stayed where he was for the next two days.”
John 11:1-6

Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters, yet, when there was a cry for Him to come because Lazarus was sick, He did not answer that cry. He did not come. At least it appeared He did not answer, because the people making the cry wanted Jesus to answer, “I am coming now.”

We offer up many prayers, daily, about all kinds of things. I do believe that we have hopes of how He will answer our prayers or we might think we already have the best answers: “I have put a lot of thought into the matter, Lord. I saved You the trouble – here is the answer to my prayer.”

Even the Son of God prayed, “Thy will be done” (Matthew 26:42). So, if the Almighty Son of God submitted to the Father when He prayed, how much more shall we?

I am not suggesting it is wrong to ask for specific things, but, rather, that whatever we pray, before we say “In Jesus’ name, we pray,” add in “Thy will be done” and work hard to mean it.

The sisters of Lazarus wanted Jesus to come right away. They thought He could heal him, like He had so many others. However, He failed to answer the way they wanted and expected. Instead, He let two days pass before making the journey.

“Then [Jesus] said, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.’ The disciples said, ‘Lord, if he is sleeping, he will soon get better!’ They thought Jesus meant Lazarus was simply sleeping, but Jesus meant Lazarus had died. So he told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead. And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.'”
John 11:11-15

Jesus had a reason, He always has a reason. And if we claim to believe in all of Scripture, then we believe all the verses that talk about how much He loves us and how all things work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28).

We also would claim to believe Genesis 50:20: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.”

Out of a loss, God brings a gain. We may not see it right away or even this side of Heaven, but trust His character, trust who He is.

“‘Where have you put him?’ [Jesus] asked them. They told him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Then Jesus wept. The people who were standing nearby said, ‘See how much he loved him!’ But some said, ‘This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?’ Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. ‘Roll the stone aside,’ Jesus told them. But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, ‘Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.’ Jesus responded, ‘Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?'”
John 11:34-40

Jesus shows up after Lazarus has been dead for days. The sisters, who earlier had been so eager for Jesus to heal their brother, now discouraged Him – Lord, the smell.

Jesus was undaunted by a stench, He had bigger things in mind – that the glory of God Almighty would be shown. No smell was going to stop Him from glorifying God.

As we go through life, there will be stenches we must endure in seasons where God is waiting for the right time for Him to receive the glory. Your time of stench in the tomb may be four days, it may be four years. However, trust in these things:.

  1. Jesus knows exactly where you are. He has not forgotten about you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)
  2. Sometimes, you need to be still and ask Him to help you deal with the stench while He is waiting on the right time. (Psalm 46:10)
  3. Know that He is at work while you are working through the stench. (Isaiah 43:15-19)
  4. Know that when He is ready to release you, there will be an incredible gain. (John 10:10)

Never take your eyes off Jesus, never stop believing in Him, never stop trusting Him – through loss of freedom due to a quarantine or loss of a job or loss of your retirement because of the stock market – never stop trusting Him.

When you waiver, read the Bible. See His character, His heart, and His patterns – when there is a loss, He provides a gain.

“So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.’ Then Jesus shouted, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, ‘Unwrap him and let him go!’ Many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw this happen.”
John 11:41-45

Everyone thought Lazarus was dead – they buried the man. He began to stink. Then, Jesus showed up, and the loss became a gain – a life was restored better than before and most important, God was glorified. People came to know God’s character through Lazarus’ death and Jesus’ miracle of bringing life to where death reigned. That is His pattern. Cling to who He is, not what is going on around you.


During these chaotic times, when I feel overwhelmed with bad news, I listen to “It Is Well (With My Soul).” Because you know what, brothers and sisters, it is well. Jesus Christ holds our very souls, so it is well.

Credit: Bethel Music (YouTube)