Maybe God needs you to know this today. So I will write this in prayer that, if one of you needs this word, or one of these thoughts, it lands as it should.
- God doesn’t only speak to you through the good, sensible, or right people, moments, or experiences. He can use people we cannot tolerate. He can use experiences we loathe. Nothing is beyond his reach, and he will teach us and reach out to us at the times we least expect to encounter Him. Don’t forget: he spoke to Balaam through a donkey. Keep your eyes and ears open.
- Understand faith is a choice and an exercise of will. Faith is not what happens after God has proven to you whatever you need to have proven to you. It is the choice we make to acknowledge as true everything we know about God, His character, and what He has done for us—even when we don’t see it, certainly when we don’t feel it, and sometimes when we struggle with the very idea of believing.
- That prayer mattered. I don’t mean it had the result you wanted, or God’s will turned out to be everything you hoped. I mean that your prayer made in faith mattered. It did something. God heard it, and it mattered to God. And how that prayer will manifest fully in the course of time and God’s great love may be a mystery hidden from us for a very long time. But it mattered. It was vitally important that you prayed it.
- Now isn’t forever. It feels like forever. It isn’t. What you don’t think will ever change can change. The only thing we can say with certainty is that God is in control, not our circumstances. And anything sovereign to His will can be changed and transformed at His will. Hold on.
- Worship is critical when you like it least. At times it may feel almost impossible, in a certain darkness, to say “God is good” or “God reigns on high” or “praise God.” But acknowledging to God who God is will alter something inside you even in that certain darkness. That isn’t to say your worship must be peppy or cheerful or bright. Worship can come from hurt and sorrow and resignation, too. But worship.
- That stranger really cares about your prayers. I know it feels sort of remote and mundane to pray for Susan’s friend Alice’s aunt who has cancer. But Susan’s friend Alice’s aunt has cancer and she is afraid and tired, and probably a little sad and feeling sick, and when she finds out that her niece Alice prayed, and Alice’s friend Susan prayed, and Susan’s whole church who does not know her is out there praying, it lifts her.
- God cherishes your joy. Trials and suffering are a part of life. Particularly for the believer. But the Christian race is not a grim slog of endurance, nor a test of proving-trials below the unyielding face of God as He waits for us to grow holier. He loves your joy. He guards your heart, even in the worst times, and even when you don’t know it. He’s not going to promise you blessing and then give you a curse.
- Guard your joy. Drink the cup of tea. Walk in the rain. Pet your cat for a gratuitously long time. Listen to the good song as many times as you want. Linger in the hot bath. Drop everything to marvel at the sunset. Think that God has given you a thousand small gifts, every day, and when you see His grace in them, He delights in your delight.