Spring has sprung! The crocuses are blooming. The daffodil leaves are peeking out of the ground, and even my daylilies and iris are poking up. Even though we are still experiencing some cold nights, I’m excited that spring weather will soon become a constant, instead of a three-day tease!
I had surgery in February and missed a few weeks for recuperation, and I was excited to be back at church this past Sunday. Thank you to everyone for your prayers, cards, food, and e-mails. You are an encouragement. Our scripture for the day told the story of the prodigal son. What a poignant story when we talk about God’s love for us! My prayer is that, like the young man, when you have chosen a path other than God’s path, you will always remember that God is standing at the road waiting for you to turn around.
That being said, it was a very long day, and I find myself pretty exhausted. So, I hope you don’t mind that I am reprinting one of my previous articles about hope in God and how we can maintain it. Blessings on you this week as we look forward to Easter!
Families across our country are experiencing pain and grief because of the untimely and seemingly senseless loss of life as relatives, friends, and strangers lose touch with reality, ending their lives and the lives of others. Why the increase of murders and suicide? Of course, the prevalence of media reporting provides a clue. Individuals who are struggling emotionally, seeing no way out of their life’s predicaments, find courage in another person’s choices. What might have been an isolated incident in past days becomes a more common situation. The incredible stresses brought by modern society, along with the failure of the family and historic social structures, have brought many to their breaking point.
In modern society we talk about angels, but when the discussion turns to the devil, we dismiss it out of hand. From the beginning of humankind, as recorded in the Bible, we see evidence of the presence of a “tempter,” portrayed as a serpent in the Garden of Eden. Tempting Eve with “being like God,” he took truth and twisted it to Eve’s, and our, disadvantage. From that day until this, the forces of evil have twisted God’s Word in order to bring pain, devastation, and destruction into the lives of men and women.
Jesus taught, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, . . . The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:7-10). The apostle Paul also said, “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:11-12).
How do we protect ourselves from these “thieves” and “robbers,” both earthly and in the spirit realm? How can we keep ourselves from falling into the same deadly desperation experienced by others?
First, it is imperative that we study and know the Word of God. The Bible is truth for everyday life and it brings hope and peace to those who follow its teachings. Take time each day to read God’s Word. Spend time in prayer and worship. Practicing these will give you a defense when the tempter attempts to plant questions and doubts regarding God’s love and will for your life.
Second, spend time with God’s people. Seek your pastor’s guidance. I love Ecclesiastes 3:9-12: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” This is not a fight we fight alone. With our Lord as the center strand, and our brothers and sisters by our side, we can overcome the frustrations of life and the temptations that assail us.
Finally, friends, if you are experiencing frustration and desperation, please know that all is not lost. There is always hope and a new tomorrow. Whatever problems or loss you are facing, please take the time to consider another way, the way of peace and love. Running away from your problems will do nothing more than spread your pain to others. Running to God with your problems will bring you joy in spite of pain, peace in place of fear, and hope in the face of devastation.
Friend, if you do not know the freedom that comes from knowing Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, let me invite you this very moment to call on Him, to confess your sins, and to receive the forgiveness provided by His death on the cross. You don’t have to live this life or carry your burdens alone. There is one closer than a brother, a sister, or anyone you have ever known, and He is waiting to become your Savior. If you make this choice today, please tell someone so they can rejoice with you.
Each new morning, may you sense in your heart once again the tremendous joy that comes through the knowledge of your savior, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Pastor Mary Kay Glunt