This year has been the toughest I’ve ever known personally.
It has been twelve months of struggling with mental health issues, significant loss and deep grief.
Brexit, Trump, politics, the world generally going bonkers and no way to get off.
It feels so overwhelming as to render me completely numb.
I’m so fragmented nothing feels real. Not always even sure on the surface that God is there, but occasionally catch glimpses of His handiwork and know that He must be here…. somewhere.
Let this truth sink in: God with us. Jesus chose to come to this crazy, sick, evil, twisted, despairing world. God with us. He came to bring peace. His peace reigning in our hearts regardless of what is going on around or within us. Peace with God.
Because He came that first Christmas, I have a Safe Place to run to and hide. Jesus is my Strong Tower where I and every part of me is safe and loved and known and wanted and comforted.
May the God of hope fill you will all joy and peace in believing,
so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Hope is vital. Adi and I watched George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces when he and Will Hardie followed a WWII POW’s plans to build a caravan. It was incredible. Writing those plans and dreaming of being free again gave that prisoner hope in a very dark situation.
So it’s not surprising that God, in whose image we are made, is a God of hope.
I’m glad that it is He who fills us with all joy and peace in believing. Filling with all – that speaks of generosity, filled up with good things. I like Jesus’ description of a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over. This is God’s nature: to give in abundance.
He gives all joy and peace in believing.
When God had broken in and miraculously healed me from cerebellar ataxia and ME in 2010/11, I pursued Him for complete healing from migraines (these have lessened in frequency and intensity but not quite gone completely). Initially, every time I asked someone to pray for healing, they asked for me to be filled with joy. I remember one motherly lady saying: ‘You’ve not known much joy, have you?’
I had a normal happy childhood, but that lady was right. I was so fearful in general and busy trying to be in control that there was no place for joy or peace in my life.
As God chucked out the clutter of fear and control and whatnot from my life, He filled those spaces with His joy and peace. The most memorable time was when He’d delivered me of a spirit of fear, that night He filled me with joyful, belly-aching, rolling around on the carpet, snorting laughter.
Joy and peace are daily companions now, I’m thankful to say. That’s not to say life is hunky-dory and all sorted. I still need to discern fear (it can be subtle), or trying to be in control or whatever and deal with it before God. But He is my hope and He restores joy and peace. In fact, He increases it.
I think the more we walk in the Spirit, the more capacity we have for God. The more I allow Him to sweep out the dusty corners of my heart, the more room there is for Him. That’s how it feels to me anyway 🙂
It’s all by the power of His Spirit. Oh that’s such a relief. I couldn’t drum up joy and peace if my life depended on it. But He gives it freely and extravagantly by His great power. Woo hoo!
The God of hope wants us to abound in hope, having been filled with all joy and peace by the power of His Spirit. Hope is a prayer away, and He is generous to those who ask.
The strangest thing happened yesterday . I’m still reeling from it. Did I imagine it? No, I feel different, I look different. Oh wow, this is amazing.
I went to work as usual. I hoped I’d get customers quickly so I could buy food and go home. There was nothing in the cupboards. I should probably plan better but my head is all over the place and it’s hard to get into a routine. I say ‘is’. I think all that is going to change now….
Business was slow. I stood patiently in the hot sun on my usual corner, I like this spot because there’s an olive tree that provides a bit of shade. And I eat the olives when they’re ripe, probably shouldn’t, but there we are.
Late afternoon I saw this group of men heading towards me. I patted my hair tidy and struck an alluring pose.
They looked an odd bunch to be friends: some were clearly manual labourers judging from their muscles, one had the despicable air of a tax collector and I recognised one as a terrorist. But their leader, he was something else altogether. One look at him and I knew he’d never take part in my kind of business.
I pulled my robe tighter around me and turned away. I wished the ground would open up and cover me. I felt so ashamed and dirty. I was worthless, less than nothing. I wished I’d never been born. My life was pointless: how many times have I been used and not paid, or abused? Because the men I deal with think they can do what they like and get away with it.
But he came closer until he was standing right in front of me.
‘What do you want me to do for you?’
The words were so gentle and gave me the tiniest bit of hope. Such a simple question, yet coming from him it broke down the barriers I’d erected.
I longed for peace more than anything. To be able to sleep at night like a baby. For relief from these terrible, jagged, emotional wounds that cracked and bled at the slightest provocation.
‘Peace,’ I whispered.
‘I give you My peace. Don’t be troubled or afraid. I am giving you life. This is why I came: to bind up your broken heart and heal your wounds.’
At once I felt different, lighter, as if a very heavy load had been lifted. I raised my head and smiled at him. He beamed back. ‘I’m Jesus. What’s your name?’
He squeezed my hand.
What a Man! He didn’t want anything from me, but gave hope, and peace, and life. Wow. I love this Man.