Comfort My Soul
It was my fault.
Questions swirled as I drove to the top of the Interstate exit ramp toward the hospital to visit my eighty-three-year-old widowed mom. “Congestive heart failure” rang in my ears.
Will Mama be safe living alone? Would she move in with us? Will the new meds help?
Deep in thought, I steered my Camry the wrong way onto a one-way street—straight into the headlights of a young man’s car.
I stared through the cracked windshield in disbelief. Thoughts flashed like lightning: I went the wrong way! Is he hurt? Why isn’t he getting out? It’s my fault. What should I do?
Guilt and fear captured me. My head throbbed in rhythm with my heart.
I cried, “Oh, please help me, Father God. Look what I did. Please let that man be okay. Help me, Father.”
Although I stood on wobbly legs when I exited the car, a sense of calmness soothed me. While I watched the other driver and the policeman who observed the accident walk toward me, my heavenly Father whispered assurance as if to say, “I am here. All is well.”
The external situation did not change. Traffic backed up and people gawked. My car, pointed in the opposite direction of the one-way arrow, announced, “It was her fault.” Deep inside, something did change. Peace replaced panic because of the One who stood beside me.
God didn’t arrive at the scene of the crash; He was there all along, ready to tend my troubled state. The balm of His presence relieved the flames of fear that engulfed me.
Months later, when my mother met Jesus face-to-face, the Lord soothed my heart again. Since the accident and Mama’s death, I’ve thanked God numerous times for His relief and answered prayer. When troubling news or a challenge careens down mental streets threatening to crash into my contentment, I often confess, “Father, I need You. Please help me.”
When I experience His willingness to exchange my unrest for His solace, I proclaim,
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation …” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NKJV
The author of Psalm 66 also remembered the way God nurtured his soul. Perhaps he yearned to shout with joy and beckon those he knew to listen when he wrote,
“Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will declare what He has done for my soul.” Psalm 66:16 NKJV
Maybe the psalmist recalled Yahweh’s peace in fearful times or deliverance when enemies advanced. Surely, like us, he encountered daily challenges which prompted him to testify of God’s care.
Like the psalm writer, in the face of trials and challenges, believers can turn down the one-way street of prayer to seek the “God of all comfort.” Regardless of the roadblocks we face or the errors of our ways, His consolations are limitless.
We could compose our own song of praise in a journal or in prayer to thank God for caring for our souls. What do you remember about the times God cared for you? Do you need His reassurance today? Like the gel of an aloe plant relieves sunburned skin, the balm of divine comfort quiets anxious hearts.
What Are You Drunk On?
By: Shawn McEvoy, crosswalk.com
And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others were mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet wine.” – Acts 2:12-13
“These men are not drunk, as you suppose,” Peter told the bewildered crowd at Pentecost. “This is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel.” The Holy Spirit had been poured out, and I’ve always found it fascinating that its effects could be mistaken for the pouring out of, shall we say, less holier spirits.
To be sure, the Bible instructs Christ-followers to be “sober-minded” (Titus 2:6, 1 Corinthians 15:34). And there’s honor and maturity in a steadfast, stoic reaction to life’s trials. But then there’s this fantastic scene in Acts that just fills me with tiny bubbles of delight. There’s so much joy and power and overflowing involved with the Holy Spirit that, sometimes, well, we Christians just seem a little bit crazy. Flipped-out. Punch-drunk. Downright giddy.
And who wouldn’t like to see more of that side of us these days?
Reflecting on this kind of Spirit-trusting, God-leaning fun reminds me of my three summers as a Christian youth camp counselor. The labor was hard but not in vain. The purpose was evident. The craziness was everywhere. “Go nutso-Picasso,” our Director would say, and show these kids that being a Christian isn’t some droll, fun-killing existence, but something real, life-giving, sustaining, and joyous.
And indeed it was, and is. My closest friends and I had an odd high school experience, in that we had a hard time understanding why our peers found it so fun and/or necessary to involve alcohol – illegally – in their weekend plans. We were having more laughs and fun than we could imagine without any drugs. What were we filled with? Why didn’t we need anything else?
Later, when I worked at camp, one of the things we would do is create a video of each week for the students to take home with them. One of the features on each week’s video was a “blurb” from one of the counselors, an off-the-cuff, from-the-heart snippet of encouragement. I recently found the videotape from the week I was interviewed, and my response reminded me so much of what today’s verse means to me, what real life under the guidance and excitement of the Holy Spirit is about. Here’s what I said:
I think so many times in our youth groups back home we get tired of hearing the same things: don’t drink, don’t do drugs, don’t have sex. And that’s good advice to be sure, but why? So many kids here at camp and the ones I knew growing up weren’t doing these things anyway; don’t we have any more to offer them? Do we have any explanation for what is filling them, and what they can do with it? It just seems to me that those I’ve come across who are involved in these so-called “greater sins” are often engaging in them just to fill a void caused by, maybe, disobedience to parents, rebellion, lying, or a poor self-image. So what I like to do is show them that Jesus has given them everything they need to be content, secure, high on real living. And it takes a lot of energy to do that, but I find that the energy is there when I need it, and anyway, if it means leading a young person to the Lord or just reconciling someone to their parents, hey, that’s worth it.
The God Who Sees Me
“‘You are the God who sees me.’ She also said, ‘Have I truly seen the One who sees me?’” Genesis 16:13b (NLT)
I received the long text and read it slowly. Then I read it again. She accused me of saying things I never said. She assumed words I’d written on social media were about her when they weren’t.
I sat stunned.
She didn’t want to meet or talk it out. She was ending our friendship completely and asking me to never contact her again.
A cry of injustice rose inside of me. I felt misunderstood. While I wanted to call a friend to “vent,” I knew I needed to allow some time to pass before doing something that would likely fall into the gossip category.
“Do you see this, God?” I muttered aloud as I sat in my van in the school parking lot waiting for my daughter. I knew the answer. His name is El Roi, the God who sees me.
The Lord revealed this name to a woman named Hagar in the Bible. She was an Egyptian servant who worked for a barren woman named Sarah. Sarah decided to have a child by asking her husband to sleep with Hagar. Sarah then mistreated pregnant Hagar to the point that she ran away to the desert.
I understand Hagar’s urge to run away. I have felt it many times. But through the name El Roi, we discover that in our lowest moments, someone sees us. God sees our pain. He hears our cries.
After the Lord sent an angel to encourage Hagar, we find these words: “Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the LORD, who had spoken to her. She said, ‘You are the God who sees me.’ She also said, ‘Have I truly seen the One who sees me?’” (Genesis 16:13).
We’re never alone because we serve a God who sees us. We can rest knowing God is never unaware of what we are going through. El Roi saw Hagar, but He didn’t promise a quick fix to all her problems. He sees us, but He also sees the larger picture outside of the constraints of time.
Sometimes God calls us to have a boundary and walk away from abuse or mistreatment. At times, others set the boundaries, and a relationship we want to keep is over. In other situations, God calls us to stay the course. He asks us to persevere in a difficult marriage, work situation or church conflict with a new perspective, holding onto His promises.*
When I’ve been in a season of betrayal or difficulty, such as the day I received that very long text, I have wanted God to just fix it. Have you ever felt that way? While El Roi sees our mistreatment, we have to trust His instructions since He sees the bigger picture.
God knows when we cry buckets of tears and aren’t even sure why we are sad. He celebrates victory with us when we master a new skill or forgive a difficult person. He sees us on those blah days when all we feel is numbness. He might not instantly fix every predicament we encounter, but we never have to doubt His presence. We are never alone because El Roi is the God who sees.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men liberally and without criticism, and it will be given to him.” – James 1:5 MEV
The Bible makes the remarkable statement that God desires to give us wisdom – discernment to understand situations and people and insight to make the right decisions. In fact, He can give us this wisdom in abundance, “liberally.”
But there are conditions. First, we must ask Him for the wisdom we need. Many people count on their own experiences or focus on the world’s experts. We need to remember that God promises a generous outpouring of wisdom when we ask Him.
Second, we need to be patient. This is so essential that the Bible tells us we should “count it all joy when you fall into various trials” because the “testing of your faith produces patience” (v. 2-3 NKJV). We need this patience, so we can take our time to study His Word, pray, and listen carefully.
We need to ask in faith, believing Him when we ask. We need to be single-minded, asking “without wavering” (v. 6). We cannot expect to receive an abundance of wisdom if we are “double-minded” (v. 8). We must be resolute and focused.
He also promises to give us this wisdom “without criticism.” In short, “He will not rebuke you for asking” (NLT). We are to “ask and keep on asking…Seek and keep on seeking… Knock and keep on knocking” (Matthew 7:7 AMP).
Cry out to God for the wisdom you need. Focus on Him. Don’t allow doubt to creep into your heart and mind.