After enduring a series of emotionally draining weeks, feeling unloved and in need of reassurance, I cried out to the Lord, “I know that You say You love me, but I don’t KNOW that You love me. God, help me understand that You really do love me.” I was desperate to understand this simple concept that kept confounding me.
I knew that God loved me from an intellectual standpoint. I knew He would think well of me when I did right and would somehow tolerate me when I did wrong. But somehow I couldn’t understand the unconditional love the Bible says defines my Lord and Savior, the kind with no strings attached, the kind that doesn’t depend on good behavior or a perfect report card.
For about a week, I prayed that prayer going to and from work. Then one particular day, I came home feeling very harried. I struggled to get the groceries in from the car and remain pleasant to my neighbor Tiffany and her 4-year-old son Jaelon, who were preparing to leave.
And then it happened.
After several trips to the house, I was finally down to my last few bags of groceries. I was heading for the door when I heard little Jaelon ask in his gentle voice, “Can I give you a hug?”
I was flabbergasted that a child who didn’t even know my name, who had never spent time at my house, who I had passed day after day without saying “hello” wanted to hug ME. Who am I that I deserve a hug?
Despite my initial hesitancy, deep down I was thrilled. I actually couldn’t wait to get hugged! So, I put my groceries down, walked over to that sweet little boy, knelt down, and received God’s wonderful blessing.
It was so simple, and yet such a pure act of love. A hug from a little child — no pretense, no hidden motives. Just a kid who saw a worried adult struggling and figured a hug would make it all better.
And he was right. I could barely fight back the tears of joy as I contemplated that brief gesture of acceptance. I quickly realized God had just answered my prayer in the most tangible and personal way.
If you need His touch, as I did, ask the Lord to show Himself to you. And then, wait expectantly for His outstretched arms to bring you comfort, safety, and provision.
“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.” (2 Corinthians 1:3, NLT)
If You Don’t Get Flowers Today
FEBRUARY 14, 2020
I carefully lifted my windshield wiper to retrieve the frozen pink rose that cold Valentine’s Day years ago. A freshman in college, I had stopped by my car to eat a snack between my morning classes and excitedly wondered who sent me this surprise. My heart pounded in anticipation.
Starting up the engine for warmth, I rubbed my palms together before opening the attached card. The rose was from … my mom. Her words in the card were kind and encouraging. So why did I still feel empty inside?
The truth was, I wished the rose was from a secret admirer. A young man, not my mom. Since my last date had been an embarrassing dud, spaced far after the previous one, I longed for a new romance to fill me up. My guilt and loneliness combined into a frustrating mixture.
I felt like a cup with no bottom.
No matter what I put inside the cup, I didn’t feel full. Roses, chocolate, books, TV shows, fantasies and even relationships couldn’t fill it. Loneliness seemed to be the only thing filling that bottomless space, and I was weary of its constant, haunting presence.
My parents divorced when I was 4 years old, and the day my daddy left was the day loneliness took up permanent residence in my heart and mind. Though I wished it would go away, I had no power to push it out the door. Loneliness lingered every time I craved love and attention that was in such short supply.
Then in high school, I developed resentment over the flowers and gifts I saw lined up in the cafeteria every February 14. None of them were for me. I believed the devil’s whispered lie — None of them will ever be for you. You’ll always be lonely.
About 15 years after that frozen-rose morning, I sat in a counselor’s office. After listening to my stories of constant loneliness, he observed, “Relationships are very important to you, aren’t they?” His simple, judgment-free question was a pivotal point in my spiritual journey.
A few days after the counseling session, God nudged me with a new idea: Perhaps relationships were too important to me. Though I was a wife, mother of three and friend to many, I still felt lonely. But God was showing me a truth I needed to learn from His Word: “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in people” (Psalm 118:8).
For far too long, I had looked to people to fill me. But my husband, children, best friend and small group companions couldn’t remove my loneliness. They were never designed to completely fill my needs. I began to realize only God could serve as my refuge, my safe place and my salvation.
Though people are wonderful, they are not infinite. They aren’t always available when we need them, and none of them provide perfect understanding.
However, God is infinite (Revelation 1:8), ever present (Deuteronomy 31:6) and all-knowing (1 Chronicles 28:9). As we study His ways, we learn God is ready, able and willing to fill us up with His love. We learn this best by hiding away with Him in a place of refuge.
The more time I spent in God’s presence, the less I depended on relationships to meet all my needs. Time with loved ones became bonuses on top of the loving intimacy I enjoyed with Jesus. I no longer required proof of human love on Valentine’s Day — or any other day. God is our refuge in lonely times, and that’s more than enough proof He loves us.
God, the all-seeing One
By: Charles Spurgeon
“Hell and destruction are before the Lord: how much more then the hearts of the children of men?” Proverbs 15:11
God knows the heart so well that he is said to ‘search’ it. We all understand the figure of a search. There is a search-warrant out against some man who is supposed to be harbouring a traitor in his house. The officer goes into the lower room, opens the door of every cupboard, looks into every closet, peers into every cranny, takes the key, descends into the cellar, turns over the coals, disturbs the wood, lest anyone should be hidden there. Up stairs he goes: there is an old room that has not been opened for years,—it is opened. There is a huge chest: the lock is forced and it is broken open. The very top of the house is searched, lest upon the slates or upon the tiles some one should be concealed. At last, when the search has been complete, the officer says, “It is impossible that there can be anybody here, for, from the tiles to the foundation, I have searched the house thoroughly; I know the very spiders well, for I have seen the house completely.” Now, it is just so God knows our heart. He searches it—searches into every nook, corner, crevice and secret part; and the figure of the Lord is pushed further still. “The candle of the Lord,” we are told, “searches the inward parts of the belly.” As when we wish to find something, we take a candle, and look down upon the ground with great care, and turn up the dust. If it is some little piece of money we desire to find, we light a candle and sweep the house, and search diligently till we find it. Even so it is with God. He searches Jerusalem with candles, and pulls everything to daylight. No partial search, like that of Laban, when he went into Rachel’s tent to look for his idols. She put them in the camel’s furniture and sat upon them; but God looks into the camel’s furniture, and all.
For meditation: God does not need a search-warrant or a torch to search your heart (Hebrews 4:13). What does he see there?
Streams in the Desert – February 14
Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4).
It is a good thing to “rejoice in the Lord.” Perhaps you have tried it but seemed to fail at first. Don’t give it a second thought, and forge ahead. Even when you cannot feel any joy, there is no spring in your step, nor any comfort or encouragement in your life, continue to rejoice and “consider it pure joy” (James 1:2). “Whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2), regard it as joy, delight in it, and God will reward your faith. Do you believe that your heavenly Father will let you carry the banner of His victory and joy to the very front of the battle, only to calmly withdraw to see you captured or beaten back by the enemy? NEVER! His Holy Spirit will sustain you in your bold advance and fill your heart with gladness and praise. You will find that your heart is exhilarated and refreshed by the fullness within.
Lord, teach me to rejoice in You – to “be joyful always” (1 Thess. 5:16).
The weakest saint may Satan rout,
Who meets him with a praiseful shout.
Be filled with the Spirit… Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.
In these verses, the apostle Paul urges us to use singing as inspiration in our spiritual life. He warns his readers to seek motivation not through the body but through the spirit, not by stimulating the flesh but by exalting the soul.
Sometimes a light surprises
The Christian while he sings.
Let us sing even when we do not feel like it, for in this way we give wings to heavy feet and turn weariness into strength.
–John Henry Jowett
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and signing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.
O Paul, what a wonderful example you are to us! You gloried in the fact that you “bear on [your] body the marks of Jesus” (Gal. 6:17). You bore the marks from nearly being stoned to death, from three times being “beaten with rods” (2 Cor. 11:25), from receiving 195 lashes from the Jews, and from being bloodily beaten in the Philippian jail. Surely the grace that enabled you to sing praises while enduring such suffering is sufficient for us.
Oh, let us rejoice in the Lord, evermore,
When darts of the Tempter are flying,
For Satan still dreads, as he oft did before,
Our singing much more than our crying.