Plead Until the Peace Comes

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.
Psalm 94:19

Some days, the uncertainty of life is daunting. And sometimes, the certainty of life is just as bad – inevitable break-ups, illnesses, conflict and stress. We may see what’s coming and the anticipation is more than we can bear.

Anxiety is a tough emotion to crack. Once those stomach butterflies take flight, it’s difficult to settle them down. No hand towel sufficiently dries our palms. Our lungs simply can’t get enough air in. Do you know the feeling? I do. And I think Jesus did as well.

In Mark 14, we find Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, a place He often retreated to for prayer. This time, He brought Peter, James, and John with Him. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” He says to them. (v. 34) The original Greek word used to describe the state of His soul is perilupos, which means greatly grieved, being sorrowful “all-around,” i.e. engulfed in sorrow.

Think of the numerous words we use to define sorrow – sad, unhappy, brokenhearted, mournful, grief-stricken, remorse, poignance, bereavement, anguish. Jesus Himself, being fully God and fully man, experienced an overwhelming sense of these emotions. I imagine Him resisting the urge to vomit, His stomach turning in knots, head spinning, palms sweaty. Negative emotions take a physical toll on our bodies and it did the same for Jesus. He needed reprieve.

So He went to His Father. Going a little farther, He fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from Him. “Abba, Father,” He said, “everything is possible for You. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what You will.” (v. 35-36)

Jesus pleaded with God for a different plan. We do the same thing, don’t we? When anxiety is deep within us, we want it to go away. We want God to change the circumstances causing our heartache. Yet, as David mentions in Psalm 94, it’s not the work God does that brings joy, but rather the consolation He extends. God didn’t take the cup from Jesus because the very thing Jesus wanted to avoid was what fulfilled God’s plan – salvation for all. Perhaps the very thing we want God to change is what He will use to fulfill His plan in us as well.

But it’s ok to plead with God until the peace comes, because it will. He will comfort us in our time of need. (2 Corinthians 1:3) He will hear us when we cry out to Him. (Psalm 18:6, 116:1) He will give us the strength to courageously face our greatest fears. After Jesus met with God, He was at peace with the plan. God had provided the comfort He needed to boldly walk to His death, with humility and compassion.

So the next time you’re anxious or overwhelmed by sorrow, plead with God through, praise and prayer, until the peace comes.

Prayer: Our Powerful Parenting Tool

He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91:4

Sometimes, all we can do is wear out the carpet with our knees. 

God used my son to teach me this valuable lesson during his first couple years of elementary school. I knew he was an energetic kid, but when his behavior started to fall behind his Kindergarten peers, a small seed of worry began to grow. Could he have special needs? A learning disability or ADHD?

Countless attempts at discipline, setting consequences, and rewards without improvement left me feeling defeated. Reassuring the school principal we were handling the situation became harder the following year as the reports kept coming home: Has difficulty focusing. Is a distraction to his classmates. Cannot complete assignments. I dreaded answering the phone when the school called. What if they ask him to withdraw?

Before I knew it, that seed of worry had grown into full blown momma anxiety. I felt ill-equipped to handle the mental strain and emotional stress of a child with academic and emotional delay. 

I needed a plan to fight the fret. Tummy butterflies, shaking hands, and trouble breathing became physical manifestations of a spiritual lack of trust and I simply couldn’t live like that. One night, I went into my son’s room after he fell asleep and knelt beside his bed. I laid my hands on him and began to pray for guidance. 

Psalm 91 has always been one of my favorite chapters in the Bible, but in the shadows of my son’s dimly lit room, I experienced the comfort of being covered by the Lord’s wings. Verse 4 says, He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. I found refuge in remembrance of the Lord’s faithfulness. I knew He was in control and would guide me through the ups and downs of this journey.

As I reread Psalm 91 in its entirety, my anxiety fizzled out as the words became relevant to my circumstances: 

  • God will protect my son. (v. 4) 
  • I have no reason to fear what will happen. (v.5) 
  • This process will not bring harm or disaster to our family. (v. 10) 
  • When I call on Him, He will answer me. He will be with me every step of the way. (v. 15)

Perhaps you understand how the weight of parenting can lay heavy on a momma’s heart. But that’s why prayer is the most powerful tool we have. Consistently going to God lessens anxiety; as our knees wear out the carpet, God lifts our burdens. He protects our children more effectively than we ever could. Let’s put our trust in Him.

Is Kindness A Burden?

In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
1 John 5:3-4

Loving difficult people is grueling sometimes. Constructive conversations dissolve into arguments as their strong will pursues a personal agenda above all else. Perhaps you know someone who struggles to possess genuine empathy for others. It’s hard not to want to put them in their place and let them know how hard it is to get along with them. Showing them kindness feels more like a burden than a privilege.

Unfortunately, I was having similar thoughts not too long ago. My bible reading was in I John and I experienced heavy conviction as I came to chapter 5 verse 3, which says, The commandments are not burdensome. Reality hit me like a sudden slap across the face: I was allowing myself to be crushed by the weight of faithful responsibility. God has called me to demonstrate the fruit of the spirit because His spirit is in me. I was allowing His tree of life to wither with criticism and judgment. Grace had become foreign to me. I wanted the other person to know just how much I disapproved of their behavior.

But that’s not what God calls me to do. God has given two specific instructions: to love Him and to love my neighbor. Matthew 22:37-40 says, Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Those two commandments are the core values of our faith and without them, we are only a resounding gong or clanging symbol. (1 Corinthians 13:1) Love is the essence of who Jesus is and why He sacrificed Himself for us. Love conquers death. It shows grace to life-long criminals. Without love, there would be no kindness.

As a child of God, I have the responsibility to turn my heart towards Him. Doing so reminds me that my calling is not to put others in their place, but to point them to Jesus. Showing kindness isn’t a burden when I take myself out of the equation and allow God to love them through me. Because, who knows, we may be the only glimpse of Jesus they ever get to see.

How to Walk By Faith

For we live by faith, not by sight.
2 Corinthians 5:7

In the dim light of early morning I reached into the cabinet for a coffee mug. My morning routine – coffee with Jesus. Only today I was out of coffee, so hot chocolate would have to do. 

The word Faith was written on the side of this particular mug, bringing to mind some difficult family circumstances which were threatening my faith. I thought I was trusting God, but disappointment and discouragement had crept into my heart and were making themselves at home. My faith could use some help, I thought.

As I sat down to read my devotion, hot chocolate in hand, my planner, which had Walk by Faith on the front, caught my eye. Ok, I thought, I’m getting the message.

But how does one truly walk by faith? Life can be overwhelmingly negative at times and distractions divert our gaze from God without warning. A pleasant morning in prayer can quickly turn into a chaotic mess by lunch time. Peace is rapidly replaced by fear and anxiety.

Perhaps you know the feeling, too. Some days are tougher than others, but I’d like to share a few ideas God has been working with me on:

1.Expect God to answer our prayers.
In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. Psalm 5:3
When we expect something, we regard it as likely to happen. In verse 5, the psalmist lays their requests before God and believes he will receive an answer. He is confident the Lord has heard him. He isn’t wishing and hoping to hear back – he expects it. We too, should expect to hear from God when we spend time in prayer. Faith is demonstrated in a posture of confident hope.

2. Anticipate God’s promises to be fulfilled.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:2
When we go through tough times, we can be certain of a few things – they will not last forever, the Lord will be with us, and He will keep us safe. Walking by faith means choosing to focus on the brevity of our circumstances in light of eternity rather than the fear of infinite suffering. We choose to acknowledge God’s presence, believing He sees our pain and holds our hand through it. We know that whatever happens is under His control and will not harm us outside of His divine allowance. 

3. Watch for the lives of those around you to be positively influenced.
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. Act 4:13
When walk by faith, others notice. They can sense peace that passes all understanding. They can feel compassion overcome rejection. They can see heads held high in confidence amidst uncertainty.

We may not always understand why we go through tough times. Sometimes we can’t see what God is doing. But like 2 Corinthians 5:7 says, we, as children of God, live by faith, not by sight.

To me, walking by faith means taking one step at a time with the Lord. It prompts necessary pauses to address my anxiety and worry. It entails confessing my fears to God and allowing His truth to calm me. It includes sharing my experiences with a trusted friend.

What does walking by faith look like to you?

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
Psalm 27:14

What do you do when it seems like God is silent? Or maybe it feels like He’s not holding up His end of the bargain. Your heart believes this is His will, you’ve prayed about it, but the pieces just aren’t falling into place. Discouragement and discontent erode the initial peace you had and begs the question, God, why isn’t this working out?

Sarai knows the feeling. God promised her and Abram a son (Genesis 12:7), but years passed and no baby came. In these times of questioning and waiting, we have two options of how to respond – wait on His timing or take matters into our own hands. Unfortunately, Sarai did the latter.

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.”(Genesis 16:1-2)

For 10 years, Sarai patiently waited on God. But discouragement lead to discontentment and she decided to take action. Abram took Hagar as his wife and she bore him a son. But he was not the son God would use to build His great nation.

How many times have we done the same thing? We force our timing into God’s, hoping He’s on board. And the funny thing is, God allows our stubborn hearts to wonder down roads He never intended us to travel. He gives us free will, the choice to move on our own accord or sit and wait.

Psalm 27:14 says, Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. I believe God is speaking directly to our tendencies to want what we want when we want it. He acknowledges that waiting is hard, but encourages us to take heart and be patient. It’s as if He’s saying, “Just hold on, I’ve got this.”

Sarai’s choice lead to a great deal of undue stress. Let’s remember that God’s silence may be a reminder to sit still. When pieces don’t fall into place like we thought they would, it may not be His will. He is trustworthy of faithfulness. He kept His word to Sarai and Abram. He’ll keep His word with us, too.

Wounded By Words

When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?
Psalm 118:5-6

“You can really hurt someone by the words you speak,” I told my son. Knowing he had felt the sting of criticism in the past, and I reminded him to choose his words carefully.

As I was getting ready for bed later that evening, I realized how much I allow the words of others to influence my mood or opinion of myself. Just that day, I had been feeling discouraged about the critical words and tone with which someone else spoke to me. As much as I wished it had, their comment didn’t just roll off me. It stuck like a glob of glue in my heart and it didn’t feel good.

Then, I came across Psalm 118:5-6. True to God’s nature of perfect timing, He reminded me that His opinion is what matters most. I had been pressed into a state of gloom, allowing another’s statements to steal my joy. But being reminded of God’s love for me, my heart danced off the goo and was free of bondage to the approval of man. What can mere mortals do to me when I have the affections of the God of the universe?

Perhaps you, too, allow the words and actions of others to influence the way you view yourself or the world. It’s hard not to sometimes, especially when those people are close friends or family. We value their opinion.

But if what they’re saying is critical, condescending or simply maligned from the Word of God, then we need to proceed with caution. Taking a moment to pause and reflect may be just what we need to redirect negative thoughts to the truth.

Is what they’re saying true? What is their spirit communicating? Two simple questions point us to clarity and confidence.

If what they’re saying isn’t true, we can stop there and rebuke Satan’s efforts the convince us otherwise. If what they’re saying is true, whether we want to hear it to not, then we need to listen. God may be using them to speak to us.

If their spirit communicates tenderness, we should be grateful God has given us a special friend who speaks the truth in love. But if their aim is to tear us down or build themselves up, then let’s see that for what it is. God is gentle and kind; He never speaks with condescending tones. He may want to get out attention, but He will not do so with criticism. Ridicule is the language of Satan; let’s claim victory over him in those moments.

God wants us to live under His affections, under His supernatural acceptance. His intentions are not for us to seek the approval of man or try to please others. He desires we look only to Him for our true identity and reliance.

We’ll never control what comes out of others’ mouths, but we can control what we say. As I encouraged my son to do, may we not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
(Ephesians 4:29)

Let God Have The Ending

They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
Mark 4:41

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of being a guest blogger for the Godly Chic Diaries. The article, also featuring the story of Jesus and the disciples in the boat found in Mark 4, was entitled Power through Panic with Prayer. You can read it here.


To say I was anxious was an understatement. My mind flooded with what if’s the moment I found out my husband was returning home from an 8 month deployment. What if he’s different? What if I’m different? How will the reunion go? I couldn’t help but imagine countless scenarios but the truth was, I had no idea what to expect.

Do you struggle with anticipating a bad ending to a situation before it happens? Our minds race three steps ahead, assuming a negative outcome that may not be true. Perhaps you mentally process how a conversation will play our and then resort to avoiding it because there’s no way it will go well.

In Mark 4, we find the disciples in a boat with Jesus after a long day of ministering. Verses 37-38 say, A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples panicked.

Overwhelmed by the situation, they wake Jesus in dramatic fashion – “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” This was no gentle jostle of the shoulder while speaking in a calm, low volume as to not startle Jesus awake. Panic screamed from their lungs as they shook Him conscious. They had already determined the outcome and it was certain death. They had done all they could and drowning seemed imminent.

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him!”

When we experience difficult circumstances, it may feel like they will never end. We may conclude that God doesn’t care. Like the disciples, we may fail to recognize the power of Who is with us. But no suffering lasts forever. And God does care. He allows us to endure the doom in order to develop a dependence on Him. He proves His power through the process, demonstrating His control over the ending.

Isaiah 43:2 reminds us, When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. So let’s expect God to calm the storms of life’s unexpected events. Let’s put our faith in the One who orchestrates every detail of our day. Because even the biggest of waves obey Him.

Courage to Stay When You Want to Walk Away

She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” Genesis 16:13

“I’m not sure I can do this anymore. No matter how hard I try, nothing changes. I just want to give up.”

My friend was going through a particularly difficult season in her marriage and my heart went out to her because I understand how it feels to want to walk away. Insecurity says, if I could just eliminate this relationship, I would be more confident. Pride says, I’m not letting them treat me this way. Fear says, I’ll never see change, I might as well stop trying. Daily bombardments of negativity cause us to throw our hands up in exasperation and exclaim, this is simply too hard! We want to toss in the towel and leave the pain behind.

Have you ever felt like walking away from a difficult relationship? Hagar did just that. She fled circumstances which left her feeling utterly hopeless. She felt mistreated, isolated, and worthless. She saw no other way out. Overwhelming fear invokes a fight or flight response in all of us. And for Hagar, flight was her default.

We find God’s reaction to her choice in Genesis 16:7. The angel of the Lord finds Hagar near a spring in the desert. He asks her where she is from and where she is going. She admits to running away from her mistress, Sarai. If you’re unfamiliar with the story, Sarai was Abraham’s wife and Hagar was her maidservant. Sarai longed to be a mother but had been unable to conceive. She encouraged Abraham to take Hagar as his wife in order to produce a son. He did so and Hagar became pregnant.

A seemingly hopeful situation turned south as Sarai’s jealousy lead her to despise and mistreat Hagar. Hagar could no longer stand it, so she left. The driving force of her desire to walk away stemmed from deep hopelessness. The same is true for us; we feel powerless to change our circumstances and see no other way to escape the suffering.

Even when our pain is caused by another’s choices, we get to choose our response. We are not completely helpless; we do not have to walk away. Walking away is the easier, but temporary option. God wants us to work through the hard times with His help.

The Angel gently acknowledges Hagar’s feelings of rejection and hopelessness, and encourages her by saying, “You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael for the Lord has heard of your misery.” (Genesis 16:11) Recognizing God valued her so much that He sent an Angel to communicate His love for her causes a powerful shift in Hagar’s perspective.

She responds by calling the Lord El Roi, which means “the God who sees”. Genesis 16:13 says, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” He sees you, too, my friend. He knows what you’re going through. You are valuable to Him and He wants to help. He has plans and miracles to perform in and through us but we’ll never know them if we walk away.

If you’re facing an impossible hardship and feel powerless make changes, please know you are not alone; God cares for you and He will meet you wherever you are. Only He can give us the courage to stay when we want to walk away.

Our Hearts: Cramped or Comfy?

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

We’ve all been there – the dreaded middle airplane seat. Wedged between two strangers, it’s impossible to get comfortable. I was there recently and God used the experience as an interesting analogy.

For an individual with a healthy BMI (Body Mass Index of 18-24) the middle seat is not much of an issue. It’s certainly no plush Lazy Boy recliner, but it suffices. But if the middle seat occupant is flanked by a couple larger individuals, it can feel like a sardine tin. Little room is left to move about as our arms are either pinned down to our sides or midline T-Rex levers. We feel cramped and uncomfortable.

Have you ever wondered if God feels the same way about your heart, His home? I Corinthians 6:19 reminds us that our body’s are the temples of the Holy Spirit, the place where He resides. We are a shrine for His presence. Does He dwell there in comfort with plenty of room to move about and be used? Or is it a cramped environment where He competes with things your heart finds more important?

If I were inviting Jesus to my physical home, I would want the floors scrubbed and vacuumed, the couch cushions perfectly placed, and the counters clear. I would want the aroma to be fresh and clean, perhaps a freshly baked batched of cookies on the table. And those things will not happen by themselves, I would need to do the work to make it happen.

The same is true for the condition of our hearts and physical bodies. We should take pride in caring for ourselves in ways that provide God a comfortable, welcoming environment both spiritually and physically. Take a minute and think about what that may look like for you.

For me, it looks like eating nourishing foods and exercising. I struggle with indulging too often and putting off my workouts. The combination leads to lethargy and a lack of motivation to do what God may be asking me to do.

It also looks like feeding my spirit with uplifting music, tv shows, and limiting my time on social media. I can keep my heart home healthy by practicing mindfulness to produce less of the messy and more of the meaningful.

I don’t want God to feel like He’s squished between worldly distractions rivaling my attention. I want Him to feel welcomed and at home in my heart. Putting Him first does just that and reciprocates the commitment He has made to us.

During this busy holiday season, consider God’s place in your heart – wedged between life’s perceived demands or comfortably engaged in cozy conversation with you?

His Presence is the Comfort

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4a

Elijah was one of the Lord’s passionate prophets of the Old Testament. While many Israelites during that time began serving Baal, an idol, Elijah remained firm in conviction and challenged them to return to the One True God. He called fire down from heaven. He earnestly prayed for the end of a long drought and it began to rain. (I Kings 18) He gave of himself physically, emotionally, and spiritually, leaving his soul depleted and fatigued. He needed rest and restoration but Queen Jezebel was threatening to kill him.

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep. (I Kings 19:2-5)

Elijah was ready to throw in the towel. Spending his life as a prophet for the Lord seemed pointless in that moment. Have you ever felt that way? Perhaps you’ve tried to do right by God in many aspects of your life but continue to wait for that coveted blessing. Like Elijah, our wounded, hurting hearts needed comfort. We need relief from the pain.

An angel tended to Elijah in the wilderness, giving him food and water. He rested. Then he got up and traveled for forty days and forty nights, reaching a cave at Horeb, the mountain of God, before resting again. It was there, in a chilly, damp cavern where he expresses the ache in his heart:

And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” (I Kings 19:9b-10)

Was everything he had done been for nothing? Would God hold up His end of the bargain? It would be reasonable and understandable if Elijah wondered these questions – I know I have. It’s frustrating to dedicate time and energy to the Lord’s calling without seeing the fruits of our labor.

Elijah was ready to walk away at this point. What could God possibly say to change his mind?

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. (I Kings 19:11-13)

What could God possibly say to change Elijah’s mind? Nothing. Because God doesn’t need words. His presence provides the comfort we need to keep going.

Matthew Henry comments, “Gracious souls are more often affected by the tender mercies of the Lord than by His terrors. The Lord could have spoken within the fierce wind, earthquake or fire. But instead, He chose a gentle whisper. In that moment, Elijah needed to be redirected to the mission at hand, but not before he reconnects with how much the Lord cares for him.”

Living for God can be exhausting. It’s ok to need a break. When faced with discouraging opposition, fear and anxiety may follow. It’s ok to want to run away. But the best part is that God will always meet us right where we are. He may not change our circumstances or tell us what we want to hear, but He wraps our frazzled souls in the soothing warmth of His presence. He renews and restores our heart’s passion to serve Him.

And that’s all the comfort Elijah needed.