When You Aren’t Feeling Cherished

via Daily Prompt: Cherish

My grandfather is on Hospice Care and will likely go home to be with the Lord in the next few days. He will be the first of my four grandparents to pass. I’m sure it will be difficult on my family, especially my grandmother, as they have been partners in crime for over seventy years. When asked how she was doing recently, she responded, “We’ve had a good life together and we will be together again one day.” She cherished my grandfather and he cherished her.

I’m sincerely grateful for the example of faithfulness and commitment in my grandparents and parents. Staying married “’til death parts us” is a difficult feat in and of itself, but enjoying your spouse for a lifetime is a completely different ball of wax. One that is not without effort on both ends.

But what if that’s not your family tree? What if your mother wasn’t cherished by your father or vice versa? What if the history of your family is riddled with brokenness, abuse, or neglect? Witnessing love and affection between parents may be a foreign concept. To you, marriage is an unnecessary commitment guaranteeing pain and rejection.

Unfortunately, this is true for far too many people I know. Thankfully, many of them have begun to look to their Heavenly Father as an example of love rather than their earthly fathers and husbands. Because the reality is, each member of our family is a sinful, flawed human being, lacking the ability to be the perfect example of love. Because of that, we can expect to experience feelings of loneliness and rejection from time to time. We may long to be loved, cherished, and accepted.

But, not feeling cherished doesn’t change the fact that we are.

When you aren’t feeling cherished, consider this:

The Lord has loved you with an everlasting love. He draws to you with unfailing kindness. (Jeremiah 31:3)

God has engraved you on the palm of His hands. (Isaiah 49:16)

Jesus gathers us in His arms and carries us close to His heart. (Isaiah 40:11)

You are precious, honored, and loved by the Father. (Isaiah 43:4)

It’s easy to look to others to make us feel loved, valued, or cherished. And although the marriage covenant is ideally designed to meet our needs in that way, it doesn’t always work out like that. But when our Heavenly Father becomes our ultimate source of affection, we don’t need it from others. His love far surpasses anything we could experience through human interaction. Allow Him to lavish you with affection and adoration, for You are the prized treasure He has created you to be.

Lord,
Thank you for the everlasting love You have for me. You hold me dear to Your heart, You care for me, provide shelter and comfort. You are all I need when I’m not feeling cherished by those in my life. Help me to believe Your opinion of me higher than anyone else’s.
Amen

The Darkness is Necessary

 

No one likes the darkness. No one willingly answers his knock at the door and invites him in. He simply invades our mind, casting shadows of doubt into the corners of our soul. He represents feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and fear. Darkness inhibits mental clarity and produces hopelessness. Many are devastated by its presence.

But what if the darkness is necessary? What if the Lord uses the darkness to draw us into the light, closer to Him? For someone consumed by the suffocating presence of darkness, this may seem impossible. Nothing seems necessary. Nothing seems usable for good. Everything is simply painful. I know; I’ve been there.

After years of cohabitating with darkness, living under the bondage of shame and depression, the Lord mercifully illuminated my desperate, calloused heart. As the darkness dissipated, I experienced unrelenting freedom for the first time in my life.

However, it wasn’t long before the darkness came knocking at my door again. It caught me off guard initially, but my surprise quickly turned into anger. I felt angry he had the audacity to intrude upon my life after all I had been through to squelch feelings of shame, insecurity, and fear. Why was this happening?, I thought.

I knew I couldn’t simply ignore the presence of darkness as I had in the past. I needed to face him head-on, addressing the reason he was there.

Psalm 23:4 is one of my favorite verses:

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for You are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Meditating on the presence of the Lord brought me comfort. I had no reason to fear for Jesus was with me. He gave me the courage to welcome the darkness in.

As the shadow of darkness hovered like a thick cloud of smoke, I remembered how I previously viewed myself – worthless, unlovable, and insignificant. I lived in fear of rejection, looking to others to define my value. My brief encounter with the darkness resonated the miraculous transformation God has performed in my life. I no longer view myself in negative ways; Jesus has shown me who I truly am – a priceless, adored, precious Child of God.

If you have ever interacted with the darkness, you can relate to my hesitancy to converse with him. However, years of ignoring him and pretending he wasn’t there were quite damaging. Confronting my fears has been the crucial first step to experiencing the Lord’s sovereignty.

Jesus can never free us from bondage we don’t acknowledge exists.

The darkness is necessary.
– It reinforces our need for dependency on God.
– It reminds us of His presence in our lives.
– It requires we surrender our fears.
– It redirects our perspective from our struggle to His sovereignty.

Without the darkness, we can’t experience the amazingly powerful transforming light the Lord offers.

Dear friend, if you have been overwhelmed by a journey through the darkest valley, there is hope. You are not alone. Jesus can and will meet you in the pit of despair and guide you into the light of freedom. Just ask.

Lord Jesus, thank You for Your light that casts out darkness. I pray for anyone reading this today who struggles with insecurities and depression. Satan wants nothing more than to enslave them to the darkness. May they experience the freedom that only comes from You.
Amen

Beware of the Lion

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. I Peter 5:8

Has there ever been a time in your life when hard work and dedication paid off, improving difficult circumstances in a powerful way? Perhaps you felt like you “made it” – got the promotion you wanted, the house, the car, the relationship. All was going well. Maybe too well, because a sudden shift in surface tripped you up. Without warning, there you were, flat on your face, picking up the pieces of a job loss, home foreclosure, car repossession, or broken relationship. How did I get here?, you ask.

Sometimes I forget just how fragile we are. We desperately need Jesus day in and day out because Satan is on the prowl 24-7. He stands in the shadows, waiting for the right time to strike. He sees the fatigue lead to irritability. The worry lead to anxiety. The doubt lead to fear. And as we go about life on our own, thinking we’ve “made it”, we give him a foothold.

Recently, God has been healing many years of depression and negative self-talk within me. I’ve come a long way, but I remain far from where I would like to be. The deeply threaded pathways of insecure thoughts are still there, despite my best efforts to develop new ways of thinking. It doesn’t take much to head back down those old roads and I find myself questioning how I got there – again.

But, dwelling on a painful past prevents a hopeful future by keeping us locked in destructive habits we feel helpless to break free from. Thankfully, God gives us the tools to combat the original liar, Satan, the author of all unfavorable things.

John 8:44 says, “He [Satan] was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Satan has always been and will always be a liar. Therefore, it is imperative we keep an alert, sober mind, readying ourselves for his attack. He will always contradict the truth of God’s Word. Memorizing scripture strengthens our ability to decifer and refute Satan’s lies.

When Satan shames me, God says, “therefore, now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

When Satan tells me I’m unlovable, God says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

When Satan calls me worthless, God says, “I will take great delight in you; in my love I will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17).

 

It truly is a battle and Satan is relentless. If you feel constantly attacked by him, have faith in the power of God to overcome through scripture. Meditate on the truth. Refuse to entertain negative thoughts. Let the transformation begin.

Lord, some days are harder than others. I grow weary from the fight, but know that You have an endless supply of energy available for my taking. Teach me to tap into the supernatural strength of the Holy Spirit which brings victory over Satan. May Your voice be the loudest one I hear. Amen

Healing Hidden Wounds

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Have you ever stopped to consider the measures we often go to in order to hide our pain? Many wake each morning, the sting of old wounds lingering after a night of sleep aided only by a numbing substance. Rather than acknowledging our feelings, we shove them under the covers as we make our bed, shower, and face another day. We welcome distractions such as busy schedules, laundry to be washed, dishes to be cleaned, meals to be made – anything to keep our minds off the ache we cannot shake.

I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to put on a smile and go about the routine of my day, only to land in a heap on the couch, exhausted by the effort it took to maintain the facade.

Deep, hidden wounds are rarely revealed. They are associated with guilt, shame, or regret over a choice we made or one that was made against us. They are those do-over moments we wish truly existed.

So, what is one to do with these wounds? Continue to self-medicate? Avoid sensitive topics and triggers at all costs? Pretend we are not affected by our past?

For the person who simply cannot go on this way anymore – the one who needs complete healing – keep reading.

Hope is where it all begins. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Do you believe the Lord has plans to prosper you? Perhaps numerous difficult circumstances have left you disenchanted, feeling hopeless of a future blessed by God. Maybe you question His existence, His presence in your life, or if there is a plan at all.

I used to put my hope in things of this world – in people’s approval of me; in my children’s validation of my mothering skills; in my success as a person by what I did rather than who I was. Putting my hope in anything other than the Lord lead to discouraging disappointment. He is the only constant, trustworthy source of unfailing hope.

Regardless of where life has taken you, there is no path that cannot be redirected.

Dare to hope in the power of the Holy Spirit to transform hidden wounds into healed scars. Dare to believe that change can happen – even after years of self-medication, bandages and acceptance of the bed you have laid. Consider the faint possibility that God offers a soothing balm formulated to restore the health of your exact hurt. 

God has a plan for you, my friend. A plan of hope, redemption, and healing – and He is hoping you will venture to trust in Him.

 

Dear Lord, it can be really tough to hope in the unknown. It’s easier to stay in the predictability of our pain than to venture out into the uncertainty of change. Be with us as we begin the process of healing by choosing to put our hope in nothing other than You. Amen