Endurance Possible with God’s Unfailing Help

But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike.” Acts 26:22 NIV

Do you ever wonder how the Apostle Paul from Bible times endured the many trials and times of crisis that came his way? After his dramatic conversion to Christ and being called by God to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, Paul faced not only trials and imprisonment, but his very life was threatened time and again.

At one point after one of his arrests (when the Jews had seized him and tried to kill him,) Paul had the opportunity to defend himself before the Roman king Agrippa. Paul shared  a bit about his personal history, his eventual conversion to Christ, his ministry to the Gentiles, and the resulting opposition he faced from the Jews—including how they tried to kill him.

Paul then summed up his life to that point with this powerful testimony: But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike.” (Acts 22:26) In everyone’s hearing, he pointed to the One who had been his strength.

Yes, Paul had been able to endure the hardships and dangers in his life because of God’s unfailing help. In spite of all that had happened to him, he was able to stand before King Agrippa—and stand up to all the opposition he faced—because God was with him being his strong support.

Is this your testimony too? Our testimonies are such a good thing to remember when times are bad, aren’t they? Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that God has been with us to this very day and that he will continue to be with us come what may.

If any of us are struggling to hang in there today, let’s remember that endurance is indeed possible with God’s unfailing help. He didn’t let Paul down and he won’t let us down either. He will ever be our strong support. He will ever be our Rock.

God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5 NIV

*When have you felt God’s strong support in a very great way?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Starbucks and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.) p.s. It is too late to get in on this issue’s giveaway, but if you subscribe, you will be included in all future Life Notes giveaways.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by DVIDSHUB, Creative Commons License

Meeting a Problem Head-On

Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, ‘Who is it you want?’” John 18:4 NIV

With Easter still fresh on our minds today, let’s take a look at one of the lessons we can learn from the age-old story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Many insights and truths can be drawn from this dramatic real-life event, but let’s focus today on how Jesus handled a problem that came looking for him on that dark night before his crucifixion.

When confronted with the most dreaded and excruciating hours of his life, what did Jesus do? He met the ordeal head-on. Scripture tells us that while Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane—after eating his last Passover meal with his disciples and after spending time in agonizing prayer—some soldiers and religious officials led by Judas came looking for him.

Since Jesus knew all that was about to happen, he could have handled the situation in a number of ways. As soon as the threat was spotted, he could have run for his life and told his disciples to do the same. Or he could have had the disciples stay and cause a delay while he made his getaway. Or since it was nighttime, he might have even told everyone to hide.

But Jesus didn’t do any of those things. Instead, he summoned his courage and went out to meet the threat. He told them he was the one they were looking for. Then he tried to protect his disciples by asking that they be let go. When one of the disciples drew his sword and began to put up a fight, Jesus stopped him and said, “‘Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?’” (v. 11) Yes, he was ready to meet the life and death challenge head-on.

How was he able to do this? Love for us. His desire to pay the price for our sins and offer us eternal life instead. Also love for his Father and his commitment to do the Father’s will. And I’m sure he gained strength from the Father during his Garden of Gethsemane prayer time. We’re told in the scriptures that an angel even came and strengthened him there (Luke 22:43.) All of these things combined helped Jesus face his moment of truth.

Are any of us faced with an overwhelming situation? Let’s take strength from the example of Jesus and from the strength God so willingly gives and then go out and meet the challenge head-on. Let’s drink the cup the Father has given us. Let’s bring glory to his name.

“‘The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God and I will exalt him.’” Exodus 15:2

*When has God given you strength to face a dreaded ordeal?

The next issue of Life Notes, my inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in each quarterly issue, comes out in early May. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a gift valued at $20 (shipping included) from Beigetone Soaps and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by TimOve, Creative Commons License

Never Give Up in Prayer

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“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

Have you ever felt like giving up in your prayers for a certain person or about a particular issue? Maybe his or her heart seems too hard to ever desire a change or maybe that issue seems impossible and beyond all reasonable hope. You may feel like your prayers aren’t making a difference at all.

We’ve probably all experienced discouraging thoughts like these at some point or other. When we grow discouraged, when we grow weary in our prayers, let’s remember that “…nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:47)

The next time we lose heart, let’s be honest with the Lord and ask him to refresh us. Let’s share our burdens with one another and encourage each other. Let’s determine to keep looking for the harvest. Let’s determine to never give up.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV

*Is there something or someone I can join you in prayer for today? Please feel free to share in the comments.

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter which includes a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out last week. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*I hope this slightly revised encore post from January 2011 was a blessing to you today!

*Flickr photo by ^@^ina (Irina Patrascu Gheorghita ), Creative Commons License

Hard Fought

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Some victories are best described as hard fought, aren’t they? If we’ve lived this life for any length of time, we’ve discovered that many accomplishments, battle-wins, growth, or tasks completed don’t come easily. Much effort is required to get from point A to point B.

You might not guess it, but many of my blog posts and other writing projects fall into the hard fought category. Oh, some may come more easily than others, but if I’m honest, I’d have to say many are hard fought. Most require much effort.

For one thing, I’m a slow writer. For another, I have perfectionist tendencies. So unless an idea sparks and words tumble out as fast as I can write them down, they come out like a trickle or a drip rather than a flowing stream or bubbling brook. In fact, sometimes they’re birthed at an excruciatingly slow pace. It’s as if I’m stuck in mud. When that happens, getting pieces written is like struggling through a wrestling match. Any results are hard fought.

Other examples of hard fought victories in life abound. Sometimes learning a new skill or reaching an academic milestone takes all we have to see it through. Others engage in mighty struggles to lose weight or to quit smoking. Some reach their next wedding anniversary only by the grace of God and their non-negotiable commitment to honor their vows and protect their families. Still others fight to stay true to their faith in God when life deals them one blow after another.

I wonder if any of us today are currently faced with hard fought battles. Any wrestling matches underway? Any of us stuck in the mud? Let’s not give up. Let’s dig deep and press on. Like with my writing struggles, we may have to fight hard, but the victories will surely come. And oh, how sweet they’ll be.

“But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” 2 Chronicles 15:7

*What in your life has come or is coming with hard fought efforts?

*The Life Notes Subscriber Appreciation Giveaway is underway. Details are in my Oct. 19 post and sign-up is to the right under “Free For You.” Deadline is 6 p.m. Nov. 11. Don’t miss out on the chance to win a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble!

*Flickr photo by Eric Langley, Creative Commons License

A Persistent Breed

2329631495_a0ee551ea3_z*This piece about perseverance, written originally for my February 2009 Life Notes newsletter, is still spot-on applicable in my life today. Last fall I had to pull up my persevering-writer bootstraps like never before when the contract for my book fell through. And today my agent and I are still plugging away and refusing to give up. May the post below inspire you to persevere in areas of your own life. Also, the new issue of Life Notes came out the first of the month, and it’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right!

We writers have to be a persistent breed. A good possibility of rejection lurks just around the corner with each submission sent out. And everyone knows, writer or not, rejection can be hard to handle.

For most people, rejection leads to retreat or at least a change of course. For writers, it better lead to regrouping and forward movement—or we will never see our work published. And believe me, those positive steps can be hard to take if we’ve reverted to a fetal position.

Yes, writers have to learn to quickly get past the dashed hopes a rejection letter delivers, take a deep breath, and start again. That’s where persistence comes in. That’s when we learn to persevere.

Can I let you in on a little secret? I’ve had plenty of practice. Since I started writing thirteen years ago, rejection has paid me regular visits. Truth be told, rejection has come calling more than acceptance.

So why haven’t I given up? I feel like it’s the work God has called me to do, and until he leads in another direction, I want to be faithful to the task. His Word offers continual encouragement with verses like Galatians 6:9: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

And that brings me to another reason for persevering. The sweetness of the harvest. What a privilege when my work is used and someone’s life is touched through words I’ve written.

Writers are not the only ones who are called upon to persevere, though. We are not the only ones to know the thrill of the harvest. I have to look no further than my own little family to see other examples of perseverance.

I’ve watched my husband go to work day after day, year after year, to provide for our family, even on days he would have preferred to do other things. I saw my oldest daughter hang in there and complete her graduate studies when she had to live far away from her family and fiancé. While waiting tables and faithfully watching internet job sites and Help Wanted ads, my youngest daughter waited over two years to land a job in her field of study and in the area where she wanted to live. And yes, I’ve had to persevere through other life challenges, too.

Does your job or your endeavors demand that you be a persistent breed? Will pressing on be the only way you will achieve your goals? Or maybe you’re faced with having to persevere through a health crisis, a difficult relationship, or a financial setback. Whatever your challenges, I encourage you to not give up. The harvest is sure. And it will certainly be sweet.

“‘But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.’” 2 Chronicles 15:7

*When have you had to persevere?

*Flickr photo by Tonymadrid Photography, Creative Commons License