Morning Refreshment by Ruth Cowles
In mid-March, Kansas declared that schools would close for the rest of the school year. Other states soon made the same determination.
Very quickly we started hearing terms like “Shelter at Home” and “Social distancing.” “Quarantine” was a word seldom heard these days…until now when we hear it daily.
The words “Pandemic” and “Plague,” although foreign and strange to the younger generation, engender memories giving rise to fear in the minds and hearts of the oldest among us.
Businesses and churches closed,
The economy faltered,
Violence at home is increasing,
and Deaths from the virus are reported daily.
Many of us have only seen times like these in movies or read about them in books.
and Discouragement is on the rise, exacerbated by the news reports and accompanied by weather fluctuations from cold and wintry to mild and spring-like and back to wintry again.
And we are all wondering, "How long???"
Nothing is certain except that nothing is certain.
I always love it when I read those words “But God” in my Bible. Often they follow bad circumstances or evil, offering hope to a situation that would otherwise seem hopeless.
For example – Joseph after all the hardship he had gone through told his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20
In Psalm 73:26 the Psalmist records “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
Another such passage can be found in Ephesians 2:3-10. ".......But God who is rich in mercy..."
So… COVID 19 …That’s the bad news.
But God … That’s the good news!
So, what can we do?
We can follow the example of King David when things were so bad his own people wanted to stone him to death! 1 Samuel 30:6 says that he “was greatly distressed…but David encouraged himself (some versions say ‘strengthened himself’) in the Lord his God.” (KJV) He encouraged himself in the Lord! He took courage in the only one able to save him. He drew strength from God! David also wrote in Psalm 29:11, “The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.” (NIV)
Secondly, we can heed the words of the Apostle Paul, when writing to the church at Thessalonica he said, “… encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11
We can encourage others!
When we do that we bless others but we are encouraged also!
So, dear friend, be encouraged in the Lord today. Let Him be your source of strength and peace in the middle of this storm. And then in His strength, look for ways to encourage others.
Peter and I celebrate our 46th wedding anniversary this year. Our 3 grown children and their spouses have blessed us with 7 grandchildren. During our marriage, we have lived in 4 different States in the USA and 2 foreign countries in Africa. Our children were born in Illinois, Tennessee, and Kenya, and our grandchildren were born in Pennsylvania, Kansas, and Austria. I worked as an RN in PA, IL, and TN. before moving with my bush pilot husband and family to Africa for mission work. We lived in Nigeria 2 years then Kenya for 15 years where the door was open for me to teach the Bible. Returning to the USA I served as Minister to Women for 16 years at our local church. Now retired I enjoy teaching Women's Bible studies, writing, speaking, and being a full-time wife to Peter.
One of Grace Thru Faith's customer favorites is our ...But God designs. We have them in different styles with more coming. Want to be encouraged and encourage others of God's mercy and strength during difficult times? Wear one of our shirts and let it start conversations!
Would you agree that there are some things in life that we choose and some things we do not? Things we would never choose, for instance Covid or Cancer or any other seemingly awful disease or situation. However, the Lord in his omniscience sometimes chooses to allow these seasons in our lives, for His purposes, ultimately.
Every response from us, however, is a choice. We can choose to accept the situation or not. We can choose to fight back, or not. We can choose to praise Him above all, or not. We can choose to heed His promptings, or not.
If you think about it, everything from the moment our feet hit the floor each morning till our head hits the pillow each evening, everything we say, think, and do are choices. We can choose to love people each day, we can choose how we respond to others, and on it goes. Every minute of our lives involves a choice in how we respond.
All this to say, we can choose to be obedient to the Lord’s calling, prompting, and commandments, or not. There have been two specific times (many more actually) but for this blog I am choosing to focus on two specific instances the Lord has called me to thus far in my life.
Another trip around the sun. A friend gifted me custom pints of ice cream and one of the labels displayed this saying: “Another year sweeter” Super cute, however I don’t know about that. 😉 As I look forward to my birthday each year, this one is hitting me a bit differently than previous years.
As I gazed over at the side table in our kitchen that holds several b-day cards received this week, some touching, some funny, all of them thoughtful, and looked at the material gifts that I had received each day this week as the Lord so graciously ordained. My thoughts turned to my dad (and the fact that he is now gone from this earth as of Jan 6th this year) and the thought that the absolute best gift I could receive (from the Lord) was seeing a bluebird on my birthday. I wept at the thought. As, I have yet to see one since dad’s death.
As I woke up this morning (quite melancholy, knowing that this day will not be unlike most others unfortunately) after a restless night of sleep and continued my day as always, feeding the pups, reading devotionals and praying, making coffee, walking the pups etc.…It does hit me that even though my dad, Lou did not recall that Oct 7th was my b-day for many years preceding his death, which was super hurtful the first year that happened, it hit me that no one loves you quite like your parents. And, when they are gone, nothing will ever be quite the same. There is a deep void in our heart and soul that realizes, no one will love you in the same way your parents did. That is my experience now (in this moment) and I realize that will not be everyone’s experience. I was blessed to have parents that loved me despite my flaws, which were truly my biggest cheerleaders in this temporary life on earth. And, when they are both gone from this earth, it changes things, and that truly did not hit me until this week leading up to my b-day.
We entered 2021 excited for what was to come. Things were looking up! We had a goal, a vision, and a purpose that gave us great joy. We had it all planned out. Our amazing graphic designer, Preston, had created the artwork. I had sourced just the right garments. Our trusty local printer printed onto the amazing garments. We had created giftable items for folks who might be looking for something more than apparel. We spent several months curating, sourcing, and working towards our goal of launching THE most amazing thing ever. We had a plan; (we have learned over 5 years to plan far ahead of the seasons.) We even had a pop-up planned at a trendy store. We were super excited to launch this powerful, hopefully life-giving movement. Everything was on target.
Then…during a benign Monday night in early January, we got a phone call. For anyone who has ever been a caregiver, you know that when you see the facility name and number pop up on your screen, your heart drops a little bit.