Floyd has seemed to be very weary in recent days - which is completely understandable! I pray for daily grace for him.
I have started a new treatment for my numb feet. The numbness and pain has definitely gotten worse over the last months, although the doctor isn't sure why. I am trusting for relief and improvement with this new medication.
I read a devotional that spoke of patient perseverance. As I read it, I wasn't sure the two words go together. If you persevere, you just keep going in spite of everything. If you are patient, you accept things "without being annoyed or anxious" according to the dictionary. I definitely keep going......but I don't know if I'm always free of anxiety. And the word "persevere" - it can actually put us off. It sounds like a drudgery when you first hear it.
But when you're in the midst of a hard time, especially a season of suffering, there's really not much choice except to persevere! The big issue for me has been HOW I would persevere. I knew I didn't want to just grit my teeth and keep going. I've chosen to take it one-day-at-a-time, to keep trusting the Lord, to have a heart of gratitude for the good things (that are always there), to daily receive His help and grace, and to walk in the joy of the Lord that is my strength. Without those signposts in mind, I couldn't survive. And I know I couldn't endure the journey without His help.
I read that the Latin root of the word persevere has 3 parts: per - se - vere. Translated it means - by means of the truth. I love that because I think it's only by means of the truth of who God is and how He helps us that we can fulfil that word. Without God's daily grace, strength, and power I would not be still standing. He has undergirded me in ways that only He can.
Along the road of perseverance, I've found that there is a time for worship, a time for laughter, and a time for tears. The occasional tears bring release, and wash the heaviness and sorrows from my heart. Laughter brings healing to my soul (Proverbs 17:22). And worship gets my focus on Jesus, realigning things the way they should be. Laughter and tears come and go. Worship should be a constant. But all three are important for the journey.
I heard a song recently that I've been singing as worship and as a declaration to the Lord. "Press On" by Selah. I find the words are a cry of my heart - "When the valley is deep, When the mountain is steep, When the body is weary, When we stumble and fall, When the choices are hard, When we're battered and scarred, When we've spent our resources, When we've given our all - In Jesus name we press on!" Amen, amen!! He helps us keep going. That's what patient perseverance is all about.
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4
"Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer." Romans 12:12
"We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." Romans 5:4
"You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised." Hebrews 10:36
Someone asked me if I'm in a "holding pattern" in my life. While it might feel like that sometimes, I actually think I'm in a massive "growing pattern." In the midst of some of the hardest times in my life, I am learning so much as I try to patiently persevere and press on. The closeness of fellowship with the Lord is a precious gift in the midst of it all. I am so grateful!
I recently heard about someone that received a very generous gift, but the person complained about some of the aspects of the gift instead of being grateful. I felt so sad when I heard this. Complaining robs us of the joy of what we have received, and undermines our faith.
When I thought about this, I thought of the times when I've probably done the same thing through the years! The Lord wonderfully provides for me, but maybe I'm not content with the details. So I grumble. I thought of the children of Israel who had daily "manna" in the desert, but they got tired of it and complained. They began to say that it would be better for them to be back in slavery in Egypt where they had better things to eat. We are most likely all guilty of doing something similar at one time or another.
This has all been a really good reminder for me to be grateful - always! I know that I can "practice" gratefulness. I can choose it. God doesn't "give" gratefulness to us - we choose it. It's not a feeling - it's a choice. I can build a habit of gratefulness. Paul said in Philippians that he had "learned" to be content! We can "catch" ourselves when we begin to grumble, repent of the bad attitude, and start again with hearts of gratitude......learning, like Paul, to be content.
On hard days (which I seem to have a lot of on this unexpected journey), I have been training myself to not focus on the hard things but, instead, to thank Him for anything and everything I can think of to be grateful for. I start with the basics.....having a home, having food and clothing, being able to pay all the bills, being surrounded with friends who love and help me, being able to look at the beauty of God's creation out my window. I try to start the day with being grateful for at least one thing......and let it grow from there. In seasons when I struggled with this, I kept a gratitude journal. Every time I thought of something to be grateful for, I wrote it down. It was amazing how quickly the pages filled up.
The last few days we've had the most beautiful full moon at night. I've stood at the window looking at it and worshipped the Lord. If I'm not careful, it's easy to miss the daily "small" things to thank Him for! I don't want to do that. We also have the most beautiful spring flowers this year. I thank the Lord continually for them as I drive around.
Being grateful is not just good for our souls and our walk with the Lord, it's also good for our health! I read an article that listed the benefits to our body of being grateful. It reduces stress. It helps us sleep better. It improves our cardiovascular health. It boosts our immunity. These were just a few of the things that were mentioned. It makes sense that God would want to bless our physical health through the practice of thankfulness!
In a world that is filled with negativity, we can impact our own well-being and also the world around us by being grateful for God's goodness to us - in things both large and small!
"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through Him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:12,13
"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18
"Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness." Colossians 2:7
"Give thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Ephesians 5:20
Having a grateful heart gets my focus off of myself and my problems - and back on the Lord. Gratitude invites His presence into my day. It brings fresh strength as I remind myself of His goodness, His grace, and His provision. Gratitude sends the enemy fleeing because He doesn't like worship and praise. Gratitude is a powerful spiritual weapon - and it's also a key to releasing God's provision into our day. Thank you, Lord, that you provided this wonderful gift for us to choose and walk in.