Today I submit a few tidbits you might find thought-provoking, maybe even helpful.
1. “Circumstances are like a mattress. If we get under them, we will suffocate. If we get on top of them we will rest” (Arnold Prater).
How do we get out from under circumstances? Most of the time we can’t pry ourselves out. The circumstances are outside our sphere of control.
But we can praise our way out. We can praise our all-knowing God who’s never caught by surprise. He has known from the beginning of time that this situation would arise.
We can also praise our powerful God with whom all things are possible. In the time it takes to say, “Be gone,” God can remove those troubling circumstances. Sometimes he does.
But just as miraculous? The way he can uphold us—lovingly and continually–while the circumstances continue. I have known people carrying great burdens of health problems, family crises, and ongoing relational struggles. Yet their lives are characterized by joy and peace.
I’m thinking of one friend in particular who’s now with Jesus. You’d never know the heartache she endured to look at her. Lynn* was always calm, always smiling.
Ava*, who smiled her way through breast cancer—the chemo, the surgery, the radiation, the uncertainty, the pain.
Debbie*, who lost her soul-mate husband to cancer, after forty-plus years of marriage. She has depended on Jesus for strength and peace—and continued to serve him with passion and joy.
Jim*, who hasn’t been able to find steady work after being laid off. Yet he maintains a positive attitude and a delightful sense of humor, knowing God will provide.
No doubt you know of people dealing with thick mattresses of circumstance. But they’re not underneath either; they’re resting in God alone (Psalm 62:1).
Oh, Lord, forgive me for moments of self-pity. At the first little petty thought, prick my conscience with remembrances of these saints who have learned to be content in spite of their circumstances (Philippians 4:11).
*(Names have been changed.)
2. “My mind is like a sieve, but at least it’s getting cleaned.”
I heard this comment from a pastor on the radio, and had to heartily agree. I can read the Bible and other Christian books by the hour. But ask me the next day what I read, and chances are I won’t be able to tell you much.
I can listen to Christian radio, but again, too little of what I hear sticks in my memory.
Such lack of retention used to bother me greatly until I heard this pastor shine a positive light on the problem. I may not remember all the information of a book or sermon, but the influence of the words has its purifying effect on my mind and spirit.
At least while I’m reading or listening, my mind is occupied by what is noble and right (Philippians 4:8)! And that’s a good thing.
Thank you, Father, for renewing my mind even when my memory fails me. Although I might forget the exact words, their effect gives me strength and perseverance. Thank you that “the unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:130)—including this simple woman with a memory like a sieve.
3. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit” (Aristotle).
What are some things that we repeatedly do that create excellence? Possibilities include: Bible study, prayer, praise, gratitude, self-discipline, singing praise songs and hymns, and uplifting conversation.
And what are some things that we repeatedly do that are not creating excellence? Too much screen time. Negative thinking. Gossip. Overeating. Self-indulgence.
Oh, Lord, help me strive for excellence in the choices I make. I want to have a positive impact on others and please you. I don’t want to waste my life on trivial pursuits. Keep me mindful of this truth: Out of excellence will grow peace, contentment, strength and joy.