1 Timothy 4:12 – Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.
Do you know that we teach others how to treat us? Whether we are young and people look down on us, or if we’re old and people pay no attention to us, how we feel about ourselves will affect how others treat us. What we put up with really does matter. It is important that we be there for others and help them if we can, but we must be certain to set up good boundaries so that we’re not allowing others to take advantage of our kind hearts. It’s especially easy to do that if you’re a people pleaser. We want others to like us, so we do whatever they ask and accept when they dish out cruel words. There is never an excuse to take advantage of other people. You matter to God and he wouldn’t want you to continue to accept abuse. Also, people may respect you more if you set up those boundaries. Take that leap and believe you can do it! God believes in you.
Key words: we think of ourselves, others treat us, looked down upon
Psalm 25:5 – Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.
I try to figure out how to balance things in my mind, but somehow the words, “I’m sorry,” spill out of me many times a day. “I’m sorry,” I say to a friend who is sick. “Why are you apologizing?” they reply. “It’s not your fault I’m sick.” We can’t fix the whole world nor is it our fault that things go wrong in our family and friends lives. It’s important to sympathize with their pain, but don’t take it to the extreme where you’re apologizing for something you couldn’t keep from happening to them. Instead of saying, “I’m sorry,” try saying something like, “That must be really difficult,” or “Is there anything I can do to help?” God sees their pains and he also sees your compassionate and tender heart. Let him guide you and give you the hope you need all day long. Then you will be able to help others who struggle with saying, “I’m sorry,” all of the time.
Key words: saying I’m sorry, can’t fix whole world, sympathize with their pain, God will guide you
Joshua 1:9 – Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.
Fear becomes courage to help you hold on during the worst of emotional pain storms. Whether that storm is real or just in our thoughts, we need courage. Instead of being afraid of pain’s two-edged sword, physical and emotional pain, remember God can help you navigate your way out of the storm. He will take you safely through your storm. You’re not the first person that he’s led through the storm, but his love makes you feel like you’re the only person in the world he is leading. It is miraculous how he can lead each one of us through our struggles. Take courage my friend God loves you like you were his only child.
Key words: fear becomes courage, hold on, emotional pain storm, God will navigate, miraculous leading
Psalm 121:1-4 – I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
Do you feel like you have no purpose going into the new year? Do you feel adrift in a sea of change? Where does our hope, our help, come from? It comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. Cling to that hope walking into the new year, and you’ll not only feel more grounded, but you’ll also be able to find joy in the midst of your adversity. The verses above also tell us that the God won’t let our foot slip. He watches over us whether we are awake or asleep for God never sleeps. I often find it helpful if I put my name into a certain Bible verse and then read it. It can not only make it more personal but can make you feel like God is speaking right to you. So here’s mine: Karen lift up your eyes to the mountains – where does her help come from? Karen’s help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let Karen’s foot slip – he who watches over Karen will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Karen will neither slumber nor sleep. Now put your name into the verses and read them out loud. Therein lies our hope for 2021, it is God who will watch over us and stay right beside us no matter what the new year brings. We also can focus on our ultimate hope which points us to a better future.
Key words: hope for 2021, adversity, sea of change, God brings us through, God beside us
Luke 2:8-11 – And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”
Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, face masks were lined up next to presents and snacks. Silence filled the air save for a cough and a sneeze and a tossing and turning in bed. The children had cried until their bodies gave way to sleep for, they feared that Santa wouldn’t come down their chimney because COVID had entered their house. But up in the sky many years ago a star shone out with no thought for how well the humans below felt. The angel appeared to the shepherds with their good news which did not depend on any calculations of new cases of COVID or any other disease. For One had been born who would wipe away tears and heal the hurting and broken hearted. This Christmas, stars will shine in the sky and songs will be heard among the breezes as many will celebrate the birth of the Savior in spite of all the sickness that lay below. May this Christmas find you remembering the true meaning of Christmas and the One who came to heal the sick and broken hearted and gladden hearts with hope. And hope is truly the one thing we are all looking for this Christmas above all others. May God fill your homes with love and comfort and may joy rise up in the hearts of you and yours this Christmas.
Isaiah 9:6 – For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Might God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
There are forms of famine that are tied with chronic pain and illness especially at Christmas. There is famine from the things you used to do such as: traveling to see friends and family on Christmas, participating in sports such as family basketball games at Christmas, attending Christmas parties at work, and job layoffs at Christmas. Even though some of you may think that a famine from working is not really a famine at all, but you must remember that working does not just serve to provide income, but to find a place where you belong and a piece of your identity. All of these, depending on what kind of disability or illness you have, cause us to have a famine that’s not just for a short period of time, but for the rest of our lives. This can become increasingly clear at Christmas. So it’s important to find things that are good for you that can fill in the blanks left by your famine such as: writing Christmas cards or calling a friend in need and perhaps finding someone who can help them with the shopping or things to be done before Christmas, reading your Bible and prayer especially praying for those you know will be alone at Christmas. These actions can help carry you through the season of Christmas famine you’re in and help you to spread some joy along the way.
Key words: Christmas famine, chronic pain, no traveling, Christmas alone, bring joy to others
Deuteronomy 32:10 – In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye.
There’s a desert that forms in our mind which can hold an opportunity – you have the choice to fear it or embrace it. The desert can teach you many things. It’s in the heat of the trials, in the emotional pain that wants to control our life that we can learn from the desert. When do you enter the desert? I find myself in the desert when I’ve tried to control my life when there were things I wasn’t meant to control. My world becomes dry and bleak with the wind picking up sand and showering it upon my head. My mouth is dry, and I thirst for water. Jesus walks into my desert. He not only wants to pick me up and carry me through the trial, but he provides me with living water that refreshes my soul and gives me strength to withstand the desert wasteland.
Key words: desert of testing, heat of trials, fear or embracing trial, the desert teaches us
Galatians 5:1 – It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Your plate is full, yet here comes a friend wanting you to do something for them. You know you really don’t have any time in your day to help them, but you can’t find the inner strength to say, “No.” Saying “no” can be hard if you’re a people pleaser. But saying, “No,” doesn’t make you a bad person. When you don’t say, “No,” you move towards over-extending yourself, burnout and feeling like a slave. No relationship can grow if one party is treated like a slave. So how do we find the strength to say “No”? You first take it to God. He can untangle any parts of your life that are close to tripping you up. He will give you wisdom and courage to say, “No”. And he will also show you if you should put a hold on something else on your plate so that you can find time to help your friend. Whether you say, “No” or say “Yes” to a request God can help you grow that relationship without losing it to bitter anger for feeling like you’re being used. You don’t have to feel like you’re in slavery and can never do what’s best for yourself. It’s hard, but you will grow real relationships this way.
Psalm 100:4 – Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
How do you feel when you wish someone, “Happy Thanksgiving?” Is it true? Does it come from a deep and abiding belief that God has blessed you, or is it just something you say during the holiday? I watched as God has gone with me throughout a difficult year. I didn’t doubt his presence, and I can see God’s handiwork in me. I’ve learned to be more patient with myself, and to not berate myself for the medical issues I had. For some areas like A-fib which was treated and eliminated in February only to see a resurge this month, it was hard to relive. Yet I prayed out to God that my heart was His heart. My life was held in His hands and I could know that in the end my heart would calm down again. I know I was supposed to have hernia surgery last month only to see it postponed to this month. And though it caused me disappointment as the pain remained longer than I wanted, yet in the end the problem was eliminated. And though some relationships became distant, others grew closer. And though for a few months I saw my worry and fear go down only to have it go back up again, I was able to give a thanks and praise report which resulted in many other people hearing how God still loved me even when I’d felt like I’d let Him down. With all the ups and downs this year, with COVID and its fears storming against our castles, one thing continued to hold true: I can see God’s hand in my life through all of it. So, it is a true “Happy Thanksgiving.” I hope that all of you have a “Happy Thanksgiving” as well.
Isaiah 53:2 – When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; and the flames will not set you ablaze.
Pain is like a double-edged sword which cuts through the physical as well as the emotional. With physical pain you try to keep it from affecting your day. But it’s hard to keep your emotional reactions at bay. Some people feel guilty when they have an emotional reaction to pain. Let yourself off the hook. It’s going to happen. You’re going to react to the pain. That’s why it’s important to have ways already set up to help you. It’s not healthy to just try to push down the feelings, but to embrace them for what they are and start looking for ways you can comfort yourself and keep your pain from being the focus of your day. I’ve found that reading Bible verses I’ve already picked out on pain and peace helps. Also praying helps me remember where my focus should be and trusting God to help me through the difficult waters of pain.
Karen Dalske is a freelance writer, public speaker, is active in her church and writes her blogs out of her own experiences of pain, illness and loss.