Friday, 27 January 2012

The Worst Day of the Year

I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
Habakkuk 3:18
You will be happy to know that the worst day of the year, according to English psychologist Dr. Cliff Arnall has just passed. In their blog Moments with You, Family Life shared the following:

If you woke up feeling especially blah this morning, you're in good company. January 24 is now officially "the most depressing day of the year."

Those are the findings of Dr. Cliff Arnall, an English psychologist who specializes in seasonal disorders at the University of Cardiff in Wales. His formula for analyzing such things includes seven variables--the weather, personal debt, monthly salary and even the amount of time since Christmas, among other things--that determine people's feelings of happiness.

He figures January 24 is when credit-card bills start rolling in, reminding us how we got carried away again with our holiday spending. By now many of our New Year's resolutions have fallen by the wayside or at least been riddled with pockets of compromise.

Maybe he's right. Maybe you really are feeling it today. But what Dr. Arnall may not understand is that our joy and contentment doesn't have to be taken away by the bleak clouds of winter or the long wait until our next vacation. As followers of Christ, a settled sense of well-being and belonging can be ours no matter what our set of circumstances.

fig tree
Hear again the words of a man who knew what to do with a January 24 kind of feeling: "Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord GOD is my strength" (Habakkuk 3:17-19).

God is there with you every day of the year.

It is incredibly important to truly believe that God is with you every day of the year and that He is your strength. Unfortunately when we face trials it is easy to doubt that God is in the midst of your trials and that He has a purpose for them. Unemployment, illnesses, strained relationships, financial difficulties, sexual tensions, etc. all challenge us to remember how much He loves us and how He wants what is only best for us. Seek Him in prayer.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Does Anyone Still Sew

In a recent Moments with You blog, Barbara Rainey shared a very insightful thought. Though I appreciated her analogy, i.e. likening marriage to a dress pattern which needed to be sewed, I wondered how many women who are reading this blog would know a bobbin from a buttonholer. Here is Barbara’s posting:

Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.

Exodus 25:9

Back when I used to do a lot more sewing, I enjoyed looking through pattern books. It was fun to select the style I wanted and then cut out the small pieces of tissue paper that indicated what went where and how everything fit together.

But that's just it--all those little shapes that represent the sleeves and the bodice and the front and the back don't mean anything unless they eventually come together to form an article of clothing. Until the parts are applied in the context of the whole, they never achieve the purpose that was intended for them by the dress designer.

Many times in marriage, all we can see are the pieces. We see the romance part. We see the conflict part. We see the housekeeping part. We see the bill-paying part. We see the parenting part. But because we spend so much of our time focusing on the individual parts of our marriage, we don't always see them in the bigger picture our Designer had in mind

But the pattern is there nonetheless, and it's contained in the package of God's Word.

I want you to be encouraged that the pattern for your marriage isn't something you were responsible for creating. It's not based on feelings that can be strong today and much different tomorrow. The biblical pattern and plan for your marriage was created in the mind of almighty God, whose wisdom is unrivaled and whose love for you is beyond all bounds.

If you keep putting the pieces where they belong, His pattern will start to show. His design will take its beautiful shape in the form of your marriage

Monday, 23 January 2012

Fix My Problems Lord

I’m a huge fan of Dr. Bob Snyder’s Lessons Learned on the Journey, in part because of his willingness to be transparent. He recently sent out the following self exhortation which obviously struck a little too close to home.

As I have prayed regarding this New Year, I realize that I have been asking God to solve my problems, heal my medical issues and fix brokenness in my life - not a wrong prayer but a misguided one. What is shaping my thoughts and prayers? My desires or God's desires?

As I read scripture, another perspective emerges. For some in the early church, problems were a privilege and opportunity to demonstrate their dependence on God. Several themes emerge:

Life is hard. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. (Romans 8:22 NIV)

God's primary concern is to glorify Himself and to mold me into His image. From an eternal perspective, ...our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (2 Corinthians 4:17 NIV)

God is fulfilling eternal purposes in the midst of my problems. In fact, problems may be His intended method. ...we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:3,4 NIV)

I’m certain that there are a number of individuals who, like Bob, prayed that God would solve their problems. More specifically they prayed that God would heal their marriages.

Marriage can be hard but often we make it much harder than God ever intended it to be. And just as childbirth can be painful and produce great joy so too can a marriage.

Marriage should glorify God after all it is to be a reflection of Christ’s relationship to His bride the church. God absolutely uses our marriage partner as part of His plan for our sanctification.

Marriage can present problems that will be used by God to contribute to one’s growth. God is more concerned with our holiness than our happiness but don’t think for a moment that a God centered marriage can’t be filled with incredible happiness.