I made it to church yesterday and it was great to see everyone and fellowship together. It would've been easier to hibernate, but we need community, don't we? How was your weekend? Any stories you'd like to share? Oh, just a note--our new grandson is 1 month old today!
There are some wonderful promises in this devotion today, especially for those times that we are going through a period of suffering and loss. As we are reminded, God makes beauty out of ashes. Have a MEANINGFUL MONDAY ladies!
CBN Ministries, Courtney Johnson
Before the sun peeked through the heavy clouds, he was outside, adorned in puffy pants, fleece hat, and gloves. I watched him trudge through the white powder, and I
watched him swing on the swing set high enough to kick the icy limbs above. After drinking my morning coffee and gearing up in my snow clothes, I joined him.
I photographed him making snow angels as he sunk at least four inches inside the white. We worked side by side, on our knees, as I rolled a snowman and he built a fort. We both worked harder this snow day because we were missing a key helper – his dad, my husband. It has been a while now and we have learned the routine of life without him, but it is in the unexpected that we feel his loss the most.
We live in the south, so snow is always hoped for but never expected. When it happens here, it changes everything for a few days. People ravage the grocery shelves for milk, bread, and eggs, as well as their favorite snow foods, and everyone drains the local gas tanks into their vehicles before driving them home to secure in a parking spot until the winter storm is over. Families crowd into their homes, pile on blankets, watch movies, and wait.
The first flakes begin to fall, and faces crowd the windows with plastered smiles. Doors open, as photos of the falling snow are taken. No matter the time of day, all of nature quiets, as flakes drift, and snow blankets the earth. Families begin planning the ensuing snow day, filled with sledding, snowball fights, and hot chocolate.
The unexpected is where most of life happens. In the case of southern snow days, it leads to fun and laughter. In the case of sickness and sudden loss, it leads to sadness and tears. But it is in the unexpected that people come together. Families team up to build a snowman or families huddle around a grieving loved one. Friends push each other on sleds, and friends pray for each other in distress. The unexpected always changes life – for a few days, a few years, or forever. And the unexpected changes us.
We have a God who never changes, yet He knows that we, His people, constantly need to. He uses the unexpected to mold and shape us into who He created us to be. James 1:17 states,
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (NIV)
Is it possible that the unexpected can be a gift from God? Certainly, snow is His doing, and it is a gift. Even though it causes potential hazards and inconveniences, its beauty is like nothing else on earth. So is true with calamity. Even though it causes pain, God uses it in our lives to draw us near to Him. That is when the unexpected becomes the perfect gift. God uses the unexpected for our good and for His glory.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him ..." Romans 8:28 (NIV)
The gift may come when loss of fertility leads to the most beautiful adoption, or when the worst earthly sickness ends in eternal healing. Sometimes mourning turns to dancing. Often suffering precedes restoration. Jeremiah 31:13b:
“I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.” (NIV)
If we know that the best gifts from the Father come in the unexpected, then as they come, we can trust that He is working on our behalf. Then we can begin to see beauty in ashes and roses among thorns. And when the deepest winter storms come, we can lay down with our faces to heaven and make snow angels.
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." Romans 8:18 (NIV)