Waiting on the Lord for Strength

by Louise Tucker Jones

 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31 KJV

I was 30 years old, six months pregnant and recovering from an emergency appendectomy, when I read Isaiah 40:31 on a hospital menu. The pregnancy had been difficult with early bleeding, monthly injections, and limited activity. And now, after surgery, I couldn’t even turn over in bed without the baby sliding under my 5-inch incision and giving a painful kick. As I reread the verse, I wondered how long I would have to wait before I could “walk and not faint” or “run and not grow weary.”

A year and half earlier I had experienced a devastating miscarriage, spending two days in the hospital due to excessive hemorrhaging. Two years before that, my three-month-old son, Travis, had died unexpectedly due to congenital heart disease. I ached for my babies as well as renewed strength.

I thought of Hannah in the Old Testament and how she asked God for a son. The Lord answered her prayer. I followed her example, kneeling by my bed and begging the Lord for a child. Now I waited.

Three months after my appendectomy, I held my newborn baby in my arms. I kissed his tiny face and promised to love him forever, continuing to claim the promise of Isaiah 40:31. I knew this little boy with Down syndrome would have an uphill journey most of his life. What I didn’t know was how steep that climb would be for me. I can’t say how many times I have prayed and pleaded for God to renew my strength, to let me soar like the eagles and to allow my little boy to walk and run.

There were seemingly impossible tasks and skills for Jay to master. Nothing came easy for him, but he never lost heart. Playing on the floor led to rolling which eventually gave way to crawling, then to walking at three years old. Tactile sensitivity made eating texture a chore and a compromised immune system kept Jay at the doctor’s office much of the time.

But God did not leave us alone. He sent angels to protect Jay in the midst of medical problems and challenges, knowing this child would touch hearts around the world through the many stories written about him. Though my son’s life has often been one obstacle after another, Jay’s faith always soared. There has never been a time that he did not know and love God. He never even needed an explanation. He just knew the Lord from the beginning and forever holds Jesus in his heart. 

I can’t tell you how many times I have prayed Isaiah 40:31 during these 46 birthdays with Jay—both for my son and for myself. I can only tell you that God has always been faithful.

Lord Jesus, thank you for the many times my soul has soared with You. Please continue to give me wings when the walk is too steep.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

Louise Tucker Jones Profile
Extraordinary Kids: Nurturing and Championing Your Child With Special Needs

About the author: Louise Tucker Jones is a speaker, columnist, and Gold Medallion award-winning author. Having a son with Down syndrome, Louise writes extensively concerning people with special needs and has contributed to more than 40 anthologies with her poignant life stores. Married to Carl for 45 years before he relocated to heaven, Louise is a mother, grandmother, professed chocoholic, and founder of the support group, Wives With Heavenly Husbands. Find out more at LouiseTuckerJones.com.

Join the conversation: How has God been faithful to renew your strength?

When God Answered with a Photo

by Sharon Tedford @61Things

 

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23 ESV

 

After our eldest son went off to basic training for the Army, we knew we wouldn’t hear from him for many weeks. The recruits were allowed to write letters, but only after they had earned the privilege. The mail service was slow, and the letters were few. Rather surprisingly, there was also a private Facebook page where photos and brief updates of what was going on in his unit were posted. Every time there was a new FB post, I scoured the pictures of shaven-headed young men, trying to spot our blue-eyed boy. He’s always hated having his photo taken and was adept at dodging the family camera. It seemed he managed to successfully avoid the Army photographer, too. I never could find his face in those action shots.

 

One day I had reached the end of my ability to wait patiently. During my morning time with the Lord, I cried out to Him and asked Him to prompt our son to write another letter. I even asked the Lord to get our boy into an online photo, so I could at least see his face. Two requests from a mother’s heart to the Father’s heart.

 

Later that same afternoon I wandered down to the postbox with the dog at my heels. As I collected the stack of bills and circulars, I noticed a hand-written letter tucked away among the randomness. My joy overflowed. It was written in the handwriting of our soldier! I think I scared the dog as I ran back up to the house; I couldn’t get the letter open fast enough.

 

I tore it open without ceremony. Something fell out. A bookmark? Our son’s an artist and I wondered if he’d made a bookmark for me. No. What fell to the floor was a strip of selfies taken in a photo booth. Our son’s unit was rewarded with a field trip, and many of them had taken advantage of the photo booth. There, staring up at me from the floor, was a strip of our son’s hilarious expressions. 

 

I got my letter and a photo.

 

Isn’t that just like our God? I would have been pleased with a letter, but our kind Father filled my aching heart with immeasurably more than I could think or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). 

 

As I write this, I am looking at that strip of comical photos of our son. Of course, I miss having him around, but I keep it close for another reason. It reminds me to have absolute confidence in a God who never fails. Our King is faithful. Our Lord is a promise-keeper. The photos are physical evidence that I can hold on tight to the hope I have in a Savior who never fails. 

 

I’ve left the best thing for last. The letter I received was sent in the mail about 10 days before I even thought to make my heart-felt plea to Jesus. He heard the cry of my heart long before I put breath behind it. He truly does know all about me. 

 

But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.   1 Corinthians 8:3 ESV

 

What are you asking the Lord for today? Let’s be those who confess hope out loud. Join me in speaking hope over every situation you find yourself in. God is on the case! He’s already working out His plan for your good.

 

There is always hope. His name is Jesus. 

TWEETABLE
When God Answered with a Photo – encouragement from Sharon Tedford, @61Things on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Sharon tedfordAbout the author: Sharon Tedford is an experienced British storyteller who uses her gifts as a singer, author, worship leader, and speaker to connect with her listeners, inviting them into a revitalized relationship with God.  Her humorous stories always end with an invitation to action. Mother to three teenagers and the wife of an Irishman, Sharon encourages people to live a God-focused life. You can connect with her at www.61-things.com.

Sharon’s book, Stand, is a devotional based on the stories behind her songs. Readers will be drawn into a deeper personal experience with God and learn how to stand on the truth of a Heavenly Father who loves them. 

Join the conversation: How has God proven that He will never fail you?

 

Holding On or Letting Go

by Candy Arrington @CandyArrington

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not depend on your own understanding. In all your ways obey him. Then he will make your paths smooth and straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 NIRV.

I sat in the church parking lot with a tithe envelope in one hand and my check book in the other. The finance office was about to close. Tomorrow heralded a new year. My head and heart were at war—should I write a check for the amount necessary to complete our tithe for the year, wiping out checking account in the process?

I closed my eyes. Father, I’m sorry we’ve been unfaithful. We’ve let other things take priority.

My mind drifted to unexpected out-of-pocket medical expenses, car repairs, college tuition, an expensive vacation, and purchased items we didn’t really need. Invariably, the tithe check was written last. Overwhelmed by an honest evaluation, my tears flowed.

Trust me, whispered God.

I took a pen from my purse and wrote a check for the full balance of our checking account, sealed the envelope, opened the car door against the whipping wind, and made my way across the parking lot and into the church. Although I knew I was doing the right thing, nagging doubts plagued me. How would we function until our next check arrived?

Pulling in the driveway at home, I got out and opened the mailbox. As I sifted through the mail, a return address caught my attention—my publisher. I jumped back into the warm car and ripped the envelope open. Inside was a royalty check that was almost enough to cover our expenses until the next pay check. Thank you, God!

Further down in the stack was a package. Enclosed were two books in which I contributed stories almost three years before. I’d given up on ever receiving copies.

Once inside, I threw away the remnants of the package along with junk mail. But every time I walked by the trashcan, I felt uneasy. The feeling persisted. Finally, I fished the package out and looked inside. A folded piece of paper was wedged in a bottom corner. I took it out and gasped. It was a check for $200. Laughter spilled out of my mouth. Father, not only do you provide, but with such creativity. How could I ever have doubted you?

 Sometimes, it isn’t easy to let go and follow God’s directives, especially if they seem impractical or don’t make sense to us. When God told Joseph in a dream to flee to Egypt with Mary and Jesus and stay there until it was safe to return, Joseph immediately obeyed. He didn’t wait until morning. Matthew 2:14 says that Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and left for Egypt that night. Joseph’s unquestioning obedience saved Jesus’ life.

 Human nature inclines us to hold on, tightfisted, to things within our grasp, delaying our immediate steps of obedience, fearing what lies ahead. Faith whispers, trust God and let go.

He knows what He is doing. We can trust Him to be faithful. As Paul wrote in gratitude to the Philippians’ sacrificial gift to him, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19 NASB).

TWEETABLE
Holding On or Letting Go – insight from @CandyArrington on @AriseDailydevo (Click to Tweet)

Candy ArringtonAbout the author: Candy Arrington has written hundreds of articles and devotionals, often on tough topics. Her books include AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B & H) and When Your Aging Parent Needs Care: Practical Help for This Season of Life (Harvest House). Candy is a native South Carolinian, who gains writing inspiration from historic architecture, vintage photographs, nature, and the application of Biblical principles to everyday life. Learn more about Candy at www.CandyArrington.com, where you can also read her blog, Forward Motion: Moving Beyond What Holds You Back.

Candy’s book, When Your Aging Parent Needs Care, is a help to those who face the special effort of caring for a parent. It provides support and direction to enable the caregiver to be spiritually, physically, and emotionally prepared for the day to day challenges they face.

Join the conversation: How has God provided for you in a time when you were out of resources?

 

Hope Makes All the Difference

by Julie Zine Coleman

When I was a little girl, our family of four bravely ventured out from Connecticut to visit relatives in Florida. We Zines weren’t big travelers, so this trip was a very big deal. It was July. We would drive for three days, stopping at hotels each night. Exciting times.

The first day didn’t go too badly. We drove as far as Washington, D.C., and took a quick tour of the sights. The second day: not so pleasant. Margie and I had already blown through the new toys our mom bought for the trip. We were tired of being in the car. My poor little sister got carsick—necessitating several emergency stops. And it was HOT. We were driving through a record heat wave with no air conditioning. By the time we hit South Carolina, every one of us was wilted and desperate to get out of that car.

Dad pulled into the first decent motel. No vacancy. That began a nightmarish hour of driving from hotel after hotel, to no avail. Finally, a kind hotel clerk called around and found us a place to stay. When we wearily pulled up to our lodging, we just about kissed the ground of its parking lot.

The next morning, Dad took a new tactic. Before we left he called ahead to the next stop and made a reservation. We traveled that day knowing that no matter what happened on the road, a cool swim in a hotel pool and a soft bed awaited us. It made all the difference in how we faced another day’s journey.

As believers, we know how the road we travel will end. One day we will stand before God’s throne, face to face with our precious Savior. It will be the day when our faith will become sight. There will be no more crying, no more sorrow.  We will finally begin to grasp how perfectly we have been loved. Our struggle with our sin nature will be behind us, as we will finally be like Jesus, totally transformed and complete. What a fabulous day that will be.

Knowing all that should impact how we conduct ourselves in the journey.

I wonder if that is why Peter called it a living hope (1 Peter 1:3). For it is not only a hope for our eternal future; this hope has tremendous implications for our lives in the here and now.

Knowing what ultimately lies ahead makes the trip through this life bearable. It supplies the light at the end of the tunnel which beckons us on to our glorious and final destination. Our name is written in the book of life (Rev 20:12), an eternal reservation, with all of the benefits an eternity with God will entail. And we can be sure that the God who planned and orchestrated it all is at present faithfully by our side as we run toward that finish line.

Author Frederick Buechner wrote that Christ’s “resurrection means the worst thing is never the last thing.” No matter what tragedy or failures befall us, no matter how difficult our life on earth is right now, we already how it ends. We can trust in our faithful God to move us toward a glorious future, even when things are looking grim.

Hope makes all the difference.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10: 23 NASB

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the author: Julie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Her award-winning book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Women, was published in 2013 by Thomas Nelson. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner Screen Shot 2017-12-22 at 2.39.03 PMfrom today’s comments. To enter our contest for Julie’s book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Women,  please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: How has your hope impacted your life in the here and now?