WEPT

by Susie Crosby

verb: shed tears, cried silently

“Jesus wept.” John 11:35 ESV

This is the famous verse: the shortest one in the Bible. The one that connects us to Jesus through the extremely painful emotion of sadness.

This is the verse that reminds us of how very human Jesus was.

He felt heartbreak.

He knew deep loss.

He experienced the raw ache of grief.

He shed real tears.

This verse is a surprising sentence in middle of the miracle story of Jesus raising Lazarus to life after four days in the tomb. To see Jesus cry must have significantly affected (and possibly confused) the disciples, the crowd, and especially Mary and Martha as they were mourning their brother. I think if I had been there, I would have been a little shocked and probably scared.

Because a lot of people in my life (including me) don’t cry very often. If our eyes well up or our voices crack with emotion, something really, really tough must be going on. Hurt and disappointment happens just as often to people like us, but for many different reasons, our tears get stifled or suppressed.

But Jesus wasn’t holding back. He wasn’t going to act like this wasn’t as difficult as it was. Mary and Martha and the others who were weeping must have felt so cared for. Not only was this their wise, strong friend unashamedly letting his tears fall, but this was Jesus–the One they believed to be the Son of God–grieving with them.

Even though Jesus knew that, in a matter of minutes, he was going to raise their dead brother back to life, he didn’t rush ahead or dismiss their feelings. He paused for a moment to just be with them. The Master, the Teacher, the One everyone was talking about had stopped to share in their pain, and he had actually started to cry.

The night that my Mom was dying was dark and awful.

Even though we knew she was going to be relieved of her sickness,

even though she was going to be with Jesus,

even though we can look forward to spending eternity in Heaven with her, we were devastated.

And we were going to feel terribly sad for a long, long time.

Jesus didn’t rush us past the pain. Instead, he came closer to us that night in the agony of losing her. He felt our pain, too, as we said goodbye until Heaven. He tended our hearts as we started to navigate life without her over the course of the next few years. And he faithfully, compassionately sits with us when the tears still come.

Whether we cry easily or not, we can be encouraged to know that Jesus wept too. I might even dare to suggest that this wasn’t the only time he cried while he walked on the earth. Even though we wish sometimes that he would just rush us through to the “feel better” place, we can be strengthened and comforted by his constant presence and understanding love.

It is okay to sit and cry with Jesus. Yes, he can bring life from death, good from evil, beauty from ashes, and joy from mourning. But in the painful in-between, let him hold your grieving heart. He’s got tears in his eyes, too.

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

susie crosby

About the author: Susie is a grateful mom of two (almost) grown boys who currently live and go to school in Honolulu, Hawaii. She and her husband live in a seaside town in the Puget Sound region called Mukilteo. They love to hike and kayak, they are huge Seattle sports fans, and they mostly love hanging out at home with their little dog Koko. Susie teaches P.E., Art, Technology, and Music at an all-kindergarten school which keeps her busy full time. Her passion and joy is sharing encouraging words with the people she loves. She is an active blogger and speaker, and she is the author of Just One Word: 90 Devotions to Invite Jesus In. She is always on the lookout for fun coffee shops, inspiring books, remote beaches, and farmers’ markets. Connect with Susie at www.susiecrosby.com.

Join the conversation: How does knowing God grieves with you make a difference in how you view Him?

COMPASSION

by Susie Crosby

noun: sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it

 Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. Isaiah 30:18 NIV

 My friend posted a picture of her four-year-old daughter on the drive home from their vacation. Her eyes were wide with fear and her smile was gone. Her red, tear-stained cheeks caught my heart.

“Poor Annie,” the post read. “She is not a fan of driving over mountain passes.”

Neither am I, Annie. Neither am I.

I was just about to the top of a mountain pass when I experienced my first panic attack. I was driving my family and suddenly had to pull off the road–dizzy, sweating, and breathless. As my husband and I switched places, I collapsed into sobs and self-condemnation.

 What was wrong with me?

I had been a brave and confident driver for years. I enjoyed being behind the wheel and going on adventures with my family. So when this irrational fear overpowered me, so did self-criticism. I felt defeated, worthless, and weak.

But when I look at this photo of Annie suffering through this terrifying trip over the mountain pass, I notice something important. Nobody is mad at Annie in this photo. Why would they be? She wasn’t doing anything wrong. Whether her fear was justified or reasonable didn’t matter. She was scared, and she needed compassion. That’s all.

The compassion is evident in the photo and in the post written by Annie’s mom. As her little heart was in the grip of fear, it was clear that she was being completely cared for. Her little body was buckled securely into her car seat. Her dad appeared to be an alert and experienced driver.

And the best part? Her mom was reaching back, tightly and lovingly holding Annie’s tiny hand in hers–for almost an hour.

Caring, not criticizing. Loving, not judging.

When we feel afraid or ashamed, we can remember that God is the great giver of compassion. Not only does he buckle us in safely and take the wheel, but he will hold our hand as long as we need him to.

He longs to be gracious to us.

He rises up to show us compassion, even when we cannot show it to ourselves.

When fear and condemnation take over, we can remember these words of Jesus. He understands our weaknesses and our constant need for reassurance. Let’s put our hands in his and let him hold us through the mountain passes of life.  He is right there with us every step, every mile of the way.

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

susie crosby

About the author: Susie is a grateful mom of two (almost) grown boys who currently live and go to school in Honolulu, Hawaii. She and her husband live in a seaside town in the Puget Sound region called Mukilteo. They love to hike and kayak, they are huge Seattle sports fans, and they mostly love hanging out at home with their little dog Koko. Susie teaches P.E., Art, Technology, and Music at an all-kindergarten school which keeps her busy full time. Her passion and joy is sharing encouraging words with the people she loves. She is an active blogger and speaker, and she is the author of Just One Word: 90 Devotions to Invite Jesus In. She is always on the lookout for fun coffee shops, inspiring books, remote beaches, and farmers’ markets. Connect with Susie at www.susiecrosby.com.

Join the conversation: In what regard do you need God’s compassion?

IDEA

by Susie Crosby

noun: something imagined or pictured in the mind; a plan for action 

“We can only keep going, after all, by the power of God, who first saved us and then called us to this holy work. We had nothing to do with it. It was all his idea…” 2 Timothy 1:8-9 MSG

God has so many wonderful ideas. Billions and billions of them–each one unique and intricate and miraculous.

Life was his idea.

Every living thing comes from him.  He imagined stars, oceans, continents, gardens, fish, birds, insects, and mammals. He created babies to grow inside of their mothers and be born. He made music, poetry, friendship, laughter, campfires, and homemade pie.

And he designed the flowers.

As I write this, life is beginning on some shelves in our basement. In some old clay pots, tiny shoots of green are poking up through dark, moist soil. Within weeks, delicate buds will appear and burst open into brilliant purple blossoms.

How does he do this?

What happens inside these dry, dirty, odd-looking bulbs that causes them to grow up and out of the soil, radiating beauty and fragrance? And how did he make my brain to appreciate the scents and sights and comforts of brilliant hyacinths blooming in the warm sun?

New life was also his idea.

It was His idea that we could be born again. His idea that all the wrong we’ve done, the hurtful things we’ve thought and said, and the selfish choices we have made could be redeemed.

His idea that we could start over with him.

When do we ever get to do that? Start over completely? As human beings, we try to forgive and even forget, but things from the past lodge firmly in our hearts and minds. We hold things against each other and against ourselves–judging unfairly and restricting freedom.

But God takes our dry, dirty, odd-looking souls and plants us in his nourishing, grace-filled soil. Somewhere in the deepest, darkest places, he does his creation miracle, part two.

He makes us brand new.

The hyacinths that spark the hope and joy of the coming spring were created by God for a beautiful purpose. And so were we. God’s idea for us is to embrace this new life filled with glorious calling and promise. We are not limited by what we have or have not done, by what we think we can or cannot do. He will be faithful to prepare and purify us for his holy work–and to accomplish the wonderful ideas he has for us. We can trust him to nurture us with righteousness and love as we begin to bloom and bring joy.

Thank God for every one of his ideas. Thank him for creating life and especially for creating new life. Ask him to show you how free and forgiven you are, and to grow you into your holy purpose day by day.

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

susie crosby

About the author: Susie is a grateful mom of two (almost) grown boys who currently live and go to school in Honolulu, Hawaii. She and her husband live in a seaside town in the Puget Sound region called Mukilteo. They love to hike and kayak, they are huge Seattle sports fans, and they mostly love hanging out at home with their little dog Koko. Susie teaches P.E., Art, Technology, and Music at an all-kindergarten school which keeps her busy full time. Her passion and joy is sharing encouraging words with the people she loves. She is an active blogger and speaker, and she is the author of Just One Word: 90 Devotions to Invite Jesus In. She is always on the lookout for fun coffee shops, inspiring books, remote beaches, and farmers’ markets. Connect with Susie at www.susiecrosby.com.

Join the conversation: What is spring revealing to you about God this year?

GRACE

by Susie Crosby

  noun: mercy, pardon, approval; special favor

Cry for help and you’ll find it’s grace and more grace. Isaiah 30:19 MSG

Grace is a hard concept for me. I need it so desperately. This undeserved favor, this washing away of my mistakes and failures, this loving welcome into the open arms of Jesus. This generous gift of God–pure and simple and free–is supposed to be anything but hard to receive, yet I can struggle with it.

I try to earn it. I try to understand it. I try to explain it. I ask why? Why does God give me this unconditional love when I don’t deserve it? And how? How can He possibly see me as innocent and clean despite my stains of selfishness and failure?

God teaches me over and over that I get his grace because of WHO HE IS… 

-not because of anything I do or don’t do

-not because of how loving or how critical my heart has felt

-not because of how well or how poorly I perform

-not because of how obedient or how self-serving my choices have been

And he reminds me that grace doesn’t have to be earned, understood, or explained by me.30:19

It is free, undeserved. A gift.

Ahhh. But I don’t do well with those. If someone gives me something, I have a hard time accepting it. I scramble. Something in return–quick! A gift for them, a note of thanks, a favor. I can barely handle it. But that isn’t why people give me gifts, is it? To make me run around and try to earn them?

It certainly isn’t the reason that God gives. The only thing God wants me to do with his precious grace is to humbly receive it. 

“When you come before me, whoever gave you the idea of acting like this, running here and there, doing this and that–All this sheer commotion in the place provided for worship?” Isaiah 1:12 MSG

But I feel like I should do something. Run here and there, strive hard, criticize myself…maybe these might make me feel like I could possibly earn it a little bit?

Nope. He reminds me again. That isn’t how grace is given. It is an absolutely free and completely undeserved gift from his loving, forgiving, good, and generous heart.  

All I can do is thank him.

All I can do is be still and accept this gift that he is offering without trying to pay him back.

All I can do is cry to him for help.

As I open my heart and trust His, He will do all the work. Grace will flow in overwhelming abundance. More and more will pour over me, around me, into me. So much grace, that all I can do is laugh (or cry) in relief and rest in this waterfall of love and joy and freedom.  

This is all he wants in return.

My heart…open to His.

Open your heart to His greater-than-expected gift of grace. Cry to Him for help as you struggle to receive it, to believe it. He is pouring out his forgiveness, His love, His joy to wash over you and draw you close. And He will keep it coming. More and more for the rest of your life.

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

susie crosby

About the author: Susie is a grateful mom of two (almost) grown boys who currently live and go to school in Honolulu, Hawaii. She and her husband live in a seaside town in the Puget Sound region called Mukilteo. They love to hike and kayak, they are huge Seattle sports fans, and they mostly love hanging out at home with their little dog Koko. Susie teaches P.E., Art, Technology, and Music at an all-kindergarten school which keeps her busy full time. Her passion and joy is sharing encouraging words with the people she loves. She is an active blogger and speaker, and she is the author of Just One Word: 90 Devotions to Invite Jesus In. She is always on the lookout for fun coffee shops, inspiring books, remote beaches, and farmers’ markets. Connect with Susie at www.susiecrosby.com.

Join the conversation: Do you struggle with grace?

Blessed

by Susie Crosby

adj: enjoying happiness; favored, privileged, fortunate

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope…” Matthew 5:3 MSG

Religious-sounding words make me cringe sometimes. Maybe it’s because they get overused, or can seem insincere. Or maybe it’s because I haven’t understood their true meaning.

Blessed has been one of these awkward words for me.

“Bless you.”

“God bless.”

“Blessings!”

Everything in me feels weird when I say or hear or read words like this. I can’t help it.

Years ago, I impulsively bought a beautifully framed wooded sign that states: “We are so blessed.” It fits beautifully above our dining room mirror and works with the decor. But I can’t look at it without an uncomfortable feeling–wondering if it comes across as prideful or self-righteous or possibly inauthentic to people who visit.

But Jesus said, Blessed.” Many times, in the Beatitudes part of the Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew. The upside-down truths that He shared that day surprised the crowd and brought them to cheers. They make me want to know more about what Jesus meant when He used this word.

When Jesus spoke on that hillside, He said we are blessed when we’re at the end of our rope, blessed when we’ve lost what is most dear to us, blessed when we are humbled, blessed when we have worked up a good appetite for God, blessed when we care for others, blessed when our hearts are pure, blessed when we work for peace, and blessed when we are left out and lied about–mistreated for doing what is right.

When Jesus calls us blessed in the midst of suffering or working or trying to do good, it doesn’t sound contrived or fake. And it doesn’t sound like pride. It sounds like he’s giving us something we desperately need but cannot earn.

Beatitude: a feeling or state of well-being and contentment; blissfulness, gladness, joy.

Blessed.

Maybe it means taken care of. Not simply happy or lucky, but attended to and held close by God Himself–our loving Father, by Jesus–our savior and friend, and by the Holy Spirit–our strength and comfort.

Every Sunday at the end of the church service, our pastor prays this blessing over us that God gave Moses and Aaron to bless the Israelites:

The Lord bless you and keep you;

The Lord make his face shine on you

And be gracious to you;

The Lord turn his face toward you

And give you peace.

Numbers 6:24-26 NIV

If it means that God will keep us, make his face shine on us, be gracious to us, turn his attention to us, and give us his peace; then maybe “bless you,” isn’t such an awkward thing to say after all.

Sit with Jesus on your own hillside for a moment. If you are at the end of your rope, look into His eyes. Invite Him in. Let Him bless you with His attention, His peace, His strength, and His grace for the struggle you face. He sees you, He knows you, and He will honor and take precious care of your heart for Him.

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

susie crosby

About the author: Susie is a grateful mom of two (almost) grown boys who currently live and go to school in Honolulu, Hawaii. She and her husband live in a seaside town in the Puget Sound region called Mukilteo. They love to hike and kayak, they are huge Seattle sports fans, and they mostly love hanging out at home with their little dog Koko. Susie teaches P.E., Art, Technology, and Music at an all-kindergarten school which keeps her busy full time. Her passion and joy is sharing encouraging words with the people she loves. She is an active blogger and speaker, and she is the author of Just One Word: 90 Devotions to Invite Jesus In. She is always on the lookout for fun coffee shops, inspiring books, remote beaches, and farmers’ markets. Connect with Susie at www.susiecrosby.com.

Join the conversation: How has God blessed you recently?

Assured

by Susie Crosby

adj: very confident; sure that something is certain or true

“I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”  John 16:33 MSG

We can’t be sure about much of anything right now. Many of the things we have always been able to count on are no longer certain. Plans are on hold, and we are realizing that even some of our most cherished traditions may never be the same.

Not only are we disappointed, we are weary, and we are worried. Even those of us who have placed our faith in Jesus­–we who know that life ends well for us–are struggling with the circumstances in which we find ourselves.

I catch myself occasionally drifting toward despair as my anxiety causes me to doubt the sovereignty of God. My heart needs to be assured and reassured. Often.

God, are you really in control?

Do you see this mess we’re in?

Do you hear us praying and crying out to you?

Are you ever going to answer?

It’s okay to ask him that. But then we have to be willing to devote some energy and time to looking and listening for reminders of his faithfulness.

We will find them in unique places. Maybe in a precious photo, a nature walk, a favorite song, or a conversation with a friend. For me, some answers were discovered in 20 years of prayer journals piled in a box on my bedroom floor.

As I poured through page after page, journal after journal, I started making a list. There were so many prayers, long forgotten, that God had been faithful to answer. Prayers for big things, and small things, for people, and for material things. There were times when I had asked him to heal someone I loved, to soften hearts, to help us figure out finances, to lead us to a church, to guide us in tough decisions, and to draw our family closer to him.

There were surprises in these journals, too. I found answers to prayers I hadn’t even voiced. I realized as I flipped through the pages that several of the gifts God had given me were things that he knew I needed, but I didn’t know I did.  Often it was a person he brought into my life to show me more of his love for me. These unspoken prayers were answered simply because of his goodness and his commitment to take care of his children.

There were also answers that looked very different than what I thought they should look like. I still don’t understand God’s plan in some of these, but I do know that someday he will show me how he has worked everything together for his good and his glory.

Can we trust him? Can we believe what Jesus said as he went to be with our Father in Heaven? These last words he spoke to us were meant for us to hold onto during times like these. He knows what is happening in our country, in our workplaces, in our homes, and in our hearts. And here he reminds us that we can be unshakable and deeply at peace; because he has conquered it all.

As the year winds down to its end, look and listen to the God who loves you more than you can comprehend. Let him remind you that he has never once ignored your prayers or left you alone. You can be assured that greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.

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

susie crosby

About the author: Susie is a grateful mom of two (almost) grown boys who currently live and go to school in Honolulu, Hawaii. She and her husband live in a seaside town in the Puget Sound region called Mukilteo. They love to hike and kayak, they are huge Seattle sports fans, and they mostly love hanging out at home with their little dog Koko. Susie teaches P.E., Art, Technology, and Music at an all-kindergarten school which keeps her busy full time. Her passion and joy is sharing encouraging words with the people she loves. She is an active blogger and speaker, and she is the author of Just One Word: 90 Devotions to Invite Jesus In. She is always on the lookout for fun coffee shops, inspiring books, remote beaches, and farmers’ markets. Connect with Susie at www.susiecrosby.com.

Join the conversation: Do you have trouble in trusting God?

CALM

by Susie Crosby

Calm adj: free from emotional or mental agitation; tranquil

Your God is present among you, a strong Warrior there to save you. Happy to have you back, he’ll calm you with his love and delight you with his songs.  Zephaniah 3:17 MSG

It sounds so nice, doesn’t it? Free from agitation. Tranquil. Calm.

When do we get to feel like that? It seems like we are busy, worried, and stressed so much of the time. Even when we finally get a chance to relax with a quiet day or a vacation, our minds keep churning.

This is when we need to remember where our peace comes from. Let’s get away with Jesus and unpack this verse.

God is present.

He is fighting to save us.

He is happy to have us back.

He will calm us with his love.

Let’s take a deep breath and soak in these truths.

Present.  He is permanently here. He is not only right beside us, but he is actually inside our hearts. We can’t get away from him even if we bury our heads under our blankets and hide. He is sticking with us, committed with all of his heart, and he isn’t going anywhere. 

A strong warrior. He is actively fighting. He’s a mighty warrior who is on our side. He is infinitely powerful and determined to save us. He is more than able to take charge of the battles we are facing, and he will win.

Happy to have us back. He is truly delighted. This is what he created us to do–to simply be with him. He loves just hanging out with us. We don’t have to work hard to enjoy his presence. All we have to do is open our hearts and minds to what he has for us.

He calms us.  He meets our deepest needs. Not with advice, not with reminders, not with suggestions, but with true compassion. He wraps us up in his loving arms, he sings over us, he looks at us with his warm, caring eyes and reassures us of his love.

The peace that Jesus covers us with is rich with tenderness and strength. He can gently sing over us and valiantly fight for us at the same time–revealing his never-ending love that conquers all.

Invite him in: His delight in you is genuine. He is with you right now, keeping you protected and close to him. Rest calmly in his arms–even in the heat of the battle–and you might even begin to hear him singing. He’s got you.

Dear Jesus, can I just sit with you for a moment? Thank you that you are smiling as I come into your presence. You are fighting for me, and I can trust you to take care of every single thing that worries me right now.  Thank you for your calm and powerful spirit of love. Amen.

TWEETABLE
Calm – encouragement & insight from Susie Crosby on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

susie crosby

About the author: Susie is a grateful mom of two (almost) grown boys who currently live and go to school in Honolulu, Hawaii. She and her husband live in a seaside town in the Puget Sound region called Mukilteo. They love to hike and kayak, they are huge Seattle sports fans, and they mostly love hanging out at home with their little dog Koko. Susie teaches P.E., Art, Technology, and Music at an all-kindergarten school which keeps her busy full time. Her passion and joy is sharing encouraging words with the people she loves. She is an active blogger and speaker, and she is the author of Just One Word: 90 Devotions to Invite Jesus In. She is always on the lookout for fun coffee shops, inspiring books, remote beaches, and farmers’ markets. Connect with Susie at www.susiecrosby.com.

Join the conversation: Which truth about God brings you the most peace this morning?

He Ran

by Susie Crosby

ran (verb): moved in a faster way than walking; went rapidly or hurriedly, rushed

“When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him.”  Luke 15:20 MSG

When we read the story of the prodigal son, most of us can relate to one brother or the other: the younger one who didn’t play by the rules or the older one who dutifully and responsibly stayed to work the family estate. One defiant and disrespectful, the other resentful and proud. Both self-serving, like all of us are a lot of the time.

But no matter with which son we can identify, we can be so incredibly grateful that we have the same kind of Father that they did.

He was:

A father that looked often for his wayward son. I imagine that several times a day he would go to a place on his property where he could see the farthest and scour the landscape…just in case. Watching for any sign of him, waiting hopefully, never giving up.

A father that saw his son coming home when he was still a “long way off” and ran to him.  With a pounding heart, absolute joy, and complete forgiveness, this ecstatic father ran to meet his son. He didn’t stand there with arms crossed, waiting for an apology. He didn’t list all the ways his son had hurt him and caused him grief. He just ran and practically tackled him–hugging and kissing him as he welcomed him home.

A father that wrapped his filthy, stinky son in the finest robe, placed a ring on his finger, and had a generous celebration feast prepared in his honor. A father who held nothing back, as he instantly restored his son to his place in the family.

A father that tended to the stinging heart of his other son, too. He made sure his faithful older son knew he was understood, appreciated, still so important to him. And he reassured him that all the celebrating of his brother’s return would take nothing away from the relationship that they shared.

This is the kind of Father we have. No matter what kind of kid we are. This is how deeply our God cares about us too, how well he knows us, how quick he is to forgive, and how extravagant he is in his love toward us.

Charles Spurgeon describes God showing this kind of love: “God comes flying in the greatness of His compassion to help every poor penitent soul.”

I love that. God comes flying. He runs to us. No matter where we have been, what we have done, how hurtful our choices have been. He is slow to anger, abounding in love.

Invite him in: Do you want to go home? Do you want to be restored to the God who loves you more than you can ever imagine? He sees you, and he is running toward you. Don’t let shame or fear or doubt or pride get in the way of the overwhelming, all-consuming, grace-filled hug that is coming your way.

Dear Jesus, we believe that your arms are open to us no matter what. Thank you that it doesn’t take you any time at all to welcome us home. Amen.

TWEETABLE
He Ran – encouragement and insight from Susie Crosby on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

susie crosbyAbout the author: Susie is a grateful mom of two (almost) grown boys who currently live and go to school in Honolulu, Hawaii. She and her husband live in a seaside town in the Puget Sound region called Mukilteo. They love to hike and kayak, they are huge Seattle sports fans, and they mostly love hanging out at home with their little dog Koko. Susie teaches P.E., Art, Technology, and Music at an all-kindergarten school which keeps her busy full time. Her passion and joy is sharing encouraging words with the people she loves. She is an active blogger and speaker, and she is the author of Just One Word: 90 Devotions to Invite Jesus In. She is always on the lookout for fun coffee shops, inspiring books, remote beaches, and farmers’ markets. Connect with Susie at www.susiecrosby.com.

Join the conversation: With which son do you resonate the most?

Who Knows

 by Susie Crosby 

“…Who knows? Maybe you were made for such a time as this.”  Esther 4:14 MSG

 Who knows?

I guess nobody does.

Right now, in the middle of a global pandemic, there is overwhelming uncertainty. I have so many questions, and I keep looking for answers from government leaders and scientists and doctors. I watch the news and search on my phone, but no one can tell me for sure if school will open in the fall, if the groceries I pick up at the store are safe, how long I have to stay 6 feet away from everyone, and if the people I love are going to be okay.

But then I remember that God knows. God knows every single thing. He knew this was going to happen, He knows how our lives have changed, He knows what it’s going to look like on the other side.

People keep saying this is “unprecedented.” On a huge scale, yes, it is. But if we think about it, we experience unprecedented things in our lives all the time.

The first time we live independently and earn our own money.

The first time a disease or injury affects our family in life-altering ways.

The first time we experience loss.

The first time we create or grow or try something new.

The first time our life takes a turn that wasn’t planned.

The first time we fail publicly and have to figure out how to come back.

The first time we step out in faith and trust our hearts to Jesus.

We grieve, we delight, and we grow profoundly through the “firsts”.

The book of Esther is the story of a brave and thoughtful Jewish woman who found herself experiencing one of these “firsts”.  For a Jewish woman–especially an orphaned, captive Jewish woman like Esther– to become Queen was completely unprecedented. I imagine that being part of a king’s harem and living in a palace together with all of his concubines was not what Esther had expected her life would look like. And risking her life to save her people by standing up to the king was not something she would have ever dreamed of doing.

But in chapter 4 of her story, we find her in this unexpected situation. She is experiencing something that she really can’t control, and she doesn’t know whether it will end well or not.

Sound familiar?

At the crisis point, her father-figure Mordecai encourages her by saying, “…Who knows? Maybe you were made for such a time as this.”

Esther dared to believe that God’s plan included her. She prayed and fasted for three days before approaching the king on behalf of her people. And God honored her faith and her bravery. Through a series of surprising and unpredictable events, King Xerxes reversed the death sentence he had ordered against the Jews and gave them freedom and power over their enemies.

We can’t possibly imagine what amazing things God is growing and changing and working in the midst of this pandemic. We don’t think the way He thinks or work the way he works, and we don’t always get to know His plans ahead of time.

But we do know that He loves us unconditionally, that He makes all things new, and that He works all things together for good. We know that He does unexpected and surprising work through unlikely people and unfamiliar circumstances all the time. And we know that He is listening to our prayers and holding us in His strong and gentle hands through such a time as this.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV

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Who Knows – encouragement on #FollowingGod from Susie Crosby on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

susie crosbyAbout the author: Susie is a grateful mom of two (almost) grown boys who currently live and go to school in Honolulu, Hawaii. She and her husband live in a seaside town in the Puget Sound region called Mukilteo. They love to hike and kayak, they are huge Seattle sports fans, and they mostly love hanging out at home with their little dog Koko. Susie teaches P.E., Art, Technology, and Music at an all-kindergarten school which keeps her busy full time. Her passion and joy is sharing encouraging words with the people she loves. She is an active blogger and speaker, and she is the author of Just One Word: 90 Devotions to Invite Jesus In. She is always on the lookout for fun coffee shops, inspiring books, remote beaches, and farmers’ markets. Connect with Susie at www.susiecrosby.com.

Join the conversation: How can you imagine God using you in such a time as this?