Death’s Sting—Death’s Victory

by Candy Arrington

And, when we are all redressed with bodies that do not, cannot decay, when we put immortality over our mortal frames, then it will be as Scripture says: Life everlasting has victoriously swallowed death. Hey, Death! What happened to your big win? Hey, Death! What happened to your sting? 1 Corinthians 15: 54-55 VOICE

Following a family weekend at the beach, we stopped on the way home to see my husband’s only living uncle and aunt. We hadn’t seen them since December of 2019 because of health issues and COVID precautions. At one point, I thought we should skip the visit. Our daughter and young grandson were with us, and our arrival at home would be late, but an internal urgency prompted both my husband and me to take the time to stop for a visit. I’m thankful we did.

The next day, a text message informed us my husband’s uncle was in the hospital. A massive blood clot had developed and was inoperable. Two days later, my husband’s uncle made phone calls to tell friends and family members goodbye. Those were hard calls, yet what a blessing to have the benefit of expressing love and thankfulness and to reminisce. A week later, this beloved uncle transitioned to his heavenly home.

Most of us don’t like to discuss death. It’s a subject we avoid because it places us face-to-face with our mortality. Yet, for those who have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, death is sweet release for the cares, concerns, pain, and hardships of this world. Still, death is difficult, even for Christians.

A family member once said, “I don’t fear what comes after death. I know I’ll be with Jesus. What I fear is the process of death.” His comment was reasonable and normal. Our human perspective often involves fear, even for the most committed believer.

How, then, do we look beyond fear and uncertainty and see the positive aspects of death?

Jesus provided a glimpse of the life to come. In John 14:1-3, Jesus encouraged us not to be troubled by death, and gave the assurance of preparing a place for us in his Father’s house of many rooms. As the daughter of a builder father, I identify with and take comfort in these verses.

The apostle Paul also addressed death in Scripture, instructing believers to take courage and to realize that when we are away from our earthly bodies, we will be with the Lord. So he urges us to walk by faith and be assured of our eternal home in heaven.

Are you frightened by death? Don’t be. Jesus has already claimed victory over death and secured a place in our heavenly home.

We know that our body—the tent we live in here on earth—will be destroyed. But when that happens, God will have a house for us. It will not be a house made by human hands, instead, it will be a home in heaven that will last forever. 2 Corinthians 5: 1-2 NCV

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

About the author: Candy Arrington has written hundreds of articles and devotionals on faith, personal growth, and moving through and beyond difficult life circumstances. Her books include: Life On Pause: Learning to Wait Well (Bold Vision Books),  When Your Aging Parent Needs Care: Practical Help for This Season of Life (Harvest House), and AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B & H Publishing Group). 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 new book, Life on Pause: Learning to Wait Wellprovides insights on learning from and growing through a time of waiting.

Join the conversation: What about death particularly scares you?

Why Isn’t God Answering My Prayer?

by Cindi McMenamin

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 CSB

Are you wondering why God isn’t answering a particular prayer of yours? Maybe He seems silent and you’re wondering why you should pray at all – especially if God doesn’t appear to be doing anything about it.

Oh, how we hate the silence of God. And yet, God does some of His best work in the quiet.

It’s easy to get the idea that because we pray, God is obligated to answer. Yes, God is good. Yes, He is loving. But He also promises to work all things for our good, when we love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Sometimes our waiting – and unanswered prayer — ends up making us more dependent upon God, like His Son, Jesus. And when we become more like Jesus, God is working our situation for our eternal good (Romans 8:29).

 God is also eternal, meaning His idea of time is different than yours and mine. God may choose to wait a whopping 10-20 years to give you something you’re asking for. For you and me, that seems like an eternity. To God, it is just a moment in time. And yet, His timing for your life and mind is perfect (Deuteronomy 32:4).

Sometimes, God’s work is in the eternal realm where we can’t see it. Proverbs gives us good advice when we can’t see what God is doing: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5 CSB). Trust that what He does in the silence is in the scope of the billions of consequences and details that He is ever aware of and that you may never be able to see this side of heaven.

Sometimes God’s refusal to answer your prayer is His way of keeping you close by…still asking, still waiting, still relying on Him. Show God that He can trust you to be faithful even in the silence. Even in the uncertainty. Even in the dark.

Psalm 84:11 tells us, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield. The Lord grants favor and honor;
he does not withhold the good from those who live with integrity” (CSB). That promise of God assures us that if we are living with integrity and God doesn’t appear to be granting our request, it either isn’t good for us or it isn’t time. Trust Him with the silence. 

When God Sees Your Tears: He Knows You, He Hears You, He Sees You by [Cindi McMenamin]

About the author: Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker, Bible teacher, and the author of 17 books. For more on drawing closer to God during disappointment, see her books, When God Sees Your Tears, God’s Whispers to a Woman’s Heart, and Letting God Meet Your Emotional Needs. You can find out more about Cindi’s speaking ministry, coaching services for writers, and resources to help you grow in your walk with God, your marriage, and your parenting at www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Join the conversation: Have you experienced an answer to prayer after a long wait? Were you able to see God’s goodness in His timing?

Dancing with Expectation

by Janet Perez Eckles

Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you With My righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 NIV

I kissed hubby good-bye. And with white cane in hand, I turned to the clerk behind the airport counter. “I’ll be traveling alone,” I said.

Traveling is one of my favorite things to do. But this time, I wasn’t heading to a speaking engagement or to visit a friend. Instead, with anticipation for adventure, I headed to a Christian writer’s conference.

And the first day, while planning to attend events, workshops and networking sessions, one challenge continued to creep up: unable to see my surroundings, how would I maneuver from session to session in that large hotel?

In the private room of my heart, a little worry tried to come in. But God’s Word in Psalm 119:105 silenced that. “My Word will be a lamp to your feet, and a light unto your path” (NIV). How sweet those words. And how reassuring that promise. I didn’t have to know how He would lead. I just knew He would.

His timing would be precise, and His ways perfect.

At the end of a session, I grabbed my white cane, and from nowhere, I heard a sweet voice. “Janet, can I help you get to the next class?” I beamed with gratitude. No matter where I was, that same angelic offer from Lisa, a friend—an angel—came at the precise moment.

During conferences of life, the treasures are often brought about by challenges and even trials. That’s right, adversity was what opened my eyes to see what compassion looks like. Tough moments gave me a glimpse of the features that describe kindness. And moments of uncertainty revealed the certainty of God’s provision.

When my life had been undisturbed by trials, I’d been blind to the beauty of God’s love. To the goodness that often has wings. And sadly, I’ve been deaf to God’s voice that whispers the way.

All that changed. With a new tone of gratitude shining in my soul, and a spirit of thanksgiving swirling in my heart, confidence trickles in. Reassurance repeats: God goes before us, guiding, showing and protecting.

When using the white cane to navigate through life, we might lose our direction. Heartache might jar our senses. Disappointment might bring gloom. And financial crisis might darken our days. But God will send an angel to nudge us and point to His Word: “Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you With My righteous right hand” Isaiah 41:10 (NIV).

The certainty of His word gives a new meaning to each morning. Puts a new song into my days. And with thanksgiving painting my world, I dance with expectation in my soul.

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

TWEETABLE
Dancing with Expectation – encouragement from Janet Perez Eckles on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

janet perez eckles

About the author: Janet Perez Eckles is an international speaker, author and founder of J.C. Empowerment Ministries. Through her books and conference messages, she empowers thousands to overcome fear, conquer worry and live triumphantly.

Janet’s book,  Hola, Happiness: Finding Joy by Dancing to the Melody of God’s Word is a brief Bible study to nudge you to the next level of triumph and joy. It is packed with deep reflections and answers from God’s Word. No matter what you face–disappointment, fear, heartache, shame, insecurity, sorrow–you will say “Hola” to happiness, peace, and the joy for which God created you.

Join the conversation: Is there someone in your life who has expressed love through their service?

Taking Heart in the Heartache

by Beth Duewel and Debb Hackett 
@DuewelBeth
@debb_hackett

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33 NIV

Debb: My family is in a season of uncertainty as my husband’s current role in the military comes to an end, and we wait to see where we’ll go next. After years in our present location, it’s hard to start living through the ‘last time we’ll do this, go there, see them’ moments, especially as we don’t have anything to run toward yet. I look around at the families who are rooted in this community we have loved and think how different their predictable lives seem to ours.

I acknowledge this is solidly a first world problem. We aren’t in danger, hungry, or homeless, and we have no major health concerns. But each day, the not-knowing gets a little harder. I don’t want to waste these last few months in this mood.

Beth: I get this! When my daughter was first diagnosed with a brain tumor, I found myself living in the space of “She may never graduate, drive a car…” It was a crowded place to dwell, and I must have been some kind of delirious to worry about such temporary things. The not-knowing kept me anxious. Moody. Makeup-less. Then one day her neurologist said, “You may want to at least try to look optimistic, because we really don’t want to make her think she is not going to be okay.”

That’s the thing: Jesus didn’t put on a face and pretend it was going to be okay, but assured that we can expect peace even though it’s not. Just imagine, in the early chapters of John, Jesus tells the disciples what will happen. He will go away. They will suffer. But, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace” (John 16:33 NIV). He knew that in His absence their tired hearts could know the home of His presence.  

Deb: So Beth, how do we do it? Even in the short time of writing this, we’ve seen our lives change. A lot of those ‘lasts’ have been taken away. How do we find peace and take heart in heartache? Even as streets and grocery store shelves are eerily empty, when schools and playgrounds are closed and everything, even church, looks different? When so much we knew in life has shifted? No one’s shooting, but the military folks I know agree we are at war.

Beth: Just like any battle, the not knowing is the hardest. Eventually, we exhaust ourselves. We have somewhere to run to though, a destination, a home even. Because Jesus says this in verse 32, “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me” (John 16:32 NIV).

The thought of Jesus abruptly leaving had to have been a frightening thought for His disciples. The anxious worry of being scattered to their own homes, of being truly alone, would have been a shock after the security of traveling together for three years.

We now know this was one of the last conversations between Jesus and His disciples. Although Jesus knew what waited ahead—trouble then triumph—He offered harmony in the middle of both. His promises give comfort a voice. I am not alone. In me you will have peace. I have overcome the world. These truths, re-read after a makeup-streaked day of work in the ER, tell me it’s going to be all right. This connection is vital to our fierce, soul-filled peace. Life may shift and change, but we can expect the best because “…my Father is with me.”  

Debb: And that’s how we make it through whatever life throws at us—uncertainty, fear, anxiety, illness, or heartbreak. My family has always known and lived the trouble, but now more than ever, we need to claim the promise: we can take heart because Jesus has been to each of those hard, emotional places before us, and we know that in the end, The Story concludes in victory. He wins. And so do we.

TWEETABLE
Taking Heart in the Heartache – an encouraging conversation between @DuewelBeth and @Debb_Hackett on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

beth duewel (2)
fix her upper reclaim your happy space

About the authors: Beth Duewel is a writer, speaker, and blogger at Fix-Her-Upper.com. She has three almost adulting children, and lives with her husband in Ashland, Ohio. Beth and her coauthor, Rhonda Rhea, are super excited about their new book,  Fix Her Upper: Reclaim Your Happy Space.

Writer, broadcaster, and speaker Debb Hackett  has been a radio journalist for more than twenty years. Married to a test pilot, Debb writes for military wives and lives just outside Washington D.C. with her husband and children. She’s having lots of fun working on an inspirational contemporary romance series. When she’s not writing, Debb can be found leading worship, playing bass, or skiing. Also, if you can swing by her house while she’s making scones, that would be a win. She blogs at: http://debbhackett.com

Join the conversation: How does knowing the end of the story help you live in the here and now?

 

Listening for His Song

by Cindi McMenamin

Alice remembers the day she felt desperately alone. But only for a while. She lay on the cold exam table as she was moved into the tube-like chamber. She was undergoing an MRI of her brain to determine why she was experiencing headaches.

“Other people told me about the experience, but nothing really prepares you for it,” Alice told me a few days after the procedure.  At first she kept her eyes open when the hood enclosed her. But then she realized she needed to close her eyes and think about something else.

All sorts of sounds were occurring. A crashing sound, some pinging. As she closed her eyes and tried to relax she put the sounds together and made a song. “I pictured the sounds as notes to a song, rising up and going down,” Alice said. “I created in my mind a little symphony with the sounds, trying to picture the notes as they happened.”

Alice was creating a symphony of praise in the middle of uncertainty. Oh, how that helps when we’re anxious or fearful.

From the time my daughter could talk, I taught her to sing about whatever she was experiencing. If she was hungry, we’d sing about it. If she was excited or if she was bored at having to wait for something, we would come up with a song. Often it was the same tune and we just created new words. This kept her focused not on her situation, but on the song. It was a way of distracting her from worry or uncertainty and causing her to keep a song – and some joy – in her heart.

That must be what God is doing in our lives when He gives us songs. He’s distracting us from our distress.  Like a loving Heavenly Father, God turns our hearts away from worry by tuning us into a song.

In Psalm 40, David sang of waiting in a pit for God’s deliverance. When God pulled him out of the sinking mud and set him on solid ground, David says that God put a new song in his mouth. God not only gives us songs of praise after our victories but songs of surrender while we’re still in the pit!

Are you in a place of uncertainty today? Whether you’re on an exam table, in a hospital waiting room, alone in an unfamiliar place, or waiting in what feels like a pit, He can fill you with His songs. Let Him help you pull together the sounds and situations of your life into a symphony of praise to Him.

“He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God…” (Psalm 40:3a).

Lord, when I feel anxious, afraid, lonely, or depressed, fill my heart with a song of praise to You.

About the authorView More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindi: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 16 books including When Women Walk Alone (more than 130,000 copies sold), God’s Whispers to a Woman’s Heart, Drama Free and When God Sees Your Tears. For more on her books and ministry, or to learn more about her coaching services for writers, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Join the conversation: What songs bring you the most comfort in uncertainty?

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash