The Opportunity We Have Been Given

 

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Coronavirus has given us an opportunity.

You might question why I would say such a thing since it seems like coronavirus is taking things away from us. But when putting some thought into it, I can come up with a very lengthy list of things we have been given.  Here are a few:

Coronavirus has given us the opportunity to confront and remember our mortality. We often live day-to-day taking so much for granted, including the very breath we breathe. We now have an opportunity to take stock of what would happen if coronavirus was to come for us. Is each of us ready to stand before God? Have we accepted the atonement and forgiveness offered to us by Jesus’ death on the cross? This is an issue we need to settle now and not just wait until coronavirus comes to our community. Our lives can be over in an instant, this very day, for any reason. We need to be ready.

But there are other opportunities coronavirus has given us:

It has given us the opportunity to be grateful for the things we have—from basic essentials we can pick up at the store, to the freedoms we have to move around from place to place, to the relationships we have with one another.

It has given us the opportunity to pray: to pray for those who are sick and suffering with the virus even now; to pray for the families who are grieving the loss of their loved ones; to pray for the medical community, the scientific community, and those in leadership who have to make some difficult decisions.

And if we have been (or will be) put into quarantine with our families, we have the opportunity to savor this time with our loved ones—who will not always be within arm’s reach.

Coronavirus has given us an opportunity to think outside of ourselves: to remember that there are many who cannot even get to the store to pick up toilet paper—because they struggle with health issues every day, because they do not have the finances to do so, because they do not have the freedom to do so, because such a luxury does not exist in their world.

Coronavirus has given us an opportunity to take care of others: perhaps we can assist financially for those who are being impacted economically, perhaps we can make a run to the store for those who cannot, perhaps we can help with childcare for those impacted by school shutdowns. What is it that each of us can do? Because there is something we can do.

I hope we take advantage of this opportunity we have been given: to care for our eternal souls, our bodies, our perspectives, and the communities with which we are surrounded. May this opportunity not be wasted.

 

©Text and photo Francee Strain, March 12, 2020

The Rainy Season

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‘Tis the season—the season for rain.  But it is also the season for thanksgiving.  Rain can be destructive, but it can also bring beauty.  Rain can wipe away our chalk drawings, but it can also grow our roses.  Take a second look at your rainy season and find a reason to give thanks.

Thankful Thoughts (book excerpt)
We have most likely learned that although it may not be raining now, one day it will be. Even though we may be living in relative ease right now, we know to anticipate the “rain” of struggles. Part of being human is facing the difficult times that will be forthcoming someday. On the other hand, we may already be living in the “someday” and be in the midst of those struggles right now. Our lives may be in states of chaos, with one crisis after another, and we can barely think straight. How can we rest amid our suffering? How can we praise God anyway? One place to find answers is to look at the life of Job.

There was a way that Job was able to find peace and rest. He said, “In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind. … With him is wisdom and strength, he hath counsel and understanding” (Job 12:10, 13). Job’s burdens were lightened because he placed his trust in God’s character. When we meditate on who God is in relation to who we are, our thoughts will become peaceful as we recognize His sovereignty and omnipotence. When we read these verses and see that He has understanding, it can bring relief to our minds to know that at least He has things figured out even if we do not. God is wise and strong, and He has been around so much longer than we have. He knows how things work–He made them! If He created the earth and He created us, then He definitely knows what to do with our lives. Our minds can be calmed by understanding that He holds our lives in His hands and gives us every breath. So when the rains of life come, we can rest safely in His shelter, knowing He is going to bring growth from this downpour.

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Psalm 135:1-7 (NKJV)

1 Praise the Lord! Praise the name of the Lord; Praise Him, O you servants of the Lord!
2 You who stand in the house of the Lord, In the courts of the house of our God,
3 Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; Sing praises to His name, for it is pleasant.
4 For the Lord has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel for His special treasure.
5 For I know that the Lord is great, And our Lord is above all gods.
6 Whatever the Lord pleases He does, In heaven and in earth, In the seas and in all deep places.
7 He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; He makes lightning for the rain; He brings the wind out of His treasuries.

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Francee Strain, No Ordinary Invitation: Called to Live a Life of Eternal Purpose, (Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2017), 193.

Photo Credit: Francee Strain

Tranquil Thoughts

It is important to take time for reflection and gratitude, to think about who we are and why we are here. But we should not just stop to smell the roses—we should take time to think about them and their magnificent beauty. If we allow our thoughts to continue on to who created the roses, we will enter into thoughts of wonder and praise. Little coffee breaks for the mind, little time-outs, and little mental vacations will do much for us, because it is in these moments that we will meet Him there. Note the magnificence of His manifold works, which were made in His wisdom (see Pss. 104, 147). He made the sun, moon, and stars and calls them by name. He also made us and knows our names! He created the earth and everything in it. He maintains His creation for all of His creatures—on land, in the sea, and in the air. He is great and is clothed with honor and majesty. His glory endures forever. Truly, He is too wonderful to comprehend, but we should surely try!

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Francee Strain, No Ordinary Invitation: Called to Live a Life of Eternal Purpose, (Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2017), 189.

Photo by Francee Strain

Overwhelmed

Do you ever feel overwhelmed?  Too much to do? Too many places to go?  Too many people to see?  Too much laundry?  Too many dishes?  Too many pieces of paperwork to read?  Too much pain–inside and out?

Whew.  Sometimes life is just too much.  Overwhelmed is a state of being, and it is a state of emotion.  We can take the circumstances that surround us and internalize them. The “stuff” of life becomes the emotion of life.  And sometimes it is just too much.

Overwhelmed sums up my status.  It is my circumstances.  It is my emotions.  It is my reality.  But why?  What made it so?

Does it have to be this way?  Does it have to stay this way?

My answer is an overwhelming NO!!!

My being overwhelmed can be overwhelmed by God!  His greatness and His power, His majesty and His authority,  His presence and His involvement can change all that I am and all that I am in the midst of.

Have you ever been overwhelmed by God?  By His goodness, His love, His mercy?

You have…you just may not have known it.

Did you wake up this morning?  Did you see and hear and feel and taste?  Did you see the beauty of His creation all around you?  Did you lay your head on a pillow last night and sleep beneath a blanket of stars?  You have been overwhelmed by God’s goodness.

Did you awaken this morning with an opportunity to know God? To know He loves you?  To know that you have the capability to be forgiven for every wrong thing you have ever done?  You have been overwhelmed by His goodness, AND His love, AND His mercy.

God has been good to us in body and in soul.  Do our minds understand this?

What an overwhelming thought: to think that the God of the universe loves us, wants to be with us, and cares about every detail of our lives.

Overwhelmed.  A state of being and a state of emotion.

My heart is overwhelmed with awe and gratitude.

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”

Psalm 107:1(NKJV)

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Revised version, September 29, 2018 by Francee Strain

Thankful Thoughts

We have most likely learned that although it may not be raining now, one day it will be. Even though we may be living in relative ease right now, we know to anticipate the “rain” of struggles. Part of being human is facing the difficult times that will be forthcoming someday. On the other hand, we may already be living in the “someday” and be in the midst of those struggles right now. Our lives may be in states of chaos, with one crisis after another, and we can barely think straight. How can we rest amid our suffering? How can we praise God anyway? One place to find answers is to look at the life of Job.

There was a way that Job was able to find peace and rest. He said, “In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind. … With him is wisdom and strength, he hath counsel and understanding” (Job 12:10, 13). Job’s burdens were lightened because he placed his trust in God’s character. When we meditate on who God is in relation to who we are, our thoughts will become peaceful as we recognize His sovereignty and omnipotence. When we read these verses and see that He has understanding, it can bring relief to our minds to know that at least He has things figured out even if we do not. God is wise and strong, and He has been around so much longer than we have. He knows how things work–He made them! If He created the earth and He created us, then He definitely knows what to do with our lives. Our minds can be calmed by understanding that He holds our lives in His hands and gives us every breath. So when the rains of life come, we can rest safely in His shelter, knowing He is going to bring growth from this downpour.

Francee Strain, No Ordinary Invitation: Called to Live a Life of Eternal Purpose, (Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2017), 193.