Monday, 25 May 2015

Where is God when bad things happen? (an update on Xylon’s health)

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. Deuteronomy 31:8 (ESV)

I’ve been crying bitter tears since Thursday.

On Wednesday the doctor told us that Xylon’s cancer has recurred. 

It took me 24 hours before I cried. And then it was sobs right onto my husband’s chest. 

God was meant to have healed Xylon this time. This is not the story he is meant to be living. Not the way I thought our story would be. 

Every morning since Wednesday we’ve woken up hoping that this recurrence was just a bad dream. But every morning we realise this is our life, again.

There are still treatment options (if we choose to pursue them).

Right now I’m just sad. And a little angry to be in this place again (for the fourth time).

I'm struggling to find hope, to find God, in all of this. 

I’ve always tried to share our story as honestly as I can. 
I’ve always tried to portray that faith in God is not an easy thing. That being a Christian isn’t about appearing perfect or like you have it all together. 
And that believing in Jesus doesn’t mean that you get rescued from bad stuff just that he is there with you in it

I still believe all of this. Even though right now it’s hard to live it out. 

So I’m just going to let my heart bleed here for today’s post. 

I have very few words. Xylon and I both do. Mostly we just hug. 

Most of the words, I can think of, are promises that I don’t know if we can fulfill, so I’d rather just let him know I’m there. Maybe that is how God feels right now too. 

I don’t know what to pray. Xylon says he can’t speak to God right now. I get that. 


I guess, the honest truth is there are some places I don’t want to go – even with God. They are places I can’t imagine going without him, but that doesn’t mean I’m jumping up and down like a kid saying, “pick me, pick me!” 

I’m still praying for a miracle. You can join us in that if you’d like. Let’s #prayforzero (zero cancer). (tweet this)

Because despite all of this, I still believe that God is a healer, that he is a God of the impossible, and that he can heal Xylon. 

I just don’t always understand why he hasn’t yet. 

Ponder: What helps you understand God in the midst of disappointment in your life?

Prayer: God, we don’t know what to do, but our are eyes on you. Amen.

{Share this post}
You can share this devotional on twitter by clicking here. I’d also love for you to connect with me on my Facebook, pinterest and twitter pages or if you're viewing this via email you can leave a comment by clicking here.

{Get my book}
In my free e-book Life, Life and More Life I share thoughts on how to make every moment count gleaned from my experiences of loving my husband through 18 sessions of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. If you would like a free copy please subscribe below to receive my devotionals every Monday and Thursday.

Enter your email 
to receive my free ebook
and a NEW devotional in your inbox every Monday and Thursday

Photo Credit (Creative Commons): unsplash.com | Design: Wendy van Eyck
Thursday, 21 May 2015

What to do when you no longer feel God’s presence

Guest post by brett “Fish” anderson

Be still, and know that I am God! Psalm 46:10a (NLT)

I have often jestfully said to God, “Just one ocean, God. You part one ocean before me and I will never doubt you again.”

Because you’d think that would be enough right? Or maybe one dead body raised to life.

Yet, the Israelites got to walk through the Red Sea [Exodus 14]. And on a number of occasions the disciples watched Jesus bring people back from the dead [Matthew 9 and more]. 

And both groups, despite seeing God work incredible 3D-movie-type surround sound miracles, end up doubting God and being confused about who Jesus is.

My conclusion is that one parted ocean might not be enough for me. (tweet this)

I grew up in the church and made a commitment at a very young age and my growing up experience was one where I really felt God’s presence. 

I always felt close to God, as if He was right near me. Until I didn’t. 

I went through a year and a half period where suddenly God seemed so far away. And when He has always felt close, a year and a half is a very long time. 

I got to the point of actually considering that maybe my “feeling God” was a childish thing that I needed when I was younger, but now that I was growing up I needed to just rely on faith. 

Then the feeling came back. 
God’s presence. 
And it seems so much easier to believe when the feeling is there. 

But later it disappeared again. 

This time though, my faith was strengthened by the fact that I had gone through all of that before. I survived 18 months without feeling God so surely this time would be easier? And it was. 

One of my favourite verses is Psalm 34:18, ‘The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.’ You can’t get any lower than having your heart broken or your spirit crushed and yet EVEN THEN, even in those most horrible places, God promises to be there. 

I am also comforted by the simple words in Psalm 46:10 ‘Be still and know that I am God.” 

Not think or believe or hope, but KNOW. 

In the busyness of life we tend to always be rushing and I have found that stopping, unplugging, disconnecting, creating space and just being still is a great way to reconnect with God. And so I try to make regular times for that.

I am comforted by the familiar words of Psalm 23 which ensure me that ‘though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me, Your rod and Your staff they comfort me.’ 

I believe it is the desert times that help make the mountaintop times [when God feels really close] so much more refreshing and life-transforming. 

God is never away from us, but there will certainly be times when it feels like He is. (tweet this)

When those come, look back and be reminded of the times when you knew without a shadow of a doubt that He was there for you. 
And make some time to be still. 
And know again.

Ponder: What do you do when you no longer feel God’s presence? Leave your experience in the comments.

Prayer: God, I can’t feel your presence. Help me in my unbelief. Help me to know you are God again. Amen. 

About the author of this guest devotional
Brett "Fish" Anderson loves God, loves people and follows Jesus. He is married to the Beautiful Val. He also is the owner of the world’s most famous dolphin, No_bob. You can read his blogs at Irresistibly Fish. If you have R100 (about $10) you can get hold of his new book, 'i, church'. You can also follow him on twitter at @brettFishA.

{Share this post}
You can share this devotional on twitter by clicking here. I’d also love for you to connect with me on my Facebook, pinterest and twitter pages or if you're viewing this via email you can leave a comment by clicking here.

{Get my book}
In my free e-book Life, Life and More Life I share thoughts on how to make every moment count gleaned from my experiences of loving my husband through 18 sessions of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. If you would like a free copy please subscribe below to receive my devotionals every Monday and Thursday.

Enter your email 
to receive my free ebook
and a NEW devotional in your inbox every Monday and Thursday

Photo Credit (Creative Commons): unsplash.com | Design: Wendy van Eyck
Monday, 18 May 2015

One thing you need to remember about your life

For now, we can only see a dim and blurry picture of things, as when we stare into polished metal. I realize that everything I know is only part of the big picture. But one day, when Jesus arrives, we will see clearly, face-to-face. In that day, I will fully know just as I have been wholly known by God. 1 Corinthians 13:12 (VOICE)

If you look at our couch now it looks like something we spent a lot of money on.

But that's not the full story of our couch. In fact, that's not even part of the story of our couch.

We were given our couch because it was being thrown out. 

The fabric was torn, it had stains from all kinds of bodily fluids and dirty hands and the cushions no longer held. Did I mention, it was also mustard yellow?

The previous owners had decided there was no salvaging it. 

Xylon and I weren’t married and he lived in a one bedroom flat with just a bed, a microwave, and bicycle. 

The thought of having something to sit on that you didn't need to pedal, even if it was past its best days was enticing. So he took the couch that was going to be thrown into the garbage.

We spent an afternoon with a rented steam cleaner sanitizing the couch and then covered it in a number of throws. 

A year later, once we were married, this old couch moved with him into our new flat and became "our couch". 

One of our wedding gifts was upholstery fabric for the couch. My sister-in-law, who works in the furniture industry, helped us source a good quality upholsterer at industry prices, and two weeks later our couch came home. 

After some tender loving care the couch looked better than it ever had. 

When we shared the picture with the previous owner they said, “Can we have it back?”

Sometimes it’s impossible to see the hard story when it’s covered up to look like new.  (tweet this

Most days I forget that if you look at our couch now you'd never guess its story.

Or that if you looked at Xylon and I walking hand-in-hand along the beach you wouldn’t know our story either. The one where half our total anniversaries have been in hospital wards while he had chemotherapy.

I felt God reminding me this weekend that I don’t know the full story of my life. 

I only see in part. God sees the whole. (tweet this

Your life is part of a bigger story. The hard parts aren't the whole story, they're just a chapter, and they're not how the story ends. 

One day, Jesus will arrive, and we'll see the whole story, but for now just remember that this - this hard stuff you're walking through now - is only part of the story. 

Ponder: What is happening in your life at the moment that you need to be reminded is only part of your story? 

Prayer: Jesus, I realize that everything I know is only part of the big picture. I can’t wait for the day when you arrive, and I will see clearly, face-to-face. Thank you that for now I can rest in the confidence that I am wholly known by God. Amen.


PS: I thought since I was writing about our couch it would be fun to include a pic of it. So I snapped all the pics in about our house for this blog today. Sadly I couldn't find a pic in it's "before" condition so you just get an "after". 

{Share this post}
You can share this devotional on twitter by clicking here. I’d also love for you to connect with me on my Facebook, pinterest and twitter pages or if you're viewing this via email you can leave a comment by clicking here.

{Get my book}
In my free e-book Life, Life and More Life I share thoughts on how to make every moment count gleaned from my experiences of loving my husband through 18 sessions of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. If you would like a free copy please subscribe below to receive my devotionals every Monday and Thursday.

Enter your email 
to receive my free ebook
and a NEW devotional in your inbox every Monday and Thursday

Photo Credit: Wendy van Eyck Design: Wendy van Eyck (All rights reserved)