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Hope during Hard Things (and Quarantine)

Enjoy a sweet devotional on finding hope through hardship from Leah Varnell, one of our New Member Educators for PC'20!

I often find myself in a dizzy haze in my head. It’s hard to explain it, but it is as if I may be anxious, may be fearful, may be upset, or I might even be happy. These past 2 weeks may have been this way for you, too. So many emotions, new information, and changes. Every. Single. Day. For a little bit I tried to read encouraging snippets of the Bible and tried to pray. A lot. I tried to talk with friends and I have tried to even watch movies just to distract myself. But, each time it was like God was pulling me towards something bigger. Like He was whispering, “Don’t you know there’s more than this?” He didn’t literally say that, but I feel like that is what He was speaking to my heart.

So I began to search. And may it be known that those who come to Him in truth and desperate for His presence will never be left empty or void. It’s kind of like the first verses in the song “This Close” by Steffany Greitzinger: “You’re not struggling to hear me So I’m not striving to be heard I am sure the One who made me Is catching every word”

We can have assurance that when we approach God in Spirit and in Truth that He is present because He desires deeply to connect with you. So, long story short, this is what I have been led to share with you all: 1. God is sovereign. I believe that understanding this fundamental and biblical truth will be the reason for much anxiety and desire to understand will cease. If we, as God’s people, begin to actually believe with our whole hearts that the God, who created all of us and all of this, knows what is going to occur next - our hearts will begin to rest. He is behind and before all things and knows all things. Nothing is hidden from Him. When we see this to be true about God we not only rest, but actually rejoice that we get to live our lives in the center of His will.

“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together." Colossians 1:16–17 “I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these things. “Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain down righteousness; let the earth open, that salvation and righteousness may bear fruit; let the earth cause them both to sprout; I the LORD have created it. Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’?” Isaiah 45:7–9 “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” Job 42:2 “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” Psalm 90:2 To some of you, God’s sovereignty is not good news though. Because if God is sovereign, why are bad things happening? Why did my semester end early? Why do I feel alone? And to this I would say, God’s sovereignty is good because...

2. God is good

When the measurement of good for us is taken out of its intended context, we are utterly confused. But, wonderful understanding comes from first understanding that our measurements of good are so. far. off. We cannot even begin to see all of God’s purposes, plans and dreams for His people. However, we can trust that they are good because He is the creator of even the idea of good itself. Without Him there is no good. He is the epitome of everything we could ever think up to be best. And then more. Therefore, His goodness can lead us into a quiet trust of what is occurring even around the world because we know he is inherently good.

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:29–31 “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. But for me it is good to be near God;I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.” Psalm 73: 26-28

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?”” Romans 11: 33-36

(Read Job and Habakkuk for full stories of God’s goodness to His people. This same goodness and faithfulness, He gives to you. Now.)

Lastly, I am aware that it is hard to trust God when things seem to be so different each day. It is difficult to trust that someone is good and mighty when things seem to be so fickle. But this doesn’t have to be the case because...

3. God is unchanging God can be trusted because He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is the only thing in all of creation that is perfect and therefore, He must be all things good, merciful, just, and righteous all the time. His very character doesn’t even allow Him to change. That is a God that I want to turn to. That I want to fall on my knees to worship.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17 “...if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.” 2 Timothy 2:13 “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?” Numbers 23:19 “Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end.” Psalm 102: 25-27 “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.” Isaiah 40:28 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Revelation 22:13 After meditating on these 3 truths, I found that the haze had lifted. The haze lifted because I realised not only am I not in control right now, but that I never have been! And that is a good thing. To be in the hands of the perfect Father is the best place we can be.

So, I came to this place where I saw things from a perspective much greater than myself. I think this is where the Lord is calling us all to. Maybe God is calling us to look further than at ourselves, but maybe to look at how he is being glorified and is making much of Himself all over the world! Sometimes I think God is begging us to just trust Him as we see that we really don’t know as much as we think we do. I feel like Job when God asks him,

“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” Job 38:4

And I am immediately led into a place of refuge, safety, and thankfulness that I get to serve and love the God who laid the foundations of the world. Thankfulness fills the heart of the one who sees the significance in the fact that God cannot be known fully or understood exactly. This reveals to us that our God is big, omniscient, all-knowing and is indeed in control.

I want to leave you all with some encouragement if you got absolutely nothing out of this. The greatest thing we can do as Christians is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” Matthew 22:37. This is a sure fact. I also believe that we are to... “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

I do not know what each of you needs at this time. I wish I knew every need and could help all of them. However, I am confident that Christ does and that He knows each one of you intimately and wants to know you. Therefore, let us trust this good God who is sovereign over all. Let us seek Him FIRST, above all else. Let us forget ourselves and focus on the perfect King who has already overcome the world.


Love,

Leah

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