Monthly Archives: September 2014

When You Need a Good Cry

Yesterday it happened. I knew it was coming, I just didn’t know to what extent. Yet, when the first notes were played by our worship team, the tears began rolling down my face. Once they started, it was like a dam broke open and I continued to crying during the whole worship set. Thankfully, I had come into the sanctuary late and grabbed a seat in the second to last row, allowing me a little privacy as I had this mini emotional breakdown.

Interestingly enough, I was sitting between two very dear friends. I rarely sit by either, let alone both. Both of these women have beautiful singing voices and when I could not sing, their beautiful voices were like a balm to my spirit. During the first song the one on my left put her arm around me, offering comfort and strength. During the last song, the one on my right put her hand on my shoulder and I could tell she was praying for me. Also, my compassionate son who was sitting nearby went and grabbed me a whole wad of tissue so that snot wouldn’t drip down my face. When the minister is ministered to, it is a humbling yet wonderful thing.

Although, I have rarely been embarrassed to cry in public, I know many people who are. Some see crying as a form of weakness. Yet, God designed crying to be a natural stress reliever. Just like sweat was designed to keep your body from overheating, crying was designed to relieve stress, anxiety or other emotions that get built-up. In fact, “a study by the University of Minnesota discovered that the chemicals that build up in your body during emotional stress can be removed in your tears, and unreleased stress can increase your risk for heart attack and damage certain areas of your brain. So your human ability to cry is not only therapeutic, but could also be considered a survival tactic.”

Since God designed crying, it stands to reason that He does not see tears as a form of weakness, but rather a humble reliance upon Him. No wonder the word “cry” is listed about 150 times in the Bible. Consider the following examples:

During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. Exodus 2:23

“In my distress I called to the Lord; I called out to my God. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came to his ears. 2 Samuel 22:7

You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, Psalm 10:17

For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. Psalm 72:12

From these verses, you can see that God:

  1. Wants you to cry to Him
  2. Hears you when you cry
  3. Offers you comfort and encouragement
  4. Helps you when you cry to Him

Even though, yesterday, I would have preferred to have a good cry in the privacy of my own home, I have learned that to be emotionally healthy, I can’t keep stuffing my emotions below the surface. I am modeling good emotional health to those around me when they see my tear-stained face once in a while. (This does not give me license to be an emotional basket-case any time I feel like it, but the reality is you and I need a good cry now and again.)   As worship concluded, there was a little battle going on inside me. We had a baby dedication right after worship and I didn’t want to get up in front of everybody with a tear-stained face. My flesh said “Stay in your seat”, but my spirit said “Go help your husband”. This time, my spirit won and by God’s grace and strength, I dried my tears and went forward to pray over a sweet little baby girl. As I did, Jesus healed my sorrow and turned it to joy. I don’t know how He does it, but that is one of His specialties. He gives us “the oil of joy instead of mourning” Isaiah 61:3. Whatever you are facing right now, either personally or on behalf of those you serve, turn to Jesus. Cry if you need to. He hears. He comforts. He heals.

Your Friend in Ministry,

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When You Are Weary

It has been quiet on the blog as of late. Although my goal is to post something a minimum of twice per week, there are seasons where the demands of life and ministry make it impossible to do so. This is one of those times. Next weekend I am speaking at our Women’s Retreat and I am feverishly working to finish four messages for it. Also, I am honored to be presenting a workshop for ministry spouses a couple days after retreat, so I am preparing for that as well. To say I am a bit overwhelmed and weary is an understatement!

Years ago, I wrote the devotional below. As I reread it recently, it encouraged me in this frantic season. I hope it will be an encouragement to you as well! I will pray for strength, energy and endurance for you, whatever you are facing in this current season. Pray for me too?

He gives strength to those who are tired; to the ones who lack power, he gives renewed energy. Even youths get tired and weary; even strong young men clumsily stumble. But those who wait for the Lord’s help find renewed strength; they rise up as if they had eagles’ wings, they run without growing weary, they walk without getting tired. Isaiah 40:29-31, NET

Anyone who has ever raised a little boy has probably made the same comment I have at least a hundred times . . . “If I could only have a fraction of his energy.” From the moment his eyes pop open in the morning until he lays his head on the pillow at night, my son is on the move. It is rare when I see him grow tired or weary, but when he does, oh how I love it when he comes to me cuddles up close and rests for a while. I cherish those moments because I know they are fleeting. It doesn’t take long for him to be re-charged and ready to again, just from resting with his mama for a minute or two.

Are you tired or weary right now due to illness, heartache, responsibility, circumstances beyond your control, or simply from growing old? Did you know that you have a place to go to rest for a while? “But those who wait for the Lord’s help find renewed strength.” As you rest in the “arms” of God, what you are saying is, “I trust you and will wait for you to meet my needs and take care of me.” You exchange your weariness for His strength, your weakness for His power. What a wonderful exchange!

Sometimes you only need moments to rest in His arms, and other times, you may need an extended length of time. Wherever you find yourself right now, don’t be like the little boy who tries to wriggle out of the loving embrace of his mother’s arms too soon. God has something good for you in that place, renewed energy and strength.

  • Strength to keep loving that difficult person in your life
  • Ability to handle a situation or responsibility that is beyond your natural ability
  • Willingness to get back up after you have blown it with your family and try again
  • Strength to walk through a situation you would never in a million years believed you would find yourself in

I have learned that I am wise to not fight waiting and resting in God’s arms because there is a great benefit that comes as a result, endurance. Endurance to “run without growing weary, and walk without getting tired . . .” Let’s practice resting right now. Find a quiet place, even if it’s in the bathroom (*smile*) and make this prayer your own: “Thank You, God, for these moments to rest in You. Remove the many distractions that cause me to wriggle away from Your loving embrace. As I sit here, fill me with Your strength and hope. Show me how this simple time with You increases my endurance for what lies ahead of me today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”


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The God Who Sees

The story of Hagar, the slave woman, is a sad one. Especially because it is God’s chosen people (Sarah in particular) who treat her so poorly. In Genesis 16, Hagar flees from Abraham and Sarah because Sarah mistreats her due to Sarah’s jealousy and disbelief in God’s promise that He would give her descendants. So she takes matters into her own hands and makes a big mess of things. I know many of us can relate to taking matters into our own hands, can’t we?

Because of this mistreatment, Hagar runs away, lonely and alone. However, she was not alone for long. Verse 7 of Genesis 16 says that the Angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert. In the verses that follow, this “Angel of the Lord” speaks to her, asks her questions, listens to her, instructs her in what to do and gives both Hagar and her unborn son a blessing.

In the Old Testament, there are other references to the “Angel of the Lord”, 2 Kings 1:3, Zechariah 1:8 among them. Many scholars believe the “Angel of the Lord” to be the person of Jesus Christ, sent down to minister to people. I love to picture Jesus in his preincarnate flesh sitting with Hagar in the middle of the desert, ministering to her wounded spirit, don’t you? I believe Hagar’s response to this encounter lends further credibility to this preincarnate Jesus belief. Look at verses 13 and 14 of Genesis 16. “She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’ That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi (which means well of the Living One Who sees me); it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.”

Hagar had physical proof, from this visit from “The Angel of the Lord” that there was a God who saw her. He saw her mistreatment. He saw the unborn child in her womb. He saw the child’s personality and his future. Not only did He see, but He also heard. In fact, Hagar is told to name her son, “Ishmael”, meaning God hears.

At the end of her conversation with the “Angel of the Lord” he tells her to go back to Sarah. I can imagine it was a long walk home for Hagar. Can’t you picture her dragging her feet as she wondered what her consequences would be as a slave running away from her mistress? However, she had something to give her courage and sustain her for the duration of her days, an encounter with the “Angel of the Lord”. She had His voice reverberating in her ears . . . “I will so increase your descendants, they will be too numerous to count.” I believe that experience sustained her for the rest of her life, come what may.

What about you? Do you believe Jesus has seen what you’ve gone through? Can you picture Him sitting by you during your “time in the desert”, whether it was past or present? Go ahead, picture Him there now, in the midst of your pain, in the midst of your confusion, in the midst of your grief or disbelief. Whether you know it or not, He was there. He is there. He sees and knows because He’s there. He’s there ministering to your spirit. He is there listening to your cries for help. He is there instructing you in what to do. He’s there giving you strength to carry on.

He was there then, He is there now.

However, unlike Hagar who had a one-time experience with the “Angel of the Lord”, God offers us an encounter with Jesus each day through His precious Holy Spirit.  While we each have encounters with Christ that mark us for the rest of our lives, don’t keep living on that long ago experience. Come to Jesus each day for a fresh encounter. Pour out your heart to Him. Sit quietly in His presence. Sing songs of worship to Him. Drink deep from the fresh well of His Word. These encounters give you the ability to obey Him and move forward no matter what you are walking back into day by day.

Jesus saw Hagar.

Jesus sees you.

Personal Reflection Questions

#1) Does it bring you comfort knowing Jesus sees what you are going through?

#2) Have you ever had an encounter with Jesus that changed you and allowed you to move forward in obedience despite a difficult situation or circumstance?

#3) What does Jesus see in your life today that needs His ministering presence? How will you slow down long enough to have a meaningful encounter with Him?

Your Friend in Ministry,