Rejoicing in the Rubble

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When Christin Henry placed her three young children to bed that mid-July night, she did not know how much her life was about to change. Around one o’clock in the morning, a fire started within their mobile home, forcing the family to flee the house in search of safety. Unfortunately, this story doesn’t have a happy ending. . .at least, not from the human perspective.

The two-year-old daughter died in the fire that night, and her older brother passed away a short while later. For the next week, the rest of the family did their best to heal and deal with their grief, but the fight was not over. On Sunday night, July 22nd, the last—and oldest—of the three children went home to be with Jesus.

May I be honest with you for a few minutes? It is so difficult to wrap my head around tragedies like this. The Henry’s are good people, Godly people. Why would the Lord allow this to happen? How could a loving God allow such tragedy and heartache in the lives of His children? It’s so hard to fathom and honestly impossible for me to understand. But here’s the thing, I don’t have to understand; I have to trust. Trust God knows what’s best. Trust He is working all things (yes, even these horrible things) for our good. Trust He will gain glory through this trial. That’s undoubtedly what Christin Henry is doing.

From the time she was recovered enough to do so, Christin has been giving updates on Ireland’s (the remaining child) condition. Obviously, there have been many tears shed during these video updates, but what has amazed and convicted me beyond measure is her attitude through all of this. Shortly before her last child passed away, she stated, “I’m heartbroken, of course, but I trust God. I love Him, and I’m not bitter.”

There have been times in my life where I couldn’t honestly say such a thing, and I’ve never faced anything like what this poor couple is going through right now. What an inspiration to see someone rejoicing in the rubble of life. Their world has crumbled into so many jagged pieces, yet this couple is quoting Scripture and giving praise. Their beautiful lives came crashing down around them in an instant, yet they’re not bitter. They are refusing to allow their circumstances to change their view of God or alter their relationship with God. They are standing strong through it all.

My challenge today is two-fold. First off, please be in prayer for the Henry couple. It’s just the two of them now. They have lost their children, their home, their possessions, and life as they once knew it. Everything has changed for them except their faith in God. Please keep this family in your prayers, and if God lays it on your heart to be a help to them financially, you can donate here: https://www.gofundme.com/p368d-help-the-henry-family. I know they will appreciate anything you can do to help them through this challenging transition.

Secondly, if you’re anything like me, you’re convicted and inspired by this great testimony of faith. Talk to the Lord about it. I did. I pleaded with God to show me what it is in my heart that’s keeping me from trusting Him fully in my life. I was shocked at some of the things He revealed, and I prayed for His grace and strength to deal with these issues so I can increase my faith. Like the father of the sick boy in the Bible, my prayer is, “Lord, I believe. Help thou mine unbelief.” Why? Because when my world crumbles, I don’t want to crumble with it. Instead, I want to follow the example set forth by the Henry’s and rejoice in the rubble, knowing God is good no matter what.

How’s your faith today? If you faced a situation similar to this tragedy, how would you respond? Use this time to check up on your trust in the Lord and to work out any areas that may be holding you back from complete surrender. Ask God to search your heart and show you where you’re being led astray and allow Him to take you to new realms of faith.

And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.
— Job 1:21

Please Stop That Incessant Dripping!

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Drip!  Drip!  Drip!  That’s the sound of my shower.  All the time.  Every day. . .and night.  In an attempt to put off running the air conditioner as long as possible, Jason and I have been opening the windows at night to let in the fresh cooler air.  In our bedroom, however, the only windows are at the head of our bed and are covered by heavy drapes which block out the light from the nearby streetlight.  So, instead of trying to work around the drape issue, we open the window in the attached bathroom and leave the bathroom door ajar.  This would work great if not for the incessant dripping of the shower head.  We’ve tried everything to get the crazy thing to stop dripping, but so far, we’ve had no success.  Thus, we have two options:  be stuffy or be annoyed.  I don’t know which is worse!

The Bible talks about incessant dripping, but I’m afraid it’s not referring to leaky faucets.  No, instead, it’s about our tendency to complain.  Check it out: 

A foolish son is the calamity of his father: and the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping.
— Proverbs 19:13
A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.
— Proverbs 27:15

Now, I realize both of these verses are specifically talking about a woman, and I will readily admit that I know more complaining females than males.  However, men, I don’t think it would do harm to the Scripture to say that contention, strife and complaints from anyone—male or female—is like a constant dripping.  Is that fair?

As we’ve already established, incessant dripping is annoying, right?  When was the last time you tried to escape a conversation because the person with whom you were speaking was voicing one complaint after another?  The negativity grates on our nerves.  What we often fail to realize is that we cause others to feel the same way when we throw our little pity parties.

Not only is the dripping (and complaining) annoying, but it wears us down.  Interestingly enough, it’s wearing on both the one doing the complaining and the one hearing it.  Did you know that a constant dripping of water can wear away soil and even stone?  Yes, water can literally bore a hole in the earth.  Complaining can wear away at us too.  It can damage hearts and relationships.  The constant negativity weighs us down and wears away at our faith, contentment and overall happiness.  All of that from a bad attitude!

Life is not always easy, and for some reason, it’s easy for us to complain or cause strife when things aren’t going our way.  But I urge you to take these verses to heart and think about the damage you are causing through your poor attitude and actions.  You don’t want to be annoying or to wear others out with your constant negativity.  Instead, shift your focus to God and find something for which to praise Him.  Exchange those drips of complaints for showers of blessing!

'Tis the Season To Be Better or Bitter

This time of year tends to bring out either the best or the worst in people.  For some, the joy of the holidays puts a smile on their face and a spring in their step.  They give more than usual, do more for others and live out the motto "Peace on earth, good will toward men."

For others, however, the rush and busyness of the season put a grimace on their face and a stomp in their step.  They're more selfish than usual, do less for others and live out the motto "Bah humbug!"  The difference, I believe, lies in a single aspect:  bitterness.

It's difficult to say what makes people bitter around the holidays.  There could be many roots to their resentment, but the outcome is the same--a Scrooge-like attitude and misery to everyone around them.

It's safe to safe we all understand that bitterness is wrong, and we must be careful because it is also VERY contagious (much like the upper-respiratory gunk that's been going around in this area for months now).  But, this morning, I want to help you see exactly how dangerous bitterness can be, and to do that, I want to look at a woman named Naomi.

Naomi's story is a sad one.  Forced to leave her home in Bethlehem, her family, and friends because of famine, she and her husband and two sons settled in the land of Moab.  Over the course of time, she lost not only her husband but both her sons as well.  Distraught over her situation, Naomi decided to return to her home in Bethlehem but urged her two daughters-in-law (Orpah and Ruth) to stay where they were.  After all, Moab was the only home they had ever known.  At first, both daughters-in-law refused, saying that they would instead accompany her to Bethlehem.  But after much protest, Orpah finally conceded to her mother-in-law's wishes.

Ruth, on the other hand, was determined to stick with Naomi.  It is at this point in the story that we realize just how bitter Naomi had become and how much her bitterness cost poor Orpah.  Take a look at what Naomi said to Ruth:  

And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law. (Ruth 1:15)

Orpah went back to her people.  Nothing wrong with that.  I'm sure she had family and friends in the area, so I see no issue with her staying.  However, it's the next statement that makes the jaw drop.

"She has gone back to her gods."  Moab was a heathen nation that worshiped many gods, none of which was Jehovah.  I have to believe that Elimelech (Naomi's husband) and the family continued to worship the one true God after moving to Moab.  That means Orpah had been introduced to the true God.  But in her bitterness, Naomi turned this poor girl away from the true God and sent her back to her false gods.  Could there be anything more tragic?

And it wasn't just Orpah.  Naomi was trying to force Ruth to do the same.  Evidently, she wanted nothing to do with these two young ladies.  Maybe they reminded her too much of her sons and what she had lost.  Or perhaps, in her warped frame of mind, she thought she was doing what was best for them.  It's hard to say, but what is abundantly clear is that Naomi's bitterness cost Orpah dearly.

We don't know how Orpah's story plays out because the Bible doesn't tell us, but I can't help but wonder how it would have turned out if she had accompanied her mother-in-law to Bethlehem.  How would her life had been different if she had spent the remainder of her days in a land where the true God was worshiped freely?  As we know, things worked out pretty well for Ruth.  So well, in fact, that we find her name in the lineage of Christ.  But what of Orpah?  Not only was she cast away, but she was encouraged to walk away from God.  How very sad!

Watch out for bitterness.  It may begin as a small seed and may seem harmless enough, but it can quickly entangle us in a snare of resentment and frustration.  Not only that, but we need to remember that our bitterness affects and influences more than just ourselves.  If we're not careful, those around us will pay the price for our resentment and frustration, just like poor Orpah.

So, I urge you, in the busyness of this Christmas season, seek to be better, not bitter.  It's best for everyone in your life.

Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; - Hebrews 12:15