God Gives a Song in the Night

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Yesterday’s post was a reminder that no matter how bad things may look, God will work all things out for our good and His glory. We have His promise on that, but often, our faith in that promise will be tested. You know Jason and I have been dealing with the situation of finding a new home for Barnabas. This has been a difficult and heart-wrenching task, but it looked like some things were finally coming together.

In the midst of all this, we received a phone call last night notifying us that Jason’s replacement at work had quit without notice, leaving the owner high and dry. Jason, being the loyal person he is, agreed to pick up the work on the calendar until other arrangements could be made. We had just begun to settle into somewhat of a rhythm for doing deputation full-time, but now, we’re back to dividing our attention between work and ministry.

My first reaction was to stress and panic. This was not the way things were supposed to work! In the moment, it seemed as if all my prayers over the past weeks and months had gone unheard, and I felt frustrated and confused. As I lay in bed last night, I pleaded with God to give me peace despite these troubling circumstances. And this morning, God gave a song. . .well, actually He gave me several.

The first two songs I want to share with you below. These are songs that have meant a lot to me over the years, but I admit, I haven’t heard either of them for quite some time. This morning, as I prepared for my morning walk with Barnabas, the first song came to mind “out of the blue,” and as I reached the end of the tune, the second song began to play through my thoughts. I cannot tell you what a blessing each song was, but even more than that, how blessed I felt at God’s reminder that He gives a song in the night.

As I listened to the radio in the car, I smiled as I tuned in to two songs about how God hears and answers prayer. One of them even went so far as to say, “I’m hear to tell you your prayer has been heard.” It was as if God was speaking to me directly and reminding me that even though things aren’t going the way I hoped or planned, He is still in control. He is working. He is watching. He is listening. And He cares.

Yet the Lord will command his lovingkindness in the day time, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.
— Psalm 42:8

Really, God? All Things? -- An Excerpt from Daily Discussions of a Doubting Disciple

This morning, I was chatting with my mom about the process of rehoming our sweet dog, Barnabas. As you can imagine, this has been beyond difficult for Jason and me, and as the time grows closer to say our goodbyes, my heart grows so heavy it feels it will burst. I know this is something we have to do, but I have yet to understand why. Why would God ask so much of us? I didn’t share all of this with my mother, but over the past few weeks, I’ve shared enough with her that she knows how much this hurts us.

As Jason and I headed out to take Barnabas on a hike before the day grew too warm, I received a text message from my mom. It read, “A very wise and talented author has written something that will hlep you as you face this hard choice you know you must soon make. See Daily Discussions of a Doubting Disciple page 79. She can help you.”

For those of you who aren’t aware, Daily Discussions of a Doubting Disciple is the title of one of my books. Yes, my mother used my own words against me. Only, they weren’t really against me. As I read the message within those pages, I realized I already had all the answers I needed. No, I may not understand why God is asking this of us, but I know I can trust that He will work even this for our good. Below you’ll find the devotion I wrote several years ago when facing a similar crisis of faith. I hope it will encourage you as it encouraged me.

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As many of you know, at the early part of last week, I dislocated my shoulder.  I spent the remainder of the week lying on the couch or bed in great pain and doped up on muscle relaxers.  (By the way, I HATE medicine, so the fact that I took so much will tell you how much pain I was in.)  Jason had a very busy week at work, so he wasn't able to help much with housework or other chores, and so I watched, helplessly, as my house (which I had just cleaned) became cluttered with dirty dishes, laundry, and take-out boxes.

When I was coherent enough to think straight, my thoughts consisted mainly of the following:

*My book tour starts on the 22nd, and I'm not ready.  I have interview questions to answer, guest posts to write and publicizing to do.

*I have to march at the college graduation on Friday night.  I need to be well by then.

*Abby's (my niece) play is on Saturday.  I can't miss that.  She's worked so hard, and this year she's actually in the play.  Not to mention, I spent all that time making her costume. 

*My house is falling apart.  I can't stand this mess any longer.  I need to get better.

*The dogs are growing restless.  They haven't been for a walk in a while.  I'd take them if I could, but I can barely make it back and forth to the bathroom.

*I need to prepare my Sunday School lesson and offertory for Sunday.  Offertory?  Can I play the piano at all?  Oh dear!

And on and on the thoughts circled.  Let me tell you, it was more than a little frustrating and depressing.  And yet, all the while, Romans 8:28 kept joining the other thoughts.   And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

"Really?"  I asked.  "What good could possibly come from this?"  But still, the thought would not go away.

It remained with me as my house grew more and more cluttered before my eyes.  It calmed me when my book tour grew closer, and I still found myself unable to concentrate long enough to come up with a coherent sentence.  It encouraged me when I missed graduation and my niece's play.  And it helped me accept the fact that I was going to have to "sit out" from my normal duties at church on Sunday.

I can honestly tell you, now that I'm back on the mend (although I'm not there yet), that I still have no idea what "good" God is working from this past week.  It was painful, exhausting and extremely frustrating.  I began this week still not feeling 100%, yet facing two weeks' worth of work.  Still, the reminder is there.  It whispers to my soul every moment of every hour of every day, "It's good.  It's all good.  It will be good.  You'll see."

I don't know what you may be facing today, but may I remind you of the same.  It's good.  It's all good.  It will be good.  Just keep trusting.  Just keep praying.  And above all, keep going. . .even when the way is unclear and the path seems painful.

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Overhwhelmed by Prayer


This morning, I did a Google search on the phrase, “Overwhelmed by Prayer.” Interestingly, there were many results, but all of them revolved around prayers for when you’re feeling overwhelmed, which is another subject entirely. I wanted information on what to do when prayer itself felt so overwhelming that my first instinct is to quit praying altogether.

Before I go any further, I feel I should remind you of a book review I did recently on the book, Fervent, which is a book about prayer. And while I found the book tremendous and helpful, it deals primarily with prayer for oneself. It’s important to pray for ourselves. Heaven knows we need it! But what about praying for others? Does the prospect of praying for everyone every day seem overwhelming to anyone besides me?

I’m an over-thinker. I’ll be the first to admit that. So, when I sit down to pray, my mind shifts into overdrive. Who do I pray for today? For what do I pray? How long should I pray? My prayer list contains dozens of individual names plus the names of churches and missionaries around the globe. Then, of course, there are requests like praying for our country, our government, and specifically, our president. Then, the more general requests like praying for the lost and the people of Wales. The more I look at the list, the more daunting prayer becomes. Instead of a sweet time of peace and fellowship with the Lord, it becomes a duty and a dread. No wonder I want to quit. The perfectionist in me says, “If I can’t do it all and do it right, it’s better not to try at all.”

This is a topic I’ve been thinking and praying about for some time. (Is it ironic that I’ve been praying about how to pray better?) Anyway, this morning, I finally had a breakthrough.

First off, God reminded me that He is not impressed by my prayers or lack thereof. It’s not the words I say or how often I say them. It’s the intent and motivation of the heart. God is more concerned that my prayers come from a spirit of love and compassion than from a long list of those I feel obligated to pray for.

Second, God reminded me there is no right or wrong way to pray. Yes, Jesus gave us a model prayer in the Bible, but if we look at that, it’s not a litany of “God bless so-and-so, and God help so-and-so.” If we ask God to guide us to whom we should pray for and how often, He will do just that. It may be a single name or maybe a group. That’s up to Him.

Thirdly, God directed me to an app to help organize my scattered thoughts and to overcome the overwhelm when it comes to prayer. Yes, there really is an app for that, and it’s called PrayerMate. This app allows you to organize your requests into groups of your choosing (family, personal, missionaries, etc.). You can add as much or as little information about each request as you want. Then, each day, the app randomly selects one request from each group (or from as many groups as you choose). All you do is swipe through and pray for those requests. The next day, you’ll receive a prayer prompt (again, if you choose), and you’ll have a new list for the day. How cool is that? With this app, I feel like I’m praying for everyone (though not all at once), which gives me more time to be specific and personal. Then, if the Lord lays someone else on my heart that day, I can pray for them too. To me, it’s a perfect balance.

Now, I have just installed the app this morning and haven’t even finished setting it up, so I can’t yet testify to its overall effectiveness. But, I can say I’m intrigued by the idea and already feel a sense of calm about having organized my prayer life. I’ll keep you up to date on my progress and let you know if the Lord gives me any other insights.

Prayer is a gift. It shouldn’t feel like a burden. It should be a time and place to release our burdens, but it often feels like a burden itself. I am convinced this is a tactic of the enemy. He longs to have us running in circles and feeling so inadequate we settle for doing nothing rather than doing something imperfectly. But, as I’ve already mentioned, if we’re talking with God from our heart, there’s no wrong way to do that. What’s wrong is when we stop talking to Him altogether.

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
— Romans 8:26-27