God did it again. He sent me unmerited encouragement again, at a time when I was really discouraged. Why does He continue to do this for me? It’s like the song by Casting Crowns . . . “Who am I that the Lord of all the earth would care to know my name? Would care to feel my hurt?” The irony is, I know in my heart of hearts that He has been doing this for me for a long time. But I am just now noticing. I can remember times when I was really down, and it seemed like there was nothing good going on around me -- like drowning in a sea of hopelessness. I was blinded to anything good, positive, or encouraging. But that is fortunately not the case right now! By the grace of God, I have been seeing God’s “little” blessings for what they really are … personal gifts from my heavenly Father. I say “little” because sometimes they really are just little things. But in all actuality they are beautiful love notes and personalized gifts, intentionally designed and strategically timed to encourage me just when I need it.
And He is doing this for you, too! The Bible talks about God giving good gifts to His children (Matt. 7 and Luke 11). It also reminds us that every good and perfect gift is from God (James 1:17). But since I know everybody loves to hear people’s personal stories, I’ll share some of the specific things that have happened to me lately.
Within the last month or so, I have invited some ladies into our home on Friday mornings for a prayer meeting. We are also trying to encourage one another to serve others in practical ways, loving them in the name of Christ. There were a few newfound friends that I wanted to invite, but I wasn’t sure whether they would feel comfortable joining a group like this. But after praying about it, I invited them anyway. They graciously said thanks but no thanks, but one of them opened up and shared some personal struggles with me. I felt the Lord leading me to respond, so I did. What got me down was the fact that she never really responded back. So after about a week, I was really starting to wonder if I had completely repelled her. I was so discouraged, feeling like a failure. But on my lowest day, God sent me a gift. It came in the form of another friend who is really going through a low time herself right now – dealing with such sadness that I couldn’t believe how sorry I had been feeling for myself. And this is a friend who has been slow to get to know, since I don’t get to see her very much. By letting me reach out to this woman, God reminded me that I need to trust in His timing and in His leading. Through this woman’s hug and tears, God showed me that I can’t discount my experience with the other friend either. When we reach out to love someone in His name, it is never in vain.
Another struggle we’ve had lately is my husband’s search for a job. Since moving to Chicagoland, both of us have been able to pick up little part-time jobs here and there, but nothing with any real stability or sufficient income. Being bi-vocational missionaries, we need to create our own sources of income. Recently, Jeromy had an interview for a great full-time position nearby, and we’ve spent a couple of weeks waiting for a decision. I think we both really had our hopes up for this one, since the timing seemed so perfect for our suddenly increasing need. But today we found out that he didn’t get it. I can’t deny my disappointment or the words ringing in my head, “What are we going to do?” But then, God did it again. On the way home from picking up my son from kindergarten, we stopped to talk with a neighbor. This older gentleman and my son have become good buddies. Before we left, he offered us some frozen pizzas that came from a family member’s place of employment. What a gift! It seems small, and may be insignificant to that man… but what a blessing for our family. As we walked to the house with our pizzas in tow, my mind was suddenly flooded with memories of other unrequested gifts like this one that God had given us recently -- clothes for our kids, fresh tomatoes, gift cards, homemade spaghetti sauce, a trip for the kids to Chuck E Cheese, furniture, bedding, and even outdoor fall decorations. And all given by the hands of friends and neighbors that we came here to minister to! Perhaps unbeknownst to them, God is ministering to us through them.
And on top of all that, God has laid it upon certain people’s hearts to give financially to our ministry efforts here. We even recently received a beautiful care package from a church “back home” that included several gift cards and other goodies. What an awesome reminder that God not only provides for our most basic needs, but He also takes the time to send us personalized gifts that go above and beyond mere provision. And because of this, I can rest – I can trust Him to make a way for those most basic needs to be met.
The God of Heaven and earth, the one and only true God, is full of love and mercy and grace. He is continually sending us a never-ending shower of blessings every day, if we will just look around and take notice. Praise Him!
Thank You, Father.
Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord. (Ps. 102:18)