March 15, 2005
Encouragement for Today

"The Sliver Lining"
Micca Campbell, Director of Outreach, Speaker

Key Verse:

"There is no one like the God of Jerusalem, Who rides the heavens to help you, And in His Excellency on the clouds." Deuteronomy 33:26 (NKJ)

Devotion:

Slowly, I moved down the aisle studying the shampoos. I was trying to figure out what would give my hair body, bounce and shine when, suddenly, I felt like I was being followed. Deciding to test my suspicion, I weaved my shopping cart in and out of the aisles. Just as I expected, another shopping cart followed close behind. Paralyzed with fear, I was about to hand over my purse when a weak, crackled voice spoke.

"Excuse me, mama. I noticed that you had kind eyes, and I was wondering if I could talk to you for a minute." To my surprise, the stalker was an old man. Still, I was cautious. I examined his feeble skeleton carefully and decided I could take him if I had to.

"Sure, you can talk to me," I answered.

The aged man stuck out his hand and introduced himself, "I'm Harry," he said, pausing for my response.

Politely, I shook his hand and replied, "Hi, Harry. I'm Micca. How are you?"

"Lonely, mostly. My wife died last May."

"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that," I said, blanketing each word with compassion.

Harry reached out his shaky hand and lightly touched my shoulder with his fingertips as if to comfort me. "That's okay. I tell jokes to ease the pain. Laughter is good medicine, you know."

"Say, have you heard why God made women so beautiful?" he asked with a chuckle in his voice.

"No.  Why?" I played along.

"So that men would love them. Do you know why He made men so dumb?" he continued.

"Why is that?"

"So that women would love them!" We laughed out loud.

"That's a good one," I said. Harry thanked me for laughing.

Suddenly, his mood changed and, like an old friend, Harry shared his heart. "I could just stay in the house all day trying to find my socks and feeling sorry for myself, but I'd rather go out and make people laugh. I suppose it's my gift from God. I've always been able to make people laugh. Now, it's what gets me through the loneliness."

 "Well, thanks for the laughs," I said. "They made my day."

He's right, you know. Harry could have given up on life, remained in his grief, hardened his heart, and given way to bitterness. Instead, he decided to look for the sliver lining in the midst of his storm. For Harry, the sliver lining is laughter.

How does Harry maintain his joy in the face of grief and loneliness? I believe Harry must sit and consider the ways of the Lord. I imagine he recalls how God hid in a cloud of fire as He led and sheltered the Israelite children through the sea. In his meditation, Harry finds comfort in the truth that the God of yesterday is the same God of today; therefore, Harry concludes that the Lord must also sit in the clouds of his storms watching over him no matter what his emotions might say. What does that kind of trust birth in a grief-stricken heart? Pure joy.

The truth is, throughout the ages, God has always been near to the broken-hearted, and still is today. From the cloud in your storm, God is leading, protecting, and providing for you, too, no matter what your emotions say.

If you believe that truth, why do you worry when burdens rain down? You don't have to remain in dismay. You have a sliver lining! The God of all heaven and earth "rides in the clouds to help you." According to Harry, acknowledging God's presence, power, and provision as the winds of adversity rage, is the secret to finding joy as you rest in the shadow of His care.

My Prayer for Today:

Dear Lord, You have felt far away in my time of trouble, but through this word, I trust that You are near me. Thank You for watching over me, helping me and providing the strength in need to "weather" the storm. Replace my sadness with joy as I look to You in the heavens. Amen.

Application Steps:

Open your Bible to the book of Psalms. Read and meditate on God and His magnificent attributes. Then praise Him for His ability to be whatever you need Him to be and His faithfulness to see you through.

Reflection Points:

What do you trust more, your feelings or God's Word?

Happiness is a choice. Will you choose it today? God is there to help you.

How does meditating on God's character lift your spirits?

Will you acknowledge God's presence, power, and provision for you today?

Power Verses:

When thou passeth through the waters, they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire, thou shall not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. Isaiah 43:2 (NKJ)

But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. Psalm 3:3 (NKJ)

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. II Chronicles 16:9 (NKJ)

I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy; for thou hast considered my trouble; thou hast known my soul in adversities. Psalms 31:7 (NKJ)

Additional Resources:

Coming Out of the Dark, by Mary Southerland
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/outofdark.html

The Art of Helping, by Lauren Littauer Briggs
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/helping.html

Who Holds the Key to Your Heart, Lysa Terkurst

http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/key.html