Brooke Lowry found herself single three weeks before her engagement pictures were scheduled to be taken. It was too late to cancel the photography session, and her dresses had already been chosen and tailored. So she decided on a solo shoot at Disneyland. Her pictures are amazing. Her attitude is even more remarkable.
She describes the day: "It honestly couldn't have been a more beautiful experience, and I was filled with the peace and comfort that only comes from above. I'm so glad I decided to go through with the photos, and more importantly, I'm so grateful for the smallest acts of daily kindness that make all the difference in a broken world."
I'm grateful for Brooke's gratitude, a gift of encouragement in the midst of challenging days. Perusing this morning's news: Protests continued last night in Charlotte as the mayor imposed a midnight curfew. Yahoo says hackers stole information from 500 million users. A strong earthquake struck southeast of Tokyo. Another migrant boat capsized in the Mediterranean, killing at least forty-three people.
As difficult as the news is, tragedy can be used for good if it turns us to faith in God and service to others.
The psalmist noted, "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, 'My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust'" (Psalm 91:1–2). This is an uplifting testimony, but it requires an unstated admission on our part. We don't carry an umbrella on sunny days or retreat to a fortress when there is no enemy. As with any refuge, we dwell in the shelter of God to the degree that we recognize our need to do so.
This is a primary way God redeems challenges—by using them to show us our need of him. In this sense, we can count ourselves blessed when we face problems. "Blessed are those who know their need of God," Jesus taught us (Matthew 5:3, NEB).
There are two ways to experience the omnipotence of God. One is to admit that we face challenges we cannot solve without his help. Such humility positions us to receive all his grace intends to give. The other is to attempt things we can do only in his power. As my mentor John Edmund Haggai often says, "Attempt something so great for God it's doomed to failure unless God be in it."
What challenges will you trust to your Lord's power today? What God-sized goals will you seek to fulfill?
Seventeenth-century minister William Gurnall noted, "Let this encourage those of you who belong to Christ: the storm may be tempestuous, but it is only temporary. The clouds that are temporarily rolling over your head will pass, and then you will have fair weather, an eternal sunshine of glory."
Be faithful to God today, for he is faithful to you forever.
Note: I want to express my gratitude to each of you who supported our ministry yesterday through North Texas Giving Day. Your wonderful generosity makes this ministry possible. Know that I am deeply and personally grateful to you.
Publication date: September 23, 2016
Do you want to live a life in whole-hearted pursuit of loving God and others?
Read today's First15 at www.first15.org.