Uplift – April 7, 2017

Posted on Posted in Friday Uplift

Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope, without wavering,
He who has promised is faithful.
Hebrews 10:23

You ever have those days where your faith feels rocky?
Where you have even just a moment where you wonder if you might be wrong?
That God might not be with you?
You’re not alone.
In fact, no matter how many times I experience the love and power of God in my life and witness it in the lives of those around me, I still have moments of doubt.
Moments of fear.
Moments where I’m not sure I’ve got anything left in me to give to God.
And moments where it seems like the bad stuff in the world is winning.

And that my friends, is when I go to this verse.
Because it has two images that I love.
First, that language of “hold fast”
The word used there means grab on to, or possess, or hold tightly.
I’m not a heights person, at all, so for me, whenever I’m somewhere high off the ground, I cling.
To railings, ropes, hands, walls, trees.
Whatever I can find that is solid and connected to the ground is my new best friend.
And for my faith this is what baptism is.
When I am in a place that makes my legs weak, and my head spin, I can at least hold onto the promise that I am named and claimed and called a beloved child.
It’s the thing that is most connected to God. It’s solid.
Some days, when my faith is waning, that’s all I’ve got.
And so I hold it tightly.
I cling.

And then, as if that image of holding on to God for dear life weren’t enough,
The author finishes that image with – “He who has promised, is faithful.”

There are a lot of things that aren’t.
That don’t hold up under pressure.
That fall away when I’m scared or stressed or hurting.
But God, the one who has made those promises to me, God doesn’t fail.
God doesn’t cave under pressure.
God who has promised is faithful.
Another way to say that verse using the Greek is: God, the one who has promised, is true.
So that is what I cling to.
God has called me a child of God and that’s it.
Crap happens. Life can be so hard.
Sometimes it feels like my heart can hardly take one more bit of pain or sorrow.
And some days, when things are really bad, that’s when doubts creep in and take over.
But in all those moments, I am still, and always will be, a child of God.
Even in those lowest lows.
Even in the scariest, darkest, loneliest places.
Even when I’m not sure what I believe anymore.
I am still a child of God.
So I cling.
So can you.

Uplift – March 31, 2017

Posted on Posted in Friday Uplift

Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm.
The Lord will repay him for what he has done.
2 Timothy 4:14

No worries – you are still in the right place for the uplift – I promise.
Don’t let this verse fool you.
It doesn’t seem uplifting on it’s surface, but it’s in there.

There are a lot of jerks in the world.
I would know, I drive through the Lowry Tunnel in Minneapolis.
Twice. A. Day.
Mean people are everywhere.
And as random and obscure as this verse in 2 Timothy is, I just love it.
Because we all have those people.
You know who I mean. (you KNOW)
The ones that are hardest to love.
The ones who have hurt us,
the ones who we just can’t forgive,
the ones who keep saying and doing the wrong thing,
the ones who look out for themselves and don’t worry about anyone else,
the ones who are just plain mean.
Especially these days, in our political environment, it feels like we just can’t get along.

So I love this verse.
I love that Paul just lays it out there.
I love how real it is – how human.
It almost makes me laugh when I read it.
We sometimes make Paul out to be this giant of the faith but he was just a dude.
One with faults and who sinned just like the rest of us.
And so here’s a moment we can all relate to.
He’s writing a letter of instruction to young Timothy, and tells him to stay away from this guy.
He’s no friend.
Alexander the metalworker is a jerk.
He has done me a lot of harm.
And yet, this human moment is a teaching one as well.
It’s a reminder that jumping in and calling people jerks isn’t really our job.
It’s God’s.
God will take care of him, Paul says.
It’s not on me to be judge and jury.
God will handle it.

See, I don’t think we like this part about following God all that much.
The part where we give up our right to label people as worthy or unworthy.
The part where we just keep loving God and loving others and letting God do the rest.
It’s hard.
Love is hard.
Judgement is easy.
Hate is actually pretty easy too.
And Paul here is teaching young Timothy that there are jerks in the world and you can choose to not let them be in your life, but that’s it.
And here’s the thing.
God will judge them, yes.
But God will also call them worthy, and loved.  
Even when they are the worst jerks they can be.

“God showed his love for us that even while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Even then.

Which means THREE awesome and uplifting things for us today uplifters:
      1. We don’t have to spend our time with or emotional energy on jerks. God’s got this.

  1. God loves jerks too. So we don’t have to try to do that either.

Which leads to the best part of the good news of this funny verse:

  1. God loves US when we’re jerks (which let’s be honest, sometimes happens)

Even while we’re jerks.
Before we’ve said sorry.
Before we’ve even realized what a jerk we’ve been.
Before all of that – God loves us.
Right in the middle of all the stuff that makes us jerks, there’s God, loving us as always.
Now that’s some good news.
For Alexander the metalworker,
for me,
and for you.

Uplift – March 24, 2017

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Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.
Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:34

What things do you worry about?
What things stress you out the most?  
Your safety?
Today? Tomorrow?

These are all legit.
Completely legit.
But what if we didn’t have to worry?
What if we just let go?

Ok, all Frozen references aside,
What if we stopped worrying so much?
I know, I know.
It’s waaaaay easier said than done.
But it is possible.
There’s that saying that regret is about yesterday, and worry is about tomorrow but today is simply today.  
Have you heard that?
It’s so true.
And regret and worry can take us out of the current moment, no matter how good or bad it is, and bring us to a place of worry, fear, anger, and sadness.
But Jesus reminds his disciples today that this isn’t the full life he is bringing.

In our verse for today, Jesus says that today has enough problems in it without adding ones from yesterday or tomorrow.
I think this is so wise.  
Impossibly hard, but wise.
If you have time, I’d recommend going and reading Matthew’s 6th chapter from verse 25 to today’s verse 34.  It’s all good stuff.
Jesus tells his disciples not to worry.
(Ha – again, easier said than done Jesus)
But he says this not because he has come to take away the bad stuff that happens in life, but that they need not worry because God is taking care of them, no matter what.
Jesus tells his disciples to look at the sparrows and lilies.  They are just little plain birds and a wild flower that grows on the hillside.  They aren’t a big deal.
But we, God’s children, beloved children, we are a big deal.
So if God takes care of those little sparrows and wildflowers,
Imagine how God takes care of you.
You who matter.
You who are loved.

God is taking care of you.
So you really can let it go.

I heard a song this week, and it has been a daily prayer for those in my life who I know are struggling.
So I’m sharing it with you all today: (here)
Hope is not lost.
You’re going to be ok.
God is with you. Taking care of you.

Uplift – March 10, 2017

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Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me;
for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30

I love sleeping.
Honestly, bedtime might be my favorite time of day.
And I’m good at it.
If sleeping were a spiritual gift, I’d have it made.
But this isn’t the case for everyone.
And if you aren’t a good sleeper you are right now you are likely rolling your eyes because DUH.
For some of you, waking up in the middle of the night is a regular thing.
A good night of sleep is the exception, not the rule.
I listened to this podcast episode this week, filled with stories of what people worry about and think about in the middle of the night.
And I have to admit, I was so surprised how many people are up in the middle of the night.
And exhausted.
My husband is one of them.
And I confess to not getting it.
To not understanding the things that keep him up,
To not understanding the things that keep you up.
So first, I want to say to all of you sleepless warriors out there, I’m sorry.
I’m sorry I didn’t get it.
I’m sorry.

Even today, a full three days after listening to the episode, I keep thinking of it.
I keep thinking of all of you.
Awake, wanting to sleep, but being unable to find that bliss of rest.
So if you’re up in the middle of the night, worrying about that thing you said three years ago, stressing about the big event you have coming up,
Replaying a moment you regret with all your heart,
Or even if every song lyric you’ve ever known decided to make its presence known –
This one is for you.

I know that when you’re up in the middle of the night, a Bible verse is probably not going to help in the moment.
Insomnia and anxiety are real issues that can’t just be prayed away.
But rest – real, good, rest – it’s possible.
The things we carry are just so heavy.
We carry regrets and worry and our brains and hearts don’t ever seem to rest.

I remember the first time I really studied this verse, I thought it was so weird that Jesus was talking about a yoke.
My references to that word primarily came from the game Oregon Trail, so I didn’t really get why Jesus said that he’d trade places with me because his yoke was lighter.

I couldn’t get the picture of oxen pulling trailers out of my head.
And even though a lighter one seemed nice, it also didn’t seem like it was good.
Like it helped all that much.
But then I learned that yoke here means teaching.
Jesus is saying, hey guys, all those rules you are following,
All those “shoulds” you are carrying,
They are all so heavy,
And not necessary.
Jesus is offering a trade.
His teaching, his rules, for all the stuff you’re carrying.
And his teaching, his rules –
They are love.
They are grace.
And grace doesn’t weigh anything.
It’s free.
So that we can stop being so burdened.
So tired.
So darn tired.
Instead of oxen in a video game,
I now picture Jesus – arms open, asking “can I carry anything for you?”
So hand it over.
Today. Tonight.
Start laying some of your stuff in Jesus’ arms.  
He can handle it.
So you don’t have to.

Uplift – March 10, 2017

Posted on Posted in Friday Uplift
Truly I tell you,
whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God
as a little child will never enter it.  

Luke 18:17


I know this verse might seem like an unusual choice for an uplift, but it kind of chose me today so I’m going with it. And I’m going to push back on this verse a little bit too, because in light of some conversations I’ve had lately, I wonder if maybe we’ve been thinking about this child-like faith stuff all wrong.

So often this verse is used by preachers and teachers to tell us to have child-like faith, and then if you’re like most people, you interpret that to mean a kind of naive faith that just blindly accepts whatever they hear.

This past week, I was talking with someone who said that kids are “closer to the source” and since they don’t have decades of experiences clouding things up they often have the most honest things to say.
Now that is interesting.
The more we learn and experience, the more we create stories around those experiences, and often it is those stories that move us further away from God, and who God created us to be.
No matter what kind of struggle or difficulty we are going through, we often make the reason to be our fault. We make the bad things about us.
I got sick?  Must be a punishment for something I did.
Someone I love died? I didn’t pray hard enough.
A friend or significant other left? I’m not good enough.
Lose my job? I’m incompetent.
I’m depressed or anxious? I’m broken.
Lonely? I’m unloveable.

We take bad things in our lives and write a story about why it’s happening, and it’s almost never a good one about us.  It’s also almost never true.
I had a psychology professor once say that you’d never say those things to a kid – so why do we say them to ourselves?
You’d never look at a kid and say “well you’re broken”
“Something must be wrong with you”
“You’re just not good enough”
You’d NEVER say this to a 6 year old.
So why is it okay for us to say this to ourselves?

If you’ve ever hung around little kids, especially ones under the age of 5, you’ll notice they haven’t yet learned how to make the bad stuff into a negative story about themselves.
It’s a brain development thing.
They cry when they are hurt,
they throw a tantrum when they are mad (or frustrated, or for no reason actually),
and then in a few minutes they forget about it and move on to the next.
But when they don’t get the dessert they wanted or when they fall down and get hurt,
they don’t turn it on themselves.
they don’t create a story about how they are broken and somehow less than.
they don’t tell themselves that they must have done something to deserve what’s happening to them.
That’s a grownup thing. That’s all us.
(Important side note: trauma changes brain chemistry and development so this isn’t necessarily true for kids who have undergone trauma)

So what if we stopped being such grownups about this?
What if we really did go through our life with a more child-like faith?
Not one that is naive, but one that is full of confidence in who they are.
Kids are joyful and full of life because they haven’t begun to doubt themselves yet.
They haven’t wondered if they are enough.
They haven’t doubted that Jesus loves them and that God is giving them good things.
They just accept it and run around with the freedom of knowing they don’t have anything to worry about.
That, my dear uplifters, is the Kingdom of God.
That is what Jesus means when he says we should receive the Kingdom of God like a child.
And it’s available for all of us. All the time.
Doesn’t that sound awesome?

So let’s try it.
This weekend, no matter what you’re doing,
no matter how you feel,
no matter what you’re going through,
Remember that you are God’s.
Jesus loves you.
And then live and act and be and do as if you believe it.
As if it were true.
Because it is.

Uplift – March 3, 2017

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Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm.
Let nothing move you.

1 Corinthians 15:58

Sometimes there are verses that are pretty self-explanatory,
And then there are verses written by Paul.

A little background to this one –
Paul was writing about resurrection.
Specifically, about Jesus’ resurrection and what it means for us.
People were worried.
Their loved ones were dying and they weren’t sure what it meant in this new way of Christ.
Paul was reminding them that there is a resurrection hope for everyone.
That Jesus’ death and resurrection can be connected to our own.
“For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”
This is big stuff.
Hard stuff.
And yet, it is stuff we still worry about.

We had Ash Wednesday in the church a week ago already,
and on that day we come face to face with our own mortality.
Remember you are dust – and to dust you shall return.
It’s so hard to hear this blatant, blunt reminder of our imminent death.
We’d rather not hear it at all.
But then there it is. On a big ol cross of ashes on our forehead.
Hard to ignore at that moment isn’t it?

Death is like that.
It isn’t something we want to think about,
talk about,
or even acknowledge is a reality in our lives.
And then someone we love dies.
And there it is.
Front and center.
Unable to be ignored.

So we worry.
And Paul knows this.
He knows the weight of losing people we love,
The worry of wondering if we’ll see them again,
And what that might be like.
But he says the “last enemy to be destroyed is death”.
And Jesus did it.
“Death has been swallowed up in victory”
So calm the heck down.
(ok that’s paraphrasing a bit, but you get the idea)
Paul reminds the worrying church in Corinth that death is not something to fear,
That when we remember that death doesn’t have the final word anymore,
Then we can look it in the face and say “death, where is your sting?”
You’ve got NOTHING on Christ.


Knowing this,
Confident in this truth,
Paul says then we stand firm.
We can weather all sorts of storms without being moved.
Because we have this promise.
This hope.
And we know that in the end, there is nothing,
No fear,
No worry,
No illness,
No grief,
Nothing at all,
Bigger than God.
God wins.
So we can stand firm.
And not be moved.
No matter what.

Uplift – February 24, 2017

Posted on Posted in Friday Uplift

Then they sat on the ground with him for seven day and seven nights.
No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.
Job 2:13

This passage comes from the Biblical story of Job.
A book that teaches us a lot about suffering and loss.
Job suffers an incomprehensible amount of grief in a short period of time.
He loses his home, his livelihood, and his children.
All at once.
So his friends do what any good friends would do – they decide to go visit him.
His three friends agree to travel to visit their friend and when they find him he is in such deep grief they almost don’t recognize him.
So what do they do?

They began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads.” (verse 12)

Both of these are symbols of grief and mourning.
These guys were joining their friend in grief, symbolically and physically.
Then … they sat.

And sat…

And sat…

For seven days.
They all sat on the ground and said nothing.
Not one thing.
They just sat there. In silence.
I don’t think we would be very good at this these days.
This practice of seven days of sitting on the ground and being silent together is called sitting shiva.
I wish we still did it actually.
I know it would be almost impossible for me, but I do wish we did it.
I’m a talker. (I know, you’re shocked)
A verbal processor,
And a fixer.
A lot of us are like this.
Oh we don’t like to admit it, but it’s true.
We don’t like silence all that much, and we often don’t know what to do in the face of grief or suffering.
We don’t want to see the physical reminder of someone’s struggles.
We don’t reeeeeally want to know how difficult things really are.
We want to hear the story of how hard it was AFTER someone is “all better.”
AFTER they “get through” it.
But that’s not what this practice is about.
Eventually, Job’s friends do start to talk, and then they make all sorts of wild claims about why this horrible stuff happened.  They are usually used as examples of what not to say in times of suffering.
In fact, you get the idea through this story that maybe Job would have been better off if his friends hadn’t said anything at all.
But despite the many lessons there are in this story of Job of how to respond in the midst of suffering today I want to focus on just two that I have found to be helpful:

  1. They came.
  2. Job speaks first.

First, the friends came.
They didn’t have to.
They could have just sent a card.
But they came.
They were likely really uncomfortable.
They likely didn’t know what to do, or what they were going to find when they got there, but they came.
They didn’t let the not knowing and the awkwardness and fear prevent them from at least trying.
I think it’s really easy to assume that someone you know who is going through something is probably getting a lot of support. Or to assume that you don’t have anything to offer.
Job’s friends didn’t have a lot, in fact, they had pretty crappy answers once they did start speaking, but they were there.
Over and over again, people in the midst of difficult times say that just knowing someone was available was enough. Even if they never take you up on what you offer.
It’s better than pretending everything is ok when it’s obviously not ok.
Job’s friends, for all their faults, didn’t let the fear of saying the wrong thing prevent them from showing up.

And second, they didn’t speak until Job did.
One of my favorite artist/authors Emily McDowell says that “When the silence of listening is uncomfortable, it’s not because silence is a problem. It’s because you aren’t used to it.”
It’s tough to listen, to let the person who is suffering speak without you adding anything to the mix, but sometimes, you have to just sit, even if it takes seven days for them to begin to wrap their head around what the heck is happening. Job’s friends stayed silent until Job spoke.
They let him direct the show because it was his grief and his suffering.
Fixers, helpers and people with big hearts like I know a lot of you uplifters are,
we tend to speak first to help move things along and make it better faster.
Job’s friends, for all their mistakes later, let Job lead the way first.  They didn’t make things worse until they thought they had the right answers or could fix it.
So let’s learn from them.
You absolutely know someone who is suffering today.
You know someone who is going through something really difficult.
someone who is sick,
or grieving the loss of someone they love,
or struggling through a rocky marriage,
or mourning another miscarriage,
or dealing with a diagnosis they don’t understand or know how to handle.
You know.
Be with them.
Sit in silence.
Ask how they are today, right now.
Ask how you can help.
And then listen. They’ll talk when they’re ready.

Lastly, if
you are the one in need,
if you are struggling and sitting on the ground in despair today,
I’m here.
I’m with you.
We’re here. This community is here.
We’re with you.
Ready to sit. To be silent. To listen when you’re ready.

PS. If someone can explain to me why two bears “holding hands” makes any sense with this quote I’d love an explanation. I mean, bears don’t do what the quote is saying in real life… so why not have two people?  Why bears?  I just don’t get it.

Uplift – February 17, 2017

Posted on Posted in Friday Uplift

But as it is written: what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived what God has prepared for those who love him – these things God has revealed to us through the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10

There is a place in which many of us have been.
It’s not a good place.
It’s the bottom.
Some call it rock bottom.
The place where it is darkest, scariest, and where time seems to crawl by.
If you have ever lost a loved one, been in the middle of treatment or illness, or struggled with anxiety and depression, you know what I’m talking about.
Maybe you’re there now.
I know, I KNOW, that hearing “it gets better” does not help.
At all.
Because sometimes that “better” we hear about doesn’t come the next day.
Sometimes “better” takes a long damn time.
Yes, but.
In the midst of the worst,
When you are firmly planted in the bottom, lowest place,
One things holds true:
You are not alone.
Oh I know. It doesn’t feel that way.
But it’s true.

If you grew up with a faith background, you may remember one line in the Apostle’s Creed where we hear after Jesus was buried, “he descended into hell.”
You may have wondered what exactly that means.
And there are a lot of opinions given by scholars for this one.
Sometimes, I like the one that says Jesus was down there doing battle with the devil.
It’s a picture of a kick butt Jesus that I need some days.
But the one I like the most, the one that I think makes the most sense, is that Jesus went to the darkest place, the worst place, so that there was nowhere you could be that God has not already been, and even more, there is no place you could be that God cannot get to.
This is teeny tiny shining light in the darkest place.
It’s hope.
Hope that if God can get there, then you’re not alone.
And if there is one thing we know about God, it’s that God is always repairing, renewing, redeeming.

JK Rowling once said that “rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”
God is that foundation.
Because God is at the rock bottom with you.
For however long you’re there.
God is right next to you.
And while you’re struggling, God is building a way out.
A way up.
Out of the pit.
Into the light.
Where things can be, yes, better.

These verses from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians are ones I go to in those darkest times.
When I want to have hope but just can’t summon the littlest bit.
When it feels like there is no stepping forward for me.
And I let the words of Paul wash over me – he says, but as it is written – no one knows, no one has seen or heard or even fully understands what God has in store.

Fun fact, Paul is quoting Isaiah here, (64:4) and reminding us that it is in our history to hope when things look bleak.  That even at their worst times, the Israelites held on to the promise that things will get better. Even though they couldn’t really fathom it.
And then Paul says these things have been revealed by God through the Holy Spirit.
You guys.
Paul says that we don’t have to imagine anymore.
God is with us, right now.
Through the Holy Spirit, making God’s presence known.
And no matter where we find ourselves, how dark the place we are in is,
No matter how deep the pit surrounding us,
God is there.
Revealing the good things.
Bringing light and hope.
So if you’re in that dark place and can’t get out today,
That’s ok.
Know that you’re not alone in it.
And if you are lifting your head for the first time in awhile, look for God,
God is there.
Ready to help you get back on your feet and out of the pit.

Uplift – February 10, 2017

Posted on Posted in Friday Uplift

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things that you have not known.
Jeremiah 33:3 

There is a lot I don’t know.
And most of the time, I’m ok with that.
But there are times when I just do NOT understand and it is NOT ok.
This is when I go to google.
(You thought I was going to say God didn’t you?)

I’m an information gatherer.
It’s what I do.
When someone tells me they have stage 3 triple negative breast cancer – I go to google.
I learn.
When someone says they are nearing bankruptcy, I figure out what programs are available to help.
Information-gathering is my way of coping with the crap life throws at me.
We all have our coping mechanisms.
Some combination of all of these, or all of them at the same time.
I often trust the internet more than I trust God to answer me.
It’s why I have a reminder ON MY WALL that says “trust in the Lord and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5)
I try, but I tend to find a lot of other things first before just asking God.
Google is my default.
And while I wish that weren’t the truth, it definitely is.
I want a burning bush.
When I ask a question, I want a clear answer.
The problem is that we don’t get a lot of obvious, burning-bush moments these days.
And whether or not we admit it, that’s what we’re hoping for.
Charlton Heston’s conversation with God has ruined many a hopeful pray-er when they don’t receive the same response. (Don’t know what I’m talking about? Watch it here!)
So if we don’t get a loud low voice from a nondescript location, does that mean God hasn’t answered?


In fact, scripture is just filled with reminders that God does indeed hear our prayers, and that God doesn’t just hear them but answers them.
This verse from Jeremiah is especially helpful to me because the Israelites were in the midst of exile.  
They were struggling.
Things were not going well and they were asking God to give them answers.
And God comes to Jeremiah, while he’s imprisoned, and says that things are going to be restored.
Yes, they aren’t awesome right now, but there is good stuff coming your way.
And, God says, call to me, and I WILL answer.
And I will tell you about all the things you don’t know – which is basically everything.
Prayer can be frustrating, when we’re looking for the burning bush.
But while we wait, God is answering in all the world around us.
God’s answers are in the great and unsearchable things.

So here’s what I’m trying (because I still default to google):
I’m going outside.
I’m spending time with the people I love and who love me.
I may not get a burning bush,
but even in the cold of a MN winter,
God is giving me answers in the birds,
in the sunrise,
in the breath I see in front of me,
in the people that are in my life,
And even in the moments where I struggle and I’m not sure what’s next.
When I look back, I can clearly see God’s action, even in the moments where I was sure God wasn’t there.
That’s because God has promised to be there when we call –
always answering, always working, always renewing and restoring.
and that’s all the information I need.

Uplift – February 3, 2017

Posted on Posted in Friday Uplift

Little children, you are from God, and have conquered them;
for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

1 John 4:4

Anyone out there feeling kind of overwhelmed lately?
Just me? Cool.

Really though.
Things for a lot of people have been overwhelming lately.
This week, on top of all the bullhockey happening in our country,
I had the privilege to be with people going through some of the worst moments life has to offer:
someone whose marriage is struggling,
someone who just lost a loved one to cancer,
someone dealing with a difficult diagnosis,
someone contemplating suicide,
someone not sure how to process all the information coming at them daily,
someone feeling discouraged in their work…
Each one, in their own way, is completely overwhelming.
And it can be hard to know what to do.

When I’m overwhelmed,
when I’m feeling like I don’t know what to do or feel or be or anything,
That is when I most often am driven to the promises of God found in scripture.
Because words found elsewhere just don’t seem to do it.
And this text from first John happened to be in front of me right when I was feeling the most overwhelmed this week.

It’s just chock full of promises:
“Little children” is a reminder that we’re children of God. We’ve been given that name and it doesn’t go away.  So I could basically stop there and it would do the trick.
But it doesn’t stop there.
“Conquered them” sounds confusing until you go read this whole section in context (which I always recommend doing) and the “them” is evil, or bad stuff.  I looked up the Greek word for conquer, and one of the definitions said it’s a characteristic of Christians, who “hold fast to their faith, even until death, against the power of their foes and temptations and persecutions.”  

YEAH BABY.  That’s us! That’s what we do. Because we are children of God and that means we always win against the brokenness in the world that’s trying to take us down with it.

The promises continue with the “one who is in you” – which is a reminder that God is with us, always.
And then, the piece de resistance is one little word, “greater.”
God is greater than all the bad stuff.

What. A. Verse.
This verse doesn’t say that bad stuff isn’t real.
Or that if you believe in God only good things happen to you.
No this verse acknowledges the crap in the world is real, and bad and overwhelming.
And then God calls us child, and then basically says “I’ve got this” and gets to work.
Nothing in our life that is bad is bigger than God.
Yeah, it feels bigger sometimes, but that’s when we need this promise.
God, the one in you, is greater than anything else.
I mean dang.
That’s good juice you guys.  

So if you’re at all feeling overwhelmed by life, by the world, by politics, by social media, by anything at all, know that you are a child of God, God is with you, and God’s got this.
God’s all in,
for you,
and God wins.

(boom. Mic drop)