Why Me? A New Perspective

On my way to a singles’ potluck dinner, I was reveling in the new car smell of my much loved two-week-old car. Suddenly, out of my peripheral vision, I saw a car lose control and barrel down the cross street I was passing, so I sped up to avoid being hit. After all, I had already been in three accidents—none my fault—in the last two years and finally had gotten rid of the car that seemed to be an accident magnet. “Not this car!” I thought as the car behind me was hit and then propelled into mine. Why me?!! Story break: How often do I ask that? Most of the time the circumstances are not as dramatic as a car wreck. The babysitter cancels. The gas tank is low. Traffic is backed up. The printer jams. Stop for a minute and think with me of the last time “Why me?” crossed your lips, or at least, your mind. One of my last tirades was as a just-purchased iced tea turned over onto the floor of my car. Really? That made me ask, . . . Why me?!! It was all I could think as I watched my new car be towed away like its predecessor, the last time just five months before. God, why me, again? Once the family friends who had (providentially) witnessed the wreck took me home, and I called my family and singles group to tell them what had happened, then I plopped on my bed and begrudgingly grabbed my Bible to look for some sort of understanding and comfort. I thought the Book of Job would be a good place to start, since I felt I had a lot in common with the patriarch. My Bible fell open and (for real!) my gaze fell upon Job 23:10: “But He knows the way I take; When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (NASB). Though the thought of being tried by God was not in itself comforting, the words surrounding it were. “He knows.” God knew what happened. He was there. He hadn’t abandoned me to fate. And “I shall come forth as gold”! It was part of His plan for me, and so were and have been and will be those other times I cry, “Why me?” It often hurts, but He’s polishing me to be His treasure...

Why Me? A New Perspective2022-05-04T23:17:00+00:00

The Secret Sauce of Gratitude

STEPHANIE FORMENTI|GUEST My family and I lived in Brazil for a little over three years. And while I grew to appreciate many things about Brazil, probably the thing I learned to love the most is the delicious food! I love the tropical fruit, the beans and rice, the meat, and the cheese bread. But the best Brazilian food is my mother-in-law’s cooking, and here is the secret to her food: she starts almost every dish by sauteing fresh garlic and diced onions in quality olive oil. It’s the base for nearly everything she cooks, and this flavor combination makes all of her food really delicious. I think gratitude is the garlic and olive oil in our walk with Jesus. Just as food can still nourish and fill me up, if it doesn’t start with my mother-in-law’s secret sauce, it lacks the deliciousness that garlic, onion, and olive oil bring to a dish. In the same way, gratitude enhances our everyday experience with Jesus by bringing flavor and beauty. We can read our Bibles, spend time in prayer, participate in godly fellowship and partake of the sacraments. Those things do provide spiritual nourishment and are essential to cultivating a love for Jesus and for others, but a posture of gratitude aids us in more vividly tasting and seeing the goodness of God. This action of giving thanks is captured in the Greek word eucharisteo. The root word of eucharisteo is charis or grace. We also see its derivative—chara— which we translate as joy. Displaying gratitude then seems to imply a connection to both grace and joy. Maybe gratitude is a repeated decision to receive grace which then results in joy. I believe this happens in our lives in three specific ways. Gratitude provides perspective. Thanksgiving reframes things for us. Gratitude is a perspective changer. It shakes us up and gives us proper sight in two ways: First, gratitude moves us from a position of ownership to a position of stewardship. It rightly places God as the giver of all things (James 1:17), the one who owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10), and the one who gives generously without reproach (James 1:5). This necessitates an acknowledgement that we are simply recipients; to receive a gift is foundationally a posture of humility. We do nothing other than stretch out our hands and accept it. Whatever we have, whether that be material goods, children, financial stability, healthy relationships, athletic prowess, or spiritual insight—we receive all of it as an immeasurably gracious gift from God. He created it all and He owns it all. Whatever we have is a gift from him. Gratitude gives us this perspective. Without it, we spend a lot of time hoarding things and even more time protecting them. We approach life tight-fisted, exhausting our emotional energy and the hours of our day fighting to protect the wealth, relationships, status, achievements, abilities, looks, and power which aren’t even ours to begin with. Secondly, gratitude moves us from a mindset of scarcity to one of abundance...

The Secret Sauce of Gratitude2022-05-04T23:17:11+00:00

Delicious Despair

ANN MAREE GOUDZWAARD|CONTRIBUTOR It was date night. My husband and I were enjoying our first outing in over a year. Our favorite restaurant looked a lot more like a family night; kids and babies were everywhere. My eyes kept connecting with the sweet baby boy at the table next to us. He was cooing in his daddy’s arms while his father gently rocked him. He was content despite all the commotion. I’ve never been much of a baby person. I prefer hanging out with teenagers. But ever since my twin grandchildren were born and passed too soon, I’ve found my eyes lingering on chubby cheeks and toothless smiles. Deacon and Hallie’s brief life outside the womb created an emptiness in my arms for something I had but lost. The void is overwhelming. So, instead of growing impatient with the noise of children and a baby’s laughter, I smiled. As we were leaving, I turned to stand and saw the baby boy seated in a Bumbo on his table happily eating his dinner. I smiled at him. He smiled at me. But, in a flash my joy turned into ugly tears because, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a second Bumbo. Seated next to the baby boy was his sister. His twin sister. My eyes went back and forth between them. Was I seeing correctly? Were twins really sitting right in front of me? Torrents of grief washed over me. I couldn’t stand. I looked to my husband to confirm the scene. He saw the shock in my eyes. He wrapped his arm around my heaving shoulders and helped me walk out of the restaurant. I barely made it to the car. In an instant, I found myself back to square one. Denial. It’s typically the first “step”[1] of grieving.  It had only been a little over two weeks since our grandchildren’s death and, in a heartbeat, I was once again questioning, “Did that really happen? Did mourning really crash into our family’s world? Were the sweet little babies we expected to love and cradle ushered into the presence of God instead?” Grieving is not passive. Suffering isn’t something that just happens to you and then you ride a wave of emotions until the circumstances quell. Suffering is like school, and grieving is how we accomplish the coursework. It’s not the kind of education anyone willingly signs up for. But, when devastation enters our lives, we are automatically enrolled into the seminar on suffering. And, just as we would prepare for any class, we must download the syllabus and begin to faithfully complete the assignments...

Delicious Despair2022-05-04T23:17:18+00:00

On the Longing to be Seen, Heard, and Known

REBEKAH MATT|GUEST “We all desire to know and be known.” “I just want to be heard.” “I feel seen.” The desire to be seen, heard, and known is universal. We all want to feel significant, worthy of attention, and validated by others. It’s painful to feel ignored, anonymous, or irrelevant. Yet we often find ourselves in situations where we feel exactly that: “No one understands how hard this is.” “Why am I even doing this?” “Does anyone even care?” The need to “be seen” is so great that the multi-billion-dollar social media industry has built itself around posts, clicks, and likes that provide people with solid, measurable evidence that they have indeed been seen and approved of by others. We all have this desire to one degree or another—which isn’t surprising because we were created to know and be known by God. He has made seeing, hearing, and knowing him easier for us in so many ways: through the person of Jesus Christ through his Word through evidence of his saving grace in our lives through the beauty, majesty, and intricacy of his creation Wanting to be seen, heard, and known isn’t sinful in itself (it’s part of our human nature, given to us by God), but as with everything in life, sin has tainted it in a big way. It turns out that Jesus had some things to say about being seen, and it is what’s going on in our heart that’s actually important...

On the Longing to be Seen, Heard, and Known2022-05-04T23:17:28+00:00

Three Things Foster Parents Want You To Know

SHEA PATRICK|GUEST My family has been fostering for the last eight years now, and we have adopted two children out of foster care. I will be the first to tell you that I’m not an expert, nor do I have some official badge that allows me to speak on behalf of all foster parents. Every family’s situation and experience are vastly different. However, as I have been in foster parent groups or interacted with other parents who foster, I have heard common themes. I’ve heard similar stories. I’ve heard foster parents say things that the church needs to hear. Three Things Foster Parents Want You to Know We are not “good people.”  This statement is one of the things that I most often hear when people find out that we are foster parents. While it is a very sincere sentiment, it is not correct. In fact, fostering many times reveals more sin in my own heart — just like marriage and the parenting of biological children does. It is a truly sanctifying experience. We are sinners in need of a Savior just like the children that come into our home. We are not THE Savior and not THEIR Savior. Fostering is entering into brokenness, knowing that we are all broken by the effects of the Fall and our own sin. In fact, fostering is choosing to step into someone’s brokenness. Foster and adoption care is counter cultural in that you are choosing something that will break your heart and choosing not to protect yourself. Fostering is pointing these children to the only hope that any of us have in this life — Jesus Christ. So why do we do it? Because we know that Jesus will show up in power in these broken places, even as we seek to be the hands and feet of Jesus to these children (Matthew 25:40). We get attached (and that is a healthy thing.)...

Three Things Foster Parents Want You To Know2022-05-04T23:17:36+00:00

A Desperate Saint

SUSAN TYNER|CONTRIBUTOR A desperate woman can do some crazy stuff. Like tricking your father-in-law to sleep with you to get pregnant. I’m not sure if you’ve ever been that desperate, but let me introduce you to someone who was. Tamar was stuck . . . desperate. (Genesis 38). Tamar was a Canaanite who married into Judah’s family, a family who belonged to the God of Israel. But, when Tamar’s husband died as a judgment for his evil behavior, she was left without a secure future. Thankfully, God provided a practice for widows stuck in this position. The next son in line was to marry the widow and father an heir for the dead brother and his widow, thus ensuring the dead husband a line as well as provision for the widow. Judah, as head of a God-fearing family, told his second son Onan to do the honors. But Onan didn’t like the idea of his son being considered his brother’s, and Onan weaseled out of his duty at the last minute. God judged him as well. Judah’s second son died.   And although their deaths were not her fault, Tamar got the blame. Tamar became a “bad luck bride.” By this point Judah probably felt desperate, too. He was down to his third and last son. What about his dreams for an heir, a name, a future? Judah decided to buy some time. He sent her back to her parents’ tent with the promise of his youngest son once he grew up. Maybe he hoped she would just recede back into her Canaanite tribe, taking her bad luck streak with her. But Tamar was patient, and she must have valued belonging to this family (and perhaps their God?) enough to wait. However, when she saw Judah’s last son had become a man and yet not given to her as promised, she took matters into her own hands. She disguised herself as a prostitute, waited for Judah on the side of a road, and let him hire her services. Three months later, Judah heard his daughter-in-law had “played the harlot” and was pregnant. How dare she! Judah judged Tamar and declared she should be punished by fire. Thankfully, Tamar was as smart as she was desperate. She produced Judah’s identifying cord, staff, and signet she’d kept as a deposit for his sex payment. Convicted of his wrong, he admitted Tamar was “more righteous than I.” Her desperate – and to our way of thinking, plain out crazy – plan forever put Tamar in Judah’s family tree. But I doubt Tamar realized just how much a part of God’s family she’d become. Not only did Tamar get pregnant, she had twin boys. Their birth was so legendary, generations later Tamar’s daring story became an Israelite blessing when Boaz marries Ruth, another Canaanite who married an Israelite...

A Desperate Saint2022-05-04T23:17:45+00:00

A Mother’s Persistent Prayer

CHRISTINA FOX|EDITOR Like many moms, I started praying for my children before they were ever born. I’ve since prayed for all aspects of their life: physical health and development, emotional growth and maturity, behavioral challenges and struggles, and most importantly, their spiritual life. I’ve prayed they would never know a day in their life that they did not know who God is and what he has done for them in Christ. I’ve prayed the Lord would ratify the covenant and bring them to saving faith. I’ve prayed they would grow to love God’s word more and more and desire to grow in their faith. I’ve prayed God would protect their minds and hearts from evil. I’ve also prayed that the Lord would prepare and equip them for how he will use them throughout their lives for his Kingdom purposes. These are prayers I’ve prayed over and over. Perhaps you also have specific prayers you repeatedly pray for your children. Ones that bring you to your knees day in and day out. Ones where you quietly weep as you beseech the Lord on your child's behalf. Ones where you continue to wait on the Lord's response. We are not alone in such persistent prayers. There is another mother, one who lived long ago, who also prayed the same prayers over and over for her child. She also longed for her beloved child to come to saving faith. She persisted in this prayer, and in time, she witnessed the Lord answer it. A Mother’s Unceasing Prayer for Her Son The early church father, St. Augustine, is known for his influence on the early church. One of his most famous writings, Confessions, is an autobiography where he looks back on his life before coming to faith. It reveals how the Lord worked in his life to bring him to himself. Confessions is a conversation, a prayer from Augustine to God, confessing his sinful and wayward heart. In this work, we get an inside look at how God worked in Augustine’s life, bringing him on a winding journey through false religion, idolatry, loss, and hardship to see his great need for the grace of Christ. We see him wrestle with the doctrines of the faith. We see him try to find life and hope outside of God. We see him brought to his knees and receive the gift of grace. It’s an amazing story, one which in many ways mirrors our own journey to faith. One of the most influential people in Augustine’s life was his mother, Monica...

A Mother’s Persistent Prayer2022-05-04T23:17:54+00:00

Thankful for Godly Mothers

SHARON ROCKWELL|GUEST The prophet Jeremiah included words of encouragement for Jerusalem and especially for those who trusted in the Lord. When I think about Mother’s Day approaching, I think about all the amazing mothers who trust in the Lord while raising their families. The words in Jeremiah 17:7-8, apply to all the godly mothers I know, including my own. “Blessed is the man (or mother) who trusts in the Lord,    whose trust is the Lord. He (She) is like a tree planted by water,    that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes,    for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought,    for it does not cease to bear fruit” (words in parenthesis, mine). I am thankful for a mother who took me to church. And though she could not carry a tune, she also taught me her favorite hymns, so that sitting in church I could make a joyful noise unto the Lord and join in with corporate worship. I am thankful for a mother who taught me to say “Yes, I did it,” “I am sorry,” and “Please forgive me.” I learned the appropriate response for my sins, and how to ask forgiveness, first from others and later from God. I am thankful for a mother who taught me from a young age to say the “God is good” prayer at meals, then encouraged me to pray “thank you” prayers before I went to bed until prayer became a habit. As I grew, my mother would pray with me for all of my personal problems, big or small, and was quick to remind me when she saw God’s answers to our prayers, until I began to seek them out for myself. I am thankful for a mother who helped me memorize scripture. Our Sunday School class regularly rewarded us with bookmarks or pens when we learned the Ten Commandments, or other portions of scripture that were part of our lessons. My mother celebrated those rewards as if I had graduated with an advanced degree. To this day, those verses remain in my heart...

Thankful for Godly Mothers2022-05-04T23:12:02+00:00
Go to Top