A Better Love Song: Suffering and God’s Great Love for Us

BARBARANNE KELLY | CONTRIBUTOR “He loves me. . . he loves me not. He loves me. . . he loves me not” Did you ever play this childhood game? Plucking the petals from a daisy to determine the feelings of a childish sweetheart, the outcome dependent upon whether the flower had an even or odd number of petals. Silly, right? What does the number of petals on any given flower have to do with the intentions of the heart? And yet, is this the narrative that plays in your mind when suffering comes? Do you pluck from the circumstances sent by our heavenly Father to determine whether he loves you? Some circumstances feel loving, others don’t. When he makes you lie down in green pastures and leads you beside still waters (Ps. 23:2), do you sing, “he loves me!”? When he calls you to walk through the valley of the shadow of death (Ps. 23:4), does your heart whisper, “he loves me not”? Suffering forces us to face what we truly believe. Do we believe that God loves us and that he is working all things—even hard things—for our good? When trials come—and they will: disaster, disease, depression, death—which narrative will be our default? When faced with pain, what is the first thought, and then the next, and the next, that enters our minds?

A Better Love Song: Suffering and God’s Great Love for Us2022-05-04T00:31:59+00:00

Our Good Shepherd

The global pandemic of 2020 brought fear and uncertainty to our world. “Shelter in place” became our new normal. In the midst of this crisis, I saw someone post a picture of a black sheep in a nearby yard. As one of the Lord’s sheep, I’ve loved sheep for many years and have seen them on farms both here and in Great Britain. But I’ve but never seen any in my neighborhood. So, I prayed that the black sheep would come through the woods and into our yard. Ten days later, I looked out the window and saw the black sheep along with a white one! They continued to come in our yard every day. They were calming and beautiful to watch, a great diversion from the news of the virus. As these sheep wandered into our yard each day, I couldn’t help but think of the comparisons in Scripture between us and sheep— between shepherds and our Great Shepherd. Prone to Wander The sheep wandered through the woods between our house and other houses in our neighborhood. They were lost and could not find their way home. They needed their shepherd to rescue them. I memorized Isaiah 53:6 as a child. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” I was like the sheep in our yard who had gone astray until I trusted in Christ for my salvation at age eight. He became my shepherd who rescued me and gave me new life in Him....

Our Good Shepherd2022-05-05T00:27:50+00:00

Find Rest in Jesus Christ

The springtime months of 2020 were supposed to be busy. While all the events on my calendar were good things, still, it was packed to the brim, and I had little margin for rest. In fact, for the week following the Final Big Event chiseled into my planner, I had penciled in “Slip into a coma.” And then, a month before my anticipated collapse, the Lord wiped my calendar clean. My best-laid plans were scuttled in the onrush of a global pandemic. As it happens, a clear calendar and government-mandated quarantine do not guarantee a calm heart and mind. Inactivity does not equal rest. Days and weeks of inactivity may still be filled with the restlessness of worry and fear. A multitude of concerns, whether sparked by the virus or other circumstances, threaten to fill my days and keep me awake at night. The rest that I need—that we all need—cannot be found in settled plans, an empty calendar, or even the safety and well-being of my family. We need rest that doesn’t deny these very real concerns, but one that places them in more capable hands than our own. We need rest that entrusts ourselves and our loved ones to the God who made us and loves us and has planned for yesterday, this day, and all our tomorrows from before the beginning of the world...

Find Rest in Jesus Christ2022-05-05T00:38:08+00:00

He is Your Shepherd, Dear Lamb

Who is your shepherd? Who are you seeking to follow? A couple months ago, I spoke to a group of college women and was asked to discuss what my faith was like in college. I expressed that, as a Christian, I struggled to understand what it means to be God’s child. I failed to grasp that I was precious to God. I grew up in a home that was chaotic. It was questionable about who was in charge and I often felt like I had to be in charge, though I didn’t want to be. I wasn’t able to even be a child most of the time. This earthly experience rubbed off, and sometimes still does, on my faith. I didn’t feel invited to be a child of God—even though God’s word assured me that I was through faith (Galatians 3:26). As I talked about that struggle in the college ministry meeting and noticed where I am today many years out of college, I saw a beautiful picture of God’s faithfulness. Over all these years, God has done what He promises. He continually pursued me and loved me (Psalm 139:7-8). While there is still a lot of transformation and growth to take place in life, God has sought me and kept me in His flock. He has shepherded me and reminded me,  I am His little lamb.

He is Your Shepherd, Dear Lamb2022-05-07T23:38:37+00:00
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