Let me tell you about the sweetest name I know.
Recently, a little booklet of printouts came home from school with my Kindergartener. It was titled, “Happy Holidays Throughout the World” and on page one I read this:
“Christmas is a holiday celebrated by members of the Christian faith around the world. This is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, who Christians believe is the Son of God.”
His powerful NAME IS in the schools, my friends. He is there in the printed word and in the hearts of those who love him and are serving our children as teachers and helpers. He is in the hearts of the children who trust in Him.
Yesterday I took Sarah Joy to the library and we went straight to the Christmas books. I pulled the books out halfway and dear little Sarah judged them by their covers. We came home with an armful of new books to read. One of them had a picture of Santa reading a book to a lap-full of children and elves. It was titled The Christmas Book of Hope and I read it to Sarah this morning.
“His parents were sick, there was hardly any food, and no joy was found in Timothy’s house as Christmas drew near. Every night he would pray to Jesus for help, but things seemed so hopeless to Timothy……….”
“…….Later that evening, Santa came down the chimney into Timothy’s house, and sitting by the fire were Timothy and his parents. ‘Oh Santa, cried Timothy, ‘My parents are getting better! I think Jesus heard my prayers!’
In the story, one of Santa’s elves wrote Timothy a book of hope, which included this point: “Most importantly, if you believe in Jesus, God will take care of you, especially when times are bad.”
Ironically, I read in a Santa Claus book for children, pulled from our public library, the hope of the world….is Jesus.
(By the way, I don’t believe Santa is any competition for Jesus at Christmas. Jesus wins by far, which is the reason why I don’t make it my mission in life to eliminate Santa from my family at Christmas time.)
I’ve recently had a few days of stress, and what the Lord impressed upon my mind most of all was that Jesus was near, He was around me, comforting me, caring for me, loving me sweetly and gently. He opened my eyes to the abundant life He has given me and I thanked Him.
When I’m stressed out I start to accuse God of not caring enough to make my problems magically vanish away. This is the worst way to deal with problems because the Bible says that everything that happens to a Christian, good or bad, is a planned and purposeful journey for the GOOD of that particular person. If I accuse God, it is treachery to the Very One Who cares for me most of all.
The belief that my faith will give me a perfectly smooth life free from trouble will only cause anxiety in my soul when the stresses of life started pulling me down, down, down.
Truly, life is hard, and there are terribly sad times in life, but the thing about faith in Christ is that He makes the hard parts supernaturally more bearable, because His grace is sufficient and His power is incredible. Jesus is made great and His name is glorified in my weaknesses. For a believer, the peace and comfort that comes from this faith is amazing and comforting. I can let go of the things I cannot control and trust God.
It’s not easy because I am not perfect and there are times of tempting when Satan wants me to doubt my Savior and give up on this beautiful life that seems so pointless at the time. But I have to correct my negative thinking to truth. A good question to ask yourself when you’re thinking a negative thought is: “What is the truth?” And answer that question honestly with the Word of God.
Never blame God for things. Thank Him for his care in your life because without Jesus we would be much much worse off. We would be on the path to certain destruction.
One of the downfalls of an affluent society is that we become spoiled and proud without even realizing it. We lose our feeling of need. My greatest need was for my sin to be washed away, and that was dealt with by the grace of God many years ago. But, personally, I am thankful as I continue to wrestle with my greatest struggles of stress and anxiety, and depression ONLY because it gives me a reason to fall on my face before Christ, ready and waiting for his arms around me to become reality in my soul again. He always tenderly cares for his precious children but how can we realize and thank Him unless we have an idea of our utter dependence?
The Bible says that Jesus said these words to His disciples: “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.” Matthew 11:29
I love this Scripture because so often we think we need a complex Bible Study, or theological studies that go beyond the simplicity of simply studying Christ Himself. (the study of Christ is the most profound of all.) I believe we should always start everything with a deep and appreciative look at Jesus, our Savior, our Everything.
Over the last few days, I’ve been reading an old favorite book that does an amazing job at explaining the expressions of love that Christ extends to His followers.
A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, by Phillip Keller (highly recommended)
“We live a most uncertain life. Any hour can bring disaster, danger and distress from unknown quarters. Life is full of hazards. No one can tell what a day will produce in new trouble. We live either in a sense of anxiety, fear and foreboding, or in a sense of quiet rest. Which is it?
“Generally it is the ‘unknown,’ the ‘unexpected,’ that produces the greatest panic. It is in the grip of fear that most of us are unable to cope with the cruel circumstances and harsh complexities of life. We feel they are foes which endanger our tranquility. Often our first impulse is simply to get up and run from them.
“Then in the midst of our misfortunes there suddenly comes the awareness that He, the Christ, the Good Shepherd is there. It makes all the difference. His presence in the picture throws a different light on the whole scene. Suddenly things are not half so black or nearly so terrifying. The outlook changes and there is hope. I find myself delivered from fear. Rest returns and I can relax.
“This has come to me again and again as I grow older. It is the knowledge that my Master, my Friend, my Owner has things under control even when they may appear calamitous. This gives me great consolation, repose, and rest. ‘Now I lay me down to sleep, for Thou God keepest me.’
“It is the special office work of God’s gracious Spirit to convey this sense of Christ to our fearful hearts. He comes quietly to reassure us that Christ Himself is aware of our dilemma and deeply involved in it with us. And it is in fact in this assurance that we rest and relax.”
I titled this post “sweetest name I know” because even saying the very name “Jesus” is a sweet prayer of need to a believer. Jesus tenderly cares for His much-loved children. He has blessing and comfort for us, hands that reach out, no harshness, no judging, only pure and perfect love is in His eyes. His disciples leaned against his breast, and that is what we may do as well.
“Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.”
What a picture of closeness, and security!
Sometimes, to get a sense of the love Jesus has for me, I imagine the person I feel safest with next to me in the room. Who do I feel the most love and comfort from? My husband comes to my mind, my parents, trusted friends and family members who have always accepted me no matter what, who would hold and carry me through difficulties, laugh, cry, talk, care about me, ….I think of these people and then realize that Jesus loves me just as they do, but EVEN MORE, FAR MORE than we could even imagine.
There’s within my heart a melody
Jesus whispers sweet and low:
Fear not, I am with thee, peace be still,
in all of life’s ebb and flow.
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
sweetest name I know,
fills my every longing,
keeps me singing as I go.
Luther Bridgers (1884-1948)
While at church this past weekend Pastor Ryan was discussing anxiety and the way in which it grips us all. The one thing I was left with was this: anxiety is a lack of faith in God. It was a punch to the gut because so often I am stressing about bills, about a paper I have to write, about the house being a mess when the truth is that God always provides, he always sees me through. I have been stewing on that truth all week. Hugs and love to you sweet Shanda. xo -Chris
When I hear that (“anxiety is a lack of faith”) I feel more anxious because when I look at my faith “I am always not good enough”. What helps me (because I understand what your Pastor said, and it’s true!!) is knowing that even with faith as small as a mustard seed, God can move mountains. If someone is saved than they have faith, but it can be enhanced by a couple of basic ways: #1) a proper view of God –He is AMAZING, how can we doubt when we understand WHO it is that is caring for us! and #2) reading the Bible. When I take my eyes OFF my own faith and on to WHO I have faith in, my anxiety lessens.
Much love to you, too, Chris, and I would love to hear more of your thoughts on this!! Thank you so much for the thoughts, I love them!
I’m sorry you’ve been having a rough time, lately, my sweet friend. I always appreciate you for ‘keepin’ it real’ and for sharing your rough times, as well as the good ones. Though I’ve been in the place you are at right now many times in my life, I’m on the mountain top right now. It’s easy to forget that there are also valleys yet for me to walk through again, and I appreciate your reminder to keep my eyes on Jesus…and you are so right…the valleys leave us with no other place to look, but UP. In many ways, I feel so much closer to Him during the rough times (rather than the mountaintop times) for exactly the reason you said…complete and total dependence on Jesus for every step I take.
I so appreciated this post! …and I appreciate YOU for being you!
Thanks, Kara! I’m feeling much much better….I love writing things out so had to post this today…I’m so thankful for my salvation! Glad you’re on the mountain top and praising God! xo
I feel the same way about writing things out…and about my salvation, too. I’m glad you are feeling better.
So blessed by your thoughts, and your focus on Jesus, sweet Shanda. Love those places in school and library that the light was beamed out to all. This is the week of HOPE in Advent, praying for the God of Hope to be lifting you up. You are so right to focus on the word of God. I found such help and even relief when in God’s word when I had menopausal depression. I thought of you yesterday when we had a gloomy grey day, though I was thankful for the rain, it seemed so dark. Light your special light during this season. You minister so much in sharing your life and contemplations. I am blessed by you and think of you so often!
Thank you for sharing this. I really needed to read it.
Great thoughts Shanda. This made me think of a quote I read recently that caught my attention, “When I understand that everything happening to me is to make me more Christ like, it resolves a great deal of anxiety.” AW Towzer
Have you been recording my life? Lol. The past 2 months have been this way for me. But the adversity taught me alot. It taught me to pray for the person who hurt me, and to overcome it with good. It also reminded me He is my Shelter. My Rock. My FRIEND. And as I leaned upon Him I was able to do what was necessary to go thru the situation.
He became dearer as I drew nearer. Immanuel god with us.
Thankyou for sharing.
I love that book too!;)
You wrote out just what I, in short, wrote about today too! Having faith doesn’t mean rough times won’t happen but it is how we look through the times that changes us for the better. ” Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience.
James 1:3 NKJV