“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” Matt. 6:25-27 (NLT)
Lord Jesus, whenever we’re tempted to wonder about our value to the Father, all we have to do is remember the gospel. By your life, death, and resurrection, we’re forgiven, robed, adopted, and beloved. We feast on a free diet of daily mercies and living water. We praise, bless, and adore you. The birds of the air have nothing on us.
Nevertheless, our weaknesses persist, our anxieties flare up, and our worries get the best of us. So we run to you today, confident of your welcome, and resting in your rule. Please help us with the things we’d love to control, but can’t. It’s not so much that we’re anxious to add a single hour to our lives; it’s more that we don’t want unnecessary suffering—for ourselves or anyone else.
I’ll start with the obvious, Lord. Tuesday, November 8th, we’ll elect a new president in our country. Every day we have more reasons to feel angst, anger, and anxiety. Help us to really believe you’ve “got this one”—that you actually are …
Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” Luke 10:40 (NIV)
I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things. Isa. 45:7 (ESV)
The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble. Prov. 16:4 (ESV)
Lord Jesus, when I first read Martha’s question to you, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?” my initial reaction was one of self-righteous judgment. I found myself wanting to say to her, “If Jesus doesn’t care, who does?” Or, “Martha, get over your whining and finish the meal.”
But there are other scenarios in life, far more confusing and frustrating than Martha’s kitchen, that lead us to ask the question, “Lord don’t you care?” Grant us grace to steward our confusion, hurt, and anger when that happens.
Jesus when we’d prefer your predictability to your sovereignty, grant us big grace and trusting hearts. When you don’t intervene in the lives of our children and when suicide bombings persist; when floods come, jobs go, health fails, and crooks succeed … help us to accept the fact that you “make well-being and create calamity“, and that you have made “everything for its purpose,” even “the wicked for the day of trouble.”
It’s easy to accept disruptive sovereignty, as long as it doesn’t encroach upon our space, our stories, or our families. But …
Let the godly sing for joy to the Lord; it is fitting for the pure to praise him.
Heavenly Father, though I don’t have an awesome singing voice, I do trust an awesome gospel. I am godly only because you have hidden my life in Christ, and I am pure only because you have robed me in the righteousness of Jesus—for which I am profoundly grateful. At least my heart can sing with great volume and robust joy.
2 Praise the Lord with melodies on the lyre; make music for him on the ten-stringed harp. 3 Sing a new song of praise to him; play skillfully on the harp, and sing with joy.
Father, you are the quintessential artist, and you have given us the gift of music and gifted musicians to express our love to you, and deepen our enjoyment of you. For the arts and the artists in our communities, we praise, bless, and adore you.
4 For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything he does.
What really fuels my worship this today, is this reminder of the truth of your Word and the trustworthiness of your heart. Though we’ve experienced the pain of betrayal and broken trust, you remain trustworthy—all the time in every way. Though we don’t understand everything you do, we can trust you with all things—our past regrets, present challenges, and uncertain future.
Though we often wish you’d adjust your timeline to fit our druthers, we can trust you are doing all things well. Though we’ll only understand some things in heaven, we can totally rely on you now. Great is your faithfulness, endless your mercies, more-than-sufficient your grace.
5 He loves whatever is just and …
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace, as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Rom. 15:13 (NIV)
Heavenly Father, meditating on this verse today is like standing under a gentle, steady shower of grace, after near drought-like conditions; or like waking up on a cool, crisp, morning in the mountains of Montana after a month of high-humidity breath-sucking heat; or like a panoramic train ride through Switzerland, in which every scene seems to top the last. Such is the wonder of your Word, the sweetness of the gospel, and the power of hope.
Nothing or no one really has to change for your Spirit to bring us hope in the depths of our hearts, the messiness of our stories, and angst of our circumstances. Whether it’s a “Brexit” vote that causes global uncertainty or the poor choices of good friends; the cancelling of a flight or the adding of a root canal to new week’s schedule; the vacation that didn’t happen or the mold infestation that did happen; the cancer that came back or the prodigal that hasn’t yet… you are still God, still in control, and still good; and we have more than sufficient reasons to have hope—even overflow with hope.
You gave Jesus to us and for us. Everything that needed to be finished, when Jesus was in this world, has been accomplished; and everything …
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10 (ESV)
Dear heavenly Father, thank you for commanding our stillness, for otherwise, we wouldn’t choose it—especially when we’re a little bit (or a big bit) anxious. Help us to cast our cares upon you, as we quiet our hearts before you.
Confirm in our hearts, yet again, that you are in complete control; that you are working all things together after the counsel of your will; that you are working in all things for our good; that we cannot add one minute to our lives by our worry or change one broken story by our fretting.
Father, we long for the magnificent, über-glorious, all-things-new Day of Jesus’ return—the Day when you will be “exalted among the nations.” But we also long for you to be exalted in situations that weigh heavy hearts in this day.
Be exalted in our health care stories. Some of us are waiting for our MRIs and scans to be read; some of us just got disappointing lab reports back for people we love. Father, whether we live or die, whether we have twenty more years, or twenty more minutes, we belong to you through Jesus—and we are ever so thankful. Grant us grace and peace, for however you choose to write our stories.
Be exalted in our family stories and relationships. Nothing fuels our joy, and our anxieties, more than our relationships. Father, renew and refresh our relationship with Jesus, so that we will see others with …
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
Dear heavenly Father, thank you for welcoming us in our weaknesses and worries, and for catching every care we cast in your direction. Should we “pray more and worry less”? Indeed, that’s not a cliché; it’s our freedom. You know my needs better than I do, but here are a few obvious to me:
Always, I need power to love others as Jesus loves me—rather than repaying criticism for criticism, indifference for indifference, or hurt for hurt. I need grace to accept my aging and aching body. I need peace about the political chaos in our nation. I need wisdom for decisions lining up in front of me. I need freedom from the accusing and condemning voice of the enemy. I need faith to trust you with the lives of people I love.
Thank you for what you’ve already done? That’s easy to do, Father. You’ve given Jesus to me and for me—who is my righteousness, holiness, and redemption and a whole lot more! I praise and bless you for the indescribable gift of the gospel.
7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
I gladly receive the promise and provision of your peace, Father. I don’t have to understand everything. I know your timing is Swiss and your faithfulness is great. Guard my fickle, wandering, impatient …
Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” Luke 18:27 (NIV)
Dear heavenly Father, we praise you for your promises of steadfast love, daily mercies, and doing the impossible, for we need all three. Because of your steadfast love, we have incomparable peace. Because of your daily mercies, we have the freedom to be vulnerable. Because nothing is impossible with you, we can trust you with our heaviest burdens and hardest situations.
Father, some of us are running to your throne of grace today, primed for a miracle; some of us are making our way very slowly, under the weight of shame and emotional exhaustion; and some of us are stuck on the mercy-road, not sure we can risk the pain of hoping again. Thank you that you meet us where we are, as we are. Thank you for always running towards us in the gospel.
For those of us who ache with the pain of betrayal, loss, and rejection hold us tightly, close to your heart. We want healing, yet some days we want justice much more than we want mercy for those who have hurt us. Help us Lord.
Father, for those of us who feel the burden of our guilt, the consequences of our failure, and the shame of our foolishness, free us from our attempts at putting things right with you. You must script our repentance and renewal. Only your grace is sufficient. We’re tired of trying to be our own savior.
Father, for those of us who want to trust you with failing health, …
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you. 2 Pet. 3:8-9 (NIV)
Dear heavenly Father, thank you for being patient with our impatience. You’ve never been late for anything. “Swiss timing” is tardiness, compared to the precision of your faithfulness. You’ll send Jesus back into our world, to finish making all things new, at just the right time. That grand Day will happen not a day, early and not a day late.
And how we long for that Day. No more death, pain, or mourning; no more knowing in part or loving in part; no more goodbyes or good riddance’s; no more disappointing others or being disappointed; no more betrayals or rejections; nor more broken hearts or broken anything; no more heartaches or even heartburn.
But Father, your faithfulness isn’t just tied to the timing of the second coming, but to everything else you’ve promised as well. Indeed, there’s no panic or second-guessing in heaven today. You’re not distracted, agitated, or perplexed about anything—that’s us, not you. Though it’s hard to imagine why you haven’t answered certain prayers with a quick and big “Yes!” nevertheless, you do all things well. You gave Jesus for our sins; certainly we can trust you to give us everything else we really need (Rom. 8:32; 2 Pet. 1:3).
So grant us grace in our waiting, strength in our weariness, and …
I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jer. 29:11 (ESV)
Dear heavenly Father, this well known, beloved verse simultaneously confronts us and comforts us. It confronts that part of us that wishes you would simply “baptize” the plans we make for ourselves. We’d write stories that include as little disruption and change as possible; few surprises and no suffering; tons of familiarity and predictability, and very little actual need for faith and waiting. In essence, we’d love for you to be more of a Sugar Daddy than Abba Father. Thank you for your kindness and patience with us.
In our heart of hearts, that’s not what we really want. We don’t really want you to be the clay and us the potter, not really. We trust you; we love you, Father. You gave Jesus to us and for us; of course you’ll give us everything else we actually need (Rom. 8:32).
It’s just that sometimes your plan includes things that, in the moment, don’t really feel like they’re for our welfare at all. There are stretches when it seems like you answer our prayers with a disproportionate amount of “No’s” to “Yes’s”. Healing doesn’t come quick enough (if at all), and there’s more month left over at the end of our budgets. Our kids struggle and furnaces die, cars break down and good friends move on. Instead of grace upon grace, sometimes life feels like disappointment upon disappointment.
And yet—big-time yet, Father, we know better. So grant us fresh grace to wait upon …