Is God still Good When Life Hurts?

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Dad was diagnosed with cognitive decline five or so years before his death. Although the doctors never put a name to it, the reality was Alzheimer’s disease. We had seen the signs.

An engineer by trade, he could no longer troubleshoot the systems he helped design and install. The man, who in my opinion, could do anything, and who had practically rebuilt an old home as a hobby, was unable to install an electrical outlet.

Naturally quiet, he became more withdrawn from conversations.

Anyone who has traveled this path with a loved one knows how difficult it is to witness your loved one fade away.

When the neurologist confirmed what we suspected, my prayers began in earnest. For healing, yes. But really for more.

For the Lord to protect my dad’s mind from the ravages of the disease.

For dad to know us.

For dad to know he was known and loved.

For my mom’s ability to be his caregiver.

My most fervent prayer was for the Lord to protect the love that my parents shared in marriage for 55 plus years.

When we encounter those tough times, the hurt-filled times, a natural question is to ask, God, do You care? Are You still good?  I am honored to be guest posting over at Lighthouse Bible Studies where Katy Kaufman is exploring the goodness of God. Join me over there for the rest of this story and discover how our answer can be a resounding yes!

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When You Pray for Capacity, Be Ready For The Invitation

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The raised car hood signified something was amiss. The owner was animatedly talking into his phone, and as I walked to my car in the parking lot of my work place, I overheard snippets of his conversation.

It was running fine when I returned from lunch

            I don’t know why it won’t start now

            No, it’ll be two hours if you come and get me. I don’t want you to have to do that

            I guess I’ll call a tow truck

Bummer, I thought. I am so glad I’m not him. I got in my car, my mind preoccupied with the commitments I had that evening I was pressed to be on time for.

As I backed out of my parking space, I came abreast of him. Running through my head were all the reasons why I should just put my car in gear and keep going – like everyone else leaving for the day.

He has a phone. He can call someone

        I have commitments           

I am already late, if I don’t get on the road now, it’ll take ME two hours to get home

       Wish I could help, but….

But… during my devotional prayer time in the preceding weeks, I kept coming across a prayer prompt to ask for the capacity to be a blessing.

When I think of capacity I usually think of volume or size. How much of something can something else hold? Event rooms and elevators have capacities. My 5-qt Crockpot has, well, a 5-quart capacity. Being the slight word nerd that I am, I looked up capacity. Did it mean what I thought it meant?

Yes, the meaning includes space or room, but also the ability to receive as well as the capability to do. In the context of capacity to be a blessing we might define capacity as recognizing and responding to an invitation by God to represent him to someone else.

In order to take advantage of something’s capacity, it must first be empty. To exceed the capacity of what something can hold almost certainly invites consequences.

We all know the stress of over-whelmed schedules where we have to be in three places at the same time. We all know the feeling that we simply cannot be responsible for one more thing to remember. We all know the stress of more month than money at times. We all know what it feels like to have zero capacity: something akin to a pressure cooker ready to explode if one more person needs us to do one more thing.

As I pondered the idea of praying for the capacity to be a blessing, it occurred to me that if was going to be in a position to receive an invitation to be a blessing, I would actively have to make room. God puts opportunities to be a blessing in front of us with regularity. Most of the time I see them in hindsight, having missed it because I was too focused on my here and now situation. As long as we are running from one thing to the next, or stretched to almost breaking in our checkbook, or living on caffeine instead of sleep and healthy food, we are not positioned to receive the invitation. We aren’t available.

We must purposefully create capacity. The paradox is that we must also be full.

We must be full of the Spirit in order to have capacity to be a blessing. Click To Tweet

Word of God full. Holy Spirit full. If we do not have the Word tucked into our hearts, we will not know the prompting of the Spirit because we will not recognize his voice. Being full of the Holy Spirit arrests our “me-centered” focus and provides us an awareness of God’s invitation.

Most importantly, the Holy Spirit shifts our perspective to what is important for the kingdom

What does this all have to do with the man in the parking lot?

Just as the “Wish I could help, but….” thought rolled across my consciousness, I remembered what I had been praying for. Capacity to be a blessing. Then I remembered the set of jumper cables I had in my trunk.

I have never used jumper cables. Until recently, I have not ever had jumper cables in my trunk. I am not even sure where they came from. Remembering I had them was definitely a prompting of the Holy Spirit. I did have some place I needed to get to. I did have a grinding commute ahead of me. But … the Lord gently reminded me of my prayer. Was I really in that big of a hurry?

That is when I stopped and rolled down my window to ask the man if I could assist. A mere five minutes later his car was running and I was on my way home.

I think we tend to over-complicate capacity. It does not have to be a week-long vacation used for a mission trip. It can be a card, a stamp, and the few minutes it takes to write a note of encouragement. Capacity doesn’t have to grand, but it does need to be available.

Capacity doesn’t have to grand, but it does need to be available. Click To Tweet

Such a simple thing – jumper cables and five minutes. Joy in recognizing and responding to God’s invitation bubbled up and spilled out in thankfulness that had me doing fist bumps with him.

And, I made it home in plenty of time for my next commitment.

God is good like that.

Pray for your capacity to be a blessing to others.

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A Season of Happysad

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Happysad. The paradoxical mixture of joy, pride, and melancholy that happens when we stand in the intersection where one season of life is finishing and another starting.

Weddings are such a moment. Celebration of Life services might be another.

Graduation from high school is another.

Facebook is teeming with moments celebrating graduating seniors, most of them by moms. Pictures of babies now grown. Pictures of caps, gowns, and smiling young people. Brags and boasts on the awesomeness of their child. This is exactly how it should be. We all know that they were not always awesome, were sometimes downright awful, and that we had plenty of not- so- great parent moments. But, come the end of May and the end of their final school season, we set all of that aside and shout to the world our pride in our kids.

The transition from high school to “next” is a big one and needs to be celebrated. More than most things, it seems to signify that childhood is complete and adulthood starts. Now, we all know that is not true, but try telling that to our hearts. Right?

As I see the posts out there, I also hear the cry of a heart that is putting on a brave face because while you ARE truly celebrating, your heart hurts too. You’ve done a great job raising that child into a young adult. Your job is far from over (Amen, anyone?) but it is changing. Your bird is leaving the nest and you are the wind that is helping this process. That hurts just a little bit, all in a good way.

When a friend reached out to say, “I’m feeling a little down today,” I remembered what my own momma’s heart experienced when my boys graduated from high school.


There just isn’t another way to put it. I was filled with joy and happiness, and enjoying the celebration while the rogue tear slipped down my cheek. Truly proud of the young men my boys had become and yet wondering, When on earth did this happen? Excited and ready for them to move on while desperately wanting to hang on to that little boy who still needed his momma.

You know what I mean, don’t you?

It is easy to get caught up in our own lives and forget that someone is lonely today in their happiness. My friend’s call reminded me to reach out to my other momma friends who have seniors graduating this month and simply ask, How are you doing today?

Someone needs to hear from you today to know they are not alone. Even in their happiness. Click To Tweet

Those posts are from a momma with a heart that is simultaneously bursting with pride and silently breaking. If you know one of these momma’s – call her today and say I’m thinking about you. Text her today and ask her how she’s doing. Hug her neck the next time you see her to let her know that you know. You don’t even have to say anything.

You may not necessarily know the feeling of a graduating senior but you know the feeling of happysad. You know the feeling of joy tinged with poignant melancholy.

You know.

Reach out and forge that bond that lets someone else know they aren’t alone today. Be happysad with them.

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