Just as every time I am made to stop, God opens my eyes to what He is doing in that moment. I realized that even though the wind was howling, God was keeping us safe and secure. It seems like this has been my life theme since 2020. As things have changed and surprised us over the last year and a half, God has continually showed us that He cares for us and is keeping us safe. Whether it was keeping us from becoming ill, providing our needs from day to day, or keeping us safe from storms (both figuratively and literally), God was faithful to show He cares for us.
Sometimes things happen that leave us feeling vulnerable and we do not feel His presence. What if we do become ill, or we cannot find things we need, or we get stuck out in the storm? Is it because He is distracted or that He doesn’t love us? Quite the opposite! It is times like these that we learn to lean on Him, learn what He wants to teach us, and learn to depend on Him more.
It is through illness that we realize He is our comfort and strength.
Through times when we feel lack or need, we learn that He is the provider of everything good.
During storms in our lives, when life is chaotic and we feel fear and helplessness, we learn that He is our hope and salvation.
His care for His children is constant because He does not change.
Next time you are sick, or in need, or are experiencing chaos in your life, I hope these verses will remind you that He will keep you safe through every storm.
dinnerware to a high gloss shine. Matching glasses were sought (with six kids, that was a harder task than imagined!) and given an extra wash and dry. Emily Post’s Etiquette…The Blue Book of Social Usage was studied to ensure that every place setting was correctly arranged. While my sisters and I were earning Girl Scout merit badges, we were given the great honor of setting the table (and our mother inspected its accuracy before the Big Event). Table manners were policed daily, so we didn’t need many reminders except for the occasional “look” to get our elbows off the table.
Emily Post was also consulted beforehand if we expected additional guests. We knew we could skip the sections on introducing the President of the United States, a Reigning Sovereign, or a Cardinal (even though we were Episcopalians, it probably wasn’t going to happen), but went right to the many sections on informal introductions, including kindly looking people in the eye while shaking hands. My mother overlooked the advice that young children were not involved in introductions as we were expected to greet guests with utmost courtesy just like the adults. Removing hats when indoors, rising when someone (not younger than you) enters the room, making conversations with others (I probably should have spent more time with the latter topic) were all studied in her book on etiquette.
We certainly consulted Emily Post regularly when writing letters to be sure they were addressed correctly, salutations were in the right form, and appropriate closings used. Etiquette also has great tips on writing many different types of letters. Thank-you letters were essential! As I was perusing the reference for this blog, I came across these lines in her book:
Here in black and white was a clear connection between Emily Post and the Bible! Growing up on the King James version of the Bible, I wouldn’t consider it renowned for “simplicity of expression,” unless you’re reading Proverbs or Psalms. Although I wouldn’t look to the Bible to teach me how to set a table, a connection between the two sources includes the expected outcomes of: courtesy, common sense, respect, and kindness.
My annotated Leadership Bible (NIV) introduces the chapter on Proverbs this way:
A wealth of sage advice appears here, such as: Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs. (Proverbs 10:12) A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. (11:25) An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. (12:25) A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (15:1)
It certainly seems that the world could use more regular doses of the wisdom written down by Solomon, the wise men, and Agur and Lemuel some 2800 years ago (around 950-700 B.C.) in Proverbs. Paul’s writings 700-1000 years later in Philippians are full of the “joy and encouragement that inspires its readers to focus their thoughts and actions on Jesus Christ.” (Leadership Bible) “Only by pursuing him first will we discover the peace and contentment that come from God.”
Were most of us (dare I suggest: all of us?) to follow God’s teachings of 3000 years ago or Jesus’ teachings of “only” 2000 years ago, or some of Emily Post’s teachings of 100 years ago, we would surely be treating each other with more courtesy, common sense, respect, and kindness.
This Thanksgiving, as we look back over comforting memories of times gone by with family and friends, may we all strive to look forward while keeping our Lord’s teachings always in mind and heart.
I’m thankful for you, my friends in Christ! Happy Thanksgiving!
First, who is this medical resident?
Dan Tran is a resident at Virginia Commonwealth University. Dan was diagnosed with lung cancer at age 30 during his second year of medical residency as an oral surgeon. It started out with back pain and numbness in his legs. When an MRI showed a tumor on his spine, Dan knew it was serious, but nothing prepared him for the unexpected diagnosis of advanced lung cancer. Dan was a health-conscious, non-smoker, just embarking on a hard-earned career. Following surgery to remove his tumor, Dan received treatment that targeted a specific mutation that was driving his cancer growth.
Second, where does the snow come in?
After Dan had surgery, a snow storm came through his Virginia community laying down two to three feet of snow and covering his driveway. He planned to go back to work but there was no way he was going to be able to shovel his drive. He called the office to say he wasn’t going to be able to make it. In less than an hour, doctors, nurses, and other staff were at his home, shoveling his drive.
We might be tempted to think they just really needed Dan to take his shift! But, their kindness didn’t end there. They began bringing meals, checking on him daily, and came over for holidays.
The kindness of that busy staff raised the positivity of the entire residency program.
How this relates to Jesus
One of Jesus’ most familiar interactions is in a story he told about people doing the very kind of things Dan’s colleagues did for him. There was a king in this story and Jesus blessed these people for showing the king kindness in small ways. They responded by saying, “When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
To this day, we have positive, thankful responses when we see these same kinds of micro-actions of kindness demonstrated in everyday situations like Dan’s.
Third, what happened to Dan?
Dan is now back to work and is bringing kindness to the doctor’s office and other cancer survivors. He has a whole new perspective on what it’s like to be on the other side of the stethoscope. The experience taught the young father that life isn’t guaranteed, and we could all benefit from a dose of kindness. He’s also advocating for other patients like him so they know they aren’t alone. You can follow Dan’s journey at danfightscancer.com.
Fourth, hear Dan tell his own story on the NPR Kindness Podcast.
NPR affiliate, WOUB, hosts the NPR Kindness Podcast. You can hear Dan’s story here.
Kindness has the power to transform a mundane, passionless life, but it also has the ability to re-route a single bad day. The Host of the Kindness Podcast, Nicole Phillips, talks with people who share their uplifting stories.
In His Name, Pastor Neal
express gratitude for the people in your life? Family, friends, colleagues, the people God puts in our lives are there with purpose. They share their love, pass on wisdom, and teach us in ways that push us to grow. Won’t you join me over the next couple of weeks, intentionally sharing our gratitude with those who God places on our hearts? Reach out to a friend you’ve been meaning to connect with, send a card to someone who you haven’t seen in a while, or journal in gratitude to God. Connection is such a blessing, especially around the holidays!
So if I withhold forgiveness from my neighbor (or brother, or wife, or boss) I’m withholding it from me! But if I forgive my neighbor, I’m accepting God’s forgiveness to me. It’s a package deal. All or nothing. It’s a tough bargain. So I try daily to pray … help me to practice forgiving others and help me Lord to accept your forgiveness!
In His Name, Kent
Our staff is voluntold each week and with grace they share their thoughts.