Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Don't Give Up!

 Tears filled my eyes as I watched a video a friend had sent me of her one-year-old grandson, who was teetering and tottering as he walked a short distance across a room in his house. I admired his determination to walk on feet and legs that weren’t accustomed to standing and walking.

Unsteady though he was, he was laser-focused on making it to an area that contained some of his toys. That cute little “knee high to a grasshopper” fellow knew what he wanted. He went for it. He tossed aside his doubts and fears. He didn’t criticize himself for not walking confidently and quickly like the adults around him. Nope. He chose to do the best he could do and to move toward what he wanted.

Less than an hour later, while paging through a magazine, I came to an article about the true power of senior dogs. The accompanying pictures touched my heart, one in particular.

It depicted a chihuahua wearing a metal brace that was strapped across his mid-section and extended past his hind legs. The assistive device had wheels and looked as if it weighed about as much as the little dog. The caption said, “Despite their health woes, senior dogs never give up. They adapt and move on with life.” 

That photo brought to mind a brave little dog my son-in-law found after the dog had been seriously injured by a hit-and-run driver. My son-in-law took the dog to the vet.

Miraculously, Buddy survived and appeared happy, even as he limped along for a couple of months before having to have one of his rear legs amputated. For several years, he stayed active. But he finally needed to be carried up and down the steps that led to their backyard where he loved to lie in the lush green grass and bask in the sun while watching the other dogs run and play.

Even as his health deteriorated to the point that the vet said the merciful thing to do was to put the dog down, Buddy remained his sweet, easy-going, cheerful self. As always, he seemed to smile at everyone and to enjoy life, despite being in pain.

As I thought about the little boy walking on wobbly legs, about the dog pictured in the magazine, and about Buddy, I realized they were giving me an example to follow: Carry on, despite your circumstances. Adapt. But don’t give up—no matter how hard you must struggle to get to do what you desire to do and to get to the places you want to go.

Dear Reader, are you dealing with something that you feel is too hard for you? Do you want to curl up and give up instead of keep on going? Please don’t give in to those feelings. 

Your friends and family still need you. Even as you struggle, you can still inspire others to continue on—no matter how hard it is. Those around you need you to show them that it is possible to go on. Then when they encounter difficulties, they will remember and follow the courageous example you set for them.

Let’s resolve to live fully during all the days the Lord gives us. Whether we’re young or old, whether we’re well or weak, whether we’re confident or afraid, let’s move forward, thanking God for the gift of each day, for His presence with us, and for the strength He gives us to deal with whatever challenges we face.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

The Mind-boggling Love of God

Sometimes we hear a truth that is mind-boggling, don’t we? For example, according to John 1:12, everyone who has received Christ has been given the right, the privilege, of becoming children of God. Imagine that! We are children of the Almighty God. Children of the One who made heaven and earth and sustains everyone and everything. Children of the One who loves and cares for us far better than even the best of the best earthly fathers ever could love their children.

And…the additional information provided in John 17:23 is also mind-boggling: He loves us as He loves His Beloved Son (Jesus), even though we are “messed up from the floor up.” Even though we break His heart when we ignore Him. Even when we fail to return His love. Even when we sin greatly (and often!) against Him, as well as others.

The Reality of His Love

Can you comprehend such love? I can’t. But it’s a reality for it’s mentioned all throughout the Bible. For example, Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Yes, God loved us before we had even tried to get our lives “together.” As 1 John 4:10 (NLT) says, “This is real love—not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.”

The Eternality of His Love

God won’t stop loving us—no matter what. He said, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you [to Myself]” (Jeremiah 31:3). Centuries later, the apostle Paul wrote this in a letter to the Christians in ancient Rome: Nothing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. To expound upon that truth, Paul mentioned several strong forces that try to separate us—-but cannot. For example, tribulation, distress, persecution, and other things that involve great suffering and grief. True, such difficult things can cause us to doubt that God loves us. But even if we doubt or distrust God—or become angry with Him—He continues to love us and care for us despite the emotional distance we place between ourselves and our Father.

An earthly picture of our heavenly Father’s love is found in the parable Jesus told about an earthly father and his prodigal son. Despite the son’s rejection and the rebellion and other unwise decisions he made, the father continued to love him and to long for him to return home. And when that son finally came to his senses and headed home, his father welcomed him with open arms. (Read Luke 15:11-32.)

The Joy of His Love

Knowing that we are fully loved—and fully known—brings inexpressible joy to our hearts even though others may not love us—or even like us. When we believe that He loves us, we can endure loneliness, aloneness, mistreatment, misunderstandings, rejection, and much more. We can smile (through our tears) and lift our heads, knowing we are greatly loved children of God.

May you and I rejoice in His abundant, constant, and eternal love every day.