Bible Verses for those who are Grieving

  • Psalm 23:4 ESV
    Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
        I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
        your rod and your staff,
        they comfort me.
  • Psalm 30:5 ESV
    For his anger is but for a moment,
        and his favor is for a lifetime.
    Weeping may tarry for the night,
        but joy comes with the morning.
  • Psalm 34:18 ESV
    The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
        and saves the crushed in spirit.
  • Psalm 73:26 ESV
    My flesh and my heart may fail,
        but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
  • Psalm 119:50 ESV
    This is my comfort in my affliction,
        that your promise gives me life.
  • Psalm 147:3 ESV
    He heals the brokenhearted
        and binds up their wounds.
  • Isaiah 53:4-5 ESV
    Surely he has borne our griefs
        and carried our sorrows;
    yet we esteemed him stricken,
        smitten by God, and afflicted.
    But he was pierced for our transgressions;
        he was crushed for our iniquities;
    upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
        and with his wounds we are healed.
  • Lamentations 3:31-34 ESV
    For the Lord will not
        cast off forever,
    32 but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion
        according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
    33 for he does not afflict from his heart
        or grieve the children of men.
  • Matthew 5:4 ESV
    Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:52-57 ESV
    in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

    “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
    55 “O death, where is your victory?
        O death, where is your sting?”

    56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

  • 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 ESV
    For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,  as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
  • Revelation 21:4 ESV
    He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Bible Verses for When you Need God’s Comfort

  • Psalm 23:4 ESV
    Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
        I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
        your rod and your staff,
        they comfort me.
  • Psalm 71:21 ESV
    You will increase my greatness and comfort me again.
  • Psalm 86:17 ESV
    Show me a sign of your favor,
        that those who hate me may see and be put to shame
        because you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.
  • Psalm 119:50 ESV
    This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.
  • Psalm 119:52 ESV
    When I think of your rules from of old,
        I take comfort, O Lord.
  • Psalm 119:76 ESV
    Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant.
  • Psalm 119:81-82 ESV
    My soul longs for your salvation;
        I hope in your word.
    82 My eyes long for your promise;
        I ask, “When will you comfort me?”
  • Isaiah 12:1 ESV
    You will say in that day: “I will give thanks to you, O Lord, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, that you might comfort me.
  • Isaiah 40:1 ESV
    Comfortcomfort my people, says your God.
  • Isaiah 49:13 ESV
    Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the Lord has comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted.
  • Isaiah 51:3 ESV
    For the Lord comforts Zion; he comforts all her waste places and makes her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song.
  • Isaiah 51:12 ESV
    “I, I am he who comforts you; who are you that you are afraid of man who dies, of the son of man who is made like grass,
  • Isaiah 52:9 ESV
    Break forth together into singing,
        you waste places of Jerusalem,
    for the Lord has comforted his people;
        he has redeemed Jerusalem.
  • Isaiah 56:18 ESV
    I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will lead him and restore comfort to him and his mourners,
  • Isaiah 61:1-2 ESV
    The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
        because the Lord has anointed me
    to bring good news to the poor;[a]
        he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim liberty to the captives,
        and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;[b]
    to proclaim the year of the Lord‘s favor,
        and the day of vengeance of our God;
        to comfort all who mourn;
  • Isaiah 66:13 ESV
    As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.
  • Jeremiah 31:13 ESV
    Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.
  • Zechariah 1:17 ESV
    Cry out again, Thus says the Lord of hosts: My cities shall again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord will again comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem.’”
  • Matthew 5:4 ESV
    “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
  • Acts 9:31 ESV
    So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.
  • 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV
    Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
  • 2 Corinthians 7:6-7 ESV
    But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted by you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more.
  • 2 Corinthians 13:11 ESV
    Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
  • Philippians 2:1-2 ESV
     So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
  • 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 ESV
    Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace,
     17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

How our hearts long for home

Way back in September, my son screamed and kicked as I carried him back into the house after his sisters climbed onto the big yellow school bus.

He still struggled some mornings well into the spring,  especially after spring break.

This morning, partway through June, he once again stomped around the house with his chin tucked down to his chest and his arms criss-crossed after the girls walked out the door.

All this morning I tried to explain summer break to him, painting it as vividly as I could.  This is the very last day in the school  year.  The girls will get to be with us more and we’ll  have adventures together and time at home with each other.

But he still grumped around for at least 30 minutes because that didn’t make sense to him.  The “Promised Land” of summer was closer than he ever realized, but still too far away to be real.

I  sympathize with him.  I know what it’s like to long for the promise fulfilled and to be oh so close, but not quite there yet.

On Monday, I  walked through our soon-to-be new house and signed off saying it’s fixed up the way we want.

Then I drove back home to our current house, dug out yet another item I had already packed in a box,  and continued the waiting for word of our closing date.

So, longing for what’s right around the corner but not being able to fully relax and celebrate?  I’m right there with you, son.

This insatiable longing for what is to come makes me wonder, though, why I don’t ache more often for “home.”

All of us should be longing for heaven.  It should be a deep stirring within us because absolutely nothing we achieve or receive on this planet will fill up that gnawing need for eternity with Jesus.

Before He died, Jesus comforted His disciples with these words:

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also (John 14:1-3 ESV).

Our heart’s truest desire should be this: to be with Christ in that place He’s prepared for us.

We can live like Abraham, who was willing to  abide in tents because “he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, who designer and builder is God”  (Hebrews 11:10 ESV).

He didn’t need a palace, a mansion, or a luxury condo.  Instead, he was satisfied with a tent because he had heaven in mind.

And those other ancestors of faith looked forward also.  The Bible says, “They desire a better country, that is,  a heavenly one” (Hebrews 11:15).

Isn’t this what we desire, too?

When we  hear the news yet again:

Divorce.   Abuse.  Neglect.  Death.  Cancer.   Pain.  Injustice.  Starvation and famine.  Poverty.

Don’t we ache with the way this doesn’t fit?  It’s not right?  This isn’t God’s best?

And that’s when we remember to cry out:  Come, Lord Jesus!  We long for you so!

We long for heaven.  This yearning for the eternal is deep within us and it should drive who we are.

It should stir us to PATIENCE with the now when God asks us to wait because we keep looking forward to His promises fulfilled.

It stir us to  ACT.  Stand up for what is right.  Pursue righteousness.  Offer mercy.  Live justly.  Because the Kingdom of God is  something we can live now in anticipation of perfection in heaven.

Eternity doesn’t begin for Christians after we die.  Eternity begins the moment we accept Christ as Lord.  I’m already living in my “forever with the Lord” and that means pursuing Jesus’s presence here and now.

And it should stir us to PRAY:  To come before Him with hearts crushed and broken by sin and evil.  We seek the hope that only Jesus can bring: the assurance that this isn’t all  there is.

He is indeed preparing a place for us.

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4 ESV).

“This world is not my home; I’m just a-passing through.”

Bible Verses for Those Who Mourn

verses-for-those-who-mourn

  • Psalm 23:4 ESV
    Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
        I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
        your rod and your staff,
        they comfort me.
  • Psalm 30:5 ESV
    For his anger is but for a moment,
        and his favor is for a lifetime.
    Weeping may tarry for the night,
        but joy comes with the morning.
  • Psalm 34:18 ESV
    The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
        and saves the crushed in spirit.
  • Psalm 46:1-2 ESV
    God is our refuge and strength,
        a very present[b] help in trouble.
    Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
        though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea
  • Psalm 73:26 ESV
    My flesh and my heart may fail,
        but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
  • Psalm 119:50 ESV
    This is my comfort in my affliction,
        that your promise gives me life.
  • Psalm 147:3 ESV
    He heals the brokenhearted
        and binds up their wounds.
  • Isaiah 53:4 ESV
    Surely he has borne our griefs
        and carried our sorrows;
    yet we esteemed him stricken,
        smitten by God, and afflicted.
  • Lamentations 3:31-33 ESV
    For the Lord will not
        cast off forever,
    32 but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion
        according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
    33 for he does not afflict from his heart
        or grieve the children of men.
  • Matthew 5:4 ESV
    Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
  • 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV
    Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 ESV
    But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
  • Revelation 21:4 ESV
    He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

It Helps to Know We’re Not Alone

2 corinthians 1

“I get it.”

That’s what I said to my girl.  She was feeling ashamed, a memory from a mistake held her a little hostage.

It was a simple thing that had overwhelmed her: a new situation, someone giving her instructions she didn’t understand, pressure to make a decision and she did the wrong thing.

It wasn’t that she sinned.  She just messed up.  It was a misunderstanding, an accident.

And it deflated her, embarrassment and shame threatening to suck the joy right out of the whole experience.

Weeks later, any time she thought about that day, she still remembered it:  The MISTAKE.

And she felt all that pressure and all that shame and all that self-criticism beat on her all over again.

So, one day I dipped my head down to hers and slipped my arm around her shoulder and I said, “I get this.”

And I do.  If I’m pressured to make a decision, I will almost always do the wrong thing.  My split-second reactions are foolish, and all that imperfection is embarrassing, crushing even, to a perfection-striving girl like me.

Then I told her what I’ve learned and what I’m learning about how to overcome my decision-making deficiency and the way I can mess up and the way I can get buried in shame.

I felt the tension in her shoulders ease at the sound of my confession.  It never occurred to her that she wasn’t alone.  That maybe others, maybe even her mom, does foolish things sometimes. Or that others have a hard time letting go and getting over past mistakes.

There’s power in knowing someone understands.

And, I take comfort in this also, even though Jesus doesn’t understand what it’s like to sin, He does understand what it’s like to be tempted.  He knows what the accusations of Satan sound like.

When he asks me to endure, be patient, withstand trials or suffering, love my enemies, speak truth, or show love, He gets it.  He has been there.

Eugene Peterson wrote:

“Lord Jesus Christ, how grateful I am that You have entered the arena of suffering and hurt and evil.  If all I had were words spoken from a quiet hillside, I would not have what I needed most — Your victory over the worst, Your presence in time of need.”

Jesus could have preached “Blessed are the merciful and the meek and the pure in heart,” and those messages would have been challenging, beautiful even.

But ultimately, they’d be meaningless pep-talks about morality and character.

He didn’t just make speeches, though.

He showed mercy.

He lived with meekness.

He interceded for those crucifying Him as He labored to breathe on the cross.

He remained pure even as Satan tempted Him in the desert.

Jesus didn’t just say it; He lived it.

That’s why the writer of Hebrews reminds us that:

For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.  Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted (Hebrews 2:17-18).

This mercy is our comfort and our joy.

Jesus doesn’t stand aloof and full of judgment, looking down at us for messing up or falling short.

Our merciful High Priest bends down low and helps us overcome.

In the same way, Jesus asks us to do more than just make speeches at people and proclaim truth.  He asks us to live it and then share it.

Paul wrote:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God (1 Corinthians 1:3-4).

So, we who have received mercy, offer others the relief of mercy.

“I get it…I don’t always have it together either.”  That’s what we confess.

We don’t pretend everything is perfect; we share the vulnerability of life.

When we’ve walked through cancer, we love others through cancer.  We who have experienced loss, love others through loss.

We comfort the friend, we share in her struggle, in the bad news, in the mistakes, and we pour out generous helpings of grace because God heaped grace on us.

We give others the gift we’ve received ourselves:  Knowing we’re not alone.

What comfort has God given you so that you may comfort others?

Where Does it Hurt?

The man collapsed in front of our house.

We didn’t know at first, but it was an unusually cool day in early summer and our windows were open.  We didn’t hear him fall off his bike, hit the ground, or cry out in pain.

What we heard was a voice asking, “Sir, are you okay?”

Hearing that, I glanced out the window and saw the stranger sprawled across the road, his feet still hooked onto his bicycle.  Rain had just started to fall, so I grabbed a jacket, umbrellas, and a blanket and joined the Good Samaritans who had stopped to help.

We did what we could: called 911, covered him to protect from the chill and held the umbrella to block the light rain.

Mostly, though, we tried our best to rouse him.  Did a car hit you?  Do you feel pain?  What’s your name?  How can we help?

Where does it hurt?

That’s the question we returned to so often.  Other than some scrapes on the hand and a small cut to the head, nothing was obvious.  No matter what we asked, how often we asked or how loudly we raised our voices, though, he remained unresponsive.

The chief arrived in his truck with lights flickering.  He placed his hands on the man’s shoulder and picked right up where we left off, “Sir, what’s your name?  Where does it hurt?  Can you tell me what’s wrong?”

Still, there was no response.  So, they loaded him into an ambulance and carried him off to the hospital.

Sometimes when we feel broken and hurting, it’s easy to identify the source of the pain.

We’re hurting because of a broken relationship, death, abuse, job loss, financial crisis, ministry struggles . . .  A physician could hold up an x-ray of our life and instantly reveal the brokenness.  It would light up on the screen showing the exact location with a line of fracture showing how far and how deep.

Maybe we’d even have a therapeutic solution at the ready to make the brokenness heal over time.  A bandage here, a cast there, a medicine or treatment . . . and then we would be whole again.

But there are times when we just hurt.  We feel inexplicable sadness.  We know we are broken, but the x-rays remain unclear about where or how.  Or, perhaps instead of showing a clear-cut fracture, they reveal shattered fragments in a hopeless messy state.

We ask each other all the time, “How are you?” and mostly we say, “fine” or “good” in an off-handed way.

What would happen, though, if one of us said, “I’m sad and I don’t even know why.  I’m feeling broken, tender, easily bruised.  My eyes fill with tears at the slightest provocation.  I’m like an endless source of emotion, just spilling all over the place and I don’t know how to turn off the spout or clean up the mess”?

That would be a conversation stopper.

There’s beauty in a God, though, who knows when “I’m fine” really means we’re not. We can’t fake it with Him.

Nor is our brokenness a mystery.  Maybe we ourselves don’t even understand our sadness, but He does.

When God first met with Hagar, the servant of Abraham and Sarah, as she ran into the wilderness after being abused, He asked her, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” (Genesis 16:8).

Then He paused for her answer, and she had a reply at the ready.  “I’m running away from my mistress.” Simple as that.  Clear and precise brokenness and He ministered to her, giving her promises for her future and instructing her to return home.

Yet, when she desperately fled into the wilderness a second time years later, God asked, “What troubles you Hagar?”

Without a second of pause  . . . without her answer . . . without her breaking into tears and pouring out a confusing response of hurt and pain that just couldn’t explain it all, God kept talking, “Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is” (Genesis 21:17).

He asked because He cared.  Yet, knowing her crisis and her pain, He already had a ministry of provision and comfort for her at the ready without even needing for her to explain it all.

When you face this brokenness too hard to explain or describe, remember that you can bring it to him without a word.  He knows.  He cares.  And He is working to comfort and restore you.

“O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it
(Psalm 139:1-6)

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

God, Are You Crying?

“In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them.
In his love and mercy he redeemed them;
he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old”

(Isaiah 63:9).

It was my third pregnancy and I sat across from my midwife at my 37-week check-up.  “I don’t think the baby has turned,” I told her.  “I think she’s still breach.”

I saw her face change from “easy-breezy check-up” to “let’s investigate this issue”.  She expertly prodded my massive pregnant belly with her hands and then popped the baby up on the ultrasound machine to be sure.  Breach baby.  Thirty-seven weeks.

Maybe the doctor will turn her, I thought?  Maybe she’ll turn herself (I hoped)?  Anything sounded good if I could avoid a C-section.

She said, “I’ll call you.  I need to tell the doctor what’s going on, but I’d start preparing for surgery.”

I trusted her.  During both of my other pregnancies, she had cared for me frequently.  She was a strikingly lovely woman, an inside-out kind of beauty, so open and full of joy.  Her hair was just beginning to grow back into small bouncy curls after a fight with breast cancer years before and it was so like her to pour herself out for others even during chemo treatments and cancer recovery.

Just as she promised, she called me later that day.  She treated me like I was the only patient in the world, taking more than 20 minutes to tell me how serious the baby’s position was because she was sitting on her umbilical cord.  How turning the baby could kill her and if I went into labor on my own, she’d probably suffocate.

C-section it was.

But she gave me great reassurance, how good the doctor was, how she had seen him work and knew he would take good care of me and I would heal well.  “Don’t be afraid,” she said.

That was the last time I talked to her.

The doctor delivered my baby via C-section and he was expert and wonderful and my daughter was healthy and beautiful and safe.  When I returned for my check-up weeks later, they told me that my midwife’s breast cancer had returned and she was starting treatments again.

Any time I had an appointment at the office over the last 3 years, I asked about her.  She popped into my head periodically, and I prayed for her and we prayed in my small group, as well.

She passed away this weekend.

It’s a part of the human condition on this broken planet to grieve.  I am sad for her struggle, for years and years of fighting, for losing the battle to breast cancer, for her pain, for those who worked with her, for her dear friends, and most of all for her family and her two children who watched their mother fight and then die.

This world of sorrow isn’t a place of God’s design.  It’s the mess mankind made through disobedience and sin, ushering in death.  One day, we have the opportunity to see what God’s perfect design is really like.  Heaven is the ideal place, where death, crying, pain, and disease have no place because sin has no place.

But here we are, facing sorrows in the here and now because good people die, people of faith hurt, babies don’t make it, children are abused.

When Jesus stood outside of Lazarus’s tomb, he was surrounded by mourners in the midst of their own loss.  Martha was weeping.  Mary was weeping.  The entire crowd was weeping.

My commentary tells me they weren’t just sniffling quietly into their tissues in the good old Western style.  They were “wailing” (klaiontas).

Seeing their distress, Jesus “was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled . . . Jesus wept” (John 11:33, 35).

The crowd took it as a sign of Jesus’s own grief over losing a great friend and said, “See how he loved him!”

But is that why Jesus cried on the edge of Lazarus’s tomb?  He wasn’t wailing in the same way they were; he was quietly shedding tears (edakrysen).john11

Anyway, what was there for him to mourn?  He knew he could raise Lazarus from the dead.  In fact, Jesus was just seconds away from doing just that and watching Lazarus stumble out of the tomb still wrapped up in his grave clothes.

It couldn’t have been his own grief.

It had to be the sadness at the sorrow of others.  That’s why he was “deeply moved” and “greatly troubled,” not when he knew Lazarus was dead or when Mary and Martha confronted him over it, but when he heard “her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping” (John 11:33).

He felt sorrow over their sorrow, sadness over their sadness, and compassion because they experienced death, loss, the grave, pain, and sickness.

In the same way, when Jesus saw a widow following behind the coffin of her only son, “He had compassion on her and said to her, ‘Do not weep'”  (Luke 7:13) before touching her son’s body and raising him from the dead.

This is the Savior we serve, who saw the sorrow of death, who faced it Himself, and who comforts us when life is hard, when loved ones die, when we grieve the loss of people, the loss of hope, and the loss of dreams.

Even though I know He doesn’t always intervene with miracles, resurrecting in the places we grieve, it’s somehow helpful to know He isn’t ignoring us either.  Jesus isn’t cold-hearted, looking down stone-faced and unmoved by our sorrow.

Instead, when we’re hurting, He’s moved by compassion for us and ministering to us with His Spirit.  He’s comforting those who mourn (Matthew 5:4).

I use the Bible Knowledge Commentary, New Testament Edition, edited by John Walvoord and Roy Zuck.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

I Know What You’re Talking About

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Deuteronomy 31:6

Sending my oldest daughter to first grade has been a daily exercise in navigating cutthroat competition.

It’s a compulsion.  An insatiable need to be the best, the smartest, the fastest, the first.

So, when choosing books at the end of the day, she stressed over whether anyone else had a higher reading level.

It was tragic when the girls in her reading group lost the spelling competition to the two boys.

There were the races at recess, how many beads they had earned for their Accelerated Reader necklaces in library, and who was on the highest level math timed test.

For weeks, I gave my daughter profound words of Momly wisdom.  “You don’t always have to be the best, babe.  You just have to try your hardest and that is always good enough.  Don’t worry about anyone else. You are smart and capable and you should be proud of what you can do and be thankful for the way God has made you.”

She would nod, hug me and then run off to play, seemingly receiving the full weight of my words.

But no matter how good my speeches were, they didn’t really change her–even the ones I felt could have been scripted into TV sitcom about a perfect mom in one of those heart-to-heart mother-daughter moments.

She still felt both compelled and destroyed by competition.

Then there was the day when I finally looked at her and said, “I get it. I know what it’s like.  I have spent most of my life feeling like I needed to be the best, the fastest, the smartest, the most capable, the most responsible, the kindest, and just generally the most perfect person there is.  And I am telling you now that doing your best is good enough and that you need to be comfortable as you.”

She looked back at me a little befuddled, as if it never occurred to her that maybe this neurotic need to be perfect was genetic.  And while her character didn’t change in a revolutionary moment, she seemed to listen more closely to what I had to say.

Because I have been there.  I have lived that.  I do actually know what I’m talking about.

In the same way, it comforts me somehow to know that when Jesus asks me to endure, to be patient, to withstand trials and suffering, to love my enemies, to speak truth, and to show love, that He knows what He’s talking about.

Eugene Peterson wrote:

“Lord Jesus Christ, how grateful I am that You have entered the arena of suffering and hurt and evil.  If all I had were words spoken from a quiet hillside, I would not have what I needed most — Your victory over the worst, Your presence in time of need.”

Jesus could have preached “Blessed are the merciful and the meek and the pure in heart” for His entire ministry.  Those messages would have been challenging and beautiful, but lacking in impact.

Thankfully, He didn’t stop there.  He showed mercy.  He displayed meekness, even choosing to intercede for those crucifying Him as He labored to breathe on the cross.  His heart remained pure, even as Satan tempted Him in the desert.

Jesus didn’t just say it; He lived it.

That’s why the writer of Hebrews reminds us that:

For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.  Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted (Hebrews 2:17-18).

How precious is Christ’s mercy for us!  He never stands poised from a throne of judgment, hurling down condemnation at us for messing it up sometimes or falling short of perfect every day.

He is a merciful High Priest, who bends down low and helps us overcome.

In the same way, Jesus asks us to do more than just make speeches at people and proclaim truth.  He asks us to live it and then share it.

Paul wrote:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God (1 Corinthians 1:3-4).

So, when we share with someone what it’s like to overcome the sin of gossip, it’s because we ourselves have been there and done that.

When we watch a stressed out young mom’s children, it’s because someone watched our little ones for us.

As we place our arm around the woman diagnosed with breast cancer, as we make a meal for a new widow, as we sip coffee across from the wife who’s husband says, “I don’t love you anymore,” we give to them the same comfort we received in our own lives.

Jesus asks us to live it and then share it.  That’s what He Himself has done for us.

What comfort has Christ given to you that you need to share with someone else?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Online Bible Study: Week Seven (Chapters 13 & 14)

Welcome to week seven in the study of Priscilla Shirer’s Discerning the Voice of God.  I applaud you all for sticking with us this summer as we read through her book together.  I know you’re busy; I know you have a million other things vying for attention.  And yet, you have set aside time for this book and I am praying for God’s blessings for you as a result.

If I can give one piece of encouragement, it’s don’t give up!  Don’t leave the book half-read or this study partly done.  If you’ve fallen behind, please jump back in as you are able because I don’t want you to miss some of these great chapters at the end.  You can comment on any older post as you catch up on the reading.

My Thoughts:

“Hello. Thank you for calling heaven, where your eternal destiny is secure.  Our menu options have recently changed . Please listen closely to all of the options before making a selection.

Para Espanol, por favor pulse dos.

Please speak or press your 10-digit salvation account number.

Thank you!  Did you know that you can access God’s perspective on many things at any time from the comfort of your own home?  Your heavenly user guide or Bible is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

To check your good deeds account, please press one.
To request forgiveness, please press two.
For automated guidance about your account questions, please press three.
For doctrinal information, please press four.
For help with health, finances, and relationships, please press five.
For all other prayer requests, please press six.

If this is an emergency, please hang up and call your pastor.

To repeat this menu, please press zero.  If you would like to speak to a customer representative, please press nine now.

All of our customer representatives are currently busy.  Due to abnormally large call volume, your wait may be delayed.  Please hang on the line and we’ll be with you shortly.

Elevator music.  Cheerful ads.  More music to which you drum your fingers.  The doodles on your paper have now progressed from swirls and cubes to intricate designs and flowers.

We’re sorry.  All of our customer representatives are currently busy.  Please hang on the line and we’ll be with you shortly.”

I’ve been on hold with companies a lot lately and the routine is the same with each call.  Press buttons.  Answer questions.  Listen to annoying music and assurances that they will be with you as quickly as possible.

Priscilla Shirer writes this week that God’s “entire goal, since the beginning of time, is to have a personal, intimate, loving fellowship between the two of you.”  That means that He longs for us to commune with Him all the time about everything we’re facing and He responds to us both by listening and answering with love and grace.

He isn’t putting us on hold.  He isn’t creating go-betweens to filter out calls until we really prove we need to talk to the Supervisor on Duty.  He wants to spend time in relationship with us both in the times that we experience joy and the moments we feel pain and He’s always listening as we cry out to Him.

All that we experience is subject for prayer.  In her study on Daniel, Beth Moore notes that Paul encourages us to pray and give thanks “in every situation” (Philippians 4:6).  We’re compartmentalizers some times.  We think, this I can handle, but this I can’t so I’ll pray about it  This I can think through, but this I’m lost on so I’ll pray about it.  This is too small to pray about, but this is big enough to mention in the Sunday School prayer time. This the doctor will answer, but this I’m going to have to leave to God.

There’s not some stuff that fits into a God category and other stuff that doesn’t.  In the sorting bins of our needs, emotions, and thoughts, there’s just one basket and it’s got a big fat label on it marked “God’s.”  Praise God that He is responsive, loving, gracious, and accessible.

Chapter Outlines:

Chapter 13: A Fatherly Voice

  • God has a personal message for us and we cannot assume that He has the same plan for others that He has for us.  Obviously, on basic doctrinal issues, on the matters of sin that His Word clearly addresses, the standard is consistent.  But, on questions of personal choices–who to marry, where to work, whether to work or stay home, and more, we must remember that we “run the risk of becoming legalistic and placing other believers in bondage” if we believe what God has told us applies to everyone (p. 153).
  • God’s voice may be convicting, but it is not condemning.  He doesn’t harp on your sins of the past.  “He desires to bring healing and restoration by forgiving my sin and throwing it into the sea of forgetfulness” (p. 155).

Chapter 14: A Challenging Voice

  • God isn’t always talking about how to make us feel comfortable.  In fact, He’s pretty frequently asking us to step out of comfort and into faith.
  • The quote from Oswald Chambers on p. 163 is pretty challenging: “Have you ever heard the Master say something very difficult for you? If you haven’t, I question whether you have ever heard Him say anything at all.”
  • We may feel ill-equipped for the task God has called us to, but “it is through your inability that He reveals His power” (p. 164).

Your Thoughts:

  • What were your favorite, quotes, passages or Scriptures from these two chapters?
  • Have you ever made a choice that you knew was God’s will for you, but also knew it wasn’t God’s will for everyone?
  • Do you ever struggle with feelings of condemnation versus conviction?  Is it easy for you to accept Christ’s forgiveness and move on or are you sometimes trapped by guilt?
  • When has God called you out of comfortable and into faith?  What has God taught you in those situations where He asked you to do something that was beyond your natural ability, experience, training, gifting, etc.?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Momma Said There’d Be Days Like This, Part II

If you’ve been traveling with me on this devotional for journey for any amount of time, you’d know that I love God, my husband, my daughters, hot tea with lots of sugar, chocolate, and quiet times at my kitchen table.

This week started rough (but is getting better all the time!!), and two cups of strong, sweet, hot tea and several mini chocolate bars weren’t helping me through the day.  Despite repeated attempts to have the kind of quiet time with God I really enjoy, that wasn’t happening either.  I was interrupted or cut short on time or distracted or just incapable of understanding the words I read off the page (read paragraph, reread paragraph, sigh, drink tea, read paragraph again).

What I longed for was a God-encounter.  I was so thirsty for Him in the midst of stress and noise and I desperately held my cup out for Him to fill at the fountain of Living Water.  This time with Him that I adore and that helps me through my everyday seemed so elusive and unfulfilling, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.  It wasn’t until I stopped attempting to separate my time with God and simply sought Him as I traveled along that I felt His presence and heard the lessons He was sharing.

You can read Lesson 1: My Feelings Can’t Be the Boss of Me here.

Lesson 2: Worship God, Not The Habit

Jesus told His disciples, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while” (Mark 6:31).  He called them to the discipline of aloneness, quietness before God, spiritual retreating from the crowds and activity to spend focused time one-on-one with God.  Those are sacred times of purposeful seeking God’s face.

I have high expectations for those moments with my Savior and that is precious time to me, time that I guard fiercely.  That’s no easy task when you have young kids and a telephone and email and a to-do list!  Yet, it’s a battle worth waging in order to see Him, hear Him, feel Him, know Him.

Yesterday, though, I kept traveling to my kitchen table and pulling out my Bible and journal, my Bible study book, my devotionals and then sipping my cup of tea, but still walking away unfilled.  My cup was held out.  I had traveled to the Fountain.  I remained thirsty.  My cup did not overflow.

This week, I read in My Utmost for His Highest: “Watch how your Father will upset your schedule if you begin to worship your habit instead of what the habit symbolizes.  We say, ‘I can’t do that right now; this is my time alone with God.’  No, this is your time alone with your habit . . . The only supernatural life is the life the Lord Jesus lived, and He was at home with God anywhere.”

As I drove around town yesterday, frazzled and tired, that quote was prodding my heart and mind.  Oswald Chambers wasn’t advocating not spending time alone with God.  He wasn’t saying, “Forget trying to read your Bible and pray; it’s not important.”  It is important.  That time is necessary and life-giving.

Yet, it is also not a vending machine where I make an investment in time and pay the required amount (quiet time, study materials, journal, tea) and receive in return treats and goodies (peace, feeling close to God, receiving inspiration, having something great to write in my journal).  There’s that danger, always the danger, of making a god of something other than God.  I can worship the time I spend with God or I can worship God Himself.  The distinction is so fine, but also so necessary.

Jacob traveled to the same place twice in His journeys and met God there in powerful ways through visions and dreams and conversations with the Almighty Himself.  The first time, Jacob fled from His family home in order to avoid the homicidal wrath of his brother, Esau.  In the night, after a divine dream, Jacob “called the name of that place Bethel” or House of God.

Jacob returned to Bethel years later, after marrying and having children, having his named changed by God, traveling home to Canaan, reconciling with his brother, and settling again in the family land.  This time, though, “he built an altar there, and called the place El-bethel, because there God had revealed Himself to him when he fled from his brother” (Genesis 35:17). El-bethel means God of the House of God.

Did you notice the slight difference?

The first time, Jacob focused on the place, the things, the experience.  The second time, after years of experience and maturing, Jacob focused on God Himself.  Beth Moore in The Patriarchs wrote that sometimes we are tempted to “love loving God more than we actually love God.”

We love small group, Sunday School, the songs at church, the Christian radio station,  a devotional, our quiet times, a particular author that challenges us . . .  but are we followers of a Christian lifestyle or followers of Christ?  Do we love books by Christian authors more than we love the Bible?  Do we love our spiritual routines or the God those routines  are supposed to reveal to us?  Do we love the feeling of being close to God or God and God alone?

There are these life moments when God shakes us up in all of our comfort and complacency and takes away even something good for a time, so that we can worship God and not a spiritual habit.  He longs to meet with us during our quiet times and in our prayer closets.  He fills us up as we open up The Word and copy verses into our journals.

But, He’s there with us at the kitchen sink, too, willing to speak to our hearts as we wash the dishes.  He’s with us as we rock the baby in the night and while we pop on the chauffeur’s hat and hop into the minivan to drive children to activities all over town.  The distinction between a mundane task and a sacred moment is whether we’re listening to Him while performing it.  We should set aside focused time for our relationship with God, and yet we shouldn’t allow it to become formulaic or predictable, nor should it be a compartmentalized part of our life that fails to spill over into our chores and family life.  If we do, God will likely stir our hearts and mess with our plans—all to recenter our hearts on Him alone.

Are you hungry for a worshipful moment, just the simplicity of seeking after Him?  I’ve been singing along with Kathryn Scott the past few days and it’s lifting my heart!  I hope you spend some moments worshiping with her, too.


I’ve also added a page called Singing in My Car that has links to the songs I mention in the blog.  Check out the page and maybe find some songs that encourage you today!

************************************************************************************************

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King