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Praise God through Affliction

I’ve woken up super early the past two mornings without being able to go back to sleep. I thought it was because I have a cold and was simply having restless nights. Yesterday a friend of mine told me that when that happens to her it’s because the Lord is trying to get her attention. I told her that I’ve experienced that in the past and that wasn’t it this time – I wasn’t hearing Him. 

I WAS WRONG!!

This morning I woke up with the words “SLOW DOWN” in my head – because when I woke up, I of course thought of all that I could use this extra time to accomplish. There’s always so much to do and so little time! I resisted, sat down and opened my journal to write. The below verse was on the page that I opened to.

Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you. Psalm 55:22

That’s exactly what I needed to hear! I’ve been running crazy lately with work and then caught a cold on top of it. I haven’t had quality time with my husband, haven’t made the phone calls I want to make to check in on friends, haven’t ordered Christmas cards (which might not happen, by the way!) – the list of “haven’ts” goes on…

I needed to rest my mind and my soul! I decided I’d read that Psalm in its entirety to get my day going.  

So, I turned to Psalm 22 and read.

You’re probably quicker than I am – it took me almost finishing Psalm 22 to realize that wasn’t the Psalm I intended to read!! I intended to read Psalm 55!

Maybe I was tired, maybe I had too much on my mind… My bet is the Holy Spirit led me there.  

This is a Psalm of David that depicts Christ’s crucifixion. Very clearly prophetic in nature. What amazed me was that as He is nailed to the cross and His body is breaking and those around Him mock Him, He praises God. He continues to point people back to God. In the intensity of His affliction, God is His focus. 

I don’t know about you, but I would tend to think about myself! I would think about how much pain I was in, how thirsty I was, how I was naked and crumbling in front of an eager audience to see my demise. “Woe is me.”

But Jesus didn’t do that.

I will tell of Your name to my brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will praise You. You who fear the LORD, praise Him; All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him, And stand in awe of Him, all you descendants of Israel. For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; Nor has He hidden His face from him; But when he cried to Him for help, He heard. From You comes my praise in the great assembly; I shall pay my vows before those who fear Him. The afflicted will eat and be satisfied; Those who seek Him will praise the LORD. Let your heart live forever! All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, And all the families of the nations will worship before You. For the kingdom is the LORD’S And He rules over the nations. All the prosperous of the earth will eat and worship, All those who go down to the dust will bow before Him, Even he who cannot keep his soul alive. Posterity will serve Him; It will be told of the Lord to the coming generation. They will come and will declare His righteousness To a people who will be born, that He has performed it. Psalm 22:22-31

As I read this, I thought of a dear friend of mine. She has been battling cancer for the last 2 years – bravely and boldly. I spoke to her yesterday and by the end of the conversation I was just in awe.

This courageous woman was praising God in the moment. Fully and fluidly, the worship just rolled off of her tongue. Throughout her affliction, I’ve seen her time and time again give praise.  

She has had the most positive outlook for her life and has continuously told me that her source of hope is the Lord. Her laugh warmed me all over!

Many people in her circumstance think only about the “woes”. And I’m sure I’d be in that same bucket – I do it all the time in my truly non-afflicted life.

I learned something in this early morning quiet time that the Lord graciously gave me. Life is so much more than the busyness I surround myself in. Despite all of the demands on my time, my energy and my health, there is joy. Joy I find in the small things. Joy I find in the big things. But I need to SLOW DOWN to see them and savor them.

Thank you, sweet friend, for reminding me of what’s important.

Thank you, Lord, for slowing me down.

I pray that you take time to slow down this holiday season and find the true joy of Jesus.

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