Glorious Father,
There are times that suffering feels like the life is being squeezed out…when it seems more than we can handle…when pain, grief and sorrow threaten to drown us—but even then, You are right here. Lord. You are closer than anyone else could possibly be. You truly never leave us. We can count on You and Your goodness. Last night, I felt the suffering trying to overtake me once more. I knew I needed to be still in Your presence and look to You instead of the suffering. So much pain, tears, sorrow, suffering all around… I need You, Lord—and Your hope.

Less than a week ago, our precious tiny granddaughter died in her mommy’s womb. It has been so sad. I couldn’t share it with the grief group that I host until our grown children decided how they would handle it. I couldn’t ease their pain no matter how hard I wanted to. There have been so many others who are suffering lately…and yet I see how You turn that suffering into something beautiful.

Life keeps going despite our suffering. Several of us go into a neighborhood once a week to leave gospel tracts and pray with people who want it. The day after our granddaughter’s death, I asked You to use my suffering… and You did as I prayed with three different people I had never met about the preciousness of life. I believe it had eternal impact. My sweet daughter-in-law is a NICU trauma nurse. I can’t even begin to imagine how her suffering will impact her future compassion and ministry to families. I see You at work in our son and 4-year-old grandson. There are more ways You will use this suffering than any of us can comprehend right now.

Jesus was with You as You made all there is. He holds all power and authority–yet He knows all about suffering. He was willing to suffer unjust punishment, judgement, desertion, mockery, bullying, physical, mental and spiritual abuse—even unto death so we could live with You for all eternity. He knew His bitter suffering would result in the sweetest gift ever given- eternal life.

 

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Isaiah 53:3 says about Jesus “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. “

 

“And we hope in the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings because we know suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” Romans 5:2-5

 

“Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory. I consider our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:17-18

 

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Your Prayer Peek-
Father, what suffering do I have to offer to You?

Heavenly Father,
Recently, my family experienced a family misunderstanding which went to a whole new level. I was fully aware of the attack and at once began praying. I also asked others to pray with me (without divulging many details). I was amazed how many people responded by asking for prayers for their own family divisions. Someone told me that they had never seen any family act like this. I was immediately reminded that as soon as You created marriage and family, the fighting began.

I also remembered that our enemy is not flesh and blood but the spiritual powers of darkness. Satan prowls around waiting for the right opening. He knows that family can hurt us more than anyone else. That’s why his favorite target is marriage, families and churches. He also knows those entities are Your design for love’s strongest ties. If he can whisper, “He always hurts you this way!”… “She always loves them best.”… “They will never understand you.”… “They don’t love you or they wouldn’t hurt you this way.”… or one of his thousand other flaming arrows that hit where it can do real damage—if we let it.

Father, I refuse to let the enemy’s attack fool me. I will fight back with love and prayer and forgiveness. You always win the fight when we hold our hands up in prayer to You through the battle. Even when I need others to pray with me; when I need them to help me hold my arms up in prayer through the conflict—keep me from telling too much about the details of the attack. Forgive me when I fall prey to the enemy’s scheme and begin to believe the family member is my enemy. I will not fall for that! I love my family and will fight for them. I love You! I am trusting You to fight this battle for me and my family. That is why I am focusing on You and not the attack.

Through this particular battle, I have been reminded how far You will go to save Your precious family—Your beloved children. You sent Jesus, who was completely innocent, to take all our blame and shame and hurtful sin against You. While we were still sinning against You, Jesus quietly and willingly went to the cross for us. He didn’t tell us we were wrong. He didn’t try to tell how right He was. He was spit on, accused, slandered, misunderstood, denied and rejected by the very ones He so dearly loved. He was left alone. In His death. The enemy thought he won. Yet Jesus gave His very life and was resurrected so we could spend all eternity experiencing the depth of Your love. Your love always prevails!

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“Looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured the hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.” Hebrews 12:2-3

“If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” Romans 8:31

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Father, who do I think my enemy is? Who is my true enemy?

Heavenly Father,

Not quite two weeks ago, we gave our daughter away in marriage. We’ve watched her go through a lot in her life, including some not-so-great relationships. We were more than thrilled to see her in this relationship with such a good man. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her look so happy than she looked walking down the aisle after joining her life with her husband’s. They are now one in my eyes- separate but unique people forever bonded by their commitment to one another. Their marriage will not be a fairy tale. There will still be more than their share of trials and obstacles to overcome. But she will not have to face them alone. She now has one who walks with her, who will help provide, protect, encourage, forgive, laugh and cry with her. Hopefully, he knows that she will respect, honor, enjoy and stay with him. Whatever may come, they have each other and never have to be alone again.

Being in love and committed to Jesus changes everything even more. Our union with Him is even a greater guarantee we will never be alone. When we submit our lives to You, Lord, and accept Your loving commitment to us, there is no greater joy! Our step becomes lighter; our joy cannot be hidden; our love shines out in all that we do. Jesus showed us Your love by laying down His life for us while we were far from perfect. He was willing to die for us as we were- not expecting us to “get ourselves together first.” He knew full-well who He was dying for better than we know ourselves. We can clean ourselves up pretty good, but there is nothing hidden from Your eyes, Lord. And You still want us to live with You forever!

I don’t fully understand it…but when You see me with Jesus, You see us as one. You see me in pure white, holy and clean- because I’m forever bonded with Your Son Jesus Christ. I’ve already faced many trials and valleys since joining with Jesus, but there has been joy and love every step of the way because He is with me. There is absolutely nothing that I ever have to endure on my own. He is with me! He promised to never leave me. He helps me, provides for me, protects me, listens to me, speaks to me, showers me with gifts, makes my life complete and more fulfilling than I could have ever dreamed! That’s why I walk with such joy in my heart because I’m never alone!

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“On that day you will realize that I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you.” John 14:20

“As the Father has loved Me, so I have loved you. Now remain in My love. If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”  John 15:9-13

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of this age.”  Matthew 28:20b

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, help me to submit my life to Jesus and believe You are with me always…

Heavenly Father,

With our daughter getting married this Sunday, the final details are causing a flurry of activity. The bride and all her entourage have worked very hard to pour all their love into every part of this glorious day. Even the weather looks like it will cooperate. The threat of thunderstorms, hail and tornadoes is predicted to stop for a perfect day for an outdoor wedding set in a vineyard. Friends and family have been celebrating with showers, dinners and parties. Everyone knows these two love each other and are thrilled to see them join together as one. Marriage can happen without so much fanfare, but it is one of the most important occasions there is. Weddings are very important to You, Lord! You created man and woman to go together. Jesus’ first public miracle was at a wedding! Much points to the much anticipated marriage of the Lamb!

I recall all the years I prayed for our children to each end up with the perfect mate.  I knew You already knew who they would marry and that the lives of the still unknown soulmates, even as a child, would have an impact on who they would be as a spouse. Father, we are incredibly blessed to have seen Your hand in each of our children’s marriages. As we get ready to give this daughter away to a wonderful young man, both families are very aware what an incredible team they will be. They have already been there for one another and the road ahead will give them plenty of more opportunities to work together to face anything. From this moment on, they will be as one.

How exciting to see the bride and groom ready to make this life-long commitment of love. You lead us to believe there is far more that goes on in a wedding than just a legal ceremony. You tell us that it is, in fact, a mystery, a picture of Jesus and His Bride, the church. Lord, let me never forget that I am preparing every day to meet my beloved Jesus- to live with Him forever. He is coming back to get me. I want to be ready. I want my love to be fresh and deep and committed. I want to be found faithful to the One who gave His life for me; to the One who has prepared a place for me; to the One who truly loves me. Let us celebrate this Sunday in the love that joins these two…and let us each be ready when our Jesus comes to get us for the wedding of the Lamb!

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“Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder shouting: ‘Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.”  Revelation 19:6-8

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery- but I am talking about Christ and the church.”   Ephesians 5:31-32

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, Jesus has given His life for me. Help me be ready by…

Heavenly Father,

Today I am thanking You for twenty-one years of a blessed marriage to a good man. When my first husband told me the night before he died that I would marry a good man, I didn’t want to hear anything about it. I couldn’t possibly think of loving anyone else. After heavily grieving the loss of my first soul mate, I had to deal with the incredible loneliness and void where he had stood next to me for 18 years of marriage. I told You, Lord, that I would remain single the rest of my life if that’s what You wanted for me but confided how much I missed being married and serving together with a husband who loved You. I asked that if You wanted me to be married, You would pick someone out because I saw the best in everyone and I might make a mistake. I told You I would not go looking but that You would have to place that man right in front of me…And You did.

You placed a good man in my life and showed me he was Your choice. I have always been sure from that moment on. We have gone through a lot of life together. For one thing, who else would be brave enough to marry a woman with four children when he had 3 of his own? We’ve been through blending our families, illnesses, deaths, births, raising children and teenagers, family issues, financial issues, church challenges, multiple trials…We’ve gone camping and hiking in 29 degree weather, gone on missions, vacations and adventures together. We’ve had disagreements and made up. We’ve discovered our differences make us stronger as a team. We’ve kept each other warm and froze one another with icy feet. We’ve stood by one another when trials come. We’ve faced many ups and downs side-by-side and covering one another’s back. We’ve cried together, cooked together, played together, worked hard together, ministered together, read the Bible together, prayed together and worshipped You together.

You had a great idea when You put us together. In fact, You had an amazing idea when You designed marriage. You placed us together to complete each other. I love that marriage is a profound mystery…a picture of Jesus and His church. It’s incredible to me that my husband loves me despite my short-comings and mistakes. He looks past my wrinkles and impurities and sees the beautiful bride he loves. I realize more fully each passing year just how much I respect this good man You’ve placed in my life. Thank You for Jesus’ looking past all the imperfections of the Church and seeing His glorious Bride. We fit together with Jesus. We are made complete and beautiful in Him. We are in You and You are in us! What a glorious marriage!

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“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her  to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,  and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.  In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body.  “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.  However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:22-33

“As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.”  Isaiah 62:5b

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, help me be the Bride You can rejoice over…