I learned about the Boston bombings yesterday while I was writing about my ancestors surviving British and Indian attacks near their Pennsylvania home in 1778. Just like the people who attended the Boston Marathon, my fifth-great-grandparents only wanted to enjoy life.
But sometimes things happen that we can’t foresee. God does not give us a crystal ball to view what lies ahead of us.
But what God does give us is the ability to seek His wisdom when we’re caught in the crossfire of evil.
God’s word tells us: “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
My ancestor, Colonel John Kelly, was a godly man who lived by his faith and the Word of God. In July, 1778, when fellow settlers in a nearby fort were surrounded by 300 warring Indians and British, Colonel Kelly, a Revolutionary War officer, quickly assembled a small group of militia and drove off the aggressors.
I like to think that the scripture from Isaiah was going through the Colonel’s mind when he gave his orders to the brave – but vastly outnumbered – men he commanded. The Colonel and his men had every reason to fear: they were a group of no more than 30 facing 300 — but fear did not stop them from helping their friends and neighbors. Rather, God gave the ordinary men the courage and ability to fight evil and win.
The Colonel’s story is timeless: God’s help never wavers when we keep Him the focus of our lives. Yesterday, when bombs exploded in Boston, brave people ran toward the explosions to help the injured. Their own lives were at risk; no one knew if another bomb would explode in their midst.
Wherever we are, in whatever situation we face, we can confidently go forward – without fear – knowing that God is with us and will provide the courage and skill we need to persevere and win against evil.
But those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31.
IN GOD WE TRUST – TO HIM BE THE GLORYRead More
October 30, 1985, began ordinarily enough. My husband kissed our two-year old son and me goodbye before leaving for a business trip. I promised little Justin that we would go to the mall that afternoon and have supper at McDonald’s.
As soon as I told Justin our plans, I heard a voice within me say, “Don’t go to the mall today.” Making no sense to me, I dismissed it.
Throughout the day, the voice repeatedly told me the same message, and each time I paid it no attention, thinking it ridiculous.
My resolve to ignore the voice resulted in it speaking more frequently and insistently to me, always with the same command: do not go to the mall today.
Partway through the afternoon, I began arguing with the voice, saying that there was no reason on this earth why I should listen to it. Why shouldn’t I take my little boy to McDonald’s as promised?
That’s when Steve the Plumber called. The part he’d ordered for our sink had finally come in, and he wanted to come over at 3:30 that afternoon to install it.
After explaining that he’d have to come another day because Justin and I were leaving for the mall at 3:30, Steve argued with me.
I was exasperated. First, a strange voice had been harassing me all day, telling me not to keep the promise I’d made to my child, and now Steve the Plumber would not take no for an answer.
Although the part only took several minutes to install, I knew Steve would be at our house for at least an hour because he loved to chat. I could only hope he’d be too tired to talk.
Wrong. Steve didn’t leave my house until 5:00, and because I was pregnant, I was then too tired to go anywhere. Instead, Justin and I had peanut butter sandwiches for our supper.
At 6:00, my phone rang and a male voice began crying when I said hello. “Cynthia! Thank God, you’re alive!”
“Who is this?”
“It’s Rick. Tim’s boss.”
“Why wouldn’t I be alive?”
“Haven’t you heard the news? It’s on all the Philadelphia channels!”
“A woman went to the South Entrance at the Springfield Mall at 4:00 today and shot 10 people. She killed a two-year old boy. She also shot at a pregnant woman. Tim told me that you were taking your son to the mall this afternoon and I was so afraid the little boy she killed was your son and that you were the pregnant woman she tried to shoot.”
“We’re safe, Rick. Justin and I are both safe. We didn’t go to the mall because…because…” The voice. The voice told me not to go. And when I argued with it and ignored it, it didn’t stop. Then Steve the Plumber called….out-of-the-blue…. and refused to take no for an answer. And then the voice finally stopped….right at 4:00. “Rick, it’s okay. Don’t cry. Justin and the baby and I are all safe.”
Rick sobbed again. “Thank God. Thank God.”
Weeping and trembling, I hung up. That voice – so clear, so insistent, becoming louder when I refused to listen. I knew when I first heard it that it wasn’t me, but I didn’t understand whose voice it was. Until now.
Only One could have known in advance what was going to transpire at the Springfield Mall that day. That same One also knew my plans. And He did not want little Justin or me and the child I was carrying to be present. Of all the mall entrances and arrival times I could have chosen, what had I decided upon that morning? The South Entrance at 4:00. And when I would not listen to the voice, He sent the plumber whose stubbornness and talkativeness put a final end to my plans.
Sometimes when I look at my two children, I think of that day and how God spoke to me, interceding to block our path from danger I could not see.
Have you ever heard that voice? Please leave a comment and tell me how your life was affected by it. I’m not the only one with stories to tell.
“Your own ears will hear Him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or the left.” - Isaiah 30:21 (NLT 2007)
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
Cynthia Howerter © 2012Read More
A bad habit can be my undoing. The scary thing is that sometimes I don’t even realize I am being undone by one.
There is no doubt in my mind that I need to keep my focus squarely on God each and every day. But occasionally, something will happen to break my daily habit of doing so.
A change in schedule may cause me to skip my daily Bible reading, or forget to speak with God through prayer, or ignore the internal promptings of the Holy Spirit and instead follow my own desires. When any or all of these things happen repeatedly, I eventually falter when difficulties arise.
My former minister, Reverend Doctor Donald J. Dawson, gave a sermon about this very issue. The example he used, a true story, has served as a powerful guide for me. Let me share it with you.
Pastor and author Dr. F.B. Meyer was a passenger on a ship heading to England. One stormy night, Dr. Meyer stood on the ship’s bridge with the captain as he attempted to guide the tossing ship into a narrow port. With visibility poor, entering the port was treacherous. Dr. Meyer asked the captain how he would know when to turn the ship into the harbor to avoid hitting the rocks.
The captain looked at Dr. Meyer and said, “Do you see those three red lights on the shore? When they’re all in a straight line, I can safely take the ship right in.”
Reverend Dawson explained what this means to you and me: We, too, have three lights – Scripture, the Holy Spirit and life’s circumstances. While the Scriptures and Holy Spirit will never mislead us, we need to use caution with life’s circumstances because they can throw us far off course. Daily habits of Scripture reading and heeding the promptings of the Holy Spirit will firmly line us up in God’s Will and then when difficulties confront us, our lifelines will hold fast.
Last week, I renewed two habits that had recently slipped away from me. I once again started each day with Bible reading and prayer. It is no coincidence that those days were filled with contentment. Several storms that sneaked up on me were dealt with quickly with help from the Holy Spirit and my knowledge of Scriptures. Had I not resumed my good habits and been in perfect alignment with God’s Will, I may have floundered.
Have you thought about your habits? Will they prosper you or are you drifting perilously close to danger?
“So do not be foolish but learn what the Lord wants you to do.” Ephesians 5:17.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
Cynthia Howerter © 2012
Dawson, Reverend Doctor Donald J. Sermon, Hampton Presbyterian Church, Gibsonia, PA.Read More
Unemployment is not easy. I liken hearing the news of a job loss (or a spouse’s job loss) to hearing that a family member has died suddenly. Certainly, your job loss has the potential to end your current way of life until another job materializes.
No matter what happens to us in life, we react emotionally. Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross documented specific stages of emotions that apply when people experience catastrophic personal loss, such as the loss of their job, a loved one or the end of a relationship. Let’s take a look at the five stages of emotions you will most likely go through after you lose your job.
DENIAL – Within seconds of learning about your job loss, your first reaction will be disbelief. This shock can be so severe that you initially won’t be able to believe the news you’ve just heard.
Your second reaction will be denial as your mind begins to review the information you were just told. Denial, which can last hours or even several days, acts as a buffer and allows you to collect your thoughts and emotions after you hear the devastating news that you no longer have a job.
When told of your job loss – which you most likely didn’t see coming – you received a severe emotional shock. That’s why you’re having such an adverse reaction. Your body can physiologically react to the shocking news in a number of ways including feelings of dizziness or difficulty breathing. Sit down and try to take deep, slow breaths. It may feel like you’re going to die, but you won’t.
Once you’re able to stop denying the news of your job loss, you’ll begin to think more clearly. Ask God to help you. Even if all you can pray is “Help, God, help,” He will hear you. It’s best not to go through this alone. Get in touch with a family member or close friend as quickly as possible. It will help to express your feelings to a supportive person you trust.
ANGER – Once reality begins to set in, you’ll feel anger. Anger can be rational or irrational. Most likely at first, it will be directed at your now former employer. How could the company do this to me? How am I going to support my family? How will I pay my bills?
Of course you’re angry! It’s a natural reaction to a devastating event in your life.
Some people allow this anger to carry over to their spouse and children. For example, you may feel angry when you learn that your child needs new shoes. Why? It’s not that you’re angry that your child has this need; it’s that you know you aren’t able to provide the money for the shoes. This type of anger is irrational.
Try to remember that your entire family is suffering right along with you. Do not take your anger out on them or on anyone else. You may be devastated but you still need to be respectful of others.
With rational anger, you realize that, while your job loss may be unfair and that you personally do not deserve this disaster, bad things happen in life. You’ll be able to focus your rational anger on the true cause of your unemployment, which for many people will be the current poor economy.
Again, talk with a supportive person who cares about you. You need their impartial counsel and listening ear.
BARGAINING – Bargaining attempts to postpone the consequences of unemployment. You’ll set a deadline and include a promise that you’ll keep if the postponement materializes. If there’s any bargaining to be done, it most likely will be with God as you already understand that bargaining with your former employer will not work.
“Oh, God, I’ll go to church every Sunday for the rest of my life if you just give me a new job today.” The truth is, God never bargains.
Adversity is always an opportunity to get closer to God.
You would be wiser asking God what He wants you to learn through this adversity. Then listen carefully for His answer. As you read the Bible, certain passages may stand out. Make sure you spend quiet time each day with God. He may speak to you with His still small voice or He may speak to you through others.
Save yourself some angst and realize that bargaining with God – or even your former employer – will not produce the results you want.
DEPRESSION – At some point, you may feel depressed, hopeless, even doomed. Depression occurs when you take into account the losses you have already suffered as well as the losses you stand to suffer.
Unemployment brings numerous losses: loss of income, loss of your normal way of life, and maybe even the loss of your house. Some people lose their self-esteem during unemployment.
Unemployment can be one of the worst things a person ever goes through. Don’t hold your emotions tight within yourself or they’ll come out in inappropriate ways that you’ll regret. Talk candidly with someone you trust – your spouse, your minister, a mental health counselor, a close friend. Dealing effectively with your emotions will help lessen the effects of depression.
Make a concerted effort to not be hard on yourself. It is not your fault that the economy adversely affected your previous employer.
Try to remember that while bad times may last for awhile, they won’t last forever. The Old Testament is filled with stories of people who faced overwhelming adversity, but by relying completely on God, they successfully overcame their impossible situations. God is not just an Old Testament God. No, He is real and He is waiting for you to call upon Him for His help.
ACCEPTANCE – Once you’ve worked through your denial, anger, bargaining and depression, you will come to an acceptance of your situation.
This does not mean that you will or should be happy in this stage. It simply means that you understand the reason for your job loss and have accepted your current status as its consequence. For the time being, it is what it is. Bad things happen to everyone.
As a believer, you should now understand and accept that God is in charge and fully capable of taking care of all of your needs. Nothing that has happened to you is a surprise to Him.
Having reached this stage, you’ll realize that you do have a job: you need to search for another position in the workforce.
It’s important to note that it’s not unusual for a person to have completed some or all of the emotional stages only to have one or more stages resurface. When that happens, try to patiently work your way through those emotions. Stay positive. This, too, shall pass.
Keep in mind that, right now, jobs are scarce and there are many people who are out of work and looking for employment. Well-meaning friends may tell you that you’ll never again get a job like the one you lost. They may say that your age is against you or that you have too few or too many qualifications to get a job. But if you have been praying and reading the Bible, especially the stories about people who turned to God for help when all looked lost, you will immediately know that you are being handed a pack of untruths.
Do not believe the negative things people say to you. Rather, after you have accepted that God is in charge, believe that God can and will provide you with another good job according to His time.
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man, this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26.
If you are unemployed, please know that I care about you. I know what you’re going through. My husband and I went through all five stages of emotions during our 17 months of unemployment. We faithfully trusted God and He generously provided another good job for my husband. My prayer is that the knowledge in this article that we gained through our joblessness will help you and your family. From our own experiences, we know without question that God is faithful. You can trust Him.
Was this article helpful to you? In what way? Please drop me a line and let me know.
Kübler-Ross, Elisabeth. On Death and Dying. New York: First Collier Books Trade Edition, 1993.
Special thanks to Justin B. Howerter for explanations of physiology and psychology.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
Cynthia Howerter © 2012
I’ll bet if you think about it, you ask a lot of questions in a day’s time. Why, most likely before you even arrive at work each morning, you’ve already asked a number of questions.
Johnny, did you study for that math test? Honey, could we have something other than chicken for supper tonight? Are you going to turn that blinker off or are you just going to annoy me all the way down this road?
See what I mean? You ask lots of questions each day.
I’ll bet there’s a lot of people in your life. No, there are. Trust me.
There’s your spouse, your children, your parents, your siblings, your in-laws, your neighbors, your close friends, your mechanic. Even Gladys Kravitch across the street.
And I’ll bet you eventually get around to asking each of these folks questions, too.
What are you doing for Easter this year? Are you happy with the painters you just used? Would you be able to watch our dog and get the mail next weekend?
But if the phone rang and someone told you that one of these people had just died suddenly, would you regret having never asked the one question that would have made a big difference in their life – and yours?
You know the question. And that’s exactly why you haven’t asked any of these people that question.
Come on. Admit it. You don’t want to be embarrassed. Don’t tell me that you don’t want to make the other person feel uncomfortable.
Isn’t the truth more that you don’t want to feel uncomfortable? Or embarrassed? I thought so.
Here’s the bottom line, friend. We never know when our time will be up on this earth. But when it is, it’s sudden and it’s final. And those who are left can only ask themselves the question: Did my spouse, my child, my parent, my sibling, my in-law, my neighbor, my close friend, my mechanic, Gladys Kravitch accept Jesus Christ as their Savior before they died?
Oops. I’m wrong. There’s one more question: I wonder where they are now – in heaven or…?
Get over it and ask. If they haven’t accepted Jesus as their Savior, there’s still time.
“I tell you the truth, whoever believes has eternal life.” John 6:47.
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TO GOD BE THE GLORY
Cynthia Howerter © 2012