Encouragement, Comfort, and Prayer

Matters of the Heart
by Chris Kennedy
Compliments of CreationSwap

“In my distress I called to the Lord,
    and he answered me.
From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help,
    and you listened to my cry.

You hurled me into the depths,
    into the very heart of the seas,
    and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
    swept over me.

I said, ‘I have been banished
    from your sight;
yet I will look again
    toward your holy temple.’

The engulfing waters threatened me,
    the deep surrounded me;
    seaweed was wrapped around my head.

To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
    the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you, Lord my God,
    brought my life up from the pit.

“When my life was ebbing away,
    I remembered you, Lord,
and my prayer rose to you,
    to your holy temple.

“Those who cling to worthless idols
    turn away from God’s love for them.

But I, with shouts of grateful praise,
    will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
    I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”
Jonah 2:2-9

It has been a while since we posted an article!  Life has been quite busy for all of us at Shepherding All God’s Creatures.  There has been transition for some of us, some hardships with family and friends; we scramble between college, work, and family.  Perhaps there is a crisis of ones own among our readership, feeling down or depressed or unloved; perhaps advocating for animals has become burdensome as we all know what a toll this can take on all of us; we all have a lot on our plates!

It seems a word of encouragement is in order.  A time to pause and to pray and seek God.  In the stillness and quiet he speaks to us, he won’t compete with the noise and busyness of the world.

If you are feeling stress in your life; have family concerns or hardships, take some time in solitude and silence to seek the Creator.  A time apart with him and his Word, in prayer, meditating upon him and all he says he is and in all he says we are to him.  Listen for his voice as he speaks to you.  Let him give you peace – his peace that surpasses all understanding and transcends our circumstances.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think on these things.…
Philippians 4: 6-8

Finally, here is an excerpt from “Present Perfect” written by Greg Boyd at ReKnew.org.  If you’re feeling anxious today, or even if you’re not anxious at all, we encourage you to spend a little time with it as you spend a little time alone with God in silence and solitude.

As you read this, remind yourself that the only thing that ultimately matters is that you are submerged in God’s love right now. Remain mindful of the fact that the perfect love that God expressed by becoming a human and dying on a cross to redeem you engulfs you, right now. Remind yourself that you could not be more loved than you are this moment. You could not have more worth than you have at this moment.

Remain mindful of the truth that this is not because of anything you have achieved or ever will achieve in your life. It’s because of who God is and who you are, as defined by Calvary. Remind yourself that this perfect love never began, never ends, is never threatened, and never wavers. As you breathe your next breath, let it represent your decision to breathe in God’s loving presence and all these truths associated with it.

As you breathe in God’s love, exhale everything else. Because God loves you, trust that if there’s anything you truly need God will give it to you, just as Jesus taught us (Matt 6:32-33). Relinquish (exhale) all your possessions, achievements, reputation, future aspirations, health, beauty, relationships, and anything else that could possible be a false source of worth and significance to you.

As you relax in the sufficiency of God’s presence, see all the things that you exhaled evaporate in the light of God’s ever-present love, like a morning mist disappearing with the first rays of the rising sun.

Notice what happened to any anxiety you may have. When you are truly present, breathing in God’s love and exhaling everything else, you may find that your anxiety is lifting, even disappearing.

When God’s love becomes our sole source of Life moment-by-moment, we will have no regrets about the past and no fears about the future, for we are fulfilled and are trusting God in the present. We learn from our past mistakes, of course, and make ordinary plans about the future. But anchored in the fullness of God’s abundant Life right now, we’re freed from the pointless, idolatrous exercise of judging our past or stressing out over the future.

—adapted from Present Perfect, pages 69-71

Thank you for reading and following our blog – we pray you are blessed by our work and will share it widely with others!  God Bless you and yours.  ~Kathy

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6 Responses to Encouragement, Comfort, and Prayer

  1. rpwhitehead says:

    Jonah does not necessarily come to mind when thinks of the poets of the Old Testament. The fish-swallowed disobedient prophet is the more common image. But a poet he was, writing his words of praise to God. Thanks for posting this article.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kathy says:

      Hi Phil, good to hear from you, and thank you for you comments and encouragement. Yes, I had not quite thought of Jonah this way either! The verses here from him can be applied to all of our lives, as hardships come, as we are hurled into the depths, feel oppression of all sorts pressing in upon us like waves, or the deep surrounding us – like Jonah, we can also remember the Lord:

      “When my life was ebbing away,
      I remembered you, Lord,
      and my prayer rose to you,
      to your holy temple.

      “Those who cling to worthless idols
      turn away from God’s love for them.

      But I, with shouts of grateful praise,
      will sacrifice to you.
      What I have vowed I will make good.
      I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Roslyne says:

    This is a wonderful piece to keep coming back to for His Peace that surpasses all understanding and transcends our circumstances! Thank you Kathy! Blessings, Ros

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kathy says:

      Thank you Ros, for your kind words and encouragement! I think of the book of Jonah as a metaphor for hardships which can be applied to all our lives. Many are going through some difficult times in our group and in the world. A reminder that remembering the Lord, turning away from what we are getting life from and get our Life only from Him, lift up shouts of praise while we lean into our Lord – he will save us and give us that peace that only comes through depending upon Him. AMEN!

      Liked by 2 people

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