Monday, January 2, 2012

Bloom Where You Are Planted!

"Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.  I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.  For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:11-13, NLT)

How often we look to the future with emotional expectation!  We anticipate that our lives will improve, our moods will lighten and our spiritual growth will blossom, if only our circumstances are better.  This is especially common as we flip the new calendar over.  Psychologically, we place hopes on a new year bringing fewer trials and more cooperation in our families, jobs, finances and medical situations.  Sadly, while this may seem like renewed joy, it ends up being more like a set-up for huge disappointment.

What if, instead, we bloomed where we are planted?  What if we looked for God's activity in spite of our unfulfilled expectations?  I don't know about you, but the prospect of feeling joy and value that transcends any circumstances in life is tremendously appealing to me.  And we can know with full certainty that Jesus alone provides such transcendence.  Time and again in God's word, the Bible, we see examples of His miraculous goodness in spite of tribulations.  This isn't just a question of whether such contentment is possible.  The knowledge that our Maker has repeated such behavior habitually gives us the assurance to watch for where and how it will happen.

God works the same way today as He did in Bible times.  (Hebrews 13:8)  We can see examples from those who survive and thrive all around us.  Every person in whom the Holy Spirit dwells can be a Joni Eareckson Tada, a Mother Teresa, a Saint Paul.  We need only to open our eyes to people in our midst who have that pleasantly peculiar quality despite the fact that we know they suffer great trials, and emulate them.

When we find ourselves drooping from life's challenges, we need only to reflect backward to recall how God has continually brought us through.  Keeping a journal can be especially helpful for such reflection.  I found myself doing such holy remembering this year.  Unexpectedly losing my father in June, working together with my siblings to care for my elderly disabled mother, and enduring the trials of my mother's recent kidney cancer diagnosis all made the previous year heartbreaking.  When my sister returned to her home half a country away after the holidays, it was easy to feel hopeless.  Instead, I broke out last years journal, able to reflect on all the ways the Lord provided "exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think," (Ephesians 3:20, KJ21).  In His tenderness, our Merciful Savior showed me word by word how He supplied all my needs and provided even better results than I had hoped for, even in spite of my suffering.  Wow!  It was hard to be anything but joy-filled and ready for God's use after that!

Let's begin afresh today, keeping in mind that we are the objects of Yahweh's love.  With Him going before us, beside us and behind us, we can live in full joy and contentment no matter what challenges lay ahead.  He has our best in mind.  Our high calling is to share that Good News with everyone we come into contact with, whether by word or by deed.  Let's bloom where we are planted all to the glory of our great God!

Pray:  Lord, sometimes it feels as if my praise and my joy are contingent upon life going my way.  Help me to live life differently, beginning today.  Let me bloom where I am planted, so I can take full advantage of the opportunity to share with the world the reason for my blessed hope.

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