Words of Assurance

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The Psalms are the caregivers book. In difficult times, it is our most  treasured resource. We cling to the fact that “the LORD is my shepherd”. Our hearts are often calmed by their quieting words of assurance.

They often speak to us so deeply because many of them were born out of intense, critical situations. The cry of the writer’s aching heart brings words of assurance and peace.

In the third psalm King David is being pursued by his own son. He is literally fleeing for his life. Feel the honesty of his prayer. “LORD, how many rise up against me.” And he complains that those around him – friends and trusted advisors – offer no encouragement. “Many are saying of me, ‘God will not deliver him.’” (vs.2)

“But…” David draws upon an unseen resource. “…you LORD are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.” (vs.3) “My shield” – protection against the arrows of doubt and defeat. “My glory” – the word means “splendor” – a shining brightness in dark situations. And finally, “the One who lifts my head”, and lifts it “high”…even when I cannot.

Prayer – Help me, O LORD, to draw on your limitless resources today. Amen

Photo courtesy of Alek Zaslawski (www.awzorchids.com), copyright 2016

The Blessed Life

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The Psalms, the book of consolation, the book that so often quiets our troubled hearts, begins in what seems an unusual way. The very first verse of the opening psalm begins on a mixed note of blessing and warning. “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers.” (Psalm 1:1) Note the progression – what begins  with “walking…with the wicked”, leads to “standing” where they stand and, finally feeling comfortable enough to “sit” in their company. The ways of sin are seductive, both the sins of the flesh…and the much more subtle sins of doubt and despair. The longer we walk with doubt, the more it becomes our way of handling problems; the more it becomes our thought pattern. Doubt compounds upon itself. And defeat deepens to despair.

By contrast, the “blessed” person draws his or her strength from “the law of the LORD” Notice that the promises of our God are not called “thoughts”, or “positive suggestions”. They are “LAWS”. Unchangeable! Sure! Certain! And the person that draws strength from those laws “is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season, and whose leaf does not wither.” (vss. 3,4)

Whatever your real world of caregiving may bring today, choose to draw  your strength from the fact that “the LORD watches over the way of the righteous.” (vs.6)

Prayer. LORD, forgive my doubts. Help me to lean my whole weight on you. Help me to think thoughts of trust. Amen.

Photo courtesy of Alek Zaslawski (www.awzorchids.com), copyright 2016

True Help

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The Psalmist wrote, “Lift up my eyes to the hills – from where will my help come”? (Psalm 121:1) Like any of us, in a time of great difficulty, he was calculating his resources for the battle ahead. But “the hills” could give him no help. Instead, they only reminded him that he was in enemy territory. They were covered with idols and altars to gods made with human hands.

Daily, as we provide care for a loved one we are faced with challenges, and we are right to ask “from where will my help come”. We know our resources, our skills and our experiences. And we have long since learned that we often need a resource beyond ourselves.

Like the Psalmist, we have long since learned the answer to our question. “My help comes from the LORD…” In both the common and the critical moments of this day or night, we have a resource far beyond our own. Our caring is infused with his all-knowing, always-present caring, forever-compassionate caring. Our darkest moments are infused with the bright light of his ever-insightful presence. His resources are limitless, for he who is in you is “the LORD who made heaven and earth…he who keeps you will neither slumber or sleep”. (vs. 4) Whenever you can, strengthen your heart in the rest of this psalm of assurance.

Rest in the strong, sure promise that “help comes from the Lord”.

Photo courtesy of Alek Zaslawski (www.awzorchids.com), copyright 2016