Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ups And Downs

"To everything there is a season,

      A time for every purpose under heaven:
       2 A time to be born,
And a time to die;
      A time to plant,
And a time to pluck
what is planted;"  Ecclesiastes 3:1-3

Wow, what a difference a few hours makes.  Yesterday started out in such a wonderful way.  We all were in a great mood, and were planning a busy day of not doing much.  But you know that God knows what He is doing All. The. Time.  We had worked really hard the last few weeks to wrap up some schooling so that we could take 3 weeks of for Christmas.  Little did I know that God had plans for us for our days off of school.  Yesterday we spent most of the day with my nieces and nephew in our home, because their grandpa unexpectedly passed away.  Had we been doing a school day, that would have created such stress for us.  But as it was, we were able to completely relax, open up our home, and just love on these kids who are going to miss their Papa so much.

I couldn't sleep last night because I was thinking about that.  I was thinking about my sister-in-law and what she is going through, and about all the blessings that have been in place in their life just for this time and season.  Circumstances recently brought them to move in with her parents, and in hindsight, what an incredible blessing, because they got to spend so much time with him, and what an incredible blessing too that now they are there living with her mom when she really is going to need family to be there.  

To everything, there is a season, and the longer I go through life, the more I realize that God really does His best to prepare us for each and every season in our life.   When we look at the calendar and the things going on outside, we can physically prepare for the seasons around the calendar.  We can prepare for winter, we can prepare for spring.  We can prepare for each and every one accordingly, because we always know that they will come around.  In the exact same way, God prepares us for the seasons of life that come upon us as well.  Even though this family has a lot of grieving to go through, and some rough times ahead, God has been preparing them all along, and His peace is there with them and is surrounding them every minute of every day.  Sometimes we don't exactly realize what He is preparing us for until it arrives, and then it gets here, and we find that we are suddenly able to deal with has come at us.

But  there is a key to making it through the seasons, and it is found in Psalm 150.

"Praise the LORD!
         Praise God in His sanctuary;
         Praise Him in His mighty firmament!
 2 Praise Him for His mighty acts;
         Praise Him according to His excellent greatness!
 3 Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet;
         Praise Him with the lute and harp!
 4 Praise Him with the timbrel and dance;
         Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!
 5 Praise Him with loud cymbals;
         Praise Him with clashing cymbals!
 6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
         Praise the LORD!"  Psalm 150

In everything, we give Him praise.  We praise Him in the morning, we praise Him in the evening.  It is our praise that will carry us through the seasons and struggles we face.   I've definitely seen the work of praise firsthand myself.  I can be having one of the worst days ever, and the second I put on mp3 player and start listening to great praise or worship music, I can literally feel all the yuck of the day melt away.   It's so easy to praise God when things are going great, it's so easy to look around and see that life is grand and feel like we want to praise God for all the goodness.  And that's great, we should do that too.  But if we want to go from mountain to mountain and get through the struggles and valleys that come along, we need to focus on praising Him when the times are rough too.  We need to praise Him for His goodness and mercy which are never-ending and are abounding all the time.  We need to praise Him for His son and His love and His joy, which is our strength in times of need. 

Praise is the key to helping us make our way through the valley.

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
         I will fear no evil;
         For You
are with me;
         Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me."  Psalm 23:4

Though there may be times where we may feel on the outside like God is just not with us or hearing us, He is always there.  He is always wanting us and waiting for us to take the moment to lean on Him and let Him comfort us in our times of need.  And we can praise Him for his comfort.

God is good all the time.  We need to remember that,and sometimes we need to repeat that over and over.  God really is good all the time.  While our family moves ahead this week to say goodbye to a loved one, we can remember that this man knew Jesus as his savior, and is now dancing and rejoicing in His very presence.  He is walking those streets of gold and he no longer is suffering with all the ailments that have plagued him these many years.  He is in paradise.  Those of us who are left behind simply don't understand why it is that some people are taken when they are, but we do know that all of us will follow someday and what a family reunion that will be. 

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