Drawing on God’s strength

Allan Tabaro

Just before Christmas a few years ago, I was involved in a car accident that almost took my life. I sustained a spinal cord injury to my T4 vertebra, leaving me paraplegic, paralyzed from the chest down, and confined to a wheelchair.

Nothing can prepare anyone for coping with paraplegia and disability, especially to the extent that you have to rely almost completely on others for assistance. Suddenly the things you had taken for granted, like getting out of bed and walking to the bathroom, are no longer possible because your body refuses to function.

Questions flood your mind, and fear, doubt, and anxiety can get the better of you. It was like being in a bad dream, struggling to come to terms with what was happening, and hoping to wake up.

My family and friends were encouraging and stood by my side, but in the end, the difficult choice to stay positive and carry on with life is always a personal one. In my experience, though, it is possible to carry on.

It’s tough to deal with disappointment, and we always want to figure things out, but if faced with something man or money cannot fix, who do you turn to for answers? I had nowhere to turn but to God. My girlfriend gave me a Bible and told me I would find the answers I was looking for in it. “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else,” I read, “and he will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6:33) I set out to keep my end of the bargain, and God has been faithful to keep His.

I’ve learned that He isn’t surprised by our moments of pain in the valleys; in fact, He’s quietly waiting for us to call out to Him so He can enlighten our darkness. It’s one thing to be a Christian, and another to truly know who Jesus is.

God showed me that He cared as much about the condition of my spirit as that of my paralyzed body. Before my injury, I was easily distracted by the things of this world, and I got my happiness and security from them. Now I know that none of this compares to the love of Jesus, which comforts to the uttermost.

He will heal the wounds and sicknesses of our souls and plant seeds of hope in the most difficult conditions. His light will shine into the deepest valleys. “[He] is our refuge and strength and a present help in times of trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.—Eleanor Roosevelt

Insurance or assurance

I came across an article about the difference between “insurance” and “assurance,” which got me thinking. Is God out insurance or our assurance?

Having God in our lives is a form of insurance. We know that no matter what happens, He will be with us and bless us for trusting Him. “I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” (Romans 8:38–39) and, “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28).

But in my day-to-day life, particularly when I’m faced with a decision or problem, what I want and need even more is assurance for the short term. God gives us that, too. He promises us guidance (Psalm 32:8), supply of our needs (Philippians 4:19), and grace and strength in difficult times (2 Corinthians 12:3). He also offers the assurance, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5) —and that is as true in the immediate circumstance as it will ever be.

Life is a series of situations and decisions. When we focus on the uncertainties, we become paralyzed. But when we take our problems to God and look to Him in our decision making, His assurances propel us in the right direction. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God … and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.” (Isaiah 30:21)

Who knows what the coming year will bring? Probably a mix of surprises, successes, setbacks, and some sleepless nights. But through it all, God wants to be both our insurance and our assurance—insurance in the long term, and assurance in the short.

insurance: coverage by contract whereby one party undertakes to indemnify or guarantee another against loss by a specified contingency or peril

assurance: the state of being assured: as a: security b: a being certain in the mind c: confidence of mind or manner: easy freedom from self-doubt or uncertainty

Definitions courtesy of merriam-webster.com

Faith in times of crisis

No matter how devastating, irreversible, or hopeless things seem when you’re facing a major setback or a life-threatening situation, you can choose to continue to actively trust in Jesus and refuse to let go of that abiding trust. Faith isn’t the absence of fear; faith is what overcomes fear.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for. We wouldn’t be hoping for something if we already had it in our hands. Faith is the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1) We wouldn’t need evidence that something is real if we could see it with our eyes.

You know that God will ultimately make things right in the next life, but that knowledge doesn’t lessen the struggles of possibly facing very painful experiences or death. At this moment in time it’s not the next life that you are having to deal with, it’s the present.

It can be pretty scary when you’re in a bad situation and you can’t see any natural way out of the dilemma. But that’s when faith comes to the fore. You just have to keep believing and trusting, no matter what things look like.

You have to keep walking on the solid ground of what God has told you to do in spite of dire circumstances, knowing that no matter how hopeless it looks or how bad things get, Jesus has you in His arms.

You may feel afraid of what you’re facing. You may not see anything you can do to fix the situation you’re in. But God’s intervention in your life isn’t based on your self-confidence. It’s based on your belief in Him and your trust in His unlimited power, goodness, and love.

You just have to believe that God can bring about what is best in His time and His way, if not in this life, then in the life to come, because you trust Him. Faith knows what is most important to know: “God will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

None of us know what lies ahead. We often can’t know if that setback we’re facing or the things we’re suffering will be gone in a minute or a month, or if they will last a lifetime. What faith knows is that Jesus will not leave us comfortless; He’ll be there walking with us.

Jesus is proud of us when we look at the waves and the winds of adversity and do like Peter did with Him. Peter said to Jesus, “Bid me come out to you on the water.” (Matthew 14:28) He was ready to jump right into the challenges because he’d seen God’s power in Jesus and was ready to put himself into those hands that he trusted would never fail him.

What are the challenges that you’re facing? What impossible situations are looming big in your life? Will you step out on the waters to meet Jesus right now so that His power can be manifested in your life? Take the step of faith, and even if you feel that momentary sinking feeling at times, you only have to call out to Him and He’ll bring you through in His perfect time and way.

Our Guide through Life (and COVID 19)

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness. — Psalm 23:1-3

He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. — Psalm 25:9

Are there those who respect the Lord? He will point them to the best way. Psalm 25:12

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way. Psalm 37:23

Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.  Psalm 31:3

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you. Psalm 32:8

For this is God, our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to death. Psalm 48:14

You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.  Psalm 73:24

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.  Psalm 119:105

Why worry

Wouldn’t it be nice if WORRY would pay our bills and make our problems go away and bring us happiness? If worry would pay I wouldn’t have any unpaid bills and maybe I would be rich as well but I haven’t experienced that yet. Have you?  So then, why do we still worry? If it doesn’t pay our bills, if it doesn’t make our problems go away, if it doesn’t make us happy, why are will still worrying?

Maybe your one of the people that thinks that if you don’t worry your irresponsible, as if worrying will make you more responsible.

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God’s mosaics and Christmas

Have you ever come across a construction site where the men were laboriously laying a tiled floor, one of those mosaic floors with thousands of tiny tiles that create a picture when finished? While it’s being put in place, the picture isn’t clearly visible, because as they work, the men use a cement mortar to fill the area between the tiles, and the grout often leaves a gray film over the whole masterpiece that hides the beauty of all that’s been done. At the end, it is finally cleaned off to reveal the picture in its full beauty.

That’s so much like the way the Lord works in our lives.

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