Last spring, the night before our lawn was to be aerated a violent windstorm blew the seeds off our maple tree in one fell swoop. So when the aerating machine broke up the compacted soil by pulling small “cores” out of the ground, it planted hundreds of maple seeds in my yard. Just two short weeks later, I had the beginnings of a maple forest growing up through my lawn!
As I (frustratedly) surveyed the misplaced foliage, I was struck by the prolific abundance of new life a single tree had spawned. Each of the miniature trees became a picture for me of the new life in Christ that I—as merely one person—can share with others. We each will have countless opportunities to “give the reason for the hope that [we] have” (1 Peter 3:15) in the course of our lives.
When we bear up under the winds of adversity or suffering with the hope of Jesus (v. 14), it’s visible to those around us and might just become a point of curiosity to those who don’t know God personally. If we’re ready when they ask, then we may share the seed through which God brings forth new life. We don’t have to share it with everyone all at once—in some kind of spiritual windstorm. Rather, we gently and respectfully drop the seed of faith into a heart ready to receive it.
Who shared the reason for their hope with you? Who in your life is asking about the reason for your hope? What will you share with them?
Jesus, thank You for growing the seed of faith in my life. Help me to share the reason for my hope—You—with those who ask and may they grow in their love for You.
Kurbera-Voronja, in the Eurasian country of Georgia, is one of the deepest caves yet explored on planet Earth. A team of explorers have probed the dark and scary depths of its caverns to two kilometers—that’s 7,188 feet into the earth! Similar caves, around 400 of them, exist in other parts of the country and across the globe. More caverns are being discovered all the time and new depth records are being set.
The mysteries of creation continue to unfold, changing and adding to our understanding of the universe we live in and causing us to wonder at the matchless creativity of God’s handiwork on earth that we’re called by God to care for and steward (Genesis 1:26–28). The psalmist invites us all to “sing for joy” and “shout aloud” to the Lord because of His greatness (v. 1). As we celebrate Earth Day tomorrow, let’s consider God’s incredible work of creation. All that it contains—whether we’ve yet discovered it or not—is cause for us to bow down in worship to Him (v. 6).
He doesn’t just know the vast, physical places of His creation, but also the intimate depths of our hearts. And not unlike the caverns of Georgia, we will go through dark and perhaps scary seasons in life. Yet knowing that God holds even those times in His powerful yet tender care: In the words of the psalmist, we are His people, the “flock under His care” (v. 7).
On Easter Sunday 2020, the famous Christ the Redeemer statue that overlooks Rio de Janeiro in Brazil was illuminated in a way that appeared to clothe Jesus in the attire of a physician. The poignant portrayal of Christ as a doctor was in tribute to the many front-line healthcare workers battling the coronavirus pandemic. The imagery brings to life the common description of Jesus as our Great Physician (Mark 2:17).
Jesus did, in fact, heal many people of their physical afflictions during His earthly ministry: blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46–52), a leper (Luke 5:12–16), and a paralytic (Matthew 9:1–8), to name a few. His care for the health of those following Him was also demonstrated in providing for their hunger by multiplying a simple meal to feed the masses (John 6:1–13). Each of these miracles reveal both Jesus’ mighty power and His genuine love for people.
He was also concerned with an even more devastating problem than any of the physical ailments He cured. His greatest act of healing came through His death and resurrection, as foretold by the prophet Isaiah. It is “by [Jesus’] wounds we are healed” of our worst affliction: our separation from God as a result of our sins (Isaiah 53:5). Though Jesus doesn’t heal us of all our health challenges, we can always trust the cure for our deepest need: the healing He brings to our relationship with God.
When five-year-old Bella was hospitalized for cancer in North Dakota, she received music therapy as part of her treatment. Many people have experienced the powerful effect of music on mood without understanding exactly why, but researchers have recently documented a clinical benefit. Music is now being prescribed for cancer patients like Bella, and those suffering from Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and trauma to reduce anxiety, muscle tension, and sleep problems, or to release sadness.
King Saul reached for a musical prescription when he was feeling tormented. His attendants saw his lack of peace and suggested they find someone to play the lyre for him in hopes it would make him “feel better” (1 Samuel 16:16). They sent for Jesse’s son David, and Saul was pleased with him and asked that he “remain in [his] service” (v. 22). David played for Saul in his moments of unrest, bringing him relief from his anguish.
We may only just be discovering scientifically what God has known all along about how music can affect us. As the author and creator of both our bodies and music itself, He provided a prescription for our health that’s readily accessible to all, regardless of the era in which we live or how easy it is to visit a doctor. Even when there’s no way to listen, we can sing to God in the midst of our joys and struggles, making music of our own (Acts 16:25; Psalm 59:16).
Hungarian-born mathematician Abraham Wald lent his skills to the World War II efforts after coming to the United States in 1938. The military was looking for ways to protect its aircraft from enemy fire, so Wald and his colleagues at the Statistical Research Group were asked to figure out how to better protect military aircraft to defend against enemy fire. They began by examining returning aircraft to see where they were most damaged. But Wald is credited with the keen insight that damage on returning aircraft represented only where a plane could be hit and still survive. He realized that areas most in need of additional armor would be found on planes that had crashed. Planes hit in the most vulnerable part—the engine—had gone down and therefore couldn’t be examined.
Solomon teaches us about protecting our most vulnerable part—our heart. He instructs his son to “guard [his] heart” because from it everything else flows. (Proverbs 4:23) God’s instructions guide us through life, steering us away from poor decisions and teaching us where to focus our attention.
If we armor our heart by heeding His instructions, we’ll better “keep [our feet] from evil” and remain steadfast in our journey with God (v. 27). We venture into enemy territory every day, but with God’s wisdom guarding our hearts we can stay focused on our mission to live well for God’s glory.
Sand martins—small birds related to swallows—dig their nests into riverbanks. Land development in South East England reduced their habitat, and the birds had fewer and fewer places to nest when they returned from their winter migration each year. Local conservationists sprang into action and built an enormous artificial sandbank to house them. With the help of a sand-sculpting firm, they molded sand to create a space for the birds to take up residence for years to come.
This gracious act of compassion vividly depicts the words Jesus used to console His disciples. After telling them He’d be leaving and that they wouldn’t be able to go with Him until later (John 13:36), He offered them the assurance that He’d “prepare a place for [them]” in heaven (14:2). Though they were rightly saddened that Jesus said He would leave them soon and that they could not follow Him, He encouraged them to look on this holy errand as part of His preparation to receive them—and us.
Without Jesus’ sacrificial work on the cross, the “many rooms” of the Father’s house wouldn’t be able to receive us (v. 2). Having gone before us in preparation, Christ assures us He’ll return and take those who trust in His sacrifice to be with Him. There we’ll take up residence with Him in a joyous eternity.
Stories have captivated humans since the dawn of creation—functioning as a way to pass down knowledge long before written language existed. We’ve all known the delight of hearing or reading a story and being immediately engaged by such opening lines as “once upon a time.” The power of a story appears to extend beyond merely enjoyment: when we listen to a story together, our heartbeats seem to synchronize! Though our individual heartbeats vary over the course of a day, and might only match another’s coincidentally, new research indicates our hearts may all fall into the same rhythm when we hear the same story at the same time.
God begins telling us His story with the words, “In the beginning” (Genesis 1:1). From the moment Adam and Eve first drew breath (v. 27), God has used that unfolding story to shape and influence not just our individual lives but also—and perhaps more importantly—our collective life as His children. Through the Bible—the most magnificent nonfiction story ever recorded—our hearts as believers in Jesus are joined together as people set apart for His purposes (1 Peter 2:9).
In response to that story, may our hearts beat in shared rhythm, delighted by the Author’s creative works. And may we share His story with others, declaring “his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples” (Psalm 96:3), inviting them to become part of it too.
An Orca whale, who researchers have named “Granny,” apparently knew the importance of her role in the life of her “grandbaby whale.” The young whale’s mother had recently died and the orphaned whale was not yet old enough to thrive without protection and support. Granny, though in her 80s (or older), came alongside to teach him what he needed to know to survive. Granny corralled some fish for the younger whale instead of consuming them herself, so he would not only have a meal but would also learn what to eat and where to find the salmon he’d need to live.
We too have the distinct honor and joy of passing on what we know—we can share the wonderful works and character of God to those coming after us. The aging psalmist asks God to allow him to “declare [His] power to the next generation” (Psalm 71:18). He earnestly wishes to share with others what he knows of God—His “righteous deeds” and “saving acts”—that we need to flourish (v. 15).
Even if we don’t have the gray hairs of old age (v. 18), declaring how we’ve experienced the love and faithfulness of God can benefit someone on their journey with Him. Our willingness to share that wisdom might just be what that person needs to live and thrive in Christ even in adversity (v. 20).
After three decades, Feng Lulu was reunited with her birth family. As a toddler, she was kidnapped while playing outside her house, but through the help of All-China Women’s Federation, she was finally located. Because she was so young when she was abducted, Feng Lulu doesn’t remember it. She grew up believing she’d been sold because her parents couldn’t afford to keep her, so learning the truth surfaced many questions and emotions.
When Joseph was unexpectedly reunited with his brothers, it’s likely he experienced some complex emotions. He’d been sold by his brothers into slavery in Egypt as a young man. Despite a series of painful twists and turns, God propelled Joseph to a position of authority. When his brothers came to Egypt to buy food during a famine, they—unwittingly—sought it from him.
Joseph acknowledged to his brothers that God redeemed their wrongdoing, saying He used it to “save [their] lives by a great deliverance” (Genesis 45:7). Yet Joseph doesn’t mince words or redefine their hurtful actions toward him—he described them accurately as “selling [him]” (v. 5).
We sometimes try to put an overly positive spin on difficult situations, focusing on the good God brings from them without acknowledging the emotional struggle. Let’s take care not to redefine a wrong as being good simply because God redeemed it: we can look for Him to bring good from it while still recognizing the hardship and pain wrongdoing causes. Both are true.