As an amateur photographer, I enjoy capturing glimpses of God’s creativity with my camera. I see His fingerprints on each delicate flower petal, each vibrant sunrise and sunset, and each cloud-painted and star-speckled sky canvas.
My camera’s powerful zoom option allows me to take photos of the Lord’s creatures too. I’ve snapped shots of a chattering squirrel in a cherry blossom tree, a colorful butterfly flitting from bloom to bloom, and sea turtles sunning on a rocky, black beach. Each one-of-a-kind image prompted me to worship my marvelous Maker.
I’m not the first of God’s people to praise Him while admiring His unique creations. The writer of Psalm 104 sings of the Lord’s many works of art in nature (v. 24). He regards “the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number” (v. 25) and rejoices in God for providing constant and complete care for His masterpieces (vv. 27–31). Considering the majesty of the God-given life around him, the psalmist bursts with worshipful gratitude: “I will sing to the
While reflecting on the Lord’s magnificent and immense creation, we can look close at His intentional creativity and attention to detail. And like the psalmist, we can sing to our Creator with thankful praise for how powerful, majestic, and loving He is and always will be. Hallelujah!
When our son, Xavier, was younger, business trips often pulled my husband away from home. Though his father called often, there were rough nights when the calls alone didn’t comfort Xavier. To help soothe our son when he felt he needed his dad, I’d pull out our homemade photo albums as he prepared for bedtime. I’d point out the images that showed them spending time together and ask, “Do you remember this?”
Memory after memory encouraged our son, who often said, “I have a good daddy.”
I understood Xavier’s need to be reminded of his father’s love when he couldn’t see him. Whenever I’m going through tough or lonely times, I too long to know I’m loved, especially by my Heavenly Father.
David proclaimed his deep yearning for God as he hid from his enemies in the desert (Psalm 63:1). Remembering his personal encounters with God’s limitless power and satisfying love led him to praise (vv. 2–5). Through his most difficult nights, David could still rejoice in his dependable Father’s loving care (vv. 6–8).
During our dark times, when we feel as if God’s not there for us, we need reminders of who God is and how He’s demonstrated His love. Reflecting on our personal experiences with Him, as well as His actions recorded in Scripture, can affirm the countless ways our good Abba Father loves us.
On our wedding anniversary, my husband, Alan, gives me fresh flowers. When he lost his job during a corporate restructure, I didn’t expect this extravagant display of devotion to continue. But on our nineteenth anniversary, the color-splashed blossoms greeted me from their spot on our dining room table. Because he valued continuing this annual tradition, Alan saved some money each month to ensure he’d have enough for this personal show of affection.
My husband’s careful planning exhibited exuberant generosity, similar to what Paul encouraged when he addressed the Corinthian believers. The apostle complimented the church for their intentional and enthusiastic offerings (2 Corinthians 9:2, 5), reminding them that God delights in generous and cheerful givers (vv. 6–7). After all, no one gives more than our loving Provider, who’s always ready to supply all we need (vv. 8–10).
We can be generous in all kinds of giving, caring for one another because the Lord meets all of our material, emotional, and spiritual needs (v. 11). As we give, we can express our gratitude for all God’s given us. We can even motivate others to praise the Lord and give from all God’s given them (vv. 12–13). Openhanded giving, a lavish expression of love and gratitude, can demonstrate our confidence in God’s provision for all His people.
When Xavier was two, he darted into one aisle after another in a small shoe store. Hiding behind stacks of shoeboxes, he giggled when my husband, Alan, said, “I see you.”
Moments later, I saw Alan dash franticly from aisle to aisle, calling Xavier’s name. We raced to the front of the store. Our child, still laughing, ran toward the open door leading to the busy street outside.
Within seconds, Alan scooped him up. He embraced us as I thanked God, sobbed, and kissed our toddler’s chubby cheeks.
A year before I became pregnant with Xavier, I’d lost our first child during the pregnancy. When God blessed us with our son, I became a fearful parent. Our shoe store experience proved I wouldn’t always be able to see or protect our child. But I discovered peace, as I learned to turn to my only sure source of help—God—when I struggled with worry and fear.
Our heavenly Father never takes His eyes off His children (Psalm 121:1-4). While we can’t prevent trials, heartache, or loss, we can live with confident faith, relying on an ever-present Helper and Protector who will watch over our lives (vv. 5-8).
We may encounter days when we feel lost and helpless. We may also feel powerless when we can’t shield loved ones. But we can trust that our all-knowing God never loses sight of us—His precious and beloved children.
During a vacation, my husband and I signed up for a leisurely tour down Georgia’s Chattahoochee River. Dressed in sandals, a sundress, and a wide brimmed hat, I groaned when we discovered—contrary to the advertisement—that the trip included light rapids. Thankfully, we rode with a couple experienced in whitewater rafting. They taught my husband the basics of paddling and promised to navigate us safely to our destination. Grateful for my life jacket, I screamed and gripped the plastic handle on the raft until we reached the muddy bank downriver. I stepped onto the shore and dumped water from my purse as my husband helped me wring out the hem of my soaked dress. We enjoyed a good laugh, even though the trip had not turned out as advertised.
Unlike the tour brochure, which clearly left out a key detail about the trip, Jesus explicitly warned His disciples that rough waters were ahead. He told them that they’d be persecuted and martyred and that He would die and be resurrected. He also guaranteed His trustworthiness, affirming that He would guide them toward undeniable triumph and everlasting hope (John 16:16–33).
Although it would be nice if life were easier when we follow Jesus, He made it clear that His disciples would have troubles. But He promised to be with us. Trials won’t define, limit, or destroy God’s plan for us, because Jesus’s resurrection has already propelled us to eternal victory.
Standing in the crowded store aisle, I struggled to find the perfect Father’s Day card. Although we had reconciled after years of a strained connection, I had never felt close to my dad.
The woman next to me groaned and shoved the card she’d been reading back into the display. “Why can’t they make cards for people who don’t have good relationships with their fathers, but are trying to do the right thing?”
She stormed off before I could respond, so I prayed for her. Thanking God for affirming only He could be a perfect Father, I asked Him to strengthen my relationship with my dad.
I long for deeper intimacy with my heavenly Father too. I want David’s confidence in God’s constant presence, power, and protection (Psalm 27:1–6).
When David cried out for help, he expected God’s answers (vv. 7–9). Though earthly parents could reject, abandon, or neglect their children, David declared God’s unconditional acceptance (v. 10). He lived with assurance in the Lord’s goodness (vv. 11–13). Like most of us, David sometimes struggled, but the Holy Spirit helped him persevere in trust and dependence on the Lord (v. 14).
We, like the lady in the card aisle, will encounter difficult relationships on this side of eternity. But even when people fall short, fail us, or hurt us, we’re still completely loved and protected by the only Perfect Father.
As I continue trusting God through my struggles with chronic pain, even the simplest setback can feel like a fierce enemy attacker. Problem One jabs me from the right. Problem Two shoves me from behind. Problem Three punches me square in the nose. During these times, when my strength wanes and immediate relief evades me, running and hiding can seem like a good idea. But since I can’t escape my pain, change my circumstances, or ignore my emotions, I’m learning slowly to rely on God to carry me through.
When I need encouragement, comfort, and courage, I prayerfully read through the songs of the psalmists, who honestly bring their situations to God. In one of my favorite psalms, King David flees from Absalom, his son who wanted to kill him and take his kingdom. Though David lamented his painful situation (Psalm 3:1–2), he trusted God’s protection and expected Him to answer his prayers (vv. 3–4). The king didn’t lose sleep worrying or fearing what could happen, because he trusted God to sustain and save him (vv. 5–8).
Physical and emotional pain can often feel like aggressive adversaries. We may be tempted to give up or wish we could escape when we’re weary and can’t see the end of our current battle. But, like David, we can learn to trust that God will hold us up and help us rest in His constant and loving presence.
When my son’s teacher asked me to serve as a chaperone for their science camp, I hesitated. How could I be a role model when mistakes littered my past, when I still struggled, stumbled, and slipped into old bad habits? God helped me love and raise my son, but I often doubted He could use me to serve others.
Sometimes I still fail to recognize that God—the only perfect One, the only One who can change hearts and lives—transforms us over time. Then the Holy Spirit reminds me how Paul encouraged Timothy to embrace his on-the-job training, persevere in faith, and use the gifts God had given him (2 Timothy 1:6). Timothy could be courageous because God, his power source, would help him love and be disciplined as he continued to grow and serve those within his sphere of influence (v. 7).
Christ saves and empowers us to honor Him with our lives, not because we have special qualifications but because we’re each valuable members of His family (v. 9).
We can persevere with confidence when we know our role is to simply love God and others. Christ’s role is to save us and give us a purpose that extends beyond our small vision of the world. As we follow Jesus daily, He transforms us while using us to encourage others as we share His love and truth wherever He sends us.
My friend called me one late night during her cancer treatment. Grieved by her uncontrollable sobs, I soon added my own tears and a silent prayer. What am I supposed to do, Lord?
Her wails squeezed my heart. I couldn’t stop her pain, fix her situation, or find one intelligible word of encouragement. But I knew who could help. As I wept with my friend, stumbling through a prayer, I whispered repeatedly, “Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.”
Her cries quieted to sniffs and whimpers, until her breathing slowed. Her husband’s voice startled me. “She’s asleep,” he said. “We’ll call tomorrow.”
I hung up, weeping prayers into my pillow.
The apostle Mark shares a story of another person who wanted to help his loved one. A desperate father brought his suffering son to Jesus (Mark 9:17). Doubt clung to his plea, as he reiterated the impossibility of their circumstances (vv. 20–22) and acknowledged his need for Jesus to empower his belief (v. 24). The father and son experienced freedom, hope, and peace when Jesus stepped in and took control (vv. 25–27).
When loved ones are hurting, it’s natural to want to do the right things and say the perfect words. But Christ is the only One who can truly help us. When we call on the name of Jesus, He can enable us to believe and rely on the power of His presence.