I set my Bible on the podium and stared at the eager faces waiting for me to begin the message. I’d prayed and prepared. Why couldn’t I speak?
You’re worthless. No one will ever listen to you, especially if they know your past. And God would never use you. Seared into my heart and mind, the words spoken in various ways over my life ignited a decade-long war against the lies I so easily believed. Though I knew the words weren’t true, I couldn’t seem to escape my insecurities and fears. So, I opened my Bible.
Turning to Proverbs 30:5, I inhaled and exhaled slowly before reading out loud. “Every word of God is flawless,” I said, “he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.” I closed my eyes as peace overwhelmed me, and I began to share my testimony with the crowd.
Many of us have experienced the paralyzing power of negative words or opinions others have of us. However, God’s words are “flawless,” perfect and absolutely sound. When we’re tempted to believe spirit-crushing ideas about our value or our purpose as God’s children, God’s enduring and infallible truth protects our minds and our hearts. We can echo the psalmist who wrote: “I remember,
Let’s combat lies we’ve accepted about God, ourselves, and others by replacing negative-speak with Scripture.
Martha served as a teacher’s aide at an elementary school for over thirty years. Every year, she saved money to buy new coats, scarves, and gloves for students in need. After she lost her fight with leukemia, we held a celebration of life service. In lieu of flowers, people donated hundreds of brand-new winter coats to the students she loved and served for decades. Many people shared stories about the countless ways Martha encouraged others with kind words and thoughtful deeds. Her fellow teachers honored her memory with an annual coat drive for three years after her life ended on this side of eternity. Her legacy of kindness still inspires others to generously serve those in need.
In Acts 9, the apostle Luke shares a story about Dorcas, a woman who was “always doing good and helping the poor” (Acts 9:36). After she got sick and died, the grieving community urged Peter to visit. All the widows showed Peter how Dorcas had lived to serve (v. 39). In a miraculous act of compassion, Peter brought Dorcas back to life. The news of Dorcas’ resurrection spread and “many people believed in the Lord” (v. 42). But it was Dorcas’ commitment to serving others in practical ways that touched the hearts in her community and revealed the power of loving generosity.
How might God use you to leave a legacy of kindness?
Xochitl E. Dixon
Suggested Reading: Romans 12:9–13
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12
Rogelio served as our waiter during our weeklong vacation. During one conversation, he credited Jesus for blessing him with Kaly, a compassionate wife with strong faith. After they had their first baby, God gave them the opportunity to help care for their niece who had Downs Syndrome. Soon after, Rogelio’s mother-in-law needed live-in care.
Rogelio works with joy, often taking on double shifts to ensure his wife can stay home to care for the people God entrusted to them. When I shared how the couple opening their hearts and home to serve their family members inspired me to love better, he said, “It is my pleasure to serve them . . . and you.”
Rogelio’s life affirms the power of living with generosity and trusting the Lord to provide as we serve one another selflessly. The apostle Paul urged God’s people to be “devoted to one another in love . . . joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer” as we “share with the Lord’s people who are in need” and practice hospitality (Romans 12:10–13).
Our life can change in an instant, leaving us or those we love in circumstances that feel impossible to bear. But when we’re willing to share all God has given us while we wait on Him, we can cling to His enduring hope . . . together.
For Christopher, a physically disabled veteran, everyday activities had become more challenging, took longer to finish, and increased his pain. Still, he did his best to serve his wife and child. Passersby would see him using a push-mower to cut his lawn every week.
One day, Christopher received a letter—and an expensive riding lawnmower—from an anonymous donor. The secret giver’s satisfaction came through the privilege of helping someone in need.
Jesus doesn’t say that all of our giving should be in secret, but He does remind us to check our motives when we give (Matthew 6:1). He also said: “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others” (v. 2). While the Lord expects us to be openhanded givers, He encourages us to avoid doing good deeds in front of people for the purpose of receiving accolades or special recognition (v. 3).
When we realize everything we have comes from God, we can be secret givers who don’t need to pat our own backs or gain the admiration of others. Our all-knowing Giver of all good things delights in the genuine generosity of His people. Nothing beats the reward of His approval.
After a painful minor surgery on my left eye, my doctor recommended a vision test. With confidence, I covered my right eye and read each line on the chart with ease. Covering my left eye, I gasped. How could I not realize I’d been so blind?
While adjusting to new glasses and renewed vision, I thought of how daily trials often caused me to be spiritually nearsighted. Focusing only on what I could see up-close—my pain and ever-changing circumstances—I became blind to the faithfulness of my eternal and unchanging God. With such a limited perspective, hope became an unattainable blur.
First Samuel 1 tells the story of another woman who failed to recognize God’s trustworthiness while focusing on her current anguish, uncertainty, and loss. For years, Hannah had endured childlessness and endless torment from Peninnah, another wife of her husband Elkanah. Hannah’s husband adored her, but contentment evaded her. One day, she prayed with bitter honesty. When Eli the priest questioned her, she explained her situation. He assured her that God would “grant her request” (1 Samuel 1:17). Though Hannah’s situation didn’t change immediately, she walked away with confident hope (v. 18).
Her prayer in 1 Samuel 2:1-2 reveals a shift in Hannah’s focus. Even before her circumstances improved, Hannah’s renewed vision changed her perspective and her attitude. She rejoiced in the ongoing presence of God—her Rock and everlasting hope.
Joe worked over twelve hours a day, often without taking breaks. Starting a charitable business demanded so much time and energy that he had little left to offer his wife and children when he got home. After the toll of chronic stress landed Joe in the hospital, a friend offered to organize a team to help him. Though he dreaded giving up control, Joe knew he couldn’t keep up his current pace. He agreed to trust his friend—and God—as he delegated responsibilities to the group of people they chose together. A year later, Joe admitted the charity and his family could never have prospered if he’d refused the help God had sent him.
God didn’t design people to thrive without the support of a loving community. In Exodus 18, Moses led the Israelites through the wilderness. He tried serving God’s people as a teacher, a counselor, and a judge all on his own. When his father-in-law visited, he offered Moses advice: “You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out,” said Jethro. “The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone” (Exodus 18:18). He encouraged Moses to share the workload with faithful people. Moses accepted help and the whole community benefited.
When we trust that God works in and through all His people as we work together, we can find true rest.
As my husband strolled down the rocky beach taking photos of the Hawaiian horizon, I sat on a large rock fretting over another medical setback. Though my problems would be waiting for me when I returned home, I needed peace in that moment. I stared at the incoming waves crashing against the black, jagged rocks. A dark shadow in the curve of the wave caught my eye. Using the zoom option on my camera, I identified the shape as a sea turtle riding the waves peacefully. Its flippers spread wide and still. Turning my face into the salty breeze, I smiled.
The “heavens praise [God’s] wonders” (Psalm 89:5). Our incomparable Lord rules “over the surging sea.” When “its waves mount up, [God] stills them” (v. 9). He “founded the world and all that is in it” (v. 11). He made it all, owns it all, manages it all, and purposes it all for His glory and our enjoyment..
Standing on the foundation of our faith—the love of our unchanging Father—we can “walk in the light of [His] presence” (v. 15). God remains mighty in power and merciful in His dealings with us. We can rejoice in His name all day long (v. 16). No matter what obstacles we face or how many setbacks we have to endure, God holds us as the waves rise and fall.
While serving as my mom’s live-in caregiver at a cancer center hundreds of miles away from my home, I asked people to pray for us. As the months passed, isolation and loneliness sapped my strength. How could I care for my mom if I gave in to my physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion?
One day, a friend sent me an unexpected care package. Jodi had crocheted a purple prayer shawl, a warm reminder that we had people praying for us daily. Whenever I wrapped the soft yarn around my shoulders, I felt God hugging me with the prayers of His people. Years later, He still uses that purple shawl to comfort me and strengthen my resolve.
The apostle Paul affirmed the importance and spirit-refreshing power of praying for others (Romans 15:23–29). Through his passionate request for prayerful support and encouragement during his travels, Paul demonstrated how those who pray for others become partners in ministry (v. 30). Offering specific requests, the apostle not only showed his dependence on the support of fellow believers but his trust that God powerfully answers prayer (vv. 31–33).
We’ll all experience days when we feel alone. But Paul shows us how to ask for prayer as we pray for others. When we’re wrapped in the intercessory prayers of God’s people, we can experience God’s strength and comfort no matter where life takes us.
As a full-of-energy preschooler, my son Xavier avoided afternoon quiet time. Being still often resulted in an unwanted, though much needed, nap. So, he’d wiggle in his seat, slide off the sofa, scoot across the hardwood floor, and even roll across the room to evade the quiet. “Mom, I’m hungry . . . I’m thirsty . . . I have to go to the bathroom . . . I want a hug.”
Understanding the benefits of stillness, I’d help Xavier settle down by inviting him to snuggle. Leaning into my side, he’d give in to sleep.
Early in my spiritual life, I mirrored my son’s desire to remain active. Busyness made me feel accepted, important, and in control, while noise distracted me from fretting over my shortcomings and trials. Surrendering to rest only affirmed my frail humanity. So I avoided stillness and silence, doubting the Lord could handle things without my help.
But God is our refuge, no matter how many troubles or uncertainties surround us. The path ahead may seem long, scary, or overwhelming, but His love envelops us. He hears us, answers us, and stays with us . . . now and forever into eternity (Psalm 91:1–16).
We can embrace the quiet and lean into God’s unfailing love and constant presence. We can be still and rest in Him, because we’re safe under the shelter of His unchanging faithfulness (v. 4).