Twenty minutes into a flight from New York to San Antonio, the flight plan changed as calm gave way to chaos. When one of the plane’s engines failed, debris from the engine smashed through a window causing the cabin to decompress. Sadly, several passengers were injured and one person was killed. Had not a calm, capable pilot been in the cockpit—one trained as a Navy fighter pilot—things could have been tragically worse. The headline in our local paper read, “In Amazing Hands.”
In Psalm 31, David revealed that he knew something about the Lord’s amazing, caring hands. That’s why he could confidently say, “Into your hands I commit my spirit” (Psalm 31: 5). David believed that the Lord could be trusted even when life got bumpy. Because he was targeted by unfriendly forces, life was very uncomfortable for David. Though vulnerable, he was not without hope. In the midst of harassment David could breathe sighs of relief and rejoice because his faithful, loving God was his source of confidence (vv. 5–7).
Perhaps you find yourself in a season of life when things are coming at you from every direction, and it’s difficult to see what’s ahead. In the midst of uncertainty, confusion, and chaos one thing remains absolutely certain: those who are secure in the Lord are in amazing hands.
I peeked over the grape-stake fence that encloses our backyard. There, I saw folks running, jogging, walking, shuffling around the track that surrounds the park behind our home. I used to do that when I was stronger, I thought. And a wave of dissatisfaction washed over me.
Later, while reading the Scriptures, I came across Isaiah 55:1, “Come, all you who are thirsty,” and I realized again that dissatisfaction (thirst) is the rule, not the exception in this life. Nothing, not even the good things of life can fully satisfy. If I had strong legs like a Sherpa (mountain-climbing guide), there would still be something else that’s wrong that I’d be unhappy about.
Our culture is always telling us in one way or another that something we do, buy, wear, spray on, roll on, or ride in will give us endless pleasure. But that’s a lie. We can’t get complete satisfaction from anything in the here and now, no matter what we do.
Rather, Isaiah invites us to come again and again to God and the Scriptures to hear what He has to say. And what does He say? His love for David of old is “everlasting” and “faithful” (v. 3). And that goes for you and me as well! We can “Come” to Him.
Early in the morning, I pad noiselessly past a family-room window overlooking a wilderness area behind our house. Often, I notice a hawk or owl perched in a tree, keeping watch over the area. One morning I was surprised to find a bald eagle boldly balanced on a high branch, surveying the terrain as if the entire expanse belonged to him. Likely he was watching for “breakfast.” His all-inclusive gaze seemed regal.
In 2 Chronicles 16, Hanani the seer (God’s prophet) informed a king that his actions were under a Royal gaze. He told Asa, king of Judah, “You relied on the king of Aram and not on the
Reading these words, we might get the false sense that God watches our every move so He can pounce like a bird of prey. But Hanani’s words focus on the positive. His point is that our God continually watches and waits for us to call on Him when we are in need.
Like my backyard bald eagle, how might God’s eye be roaming our earth—even now—looking to find faithfulness in you and me? How might He might provide the hope and help we need?
When his wife contracted a terminal illness, Michael longed for her to experience the peace he had through his relationship with God. He had shared his faith with her, but she wasn’t interested. One day, as he walked through a local bookstore, a title caught his eye: God, Are You There? Unsure how his wife would respond to the book, he walked in and out of the store several times before finally buying it. To his surprise, she accepted it.
The book touched her, and she began to read the Bible too. Two weeks later, Michael’s wife passed away—at peace with God and resting in the assurance that He would never leave or forsake her.
When God called Moses to lead His people out of Egypt, He didn’t promise him power. Instead, He promised His presence: “I will be with you” (Exodus 3:12). In Jesus’s last words to His disciples, He also promised God’s eternal presence, which they would receive through the Holy Spirit (John 15:26).
There are many things God could give us to help us through life’s challenges, such as material comfort, healing, or immediate solutions to our problems. Sometimes He does. But the best gift He gives is Himself. This is the greatest comfort we have: whatever happens in life, He will be with us; He will never leave nor forsake us.
The Experience Project, one of the largest online communities of the twenty-first century, was once a site where tens of millions shared deeply painful firsthand experiences. As I read through the heartbreaking stories, I reflected on how desperately our hearts long for someone to see—to understand—our pain.
In Genesis, the story of a young handmaid reveals just how life-giving this gift can be.
Hagar was a slave girl likely given to Abram by a pharaoh of Egypt (see Genesis 12:16; 16:1). When Abram’s wife Sarai was unable to conceive, she urged Abram to conceive a child with Hagar—a disturbing yet familiar practice of that day. But when Hagar became pregnant, tensions flared, until Hagar fled into the wilderness to escape Sarai’s abuse (16:1–6).
But Hagar’s predicament—pregnant and alone in a harsh, unforgiving desert—didn’t escape heaven’s notice. After a heavenly messenger encouraged Hagar (vv. 7–12), she declared, “You are the God who sees me” (v. 13).
Hagar was praising a God who sees more than the bare facts. The same God was revealed in Jesus, who, “when he saw the crowds . . . had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless” (Matthew 9:36). Hagar encountered a God who understood.
The God who saw and understood Hagar’s pain sees ours as well (Hebrews 4:15–16). Experiencing heaven’s empathy can help the unbearable become a bit more bearable.
A rare super moon appeared in November 2016—the moon in its orbit reached its closest point to the earth in over sixty years and so appeared bigger and brighter than at other times. But for me that day the skies were shrouded in gray. Although I saw photos of this wonder from friends in other places, as I gazed upwards I had to trust that the super moon was lurking behind the clouds.
The apostle Paul urged the church at Corinth, in the face of their hardships, to believe what is unseen but will last forever. He said how their “momentary troubles” achieve “an eternal glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17). Thus they could fix their eyes “not on what is seen, but on what is unseen,” because what is unseen is eternal (v. 18). Paul yearned that the faith of those in Corinth would grow, and although they suffered, that they would trust in God. They might not be able to see Him, but they could believe that He was renewing them day by day (v. 16).
I thought about how God is unseen but eternal when I gazed at the clouds that day, knowing that the super moon was hidden but there. And I hoped the next time I was tempted to believe that God was far from me, I would fix my eyes on what is unseen.
She was completely focused on the top shelf, where the glass jars of spaghetti sauce sat. I'd been standing beside her in the grocery aisle for a minute or two eyeing that same shelf, trying to decide. But she seemed oblivious to my presence, lost in her own predicament. Now I have no problem with top shelves because I'm a fairly tall man. She, on the other hand, was not tall, not at all. I spoke up and offered to help. Startled, she said, "Goodness, I didn't even see you standing there. Yes, please help me."
The disciples had quite the situation on their hands-hungry crowds, a remote place, and time slipping away-"It's already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food" (Matthew 14:15). When challenged by Jesus to take care of the people themselves, they responded, "We have here only . . ." (v. 17). All they seemed to be aware of was their lack. Yet standing right beside them was Jesus, not just the multiplier of bread but the Bread of Life Himself.
We can get so wrapped up in our challenges and trying to figure them out for ourselves with our often-limited reach that we miss the abiding presence of the risen Christ. From remote hillsides to grocery store aisles and everywhere else in-between, He is Emmanuel-God right there with us, an ever-present help in trouble.
The little girl who navigated the stairway one Sunday at church was cute, spunky, and independent. One by one the child—who appeared to be not much older than two years old—took the steps down to the lower level. Descending the stairs was her mission and she accomplished it. I smiled to myself as I pondered the daring independence of this courageous toddler. The child wasn’t afraid because she knew her caring mother’s watchful eye was always on her and her loving hand was extended to help her. This aptly pictures the Lord’s readiness to help His children as they make their way through life with its varied uncertainties.
Today’s Scripture includes two “hand” references. After cautioning His ancient people not to fear or be dismayed, the Lord told them, “I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). Many anxious and fearful children have been steadied by the strength of a parent. Here God’s power comes into view. In the second “hand” reference, once again it’s the Lord who acted to secure the safety of His own. “For I am the
During Oswald Chambers’ years at the Bible Training College in London (1911–15), he often startled the students with things he said during his lectures. One young woman explained that because discussion was reserved for the following mealtime together, Chambers would frequently be bombarded with questions and objections. She recalled that Oswald would often simply smile and say, “Just leave it for now; it will come to you later.” He encouraged them to ponder the issues and allow God to reveal His truth to them.
To ponder something is to concentrate and think deeply about it. After the events leading to the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, followed by the appearance of angels, and the shepherds who came to see the Messiah, “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). New Testament scholar W. E. Vine said that “ponder” means “to throw together, confer, to put one thing with another in considering circumstances” (Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words).
When we struggle to understand the meaning of what is happening in our lives, we have Mary’s wonderful example of what it means to seek the Lord and His wisdom.
When we, like her, accept God’s leading in our lives, we have many new things about our Lord’s loving guidance to treasure and ponder in our hearts.