“And God will wipe every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:17, NLT).
Crying happens for many reasons: deep sorrow, loneliness, sickness and pain to happy occasions, such as weddings and the birth of babies. It comes in many forms: heart wrenching sobs, quiet weeping, silent tears. Jesus wept too. He shed tears of grief on more than one occasion. He understands why we cry and cries right along with us today.
There is way too much crying in the world. God is not immune to our tears and though they are precious to him, so much that he keeps them in a bottle, one day he will wipe them away. The verb cry will have a new definition: to make a joyful sound of worship and adoration of the only one willing and able to make tears and crying a thing of the past.
“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book” (Psalm 56:8, NLT).
When we mourn or have sorrows, we often long for someone to hold us close and cry with us, to truly get our pain. But many times our tears are shed in private and our deepest sorrows are not shared or understood even by those closest to us. To anyone who has ever cried (that would be everyone who has ever lived) this verse is probably the most comforting in the whole Bible.
God is the one who knows us so intimately he understands the tears even when we’re not entirely sure where they come from. He sees, understands and remembers each of them as we struggle through the as yet unanswered questions, including the biggest and most often asked—why all the suffering? Life hurts, God cares, and our tears do not go unnoticed.
“Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning” (Lamentations 3:23, NLT).
Some like to say God is the God of second chances, but a friend of mine says he’s the God of a million chances. It’s easy to believe this on a day when the sun comes peeking over the horizon, the birds sing and the flowers bloom. Hope surges in our hearts as we remember the faithfulness of God and the hope we have in Christ.
It almost seems God set up the daily cycles of night and day to remind us of the hope he gives us and the chance to begin again each morning. Just as Jeremiah, in the midst of Jerusalem’s troubles, remembered God’s mercy and compassion, so can we too wake up each morning, confident in his unfailing love. His mercies really are fresh each day!
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud” (1 Corinthians 13:4, NLT).
As a student, I did pretty well in math—until I got to trigonometry! I couldn’t make heads or tails of it, so that was my last math class. I do remember a little bit of algebra, which might explain why I think of it when reading this verse, along with 1 John 4:16.
There’s a formula here and it goes like this: God is love. Love is patient and kind. Therefore God is patient and kind, plus everything in the rest of the chapter. We usually think of the Love chapter as prescriptive, telling us how we should behave. But if we do the math, we see it as descriptive of the only One who truly is all these things. As we yield to and are led by the Holy Spirit, he shares who he is with us and we become more like him. Now that is some math I can get my head around!
“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, NLT).
What we do for God is our response to his goodness and grace. As we learn to love and trust him more, our desires change. His grace teaches us how much better it is to love God and one another instead of wanting only to please ourselves.
The prayers in the New Testament reveal how God feels about us as well as how he wants us to live. He knows our nature, our weaknesses and our tendency to get discouraged, even as we are going through this process of learning to love others and do good to them. He has an encouraging heart and wants us to succeed. When we get tired and think about giving up, he’s there to remind us how much he loves us and give us strength to continue. God’s encouragement comes in many forms but it’s always the proverbial ray of sunshine on a cloudy day.
“May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ” (2 Thessalonians 3:5, NLT).
You’ve probably heard and/or prayed the prayer of the impatient: Lord, give me patience and give it to me now! We want everything to be like microwave popcorn—done in two minutes. If a web page takes longer than a few seconds, we quickly move on to one that loads instantly. And impatient drivers? Everyone’s in a hurry and look out if you’re in their way.
God knows us. He understands how we think and he cares about what we learn and how we learn it. This prayer asks God to lead us into understanding, not give it immediately. That wouldn’t be good for us or others. We learn the things of God as we yield to his gentle leading (which he also helps us do), as we let him guide us first to see how much he loves us, then to love others in the same way and finally to learn patient endurance. The endurance is necessary because we, like little children learning to walk, will stumble, fall and even get hurt in the process. In our impatience we might get angry at God, ourselves and others and feel we are going backward, not forward. In his love, in his own patient endurance, God helps us up and continues to teach us, never giving up even as we continue to stumble.
“If his [Abraham’s] good deeds had made him acceptable to God, he would have had something to boast about. But that was not God’s way. For the Scriptures tell us, ‘Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith'” (Romans 4:2-3, NLT).
We’re so used to working or paying for what we want, it’s sometimes hard to believe grace is really free. Religion hasn’t helped, adding conditions and putting fear in people that if they don’t do enough, they will be in trouble with God. Why not perform extra works and good deeds, just for insurance. It can’t hurt, right?
That is not God’s way. He knew we would become self-righteousness about our good works. His way is better: the way of faith. But again, if it were up to us, we could boast about it. Unfortunately, those who believe they have great faith sometimes look down on those they perceive as having little faith. Only God knows our faith. He is the author of it and he is the one who makes it grow so it’s all up to him. Our good works will not get us to heaven or ensure a better position, rather they are a natural response to the grace that flows freely from the loving heart of the Father.
“The Lord always keeps his promises; he is gracious in all he does” (Psalm 145:13b, NLT).
I’ve only been able to stay at a Bed & Breakfast on a few occasions, but each time has been a wonderful experience. They feel more like home than a hotel and the owners/hosts have been kind, welcoming and attentive. The little extras, like making popcorn for my friend and me so we could better enjoy our movie made one stay memorable. And the breakfast was marvelous!
A gracious host is one who provides everything a guest needs and then some. In a way, God is our gracious host during our short stay on earth. He has provided a whole planet, with fresh air, food, water and raw materials to build whatever we want. He even threw in flowers and sunsets to make it pretty. Even better than these, he has given us the promise of a long-term stay, a forever booking if you will, in and through his gracious son, Jesus. He has promised us everything we will need and then some (that’s the part we can’t even imagine) and he always keeps his promises.
“The Lord is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation” (Psalm 145:9, NLT).
After all the amazing attributes of God I’ve highlighted since January, to simply say God is good might seem a bit anticlimactic. But when you look at some of the synonyms for good, you can see it’s quite descriptive: pure, moral, conscientious, meritorious, worthy, exemplary, upright, commendable, admirable, kindly, benevolent, humane, gracious, obliging, full, adequate, efficient, proficient, capable, able, ready, suited, expert, adroit. But even this list seems inadequate to describe his beautiful perfection.
The goodness and compassion that is God and that flows from God to us, his humble, mortal creation, is staggering. We really have no words grand enough. Perhaps our best response to all he is and does is silent, awe-struck adoration, much as that of David and Job, who could only wonder why God even bothers with us. Thankfully he loves us beyond our understanding, and continually showers us with his kindness and compassion.
“The Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love” (Psalm 145:8, NLT).
I once watched a man climb on his coffee table, shake his fist in the air and yell, “Come on God, if you’re there, hit me with lightning!” Fortunately for him, nothing happened, but I was shaking in my shoes. I had never seen anything like it except perhaps in a movie. I marveled, thinking he just didn’t know what he was doing.
God didn’t strike him with proverbial lightning that day. He is slow to get angry and filled with love that never fails. God loved the man on the coffee table that day, just as he loves everyone who shakes a fist in his face, not realizing who he is or how much he loves them. I’d love to see the look on his face when he meets God and gets a hug instead of the death sentence he was expecting. I’m sure he’ll see the mercy and compassion in the eyes of his Savior and accept the forgiveness he already has in Christ. Who knows—they might even have a laugh about the whole fist-shaking business. God does have a sense of humor!