You’ll never walk alone

Have you ever walked through a situation so tough that at times you felt alone?

I have.

For me, it’s been a health issue. Those who know me well are aware I’ve struggled with stomach issues for most of my life, and frankly, it just makes some days suck.

It can be isolating because I feel like no one understands what I’m going through – even supportive friends and family.  So it’s pretty comforting to know there is one who always understands – and that’s Jesus.

Even Jesus felt alone at times. That seems strange when you think about it, since He’s God and all, but He lived on the earth as one of us, so He has experienced our pain.

“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.” Isaiah 53:3

Difficult as those painful times can be, I’ve discovered that’s when I’m actually closest to God. If things were always easy, I wouldn’t need Him as much!

I think those hard times bring us closer to Jesus because by then we’ve probably exhausted every “worldly” avenue of fixing things, coming only to realize Jesus was the only one who could help us all along. It’s just, sometimes we have to hit our our most desperate point to finally figure that out.

I have found myself praying and pleading with God to take my pain away, just to heal me. And though that hasn’t necessarily happened, something else has: I’ve found him in the pain. He is with me. I’ve come to realize that He was all I ever really needed in the first place. Life will never be pain free, but Jesus will always be with us.

A great verse that illustrates this:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” -Joshua 1:9

God cares about your circumstances, your life, your pain, your heartache and your struggles. All you have to do is pray to Him. Just tell Him what’s on your mind. Ask Him to be with you and strengthen you through whatever you’re dealing with.

In 1 Peter 5:7, it even says:

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Maybe for you the pain isn’t physical. But emotional wounds can cut through us just as deeply, if not more. Really, friends, Jesus cares about you and wants to meet you in your situation, wherever you may be.

Just call on His name and you’ll see. He is always with us.

Let your light shine

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Growing up, I never had much of an interest in sports or athletics because, truth be told, I never felt I was good at it. Unless you count my mom’s cheesy ’80s Jane Fonda workout videos I sometimes did in high school. Don’t laugh. It was some serious calorie burning.

But I’m proud to say I’ve come a bit farther in recent years – now I run several times a week. I actually enjoy it, for the most part! And I’m proud to share that over the weekend, I completed my fourth 5K, the Firefly Run, with my best time yet. My sister Meghan did it with me. That’s her in the picture, by the way. Unlike my last few 5Ks where I ended up in the back with all the strollers, dogs and walkers, I actually started in the front this time. That helped improve my time, I think, but I felt like I was just keeping up. They were all passing me! A few times, I did actually pass some people. I felt a little better about myself after that.

But this isn’t just any 5K, people. First, it’s at nighttime, which I love because that means no early morning wake-up call. But the best part is all the beautiful lights that sparkle through the streets. Think all the crazy, blingy, glow attire – bracelets, headbands, sunglasses, Mickey Mouse ears, you name it. From an aerial view, I have to guess it would really look like fireflies.

That image got me thinking. As Christians, we’re called to be lights in a dark world. In Matthew 5: 14-16, it says this:

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Imagine if we all let the light of Jesus shine through us – in a figurative sense, it would look a lot like that 5K. I think too many of us, myself included, don’t always let our light shine as brightly as we should. But just like the nighttime, we live in a dark world. A world that desperately needs the light of Jesus. He is our only hope.

And I’m sure it goes without saying that far too many people in this world don’t know Jesus or His love for them. It’s so big. It changes who we are from the inside out. It forgives us, sets us free from our past and gives us new hope. When we live a life following Jesus, we live in complete freedom!

If more of us let our light shine, even just a little brighter, think of the difference we could make for the Lord’s kingdom. Sometimes “letting your light shine” is as simple as showing kindness to others, keeping a positive attitude at work or school or perhaps going out of your way to help someone. I think that’s where the phrase from the verse “good deeds”  plays in. Other times it’s witnessing to a friend, family member, coworker or even stranger who doesn’t know Jesus.

I also believe when we’re truly seeking Christ and living a life set on Him, that light will be shining – it’s simply a reflection of what’s already inside our heart. And friends, when you know the love of Jesus, that’s hard to keep inside. Anyone with me here?

We all lead busier lives than ever, and we all have our own problems to deal with. But don’t get so distracted by trivial day-to-day problems that you forget to share Christ with others. This one life is all we get. Don’t let it flash by without letting your light shine.