Friday, March 21, 2014

Daily Encouragement (03/21/14) "Why Me Lord?"

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Amish traffic buggy, Intercourse, PA 3/14/14
Driving through Lancaster County we periodically encounter an Amish buggy jam such as this road outside of Intercourse, PA (Click on photo for larger view)

"Why Me Lord?"

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"Don't call me Naomi," she told them. "Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter" (Ruth 1:20). "See to it that …no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many" (Hebrews 12:15).

This morning I am driving two Amish families to upstate New York where they will visit extended family. We will not be using a horse and buggy of course but rather a 15 passenger rented van. Ester and I look forward to the trip. Ester will meet up with a friend who lives in that area. Hauling the Amish almost always includes some colorful moments, especially with a bunch of very excited children!

We all bear burdens, some large and some small. Last fall an Amish family in our area was traveling along in their horse and buggy when they heard what sounded like a firecracker. They made it home but found out the sound they thought a firecracker was a gun shot fired at their horse. Somehow they made it home but the horse died before the vet arrived. The shooter did it because he thought it was funny. I suppose since I have given a lot of consideration in the last several weeks to the Romans 1 portion of Scripture I consider the phrase, "They invent ways of doing evil" (Romans 1:30). His trial here in Lancaster County will be held in April. Of course such a reckless act could have very easily physically harmed any member of the family as well.

As a pastor, situations like this are among the greatest challenges we have when attempting to minister to the family and loved ones. Many of us have had situations in our lives where we have uttered a deeply felt "Why me Lord?" I'm not speaking of the many trite situations where we are inconvenienced in some manner or things just aren't going our way. Really, these situations amount to mere grumbling if we honestly examine our hearts!

We want to draw your attention to a song and link provided after our message today that speaks of God's faithfulness in the deepest of trials. Brian Doerkson sings a stirring song he wrote after the birth of his son born with special needs. He and his wife have six children and both of his sons were born with a severe form of autism.

In our previous church in New England we had a member whose little daughter was backed over by a service truck in her own driveway and died. These are the "Why me Lord?" experiences that test the very limits of our faith in God who is good. I myself have had to deal with a few situations like this in my own life and so have many of you.

The severity of the testing may vary among Christians but the grace of God is all-sufficient to meet every affliction we have. Annie Johnson, a woman orphaned at a very young age and severely crippled by rheumatoid arthritis by the time she was a teen-ager, wrote the following poem set to music:  “He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater, He sendeth more strength when the labors increase; to added affliction He addeth His mercy, to multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.” Simply put, the grace of God more than matches the depth of our need.

The best step I have found in dealing with these troubling situations is to humbly acknowledge, "I don't know why," get my focus off the situation (which will eventually lead to bitterness), and focus on the character of God. He can turn the situation around or He may be shaping my character in ways that can only come about in times of difficulty.

Naomi had great loss. Her husband and two sons had died. She expresses her deep hurt and confusion in our daily text with these heart-felt words, "The Almighty has made my life very bitter." But the little book of Ruth ends with a contented grandma holding an ancestor to Jesus. As people of faith we believe that "in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).

Today if you are dealing with a situation that prompts bitterness may you recall Naomi’s story and remember the powerful truth in our second daily text, "See to it that …no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, when burdens increase and answers don’t come I have a choice to let a bitter root grow up or to remain firmly rooted in You. Focusing solely on my troubles is sure to germinate doubt, fear and unbelief. But when I clothe myself in the spiritual armor You provide I have a powerful defense against the enemy; I can stand firm against his evil schemes. Though he plots evil You plan my eternal good. We are cautioned repeatedly in Scripture that we will have many troubles, but that we should take heart because You help us to overcome them. Father, though You’ve proven Yourself over and over I ask for grace to trust You even more.  Amen.

Matthew 6:33, Walter Kember print
For many years I have enjoyed Kember Prints, simple calligraphed framed Scripture prints made by a Canadian many years ago. Today a Canadian sent me a print he found in a garage. Here's the article we wrote several years ago regarding these prints.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

"Why Me Lord"  Video  David Crowder  This old song has a different perspective than our messages sense of "Why Me?" It considers why are we recipients of God's blessings, which is a good perspective when we deal with the first sense.

"Your Faithfulness"  Video  Brian Doerksen Brian is known for his worshipful songs such as "Come Now it the Time to Worship" "Refiner's Fire" and many other worshipful songs. He wrote this lesser known song following the birth of his son born with FXS,
Fragile X syndrome, also known as Martin–Bell syndrome, or Escalante's syndrome. You'll want to view the brief interview Brian gives regarding his sons, "They slow us down to the pace of love." Video

"He Giveth More Grace"  Video  Larry Ford and the Homecoming singers

"Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus"  Video  Selah

Article about horse shooting from our local paper. (Note: as I recall these articles may not be archived long)

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Stephen and Brooksyne WeberStephen and Brooksyne Weber
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
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