Tuesday, February 26, 2008


A coworker lost her husband earlier this year. One of my students ran away last week. Another student filed a CPS report against his own father. A young girl was torn in half when her mother left her at the neighbor’s when her boyfriend didn’t want kids in his house. A friend recently wrote about living with a loved one who has cancer. He gave a glimpse of what life is like with this debilitating disease and the side effects of treatment. He told of the relentless pain and the unanswered prayers for healing. Then at small group, someone told me of a six year old boy who had gone missing earlier in the day just a few hundred feet from where we were meeting. When I returned home I looked the story up online. I was hoping they had found him. They found they boy’s hat and boot in the river. The rescue efforts were called off when it got dark. His body was found in the river Monday morning. I can’t imagine the depth of pain his family is experiencing.

As I drove home from small group and fervently prayed for the family of this missing little boy, one thought kept playing through my mind.

He’s faithful.

This reminder gave me incredible comfort. I have seen first hand the Lord’s faithfulness. When I was brokenhearted and so low I thought I’d never have hope again, when my mom was “diagnosed” with cancer, when my aunt was in a coma for weeks and we didn’t know if she would live, God was faithful. He didn’t erase my pain or make everything right in my life, but he was faithful to me.

God doesn’t spare us all suffering or protect us from all sorrow because, unfortunately, he never said he would. In fact, Jesus says just the opposite. He warns us to expect hard times. (Read Matthew 5) The assurance the Lord does give is that when we experience hurt, when our hearts are breaking, he’ll be with us. He declares he’ll never leave us. And in that he’s faithful.

So when I’m plagued by grief and sorrow, when despair and rejection claim my hope, when I’m physically ill because of the horrors in this life, I’ll cling not to the disillusionment that God will take away my pain, but to the promise that God is with me.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Deuteronomy 31:6

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…”
Isaiah 43:2, 3

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Guarding My Heart

As a young Christian, I was told to guard my heart. No one told me what that meant or how to go about it; I was just expected to do it. I naively assumed that guarding my heart equated to protecting myself from the opposite sex. The obvious way to protect myself from the pain a boy could cause was to avoid them altogether. And I succeeded for many years at doing just that.

Then I met a boy who said nice things and made me feel special. All attempts to guard my heart went right out the window. I foolishly placed my tender heart in the hands of this boy who did not cherish or help me guard it. He crushed my poor little heart. Tore it apart piece by piece. Shattered it. I was devastated.

After I picked up the pieces of my heart and attempted to fit them back together, I found myself asking, “How do I guard my heart?” I didn’t find any answers to my question, so I went back to avoiding men.

Recently I’ve decided that avoiding the opposite sex is no longer desirable. I’d like to become good friends with the single men in my life—one in particular. (I’m already pretty good at being friends with the married males in my life.) Guarding my heart has to be different than putting up walls between myself and someone who has the potential to hurt me. If I lived like that, I wouldn’t have any friends. And I certainly wouldn’t ever find myself in a more-than-friends relationship.

So now that I’d like to forge a friendship with this particular male, I find myself questioning the mandate to guard my heart. Maybe the reason to guard my heart is not to simply protect myself from getting hurt. Perhaps guarding my heart means reigning in my occasionally wild emotions and curbing my overactive imagination. Undoubtedly I’m to guard my heart from being filled with desires for something other than God’s will.

This week when my mind wanders to the very godly and good looking man he’s placed in my life, instead of wondering what life would look like if we were married, I’ll take the high road. I’ll ask the Lord to take my fleshly desires and replace them with the desires of his heart. And in doing so, I’ll protect my own heart from leading me down a path of sin and pain.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
Proverbs 4:23

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
Psalm 37:4