From the Archives: A Prayer for Thankfulness in Times of Pain

Today I wanted to repost a prayer I wrote last year. The original post can be found here.

Father God,

We acknowledge that you are the giver of all good things. We live and breathe because of you. From your hands, You supply all that we need and so much more. But we confess that sometimes we are:





hurting people…

I confess that at times I don’t see all the gifts you have given, are giving, and continue to give in my life. I confess that my ungratefulness at times has left me angry, bitter, and wanting. My unthankfulness has made me blind to all that I have. I know my heart needs radical change.

Some of us are unthankful because we’ve experienced a great amount of pain and suffering this year. We’ve lost loved ones and unborn children. Our marriages and relationships are broken. We’re dealing with sickness, injustice, and depression. We’re struggling financially and need a miracle. Circumstances don’t seem to be in our favor. Ever. Some of us wonder why in the world you work the way that you do.

I confess that at times I have caused my own pain and have projected that hurt onto other people.

God, help us to lean into your grace when we’re weak and feel like giving up. Because Lord we are so frail apart from you. Help us to give you thanks because when we choose not to we know that our wounds and pain only grow deeper.

Will you teach us and show us that you are good regardless of the pain and hurt we may feel in this life? You are worthy to be praised in the valley and on the mountaintop. Remind us that you still:

turn ashes into beauty.

instill life into dead bones.

give the oil of joy for mourning.

soften the hardest of hearts.

change sinners into saints.

transform brokenness into wholeness.

wash our sins and make them white as snow.

redeem and restore the years the enemy has stolen.

And let us remember that you have already endured the ultimate shame and suffering on the cross for your glory and our good. Help us to persevere to the end until we see you face to face.

In the meantime, may today, this week and the rest of the year give us a renewed sense of genuine Thanksgiving in each of our hearts regardless of our circumstances. We love you.

In Jesus’ name,


When A Big Fear Made Me Brave

990129_96584657Yesterday, I headed to my women’s Bible study at church. It was raining so I quickly shuffled all my kids out of the van. I checked them into childcare and grabbed a chai tea and scone for my second breakfast.

Our study focused on Romans 16 and how the apostle Paul poured his life and ministry into people and relationships. We were challenged to intimately know the women in our lives and be known, to help protect them from potential danger, and to work hard at loving one another well. I left challenged and encouraged to apply what I learned.

I picked up my kids and we ran to the van since it was now thundering and lightening and pouring down rain. By the time I got their little bodies into car seats and packed the stroller in the trunk, I was soaking wet. And so was my seat. I said a prayer as I pulled out and about a minute into driving, my steering wheel suddenly locked up. I couldn’t turn it to the left or the right.

Oh goodness. You gotta be kidding me. Oh no, I thought.

Prayer for Help

“John! Start praying for the van right now!” My four year old is pretty accustomed to begin praying immediately when Mommy needs help.

I had to pull over immediately and to my left was a turn lane so I stopped there. Thankfully the lane barely had any traffic and we weren’t on a busy road. I called my friend Jen who I was just at Bible study with. I didn’t have to say much until she said she was on her way to help.

I turned off the engine and restarted it and the problem remained. I figured my husband Jeremiah was busy working with patients so I called my dad and told him the problem to see if I could fix the issue. I also wondered if I was the problem but I was pretty confident it was serious. We agreed that calling AAA would be best. I decided to go ahead and try Jeremiah at work and I was able to reach him immediately.

Meanwhile my 9 month old, Hannah, is screaming in her carseat with a runny nose I couldn’t tend to. And my 2 and 4 year old were wondering what was going on as the thunder rolled and the rain poured and we were going nowhere.

I was on the verge of crying when I explained the situation to Jeremiah. I wasn’t sure what to do with the kids and the car seats and everything. Thankfully his boss let him off work to come help and it would take him 45 minutes to get to us. After I talked to him, AAA was easy to reach and on their way within the hour to tow the van.

Facing Fear

Jen arrived with her kids and had the brilliant idea of getting us lunch so the kids wouldn’t be starving and could be entertained. She left to get the food and Hannah settled down as I held her. She began cooing and bouncing on my legs, happy as a clam.

And for some reason my typically fiesty, strong-willed 2 1/2 year old, Rebekah, is sitting peacefully in her carseat and chatting up a storm like nothing was out of the ordinary. I had to take it all in because being stranded on the road in a big city with a 4 year old, 2 year old, and 9 month old (not to mention a pregnant belly) all by myself was one of my biggest fears. What would I do? Who would be able to help? How would I keep everyone from having meltdowns? 

My jeans were wet. We were hungry. The van was absorbing the cold air from outside. But I was so grateful. The rain and thunder had died down. God was providing for us. I soaked in the moment (no pun intended) where I knew it was going to be okay. That moment where God was saying:

It’s alright, Samantha. I’ve got this. I’m taking care of you. You don’t need to worry. I am right here with you in your fears. You can face them head on because I’ve got you.

One of my biggest fears was happening and it wasn’t so bad after all. Thankfully I hadn’t got on the interstate yet. No one was hurt. And my van hadn’t blown up. Yet.

Abundant Provision

Within 20 minutes, Jen arrived with a smile and a bag full of burritos, tacos, quesadillas, chips, salsa and cheese. Talk about giving us above and beyond what we needed. She also waited in her SUV behind us until Jeremiah arrived. 20 minutes later, he came ready to help with the kids and take out the carseats and put them in his truck. Then about 15 minutes later, the AAA guy had come at last.

Jeremiah and I got the kids in his truck and we drove home. It felt so good to feel heat again. The kids were calm.

I couldn’t believe how God was providing through my husband. I was reminded how God has created our husbands to be the protector and provider in practical circumstances like these. He joyfully carried the burden for me.

God used Jen to be the kind of woman we’d talked about in our Bible study. She knew me well and that I freak out in stressful situations, thrive on having a plan and being in control, and struggle with anxiety. It didn’t matter that she had her own 2 kids and a newborn either. She was there to encourage me and provide food for our bellies in our time of need. She brought a sense of calming to my spirit.

Living by Faith

The reality is that fear and anxiety have left me crippled and frozen at times. I worry so much about the “what if’s” and allow them to overtake my thoughts as if I know how something is going to work out. While this fear wasn’t categorized as one of the greater fears like death or cancer, it has been on my mind regularly when driving.

I also know that fear has held me back from living the abundant life in Christ. It has kept me from trusting in God’s provision. Mainly, from trusting in him alone. God knew that and used that experience to test me and grow my faith.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear. – 1 John 4:18

As followers of Christ, I think our lives would be radically changed if we lived by faith in God’s love for us. If we lived knowing He is our provider and in control. If we lived knowing that even if we have to go through the storm, He is still with us and it will be okay. He is God. We know the end of the story. What do we really have to fear anyway?

If we allowed that truth to settle in our hearts, would we make different decisions? Would we be more bold? Would we experience God’s love with a new kind of depth and meaning?

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Rom. 8:38-39

Well we eventually found out the problem to the van. A belt broke and was fixed within a few hours. Other minor repairs will be completed on Monday. After all the running around, we tucked our kids in bed, crashed on our beds, laughed about the day, and I felt a little more brave than I did the day before.

Devotional: Sweet Surrender (Day 7)

crossThis is the final day of seven days of devotions I wrote for Heart Magazine. Thanks so much for journeying with me.

Sweet Surrender

Job 13:13-16

Perhaps one of the most telling verses in all of Scripture regarding one man’s faith in God was that of Job as he says: “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him…” Job was intimately acquainted with suffering in the deepest valleys. Even though his faith was shaken, he didn’t fail or fall. He knew God’s greatness and goodness and the power of Jesus Christ to uphold him so he was able to say such words with confidence that God would carry him to the end. It was the Lord’s strength that he leaned on- not his own.

I don’t know about you, but Job’s radical faith challenges me. Even if it costs my own life, God, you want me to trust you that much? And I know this is the very place God wants me to be in my relationship with him. His will is for my faith to be completely abandoned to the person of Christ. A sweet surrender that is not forced, but willingly chosen out of love. A faith that relies on the truth that no matter what happens in this life or what happens to me, God is working for my good and will take all the necessary means to help me trust him more fully.

Hope in Christ. Anchor your faith on his promises.

Devotional: His Countenance Upon You (Day 6)

Father and childDay 6 of 7 Devotionals I wrote for the Spring 2013 Issue of Heart Magazine. Scroll down for the previous days.

His Countenance Upon You

Numbers 6:24-26

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”

Chances are you’ve read in Scripture or heard the above blessing before as it’s commonly quoted in benedictions across churches today. These encouraging words were a Hebrew blessing that priests prayed over their people every morning after the sacrifices at the temple. It was their “sending out” and a prayer for God’s present and future peace.

The words, “May the Lord lift up his countenance (or face) toward you…” provides a picture of God holding us up high in his arms and looking up into our eyes with great love and care as a father would to his child. It is a picture of pure delight, both for the child and for the father.

In the Lord’s presence, we find peace for today and peace that is to come. He alone is our peace when everything else around us is uncertain. Not only do we need this blessing prayed over us before we exit the church walls, but we need his light, grace, and peace in our lives every hour of the day.

You are his child. Let his face shine upon you.

Devotional: Casting Your Cares (Day 5)

1415692_17326232Day 5 of 7 Devotionals I wrote for the Spring 2013 Issue of Heart Magazine. Scroll down for the previous days.

Day 5

Casting Your Cares

1 Peter 5:6-8

If there is one great lie I believe Satan tempts us with it is this: God doesn’t care for you. Especially when we enter seasons of great struggle and difficulty, it’s far too easy to believe that lie and doubt God’s love and care for us.

There is also a temptation to lay our burdens down elsewhere- on a person, filling that void with a possession or addiction, succumbing to the lusts of our flesh or whatever idols we struggle with. But Truth tells us to throw our heavy loads and struggles onto the Lord for God to take care of. When we cast them upon him, He promises to sustain us.

Our lives are to be marked by being sober and vigilant so we can recognize the Enemy when we see him as he seeks to destroy all oneness with God. All of this requires humility on our part to recognize that God is God. He is good. He cares deeply for us. He’s intimately involved in all that we do. And he can be trusted no matter how great the storms of life beat against us.

Know the Enemy’s schemes. Submit to God. Embrace his love for you.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:6-8

Devotional: All for Good (Day 4)

1212536_open_bible Day 4

All For Good

Romans 8:28-30

By the time I entered college I knew I loved people and writing. I also loved learning about God’s word. So I majored in English, minored in Psychology and got my Master’s in Religion. During all that time of intense study, I often wondered how all the pieces would fit together exactly. Some days were really hard in trusting God’s plan. Now being almost eight years out of school, it’s been humbling to see how God was truly preparing me. I’m able to see some of the fruit of that discipline and how all the “knowledge” I gained then is being applied in my daily life now.

The apostle Paul says that those who love and obey God have many promises and one of those is that all things will work together for their good. This is not a promise that our lives will be free of pain and suffering and trial, but a promise that in all the things God allows into our lives, they will ultimately work for good. Why? Because we are in his hands. It is his working and his working is good.

By his grace, God has called us and chosen us for his purposes and plans. And if we are his, he will see us through to the end to our complete conformity to the image of Jesus Christ. In whatever circumstances and situations that come into your life, lean into God’s plan that he is working for the good even when you may not feel it.

Your life and ministry to others really does matter.

Devotional: Spread the Light (Day 3)

1412403_58877221Day 3 of Seven Devotionals I wrote for Heart Magazine’s Spring 2013 Issue. Scroll down on the blog to see Days 1 & 2.

Day 3

Spread the Light

Col 1:13-14

At the beginning of our church’s Christmas Eve service last year, everyone was given a candle and at the end of the message, our pastor lit the first candle to a man up front. In the dark auditorium, that man passed his light on to the next person and so on. Watching our entire church fill up with pure, radiant light was a powerful expression of how God uses people to pass on His light.

Because of our hope in Christ and the forgiveness we know, we have a responsibility and privilege to share the gospel and carry that hope to others. If you’ve been discouraged in sharing your faith and building and investing into the lives of others, remember that it’s God’s work and power through you to give you the boldness and desire.

If you ask for that boldness, God will grant it to you in unexpected and amazing ways. And being obedient to his command to go and make disciples becomes an exciting adventure. Believe it or not, the more you share His love with other people, the more contagious it is and your own faith is strengthened.

You are the Light of the world. Give your light away to one person today.

Devotional: Taste His Goodness (Day 2)

1223429_16136294Day 2 of 7 Devotionals I wrote for the Spring 2013 Issue of Heart Magazine. Click here for Day 1.

Day 2

Taste His Goodness

Psalm 34:8-14

You’ve probably heard stories in the news about people waiting in line for the latest gadget or toy on Black Friday and all of the sudden a fight breaks out. Anger, impatience and the desire for more strips away any good that is present. And it doesn’t take long to realize that within our culture and within our own hearts apart from Christ, we’re always left wanting. We are never truly satisfied.

The good news is that in Christ, we who follow and fear him lack nothing (vs. 9). We have everything we need because we know that he is good. We have experienced his goodness in our lives and know that there is nothing else better in life than knowing God alone. But following him and fearing him is by no means an arrival. It’s a process throughout our faith journey.

Fearing the Lord and tasting his goodness requires humility and trusting his teaching and discipline in our lives. It requires submission to his spirit and a willingness to sit at the feet of the Good Shepherd and learn. While you may have trouble finding peace in other people or your own heart, you will always find righteousness, peace, and goodness in our God.

Depend on his goodness in times of discord. Turn from evil and pursue righteousness in your life.

Devotional: Free to Ask

Screen shot 2013-02-19 at 1.17.29 PM

Screenshot- PDF Cover of Heart Mag Spring Issue

I recently wrote 7 days of devotions for Heart Magazine and I wanted to share them on my blog for the next seven week days.

A few months ago through Twitter and my Facebook writing page, I’d asked readers to share their favorite Bible verse. Not only was it so encouraging but there were so many great verses that I based all the devotions off of the verses shared.

If you were able to participate maybe you will see yours!

If you’d like a print form of these devotions and the entire Spring Issue of Heart Magazine, let me know in the comments. The editor is awesome and will send you the issue for free.

Day 1

Free to Ask

Ephesians 3:20-21

My four-year-old son is never shy to ask for the things he desires: a new train, a visit to the park, a play date with his best friend, or help getting dressed. I’m doubtful that he ever thinks, Will Mommy really give me what I need and want?

Yet, as a child of God, I’m quick to think this way toward God. Is it true God that you can do above and beyond what I think, ask or imagine? Will you really give me the desires of my heart?

The truth is that the incredible work that God is willing to do in our lives is not for the sake of our own doing or glory. In His love, He cares about our wants and desires but the end goal in those desires is His glory and fame in this world. It is about His power at work within us.

The apostle Paul encourages us that through our faith in Christ, we can approach God with freedom and confidence knowing He will answer according to his will. We don’t have to be afraid of his answers or wonder if he has our best interest at heart. He knows us better than we know ourselves. And even if his will means suffering, God’s love is present and we can anticipate great things just like a little child.

So go ahead. Ask him anything. He is listening.