Devotional 5/11/2020

In my Kilbourne office, there is a framed coloring page.  It says on it "God is our refuge and strength an ever present help in trouble Psalm 46:1.  It was given to me by Mary Lou.  Mary Lou was dying of cancer when I first met her. She had had terminal cancer for quite a while and lived beyond the days she was given.  There were often times she was in alot of pain and certainly her strength was not what she was used to.  At some point, she had discovered adult coloring books and found that it was something she could still do, she enjoyed and which helped her bear the pain.  

I began almost weekly visits to Mary Lou at her house.  In part because it is part of my job.  But mostly the frequency was just because I really enjoyed my time there.  Mary Lou was funny and sweet in equal parts as well as very smart.  She was devoted to her family but she was even more devoted to God.  I visited Mary Lou in her final days as she transitioned into God's arms but when I think of her, it is not those days that come to mind.  It is the days sitting in her living room with her in her chair as she told me about her family with joy, about things that she and the church did together, and about her views on life.  Her living room was a cocoon of joy, peace, and hope.  Not hope that she would overcome cancer, but the hope in God that outlives this life. 

I am certain there are days she probably struggled, and perhaps as the pastor she tried to give me her best.  But I do not think Mary Lou was pretending ever.  She was a woman of deep faith and love and that carried her through some rough days.  

We are in some rough days. Rough because of COVID-19 and the number of people who have died.  Rough because we fear for ourselves and family as we do not yet know how best to fight this disease.  Rough because our economy is struggling.  Rough because we cannot do what we want when we want as we are used to.  Rough because we just want to hug someone sometimes.  Rough because we just want to go to church without thinking about the dangers.  Rough because we are isolated.  Rough because we are lonely. Rough because we just don't know when 'normal' will return.  These days are rough.  

But I have to think we all need to take a page from Mary Lou's book of life and faith.  The hand she was dealt was rougher than what we are going through in many ways.  Yet, through the pain, through the fear of terminal cancer, through the not wanting to go yet,  she was full of peace, joy and love.  She found ways to keep her soul healthy and tried to focus on what was good.  

"God is our refuge and strength an ever present help in trouble." That's what Mary Lou is saying to me and all of us today.  So turn to God.  Trust in God.  Find something healthy to do for your soul in this time whether that is coloring, or prayer walks, or looking through photo albums looking at the many blessings you have had.  Find something.  Make your own space that is filled with peace, love, and joy and do not permit it to be violated by the roughness of this world.  God is our refuge.  Make a space that belongs to these.  God is our strength.  There is nothing out there stronger than God and our faith.  God is an ever present help in trouble.  God is with all of us, we just need to let God take the lead in our lives, not all of our troubles.  

This week every time the roughness threatens your peace, I want you to pray the words of this psalm.  Simply pray 'God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble."  Pray this until you have created peace in yourself and then set about making spaces of peace, of love, and of joy.

God is good.  God is with us.  God is strong.  God is our refuge.  Everything else can be put in perspective based on these truths. 

With love,