Five Reminders for Tough Days

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Life is a series of challenges and tests. Joys and disappointments mingle together in each day. And some days the joys are harder to see and the discouragements lurk dark and heavy around us.

There are seasons of grieving. We lose loved ones. We lose dream jobs or homes. We struggle with health losses. The news is oppressive with reports of war and pandemic variants and crime.

What do we do with it all? How do we keep honoring God and living well when we are surrounded by so much grief?

My parents are both with Jesus now, but a memory of them encouraged me today. Dad had many of his own health concerns, but was still doing so much to take care of Mom as she was declining with Alzheimer’s. God taught me so often through them.

I specifically remember this particular day, nine years ago…

I’d gone over to clean house for Mom and Dad. While I worked they sat together out on their little enclosed porch. The sunshine warmed the tiny space enough so they were comfortable even in our cool Minnesota spring weather.

When I turned the vacuum cleaner off I overheard my dear, almost entirely blind Dad joyfully singing “Amazing Grace”. And then Mom broke into a “warbly” off-key version of “What a Friend we Have in Jesus” at the same time.

I remember smiling as I paused and listened. And I smile again now remembering them and the lessons they taught me that day…

Look for the blessings each day and embrace them with a grateful heart.

They showed me that no matter how tough life gets, I should find my own little patch of sunshine and bask in its warmth.

Today is cold and cloudy, and I have no little porch at my house. But “sunshine” can be found in other ways, like looking for the blessings and glimpses of cheer that God sends. Today I will look at the bright purple of my African violet blooms. And I’ll remember the sweet voice of my five year old granddaughter who called yesterday.

Sit with a friend whenever you can. Sitting in the “sunshine’ will warm your heart, but sharing it with a friend is even better. We all need love. We all need encouragement. Making the time to make a phone call, visit over the fence, or linger over a cup of coffee is time well spent.

Dad’s hymn choice reminds me how amazing God’s grace truly is! Life IS hard. But God gives grace as we need it. And we know the end of the story, for all who accept His grace and forgiveness, is beautiful! “When we’ve been there ten-thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing His praise, then when we first begun!”

And Mom’s hymn choice reminds me how precious it is to have Jesus as our friend. It’s easy to sing that song and not really think about it. But when I stop and meditate on the truth that Jesus really is my friend and He always cares and He is always with me and He always wants to listen to my concerns and my struggles –wow! What an overwhelming blessing! What a comfort!

And finally, Mom and Dad reminded me what a beautiful gift music is. It helps us express all kinds of emotions. Sometimes when I’m too stressed or sad to even pray, I turn on my playlist of hymns and Christian music and let the songs be my prayers as I sing along, or just reflect on the meaning of the words. I love that my phone has playlists and I can carry music with me all day long. We can do life with our own uplifting soundtracks!

I pray that today we will each find our own little patch of sunshine. And that we will share some of that cheer with someone else. And that we will remember how amazing God’s grace truly is, how priceless His friendship is and what a privilege it is to talk to Jesus. And I hope we will each sing out our own favorite songs, warbly and off-key or not.

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