"So they called the two apostles back in and told them that they must never, for any reason, teach anything about the name of Jesus. Peter and John answered, 'Do you think God wants us to obey you or to obey him? We cannot keep quiet about what we have seen and heard.'" Acts 4:18-20 CEV
In finishing up Joni's book "A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain and God'Sovereignty", I was very challenged by a paragraph where she quotes Dave Powlison, who at the time of the writing of the book was battling cancer but able to face the challenges of the disease while keeping an emotional balance. He tells Joni his secret, and she quotes him in the book.
Joni, I have learned that for every one sentence you say to others about your cancer, say ten sentences about your God, your hope, and what He is teaching you, and the small blessings of each day. For every hour you spend researching or discussing your cancer, spend ten hours researching and discussing and serving your Lord. Relate all you are learning about cancer back to Him and His purpose, and you won't become obsessed (with fears and doubts).
Wow. While I don't have physical disabilities, I do have a "chair" like I talked about yesterday. I am parenting difficult children who have mental illnesses, developmental delays, and emotional and behavioral disorders. Some have organic brain damage due to prenatal exposure to alcohol. And so the challenge to me came across very clearly:
For every one sentence, particularly the negative ones, that I say about parenting my kids, I need to say ten sentences about my God, my hope, and what He is teaching me and the small blessings of each day. And while I don't research my children's issues as much as I used to, the rest can apply as well.
One of the things that I have noticed about people who get together for "support" for any hard thing, is that the support group meetings can get negative. But what if we were to practice this rule?
So today, I'm asking you -- when it comes to your "chair", that I mentioned yesterday, where is your focus? Is it on the situation of your life or on the One who can and does sustain you through that situation?
The apostles, in the verses above, said that they would not be able to stop talking about what they had seen and heard. And I imagine that they weren't talking about just the difficult things that they had seen and heard -- the suffering of Jesus, the pain of watching him die, the diseases and troubles of the people around him -- but they were talking about the One who in the midst of those things not only healed and helped, but conquered death.
If our focus is on Jesus -- we won't be able to keep quiet about what we've seen and heard -- and at the heart of every conversation we have is going to be God's power and provision in our lives.
I'm hoping as I write, speak and educate others about my children and what it is like to parent them, that I can keep my focus on the One who is teaching me more than I ever imagined through my life with them.
Want to join me in shifting focus?