Daily encouragement

Video by

Lily McGee

ACF Youth Culture Student Leader

dive deeper

Philippians 1:20-24

I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.  If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.

Behind the Scenes

My friend once said, “bad things come in threes,” and so, last week, when I missed a call from the school, I knew it was the nurse. Having just received gut-punch news, and feeling under the weather myself, I knew I was in for my third bad thing. And that third bad thing had the audacity to multiply like a nasty virus. We all tested positive for strep. Even the baby. My one week to catch up during a season of personal challenge - my one break in the weather I thought I’d seen on the horizon - became a week of managing sick kids and frayed emotions torn afresh.  I was disappointed, again.

I told my friends it was like being washed up on shore to get pummeled by a new line of storms. Dramatic, sure, but you’ve also experienced these feelings of defeat, right? How often have you wondered, “Don’t those Enemy Arrows ever take a day off? How many years of spiritual drought and famine must we endure - personally or as a faith community - before those showers of God’s grace yield a season of peace?” How disappointing when all we hope for is a little sunshine and to taste God’s goodness.

Meanwhile, Saint Paul in chains says, “Because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear” (Philippians 1:14). Confidence. Daring! I wish I could say my attitude was always like Paul’s, but no. My trials seem to render me untrusting and skittish. What a testimony I bring! Pummeled, disappointed, and drained, if I am not careful, my empty cup will fill with bitterness.

Make it Real

For some of us, it’s more than a streak of bad days. Some of us wait years for symptoms to resolve and instead get the diagnosis. Some of us jump through all the hoops to make him happy, and still he wants to leave. Some of us feel our world fall apart around us and even our best friends put deadlines on our grief. Whatever storms pop up, and whatever they leave in their wake, emptiness echoes lonely through the valley. If not already broken, anything left of us waits to be filled. With bitterness, anger, fear, or nothing at all. But Christ is there, waiting.

Waiting to be our first thought. Waiting to be our first in everything. When the storm rages, and when the loneliness of disappointment rings loud, let him be first. The first to fill us up. The reason we can be confident in the Lord. The reason we can dare to proclaim He wins. The reason we march forth, hopeful.

Paul, in chains, knew rival preachers were out to grab fame while Paul could do nothing but write. “But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice” (Philippians 1:18).  Paul had his days of defeat and disappointment, but he did not let bitterness fill his cup. He let Christ fill it. He rejoiced! He marched forth. Because Christ wins, always.

End in Prayer

Dearest Jesus, When defeat and disappointment cloud my perspective, may the truth that you are first dissipate any lies threatening to fill my cup. Guard me against the Enemy, especially when I am down. Teach me to have the attitude of Paul, who knew life’s disappointments, though as real as his chains, could not win so long as you were first. And you are first. You win! In Jesus’ name, amen.

Written by

Kathleen Raygoza

ACF Devo Team