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This morning Lord I seek purpose. My heart is heavy. This world continues to frustrate me. Help me Lord to seek you, to sing you praises in the midst of my sorrow and hurt. Help me to remember Jesus knows our pain, felt our pain when he walked the earth. Help us to remember we are your creation. Praise God that you consider us family, your child given an eternal inheritance.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well (Psalm 139:13-14, NIV).”

© 2019 CGThelen

Envy. It is the one word that is hard to avoid in our world. Even if you try to not be envious, it still stalks you, seeking to dig its claws in you. Everywhere you go, it’s there waiting for you, waiting to take root in your heart.

It’s not just the nice house, the perfect lawn or the fancy car that passes your broken down car on the side of the road. It’s not just the perfect family always smiling on social media. It’s not just the person at work who always gets the praise and promotions. But it’s also the person at church who seems so holy, sings beautifully to applause, or preaches with power and conviction that impacts people. You feel forgotten while others have praise heaped on them. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 12:1-31 that we all play an important role in the body of Christ. “But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be (1 Cor. 12:18, NIV).”

Envy is that fiery dart that the evil one uses to pierce you, to pierce your heart. Left inside of you, the dart causes an infection that can lead to strife, jealousy and even anger. It can drive us to pursue things not out of our love for God, but out of our desire to show others that we are better than other people. Solomon sums it up well in Ecclesiastes 4:4: “And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind (NIV).”

Meaningless. Chasing after the wind. Can you really capture the wind if you chase it? You can try, but it will slip through your fingers and blow right by you no matter how hard you try. When envy stalks us, we must remember we are made in the image of God for a special purpose. God gave us unique talents and abilities for the tasks he lays before us. We are to pursue God’s plan for our life, not someone else’s journey. Psalm 139:13-14 tells us: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice (James 3:16).

© 2019 CGThelen

When I attended college there were many buildings on campus that bore the names of people from generations before me. I had no idea who these people were and why they were important enough to have their name on a building. To me the name was just a reference to the building. Unless there was a plaque on the building about the person, no one would know them or their accomplishments.

I thought of this as I recently sat at a dedication ceremony where someone I knew was having a building named after him to recognize his accomplishments in the city. This was the third person I knew who would now have their name emblazoned on a building. To me, the building would always be associated with the person I knew, but to coming generations the name would be just a building to them.

Solomon reminded us of this in Ecclesiastes 1. “Meaningless, meaningless” he wrote in verse 2 about the result of all we do on this earth. “What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun (verse 3, NIV)?” Like the people I know who had buildings named after them, ultimately their accomplishments will be forgotten and eventually the building that bore their name will be torn down to make way for the new. “Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever (4).”

Solomon cautions us not to ignore the eternal in our work here on earth. It is the only thing that will truly last forever. All our accomplishments in this world, as great as they may seem, are meaningless unless they help build up the Kingdom of God. “No one remembers the former generations, and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow them (11).”

The only thing that matters in the end is if our name is in the book of life. “The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels (Revelation 3:5).” We may have our name on an earthly building, but it won’t matter if our name is not in the book of life. “Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15).”

© 2019 CGThelen

Help us this day dear Lord to do your will; to do what is pleasing to you; to bring honor to you dear Lord. May we rely on you to equip us this day, to fill us with your purpose, to seek your ways. Help us to be a light for you and your Kingdom dear God.

“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen (Hebrews 13:20-21, NIV).”

© 2019 CGThelen

In the deepest pit of sadness, as sorrow overwhelmed me, I cried out to God to somehow free me from the suffering. When tears flowed seemingly from no where, I cried out to you Lord, “Let this pass.” When my body tensed, my breathing quickened and my heart rate increased, I cried out to you God. Tears flowing, filled with sorrow, I cried to God to let this pass, but you gave me the words of your son Jesus instead: “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will (Luke 14:36, NIV).”

God has created us for a specific purpose. He has uniquely crafted us, chosen us to do his will. Our obedience, as difficult as it is at times, is essential to carrying out God’s plan — to help others find the path to salvation through Christ Jesus. Through our struggles God deepens our faith. He uses our pain to help build empathy for others who experience pain. In the Kingdom of God nothing is wasted; fruit is born out of our suffering.

When I feel alone and full of grief, I recall the words of Jesus: “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death (14:34).” Even though Jesus shared with his disciples the deep emotional pain he felt, they ultimately abandoned him in his time of need. Jesus understands the feeling of loneliness; he understands suffering for God’s purposes. In Christ Jesus you are not alone. He will never forsake you.

They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”

Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” – Mark 14:32-36

© 2019 CGThelen

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