Tag Archives: prayer

Woman of Valor: A Fierce Fighter

I still marvel when I think back to the beautiful young mother I once met in a tiny country in a forgotten corner of the world. She was a survivor of the horrific genocide in Burundi that had exploded alongside Rwanda’s frenzy of killings.

I’d been invited to teach a group of women—church leaders and pastors’ wives—on prayer. All had survived war and poverty and were trying to help rebuild their country. They were no strangers to prayer.  Several told stirring accounts of God’s miraculous power during times of great danger.

Finally, the young mother hesitantly rose to her feet and began to tell her story. She had eight children and lived in the countryside. One day she was gathering vegetables when a worker rushed to tell her that her two-year-old son had suddenly fallen ill and died.

“Desperate and afraid, I remembered the story of how Elijah had prayed for the widow’s little boy who died,” she said. “The boy finally came back to life.” So I cried out to God, “You did it for Elijah—do it for me!” She prayed and prayed. “Finally,” she said quietly, “I could not look at my son any longer, so I went outside.” She paused—faltering for words.

By this point, I’m thinking of how to comfort her. But I was not prepared for what happened next.

“I went back inside,” she continued slowly. “But this time, when I put my hands on my little boy’s lifeless body and began to pray, he suddenly coughed and sputtered and sat up—he was alive!” A hush fell over the room. I was face-to-face with an ordinary mother who lived oceans away from me. But I knew I was in the presence of a warrior—a woman of valor.

Maybe you’re thinking, Perhaps her little boy wasn’t really dead. Or, Why God didn’t heal my sick child? A story like this raises many questions for which I don’t have answers. But I do know this: God cares for his children all over the world. And in a place like Burundi—where they have tasted death up close and where doctors are nearly nonexistent—believers experience a dimension of God’s grace I seldom see in my safe, suburban world. I’ve heard similar stories firsthand from war refugees in the Middle East and slum dwellers in India.

Such women remind me that faith is a fierce fight. A far cry from the woman in my corner of the world who once said to me: “Oh, I prayed hard a couple of times for something I really wanted and it didn’t happen. Guess I won’t ever try that again.”

I walked away from my encounter with the young mother from Burundi in awe, but also challenged. I realize God doesn’t always heal or deliver or raise someone from the dead. But I was inspired by the way she fought for the life of her child. She was courageous. Persistent.  And she encouraged me to keep on fighting the fight of faith, even when things look desperate—and never to be too quick to give up on God.

Adapted from:  Marilynn Chadwick, Woman of Valor: Discovering the Courage and Strength God Gave You (Eugene: Harvest House, 2017).

 


“Trust Me” -God

Trust.  It’s hard to earn and easy to lose. Who do you consider to be truly trustworthy? In our fast-paced world, dominated by social media, it’s easy to create a friendly facade.  How much harder to maintain trust.

The Bible talks a lot about trusting God.  Our relationship with Him is based on trust.  So if we struggle with trust, we probably struggle with God.  That’s nothing new.  People have struggled with trusting God since those fateful days in Eden.

I remember several years ago when I had one of those “mother moments.”  It all boiled down to this: I was having a hard time trusting God with one of my children.  Ever been there?  I was letting my imagination run wild with “what if'” scenarios.  I carried the anxiety to bed with me.  I was still worrying in my sleep, when an audible voice whispered these words: “I can be trusted.”  First person, singular.  “Who was THAT?” I wondered, now half-awake. Continue reading


Stand Your Ground-Day 17

Remember those earlier days…when you stood your ground in the face of suffering  (Hebrews 10:32).

We’re on the homestretch of 21 Days of Strength. We’ve looked at several ways God makes us strong as we grow closer to Him. He helps us stand our ground through His Word, prayer, and joining forces with other believers.  Often, our strength is best developed during times of weakness—especially during seasons of suffering.

Life can be hard.  It’s not like Jesus didn’t warn us.  “In this world you will have trouble.”  But “take heart,” He reminds us.  “I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).   I need to stay connected to Jesus if I hope to stand my ground and stay strong in the spiritual fight. Continue reading


Stick Together-Day 15

I am fascinated by bottlenose dolphins, the most intelligent creatures in the ocean.  Dolphins are easily trained. They can reason, solve problems, think abstractly, and even recognize themselves in a mirror!  Dolphins can also swim up to 35 miles an hour. They’re incredibly strong and can use their snout as a high speed battering ram. No wonder they have virtually no natural predators.

Welcome to 21 Days of Strength. Let’s see if we can learn a few lessons about strength from these powerful and magnificent creatures.

Stories abound of dolphins protecting humans against sharks. My dad happens to be one of the few living World War II submarine veterans. While on long, hot tours in the South Pacific, the sailors hoped to see dolphins swimming close by so they could dive off the sub for a refreshing swim–sure to be safe from sharks.

Sharks steer clear of dolphins for another reason.  Dolphins don’t travel alone. They find safety in numbers by sticking together in groups or “pods.”  Like dolphins, our teammates can help us gain strength in prayer. This, in turn, helps us defeat our spiritual enemies.

Jesus said it this way:  “If two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven (Matthew 18:19).  The Greek word translated “agree” is symphone, which comes from two words which mean together and voice.  So when believers gather for prayer, they are like a “symphony” of powerful prayer.

This principle is reinforced by a former Marine who saw lots of combat duty in Iraq. He shared a lesson I’ll never forget. “When danger hits,” he explained, “I’m trained to run toward the danger. But my second response is to look around for my men.” “So you can protect them?” I asked. “No,” he said firmly. “I look around for my men because I know I cannot do this mission by myself.”  Even the marines know they need to stick together to be strong.

Are you connected with other members of the body of Christ?  In prayer, in Bible study, in fellowship, and in service to others?  Our mission–the Great Commission–is too important, and too dangerous, to be accomplished alone.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ Romans 12:5-6).


Our Source of Strength-Day 11

Sometimes the journey to find strength is an uphill climb.  Especially when our hopes keep getting dashed, and we begin to wonder if this desire of our heart is truly from God.  My friend Bethany Kortekaas has watched God do amazing things to restore her strength in difficult places–especially during her hard fought hope of holding a baby in her arms.  Bethany has shared some of the heartaches and joys of her journey.  I believe you’ll be strengthened by her beautiful story of Resurrection Hope on this Easter Sunday!

GUEST BLOG:  Bethany Kortekaas

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1). 

“I would love to see Baby K grow into a young and beautiful version of the wonderful people that you and Adam are. We will be seeing you in just a couple of weeks now!” These were the words of the young lady who is giving us the gift of our baby girl.

Strength from the Lord comes in all kinds of vessels. There are no words to describe how I feel about this young mother who is willing to walk the hard road of a full-term unexpected pregnancy. In a time when everyone points to easy solutions, she was determined to bless us with this child regardless of what that meant for her.

See, strength is more than just muscles and a work ethic. Strength is the courage to stand when you want to hide. It is the willingness to walk when the way is not clear. It cannot be measured by outward appearance nor reserved for the privileged. It is turning everyday to something more than what is visible to others.

Adam and I have uncovered this strength in our path to parenthood. God provides Himself as a source of strength to each person. If you are willing to admit that you need it, He is willing to provide it. How do you cope with being single longer than you hoped to be? How do you respond to yet another round of infertility treatments? What do you do once you discover you have a brain tumor? Where do you turn when your adopted embryos die? When you miraculously get pregnant and then miscarry? Do you say yes to adopting a baby?

How do you keep praying, keep thanking God, and keep hoping? Our strength to answer these questions has come from God. He is the almighty, powerful Creator of all we know and the only trustworthy source of strength that can never run dry.

Our family has tapped into God’s strength through three main ways: reading the Bible, prayer, and community:

  1. There is a deep comfort when you pick up your Bible and read Jesus’ words in John 16:33, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” We read our Bible for encouragement, insight, and to learn more about our Father who loves us and wants the best for us even in the pain. The Bible reveals that there is more to our story than what we can see right now.
  2. Prayer is direct access to God. Because of Jesus, we have the freedom to talk openly with the One who created starfish, Jupiter, and all the synapses firing in our brains. In prayer is where we acknowledge that the world is outside of our control and we need more strength than we can muster up for ourselves. It is safe for me to cry, question, feel, and hope as I pray. Prayer is where we respond in relationship with a God who can provide strength in the waiting and in the wonder.
  3. God created community. He made it clear that it is not good for man to be alone and He reinforced this by how He instructed the people of Israel to work, worship, and celebrate together. Without our friends, family, and the community of believers around the world, we would be lost in this journey.

We have seen others adopt embryos because of our story. We have heard how God provided financially in other adoptions. We have felt overwhelmed by the love at our baby showers. We have even been strengthened by the very words of our future daughter’s birth mom.

God has given us vessels of His strength through promises like Psalm 46:1, through prayer, and through the give and take of community. By His strength, we can walk forward in confident hope toward our next adventure.