praise: the secret power of praising God in life’s storms

praise - the secret power of praising God in life's storms @poetryjoy.com

Praise tends to fall easily from our lips when life is good and we see visible signs that we are blessed. We feel happy and content because all seems to be right with our world. But what about when the sky darkens or falls in for us? What then?

Praising God during life’s storms can feel like an impossible thing to do. Yet praise is a powerful weapon to defeat discouragement and lift our mind and heart back to God. If we can open ourselves to God and lay all our cares at His feet, we can also learn how to praise and trust Him to meet all our needs even before we see it happening.

I’ve experienced this myself. On days when light was eclipsed in my soul and I was locked inside myself, drowning in feelings I didn’t want to have. Maybe you’ve been there too? Or are suffering that way now? 

May I encourage you to let Jesus into your pain filled places. Invite God to be Lord of your sadness, sorrow and loss. Ask Him to help, heal and lift you up. It’s a heart cry prayer He will always answer.

Such thoughts shaped my (slightly more than 5 minutes) poem. I hope and pray it will be a blessing to you, my friend.

Praise

her countenance is clouded
darkened by circumstance
head drooping low to ground
soul feels like it’s chained down

she can barely register anything or
think clearly, hear others speaking
because her mind and heart are gripped
hard, caught up in turmoil and pain

then she hears a voice urging her
to look up and lift her sad gaze
to him, to raise her head higher
see her Lord standing here by her

because it is here, in the midst
of hardship and pain that he
whispers his encouragement
urges her to begin again

here? now? she cannot fathom how
nevertheless, she listens, begins
to murmur softly in her heart and
ignite a small thanksgiving spark

praise starts as a tiny seed within
a sacrificial offering, often scraped
from a raw place, then flowering
into tears, words, deeds and grace

now he gently whispers her name
pulls her out of the miry pit she
is in, helps her to stand strong today
on the solid ground of faith and praise
© joylenton

praise - the secret power of praising God in life's storms - praise poem excerpt (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

I praise God for having a writing space and thoughts to share as I join fellow wordsmiths over at five-minute-friday today. The prompt is ‘praise’. You are very welcome to join in. Just click here to read the great posts being shared.  🙂

complete: God has the answer to our brokenness and pain

complete: God has the answer to our brokenness and pain - girl sitting with dried autumn leaves

Do you ever get times when you find you dwell far more on your brokenness than on God’s grace? When one more failure seems to suggest you’re unworthy in yourself? And social media, coupled with advertising, constantly reminds you how flawed, inadequate and incomplete you are? I do.

Your triggers might differ from mine, but whatever the cause it’s often hard to move on from our brokenness or fight back against discouragement, isn’t it? We can forget how very broken we all are before God and that He doesn’t demand perfection from us. We can forget that God’s grace covers all our sins, failures and mistakes.

We can forget what powerful discouragement fighting weapons we have in the practice of gratitude, prayer and praise. In seeking solace in Scripture’s rich promises. In simply asking someone for help when we’re out of our depth or find it hard to pray for ourselves.

I don’t like inhabiting the doldrums for long. And I am always relieved when God offers a loving arm to pull me out, especially when it comes unexpectedly through a five-minute-friday word prompt.

I am always lifted as I find a poem taking shape that expresses my feelings and reveals the solution as well, while God whispers Hope to my soul. He will do the same for you, too, my friend, in the way your heart needs to receive it.

Made complete

there’s a hollow ache
rattling around inside
issuing from the place
where I often seek to hide

it’s calling out my name
telling me I’m not enough
fuelling me with shame
I’m unworthy to be loved

then I hear another voice
warm as honey in my soul
filled with hope and grace
promising I can be whole

my deep brokenness
is no deterrent here
it’s a vehicle via which
my Saviour will appear

he knows all about my pain
whispers solace to my heart
makes me complete again
frees me from sin and dark

all I considered lost
broken beyond repair
is redeemed at the Cross
a gift beyond compare
© joylenton

I’m grateful God doesn’t wait for us to clean up our act before coming to Him, and He always has a place in His heart for the prodigals, the broken and lost.

complete - poem excerpt (C) joylenton - sad girl sitting on a bed @poetryjoy.com

I’m thankful for being given the means to share my poem with the wrangling wordsmiths that make up the fabulous #fiveminutefriday community. You are very welcome to join in or click here to read the great posts being shared. This week’s prompt is: ‘Connect’.  🙂

when shame hits, we can learn to embrace peace and joy again

 

Life offers us numerous opportunities for failure, humiliation and embarrassment. It’s so easy to lose our joy over such things, fall prey to burning waves of shame and dark shades of introspection that make us want to hide away.

When we allow the sting of chagrin to steal our peace, we begin to fear for our standing and reputation, worry about what others will think, and sink into discouragement at the thought of losing their good opinion of us.

While we all yield in different ways to sin, if we focus most on failure, we can lose not only our sense of joy, but peace and rest within. Then God’s mercy and forgiveness can also pass us by, as we hide away in guilt and shame instead of rejoicing in the reason why Jesus came.

Our lives and peace of mind can become spoiled when we are upset, depressed and dissatisfied with our behaviour, if we forget that holy conviction comes from God and is designed to lead us into repentance and forgiveness, the touch of His love—whereas condemnation is from the enemy of our souls, leading us to deep inner misery and keeps us stuck in an endless cycle of  guilt and shame.

The haiku below are my response to that kind of situation, (one I find myself in more often than I care to count!) and a means of pointing the way back to experiencing peace and joy again….

Spoiled

Intimacy, joy

will be spoiled if we allow

chagrin entry now

©joylenton2017

 

Free joy

Take life on the chin

Don’t let chagrin rule and reign

Free the joy within

©joylenton2017

 

Embrace inner peace

Joy is within reach

if we leave chagrin behind

embrace inner peace

©joylenton2017

 

Joining with Poet Master, Ronovan and fellow poetic friends as we share our take on this week’s prompt of ‘Chagrin&Joy’. Just click here to join us there.

“You will show me the path that leads to life; your presence fills me with joy and brings me pleasure forevermore” ~ Psalm 16:11 GNT

abandon: on surrendering our lives to God

 

Being abandoned, even temporarily, feels devastating. Nothing else quite strikes at the core of who we think we are and what our perceived worth and value might be in another’s eyes.

Many of us feel the sting of shame at being rejected or abandoned by our birth parents, whether at birth , later on by the way we are treated, or as casualties of our parents’ splitting up.

Such things leave scars which can mar us for life, if we let them. I only began to fathom what unconditional, fully accepting, lavish love looked like when I came to faith in Christ in my late teens.

I still marvel over our Heavenly Father adopting me into His family, viewing me as His oh so precious, beloved child. And I am not alone in this, because that’s how He sees you too, my friend, and longs to be in a close, loving, intimate relationship with you.

There are some barriers in the way at first, most of all our sin. Though unbelief and rejection of His love can also be a hindrance to receiving it. Thankfully, Jesus made a way where there seemed to be no way.

His death on the cross and glorious resurrection are the means whereby we become reunited to God. They reveal how we, too, can learn to die to sin, overcome our shame, guilt and pain and rise again in newness of life with Him.

Once we see and believe just how much God loves us, we start to realise we are never as alone or abandoned as we might feel. And we are given daily grace and strength from Him.

Abandon

I want to become a prisoner of

Hope, abandon myself on the altar

of dependence, and rest in God’s

all-sufficiency—because he has given 

us the greatest abandonment of all

nailed fast to a wooden cross

 

Jesus chose to abandon himself

to death, to suffering, to ultimate sacrifice

for our sin, for our sake, for our lives

He chose the path less travelled, seeking

 

to be a servant of all, relinquishing

his kingly crown and throwing down

the gauntlet to the kingdom of darkness

which had us in its thrall

 

Now we, who were orphans of circumstance,

hostage to habit, taunted by temptation,

have become beloved daughters and sons, children

of God instead of life’s lost, unwanted

ones. We’ve received a fresh heritage

 

made rich by faith, given a brand new

start, new heart, clean slate, on which

our Father God can write his eternal glory

story—as we abandon ourselves willingly

to surrender, and close relationship with him

©joylenton2017

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed. but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 (emphasis mine)

Happy to be linking my (rather late), poetic #FMF words in companionship with fellow wordsmiths gathering at Kate Motaung’s site. Just click here to join us there. 

**NOTE** – If you’re seeking solace, you might like to read my poetic memoir journey of discovering grace in life’s hard places. It’s available free today to download here on Amazon Kindle.  🙂

season: finding soul sanctuary in tough times

crocus-season-pj

 

How did we get to March? I seem to have missed the memo. Just like some friends across the pond are still deep in snow, waiting for the melt, for a season of spring to show, I seem to have been hibernating in stillness, a needful slowing down on the inside while taking on extra physical and mental busyness.

I need a soul sanctuary. It’s here—borne on the wings of prayer, coming to me as I wait patiently before God, learn to still my restless heart and find my deepest peace in faith and trust, as I navigate through life’s hard places with His guidance and support,  His energy and strength given whenever it’s needed.

It’s a holy breath, a whispered answer to prayer, a divine call to come aside for a while and rest deeper in Him. Our soul sanctuary is available for any season of the soul or season of life. There is no place where we can fail to meet with God’s grace.

Fresh rain sanctuary

This pure night frost, blanketing winter

tendrils beneath soft moon peace, leaves

deep cloud, cold air we breathe; and a 

thick, moist, fresh rain sanctuary cycles

like wild, sacred water song, murmuring

long summer secrets of our Eden rest

©joylenton2017

magnetic-poetry-fresh-rain-sanctuary-pj

 

While I wait for my husband to be fit enough to leave hospital following his spinal surgery, the clock inches ever closer to a significant birthday for him. I don’t know how, when, where or if we’ll find an opportunity to fully celebrate it, but my hope and prayer is for us to have a season of togetherness, joy and celebration soon, instead of a season of separation, sickness and pain. Hence the poem below…

My wild desire

Coffee is my liquid magic

It’s good to wake and make time

here for remembering my wild desire:

to embrace, be healed, eat cake and 

celebrate this life with champagne kiss

©joylenton2017

magnetic-poetry-my-wild-desire-pj

 

When we take our needs and wild desires to God we can trust Him for the outcome and all He plans to do with them. Things might not look like we expect or hope they will, but it will be the best fit for you and me, because God knows the innermost secrets of our hearts and is able to bless us beyond measure in meeting those needs in a way that also serves His overall plan and purposes.

How is this season speaking to you? I’d love to hear in the comments below. 

*NOTE* ~ My poetic memoir, ‘Seeking Solace’ is free for a few days on Kindle, from March 7th to March 11th inclusive! If you’re seeking solace yourself, or know someone else who is, then my story of discovering God’s grace in life’s hard places may well aid the journey. You can get it here… There’s also a paperback version available if you prefer.  🙂

a deeper journeying toward the light

write31days-journeying-into-joy-when-fragility-paves-the-way-for-joyful-dependency

 

Our journey toward the Light of God’s presence will be fraught with detours along the way. Life’s darkness steals around the edges of our days as it seeks to blot out the light. A sweet-pea flower’s fragility reminds us how our lives often feel like a transient, tender flare of brightness set within dark and gloomy circumstances.

Where do we turn to when things go awry? Who do we seek out when in need of soul solace?I’ve found that failing to turn swiftly to God only brings deeper misery. But if we make Him our first port of call, pray instead of trying to cope alone or pushing Him away, then He is ever faithful to come to our rescue.

I’m discovering the dependence which having chronic illness brings can cause frustration,  resentment and unwillingness to yield, but over time it begins to change our perception of surrendering.

The poem below depicts a dragonfly’s journey and also mirrors our human one as we learn to arise, lean toward the light,  become less dependent on self, and sense a bright, joyful welcome in God’s presence.

As dragonflies

dragonfly

We begin

earth grubbing silt and sludge dwellers

stuck mud-deep, dark glooming

in humanity’s squall,

little realising there is a way to climb

free from such insanity; drenched in

slime, smell of death clings fast,

seeping into all

We are

earthbound, plodding through endless days

of toil, rooted in routine, shielded

from questing thought

by the sheer monotony of the way

life trundles on, one day following

another in repetitious refrain, yielding

far less than it ought

We sense

a glint appearing; light wavering

glows slow with fronds emerging

for us to climb upon

Slim reed of hope, discovery,

shoots into view, enticing us to seek

rescue, release from watery grave

echoing a saving song

We rise

blinking in great wonder and delight

As dragonflies, our wings unfurl,

breaking free in dance

of grace, coloured and caught by Light

Every part on fire, shimmering bold,

aswirl with joy untold, glimmering

soul and spirit entranced

©JoyLenton2016

We wear faith like a fragrant garland around our weary necks while we press hard into each day’s demands, and we learn how to look for the Light, shake off the dust that clings tenaciously and lean on God for everything.

Our very weakness and fragility, far from being limiting things, become a special means of grace, an opening up to seeing God’s gracious hand at work in the commonplace.

It involves listening with spiritual intent to all our lives are saying to us, hearing the ways God reaches out in love to speak His wholeness into our brokenness.

God is always inviting us to join Him in the Light, to marvel as our beauty unfurls in the warmth of His presence, to see and sense what we have come from and where we are going to.

As we draw closer to Advent, I will be sharing more about our dark, earthbound condition and how God invites us into the airborne freedom of His Light. I’d love to hear how this season is speaking to you.

write31days-journeying-into-joy-fragility-beauty-dependence

how joy coexists with sadness

write31days-journeying-into-joy-joy-and-sadness-coexist

 

It’s often a surprise to discover how joy still sits within a sad heart, because our painful times can make us feel so empty and dry, devoid of hope and distant from God.

Yet joy is always present in those who have God’s holy presence within, sitting curled up with cat-like contentment, waiting to spring to life the moment we seek for it, even if we’ve previously failed to acknowledge its existence.

When we search our hearts they feel drained and depleted, but when we seek God’s face our eyes and soul will eventually be lifted out of the darkness and desolation and into a sacred dance of joy – beginning as a tiny flutter on the inside.

God entreats us to stay a while, to rest in His presence until we begin to sense the faint stirrings of joy within seeping back into our spirit. He encourages us not to let our feelings have the upper-hand, because faith is expectant of receiving what it is believing for, knows God’s promises are trustworthy and true.

As we trust that joy will return, even out of our darkest hours, we find our souls slowly drawn more toward the light, inching closer to hope with each passing day. We begin to believe that ‘this too shall pass’ and life is worth living.

Joy is  a grace gift freely given when we abide in God and Holy Spirit dwells in us. It seems mysterious and otherworldly, because it truly is.

Co-existence

How can there be joy

at the heart of sorrow

 

and sadness co-exist

where there is bliss?

 

Yet somehow

they are mixed

 

and inextricably

linked as one

 

expression of life

and love and faith

 

and deep mystery

Part of all our tomorrows

 

in all the annals

of human history

©JoyLenton2016


Dear Father,

So many are struggling right now. Life is challenging and hearts ache heavy. We need a sense of perspective as much as we need your healing touch. Help us to see how very close you are, always ready to comfort, encourage and bless, full of mercy, grace and forgiveness.

Your hand is not too short to pull us out of any pit we may have fallen into, even those of our own making. We need to be aware of your presence with us, hear the soft whisper of your voice, know how dear we are to you as your beloved children.

Grant us encouragement from your Word and the ability to receive all we need to revive flagging spirits, lift weary heads, ignite hope, restore joy, bring rest and peace.

Help us to realise these seasons will come to their own conclusion in your perfect timing. And as we cooperate with you in coming through them, we will be able to see the lessons we have learnt.

Enable and equip us to sit in the ashes alongside our suffering brothers and sisters and offer them the same comfort, help and strength you have given us.

Amen

*Note* – you can also discover more about how hope and joy can be found in the midst of grief and sadness in another post from this series – just click the link to read it.


31-days-of-journeying-into-joy-badge

Welcome to #day26 of #write31days of journeying into joy I’m so glad you are here, friend!

The poem above comes from my book, ‘Seeking Solace: Discovering grace in life’s hard places’It was birthed out of my own struggle to discover grace and seek joy in the midst of painful circumstances.

write31days-journeying-into-joy-joy-and-sadness