free counters


Christ is With You Always

Greetings All,
   This week's 'thought' comes to you by divine providence!  The hurricane which hit our area last Monday left the church without power through Sunday night.  Thus, when I got to the church early Sunday morning (as is my practice), and found it still with no lights or heat, it gave me some additional time to pray.  And as I knelt to do so my eyes caught a glimpse of a book on my shelf that I had never browsed through before.  Its title caught my eye and thus I grabbed it, opened it up, and began to read. The content was very real, transparent and encouraging, and guided me into even deeper prayer.  Then, upon finishing, I set the book on my desk to use as the thought for today. 

   The book is entitled, "Let Christ Take You Beyond Discouragement."  It is written by Albert L. Kurz. I honestly don't know how it found its way to my shelf, and I assume it is out of print (since it was printed during my first year of college way back in 1975), yet its content was surprisingly good.  And that's actually the test of a good book, is it not?  It's truth is timeless and not time bound.
    It was written by Mr. Kurz after his wife, Donna, died of cancer at 29 years old -- not long after giving birth to their fourth child.  His words will minister to anyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one, or simply struggling through the valley of loneliness and despair.  I trust his words, written then, may speak to you now.  Enjoy.

      Donna -
"My story begins in the hospital where I went for minor surgery. However, after the operation was over I was told that radical surgery had been performed and I was the victim of cancer. This was just six weeks after my fourth child was born, and I was twenty-eight years old. To be told you have cancer is not easy, I suppose, for anyone at any age; but to be told this in my particular circumstances was shocking... How does one feel when told for the second time that she has cancer? I can't tell you how one who does not know the Lord Jesus would feel, but I can tell you how I felt. I was shocked! Yes, and a lot of thoughts went through my mind.  But it wasn't long before this thought came: 'He healed me before, He can do it again.' What peace fills the soul as we realize that God alone has the power over our lives.  When there is no earthly hope, there is still the Lord -- and who could ask for more? He is so faithful, even in times of serious illness... I don't know what the future holds, but I know who holds my future. Through the valley, and even the depths, He will hold my hand..."

         Albert - "Life is a very fragile thing.  It is here today and gone tomorrow.  Only God can explain its meaning and understand its mysteries. The
creation of life is a miracle, and the departure of
the human soul from its physical body is equally mysterious. Because of this it is very difficult to accept the death of a loved one. It seems like a dream that will be over when we awaken. It was of such an experience that Ezekiel wrote: 'At evening my wife died' (Ez. 24:18).  How painful. Ezekiel had loved her with all his heart. She was the delight of his life.  In verse 16 the Lord said to him: 'Behold I take away from you the desire of your eyes.'  I, too, lost my companion -- my partner in life. The world seemed to stand still so that Donna could get off... Together we had walked into the 'valley of the shadow of death,' there to bid 'farewell' until we meet in Heaven.  She has gone on before me.
 As I gazed about, there seemed to be little company in that valley. It was a deserted and wilderness place.  On every side were gigantic mountains of sorrow, heartache, disappointment and discouragement.  For days, and perhaps for weeks, you could travel through that valley and never meet another living person.  It is hard to keep going in that valley -- the valley where sorrow has touched your life. Hope nearly dies, and dreams disappear.  Surely it is one of the hardest things in life to move on when hopes have died, dreams have faded, and the thing that gave you courage to go on is gone. Nevertheless, you must go on.
      How can you?  This valley where sorrow has enveloped you is so big, and the mountains so high, it is not easy to climb out.  In fact, humanly speaking, it is impossible. It is so barren... And although you have looked in every direction, there is no help for your need... Night falls and you are all alone; there is no one to share your sorrow, your heartache, your discouragement. 
      But wait!  Isn't there someone with you in that deep valley? Unseen by human eye, and unheard by human ear, is the blessed Son of God, who said, 'Lo, I am with you always.'  If you have come to Christ, you can say with David, 'The LORD is my Shepherd; I shall not want.'  Right there in the valley, where you feel all alone, you shall not want.
      Why? Because Jesus will care for you. He will help you through the valley and over the mountains of sorrow... God has permitted your sorrow for a purpose -- to make you better. He has brought you to this point to show you Himself.  In your distress and loneliness you can look at yourself and become depressed, or you can look to Jesus and be blessed. This is no time to reject God. If you turn your back on your only companion you may never get out of this valley.  There is nowhere else to go. There is no one else who can cheer the heart like Jesus... Friends can say they are 'sorry,' but only God can cheer the heart. It is He who gives us the comfort we need in our trials. 
      Why? So that we might be able to comfort others (II Corinthians 1:3-6). This sorrow, like other trials, has been permitted by God for your good.  It is a time to seek the Lord and let Him comfort your heart. He is there in the deserted wilderness of your valley.  He waits for you to turn to Him.  When you do, He will lead you through the valley and up to the mountaintop....Notice that He leads not only in the valley, but through the valley. He can restore your soul.  He knows the way through your valley.
     The 'valley of the shadow of death' is not something from which the Christian is exempt. 
Rather, it is something that he is helped through because the Lord is his Shepherd.  Those who have made Christ their Lord can truthfully sing: 'I never walk alone. Christ walks beside me.' The Christ who has poured past blessings into your life has not changed now that you are in the valley.  God never intended for you to live in this valley of sorrow, but only to pass through it to greener pastures of greater usefulness. He knows the way, so keep close to Him...
      The person who relies on the Lord for comfort learns much from this trip through sorrow-land.  Instead of constant defeat, the valley becomes a source of encouragement as God proves He is real. There in the valley the Lord will help and comfort you (Psalm 86:17).... The Lord has not given you a one-way ticket to discouragement. Instead He has provided you with His personal help to get you beyond discouragement.  His presence will go with you, and His comfort will engulf you, when you lift up the hands which hang low and worship and wait before Him. It is wonderful what God can do!  There is no limit to the help available to see us through life's darkest valleys. He has promised: 'I, the Lord thy God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, Fear not, I will help you."

      May the Lord shepherd you through whatever struggle you are presently going through, and may Albert's words merely serve to remind you of what you already know -- Christ is with you always, guiding you, leading you by the hand and even carrying you.  And He's doing it even if you are unable, at the present time, to feel it, sense it or see it. 

                    In Him, Pastor Jeff