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Archive for March, 2018

“But I trust in you, Lord; I say, “You are my God.” Psalm 31:14 (NIV)

 

We’ve been talking a lot about how having a faith perspective is important in the life of a believer.  You could argue with me that finding good in a tough financial situation isn’t nearly the same as when people have to deal with harder issues like ALS, cancer or death. How does the faith perspective come into practice with issues that are much more difficult – how do you explain “good” from those?

Let me try and answer that by coming at it from another angle. Would you ever attempt to explain the concepts of calculus to a one-year-old? Does a normal functioning one-year-old have the brain capacity to understand such complicated processes?

God knows that there are some things that happen here on earth that we will never be able to understand until we get to Heaven and see the big picture.  That’s why sometimes when we ask God to explain, to help us understand, we are met with silence.  Not silence in the fact that He isn’t there but silence in the fact He doesn’t provide the answers we seek.

While I will never fully understand why we had to lose a baby too early or why my family has dealt with chronic illness and pain, I’ve crossed over from the questioning stage to trust.  I am choosing to look for and sometimes do see good that has come from heartache.  Our family has a greater empathy for others that I believe we wouldn’t have necessarily had.  Our family is a lot closer than we might have been had sickness and death not entered into our circle of love. Our family chooses to take the hurt and brokenness that we’ve experienced and use it to help others around us that are feeling similar or possibly even more painful experiences because we don’t want them to feel alone either.

However, there will still always be questions left unanswered.  And that is when we simply choose to trust.  Trust that while we don’t understand, God does.  Trust that while we don’t have the answers, God does.  Trust that while we don’t know what we will do next, we can look at life from the faith perspective and know God has this.  He has us.  He has the next step and the next step and the next step, as long as we keep letting Him lead and obey His directions.

Living life this way isn’t always easy.  Sometimes, most of the time it seems, God’s timing is way slower than what I would like.  I want Him to hurry up and make the bad go away so that I can stop hurting or worrying or feeling the weight of whatever situation is crushing me.  But God doesn’t work that way.  He knows that when we go through, all the way through, the experience, if we do it His way, in His time, learning the lessons He wants us to learn, we will be more mature on the other side and ready to help others. We will have a testimony that could point one more person to a personal relationship with Him.  And that, my friends, is the main purpose of our life here on this earth.  Pointing others to a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior.  Because that is how we will all spend eternity with Him someday.  I think we can all agree that is where we would like to be reunited someday with all our friends and family.  But it all starts with a choice. A personal choice.

© Cheri Swalwell 2018

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“I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.”

Psalm 86:12 (NIV)

 

Last time we were together I spoke about how hard Monday was this week and how God showed me all week long that He is there for me.  It’s now Friday and while nothing’s changed regarding my circumstances, a lot has changed.  And that is my attitude toward the situation.

I’m back to remembering God’s promises.  I’m back to remembering the truths that God does provide, He does protect, He does heal, He does take care of all our needs.  I’m back to remembering that what God did for all the people in the Bible, He still does today to people like you and me.  God does not play favorites.  When I choose to give Him my life, when I choose to let Him have control, He shows up and He does wonderful things.

Do I wish that He had changed the circumstances already?  Kind of… but I’m in a place of trusting that He’s working even if I can’t see the progress.  I’m content to wait for His timetable.  I’m focused on the blessings I do have and taking pleasure in the little things.

Do I still believe God will do great things?  Yes.  Do I believe God has more blessings for our family and is working to change our situation?  Yes.  Better yet, though, I believe that He’s doing that same thing for those around me.  The people whom I love and even those I’ve never met who are struggling with their own circumstances.

Do I believe God wants to help the lady on Facebook who feels as though this is the only way life is going to be for her?  Absolutely.  But as I’ve spoken about many times throughout the last few posts… it all starts with a choice.  The first choice is to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ where we give up control and let Him have the driver’s seat.  The second choice is to live with the perspective of faith.  The third step is to trust that God is working, even when we can’t see it.  And the fourth and hardest step is to maintain an attitude of gratitude – believing, truly believing that God wants the best for our lives and is moving us toward that when we let Him.

Does that mean God wants an easy life for us?  Quite the contrary.  The best and easy usually don’t blend in the same sentence when God is involved.  Easy doesn’t require faith. But, the best, despite not being easy, can be the most exhilarating adventure one has ever taken.  And seriously, when I’m on my deathbed, I don’t want to look back on my life and say, “Wow, I led a very easy life.  Nothing too terrible happened but nothing terrific happened either.  I just woke up and went to sleep day in and day out.”  I want my life to mean something – to the One I serve, in the lives of those I love, in the passion I have for ministry and activities and living. When I choose to trust God and let Him lead, it will be far from easy, of that I’m guaranteed, but I also think I will be able to say, “That was a life I would definitely live again.”

© Cheri Swalwell 2018

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“There are times when God will heal us immediately – instantly – and we will be able to walk in that freedom from the first moment of healing until death. I have heard testimonies of that type of healing… There are other times God will heal us, but will require daily or weekly obedience by walking in that freedom to maintain that healing. And this, my friends, is where I’ve been struggling.”

Excerpt from Day 13, Spoken from the Heart: God’s Joy Lasts a Lifetime

 

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Spoken from the Heart: The Importance of Relationships

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Four-Book Series Available Now:

Spoken from the Heart:

Walking in Freedom

Living a Life of Obedience

God’s Joy Lasts a Lifetime

His Plan, His Purpose

 

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God wants a relationship with each one of us. While He asks us to trust Him, have faith in the path He chooses and obey His leading… when we choose to commit to doing life His way, there is Freedom and Joy during the journey.

 

Amazon SUPER SALE on

Spoken from the Heart: His Plan, His Purpose

It is only $1.88 for the PAPERBACK!

http://amzn.to/2FRQI79

I’m not sure how long Amazon sale’s last, so

get your copies today!

At this price, you can buy one for yourself and one as a gift for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day …

Any Day!

 

Four-Book Series Available Now:

Spoken from the Heart:

Walking in Freedom

Living a Life of Obedience

God’s Joy Lasts a Lifetime

His Plan, His Purpose

 

*** EXTRA BONUS *** 

Spoken from the Heart eBook

All Volumes Above Only 99 cents

Get all volumes here:

http://amzn.to/2in2qI4

Please share with your friends

 

You can still buy the other paperbacks in the series at the low price of $6.47 or less to complete the series.

http://amzn.to/2in2qI4

 

*** DON’T FORGET *** 

Spoken from the Heart: The Importance of Relationships

Only 99 cents

Get it today while it’s still the new release price

http://amzn.to/2DIDZxy

 

 

Are you interested in receiving a free eBook?

Join the Spoken from the Heart READERS CLUB

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Freedom?  Obedience?  God’s Joy?  Purpose?

Are these areas in your life you would like to learn more about, from a Christ-centered perspective?

 

Amazon decided to have a SUPER SALE on Spoken from the Heart: His Plan, His Purpose

It is only $1.88 for the PAPERBACK!

http://amzn.to/2FRQI79


I’m not sure how long Amazon sale’s last, so

get your copies today!

At this price, you can buy one for yourself and one as a gift for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day …

Any Day!

 

Four-Book Series Available Now:

Spoken from the Heart:

Walking in Freedom

Living a Life of Obedience

God’s Joy Lasts a Lifetime

His Plan, His Purpose

 

*** EXTRA BONUS *** 

Spoken from the Heart eBook

All Volumes Above Only 99 cents

Get all volumes here:

http://amzn.to/2in2qI4

Please share with your friends

 

You can still buy the other paperbacks in the series at the low price of $6.47 or less to complete the series.

http://amzn.to/2in2qI4

 

*** DON’T FORGET *** 

Spoken from the Heart: The Importance of Relationships

Only 99 cents

Get it today while it’s still the new release price

http://amzn.to/2DIDZxy

 

Are you interested in receiving a free eBook?

Join the Spoken from the Heart READERS CLUB

 

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“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,” Ephesians 3:20 (NIV)

 

I just finished speaking about having a faith perspective and choosing to trust God with one’s life. I also shared how I struggled in the fall of 2016 with believing God’s promises over the lies of the enemy.  And today I want to share that choosing is an everyday action. While God wooed me and reminded me of His unconditional love all throughout 2017, there were still days I struggled.  There were days I was tired emotionally and spiritually and I felt like giving up.  There were days I didn’t see any forward motion and it felt like all progress was being lost.

However, that is when the faith perspective is the most important.  Faith isn’t faith when we can see the finish line and everything has been revealed.  Faith, true faith is continuing to walk toward the finish line when you aren’t even sure from a physical viewpoint there is a finish line to cross.

Monday was such a day for me.  I woke up feeling crushed by the weight of hard.  Life just seemed heavy and I was having problems finding my joy.  Instead of God getting angry with me or impatient or saying something like, “Seriously, Cheri? Didn’t we go round this last year? I don’t have time to go around it again with you.” Nope. Instead He answered my unbelief with, “Instead of working today, sit with Me for a while.  If you will choose spending time with Me, I will help you find your joy again.”

While it wasn’t instantaneous, it was authentic.  I chose to sit in our big comfy chair that afternoon with a cup of coffee and three of my blessings journals. I chose to reread the words spoken over our family and God slowly showed me where He had already answered, where answers were in progress and even the hope of answers still to come.  He reminded me of the various ways He had provided for our family in the past and gently instructed me to “Trust in Me, Cheri, with all of your heart” and “Do not worry – have I ever forsaken you – why would I now?”

So I realized I had a choice.  I could choose to believe in the promises that God has given me over the years or not.  I could choose to trust that God is truly my Abba Father and worthy of my trust… or not.  I chose trust.  I chose to believe again.  And when I started viewing life from the faith perspective, again, God did indeed restore my joy.

It started as early as a few hours later.  I felt God nudging me to bake banana bread for the teachers at school.  Now, the next day was Halloween so I figured they would be getting extra treats already and wondered why God was nudging me in this direction. But instead of questioning His nudge, I simply made the banana bread because I trusted Him and got it ready to deliver on Tuesday.

Tuesday morning started out interesting.  Our internet was slower than molasses and no work could be accomplished. So, since our oldest had an assignment due, I offered to drive him to college early to use their computers and then take our youngest to school after, instead of the usual “other way around.” I was worried our youngest would be late, but God was amazing and got us to his school with five minutes to spare.  As we were walking to the front of the school with the banana bread ready to deliver, the fire drill went off.  I can’t tell you how many teachers thanked me for a nice treat while they had to wait outside with 300+ kids during an unexpected blip to start their day. I was able to praise God to them and give Him the glory for the bread because after all, He is the One who suggested I make it the night before.

What started out as some major inconveniences (no internet, change in schedule and unexpected fire drill), God used for His glory.  And when I got home, the internet was working just fine again and has ever since, with no assistance needed from me.

Fast forward to Friday… I was worried about finances, again. I kept reminding myself that God specifically told me only three days prior, “Do not worry –  have I ever forsaken you – why would I now?” So, I made a choice. I could continue to worry and ruin my day or I could trust that God has always provided for us and remember that He never changes. Instead of worrying, I spent the ten minutes driving home thanking God for all His provisions, the blessings He has already given to us and telling Him I trusted Him for what we would continue to need.

God gave me another reminder of His unconditional love on that drive home – a deer. While it’s not unusual to see them in the Midwest in the fall, they aren’t usually standing in the middle of someone’s yard waiting for me, but this particular morning there was one.  I stopped right then and admired the beauty of the deer, thanking God for His love and also the beauty that is all around me if I just stop long enough to look up and enjoy it. God used that moment to give me the heavenly perspective I needed to refocus.

Between pulling into the driveway and pulling out the checkbook, God reminded me of how He was going to provide this particular week.  And He did! While I was praising Him for the provisions this week, I was tempted to start worrying about how He will provide in two weeks… until I remembered, I have a choice.  Instead of worrying, which gets me nothing but an upset stomach, I’m choosing trust.  And if God is willing to provide now… then He is not going to change and stop providing two weeks from now, two weeks from then, etc.

As I sit here typing these words I’m peaceful. Content. A very different person than I was on Monday. I’m choosing to live my life with a faith perspective.  Will I need reminders to stay on track with my thinking?  Yes.  Will I continually have to be in God’s word to remind myself of His promises?  Yes.  And I think that’s the way God wants it.  For us to continue to come to Him, trusting Him for all our needs, for our wants and giving our desires over to Him so that He can make them bigger and better, and yes, sometimes very different, than anything we could ever ask or imagine.

© Cheri Swalwell 2018

 

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“Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9:10 (NIV)

 

I’ve spoken so many times about how I didn’t fully trust God for way too long.  I asked Him over a decade ago to please teach me how to trust Him, but to please be gentle during the process.  Because I didn’t trust Him fully, it was really scary for me to ask Him to teach me that lesson.

Over the past ten years, He’s taught me I had nothing to fear. God has answered that prayer in so many wonderful ways. However, I’ve found that usually in order to learn the important lessons in life about faith, trust, patience, self control – I have to have lots of practice so I can grow in these areas which is really what God wants for each of us.  When we’re mature and growing into Jesus’ likeness, then God can start to really use us for the purpose and plans He created within us to begin with.

Seven years ago I was a wife and mother of three, still grieving our unborn fourth that was born too soon, staying busy juggling work from home along with everything else. Pretty typical.  I knew that my purpose in life wasn’t to type for medical transcription forever; yet, I didn’t know what purpose God had planned for me.  So I told Him one spring morning that I was ready. He could have full control of my life and I would obey.  I had faith that He would do something great in our family’s life and I was ready to get started…

God heard that honest prayer from my heart and not a few weeks later started a journey of faith that has been anything but calm and quiet.  He started by whispering to me to “finish my book” which led me to a writer’s conference the following fall.  The conference resulted in my starting a blog which led to writing and self-publishing books. Once that was firmly established, I lost my medical transcription job due to it being dissolved. God used the experience and connections I had from writing to work for two separate companies… and I don’t believe His journey of faith for me is finished yet.  He has been whispering to me some other avenues that He has invited me to walk down… and I am far enough along in the faith journey to believe that He will supply the experience and knowledge I need in the right time.

Has it been easy to trust Him when I was told in 30 days I would lose my job without any income to replace it? Did I mourn a little when I was set on traditionally publishing fiction books and God instead led me in the direction of self publishing nonfiction instead?

However, I have seen His hand in all of this, every single detail.  He allowed me to work for a medical transcription company for ten years to practice my grammar and editing skills (not to mention learn how to type fast) skills I needed to be hired by the two companies I worked for after I lost my job. In addition, while I wanted to write fiction and be traditionally published, having to learn the field of self publishing and learning to love writing about my life and the ways God is working in it has opened up other doors and opportunities for me as I continue down the path God has placed me on.  I believe that in His time, God will give me back fiction writing but not until He’s ready and I’ve fulfilled the other areas God has called me to.

 

However, to see the good in the last six years, I had to give up control of my dreams and desires. I had to choose faith. I had to trust God’s plans were the best for our family and our lives.  And they are!  While they haven’t been easy, they have definitely been the best.

You want to know the icing on the cake? He’s not done.  While we have had good throughout the journey, I know that He’s not finished yet and there is more “good” to come. Why do I know that? Because I believe God has more in store because we’ve been faithful with the assignments He has given us so far.

So, what I would say to that person on Facebook who felt hopeless and as though she was not one of the few selected persons to have good come from evil is this.  It starts with choosing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  It starts with trusting Him enough to give Him complete control over her life and letting Him lead without getting in the way.  It has to do with finding the promises in the Bible where God speaks about provision and healing and peace and believing those words are meant for all of God’s children. It’s all about choosing to see from the perspective of faith.  Is it easy? Not always.  But it’s the best choice.

© Cheri Swalwell 2018

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“I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” Jeremiah 29:11 (The Message)

 

If I were sitting with the woman on Facebook who had given up hope that life could get better, I would start by saying, “I understand how you’re feeling because I too have felt that way before.”

However, there is hope for every single person.  God loves each one of us on this earth so much.  When He created each one of us, He created a purpose and a plan in each of our DNA.  And those plans are for good, not for evil.  Whether or not you choose to love God back doesn’t matter.  He still loves you.  However, there is a choice that every single one of us need to make.  And that is whether or not we want to do life His way, with Him in charge or if we want to continue to cut Him out of our lives and do life our own way, without His guidance or help.  Because, in order for the good talked about previously, the good coming from evil, we need His help for that to happen.  We need to make that first crucial choice to let God have full control over our lives.  Another way of saying it is to choose a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  While that is the best decision anyone can ever make, it’s also a scary decision for those who like to be in control.  But it starts with a choice.

Once we choose to do life His way, I would encourage that woman to buckle her seatbelt because while it’s going to be quite the adventure, it’s one we will look back on and be glad we took.  Many times, this is when the fun starts because once we’ve given God full control of our lives, He’s ready to start renovating.  Sometimes it’s a complete overhaul that is needed, other times it’s just freshening up the paint, ripping out some stained carpet or installing new light fixtures.  But there will always be change that takes place because our old sinful lifestyle is being replaced by a new, fresher version that looks more and more like Jesus Himself.  While this process can be difficult and painful and look nothing like one imagined, it’s also exciting and full of hope and at times, God’s peace too, when we stop fighting the repairs and instead surrender to the process.

Life as a Christ follower is about letting go of control and fully relying on God to do what He does best – change us to look more and more like Jesus Christ did when He walked the earth.  It’s about giving up our selfish nature (everyone has one) and becoming more like Christ.  Putting others’ first.  Forgiving. Loving those who you might not like very much. And more…

Each renovation is going to look as different as we all are individually.  God isn’t a “one size fits all” God.  He is personal, intimate, relationship oriented.  He wants to take our personalities and gifts and talents and strengths and even our weaknesses and mold them into His purpose and plan for our lives.

And… when we allow Him to do the hard work, then we are allowing the good to come out of the evil.  Then we are giving Him full control over our circumstances and we start to see clearly from the correct perspective, the faith perspective.

God loves when we choose faith, when we trust Him to do what He does best.  He is great at taking what we give Him (our entire lives, messes and all) and then listening and obeying His instructions so that we can become the people He created us to be.

Is it easy?  Nope.  But is it necessary? Yes.  God is pleased when we apply the faith perspective to our lives.  Come back next time and I will share ways that God took some uncertainty in our lives and showed me the good.

© Cheri Swalwell 2018

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“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NIV)

 

I spoke last time we were together about how good coming from evil doesn’t always look like good… and how as Christ followers we need to look closer so that we can explain what is really happening to those around us who may not have a personal relationship with God yet.

Let me start by saying this… God doesn’t promise an easy life for those who trust in Him.  He never once said, “When you choose to follow Me and make Me Lord of your life, life is going to get great. You will get all you wished for and more.”  Nope.  Just the opposite in fact.  Jesus assured us that we would have trouble in this world.  Not if, but when.  He talks multiple times in the Bible about how we would be persecuted, ridiculed and even at times have to make the gut wrenching decision of choosing a life with Him while being disowned by family and friends.

I have spoken on multiple occasions about the impact the book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi has had on me.  It saddened me to learn in the fall of 2017 that Nabeel died of cancer after a year-long fight.  While we weren’t friends, I felt as though I knew about his life through his writing as he shared about the life-altering decision he made when he chose a personal relationship with Christ because it meant the end of a relationship with his biological family.  Whether or not God used his fight with cancer to bring his family to know and accept Jesus as well, that I don’t know, but I do know this. God used his life for good.  God may have in fact used his cancer journey for good as well.  I look forward to meeting him in Heaven someday and sitting down and hearing all the wonderful things God did as He used Mr. Qureshi’s life and testimony.

I do know that good came out of my friend’s fight with ALS.  His life was a walking billboard to God’s faithfulness and what trust in our Heavenly Father looks like when all earthly hope is gone.  His widow and their daughters still walk out their faith on a daily basis as well as the extended family he left behind.  We all know that while we are temporarily separated from him in this life, there is hope of a reunion when all death and fear and sadness will be forgotten.  And I also believe that God will restore the lost time he had with his family once they are reunited in Heaven.

Regarding the boy who lost his life too soon to cancer? His mother has rolled up her sleeves and is fighting for pediatric cancer research and funding because “kids shouldn’t have cancer,” a phrase her son spoke often during his valiant fight. God has opened doors for her that may not have otherwise opened.  And the family who continues to deal with heart issues in their baby and medical issues in other family members? They continue to sing God’s praises at their daughter’s bedside as she recovers from yet another surgery.  Even though there was medical error in treating their daughter, there is no malice or unforgiveness in their words – simply trust that God will do what He does best.

While evil may prevail over our earthly bodies, and it will to all of us at some point in our lives, death doesn’t have the final answer.  Those who have a personal relationship with God have the hope of eternity with our Heavenly Father waiting for us, and I know, I for one hope to hear, “Well done my good and faithful servant” when I finally meet my Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, face to face.

Come back next time when I share what my answer would be to the woman on Facebook who believes it might not get any better than this.  I speak from the position of someone who has walked that journey of despondency myself when I too believed the lies of the enemy. God, in His unconditional love, though, whispered His truth until I could hear His voice above the evil one, and if He’s willing to patiently do that for me, He’s waiting to do that as well for anyone else who needs to hear His love too.

© Cheri Swalwell 2018

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“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)

 

I read a Facebook post the other day that saddened me.  A woman was responding to a stranger who tried to encourage that good can come from evil.  The woman’s belief was that there wasn’t someone or something in the universe that guaranteed that happening. The person was deeply sad because she didn’t feel any hope that good could come from all the bad that she had been experiencing for years now.

I think this resonated with me so deeply because during the fall of 2016 I also struggled with that same lie, despite the fact I’ve been a Christ follower for almost 40 years now and have been taught the truth for years. While I knew the biblical answer in my head, how God is love and wants the best for His children, sometimes here on earth, we don’t always see the best.  I had an honest, heart-to-heart talk with God one morning while driving in the car alone. I asked my Father if I had been chosen to be the fall guy in my life’s circumstances.  If, in order for everyone else around me to succeed, I was the one who was designated the ultimate loser.

It’s been 12 months since I had that conversation with God and I can still feel the emotions I had that morning, as I resigned myself to the fact that sometimes, despite all my faith and belief in His promises, maybe I was simply wrong and those promises weren’t meant for me after all. I wasn’t one of the chosen and therefore, I was relegated to where I was in life and things weren’t going to get better. Those feelings of despondence were a huge pack of lies directly from the evil one himself.

However, God being God, with His loving nature, took the time to woo me, to show me that none of His children are casualties of the war of sin on earth… that He was indeed working all things together for good, not because I deserved it more than anyone else, but simply because of His grace.  I was His child and I could trust Him.

However, having said that, I need to explain a little more that sometimes, the good that comes from evil doesn’t look like what we pictured or imagined it would.  That is where one needs to learn to see from the faith perspective. During these 12 months that God has been reminding me of His unconditional love, inviting me to continue to trust Him and believe His promises from the Bible, I have seen many examples that would look to others as evil winning and good not showing up. During this past year a friend of mine lost his battle with ALS.  He is only three years older than me and leaves behind a wife and two young daughters.

This December is the anniversary of the heavenly homecoming of a boy who lost his battle with cancer here on earth, gone too soon. Another family from our church is dealing with continuing heart issues in their 1-year-old along with other medical issues in other members of the family.

On the surface, it would look like evil is winning, but that’s why we need to look a little closer, dig a little deeper as Christ followers choose to see through the perspective of faith. While my friend lost his battle here on earth to sickness, he’s in Heaven with no pain waiting to be reunited with those he loves who also have a personal relationship with Christ.  We are the ones who mourn his loss, but I believe he has been greeted by God Himself with “well done, my good and faithful servant.”

The reality is, God views circumstances very differently than we do.  Come back tomorrow as I continue this discussion about what God really promises.

© Cheri Swalwell 2018

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