Dear brothers and sisters in Christ: I greet you with the Peace and Love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I am hoping and praying that you are all doing well and at peace with God – ameen J
If you are reading this note, I think the title has somehow interested you.
Are you weary and tired? Is life hard? If yes, then I am glad that you are joining me in reading this note. My prayer is that you will find yourself praising the Lord after you read this – despite all the troubles going on around you. Ameen.
I don’t know about you but I have had times when it was hard for me to pray! I would start by saying “Dear God…(or) Oh Lord…(or) Father” and that was it. I would get stuck. I found it hard to express my feelings and tell my Heavenly Father what was going on and how I felt…things He already knew about! Haha. In such times I find rest in the fact that God knows all about my situation and He hears my prayers and the prayers of my spiritual family and friends.
Maybe some of you are like me? I am a newborn baby in this relationship with God. I love to say that because I realized that being a Christian does not mean that you are just religious! Being a Christian means having this wonderful, personal friendship with the author of our Faith and Creator – God. God is my Father and my closest friend.
After a few months it will be 11 years since the day I personally gave my life to Christ. For the first 7 years I was religious! I tried to find a way to earn and deserve this eternal life I had received from Jesus. Even though I knew that I received eternal life through Christ alone and God loved me, somehow I felt just asking for it and receiving it was not enough! But it is true! If you ask you will receive! If you ask, you will receive. If you believe, you will feel God’s love in your life.
While growing up I lived in many different places and cultures and one of the things I learned is that there is no such thing as “free gift”. For example, if someone gave me a candy (yeah I love sweets) there was no way he/she did it without wanting something from me in return. Most of the time the person wanted me to deliver a message to someone else for them, or buy something from the supermarket for them, or worse.
Growing up in such environments I was taught that there is no such thing as a “free gift”. I knew the word “gift” but it was not something “free”. I always had to do something in order to earn the gift. So when I accepted Christ and received the free gift of salvation I thought there was something I needed to do in order earn eternal life. I couldn’t believe that God would just give it to me.
But He did. God’s gift of eternal life is free. Christ earned salvation on the cross for us. He did the work and died on the cross for our sins. All I had to do was accept His free gift, believe in His work, and receive eternal life. But it was hard for me to believe that His gift was free. I would pray mechanically and try to be “clean” when I prayed…just as a good Muslim would do.
In the country that I live in now every Christmas people exchange gifts. I remember refusing to accept the Christmas gifts from my new friends and families in Christ. They would want to give me gifts when it was my birthday or at Christmas. Eventually I would be polite and receive their gifts, but I would think again and again: “what does she/he want in return, what should I give her/him?” I would pay attention and see nothing in their faces that said they wanted anything from me in return! This was something new for me. It was scary to begin with because it was so unfamiliar.
As time passed I started enjoying the free gifts! I also started giving gifts without being afraid of being misunderstood (that the person would think I wanted something in return). It’s great to be able to give a gift freely and receive one without overthinking the motive behind it.
This culture helped me understand the concept of a Gift! And that it is supposed to be free! A gift is something you are given and not something you are supposed to pay for by doing something in return. That is why it is called a gift.
Over the past 4 years my life has turned upside down! What a wonderful turn that has been (and still is). It is a long story but this is what I want to tell you. I realized that there is NOTHING I could ever do to make God love me more or less than He does! I realized that I will never, and I mean ever, be able to earn or deserve His Glory. There is nothing in my power that I can do to be clean enough or strong enough to be able to earn eternal life. I got smaller as Christ got bigger!
I realized and believed that: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
I believed and understood what I already knew and when I believed it I also felt it. Joy is found in Christ alone.
God’s love is not dependent on how strong I am, or if I take a shower before I pray! You see there is nothing in me that is hidden when I am in His presence! He sees my thoughts, my heart, so when I smile to a person who I am not fond of, God sees what I think of that person! I committed a sin already! Wow, how many times do I sin daily, by thought, feeling, action, word… so if i am I that big of a sinner how can I wash myself clean, clean enough to be in front of His majesty?! The King of Kings! And because God already knows this He is not demanding my purity in order to be his child. But He gave me the Holy Spirit to be a friend who warns me when I cross the line, “step back, lady that is not the road to the eternal life” and of course I am learning to listen and obey because Christ is my All in All!
So beloved ones, believe that you have received the Free gift from our Heavenly Father and dwell in the presence of the Holy Spirit. Rejoice and praise the Lord with me for the indescribable joy we have in Christ. When troubles try to tear you down – and at times they do succeed. Remember that God is with you and holding you up! He will not forsake you or leave you there! He is faithful and He promised to be with you, through it all!
Now this does not promise us a problem free life, actually imagine how boring life would be without any challenges… (Yeah am sure I wouldn’t say that while in the challenges) but you get the pictureJ this works for me. I run to find some privacy and just cry, pray and sing praise to the Lord. I have noticed that when I praise him despite the troubles around me He gets bigger as the problem gets smaller! Wow, isn’t that wonderful?! I promise you, I never leave His presence empty handed! God fills me with peace inside and unexplainable joy! Once again I gain strength from above and start to face the challenges for that day…and the day after you know the processJ
I will conclude this note by reminding you that praising the Lord in hardship is the key! Yeah King David knew this; I will share with you one of his psalms beneath.
So, beloved one be encouraged and rejoice in Lord, may God keep you safe and bless you.
Your sister in Christ, Haawa
“I give you thanks, O LORD, with all my heart; I will sing your praises before the gods.
I bow before your holy Temple as I worship. I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness; for your promises are backed by all the honor of your name.
As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength.
Every king in all the earth will thank you, LORD, for all of them will hear your words.
Yes, they will sing about the LORD’s ways, for the glory of the LORD is very great.
Though the LORD is great, he cares for the humble, but he keeps his distance from the proud.
Though I am surrounded by troubles, you will protect me from the anger of my enemies. You reach out your hand, and the power of your right hand saves me.
The LORD will work out his plans for my life – for your faithful love, O LORD, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made.” – Psalm 138