DayBreaks for 8/27/20 – 2020: The Year of the Lord’s Favor

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This will be a strange DayBreaks. I may be castigated by some for what I write today but please know that I mean no offense to anyone and I truly hurt for those who have been impacted by COVID-19, hurricanes, derechos, tornados, fires and the like. I would never minimize the pain and heartache involved in those events.

Today I attended a webinar about how the church around the world has responded to the pandemic. It was inspiring! Someone mentioned this verse from Luke 4:18-19 and Jesus’ sermon in the synagogue in Nazareth: The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

As I listened, speaker after speaker (these were leaders of some of the largest faith-based organizations in the world such as World Vision, IJM, Compassion International, Young Life and the like) talked about how the church globally was heroically responding to the pandemic, it struck me that rather than this being a year of terrible calamity and loss that we could see it as the year the Lord’s favor has been poured out globally. Hard is always hard, but it’s not always bad.

Strange, you say? Yes, I suppose in a way it is. But they told of incredible things the church is doing, of hugely increased interest in spiritual things globally, about people witnessing the love of Christ at work to help them and care for the sick and dying. They spoke of how God has had to push the church into new wineskin types of thinking to see and seize new opportunities on how to share the gospel with the world that make more people reachable with the Good News and love of Christ than ever before.

Someone relayed this Chinese proverb: “Not all storms come to disrupt out lives. Some stores come to clear our paths.” God is constantly trying to channel the church (that’s us, folks!) into his purposes and he’ll move heaven and earth to do it.

What might God be asking you to do in this crisis? How might you need to change your thinking to see increased opportunities around you?

Instead of being consumed with thinking of it as a disastrous year, we may need to change our thinking to see it as the year of the Lord’s favor when humanity is drawn to him through these extraordinary events. Although he cares about all aspects of our lives, his ultimate goal is to see heaven populated with people from every tribe, tongue and nation.

PRAYER: Lord, your ways are not ours. Your thoughts are not ours. Your purposes are beyond our comprehension. We feel somewhat adrift in this maelstrom but help us see your hand in the storm as you open doors of opportunity for your church and us as individuals to serve the world! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 7/28/20 – The End of Hope

Hope. To some it means everything yet to others its one of those four-letter words. I firmly believe that as long as people have hope they can endure almost anything. Sometimes, it is those who give up hope who often are the most desperate, while for others it is utter desperation that drives them to dope.

The Bible talks a lot about hope and rightfully so. When we get our arms around the reality that the Bible teaches us about our utter sinfulness and how we are dead in our sins – well, that’s when we have no option but to cast ourselves on the promises of God and our hope springs anew and eternal.

In times like we live in this very day – surrounded by people who might infect us with a teeny, tiny virus that could snuff us out in a matter of days – we cling to hope. We hope for herd immunity, we hope for a workable and safe vaccine that has lasting efficacy, we hope for jobs and schools to rebound.

What do we do? We huddle at home, work virtually, educate virtually and wonder how long we can keep this up. We pray. We hope. And we have company.

In Revelation 6, we see another group huddling in heaven: the martyrs of the faith wondering how long they will have to wait. At least for now, waiting seems endemic to the human condition.

It is intriguing that one of the books of the Bible that never mentions hope even one single time is the book of Revelation, the book that gives us the greatest insight into how this whole creation and God’s plan works out. Why is hope not mentioned?  Because once things have been fulfilled there is no longer anything to hope for – it will all have come to pass in perfect completeness.

Until then, hope is the anchor of our souls.

Hebrews 6:19-20 (NIV) – We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

PRAYER: Jesus, we hope for many things yet long for the day when hope, like sin and death, is no more. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 5/20/22 – Lessons Learned in Crucibles, #1

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DayBreaks for 5/20/20: Lessons Learned in Crucibles #1

Nearly all of us have had unplanned time for reflection during this COVID-19 lockdown. I suppose that like me, you’ve had many thoughts about it and that your thinking and emotions may have changed day by day – maybe hour by hour.

In my quiet time, I’ve been working my way through Ecclesiastes. It’s a strange, interesting and bewildering book. On the one hand, it’s doom and gloom, on the other it encourages us to enjoy our lot in life. In particular, yesterday I was reflecting on this: Ecclesiastes 6:1-7 (CSBBible) – Here is a tragedy I have observed under the sun, and it weighs heavily on humanity: God gives a person riches, wealth, and honor so that he lacks nothing of all he desires for himself, but God does not allow him to enjoy them. Instead, a stranger will enjoy them. This is futile and a sickening tragedy. A man may father a hundred children and live many years. No matter how long he lives, if he is not satisfied by good things and does not even have a proper burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he. For he comes in futility and he goes in darkness, and his name is shrouded in darkness. Though a stillborn child does not see the sun and is not conscious, it has more rest than he. And if a person lives a thousand years twice, but does not experience happiness, do not both go to the same place? All of a person’s labor is for his stomach, yet the appetite is never satisfied.

Pretty gloomy, eh? But think about it for a moment. As we sit in this COVID-19 world, we can learn something from this passage. It does seem strange and unfair that all we acquire or accomplish of a worldly nature in this life is stripped from us upon death, or even upon a strange turn of events in this life. A market downturn, a pandemic, a health issue – those things can strip us of our deluded security and even the option of enjoying the things we work for. All this tells me that if we find our purpose, meaning and enjoyment in things that can be so suddenly taken from us, aren’t we a bit on the crazy side?

I hope to spend more time during the lockdown – however long that may be – to readjust what gives me purpose, meaning and enjoyment and to refocus on that which can never be taken from me in this world or the next – Jesus.

PRAYER: Jesus, so much has been taken from so many during this pandemic and we long for a return of normalcy. I pray that we will use this time wisely to refocus on those things which nothing can ever take from us and find our greatest joy – the joy you designed us for – in drawing closer to you! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 5/18/20 – Time and the Lord’s Plan

Whose Plan is Better: GOD'S Plan or YOURS? —

DayBreaks for 5/18/20: Time and the Lord’s Plan

As earth-bound creatures we are also bound by time. We have watches and phones and computers and sirens and even the sun and moon mark the passing of time for us. We can’t get away from it. We often feel there isn’t either enough, or there’s too much of it. But have we really considered how it is the servant of the Most High?

We are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of the day of this writing, in our county alone in Illinois 5,904 persons have tested positive and 298 have taken their last breath. We are all anxious for time to pass and this to be over. We hope for a vaccine to put it behind us.

What does all this have to do with time and God’s plan? Consider this: imagine taking a 3 year old to the doctor and the doctor says it’s time for the child to have a vaccination. And just before the needle is inserted into the child’s arm, there is great weeping, fighting against the invasion of the needle into the tiny, flailing arm. The screaming is heartbreaking. Does the child than the doctor for that shot? No! Even the mother or father are heartbroken for what the child is going through.

But imagine, years or decades later, an outbreak of the disease sweeps across the face of the earth. People are sick and dying. But the one who was that young child does not get the dread disease because of those few moments of pain as a child. You see, the vaccine protected the child and it was only through the passing of the time that the child can appreciate what the parent and doctor did years before.

There are many things that happen to us that are painful. Like that young child we wonder why our Father put us through them, why he led us bear the pain in our lives. But know this: He never causes pain except to prevent greater pain for us. Only in hindsight can we see how these things may have saved us even greater pain and loss. Time has been the servant of the Lord in such cases.

The present pandemic, well, it is painful. But we are being taught lessons, lessons we may not even be aware of at the present. Yet there is a purpose – a far greater purpose that we cannot envision – and we have God’s promise that ALL His plans for us are for our good. Find comfort in that promise!

Jeremiah 29:11 (MSG) – 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.

PRAYER: Lord, we are impatient and have such limited sight into the reasons for all that happens. May we trust you so much that we can endure with patience the present pain to know that there is purpose for all that happens to us. And give us the wisdom to wait for the understanding with faith in you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 5/06/20 – The One Hope

290 Hope Quotes That Will Empower You

DayBreaks for 5/06/20: The One Hope

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2010:

The background: On Easter Sunday 2009, our nation was reeling. The mortgage crisis was in full swing. The roller—coaster nature of Wall Street was making everyone sick to their stomach. Long—trusted financial institutions were being shut down or bought out at an alarming rate. Unemployment rates were skyrocketing. Sensing heavy hearts in his congregation that Easter, John Ortberg, pastor of Menlo Church in Menlo Park, California, and author of a number of best-selling Christian books, offered a powerful reminder about the hope of Easter — a reminder that would serve us well still at this time. Ortberg said:

“I cannot think of an Easter in recent memory where there was a bigger need for hope, for something that would breathe life into the human spirit. A year ago, so many people … felt like they were on pretty solid ground. [Now they] find themselves in circumstances they never would have predicted.

“A lot of people … are feeling anxious. They have pressures … that they did not have [before]. They [regret] decisions they’ve made over this last year. They wonder where things will stand a year from now.

“Nobody ever wants a season of hard times … to come, but when they do, they have a way of making you … ask, What am I really counting on? Am I building my life on a foundation that’s solid enough that circumstances beyond my control cannot take it away? That’s why I’ve been looking forward to Easter … [a time when] we gather to remember the only hope capable of sustaining a human life through everything.

“People have not gathered for the past 2,000 years to say, “The stock market has risen. It has risen indeed.” They have not gathered to say, “The dollar has risen. It has risen indeed.” Or, “the employment rate has risen.” Or, “the gross domestic product has risen.” Or, “General Motors has risen.” Or “the value of your 401(k) has risen.” Here’s the one hope that has held up human beings across every continent and culture for two millennia of difficult times of poverty, disease, pain, hardship, [and] death itself: “Christ is risen. He is risen indeed.”  

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, glorified above, hallelujah, for You live forevermore!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2010 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 5/04/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #25 – The Last Tear

Haiku – Flow & Tear | radhikasreflection

DayBreaks for 5/04/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #25 – The Last Tear

The following is the latest in a series of daily meditations amid the pandemic. Today’s musical pairing: a simple version of “Give Me Jesus” by Sara Watkins. All songs for this series have been gathered into a Spotify playlist.

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. – Psalm 56:8 (NLT)

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. – Revelation 21:4 (NIV)

Meditation 25. 3,305,595 confirmed cases, 235,861 deaths globally.

The Bible ends with an ecstatic vision. A new heaven and a new earth—and a new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband (Rev. 21:2). A voice cries out from the throne of heaven and declares, Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. (Rev 21:3–4).

The heavenly proclamation includes an allusion to Isaiah 25:8: The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces.

It easy to forget how astonishing this is. The Jews had come to recognize that God is far greater than any other god people had ever imagined. They did not worship many gods and spirits. They worshipped a single God who created all things simply by speaking them into being. And yet that God, a God of transcendent power and ineffable majesty, also cares about the most minute sorrows of his people.

I live in a high and holy place, God says in Isaiah 57:15, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit. We may be tempted to dismiss it as a poetic sentiment. We shouldn’t. There is nothing more true than this. The immensity of the love of God is in the intimacy of his care. No sorrow is so small it escapes his attention. The God of the universe, the same God who set the span of the cosmos and rules over all time and space, gathers our tears in a bottle. For each of us. Our sufferings are remembered in God. Even the sorrows we never disclose to any person on the planet reside in him eternally…(Click here to read the rest of this devotion.)

PRAYER: There will come a day when the last tear is shed. Then, O Lord, we will live among you forever. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

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DayBreaks for 4/28/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #23 – This is Your Soul on ZOOM

Intel Is Building the World's Most Powerful Supercomputer

DayBreaks for 4/28/20: The Hallway Through the Sea, #23 – This is Your Soul on ZOOM

The following is the latest in a series of daily meditations amid the pandemic. For today’s musical pairing, we suggest “Sunshine (Adagio in D Minor)” from the film Sunlight. All songs for this series have been gathered into a Spotify playlist.

Then Moses said to the Israelites, ‘See, the Lord has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic crafts. And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as engravers, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them skilled workers and designers.’” – Exodus 35:30–35

Meditation 23. 3,029,452 confirmed cases, 210,374 deaths globally.

Most of the summers during my childhood in California included backpacking in Yosemite National Park with my family or with the men from my church. We found ourselves at the feet of majestic waterfalls, on peaks in Tuolumne Meadows that stole our breath, or atop Half Dome or El Capitan when shooting stars were falling from the sky. Our souls were transported and we were moved to magnify God.

We tend to think differently of the artifacts of technology. We do not hold up our mobile phones, gaze at a supercomputer, or contemplate a PET scanner and find ourselves moved to sing praises.

In this pandemic, when so much of our experience of the world is mediated through technology, perhaps we need to shift our mindset. Many of the same technologies we cursed months ago for driving us apart we now bless for holding us together. Families keep close through social media and mobile apps. Schools convene over e-learning platforms. Small-group Bible studies pray and praise over Zoom. The church that streams together stays together.

There are reasons for caution when it comes to the uses of technology. The glowing screen can so captivate our attention that we have little left for matters of the soul. The constant consumption of entertainment can dull the deeper senses and atrophy the musculature of the spirit. Technologies can serve in so many ways for trafficking sin or delivering death or impoverishing our years of the full height and depth of life.

And yet, technology is a tool, and God himself gave us the gifts to devise it. The same technology that delivers depravity can also carry the gospel. The technology that lays cities to waste also empowers the world. The technology that broadcasts hatred and ignorance can also encourage love and coordinate its actions. The church has made use of countless technologies to spread the word of God, to heal the sick, and to serve the poor. Should we not give thanks for these things?

Monastic practices filled the lives of monks and nuns with habitual reminders of the lordship and love of God. The cross above the doorway. The ringing of the bell in the chapel. The daily offices serve many times a day as a sort of rhythmic remembrance to practice the presence of God…(Click here to read the rest of this devotion.)

PRAYER: If our hours are to be filled with these technologies, O Lord, let them carry our thoughts toward you. Let us thank you now for breathing intelligence and ingenuity into your children, giving them dreams and visions and talents, so we might use these technologies to maintain our fellowship and continue the work you give us to do. And when at last we have tests and treatments and vaccines, may we thank not only the technologists behind them but the Creator behind the technologists who filled them with such immaculate skill. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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DayBreaks for 4/27/20 – The Hallway Through the Sea #22 – To Those Who’ve Lost Loved Ones

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DayBreaks for 4/27/20: The Hallway Through the Sea, #22 – To Those Who’ve Lost Loved Ones

The following is the latest in a series of daily meditations amid the pandemic from Christianity Today. Today’s installment comes from Daniel Harrell, editor in chief. For our musical pairing, we introduce you to Scottish fiddler Hanneke Cassel and her compilation of joy from fellow fiddlers worldwide, “Pure Dead Brilliant Livestream Finale.” All songs for this series have been gathered into a Spotify playlist.

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. – 1 Thess. 4:13–14

Meditation 22. 2,761,121 confirmed cases, 193,671 deaths globally.

When you’ve lost someone you love, the grief books say to make plans for holidays and birthdays and other important dates. Be ready to be overwhelmed by emotion and memories and the throbbing pain of loss.

When it came to my first wedding anniversary after my beloved wife, Dawn, died of pancreas cancer, I wanted to mark it well. Dawn and I differed on how to do this when she was alive. I was always a “celebrate the actual date” person while she was more of a proximity celebrator: Wait for the weekend and the babysitter to do it right. At the same time, right did not necessarily mean extravagant. Dawn was both Scottish and the daughter of missionaries. Doing it right usually included doing it cheap. Not me. I liked to splurge. Fancy dinner out. A show, a trip, something new, flowers and earrings, rent a convertible, dress up, make it memorable.

Dawn was usually game and always a good sport—but deep down she longed for more than any singular moment would provide. She craved continuity, integration, connection, emotion, and internality. As I read through her journals after she died, I saw she wrote and wrote about her passions and core loves, her spiritual crests and crashes—but not one single sentence about our “memorable moments,” no mention of an anniversary, birthday, or holiday. The deeper places were where the significance lay.

I remember a sermon on the Israelites crossing the Jordan in the Book of Joshua—a moment in time with potential for either transformation or tragedy. Bewildering is how much the Promised Land on the other side of the river can look just like the desert side left behind. (This is true, I’ve seen it while in Israel. It’s desert on both sides of the Jordan.) The sermon went on about our need to move forward despite the lure to turn and go back. With death and loss, there is no going back, no matter how much you’d give for just one minute more of the way life was.

Søren Kierkegaard wrote, “Our life can only be understood backwards, but it has to be lived forwards.” In contrast to dreams and ideals, Kierkegaard (as an existentialist) emphasized existence: What is real and painful is more important than any ideal.

Though disposed toward despair, Kierkegaard nevertheless saw life’s hard reality as an invitation to faith. Not faith in the positive thinking or even the doctrinally coherent, but faith as that passionate commitment to Christ in the face of uncertainty, a risk of belief that demands loss of self for love’s sake. True love aims at the actual people in your life, not imaginary conceptualizations of how you believe or might wish these people should be. True love earnestly absorbs disappointments and overcomes faults as Christ has done in his love for us.

This requires a constant discipline of forgiveness. My wife wrote, “Forgiveness is agreeing to live with the consequences of another person’s sin. You are going to live with those consequences anyway whether you like it or not, so the only choice you have is whether you will do so in the bondage of bitterness or in the freedom of forgiveness. No one truly forgives without accepting and suffering the pain of another person’s sin. That can seem unfair and you may wonder where the justice is in it, but justice is found at the foot of the cross, which makes forgiveness legally and morally right.” … (Click here to read the rest of this devotion.)

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DayBreaks for 4/24/20: The Hallway through the Sea #21 – The Lord Gives and the Lord Takes

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DayBreaks for 4/24/20: The Hallway Through the Sea, #21 – The Lord Gives and the Lord Takes

The following is the latest in a series of daily meditations amid the pandemic. For today’s musical pairing, we return to Ezio Bosso for “Bitter and Sweet.” All songs for this series have been gathered into a Spotify playlist.

At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.’ In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. – Job 1:20–22

Meditation 21. 2,682,225 confirmed cases, 187,330 deaths globally.

A friend and I had arrived at the monastery in upstate New York as the sun was setting over the fields and into the rustling woods. We joined the brothers for their evening meal. A little more than five years had passed since I had broken my neck in a gymnastics accident. I was still learning how to live with chronic pain.

“Don’t say that God gave you pain,” one of the monks advised over dinner that night. “Say that God can bring something good out of it.”

I thanked him for his thoughts, but I wrestled with those words for the length of my stay. In fact, those words have led me over the decades since to ask countless questions into the dark.

Part of me wanted to agree. God doesn’t make beautiful things broken. He makes broken things beautiful. God is not the beginning of suffering but its end. We have filled the world with affliction and we stumble into it ourselves; God did not make that path, but he carves a path through suffering and from suffering into embrace with him.

Another part of me differed. Does not Job ascribe both his blessings and his sufferings to the hand of God? Of course, readers of the Book of Job are privy to the heavenly deliberations preceding the calamity that falls upon his head. We know the question of causation is more complicated, and perhaps we shouldn’t build our theology around the outcry of a broken man. But there’s something bracing in Job’s directness and courage. The Lord gives. The Lord takes. He charged God with doing. He just didn’t charge God with wrongdoing.

Also, perhaps it was wrong of me, but I wanted my pain to come from God. Then it would not merely be that a purpose could be extracted from the situation. It would be that it had a purpose in the first place. In an odd way, my thorn in the flesh had become precious to me. I wanted it to be the same all-loving God who set the stars in their places who also, at just the right time, in just the right way, set my thorn in its place, too…(Click here to read the rest of this devotion.)

PRAYER: As we walk through a season of suffering, O Lord, we thank you for the example of Job. You love the seekers, the askers of questions, the men and women who stand before the whirlwind and press for answers. We know there is truth in the proposition that you do not will these sufferings, but they flow from sin and from a world broken by it. Yet we also know there is truth in the opposite. Sufferings arise in the order you ordain, the world you sustain. You willed all of time and space before it came to be.

Help us, O Lord, like Job, to sit down and mourn and lament. Help us not to shy away from seeing your hand at work in this moment. Help us to make peace with the thorns in our flesh, to weep over them, to learn from them, and always to praise your name whatever may come. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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DayBreaks for 4/22/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #20 – The God of Small Things

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DayBreaks for 4/22/20: The Hallway Through the Sea, #20 – The God of Small Things

The following is the latest in a series of daily meditations amid the pandemic. For today’s musical pairing, try Anastasiya Petryshak’s performance of Schubert’s Ave Maria.” All songs for this series have been gathered into a Spotify playlist.

Then the word of the Lord came to me: ‘The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you. Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the Lord that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?’ – Zechariah 4:8–10

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. … See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is throw into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? – Matthew 6:25–26, 28–30

Meditation 20. 2,544,769 confirmed cases, 175,621 deaths globally.

It was midnight when I made my way into the center of the Old City of Jerusalem. The clouds were low and impenetrable. Golden light flooded the Western Wall Plaza, which was filled with Jews in all manner of dress chanting and singing in lament. It was a day of mourning, written into the Jewish calendar. Surrounded by the intensity of their cries and weeping, beneath the mount where the temple and the Holy of Holies once stood, it felt as though I stood at the beating heart of the universe.

I wonder how it felt to the Israelites when they returned from their exile and found their city and their temple in ruins. When they began to rebuild, when they set the foundation, it must have seemed so paltry and miniscule compared to the temple that was remembered in the collective consciousness of their people. Some were glad to see a beginning made, but others groaned that the beginning was too modest. Do not “despise the day of small things,” God tells the prophet Zechariah. Unless you place the first stone, you cannot place the last.

The prophet heard right. Zerubbabel restored the temple. It stood for nearly six centuries, expanded by the Hasmoneans and most famously by Herod the Great. By the time Jesus taught the Sermon on the Mount in the hills over the Sea of Galilee, it was one of the most renowned structures in the entire world.

Do not be anxious over your food or over your clothing, Jesus taught upon that hillside. God cares about these things for you. He cares about the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. How much more will he care about your needs, even those that seem small and insignificant in the grand scheme?

Two thousand years later, we may find ourselves wondering whether God still cares for the flowers and the birds…(Click here to read the rest of this meditation.)

PRAYER: Help us, O Lord, to exercise that particular expression of faith of believing you care about even the most minute matters. They matter to you when they matter to us.  Help us also to have faith that even the small things can become great things in time. Even the most monumental works are modest at first. May we find those small beginnings now, where we can build stone upon stone until we have constructed something that will endure to your glory for generations. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

PRAYER: Until then, O Lord, may our season of solitude bear fruit in the lives of those we love, even those we cannot be with. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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