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Sabrina Gauer

Faith, Life & The Journey

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Christmas

Steady As She Goes

“Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.” – James 5:11

Last year, at this time, as Christmas music played in my apartment and I decorated as much as I could (and rearranged my furniture, with my sister’s help, because I was going stir-crazy!), I was still in a state of shock and trying to comprehend my “new normal”. I was still doing speech therapy, still healing from the surgery, just beginning to eat solid foods and had graduated to gentle chewing, physical therapy, and so much rest.

The future seemed blank. I had no idea how the next year would unfold. There were so many beautiful things still to come…but at that moment, as we pushed my couch to the opposite wall and hung the lights on the tree, I was completely in the dark.

I’m what you might call an “avid journaler”. I figure life out on paper; writing my jumbled thoughts into cohesive sentences, copying down favorite quotes or Bible verses, immortalizing moments in time with ink. It’s a pastime and a habit that I refuse to quit. Being able to lookwalkinthewoods back on situations or circumstances to see how God worked…to realize the truth hidden within the moments…to understand, as best I can, grace and mercy and sovereignty.

Wonder if Job felt the same way?

Job had a life worth being envious of. He was rich, blessed, and famous. He was THE man everyone wished they could be. But on top of that, he was wholly devoted to God. He even secured a whole book in the Bible named after him!

But his life wasn’t without hardship.

When Satan decided to test the waters of Job’s loyalty to the Lord, Job experienced huge losses: his children were killed in a freak storm and his land was completely devastated. But he still remained faithful. So the Enemy attacked him physically, causing chronic pain and illness that drove him to his knees, crying out for answers. As Lysa TerKeurst (Proverbs 31 Ministries) puts it so well, “Satan wants us to believe the lie that if our circumstances fall apart, then so will we.” 

But he never once turned away from God, even when he was laying in the dust, skin covered in boils, and considered cursed by all who knew him.

In the end, Job received the compassion and mercy that James mentions later on in the New Testament. Job’s life was restored, and all that the Enemy had taken was returned to him- at an even greater capacity and blessing than he had before. God had a purpose in the pain, and Job’s suffering was redeemed.

But in the midst of the struggle, although we can read ahead and see how God worked it all out, Job couldn’t see the ending of the story. All he knew was the reality of the moment, and how bleak it all seemed to be.

I’ve been there.

When the reality of the moment seems like gigantic weight that we simply can’t bear much longer, when our bodies betray us with illness or disease, when our finances are making our stomach twist and keeping us awake at night, when the vision or dream has died, when our relationships fail, when we lose the ones we love…there are days we don’t have the strength to keep our head up.

But if our hope is in Christ alone, if we are children of God, if we believe that we have a glorious inheritance waiting for us and the best is yet to come…then we can trust that just as God worked out the future for Job, Esther, Ruth, the children of Israel, Mary (the mother of Jesus), Paul and the early church and countless other stories of His compassion, mercy, and faithfulness…

He’s going to pull through for you too.

It might seem impossible right now, and you might not have a clue about how He’s going to work it all out. But take heart. Stand firm. I know from personal experience, from reading chapters of my own testimony, from studying His Word, that He is just as true to His promises today as He was for those who put their hope in Him thousands of years ago. Our God never changes, never wavers, never fails us.

So this Christmas, as I celebrate in a new home, fully healed, in a completely different place than I was last year, I’m more than confident that the baby in the manger who we sing about (and many times gloss over in the hustle and bustle of the season) is the same Savior and Lord that I serve today. And I know that I can trust His plan and purpose for everything in this life- even when I don’t understand.

I can’t skip ahead to read the end of my story, but I know the One who is writing it. And that His glory is revealed every step of the way.

Being Thankful Project- Caregivers

“I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers.” – Philemon 1:4

Welcome to week one of the Being Thankful Project.

It’s November, so naturally, everyone’s got Thanksgiving on the brain. Yes, that means literal pounds of food and family gatherings; the gateway to the Christmas season (aka, my favorite time of year!!!)…but this year, I want to be intentional about how I spend this month. I want to be intentional about where I set my mind and dwell in a place of thankfulness.

I’m a complainer. I admit it. It’s always too hot, too cold (okay, it’s ALWAYS too cold…haha), or I’m hungry, bored, tired, annoyed, frustrated…ew. This needs to stop. I want to rewire my brain into a spirit of grace and thanksgiving, and give the credit where credit is due: to God, the provider of this life that I am very privileged to have.

So, I decided to share my Being Thankful Project with you. Over the next couple of weeks, I am going to be posting about thankfulness and the specific role that plays in my life and circumstances. This week (because November is also National Caregivers’ Month), I am thankful for the people in my life who have taken care of me and supported me throughout the past year.

The word “support” can be defined as a verb and as a noun; it means “to bear all or part of the weight, to hold upright”. Caregivers are human support columns. And caregivers have a heavy burden on their shoulders. It takes a beautiful person and a gracious soul to stick with you when you’re sick, recovering, sometimes not “all there” due to medications or pain, when you need ’round the clock care, when you aren’t able to sleep and they stay up with you to keep you company, when all that is available to sleep on is a hard hospital chair. Making meals, assuring that you have your medication on time, wrapping and tending to wounds, helping you do basic things you’ve been doing independently since childhood.

Every single one of my needs was cared for, loved on, and patiently endured– especially when I was being unbearable. One of the people who I am thankful for is my mother. She cared for my dad while he was sick for years and then spent over six months in the hospital living there with him, only to turn around a few years later to care for me as I battled cancer (she also gave birth to me…so I guess I am forever in her debt, haha). I have been so blessed to have such an incredible support system and titanium-strong family unit, I sometimes take it all for granted…I will never know what it’s like to NOT have someone there for me. And for that, I am so grateful. 

This week, I challenge you to look around at your support system. Maybe you aren’t going through a sickness, but who can you lean on when times are hard? Who is there for you through thick and thin, unconditionally? Take time this week to appreciate those who love you and stand by you– thank God for them always!

 

This is Christmas

There is something about this time of year that makes me feel as if I have a warm blanket of happiness wrapped around my heart. Maybe it’s my heightened gratefulness for life that is making everything seem brighter, warmer and more exciting this year. But the moment I plunged my arms elbow-deep into my boxes of Christmas decorations and smelled the familiar cinnamon and spice from candles stored away from last year, I wanted to remember and take a deep breath of everything.

This Christmas, the things I want are non-material. I have a personal list, but here are my top five:

  1. To be surrounded by those I love

This year has been the hardest season I’ve ever had to endure. But I have been blessed through it all with an amazing family and friends who have held me, stood with me in prayer and in strength, and I want to just spend time with those who have really been an example of God’s love and grace.

2. To rest and relax

Even though this has been a season of forced rest, I have decided to fully surrender and be renewed by it. I want to experience healing and restoration this Christmas, and be able to stand tall into the new year and say, “See what God has done? The glory is all His!” 30635_The_Greenhouse

3. To believe again

I want to hear God’s voice as He leads and opens doors. I want to see those dreams I had locked up in my heart be dusted off and given new life.

4. To give back

Making a meal with a friend, sitting on the couch with a hot cup of tea, letting our laughter and heart-sharing be the best medicine for the both of us. I want to find ways to bless others in meaningful, soul-fueling ways. God has allowed me to have some of the deepest, enduring and life-giving friendships, and I never want to take them for granted.

5. To really reflect on Christ and the reason we celebrate Christmas

From Advent devotionals to worship songs with a Christmas message, I’m determined to focus on Jesus and the incredible story of His birth. To think that God came in the flesh to save a dying world from itself…Christmas is a season of miracles and sacrificial love at its core.

I pray your holiday season is filled with shining eyes, laughter, glitter, beauty and above all—the hope that comes from the love of Christ. Merry Christmas.

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