Tag Archives: assurance

Heaviness of My Soul, and Psalm 42

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, July 27, 2017

psalm 42-11 help of my countenance

Heaviness of My Soul, and Psalm 42

Have you ever been full of doubt? Downhearted, depressed and hopeless? Completely lost, with everything collapsing around you? Yeah … me, too.

That was what I dealt with for years. (Seriously, yes.) For years, I would struggle to pray, struggle with my doubts, and especially struggle with any knowledge that God was remembering me, at all. It was almost a daily struggle, for many, many months. For years, at times.

That was how the psalmist felt, too. (This psalm was written by one of the sons of Korah, so we are not sure exactly who wrote it.)

Our psalmist was of two minds as he wrote this. Sure, he told about his assurance in the Lord, and how he trusted in God. He wrote of how much the Lord would help him, and how he would pray to God regularly. On the other hand—he also poured out his heart, and confessed his doubts, his fears, his heaviness. He would mention how much his enemies oppressed him, and how far away from him he felt God was. (Yes, very far.)

And, yet … and, yet …

Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes “Whoever has found God in the cross of Jesus Christ knows how mysteriously God hides himself in this world, and how, when we believe him farthest away, he is just there beside us.” [1]

Some might call this a paradox, others might say it is the mysterious, sometimes unfathomable nature of God. Note the closing verse of Psalm 42: “Put your trust in God; for I will yet give thanks to him, who is the help of my countenance, and my God.”

I have trust in Bonhoeffer’s closing in this mini-commentary: “He will be the help of your countenance; because he knows you and loved you before he made you, He will not let you fall. You are in his hands.” [2] I take heart in this assurance. Pastor Dietrich affirmed this blessed truth. He certainly had a good deal of challenge and hardship in his life. However, he made it through his struggles and trials. Bonhoeffer continued to thank God for being there for him and with him.

Dear Lord, help me do the same. Please, Lord.


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 60.

[2] Ibid, 61.

PEACE: Knowing God is in Control!

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, March 10, 2016


PEACE: Knowing God is in Control!

Today we have another definition from the North Shore Assembly of God in Skokie. (If you remember, I discussed the division and animosity becoming so prevalent in the public discourse.) Again, I took the opportunity to ask each one about their personal definition of PEACE. I got more fascinating definitions! Here is one from Pam Swamy: “PEACE is knowing God is in control, and whatever happens, I trust Him!”

Pam had what some at her church would say is a powerful testimony! Here is just a bit of it.

Some time ago, Pam went to the doctor for a regular gynecological exam. The doctor found an ovarian cyst. She went through the treatments for cancer. All the while, she had a deep feeling that the Lord was with her in a powerful manner. She had peace throughout her “insides.”

Years later, when Pam was diagnosed with breast cancer, she felt, “God is in control. I felt strongly that it’s my job to trust Him. And, I do!” She never said, “why me?” This is the path she is walking. She very much feels her position as a daughter of the most High God.

Wow. Double wow. That is what PEACE means to Pam. I thanked her so much for her testimony, for her words, and for her personal definition.

I am hard put to it to come up with fitting words to comment on Pam’s testimony. Except—I praise God for Pam and her gracious words, her praise-worthy definition of PEACE. How wonderful to have that assurance, to know that God is with her, no matter what.

Thank You, God, for wonderful people like Pam who have such words of assurance. And PEACE. Amen and amen.


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

PEACE – Knowing Christ is in Me

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, February 24, 2016


PEACE – Knowing Christ is in Me

Another day for me to sincerely apologize. I had a malfunction with my digital camera happen on Sunday, at Bethesda Worship Center. Again, I’d like to express sadness that I have no photos of any of the dear people who were so kind to pose with their personal definitions of PEACE. I thank Pastor Chuck for being willing to offer his smart phone as a last-minute replacement! (Sadly, my advanced-beginner expertise with social media is showing … in that I couldn’t get the dratted thing to send photos!)

However, I am continuing to post the sheets of paper on which these dear people wrote their definitions! So, for the next few days—and definitions—I will be posting the sheets by themselves.

The next definition comes from a gentleman who had a marvelous view of PEACE. Nick Kokoraleis’s definition was PEACE is knowing that Christ is in me.

It took Nick a little while to process my question: “What is PEACE, to you?” He told me, hesitantly, that he sometimes had difficulty responding in a quick manner. I let him know that he could take as much time as he needed! After reflecting on the question, he formulated his response in an excellent way. (As we can see, above.)

Pastor Chuck saw Nick’s response. He nodded, and said, “Nick is a wise man.” He sometimes has difficulties and challenges in his dealings with some people (who are usually impatient, and get irritated very quickly). Yet, he is a thoughtful, kind man, who is occasionally misunderstood. Thank you, Nick, for an excellent definition.

Dear Lord, thank You for Nick’s reminder. When I know that You are with me, in me, then I have the assurance of Your protection and care. Thank You, Lord.


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

Forgive Others? Why Should I Pray about That?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – January 22, 2015

FORGIVE as quickly as you want God to forgive

Forgive Others? Why Should I Pray about That?

I usually have no (or, very little) problem asking God to forgive me. That’s the easy part. I do that on a fairly regular basis.

Sure, I can readily admit falling short of the mark, saying nasty things to others, cutting off people in traffic on occasion, and especially thinking thoughts that are not pleasing to God. Yes. I sin in thought, word and deed, and I need to ask God to forgive me. And, I do this in prayer.

I can even ask other people to forgive me. Usually, that is. That is relatively straight-forward. However . . . the challenging part, the downright difficult part is where I say to other people, “I forgive you.” And, I need to do this on a regular basis, too. God says so.

Our prayer guide, Rev. Howell, shares his insight into forgiveness. “When Jesus taught the disciples to pray, He grabbed hold of vertical forgiveness, ‘O Lord, forgive me, for I have sinned,’ and nailed it to horizontal forgiveness, ‘… as we forgive those who trespass against us.’ Two interrelated acts of forgiveness, forming a cross.” [1] As Howell tells us, Jesus demonstrated forgiveness. He became forgiveness.

Part of the Assurance of Pardon in the liturgy of the Presbyterian Church (USA) reads, “In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.” It is in this God-given forgiveness that you and I find life and relationship, not only with God (vertically), but with other human beings, too (horizontally).

And to do this? I need to pray. God, give me the faith to come to You, the grace to rest in You, the assurance that I am loved by You, and the strength to go to others and say I forgive them, as I am forgiven by You. Amen.

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blog, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.

[1] James C. Howell, The Beautiful Work of Learning to Pray, (Nashville, TN, Abingdon Press: 2003), 73.

Jesus Loves Me, This I Know

matterofprayer blog post for Thursday, October 9, 2014

Jesus loves me, this I know

Jesus Loves Me, This I Know

As I was praying this morning, I read some more of a passage in the New Testament. I’ve been working through this extended passage for some three weeks. (With a hesitation/break included. You can read more about it in my previous blog post. http://wp.me/p43g3i-5u)

In my reading today, the scripture passage ended with 1 John 4:16a. I especially focused on the words of the first section of this verse. “So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.” I reflected on the fact that I came to realize, very early, that God loved me.

I grew up in an unchurched home in Chicago. My parents were born and raised Catholic, but they chose not to raise their children in any particular church. I still—to this day—don’t know exactly why I started to attend the Lutheran church in my neighborhood on the northwest side of Chicago, but I did attend, from a young age. And, I was blessed to be taught about God’s love by the pastor of that church. God is the Good Shepherd, One who loves me and takes care of me. (Thank you, Pastor Wold!) I learned that God’s love was “deep and wide,” and that “Jesus loves me.” I learned much more as I went through confirmation class, too.

This morning, I continued to reflect on how I came to begin to understand the amazing, boundless love of God. I also thought of people who don’t have a positive experience with God. Or, God’s love. They grow up with the idea of a punishing God. Or, a capricious God. Or, with absolutely no idea of God at all. This reflection brought me to tears. I realized how blessed I was, having had a concept of a loving, caring God in my life! This probably helped me through my turbulent teenage years. I shudder to think what my teens and twenties would have been like . . .

And now, knowing God intimately for as long as I have, I can no more think of a life without God than a life without breathing. Thank You, God!

Let’s pray. Dear God, thank You for leading me to You. I can’t even remember how I came to You, at first, but I did start. And, I kept attending church. Even though I wended and wandered in my way, even though we might not be faithful in gathering with Your flock, that doesn’t make any difference. You love us! You keep drawing us closer and closer to You. Thank You, Lord! Thanks for those lessons I had early in life. And, thanks for the continued assurance of Your love, caring and nurture. It’s in Jesus’ blessed name we pray, amen.


(also published at www.matterofprayer.net