“And He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over” . Mark 5:34
21 years ago, this spring, my husband and I lost a baby to a miscarriage. We had named the baby Hope shortly after discovering we were expecting. God’s grace surrounded us during that terrible time when we realized that the baby was not going to live. We grieved the loss of this fifth child. Though we grieved, we still had peace and hope because we believed our baby was in the arms of Jesus and God still had a good plan for us.
The following spring brought us a baby boy who would be our fifth child here on earth. We were delighted! His middle name, Zachary (meaning “God remembers”), reflected the promise we believed that God had not forgotten us. Our Graham Zachary was and is a joy to our family!
We read in Mark’s gospel about a woman who had lost all hope because of a severe health condition that caused her to have a constant hemorrhage for 12 years. Twelve years is a long time! This woman “had suffered a great deal from many doctors through the years and had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had not gotten better. In fact, she was worse” (Mark 5:26 NLT).
If you have ever had difficulty receiving a diagnosis, much less a cure, you know that it is emotionally and mentally draining. Plus, you are suffering physically, so discouragement often becomes your closest companion.
When this woman heard about Jesus, a spark of hope compelled her to go find him. Jesus was walking down a street, surrounded by a throng of people. As He was walking, Jesus felt power leave him. The sick woman had touched the hem of Jesus’ garment. She was instantly healed and she knew it!
Jesus stopped in the street. Looking around at the crowd, He asked, “Who touched Me?” The disciples thought this a ridiculous question. There were people all around Him; lots of people were touching Him. But Jesus knew that something had happened.
Mark tells us that the woman was frightened. I imagine she had a mental battle raging, wondering what would happen if she confessed the truth. Would Jesus take back the healing she had just received? Would she then be subject to more years of suffering?
The woman stepped forward and admitted her act; she had touched Jesus. And then Jesus looked at her and said these words: “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. You have been healed” (Mark 5:34).
Jesus confirmed what the woman already knew; she had been healed! But Jesus’ words did more than confirm; His words meant that He knew all about her and He wanted healing for her. He wanted her to live in peace. She would never have to doubt that the healing would one day disappear or that she would be “found out” or hunted down for her miracle healing to be revoked. She truly could walk away and live in peace.
Jesus is the Peace of God (Ephesians 2:14). Peace is part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). And when we have the peace of God, we also have hope. During this time of uncertainty in the world, we need the peace of Jesus. And His peace is a gift we can share with others. Embrace God’s peace and pray God’s peace for others around the world.
"Taste and see that the Lord is good."
When Bill and I were raising our four children, I often commented that the Lord would use situations in their lives to open my eyes and teach me things about myself and my relationship with Him as His child. Now He allows me to learn from our precious grandchildren...
This past Thanksgiving, we were all at the dining room table and each of us were sharing things we were thankful for in our lives. One of the last ones to share was our four year old granddaughter. She very intentionally and slowly gazed at each one of us at the table before answering, “Right now.”
In that moment, the words of this precious one were used by God to do a work deep into my soul. I can’t tell you how many times the Lord has brought those two simple, yet profound words back to my mind. They have caused life change for me. How you ask? My granddaughter was fully present in that moment and was taking time to drink in what was right in front of her.
A few questions for our hearts today, “Do we practice being fully present in our day to day activities?” In our flesh we tend to move from one thing to the next. We may even do a mental check off of the present activity before it is even completed.
Are we so bound by our thoughts throughout the day that we are unaware of treasures right in front of us? Are we missing the gifts found in a smile, a vibrantly colored flower, the smell of rain, a sweet encouraging text? God’s loving touches throughout the day are immeasurable!
How can we more consistently and fully engage in the “Right Now”? The best place to begin is by spending time each morning with the Lord in The Word and prayer. I challenge you to begin your time with the Lord by meditating on a verse; this will help you leave behind the distractions and the difficulties of the day.
One of my favorites is Psalm 46:10a, “Be still and know that I am God.” The practice of meditating on Scripture brings our hearts to a place of praise and a ready heart to hear from Him in the Bible. When we are fully present with Him, He will guide us and speak to our hearts.
It does’t mean we will be without challenges, but as our minds are trusting Him, we will be freed up to be more aware of the blessings all around us.
Another way to more fully engage in “Right Now” is to begin enjoying the beautiful gifts the Lord offers us. Write down 5-10 things a day in which to be thankful. I challenge you not to repeat what you wrote down, causing you to look for new blessings each day.
These gifts demonstrate His incredible love for us. The problem is that many times we don’t stop to unwrap them, giving thanks and seeing His hand in them. Psalm 34:8 tells us to, "Taste and see that the Lord is good."
Experience Him with your five senses.
Why not begin "Right Now!"
My three year old son and I often go on walks around our neighborhood. Throughout certain times of the year, our neighbors put up outdoor decorations for the season. However, as the seasons change, the decorations come down. One day, when we started on our walk, my son asked me, “Mom, where did the decorations go?” I explained that they were put away because the seasons were changing; yet as we continued on our walk, and saw more houses without decorations, he kept asking me the same question. As I continued to give him the same answer, I was wondering to myself why he kept asking me that over and over, knowing what I was going to say. In that moment, God opened my eyes to the fact that I am just like my son. I often find myself asking God the same questions over and over again, even though He’s already given me the answers. Some of these questions are things like, “Why did You let that happen?” “Do You hear my prayers?” or “Do You even care that my heart is breaking?”
The answers to all these questions are found in God’s Word and although they remain the same, we continue to ask the same questions. Most of the time, we don’t get exact answers to our questions, but these truths are the only answers we need. When we wonder why He allows something bad to happen, He answers us in Romans 8:28: “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.” When we doubt He hears our prayers, He lovingly tells us in Psalm 34:15, “The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and His ears toward their cry.” And when we wonder if He cares about us, we’re reminded in John 3:16: “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.”
It’s easy to memorize and say these truths, but we have to take it a step further and believe them. Oftentimes, we don’t believe them because we don’t feel like they’re true when tragedy strikes. Thankfully, God and His word never change and their validity is not based on how we feel about them. They are ALWAYS true!
As my son and I were finishing our walk that day, he randomly said to me, “I know why the decorations are put away,” and he repeated the exact answer I told him five times. My heart was so happy when I realized that he heard and accepted the truth of what I told him. Like my son, I want to stop questioning God when bad things happen, and instead believe and claim the truths of God’s word.
"No, in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us. Romans 8:37
February was tough. Actually, that is putting it lightly. February was downright difficult, and frankly, I am wanting a redo. You see, I struggle with depression, have for most of my life. Last month it was all consuming. It took everything inside of me to push the darkness away and get out of bed. I would like to admit that I was successful every day in doing so, but that would not be telling the truth. There were days when I gave into the darkness and allowed the enemy of my soul a victory.
This past weekend, the darkness began to fade, and I could see the light coming back into my heart. As I was having my quiet time with the Lord, I asked Him what was different about today. Why was my heart lighter? His answer came in a song and a whisper. Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim. In the light of His glory and grace. The lyrics of this song flooded my heart as God gently whispered, “Sarah, my child, you forgot to find your strength in Me. You forgot your battle plan."
A year ago, God gave me a specific battle plan to fight the depression and it is found in Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV)…
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests."
When the darkness of depression begins to creep in, I stop and pray the armor of God over myself. I literally touch each part of my body as I claim, out loud, the power of God's words in these verses. I also have scripture that goes with each piece of armor that speaks the truth about who I am in Christ, who God is in my life, captivating my thoughts, abiding in joy, and living in peace. And you know what happens when I do this? Satan has to flee. The depression has to flee. My focus is back on Christ and the day becomes easier to face. Why? Because I am more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus. And so are you! Whatever battle you are facing today, have a specific battle plan ready so you can fight victoriously through the strength of Jesus. Hebrews 13:5 says that Jesus will never leave or forsake us. Hold on tight to that promise!
When Jesus saw their faith, He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven”
Who are your friends? When I was 12 years old, I went shopping with a few friends. In one of the stores there was a table with jewelry on it. The most eye-catching pieces were bracelets made of twisted and curved wire that spelled out names. (At that time, they were new and unique!) I was excited because several bracelets spelled my name! My friends wanted me to get one - actually, they encouraged me, well…they challenged me to get one by sticking it in my pocket and taking it!
Fast forward several years to a time when I was telling a friend (not one who was shopping with me!) that I was taking my 6-year old daughter to the doctor for results of a severe infection and we were concerned about the outcome. My friend, Donna, replied, “I will be on my knees praying for you.” And she was! Another time, my friend, Kim, repeatedly listened to the difficult situation that I was experiencing and rather than let me focus on myself or my problems redirected my focus by asking, “God is always at work, where do you see Him working right now?” These two friends listened and encouraged me to focus on Jesus; encouraging a life of faith and trust and NOT a life of crime!
In Luke 2:17-26, we see a beautiful picture of true friendship. Jesus was teaching in a house and people traveled from every town of Galilee, Judea and Jerusalem to be near Him “and the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick” (vs 17). Four friends carried their paralyzed friend on a mat to see Jesus. The house was overflowing with people and there was no way to get through the crowd to get to Jesus - but these friends persevered! They went up onto the housetop, made an opening in the roof and lowered their friend right in front of Jesus!
Scripture never said that this man wanted to be healed or believed he could be healed. It doesn't even say that he asked his friends to take him to Jesus. What we do know is that these friends had faith that Jesus could heal him; they loved their friend enough that they were willing to get involved and carried him to the feet of Jesus, the Healer.
“When Jesus saw their “friends’” faith, He said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven….I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’ Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God” (Luke 5:20, 24 NIV). The faith of these friends led to their action of taking their paralytic friend to Jesus and he was healed, then “everyone was amazed and gave praise to God” (vs 25).
Friends are very influential - they can either encourage us away from Jesus or toward Jesus. Do you have a friend or family member who is hurting or going in the wrong direction and isn’t asking for help? Through prayer, you can be the friend who carries them to the feet of Jesus.
(By the way, in case you are wondering, I did NOT steal a bracelet! Over the years, I have wondered how my life would have changed if I had given into peer pressure that day.)
My precious husband, Bill, and I have been planted in Fort Myers, Florida for almost 35 years. As a newly married couple, God most graciously had placed people in both of our jobs to share Christ with us. Its hard to believe it has been almost 34 years since we asked Jesus into our hearts! Bill and I have been blessed with four children, 3 daughters, then a son. These blessings came quickly, all within 6 years!! During these years I'm so thankful I was able to be part of women's ministry classes at our church, helping me to grow in my walk with Him. Then came the day when I was asked that question that stretched me way outside of my comfort zone...will you teach a class? Its hard to believe that I have now been teaching more than 20 years. Bill and I love to travel, most of the time going to visit our 9 grandchildren, oh ya, and their parents! I also love reading, walking and hanging out with some very special young moms in Beloved that bless my socks off!
Julie is a Kansas girl who resides in sunny Southwest Florida. She's been married to her husband Sean for 23 years and they share two boys ages 21 & 17. She enjoys baking and biking, but her absolute favorite thing is snow skiing which is a little difficult to do in a sandy 80 degree land.
She became a follower of Christ at age 10. She loves studying and teaching God's Word. She has a passion for encouraging moms to love and follow Jesus.
Beth grew up in a loving home; however, in her early 20s she faced a very lonely time. During that time, she cried out to God and asked “If You are real, please show yourself to me!” God met her where she was and she trusted in the Lord Jesus at that time. Her life verse and desire is “no matter what happens, to conduct herself in a manner worthy of the gospel.” Philippians 1:27
Beth now resides in Tampa, Florida with her husband Larry. The Lord has blessed them by blending their family of five children. They currently have eight grandchildren and are hoping that there will be more grandchildren in the future.
Donna accepted Jesus as her Savior at the age of nine and has been amazed at God’s goodness and faithfulness throughout her life. She has been blessed to have had many mentors through each season of life, who have shown her what trusting God looks like. Donna and her husband, Bryan, have five children, one son-in-law, one soon to be daughter-in-law, and one wonderful grandson. Donna and Bryan have recently moved back to their home state of Arkansas after livingin southeast Alabama the past 23 years. Donna enjoys spending time with her family, laughing with friends (usually over coffee), going for long walks with her husband, and reading a good book (which may also be accompanied by a cup of coffee).
Sarah is a true Florida Cracker. She was born and raised in Southwest Florida. At the age of 6, Sarah accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior, and she hasn't looked back since. Hebrews 13:8 is one of her favorite verses, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." Eating delicious desserts, spending time with her family and friends, and teaching people about Jesus are a few of the things she enjoys to do in her spare time.
Sarah has been married to her best friend and husband, Brandon, for 7 years. They have been blessed with one beautiful, determined son, Asher, who keeps them on their toes. Sarah and her family live in the Tampa area. They love exploring their community together, family hugs, and eating pizza whenever possible.
Katie Flint just recently moved back home to Fort Myers, Florida with her husband, Ryan and two children, Collins and Madden. At the age of 5, Katie accepted Jesus Christ to be the Lord and Savior of her life, after attending Vacation Bible School. Through each phase of her life, God has shown her that He alone is trustworthy. The verse that has been her life source is Psalm 46:10- “Be still and know that I am God.”
She is a stay-at-home mom and enjoys exercising and baking. She has been married to her husband Ryan for almost 9 years, who is her high school sweetheart. They enjoy trying new restaurants, family trips to the beach, and relaxing at home.
Marsha grew up in a small rural town in upstate New York. In 2006, after finishing college, she moved to sunny SW Florida where she met her, now husband, Shawn. Together they enjoy spending family time with their two fun-loving toddler boys Zachariah and Kairos.
Marsha enjoys living an active lifestyle, which is helpful, considering that her favorite hobby is baking.
Though she attended church as a child, Marsha was not saved until adulthood when her eyes were finally opened to the love and mercy of Jesus Christ.
Since being saved, God has placed a loving burden on her heart to share the truth about God’s healing grace with those who may feel like forgiveness is not possible for them.