Young plan sprouting from the ground with a quote pulled from the post.

When my world was coming undone and I wondered the streets of Tacoma, Washington, trying to numb my pain, I felt alone. I thought for sure God had turned His back on me, and honestly, I expected Him to. I certainly wasn’t doing anything to draw Him to me. To the contrary. My behavior had given Him every reason to walk away.

When my marriage was struggling and my husband quit his job mere months after moving our family across the country, far from the close-knit community we’d grown so attached to—I felt unseen then as well. Abandoned.

I told God, quite clearly, all about it. Actually, more accurately, I cried out, “Don’t you see, Lord?”

I’ve hurled that accusation at my Father numerous times throughout my life, only to later realize how inaccurate my perception was. In fact, more often than not, it was during those frightening and heart-wrenching moments that God was doing His greatest work. He was lovingly, carefully creating beauty from my rubble.

He saw me in my pain, in my mess, even in my rebellion. In each instance, His compassion moved Him to action and His action brought life.

This has always been Christ’s way. When others reject us, He seeks us out. When we’re betrayed, He stands beside us as our most loyal and ever-present friend. When life feels chaotic, He remains a firm, immovable rock beneath our feet. And He comes to us when we’re overwrought with despair.

Before we can even speak the word, He’s there.

Quote from post with sunrise background.

Just as He was, some two-thousand years for a poor widow who’d lost her only son. As a parent who adores her daughter, I can’t imagine the pain this woman felt as a mom. Agony exacerbated by her utterly destitute state. In her male-dominated society where the majority of women were completely dependent on men, her situation probably felt hopeless. Today’s equivalent of losing a child, a job, all resources, and your ability to work in one day.

Did she cry out for God’s miraculous intervention, His presence—prior to her son’s last breath or after?

Did she feel abandoned in her pain?

Or was her heart too broken for her mind to even form a cohesive thought, let alone for her to utter the words, “My God, please help.”

We don’t know how she did or didn’t respond, did or didn’t pray. And that is precisely why this account is so powerful.

Luke 7:11-13 states, “… Jesus went to a town called Nain, and His disciples and a large crowd went along with Him. 12 As He approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, His heart went out to her and He said, ‘Don’t cry’” (NIV).

Notice, the woman didn’t ask for His help. So consumed with her grief, she might not have even known Jesus had come to town. But He knew her and felt deep compassion for her pain. The original Greek literally means to be moved in one’s bowels. When was the last time something hit you so strongly, you experienced a gut reaction? As a mom, I’ve felt that way numerous times—times when my intense emotions for my beloved daughter elicited a physical reaction.

If you’re a parent, you can probably relate. Our hearts are intricately tied to our kids, am I right?

Just as, I believe, Christ’s heart is inseparably tied to ours.

This story assures us Christ sees and He cares. Our pain does much more than stir His emotions. It moves Him to action as well.

“Don’t cry,” He said. 14 “Then He went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” 15 The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother” (V. 14-15, NIV).

He met the woman in her pain, in her need, and brought life to what she and everyone else deemed irrevocably dead.

This story reminds me that no situation is so bleak that God’s light can’t break through.

Is there an area of your life that feels beyond hope? How does Jesus’s response to this grieving widow from Nain help breathe fresh life into your circumstances today?

Share your thoughts in the comments below, and make sure to connect with me on Facebook and Instagram.

For those following the chronological reading plan:

Week 16 Chronological reading plan

Before you go, make sure to listen to the latest Faith Over Fear podcast:

The Courage to Heal from Church Hurt – Ep. 75 Faith Over Fear

What happens when the places God designed to lead us closer to Him, to healing and wholeness, and freedom, become hurtful and toxic? When past hurts create present anxiety that make it challenging for us to enter church buildings, join community groups, and connect with Christ? Unfortunately, many people wrestle with these questions as they try to make sense of God. For those who have been wounded by people in positions of authority, it can be hard to untangle truth from human criticism and God’s character from the false representation of Him. In this episode, Minister Dawn Gentry, the Executive Director of Adult Ministries at Christ Community Church in Omaha, Nebraska, and Jennifer’s daughter, Ashley Chester, discuss some of the church hurts they’ve experienced and witnessed and how God helped them move toward increased wholeness and gave them the courage to overcome lies spoken into their hearts in order live for Him. Find Dawn Gentry at: https://followinggodanyway.com https://www.facebook.com/dawn.gentry2 https://www.instagram.com/gentry2987/ Find Jennifer: https://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com https://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte https://www.instagram.com/slatteryjennifer/ Find Wholly Loved, at: https://www.WhollyLoved.com Join the private Faith Over Fear Group Here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/442736966614671 Book Dawn mentioned: The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk Group Discussion Questions: 1. What resonated with you most in today’s episode? 2. Why do hurts related to faith hurt so deeply? 3. When have you been told, in the context of religion, that you’re not enough or that you’re “too much”? How did this make you feel? 4. How would you describe a toxic faith group? 5. How would you describe a healthy faith group? 6. When has a past hurt hindered your ability to attend church, join a group, or connect with God? 7. What are some healthy ways group members can respond to another member’s doubts or questions? 8. What are some unhealthy responses to someone’s doubts or questions? 9. What are some ways a person can begin to separate hurts they’ve experienced from the love of God? 10. Why is it important to always remember who we are in Christ? 11. What is one action step God is inviting you to take based on today’s episode? Episode Image Credit: Getty/Image_Jungle
  1. The Courage to Heal from Church Hurt – Ep. 75
  2. Introducing: Reframed The Power of Perspective
  3. Healing from Religious Abuse (with Philip Yancey) – Ep. 74
  4. The Courage to Seek Counseling – Ep. 73
  5. A Practical Resource to Battle Fear – Ep. 72

Fall lake image with quote on worry.

I struggle to remain focused on today, especially when I feel anxious. My mind can conjure too many what-if scenarios. Obviously all of my fretting doesn’t change whatever may lay ahead, but it does steal my energy and peace to handle my challenges well.

I so want to grow in this area, which is why I find my friend Victoria Mejias so inspiring. Whenever I encounter a woman of incredible faith, of consistent surrender, even during the hardest times, I pay attention. I watch, I listen, and I learn.

The devotion below is taken from a Bible plan written by Victoria for those struggling with chronic illness. Keep an eye out for her full Bible plan, releasing by Wholly Loved Ministries, soon!

Each Days Troubles

By Victoria Mejias

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34, NIV). 

“Day one: trouble eating, swallowing and severe fatigue. Day two: trouble walking and balance issues…” I wrote in my journal as my physician had instructed.

As if I don’t have enough physical ailments, I’m also highly allergic to the contrast used in diagnostic tests used to determine whether or not I’m experiencing a flare up of my chronic illness. So I’m left with taking copious notes and jotting down my symptoms on a daily basis.

Living with multiple sclerosis makes it difficult to plan ahead. As a single mom, I force myself to press on despite how I feel physically, mentally or emotionally. But my diagnosis isn’t just chronic, it’s progressive. Meaning my worst day in one week could be my best moving forward.

It’s exhausting and enough to drive anyone to despair. But I remind myself as I read the Apostle Matthew’s account of Christ’s words, “do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34, NIV). Upon reading that, I’m reminded not to be weighed down by any given day’s hardships. 

Imagine Christ, knowing full well the agony that awaited Him, saying not to worry. He embraced His fate, a barbaric crucifixion for our sake, being secure of His future. 

Chronic illness is real. Mine, in particular, is degenerative. One look at my journal would illustrate that. And still, I can remind myself not to worry. Not because tomorrow will be painless. Just the opposite, it’ll serve up its own special blend of trouble. 

But, it simply doesn’t compare to the glory we’ll experience on the other side of our physical suffering. And we can find comfort in knowing our eternity with Him awaits.

Get to Know Victoria!

Victoria Mejias serves on the Wholly Loved Ministry team in numerous capacities, from board member to writer. She’s a graduate of the University of Nebraska – Omaha and holds a Certificate in Urban Ministries from the Dallas Theological Seminary’s Urban Ministry Institute.

Victoria Mejias's headshot

She is a former Pastor and has spoken at a variety of venues on matters of leadership, diversity, spirituality and faith– locally, nationally and internationally. Victoria is the recipient of two U.S. Congressional awards for her service, has two children, loves the Lord and reaching the lost. She enjoys travel, arts and culture and speaks very openly about her journey with Multiple Sclerosis. To learn more about her, visit Victoria online at www.victoriaelizabeth.com.

Here more of Victoria’s story on episode four of my Faith Over Fear podcast, which you can find HERE.

Listen to the latest episode, A Prayer Challenge to Help You Fight Anxiety, here:

The Courage to Heal from Church Hurt – Ep. 75 Faith Over Fear

What happens when the places God designed to lead us closer to Him, to healing and wholeness, and freedom, become hurtful and toxic? When past hurts create present anxiety that make it challenging for us to enter church buildings, join community groups, and connect with Christ? Unfortunately, many people wrestle with these questions as they try to make sense of God. For those who have been wounded by people in positions of authority, it can be hard to untangle truth from human criticism and God’s character from the false representation of Him. In this episode, Minister Dawn Gentry, the Executive Director of Adult Ministries at Christ Community Church in Omaha, Nebraska, and Jennifer’s daughter, Ashley Chester, discuss some of the church hurts they’ve experienced and witnessed and how God helped them move toward increased wholeness and gave them the courage to overcome lies spoken into their hearts in order live for Him. Find Dawn Gentry at: https://followinggodanyway.com https://www.facebook.com/dawn.gentry2 https://www.instagram.com/gentry2987/ Find Jennifer: https://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com https://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte https://www.instagram.com/slatteryjennifer/ Find Wholly Loved, at: https://www.WhollyLoved.com Join the private Faith Over Fear Group Here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/442736966614671 Book Dawn mentioned: The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk Group Discussion Questions: 1. What resonated with you most in today’s episode? 2. Why do hurts related to faith hurt so deeply? 3. When have you been told, in the context of religion, that you’re not enough or that you’re “too much”? How did this make you feel? 4. How would you describe a toxic faith group? 5. How would you describe a healthy faith group? 6. When has a past hurt hindered your ability to attend church, join a group, or connect with God? 7. What are some healthy ways group members can respond to another member’s doubts or questions? 8. What are some unhealthy responses to someone’s doubts or questions? 9. What are some ways a person can begin to separate hurts they’ve experienced from the love of God? 10. Why is it important to always remember who we are in Christ? 11. What is one action step God is inviting you to take based on today’s episode? Episode Image Credit: Getty/Image_Jungle
  1. The Courage to Heal from Church Hurt – Ep. 75
  2. Introducing: Reframed The Power of Perspective
  3. Healing from Religious Abuse (with Philip Yancey) – Ep. 74
  4. The Courage to Seek Counseling – Ep. 73
  5. A Practical Resource to Battle Fear – Ep. 72

And, before you go, some fun news: Faith Over Fear will have three new hosts! My Wholly Loved sisters, Jodie Bailey, Shellie Arnold, and Tara Rye, will be joining me as cohosts, shifting the podcast under the Wholly Loved umbrella. More hosts mean more perspectives, more truth, and more fun! We’ll be launching, as a team, with a series we’re super excited about: Women of the Bible: Their challenges, hurts, what they might have feared, and how God met them with love and grace.