Has anything scary or bad ever happened to you?
Did something good come from this?
Share this story (or substitute your own)!
There was a little girl named Joni (pronounced Johnnye). She loved riding horses and swimming and running around with her friends. One day, she went swimming and dove into the ocean. The thing is, she didn’t know that the water was really shallow and she broke her neck and became paralyzed. This was something that seemed so bad. And she was angry. And she was sad. And she even doubted God sometimes. And that’s okay sometimes. When we question, we search for answers, and that makes us grow. And it’s okay to be angry as long as we don’t lash out with it. But God had a beautiful plan for Joni. Joni learned to express herself through painting. She started selling her artwork. God had even more in store for her. She began to reach out to other people who needed help. She started programs to refurbish and restore wheelchairs for people who might not be able to afford the kind that they need otherwise. The wheelchairs are collected and fixed by people in prison and then given to people who need them. In doing this, she helps other work through their problems and situations. She lets the people who receive the chairs and the prisoners know that God loves them and has a plan for them. The prison inmates can’t do a whole lot because they are in prison, but they can restore these wheelchairs. Joni can’t move her arms, but she can move her head and her shoulders, and has used this and her story to inspire millions of people.
Summarized from Wikipedia: Joni Eareckson Tada
And there are people like this everywhere. Some people are physically injured. Some people don’t feel loved. Some people have bad things happen to them. It’s not easy to remember to hang in there, and we don’t always feel God’s love. This is normal. But don’t give up, because God has something beautiful planned for each life.
Isaiah talks about God working in our lives to give us something beautiful.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.
Did you hear the important part of the verses? He came to give you beauty for ashes.
But there is more that you need to know! He will be with us always.
Isaiah 43 says
But now, this is what the Lord says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
Did you see that? When you walk through fire and deep water, he will be with us.
Do you know of anyone that walked through fire and was not burned?
(Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo)
Do you remember of anyone walking through waters?
(The Israelites and Moses)
This picture illustrates what God does with us. If you will look, there is rubble and destruction all around. But the flower is growing.
Thank you for each beautiful soul here today. Thank you that you love us and will never leave us. Help us to remember that sometimes life is hard, but that you are working to do something great with our lives. Help us to remember that we are fearfully and wonderfully made by you to glorify you. Thank you for the people who have walked through the fire in order to change our lives. Thank you that we are loved and special to you. Bless us this week as we go out into the world, and help us to love others as you love us.