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The Greater Miracle

If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. (Daniel 3:17-18)

A Child’s Prayer

I appreciate all the prayers going up to the Father on my behalf. So many family members, friends, and people I’ve never met continuously ask God to spare me from the torment this disease can cause and to heal me immediately. I pray for His mercy as well.

Recently while making my request for deliverance, I heard these words in my mind, “I’m working on a greater miracle.” I thought a lot about those words since then. In our realm, what could be greater than a complete healing? I have no clue. That’s how I know it was God’s voice and not my own desires. Plus, the account of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego has not left my mind.

In case you don’t remember the events that surrounded their circumstances, read Daniel 3.

God preformed the greater miracle for them.

The fire, though it consumed the guards who throw the prisoners into the furnace, had no effect on them. Nebuchadnezzar saw them walking down there with another man who was like the son of gods to the king. He then told Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to come out. They didn’t even smell like smoke.

Now, that’s a great miracle! Far more of an impact than merely delivering them from going into the fire in the first place. But that’s not the greatest miracle God performed that day.

The greatest miracle God performed that day is found in verses 28-30. Nebuchadnezzar  immediately makes another decree declaring the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego the God who saves like no other god can and anyone who speaks offensively against this God will be put to death. Then the king makes a profession of faith in Daniel chapter 4 verses 1-3.

Conclusion:

God didn’t permit the Hebrew men to be thrown into the fire to strengthen their faith. Their faith had already matured to the point of dying for their beliefs in their eternal Father. God’s purpose for all humanity is to bring praise, honor, and glory to Him. His purpose in this event was to draw praise, honor, and glory to Him from Nebuchadnezzar and from all the people in his earthly kingdom.

I rest in the assurance that my suffering will likewise fulfill God’s purpose for me by strengthening my faith and drawing out more praise, honor, and glory from me. But not only me, through my testimony, many others will see His mighty works in me and also bring Him praise, honor, and glory. He never works in one of us for our own benefit. He is concerned with everyone around us and will use whatever it takes to bring them to a realization of who He is and His plan and purpose for their lives.

Be of great courage when faced with trials, infirmities, and disasters. God is at work in your life to perform a greater miracle than you can imagine.

How about you? How is God using your current situation to bring praise, honor, and glory to Himself?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

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Surprise! I’m Here

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)

At the Sunday school picnic, two-year-old Lilly decided to join the older children in the sandbox. She wasn’t well received. One child quietly vocalized her disapproval of the toddler’s presence. Lilly didn’t care. She plopped yourself down right smack-dab in the middle of the sandbox and shoveled sand on her legs, on her hands, and into buckets. She didn’t mind the other children played around her as though she wasn’t there. She contented herself just being with them. That’s all that mattered to her.

And when the majority of her older playmates descended to the playhouse above the sandbox, Lilly followed, again as happy as a frog during a mayfly hatch. She delighted herself in doing what the others did. One boy brought a chair out and sat it on the deck. Lilly sat in it…very pleased to do so. The boy grimaced and brought out another chair. Lilly tried that one out too. Funny how she never perceived he wasn’t doing it for her.

I suppose Lilly was much too young to understand the others were ignoring her. But she taught me a lesson in contentment that day all the same. You see, there are times I walk into a room, a restaurant, or even a gathering of peers, friends, and relatives that I feel unwelcome, especially since I have cancer. My appearance has changed—I sport a hat to conceal my baldness. People react, most subconsciously I’m sure, but they do react. They give you an undeniable look of puzzlement, of concern, and even of disgust. It’s intimidating. It’s also inevitable and irrepressible on the part of the onlooker. When we’re caught off guard by something unexpected, our faces express our surprise, at least for a second or two, whether we want them to or not.

The problem doesn’t rest on the other people in the room it rests on me. I can either allow their looks of bewilderment to make me uncomfortable and thereby ruin my day. Or I can be gracious. If I accept their reaction as part of human nature, perhaps my easiness will set them at ease as well.

Learning to be content in my present set of circumstances takes time. But I am learning. In the process, I’m developing a stronger, Christ-like character—one in which I can be more accepting of others, whether or not they accept me.

How about you? What set of circumstances is teaching you contentment?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

The Right to Cry

Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed. (Psalm 6:2)

July 3, I cried nearly all day. Couldn’t stop myself. I was facing my last chemo treatment with a great deal of reluctance. Each treatment thus far had brought more nausea, dry-mouth (accompanied by nasty, muddy-metal taste), and other discomforts that lasted longer than the previous treatment. I simply did not want to go through it again, not knowing what the side effects would entail.

So I wept. I pleaded with the Lord to stop this madness, to tell me I didn’t have to go through it one last time, to rescue me.

Finally sometime that evening, I recommitted the situation to the Lord. I knew there was no way out. I had to face the gauntlet one more time, come what may. And trust. Isn’t that where true faith lies—trusting without knowing what’s beyond the next summit?

July 5, I walked into the clinic with the most cheerful disposition I could muster. Gene’s presence brought comfort even though we talked little. He was there. And so was my Father. I wasn’t as much aware of Father’s presence at the time … a little preoccupied with my surroundings I suspect. But I know He was holding me closer than Gene could’ve.

Here’s what He did for me the week of my final treatment:

  1. Very little side effects. This was the mildest of all my treatments. God wrapped His loving arms around me and kept the nasties away. I’m believing the medication accomplished even more because of it.
  2. The Saturday after treatment, my family walked in a march against breast cancer. What support and love! Plus, we had a picnic at my sister’s house afterward. The event boosted my spirits tremendously.
  3. The next day, almost every lady in our church wore a hat! Their expression of love and support … for ME … overwhelmed me. At the onset of my diagnosis, I told my daughters I thought it’d be cool if someone would have a hat party for me. No one in the church knew that. I can’t begin to tell you how much those ladies showed the love of our Father to me that day. I pray I never forget the power of His love through His faithful daughters.

More tears flowed that Sunday than on the previous Monday. For the past two weeks, I sang His praises and cried … because of His merciful love He showed me through this last treatment.

So, why do we hold back tears as though they’re forbidden? Why do we choke on them as though they’re shameful? Why do we mask them as though they represent weakness?

We have the right to cry out to the Lord. He hears and answers in unexpected ways.

How about you? How has Father responded to your cries?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Give Me an Inch

And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? (Luke 12:25-26)

Exchange Wishful ThinkingMeasuring in at five feet, three and a half inches tall, I was not only the youngest in my family, but the shortest—not by much mind you, but still the shortest. My next-to-the-oldest sister towered over me by two whole inches, while our older sister beat me by a mere quarter of an inch. Our brother, nearly six-feet tall, looked down on all of us.

Wish as I may I never could grow that extra quarter inch to match my older sister.

Then we entered the mysterious land called the Change of Life where women grow chin hairs and skin tags. We learn to tan one pixel at a time. (Some call these tanning marks age spots.) And, we shrink! Thus, my sisters began their slow decline in stature, each losing three or four inches of their adult height.

Now, I tower over them. I can’t begin to explain how weird this feels to me. You see, I haven’t lost so much as a quarter inch yet. In fact when the nurse measures me at the doctor’s office, she tells me I’m now five feet, four inches tall … in my stocking feet, no less. What? How did that happen? A delayed answer to prayer? No one grows in the Land of Change. And I’m not claiming the extra half inch. Something’s amiss in the equipment is my guess.

I firmly believe God assigned to each of us a body code in our DNA the moment of conception, which no one can alter. It regulates our bone structure including our height.

Here’s the thing:

We must embrace many things in this life, whether we like them or not. We grow to a predesignated height. People cut us to the core with unkind remarks during our greatest need for encouragement. And our bodies fail us.

Jesus confirms this assessment with these words, “In the world ye shall have tribulation. But He didn’t stop there. He added the most encouraging words ever spoken, “but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

If I am to be of good cheer and stand with Jesus as an overcomer, I have to embrace my current health issues. The oncologist said I’ve done nothing wrong. Nothing could’ve prevented me from getting cancer.

Perhaps it was written in my DNA. I don’t know. But here it is. I have to accept it and learn to deal with whatever that may entail. It’s my new norm, part of my new territory, and definitely a piece of something bigger than I understand.

Nevertheless, I’m holding the hand of the One who wrote my DNA, knows the plans He has for me, and promised to give me a future and a hope.

How about you? How have you accepted your current troubles?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Words—the Power to Change Lives

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. (Colossians 3:15-16)

My hatA couple of weeks ago, I wore this hat to my doctor’s appoint and received several favorable comments. Later that day, someone made a negative dig. It shattered the positive remarks—all of them. I wrestled with my response for hours. Why had one ill-mannered knock overridden the many positive reinforcements? Why do we take such disagreeable tones into our spirits and allow them to push out what brings peace and assurance? Why did I?

It took a lot of self-talk to overcome the potential destruction. Did the offender mean to cause me hurt? No. I really don’t think so. Although her remark stabbed me like a knife, she thought she was being funny. I held back tears as I struggled to put things into proper perspective.

Here’s the thing:

  1. This person has always enjoyed making crude remarks just to get a reaction from her target (by her own admission). I had to consider her nature.
  2. Forgiveness is the only key to unlocking the chains that can enter our spirits from such attacks. I had to count her as innocent … as though she didn’t know what she was doing.
  3. I had to reassess all the positive input. Sure, some people give compliments as unthinkingly as others give insults. Nevertheless, there are just as many sincere people who, not only want to make us feel good, but truly are pleased or impressed with our choices of style. I worked hard to latch onto those comments, allowing them to nurture my spirit instead of permitting the condemning statement to tear me apart.

I need to move on from this experience, keeping in mind I’m not the only one sensitive to sarcastic comments. And my friend isn’t the only one prone to make them. I can’t change her. But I can bridle my own tongue.

God has given us a tremendous power and responsibility through words. Whether written or spoken they can destroy or build a life.

I want to be a builder.

How about you? How can you build someone else’s life with your words?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

 

Speak Life

But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. (Romans 8:10-12)

Join the Lord’s Army

This morning between 9:00 and 11:00 a.m. I will receive my third chemo treatment. These treatments consist of Benadryl to prevent the reaction I had the first treatment, a drug to help prevent nausea, steroids, and two different types of chemo. That’s an arsenal of meds!

I’ve heard many people refer to these treatments as poison. And perhaps it is. But that seems like a negative outlook to me. Now, I’m not one to follow the positive and happy thoughts crowd. But I do believe our words carry punch. We can speak life or death into any situation. I also believe God wants us to speak life not death.

How do we do that?

Speak the truth according to God’s Word. What does the Bible teach about the situation I’m in? God has given me life and in Him I have life abundantly. Jesus heals through many different means. He also has a plan. He has numbered my days…not the doctors.

Speaking truth and life involves a positive attitude. When it comes to the drugs with which they’re filling my body, I’ve decided to look at it through a different lens. God has given the doctors the knowledge of how to use these drugs to combat the disease that has invaded my body. Therefore, I think of these treatments as an army—God’s army if you will—sent to fight the war going on within me. The enemy is sneaky and strong. I didn’t even know he had attacked. But I’m grateful the doctors discovered the invasion when they did. That was an act of God to start with.

Now, He has sent an arsenal of meds to combat the poison already in my system. Yes, the meds destroy the good with the bad. That’s the sad reality of any battle. However when the battle’s over and victory won, the good is restored. I know the Master Builder and trust Him to reconstruct my body. He lives in me. He is the Commander of the army and the Restorer of my soul.

I live in victory.

How about you? How do you speak life in your situation?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

 

 

 

Pink Fingernails and a Three-stranded Cord

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:12)

The slopes of the pit of loneliness and despair are slick and steep. We trudge very close to them when going through deep trials, whether emotional or physical. Everyone else seems to be living his/her life to the fullest—unaffected by and unconcerned about the battle we’re fighting. Even those closest to us, go about their daily routines almost without missing a beat. They plan appointments, family gatherings, and vacations. Meanwhile, those of us in crisis find it difficult to plan our next day.

If we compare our current “norm” to others or even to our previous lives, we plod ever closer to the pit’s edge. All it’ll take is a little nudge from the enemy, and we’ll slide to the bottom.

Splat!

But we’ve nothing to fear. We’re not alone! We have a three-strand cord tied around us with an anchor securely fastened to the Rock.

Here is what my three-strand cord looks like:

  1. SELF—that’s right I have myself. I’m stronger than I think. I have my faith. I know Scripture and trust the Author. Yet as Ecclesiastes 4:12 states, my battle overpowers me. That’s why I need the other two strands.
  2. FAMILY/FRIENDS—so many people have stood with me since my diagnosis. I can’t begin to express my gratitude and sheer amazement. My husband agreed to paint his fingernail pink (the color for breast cancer) to show his support. He chose the nail on his wedding-ring finger. Since then, our pastor, along with countless friends and family members, has done the same. This small act of love holds me fast to the shore of hope and victory.
  3. JESUS—not only is He the third strand, He’s the Anchor and the Rock. He has secured me in His arms. He has given me a future and a promise. He has promised never to leave me ALONE nor to forsake me. All His promises are YES AND AMEN! Even when all else fails, I can count on the One Who Never Fails. My experiences of His presence in the midst of the storm confirm His presence in this one. He reveals His strength in my weakness. His grace is sufficient for me.

These three strands combine to make an unbreakable cord, over which the enemy is powerless.

How about you? What does your three-strand cord look like?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks