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Posts tagged ‘loneliness’

Start Over

Source:   Dr.Woodrow Kroll

 

When you’ve trusted Jesus and walked His way,

When you’ve felt His hand lead you day by day,

But your steps now take you another way   …   START OVER.

 

When you’ve made your plans and they’ve gone awry,

When you’ve tried your best ’til there’s no more try,

When you’ve failed yourself and you don’t know why …   START OVER.

 

When you’ve told your friends what you plan to do,

When you’ve trusted them but they’ve not come through,

Now you’re all alone and it’s up to you …   START OVER.

 

When you’ve failed your kids and they’re grown and gone,

When you’ve done your best but it turned out wrong,

And now your grandchildren have come along …   START OVER.

 

When you’ve prayed to God so you’ll know His will,

When you’ve prayed and prayed but you don’t know still,

When you want to stop cause you’ve had your fill …   START OVER.

 

When you think you’re finished and want to quit,

When you’ve bottomed out in life’s deepest pit,

When you’ve tried and tried to get out of it …   START OVER.

 

When the year’s been long and successes few,

When December comes and you’re feeling blue,

God gives a January just for you …   START OVER.

 

Starting over means victories won,

Starting over means a race we run,

Starting over means the Lord’s “Well done,”

… so don’t just sit there …   START OVER.

Will I Be Single Forever?

SOURCE:  Stephen Witmer/Desiring God

I was single all through my twenties, and I enjoyed it a lot of the time. When I wanted a particular food for dinner, I ate it. When I wanted to take a week to hike a one-hundred-mile section of the Appalachian Trail, I hiked it. When I felt called to pursue graduate work in another country, I went. And there were other, less selfish benefits, including more time and energy for building deep friendships and fruitful ministry.

But, all in all, I found singleness pretty tough. There were seasons of terrible loneliness when I wondered if God would ever give me a lifelong companion. At times I was like a severed powerline, the voltage of unfulfilled longing causing me to thrash about in ways that hurt others. I was sometimes jealous of married friends. I did not always navigate singleness with grace, poise, deep faith, and steadfast joy. Instead, I blundered between enjoyment and regret, happiness and longing, purity and sin.

I wish someone had helped me understand, and then live, my singleness in the light of eternity. I think it would have helped me to enjoy a godlier, more productive, more contented life during those years.

A Stable Ground for Soaring Hope

Eternity changes everything, including our singleness. By “eternity” I mean the future new creation God describes in the Bible. This is a future beyond our wildest imaginings and most fervent hopes. It’s this present world renewed, restored, and remade into a perfect place with no more sin, suffering, brokenness, tears, pain, or death.

The new creation will be far better even than the original Eden, because 1) Jesus will be physically present there (Revelation 22:1) and 2) it will last forever, with its inhabitants never falling into sin — unlike Adam and Eve. In other words, the world’s perfect future will be better than its perfect past. Eden was lovely fragility. The new creation will be gorgeous stability. Eden was like an exquisite china bowl — beautiful but breakable. The new creation will be like the Alps — breathtaking and immovable.

We’re imperfect people living in an imperfect world, but this perfect future becomes our future when we’re united to a perfect Savior through faith. We can then be completely assured that this future is ours. In the Bible, that firm assurance is called “hope.”

Christian hope is the confidence that an amazingly good future is securely ours, and this hope changes the way we view our present. It strengthens and equips us in every life situation, including singleness. It heightens our restlessness for the new creation, and that restlessness makes us more content.

To Grow More Content, Get More Restless

One of the feelings I often experienced as a single person was lack of contentment. Even some of my most enjoyable adventures and sweetest experiences were shot through with a longing to share them with someone else.

A robust longing for eternity helps us with our discontentment by increasing our restlessness. That sounds like a contradiction, but it’s not. The apostle Paul was a tremendously restless person, one who said he strained forward and yearned for God’s final future (Philippians 3:13–14). And yet he also said that he had learned the secret of contentment in any circumstance (Philippians 4:12). The two are intimately related after all.

The reason we grow discontent in our singleness (or our job, or marriage, or car, or children, or anything else) is because that person or thing (whatever it is) looks so big and eternity looks so small. If you hold a coin close enough to your face, it will obscure an entire city skyline.

When our present circumstances look bigger than eternity, we have lost perspective. When we lose perspective, we tend to load too much of our contentment onto something never designed to bear the weight. We look to a spouse, a friend, a vacation, or an accomplishment to give us the happiness they never can.

Your Marital Status in Heaven

The problem with this way of living is that it leads to perpetual discontentment. If God gives us a better job but we’re still seeing our job as bigger, more important, and more meaningful than the new creation, we’ll either sacrifice everything to excel at it, or be destroyed if we lose it.

If we’re single and all we can see is our longing for a spouse rather than eternity with Christ, we’ll load down a God-sent spouse with the crushing weight of needy expectation, or become a resentful or cynical or broken-hearted single. A discontented single person will become a discontented spouse and then a discontented parent . . . until eternity breaks in and moves to the center.

God is more concerned with a change in our perspective than a change in our marital status. If eternity is at the center, and a husband or wife or child fails us — or if we don’t have the husband, wife, or children we’re longing for — it will be painful but we’ll be okay, because we know a perfect eternity is still ours. There’s ballast in our boat, and it will hold us steady through the disappointments, missed opportunities, and tragedies of this life.

The more restless we are for the new creation — the more our thoughts and emotions are captivated by it — the less we’ll be shaken by disappointment in this life and the more we’ll see every present blessing not as a final destination but as a signpost pointing toward eternity. The more restless we become, the more contented we are.

Perhaps if you’re a single person, your identity as a “single” has moved to the center of how you think about yourself. But it appears from Jesus’s teaching that in eternity we’ll all be single. There won’t be marriage in the new creation. What will define us forever will not be our marital status, but our enjoyment of the perfect presence of Christ.

That means a single person who loves Jesus is much more like a married person who loves Jesus than like a single person who doesn’t know him. We’ll know Jesus forever and be loved by him for eternity. This is way more central to our identity than our marital status. Don’t think of yourself as unwanted by any prospective spouses. Know yourself as loved forever by Jesus.

It’s likely that for many (not all) singles, there will be moments and seasons of loneliness and longing — times when it feels awkward to be the only single person at the table or the party. That was certainly my experience. But knowing our God and his final future for us plus knowing ourselves in light of that future can produce a profound contentment in our present.

You’re Never Alone

SOURCE:  Lysa TerKeurst/NIV Real–Life Devotional Bible for Women

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” —Hebrews 4:16

Do you ever feel lonely?

Recently, I was at an event full of people. Everyone else seemed gabby and were effortlessly making easy connections with others.

I just felt out of sorts.

Someone had said something to me earlier that day that hurt my feelings and knocked me off kilter. It was one of those “I would really like to be at home alone, in a bubble bath, eating something chocolate” kind of nights. But I had to go to this outing, so here I was—lonely.

I politely smiled my way through the evening and finally got to go home. As I crawled into bed that night, I asked Jesus, “Why am I letting some thoughtless comment someone made affect me like this?”

There was no deep explanation. There was no Bible verse that instantly popped into my head. There was no sudden rush of peace through my heart. There was only a very gentle reminder in the depths of my soul that Jesus loves me—insecurities and all.

Jesus loves me.

Simple but so powerfully profound, that one statement grounds me in the truth of who God says I am. Friends can’t make you feel accepted all the time. Accomplishments will never truly make you feel secure. Having lots of people around you does not mean you won’t ever feel lonely. And chocolate, while it is deliciously distracting, is just a little too temporary.

So I turn to the One who is Everlasting, Prince of Peace, and Immanuel—God with us. I draw close to him so he can help me separate solid truth from shifting emotion.

And I’m reminded by the writer of the book of Hebrews that God says, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

Singleness is NOT Second Class

SOURCE:  Karl Benzio/Lighthouse Network/Stepping Stones

According to the 2010 census, more than 96 million people in the United States are single. That’s 43% of adults. 59 million have never married, 23 million are divorced, and another 14 million are widowed.

Many singles feel that singleness equals rejection.

If they are over 25 and not in a serious relationship, society often looks on them as rejects, even if they don’t feel that way themselves. “I am single because nobody wants me,” or “Even that person has someone, why don’t I?” or “What do they see in her that they don’t see in me?” or “It’s so unfair, why am I like this?” These are examples of destructive tapes that can play over and over in a single person’s head.

If you are single, sometimes the natural tendency is to choose making an excuse: “I don’t care because I don’t need anyone anyway,” or to blame someone else: “He isn’t smart enough to know what he is missing.” These choices view singleness as a problem and attempt to blame something or someone for it.

A more realistic, positive, and productive approach is to accept your singleness and make choices that will point you toward the goals God has for your life right now. With this attitude, you will be able to move forward with your life by embracing God and your present circumstance of singleness.

In God’s eyes, being single does not equate with being a reject or coming in last place.

Actually, He might even see it as having more time and mind space available to pursue Him. It certainly worked for Jesus and Paul. Some people find great fulfillment in being married. But others can find the same fulfillment and sense of purpose by being single.

To be an enriching experience, your singleness must be managed based on God’s will for moral, healthy relational conduct, especially your relationship with yourself. When we are in a pattern of rejecting others or being rejected by others, it is hard not to reject ourselves. Satan steers that pattern towards rejecting even God.

Today, if you know some singles, examine how you view them. Are you judging them, even subtly? Why are you judging? Are you perfect? How about helping them manage some of the stressors and temptations of single life? Forward this information to them.

Now, if you are single, focus on the fact of how very special you are to God. You are His workmanship, and His workmanship is marvelous! God has a plan for your life, and it is best to focus on seeking His will and becoming all that He has designed you to be. Growing in Him will allow you to become more Christ-like in all areas of life, whether you are meant to be single or married. Whether you handle your marital status in a way that glorifies God or you are always yearning for the greener grass on the other side of the fence is your decision, so choose well.

Dear Father God, thank You for where I am. Help me always remember that success in my life’s journey does not depend on whether I am married or single. My success in life can be measured only by how well I understand and steward Your plan and purpose for me. I know I have made many mistakes in past relationships and dishonored You and others when I was single. Help me focus on You and accomplish Your purpose for my journey, whether You intend singleness or marriage. Help me develop the love and skills to have successful relationships with a spouse, with family, or with friends. I pray this in the name of Your Son, the groom to the church, Jesus Christ; – AMEN!

The Truth
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. Psalm 139:13-17

But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and his interests are divided. 1 Corinthians 7:32-34a

Depression: The Good News

SOURCE:  Living Free

“God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?'” Hebrews 13:5-6 NIV

Millions of people suffer from clinical depression.

Most people suffering from chronic depression feel so utterly unlovable that they cannot bear the pain of even trying to experience love in a relationship with either God or man. They feel like a failure and that anyone who disagrees with that assessment just doesn’t know them very well. Even if you are not suffering from chronic depression, you may experience feelings like this from time to time—most people do.

If you are feeling this way, think about this good news:

  • God knows you better than you know yourself, and he loves you. He knows you are not perfect, but he loves you unconditionally.
  • He loves you so much that Jesus died on the cross for your sins because he wanted to provide a way that you could be with him for eternity.
  • God loves you so much that he has promised never to leave you.

The Bible tells us that:

  • He is full of compassion for you (Psalm 145:8).
  • He takes pleasure in you (Psalm 149:4).
  • He loves you and gives you honor (Isaiah 43:4).
  • You are precious in his sight (Isaiah 43:7).
  • He promises that he will love you forever (Jeremiah 31:3).

The Bible says Jesus loves you so much that he seeks after you. You are never alone. Right this very moment you may feel alone, but you are not. Jesus is there with you. Seeking to help you.

Say yesYes to his love.  Yes to his help.  Yes to Jesus.

Lord, thank you for loving me no matter what. Thank you for promising to be with me … always. When I start to feel alone, please remind me that you are there. In Jesus’ name …

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These thoughts were drawn from …

  Understanding Depression: Overcoming Despair through Christ by Donald G. Miles, Ed.D. 

Do I Belong Anywhere???

SOURCE:  adapted from an article by LIVING FREE

“God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” [Ephesians 1:5 NLT]

When we received Jesus, we became a member of God’s family!

God is our Father.

Jesus is not only our Savior, He is also our brother (Hebrews 2:11-12).

We are a member of the family of believers.

We belong!

A true sense of belonging comes from not only knowing that we belong to God but also from belonging to each other. Many of Paul’s letters in the New Testament offer guidance for successful relationships within this worldwide family. For example, he said, “Clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you (Colossians 3:12-13 NLT).

Many scriptures reflect us as belonging and being accepted. Here are just a few:

  • I am God’s child. (John 1:12)
  • I am Christ’s friend. (John 15:15)
  • I am united with the Lord, and I am one spirit with Him. (1 Corinthians 6:17)
  • I have been bought with a price. I belong to God. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
  • We belong to God’s family. (Ephesians 2:19)

Do you ever feel lonely? It is possible to feel lonely even when we are surrounded by people. But if you will look at the mirror of God’s Word, you will see clearly that you belong to God–and to His family. God will always love you and will always be your perfect Father. Jesus will never leave you nor forsake you.

In the family of believers, as in any family, there will be conflicts and offenses. But we will always be family. We sometimes need to be reminded by looking in the mirror of God’s Word that we will always belong to one another and need to forgive and love.

You belong to God. He has adopted you into His family. Jesus is your Savior, your friend–and your brother. You belong!

Lord, thank you for reassuring me that I am not alone. I belong! I am your child. And I am in your family. Jesus is not only my Savior and my friend, but my brother. Help me to be faithful to you–and to all my family. In Jesus’ name …


These thoughts were drawn from …


Seeing Yourself in God’s Image: Overcoming Anorexia and Bulimia
 by Martha Homme, MA, LPC.

DEATH Hurts, But It’s Not The END!

You Are Not Alone

SOURCE:  Taken from a devotion by Living Free Ministry

“No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39 NLT

Thoughts for Today

If you are recently widowed, you might be finding it almost impossible to move beyond the mourning period, especially if your marriage was a long and fulfilling one. Beginning each new day may seem like an overwhelming task. The loneliness may seem unbearable at times.

It is important to remember that you are never really alone. God is there with you. Nothing can separate you from his love. Open your heart to Jesus. Let him love you and fill you with his peace. Your new road may still be difficult, but with Jesus it will be possible.

 Consider this …

God can make this a time of growth and renewed intimacy with him—if you want him to. But you have a choice. As time moves on, you can choose to dwell on your loss and on what might have been. Or you can choose life … appreciating the time you had with your spouse, but beginning to move on, praising God for the many blessings you still have. And remember that the Lord isn’t finished with you. Choose to rise each morning, asking him to help you accomplish the purpose of that day’s journey.

Even with positive choices, recovery will take time.

Learn to take one step at a time, trusting Jesus and basking in his comfort and love.

Prayer

Father, I thank you so much that I can trust in your presence and your love. I need your help to get through this. I take great comfort in your promise that nothing can separate me from your love. In Jesus’ name …

God, Am I Alone?

God With Us

SOURCE:  Charles Spurgeon/A Puritan At Heart

God might, if He pleased, wrap himself with night as with a garment; He might put the stars around His wrist for bracelets, and bind the suns around His brow for a crown; He might dwell alone, far, far above this world, up in the seventh heaven, and look down with calm and silent indifference, upon all the doings of His creatures;

He (God) might do as the heathens supposed their false god did, sit in perpetual silence, sometimes nodding his awful head to make the fates move as he pleased, but never taking thought of the little things of earth, disposing of them as beneath his notice, engrossed within his own being, swallowed up within himself, living alone and retired;

(A)nd I, as one of his creatures, might stand at night upon a mountain-top, and look upon the silent stars and say, “You are the eyes of God, but you do not look down on me; your light is the gift of His omnipotence, but your rays are not smiles of love to me. God, the mighty, Creator, has forgotten me; I am a despicable drop in the ocean of creation, a leaf in the forest of beings, an atoll in the mountain of existence. He does not know me; I am alone, alone, alone.”

But it is not so, beloved.

Our God is of another order. He notices every one of us; there is not a sparrow or a worm that continues to live apart from His decrees. There is not a person upon whom His eye is not fixed. Our most secret acts are known to Him. Whatever we do, or endure, or suffer, the eye of God still rests upon us, and we are under His smile-for we are His people; or under His frown-for we have sinned against Him.

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Charles Spurgeon (1834 – 1892) was a British Particular Baptist preacher who remains highly influential among Christians of different denominations, among whom he is still known as the “Prince of Preachers”.

Raw and Desperate: Prayers From The EDGE Will Be Heard

SOURCE:  Larry Libby/Discipleship Journal

Most visitors to the city of Portland, Oregon, have no idea that 100 to 150 years ago it was known as “the most dangerous port in the world.” When Portland’s working men or visitors stepped out of the rain into a bar, opium den, or brothel, they were in grave danger of never walking out again.

This was because of a practice known as the “Shanghaiing Trade,” a crude but effective method of supplementing the crews of undermanned freighters bound for the Far East. Thugs in league with shady ship captains would drug or knock unconscious able-bodied sailors, loggers, cowboys, sheepherders, ranch hands, and construction workers. Then, through secret basement passageways or trapdoors, they lowered the victims into a maze of tunnels beneath the streets and carried them to ships docked in the harbor. (The tunnels, now known as the Portland Underground, are still there. You can take spooky tours through the musty passages.) Once the men were on the ship, they stayed on board for years, and there wasn’t much they could do about it except grab a mop and start swabbing the decks.

Try to imagine it. One minute you are strolling down Burnside Avenue on your way to a late dinner, and then you wake up…where? In the bilge-filled bowels of some rusty steamship rolling on the Pacific waves, your head splitting, your stomach heaving.

One minute you are sitting on a stool in a warm, smoky tavern, sipping cheap whiskey, and then…your whole world changes.

Shanghaied

Has something similar ever happened to you? Have you ever opened your eyes in an alien land—a place you never, never thought you would be?

• You suddenly realize you’re about 10 minutes from entering a sexual affair and betraying your spouse. How in the world did you end up here?

• Your smooth ride through the Christian life lurches off the familiar rails, plunging you into unbelief. Gone are the calm assurances of childhood. You’re perilously close to abandoning your faith.

• You’ve come from the fresh grave of a spouse or child, and all your plans and dreams have suddenly been wiped off the hard drive. Where there used to be data, digital photos, to-do lists, and full calendar boxes, there is now only a blank screen and a mindless electrical hum, and you don’t know what to do.

• You’re sitting in your car in the parking lot of the medical clinic, staring without seeing at the traffic on the street. The word cancer is still ringing in your ears.

Whatever the cause, you’re standing on the edge of a sinkhole that has opened before you, into which everything dear and familiar slides: your job, your health, your family, your security, your reputation, your career. The entire structure of your life is about to slip into the chasm. And you can’t go back to the way things were. Not ever.

When you pray—if you pray—your prayers are not going to sound the same or feel the same or be the same.

Prayers from the edge know nothing of stained glass reveries or kneeling at the bedside with soft shafts of morning light stealing through slats of half-opened blinds. These prayers do not spring from forest strolls on pine-needled paths or cool twilight walks by the river.

These aren’t the prayers you learned in Sunday school, at your mother’s knee, or in Bible college. These prayers come from different regions. These prayers don’t associate with music or laughter or peace. They tie more closely to anger, rage, despair, raw fear, and nausea.

A prayer from the edge will sound like a sob. An angry challenge. A burst of frustration. A sigh of loneliness. A cry of anguish torn from the marrow of your bones.

Hear my cry!

David had been shanghaied. One minute the young son of Jesse had been a national hero eating royal dainties off platters of beaten gold, a close companion of King Saul, married to the king’s daughter, best buds with Prince Jonathan. And then, such a short time later, he found himself crouching in the dark depths of a limestone cave, hiding from Saul’s death squads. He was on the run—a wanted man and a fugitive—for the next 15 years.

Hungry, thirsty, cold, and gripped with fear, David pleaded, “Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need” (Ps. 142:6). Or as The Message renders it, “Oh listen, please listen; I’ve never been this low.”

David yelled his fears. He made demands. He warned God to act quickly, because he was walking on the ragged edge of sanity, and the dirt under his feet was beginning to crumble.

Most likely in those same terrible days, he scratched graffiti like this on the walls of his cave: “You’d better listen to me and listen to me now. I’m like a match flame in a gust of wind, and if You don’t do something fast I’m done. Get with it, God. Help. Come. Don’t step away from me now. I’m on the edge and I’m losing my balance.”

I know how he felt.

The loss of my wife four years ago brought me to the brink of a similar sinkhole. I’d never been that close to the edge in all of my 51 years. I saw death reach into a sun-filled hospital room and take the dearest and best. With my world reeling, I found I didn’t have the faith I thought I had. I wasn’t the man I thought I was.

And I couldn’t pray the way I used to pray.

I still believed in God. Still believed in His goodness. But I just couldn’t trust Him. I was too wounded. Too hurt that He’d heard my cries for mercy and healing, He’d seen my tears…and He’d taken my wife anyway.

Even so, I kept the phone line open with Him, and He with me. Cutting through the pain and fear and disorientation, I heard the Spirit’s whisper: Trust Me. And I usually replied, “Not yet. I want to, but not yet.” Still, the line stayed open.

An Inch at a Time

Here’s the most important thing about the edge you’re on, whatever it is: You need to inch back toward God. Make some kind of movement in His direction, even if it’s only a glance. A sigh. A tear. A groan. A muffled cry in the night.

Start in your mistrust and disbelief. Start in your dryness. Start in your doubt. Start in your despair. Start in your anger and grief. I remember lying on the floor in the living room, too crushed to lift my head, and having the sense that God was lying there with me listening to the words I couldn’t form or say.

That’s what it can be like on the edge—and you do what you’re able to do. If you can’t raise your hands, you move your little finger one centimeter toward the living Christ. If you can’t speak, you move your lips. If you can’t move your lips, you form the words in your mind. If you can’t form words, you just turn your thoughts toward Jesus, even for a moment.

Don’t wait until you’re in a better mood. Don’t wait until you’ve cleaned up your thoughts. Don’t wait until you’ve escaped the sickening undertow of temptation. Don’t wait until your anger and bitterness abate. Don’t wait until your nerves stop jangling. Don’t wait until you’ve straightened out your theology and banished your doubt.

Why? Because walking on the edge might soon put you over the edge—and you may not have such a Godward inclination again.

Anything at All

In the book of Isaiah, the Lord says, “All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations” (65:2).

What would God have responded to as He stood all day with His hands outstretched? Do you think He required a formal prayer? Do you suppose He waited for a carefully worded confession, a perfectly offered sacrifice, someone bowing low, someone on his knees in a pool of sunshine?

I think God would have responded to the tiniest, most imperceptible movement. I think He watched and watched and waited and waited for the most infinitesimal stirring toward Him. And He would have responded like the father of the prodigal, running down the dirt road to embrace a son slouching home from the far country.

The main thing is this: Get away from the edge. Don’t worry about protocol or formalities. Call, yell, reach, lunge, turn your thoughts and your will even one degree toward heaven. Although your movement is small, God’s mercy is mighty. When He runs toward you, very, very big things can happen.

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