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Something to give
Amber Albee Swenson
by Amber Albee Swenson
November 29, 2021

I remember the exact date, time, and where I was when things started going downhill for our family this fall.

We all experience it from time to time. The situations differ, but the result is the same. A diagnosis stops time. Or a spouse leaves out of the blue. An unexpected death. A crime is committed, and you can’t go back. Everything going forward is different.

It’s been happening throughout history. First Samuel chapter 3 lets us know Israel went to war against the Philistines and suffered a defeat. As they strategized, they decided to bring the ark of the covenant to war as a good luck charm. It didn’t go as planned. Not only were they defeated again, but the ark was taken. In chapter 4 the news was delivered.

Eli the priest was on the side of the road waiting for word because he was concerned about the ark. The messenger delivered the news, and Eli died on the spot. Eli’s daughter-in-law was pregnant. When she heard what happened, not only that her husband died in battle but that the ark had been taken, she went into labor. As she was dying, she delivered a son named Ichabod saying, “The glory has departed from Israel.” In a short time, Israel’s fortune was reversed. What had been no longer was, and the people must have wondered, “What now?”

“What now?” usually amounts to one foot in front of the other. For Christians it also amounts to significant time seeking God. Idols you never saw become visible. Signs you were too busy to see seem obvious.

Three months in my family is starting to realize some of God working all things for good. We would never ask for hardship, persecution, or struggle, but when it comes, we can be thankful to be shaken out of complacency and for the opportunity our heavenly Father uses to refine and grow us.

Maybe the most important thing about chaos is a need to find and hang on to what is real and true and good. At work the other day, a coworker nonchalantly said, “The answer to everything is . . .” Before he could finish the sentence, I said, “God.” That was not the direction he was heading, so he started again, and again I completed his sentence without hesitation.

God is the only answer because no other answer comes close. We can fill our lives with stuff. We can find security in our money, health, or house, but when the hurricane comes or our health fades, it seems silly that we ever thought it would last.

We are entering the season of giving, and believe it or not, no matter where 2021 has taken you, you have something to give. If you have time, be a listening ear. If you are an encourager, look for people to encourage. And if you are still clinging to hope and finding strength in the Lord to get through each day, remind those around you that God is good and his ways are perfect even when life gets crazy.

I’ve always been one to give useful gifts. My kids know they’ll unwrap socks and gas gift cards on birthdays and Christmas. People need Jesus. He is the answer and the greatest gift. The downtrodden are looking for hope, and you know where they can find it. How will you share the good news today?

P.S. Many people are looking for ways to help others this time of year. Would you consider praying for or sending a donation to Time of Grace? Both are truly appreciated. Time of Grace goes into homes many of us will never get a chance to enter. The messages telling people of the hope they have in Jesus are seen in prisons and nursing homes and on college campuses. Your gifts and prayers are tangible ways to bring Jesus to others!

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