ncourage-08
By Kit Fynaardt

Before continuing, watch this video. It
s only six minutes long. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ds9y3lJGig 

Goosebumps, right? The burning bush is certainly one of Gods most dramatic miracles, and there is much to analyze and discuss about how the film Prince of Egypt handled the scene. But Id like to draw your attention to a single detail, a detail that represents one of my most important steps as a Christian. Open the video again, and skip ahead to when God says, I have seen the oppression of my people in Egypt and have heard their cry…” Listen closely. 

Did you hear it? After this line, a cry of pain can be heard from an old man beneath a slave drivers whip. However, you can also hear Moses. You can hear Moses saying Stop it! Leave that man alone!This is more than a vain attempt to ease a mans suffering. Moses is saying to himself: No. No, this is not good enough. This is not what the world is supposed to look like. This pain is not okay, and I am going to raise my voice in a cry so that it will stop.Moseswords were a prayer, and God heard them. I have heard my peoples cry.God says. Moses, I have heard your cry. I heard your prayer that this is not right. I heard you crying out for things to be better. 

Every year we hold a service at ARC where we allow the high school and middle school youth groups to design and run the service. It’s a chance for the adults take a step back and hear a message from the youth, and it was a chance for me to hear my little brother Gideon, a sophomore in high school at the time, say something profound. What he said was this: Humanity’s greatest ability is the ability to be discontent. To say, ‘No. No, this is not good enough.’ To fight for something so that tomorrow can be better than today.” 

The words brought me to tears. Words from my own little brother, whos knowledge and wisdom surpass my own. That day, God showed me my prayer. This is my prayer. This is our prayer: No. This is not what Gods creation is supposed to look like. Our leaders use hateful and discriminatory rhetoric. Toxic masculinity is rampant among young people. Political issues divide family and friends.  Until there is peace and goodness we will cry out to God in prayer until the Lord comes again. God calls us to be discontent. God called me to use my greatest ability to work toward a future that is brighter and more Christlike than the present, and no matter how hopeless it may seem, I know God is with me.  

ncourage-07
By Schuyler Sterk

Last spring, after a hard conversation with a friend, I found myself sitting on the floor of a practice room in the music building, in the dark, with tears streaming down my face as I listened to my worship music playlist. I had suddenly come face to face with the reality that my relationship with Jesus was not as tight-knit as I believed it to be, and I was terrified.
 

I felt as though I was slowly falling and at the time, it didn’t feel like there was anything to catch me. I had allowed myself to become crushed beneath the weight of stress and busyness, the pain of broken relationships, the fear and uncertainty of the future, and the loss of my grandmother. This was what I would describe as my stormiest season. It was a time filled with so much rain so many tears, so many fears, and so many prayerful pleas for healing that I began to wonder if I would ever feel anything else.  

Yet God was with me in the midst of all my worry and pain. I am learning, during the process of healing from all my pain and heartache, that just because a season feels stormy does not mean there aren’t still blessings to be found. In fact, I think there is a reason why we describe sorrowful, pain-filled seasons as rainy, and why we also say God rains his blessings down on us from Heaven. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the same word is used to describe these two contrasting pictures. Rain can cause devasting floods and catastrophic storms, but rain also brings about new life and beautiful growth. 

I think sometimes, our biggest blessings come during our rainiest seasons. In the middle of my storminess God gave me so much. He blessed me with new relationships, a deeper desire to pursue my relationship with Him, a renewed feeling of joy, and a sense of peace. 

This summer, as I leaned into God, read His word, worshipped Him, and learned to listen for His voice and His promises, I ended up finding blessing after blessing carefully and mercifully placed in the corners of my life. I found new friends who spoke wisdom and light into my darkest moments. I found myself experiencing joy in all the small moments of my life again. I found myself waking up each morning excited to meet with Jesus and dive deeper into my relationship with Him. And I found Peace in my wonderful Savior. But experiencing that healing and finding that peace sure did not come easily. Because growth hurts, healing takes a lot of time and patience, and staying in pursuit of my relationship with Jesus during all of this was the hardest thing I’ve done. 

But during this stormiest of seasons, God was in the midst of the rain, and he was showing me how beautiful life is when it is lived with Him. He was there in the midst of my brokenness and loneliness; He was there in the midst of the painful, challenging healing process; and He is here in the midst of a new season of wholeness and joy.