Matthew 11:28
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

“No one is without troubles, without personal hardships and genuine challenges. That fact may not be obvious because most people don’t advertise their woes and heartaches. But nobody, not even the purest heart, escapes life without suffering battle scars.” – Richelle E. Goodrich

I was reminded of the simple truth that all of us, every single one, will face times in our lives of heartache and trouble as this past Saturday my family and I had to say goodbye (for now) to my dear Gramma Bette (she said she was Gramma not Grandma!) who went home to heaven on the Fourth of July.

My Gramma was a dear lady who left behind an amazing legacy of faith, love, service, hard work, and humor. While we know she is in heaven and no longer has to operate in the confines of an aging, ailing body, selfishly it was incredibly hard for all who loved her to say goodbye.

My immediate family and I were staying at my sister’s house in Northern Wisconsin over the 4th. We had planned a fun family weekend months ahead of time. We had no idea that the weekend would include spending time at a hospital saying goodbye to my Gramma.

On Friday afternoon, while our husbands took our older kids canoeing down the Brule River, my sister and I stayed home while our younger ones napped. I planned to knock out some much needed homework and my sister was going to get her son’s baseball pictures ordered.

As I sat on the couch in the living room I found myself reading pages multiple times. With tears streaming down my face and my thoughts focused on my Gramma, I could not retain what was on the pages before me. Coming up from the office, my sister asked me how the homework was coming along. Without making eye contact I held up a book and some printed materials and told her I was knocking a few things out. Finally looking up, we laughed when we saw that both of us were crying. She had been sitting at her computer in tears wondering why her pictures weren’t uploading only to find the computer cord in her hands.

Commiserating about our heartache and tears we swapped stories about how all week we had found ourselves crying at random times; at stop lights, in grocery stores, etc., yet when people who were unaware of our Gramma being in the hospital would ask how we were doing we would respond with a common positive reply, hoping they wouldn’t notice our swollen eyes or red noses.

My sister then made a comment about how so often we have no clue about the difficult times that people all around us are dealing with.

So true. For some reason, although each of us will experience trouble and heartache at some point in our lives, we often try to hide this pain from others. This concept led me to reflect on another time in my life when I did just this.

When I was a Second Lieutenant in the Army, newly stationed at Ft. Bragg, NC my world came crashing down. Within a month’s time I received divorce papers from my husband at the time, my Grampa who I deeply loved passed away, I was assigned to a unit that was deploying for Iraq for a year, my relationship with the Lord was non-existent, and the list could go on.

With all of that and more on my heart, I will never forget an encounter in my Brigade Headquarters Building one day that changed the course of my life.

Stepping out of my office I met a Major in my unit walking down the hallway. As we were about to pass he asked how I was doing. In typical fashion I responded with a cheerful, standard reply. Then, he did something I will never forget. Instead of responding with an equally generic answer and continuing by, he stopped, grabbed my arm, looked me in the eye and said, “Ya know LT, you walk around here always so upbeat and positive with a smile on your face, but your eyes give you away, are you sure you are ok?”

Before he finished his last sentence tears began running down my cheeks. In that instance I realized the weight of my situation. I became aware of the sinful choices I had made and my total need for God.

While the Major would never know it, God used his simple act of showing genuine concern for me to change the course of my life.

Following our encounter I repented for the mess I had made of my life and the Lord set me on a new and amazing path.

Think with me for a minute about how powerfully God may use each of us if we simply take the time to show love and concern for those around us.

If we recognize the fact that people in our lives, possibly who we see every day may be living through trouble and heartache and need us to reach out to them.

Consider these verses:

Philippians 2:4  Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

Is there someone in your life that you know is, or might be going through a difficult time? How might you be able to reach out to them and show them the love of God? Your doing so may have a far greater impact that you can ever imagine.

And of course, I need to ask, how about you? If someone were to look into your eyes today, what would they see? If you are hurting, know that God loves you and that while trouble and heartache are part of this life, there is nothing that we cannot face when we rely on God and His strength.

The Bible tells us:

Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Psalm 34:18  The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

John 14:27  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Whether you need to encourage someone else today, or you need the encouragement yourself, know that God loves you and is ready and able to help in the midst of any trouble or heartache you may be facing.

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