I remember sitting at the kitchen table watching my dad sip coffee from a white mug. This wasn’t just any coffee mug. This mug made him laugh. And for a lover of jokes like my dad is, that's a mug worth having around.

On the front of the glossy white ceramic was a cartoon drawing of a large, plump elephant lying on the ground. On top of the elephant’s back, on his head, on his trunk, and all around him stood colorful turkeys, who somehow managed to look clueless and pleased with themselves at the same time.

Underneath this silly scene was the advice, “Don’t let the turkeys get you down.”

Once my dad explained the joke to me I giggled every time he used the mug.

When the giggles fade

When I grew up I learned the hard way that while hilarious on a mug, "turkey" situations in real life don’t make us smile all that much.

Life throws difficult people, problems, and pressures at us on a regular basis. Things that weigh us down and try to steal our joy. Even God’s abundant grace and love never promises unstoppable rainbows and sunshine.

But God does promise His grace is enough. (2 Corinthians 12:9) And His grace makes it possible to see problems and pressures as a place for God to work – a place where His promises prove themselves true and His provision is unmatched. (2 Peter 1:3-4; 2 Corinthians 9:8)

Surprising pathway to hope

Paul talks about this outlook in Romans 5. He’s been explaining righteousness and justification of believers for a couple of chapters when he begins chapter 5 to encourage us in what life can be like because of all the grace given to us in Christ. Here are a couple of the highlights from Romans 5:1-5.

  • You are at peace with God, which means ongoing, intimate fellowship with Him, thanks to Jesus (vs 1)
  • Your standing in grace (that beautiful place of God’s favor and acceptance) NEVER changes because of Christ. (vs 2)
  • While you can’t avoid hard-to-love people or make-you-cringe circumstances or squeeze-too-tight pressures, you can learn to navigate them through God’s unexpected pathway -- a pathway which leads to spiritual maturity and bright hope. (vs 3-5)

So this fall season, may the turkeys top our tables not our mindsets. And may we breathe more than one prayer of thanks followed by a knowing smile. Because even as we keep learning and "practicing" how this grace life works, we can be living, breathing proof of the glorious truth -- “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.”


Suggested reading

Romans 5:1-5 ESV

Prayer for today

Dear God who sees everything I face, thank You for never abandoning me to navigate life’s problems and pressures on my own. You are a real and present help. Sometimes I stare at the problems too long and my heart sinks. But You patiently show me a better perspective – one that guarantees “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.” Keep my eyes and heart fixed on you. Amen.

 

Reflection

  1. Is it easy for you to see the problems & pressures in your life as a pathway for God to grow your bright hope? Why or why not?
  2. What particular promise or provision are you thanking Him for today?
  3. Think about a current difficult situation in your life. If you could look at it through Jesus’s eyes, how might things appear different?

 

Fun News!

This fall I’m offering a special Local workshop Funshop around this very topic of navigating life’s problems and pressures with grace and peace. I'd be delighted for you to be part of a small group of women on Saturday, October 22, 2022 in Centennial, CO for unhurried moments of laughter, reflection, creativity, grace truth, discussions, activities, stories, and more. Take a quick getaway with the added bonus of heart encouragement and fun!

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