I Am Encouraged

It’s hard to believe that we have been amidst a pandemic and its consequences for a whole year, and with only tentative signs that we may be able to emerge to some degree in the near future. People have suggested that the situation we find ourselves in is now the ‘new normal’, as if we have moved to a different permanent way of being than the one we had before.

But the reality is that there is no permanent way of being, new or otherwise. Life moves on. You can never stand in the same river twice. So we need to have resilience and resources to draw upon.

I am blessed to have a loving family, fabulous friends, wonderful church fellowship, and amazing colleagues, who all help with my resilience and give me emotional and practical resources to deal with what life brings along. And I have God.

I have blogged elsewhere about the loss of my Mom due to Covid, and the way in which I was held by God through the prayers of others (you can read that blog post here https://janelydialoves.wordpress.com/2020/05/29/hopefulness/)

And God has been very present throughout the last year, someone to run to when grief comes, or pressures become too much. God is my safe space. The words of the well-known Psalm 23 come back to me often …

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul.” Psalm 23: 1-3

These verses give me encouragement that I am not alone. Even on the darkest days, my Shepherd God walks with me, leading me to a safe, calming and soothing place where my soul can be restored, ready for whatever life brings my way again.

This piece of art is part of my ‘A to Z of me’ which I started, I think, back in 2014 and which, as you can see, I haven’t progressed very far with. This project is to encourage me to think about my faith identity and how God speaks to me in it and through it. Having to think of a word beginning with a specific letter that describes my identity is an interesting and challenging discipline. But it’s also one that helps me to develop my relationship with God. This particular entry reminds me that God is with me, encouraging me, supporting me, cheering me on, through the highs and lows of life. God is dependable and reliable, he is always there. Deuteronomy 31:8 tells us that the Lord will go before us and that he will never leave or forsake us. That is an incredible promise.

Sometimes we may feel that God is distant; we can’t sense his presence and we may feel abandoned. But God promises always to be there. As the psalmist cries out …

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to heaven, you are there, if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” Psalm 139:7-8

There is no place that we can go that God’s presence is not with us, even when we can’t see it or feel it.

So be encouraged! God will go before you; he will never leave you. He will make you lie down in green pastures; he will lead you beside still waters and restore your soul.

I hope and pray that even amidst the chaos and uncertainty of this pandemic, we may open ourselves up to the ever present God, and that through his love, our souls will be refreshed and restored, so that we might face whatever lies before us.

The Artwork:

This book is simply a blank sheet notebook. I glue two pages together to prevent bleed-through as they’re quite thin. I used Arteza coloured pencils for this image as they are waxy and so blend well. They do make it difficult to write on afterwards though so some perseverance is needed with a permanent fineliner to outline the images.

You can see the previous entries in this book here https://janelydialoves.wordpress.com/tag/a-to-z-of-me/


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