Category Archives: Inspirational

Finding Peace in the Chaos

      Years ago during the Vietnam War, unrest and protests broke out on college campuses. In May 1970, four Kent State students were killed and nine injured when the Ohio National Guard opened fire into a crowd of protestors. Afterwards numerous colleges closed temporarily due to a student-led strike.

      At that time I happened to be in my junior year of college at SUNY Fredonia. Fear spread throughout the campus and grew like a snowball of terror. I tried hard to study and prepare for the semester finals. But it was difficult to focus, much less study. A large crowd of students gathered and marched, causing the administration to decide to give students the option to take their grades as they were or to stay on campus to take their finals.

     I remember getting into the car that May feeling grateful to be going home. The unrest and turmoil was at a high pitch, leaving everyone uneasy. The difficulties in our country were real ad remain in my memory to this day. But my personal sense of relief in having all final tests waived was an opportunity for which I am still grateful.

 Looking back, there are always lessons to be learned.

Opportunity oftentimes is clothed in difficulty. The tornado

that destroyed a large portion of a community also brought

many to come to know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. The polio that changed my mother’s life drew us closer together as a family, as we all stepped up to do what we could for my mom. From that time on, my love and appreciation for my family has been deep.

      Again and again I’ve seen the Lord use difficulties and turn them into powerful opportunities for glory to be given to His name. The traumatic event becomes the life-transforming experience. What was meant to harm us becomes something good in our lives. I won’t say that I understand it, but I have seen and experienced this in my own life.

     Chaos can turn lives upside down in seconds. But God is able to use the very thing that we thought we’d never recover from to grow us and teach us to know Him better. The key is in letting Him use it all. As we surrender our days, both the peaceful ones and those filled with chaos, to Him, He works within us His will. Having a faith-filled mindset that looks for the opportunity in the midst of the difficulty draws His goodness to us.

      Throughout Scripture we see times where God brought good from hard times. Daniel grew up in a Babylonian culture as a teenager. He stood firm in his faith and his desire to honor the Lord with his life. Again and again, Daniel chose to remember the Lord – and God rescued him.

      That lions’ cage was not the first time that Daniel refused to bow to the pressures of his culture. In Daniel 6, King Darius issued a law that the people in his land must only worship and pray to him. The law had been initiated by rivals who were jealous of Daniel’s success. They were familiar with Daniel’s regular prayer times. And Daniel continued his practice of praying to his God – the God of Israel.

      The law could not be changed, so with great grief, King Darius had Daniel thrown into the lions’ pit. Such a difficulty is hard for me to even imagine.

     Early the next morning, King Darius raced to the pit and called to Daniel. Such joy filled him when he heard Daniel’s voice proclaiming that God had kept him from harm. Once more, God turned what was meant for harm into good. He not only rescued his servant, Daniel, but He also brought glory to Himself.

      I find that the acronym of CHAOS as Christ Has All Our Solutions is an easy way to remember that God has power over all of our problems and difficulties. He has us. As we place our complete trust in Him, He reveals His plan and purpose. He will never leave us and never fail us. The wonder of that truth simply leaves me speechless.

     So whatever you’re facing right now – whether it appears to be a difficulty or not – remember that behind the scenes God continues to work for you. He loves you and longs for you to know Him personally. God will use any circumstances to strengthen your faith in Him. As He does that, He anchors you so that no matter how difficult the situation is, your faith holds.  And He gives you peace as He walks with you through everything.

      Like Daniel, we can have confidence that even though the circumstances are out of our hands, God’s promise of care and protection is sure. Time and time again I, along with many others, have experienced God’s amazing keeping power.

     You might wonder if you can really trust Him. Your feelings might tell you otherwise. But truth as revealed in God’s word says:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose.” ~ Romans 8:28 (NIV)

     This is not a hope. It is not a vague option. It’s an absolute certainty. God uses all things – both the good and the bad – for the good of the one who loves Him. Terrible things do

happen. But God sometimes uses affliction to teach us His

best lessons.

     People sometimes take this verse out of context. For instance if our tire blows out on the way home from work, we might think there’s going to be a sale on tires. But that’s not what God’s Word is saying. The “good” referred to in this verse is not necessarily to make us happy and healthy, but to make us holy like Jesus.

     We may in fact go through many difficulties in life, but one day we will be like the Lord Jesus Christ. Whatever our circumstances, we can have peace knowing that God has promised to bring about His purpose in our lives.

         Finding peace in the chaos involves discovering Him no matter what the circumstance. He draws us to Himself so that we can trust His love and His keeping power, just like Daniel did. Gradually the Lord develops within us an anchor that holds all the time. We live in an increasingly chaotic world, but God is the same – yesterday, today and forever. His truths are eternal and dependable.

       Spend time in the quiet reminding yourself of God’s perfect love. Be still, and remember the moments when He has protected you and provided for you. Go over His promises in your mind and open your heart to receive His gift of peace. As you do this again and again, He will create within you a solid faith that is not dependent on circumstances or feelings, but totally rests on the Lord Jesus Christ.

      What joy to realize that He is greater than we can possibly imagine, and He is stronger than we’d ever experienced. Through it all, He creates us to be shining lights in a dark world.

**taken from. purchase your copy here

 https://www.amazon.com/Finding-Peace-Chaos-Sharon-Brani/dp/0578696908/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=finding+peace+in+the+chaos+sharon+beth+brani&qid=1593551415&s=books&sr=1-2

 

 

The Power Of Focus

 

When we deal with difficult circumstances it is essential that we pay attention to what we are focusing on. If we feed our fears and starve our faith, we will grow weaker and more depressed and discouraged. If we feed our faith and starve our fears, we will grow stronger and more confident. Whatever you focus on expands.

     It can happen so easily. This morning a few folks shared with me their fears regarding COVID-19 and finances. I listened and certainly understood their concerns. I’ve  experienced some difficult stretches in my own life so I could easily validate their concerns. But after speaking with them it hit me. Yes, afterwards the seeds of their fears lodged in my mind. I found myself worrying about what the financial impact would be on my family.

     But then it subtly grew from concern to a strange feeling of weakness. It wasn’t clear for awhile why the weakness had come over me. Was I sick? But as time passed I realized that I had shifted from a position of faith and trust in the Lord to one of concern and very subtle worry. Fear of the unknown was growing deep within. As soon as I realized the source and how the seeds of earlier conversations had lodged in my mind, I took steps to eradicate them. Putting on some worship music, I focused on all God’s greatness and Power. I remembered how He had provided for me in the past and how I knew He would again. My heart grew lighter and the weakness slowly passed.

     Whatever we focus upon expands. It’s an important truth. The mind expands in relation to what our thoughts dwell upon. And it grows and grows and grows. So if we have a fearful thought, that will grow leading to anxiety, stress and more fear. The opposite is also true. If we focus upon God’s Power to overcome anything, our minds are focused upon faith. We will grow strong in that faith and even draw more evidences of faith to us.

    Now this is an amazing tool when you think about it. We have control over what we choose to feed our mind. Some folks are pushing away from the news these days. Others are limiting how much they listen to it. They have discovered that it feeds the mind with negativity and worrisome thoughts that don’t help them live and have productive, joy-filled lives.

     Others are intentionally listening to music that encourages and builds hope. I’ve been delighted to see the number of social media posts with uplifting music. As we listen to those songs our hearts relax and we remember. Although this chaos hit us unaware, music reminds us that there is a higher truth. We can rise above the present circumstances and focus on the good, the kindnesses that are so evident, God’s faithfulness, and most of all, our ability to choose.

     Maybe you have difficulty focusing on the good and feeding your faith. Maybe for you it’s a straight uphill battle. I understand. There have been times of great change in my life where it was difficult to just get out of bed in the morning. It was hard to imagine life ever being ok much less good. But, you know, it happened. Slowly one day at a time I took the next step. I did what I could do that day and those small steps took me to a different place. Yes, I found myself at a place I would never have been if it had not been for those difficult circumstances.

    I discovered through that that even though we are shaken by sudden change we need not be defeated. We can choose what our mind focuses upon and draw even more faith to us. We can open our eyes to see the bigger picture- not just what it’s like for us. Suddenly we are not alone. Others are struggling and unsure.

    So how do you focus your mind on faith? Here are some steps to take:

  1. Assess where you are right now
  2. Tell yourself a positive truth based on God’s Truth
  3. Intentionally focus on the good things, no matter how small
  4. Turn your negative thoughts into positive ones. Challenge any negative thoughts
  5. Stay in the present
  6. Find some faith-focused friends, co-workers, family members

 

     Lastly, take time to remember. Yes, remember the times of chaos in your life and how you survived then. Think back to previous experiences of chaos and notice how you managed to come through. Whether it was a tornado experience, a devastating hurricane, a divorces, an illness, etc take time to reflect on how you made it through. What did you do? Who was there? What did you turn to?

    Remembering helps me realize how many times I’ve coped with chaos in the past and survived. Again and again I’ve experienced that feeling of devastation and fear but I survived. At the time it was very difficult and scary. But looking back I can see how God sustained me and helped me one day at a time. Life went on. But I was different.

   Yes, through every chaos I’ve grown.  I still feel the fears of sudden change and chaos but I know Who to go to and I know that nothing is a surprise to God. He will help me as He’s promised to and as He has done again and again in my life. Will there be changes? Absolutely. But He is in control and I can trust Him.

  • This is from my soon to be released book Finding Faith in the Chaos

 

 

When Fear Threatens You

It happened in 1953.

The Polio Epidemic.

I have no memory of the fear that must have swept the country

as polio attacked so many – especially adults.

Leaving many paralyzed, some on iron lungs, some fatalities.

I have no memory.

But  I remember summer 1953 being a busy time

as we moved from Allentown, PA  to Levittown, PA.

My little baby brother was born in March 14, 2020

and there was so much to think about

for a little girl of 4.

Big bulldozers outside my window moved the dirt in the yard

and literally terrified me.

But there was something worse that would cause me to fear

for many years to come.

Polio.

I don’t even remember that word

until summertime

when my world was turned upside down.

After a time at the pool

my mother got a severe headache.

Suddenly a doctor was called.

Hushed voices.

My older brother and I stood in the hallway

waiting to hear about our mother.

The doctor came out of her room,

gave us each a shot

and made arrangements for my mother to be taken

to the hospital.

She had polio.

The next few weeks and months were a blur

as I was taken to Long Island to stay with my relatives.

I had no idea if I’d ever see home again.

Strange memories of those days

and lonely weeks.

Tasteless scrambled eggs

and long days.

I feared that my mommy had died

And I would never see my Daddy or brothers again.

How I wished to have the chance to be a good girl.

I knew that I would never cause them any trouble.

 

Today we face a the Coronavirus Pandemic

and daily news of how it’s spreading across the globe.

Schools are closed, churches will not have services

and many businesses are silenced.

Day after day I hear of more closings

and with it that sense of fear mounts.

But in the midst of it all

my heart remembers.

Long ago.

That verse of comfort and hope.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 KJV

That verse reminds me of Who is in control.

It reassures me when I begin to wonder.

What’s going to happen next?

It comforts me and gives me clear direction.

Trust. Don’t trust my own understanding.

Acknowledge Him

and then there’s that promise …

He will direct my paths.

He is close, personal and has promised to be there.

I never have to feel alone

like that little girl of 4.

Never again.

No, God has promised

to take care of me as I trust in Him.

Years ago I waited for months

with no word about my mother.

Years ago I had no hope.

But suddenly when that car pulled up

and my Daddy came to the door

my heart overflowed with joy.

We were reunited again as a family.

The lessons remain

God is with us.

We can trust Him.

We must not lean upon our own understanding.

But acknowledge Him

and let Him direct our days, weeks, months and more.

No one needs to be overwhelmed by fear.

No one.

If you are reading this

and struggling at times

with fear.

Remember His promise.

It’s for you.

Trust Him.

Put your faith in Him.

He will guide, direct and protect you.

Always.