Greetings all, here is your e-votional for the week…

There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome.  These used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem.”-Mark 15: 40-41

Tasha and I were in Grand Rapids, Michigan last week for the Festival of Faith and Writing, held at Calvin College.  One of the speakers was a prison chaplain named Chris Hoke.  His stories were powerful and heartbreaking and afterwards I thought a lot about the lives of some of the men about whom he spoke.

Last night I went to a candlelight vigil at UAFS to support victims of sexual assault.  No personal stories were shared but we heard the terrible statistics once more, and were reminded that our colleges and universities are some of the most dangerous places in America for women.

Sunday we will host Becca Stevens and hear about her ministry to women who were victims of human trafficking, and we will hear the personal story of Regina Mullins, who through Becca’s Thistle Farms Ministry, escaped a dire situation.

My point is this; all of these things are hard.  It was hard to hear about prison life.  It is hard to think about the plague of sexual assaults on college campuses.  It may be hard to hear Regina’s story.  But I also remember the women who followed Jesus all the way to the end, and watched from a distance as he was crucified.  Sometimes following Jesus means looking directly at things that are hard.  It means hearing hard truths spoken and it means sharing stories which are hard to tell.  Following Jesus is not always about beauty, on the contrary it can often mean directly confronting sin and evil in this world and in our lives.  As you listen to Regina preach and you hear Becca speak, it may be hard, but know that sometimes it is in the hard things that we first find hope.

Prayer:   Holy God, I pray for the hard things in my life today.  I pray that I would not be afraid of those things; that I would not be afraid of asking for help if I need, that I would not shy from helping someone else.  I pray for your strength, wisdom and power in my life, and I ask that you would help me to serve you and to serve others in your name.  It is in Jesus’ name that I pray.  Amen.