The Upper Room devotional reflection for Thursday, September 22, 2022, comes to us from Sheryl H. Bolt of Florida.

1 At that time, says the Lord, I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people. 2 Thus says the Lord: The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, 3 the Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. 4 Again I will build you, and you shall be built, O virgin Israel! Again you shall take your tambourines, and go forth in the dance of the merrymakers. 5 Again you shall plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria; the planters shall plant, and shall enjoy the fruit. 6 For there shall be a day when sentinels will call in the hill country of Ephraim: "Come, let us go up to Zion, to the Lord our God."

Jeremiah 31:1-6 NRSV



Seventeen years ago, I had a breakthrough and finally understood the Lord’s love for me. For decades I had begged God to deliver me from my eating disorders and clinical depression. They were taking a toll on my relationships, and I felt like even God had given up on me. I prayed, “God, I’m constantly letting people down, including myself. From now on, I’m going to focus on your love for me.” Something changed when I heard myself speak with certainty of God’s love for me.

In a powerful way I knew my heavenly Father loved me and was on my side. I knew that God never had and never would give up on me. I no longer felt that God was exasperated with me – I sensed God’s tenderness. That day began my slow and steady progress out of emotional instability. After a lot of counseling, the right medication for a while, and, most of all, lots of time with God through prayer and Bible reading, I found stability. I’m glad I didn’t wait until my situation got worse. Even though my situation seemed hopeless, I learned to trust in God’s love for me and sought the help I needed.



My friend, the Rev. Jeff Nelson, usually concludes his worship services with the phrase: “God loves you, and so do I, and there’s nothing you can do about it.” Sometimes we wonder if God truly loves us, individually and corporately. With all the trouble, suffering, discord, and animus in the world, we wonder how a loving God could allow such pain to exist. Sheryl’s reflection is particularly poignant for many of us, suffering from chronic conditions, who have asked God to remove or heal them, only to hear: “my grace is sufficient” (2Cor 12:9). Yet, God does love us, with all our faults, flaws, and failings. God does loves us despite our many mistakes and willful hurtful actions. God does loves us because God sees who we can become. If only we could see ourselves the way God see us. I invite you to take a moment, find a mirror, look yourself in the eye and repeat the words Sheryl spoke: “From now on, I’m going to focus on your love for me.”

--Pastor Anthony


Lord God, surround us with your compassion and fill us with renewed hope. Amen

-- Sheryl H. Bolt

Prayer Focus:

Those struggling with eating disorders.

Thought for the day:

God’s love has the power to deliver me from hopelessness.