Tag Archives: trial

Take Heart

19 Jun

There is a line in the movie “The Shack” that I really liked.  “Papa” is explaining what grace and trust look like when evil harms us; In those circumstances that we are collateral damage when someone’s free will results in grave sin.  “I am not asking you to excuse what he did. I am asking you to trust me to do what’s right and to know what’s best.”  He means inspite of what we see.  Forgive and trust God in all circumstances.

He knows our storms. He knows our sin and He knows the sins done against us. He is beside us, faithful, even when we can’t feel Him.

Faith is like a muscle. In our good times, our faith may not be getting a work out. Our gratitude may be strong, our worship may be strong but our faith truly is only tested in our trials.  Endurance is for the long term. Is faith really faith when the minute it gets painful, we fall apart?

Romans 5:3 tells us that our trials, through persevering, strengthens our character and builds us up in Hope.

He knows our circumstances and he knows our relationships. He knows where we are overwhelmed by the storms, uncertain how to navigate our way through. In Matthew 14:27 he says to Peter “Take heart; It is I. Do not be afraid”.   It is the middle of a storm, and the seas are raging, the disciples see the impossible, Jesus on the water. Peter, though he only had a small amount of faith, and probably a good dose of fear in that moment, was willing to trust and get out of the boat and walk to Jesus. “Lord if it is you, command me to come to you on the water: Jesus said “Come”.

Faith like that, faith that says “ok Lord, I am overwhelmed by the storms of my life right now, I long for answers that don’t come quickly.  I struggle to let go of the resolutions I planned for the outcomes you have planned. Lord, hold your hand out to me, help me find my way safely, and I will step out in faith”

How confident we can be friends, that He is there in the storms. In him we can find our peace, our hope, our courage. We can cry out “Father, our little faith can let us step out of our terror, even in the midst of storm, and walk on the water with you. You ask us to trust you, to take courage in you, in your presence, even when we don’t feel you near. You help us walk on the water in the storm.”

It is then that we find what cannot be found anywhere else. Peace that surpasses all understanding. Calm that belies the storms. Hope that even if it isn’t what WE planned, we know it will lead us to the exact place to bless us and to bless other’s with.

Lord you are just that amazing and good. Us of little faith, seek you and find you when we seek you with all of our hearts. Imperfect, scared to death, hurting and lacking in grace and mercy for other’s and for ourselves. We find perfect peace in all of that, the storms that this world brings.

Thank you, Father, for never letting me drown in this storm. Thank you for giving me the courage of Peter to step out in faith I don’t always feel!

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Matthew 14:27

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.Jeremiah 29:13

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b]boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:1-4

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phillippians 4:7

 

Crazy Good

31 May

“Grief does not change you, it reveals you.”~ John Green

Grief is a funny thing. Okay, not funny, but odd. Okay, not odd, completely loony toons.

One minute you can feel so at peace, so strong and the next you can be sobbing, or worse, barely able to contain the anger you want to unleash on truly undeserving people. My patience is shot, my tongue is sore from biting it so much. My body is weary. My eyes are exhausted.

To say I want to run from all I am feeling is an understatement. My diaphragm is in spasm, my anxiety is at a high. It is physiological, emotional and spiritual, all rolled into one. In the end, regardless of the feeling, I end up crying, hopefully releasing all the toxins and negative effects from my tired body.

I do become frustrated with my erratic mood swings, I feel as if I should have a better grip on this or as if I am wishy-washy. I become disappointed with the setbacks when I find acceptance and a peaceful place. But that is just ridiculousness Satan tries to beat me up with.

This is why we need trusted friends to share this journey; Strong, loving sisters that we can speak truth with and that we can receive truth from. Sometimes we just need someone to tell us, you’re okay , you got this, you are still moving forward. This doesn’t eliminate the need for God, but rather God gives us those people to drown out the meltdown in our head. He knows when we are at our weakest. Those friendships are His gift to us.

The truth is, I am moving forward. In hindsight I take two steps forward and one step back.  I have discovered that at the bottom of each new melt down, I gain wisdom or insight into myself or His desire for me. In those moments I can feel like I am drowning and lost but from that pain, comes acceptance, understanding and wisdom as I jump ahead two steps. Those are precious moments of peace and even laughter again.

The next layer of healing then has to take place. We take what feels like a step back from what we just learned but in truth, we are applying what we just learned. Without even realizing it, we test it out, work it out, try it on and let it become a part of us.Even when we think we are flailing, it ministers to the pain as we go deeper; To the next step in understanding and wisdom.

In the heart wrenching, crying out, take this pain away, it’s too much… even in that moment, I know this is temporary, I know that this unbearable pain will be used for good, to bless me and as a blessing for someone else. Even when I just can’t take anymore, I can acknowledge my depth of faith in this, “I know You have this, I know Your plans for me are so good, but help me here, in this moment, Lord”. Sometimes I just say His name because there is no other option.

There is something God has planned from this time of trial. I know this with all that I am. It is all I hang on to in the worst moments. I have felt this coming for months. The purpose He has created me for is coming.  Even in the darkest moments, I have the light of hope and peace. I even know it is being drowned out by so many layers of untruths. I guess it is a sorting, a sifting. From there will come the new.  The hurts and untruths and unforgiveness and fears all have to be cleared away, one by one, to make room for what is to come.

 

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  Romans 5:3-4

 

Deja Vu

13 May

If you have Facebook, you know there is a folder that reminds you of posts from years gone by.  Looking back at 3 years ago, I am watching my world unravel, to the beginning of spiritual warfare that I was not equipped for.

Prior to the spring of 2014,  my faith had matured and I had grown in so many ways.  I was surrounded by strong Godly women and I was doing alright; I was content. I was between trials.

Suddenly,  I found myself in the midst of change, a huge trial, everything was challenged. My daughter decided to move back to Minnesota and I was mourning her move.  My job was unstable and I was struggling terribly financially. I found myself suddenly lonely, for the first time in ages.  Moving into summer, things got worse and by July, I was worn out from the battle.

I honestly didn’t realize the depth of spiritual warfare I was dealing with at the time. It is only in looking back that I see the extent of the battle.

One night in particular I hit a new low.  As I cried out in sheer panic over finances, over my weaknesses, lack of faith, my temptations, a friend sent me a note in the middle of the night. She said I was on her heart that morning and she wanted me to read Isaiah 54. She emphasized Isaiah 54: 5. This is my response to her:

Last night, as I fell asleep. I cried out. I was deeply afflicted with sorrow and guilt and shame over how I am so double minded and feel so abandoned by God. I am surrounded with temptation and I don’t feel strong. I felt so distant from Him. So alone and abandoned, rejected, unwanted, I felt I had failed God in every way. I am weary of being alone and money and I felt like He was mad at me. That I must be such a disappointment to him. As I read Isaiah 54 my heart knew.. He wanted me to know He is there. “Fear not, for you will not be put to shame; And do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced; But you will forget the shame of your youth, And the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. 5 “For your husband is your Maker, Whose name is the Lord of hosts; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, Who is called the God of all the earth. 6 “For the Lord has called you, Like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, Even like a wife of one’s youth when she is rejected,” Says your God. 7 “[c]For a brief moment I forsook you, But with great compassion I will gather you. 8 “In an [d]outburst of anger I hid My face from you for a moment, But with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you,” Says the Lord your Redeemer.

Then, I went the exact opposite direction and began dating my husband.

During that trial,  I didn’t share the depth of my fears and sorrows with my friends. I didn’t tell them all that I was going through. I skimmed the surface and hid the depths of my fear,my shaky faith and loneliness.

Today, I find myself in a similar place. Almost a ‘Groundhogs day’ experience!

I am navigating the grief and pain the end of my marriage brings, and now my daughter is once again preparing to move away from me. This is an excellent move for her and my grandson, but my heart is torn in two.  I am shredded.

But God. But God. He is more than enough.  His love letter to me in Isaiah 54 still stands true.  I know His words are true.  Now I need to walk in it, to trust it completely.

How does one do that? It is a persistent faith;Believing what you don’t see or feel.

You start by sharing the burdens in your heart. You share your faith questions, you humble yourself and admit you are weak in trust, you accept that you are weak and need Him terribly. You let people know your journey. You let them pray over you. You ask the Holy Spirit to pray on your behalf. Then, you seek Him. You seek Him constantly. You pour your heart out to Him at all times. You yell, you cry, you beg, you bargain, you read His word back to Him.

And….you still your words. You quiet your mind and breathe. He is in the quiet. He is in the everything. He is in your tears. The quiet is when He speaks to you.  I can’t tell you the comfort of that time. When You just sit with Him, no words, just stillness.

The rest of Isaiah 54 has such promise. He makes promises to us all the time. He also gave us the free will to choose.

I am putting all my trust in Him whom has never let me down. Even when I falter, even when I run the other direction, He never stops pursuing me, never stops loving me. His covenant is forever.

Amen!

“To me this is like the days of Noah,
    when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth.
So now I have sworn not to be angry with you,
    never to rebuke you again.
10 Though the mountains be shaken

    and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
    nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
    says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

11 “Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted,
    I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise,[a]
    your foundations with lapis lazuli.
12 I will make your battlements of rubies,
    your gates of sparkling jewels,
    and all your walls of precious stones.
13 All your children will be taught by the Lord,
    and great will be their peace.
14 In righteousness you will be established:
Tyranny will be far from you;
    you will have nothing to fear.
Terror will be far removed;
    it will not come near you.
15 If anyone does attack you, it will not be my doing;
    whoever attacks you will surrender to you.

16 “See, it is I who created the blacksmith
    who fans the coals into flame
    and forges a weapon fit for its work.
And it is I who have created the destroyer to wreak havoc;
17     no weapon forged against you will prevail,
    and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
    and this is their vindication from me,”
declares the Lord.