Purposeful Faith

Category - Thoughts

When You Feel Abandoned By God

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

“Well, this isn’t how you prayed this moment would turn out.”

The thought passed through my filter of truth and circled my mind on repeat. I knew it was a lie, but I listened to it. I stood there with my four-year-old, who was starting a new school, and tried to hold back tears.

His own tears flowed freely.

“I want to go to old school,” he said repeatedly. The school staff gathered around, trying to calm him.

“Buddy, this is your school now. You’re going to have lots of fun and you get to go to school with Jay,” I said, faking composure.

Big brother stood beside us, cool as a cucumber. He told little one everything was going to be okay and talked about the things he was going to do with his class.

I looked at my firstborn’s cherub-like face with amazement. He was a little beacon of sunshine in this mess of a morning. A reminder from God that He was still there.

The guidance counselor distracted little one with a walk over to the school’s pet lizard and settled him. With her prompting, I snuck outside to my car, praying my baby’s day would improve.

My day did not. A rough morning with my youngest turned out to be only the start of hours of chaos and like an old habit, I questioned God again.

Why is this happening? Please, God. Make it stop.

For weeks, anxiety over life’s circumstances had been mounting. I worried about my youngest starting school. I worried about a family conflict. My mind turned to the baby growing inside me and I worried about the postpartum months.

You’re not going to have anyone to help you. You’re going to be alone.

With each lie I listened to, I was more overwhelmed. And this crazy day was the culmination of it all, begging to verify all my worries were true.

Except they weren’t.

Those beacons of light that began with my firstborn’s calm demeanor kept coming. A friend offered to help with the kids at the last minute when I needed to go to the doctor.

You’re not alone. You have friends to lend you a hand.

In the middle of a pregnancy scare, I called my doctor’s office to set up a spur of the moment prenatal visit. And in a practice with a dozen doctors, I got an appointment with the one I trusted the most.

I’m here with you in the chaos, child. I haven’t gone anywhere.

When troubles abound, we’re tempted to question God. It’s our human nature. But you know what? The flesh is a liar.

It lied to Eve in the garden when she listened to the serpent and felt like she was lacking something, even though she lacked nothing. It lied to David when, in the midst of being pursued by Saul, he thought God had abandoned him. (Psalm 13:1)

Our circumstances may change like the wind, but God’s faithfulness does not.

He is steady and constant, reaching into our problems with a soft whisper, “I am with you. I go behind you and before you.”

That pregnancy scare? It turned out to be a false alarm. And my sweet Gabe transitioned into his new school with ease after a rough first morning. While I know things won’t always turn out the way I desire, my chaos-filled day served as a reminder of one simple truth: God never leaves.

The next time you’re in a middle of a storm, look for the beacon of light. It may be as faint as a jet stream, but it’s there. And when you find it remember at your weakest point, He is strong.

He’s whispering to you in the storm. You just have to focus your ears and listen.

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AbbyView More: http://kimdeloachphoto.pass.us/allume2015 McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues here, even during her darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.

Abby would love to connect with you on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.




How to Make Stress Work For You

It all happened when I got stuck, sweating bullets in a parked car with a 3-year old who was certain my body was her gym mat. I was over the wait, but the countdown was ongoing. He was nowhere in sight.

My texts went unanswered.
40-minutes passed.
He knew I was parked.

I dialed him again.  Nothing.
Soon after, I saw his phone resting on the car mat.

I tapped my foot, frustrated.

Towing a 3-year old, we headed into the restaurant. We asked some people if they had seen a man with dark brown hair. The one with a boy? No. No. No.

My face reddened. My hand tightened. I pulled the girl out of irritation.

But, breaking the layers of heavy, and as if a messenger of God handed me a “Peace-note”, I remembered the recently-read words in “Sacred Stress.” They reminded me: There is an opportunity found in adversity…

The words said, “A Harvard University study found when participants reframed stressful events as a challenge instead of a threat, they felt energized and performed better.” Hmm…

Could I see this as a challenge rather than a threat that:
1.) Wastes my time?
2.) Ticks me off?
3.) Makes me worried?

The words said, ” Viewing stressful situations as healthy and an opportunity for growth usually eliminates the negative stress-related symptoms.”

What is coming against me, can actually work for me,
when reframed right.

The words said, I can create a positive outcome, a positive view and change the outcome, thereby escaping stress.

Situations don’t rule me, God does.

I can choose to see things from his good view;
it changes my poor view.

I can choose to see thigns from his good view; it changes my poor reactions.

Would this really work?

I tried:

“I have an opportunity to find and extend the grace of God.”
“God is calling me to lean on him. I will know Him better through this.”
“Maybe it will provide an awesome time for daddy to connect with son as they walk home. I can’t wait to hear.”
“I can show my kids we can beat the power of stress by not being stressed.”

I felt proud of my words, but still, troubled by anxiety.

The words said: “Name it.” This means giving an “honest accounting” of how you feel so you can get to the root emotion.

If you speak positive words but don’t let God tend to your bucking emotions,
you’ll still wildly flail out of control.




When we admit our feelings, see them for what they are, and let God hold them –
He does.




We land at peace.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Pet. 5:7

Looking back, I didn’t handle this situation just right. I messed it up. But, guess what?

I have next time. God doesn’t shun me and say, “You are one and done.” Nope. He is the God of ample opportunities. He is the God of perpetual second chances. He is the God of unending learnings. He will help me at my next crossroad. He will instruct me on the way I should go. I feel a little nervous about this. I see the fear in me – the fear of failure.  God sees it too.  He can handle it. It is not too much.

He whispers, “My perfect love casts out fear.” 1 Jo. 4:18

In this moment, I know I found something. I have arrived somewhere.

It’s called “Sacred Stress”.

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About Sacred Stress: A Radically Different Approach to Using Life’s Challenges for Positive Change

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 6.10.41 AMStress can limit our perspective, leaving us feeling trapped and out of control. But stress can also be a force for good: It is our challenges that most compel us to reach out for relationship. And our proudest moments come after overcoming obstacles we thought were insurmountable.

Based on personal experience and their work as therapists, and drawing on decades of psychological research, George R. Faller, MS, LMFT, and The Rev. Dr. Heather Wright have come to see that stress can be healthy and positive. They equip us with the skills and the knowledge we need to reframe our thinking about stress, understand and embrace our darker emotions, and become stronger through difficulty. View on Amazon.

Learn more about Sacred Stress.

About the Authors

George R. Faller, MS, LMFT, a lieutenant in the New York City Fire Department for twenty years who participated in 9/11 rescue efforts, is a licensed marriage and family therapist, an American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy supervisor, and an Emotionally Focused certified therapist, supervisor and trainer. He is also the founder and president of the New York Center for Emotionally Focused Therapy and teaches at the Ackerman Institute in Manhattan.

The Rev. Dr. Heather Wright, an ordained Presbyterian minister, is a licensed professional counselor and executive director for a faith-based counseling center. She taught graduate-level counseling and pastoral theology and served as a board certified chaplain. She is the author of Redeeming Eve: Finding Hope beyond the Struggles of Life and Small Group Leadership as Spiritual Direction.


Prayer with the Power to Work

Thank you God

My prayers kind of remind myself of a puppy pining from next to a table. I kind of look up all puppy-dog eyed and beg for scraps.

Do you?

It looks like this:

Day 1: “Please God. Help me God. Do this thing_________________!”

Day 2: “Please God. Help me God. Do this thing_________________!”

Day 3: “Please God. Help me God. Do this thing_________________!”

Day 4: “I really need this. I need it right now… “Hey God, maybe you don’t really want to do it, but please do it anyway.”

Day 5: “God, do you hear me? I need it….” I wonder, does God really hear me and love me?

Day 6: Silence. I say nothing. What is the use?!

Day 7: I give up hope in praying.

The more I beg and get fed, the more I keep up the begging, but if the master doesn’t hand me any good food, I start wondering why I am forgotten. I start wondering why I am next to his table when he can’t even see me.

I start asking, “What is the use?”

A wound sets in and I keep licking it…
No answers. And deeper it burns.
Roadblocks. The more it stings.
Discouraged faith. The infection sets in.

After walking around like this for a while, I am coming to think: Sometimes, God lets our wounds sit wounded, so that we can see how wounded we are without a right view of him.

Clarity sets in: I really feel abandoned.
A new prayer takes form: Let me see your love.
God’s prompting arises: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything with prayer an supplication to God, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses understanding will guard your hearts and your mind in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6-7)

Answers appear: You may be praying, but you are hardly thanking.

In an instant, what feels broken suddenly gets mending, because what I remember is God is always working. He doesn’t have to speak, or appear or provide some emotional answer, but as I pray he is working.

Why else would he tell us to thank him when we pray.  For when we ask, he then takes it on.  We can at that point thank him for what he is working out.

Will it always look like we expect? No.

Will it tend to end up better than that? Quite often.

Will we end up looking more and more like Christ? Yes.

And that is worth giving thanks over.

Thanks that sounds like this:

Thank you that you hear me God.
Thank you God that this is now in your hands and you have it.
Thank you God that you are for me.
Thank you God that you know best.
Thank you God that you will never desert me to my destruction-ending plans.
Thank you God that you are always leading me to the better way.
Thank you God that you have a Christ-like vision for my heart.
Thank You God that everyday I can trust that you see me and want me.

How might your perspective change if you just said thanks?

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Letting Go of Imaginary Worries


Post By: Angela Parlin

I used to think I didn’t struggle much with worry.

And then I became a Mom a decade ago. Suddenly there were so many what ifs to contend with. My imagination easily ran off to terrifying places, thinking two steps ahead of them, often fearing the worst.

Sometimes still, I get caught up in a whirlwind of worry, even though I know I don’t get to control things. Even though my trust in God has grown.

Shakespeare said cowards die a thousand deaths, and the brave die only one. I’ve heard a variation of his quote, which rings true for me:

“Some people die a thousand deaths before they die one.”

(Author Unknown)

I know the truth of my thoughts and my imaginations. I don’t tend toward bravery, but fear. How many deaths have I died in my head, or how many deaths have I feared for my loved ones?

What about you? Do you get trapped in worry? Have you grieved for those you haven’t even lost? Do you try to figure out the future, even though you have no power there?

When I’m stuck in worry, my best response is to turn each concern into a prayer, and to listen.

I am God, He says.

I am a good God, He says.

Trust me, He says.

He calls me to hand over all of my concerns to Him, each time they find their way back into my mind.

He calls me to bring my life before Him, to bring my loved ones’ lives before Him, day after day, and to place them in His hands.

He calls me to come to Him in prayer, to lay out the pieces of my life, to entrust it all to Him.

He calls you to all of the same.

When worry takes over, what we need most is to find our way back to the quiet, to fix our eyes upon Jesus once more. There, He speaks kindly to us, transforming and renewing our minds.

There, peace takes over, and worry morphs into trust.

We stop trying to carry our hurts, our struggles, our pain on our own.

We stop trying to bear our burdens–both our real ones and our imaginary ones–apart from the God who holds the whole world in His hands.

And when the worries return, as they often do, the Lord invites us to trust Him again, because He is God and He is good.

Some people die a thousand deaths before they die one, and I don’t want to be that person anymore. Lord, help us to live in peace instead of worry, to trust you with all the pieces of our lives.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you; I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid. John 14:27

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Angela Parlin

Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.



How to Believe God (over the lies of the world): Part II

How to believe God

In the blog post, Caution: How Not to be of the World, we talked about how taking our focus off of Christ can divert us down a road we never intended to drive.  But, by keeping our eyes on the Lord, nothing can take us down.  Nothing can shake us.  Nothing can keep God away.  He sees us and is right next to us.  We can learn how to believe God and not the World.

And when we do, God will stand next to us and walk us right up to the purpose of our life.  Finally, we can stand before purpose and to grab hold of it.

When we keep our eyes on the Lord, when we keep him at our right hand, we won’t be shaken. (Psalm 16:8) 

We won’t be shaken, because we are who God says we are.  And, we will be who God wants us to be – as we trust him.

God defines us.  God made us. And, God makes us. He answers and he fulfills his promises.

God is greater than the words and messages of the world that are here today and gone tomorrow.

With God:

  • Talking heads waste their words, because rely on the living active Word.
  • “Keeping up with the Jones” loses its power, because God’s our ultimate Superpower.
  • Never having enough is a thing of the past, because God is more than enough.

We don’t need to believe half-truths, when we have “the Truth”.

  • The world says you are less than, God says you are a child of the most high King. (Psalm 82:6)
  • The world says you need power, God says you need Him. (1 Peter 5:7)
  • The world says you need to conform, God says to be transformed. (Romans 12:2)
  • The world says you should find pleasure, God says to find treasure. (Matthew 19:21)
  • The world says to take for you; God says to give of yourself. (Matthew 19:21)
  • The world says to seek beauty above all; God says to love him above all. (Luke 10:27)
  • The world says be happy and fulfilled, God says die to self.  (Luke 9:23)
  • The world says take all you want, God says take up your cross. (Luke 9:23)
  • The world says live for today, God says live forever. (John 3:16)

When we drive down the freeways of the world, we end up in dark depressing neighborhoods filled with pain, shame and regret. God wants to lead us in truth and light.  He wants us to rush into his arms, to collide with his truth and to cruise in life safely.

He has plans that are so much greater than the world’s plans for us.  He has big plans.  But if we are so distracted with the signs of the world, we will miss the highway to him.  We will miss the joy that is him.  We will miss the peace that is him.  We will miss the life that is him.  We will crash.

He wants all of you.  He loves all of you.  He has big plans for all of you.  Give all of yourself to Him.


How to Run Hard for the Lord

How to run hard for the Lord

God doesn’t answer based on what we want, he answers based on what we need.

We may think we need peace and he says no, you need trials. We may think we need joy – he says perseverance.  We may think blessings – he says endurance.  We may think money – he says contentment.  We may think appreciation – he says love.

I was on the hunt for “encouragement”…

After my “big rejection”, an amazing friend who is wise beyond her years, strong in the Lord and faithful to his call, sent me this verse:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”  Hebrews 12:1

I think she wanted to encourage me in my race, to help me with endurance, but what God revealed was something far deeper and even more convicting.  Let me explain…

I love a good race.  I love competing and I love pushing through my personal barriers physically and mentally. I get the idea of running a race for the Lord.  Why?

I feel ready to give it all. I feel ready to explode off the starting line and to push no matter what my body feels.  I want to arrive at the gate of heaven and fall in front of my King with a fast beating heart, with sweat on my brow. I want to fall before him out of breath, knowing I gave it all.  I don’t want to have an ounce of push left.

I want this so badly.  But still, I get caught looking at the sidelines. I look at the crowds of people telling me to follow them, I look at my own inadequacies and I pump my arms with pride.

God knows this.  He sees this. And, as any fine coach would do – to make me the best runner for his kingdom – he trains me. He pushes me.  He sends me through hard training days; days with some pain – some trials. These trials serve to mold me into a champion runner for his kingdom.  They strip me of my own ways and the world’s ways – to make me more like him, the ultimate champion.

Even so, sometimes I wonder, despite all this, why I still slow down?

And, this was why Hebrews 12:1 was so powerful.  It was this part…“Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.”  

God bugged me with this verse to see that: I can’t run loaded with weight.  I have a part in this race.

Sin weight slows me down.  It trips me up.  It keeps me from Him.

And, when sin is strapped on, its burden is heavy.  It’s consuming. It stops us in our tracks. It distracts us and trips us up.  We can try to pretend it is not there, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t.  

God is faithful to keep bugging us to address it.  When we do, we grow.  If we don’t, we fall.

I may have been trying to run a “victory”, but sometimes a “failure or a disappointment” ends up being the greatest “victory”. Why? Because as we fail, we can see our own faults and we hear him whispering, “Confess.”

I didn’t want trials.  I didn’t want pain.  I didn’t want rejection.  I didn’t want humiliation.

God said, “It’s not about you. Confess.”

I confess Lord, I have sinned.  I want all of you.  I can’t mentally pursue the race you have set before me when my mind is weighed down by my own desires and my own sin.

It is easy to want joy, peace, contentment and blessings.  It is easy to want encouragement and motivation, but God is operating from the throne of all knowledge, all power and all sovereignty.  In his seat, he sees yesterday, today and tomorrow.  He knows precisely what we need to finish our race. He knows precisely what will hold us back from finishing.

He wants us to be champions. He wants us to run with speed and power and strength.
He wants us to finish strong and joyful. 

We are more than just conquerors in Christ Jesus.

What baggage holds you back?  What do you need to confess?  What trials might God be using to train you?

When we confess, God has a greater gift in store.  The gift of speed and endurance that helps us run our race unencumbered.  

3 Ways Comparing Is Bad & Damaging (Part II)

Comparing, judgement

“Look at her.  She has it all.  It must have been easy for her.  She doesn’t have the same barriers that I have.  I could do that too if I had the financial resources that she has, the support she has, the backing, the connections.  She is confident.  Nothing can take her down.  I want to be like her, but I will never be as good, as insightful or as knowledgeable.  I can’t.  I will never do “BIG” things.  She’s the whole package.  I may as well give up.”

Comparing is wearing.  It’s tiring.  It’s frustrating. It brings us down and settles us in a place of insecurity. When “comparing” is our companion, we are only as secure as the depth of another’s weakness.


How sad is that?  Our strength balances on our assessment of another’s faults, lack of material items or “less than” appearance.

“I think I am prettier. I am smarter. I am happier.”
“My car is better.  My house is better.  My family is better”
” I am less than you.  I am nothing.”

“You are better than me.  I may as well give up.”
“You are respected.   I feel dejected.”
“You are so put together. I am ready to fall apart.”
“You are so rich.  Why can’t I have more?”
“Your clothes are perfect.  Mine are outdated.”
“You have a neat house.  I interact with my kids more.”
“You have kids that show you love.  I have a neater house.”
“You may know so much about God.  I think I love others more.”
“You love others. I know more about the Bible & God.”
“You serve. My faith is stronger.”
“You do so much.  God loves me less”

“You are so “insert judgment here”, I am so “insert feel good response here”.
“You are so “insert praise here”, I am so “insert a “less than” comment here”.

Aren’t we made for more than this?

Comparing takes us on the up and down roller coaster ride – called “judgment”.
And, it drops us off feeling  inflated or deflated. 



We feel unvaluableSo, we either look to others to confirm our worst suspicions or we look to put others down to lift ourselves up.   Either way, others hold the power to sink us or to let us swim.

We win or lose. There is no middle ground. We are either better than or less than.  No matter, we always stand ready to fall.  Our position is constantly threatened  – there is always someone who is better, who has more or who is more talented.

“In all this comparing and grading and competing, they quite miss the point.” (2 Cor. 10:12 Msg)


Notice the theme of comparing?  It is all about “US”!   What if the person we are so quick to judge, has a life that is stuck in the sludge?  What if they need encouragement, love and help?  What if they feel worse than you?

When we compare, we have eyes that only see our own pain.  We were created to love others.  We completely miss the point of this when our greatest pursuit is seeking our own worth.


By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. (1 John 3:16)
Let’s make it about His story, not our glory.


You may be asking yourself, “Why is this bad? It is good to rely on yourself. At least then you are in control.”

When we rely on ourselves, we miss the chance to see God as he fills up our weak areas.  We miss his glory as he works out his story.  We miss the opportunity to learn about ourselves – as we trust Him.  We miss the opportunity to see how he wants us to grow in love.  We miss so much.

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.
For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:10 NIV)

We now have a great understanding of the 3 ways comparing is bad and damaging for us.  Be encouraged, in Part III we will look at the 3 Ways you Can Overcome “Compare” to Find Repair.  

God is a God of grace, love and forgiveness.  We have all fallen into comparing at some time or another; he loves you and has a plan to help you change.  Comparing is bad, but God is good.  He has great plans to help you.

Be sure to read Part I: “The Shocking Truth About Comparing”  and Part III: 3 Tips to Stop Comparing Once and For All.


Finding Lasting Peace: The Secret (That You Probably Are Not Doing)

Find lasting Peace

Wake up.  Drink coffee. Spend 5 minutes with God.  Rush to get ready.   Handle day’s work or home activities.  Drive.  Pay bills.  Have some difficult conversations.  Think about lunch.  Think about life.  Think about money. Dinner.  TV.  Think about health. Think about the future.  Brush teeth.  Think about family.  Think about worries.  Think about fears.  Sleep.  Wake up.  Repeat.

It is no wonder that we don’t feel “lasting peace”.  Life feels like a rat race that never ends.  And, our minds are like a gerbil that goes round and round and round in a wheel that is constantly spinning.

Day after day, we hurry hoping that something changes.  Hoping that maybe we will get enough, buy enough or eat enough, to make ourselves feel enough.  But, no matter how much we consume, life never seems to satisfy. 

Isn’t there more than this frustrating cycle?  Didn’t God intend for us to have lasting peace, more joy and more purpose?

The answer is yes.  He has so much more for us than worried rushed peace-less living.   

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. (Phil. 4:8)

If we really want lasting peace, we are wise to think about what we are thinking about. 

Our thought processes determine our feelings and our actions. If we are worrying, fearing and consumed with things of this world, we will feel fearful.  We will lack lasting peace. If we are focused on God’s truth, what is noble, what is right by his eyes, things that are pure and lovely and admirable, we will embrace lasting peace.  We will live lasting peace.

It is no wonder that God tells us how to think and then he follows it up with “…practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Phil. 4:9)

God calls on us to be obedient in our thoughts.  Not perfect, but obedient.  When we focus on what he values, he blesses us with himself and his presence.  We don’t need to reach for some new thing to fill us with peace or contentment. We need only to reach up to him.  God comes as the answer in our quest for lasting peace.  His requirement?  That we trust him at his word.   That we focus our minds. That we think and dwell on things that are uplifting and true.

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. (Isaiah 26:3)

When we obey, we have a chance to witness God’s faithfulness.  He will come and grant us lasting peace in our hearts.   He will make himself at home within our mind because we have prepared it as holy ground for Him to reside.   As a result, we will find a place of safety, a place of refuge, a place of escape – as we sit in his presence.  

He will refresh us in him.   This is true and lasting peace.

God is the ultimate peacemaker.   This is who He is.

When the rat race has you running on empty, welcome him into your mind and let him fill you with his peace – that transcends all understanding.