Purposeful Faith

Category - Contentment

Finding true contentment

“When Faith Doesn’t Take the Pain Away”

POST BY: Kendra Broekhuis

It would have been our daughter’s third birthday. At least, in a perfect world where mothers don’t bury their babies, it would have been.

I laid in bed imagining what our baby might have been like as a three year old. A curly red head like her mom? A brown eyed brunette like her dad? A sassy pants like her older sister? On the third anniversary of her stillbirth, the only thing that streamed as heavily as my imagination were my tears.

Sometimes I think it’s a miracle my faith has remained intact since this devastating loss. I chalk that up to a huge dose of mercy, really. My beliefs about Jesus are no longer phrases I learned to regurgitate in Sunday School, rather truths that anchor my soul:

He is victorious over death. {John 11:25}

He is working all things for my good. {Romans 8:28}

He is close to the brokenhearted. {Psalm 34:18}

But even though faith stuck around, that hasn’t stopped grief from practically bulldozing me over sometimes – like the day our daughter would have turned three. And on those days I learned that the presence of pain doesn’t mean there is an absence of faith.

Our pain simply reminds us that not all is right with the world, that we aren’t dwelling in the perfect garden paradise God first created us to. And therefore, our faith and our pain are forced to coexist. Nancy Guthrie describes this coexistence well:

The day after we buried {our daughter}, my husband said to me, “You know, I think we expected our faith to make this hurt less, but it doesn’t. Our faith gave us an incredible amount of strength and encouragement while we had Hope, and we are comforted by the knowledge that she is in heaven. Our faith keeps us from being swallowed by despair. But I don’t think it makes our loss hurt any less.” {Guthrie, Holding On To Hope}

Before Jesus returns, there will always be tension between our hope in heaven and our current reality living in a broken world. It’s not a matter of either/or, but and. We can have faith in a sovereign, victorious God and admit to Him the heavy pain we are bearing. We will face trials and God will strengthen us through those trials. We will walk through valleys and He will ultimately rescue us. We will grieve and one day He will wipe away all of our tears.

So whatever trials, valleys, or grief you are facing today, let God’s promises both anchor your soul and remind you that He is near, carrying you and tending to your broken heart.

Pray that even when faith doesn’t take the pain away, hope will remain steadfast too.

 

Prayer:

Lord, I pray that in Your great mercy You will strengthen the faith of Your people. Remind Your children in mighty ways that Your promises are true, even when life’s circumstances can take remarkably painful and unexpected turns. And show us through Your miraculous provision that You are mending our broken hearts. Amen.

 

Bio:

Kendra is the author of Here Goes Nothing: An Introvert’s Reckless Attempt to Love Her Neighbor. The book highlights her 30 Day journey to recognize the Lord’s “I love you’s” in her daily life, as well as her somewhat awkward attempts to be the Lord’s “I love you’s” to her neighbors. For her day job, Kendra stays home with two of their children, Jocelyn and Levi. She and her family live in Milwaukee. Kendra’s love language is Dove chocolate.

 

Amazon Link:

https://www.amazon.com/Here-Goes-Nothing-Introverts-Reckless/dp/0718083261/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

Website:

www.kendrabroekhuis.com

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/kendrabroekhuisauthor/

Instagram:

@kendrabroekhuis

I’ve Got to Do Better than Her

She is going to make me look like a fool. It’s me against her. I have to come out on top.

Deep in me, there lives a competitive beast. One that promotes selfish ambition and untoward conduct. One that looks at other gals and compares them to me.

The beast says:

I need to be super impactful, smart and powerful. Or, I’m disposable.
I can’t let others get ahead of me. No one will pay attention to me anymore.
I should desperately fear being left behind. I’ll be useless without impact.

Competitiveness is a horrible beast to be chained to. It demands we control the uncontrollable. It sets us up to fail.

Does jealousy, fear, selfish ambition or a competitive nature threaten you, like me?

Lately, I’ve become so sick and tired of it’s bullying tactics. I’ve decided – through a deep investigation of scripture – to fight back.

Here’s how:

1. I humble myself under the mighty hand of God, knowing at the proper time (and in God’s proper way), He’ll exalt me.

2. I remember Christ rules over everything. He has all authority and every victory belongs to the Lord. If it is my victory, it is an empty one. But if it is God’s, it is fruitful.

3. I ponder the idea that by my strength, I get tired. But by His, I become empowered.

4. I bless those who hurt me, persecute me, laugh at me, talk behind my back and injure me. Why? Because God loves His creation. He is working on them. He is doing something. I don’t need to get my sticky fingers into His artwork. I can trust the masterpiece He is creating without trying to let my bitterness or irritation take control.

5. I wait on God knowing that, nearly half the time, it is by doing nothing I find He’s doing everything. Likewise, I step out when He says it’s go time, no matter how prideful, arrogant or self-serving it may seem to the world. Ultimately, I don’t serve others opinions of me, but Christ’s lordship. I follow it, stay close to it and trust it, no matter how it looks.

The beast dies when we die to our flesh and come alive to Christ. It can’t live when we stay surrendered and in-step with the Spirit. It has no rule when Christ rules. Period. And Amen.

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From “a Bad Hand” to “The Upper Hand”

For a large part of my life, I believed I’d simply been dealt a bad hand. I had thoughts like this: “Things work against me. No one is for me. The world will hurt me. People are out to get me. I can’t trust anybody. I am at risk of being continually injured or stranded. Bad circumstances find me.”

Bad. Hand.

Hurt. Kelly.

Struggling. To. Be. Okay.

Annoyed….Others. Have. It. Better.

Defined. By. My. History.

Have you, like me, allowed internal definitive statements to define your identity? Are you unsure how to climb out of the pit of injustice you’ve found yourself in?

Incredibly, God’s Word shows us the way. God has clear-cut, straightforward instruction for those who have been punched one too many times by the constant onslaught of the world. For those whose stomach feels like it is caving in and they’re about to give up.

Here it is…(notice the two main call-to-action points included within this statement):

“If you… 1.) listen to the commands of the Lord your God and 2.) carefully obey them, (then) the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you will always have the upper hand.” Deut. 28:13

If you listen and obey…

Then you’ll have – not the bad hand –  but always, the upper hand.

You won’t be the tail that gets stomped all over, but the head that is wise, smart and full of God’s truth.

Jesus, as the head, will get in your head and change the world of hurts you’ve been living in. Give Him a shot. Listen, obey and find yourself ahead.

 

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Let’s Count the Ways: God Watches You

“Are you watching me?”

My 6-year-old son puts on shows. Willy Wonka, Moses in the wilderness, Box Car Children- you name it, and he acts it out. And he always asks this question.

“Are you watching me?”

Half the time, I’m not. I mean to be, but I’m also human. I’m trying to tackle things like bills, emails, text messages, phone calls, dishes, laundry, dinner…you get the point.

The fact of the matter is, our parents didn’t watch us non-stop either. I know there were times I put on shows and my mom or dad didn’t watch. It’s not because they didn’t want to, but because they were human.

But you know what? God is not human and He is watching. This fills the desires of all our hearts. The desire that says, “Someone, please, be watching me. Watch out for me. Watch me and know my ways. Watch me and protect me. Watch me and help me.”

God watches, carefully.

God is always with us.

“Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” Ps. 139:7-8

God’s watched our days before they’ve even happened.

“Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.” Ps. 139:16

God’s intimate thoughts about us don’t stop.

“How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.” Ps. 139: 17-18

God is aware of our most intricate workings, habits and ponderings.

“You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.” Ps. 139: 3-4

He watches you to protect you.
“You hem me in behind and before.” Ps. 139: 5

God watches it all. Every song, dance, move, time you sit down, stand up, and twirl around. You are precious in His sight.

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Let Go of Old Grudges

I’m under God’s conviction.

There’s this person in my life I thought I’d forgiven long ago. That is, until I realized I didn’t want to bless this person, give to them, or pray for them. At just a mention of their name, yucky emotions made me annoyed.

Why am I still so upset?

You can’t just brush offenses under a rug like dirty crumbs and expect them to self-clean. There they sit there, until one day you pull back the covers to see the disgust of what you’ve left untended.

It is not pretty.

The unforgiveness we leave unchecked goes unhandled. What goes unhandled grows uncontrollably. Ungodly growth has ruined a soul or two.

Friends, don’t discount even the smallest amount of growth. A little touch of poison ivy can cause immense bodily agony. A poisonous bite from the wrong insect can send one to their deathbed in a minute. A weed can take over a bed of flowers in a flash.

I am not trying to invoke fear, but I am trying to say this: a little unforgiveness can cause much distress within a soul and body.

We don’t want this and shouldn’t allow it. So, let’s plant a stake in the ground. God has far better for us.

We must break down the set-up of unforgiveness in our heart and return back to love. What the enemy has purposed to ruin us, we must let go so God can remake us. It is the only way true love prevails.

Who do you need to forgive today? Might you consider letting go of the thousand hurts they still inflict on you in exchange for one simple act of letting go?

I am going to join you in this process right now.

Here we go:

Father God, we feel angry, hurt, irritated, alone, ____ and left behind by this person. We hate how they made us feel. Yet, we are thankful that you, Jesus, sympathize with our pain. Not only this, you understand it. You know pain; you know the cross. You also know humility. Although the pain is real, we let go of what hurt is still hurting us. We clear room for your new life. We welcome in your grace. We give you the offense right now. We breathe in grace and breathe out what unforgiveness does not belong to us anymore. We breathe in the love you have for us, we breathe out the shame we feel for holding on to this for so long. We accept what Jesus did on the cross today and we celebrate it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

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When You’re Feeling Bad About Yourself

Do you ever wake up on the wrong side of the bed? Or maybe you start your day doing great, only to end it feeling poor.

I understand.

I sit here feeling kind of blah.

Blah because I don’t know how God will handle everything I’m concerned about.
Blah because I know that I should know: God has everything handled.
Blah because I still feel irritated at people I am desperately trying to forgive.
Blah because I’m not really accepting the grace Jesus died for.
Blah because I want to connect with God, yet I feel ashamed to.
Blah because it is weird to tell people you’re feeling these kinds of things.

Blah. Blah-dee. Blah-blah.

So, I pray, “Here in the place of blah, God, what do you have for me?” And here’s what He empowers me to do:

If Jesus busted out of the tomb, so can I.

If the dull sounds of guilt-ridden religiosity didn’t hold Jesus back from new life, neither should my sins.

If Jesus left me peace, it is mine for the taking.

If He forgave me, I can forgive others.

If there are new mercies every day, I can seize them right now.

If Jesus died to cover me with grace, covered I am.

If I don’t know what to do, I can lean not upon my own understanding, trust Him and know: He’ll make my paths straight.

If I feel disappointed by my lot in life, I can give thanks for the whole lot of stuff I do have.

If I wonder if people will ever change, I can simply praise Him for my inner-change.

If I can’t forgive myself, I can remember how Jesus’ death on the cross proves He already has.

If I feel unloved, I can remember His constant never-ending outpouring love from above.

“If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?” Ro. 8:31-32

“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? …No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” Ro. 8:35, 37

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Ro. 8:38-39

 

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Do you Still Love Me?

I had a really hard talk with a friend. I told her some things that needed to be said. Her face looked sad.

I didn’t want to say all these things, but I felt God wanted me to. The words were supposed to be encouraging. I tried to do this the best I could, but sensed I was failing. She listened. She nodded and soaked it all in.

We understood each other. It was all good.

But after she left, I felt crushed.

Does she still love me? What if she leaves me?

Does the idea of confrontation ever make you want to cover up because you fear you’ll be left unwanted?

I’ve noticed that in the past I left people before they left me, in order not to get hurt.

God help me. I don’t want to do that again. 

Frankly, I often don’t realize what my flesh is doing until my Spirit realizes it’s too late. But is it? Is it ever too late to return to love? It can sure feel like it. It can feel like it when memories of relationships are severed. Or the way you approached something can’t be taken back. It can feel you’ve gone down a one-way road leading to continually hurt feelings inside you.

I always mess up.

Are you there today? Do you feel you’ve ruined a relationship in a way that can’t be fixed?

5 Truths when Relationships Appear Broken

1. We are not perfect, nor will we ever be. On earth, we are moving from one glory to another. This means we start at a lesser glory, learn through a trial about God’s glory, and grow up into His greater glory. Life = Learning. We are learners.

2. God’s love is steady and sure. We may do what God wants, but man may still leave us. This doesn’t mean we didn’t: Do what God wanted us to, love well, and handle things correctly. It means that life gets sticky and sometimes people need time to process.

3. Our God is a God of new beginnings. Just as Jesus found new life after He gave up his own life at the cross, sometimes we must give up our pride to find new life in a relationship. This looks like humbling ourselves, saying sorry, and moving into the new thing God has for us.

4.  We all want to be loved. While we look at our stack of mess-ups, reasons we’re right or issues surrounding the relationship, others are doing the same thing. They want healing too. They want restored connectedness also. Understanding others’ perspectives always comes before judging them. This posture lets us kneel instead of cowering before others. Whose heart doesn’t open up when you see someone kneeling before you?

5. We get grace. Lots of it. It is abundant. Magnificent. Restorative. Full of opportunities to start over. Take it, in full-measure. God loves us. We are covered by the blood of Jesus. This means that by turning back to God and letting him take what we’ve done wrong, we get a covering, a protection and a start-over that our soul longs for. Things may not be perfect with others, but we look perfectly blameless in the sight of our God.

 

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I Can’t Do This All

One way to succeed at life is to take inventory of what sets you off.

Ask: What makes your chest well up with discomfort? What makes your stomach turn in rolling knots of nervousness? What makes your hands sweat?

There’s some very good news coming to you soon. With this, I’ve had to do some very hard work to see it through. Hard work makes me feel under much pressure. And being under pressure makes me feel I must perform.

Performances steal the presence of God.

It becomes all show and no rest. Performances are about: doing, striving, working stuff up, making things happen, generating results and presenting a good face.

They’re about getting somewhere. Meanwhile, God just wants to be with us.

Maybe you are there. Maybe you are saying to yourself, “I try so hard, but get nowhere. I don’t know how I’ll do it all. I am stressed out. I am overwhelmed. I am burdened.”

Right now, I believe God has an invitation for you and for me.

As I see it, I believe it reads like this…

Dear (your name),

I invite you to step away from the soul-crushing burdens of all you feel you “must” manage. I will manage those things as you trust in me. I can do far more than you can think or imagine when you trust me. I can accomplish in one minute what it takes you 5000 to conceptualize. Will you trust me? Will you let me take lead? Will you hand to me what you’re death-gripping and mishandling? Will you let go of those unruly emotions and trace them for promised lands of peace? I promise to take good care of what is most important to your soul. I won’t leave you behind. I am always true to my word.

“Defeat does not come to those who trust (in God).” Ps. 23:5 GNT

“(God) is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Heb. 11:6 NKJV

Above all, please know: I am with you. I am on your side. I am helping you. My hope is to give you the deep desires of your heart. (Ps. 37:4)

Love,

God

 

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When You Don’t Know What to Do

Have you ever asked these questions?

God, where are you?
God, why haven’t you shown up by now?
God, don’t you have a better plan – than this?
God, you need to come through for me. What do I need to do?

I’ve asked this a lot. After all the battles I’ve gone through (health, mental, financial and emotional), I’ve asked this time and time again. In fact, I’ve fretted and tried to figure out why God isn’t doing what I want him to.

He usually answers back with something like this:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,
As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Is. 55:8-9)

As if He is saying, “Daughter, lay down your demands for predictability and safety to come, follow me.”

Jesus is always inviting us somewhere. The question is – will we go?

You know, we don’t make just one decision to follow Jesus and throw in the towel. We do it again-and-again, day-after-day, minute-by-minute. We do it everytime we choose to disagree with the mayhem we see, in order to believe the truth of God’s Word within our mind.

This is following Jesus. This is being Battle Ready.

Being Battle Ready is getting to this question: “God, how in the world do I leave it all behind, to follow you, yet again?”
Then, listening
Being willing to accept a new plan.
Moving forward with it.
Fighting enemies attacks.
Pushing back against lies.
Seizing truth in our heart, through practical ways.
Giving love out to the world.

When we do this faith comes easy. Believing the God-0f-miracles happens more seamlessly.

I wrote my upcoming book, Battle Ready: Train your Mind to Conquer Challenges, Defeat Doubt and Live Victoriously, because I wanted a clear-cut plan to know what to do – when my mind went ballistic because it “didn’t know what to do”. Why? Because, I’ve gone through battle after battle, relationship problem after relationship problem, health concern after health concern. You name it, I’ve probably faced it.

I wanted strategy on how to stay close, strong, confident and steadfast. I wanted to get pro-active rather than reactive. I wanted to learn how to really allow God’s truth, promises and scripture to dwell in my mind.

While writing this book, God laid out scriptural plans, bible verses, how-to steps, habit-changing tips. I discovered how to create a personalized Battle Plan. You’ll create your-own Battle Plan too.

Want the insiders track to progress? Want to get all my exclusive freebies, devotionals, scripture on battle, little insights, live prayer meetings, plus join a band of women on-fire for Jesus?

Consider joining my launch team (Yes, YOU!!! All are welcome!).

Get the inside scoop on the book.  Printables. Video devotionals. Live prayer with Kelly. My arsenal of Battle-scripture. Group-support. All the Pre-order bonuses. Weekly accountability. A physical thought-changing gift. A Mini-Prayer Journal.

You’ll do little things, like:

Sharing the book with your small group or women’s minister
Spreading the word about it on social media.
Writing an Amazon review (which is so helpful).
Encouraging my heart.
Sharing it with your people (if you are a blogger)

Just pre-order a book today, then join the group here. Don’t delay.  200 also get a free book sent to them.

Bonus for bloggers, authors, women’s ministers and leaders: Also get my whole Platform Writing and Speaking Coaching Series for free in the group. This is 15+ expert coaching videos that will help you build an audience and speak to them in ways that move their hearts.

Pre-order! And sign up for the launch team today.

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What if Jesus Drove Your Life?

Him: “Mom, I want to ride my bike with you on a major highway.”
Me: “Hmm… No.”
Him: “Mom, I want to ride my bike to a far-off neighborhood I’ve never been to before. I want to go far and get somewhere.”
Me: “You know, son? I care far less about our destination and far more about just being with you.”

As soon as I said it, the words hit me like self-reversing bullets at brute force speed. God cares far less about my destination than He does about just being with me.

I say: “God, I want to do things for you.”
He says: “Come and sit at my feet. Be not worried about many things.”
I say: “God, I want to do things for you.”
He says: “It appears being first is the right way, but sit with me and you’ll find being last is your true joy.”
I say: “God, I don’t know if I’m doing enough for you.”
He says: “People look at the outward appearance, but (I) look at the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7)

In all my going, am I missing the fullness of God? In pushing fast, am I really pushing God away?

God is the driver; I am the passenger. God knows where I’m going; I stay near to Him. God has the heavenly GPS; I pay attention to where He wants me to go.

Can a passenger ever go anywhere if she isn’t seated next to the driver? If she’s off in her own land, trying to drive her own pretend car to her own Never Neverland…can she ever arrive?

Surrender is to allow God to be the driver. It means you become a sitter at the feet of Jesus. It means allowing your heart to become in awe of Him and His every word. It is to humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, knowing at the proper time: He’ll do the exalting. (1 Pet. 5:6) It is peace. It is joy. It is our portion. It is our calling. It is our ultimate destination.

Why? Because the destination that is Jesus always leads to a destination of vision. We find out who we are in the boundless nature of His love. Here, He reveals the “go” we always wanted to find.

Another note: My new book Battle Ready: Train your Mind to Conquer Challenges, Defeat Doubt and Live Victoriously is available for Pre-order. This summer, I want you to read the book with me. We’ll be going through the book (200 people get a copy) in my private launch team group. I’ll also be providing free support materials, printables, scriptures, prayer time together and fun stuff from me. If you want to learn to abandon discouragement, doubt, and disappointment, come join me on the launch team. Just pre-order a book on Amazon, then sign up here.

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