You. I know you feel sad, down or discouraged that things aren’t going so well.
That person? Yep. They aren’t so much changing.
That dream? Yep. It isn’t so much happening.
That pain? Yep. It isn’t so much going away.
That trial? Yep. It’s very much still there.
That bill? Yep. It’s not going away.
And, there you are in the middle of that rainstorm feeling tossed to and fro. You can nearly feel the pain of things that are going to hit into you. You nearly see the rocks and pebbles heading towards you. Add, the past? It howls with the whipping of regrets of yesteryear.
The power of God moves, you just aren’t sure if it is moving for you.
Do you just lay down and give up? Do you run?
But, run where?
There appears to be no covering, no safety from the onslaught of water falling. There appears to be no parting in the sky.
But, what if, what I saw as doom and gloom, God was working for my good?
I shall give you rains in their season, so that the land will yield its produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit. Lev. 26:4
While we see rain, God sees gain.
While we see storms, God sees the seed of new starts.
While we see downpours, God sees the fruit he’ll bear.
While we see darkness, God sees the light that will shine the next day.
God calms calamity and turns it into spiritual prosperity.Believe.
There is more than the eye can see.
There is more than the ear can hear.
Faith is more than your senses can perceive.
There is more than your mind can conceive.
God is higher than your loftiest vision.
God is bigger than your largest memory.
God is not contained within your own perceptions.
Even more, he is good.
Not good sometimes.
Good all the time.
Not good on some days.
Not just good to other people. Good to you.
My friend walked through the grocery store with her eyes down and shoulders slumped. She was having a hard day and it showed.
A woman from church saw her and asked, in a seemingly patronizing way, “Are you struggling?”
My friend felt like the woman’s question, laced with pity, was suggesting that it was not Christlike to be struggling.
Listen, we all have hard days and hard seasons.
It would be a lie to answer with an, “I’m fine” during those times.
But sometimes we mask our pain because we fear:
1. The other person won’t care.
2. They won’t know what to do with our hurt.
3. They don’t seem like a safe place to share.
4. We don’t want to burden them or overshadow their happiness.
But life is plain hard sometimes and we need one another to stand up when the waves of circumstance threaten to capsize us.
Just the other day several friends and I were swapping some good news. One of our friends bravely admitted that she was struggling with bouts of sickness with her kids, but she didn’t want to rain on everyone’s parade. She definitely shared in our happiness yet, instead of saying, “I’m fine too”, she was honest with how she felt.
I was grateful for her authenticity, it actually strengthened our friendship—knowing that she wouldn’t lie or put up a front that everything was okay when it wasn’t.
Just because you are struggling to find joy does not make you a weak Christian.
Look at all the biblical greats who struggled with various things like unbelief, temptation, jealousy, fear, anger, etc.
Sure, Christ wants us to have victory and count it all joy, (see James 1:2-4) but that doesn’t mean we have to put on a Pollyanna plastic smile and pretend that everything is okay, when it’s not.
The holiday season can fill us with moments of wonder and worship yet also remind us of loss and pain.
It’s as if our senses are more acutely aware of both our blessings and brokenness this time of year.
Think of the conflicting emotions felt during that first Christmas season long ago.
I am sure that Mary experienced the loss of her reputation when the naysayers discovered that she was pregnant. Then, months later—great with child—she rode on a donkey, not in comfort but on a bumpy journey away from home.
Yet, in her struggle with pain, she was carrying the Good News, the long awaited One, who would bring lasting hope to a hurting world.
Even in the dark there is light. There is hope in the struggle, but that doesn’t minimize our pain.
I doubt that God shouted to his bond-servant, “C’mon Mary, suck it up sister. You’re swollen with the Savior yet there’s no time to complain about your pain.”
God was with her as she labored and He loved her no less in her messy state.
The Good News should cause us to rise up and celebrate but that does not mean we have to be super-human or deceitful and pretend that nothing discourages us.
The super-human Savior, both God and man, came to us in our struggling state and loved us so much that He took on more pain that we will ever experience.
Whether you are struggling or soaring this season, know that you have an empathetic Emmanuel who is with you and for you.
He doesn’t scold you in the shopping aisle, He nods with understanding as you unwrap your feelings and let Him in—even to those untidy corners of your heart.
Thank You Jesus that You love us so well. Even when we are falling apart You hold us together with Your strong arm. You are the Hope of the Ages. Help us to rest in Your embrace and to live bravely, whether we are happy or sad. Thank You that You are patient with us—not condescending. Oh how we need you, this day and for all time. Lift up our heads and may we magnify You—the One laid in manger, killed on cross and resurrected in victory. You are the best gift of all. Amen.
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Katie M. Reid is a tightly wound woman, of the recovering perfectionist variety, who fumbles to receive and extend grace in everyday moments. She delights in her hubby, four children (and one on the way) and their life in ministry. Through her writing, singing, speaking and photography she encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life. Connect with Katie at katiemreid.com.
I see so many things called “impossibilities” right now. Blockades to progress. Markers of all I haven’t been able to push through. Barricades of defeat. A funny thing happens with these things. Maybe you have noticed? The more we pass them, ponder them and pay attention to them, the less they look like barriers and the more they look like graven images.
They normally are the things God didn’t fulfill. Things left undone. Things that torture a soul with the word, “unknown.”
They exist and then they start to rule over us, like this:
I deserve to live in defeat.
I can’t do it.
I will never find days “better”.
Quicksand is my destiny.
God doesn’t really care that I am stuck.
He won’t help me out.
I can’t make it.
I can’t do this thing before me.
I will fall down and get hurt.
Others have it easier.
Yet, when we know the end from the beginning, we know we will end up okay. Just consider this...
It is easy to look at our kids and say, “Trust me, when you get older, it will get better, people won’t be as mean.”
Or to be stuck in traffic and say, “I am dead stopped, but soon enough I will get moving.”
Or to watch a movie and know, “I will be okay at the end of this show, this ordeal will end.”
Never give up.
Our bodies may be dying, but our spirits are being renewed every day.
For troubles are small and won’t last,
but they are producing great glory that will last forever!
So don’t look at the trouble you see,
look at what you have not seen.
Your troubles will soon be over,
but ur joys will last forever.
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
When we really know the “agony” will end,
we don’t agonize.
When we stop relying on what we see, we start seeing God’s predictable and promised outcome. We feel safe.
When we see the finish line of pain,
we start to live in courage, rather than discouraged.
When we believe in what will come together, we consider less what never has.
I wonder, how are you living? His Word is sure-fire. More sure-fire than any of those circumstances above. We can’t always see his workings, but we can be certain they will fire through to change the landscape of everything, always.
It’s not so much about what we see and it is always about what we don’t. It is not so much about what we “get,” but always about what he is working to give. It is not so much about there here and now, but much more about the “will come” – and the holiness that also arrives in our own heart.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Prov 3:5-6
We don’t have to understand,
we just have to stand to believe he is working
under the gears of our lives.
Stand to know encouragement: that the pain that stands before you – will end.
Not discouragement: that what you are confronted with will always be.
Where are you dwelling? In lands of possibilities or impossibilities?
Are you looking at what will never change or at what God has all power to change?
When we fear the unknown, we actually fear the idea of being out of control. We fear that we are losing our ability to impact a darn think – and we actually are. This is the point; God doesn’t want you in control – he wants you to know he is. Not once. Not twice. But all the time.
Yesterday, I offered a challenge of losing “control”. Of walking in greater surrender. I would love for you to join me in this pursuit to “let go and let God.” For 31 days, we will push through a slice of control we continually want to eat. What is it for you? Might you consider releasing? If so, join in. The bloggers who take part in this will be writing about it on November 9. I am excited to share a portion of their journey too.
Let go. What we let go of, can’t rule us inside.The hole that it leaves is replaced by more of God. More hope. More renewal. More encouragement. More life.
“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up” (Galatians 6:9 NLT).
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Bloggers, I have moved the guest post submission deadline out to November 16. I know many of you have a busy October.
What precedes victory?
What sets up a strategy that wins?
What helps solidify an unsure direction?
You probably haven’t heard this explained this way before. Or, maybe you have and have written its power off because it seems too simple, too ordinary and too commonplace. But, activating our hearts in these small two steps, often activates our hearts in new hope.
Let’s look at King Jehoshaphat, named “Yahweh has judged.”
Sound like a scary name?
It would to me. I would probably hide from myself with a name like that.
But, you see, Yahweh had judged him in a good way.
And He not only judged, but also in many cases he also blessed – because Jehoshaphat removed idols, cleaned up the land, purified hearts in truth and focused hearts on the one true God. Sure, he made a mistake or two, but his heart was right.
Mistakes come and mistakes go, but a heart sold out for God, is one God blesses. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Mt. 5:6
Yet, despite his goodness, Jehoshaphat had enemy Moabite armies stacked up to his neck.
Notice, God doesn’t remove hardships from good people –
often, he confronts us with them to release us from them.
Jehoshaphat certainly wasn’t spared – and he wasn’t so scared he couldn’t move.
He pushed harder against the force that wanted to push him down. Did he realize he would grow stronger in faith by being faithful?
Like Jehoshaphat, our help isn’t found in our artillery, but it’s found in humility before our God.
Pushing into God pushes us into his plan.
Suddenly we see – God’s deliverance is always had – it is just a matter of when.
When we push into God, we get all we need to proceed.
So, what did “Yahweh has judged” do to push in when the forces of the Moabites stood against?
1. He prayed: Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him. 2 Chron. 20:3-4
Notice that although he felt “alarmed,” he still “resolved.”
Do you “resolve to inquire of the Lord” when alarm bells sound? Offering the resolve of your heart, your mind, your soul and your strength, will resolve them to God’s will.
2. He worshipped & trusted:You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you…‘If calamity comes upon us…we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’
2 Chron. 20:6, 9
Seeing God in his true place sets his true ways into place – in us.
Looking up helps the things around, not bring us down.
Remembering Jesus’ victory locks our heart into His victory too.
What might true and faithful worship, in the face of battle, do for you? In the face of finances? In the face of arguments? In the face of poor health? In the face of fear? In the face of wayward children?
Let’s see what it did for Jehoshaphat…
Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel…as he stood in the assembly. He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” 2 Chron. 20:14-15
The Spirit showed up. God gave instructions on how to win and he also gave his presence that said, “I will be with you.”
When we seek God, we find him. When we find his face, he faces us with real truth. When we know where our help comes from, our help often comes.
What I love even more is how Jehoshaphat literally headed foot-by-foot into war.
“Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.”
As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. 2 Chron. 20:21-22
What if our battlegrounds became praying and praising grounds?
What would go do in us, through us and for us?
This sounds like unstoppable, not easily defeated, winning faith.
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They start small until they climb on your back and squeeze the air of faith right out of you.
They have a way of making the stack of bills reign higher than the power of God.
The medical issues stand taller than God’s capacity to care.
The relational problems break you into tears rather than into submission to the One who knows.
They are called mounting issues. Personal. Medical. Relational. Financial. Mental.
They take you on a ride like this:
1. You start with faith, looking straight ahead at God.
2. You talk with people, think of the issue and dwell on the problem and get afraid.
3. Your eyes start to look left, and right and left and right.
4. Your worst nightmare starts to take form.
5. You become sure of it’s overwhelming power to take you down.
Then they make you feel like this:
I’m going down.
It will never work out.
God, where are you?
They will always hate me.
I will never recover.
I will never be left the same.
I can’t do it.
I am horrible.
Problems of today have a way, of making us fear the feelings of yesterday.
I remember the fortress of my school.
The incapability of one girl who was powerless to change anything.
Who was uncertain about the next pain that may come my way.
Who felt the result of people’s issues rather than a product of their love.
I remember the embarrassment.
That past mocks all my dreams. It reminds me that pain will repeat.
It reminds me I either need to fight or flight.
What does the past claim true about you – today?
The reality is – it’s gone, and fighting proves worthless because you can’t fight something that isn’t real; if it’s not truth it simply doesn’t exist.
But, hushing away feelings never works. The only way to go is to see the one who sees far more than the stalker of fear living in your mind. To see the one who waits, looking, hoping, believing that you will see him – the one who is always following you.
And, while you may think it is over, he doesn’t.
He knows it has only just begun.
Because he is ready to come close, to know, to stay with. He is ready and willing to aid and assist.
He is amazing that way.
He sees the inadequate, unable, and unsure one and says, “You can do it with me, because of me and for me. Stay right there with that truth. You will be okay.”
He spoke these same kind of words to Joshua -the second string, the rookie. He spoke belief into a man who had monumental issues in front of him: uncertainty, a sea that stood in his way and a towering fortress shining his incapabilities.
He said, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Josh 1:5
What if God was to show up and to say that to you?
“Hey (fill in name here),
I was with Moses,
so I will be with you (name),
I will never leave you or forsake you.”
Might these words make a difference?
Might you remember the bush, the manna, the Red Sea, the God, the hope,
the promises, God’s faithfulness to you?
Not if you just heard them, but if you really believed them.
Perhaps, then, you, like Joshua, might think,
“Wow, this God is really for me.”
Perhaps then you would have the courage to open your sea of despair to allow a new heart of courage to carry you to your promised hope. “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” Josh. 3:5
Perhaps then, you might set your forehead-to-floor knowing one stands higher than all your perceptions. Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?” Josh. 5:14
You might even hear the way to go, the heart to have and the whispers of truth
rise above the status of your bank account, your health check-up or your kid’s report card.
You might even have the heart to march around what stands against you to shout the truth of God over it, around it and before it to see God work through it. And to, even, maybe, see it all fall down (if that is what God has planned for you).
On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.” Josh 6:4-5
Imagine seeing the walls of pain and piles of grief standing before you crumble. They aren’t bigger than your God.
The truth is that in all cases he may not make them completely disappear, but God has the power to crumble circumstances authority over your feelings.He has the authority to set you on a new path, to forge a new way to bring you into the promised land of his peace.
Hear the words the Lord said to Joshua as he was preparing to be courageous and do not let them lightly pass over you (seize them as he seized the city): “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Josh 1:9)
Mounting issues, the past and our feelings are not our inheritance, God’s promises are – and we have already made it to the Promised Land, let’s lay claim to it much like the Israelites.
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2. RSVP for the #RaRalinkup breakfast at She Speaks. Exciting news, prizes and challenges will be shared at this event.
3. Visit next Monday. All of the bloggers who submitted guest posts will be featured on July 13. I couldn’t pick just one, this is not the spirit of the #RaRalinkup or this blog. All win, all are chosen, all are loved! Mark this day in your calendars. Support your sisters by retweeting and mentioning them on Twitter. 🙂
God sets a destination before me.
I trust in him to bring me there.
God goes silent.
I start to panic.
I question his plan,
doubt his cause,
and fear his promptings.
I wonder, where did my Lord go?
Have you ever been in these shoes?
Sure of where you are going – only to question, shortly thereafter, if God has fallen asleep on you?
You are not alone.
Jesus’ closest friends felt exactly how you felt.
You see they had a destination. Jesus said to the disciples, after a time of deep and meaningful life instruction, “Let us go across to the other side (of the sea).” (Mk. 4:35)
They knew where they were headed; they had a destination and Jesus was going to take them there.
But plans were changed as a storm threatened their boat.
Despite their effort to move, to go and to make progress something stood against.
It not only seemed their journey a lost cause, but they probably felt that way too.
How often are we like the disciples?
We scream out in our storms, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” (Mt. 8:25)
“Where are you Lord? I am drowning here.”
“Lord, didn’t you tell me – to go?”
And, sometimes he answers.
And, other times – it seems – he doesn’t.
When he doesn’t, we wonder:
1. What did I do wrong?
2. How did I go wrong?
3. What is Jesus doing wrong?
We almost want to grab him and say, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ (Mk. 4:38)
We are here Lord, we are in this rocky, turbulent boat called life, Lord! Do you see us? Do you care? Where are you? How come you are not directing us to our destination like you planned?
We try to shake him.
We try to wake him.
We know we only need his touch – because it will do so much.
So, we bawl and we call.
And, he sees our squall. Not to let us fall. He comes to our rescue as our all-in-all.
But, only then do his words brush up against our heart saying, “Dear one, why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” (Mk. 4:40). Or, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’ (Mt. 8:26)
And, in this moment, we realize, he was with us the whole time.
We already had the touch that we desired so much.
But, we missed his saving power.
We lost sight of him.
What if we actually believed -through the storm, rather than fearing – in the storm? What sort of miracle would Jesus do? What would we behold?
A deep sense that “we missed it” floods over us.
Because, while we thought he was sleeping and dreaming of things other than us, he was always planning to bring us through – according to his ways.
He was always in our turbulent boat, right there next to us.
We saw the storm raging, and felt alone, but he was right there – in the midst of it – not leaving our side.
While we feared waters would cover us and we would never reach the promised land, the Lord always had a hand of protection over us – even though we couldn’t see it.
Jesus calls us to grab hold of faith in storms that appear to prevent us from charting the course he set before us.
Faith that he won’t leave us.
That he is with us.
That he can be silent and working at the same time.
That he has a plan despite the circumstances around us.
That he is greater than our best efforts to calm any storm.
That prayer and joy and an eager expectancy of his rescue is the only way to go.
That he is greater than the nature of the world that surrounds us.
Jesus didn’t fall asleep on the cross. He knew where he was going. He never lost his touch. He is always touching. He has already conquered all storms, all sin and all sadness. He knows our destination and his destination for us. Nothing will come against. Jesus always saves.
I wonder if the disciples wondered if Jesus had fallen asleep – and forgotten them – for 3 days after his death?
Or, did they remember this little boat in a big sea, that tossed like leaf in a windstorm, that threatened their destination and that made them fear? Did they remember that Jesus was always near? That despite how things seemed, the Lord has a greater dream for them.
Perhaps, when the Lord greeted them this time, in heaven, he looked at them and said, “You of great faith, oh, how you have pleased me!”
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