This Is Only Temporary

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“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:8

 

 

As Paul said, troubles are all around us. Trials face us sometimes daily. When faced with these trials how we react is important. We can become self-absorbed and cry about how tough everything is and constantly ask “Why is this happening to me?!” Or, we can remember Jesus and tell ourselves, “This is only temporary.”

You have been chosen by God to do a certain task. In order to do the work He has given you, He must toughen you up. How does God toughen you up? He allows trials to interrupt your life so that your faith can be tested and purified. During these difficult times we need to remember four insights. Peter gives us a glimpse of these understandings in 1 Peter 1:3-7.

  1. Remember whose you are. (verse 3)
  2. Remember what God has promised. (verse 4)
  3. Remember who will see you through. (verse 5-6)
  4. Remember why God lets you go through trials. (verse 7)

Another important thing for us to remember during troubling times is that God does not abandon us (2 Corinth. 4:9). Jesus is aware of your situation. He knows exactly what you can and cannot do with your situation.

Lastly, trials can be witnessing opportunities. Paul and Silas were put in prison for preaching the gospel (Acts 16:16-36). They were tortured with whips and chained to a wall in a dark and damp dungeon. Sounds pretty bad to me! But did they whine about their situation and cry about how tough it was? NO!  They gave praise to the Lord. They worshipped the Lord in song. They prayed. And because of their godly actions, Paul and Silas managed to lead their jailer and his entire family to the Lord. The man saw that they were in a terrible position, yet they still worshipped God and gave praise to Him.

The next time a difficult situation interrupts your life, which will you choose? Will you whine about how tough everything is for you or will you remember Jesus and say, “This is only temporary.”?

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Unappreciated Me

“The more I do, the less they see.” ~ Nicole Johnson

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The dishes have been washed, dried, and put away. The living room has been dusted and vacuumed. The floors have been swept and mopped. Everything sparkles until… the kids and husband come inside. The take-your-shoes-off-at-the-door rule has long been forgotten. I watch as mud hugs my living room rug. I watch as fingerprints leave themselves on my newly cleaned furniture. I watch as socks and shoes fill up my living room floor. I watch as cup after cup get filled with soda and left sitting around the living room, kitchen and bedrooms. I watch as silverware caked with food fills the sink. I watch as dirty dishes pile up on the counter. All within a matter of minutes my hours’ worth of housework has been destroyed. Did anyone thank me for what I had done before the mess? Nope. Did anyone thank me for cleaning up their mess – a mess I did not create, yet am expected to clean? Nope. Did anyone stop to thank me for simply being? Nope. I am the invisible maid, cook, laundry attendant, butler, nurse, teacher…

As a stay-at-home mom of three I feel very much unappreciated. I do so much that gets ignored. The above story is my daily story. I do not have much time for anything else since I am always cleaning up after people and making sure everyone has clean clothes to wear the next day. My house is over 60 years old and there are no indoor steps to the basement where my washer and dryer are. Therefore washing clothes is a huge task within itself, especially when it is 100 degrees and humid outside or when there is snow and ice. I have fallen down the steps too many times to count. In other words, washing clothes in my house is dangerous!

Often times when I am feeling unappreciated I remember Leah (read Genesis 29:15-30). She wanted to be loved by her husband Jacob greatly, but his love was for her sister Rachel. Leah gave Jacob seven children. Leah felt in her heart that since the Lord saw how miserable she was He allowed her to have a child so that her husband would love her (Gen. 29:32). Yet Jacob still loved Rachel. Leah was still unappreciated.

Even though Jacob did not appreciate Leah, the Lord sure did. It was from her line of descendants that Jesus came! She may have been unappreciated by her husband, but she left a legacy of descendants.

So when I am feeling unappreciated by my family, I can remember Leah. I can also remember who I am to the Father and that He appreciates me even if I do not feel like cleaning. I need to stop trying to impress everyone else and stressing about making others proud of me. A clean house is great, but it does not make a perfect mom or wife. Sure it makes me less stressed out so that I can give my family a less-stressed me, but it does not change who I am in God’s eyes. “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)

Be Specific!

 

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked.

~ Mark 10:51

 

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I have prayed many prayers that have been left unanswered. Often times I wonder why. I wonder if God is busy at that time and just did not hear my prayer. I wonder if He is even listening. But sometimes I think to myself, maybe I am just not be specific enough.

My six-year old daughter was diagnosed with asthma last year. She uses an inhaler only when an asthma attack occurs. Watching her struggling to catch her breath is terrifying to me each time it happens. One of my biggest fears is not being able to breathe, so when I see my daughter during an asthma attack panic quickly fills my body. Of course I do not want her to see me in a full blown panic attack, so I remain calm and help her with her inhaler. I talk to her about different things in order to calm both of our nerves. (Perhaps more mine than hers!) One night, however, the inhaler just did not seem to do anything for her. We spent the night in my bed with her struggling for breath and me praying for God to breathe His breath into her tiny lungs and cure her. I try to be as specific as possible when praying for God to cure her asthma. I trust that she will grow out of it and know that the Lord is working in her. “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours,” (Mark 11:24).

I am very guilty of not always being specific in my prayers. When I am having a very bad day I sometimes yell out the very broad prayer of “God, please help me!” While God knows what I need help with and what is going on in my life at that time, He is waiting to hear me be more specific. He is waiting to hear me ask Him for exactly what I need help with. This is probably a reason I have missed out on a lot throughout my life – I did not ask God. I believe He keeps our unasked prayers on a shelf in His mansion in Heaven. (I am pretty sure that the room full of my unasked prayers is probably the size of Wal-Mart!)

A lot of times I go ahead and do things without seeking God and usually they never work out. I get so frustrated and wonder why in the world it just did not work! Well, hello! I did not ask God first! I once heard that we are to ask God about everything we do before we do it; even if it is pulling out of the parking lot of the grocery store. One lady mentioned that she sat in her car and asked God to guide her home, allowing Him to choose the way that she traveled to her house. Of course I think to myself how absolutely crazy that is. I know my way home. Then of course the next time I go out and am in a rush to get home I get stuck in traffic. It is then that I see myself in the rearview mirror and wish I would have asked God to guide me. I no longer see the craziness in asking God to guide me home. Or anywhere.

The next time you sit down to pray, remember to be specific. Give thanks to God for all He has done in your life and for what He will continue to do for you. Feel free to share with me what God has done for you when you were specific with Him. I would love to hear from you!

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” ~ Matthew 7:7-8

Depression Prison

If my misery could be weighed and my troubles be put on the scales,

they would outweigh all the sands of the sea. ~ Job 6:2-3

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The darkness creeps in, smothering her. She closes her eyes to the pain, but cannot sleep. Her chest aches of loneliness, yet she wants no one around her. Her whole body aches and no amount of pain killers take away the pain. There is so much to be done, but the motivation to push back the blanket and get out of bed is gone. There is nothing left but a dark hole; and she is quickly sinking.

Depression can happen to anyone. It can be mild or severe. It can last for a few days or even years. I personally have suffered from depression for many years. Some mornings I find it very difficult to get out of bed. My only motivation is my six-year old daughter. It is my responsibility to see that she gets up on time for school, has breakfast and takes her allergy medicine. If it were not for my daughter, I honestly do not know where I would be in my life right now. Every night, I lay my hand on her back after she falls asleep and I thank God for this wonderful gift. I pray that He keeps her safe and healthy. I pray that she will grow up with the knowledge and wisdom to live a very successful life. I want the very best for her.

Horrible things have brought themselves into my life throughout my past. A five-year relationship left me bruised and scarred mentally, physically, and emotionally. I walked on egg shells for five whole years, never knowing if I was going to be hugged or punched. My life was threatened with words, knives, and guns, yet somehow I made it out alive. Many nights I begged God to take my life. My words came very close to those of Job’s: “I would rather be strangled – rather die than suffer like this. I hate my life and don’t want to go on living.” (Job 7:15-16) I would cry and scream at God to just take me. I was so exhausted. I had no reason to live, yet God never answered those prayers. However, He did save me and pulled that half of my life away from me. He had plans for me even before I ever believed in Him.

Some days I have flashbacks and I am afraid to leave my house for fear I will meet my ex on the road, even though he is miles and miles away. I can be reading or watching television and something will trigger a past event that leaves me shaken. Depression settles in and takes over. In my most depressed days I find comfort in the book of Job. It is my favorite book in the Bible because Job is soaked in darkness after all that happens to him, yet he still has his faith in the Lord. There have been times when I, like Job, have searched for God everywhere, “I go east, but he is not there. I go west, but I cannot find him. I do not see him in the north, for he is hidden. I look to the south, but he is concealed,” (Job 23:8-9). However, like Job I also know that God is there and He is with me no matter where I am, “But he knows where I am going. And when he tests me I will come out as pure as gold,” (Job 23:10). We have to put our faith in God always. Job reminds me that when I am settled into my darkness and my motivation is gone, I need to seek God and trust that He will take care of me. “I know that You can do anything, and no one can stop You,” (Job 42:2).

The Bible clearly proves that depression is not just a modern day thing. For example, Jeremiah was nicknamed “The Weeping Prophet” Many others throughout the times had their share of depression as well. David and his men “wept until they could weep no more” when they realized what happened to their families after the Amalekite raid (1 Sam. 30:3-4). Alone in the wilderness, Elijah prayed to the Lord, “I have had enough, Lord. Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died,” (1Kings 19:4). Abraham (Gen. 15), Jonah (Jonah 4), and King Saul (1 Sam. 14-23) are some others in the Bible who suffered from depression. Even Jesus had depressed moments. The shortest verse in the Bible says “Jesus wept,” (John 11:35) when the death of Lazarus was announced.

There is also hope for depression in the Scriptures. Deuteronomy 31:6 tells us to “be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Psalm 34:18 tells us that “the Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” And my favorite: “But you, O Lord, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high,” (Ps. 3:3).

Dear God,

Please lift this weight off my shoulders. Take away my darkness and bring in Your light. Open up the prison doors and set me free. Thank you, Lord for giving me life. Thank you for the wonderful gift you have given me. I praise you in every storm that settles over me. In Jesus’s name I pray, Amen!

More Bible verses on hope: Psalm 40:1-3, Isaiah 41:10, Jeremiah 11-12, John 14:16, John 16:33, Matthew 28:20, 2 Corinthians 5:7

What Does the Lord Want Me to Be?

Recently I joined a Women’s Bible study. It is not your typical Bible study class, but more like a fellowship meeting where women can come together in faith and share their week’s journeys. The first meeting was more of an introduction, where we all shared our life journeys and our dreams. We ended the meeting in prayer and the instructor gave us our homework for the week. At first I was thinking, “Homework? I thought I was done with that!” But I quickly became so involved in the homework that it no longer felt like “work.” I was so thankful to have a reason to pour my soul into the Bible and write down my findings.

During our study we discussed the many different things the world wants us to be. We are living in a world that wants us to be successful, but in order to be successful we must be rich. We must have the very best lawn and landscaping design to top our neighbors or win the “Best Kept Lawn in the Neighborhood” award. Turn on the television and you see weight loss commercials galore, willing you to buy their product because they are the only way to a thin body. There are so many things the world wants us to be. But what does the Lord want us to be?

 

  “What does the Lord want me to be?”

 

This question really made me think. What does the Lord want me to be? Matthew 5:48 tells us that that we are “to be perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” The Greek word teleioi is translated to “perfect,” which means mature, or full grown. Therefore this verse speaks of being completely mature in character and mind in a godliness way. God loves His enemies and expect they will eventually come to know Him and love Him, too. By changing our attitudes toward our own enemies, or those who have hurt or wronged us, perhaps we can teach them how to love as well. Jesus taught us at The Sermon on the Mount to love our enemies and pray for those who hurt us. By doing this we will be acting as true children of our Father, (Matt. 5:44-45). “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had,” (Philippians 2:5).

What are some things that come to your mind when you ask yourself the question above? What does the Lord want you to be?

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