Tag Archive | Trials

HOPE

 

If there is one word that continues to haunt me these days.. it is hope. I think for the first time that I can remember as a Believer.. I am struggling to have hope. The world seems like such a mess.. as I write this, fires are still burning in Northern California.. and that is our home. We smelled the smoke and looked at the pictures of homes burning, people dying and there was nothing we could do to stop it. It is heart breaking to see the suffering that is all around us.. the mass slaughter in Las Vegas.. just a week earlier. What is happening Lord? Everything seems to be out of control and there is so much suffering.. In my personal life there have been challenges on a level I have never encountered.. emotional and physical trials..

So as I process all of this.. the word HOPE emerges. We cannot live without it, but it does not come from our circumstances or our  surroundings. Our hope .. my hope.. can only be found in the Lord. He is with us and He is unchanging and we are living in a fallen world.. a dark world. All of these tragedies teach us that this world is not going to provide us with security or be our refuge .. it is an unstable place and we are not safe here. I believe that God is taking us deeper.. to a place where our faith truly rests on His goodness. Often that happens when everything else fails.. when all our dreams are broken..when we no longer believe that anything here can save or protect us.  The world gets excited when people come together and accomplish good things.. and of course that is encouraging.. but not enough to sustain us through the long years of recovery.. through the grieving process. Once the headlines are gone.. and we go back to our “normal” lives.. there are people who cannot do that and we may forget about them because their pain is not public.. time to pray for them.. to remember them.. because it could have been us.

I am grateful for my life.. grateful that so far we have a roof over our heads .. grateful for the way I see people reaching out to help others.. but what I am the most grateful for is my relationship with the Lord.. for the knowledge that He loves me and is with me no matter what happens next.. He is my safe place and my refuge in the storm.. He is good and we can trust Him when nothing makes sense and when our next trial starts.. Our faithful loving God.. we are blessed.

Hebrews 6:18 in the Message says:

We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post as high priest for us..

Amen

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God does not waste anything..

 

 

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I cannot remember who first told me that.. but I imagine it was over 30 years ago. I did not understand it the way I do now:) God is at work in every circumstance and will use every single experience for good. Yes, I had trouble with that one ( Romans 8:28) at first, but now.. it is very real to me. Every difficult and challenging trial I’ve experienced has been training for times when I can sit with another person and encourage them.. the reason? The more hard things you go through in life.. the more you have to offer others who are hurting. When people come to me for counseling I often say ” you really cannot shock me because of all the life experiences I have lived through” usually that turns out to be true. God does not waste anything.. He uses it all to help us understand and help others.

It feels really good to realize once again that He is always training me to be more understanding and compassionate. He is preparing me to see into the next broken heart that sits in front of me and needs healing. How does He accomplish that? I am not sure.. I do know that He stretches me and finds those places that need changing and as I agree with Him.. He begins a deeper work of transformation.. It is awesome.

I don’t know about you.. but I want the full measure of life that God has for me ( John 10:10) and I realize that often comes through trials and tests. Somehow we don’t learn as easily when things are going smoothly..in reality that is rare in the life of a Believer. No.. it is not all trials and suffering, but we are never promised an easy life here. What we do have is His promise to be with us.. His Spirit to guide us and strength for the journey.

So if things are difficult right now.. remember He is doing something deep inside your heart.. preparing you for the day when you will share what you have learned with another person.. when you will encourage someone who has a broken heart or is struggling with pain and suffering . You will become a source of life to them.. bringing hope and healing.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
   and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

This is one of my very favorite scriptures ( from Isaiah 61) Jesus read this in the temple in the book of Luke.. It describes perfectly what He came to do and what He allows us to do with Him.. Amazing!

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The last ten years..

 

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For the last few days I’ve been aware of this sense that I need to tell my story.. I used to do this when I had the opportunity to do it in women’s groups. Those seem to be gone, yet I still need to tell my story … I know that other people’s stories bring me such encouragement. So.. the last ten years have been extremely challenging.. I graduated from Seminary in 2006 and started my counseling practice that same year. My prayer was that the Lord would provide through my husband Steve. I knew the counseling was more a ministry than a business and I was hoping for a release from financial problems. That really never happened.

Steve has worked.. but all the jobs have been temporary and even those opportunities dried up. The country went into a recession and he got older. We have been in this unemployment prison for over 3 years and there is no release date posted.. God is keeping that to himself at the moment. It has been extremely difficult. We have been hopeful and then the hope was gone.. like a roller coaster ride of emotions. I am facing another birthday next month and wondering how we will make it through the rest of our lives. We have no house to lose or any savings to lose.. maybe that is better than watching everything disappear. It is lonely and  I never expected these years to present this type of challenge. The uncertainty is huge and unfortunately it triggers lots of fears and insecurities.

But.. God is in this.. He is allowing it.. He knows all about it and it is not punishment or abandonment. I have been able to work for this entire time.. I learned that He is my source.. I can only do counseling because His spirit is in me and guides me. We are still married and even though we have arguments..they never last long. My own emotions have been hard to manage.. but my husband is very forgiving and loving. I have been blessed.. watching him continue to try for jobs week after week.. to remain hopeful month after month. His unconditional love for me when I have been angry and frustrated has been amazing. Our marriage is stronger.. our faith is stronger. We are relying totally on the goodness of God as this trial continues.

Life does not always turn out the way we want it to.. there are many surprises and disappointments. God is the same no matter what happens. He is good and He is faithful. He does not leave us or forget us. Our only hope is in Him.. trials remind us that there is no where else to go. We cannot lose Him even if we lose everything else.

This morning God reminded me of this scripture from 2nd Chronicles… it is a favorite.

“But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the LORD’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the LORD is with you!” 

 

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All things..

 

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Romans 8 : 28 is one of my favorite scriptures.  The NIV says And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

I also like the KJV version of this verse..And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Both translations are making the same point. God works everything together for our God and to fulfill His purposes. It is reassuring to know that nothing is happening without His permission.. that He is always working behind the scenes and His plans and purposes will prevail. I was recently reading the first chapter of Job.. it is quite an eye opener when it comes to explaining trials and tests. The NLT version tells the story this way;

“One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the Lord, and the Accuser, Satan,came with them. “Where have you come from?” the Lord asked Satan.

Satan answered the Lord, “I have been patrolling the earth, watching everything that’s going on.”

 Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.”

 Satan replied to the Lord, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!”

 “All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” So Satan left the Lord’s presence.”

The Lord granted the enemy permission to test Job. That’s right.. He allowed all those things to happen to a righteous man. Job’s losses were not punishment. They were from God.. He was involved and He even suggested that Job be tested.. why? Because He knew Job and He was going to use all of this suffering for good in this man’s life. Of course while Job was suffering.. he did not know that and he doubted and challenged God. Eventually by the end of the book.. he realized his folly in questioning God.. The Lord reminded him of who He was.. the creator and sovereign God of the universe. Job was humbled and realized he has no right to question God’s ways.. All things will work together for the good of those who love Him.. those who trust Him ..those who submit themselves to Him.. those who lean into Him when times are hard.. ALL THINGS!

 

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Endurance

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This is the word that the Lord gave me this morning as I sat down to write this post. I looked it up and here is what I found.

  1. The fact or power of enduring or bearing pain, hardships, etc.
  2. The ability or strength to continue or last, especially despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions; stamina:

That definition fits.. the ability to continue or last despite weariness and stress.. I am experiencing that right now. God has chosen to leave me in a difficult situation for a long time. There have been many years of struggle.. things that I longed for have not happened yet. He has not rescued me, but He has provided for me during this season. His provision has been amazing and His blessings have been wonderful.. yet I am tired and longing for a rest.

His promise is not that we won’t have trouble but that He will be with us as we walk through our troubles. His gift to us is His spirit that strengthens us and fills us when we are broken and empty. He renews our strength and brings unexpected encouragement so we never forget His presence. I am so grateful for those amazing things that He does. Eventually He brings deliverance.. but how that will come and when is His business. So what are we to do in the meantime?

For me.. I only hear one thing” Be still and know that I am God.” These are His words..remember that He is our security and our sufficiency. We may not know anything about the future or make sense of our circumstances, but we can know that God is the same..He never changes.. He is faithful and He will keep all of His promises to us as we trust Him.  I love this passage from 2 Chronicles chapter 20..

“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.”

Help us all to remember these words Lord as we continue to faithfully follow you..

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“Comfort, comfort my people..

..says your God” in Isaiah 40:1. He is the comforter and He wants to make us into those who are able to comfort others. It comes through the trials, tests, waiting, and wondering. As we walk with Him through experiences we never imagined would happen.. He does something deep in us.

We are taken to places of grief and suffering that we did not know existed. We wonder if there has been some kind of mistake. Where is God in all this? Has He left us in an unbearable place? No..He is right there with us in the midst of the storm. He holds our heads above water as we feel it rising all around us.

He is the author of the great story that we are living in and there are no mistakes in the script. He allows us to be wounded and then binds up the wounds so we are able to help the hurting people who come into our lives. His purposes are higher and greater than our own.

So our comfort zone is not His highest priority..our hearts and our character matter deeply to God. He doesn’t punish us..but He does stretch us, teach us, and prepare us so we can truly become His people in this broken world.

If you are in a season of sorrow and struggle right now..Watch and wait until God comes for you..showing your His great unending love for you as you trust Him. He is faithful.

“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.  He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”     2 Corinthians 1:3-4

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Refiners Fire..

The last time I posted here was two weeks ago. For some reason it seems like two years ago. There has been so much that God has been doing in this last period of time.. I haven’t really been able to record it or… fully understand it. It is amazing how the Lord allows our circumstances to be so challenging that either we must change or we really can’t survive. He is an expert at orchestrating things so that we see what we never saw before.

He wants to change us.. so He does whatever it will take to truly capture our hearts. His desire is to make us fully His. Those obstacles that keep us from trusting Him need to be identified and removed.

I have been watching the idols fall in my own life. Things that seemed so right to me are actually things that get in the way of my willingness to follow Him wholeheartedly. He has exposed those things that I cling to tenaciously.. believing that they will bring me fulfillment. The process of letting go is painful..but it is more destructive in the bigger picture to hold on. I am grateful that He loves me enough to change me.

The whole point of our life with Him is growth.. when we grow we come closer to Him… He is able to mold and shape us as we obey Him. This is no easy road..but the only one worth traveling. Our relationship with Him is the key to everything in this life and the one to come.

“And yet, O Lord, you are our Father.
    We are the clay, and you are the potter.
    We all are formed by your hand.”

(Isaiah 64:8)