Praising in Pain (Adventures in Faith series)

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.” – Lamentations 3:22-24

Jeremiah, known as the weeping prophet, knew the meaning of that promise at the core of his being.

Anyone who has suffered the death of a loved one, knows the meaning of it. To feel the jagged waves of gut-wrenching, heart-ripping pain of losing a husband, a wife, a child, a friend.

Anyone who has gone through betrayal by close friends, financial ruin, shattered dreams, accidents and sicknesses that forever altered the course of your life – knows the meaning of this promise too.

How can we still praise in our pain?

Last year, a friend of mine lost her 42-year-old husband to cancer – 8 months after he was diagnosed with it. After 20 years of marriage, she was left a widow with three children in elementary and high school.  This month marks 9 months since her husband died. She agreed to let me share her recent reflections from her CaringBridge site.

God’s refining and comfort are amazing. I am thankful that He is doing both in my life. I have been able to recognize that my biggest dream in life is still there, to grow closer to God each day.

The lie that Satan would want me to believe is that all my dreams are gone. There are many dreams and desires that God has taken away, and it is hard to let go of those. There is comfort in things staying the way they were when my husband was here. But God has a purpose for every thing that He allows.

We are learning what complete surrender looks like. We are also learning to trust God when the path we would like to take is not the path He wants us to walk down. It sounds so easy but it comes to a daily choice to say no to self-pity and bitterness.

A friend and I have a phrase that we text to remind each other…live above your circumstances. That is our reminder that our home is in heaven and all that we desire is there. God will give us the strength and wisdom to walk this road until He calls us home.

I have been studying the story of Ruth and a question in the study asked if I could see evidence of the harvest beginning (Ruth 1:22); the sun rising? Here is what I wrote and the verses that I claimed:

I have never understood what God says when He says to not let your hearts be troubled, and yet I think it is the balance of living in pain while resting in God’s strength. It is peaceful and awful at the same time. It is broken and whole. It is a heart that is ripped out that knows that God is the only way to heal. It is knowing that it will hurt, but I will heal.

I am catching glimpses of the harvest – my wounds are healing. I am seeing things that I could handle before my husband died, that are knocking me over now. But being able to recognize it allows me to turn to God for His wisdom and strength. Emotionally handicapped is how I feel right now and I know that God wants me here so that I can see that He is all that I need. – 1 Peter 1:6-7

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Swirling (Adventures in Faith series)

Do you enjoy roller coasters?

What about in your life: Do you enjoy roller coasters in your life?

Although answers to the first question may vary, most would answer a resounding “NO!” to the second one.

And yet, roller coasters of suffering and trials will be always be a part of our Christian experience.

Jesus told us this would be so:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

Job victoriously lived through a fierce roller coaster of trial and suffering. In it he lost his:

  • children
  • property
  • wealth
  • good reputation
  • health

Which of those have you lost during the roller coasters of trials and suffering Father has allowed in your life?

When our lives are swirling through trials & suffering, how do we anchor?

We anchor to the Truth

As a prophetic intercessor, Father often gives me pictures to illustrate pivotal truths about a circumstance or situation He has me interceding about.

Everyone involved was literally swirling inside and out by the fallout that had taken place. Many people had been affected. There was damage, destruction, discouragement, and despair running rampant.

As I was walking and interceding that day
There on the ground before me lay
a dirty, cracked dog dish someone had thrown away

And I knew right away that the Enemy was looking at us this way
with disgust and disdain
“You’re no better than dogs,” I could hear him viciously say

And with those piercing words still stinging on my ears
I picked up that dog dish with a vengeance
and declared to all the spiritual beings sneering there

Know that from this day forward this symbol of our shame and disgrace will be a valiant reminder for me to intercede and to believe that Jesus will redeem

I washed the dirt and slime away from the dog dish that day
and though it was still cracked and broken
it was no longer a discarded, useless, forgotten thing

It became a reminder and still is to this day
Of what Jesus, the Truth, courageously whispers to our fearful hearts

Because I help you, you will not be disgraced or put to shame.
Therefore set your face like flint
Knowing I AM the Redeemer of all
even of discarded, useless, forgotten things

Dog Days or Flint – based on Isaiah 50:7

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When God Weeps: Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty by Joni Eareckson Tada & Steven Estes is an excellent resource for more encouragement in your trials and suffering.

Photo on Flickr by Scott Ableman

Be an Overcomer [Poster]

A poster dedicated to the 5th grade students I’ve been working with:

Be an Overcomer

I am an overcomer
In life’s hard situations
I choose to have tenacity
I choose to act responsibly
I choose to treat others with respect & kindness
I choose to make the best
of things I can’t control
I choose to persevere
when I feel like giving up
I choose to overcome
instead of being overcomed
because I am an overcomer

(Rom 8:37, Rom 12:21)

Happy Valentine’s Day from Jesus

I sing a song when your name comes to mind
not just on this day but all of the time (Zeph 3:17)

Roses, chocolates, and cards are nice
but to show you My love, I gave up My life

Red is a wonderful reminder
of My blood I shed for you
to set you free from sin
so I could have a relationship with you

When this world bruises you with its coldness and lack of care
Remember My gentleness keeps track of your many hairs

When those you love do not carry through
Remember My faithfulness to you

When your heart is raging with many cares
Remember I give you My peace with which nothing can compare

When your day is filled with tears and gloom
Remember the joy you have because of the empty tomb

And most of all remember that you are loved
with a never-ending love
so with joy give it to those around you
My love that will never wilt or fade away
and that is yours each and every day

Originally written for Valentine’s Day 2001

Photo on Flickr by JaYmE del Rosario

Exploring (Adventures in Faith series)

Remember Joshua?

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Numbers 13-14 gives the account of Joshua & Caleb’s words of faith about the Israelites entering the Promised Land.

What was it that gave Joshua and Caleb the strength and fortitude to stand against the 10 other leaders who had explored alongside them and to tell the Israelites that the Promised Land was within their reach?

But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it. – Numbers 14:24

Joshua and Caleb were the only adults of their generation of the Israelites to enter the Promised Land 40 years later.

The song, “The Battle of Jericho” has been sung by countless choirs and heard by countless congregations.

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But how many of Father’s dearly Beloved sons and daughters are actually passionate, willing, and committed to living with the kind of faith that enabled Joshua to be a part of the faith conquests that he was a part of?

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

What is the Jericho-like battle you’re facing today in your:

  • relationships
  • family
  • job
  • addictions
  • future
  • health
  • next step of obedience

Be Strong.

Be Courageous.

Do not be terrified.

Do not be discouraged.

But this is what the LORD says:

“Yes, captives will be taken from warriors,
and plunder retrieved from the fierce;
I will contend with those who contend with you,
and your children I will save.” – Isaiah 49:25

“Faith never denies reality but leaves room for God to grant a new reality!”Pastor Jim Cymbala

For more on the archaeological evidence behind the fall of Jericho:

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Photo on Flickr by Eamonn

 

Climbing (Adventures in Faith series)

Why do people climb rocks and mountains?

  • Challenge
  • Sense of accomplishment
  • Thrill of the climb
  • Adventure in the unknown

Whether or not you ever attempt to climb a mountain or rock; as a believer you are a faith climber.

Many times throughout your faith walk, Father is going to bring you to a mountain or rock and say,”My child, it’s time for us to climb.”

Moses experienced this.

His life can be broken up into 40 year increments:

Age 0 – 40 – Growing up in the palace of Pharoah as the adopted son of Pharoah’s daughter.

Age 40 – 80 – After murdering an Egyptian who was mistreating a Hebrew, Moses fled to Midian, married Jethro’s daughter, and tended Jethro’s sheep.

Age 80 -120 – God talked to Moses in a burning bush and commanded him to deliver His people, the Israelites, from their slavery to the Egyptians. Moses confronted Pharoah with God’s command to let His people go. Then led them in the wilderness on the long way to the Promised Land.

Moses faced many challenges in his faith climb.

  • Leaving the privileges and pampered life of Pharoah’s palace
  • Confronting Pharaoh
  • Overcoming his own feelings of personal inadequacy
  • 40 years of leading the Israelites with all of the problems that come with leading thousands of people on a difficult journey.

Moses had many difficult faith climbs over the course of his 120 years of life. Each climb required both faith and risk.

In whatever faith climb you find yourself facing, may you obediently take the risk and find that Father is with you every step of your climb.

Because real risking in faith can occur only in those areas of life
where we feel most impoverished and vulnerable, it never becomes something we are really comfortable with. For each layer of trust that builds up, another, more challenging risk is offered.

True faith choices, therefore, always feel like risks; they just go on, involving deeper and deeper levels of our being.

Each choice remains difficult; what really becomes conditioned in this process is simply our willingness and readiness to take the risks of faith. They never stop feeling like risks.

Strong Women, Soft Hearts, Paula Rinehart — originally taken
from Addiction & Grace, Gerald May

Take the risk, it will be more than worth it.

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Photo on Flickr by David Domingo

For more in this series:

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