In the Bible, Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem in a short time, hung the doors / gates for these walls & provided essential leadership to a broken & despondent people (those left behind from the exile who had been injured, suffered massive trauma & displaced). Nehemiah has big achievements in his life & we would be wise to apply some lessons to our lives from his achievements.
Here are a few things to consider:
Obstacles: nothing big is achieved without overcoming obstacles. And sometimes the biggest obstacles are in our thoughts & outlook
Opposition: people opposed Nehemiah & people will oppose you. What you do with such opposition is frequently more important than the opposition itself
Focus: Nehemiah didn’t let obstacles, opposition nor hardship distract him from achieving his goal to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Stay on target!
For a few weeks now my phone has been messing up with stuff that I write – it’s been incredibly frustrating!! I’ve done all the updates reboots etc with no improvement. This is why there are no commas in this post – arg! And my spell check is doing really funky stuff! When we are accustomed to using a tool in our daily living & that tool gets unreliable things change.
Thankfully God is faithful & unchanging. God isn’t merely a tool in our lives to get stuff done nor is God only a sugar daddy for providing for our lives. Let’s be sure that we don’t only see God as a function or tool but rather the essential intimacy in our daily living!
As I parent my own teenagers, I am increasingly recognizing the boatloads of magnificent stuff my parents invested in me when I was growing up & I’m massively grateful! Much of my appreciation for the Bible, beauty & creativity, as well as Holy Spirit can largely be attributed to my parents & their influence on me. Additionally, my parents taught me heaps about doing what’s difficult, rather than shying away.
Do you have difficult things in your life? Difficult things can include: internal mindsets, challenging work situations, relationships, school classes, bad habits, etc. Here are some verses that you could pray to help you do what’s difficult:
Phil 4:13, I can do all things through Christ who strengths me
1John 4:4, Greater is He Who is in you than he that is in the world
2Cor 2:14, God leads us into triumph
Rom 5:5, God’s love is poured into your heart through the Holy Spirit
James 1:5, Ask God for wisdom & He’ll give it to you liberally
Feel free to send this to anyone you know who could be struggling to do difficult things!
There are lots of things that can be difficult: being consistent with exercise, missions trips, hostile or dicey conversations, regulating ones eating habits & lots more. I don’t like to do tough stuff, nor did Jesus. I say this because of His words in Gethsemane, “If possible, please take this cup from Me.”
So how do we go about doing tough stuff? Here are a few suggestions & I’d be keen to get your ideas in the comments as well!
Keep the end goal in mind: what is your desired outcome?
Be wholly present in the difficulty because often these struggles need our whole attention, energy & talents
Pray: divine help is always an upgrade!
Surrender to God’s will even when it conflicts with your desires 🙂
Stuff I’m good at, I prefer to do. Stuff I’m bad at, not so much. But life requires us to do stuff that’s both difficult & easy. When you find stuff that you’re good at, generally you like to keep doing it & it can be very fulfilling. In contrast, doing stuff you’re not good at can be draining & frustrating.
I say this having just filled out some rather meticulous paperwork that I hope I did right. Suffice it to say that paperwork isn’t so much in my wheelhouse. So the less I do, the better it is for everyone 🙂
But here’s the real deal: my weaknesses provide platform for the Holy Spirit to help & be strong through me. The tricky part for me is to acknowledge that I need Help – not just professional help, but even better, Divine Help! Be sure to grab a copy of my latest book to see how you can walk with Divine Help!
Here in Cambodia, sometimes I get to experience technical difficulties. For example, sometimes the wifi here isn’t reliable, or maybe the traffic is more congested than I expected, or the plank over the sewage collapsed & things got messy. Throughout life, we all experience technical difficulties from time to time & this can be very frustrating.
Thankfully, the Holy Spirit can manage our technical difficulties with supernatural agility. The Holy Spirit helps us with communication & with getting us to the places we need to be in His timing. Also, I’m abundantly grateful that the Holy Spirit can clean up & redeem the messes that happen in our lives. Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to be our abiding expert for technical difficulties 🙂
There are times & situations when I don’t know what to do. There are also obstacles that seem to be unmovable. I can see where I want to be & what needs to be done, but I don’t always know how to get there or how to do what needs to be done.
These kinds of struggles can be experienced in our jobs, personal disciplines, education, relationships, finances, health, etc. So what to do?
Here are some things I’ve found to be helpful:
Pray more, worry less: ask for God’s intervention / interruption to do what seems to be impossible
God’s direction: what would God have you say or do in these struggles?
Active decisions: make intentional decisions to trust God, to speak faith filled words & to choose the high road.
HELP!!!! I have three children & from time to time, I get these texts, calls & messages. Most of the time, they need me to drive them somewhere, buy them something or listen for venting purposes. One of the things I’m learning is to think about solutions that are internal rather than external.
It seems to me that it’s a common perception that our needs & struggles are externally resolved when the real solution lies on the inside with how we see & think about things.
Here are some things to consider:
Do I not like my neighbor because they look successful or because I’m insecure?
Is that co-worker really that obnoxious or are my internal judgements looking for reasons to justify my cold disdain?
Does that person get under your skin because they touch the internal hotspots that need divine attention & healing?
Before we think in terms of external solutions, let’s allow the Holy Spirit to adjust our internal assumptions.
Have you have a few hours, days, weeks, etc when you would like to rent a porcupine suit? These are the times when you feel particularly bristly & not very friendly. As a follower of Jesus, it seems to me that I shouldn’t be like this. But alas, I can be cranky & cantankerous. In these times, I’d like to rent a porcupine suit & I should probably hibernate from social interaction so I don’t stab anyone with my bristly demeanor.
In these times, I need to let the Holy Spirit soothe the needles & console the grumpy. I may have some very good reasons to be cranky, but I must never resist help from the Holy Spirit to be better than my feelings, full stop.
Nobody likes bad news, including me. I don’t want to hear things that disrupt my bliss & when I’m super honest, I don’t want to face stuff that’s uncomfortable or disturbing. It’s ok to watch an occasional YouTube video that’s not good or to see a FB post that’s distressing, but I get to choose when, how & in what quantities I see / hear stuff that I don’t like. Just because I choose to ignore something bad doesn’t mean it’s not there – indeed I think bad stuff gets all the worse when we pretend it’s not there.
Sometimes, however, we need a wake up call – the proverbial 2X4 to the head. Yesterday I had one of these experiences here in Cambodia w Saving Moses. I saw something that wasn’t merely deflating but it was borderline demoralizing. As I woke up this morning, I still had a pit in my stomach from what I experienced yesterday & maybe that’s good. I think it’s good, from time to time, to have a wake up call about our lives. Otherwise, it can be too easy to live in distractions or denials about what’s happening not only around us but also what’s happening inside us. Sometimes it takes some bad news to shake us up, stir us to action & compel us to compassion. Let bad news be a catalyst!
I love this quote from a dad who was asking Jesus to heal his son. Jesus says to the dad that all things are possible to him who believes. The dad’s reply sounds like something I’d say, “I do believe; help my unbelief!”
For me, believing is often easier said than done. I can talk all day about believing God, trusting in God, having faith, etc, but when the rubber hits the road, sometimes I struggle with the believing thing. Of course I want to believe, so the desire is solid. But the actual believing is often where I fall short. When I think about why I struggle with believing, it’s mostly because of either past experiences or my brain goes into skeptical mode. So I deeply appreciate this dad’s honest words with Jesus, “Help my unbelief”. Like me, he’s saying that he wants to believe, but it’s a hurdle and he needs help to overcome this hurdle.
Here are some pointers for overcoming unbelief:
be truthful: hiding or cloaking unbelief is counterproductive, but bringing our weaknesses to Jesus is where strength starts
ask for Help! Since the Holy Spirit is our Helper, seems like a good idea to give the Helper access to the places of unbelief with which we struggle.
Jude 20 says that we build up our faith when we pray in the Spirit #selah
let’s remember that faith works by love, so the absence of love could be the catalyst for our unbelief #selah
Let’s decide that there is no unbelief in our lives that cannot be transformed into a place of strong faith!
Middle: Jacob, Isaac’s son, was in quite a difficult situation for 20years. In these years, he worked for a deceptive employer who also became his father inlaw when Jacob married Leah & then Rachel. The remaining 6years that Jacob stayed w Laban, he took care of Laban’s flocks & over the course of the 20year employment relation, Laban changed his wages 20times.
Beginning: These 20 years were on the heels of a family conflict about Jacob running away from home, having stolen his brother’s blessing & birthright.
Ending: Once Jacob left Laban, he had to confront his brother who was threatening to kill him 20years earlier when Jacob ran away from home.
I totally understand that Jacob had made poor decisions & lived with the consequences. Nevertheless, there were 20years when Jacob lived in a messy & likely stressful situation.
So what should we do in murky, messy & stressful situations? Here are some helpful ideas (feel free to share this with some friends that could find it helpful):
Keep your integrity no matter what happens around you – Jacob certainly had more than his share of shifty, but with Laban, he kept things pretty truthful to the best we know
The middle is exactly that: not the beginning & it will end – seasons can be constructive even though challenging
Keep you eyes on Jesus – Jacob acknowledged that if God hadn’t been with him during his Laban years, things could’ve been much worse!
Work hard – sometimes it tempting to get complacent or discouraged in difficult times, which can be draining & tiresome. Keep working & trust God to being something magnificent out of the murky 🙂
Don’t forget to order Heavenly Help – super great resource to help us in the middle ,)
Sometimes we get in situations & seasons that are not pleasant. Such challenges can include a bad report from a medical test, job changes, not being accepted at a university, waiting in a long & interminable line, etc. in these occasions, it helps me to do a few of these things & maybe these could help you as well:
Look for the good things happening around you
Chose to be friendly & grateful – being cranky is draining
Think about your favorite Bible story & imagine you’re in that story as one of the characters you like
Pray – asking for divine Help is always a premium upgrade 🙂
A crisis is a really big challenge that can seem impossible & a crisis can be different for each of us. A crisis can be a medical emergency, a job loss, a severed relationship & lots of other things. There are also lots of biblical examples of people who underwent crisis, with varying outcomes, some were amazing & some were abysmal. Here are a few thoughts about handling crisis:
Moses at the Red Sea: keep your confidence in God & not what’s happening around you
Joshua at the Jordan: be obedient & trust God for the outcomes
Peter after denying Jesus: don’t let failures keep you away from Jesus
Saul on the road to Damascus: sometimes a crisis is nothing more than a course correction
We had a trampoline when I was growing up & I really loved learning tricks to do on the tramp. The only exception was when I tried to learn a back flip & wound up unconscious on the ground. As a result, to this day I have this innate opposition to anything backwards (back flips on diving boards, backstroke, reverse driving, etc). But here’s an interesting thing that I’m pondering: I wonder if my reliance on the Holy Spirit isn’t stronger when I do things that don’t seem as easy or natural to me. It seems like when I find things to be easy, I tend to rely less on the Holy Spirit than when things are difficult. While this initially feels awkward & uncomfortable, I wonder if there’s not huge spiritual benefits to doing some things in a less easy or natural progression. Maybe the Holy Spirit leads us in ways, on occasion, that don’t seem as natural, convenient or easy as we’d like.
When you microwave something, have you noticed that there are often hot spots on whatever you nuked? So to mitigate the hot spots after nuking, we stir up whatever was in the microwave to spread out the heat to the rest of the stuff. Like the microwave, life has hot spots. We can go through challenging times in our finances, marriage, job, school, relationships, etc: hot spots.
So rather than stirring all of that heat into the other areas of our lives, let’s settle in & look for Jesus in such hot spots, receiving His peace, stability & security. Jesus mitigates hot spots ,)
In the Bible, I always enjoy reading about Peter, Jesus’ disciple, because he always seems to have an answer for everything. Some of his answers are good but some of them are beyond stupid. Nevertheless, he seems to always have some kind of answer, reply or solution, except when Jesus looked at him after he had denied Jesus three times. At that point, he was speechless & left the situation weeping bitterly.
While I’m a firm believer in helping each other, giving each other wise counsel, improving ourselves, growing, getting better, etc there are definitely situations, challenges, struggles & hardships that are far beyond the human abilities.
*some needs are only met with divine provision
*some questions only have divine answers
*some problems only have divine solutions
Sometimes I get frustrated with God, not so much because I’m not getting my way (that was a problem when I was younger), but moreso because of some struggles I have with God about faith & trust. As followers of Jesus, we know that we’re supposed to trust God & keep the faith, but sometimes this gets tricky. It’s in those “sometimes” that I can get frustrated and even mad with God because it can get really difficult and seemingly impossible. Maybe you’ve had some similar challenges in your walk with God pertaining to a health or relationship situation. Maybe you’ve struggled with God about some decisions or the direction you’re supposed to go with your career, education or family consideration.
The Bible is full of people who have been in some of the exact same situations with which we may be struggling. So here are some thoughts that can be helpful:
timing: sometimes God does last minute work that can be really unnerving – consider when Abraham was about to sacrifice Issac in Gen 22
bits and pieces: I often find that even though God knows the beginning & the end of stuff, we frequently find ourselves in the “need to know” zone, a little bit at a time and not the giant picture – consider Moses and the incremental nature of how God used him to liberate the Israelites from slavery in Egypt
honesty with commitment is important for intimacy: you can be honest with God about your frustrations without putting your entire relationship with God at risk – consider Job
endurance & persistance: the Apostle Paul comes to mind when I think about a biblical example of what endurance looks like, even finishing an extremely well run race with getting his head chopped off
community: the Bible is full of examples of people encouraging each other in staying obedient to & passionate for God – consider when Jonathon encouraged David about being the king of Israel in 1 Sam
God makes a way when there seems to be no way so be sure to share this with a friend to spread some encouragement! 🙂
Living in America has the very subtle & sneaky attempt to be blinded by glitz, glam, image, shiny, trendy and veneer. Whether we realize it or not, our culture bombards us with airbrushed faces, glimmery white teeth, body images that are almost physically impossible and lots more. If we aren’t careful, we can be seduced by image and forget that substance, character and integrity are very important.
With this in mind, I find it very interesting that the person who heralded Jesus’ arrival was the antithesis of image conscious – John the Baptist was very earthy and for that matter, so is Jesus. The Son of God, robed in splendor, glory and the ultimate glitz put on our skin, lived among us and was often mistaken for a mere man. May the Holy Spirit help us to reveal Jesus through our daily and earthy living 🙂