In the last few weeks, I’ve learned of various people who have committed suicide and it’s heart wrenching. A few of these individuals have been pastors, which hits even closer to home considering that I’m a pastor’s kid, I’m married to a pastor and I am a pastor. These events have also made me reflect on various people over the years who have committed suicide.
As much as I want to be articulate in this post, I feel so deeply about this subject that I can’t seem to get my words or thoughts into some semblance of order or cohesive progression. So maybe I’ll just free flow with this post and pray that it’s helpful to you, somehow.
More than anything, I hope that you will be gentle, tender and kind with others and yourself, regardless of any external veneer. When we are in a car and see a handicapped license plate, sticker or a “baby on board” sign, we will often give that person a little extra consideration, grace and space because we know there’s a vulnerable / fragile person inside that vehicle.
May we also have the same mindset with the people in our lives, appreciating that each person with whom we interact, has their own internal struggles regardless of what the exterior looks like or how they behave. Let’s be purposeful to:
No one gets a pass on receiving bad news. And recently, I heard some stuff that was discouraging – the opposite of what I’d been asking from God & I was unhappy with opposite outcome of my prayers. I think it’s pointless to hide my emotions from God or pretend that everything is ok when it’s not. At the same time, the world doesn’t stop just because we get some bad news. So here are a few suggestions that could be helpful:
Tell God how you feel & what you’re thinking. Reading Psalms & Job give some really insightful thoughts & expression to emotions that are raw & real.
Perspective adjustments: sometimes it’s helpful to look at a broader picture than just the bad news
Consider the cause: is it possible that the bad news is a consequence of something you did? If so, maybe it would be helpful to make some course corrections / different decisions.
Choose to trust God: It always encourages me to remember that God uses all things for the the good to those who love Him & stay aligned with God’s purposes
Feel free to pass this along to any friends / family who might be struggling with getting some bad news
I hate bad news. I don’t like bad reports from the doctor, I don’t like getting bad report cards from my kids & I don’t like hearing discouraging stuff. But it happens, no matter how much we plug our ears, distract ourselves or attempt to deny what we hear. So what to do?
Here are some helpful suggestions for when you get bad news:
Face it – denial of bad news only makes it worse. Romans 4:19 says that Abraham faced the reality of his aged body, but didn’t weaken in his faith
Get wisdom – life improves with wisdom but deteriorates with the absence of wisdom. So ask God for wisdom on how to handle the bad news – James 1:5
Faith focus – bad news can become debilitating if we don’t keep our focus on God & His ability to do the impossible – Luke 1:37
Pray more – when I get bad news, it’s easy for me to worry. Let’s encourage each other to pray more than we worry – Ps 55:22
Feel free to pass this along to anyone you know who’s struggling with bad news!
I just finished taping the video curriculum for my book, Heavenly Help. This is noteworthy because I taped it the first time in August last year. That attempt was an exercise in frustration from start to finish. I was still recovering from a concussion that I suffered from a snowboarding accident, there were all kinds of technical difficulties, we had production challenges & it just wasn’t good. Today is an entirely different experience & heaps more effective!!
This encouraged me to remember the value of persistence & not giving up when I get discouraged. Be encouraged! Just because you try something & it doesn’t work, doesn’t mean you should automatically quit & give up. Some things require some persistence & trying again 🙂
In my journey with Jesus, I’ve had some frustrations about praying. When I read John 14:13-14, “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it”, Jesus’ words make me think that God will do what I ask, when I ask in Jesus’ name. However, this hasn’t always been my experience. I’ve asked God for many things in Jesus’ name and it seems like nothing has happened. Ever had a similar experience?
So here are a few thoughts that might be helpful with unanswered prayer. Perhaps our prayers don’t get the answers we want for some of these “reasons”:
motives: we ask with selfish motives – James 4:3, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.
methods: greater glory for God – in John 11:4, we read that Jesus told His disciples that Lazarus’ sickness would end with great glory for God; Lazarus’ sisters (Martha & Mary) wanted Lazarus to be healed rather than die, but Jesus had resurrection rather than healing for Lazarus. We must always remember that God’s ways are higher than our ways (Is 55:8)
unbelief: in Matt 13:58, it says that Jesus didn’t do many miracles in His hometown because of their unbelief; faith is an important ingredient for praying
schedule: God has a different schedule and timeline than what we think. In John 7:6, Jesus told His brothers, ““My time is not yet here, but your time is always opportune.'” There are lots of occassions in the Bible where our timing is out of synch with God
maturity: getting our way on our schedule isn’t always the optimum path God has for our development and intimacy with God. In James 1:2-4 it says, ‘Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces cendurance. And let aendurance have its perfect result, so that you may be bperfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
It seems to me that God always answers prayer but maybe not always in the ways or timing that we want 🙂
We all have things & times that are discouraging – a job that falls through, a relationship that goes sour, a poor grade at school, etc. I don’t think that anyone is immune from having some discouraging moments in life. But the key is what we do with those times & situations. Here are some things that have been helpful to me with the discouragement topic:
just because I failed at something, that doesn’t make me a failure
keeping my eyes on God & His promises are more helpful than fixating on the discouragement (we can’t ignore problems, but we can’t let them own us either)
keep going – if I’m not careful, discouragement can get pretty heavy & bog me down, so I tell myself to take one step at a time, even if they’re baby steps
working out – physical exercise is a great way to burn off some discouragement
laugh – sometimes it helps me to be goofy, it lightens me up which is helpful because I tend to be pretty serious in my normal living
listen deeply – I find that God’s voice can really help speak light & truth to the discouragement that can try to reside in my thoughts
May you be strongly encouraged today that you are deeply loved & highly treasured!
I had an interesting experience in a conversation with a friend a few days ago as we were talking about various challenges in our lives. In the discussion, I opened up and shared some frustrations & struggles that have been on my heart, which may seem fairly harmless. After the conversation as I was walking to my car, I felt a bit of a gentle scolding in my heart from God. Some of His loving rebuke challenged me that sometimes I can be whiney: complaining about what isn’t going well, “venting” with my frustrations, etc. Even worse, I can get into a pity party & swallow the lie that I’m a loser. I think we can all fall into this trap from time to time.
I’m extremely confident that God was confronting & challenging me to change in His loving rebuke because the next morning, my Bible reading time just happened to be in Josh 1, where God commands Joshua 3 times to be strong & courageous. Furthermore, I also read Ps 103:1-5 where David beautifully magnifies the work of God in our individual lives.
So here are my take-aways (and perhaps they will encourage you as well):
just because the evil one serves me a plate of discouragement doesn’t mean that I automatically pick up a fork & start ingesting his poisonous delicacies masquerading as a chummy conversation;
be strong & courageous: may my ears & eyes be sensitive to hear & see God moving in my life (vertical focus) more than how I feel or what I see & hear on the horizontal plane;
Be strong & courageous is a command from God & it obliterates my self-pity dribble
Perhaps on this Resurrection Weekend it would be constructive to celebrate the death of the “loser lie”. Indeed, when they crucified Jesus, many thought He was one of the world’s biggest losers, but He came back & annhilated the “loser lie.” So my friend, let me invite you to join me in receiving His lluminating imperative to be strong & courageous to evaporate any discouragement, deceptions & lies in our lives 🙂