I need to do some heavy duty Spring cleaning, like cleaning out the kitchen drawers & window washing. There are some other big projects I need to work on like finishing my Saving Moses book, having some difficult conversations, wrestling with some internal challenges and lots more. Because these projects are hard for me, I tend to put them off, try to ignore them, justify not doing them because I’m busy, hope they’ll evaporate or do other stuff to avoid these difficult projects.
But alas, these difficult projects don’t disappear. So now what?
Here are some things that are helping me to work on various difficulties:
prayerfully look the project square in the eye, so it can be less intimidating
consider a step to move forward with making some progress with this project
be gentle but firm with yourself to keep going forward
celebrate progress and not just perfection or completion
nestle into God’s unchanging and ever faithful love for you – this helps you to live from a more healthy mindset 🙂
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!
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!
All of us face adversity of different sizes, shapes, seasons & intensities. From what I’ve learned, it’s not always possible to avoid adversity, so shat to do? Here are some thoughts to help you have some success in the midst of this stuff
Focal point: focusing on the adversity seems to make it bigger, focusing on Jesus helps to keep the adversity in the right perspective
Practice: think back over the past struggles you’ve come through & remember that the current adversity is practice ,)
Get Help: more than professional help, all of us need divine Help & this is exactly who the Holy Spirit is, so be sure to ask for Help!
Time: decide to outlast the adversity, one day at a time
Prayer: agree with some friends to prayer for their struggles & that they can pray for you as well – this one helps me boatloads!
Be sure to pass this along to some friends who are going through some tough stuff 🙂
Job 2:13, “Then they sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great.”
These friends that sat with Job in silence for 7 days were the same friends who were not very gentle in their words to him for many chapters throughout this book. Nonetheless, it gives me great pause to think that these guys travelled for several days to be with Job at the lowest point in his life. When they saw how despondent he was, they sat with him for 7days without saying anything.
Their behavior really challenges me to consider if I’m this kind of a friend who could sit quietly with a friend in their greatest time of suffering. This is the idea of keeping company with someone even when they aren’t very pleasant or enjoyable. It begs the question, “Am I a ‘fair-weather’ friend, or am I reliable in the skinny / thin times?” Consider Matt 26:38 & Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.
It seems to me that we aren’t very comfortable sitting with someone when they’re suffering or struggling, but sometimes, keeping company with a friend in a hardship is a tangible expression of genuine love.
I like what Mother Teresa said, ““Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.””
Have you ever had a season where it seems like more is going wrong than what’s going right? Job had this experience. In a short amount of time: he lost all of his kids, all his wealth evaporated, his health took a plunge & his wife went rogue & didn’t encourage him. Job totally went through an awful season & you can read his book in the Old Testament to hear his thoughts & emotions in the thick of all these difficulties. Going through hardships & difficulties isn’t something new in our human experience but here are some ideas that might be helpful:
*in difficulties, be honest with God (Job was super upset, disappointed & frustrated with God & didn’t hold back nor withdraw from talking with God)
*consider the people who you allow to speak into your life: do they affirm God’s work, do they hear your heart, do they strengthen your faith? Job’s friends were kind of sketchy on these points
*keep your focus on God because a continual eye on the hardships can be very unsettling
In Colorado where I live, recreational marijuana was legalized, so our state is now a hot spot for weed tourism (not sure that I think that the weed industry is something really good for our state, in the long run, but that’s a different blog). So if you’re thinking that because I live in Colorado & I’m saying that Jesus is a weed advocate, let’s be very, very clear that this is NOT what I’m saying.
Rather, I’m saying that when we look for Jesus in the weeds, metaphorically, of our daily living, we can most definitely find Jesus – even among the thistles, thorns & prickles. Sometimes we unknowingly cultivate weeds because of some yucky seeds we sow (impatience, unkindness, selfishness, etc). But sometimes, life comes up weeds
This prayer has really helped me to find Jesus in weedy days:
“Jesus, please fix this situation – make it all better & please help me to grow through this so I bear healthy & constructive fruit. Please help me not so sow weed seeds in this challenging place”
I’ve been reading recently about how many Christians have been under very severe persecution in Iraq from the ISIS (or IS) expansion & attacks. According to the news, Christians in certain areas of Iraq are being given the choice to leave their homes, convert to Islam or die. I find this to be very troubling for Iraq given it’s long & strong history of Christian & Jewish presence in this area. From a broader perspective, Christianity has always faced varying degrees of persecution throughout the world at various times. For example, currently North Korea, is a very dangerous place for a Christian to try & survive without denying their faith. For that matter, it seems like sometimes Christians are the best at eating their own – being judgmental, exclusive, elitist and capricious, but that’s for a different blog ,)
Here are a few things to consider:
pray for our brothers and sisters – Paul talks about bearing each others burdens in Gal 6:2; As the body of Christ, let’s be very prayerful for our fellow members who are in such difficult situations
persecution grows the church – hardship forces us to clarify our priorities & the right choices help our roots to go deep; deep roots create great strength & healthy fruit
Gal 5:15 talks about being careful not to bite & devour each other – there’s enough external persecution that we don’t need to tear each other down; let’s build up more than we cut down 🙂
I’ve been thinking about Mary, Jesus’ mom, and how she had a pretty tough road to walk, being pregnant out of wedlock in a culture that strongly frowned on “that type of thing”. If you think about Mary’s situation, she went through a pretty tricky season.
In different but also similar ways to Mary, we all have lots of challenges & difficulties. So if I look at the what Mary said in her season of unwed pregnancy, it helps me to know how to manage my own struggles. Simply put, Mary said, “My soul magnifies The Lord”. We can magnify the problem or we can magnify The Lord, let’s chose wisely 🙂
Have you ever felt like you’re on your last straw? Sometimes we go through challenges, seasons & struggles that are well beyond our natural abilities & wisdom. If you’re like me, I can find myself getting quagmired in these things at the expense of trusting God. There are times when I get stuck in what seems impossible & I can get discouraged. Ever feel this way?
This morning I was having this kind of conversation with God about a few issues & I was reminded of a verse that is really helping me:
2 Corinthians 3:5 Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God.
So lets remember that God is more than adequate for the various “last straws” that may be happening in our lives 🙂
From time to time, we all face hardships, struggles and difficulties. Sometimes we face calamaties that are nothing less than totally overwhelming and understandably, we all want to get out of these difficulties. Simply put, we want deliverance fromthese situations. Even better, we’d like to be spared from these things. But as we both know, life doesn’t always stay in the utopia zone. Sometimes we have to go throughthe hardship & struggle. When this happens and we aren’t delivered fromthe struggle, then we can most certainly trust that God will give us exactly what we need to get to the other side – strength, wisdom, comfort, genuine love . . . . The Trinity is enough.
I’ve been thinking about Abraham lately & how God tested him in Genesis 22 and instructed him to sacrifice his only son, the son of promise, Isaac. Thankfully, we can read the end of the chapter & celebrate with Abraham that God provided a ram for Abraham to sacrifice in place of Isaac – God sees our needs and has provision waiting for those needs. But I’ve been thinking about the 3 day journey that Abraham took with Isaac to get to the place where he was supposed to sacrifice his son. If I were in Abraham’s sandals, those 3 days would have been the absolute & most abhorrent days of my life – knowing what I was assigned by God to do. The revelation at the end of the journey was nothing less than heavenly (Abraham experienced God in an extremely powerful way) but the journey was nothing less than hell.
Sometimes the journey in our life can be an almost living hell, but let me encourage you that God is walking with you for every step and there’s a great possibility that through this journey, you will come to know God in such a heavenly way that the hell of the journey will pale in comparison to the heaven of the revelation 🙂
In less than a week, I’m going back to Angola w www.savingmoses.org & I have some mixed thoughts about this visit. Of course, I love the people with whom we work & I have nothing but massive respect for the daily work they do. I’m also eager to see some old friends since this will be my 4th visit & I’m getting to make some nice friendships. These are nice things but there are some not very nice things that I experience on these trips. It’s not pleasant to hold a baby who is malnourished & is struggling to survive. It’s difficult to see frenzied moms who are doing everything in their power to keep their baby alive. It’s hard for me sometimes to try & explain the needs I see to an audience that can occasionally be apathetic & cold. But when everything is said & done, despite the tremendous privation I see & the gut wrenching feelings that I experience, on these trips I sense Jesus is very real ways that I’m often unable to explain & because of Jesus’ presence, the disconcerting thoughts are not as severe. Traveling with Jesus helps me to have peace in my mind & heart
Lately, it seems like I’ve had a lot of opposition & resistance. To be clear, some of this is self inflicted but it seems to me that many of the difficulties in which I find myself are kind of random & just the nature of remaining faithful to God. It’s easy to stay faithful when things are smoothy, groovy. But it can get tricky when we seem to be continually bombarded with opposition & resistance.
Here are some things that are helping me now:
*”now” is a key word – rehearsing the past & worrying about the future can deflate & contaminate the present
*keep going & trust that God will give you wisdom, rest & strength for each moment
*learn – take full advantage of this season to increase your wisdom & trust in God
*get strong – opposition can build strength if we don’t quit
* smile & be confident that God working out everything way beyond well as we stay in love with God & aligned with God’s purpose 🙂
Ok, before you get stressed out with me about the title of this blog, here’s something good that I’m observing that can come from stress. Probably like you, I have varying degrees of stress in my life – from the quickie stress that comes from being late bc of traffic to the massive stress that can come from job & family pressures (or various other things). What I’m noticing is that the greater the intensity of the stress the more I find myself pressing into God & ultimately, it is never a bad thing to press into God nor to depend on God, no matter how uncomfortable it may feel.
So what we do with stress can often be more important than the actual stress 🙂
This might be a very little bit graphic, so pls be forewarned. It’s been awhile since I’ve had kids being sick in the night, but the last two nights have compensated for this shortage. I’ll spare you the gory details, but I can simply say that we should all be pretty dried out by now.
When we get in pukey seasons, these are some things that help me:
*remember that it’s a season, so there’s an end somewhere even when you can’t see or feel it
*puking often helps the stomach feel better, even though its gross while happening
*God has designed our bodies to deal in healthy ways w viruses & bacteria that want to be unhealthy in our bodies – God is the Master Designer
*I’m thankful that God gives me strength for not only work challenges but also for kids puking at 2am challenges. 🙂
As a mom with 3 wonderful kids, I’m super high on my kids. I think they’re amazing, funny, intelligent, kind, wonderful and they can almost walk on water, almost ,) With that being said, I’ve noticed that my gentle efforts to wake them up every morning are sometimes not as effective as something less gentle – we call this the defcon 5-1 approach 🙂
While it’s unfortunate, it is also true that we sometimes learn the best and grow the most through hardship and struggle. Even though I want to insulate my kids & protect them from every single hardship & struggle, this isn’t always what is in their longterm best interests. Perhaps God sees us with the same perspective, knowing that we often grow and mature the most when we wrestle with hardships and struggle. Perhaps this is why James says that we’re to be grateful for adversities – ouch!
Sometimes I try to put myself in the shoes of Peter when he asked Jesus about trying to walk on water. I think it took alot of guts, bravado and possibly faith to get out of the boat & walk to Jesus. The rest of the disciples in the boat were probably scared, incredulous, amazed, astounded and possibly jealous that Peter could be so bold. Nevertheless, it would seem to me that they had to stabilize the boat when Peter was getting out of it, so that it wouldn’t tip over (ever try to get in or out of a boat without the help of a pier???). It took some teamwork to help Peter get out of the boat. Once he started to walk on the water, everyone including Peter were probably shocked out of their skin. But I think that Jesus had a smirk & maybe a bit of a sly wink.
When Peter started to sink, all bets were off and everyone except Jesus started to freak out. Seems like this is often the case with me – I love the beginning of any adventure & the rush of adrenaline that goes with the initial momentum. But when I sense adversity or hardship, it’s easy to get distracted from keeping my eyes on Jesus and focus on the various struggles. That’s where the sinking feeling starts. So here’s some encouragement: no matter what the circumstances, your feelings, adversities, hardships, struggles and what may seem impossible, we must give ourself no choice but to focus on Jesus. All other focuses can drown us in failure, sadness, discouragement and struggle.
We all have problems of different sizes, challenges, seasons & shapes. It seems to me that sometimes problems come in herds – either they’re few & far between or they seem to spill out from every corner & area of life.
Some problems we can solve on our own & some problems require help because they’re beyond our ability & resources. It seems to me that when I get in these problem intense seasons that I can get myopic & only see 1 solution or answer. The problem with myopia is that there’s limited focus & for me it’s usually on the wrong thing (the problem & not God).
So here’s the short answer: God has solutions, ideas, resources & methods for resolution of which we’ve never dreamed. I’m reminded that God has more answers than I had questions & God has more solutions than I have problems 🙂
I’ve been thinking a little bit about going through difficulties & hardships – I’m not so keen on these seasons. However, if we keep our hearts & thoughts right there can be some magnificent outcomes. Consider the following benefits of hardships & difficulties:
*endurance – James 1:2
*Jesus’ power – 2Cor 12:9
*perseverance – Rom 5:3
*reliance in Jesus – 2Cor 1:8-9
*weight of glory – 2Cor 4:17
So there are many reasons for celebrating challenges & difficulties 🙂