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 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 from these 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 through the hardship & struggle. When this happens and we aren’t delivered from the 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 🙂
I’ve been talking with God recently about some situations for me that have been super difficult. We’ve had some interesting discussions & I’ve expressed some of my frustrations & disappointments to God. It’s been an interesting wrestling season of late & I’m not sure that I’ve totally turned the corner with some of my questions & uncertainties.
Nevertheless, I felt God really encouraging me a few days ago about His love for me. When I asked Him about His love in relation to some of the difficulties & struggles that I’m going through, He challenged me to know that His love for me isn’t based on circumstances or situations. Maybe you have also had this struggle – looking at the challenges in your life & asking God about His love in light of hardship & difficulty.
Just because we go through tough times, let’s never doubt His love for us – indeed, He causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him & remain true to His purposes in their lives. Be sure to doubt your difficulties before you doubt God’s love
One of movies that always makes me laugh is Miss Congeniality – there are some parts that are obviously cheesy & sketchy, but the whole tom-girl, secret agent competing in a beauty pageant plot makes me laugh ALOT!!!! And back in the Bible days, there was also a beauty pageant that had lots of drama, danger & suspense – the story of Esther.
Over the last few days I’ve been reading Esther & I’m always impressed with Mordecai, Esther’s surrogate parent. I admire his integrity, honor, courage & character in the face of great anger, animosity & even violent intent from Hamaan, the evil villain. But here’s what has caught my eye this time: despite Hamaan’s best efforts, Mordecai was given honor even at the expense of Hamaan’s position. There’s one point where Hamaan was conspiring to hang Mordecai & when he came to express his desire to the king, the king asked Hamaan’s opinion on how to best honor someone. After giving the king all of the ways that Hamaan wanted to be honored, the king told Hamaan to go out & implement Hamaan’s ideas with Mordecai. Hamaan wound up leading the horse that Mordecai rode on, crying out that Mordecai was an example of how the king honored those whom the king favored.
Don’t you know that Hamaan was more than humiliated by having to publicly honor Mordecai, whom he hated with murderous intent?!
So here’s my take away: maintain your integrity, grace & poise regardless of your enemies & God can take something very evil & dangerous & make it into a blessing in your life 🙂