Tag Archives: trials

Nothing to Do But Trust

19 Sep

The past couple of weeks have been rough. It feels like everything has hit all at once. Work is busy. Emma hasn’t been sleeping well. Travis is traveling for work and now working Saturdays because of their crazy workload. Colorado got pounded by rain and devastating flooding. It’s hunting season, which means I got to spend my Monday night after Emma went to bed grinding and vacuum-sealing antelope meat. And the worst of it all is that we got some bad news about my mom’s health, so we’re making an impromptu trip to Minnesota this weekend.

All of this has caused me to think a lot about trusting God in trials, and why we cling to the hope of the gospel in times like these. Some days, the only answer I have is Peter’s: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” I trust God because what else is there to do? God doesn’t always answer our questions of WHY. He doesn’t always show WHERE He’s leading us, or WHEN we’re going to get there. He just asks us to trust. Trust that He is good and loving. Need proof? Look to the Cross.

I’ve been loving Laura Story’s song Blessings lately, especially the lines I bolded below. Such a great reminder that God is bigger than our human reactions. Bigger than our worry, our fear, our discouragement. He’s weaving a bigger story. He has a plan. And the pain and trials of this life aren’t meaningless or inconsequential. God is revealing His will for us through them, and using them for His glory, even if we can’t see HOW right now.

……………………

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
And all the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your word is not enough
And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not,
This is not our home
It’s not our home

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near

What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise

……………………

“My flesh and my heart may fail but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26)

“I believe. Help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)

“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” (2 Corinthians 5:1-4)

Finding God in a cold

19 Sep

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Being sick makes me whiny. Self-pitying. Lazy. Indulgent. Compromising.

I sleep in instead of reading the Bible – because “only sleep will help me get better.”

I don’t pray because if I don’t have the energy for a “real” prayer, it doesn’t actually count.

I hunker down in my own little world, waiting for the sickness to blow over.

“Once I’m better, I’ll get back to normal life.”

Then this verse hit me this morning:

“And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your  bones strong…” (Isaiah 58:11).

Being sick makes me feel like I’m in a scorched place. A place where I don’t enjoy being awake. A place where I really dislike having to go to work.

God can satisfy me even here.

I had categorized sickness apart from trials. But in reality, sickness is a trial. And if I let all the little trials of this life drive me from God, I won’t be near God very much.

Once again, God is showing me that I need to draw near to Him in times of need, based solely on my Savior’s blood. I don’t need to earn His blessing through my prayers. I can’t earn His blessing.

The question isn’t whether I’m spending time in the Word instead of sleeping, or reading Christian books instead of watching TV, or praying for others instead of for myself while I’m sick. The question is: am I still pursuing God?

Most of the time, the answer is no.

Pursuing God feels like work. It feels like something I need energy for. Something that needs to be done all-or-nothing style. I’d rather just lay on the couch and not think.

“For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14).

God does not set unrealistic standards for me, like I do for myself. I’m the one giving the guilt trip. I’m the one saying that it’s all or nothing.

God says that whatever I have to give is enough. He wants my constant affection, not my perfectionism.

Anytime my perfectionism keeps me from going to God, a red flag should go up. There are no obstacles to God in Christ.

None. Not sickness. Not death. Not failure. Not sin.

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, not things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height not depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

A very present help in trouble.

9 Jun

The past two months (since April 8, the day we got Charlie) have been a blur. As a person who does not handle busyness well but who has been ridiculously busy (in my book), I have been pleasantly surprised more than once that I have only had 1 or 2 meltdowns. That, my friends, is a new record.

I have not handled every situation well. I have yelled, cried, slapped, whined, slandered, complained, pitied, and doubted God. All of which Satan pounced on to make me feel like a horrible person who deserved nothing but a swift kick to the head.

Then I stumbled across Psalm 46 one morning (after having searched for the verse the previous morning and not been able to find it):

God is our refuge and strength, 

a very present help in trouble.

Therefore, we will not fear though the earth gives way,

though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,

though it waters roar and foam,

though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

This was exactly what I had needed – and wanted – to hear. The storms of life aren’t evidence that God doesn’t love or care about me. “Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God has been teaching me in this season of life how to weather storms with Him instead of apart from Him. Clinging to the truth of His love for me, instead of believing lies like “God doesn’t care about what’s happening to me” and “He won’t help me with this; I have to do it myself.”

To make this hit home even a little more, I rewrote that passage of Psalm 46 in my own words:

  • God is my refuge and strength,

a very present help in trouble.

Therefore I will not fear though all order breaks loose,

though everything I do immediately gets undone,

though I am overwhelmed and underequipped,

though my sanity is upheld by the tiniest thread.

  • God is my refuge and strength,

a very present help with dogs who are trouble.

Therefore I will not fear though I cannot tame them,

though they do not listen to my commands,

though they destroy my home and possessions,

though they try my patience to its breaking point.

  • God is my refuge and strength,

a very present help in trials.

Therefore I will not despair though I feel condemned by my sin,

though I feel insufficient and worthless,

though I am accused of not being enough,

though my flesh is weak and my heart fails me.

No matter what life or Satan or my own stupid fault throws at me, I have hope because “This I know, that God is for me.”

Another rewording of mine, from Psalms 46 and 70:

The river of grace is a constant stream.

It makes glad the dwelling of God,

the holy habitation of the Most High.

God lives within her; she shall not give up.

God will help her when she needs it.

Though she is poor and needy,

God will hasten to her rescue.

He only is her help and her deliverer;

He will not delay!

[Note: I have also done a little housekeeping on  my blog – I updated my About Me page, added information about My Racing Career, and finally redid my Blogroll so that it reflects the blog I actually read! If you think I’d enjoy your blog and don’t see it listed on the bottom right, give me a shout out!]

The Freestyle Christian Life

29 Apr

As I was spending time in the Word yesterday morning, I came up with a great idea for a blog post: Learning to swim freestyle is like learning to live the Christian life.

Let me explain.

I have been training for my first sprint triathlon for about a month now (only 2.5 more to go!) While I pretty much have the bike and run licked (did my first brick workout today…a bike and run right after one another…they call it a brick because that’s what your legs feel like when you run after biking!), swimming has been and still is a major challenge.

For many more reasons than I care to explain to those of you who may not be acquainted with swimming terms, form and technique, learning to swim the freestyle stroke (a.k.a. the front crawl) is like learning to run on all fours…humans just weren’t designed to do it.

Especially me.

My hips don’t float. Even with fins on. I can’t go longer than 25 yards (one length of the pool) at a time. Every time I get to the end of the pool, I ask myself, “WHAT am I doing wrong?!?!?” I feel like I’m treading water…literally. I’m going that slow.

So what does all that have to do with learning to live the Christian life, you ask? The apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12, “But [Jesus] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamitites. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

When I get frustrated or sorrowful over my sin, it’s not really because of the offense against God. It’s because I messed up again. I couldn’t cut it. I tried to will myself to be loving, to act like Christ, but I failed. Miserably.

Often, I find myself wondering in regards to the Christian life and virtues, “What am I doing wrong?” I’m reading the Bible and seeking to understand the Gospel. I often have very encouraging, nourishing times with God, in which I feel like I have the beginnings of understanding the gospel, yet I can walk away from those encounters and within seconds, be uncontrollably angry at Travis. The Bible says “Be filled with the Spirit.” My mind says, “Yes, but HOW?”

Part of me understands that my being filled with the Spirit is God’s doing. The other part of me wonders when, if and how God plans on doing it.

After reading those verses written by Paul in 2 Cor. 12, I think I have a tiny little insight into the HOW.

Paul writes about being weak. Whether he means physically weak or spiritually weak, it doesn’t matter. Because he also talks about insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. Those are all external realities. There is no spiritual, internal persecution. It comes from other people.

I have internal and external troubles as well…but can’t say that I am content with them. In fact, it’s just the opposite. I try to avoid them at all costs. I get angry when things aren’t moving smoothly, when there are hiccups and bumps in the road. That’s because my 2 biggest idols are: 1) getting my own way and 2) happiness.

My idols are sort of inter-related but not quite the same thing. When I have troubles like Paul is describing (whether they be my own weaknesses and sin or an external situation that I can’t fully control), it interferes with my ability to have things go my way. When my boss at work tells me that something has to be done differently, I get angry because either I don’t want to do it that way or I don’t want to do it over. When Travis wants to talk about money and mortgages and I want to blog instead, I get angry because he is interfering with my personal determination of how I will spend my free time.

The way my idol of happiness ties into getting my way is that deep down, I fear not getting my way because I fear being unhappy. I don’t trust that God has my best interests in mind and that I can trust Him with my everyday circumstances and situations…even those as mundane as Travis wanting to talk AGAIN about what we plan to buy with our tax credit.

Where my idol of happiness is different than that of getting my way is in relation to my sin. When I abruptly get angry at Travis for no reason, I am just as frustrated at my being angry as I am actually angry. When Travis annoys me and I feel like raging on him, I despair and wish that I could go even a day without feeling annoyance toward him.

But the thing is, I don’t want to make my “wrong” emotions go away because I want to glorify God–though that certainly is involved. Rather, I want them to go away because I want my life to be easy. I don’t want to have to deal with those emotions and the situations they bring up. I don’t want to have to feel and stifle my anger, frustration and rage. I would much rather take a hands-off approach, which explains why Travis is always wanting more physical attention than I do–the way I look at it is less physical contact means fewer problems. And I just want to be happy already.

Maybe at this point you’re seeing a slight tie-in to swimming but not really understanding where I’m going with it. Well, with swimming, I have been trying and trying to get better. I have read books, watched videos, talked to friends, done drills, and even practiced in my sleep (that is unfortunately not a joke). In the case of getting my hips to float, I know what I’m doing wrong…but I don’t know how to fix it. In the case of being completely out of breath after one length, I don’t know what I’m doing wrong…but it’s obviously something.

I feel like that a lot with the Christian life. In the case of getting frustrated with my boss and my husband when I’m not getting my way, I know what I’m doing wrong. I can look back on those situations and see what I was feeling, understand why I felt that way and remind myself of truth. In the case of my being annoyed at Travis spontaneously and without discernable cause, I don’t know what I’m doing wrong…but I have the physical evidence that indeed, something is amiss. And yet, in both cases, regardless of whether I know what I’m doing wrong or not, my knowledge doesn’t seem to translate into action. I’m just left out of breath after short stints of trying to live the Christian life, hanging on to the wall and wondering “What am I doing wrong?”

But all this is assuming that I have to find the power inside myself to change the situation. That I have to be self-sufficient. That I have to make myself float instead of allowing the water around and under me to lift me up.

I don’t have to do any of those things.

If I never struggled, if I did indeed have everything under control, I would have no need for Christ. I wouldn’t need to rely or call upon God for strength and peace. 

Too often, instead of taking Paul’s attitude to troubles, I let my trials derail me and turn me from God. In those moments of struggle and inner turmoil, I think to myself, “How could God help me with this?” or “Yeah, I know I’m being moody and sinful right now, but truth just doesn’t feel relevant to me in this situation” or “I’m too tired to try and change my attitude.”

But these verses in 2 Corinthians 12 reveal that I don’t have to be more patient, more loving, more peaceful, gentler in myself–I only have to find those things in Christ and let them live in me. I don’t have to dig deep down inside myself to find real honesty, real love, real peace, real joy–or lament when I can find none–because I can borrow Christ’s. His is real all the time.

Being a Christian doesn’t mean I just become a better version of myself. It doesn’t mean I just have to get rid of all my vices and failures and develop all the virtues. It means that I actually become a version of Christ–it is His Spirit living in me after all. And His Spirit is what changes me. It’s not me forcing, willing myself to be different, to change. It’s God working in me to enable me to do things I couldn’t or wouldn’t have done otherwise.

My analogy between swimming and the Christian life kind of breaks down here…there is no spirit of swimming that will enable me to magically master the front crawl (though I so wish there were!!)

But what an amazing reassurance it is to know that I don’t have to be sufficient in and of myself when it comes to being Christ-like. Because if it’s all up to me, I will be constantly treading water, out of breath, and barely keeping myself afloat. When I don’t have patience, I can borrow Christ’s. When I don’t have joy, I can borrow Christ’s. When I don’t feel like I have the strength to keep on, I can borrow Christ’s.

Just a few verses to summarize/legitimize what I just wrote:

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy & beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience…” Colossians 3:12

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

“…the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10