Home business, home education and health challenges: what makes us tic?

Posts tagged ‘trials’

Principles for freeing your life from worry

Recently, I’ve been battling with a very specific issue of faith. As I grappled, I was tempted to feel alone: as if this struggle was unique to me and my situation, and I was the very first person ever to have felt the things I felt.

Don’t we all get there, sometimes? We feel so alone in the midst of our struggles that we forget one of the greatest truths we possess: we’re never alone. Hebrews 4:15 tells us so beautifully how Jesus faced the same trials we do, yet never sinned. We can turn to Him for the strength we need.

Our business has been going through a rough patch these past few months. I don’t think it’s serious or long-term, but it’s stressful to be in the middle of, and we don’t really have the resources to weather it. Whenever challenges strike, I immediately become introspective. Through a combination of prayer, self-analysis and endless speculation with those closest to me (poor things!), I try to dissect the actions and decisions I’ve made to arrive at the tenuous position in which I find myself. (It’s a little exhausting).

As I search for answers, I inevitable turn to God’s Word to shed some light on the situation. I was baffled and confused when I read in Proverbs about the necessity of “look[ing] well to [one’s] herds” and “prepar[ing] the horse against the day of battle” – all verses which underscore the necessity of making plans, being involved, taking an active role in the health of one’s finances – and verses that speak about not worrying about what you’ll eat for tomorrow, since today has worries enough.

Peter teaches us to cast all our worries on His mighty shoulders, because He cares deeply and specifically for our well-being. How could we leave everything in God’s hands AND be prepared for the winter, so to speak? In fact, the next verse in Peter gives us a clue: be sober and vigilant.

In other words: be awake, in your right mind, keeping watch.

Be free from worryBe prepared.

And then it struck me (finally – I’m a little slow ;)): what better way to be free from care than to be prepared? And what better way to be prepared than to turn to the User Guide for Better Living for the guidance we need?

Proverbs teaches us the value of being ready for whatever is likely to befall. Obviously there are scenarios we cannot predict, and these we leave to God. But the passages that teach us not to worry or be anxious are not teaching us to abdicate our responsibilities, just as the passages that teach us to be prepared and diligent are not advocating self-reliance. A full surrender to God doesn’t mean we do nothing. It means we do everything we can – as best we can. We just do everything His way, in His strength. And what better Way is there, after all?

When people say, “let go and let God”, it’s misleading. It’s not saying enough. We do need to let go: of fear and anxiety and doubt. We do need to let God: we need to let Him show the way. Then we need to go the way; do what He says. It’s not a state of relaxed idleness, trusting in His provision while we do nothing at all. It’s a state of watchful faithfulness, trusting in His provision through the strength and skill He has given us by His grace.

In other words: it’s being prepared. It’s being ready for use, just like a clean dish and a tidy house. Let’s make ourselves useful, and trust Him to use us for His perfect will.

Advertisements

Finding PEACE in the trials of life

Papa Bear is a trainee pastor. This means that every now and then he gets to preach. I love it when that happens. He has a keen insight and a philosophical outlook that really speak to me, and I enjoy hearing what he has to say. Last week Sunday our pastor was away on a conference, and Papa Bear got to preach. Here’s what he spoke about:

Finding PEACE amidst the trials of life

As Christians, we seem to have this world view that life should be easy for us. Somewhere along the way we picked up the idea that the meaning of the term “God’s Blessing” was the way would smooth, plain sailing. We imagine that people will like us and see the good in us as we strive to be more like Jesus. We imagine that, by sheer dint of hard work, (and a bit of judicious planning) our financial woes will be a thing of the past. We expect to be safe from all external harm – crime, accidents, political chaos and so forth. And we expect that we will have good health until we drop dead from the simple accumulation of minutes on the face of the planet.

Why do we believe these things? There’s certainly no Biblical support for this world view whatsoever, and there’s also no anecdotal evidence available from a cursory glance around the planet. Everywhere we look – whether we’re looking around us at the people who share our space on this planet, or behind us, at the people who’ve gone before us in time, the evidence suggests strongly that a life of peace and comfort is not likely to be a reality for ANYONE – and much less likely for a Christian than for anyone else.

Jesus explained this very truth to use when He said, “18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. 23 He that hateth me hateth my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did , they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law , They hated me without a cause.” John 15:18-25

Charles Spurgeon explained the attitude we should adopt like this: “If we cannot believe God when circumstances seem to be against us, we do not believe Him at all.”

Let’s take a look at five facts about trials that will help us to gain peace as we face them each day.

  1. The predictability of trials – they’re a fact of life

    Another famous line from Charles Spurgeon explains it like this: “The safest part of a Christian’s life is the time of his trial…Smooth water on the way to Heaven is always a sign that the soul should keep wide awake, for danger is near!”
    Romans 12:12 – Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
    The implication is that tribulation is a part of life. Note what it says in the book of James:
    James 1:2 – My brethren, count it all joy WHEN ye fall into divers temptations;
    When – not IF … we ALL face trials and temptations.
    Acts 14:22 – Confirming the souls of the disciples, [and] exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
    Psalms 34:19 – Many [are] the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.

  2. The endurance (permanence) of trials

    Trials will always be a part of everyone’s life – whether you can see it or not. Your trials are as bad for you as Joe Soap’s mine are for him.
    1 Corinthians 10:13 – There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God [is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it].
    We keep getting tried until we acquire the lesson.
    James 1:3-4 – Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
    Note: “let patience have her perfect work …” – in other words, let the trial finish making you patient, so that your heart can be perfected in the lesson you’re learning. Resistance is futile (and painful J)

  3. The assumption of trials

    We assume they’re to be endured, but in fact we should see them as opportunities for growth.
    Romans 5:3-5 – And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
    We assume we should be exempt from them but in fact trials have been promised to us.
    1 Peter 4:12-15 – 12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.
    We assume we’re alone in trials, but in fact this is when God is most near us.
    “As sure as God puts His children in the furnace he will be in the furnace with them” Charles Spurgeon
    Psalms 23:4 – Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou [art] with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
    Hebrews 13:5 – Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
    We assume we can’t handle it
    Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

  4. The comfort of trials

    God is with us, and He strengthens us:
    John 16:33 – These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
    Even the worst of times works with God’s plan for our ultimate good:
    Romans 8:28 – And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.

  5. The end (purpose) of trials – our maturity

    To establish us:
    1 Peter 5:10 – But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle [you].
    To work together for our own good
    Romans 8:28 – And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.
    To perfect us (make us mature, complete)
    James 1:2-4 – My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
    We are promised rewards for faithful endurance
    James 1:12 – Blessed [is] the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
    Romans 8:18 – For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time [are] not worthy [to be compared] with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
    Revelation 3:21 – To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

What should our response to trials be?

Positivity (JOY), patience and prayer.

Romans 12:12 – Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

James 1:2-4 – My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

1 Peter 4:12-15 – 12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.

John 14:16 – And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

James 4:7 – Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

And finally, another quote from Spurgeon to round it all off:

“Hope itself is like a star- not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, and only to be discovered in the night of adversity. ”

Showers of Blessing

Yesterday at Church, our pastor preached an encouraging and uplifting message on the nature or trials and temptations. It was like a soothing balm to my soul, and I will definitely post my notes here tomorrow.

Something else happened this weekend, though, and I need to share that first. Recently my faith has been waning. The trials of recent times, coupled with my selfishness and poor attitude, have festered inside me until I had a great big wodge of bitterness in my gut. Not pretty. It had been one of those dry times where it felt like my prayers were just bouncing off the ceiling, not achieving much of anything.

Then, there was the refreshing sermon, reminding me of basic truths, and shining some perspective on recent events. I’ll link this post to that once it’s live.

Secondly, (and I really think this is what reassured me of God’s presence in my life, even when it feels like He’s far away), a good friend came up to me, gave me a hug, and said, “I want you to know I pray for you every single day. I pray for wisdom as you work and teach and keep house. I pray that you’ll have the time you need to do everything you need to do. I pray for your testimony, and that those around you all the time will understand that you’re human. And I pray for your health. I worry that you work so hard and don’t get enough sleep.”

Her words touched me so deeply, and stayed with me for ages. Even now, I feel their comfort and kindness. I was struck by her awareness of what I was going through, when I had (unreasonably) felt so very alone. And I was made palpably aware of how much we need to be reminded that we’re being lifted up in prayer, and the need to tell others the same. (Of course, it needs to be true!)

When you've lost your joy | Women Living Well

When you’ve lost your joy | Women Living Well

And finally, today, I stumbled across a book filled with wisdom, comfort and direction. And it’s free! It’s called “When I don’t Desire God“, written by John Piper. I subscribe to the Women Living Well blog, and this book was referred to in today’s post. Frankly, the picture on the blog post spoke to me, and I just had to read the rest.

The fabulous Courtney quotes the following from this well-timed book:

HOW LONG, O LORD, HOW LONG!

Then after the cry you wait. “I waited patiently for the LORD.” This is crucial to know: Saints who cry to the Lord for deliverance from pits of darkness must learn to wait patiently for the Lord. There is no statement about how long David waited. I have known saints who walked through eight years of debilitating depression and came out into glorious light. Only God knows how long we must wait. We saw this in Micah’s experience in Chapter Six. “I sit in darkness . . . until [the Lord] pleads my cause and . . . will bring me out to the light” (see Micah 7:8- 9). We can draw no deadlines for God. He hastens or he delays as he sees fit. And his timing is all-loving toward his children. Oh, that we might learn to be patient in the hour of darkness. I don’t mean that we make peace with darkness. We fight for joy. But we fight as those who are saved by grace and held by Christ.

When I saw that, I just had to read the rest, so I’ve downloaded the rest and I’ll dive into it tonight.

How good is our God, to take the time in the midst of my drawn out, slow-motion temper tantrum, to remind me that He is good. He is faithful.

He is there.

Something to Offer

It recently struck me that what I love about my faith is having something to offer. A friend of mine is going through a time of personal crisis at the moment. You know how sometimes a crisis hits, and it’s a fast-paced, action-packed, frenetic period of emotional (and sometimes physical) upheaval that leaves you wrung out and physically as well as emotionally drained? Well, this is not like that. This is like watching a tsunami hit in very slow motion. It’s so slow that you don’t even realise the wave is coming until it’s washed over you. She is slowly losing her footing in life, and feeling overwhelmed and washed away.

I would feel hopeless, frustrated and impotent. All I can do is offer a shoulder to cry on, but she’s in a place where she doesn’t ant to speak to anyone at all. All I can do is let her know (from a distance) that her friendship matters to me, and hope that helps. Or it would be all I could do … the fact is that there’s so much more that I can do.

I can offer hope.

I have first-hand experience of the refreshing, the comfort in the midst of trials, the peace in the face of chaos. I know that people who don’t walk in faith think that this is imaginary. Escapism at its finest. I suppose in their position, that’s how I’d explain it, too. Having lived it, I know different. It’s as real s my relationship with Papa Bear or the girls – if not more so.

And I can offer this to my friend: I can offer her a path out of the darkness, and a light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve walked the path, and seen the light.

And I pray that she will, too.

 

If you’re looking for a peace that seems elusive, trying to make sense of a world that seems chaotic, that sense of peace is available – for free! – to anyone who asks for it. Leave me a comment and I’ll reply to you, and tell you how I found the peace that has changed my life and made all the burdens bearable.

Running over

“Great peace have they that love Thy law: and nothing shall offend them.”

On Friday night our Church held it’s monthly Family Fun Night: snacks, board games and a short devotion. As always, it was a lot of fun, and I think everyone got something out of it. We made friends, shared food, and generally enjoyed ourselves enormously.

Psalm 119:165 (above) was the text of the devotion, and boy did that hit home. Lately, I’ve been more and more aware of just how negative I can be. I think of myself as a generally optimistic, upbeat person. Certainly, I have an eternal hope that lends and air of peace to every trial. But even so, I find myself afraid, stressed, short-tempered, angry and even festeringly bitter. It’s true that a few hours of sleep usually sorts me out, but it doesn’t change the fact that my reactions can be very selfish and sinful when the heat is turned up.

Our visiting pastor explained that if we’re immersed in God’s word each day, we too can have great peace, and nothing will offend us. In other words, the little things won’t matter so much. We won’t get annoyed by the shortcomings of others or ourselves. We won’t blame people for simply being what they are: fallen human beings. Just like us.

What's running over? Coffee or honey?

What’s running over? Coffee or honey?

He used an illustration that really spoke to me. I’ll paraphrase it a little: if you fill a cup with hot, bitter black coffee, and you trip over a bump carrying that coffee, disaster ensues. The coffee falls out of the cup very easily. You’re likely to burn yourself and others. There are bound to be stains all over the place – some of which you may not find for years. Some of which you may never find at all. Even though coffee is delicious and sometimes just what you need to get you through the day, we all know it’s not exactly a health drink. It’s not good for you. And the hot, bitter liquid can do serious damage when  it gets spread around.

On the other hand, what if you filled a cup with honey, instead? Honey’s pretty stable. It’s hard to spill (especially if it’s the super-good-for-you raw kind). But even if life gets frantic and you hit a bump and spill the honey, what’s going to come out of your cup? Sweet, delicious honey! It’s good for your skin. It’s good for furniture surfaces. If you leave it and don’t clean it up, you may have ants for a short while, but they just clean up the mess and get on their way. Very few people mind having a little life-giving honey spilt on them. No one likes having scaliding hot, bitter coffee all over them.

When your life gets bumpy and your cup runs over (with blessings or challenges), does what’s inside you easily spill over the edge? And what comes spilling out of your cup? Dark, bitter, scalding vitriol? Or gentle, healing sweetness?

I pray God’s gace changes what’s dark and bitter inside me to cups of honey.

Tag Cloud