Tag Archives: God

Suffering on the Side of the Road

picjumbo.com_HNCK06251 You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8 (NLT)

I dropped my boys off at school, as I do every morning. Headed home to start my day, my mind was going in a thousand different directions. What I saw next happened so quickly and literally took my breath away. Near an exit on the side of the freeway I saw a woman. She was wearing a loose white shirt. The morning sun reflected off of her golden blonde hair. And she was kneeling at a cross near the exit. She wasn’t trying to hide her pain, but was visibly mourning the loss of someone right there, on the side of the freeway, for all those passing by to witness. Although I only caught a glimpse, I could see the anguish and pain in her face. For a brief moment I shared in this stranger’s pain.

We walk around on this earth and we encounter many things that bring us to our knees. There are many of us who stand upright on the outside but on the inside are kneeled, crouched low, in fetal position, aching for something… someone. It’s what we do. We suffer loss, but we have to carry on- for ourselves, for our children, and for our loved ones. But every now and then, most likely in the privacy of our own homes, we like the woman, kneel in a place of brokenness and pain. And we cry out for what is lost and what is unseen and the unknown. Because we don’t know. And not knowing is scary. And not knowing hurts. And sometimes we smile because the world is moving on and we feel like we need to smile. People are getting promotions and celebrating holidays and having birthdays…  but we ache inside because it still hurts. It hurts to watch the world move on when we don’t feel like moving on. We don’t feel like celebrating sometimes. Sometimes feel like we’re lost in the sea of people and we can’t quite find our place, we can’t seem to get a grip on our new normal, because it’s not exactly what we want.

What I want to say to this woman and what I want to say to you is that He sees. He sees you when you are inwardly wrapped in the fetal position and everyone around you is smiling and laughing. He sees your loneliness and how quiet and sometimes cold it feels in the inner chambers of your heart. He knows when you’re at a social gathering because you know you should be there and it takes everything you have to engage because honestly, all you want to do is run and get away. You despise the small talk and want to shout, “Doesn’t anyone see me, doesn’t anyone know I’m hurting.” And they might but they find their own comfort in the smallness of the moment and the small talk that surrounds them.

No one teaches us how to gather together and talk about the things that hurt, the things that weigh heavy on our hearts. And we tend to even feel selfish for bringing it up. “This is an awesome lunch, by the way I’m having a really hard day and don’t really feel like being here today.” How does one do that without feeling guilty for feeling like they’ve brought everyone else down?

We are definitely progressing on being authentic and real, but still have miles to go. The reality is this- whether you are the woman on the side of the road who is openly suffering or, like many of us, the one who silently just has some really hard days but smiles because everyone else seems to be smiling- God sees and hears and He gets us. He knows those things that keep us awake at night. He knows the ones that fight privately with their spouse but show up at every event smiling and together, because it’s what you do. I mean, how would we respond if we said to a couple in passing, “How are you guys?” and have them reply, “Honestly, we are not doing good. We’ve been fighting really bad lately.”  And so we keep moving on, pressing forward, some of us, quietly in our pain.

The Lord sees every single tear that’s fallen from your face. Many suffer quietly. The Lord sees every broken place. Sometimes we’re so wound up that we have trouble just letting Him in and we fight Him until it is all that we can do to drop to our knees. And when we do that, He tenderly and gently rocks us… back and forth, knowing we just need a good cry and His loving arms around us.

Because when no one else knows or understands- He does. And those secret things we think we’re so good at hiding, He sees. And although I don’t have all the answers for you today, there is one thing I am certain of- He can be trusted with our hearts. When no one else feels safe enough to let in to the deepest places of our soul, He is that safe place.

He is our refuge.

People are not always going to know how to comfort or have all the right things to say. That is okay because there is someone who does have answers and He knows exactly how to calm our anxious thoughts and heal our broken places.

Lord, we are believing, trusting, and praying that through the brokenness and the struggles and the pain and uncertainty for what lies ahead, that You will show yourself and bring healing and that through these things that we walk through, that it would only cause us to grow closer to You. Thank You that Your mercies are new every. single. morning. In Jesus name. Amen.

Here are some scriptures to bring hope and comfort. I’ve underlined the action verbs that reveal what He does. He redeems, He lifts, He is aware, He carries, He saves, He sees, He listens, He hears, He encourages, He comforts, and He is not only aware of our sufferings, but He preserves our life and wants to set us free.

  • Isaiah 63:9- In all their affliction He was afflicted, And the angel of His presence saved them; In His love and in His mercy He redeemed them, And He lifted them and carried them all the days of old.
  • Exodus 3:7- The Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings.
  • Isaiah 49:15- Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.
  • Psalms 10:17- You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry.
  • Psalms 118:5- In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and He answered by setting me free.
  • Psalms 22:24- For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.
  • Psalms 119:50- My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.
  • Romans 8:18- I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be joy revealed in us.
  • 2 Cor. 1:5- For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.

 

Wrestling Changes Everything

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Jeremiah 24:7I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.

Little boys love to wrestle with their daddies. It’s this sweet, sometimes rough (but fun) bonding that is inbred in some boys. Many of them start out at a young age wanting to tackle everybody. My son Joel would do this all the time with my husband.

There’s also another kind of wrestling that we experience. In our walk with God we go through our own seasons of wrestling. We wrestle with our faith, we wrestle with unanswered prayers, we wrestle for God to show Himself, or perhaps we wrestle through pain- to find meaning in it. Each of us at some point in our lives will be called to wrestle.

Let’s look at a few heroes of the faith who experienced their own wrestling.

Job, in the Old Testament, was a man who was blameless and devoted to God. Job was a blessed man, who loved his family and lived righteously. Job went through a season where the Lord removed His protection (read the story in more detail in the book of Job). He lost all 10 of his children and all of his wealth. If that wasn’t bad enough, he was also afflicted with a horrible skin disease. Job had shown honor to God in response to his suffering. In Job’s heart God was his most precious treasure, even more precious than his health. What’s interesting is that God didn’t answer all of Jobs pleas for help right away. As a matter of fact, Job suffered a great deal. The Bible is unclear on the exact amount of time Job suffered. We know it was less than a year but that it lasted at least several months. I can only concede that it must have felt like forever. God didn’t restore everything right away. Job, knowing the nature and character of God, wrestled with the whys, yet he still told God he would worship Him no matter what. After many months of loneliness, sadness, and loss Job came out of his wrestling with these words, “I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes– Job 42:5. Before wrestling with his suffering, he knew about God, but after the wrestling He knew God and felt a closer intimacy with Him. He was a changed man. He had seen God.

Our wrestling with God serves a purpose. It causes our own faith and walk with the Lord to be grounded and personal. It changes us.

Another hero of the faith that wrestled was Moses. The story is found in Exodus chapters 3 and 4. Moses wrestled with God’s calling on his life. Moses was called to lead the people out of slavery and into the Promised Land. He told God that He must have the wrong guy. Moses felt very under-qualified. But God knew what He was doing. Moses wasn’t confident in speaking and leading. You would think that if God spoke to you from a burning bush that that would be enough confirmation (Exodus 3:4). But no. Moses had to wrestle through his own fears and insecurities. Listen to some of the things Moses said and you can hear Him wrestle with his calling: “But who am I, how do you expect me to lead, they won’t believe me, they won’t do what I tell them to do, I’m not a good speaker, I’m clumsy with words.” Moses had to wrestle through what he thought he could do compared to what God could actually do through him. Once he began to obey God and step out into his calling, God performed many miracles through him. If there were any doubts in the beginning, Moses was able to witness and experience firsthand the faithfulness of God.

There is only one person in the Bible who actually ‘physically’ wrestled and that was Jacob. Jacob’s life up to this point had been one of many struggles. Although God had promised to make many nations from Jacob, he, like Moses, was a man filled with many fears. We pick up his story in Genesis 32. He had fled from his father-in-law Laban because of the awful treatment he received only to encounter his bitter brother Esau who wanted to kill him. In Genesis 32:6 we learn that Esau was on his way with an army of 400 men. Genesis 32:7-8- In great fear and distress Jacob divided the people who were with him into two groups,and the flocks and herds and camels as well. He thought, “If Esau comes and attacks one group,the group that is left may escape.” Genesis 32:20b- for he thought, “I will pacify him with these gifts I am sending on ahead; later, when I see him, perhaps he will receive me.”

During the night he took his wives, servants, and sons and crossed the Jabbok River. And then he sent over all his possessions. This put Jacob in an interesting position. At this point he was completely exhausted, had nothing left to give, and felt like he had no fight left in him. He sent ahead those things in which represented his riches and he was left all alone in the wilderness. Genesis 32:24- So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. It is believed to be an angel of God that wrestled with Jacob that night. Jacob and the angel struggled throughout the night until the angel could not overpower him. When the man (the angel) asked Jacob to let him go, Jacob said he would not let go without a blessing. Jacob would never forget this wrestle because not only did the angel bless him, but he also knocked his hip out of his socket and Jacob walked with a limp for the rest of his life.   

What’s the point of wrestling with God? Surely there is purpose and meaning in and through it. When Jacob came out of that experience of wrestling with God, he was a changed man. He was no longer the same person that he was before he entered the ring. To further demonstrate that he was no longer the same man, God changed his name from Jacob to Israel. “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” he said. “It will be Israel because you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed.” Gen. 32:28

The King James Bible Commentary says this: “The conflict brought to a head the battling and groping of a lifetime, and Jacob’s desperate embrace vividly expressed his ambivalent attitude to God, of love and enmity, defiance and dependence. It was against Him, not Esau or Laban, that he had been pitting his strength, as he now discovered; yet the initiative had been God’s as it was this night, to chasten his pride and challenge his tenacity. The crippling and the naming show that God’s ends were still the same: He would have all of Jacob’s will to win, to attain and obtain, yet purged of self-sufficiency and redirected to the proper object of man’s love, God Himself.”

Our wrestling breaks us down to realize that without God we are nothing. It’s about wiping away all of who we think we are, our self-sufficiency, and putting us in a place where we have to hash out all those things we don’t really want to face- our insecurities, our anger at something that’s happened, our questions about our own faith, and all of our fears.

When you wrestle with God, you come out changed. There is something about struggling and wrestling through that solidifies your relationship with the Lord. You enter in with so many questions, and you come out knowing that He is real and that regardless of how things turn out, He is for you, and that He desires a close relationship with you. When you come out of your wrestle you might not have all of your questions answered, but you get to a place of trust, where your desire to be close to Him is greater than your desire for all of the answers. 

What about you? Have you been in a place of wrestling with some things? Are you wrestling for your faith? Are you feeling discouraged?  Are you in a place like Job where you’re wrestling with suffering? Or do you relate more to Moses where you are wrestling with your fears and insecurities? Or perhaps your wrestle is more like Jacob, where God is initiating a wrestle with you and you think your frustration is about all these other things, when really God is fighting for you heart?

I want to encourage you this week to get alone with God- seek after Him. Write out your questions and frustrations. Give Him your pain. God can handle our questions. As a matter of fact, He already knows them. But He’s waiting to hear from you personally. Spend time in the scriptures. Cry out to Him in that secret place. And just like Jacob, you will be touched, you will be changed, and you will be blessed.

Jeremiah 29:12-13 (ESV) 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

This article was originally posted in print form (in Spanish) from World Missions Outreach.  

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The Most High Is Thinking About Me Right Now

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Psalms 40:17~ As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord is thinking about me right now.

I was feeling left out. I know they didn’t mean to hurt my feelings by not inviting me, but nonetheless, I was hurt. I saw the pictures of the fun night appear online. Maybe they just forgot. I can’t stay hurt about something that was unintentional. So I did what I always do, I took my disappointments to the Lord.

As I poured out my heart, and searched His Word for answers, peace began to pour over me. I read this scripture from Psalms 40:17- As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord is thinking about me right now. I cannot even begin to tell you how powerful a word is in due season. I realized that no matter what disappointments I faced, that He is always, continuously thinking about me. I am always on His mind- always. And that to me is more important than what I am (or am not) invited to. Others might not always be thinking of me, but the God of this world is. And because of this revelation, I am able to let go of offenses and know that I am more than enough. He has made me exactly who He has called me to be- regardless of what others think.

Oh, how humbled I am to know that You, Lord are always thinking of me. I am always on your mind. Help me to let go of offenses, to not be easily offended, and to not put such high expectations on others. Help me to be free in knowing how loved I am by you, at all times.  Thank you that I am always on your mind. Amen.

Lessons on the Run

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it you will land among the stars.”
-Les Brown

My running lately has been very up and down. Sometimes I run. Sometimes I don’t. Ironic thing is, I love it. Not every single moment. But love the feeling, especially when I’m done. It just feels good. Sweat dripping off my face, heart rate going through the roof, God downloading to me messages through the music.

Today was no different just a quick 20-minute run. I even caught myself tearing up through Black Eyed Peas “I got a Feeling that tonight’s gonna be a good good night” (Hey, don’t judge, it gets me running! And I once heard Shelia Walsh came out on a Harley to that song!). Needless to say, I can’t write out everything God showed me on that run, because some was personal, but He gave me some lessons through the run I wanted to share.

I had already planned on it being a short run, with all I have on my plate today. And I allowed myself to have an easy run, because after all, I haven’t been running a lot lately. The Lord asked me if I could run fast and hard even if just past one house. Would I allow myself a little discomfort instead of always letting myself off the hook? Okay Lord- but just one house. I ran hard, through the grunting and discomfort, I actually ran myself hard past several houses.

Lesson #1- Spend time with the Lord, even if it’s been a while. Just like our work out routine can sometimes feel like a roller coaster, our time with the Lord can too. But don’t let that stop you from pressing in and pressing on! I’ve heard people say, “Why start working out now, it’s been years?” One day is better than no days! You have to start somewhere. Take a few minuets today to read His Word and hang out with Him. Don’t listen to that voice that says it’s been too long, what’s the point? You will be so glad you did!

Lesson #2- God wants to use you. He wants you to be able to push yourself sometimes to see what you can really do. I knew the Lord was with me. I knew it was something He was telling me to do. That’s key. Don’t step out unless you feel like it’s him pushing you out of the boat.

I then was telling myself I was just going to do a quick run, so I saw my house ahead and was mentally preparing to stop. The Lord asked me if I could just do one more block. I knew I had not run to my full potential, but I was okay with that, because, after all, I had much to do. The Lord said again, “Will you do just one more block?” “Okay, but I’m really okay with being done.” So I did one more block, which turned in to one more, which turned in to… you guessed it, one more.

Lesson #3- Don’t take easy street. Sometimes we get so use to letting our self off the hook and taking the easy, comfortable road that we never really see God’s full potential in us. He showed me this morning that the things He has for me are far greater than anything I could ever imagine, but I’ve got to stop letting myself be okay with all of my many excuses. “I’m too tired. It’s too hard. It’s too uncomfortable. There are so many people already doing what I feel called to do, am I really even needed? Maybe I’m just making these things up in my head and I should just be happy with where I am at and stay here.” He never calls us to easy and comfortable- but He has promised that He will fulfill the desires of our hearts. Psalms 37:4- Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. And will this journey be pain free? John 16:33- I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

What is it that the Lord’s been asking you to do that might be uncomfortable? Are there steps that He is asking you to take that will require a dying to self and a sacrifice? Are there dreams in your heart that you have specifically asked, “Lord, if this is not from you, please take this cup from me” but still find those dreams burning with in you? The Lord is asking you today, “Will you run the extra mile?” “Will you go the distance?” “Will you keep going even when you’re a little bit uncomfortable?” “Will you trust me and run this race just a little bit more and see what I can do though you?” And ultimately, “Will you trust me?”

 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us- Hebrew 12:1

God Will Use Your Little

As a new believer or even as a seasoned Christian, have you ever felt inadequate to do the things that God has called you to do? I have. “Lord, can you really use me?” At times my gifts seem so small and insignificant. Then the Lord spoke to me as I was reading a story out of the Bible from Matthew.
It’s found in Matthew 14:15-21. It was getting late as Jesus was preaching on the mountain. The disciples basically said, “look Jesus, it’s getting late. Lets send these people away so they can go out to dinner” (obviously I’m using a little freedom here with the scriptures). And in verse 16 Jesus replies, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” Possibly at this point the disciples might be thinking, “umm…Lord, is there some hidden food we don’t know about?” The disciples replied in verse 17- “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. V.18-21- “Bring them here to me”, he said. And he directed them to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
Something that I learned as I studied these verses. It was a little boy who had the loaves of bread. I’m sure as the disciples walked around asking who had food, he might have even felt a little embarrassed offering up his little basket. But here’s what we learn from this story- God will use the little that you have, no matter how insignificant you think it is. Give it to God, and He will not only bless it but multiply it.

Lord, Help us in times when we are feeling inadequate or not enough. Help us to be like that little boy and say, I know its not much, but its all I’ve got. Remind us that its nothing that we can do in our own strength. But only when we lift it up to You, that You can bless it and cause it to multiply.

The Storm of the Century

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I was on the balcony, overlooking the ocean- book in hand. Out of nowhere, a thunderous downpour. The sky turned gray as the clouds rolled in. People were running to find shelter. After about five minutes, the rain completely stopped, and a ray of sunshine broke through the clouds.
The Lord reminded me of many times where I wondered if there would ever be sunshine again in my life. All seemed dark, with shelter no where in sight. Some of you might feel like you are in the storm of the century. Hold on- The Son will break through your darkness and you will see His ray of Son-shine again. And don’t forget where to run when the rain hits hard. You can run under the shelter of the Almighty. Rainy days and dark skies might be here today, but they will not last forever. Run to our Heavenly Father. He’s waiting with open arms to be your shelter in the storm.

Psalm 91:1-
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

Psalm 32:7-
You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.

Don’t Worry About It

One night, as I went to tuck my daughter in, I noticed sadness in her eyes. I asked her what was wrong. She said she was sad because she knew one day her dog (Latte’) would die. See, this is our first dog we’ve ever had as a family. He’s a Pug, and well, he’s just so stinkin cute! I don’t think she realized how close she would get to him. And, he was only like a year old! I’m thinking this dog has like eighteen years left in him. I tried to convey that to her, and console her. He’s really here for a while. She calmed down and fell asleep.

Here it is, some two years later and our pug is still as cuddly and perky as ever. I wonder how many times we do that. We stress and worry and we carry fear about what might happen down the road. Something that is totally out of our hands. Unfortunately, worrying about what ‘might’ happen someday robs us of the gift we have in today- the present. And it steals our joy and cheats us of living in the now.

Ask the Lord what it is that you’ve been stressing over and carrying. Trust Him to carry that burden and to remove that weight. Ask Him to allow you to live in the present, knowing your future is in His hands. 🙂

Do Not Worry…

Matthew 6:25-34~ 25“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

28“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

In Need Of A Savior

I can still picture him, a young man, in his early 20’s. He usually wore a gray pinstriped suit, with a crisp white shirt. He was always smiling. “What’s he so happy about?”, I often wondered. I was working my evening job at the dry cleaners. I greeted him with, “What’ll it be, starch or no starch?”

After about a month, he invited me to his Bible Study. “I’m sorry, what did you say?”  “A group of us meet every week and have Bible Study”.  As I leaned over the counter with my poor excuse for a tank top and my ripped shorts, I thought to myself, “This guys got a lot of guts, asking someone like me to a Bible study!” He obviously knew nothing about me. I couldn’t be caught dead in a church, let alone in a Bible Study.  Seriously, I’m the girl with the broken down life. I go to clubs and sports bars, not churches.

But he was persistent, that one. Or should I say that God was persistent. My life was a mess. Why in the world would this squeaky clean God want anything to do with a girl like me?  “Okay already, I’ll go to one”.  And something happened that night. I heard God’s Word for the first time in my life. And a light broke through a very dark place in my heart. His Holy Presence washed over me like a flood in the night. I realized that He died for me- a broken down mess in need of a Savior.

This story is for a contest hosted by Mary DeMuth. It’s exactly 259 words and the winner will win a Kindle!! If interested, Here’s the link: http://www.blogtourspot.com/2010/02/thin-places-blog-tour/

Safe Place

“How wide and deep is your love…”
The Lord wants you to find your safe place with Him. He see’s your pain. He see’s your brokenness. He see’s the walls that you have built up to protect yourself. And you keep building them higher and higher. Can I just tell you today that He is your safe place. Your place of healing and restoration. He comes before you with open arms. His embrace is  warm and gentle~ a safe place. Let Him wipe away the tears. He doesn’t care where you’ve been or what you’ve done. His love for you is right where you are at. Won’t you let Him in today? He won’t betray you. He will never turn on you. You can be totally vulnerable in His presence. Won’t you trust Him today?

Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV) Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”