[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials. —James 1:2
I’ll never forget the time during college when, after I had finished writing a big paper that was due the next day, I heard a loud commotion in the room across the hall. My neighbor was in a state of panic, throwing stuff around his room looking for his paper. Frustrated, he banged his fist against the closet and shouted, “Thanks a lot, God. You make life one big laugh!”
I might have given him an A+ for theology—at least he knew that God was ultimately in charge—but an F for his response to the problem.
For those of us who get mad at God when life takes a wrong turn, we need a good dose of biblical therapy. So, welcome to “Wall-Bangers Anonymous”—a two-step program toward a positive, God-honoring response to pain.
Step One: Think straight about trouble. It’s not only inevitable, it’s indiscriminate. Trouble comes in all shapes and sizes. “Various trials” (James 1:2) affect our health, our careers, our relationships. Once we understand the facts, we can begin appreciating their significant value in our lives.
Step Two: Trade resistance and resentment for receptivity and rejoicing. “Count it all joy” (James 1:2). The joy is not in the presence of pain but in the knowledge that God is using our pain to refine us and make us better, not bitter.
If we embrace adversity,
Accepting every pain,
Then we will learn what we should know;
Our grief will turn to gain. —Sper
God chooses what we go through; we choose how we go through it.
|August 1, 2017
Why Your Mess Matters
“But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.” 1 Timothy 1:16 (ESV)
He looked at me with questioning eyes and said, “Mom, are you really mad about something else?”
My over-reaction to a spilled glass of chocolate milk gave my boy insight into my heart. I actually was upset about something else. The spilled chocolate milk was just one more mess to clean up in the larger mess of my life.
Several months before, our family had moved back to our hometown without my husband. We believed he would get transferred within three to four months, but it hadn’t happened.
Before we moved, I promised my children nothing would change. “It’ll just be a new location,” I said. “Everything else will be the same.”
Liar, liar, pants on fire.
Eleven months later, I was forced to admit everything had changed. Not only had my husband still not received a transfer, but my boys, homeschooled their entire lives, found themselves in school for the first time.
Add to that demanding sports schedules, the stress of new friendships, the financial and emotional strain of having a family in two different places — and it was plain to see mama lied … albeit unintentionally.
And me? I felt like a single mom most of the time. My husband was with us as much as his schedule allowed, but most of the day-to-day stress — stress I had never before endured alone — fell on me.
On my knees, scrubbing chocolate milk from my family room floor, I asked myself these questions:
Where is Jesus in this?
How do I help others see Him in me when life feels like a constant struggle to survive?
How can I make Jesus look good when everything’s falling apart?
We all want to be the mom who thrives, juggles everything well and is a perfect picture of motherhood — no matter what her circumstances bring. We want it, because it’s easier when things go well. But as Christians, we also want to thrive so others, especially our kids, can see Jesus in us. We long to rise above the noise so our lives draw others to Christ.
Don’t we have to be attractive in order to attract? No.
As a mom who’s lived through the “survival” season (and circled back more often than I’d like), I find other moms who are real about how hard motherhood is to be the most attractive thing in the world.
Knowing that you’ve asked for forgiveness as you mop up the chocolate milk, watching you slosh your way through the day while trying your best to honor God with your life, seeing you worship Jesus while you struggle … those are the things that draw me to you … and ultimately to Jesus within you.
Your mess matters to me.
Our lives capture constant rolling footage, illustrating to those around us whether we truly believe God is worth following … especially in the hard times.
According to our key verse, God has called us to live with other people in mind. Why? Because what we do with the circumstances we’re given — how we talk about them, act because of them and trust or distrust God through them — influences others.
Motherhood IS great, rewarding and worth every second of hardship and heartache. But it’s also messy, humbling and the most challenging thing we’ll ever put our hands (and heart) to.
Instead of hiding our truth from the world in hopes they’ll see Jesus in some fake story about a girl who has it all together, let’s tell the real one.
Let them see Jesus at work in the trial, even when we want to give up. Let others see Jesus in our mess, so they know they’re not alone.
Let your life be the story Jesus uses to draw others to Him.
Lord, You see the real us. Help us keep our eyes on You, and give us strength for the struggle. Use our lives to draw others to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
You Are Invited to Pray
From: CBN, and by: Merle Mills
“This is your captain speaking. Welcome aboard. Our flight today will reach a cruising altitude of 33,000 feet. The weather looks good and we should arrive at our destination in approximately one hour and 20 minutes. Until then, sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight.”
Sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight? I had not flown since January 1999, more than 16 years ago. In 16 years, there were many negative airline incident reports. My trust had been destroyed, replaced by fear.
For the next 80 minutes, my life would be guided by the hands of a captain I did not know, nor knew me. Dependent on his skill and wisdom, there was nothing I could do in my own strength. I felt helpless. Fear gripped my soul. Seat-belted in, feeling trapped at 33,000 feet in the air, I breathed a prayer.
“Heavenly Father, help me.”
“Let us, therefore, come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 KJV
Have you ever felt there was nothing you could do in your own strength, helpless? Gripped by fear, or trapped?
“Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.” Psalm 56:3 KJV
Prayer has no limit. We can pray, morning, noon, or night, silently from the heart, whispered, spoken aloud, or from any location. It has the ability to defeat fearful thoughts, and transform them into moments of strength, wisdom, peace, and hope.
David, fearful and running from Saul, took refuge and fled to Cave Adullam. According to Thompsons Chain Reference Bible, “there was a strange, secluded wildness about the place.”
David’s prayer breathed from this “secluded wildness place” was:
“Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusts in You: yea, in the shadow of Your wings, will I make my refuge, until these calamities have passed.” Psalm 57:1 KJV
Jonah prayed with seaweed wrapped around his head (Jonah 2:5) out of the belly of a whale:
“I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and He heard me.” Jonah 2:2KJV
Peter prayed on a housetop:
“Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour.” Acts 10:9 KJV
Hannah prayed for a child and our Heavenly Father gave her a son:
“Give unto your handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life.” 1 Samuel 1:11 KJV
King Hezekiah prayed to be healed:
“I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will heal you.”2 Kings 20:5 KJV
Jesus whipped, beaten, pierced, and nailed to the cross prayed for His persecutors:
“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Luke 22:34 KJV
Today, if you are you feeling helpless, gripped by fear, or trapped, you and I have a Captain who wants to guide our life. A Captain who knows us, and One we can trust. One who invites us to pray, with the promise that our prayer will be heard.
“Call unto me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you know not.” Jeremiah 33:3 KJV
“Ladies and gentlemen, we have just been cleared to land.” We were arriving at our destination 10 minutes earlier than scheduled. Fear before prayer had almost denied me the joy of a relaxing flight.
Prior to deplaning, I had the opportunity to speak with and compliment the captain. He had over 35 years flying experience. My life had been in capable hands.
We too are in capable hands. Our Captain has been guiding lives eternally.
“Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” Psalm 90:2 KJV
Heavenly Father, every day, in every situation, or circumstance of our lives, may we always remember Your invitation to pray, in Jesus’ name, Amen.