How to Hold on When it Hurts

Has God ever hurt your feelings?

Have you ever been angry with Him?

Can you think of a time when you felt like He tricked you?

Have you ever wanted to do the fool me once, shame on me – fool me twice, shame on You thing to Him?

Have you ever experienced such a loss that you were prone to wander?

Most of us wouldn’t feel comfortable admitting to some of those things. So, for the next 500 words, let’s all pretend that we have a friend (I’m totally doing air quotes right there) who has experienced some of these emotions.

A photo by Joanna Kosinska. unsplash.com/photos/MZ4wcaMfALk

I was listening to a story yesterday about a woman who, after enduring several painful life experiences, decided that God was no longer good. She was wounded and unable to see beyond it.

It made me think of another woman I know who once said, “I’m afraid that, when it’s my turn to suffer, I will disappoint Him.” It was this woman’s greatest desire to suffer well for her Savior.

I couldn’t help but wonder, in the midst of pain, what makes one woman cling tighter to the cross and one turn her back and walk away?

rainy day

I thought of Job who, of course, suffered more loss than most of us can imagine. But I also thought of his wife who, we often forget, suffered the very same losses. While they may have experienced the same losses, they had very different responses.

Job’s wife

His wife said to him, “Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die.” Job 2:9

Job

Even if he kills me, I will hope in Him. Job 13:15

One says, “Forget it.”

The other says, “I’m not letting go.”

What’s the difference?

love

I thought about this for quite some time and here is what God kept bringing to my mind.

The first five verses in the first chapter of Job tell us a lot about Job’s relationship with the Lord before the tragedyBefore the loss. Before the heartache.

He was completely devoted to the Lord. It was his custom to rise early every morning and offer prayers and sacrifices on behalf of his children.

We have to know that we know that we know that the Lord is good. We have to trust His heart. We have to believe in His love. We have to be committed to Him. But this all needs to take place on the front end!

When you know someone’s heart, you can trust them more. When someone has proven to be faithful, you cling tightly to them even as the storm rages around you. Notice that Job never claims to not be in pain. Life is dang hard and no one makes it through unscathed. It still hurts, y’all. But our hurt doesn’t cancel out our hope.

Whatever the days hold for us, let us be people who refuse to let go no matter what.

You are loved. ❤

 

 

Is There a Plumber in the House?

washingdishesThere is currently a plumber under my kitchen sink. Judging by the pounding and heavy breathing, I can only imagine that it will cost a pretty penny. Now, just to clear things up, this is a different plumber than the one who was under that same sink just a few short weeks ago. That plumber, my friends, may or may not have been the one to see me do the ugly cry and then call me later to make sure “we were cool.” What I’m telling you is that I am having some plumbing issues.

No one has to tell me that things could be worse. I do not need to hear about all of the people who are struggling with much bigger things. I know that, in the grand scheme of things, this is simply an annoyance. The truth is that the little annoyances of life can be the final straw when you are the one washing your dishes in a bucket. Can I get an amen?

It’s there, in the little anxieties of life, that we can find Satan hard at work. It isn’t the huge issues that take us out. We can rally for the big things. We will trust God for miracles. But those little things – they can be like death by a thousand cuts. They can become a distraction which the enemy will use to his advantage.

***

Take a moment and read Luke 21. It’s okay. I’ll wait.

***

In this passage, Jesus is teaching about some hard things to come:

The destruction of the temple

Wars

Earthquakes

Famine

Pestilence

Persecution

Heaven will pass away

Earth will pass away.

Those are some big things. Yet, we are instructed to not worry about those big things. In hebrews 2 1verse 14, Jesus tells us to settle it in our minds beforehand not to worry about what we will say when we are imprisoned.

Our instruction, sweet sisters, is to watch that our hearts are not weighed down by the cares/worries/anxieties of this life.

But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. – Luke 21:34

It is at this point that I wish I were sitting face to face with each of you. I wish you could see how I am about to jump out of my skin because I know that you know what I’m talking about.

Jesus warns us that the day of His return will come upon us suddenly.

Why?

Because we were not living in anticipation of His return.

Why?

Because we were distracted.

By what?

The worries of this life.

***

Can you see how the enemy works? He knows that we are going to take those big things straight to our God to handle. He knows that, when tragedy strikes, we will fall on our faces before our God.

But when the car breaks down or the toilet overflows or the kids lose the library books or there is an unexpected bill or, someone work with me, the kitchen sink will not drain and you find yourself washing your dishes in a bucket that you are pretty certain was last used to soak someone’s feet?

At that point, how easily are we distracted from the work of Christ?

The next time you feel overwhelmed and heavy hearted over the day to day worries of this life, be reminded that these annoyances are Satan’s pathetic attempt to distract you.

Do not let it work. Let’s stay alert. Let’s spend our days anticipating Christ’s return so that, when He comes, we are not caught by surprise and can say, “Yes, Lord, I was expecting you.”

You all are loved.

Stacy, a Slave of Christ

A couple of weeks ago, I was driving behind a big truck on the interstate. I was trying to explain to my girls how, when I was little, you could get a trucker’s attention, pump your arm up and down and they would blow the big horn for you. Does anyone else remember that? We ended up beside the truck and the girls tried to get the driver’s attention. He was talking on his cell phone, glanced briefly at the girls and went back to his conversation.

dad and truck

Growing up, I can never remember that happening. Truckers always honked the horn for kids in cars. As a trucker’s daughter, I couldn’t help but wonder what has changed and here is what I think. Driving a truck used to be more than an occupation. It was more than something a person did. It was who they were. It was an identity. A culture. It had its own lingo and music. I had more than my fair share of meals at truck stops with mini jukeboxes on the tables and claw machines in the lobbies. Ah, memories.

I can’t help but think about this change as I watch people making resolutions to do better this year. As Christians, we want to read more Scripture, memorize more verses, pray more, etc. Don’t get me wrong; those are wonderful things and we should certainly strive to grow in those areas. We set ourselves up for failure, however, when we make it about doing more things.

When our faith is just something we do, it becomes something we can just as easily not do. But, when our faith is who we are – when it is as essential as our next breath – well, that changes everything.  

heart sugar cookie

Let’s pretend you were Paul and you were introducing yourself to a church. You could say something like, ” I’ve made many mission trips. I’ve written many important letters. I’ve lived a life of boldness and bravery.” Those were all things Paul had done, but that was not who Paul was.

Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus… – Romans 1:1

What about James? James was the brother of the Messiah. He lived under the same roof as the Son of God. Surely, when introducing yourself, you might mention that. But that was not who James was.

James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ… – James 1:1

Peter.

Simeon Peter, a slave and an apostle of Jesus Christ… – 2 Peter 1:1

Jude.

Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ… Jude 1:1

Over and over again, men and women found their very identity in Christ. They came from various walks of life. They had different missions and mission fields. They knew the Scriptures. They prayed. They tried. They failed. They tried again. But their faith was never something they did on the side. It was all consuming.

Let us be that way. The world tries to make Christ something you can do on the side. The reality is, however, that Christ is all or he is nothing and there is no in between.

You and I – we are slaves of Christ. Regardless of what else we do or have or accomplish, nothing will ever be more important than that.

How to Survive the Dark

candleThere are those days when you seem to see Him everywhere. The skies are blue and the birds are singing. There is a song in your heart, a spring in your step and a smile on your lips. And praise God for those days for they are, indeed, good.

But, let’s be honest, there are days when you don’t see Him. Try as you may, you just can’t find Him. The pain is blinding and oppressive and the darkness heavy.

Your faith tells you that He is there, but your bruised heart begs for proof.

Peter knew the feeling. He understood shame and dreams dashed. He knew what he was talking about when he said – 

Even though you do not see Him now… – 1 Peter 1:8

I know you can’t see Him. Isn’t it comforting to read those words? Right now you can’t see Him. I get that.  That’s what Peter is saying.

There are days of pain. There are nights of anguish. How do you survive the darkness?

Even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him…

That’s the difference. You hurt, but you still believe that He loves you. You are confused, but you still believe that He is good and all His ways are good. You feel alone, but you believe He is there.

You can’t see Him…but you believe.

And that is the secret to surviving the dark.