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. ❤

 

 

Living #Blessed in a #Broken World

psalm 16At this moment, I am in my pajamas, watching a band on the Today show that I have never heard of {because I am nothing if not in the know} and eating a pretend birthday cake made of Legos. This is my life and it is terribly glamorous. We have to actually leave the house today. This means that everyone must brush their teeth and wear, you know, real clothes. This is a big deal to a three-year-old who just “feels better naked.”

I guess what I am saying is that I do not have a whole lot of time. I did, however, want to share one little something-something that occurred to me this morning. I shared this on my Facebook page but wanted to share it here as well.

{Breaking news: apparently, there is a naked man causing traffic delays in Chicago by sitting on people’s cars. That is what I love about Facebook. It really knows how to weed out the boring news and give us what we really want.}

Anywho.

The book of Ephesians is a wonderful letter written to the faithful saints in Ephesus. In his letter, Paul tells the Ephesians that his prayer for them is that they would know hope.

…that you may know what is the hope… – Ephesians 1:18

Isn’t that what people are so desperate for these days? Apart from Christ, however, there is no hope. There is only wishful thinking and day dreaming. Paul says to forget all of that and learn true hope.

Here is the thing, though. We can not just hoard hope. We can not live as if we got on a train, punched our ticket and the next stop is paradise. What do we do with those still standing on the platform? What about those who do not {yet} know what we know? While we are living #blessed, how can we relate to those who are living #broken?

Paul tells us how. We remember was it was like to have no hope.

Remember…having no hope… – Ephesians 2:12

When we forget what it was like to live hopeless, we fail to relate to those who are still there. If we get too comfortable in our Christianity, we become callous toward those who do not yet know Him.

As we go about our day, I pray that we will KNOW HOPE. I pray that we live in it and are thankful for it. As we interact with the world around us, however, I pray that we would remember what it was like to have NO HOPE. Only then will we be able to view others with the compassion of Christ. Let us be a blessing to a broken world.

Look around you. Who needs to know about the hope that you have in Him?

When Hope Smells Like Death

Do you ever look at your life and think, “What in the world happened here?” Does the pain of what could have been weigh heavy on your chest? Are there daily reminders that something is not {and may never be} the same? Does everything seem broken?

It’s a tough place for sure.

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One of my favorite passages of Scripture is the Valley of Dry Bones found in Ezekiel 37. {A very important tip when reading Scripture: read aloud and slowly. You will be amazed at the things you catch that otherwise would have been skimmed over.} Take a moment and read {aloud and slowly} Ezekiel 37:1-14. It’s okay. I will wait.

Did you do it? Great.

In verse 1-2, the Lord leads Ezekiel to a valley full of dry bones. As he takes it all in, Ezekiel notices that the bones are very dry. They had been there awhile, y’all. Can anyone relate to being in a valley for longer than they care to admit?

What really got my attention, however, was verse 11. The bones in that valley represented the whole house of Israel. The stench in the valley was the death of hope. And that hope had been dead for quite some time.

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{Luke 24:13-21}

There were two men walking along the road. They had followed a man named Jesus. They had listened and learned. They had believed. They had hoped.

Yet, the man named Jesus had been handed over to the rulers. He had been mocked and beaten and crucified. It was three days later and their hope now held the stench of the grave.

Sometimes, y’all, hope smells a whole lot like death.

Perhaps, you had hope for your marriage. Yet, your spouse still decided to leave.

Or, maybe, you had hope for healing. In the end, however, you had a funeral.

It could be that you desperately hoped for reconciliation or, at the very least, closure. Instead, you got a cold shoulder and some fresh wounds.

Whatever it is that caused your hope to smell a little funky, there is good news. God is in the resurrection business.

You may think it is too late. In your heart, you are thinking that it has been too long. You think it sounds nice but, like Martha, you want to say, “Lord, it’s going to stink (John 11:39.)” My hope has been dead for so long that it is going to stink. That is okay, my friend. God can handle the stench of your decaying hope.

He is God over the grave.

I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. – Ezekiel 37:12 ESV

He can open the grave that holds your hope hostage. Not only that, he can raise it up and make it live again. It will be a tried and tested hope. It will be a hope that follows God and no longer fears the grave.

Your hope will have tasted death and lived to tell about it.