Tag Archives: god so loved

Choosing Joy, Refusing Fear

I sought the LORD, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.Those who look to Him are radiant with joy; their faces will never be ashamed. (Ps. 34:4-5)

 Oh how true this has been in my life! When I sought answers and relief from my troubles, my fears only increased, but when it became clear that all my solutions had failed, there was nothing left to do but seek him. As I found comfort in his love and care, my fears diminished. His perfect love truly does eliminate fear (1 Jn. 4:18). In time, I learned to refuse fear and seek him instead. Now fear no longer controls me, nor does it urge me to try to control everything around me. When I lived in fear, I lived with shame. Everything was hidden. I did not want people to know the truth about our lives, so we kept secrets. I was ashamed that our family was so damaged, and I could not fix it. But when the light came shining in to expose the dead bones behind the façade, the shame was exposed to the world. My response was to seek God. Everything else, and I mean everything, had failed. I always say it was a terrible and wonderful place to be. It was terrible, because all my secrets were exposed, and because I was being betrayed by the person who had become my idol. It was wonderful, because the idol toppled, and there was nothing left but God. He was and ever shall be enough! His love brought me through, and used the trauma for good. Knowing his amazing love does eliminate fear, because we know he’s got us and that he will redeem whatever we experience. Hallelujah! That is cause for great joy!

Lord, remind me daily that I never need to fear as long as I am looking to you. There is nothing on earth that should cause me to live in fear, because you have it all in your loving hands. I bless your name, and trust you. What a joy it is to be your child. I pray I will radiate your great love to others. Amen

 

Holding Nothing Back

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me.” Ps. 22:14

Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. Is. 53:12

 There are days when I think I have nothing left to give. I become so exhausted by the demands and tugs of world that I nearly shut down. Usually I try to figure out a way to pamper myself so that I can recharge, but when I think about it nothing I have faced has ever required everything I have. Even when I was experiencing the worst abuse, I was holding on to every vestige of control I could muster. When it seemed utterly hopeless, I cried out to God for help, and the comfort I received was that he completely understood what I was experiencing. He assured me that he knew what it was like to be betrayed, abandoned and abused. The thing that struck me in that moment was that he chose it! I certainly would have done anything to avoid it, but in his great love for us, he completely emptied himself (Phil. 2:7) to the point of death. He held nothing back.

In counseling it’s not uncommon to find people who are upset with God. They are angry that he is allowing them to suffer unjustly, or that he didn’t stop the latest affliction in their lives. Many have faced one horrible experience after another to the point I become heartbroken, and find myself joining them in asking God why he allowed so much misery. Yet, we often forget that our God did not merely leave us here to suffer alone. He came and entered into our suffering to the fullest extent possible. Sometimes knowing that is all we need to know, because there is great comfort in the “fellowship of his suffering” (Phil. 3:10). That is why support groups are often so helpful, because we know we are not alone in our pain. We do not have a God who abandons us and watches indifferently from heaven, but a God who loved us enough to sacrifice everything because of his love for us. When he poured himself out in pain, he was simultaneously pouring his great love onto us. Choosing gratitude for his sacrifice during difficult times can help us overcome the urge to question why and see God as unfair.

In this fallen world, there are no easy answers, and I’ve learned that going down the “why” trail can be very dangerous. It will lead us to bitterness and hopelessness. The better question to ask is “What would you have me learn in this Lord, and how would you like to use this situation for good?” We may never understand why some things have happened on this side of eternity, but we can be sure that He has a redemptive purpose. Even as Jesus endured the shame of the cross, because of the joy set before him (Heb. 12:2), we can endure knowing that he will work everything together for good, and that his plans for us are good (Rom. 8:28, Jer. 29:11). We know that we have a God who specializes in redemption. There is no pit so deep that he cannot redeem. There is nothing he cannot use for good.

After Hurricane Katrina, I went down to the Gulf on 2 separate mission trips to help with the clean up efforts. I met people who had been traumatized beyond words. Some had lost family members, and all of their worldly possessions. Their homeowners insurance did not cover their losses, because they did not have flood insurance. I went because my heart had been broken as I watched the sheer anguish of it all on television after the storm. When I arrived, I saw multitudes of children dealing with PTSD and was even more broken. Yet, over the course of that week as God’s people came in by the hundreds, I saw God’s redemption at work. Children who would have grown up in violent, poverty stricken neighborhoods were relocated to better areas. Churches adopted and helped whole families get a fresh start in life. I saw multitudes of volunteers showering traumatized children with healing love, and some of them were eternally changed as a result of that awful storm.

That is the power of our God. He can take the most horrible situations and use them for good, and the ultimate example of that is the cross. His great sacrifice on our behalf reconciled us to God when we were hopelessly alienated. Not only that, as he willingly emptied himself he experienced the worst of human suffering. The penalty for our rebellion was poured on him, and though we continue to live in a fallen world, we do not live without hope. Knowing that our creator would come down, take on vulnerable flesh and then fully pour himself out for us should change our hearts. Our response should be to surrender our all to the One who gave his all for us. It should fill us with gratitude and comfort to know that we are fully loved, and that even though we will suffer in this world, he has overcome it, so that whatever we experience here is only a shadow preparing us for his eternal joy.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Cor. 4:17-18)

Beyond My Expectations

Lord, I don’t know why it surprises me that You rarely work in ways I expect. I think I have it all figured out, but find that You have a completely different plan. I suppose it’s another way of keeping me dependent on You. When I barge ahead in my own strength, it’s like listening to a radio that is losing its signal, but when I abide in You the difference is amazing—it’s like a symphony. Give me ears to hear You today, so that I can share Your beauty in the midst of despair. There is so much ugliness on this earth Lord. I only see small fragments of it, but You see it all and I marvel at your patience with us. If I were in your place, I would have probably brought an end to it by now, but You are “not slow in keeping your promise, as some understand slowness. Instead [You] are patient… not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). Your love for this dark world amazes me. I know that my impatience with people is just because they put a kink in my desires, but your agenda is never self-serving like that.  It is completely loving and giving. Thank You so much for your kindness towards us!

“For God so loved the world that He gave…” Abide in me daughter, and I will teach you to give. Yes, your human nature is selfish to the core, but I have given you a new nature. Open your heart and your ears, and I will use you. I put my Spirit into jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to Me, and not to you (2 Cor. 4:7). If it were your own power, how could that draw anyone to Me? Delight in the fact that I give strength to the weak. You have something to offer the world, because everyone needs strength in their weakness. Show them that it is not you, but Me. Let them know that the mighty One, the Lord of hosts stoops down and embraces his creation daily. Show them my power to redeem a life, and never let them think the power is yours. Point to Me, and I will do mighty things. I oppose the proud, but give grace to the humble. Walk humbly before me so that my love and power can be manifested.