Finding Joy in Difficult Seasons

For many years, I allowed my emotions to control the way I walked through life and made decisions. If something felt right or good, I did it. If something didn’t feel right or good, I avoided it. Needless to say, I surrounded myself with people and situations that satisfied me and filled my feel-good tank. When storms came my way, I allowed my emotions to toss me to and fro and cause so much emotional chaos that I couldn’t even think straight. I would be crushed under the weight of these emotions and be so consumed by my circumstances that it would cause me to fall victim to depression constantly and make very poor, sinful decisions that I would later regret. Thankfully, once I became born-again and began to study the scriptures, the Holy Spirit taught me that damaging cycle is not how God wants His children to live. 

When trials are big and God is small in your mind, misery and instability rule. When trials are small and God is big, near, and sovereign, joy reigns in your heart. We must link our thinking and feelings to the Lord and remind our hearts of His truth. We should never allow our feelings to dictate how we respond in hard times or allow our emotions to hold us back from drawing near to God’s truth where true joy can be found.

While suffering in prison, Paul encourages the Philippians to find their joy in the Lord:

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4, NASB).

Where does rejoicing come from? This ability, despite our suffering and trials, comes from the Lord who is the fountainhead of our joy. We can always rejoice because Christ never changes. You cannot always rejoice in your circumstances, but you can always rejoice in the Lord- He is constant. What are some ways we can rejoice in the Lord? We can rejoice in the Lord because of our salvation. We can rejoice that God is sovereign over all things in our life. We can rejoice that He is sanctifying us and transforming our life. We can rejoice because we can be satisfied with the riches and blessings that are available to us in Christ. 

We can find spiritual fortitude by focusing on Christ who brings us strength and joy no matter what we are facing. We can fix our eyes on Christ by tuning out the things of the world- lesser things- that keep us from thirsting for the things of God that bring a joy that the world cannot offer us. Troubles and anxieties are minimized when we lift our gaze upon the Lord and meditate on the scriptures where we learn the truths of who God is, which renews our mind and strengthens our faith in Him. The next time you find yourself in a different and trying season, ask the Holy Spirit to help you focus on Jesus. He is our helper in time of need, and He will fill your heart with unspeakable joy in Christ that will well up in you like a fountain!

Heavenly Father,

I do not want to be overtaken by my emotions when I am suffering or experiencing a difficult trial. Not that feelings are evil or sinful, as you have made us to experience them, but you do not want our emotions to dictate our responses and decisions. Circumstances change, but You never do. Thank You that You are constant and steadfast. We can rest in Your faithfulness, knowing that You have a plan in this storm, even if it is to use it to make me look more like You. You are near to us in the midst of our great suffering, even if we cannot always sense it. Help me to find joy in the Lord and to rejoice in You even when I cannot always rejoice in my circumstances. Help me to thirst for the things of God and turn from worldly thinking. Thank You, Jesus, for bringing me near to the Father by the shedding of Your precious blood upon the cross. I find my joy in You alone. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Tagged : / / / / / / / / / / / / /

God is Near to the Wounded

For many people, the holidays are full of wonderful traditions and precious memories together with family and friends. For others, it’s a time of deep pain and loneliness as they are reminded of strained or non-existent relationships or the loss of loved ones and their absence from the holiday gatherings. 

For many years, the latter was my experience, especially when I became a believer in my early 20s. I lost my dad around Thanksgiving when I was 22, and a few years later, my mom and stepdad went through a very painful divorce, which strained my relationship with my mother based on her life choices shortly following the separation from my stepdad. In the early years of my own marriage, there was so much tension and passive aggressive exchanges during the holidays as it was expected that I must make it top priority to spend time with my side of the family instead of my now husband’s family. 

When I had my first child, I wanted to create our own family traditions and try to include my own family as much as I could, but there was still so much tension regarding my strained family relationships. I found myself trying to be a peace maker, but it was never enough. I was crushed under the weight of trying to please everyone all while trying not to create a wedge in my marriage as well. To be quite honest, I was crushed and wounded regarding my relationships with my family in general because of my strong convictions as a believer in Christ in the midst of an unbelieving (and often hostile) family. The holidays seemed to just intensify those wounds when I would be left extremely disappointed and discouraged.

When we need God’s peace and comfort, we can always run to the Word. Scripture often brings clarity and perspective when our emotions are overwhelming. The psalmist reveals a beautiful truth about God’s love and care for the broken and wounded:

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
    and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18, ESV).

Instead of allowing our pain and emotions to toss us to and fro, we can find our security and assurance in who God is and how much He loves by finding our foundation in His Word. The wounds of distant, strained, or lost relationships can often run deep, but there is healing found in Christ, who never leaves us nor forsake us. When we are crushed under the weight of our circumstances, we can trust that when we draw near to God, He draws near to us (James 4:8), and His ever-present help will come to our aid to walk us through the pain. You may have been disappointed, grieving, and hurt yet again this holiday season, but don’t find your home in the pain and discouragement. Let us run into His safety and find great comfort in Him!

Heavenly Father,

You know my heart and see my pain before I ever speak a word, but You long for me to make my requests known to You by being honest and intentional in seeking You first no matter what. Help me to remember that You are near to the brokenhearted and that I can run into your safety when I feel crushed by my circumstances and difficult relationships. I know You alone can satisfy my soul more than any other relationship in life. Thank You for setting the lonely in families and for calling me Your child. Surround me with Your grace and help me see Your loving hand working in my life. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

Tagged : / / / / / / / / / / / /

Praising God in the Disappointments

I was involved in a movement some years ago that would constantly boast in having “aggressive expectations” and equating that way of thinking to “having faith.” Aside from the vast misunderstanding of what faith in God means (to trust in Him no matter what happens) one of the problems with that ideology is that many times our expectations in this life are left unfulfilled or unmet completely. People fail us. Plans fall through. They went with a different candidate for the job. We experience month after month of negative pregnancy tests. 

Since God’s plans and ways are so much greater than our own, often our expectations do not look anything like what God may have for our life. When our expectations that we have held onto so aggressively fall flat, it is very easy for us to slip into disappointment. Disappointment can then often lead to complaining and discontentment, something we are commanded by scripture to guard our hearts from. We very quickly forget the truth of God’s sovereignty over all things when we believe we know what is best for our life. 

When God allows for disappointment to happen in our life, we must remember that all things that come are way are meant to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit in us and conform us into the image of Christ, whether we were expecting them to happen or not. When we are disappointed, we are given an appointment to praise God no matter what. 

The Psalmist David proclaims in Psalm 34:

“I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth (Psalm 34:1, NKJV).

When our expectations are met, we should stop and praise God and bless His holy name; When our expectation are not met, we should still stop and praise God and bless His holy name. He is worthy of our praise and our thanksgiving. In His sovereign providence, we can trust that He works all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28). Nothing with God is coincidence or happenstance; He is sovereign and in control of every detail in our life, guiding our every step. His work in our lives is providential through and through, and He causes all things to work out for our good and for His glory. Next time your expectations are not met, remember it is an opportunity to make an appointment for praising God for His goodness. We can trust that His plans for our life are so much better!

Father God,

I am struggling with disappointment. Help me to guard my heart from discouragement, discontentment, and complaining. Teach me how to find ways to praise You when my expectations are not met. I know I need to trust in Your sovereignty and lean upon Your ways over my own. Your grace is sufficient for me, and I thank You for always guiding me into truth and convicting my heart when I fall into the sin grumbling and complaining, thinking that I know better than You. My lips long to praise Your great name. Thank You for Your love for me and for changing my heart to reflect Yours. I pray You would use these unmet expectations to transform me and strengthen my faith in You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Tagged : / / / / / / /

A Lifestyle of Repentance and Faith

A few months ago, my eyes were opened to the stark reality that I was struggling with an area of my past…

… the pain of rejection.

This continues to be a battle for me, yet I realize that healing from the pain of rejection is a partnership and most definitely, a process. Thankfully, I am not alone in this fight.

One thing for sure is that the Lord fights for me and the Holy Spirit guides me into all truth, illuminating and highlighting lies that I was believing that are rooted in rejection.

Rejection had overwhelmed so much of me that I wasn’t being fully honest with people in my life. The lie I believed was that I would be rejected if my sin or wrong-doing was discovered. Therefore, I chose to either keep silent or tell a lie to keep my secret hidden so that I wouldn’t be a disappointment.

That lifestyle was keeping me from being fully transparent and honest with my husband and most importantly, with God. I believe this is why 1 John 1 reminds us of the importance of confessing our sin:

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, NKJV).

Hiding our sin causes us to hide from God, similar to Adam and Eve when the first sin entered the world. They felt ashamed, and shame made them feel rejected. Because of Jesus and the finished work of the cross, we are forever made righteous in our position as we stand before the Father and are forever forgiven, yet when we sin, it causes our fellowship with God to be hindered, and then we can very easily stray from Him. God’s love toward me never changes when I sin, yet I may still experience consequences and correction for my disobedience. Repentance, as a believer, is for our benefit to keep fellowship with our Father open and unhindered. Sin can often cause our hearts to grow callous, and we may not be as sensitive toward the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

The enemy wants you either in pride thinking you are better off doing life your own way or in isolation, bound in a pit of depression, unable to receive love or give out love, feeling like no one loves you or cares about you, especially God. But God’s love is unconditional and perfect, and nothing can stop His pursuit toward you. He wants us to be honest with Him so that we can see real transformation happen in our life, as He conforms us into the image of His Son.

Like I said above, positionally, in Christ, you stand before God forgiven and righteous, but experientially, sanctification is a process because our flesh is weak. Although as born-again believers, we continue to sin against God because we are constantly at war with our flesh in this life, the good news is that we have a great advocate, Jesus Christ, who is forever our righteousness. To be sure, our position in Him as declared righteous before God will never change, yet, we are still called to confess our sin, which purifies our conscious before the Lord. 1 John 1:9 says Jesus is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us of all unrighteousness. Let us come out of hiding and rejoice in the truth that Jesus is forever our righteousness despite our shortcomings and run to repent every time!

Father God,

Thank You for sending Your Son to stand in my place take upon Himself Your wrath that I deserved. I stand forgiven and justified before Your throne because of Christ’s work on the cross. Although I stand forgiven of my sin, that does not mean that I do not stumble into sin. My flesh wants to lead me away from Your ways and sometimes I give into that temptation and disobey. Instead of running away from You in shame, I choose repentance. Holy Spirit help me be quick to repent and run to the throne of grace. Father, thank You for Your mercies that are fresh and new every single morning. May I never take Your mercy for granted and may I always make a habit of walking in honesty before You and repent of my disobedience. You are such a faithful Father, waiting for me with arms wide open. Thank You for being a God of abundant second chances. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Tagged : / / / / / / / / /

Appreciating Your Pastor by Praying for Him

When the news of another pastor’s moral failure makes its way into the public eye, is your first reaction one of sarcasm and jadedness or does it cause you to weep and hit your knees in prayer? It seems easier to get angry or grow cynical when those in the pulpit fall into grave sin and disappoint those who have attributed much of their spiritual growth from their teaching. Instead of wagging our fingers or shaking our head in disappointment, it should truly break our hearts when leaders in the church fall.

There is a stern warning found in the book of James that should cause us pause to reflect upon the great and weighty responsibility that pastors carry as teachers of God’s Word:

“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness” (James 3:1, ESV).

This verse begins a chapter in the book of James that focuses on the importance of the tongue and its ability to either bring encouragement and growth or hostility and destruction. We will all be held accountable for the words we speak, but for those who teach the Bible, there is a higher standard. With a higher standard comes a stronger judgement from God. This should motivate us to pray for teachers, especially those who pastor our own local church. 

In America (and perhaps even around the world, thanks to television and social media), the gospel of Jesus Christ has become extremely muddied by false teaching full of false gospels, New Age/occult/pagan practices, lying signs and wonders, and distractions from worldly desires that are all leading many to false Christs.


For almost half of our marriage, my husband and I were among those believers who were believing lies from the result of the twisting of scripture and emotional, mental, and spiritual manipulation from leaders in ministry whom we trusted. By God’s grace, we were rescued from this deception and now attend a sound and Biblical church that has been such a blessing to our family. Every week, the elders preach the Word of God with such conviction and clarity and are unashamed about the gospel. Although we finally feel “safe,” we know that these men of God are susceptible to the same temptations as we are, and instead of growing comfortable or letting our guard down, we must fiercely pray for the men in our life who teach God’s Holy Word because Satan has put a giant target on their back. The enemy knows how much damage can be done to the Body of Christ if God’s Word is abused or distorted, but the same is true for the carriers of that message; A teacher’s life is held to a higher standard because the Lord uses teachers to help us understand who He is. The weighty responsibility and calling of bringing truth to the sheep of God is one no one should have to bear alone. Let us shoulder Kingdom responsibility with our elders by making it a priority to daily pray for the teachers and pastors who give much influence to our spiritual well-being. 

Father God,

In the age we live in, we can know personal details of public figures very quickly and easily. It seems there is always a new Christian leader who has given into fleshly temptation and taken advantage of the trust of their sheep. This should cause us heartache and wake us up to the reality that the enemy wants to cause destruction among God’s people. These moral failings cause distrust among sheep, but they also hurt our witness to the world when they see the hypocrisy and corruption within the visible church. Lord, please give us a burden to pray for church leaders, but more importantly, the leaders of our very own church who have given their lives to shepherd souls and teach others about You and Your ways. We are called to make disciples and need to be equipped by Your Word to do that. You have called teachers and pastors to a higher standard to equip the Body for the work of the ministry by teaching us what Your Word says. May we be quick to lift them up every day, knowing the seriousness of their high calling as teachers of Your Holy Word. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

Tagged : / / / / / / / / / / /

Casting Your Cares

I struggled with anxiety and panic attacks for many years in high school and college. Stress and worry were just a part of my life, and I allowed them to move into my mind and become my permanent mental roommates. From money problems to relationship issues, if it became too much, you would find me curled up in a ball in the fetal position on the floor, hyperventilating until parts of my body went numb and crying until there were no more tears left.

After I graduated college, the Lord regenerated and redeemed me, and I began to walk close with the Him and study His Word like I never had before in my life. My mind was being renewed and over time, I began to trust the Lord more with issues that would have normally caused me to worry. I slowly learned to cast my cares upon Him like 1 Peter 5:7 tells us to do:

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you”

(1 Peter 5:7, NIV).

But every now and then, I still become a victim of worry and anxiety and begin to experience sudden panic about my circumstances that out of my control, even though I know the Bible is clear that we should always trust the Lord at all times. So if we aren’t supposed to be anxious as believers, why do so many Christians still struggle with anxiety? Aside from chemical imbalances that can occur in one’s body, which are very real and very valid, I believe much of what causes anxiety begins in our minds. The more we dwell on a negative or fearful thought of a circumstance beyond our control, the more stress and worry begins to plague us. Somewhere along the lines in our overwhelm, we forget the One who holds our future. The One who is sovereign. The One who cares for His children so deeply, the Lord God Almighty. We learn more about Him in the Bible, where our faith and abiding trust in Him is strengthened.

The other night when I experienced the panic attack, there was a brief moment where I was given the opportunity to resist the negative thoughts and take them captive and begin to talk to God like I had learned to do so many times before, but this time, I chose to let my mind run in circles. I was so familiar with the experience of a panic attack that I could literally feel it try to overtake me right before it happened. If I would have set my mind upon scripture in that moment (such as Philippians 4:6-7 and even 1 Peter 5:7), I would have realized that God offered me a solution for my anxious thoughts. A simple conversation with the Lord would have helped me focus my thoughts and would have brought immediate peace to the whirlwind in my mind. The Word of God is so powerful and the more we study and meditate upon it, our foundation will be strong in Christ and we will continually know how to look to Him any time stress and anxiety tries to overtake us. Let us always be quick to ask the Lord for His sustaining grace and help in our time of need, looking to Him always because He cares for us. 

Father God, thank You that You want us to cast our cares upon You. Thank You that there is nowhere I can go that you are not there with me. Thank You for having a hold of my life, even as I feel like everything is crumbling around me. Lord, I confess that I have let stress take a hold of my life, rather than You. I have let stress control my mood, my attitude, my emotions, and my actions. Lord, I repent of this! Please Father, help me see what is stressful in my life and hand it over to You. Help me not let the stress win out. Help me actively think on Your goodness to me. Help me to renew my mind with Your unchanging Word. I am so hopeful for my eternity with you, Lord, where there will be no more stress and I will be overwhelmed by Your love, beauty, and never-ending peace! Help me look back on all the ways You have rescued me from my stressful moments and look in hope to the future where You will one day rid all stress, forever. In the meantime, I know and trust that You hold my future. Help me live boldly in the truth of Your goodness and power today. Thank You, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Tagged : / / / / / / / / /

Forsake Following Your Heart

Shortly after college graduation, I became a born-again believer in Jesus Christ; I repented of my sin and surrendered my life to Christ, committing to take up my cross and follow Him no matter the cost. Yet, I still wanted to pursue my original plan of becoming an actress in Los Angeles. As a Christian, I believed I was called to be a light in a dark place so that meant that I was supposed to use my talents for Christ in Hollywood. I was receiving mixed messages from trusted believers because they kept telling me to trust God with the plans to pursue my dreams. This just led to more confusion.

Trust God with my plan and my heart’s desires?

Again and again, the phrase “follow your heart” was echoing through my mind. This phrase seems to be very popular in American culture, even among Christian circles. You can find these three words boldly displayed on T-shirts, on Instagram graphics, and even heralded by some influential professing Christian leaders.

“Follow your heart…”- just a harmless motto, right?

It sounds really encouraging, doesn’t it?

Yes, very encouraging, almost Disney-like, but definitely not Biblical!

The Lord spoke these words about the heart through the prophet Jeremiah:

“The heart is deceitful above all things,

And desperately wicked;

Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NKJV)

As Christians, sometimes we fall into the trap of giving man’s words more weight than the Word of God. I wanted to encourage us to look to the direction found in scripture for those who are God’s children. A very familiar, but powerful passage found in Proverbs gives the believer wisdom:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

And lean not on your own understanding;

In all your ways acknowledge Him,

And He shall direct[a] your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV).

If we are putting our trust in everything or anyone but the Lord, we will constantly be disappointed and led astray from God’s perfect will for our lives. We must trust in the Lord with all of our heart, which should never be filled with more of this world than God’s Word. I’m so thankful that during that time in my life while I was faced with a major decision, I kept my heart full of God’s Word, which helped me renew my mind so that I was filled with faith to trust God when He began changing my desires to follow and obey Him most of all. One month after I made the decision not move to Los Angeles, realizing that it was pride that was actually driving the desire to pursue an acting career, I was introduced to my now-husband and the rest is His Story.

My advice to you, beloved one, is do not follow your heart- follow God instead. He knows what you need more than you do. Trust Him with your entire heart and let him mold it to look more like His. He will never lead You down the wrong path!

Father,

The culture around me is often very loudly proclaiming how important it is for me to pursue my dreams and destiny by listening to my heart and following it. But Your Word is very clear that my heart can often bring confusion and that the only One who can be trusted to follow is You. You have given me a new heart is Christ, yes, but my flesh is always at war with Your desires and longs to lead me away from Your will. I find Your will in Your Word, so I ask You to please help me have a hunger to hide it in my heart so that I will not sin against You. Your Word is what renews my mind so that I am able to walk in obedience and look more like Christ to the world so that they may know that Your ways and thoughts are higher and better than man’s. Help me to not lean upon my own understanding and trust You, not my heart’s desires. I long for my heart to be molded to look more like Jesus, but I cannot do that without Your help. Thank You, Lord, for leading me by Your Spirit and Your Word that is a light unto my path. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

Tagged : / / / / / / / /

Diligently Asking for God’s Sustaining Grace

When we are taking strides to walk in obedience to God, the resistance to push forward gets stronger, and it feels like we are treading through mud just to take a step. My husband, Paul, and I have been experiencing this since starting to lead a new ministry at our church, in addition to juggling all the rest of our responsibilities caring for our boys and our own individual lives.  

Even though it’s exhausting and sometimes discouraging when things feel so chaotic and stressful, I must remind my heart that our God is stronger and will use whatever seems to be standing against us (especially our own sinful flesh!) to grow and deepen our faith and sanctify us. But this doesn’t mean it isn’t painful or that I am quick to learn how to depend on Him!

For me, personally, I am working on resting in the new mercies of today and being quick to repent and ask for forgiveness. I feel like I have failed a lot in my behavior towards Paul and my boys these last few weeks. I don’t want to blame it on hormones and lack of sleep (although I know this adds fuel to the fire so to speak). Because God’s grace is available to me. But am I asking for it diligently? Probably not as much as I should.

If His grace is truly sufficient (and it is), do I live like I’m dependent upon it daily and praying without ceasing throughout my day? The book of James is a wonderful book of instructions for believers. In chapter 4, we discover that we must protect our hearts from worldly thinking. Often when we are trying to take control of our life and not rest in God’s grace and provision daily, we resort to either neglecting God’s ever-presenting help or asking God with wrong motives:

“…You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James 4:2b-3, ESV). 


James 4 merely tells us that, if there is something we want, we need to ask God for it, instead of resorting to sinful means. It stands to reason that there are some things that we will not get unless we ask for them, but, if we ask, we will receive them. So, if there is something that we want, we need to ask. Christians should be praying and asking God, especially for His supernatural grace.

Instead of trying to control what feels so uncontrollable in our lives and allowing our circumstances to dictate our mood or behavior, let us boldly come to the throne of grace and ask our Father for His unwavering and sustaining grace. He is faithful to provide.

Father God,

I know that Your grace is sufficient and that You are my ever-present help in time of need, but sometimes my actions do not reflect these truths. It’s much easier for me to either complain about my stressful and difficult circumstances or try to take matters into my own hands to try to fix or change what seems to be causing me to feel so overwhelmed. But I know that I need to come to You and ask for grace when I have reached my limit. You are faithful to provide all things that I need because You are a gracious Father who cares deeply for Your children. I come to You as Your child today, boldly and humbling asking for Your sustaining and powerful grace carry me through each challenging moment. You are faithful in every season, and I thank You for reminding me to come to You first and foremost and pray without ceasing. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Tagged : / / / / /

Guarding Against Grumbling

When it comes to sin in our life, sometimes we attempt to overlook or give excuses for our behavior if we feel like our actions are justified because of our circumstances. For example, when I am sleep deprived, my flesh thinks it perfectly acceptable for me to deal out a hefty dose of sarcasm to my seven-year-old who has asked me the same question twelve times before my morning coffee or to murmur under my breath that I can’t believe my husband left his glass of milk from the night before on the floor again and, of course, the toddler just dumped it all over the living room right on cue.

But those actions do not glorify God, and they are rooted in sin. If I am a child of God, His Spirit will bring conviction to my heart with His word because it is my heart that needs attention and change. When I’m tempted to complain, which we are all naturally prone to every single day, this passage from Philippians 2 comes to mind to bring truth to my heart:

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world…” (Philippians 2:14-15, ESV).

As God’s children, we are not to grumble. We must remember that, ultimately, grumbling is complaining against the sovereign God of the universe and saying He isn’t good, which is sinful. When we complain, we should repent, reset our mind by thinking on things above, and rejoice and give thanks to God for His graciousness towards us. There are new mercies available to us every single morning. Perhaps it would be a beneficial habit to create a daily list of things that you are grateful for to help cultivate a heart of contentment and gratitude. Despite hardships and inconveniences in our life and relationships, we are called to rejoice and find our joy in Christ. It all comes down to the attitude and posture of our heart. 

How about your attitude when you disagree with someone, or they have offended you? When you are in a disagreement with someone, do you want to be right more than you want to pursue unity with that person? Do you allow a bad attitude to drag you into unnecessary arguments or even gossip to complain to someone else instead of going directly to the person who you are annoyed or upset with? Disagreements are inevitable, but most of all, God cares about our attitude during disagreements and doesn’t want us to be swept up in foolish arguments constantly. We can disagree with others without being disagreeable or prideful.

If we are entangled in senseless disputing and complaining, the world has trouble seeing the light of Christ in our life. We see in verse 15 of Philippians 2 that the Lord wants Christ followers to shine bright in a culture full of darkness. Our lives are to be a brilliant beacon of light in the darkness as we stand as God’s children against the wickedness of the world. 

“…that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world…” (Philippians 2:15, ESV).

One way we can protect ourselves against complaining and empower our hearts to shine bright for Christ is to be diligent to cling daily to the Word of life so that we can thrust it into a dark world. The Word of God helps us to renew our mind so we can cultivate the fruit of the Spirit and stand out in the world, pointing others to the hope that we know in Jesus. In addition to our daily time in the Word, we must abide in the Vine by communing with Him daily. We can call upon the name of the Lord to cry out for help when we are tempted to complain and grumble. He is our ever-present help in time of need and is faithful to strengthen us.

Father God,

Although it is easy to find excuses for the reasons of my behavior, I know Your Word is very clear about the posture of our heart and attitude, especially when it comes to circumstances that are difficult, stressful, or even painful. You care about the condition of our heart and the attitude that we exude because as Christ followers we are to look and behave differently. People are watching all the time how we react when we are offended or struggling under the weight of the cares of life. I ask that You would first and foremost, give me a hunger for more of Your Word. I know that is where my mind is renewed; The Word helps me cultivate the fruit of the Spirit and walk in obedience. Help me to guard my heart and avoid grumbling and complaining and arguing with others. I ask for a spirit of gentleness and peace with others so that I can pursue unity and be grateful for all the good gifts from You. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

Tagged : / / / / / / / / / / /

Weeping in the night, Joy in the Morning

I am convinced that sleep deprivation from the baby/toddler phase is the mom version of fasting. My flesh becomes so weakened and my reliance upon God becomes absolutely everything. I cannot help but rely on His grace to do pretty much anything. If you count third trimester lack of sleep from the uncomfortableness and countless trips of waddling to the bathroom, I literally haven’t slept through the night in almost two years. This isn’t hyperbole- my 17-month-old has NEVER slept through the night. My middle son took 25 months to do so- which was only six months before my youngest was born. It’s been an extremely physically and mentally (and often emotionally) trying season that has lasted years.

I don’t share all of this to complain or receive sympathy or ask for advice. I share to remind you (and myself) that the Lord is near to those suffering and in that suffering, He brings unspeakable joy that is not dependent upon our circumstances. No matter how overwhelming it may feel, His grace is sufficient in your weakness. Lean upon Him, and He will strengthen you and transform you in your suffering to look more like Him.

When I was praying the other night in the midnight hours during the on and off wakings (awakened every one-two hours because of his teething pain and what I can assume is the 18 month sleep regression), I said “God, I know he is a gift…please help me.” And as I reflect upon this trying season, I’m realizing the ways my son is a gift from the Father, along with all my children, of course. I cannot help but praise God in the midst of my pain for the Lord’s faithfulness to me. Even though my circumstances have not changed, He is changing me. I am encouraged by these verses in Psalm 30 to give thanks and remember that joy always comes in the morning:

“Sing praise to the Lord, you His godly ones, And give thanks to His holy name. For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.”

Psalm 30:4-5, NASB

When my flesh is weak because of the difficulties that come with this season of motherhood, and I am humbled to my knees, by God’s grace, I am able to bear fruit and walk in the Spirit in a way that pleases the Lord. Instead of asking God to rescue me from my weeping and struggles with my son’s sleep, I find myself thanking God through tears of joy for this sleep deprivation. Suffering is a gift and with it comes joy and a heart full of praise to God for His faithfulness. May we ask the Lord for eyes to see our suffering in that way.

Heavenly Father, I’m weary and hurting. I have asked so many times for this suffering to be removed and for You to rescue me from this storm. I feel depleted. I feel like I’m drowning. But I realize that You have not called me to live by my feelings or by what I see happening around me; You have called me to walk by faith. And as my faith in You rises up in me, I trust that You have me exactly where I am supposed to be- totally dependent upon Your grace. In my weakness, I know that You are my strength. I praise You in my pain, and I ask that You would use this trial, this suffering, this storm to change me to look more like Christ- all for Your glory. I know that I may endure weeping in the night, but Your joy always comes- a joy that is not dependent upon my circumstances but is everlasting and sustaining even in the darkest of nights. Thank You for Your nearness to me in my greatest time of need and pain. You are a faithful Father, and I am so thankful to receive Your mercy and be called Your child. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

Tagged : / / / / / / / / / / /