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I have been having a rough couple weeks…and it’s really starting to affect all areas of my life. Tossing and turning. Bad dreams. And the first acid reflux attack I’ve had since 2001.
I want to choke people with that Darth Vader choking maneuver….pretty much every day now. Ever have a hard time not to following Anakin to the Dark Side? I must admit that path is oh so tempting and pretty right now. (See Psalm 37)
So this verse is my mantra today.
“Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face evermore!” Psalm 105:4
I don’t know how to defuse the frustration and sadness that’s been building for months…and all I know is that God does. I need Him to help me. I need to be in His presence…where peace and joy are always found.
Point to ponder while you wander… God’s strength is only made perfect/complete when combined with our weakness.
Hope is not Frail
I painted this about a year ago. It now hangs at the end of my bed. But it used to hang in the kitchen of my old house. The house I lost due to long stretches of unemployment.
After a two year suckfest, my life was rebooted last fall. I moved into a new place, got a new and better job, a newer car, and started going to a new church.
I’ve had my life uprooted and rebooted before, but this time is different. This time I cannot seem to find the rhythm of the new normal. It just doesn’t look like I expected…so I’ve been in a funk.
But it has dawned on me this week that I’m trying to be the old me in the new place, and I’m not the same person I was before the last two years of lean life.
Two years of alternating unemployment and part time work. Two years of leaning completely on God to provide. Two years of learning that God really doesn’t leave nor forsake you. Two years of my reality being one of my worst cast scenarios, and finding that God really is enough. I could go on, but basically it was two years of living Romans 5:3-5.
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.” Romans 5:3-4 NLT
Jill translation: When everything falls apart…and continues to fall apart…no matter what you do. And you keep asking what did I do wrong and how do I fix it? But you can’t fix it, and you didn’t do anything wrong. It’s just life. And sometimes life is hard. You just gotta put one foot in front of the other. Every. Single. Day. Until you get to the other side. And in that suckfest you begin to find joy in the little things again. Things you forgot about. And you understand there really is strength in joy. What is important becomes clearer. Who is important becomes obvious. You realize God is with you in it and He’s loving you. He’s loving you the same as when your tithe was more in a month than you’re now making a month. And He teaches you that He is and always was your provision. And He proves to you that you can face fear because fear is merely a liar and a bully. You weren’t given a spirit of fear but of power and love and a sound mind. So fear doesn’t actually belong to you like it said it did. So you stop calling it “my fear.” And you begin to realize you really are more than a conqueror, you just didn’t have to conquer anything like this before. And you now know that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.
I am different now, and stronger, but the best part about this whole deal, or ordeal if you prefer, is that I have a real understanding of hope.
“And this hope is not a disappointing fantasy, because we can now experience the endless love of God cascading into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who lives in us!” Romans 5:5 TPT
Hope isn’t a weak or wimpy wish. Hope is not a frail whisper. Hope is a battle cry because your hope means that you trust in and rely on and wait for the Lord. For real. You don’t just say it because you think you should. And it’s awesome. And worth it.
God didn’t send me the two year suckfest. But He used it to draw me closer and He turned it around for my good. And the good is still being revealed a little bit every day.
Bonus point to ponder while you wander…God takes delight in those who hope in and wait on Him.
“No, the Lord’s delight is in those who fear him, those who put their hope in his unfailing love.” Psalm 147:11 NLT
So I say…
“Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.” Psalm 64:5-6 NLT
A Lesson From Job
“I had only heard about You before, but now I have seen You with my own eyes.” Job 42:5
Everyone has hard times, but not everyone learns or grows from those times. You have the choice to become hard and bitter. And You have the choice to remain positive and open to change. Your perspective in the situation really is everything.
Job came out of his situation with a perspective shift, a softer heart & a real relationship with God.
I came into this year with great expectations. But I have to admit that I’ve been feeling disheartened and frustrated. My life has become a series of closed doors lately. I keep trying to be positive but, I’m finding it hard to hope and to trust in God’s goodness.
So today I’m reading the story of the Shunammite woman found in II Kings 4:8-37. It’s my favorite.
The Shunammite woman was wealthy and well connected. She had a good life and gave generously to those around her. She expected nothing in return. She just gave. It’s who she was and what she did. For her setting up a free room for the Prophet Elisha to use when he wanted was nothing extraordinary.
This is the woman everyone saw. But what people couldn’t see was the ache in her heart for a dream she thought was dead.
That’s why I relate to this woman. I am battling to believe my dream is not dead. To hope even when everyone and everything around you tells you to let it go.
God is the only one who knows the full extent of the dream in my heart. Just like the Shunammite woman.
In verse 15-16 Elisha tells her that in one year her dream will be come true. She will hold a son in her arms. Many would rejoice at this point, maybe dance a jig or something. But not her. She begs him not to raise her hopes. As if hope were the enemy of her heart. She didn’t want to go through yet another heartache.
I can relate. It seems easier for us to just settle for what we can do or what we can see. We seem to forget that we serve a good God who wants more for us than we do.
“When You came down long ago, You did awesome deeds beyond our highest expectations. And oh, how the mountains quaked! For since the world began, no ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like You, Who works for those who wait for Him.” Isaiah 64:3-4
We need to focus on the truth in times like this. And the truth is that God is good. Always has been good and always will be good. His plan is so good that sometimes we see it as an impossible dream, something we don’t deserve, or we believe it couldn’t ever happen. So we settle for what WE can do or what WE can see. But when we trust Him and wait on His timing He moves in ways we cannot possibly imagine!
When I struggle like I have been, the only thing that really helps me to come out of it is to focus on God’s goodness. Reading the verses from Isaiah and the Shunammite woman’s story remind me that God is good. That God is for me not against me. That God loves me and my dreams matter to Him. Knowing this, I cannot help but to keep believing.
Please don’t give up on your great expectations! Please keep believing even if no one but God knows the dream of your heart. God is the God of the impossible and He is good.