SO, HOW IS THIS A GOOD THING?

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Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. –James 1:2-3

Death darkens every door sooner or later.  Pain persistently pursues as we make our way through this life.  We lose jobs, health, spouses, children, friends, churches. We’re crushed by harsh unkind people that are sometimes the closest.  We are abandoned, rejected, neglected, abused, alone.  Ash of the aftermath covers our tear-streaked faces from all of the bad choices those we’re tied to make.  It’s one thing to pay for the sins we’ve committed, but to painfully pay for the sins of another is almost too much. We try to do the right thing, to have the faith we are supposed to, but our strength fails us.  What would cause anyone in their right minds to see joy in any of these things?  And so, how is this a good thing again?

Is there a bogus unwritten rule somewhere that says we won’t go through heartache after we’ve been saved?  We seem to think that our problems will magically disappear.  But nothing could be further from the truth.  In most cases, things get worse before they ever get better.  Because now, we’re not only battling all of hell, add to that our carnal-fleshly-selfish-what-about-me-mindsets that are still lingering and things get disastrous.

It’s easy to have faith for others because we are not feeling the full weight of the trial they are experiencing.  But when all hell breaks loose in our lives, we quickly fall off the spiritual high horse we’re riding.  We decide we are exceptions to God’s goodness rather than the rule; that we could quite possibly be the only person on earth going through this particular situation. So God must have overlooked us somehow.

When I met my future husband 8 years ago, I dreamt of a perfect Utopia.  He was the one I’d waited for for so long. And after our blissful wedding day, I just knew we’d blow up the gates of hell on mission for God.  Yeah, well, that’s not exactly how it went down.  I’m going to be brutally honest here, but it’s because I want you to see something.  There were long barren seasons in my marriage that were so unfathomably bad that I prayed some pretty drastic things.  Divorce wasn’t an option, but death certainly was.  I prayed that God would take me out.  Seriously.  I really wanted to die, but if He wasn’t going to take me, then He needed to take my husband out.  Now don’t judge me.  I know some of you wouldn’t dare say something like that.  It’s so “unchristian”.  And even though I knew this was the man God told me to marry, I just couldn’t piece together why it was so hard.  I tried everything to make it work.  And when I mean make it work, I mean I tried controlling everything.  Funny thing about control is that we really can’t control anything but ourselves, and I wasn’t doing such a great job of that. 

bigstock-Rose-Hanging-From-An-Old-Key-48888527 trialsNow here I am 7 years later, and I have died by degrees to some of the darkest areas of my soul and I can truly say…I am a better person for marrying him and for walking this out.  Through weeping and gnashing of teeth, I intimately saw the face of God peering at me through my despair, drawing me with soft, gentle, loving whispers.  He taught me how to be like Him through His love. He gave me eyes to see the treasure that was locked up inside me: the gentle, patient, find-joy-even-when-I-don’t-get-my-way kind of treasure.  Taught me that trials are keys to treasures of godly character stored within, we choose which way to turn the key.  And I choose to unlock it and let the glory of God shine through me.

I’ve learned this lesson on so many different fronts.  But it’s all the same.  Consider everything joy that comes your way especially the hard stuff.  It has the potential to make you stronger, to increase your faith and to be resolute in your walk.  Remember that the brokenhearted see the face of God.  That’s who He came for.  Don’t let your trial be for nothing.  See it for the potential it has…to make you more like Him by spending more time with Him.

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YOUR KOFFEE WITH THE KING: 

Spend the next 20 to 30 minutes letting God renew your mind.  Every hardship that you are facing right now, lay before Him.  Ask Him for understanding in it.  Ask Him for grace to persevere.  Even if you receive limited understanding in what you are going through, resolve to the fact that God is good. PERIOD. Sometimes we can’t see clearly when we are in the midst of such heartache, so God may give you one bite of truth at a time.  Write it down, believe it, and trust Him.  This trial won’t last forever.  You will make it through this, I promise!

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FURTHER STUDY:  

Over the next week, study the following passages to learn more about persevering through adversity and the joy that awaits you on the other side.  It’s so worth the price!

Day 2:   Read and meditate on 1 Peter 1:6-7

Day 3:  Read and mediate on Romans 8:16-18

Day 4:  Read and mediate on 1 Peter 5:8-10

Day 5:  Read and mediate on Romans 5:1-4

Hope is knocking

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Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts                              by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.  -Romans 5:5

Misty morning fog blankets thbigstock-Birds-5207436e lake at the house I’ve retreated to write.  This clandestine nebula somehow eluded last night’s projected forecast.  Sunny and 71 were the expectations for this day but this murky haze obscures the truth about what I know lies on the other side.  Warm rays of hope giving sunlight have been replaced with the damp melancholy of these beauty blocking clouds.  Hopelessness is knocking.  But I will not answer.

Isn’t that what life is like sometimes?  Things don’t turn out the way we expect,  the way things were promised.  There are days of zero visibility, and maybe those days are more like years stretched out so long we’ve forgotten the landscape.  We’ve forgotten what was on the other side of uncertainty.  A marriage that was conceived under warmth of certain sun now is clouded by the haze of broken.  Heavy reflections surround the notion that you’ve not tied yourself to the one your soul loves, and questions of his existence haunt your thoughts.  The childless womb of a mother so desperately seeking to have it filled. Pensive memories of the ones who were and now are not give rise to the guilty thoughts of living again.  Hopelessness is knocking.  Have you answered the door?

The ease at which melancholy sets in is disheartening.  It takes so little effort to be swept down the stream of negativity.  It’s much more difficult to stir yourself up in the Lord when your broken heart is more tangible than your hope in God.  If God is good, then why did He let these things happen?  That’s the real question isn’t it?  Is God good or isn’t He?  For some maybe,  but not for all is the wrong realization that opens the door to hopelessness.  And if I were to stop with my limited understanding about my hard circumstances, I too would return to the dismal place that held so many of my years.  But I don’t.  Each morning, I return to the place of rest in knowing that He is good.  The place where His presence dwells.  The place where He restores my hope and gives understanding through new perspectives.  Ah, my eyes see through His eyes the beauty of what lies on the other side of that cloud.  And that beauty is even more radiant than my eyes alone could have ever seen.  He gives me hope again.  But it is my choice to swim upstream and keep it or be moved by the current of my inaccurate perspectives.  I choose Life because it has chosen me.

bigstock-old-fashioned-flower-14121134hopeHope does not disappoint.  Do you disagree?  I used to.  I had hoped for so many things that didn’t happen.  In fact, God changed my name to Hope over 15 years ago.  Funny huh?  I stayed in a constant state of disappointment over all the things that didn’t turn out like I thought.  Even now, it tries to creep in but I won’t let it.  You see, I don’t hope in things, I hope in Christ.  He doesn’t disappoint because His love has been poured out in my heart through the amazing gift of the Holy Spirit who is always speaking to me.  Coaching me, encouraging me, guiding me, building my faith, picking me up when I fall, reminding me of God’s goodness, of His grace, and of His mercy.  Reminding me that I can do all things through, with and by Him.  Do people have the power to make decisions that negatively affect me?  Yes, but even then He’s faithful to make things work out for me in His perfect way.

So I challenge you to kick out the unwelcomed guest of hopelessness and never open the door to him again.  Let the Holy Spirit reside in your heart and return hope to you in every area that the enemy has stolen.  Hope is knocking, will you let Him in?

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YOUR KOFFEE WITH THE KING: 

Spend the next 20 to 30 minutes gazing into the eyes of a loving God.  Focus your complete attention on Him. Listen wholeheartedly as He speaks words of hope to you.   Allow those words to settle upon you and repair the damage that Satan’s lies have done.   God has come for the brokenhearted and He comes to bring life.  Are you ready to be made whole again?  Write down everything the Holy Spirit speaks to you and remind yourself of them all week long.

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FURTHER STUDY:  

Over the next week, study the following passages to learn more on hope in God.  Continue to have your daily Koffee with the King  and enjoy those deep conversations. Continue to ask Him questions to get to know Him better.

Day 2:   Read and meditate on Psalms 42:11

Day 3:  Read and mediate on Jeremiah 17:7

Day 4:  Read and mediate on Romans 8:23-25

Day 5:  Read and mediate on Romans 15:13