5 Truths for When the World Seems Against You

The world is a crazy place. Everyday we hear reports of wars, natural disasters, acts of terror and unspeakable crimes against humanity. We need only to open our browsers or turn on the television to be barraged with an onslaught of heartbreaking stories.

5 Truths for When the World Seems Against You

Sometimes, however….sometimes we need only open our eyes in the morning to be faced with unspeakable pain and suffering. Sometimes it is we who are wrestling with the universal question of Why me? and Why do bad things happen to good people?

A close friend received healing from that devastating disease; yet your diagnosis remains unchanged.

A friend announces she is expecting surprise baby number 3 and you’re still trying to keep a pregnancy viable through to delivery – and the cramps come anyway.

You pray with all your might and faith during the company downsizing, yet somehow the guy in H.R. that fibs on his monthly reports gets promoted and your husband gets handed a pink slip.

Things happen in this world – and in our own lives, in our homes – that just don’t make sense. It can be easy to wonder if we’ve done something wrong to deserve all of this. Does God love them more? Is He more pleased with their faith? Am I being punished? Has God forgotten about me?

I’ve realized something as I’ve walked through my own times of unexplainable chaos – and as I’ve walked alongside other friends and family through their chaos. I’ve found that at these times, in the real thick of it, in the fog of grief and anger, asking why often only serves to bring nothing but more doubt and frustration.

Rather than speculating about the reason, we need to be looking at what we know to be TRUE.

1. God is good and sovereign. 1 Chronicles 29:11-12 It is not easy to understand (or perhaps even possible to understand) why God allows the things He allows. He has given mankind free will; and man in his heart is corrupt. But God will never corrupt or change.

2. God works for the good of those who love him. Romans 8:28 What we often stumble over here is that His definition of good and our definition of good are often very different. This takes us back to point number 1. He is sovereign, He holds the blueprints. Your pain, your tears, your confusion will not be wasted.

3. He will never ever leave or abandon any of his children. Hebrews 13:5-6 We often feel abandoned by God, but he promises us here in Hebrews (and in other places in Scripture) He will never, never, never, never, never leave us or abandon us. We do not have to fear over our ultimate fate because He is in control, working for our good, and with us the whole way.

4. He loves you as though you were the only human he created. There is no gradient to his love. Colossians 3:12, 1 John 4:10, John 3:16-17  It can be so easy to feel like God loves others so much more than He loves us. When they get the healing, the new job, the sweet baby, the perfect family…Yes, God gives good gifts to His children, but the presence of good gifts in the life of another does not reflect an absence or decrease of His love for us. Not only does he love us, but He IS Love. Just like water is H2O, God is love. Nothing we could do could make Him love us more, or less. If you need a reminder of what true, real love is like, check out 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a and instead of the word “love”, insert the word God. Then remind yourself of points 1-3.

5. His thoughts and ways are not our ways. They are not always easy or comfortable, but they are in the end best. Isaiah 55:8-9 Enough said.

These things, and more, are truth whether we feel or believe it or not. He never promised us we will understand. He never promises physical healing and comfort (Paul’s thorn was never removed).

But He is CAPABLE.

Do not doubt his love for you, or your family. He is not going to give you a snake when you need bread. When things get dark and hard and scary, hold fast to these Truths – and to God’s hand – and you will weather this storm with a sweeter, deeper relationship with, and faith in, Him than you ever thought possible. A perfect, trouble free life? No. But a sweet, strengthening, hope-filled relationship with Him? Oh, yes.

Blessings,

Jen Deibel

The Drive Home: Finding Contentment on the Journey

 

The Drive Home

The questions come to me as I’m driving, running errands, frustrated with everything in my life that isn’t right… isn’t good enough.

What would it actually take?

When would it be enough?

When would I finally be content?

When the to-do list is done?
When the kids mature?
When I can afford whatever I want?
When my house is clean?
When I’m a raving success?

The carrot dangles in front of me as I speed — I never can never quite reach it — perfect beauty, perfect skill, perfect organization, the perfect family… perfection.

Actually, “perfect” puts a wry smile on my face. I’m not even close.

No, I tell myself. I don’t need perfection, I just need a little better.  A little more. That would be enough.

But would it?

And when I slam my brakes for the red light, I see the issue for what it is.

A discontented heart. And it’s ugly.

This isn’t the fruit of the Spirit.

It’s a slap in God’s face.

It’s me telling Him His blessings aren’t good enough, His grace isn’t sufficient, He isn’t enough. He hasn’t given enough. I need more.

And forming such hideous thoughts are like fingernails on a chalkboard.

God, forgive me.

I hold the steering wheel, realizing my flesh can never be satisfied.

Were it not for Christ, I’d be one of the millions enslaved to it — my rotting demanding flesh — trying to escape the deadly downward spiral. Grasping for pleasure, attention, status and possessions. Convinced I could claw my way out of the black hole with more, with better. Striving, panting… yet ending with nothing.

The light turns green and I move on, blinking back tears, remembering that true life is in Christ, that I am found in Christ.

And I remember I am blessed.

Oh how much He’s given me.

He “forgives all [my] sins and heals all [my] diseases…” He “redeems [my] life from the pit and crowns [me] with love and compassion.”  Psalm 103:3-4

My family, my home, my story, my very breath declare His goodness. I dare not forget all that He’s done for me, all that He’s given me, how He gave everything for me!

And even as the question forms in my mind — So how do I handle my constant yearnings for more? For better? — I remember something else…

Every craving reveals my need for him.

I’m hungry for more, for better, because I need more of Him.

He is love. He is peace. He is joy.

He alone is the perfect Father, Friend, and Comforter.

My appetite will never be fully satiated with anything or anyone else.

I turn on my blinker and switch lanes. My heart recognizes this as truth, but there’s a little pang as it turns all that longing toward Jesus.

But I can’t even see you, and I’m still stuck here.

What I remember as I turn the corner is bittersweet.

Complete contentment will only come once I’m face-to-face with Christ.

This side of heaven, I’ll always have a to-do list, a longing, an internal battle with discontent.

But that’s just this side of heaven. My heart’s deepest desires will all be met on the other side.

Who needs junk food when a marriage feast is so close?

No, this drive won’t last forever. Home and all its comforts are just around the bend.

As I pull again into the driveway of my temporary home, I ask for eyes to see my blessings, for more of Jesus, and an eternal perspective.

I ask for help to remember. I ask for contentment.

Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits.

Psalm 103:1

*Are you content, friend? Where do you struggle most? How does remembering bring contentment in your life?

Blessings,

Jennifer Ebenhack

 

Growing Your Children’s Relationship With Jesus {When Yours Is Struggling}

relationship with Jesus

I have a friend who is really good at quiet times with the Lord- reading the Bible, journaling, praying. When she’s been with God, her face is so happy and peaceful. You can just tell she loves God, you know?

This sort of reminds me of Moses in the Bible, when came down from the mountain of God. His face was glowing because he had been near God. Remember that? See, you can almost sense it when people are close to God. It moves you, makes you think, inspires you…

Sometimes I find myself wondering, with a gulp in my throat: is the opposite true?

What if I feel far from God? What if I’m struggling – with anxieties, with selfishness, with just plain old haven’t-spent-time-with-God-in-ages?

What then for the people around me? Can my kids sense it? How can I lead them to Christ, if I’m struggling myself?

I have great tenderness in my heart for the asker of this question, because often, she is me. Growing up, I could have won awards for church attendance. I had devotions every day (even on vacation). I memorized verses, read commentaries, the whole nine yards.

Since being a mother, I have been humbled.

I’ve battled anxiety, crumbling under the weight of caring for a child with life-threatening allergies. I struggle to give, and give, and give to my children, especially when I’m exhausted. I lose my temper, and I fall behind in my quiet times.

I still love the Lord with every fiber of my being, and I need him desperately. But often, I feel guilty for not “doing” enough in my relationship to God. And I get worried.

How can I lead my children to Jesus, if I myself am struggling?

Do you ever feel this way? I wondered if I wasn’t the only one who did, and in my recently-released e-book, How To Introduce Your Child To Jesus, I dedicated an entire chapter to this, called: “Your Relationship With Jesus Matters (And What To Do If Yours Is Struggling).”

There’s much to be said on the topic (one of my favorite parts is where I share some devotions and books perfect for moms with little time and energy). But the main point – the one we so easily forget – is this: the beautiful irony of the Gospel is that we are loved not because we are worthy, but just because we are loved.

When we are weak, in Him, we are strong. My pastor often says that when you’ve reached the end of yourself, and know you can’t do it on your own, then you’re just exactly where you need to be.

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. {Psalm 34:18}

Practically speaking: don’t let guilt, or months, or years keep you from the Lord. You can come today, and you can come as you are. You can come folding ragged bath towels, with whispered prayers for the family who uses them. You can come through tears, after tempers were lost and mistakes were made. You can come – right now – just as you are. It’s a lie from the pit that you can’t.

This brings tremendous hope and encouragement to me – that the Lord is always near and always working my my life, and the lives of those I love.

If you often feel overwhelmed with the idea of leading your little ones to Jesus, my e-book may provide just the encouraging tips. Here are a few things I touch on:

  • How to make your child’s faith his or her own (and not just yours)
  • Tips for surviving church with little ones (what we bring to church, what we do when they’re loud, how to get them to sit still)
  • My 25 favorite Jesus-centered books, movies, and toys for kids
  • 15+ everyday scenarios to talk about Jesus with your child
  • The seven common personalities in kids, and how to teach each type
  • A list of my favorite devotionals for wearied moms

Cover Web Use

Click here for information on How To Introduce Your Child To Jesus.

7 Small Ways a Faithful Mother Can Make a Big Difference

7 Small Ways a Faithful Mother Can Make a Big Difference

I want to make a difference.

You might not think a stay-at-home, work-at-home, mom like me would be aware of what is happening out there, but I am.

I can see far too clearly the world falling apart and feel much too deeply the relationships crumbling around me – and it nearly breaks my heart.

No, my head is definitely not buried in the sand. We can all read the headlines. Nor do we have far to travel to find heartache or hopelessness.

But this home-centered mom wants to do something about it . . and you?

I want to raise a family who loves the Lord and who will be a light to an ever-darkening world, a family who will offer hope to the aching and the anguished.

So how can one faithful mother make a big difference?

1. Fill our home with joy and laughter.
As the mom, we get to set the tone for the home, so begin the day with a loving smile and a cheerful greeting. And if you don’t “feel” like it? That’s okay, just fake it! Then keep right on smiling until the warmth becomes genuine and shines down over your entire family.

2. Offer grace freely.
Mistakes, mess-ups, mix-ups – it’s all part of being a family. Let them know that you can overlook their faults and you love ‘em like crazy anyway. Don’t be devastated, or even surprised, when your people let you down. Consider the abundant grace showered down over you and me and then offer the same to their tender hearts. They need it at least as much as we do!

3. Share meals together daily.
If our lives are so busy that we don’t have a moment to dine and discuss around the table together, then we are dangerously too busy. While it doesn’t always seem worth the trouble to gather everyone for this daily event, it does add up over time and one of the greatest investments you can make for your family.

4. Be willing to take a strong stand.
It’s a fact: we moms get less grief if we say “yes” than when we say “no”. But, if your spirit is troubling you then don’t compromise for the sake of peace – it’s simply not worth it. Stay true to what you believe is right and stick to your guns. We have to be more concerned about our children’s character than their temporary “happiness.”

5. Take the time to talk it through.
Talking things through takes a gargantuan amount of TIME. Sometimes this means discussing issues late into the night (especially if you have teens!).  No such thing as a shortcut to this critical process – unless it’s sweeping it under the rug which only results in distant, painful relationships. So what are a few bleary nights compared to close, loving relationships?

6.   Ask forgiveness – and grant it fully
If someone sins or hurts another family member in any way, he - or me!- should be swift to humbly seek forgiveness.  And the response should be as quick and wholehearted as the request made.  Don’t let any bit of relational garbage linger to rot and decay! Keep all your hearts clean and bright.

7.   Celebrate the uniqueness of each child
Enjoy each child’s special qualities and embrace every unique individual. Teach your children to appreciate one another’s differences too. Don’t allow anyone to despise or belittle a brother or sister because they happen to have their own giftings, their own particular style, and their own way of doing things. (For more ways:  32 Tips I’d Like toPass on to Moms with Younger Children.)

Although I don’t always feel much like a world-changer, like it matters all that much, this mom would like to think I’m making a world of difference.

And you’re making a big difference too.

Because we mothers can impact more lives than we ever thought possible through our sometimes simple, often hidden, but meaningful ministry at home.

Cheering for you!

Lisa Jacobson, Club31Women

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