Right now, there is a lot going on in my life. I am not talking about the virus. A tragedy occurred in my life a few weeks ago, and I am once again working to adjust to my new normal. I have learned during difficult times that we should not focus on “Why God?” He is more than okay with us asking that, though, and wrestling with Him, for we see every emotion in Scriptures. And, lets face it, He already knows how we feel – so just be honest, He can handle it. The key is not to dwell on the “Why?” Pray to have strength to move to the “What do you want me to learn?” and “How do you need me to grow and shine Your light in this situation?”
Moving from “Why” to “How” is not an easy process. I am learning to praise Him when I feel the “Why” creeping into my thoughts. I put on praise music or pray or read the Bible. I must take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). But why? Why are we told to take every thought captive? The enemy wants us to take our eyes off of Jesus. Whether it is the virus, job loss, betrayal by a loved one, death, paralysis, etc. The moment we take our eyes off of Jesus, the enemy owns us. He has our thoughts focused on him and away from Jesus.
One of the ways the enemy gets me is to make me feel all alone. I cling to verses that clearly demonstrate God’s love.
“Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?” Romans 8:32
That one is a good verse to let seep in. I have a son and trying to process giving him up is beyond my comprehension. But God loved me and you so much, He gave us His son. So, of course God loves us. He sacrificed His son for us. He is not going to leave us. That is nonsensical, and, of course, there are plenty of verses that support Him being with us to the end of the age. As believers, we have the Holy Spirit. He is always with us. Even though I grieve Him with stupid thoughts and actions, He is with me. I am never truly alone.
The other way the enemy tries to get me is to attack my prayer life. Either I get distracted or shorten the prayer time or sometimes I do not feel like praying. I have an accountability partner, Snow. He kicks me in the backside when I need it. He prays for me when I cannot pray. And again, the Holy Spirit prays for me, too. And you know who else prays for you and me constantly? Jesus.
“But because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever. Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.” Hebrews 7:24–25
Jesus lives forever to intercede with God on our behalf. Wow! I cannot process that. My Savior and my King lives forever to intercede on my behalf.
You are never alone. I know as a human, it is hard to go without other loving, human interaction. Sometimes, I just want to hear a loving voice praying for me or receive a prayer in text or email.
If you need or want someone to pray with you, contact me and Snow. We are happy to pray with you!
You are enveloped in the loving arms of the Holy Spirit, you are interceded for by the King of all kings and embraced by the Father because of Jesus. And you have at least one brother and one sister praying for you daily.
So many prayers for healing. She was so young. Maybe I did not pray enough. Maybe I did not pray the right way.
I have heard non-believers say, “How can a loving God allow that?”
When you are crushed and cannot breathe, yet the hits keep coming, believers ask that, too. I do.
I begged Jesus through sobs of pain. Crying out, “Please help, Jesus. Please.”
I watched her take her last breaths while in pain.
I prayed for her to be healed, but I also know that we are to pray for His will above all else. So, I dutifully prayed, “Father, please heal her. If that is not Your will, then please allow her to pass peacefully in her sleep.”
That is not how it happened. It was not peaceful or painless.
If another believer were to ask me, “How can a loving God allow that?” I would quote Isaiah 55:9: “For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
I would also say that He loves us more than we can understand, so there must have been worse things ahead. Worse pain, things unbearable to see. So, He called her home before things reached that point.
Haven’t we been through enough? So much death and pain in such a short time, so many loved ones gone despite prayers and fasting. Why God, why do we now have to go through this, too? We are still recovering from the last tragedy. The last wounds are still raw.
“Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
I believe Scriptures. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God. I believe He died for my sins. So, I read this verse and know it to be true. But God, how weak do I need to be?
The pain is more than I can bear, Lord.
“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” Psalm 34:18
I seek You. Why am I seeking, though? I have the Holy Spirit. You are already right here with me. Help me to feel You. I need You, Lord. I need to remember that I am not like King Saul.
“Now the Spirit of the LORD had left Saul, and the LORD sent a tormenting spirit that filled him with depression and fear.” 1 Samuel 16:14
You will not remove Your Holy Spirit from me.
“God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 5:5
I do not have to fear like King David, when he saw the Spirit removed from Saul and penned Psalm 51.
“Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.” Psalm 51:11-12
While this pain is unbearable, I cannot let my heart doubt You or Your love.
“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverb 4:23
My own heart works against me.
“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” Jeremiah 17:9
So, where do I go from here? I am to guard my heart, which is desperately wicked, but I cannot guard it properly.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
But because I believe Jesus is the Son of God, I have His peace that is beyond understanding. I have peace when I should not. I have peace when the world says, “How can a loving God allow this?”
The answer is, I do not know. I may never know this side of Heaven. But I know God is love (1 John 4:16).
I also know I am not to focus on such thoughts, nor allow my heart to ruminate on such things.
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8
It is not easy. Pain crushes. Feeling like God let you down crushes.
I do not believe that time heals all wounds. Instead, I believe that you find your new normal. Through Jesus, you find the way to move forward with the hole in your heart and determine your new normal.
Why did God let me down? I don’t know that He did. I know my heart is telling me that, but my heart can be wicked.
No, I cannot guard my heart. I need Jesus for that. We must stay anchored to Him for peace and joy that is beyond understanding.
“Good people pass away; the godly often die before their time. But no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come.”
I am going through a tremendous time of change in my life. While I met Jesus 11 years ago, I have not been fully surrendered to Him. What does that mean, “fully surrendered”?
The meaning I am applying here is that every corner of my life, every person in my life, every relationship in my life, AND my life itself belongs to Jesus. Saved people believe that, and we know it. How often do we live it, though?
I am sure there are times that we surrender situations to Jesus, ones that we know we cannot at all control – medical situations or other people’s behavior. But I am talking about even the corners of our lives that we believe we can control, such as where I want to work or where I want to go today.
For several months now, Snow and I have been working on fully surrendering our lives to Jesus and praying, “Bend me, break me to Your Will.” Within the past five months, we have both lost our jobs in the corporate world, we each lost someone incredibly dear to us to death (Praise God they both knew Jesus) and at least one marriage is ending.
For us, we daily give our worries to God, but we pick them right back up – sometimes within minutes. Daily questions we ask include:
“What is the plan, God?”
“What do You want me to do?”
“What is Your desired outcome so I can get there?”
I love clarity, and so there are times where I pray God would just tell me what to do: Where is the goal line? I will obey and move the ball down the field, but just tell me where You want me to wind up.
This is not how God works. I was studying Abram this week (before he became Abraham), and this man literally left all he knew for some place that God said He would show him at some point. WHAT??
“The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you.'” Genesis 12:1
Notice that word “will.” Leave all that you know and are comfortable with for this completely unknown path that I am not ready yet to reveal to you.
As I studied this verse and Abram’s reaction, I thought to myself, could I do that? I say that I want to fully surrender all to Jesus, and I do believe that, but could I really do that? Leave all that I know and all that is comfortable for some unknown path? That is fully trusting God – wow.
Since Snow and I have been praying the “Bend me, break me” prayers for months, God has been removing toxic things from our lives. The work environments were extremely toxic. Certain relationships were and are extremely toxic. Both Snow and I were saved later in life, so we made stupid decisions before we were saved that are now being cleaned up, and God is at work in those corners of our lives, too.
All of that is an amazing blessing, but here is the issue: My heart.
Do I fully trust God with what He is doing in my life? Can I be like Abram and just obey without knowing the plan or the outcome?
The still, small voice reminds me of the following:
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28
As I think about this verse, I definitely love God. I do not always act like it because I am a sinner, but I do love Him. And I do believe that He has a plan for my life because of two specific verses, though there are others.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'” Jeremiah 29:11
“You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” Psalm 139:16
I believe in the Bible 100%, every word of it. So, based solely on these two example verses above, He has a plan, and the plan is for my ultimate good.
So why do I struggle with trusting Him? Has He ever let me down?
Yes, in my opinion, He did. Allow me to explain.
Two years ago, there was this sweet, amazing young girl that out of the blue got an aggressive cancer that began to ravage her body. The medical treatments were done, the surgeries occurred, etc. I believed in the power of prayer, and there were thousands of us praying for this sweet girl to be healed physically and remain in this world.
God chose to heal her a different way and ushered her into eternity. As a believer, I know that God knows best, and He loves her more than we can process, and I know He chose to call her Home, and it was the perfect response for her.
What about those of us who trusted God to heal her, though? There are several verses that talk about ask anything in My name and I will do it – so what happened here?
“I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you.” Matthew 18:19
“Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!” John 14:14
Jesus and Snow are going to help me heal and dive into these verses more. There will be a future post on this topic, so I will end that trail here for now.
For the purposes of today’s post, I must trust God. Things do not always make sense to me.
Can I be like Abram and just obey without knowing the end game? Oh, but I do know – Romans 8:28. Maybe this hurts, and it is messed up in my opinion, but He is at work, and I must trust Him. I will trust Him for a short time period, then start worrying again: How will this work? What about that?
It is a cycle of trust for me. I see it as a spiritual battle. The enemy does NOT want me to trust God and fully surrender to Him.
“Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.” Romans 8:5-8
Note those words God uses, “always hostile to God,” “never” obeys, and “can never please God.”
“Always” and “never” are words that leave no room for lack of clarity. So, if I am listening to the enemy, dominated by the fear, the worry, I will never please God in that state of mind.
I am working on replacing worry with worship, for the enemy hates when we give glory to God (that is the whole reason Satan rebelled, to get glory).
I would like to say I have conquered this battle, but the cycle of trust continues: I trust Him, I worry, He reminds me of His love and promises, I trust Him, I worry.
The two things that I am focused on are:
Asking God to show me areas that I am not yet fully surrendered in and then listening to His response
Working hard to apply 2 Corinthians 10:5: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
I cannot control every thought that enters my mind, but I can control what I do with each thought once it is there. I compare it to Scripture and assess whether it is light and love. If it is, I engage God about it. If the thought is not edifying, pure, or anchored in the Truth, do I dwell on it and allow it to seep into my soul?
“For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9
I see in the above verse, “Trust me.”
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do and he will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5-6
I see in these verses God saying, “I got it, regardless of what you think based on what you see around you. I got it.”
There is a battle going on, brothers and sisters. Fully surrendering and unconditionally trusting in God is the way to disarm the enemy.
Today’s post represents a written collaboration with my Bible Study Partner, JC. She has actually collaborated on Beloved Walks from the beginning, for she helped name the site and provides the beautiful photographs that accompany and often inspire my writing.
JC keeps a number of journals, including one in which she captures thoughts related to her faith and whispers from Jesus. In coming to terms with the death of a very special loved one in February 2017, she documented a number of revelations from March 2017 to April 2018 on how to deal with tragedy. Those insights form the core of today’s post.
JC notes that one of the ways God whispers to us is through daily devotionals. Bits and pieces of scripture and advice all came together for her in the course of that year – some in the form of devotionals obviously sent by Him. In addition to reading the Bible daily, she recommends devotionals as another way to hear Him. You can find various devotionals all over the web or within the YouVersion Bible app (reading plans). Here is one list of devotionals that might be helpful to you as a starting point.
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In our lives, there will be times we face tragedy. It is part of the human experience. For instance, the loss of someone we love dearly can be devastating.
When faced with overwhelming sorrow, what should you do at the very worst moment of your life?
When the Lord asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, he obeyed and began the necessary preparations. Abraham journeyed to the mountains of Moriah to offer sacrifice, with Isaac in tow. Unaware of his role in the plan, Isaac questioned why they had not brought a sheep along for their offering. “God will provide,” Abraham professed (Genesis 22:8), and indeed He did – sparing Isaac after Abraham passed this ultimate test of trust and providing a ram in his place.
If the pain is so overwhelming that it consumes you, you must rest and find comfort in who God is, not in how you feel, what you see, or what is happening.
Focus on resting in who He is.
How can you pray when you hurt so much you can’t even breathe?
We need God to breathe.
“Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7
“For the Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” Job 33:4
If you can’t breathe or pray, follow these steps until you can:
“Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship. He said, ‘I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!'”
Job had lost everything except that which no one could take, his faith and God’s love.
“Every tear I’ve cried, You hold in your hand. You never left my side, and, though my heart is torn, I will praise you in this storm.”
From “Praise You In This Storm,” Lifesong, Casting Crowns, written by Mark Hall & Bernie Herms
Seek nature. Wherever you are in the world, He is there. Look for signs of Him. Go outside and breathe. Look for Him. He is there.
Finally, always return to praying to Him and reading scripture.
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” Romans 8:28-29
God’s awesome power is such that He uses tragic events to create good.
The best opportunity for Christians to move closer to being like Jesus is in the middle of suffering. He suffered on the cross for us, giving up His very life so that we may live.
“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” 1 Peter 1:6-7
There is always a purpose to every trial in your life. You are being tested. Being at your lowest provides the best opportunity for you to prove your faith.
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” Genesis 50:20
Feel the power of Joseph’s words in the above verse. His brothers had literally sold him into slavery, but he recognized that God used the tragedy for good. For Joseph to have affected so many by the end of his journey, he had to endure that hardship near the beginning. Without it, his path would have been completely different, and he would not have touched so many people.
Joseph’s trial had a purpose. It was a stepping stone. You may not be able to see it yet, and you may never see it this side of Heaven, but your trial is the same. It has a purpose. It is a stepping stone.
“He said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Take comfort in Paul’s words above. When you are at your lowest point, that is when Jesus has the most opportunity to lift you up. Feel His power.
If you are already saved, nothing can take the blessings of Jesus and eternal life away from you. However, Satan can make you feel those blessings are at risk. He will try to take the peace of Christ away from you.
Be strong. You are a child of God.
“When Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes. In fact, the Lord gave him twice as much as before!”
Only after Job prayed for his friends was he blessed and healed.
Keep praying. You are not alone. You are never alone.
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And now, we pray for you, the one who has encountered this post due to tragedy in your life.
Please bless the readers of this entry who need your comfort. You are always with us, but reveal your presence to them today. Let them feel Your holy arms as you hold them.
Lift them and allow them to begin breathing, praying, and healing. Whether here or elsewhere, let them find a path to inner peace through your Word.
Let them feel the power of Your glory. Let them feel the glory of Your love. Let them feel the love of Your Son.