I Will Trust You Lord

sinking_shipContinued from here.

I have been struggling for several weeks to find my way out of a deep emotional pit that has both physically and emotionally worn me out. I have earnestly prayed throughout this time. I have sought God’s leading. I have steeled myself for following God, no matter what. And I have gotten back up again and again to follow God in the midst of emotional pain that runs so deep that I cannot put it into words. I have looked for a way out, and God led me to it through an oldie but goody – Twila Paris’ song from the 1980’s entitled Do I Trust You, Lord?

The bottom line is that either I trust God, or I don’t. If I trust God, I will keep getting back up and following Him, no matter how many times that I am knocked down. I will keep believing that He will restore me, even when I am so blinded by the pain that I cannot see the blessings. I will keep forgiving the people who are unknowingly pouring salt into my wounds as they judge me in my brokenness. I will keep extending those people grace, even as they continue to hurt me. I will keep loving them. And I will keep loving and giving to others, even as I am tempted to withdraw from everyone to lick my own wounds. I will continue to prioritize what God cares about, not because I feel like it but because I trust God.

The cry of my heart has become the climax of Do I Trust You, Lord?:

I will trust You, Lord, when I don’t know why.
I will trust You, Lord, till the day I die.
I will trust You, Lord, when I’m blind with pain.
You were God before, and You’ll never change.

I will trust You. I will trust You.
I will trust You, Lord.
I will trust You. I will trust You.
I will trust You, Lord.

I will trust You. I will trust You.
I will trust You, Lord.”

Trusting God, even while blinded with pain, is the way out.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace in a tuxedo playing the violin on the tip of a sinking ship. Courtesy Bitmoji.]

 

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When God is Silent

where_are_youHave you ever gone through a season in which you pray and pray for God’s guidance and all you receive in return is radio silence? I have been through these seasons more times than I can count. In the early days, I used to believe that God didn’t care about me, but I now recognize the height, depth, width, and breadth of His love for me. When God is silent, it’s not a reflection of a lack of love for you. There is nothing you can do to cause God to love you any more or any less.

Sometimes, God’s silence is a test. When I cannot sense His presence, what will I do? Will I return to how I used to behave now that I perceive that God is not watching me? Will I continue to seek Him with all my heart? Or will I assume He has abandoned me and behave as if He has?

And then sometimes God is silent because of my rebellion. I endured a painful year of radio silence from God because I was determined to do things my way, and God let me. I had been in a tug of war with God, and He eventually let go of the rope. Once I humbled myself and returned to obey Him, the radio silence ended.

When you go through periods of radio silence from God, continue to seek Him. Ask God to reveal any area of sin that might be causing the silence, and respond to the Holy Spirit’s conviction if it comes. If nothing does, then this might be a test. Seek God with all your heart. Double up on your quiet time, including prayer, studying His words, and worshiping Him. As you continue to seek God with all your heart, you will find Him again.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace looking through a telescope and asking, “Where are you?” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

 

How Do You Know that God Will Show Up?

im_waitingContinued from here.

One of the more challenging aspects of God’s character for me is His tendency to show up at what I perceive as the 11th hour. My preference is for Him to show up early so I can rest assured that He is going to take care of my problem. However, God wants me to grow my faith, trusting that He is going to show up despite seeing no evidence of Him doing so beyond His promise to work all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. I know that I love Him, and I actively seek to fulfill His purpose by doing His will, so I know that He will work even this (whatever “this” is) for good.

Oftentimes, I find myself in a position of submitting to God’s authority but still having to wait … and wait … and wait for Him to show up. This passage from the Psalms is the one I lean on when I am in a holding pattern and waiting on God:

He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. ~ Ps. 91:4

Because God has been faithful before, I find it easier to believe that He will be faithful again. Whenever I am tempted to doubt that God will show up, I remind myself that the story is not over yet. If we ended the story on Friday, Jesus would still be in the tomb. We had to get to Sunday before God showed up. We are often tempted to give up on God on Friday or Saturday, ending the story in defeat. We must hold on to the hope the God WILL show up and not give up until He does.

The bottom line is that you either trust God or you don’t. You either believe that He loves you and will take care of you, or you don’t. Beth Moore hit me right between the eyes at one of her Living Proof Live events when she said that dread is advertising God’s unfaithfulness. In other words, when I tell people that I fear God won’t show up, my life becomes a billboard advertising God’s unfaithfulness. However, when I trust and truly BELIEVE that God will show up and work EVEN THIS for good, I advertise the faithfulness of God.

Of course, we have to do our part as well. There’s no promise for God to work all situations for good for those who do not love Him or those who are willfully disobedient to Him. As long as you love God and are intentionally trying to live out His will, He will show up. If He hasn’t, that means your story isn’t over yet.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace with her hand on her hip, standing next to an hourglass and saying, “I’m waiting.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

Where is God Right Now While I am Suffering?

u_thereContinued from here.

Perhaps your suffering is not something that happened in the past, which you are still trying to recover from. Perhaps it is, instead, taking place right now, and you are wondering where God is while you wrestle with this problem. You have a medical diagnosis that doesn’t look good … or your marriage is falling apart … or you have lost someone you love … or you have lost your job and cannot find another one … or you feel forgotten, unnoticed, and unloved … Where is God right now while you are suffering in this very moment?

The answer is the same as what I shared here. God’s promise never to leave you or forsake you is just as true today as it was when you were hurt 30 years ago. God does not change. He sees you and deeply cares that you are suffering. God can — and will — work even this for good if you will cooperate with Him.

While you are in the midst of the trial, it’s hard to believe that God cares, that He is with You, and that He can bring good out of a very bad situation. This is when your past experience with God can help you endure through the current trial. This passage of scripture is particularly helpful to me during times of trial:

He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” ~ Ps. 91:4

God’s faithfulness is your strongest protection during trials because if you can remember His faithfulness from before, then you can more easily believe that He will be faithful again. Nothing you experience is outside of God’s ability to transform into good. See Corrie Ten Boom’s story or Joni Eareckson Tada’s story for examples of how God can take terrible tragedies and turn them into amazing victories!

This is my story as well. What Satan intended for harm (severe child abuse), God has used for good. He has given me a new heart, and I have brought hope and healing to many child abuse survivors over the years. Life threw many lemons my way, and I have worked with God to make lots of lemonade for the people I encounter in my life.

NOTHING that you are suffering right now falls outside of God’s power to redeem it. He can transform the ashes of your pain into something beautiful. If He can do it for me, then He can do it for you!

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace peeking over the words, “U there?” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

Where was God When I was Being Hurt?

where_are_youContinued from here.

People who have suffered from specific events that rocked their world often ask where God was when that event was happening. They often believe that God left them, didn’t notice them, or ignored their suffering. I wrestled with this question over the child abuse I suffered. The hardest part for me to reconcile was that my abuse actually got worse after I became a Christian. While I could somewhat understand why God might not intervene on behalf of someone who didn’t know Him, I could not wrap my mind around how He could stand back and do nothing while a little girl of 8, 9, and 10 years old—who had Jesus living in her heart—was suffering from severe trauma. Where was God while I was being abused?

The answer I received was that God was right there with me – His heart breaking as He watched mine shatter. That begged the question of how He could be right there with me in a front row seat watching the harm being inflicted on my mind, body, and psyche without doing a thing to stop it. The answer I received was that He was already working on a plan to heal my pain and transform the ashes of my pain into beauty that would bless others in the future.

Many of God’s promises in the Bible are conditional upon us doing our part first. However, one critical unconditional promise is this:

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” ~ Deut. 31:6

Once you receive Jesus into your heart, God will NEVER leave you or FORSAKE you. Never!! That means that whatever you suffer – even being raped as a little kid – happens with God right there next to you. God sees what happens to you, and He WILL bring justice if what you suffered was at the hands of somebody else. And as your heart is being shattered into 1,000 pieces, He is already planning how He will bind up your broken heart. In fact, He can do for you what He did for me – give you a new heart altogether!

Our God is a personal God, and He takes pain being inflicted upon His children very seriously. He is the God who sees you. He sees all that you suffer and will work even your deepest pains for good.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace looking through a telescope and asking, “Where are you?” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

Tough Questions Series

whyMany people in my life are struggling with serious issues. One just buried her mother. Another’s husband has been diagnosed with cancer. Another is struggling with depression, making it difficult for her to get out of bed. Another is estranged from her family. Another is struggling with serious marital issues. And the list goes on…

How do we hold onto our faith when we are facing serious issues in our lives? Where is God when our worlds are falling apart? How can we believe that God is good and loves us when our lives come crashing down around us? These are all questions that I have faced in my life, and I’d like to share the conclusions that I reached after much soul searching.

While I certainly have not personally dealt with every serious human condition, I’ve had more than my share. I was severely abuse as a child, including multiple rapes, over a period of several years and was diagnosed with an “incurable” mental health condition as a direct result. (I placed “incurable” in quote because God healed it, anyhow.) My father died unexpectedly when I was 16 years old. I am infertile and became a parent through adoption. I have been parenting a child with several special needs for over 16 years.

I have many understandable, human reasons not to trust God, but I do. I have many life experiences I could point to as “evidence” that God is not good, but I’ll shout God’s goodness from the rooftops! I could build a case for all the reasons I have to be angry with God, but, instead, I will tell you about God’s faithfulness through all of those painful life experiences.

I – an adult survivor of severe childhood abuse – I will tell you unequivocally that God IS good… that He did not abandon me in my childhood … that He does work all things for good … and that He does heal shattered hearts. I know because He has done this for me. Let my life shine the glory of God’s love, truth, and healing power into yours.

Note that timing is everything. If you are in the middle of the turmoil, you might not be in a place to hear the answers I discovered after much soul-searching. This does not make those answers any less true … only difficult for you to process in this season of life. This season will end. I hope this series will plant the seeds for your healing, even if now is not the time to receive them.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace shrugging her shoulders above the word, “Why?” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

Four Fundamental Beliefs: God is Always with You

u_thereContinued from here.

One of my greatest fears used to be abandonment. I was insecure in all of my relationships and feared the day that the other person would inevitably leave, breaking my heart in the process.

I’m sure my father’s sudden death when I was 16 years old contributed to this fear. One day, my father left for a business trip and never came home. Just like “that,” he was gone. In a moment, my life as I had known it was over, and I had to figure out a way for my life to be OK without my father in it.

I struggled with being a “control freak” throughout much of my adult life because I wanted to guarantee that my life would never shift so drastically again. However, I could not control loss. Friendships ends. People move away. Relationships drift apart. People die. This is all part of life. The only guarantee we have in life is that it is going to change.

And yet…

There is one relationship that will NEVER go away. I have one safe haven in this ever-changing world that I never, ever have to worry about losing, and that is God. He will never die, move away, get bored with me, lose interest in me, or abandon me. He is my solid ground in a world filled with shifting sand. He is the one true thing I can count on — He is always with me.

If you have invited Jesus into your heart, you are never alone. Never! You never need to feel abandoned, alone, or forgotten because He is Lahai Roi, the God who sees you.

When nobody else sees all that you do behind the scenes, God does. When everyone else abandons you, the God of the universe is right there with you. When you cry yourself to sleep, He is there and sees every tear. And when you face down your enemies, you are never alone.

Rest in the reality that your God is ALWAYS with you. In this ever-changing life, He is the one thing that will never, ever change – the One you can always count on.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace peeking over a text bubble that says, “u there?” Courtesy Bitmoji.]