Of Pain, Disappointment, and Hope

So, things have been somewhat difficult for me…..and/or those around me.Though things have been trying at times for me, they are (in my estimation) much less than the difficulties of those around me. But I still ache for them.

I have been listening to the song “Tell Your Heart to Beat Again” by Danny Gokey. And (with lyrical credit to the writers of his song) the lyrics of the song have resonated with me and enabled God to speak through it, giving me much needed hope in the midst of a world of pain.

One of the things God has been teaching me through all this is to let go of the past—meaning past hurts and disappointments and trust Him with the future and the present.

It is fitting then, then one of the lyrics of “Tell Your Heart to Beat Again” is
“Yesterday’s a closing door; you don’t live there anymore.”

I have had to let go of the hurt and pain of people that have hurt me in the past, even as the devil tries to rehash what they did, how painful it was for me, and how I’m never ever going to get over it, in my mind. I’ve had to forgive someone that made me upset a few days ago, and see the good in them. I’ve had to let go of the fact that I didn’t always make the most of yesterday or yesterday’s promises, for it is a closing door. I don’t live there anymore.

Another thing God has been teaching me is to see the hope that is there even in the midst of pain, trial, and disappointment. For example, the day after I had experienced yet another disappointing day, a friend of mine told me that she had been praying for me and loved me. Those encouraging words prompted  me to seek and pray to God like I’ve never done before. My friends’ encouraging words,  also reminded me to be thankful for all the blessings God had , has, and will bestow on me, not because of anything I did, but because of His pure goodness! And today, there were some disappointments for me and for people close to me, but today was a bit different. Today was filled with a tinge of hope.

So, I encourage the readers of this blog to, in the words of some of the lyrics of “Tell Your Heart to Beat Again,”

“Let every heartbreak and every scar
Be a picture that reminds you Who has carried you this far
‘Cause love sees farther than you ever could
In this moment Heaven’s working everything for your good .”

and

Tell your heart to beat again”

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Cheerleaders and fellow mourners

My pastor preached that we should be “cheerleaders” for fellow Christians  when something happens to them that would cause them to rejoice, and mourners when they suffer. While I would wholeheartedly agree with him, I would also suggest that we do the same for anyone if there is a biblical reason for us to rejoice with them, and mourn when someone is suffering, regardless of if they believe or not.

God has convicted me in this area because I realized that like most people I tend to rejoice with others with selfish parameters. For instance, a friend of mine recently got a promotion at work, and I do rejoice with her. However, if this person wasn’t a friend, but someone who I didn’t get along with or didn’t know as well, would I have still rejoiced? I would have to admit that my heart would probably have not rejoiced. Why? Because my heart, like most hearts if we are honest, likes to only rejoice when we get something out of it.

People tend to be similar when it comes to biblical mourning when someone else suffers or is distraught. When we know personally the person who is upset or suffering  we tend to mourn with greater passion and empathy than if we don’t know them at all or if they tend to be someone we don’t like or care about. How many of us (if we are honest) get a sense of joy and glee when an enemy of ours (besides satan of course) suffers, even a little bit? But we are commanded by God to “Mourn with those who mourn,” in Romans 12:15, without any parameters to who is mourning. For instance, it does NOT say, “Mourn with those who mourn who you know personally.” It just says “Mourn with those who mourn. Furthermore, we are commanded in Romans 12:14, “Bless those who persecute you. Bless and do not curse.” (NASB).  I know it’s easier to curse those who curse you instead, but when we bless those we don’t like, it “heaps burning coals on their head” so to speak, and they usually begin to soften towards you, and if you keep being kind to them and mourning when they suffer even for their own evil actions, soon you may find that it may be easier to get along with them.

It can be difficult to relate to a stranger that is suffering because you don’t see them personally suffering, but when we even try to relate to them and enter into their world (at least a little bit), we find that we get to know them a little bit better. We probably won’t weep as much as if someone we know personally is suffering, but we can at least “show” that we care about the stranger or someone you don’t know as well in their suffering by praying more intensely for their needs than you normally would.

So, if we are to be growing followers of Christ, we need to strive not just to rejoice and mourn (when appropriate) to those people we know, love, and care about, but also those we don’t know so well or maybe don’t like so much. Of course, we need to rejoice over biblical things and mourn over sin and other things that cause God grief. Jesus always had a radical approach to things.-Will we love with the radical love He loved, or will we fail to get out of our comfort zones and not make as much of an impact that we could have?

Love

If someone asked you what love is, what would you say? Some people would say that love is “the music.” Others would say it is the feeling you get when a couple gets intimate with each other. Still others would say it is intensely liking someone and having warm, fuzzy feelings for them. I would submit that true love has nothing to do with these things.

True love according to the Bible is this:

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. (John 15:13, NKJV)

In other words, true love involves sacrifice (i.e..in this passage “to lay down one’s life”) for the person being loved. It involves setting aside your own needs and wants for that of the other person.

This quote by evangelist Jefferson Bethke illustrates how true love is:

“People are neighbors to be loved, not commodities to be used.”

In other words, in order to truly love someone you must ascribe value to them that is much greater than any object or commodity could ever be.  The problem with how many people love is that it is often only to get something back, whether it be more love or even something as eternally worthless as money or things. In “loving” selfishly in this way, these people are not truly loving at all. When someone uses someone else in this way, the other person only exists to fulfill their needs or desires. When this other person no longer fulfills their needs and/or desires, they either completely abandon this person or fly into a rage towards him or her.  Either way, this other person is devalued by the user instead of being ascribed their true worth–most of all being made in God’s image. The user also devalues themselves in the process.

So, the question is: How do we truly love someone by living unselfishly for them? First of all, we should love because God first loved us (1 John 4:10), not just to get something back from someone. Second, we need to see people more from a godly perspective. Note that in John 15:13, it does NOT say, “Greater love has no one than this,than to lay down one’s life for his “Enemies”, or “objects of pleasure,” or even “acquaintances.” It says “friends,” which, according to m-w.com, in one of its definitions means: a favored companion. Also, in Jefferson Bethke’s quote, the word “neighbors” seems to convey a similar meaning, or worth, to others.  This means seeing people favorably, with grace, and with unselfish love and care. Who will you love, with true, unselfish love today?

Truth and Lies

What my pastor said in his sermon last Sunday (you know who you are) still reverberates in my mind today.

      “Lies are very dangerous things.”

Ever since the Fall in the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, believing the lie of the evil one that God was holding out on them and other lies he had uttered, lies have been a pervasive -and I deduce-a dangerous part of our lives—whether they are in us or around us or the world we live in.

They have been responsible for the breakdown of marriages, families, friendships, and a whole litany of other problems. Most of them though, stem from what, according to my pastor (and I agree with him), is the Biggest Lie.

This Big Lie is manifest in each and every one of our lives at some point in time, and I am no exception to the rule. It happens every time I sin against God, every time I feel overwhelmed or stressed at work or elsewhere, every time when I feel a friend or family member rejects me….

A time I remember where I believed the Big Lie the most was one day in November last year where work was just stressing me out, friends were busy into Thanksgiving plans and work, and I felt really depressed and even borderline suicidal.

Then, I reluctantly went into my Bible Study group in tears and just lost it. A friend of mine disarmed the lie and comforted me. More than that, after we had Bible Study, she and a group of my female friends in the study offered to pray for me each day  of that week for my job—that things would be better, and it was. And I offered to pray for another person who was also having a hard time.

The Lie that could have lead to my self-destruction and even death had my friend not intervened that day is that I am alone….or that we are alone in this world. Even if everyone else left us, all six billion plus people, we still have God’s presence with us. In Exodus 13:21-22, it says, “By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.” Note the phrase, “Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left..” (emphasis mine), that says in essence, that God’s presence never left the Israelites.

And also Hebrews 13:5, God says, ” Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

So, let’s go into the New Year disarming the Big Lie that we are alone—because we are never alone, especially with God! And if you know of someone who feels or is believing the lie that they’re alone? Do what my friend in the Bible Study did, assure them that God loves them and that they are not alone, comfort and encourage them, come alongside them, and if possible invest in the person’s life, thereby disarming the lie that they are alone.