Thursday, June 27, 2013

Trusting God even when it hurts!

"The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."

Job 1:21

   Recently I went to a woman's bible study that was talking about Trust. Trusting God when it hurts to trust Him. This has always been an area of weakness for me, a battle that is difficult for me to face. For how can you trust a God that has taken so much from you away?  How can you face the hurt, the scars and battle it in knowing that "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose."? Is it really good when you lose someone that you love dearly?

   It all sank in when the author talked about losing her sister Amy in a fire when she was 5. How she battled with depression for years after... it sounded so similar, like I had heard it all before. The tears came rolling down my cheeks as I sat there and listened.

  Surely, I know the verses, what it all means to trust God. But the act of trusting God for me is still difficult. Every day I wake up struggling. The heaviness of my heart is still there. The pain of losing the ones that I love is still there. I fight the temptation of losing hope, of losing trust.

   My own story has an Amy in it. She was my best friend in childhood. My closest, most treasured friend I ever had. She was the one who brought me to Christ. She was the one who taught me how to love everyone around me, the one that taught me that dancing in the rain is a beautiful, timeless treasure. Her favorite color, was sunshine. And yet, she lost hope. She lost trust in the One that we loved dearly, and she hung herself in her last days.

   Not too long after I also lost my father. In his last days, he emphatically told us all that he did not know or love God, and that he didn't care that he was going to Hell. In our church parking lot, he shot himself.

   So much I understand when a friend tells me what has been hurting them. When they open up and share that a loved one will probably be going to jail, their parents are going through a messy divorce, when they share that they were abused as a child, when a loved one died, or comitted suicide, when they lost their favorite pet, when they wonder where their next meal is coming from, I can be there with them, because I know their pain.

   So many times, I was angry. I threw my fist at God and told Him that He was wrong for putting me through so much pain. I wanted a better life, and He had given me so very little! Oh, how selfish I was and how foolish.

   It wasn't until recently that I learned to look at my pain through a different lens. Christ did not come here and have a perfect life - no! He came and died for our sins so that we may share in His glory to come! He went through every temptation known to man, He almost starved to death in the wilderness, He was perfect - and yet He died with our sins upon His head. He died feeling abandoned by the one who had never abandoned Him before, the one who He loved more then any other - God, so that we might share in His glory!

   If Christ could go through all of this pain and yet still trust in the outcome, then who am I to not trust God in everything? Who am I to throw what God has given me back in His face and tell him that it is not enough! I was reading through 1 Peter the other day and I happened upon this verse:

"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed."
1 Peter 4:12-13

   We share in Christ's sufferings in this world because we are loved by Christ. And through our suffering, we may find joy, because Christ has overcome the pain and the suffering, and made something beautiful from the ashes of this world. And we may find hope because Christ has done this for us.

"And he said unto them, Why are you fearful, O you of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm."

Matthew 8:26

   Christ has His plans for us, He knows what is best for us, and He chooses to work in mysterious ways for our benefit. And so we must learn to trust Him.

   Recently, I sat up all night pondering what I should focus on to help me trust God more, application, as my pastor would call it! And then it came to me. I call it the TRUST sandwich, and I hope it helps you as much as it has helped me! =)

T - Thank God for all of your blessings

   I find that when I am most untrusting is when I am most unthankful. Thankfulness and trust seem to go hand in hand! Next time you are feeling the urge to not trust God in everything, start counting your blessings, and see what God has done! You will find that He is truly amazing!

R - Read your Bible often!

   I really can't stress this one enough. When you're in the word, you see how gloomy it got for Joseph before the dawn broke, you see how much pain that David went through before he was in glory, you see Daniel almost eaten by lions, you see Job lose everything - and then in the end get everything returned to him in even greater number! It's amazing what these heroes in our Bible's went through! And I know for me it reminds me in my weakest moments, that God is using this for His glory! Somehow, the pain I am experiencing today will bring a brighter tomorrow, all we must do is trust!

U - Understand God's promises

   One of my favorite stories is The Lord of the Rings. If you read/watch the story, things get really gloomy for Sam and Frodo. They travel against all odds to destroy the greatest evil, and yet in the end, they make it! At the end of Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Samwise Gamgee says:

"I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.

What are we holding on to Sam?

That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo... and it's worth fighting for!"

   Just as in Lord of the Rings, (the great evil is destroyed in the end) - in the next world to come, all evil will be destroyed! God will have beaten the odds and we can trust in that! Isn't that a great promise? There are so many promises in scripture for us! Every time I feel a bit down I like to meditate on some of the promises that God has given us! Here are a few that I personally treasure.

""For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Jeremiah 29:11

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

Galtians 6:9

"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."

Isaiah 40:31

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."

Romans 8:28

S - Savor every moment

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Matthew 6: 25-34

    I remember the first time I read this passage thinking: "but surely God you wouldn't want me to stop worrying about everything! Wouldn't that be irresponsible?" I think what God meant when this passage was written was not "be irresponsible and completely forget all of your responsibilities," but! We often find ourselves (especially us women), worrying about every tiny detail ("well what if X goes wrong what do I do then?" Etc.) This is the kind of worrying that I think God is telling us to not do. "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

    Learn to live in the moment. Relish every beautiful treasure in the moment. Do not worry about tomorrow, but worry/focus on the here and now. That's the message. Trust that God holds the future, and that He has your best interest in mind, and savor what He has given you in the here and now.

T - Trash your selfish wants and desires

   I've always believed in saving the best for last, and this one for me is the most difficult. We see what we want, it's right in front of us, and (being the go-getter that I am) we decide to reach out and grab it! But wait! Is this really what God wanted me to go after? Often, it's not.

   It's when you really want _____ (fill the blank in here), but you're not sure it's really what God wants, you're not sure it's for the best, but you want it, so you're going to go get it anyway... Yeah, this is often when we(I) get into trouble.

   For example: yes, you see that awesome Godly person over there who happens to be single? Guess what, they're probably someone else's future spouse! Stop drooling over them!

   You see that boat in the catalog that looks so amazing but you just don't have the funds for? Well maybe God doesn't want you to take out a loan to buy it... maybe He wants you to be happy with what you have.

   It's when we become infatuated with some item/person and it's not really what God has in store for us that we get into trouble. Learning to trust God that He has what is best for us, and not learning to trust in our desires/wants is probably one of the most difficult trust lessons that God could teach us... but it is one of the most important!

In summary...

Let us learn to:
T - Thank God for all of our blessings
R - Read our Bibles often
U - Understand God's promises
S - Savor every moment and,
T - Trash our selfish desires and wants

God grant me the serenity

to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;

Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.