Sometimes life is just plain hard.
Sorry to begin with some "Debbie Downer" sentiment, but it is true. And whether or not you can relate at this point in your life, it is true nonetheless. The old analogy of life being compared to mountaintops and valleys has stayed around for a reason. Sometimes you are on the top of the world, and sometimes you are in a deep, dark valley with no view of the sun.
If you cannot relate, it's only a matter of time. Wow, that sounds dreary. Sorry! But it's true. Jesus even warned us in John 16:33. "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
God's word is true, always, but what can get us down are our unreliable, roller coaster feelings and emotions. We know God is good. We know He is with us. But sometimes, we just don't feel it.
You don't have to look far to find trouble and suffering. If it is not in your immediate family, I'll bet it is in the lives of many of your friends. In my church, in the last two weeks alone, I have learned of many cases of cancer diagnoses, Alzheimer's, scary surgeries, and families in trouble. My own family has also come face to face with a troubling medical situation. Jesus was not kidding when He said we'd have trouble.
When we're in the valley moments in life, what can we do? What can we do when we doubt God's word or when we feel forsaken? Because, let's be honest, sometimes the dark threatens the light.
We have a choice. We can keep our eyes down, focused on the size of our own problems, or we can focus on the size and might of our God. It is a choice. Just like I talked about in my last blog, we can cling to thoughts of worry and fear, or we can cling to the goodness of God.
Feelings are not truth. Even when we don't feel strong, we have the truth in God's word to cling to. We have a confident hope.
"Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying."
Isn't the Bible full of great advice? Paul gives us a great guide to help us when we are in those valley moments in life.
1. Rejoice in our confident hope. I absolutely love this sentence! It is something to stick to like velcro! If you're like me thought, you'd like a bit of clarification as to what you can be hopeful in. Here is some help with that for both you and me.
-"I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit." -Romans 15:13. This is an awesome reminder that we have power and confidence because the Holy Spirit lives in us. That is hope!
-"I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called--his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance." -Ephesians 1:18. We are called by God, so He gives us his light. Our hope of the future includes sharing in the riches and glories of Jesus!
2. Be patient in trouble. It is always good to remind yourself that God does not operate on your timetable. God is in supreme control of everything in the universe. But remember what Jesus said in John 16? "Take heart! For I have overcome the world!" Trust in Jesus. He won the victory, and we will win in the end! It's hard to be patient, I know, but fill your mind with truth. It's the only way to stay grounded.
3. Keep on praying. This is one main thing I have been learning and relearning this year. (Why does it take so long for us to get it?) We have to pray. Prayer is our lifeline to our Savior. It is more than just presenting our requests to God, which He wants us to do, He invites us to do. When we pray, our will is aligned with the good, perfect, and pleasing will of God. We are changed for the better when we spend time talking with Him.
In times of struggle and suffering, prayer is a necessity just like a life preserver is in the midst of a vast ocean. God will keep us afloat, but we must cling to Him through prayer.
I'm preaching to myself with this blog, friends. I hope it speaks to you too. It's a great reminder for us all, whether we are "Positive Pattys" or "Debbie Downers."
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
My oldest son has always been a little stubborn. Okay, he's sometimes pretty strong willed, actually.
I remember one instance when his stubborn ways manifested themselves, even at the early age of 3. We used to live by a cute, little park, "the red park." It had the perfect sized play equipment for little kids like my son. We loved walking there and spending afternoons climbing, running, and rolling down the hill.
This particular day, we had gotten a ride to the park with my sister-in-law, or as my kids call her, "Auntie." Auntie's pick up must have been ultra-cool, because when we arrived at the park, my son did not want to leave it. Now, it wasn't like we were trying to take him to the dentist to have a cavity filled; we were going to the fun red park. He did not care. The only thing on his mind was the ultra-cool pick up. He wanted to stay in it, no matter what. He did not care about the swings or the slides. His only thought was on the truck.
He proceeded to display his unhappiness as we tried to get him to walk to the park. As you can imagine, my son had the typical, "I'm a three-year-old," massive fit. He went limp in my arms, arching his back to escape being carried. He rolled around on the grass, yelling and crying. I know you can picture it!
It did not matter what excitement and fun was waiting for him at the red park. No, he was way too hung up on leaving the pick up to think about anything else. He was consumed by what he was thinking about. Nothing could settle him down for quite awhile. Sigh, three year olds....
Here's something I've been thinking about and learning about lately. Take away the screaming, crying, and rolling on the ground (hopefully)...are we any different?
God's been teaching me a lot about anxiety and stress this year, and how to not let it control me and drive me to a place where I'm physically sick. I've deepened and intensified my prayer life, but something else needed to change too.
Just like my son, sometimes we get hung up on negative thoughts. Sometimes these thoughts keep us in a pattern of worry and anxiety. I know you can relate. What keeps you up at night? If you're like me, its worrying about one thing or another. For example, "Will I be able to clean my entire house before my family arrives?" "Will school be delayed in the morning because of the weather?" "What will happen at my meeting today?" etc. I could go on and on.
But this is what I've been learning: if we truly want to stop the anxiety and stop the negative thought patterns that perpetuate our worry, we have to replace anxious thoughts with Godly thoughts.
Our minds do not maintain a vacuum-like state very well. I mean, how easy is it for you to just sit and think about nothing? No, our minds need focus. We need something positive to focus on.
Let me lead you now to some things that help me. First of all, worship music. If I'm praising God, I'm not thinking about my problems. Simple as that.
Secondly, and oh so very important, the Word of God. Here are some great verses that you can claim if you struggle with anxious thoughts.
"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." 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)
"So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace." Romans 8:6 (NLT)
"Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." Romans 12:2 (NLT)
"And now dear brothers and sisters, on 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 (NLT). --Or just think about Jesus if that list intimidates you--He's all of those things anyway!
And for when you can't sleep... "In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe." Psalm 4:8 (NLT)
So cast off your anxious thoughts. Do not let them keep cycling in your brain, leading you to more and more stress. Don't be like my son and re-play your thoughts and let them drive you into fits. Fix you mind on Jesus and the Word of God.
"You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!" -Isaiah 26:3 (NLT)
Hi, I'm Kristen! Just a girl who loves all things Jesus, family, music and food!
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