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People who are mad at God aren’t always truly mad at God – they’re angry at a person or system linked to God.

That system or person failed them in some way, and because it somehow represented God to them, they transfer ownership for the wrongdoing to God. Even though God didn’t deal the blow, He’s been made responsible for it.

Disillusioned, the wounded leave the faith and walk away from God, carrying deep pain and anger with them for years. What’s sad about this misrepresentation is they miss the true nature of God.

Religious systems and religious people are imperfect. They fail. They sin. The sin harms. The harm hurts. The hurt runs deep.

If you’re reading this and you’ve been hurt in this way, I want to say sorry on behalf of the people who caused you harm. But I also want to encourage you that they are not God. God is love and His love never fails (1 John 4:8; Psalm 136). Although you may feel you want no part of God if this is how He looks, don’t mistakenly bundle God’s infallible character with the flawed character or behaviour of human beings.

What they said or did, or failed to say or do, is no reflection of the true nature of God. I hazard a guess that God is deeply saddened when people leave Him on account of people. He understands this kind of pain and is likewise pained when His relationship with those who have been wounded is fragmented. He offers healing, counsel, direction, and the gifts of deep love, joy, and peace; being severed from Him doesn’t afford these pleasures.

Sometimes the anger toward God isn’t misplaced. Instead, the wounded one isn’t mistakenly blaming God but rather asking why God let it happen. As difficult as this is to absorb, we’re not often privy to these kinds of answers. Sometimes, we merely need to trust. That’s where faith comes in.

Can you believe in a God who doesn’t always tell you why? Who allows hurts this side of heaven? Who isn’t a divine Genie? Bad stuff happens to good and “bad” people alike. We aren’t living in heaven…yet. We just have to trust, even when it doesn’t make sense.

Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Psalm 62:8

“So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time…Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.” James 4:8-10 (Message)

Let’s not make it about people, but about God. He’s trustworthy, perfect, and loves us unconditionally. Let Him heal your broken heart and bind up your wounds. (Psalm 147:3)

May you have the courage to trust God despite the wounding.

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  1. Make a list of those who have wounded you.
  2. Can you forgive them one-by-one? Can you forgive God for allowing it? Return to God and ask for forgiveness for your anger, knowing He is quick to forgive, then rest in Him believing it’s done.

 

 

 

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Years ago, I planted tulips with my two-year-old who is now twenty. I’ve never had much success with bulbs. Whether the squirrels’ vigilance or my negligence, they never seem to return in proportion to my planting; some flourishing for a time then gone, some never blooming at all. But this past spring, I was surprised to see random splashes of colour sporadically brightening the earthremnants from those by-gone days.

It strikes me that just like these tulip bulbs, all that we painstakingly plant in our lives isn’t always seen right away. Sometimes the things we’ve sewn take years to bloom, buried in the dark recesses until just the right season. Sometimes they don’t bloom the way we expected, and other times we don’t see the results this side of heaven. But no effort is ever wasted, and even if we don’t see the results, God does.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  ~ Galatians 6:9

When beauty takes too long to flourish, we can be tempted to believe that our toil was wasted or that somehow we didn’t quite work hard enough, well enough, or smart enough. But even then, we don’t give in because we trust that even when all looks barren, God not only makes a way, but makes beauty as well.

The beauty might take longer than you thought. It might turn up unexpectedly and in a location you hadn’t imagined. But anywhere you nurture the soil, in time, beauty will flourish.

Whether a kind word deposited into a child’s heart, a hug given to a hurting soul, money given to help a cause, or time spent building into a life, or a communitynone are wasted. Every kindness, every determined effort, every weathered struggle, all the good that we didn’t give up on doing will bring an eventual harvest.

It’s always a blessing to see the fruits of our laboursome kind of beauty flourishing where it was plantedbut with God’s help, strength, and grace, even when there is no evidence of anything growing from the good we tried so hard to cultivate, we can also remember:

…we live by faith, not by sight. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:7

Be encouraged! It’s not over ’till it’s over…and even then, it’s not really over! Heaven awaits!

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  1. Are you weary with trying? Bring your cares to God and ask Him for faith to continue doing good.
  2. Don’t forget, God’s word says you will one day see a harvest if you don’t give up!

 

trials-900x420Sometimes, life gets tough. Maybe you can relate.

The hard stuff life throws at us can be confusing, blinding, and disabling. Physical, financial, emotional, relational, or any number of issues can wear on our faith and leave us feeling raw. During times of suffering it’s easy to believe lies about God, so it’s helpful to be reminded of what is true.

Below are 5 lies you might be tempted to believe when experiencing trials:

Lie #1: God is mad at me.

After an extended period of hardship, you might think God is angry with you. You might even believe He’d rather not have anything to do with you. This isn’t true. God always desires a relationship with you.

“The LORD is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.”  ~ Psalm 103:8

We all make mistakes. More than any other person, God understands your weaknesses. He knows the mountains you’re scaling. Even more than you do, He knows how difficult these obstacles are for you and precisely the reasons why. He is a compassionate, faithful Father whose love is unconditionalwhich means He loves you all the time no matter what. He doesn’t turn His back on you and leave you to deal with these hardships alone – even the ones you bring on yourself.

 

Lie #2: I’ve done something to deserve this.

Similar to #1, this lie stems from the belief that you are being punished. There are times when the suffering we experience is a result of cause and effect as we are faced with the result of our own actions. Other times, bad stuff simply happens. God is not capable of evil, so whatever it is, God will use it for goodeven if it doesn’t feel good right now. Be encouraged! Pain always has a purpose. If you allow it, God will use the trial to grow you in Christ-likeness, will use it for His glory, and even the benefit of others.

If you’ve sinned, be assured that even then, God always forgives. You only need ask. Once you do, know that it’s over and forgotten. He’s not going to hang your sin over your head and remind you of it. Here’s what he does instead:

“Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!”  ~ Micah 7:19

“He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.”  ~ Psalm 103:12

 

Lie#3: God is tired of me asking.

When we have askedeven pleadedfor something and He hasn’t given it to us, it’s helpful to remember that God is all-powerful and has unlimited resources. He could give us everything we ask for, but he doesn’t. Being a good Father, He knows what to give us and when. He knows whether it’s better to delay or not to give it at all. He is for you and only after your good. He knows better than you do what you need. God’s delay is often because He knows whatever you’re asking for isn’t good for you, or He wishes to give you something better, or He is growing a kind of beauty in you that wouldn’t otherwise flourish. Delays also make room for miraculous spectacles of God’s power. Your prayers are always heard. And they are always answered, but not always in the way you anticipate.

I am certain that I never did grow in grace one-half so much anywhere as I have upon the bed of pain.  ~ Charles Spurgeon

4. God has forgotten about me.

When your prayers go unanswered, you might think God has given up on you, He won’t help you, or that He just doesn’t care. In such times, it’s easy to lose heart. But God has said, 

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”  ~ Hebrews 13:5

Don’t sell God short. His love is limitless and unfailing. He isn’t like some earthly fathers who leave or lose touch with their kids. Jesus said,

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”  John 14:18

So if your prayers have yet to be answered, trust that God is doing something else. He sees the big picture; you only see a fragment. You may not understandand may never know why it happenedbut that’s where your faith is refined; when you can continue to walk with God without knowing where you’re going or why. Just trust and be lead.

 

#5 I’m not worth it.

Oh, but you are! Jesus died for you. That says it all. He was thinking of you as He suffered to save you. He not only wanted to give you life in eternity with Him, He wanted to offer you a relationship with His Father in the here and now. In understanding this, and declaring Him as your Saviour, you are His and He is yoursforever. Nothing can take His love from you.

“Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  ~ Romans 8:39

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”  ~ Ephesians 1:13-14

You are loved by the God of all creation. You matter! Be assured, He is with you and will never leave you!

Here are some parting verses of encouragement:

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

~ 1 Peter 5:6-10

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  1. The enemy specializes at sneaking in during times of trauma and offering lies to undermine God, our thought life, and, ultimately, our faith. Can you think of a time of suffering when you may have agreed with a lie about God’s faithfulness?
  2. Ask God to show you any other lies you may believe about Him.
  3. Look to scripture for verses that give the truth to oppose the lies. Pray to ask forgiveness for believing them, and ask for God’s help to remain free from them in your thought life.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. ~ Ecc 3:11

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We live in a 130 year-old home. There is a great deal of maintenance needed to keep it in decent repair. It seems there is always something in need of attention: some wood rotting here, some paint peeling there, or chips requiring touch ups on the wide baseboards. Our old home is never in perfect condition!

Which rather reminds me of life.

In my experience, there is always something falling out of place or already in need of repair! The trouble is, we live in a world that whispers we need to have life figured out and have it all together. It tells us we need to make plans and goals and make them happen. That we need to somehow strive but also be centered.

But what would happen if we began to think that instead of things falling out of place, they are actually falling into place? That the parts in need of repair aren’t something to bemoan, but instead celebrate that we’re under construction. What would happen if instead of being centered, we make Christ the center? Instead of comparing, we grow grateful for what we’ve been given and trust God will meet all our needs according to His riches? And instead of frustrating ourselves with the pursuit of perfection, we rest and accept that God will make all things beautiful – even the messes.

Because here’s the truth: God made you, He loves you, and there isn’t a thing you could do at this moment to make Him love you any more or less than He already does. You might not feel like it, but, thanks to Jesus, you are already perfect in God’s sight.

For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy”

Hebrews 10:14

God sees us as perfect, but I love the rest…we are being made holy.

That explains the messiness.

God sees you as perfect, but loves you so much that He is willing to lead you to further beauty. A fancy word for that is sanctification. If we are in Christ, we are being made more Christ-like. This means the rough and rotten bits are being removed and repaired. That can be painful and discouraging. It can look messy and unkempt. It may appear that things are falling apart. But take heart, it’s your loving Father at work doing what He does best.

You know, if you look at our house from the street, you can’t see the paint chips and rotting bits. Like your life, take a few steps back, try to see it more as God does, and things will look a lot more beautiful.

May you find courage today to embrace and celebrate God’s handiwork in your life!

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  1. In what areas of your life might God be at work?
  2. Can you follow Him as He leads you through the mess and out the other side to beauty?

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. ~ Deuteronomy 33:27

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A friend of ours has his own carpet cleaning business. Sometimes he posts pictures or videos of the disasters he has to clean up (think flooding from a burst sewage pipe). It helps that he has a sense of humour – wading through fecal matter requires that kind of character and internal fortitude!

How do we respond in the midst of life’s messes? How do we react when the floods come and the water grows murky? It’s easy to buy into the lie that if you are a good Christian, you’ll simply pull on your rubber boots and dance through the dung. Or you may believe the opposite – that it will never get cleaned up. But don’t.

It’s true that swimming in rising water is exhausting, and sometimes circumstances threaten to overwhelm us. People sinning really does hurt. Sickness is daunting. Loosing a loved one can bring us to our knees.

But during, or even after a crisis, take comfort in these:

1. God never leaves you or turns away from you. 

Be strong and courageous, Do not be terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you or forsake you. ~ Deut 31:6

God is not mad at you. He has not turned his back on you. Nothing you can do, or fail to do, will make Him love you any more or less. He is there for you with open arms. You are accepted.

2. No matter where you are or what is happening, God loves you and desires an intimate relationship with you. 

Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking, I will hear. ~ Isa 65:24

Just knowing God longs to be with us gives us hope and courage. Being with Him reminds you of who you are. And you are loved by Him! Sit with Him and your soul and spirit will be revived and renewed.

3. You can tell God all about it. Your disappointments, your feelings of betrayal, your deep wounds, your broken heart. He knows anyway. He won’t judge; He’ll heal you.

Cast all your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall. ~ Psalm 55:22

God wants to carry your burdens for you. It is not His desire that you struggle alone. So go ahead and pour out your heart to Him. Hand over your heavy weights and grow lighter and more free.

4. He can give you the strength to forgive. 

Be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. ~ Eph 4:32

Forgiveness is tough. It’s a journey. It takes diligent effort. It can’t be done on our own strength without God’s help. When we understand how much we have been forgiven, when we agree with God’s plan for forgiveness, we can accept His help to forgive.

5. It’s never too late. When you turn to God, He will restore and redeem all that you thought was lost.

God, your God, will restore everything you lost; He’ll have compassion on you; He’ll come back and pick up the pieces from all the places where you were scattered. No matter how far away you end up, God, our God, will get you out of there…He will cut away the thick calluses on your heart and your children’s hearts, freeing you to love God, your God, with your whole heart and soul and live, really live. And you will make a new start, listening obediently to God… ~ Deut 30:3-6

Sometimes we think a circumstance, a situation, a relationship, or our life is beyond broken. Don’t believe it. God can do anything! It may not look the same, may never be the same, but God has a way of restoring lives beyond what we could ever ask or imagine.

6. You can exchange anxiousness for thankfulness.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. ~ Phil 4:6

Try giving thanks in the midst of crisis. Thankfulness doesn’t mean denying that what you are going through doesn’t exist, but rather the proclamation that God is good and there is always something to be grateful for.

7. You will come to deeply understand the goodness of God.

Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! ~ Psalm 106:1

Those who have walked through crisis, and hung on to their mustard seed faith with whitened knuckles, know beyond a doubt that their God saw them through it and never ceased to help and love them.

8. You will come to live in His abundance. 

I have come that they may have life and have it to the full. ~ John 10:10

It’s true, after the crisis, nothing will look the same. The past is gone, but God miraculously makes things new. He heals and helps your heart align with His. Your desires begin to line up with His and you begin to recognize His overflowing goodness and love, even in the midst of the circumstances, but especially when you look back on them.

Don’t give up or give in! These present trials will not remain forever, but you can be sure God’s love for you always will!

I bless you that you will know that God is with you no matter what!

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  1. Which of the above truths resonate most fully with you? Which one the least?
  2. Ask God to help you grow toward greater freedom and understanding in your areas of doubt or struggle.

We have been set apart as holy because Jesus Christ did what God wanted him to do by sacrificing his body once and for all.  ~Hebrews 10:10

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When my eldest daughter was eleven, she decided to keep chickens. We took her to our friend’s house in the country to handpick three hens. Along with two healthy-looking ones, she chose a third that had no tail feathers. I asked if she was certain she wanted to buy that one. She assured me she was. Later, when I asked her why she chose that particular hen, she told me she felt sorry for it because it was getting pecked by the others, and she wanted to rescue it.

For a long time, it appeared as if nothing would ever again grow on that chicken’s unsightly, raw back end, but a little over a year later, that hen grew beautiful, full feathers on her formerly exposed derrière. The previous lack of plumage made its unexpected appearance even more beautiful.

There are times when (excuse the upcoming word picture) our lives might look a little like that chicken’s bottom: barren, raw, ugly and seemingly ruined for good. Even though our lives may appear permanently damaged and show no signs of improvement, just like those missing feathers, it too can be made whole and beautiful again. And when it happens you appreciate it even more.

We may look and see barren ruin; God looks and sees room for growth. We may see ugliness; God sees the makings of beauty.

It’s a bit like my daughter peering in the chicken run and intentionally selecting a damaged chicken out of the flock. God looks at the wreckage of our lives and thinks we are worth saving, worth being set apart, and worth nurturing.

We have been set apart as holy because Jesus Christ did what God wanted him to do by sacrificing his body once and for all. (Hebrews 10:10)

It’s because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we get a second chance at life – both here and now and in the life to come in heaven.

Even so, as we walk with Him day-to-day, there may be times when we feel barren or come up against a situation that rips out a few “feathers” until we question whether our life will ever bear the resemblance of beauty again. It can be unnerving – even disheartening – to see bald patches, but somehow, despite that we never thought it possible, God takes the ruin and makes beauty once again blossom.

Don’t despair if you life is looking a bit barren. It just might be the fertile ground needed for new growth!

And remember this:

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. (Hebrews 11:1)

May the barren places in your life once again blossom and flourish!

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  1. What is your barren place right now?
  2. Pray with thanksgiving that despite how it appears, God is making beauty even though you cannot see it yet.

 

 

 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. ~ Proverbs 3:5-6

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Maybe you’re like me and you like to figure things out. You strive to understand why something is happening, to comprehend why someone is treating you a certain way, or attempt to sort out what God is doing.

I think: if only I could make sense of the evil I see, if only I could apply some overarching truth to the madness in this world, if only I could find some sort of pattern, or future hope that reassures me this circumstance will change, people will improve, or God will let me in on the divine conversation in heaven, then I could relax.

Which sounds fairly reasonable…but is it?

Not really.

Because if I think about it enough, I realize those “if onlys” are a by-product of fear.

Let me explain.

When I am afraid, I’m not faith-full and clutch harder to control events, people, even God.

This fear-laden control is detrimental to relationships. It steals joy, squashes trust, and hinders hope.

If I understood everything in the midst of a crisis, if God downloaded the step-by-step plan, there would be no need to trust, to have faith, and to hope in things unseen.

One thing I have noticed a pattern of is God asking me to trust Him. And it seems the longer I live, this invitation to trust repeatedly shows up, in a variety of ways and through various hardships. I’ve been invited to trust Him with my marriage, my kids, my friends, my health, and my future. Of course, I’m meant to trust Him with everything, but He uses circumstances to make it clearer when I’m not. I’m to trust that He is working all things together for good and that – though it might not bear even a small amount of resemblance to how I imagined or even prayed it would look – it will be beautiful, it will be better, actually…the best.

God repeatedly reminds us not to be afraid. I assume it is mentioned over and over because He knows we are so prone to it, and because He knows how limitless the opportunities are in this world to be fearful.

The verse above was highlighted to me to other day and is packed with all I really need to be fearless: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding (don’t try to figure it all out). In all your ways acknowledge Him (abdicate control), and He will make your paths straight (steer my life in the direction He knows is best).

And this: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

…the peace of God will guard my heart and my mind. Who couldn’t use a healthy dose of that?

It’s not as though God is asking us not to think. Of course we do! But preferably we do so “not leaning on our own understanding”, which is prone to be life-squashing and fear-filled, and instead by learning to apply Godly wisdom that partners with Him to make life-giving decisions.

Will we always get it right? No! But as in anything, we are growing in fearless Christ-likeness. And that’s a worthy goal.

May we grow in greater trust and more often experience the peace of God.

Angry at God?

How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? …But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me. (Psalm 13:1-6)

Thinking things over

It may have started as an unanswered prayer, a person who hurt you, a baby unborn, or a sickness unhealed. Disillusionment, disappointment and distrust settled in. You might have even turned your back on God, or believed the lie that He had turned His back on you.

Maybe you felt as though God had forgotten you, that your prayers weren’t important enough, or thought, how could a loving God let that happen? 

It may have been only a few days, perhaps a few months, or you may be going on several long years since you started questioning God, but no matter the amount of time, the feeling that God abandoned you in your need can be difficult to shake.

Living life can hurt from time to time. The hurts come in many forms, but whatever form they take, they may cause us to hold a grudge against God – sometimes even to the point that we stop talking to Him.

I once witnessed a woman struggling to forgive a deep wound inflicted by her father in her childhood. When asked if she could forgive him, she shook her head. Then, she was asked if she could forgive God for allowing it to happen. She was able to do so. Only after that could she go on to forgive her father and move toward deeper layers of healing.

Strangely…sometimes we need to forgive God.

I’ve seen people come to a place where they are not only able to accept a past hurt as a part of their unique story, but are able to thank God for what they formerly believed was for their ruin. Then, because of the authority they have gained from their experience, they not only heal, they move on to minister to others, helping them in their struggle. It aids in the fullness of their own healing, and they are thankful when they realize how far they’ve come.

You may never fully understand why the circumstance was allowed in your life, but know that God doesn’t waste a thing.

If you and God haven’t been on speaking terms for a while, could you trust Him enough to take the ashes of your situation and form them into beauty? the tears you have shed into fountains of blessing? the despair you’ve felt into praise? and the heartache and hurt into healing? God says you will be firmly planted and will bring Him glory.  (see Isa 61:3)

No matter how long it’s been, He is still open for conversation, in fact, He’s missed hearing from you. He’s never stopped loving you and cheering for you, longing for the time the two of you would speak again. Trust in His unfailing love for you, rejoice that He has saved you, and know that He has been good to you.

I bless you with the courage to begin the conversation.

 

When you wonder if God is listening…

“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” ~ John 11:32

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I’m probably not the only one who has experienced asking God to step in and provide wisdom or rescue from a situation only to have it, not only worsen, but fall apart completely. We wonder why was God silent, why didn’t He offer insight or direction, or why He delayed and let it completely crumble when He was perfectly capable of saving it.

But what if God’s apparent no in that moment was because of a future yes? What if God is sometimes intentionally silent – such as His deliberate delay in saving Lazarus – so He can let whatever it is “die” in order to beautifully resurrect it? What if what we deem most important, what we are desperately trying to resuscitate, is far removed from God’s best, so He allows it to pass away?

In the waiting, we may grow disillusioned and confuse His silence with disinterest. After the loss, we might sulk rather like spoiled children who didn’t get their own way, or even blame God for the calamity. But God is a God of love, and He can’t act against His nature. He is quite content to hold back the good from us in order to proffer His best. He’s got the big picture, we only see a pixel. In the meantime, though it grieves Him (see John 11:35), he can handle our disappointment, our tears of loss and frustration, while He works the miraculous.

What appears indifference is actually an incredibly loving act.

What appears distant unconcern is actually the tip of a blessing for His greater purposes.

You see, it’s in the waiting where the miraculous work of God occurs – both within and without. During the delay, we wrestle, we persevere through the trial, we grow in faith and Christ-like character. Bystanders are witness to His work – and resulting recipients of it – as we share our story and offer comfort to fellow sojourners. All the while, God forms the wreckage into a spectacle of His love and greatness.

He offers this exchange:

To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” 

~Isaiah 61:3

The next time you find yourself in the middle of an unanswered prayer, or facing a loss, trust that God is working it for good and His glory. It didn’t slip past His peripheral  view, nor became lost in processing. Trust that though it may not appear it, though it may not unfold the way you asked, His delay always means greater good; He loves you too much to give you everything you ask for, because not everything you think you want is His best for you. In the end, He hears it all. And though perhaps not how you expected, they’re really all answered prayers.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
   As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

~ Isaiah 55:8-9

I bless you with increased trust that God has your life in His care and is intricately involved in every aspect.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. ~ Jesus

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A young mom recently asked me, “How can I do some deep work with God?”

What a beautiful question! I picture God smiling ear-to-ear over His kids who are seeking a climb-up-on-His-lap kind of intimacy.

I mentioned some ways to grow closer to God, such as setting time aside each day to read His word, prayer, and keeping a prayer journal, but thought it deserved a more thoughtful answer. Below are some of the specific ways that have helped me enrich my relationship with the Lord. I write them here as an encouragement to you.

  1. Read and study the Bible. Approach God’s word expectantly. What I mean by this is when you sit down to read the Bible, expect to hear from God. If a verse stands out to you, write it in a prayer journal or underline it in your Bible. Memorization also helps to hide His word in your heart for future use and timely encouragement.
  2. Pray.  Both the fall-on-your-knees and cry out to God kind, and the breath-by-breath throughout the day kind. Pray away from the crowds – just you and God, but also with other faithful, believers who expect God hears and answers in miraculous ways.
  3. Keep a prayer journal. I use my prayer journal to write prayers to God. In it I tell Him about what I’m struggling with, significant requests, and verses that stand out to me. It is amazing to look back and see God’s faithfulness documented and dated.
  4. Listen. Be still long enough to hear God’s hallowed in-between reply. The whisper in your spirit from His. The knowingness that God passed by and you didn’t miss the exhale of His Spirit releasing reassurance, peace, or a drop of deeper understanding. Let His voice be the loudest in your life.
  5. Praise.  Tell God how much you love Him. Be mindful of His many attributes. Speak, sing, dance, play, paint, or write your exclamations of praise – your worship to Him. Use your gifting for His glory. Your joyful offering pleases God and fortifies faith.
  6. Go to church. “Do not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another- and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25) Go to church to hear God’s word, to be encouraged, to meet with His saints and worship together. Meet regularly with other believers outside of the church walls too. Hear their victory stories, pray for them in their struggles, and love them.
  7. Choose/Practice forgiveness. “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:15) Jesus did it, so must we. It is a choice; a determined effort. It’s hard, they may not deserve it, but doing so frees us to live in the fullness of love and abundance Jesus died to give us.
  8. Be thankful. Don’t forget to thank God for ALL He has allowed in your life, the good, the bad, and the ugly. All of it is being used to form you into Christ-likeness. Nothing  is wasted. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Cor 3:18) Even in the middle of the largest battle, we can choose thankfulness, and even in the midst of the most mundane moments we can be thankful.
  9. Choose joy. It can be found in the most heartbreaking, painful situations or can be chosen in the monotony of the day-to-day. Joy that isn’t based on circumstances but is rooted in faith that, no matter what, the God of the universe has “got” this and everything else. Choosing joy changes the atmosphere both within and without.
  10. Find a mentor/Be a mentor. Walk alongside a trusted someone who is a little further on in their journey than you. Learn from them, hear their stories, be encouraged by their triumphs and failures. Do the same for another newer or younger believer. We were not meant to walk alone.
  11. Serve and care for those in need. “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” (James 1:27) Some sacrifice and inconvenience will be required, and you will be reminded that it’s not all about you, but your time and care will be priceless and of eternal value.
  12. Persevere. No matter the hardships, the fiery trials, the repeated mess-ups, the hurt, harm and misunderstandings, do not let anything or anyone come between you and God. Don’t let the truth of how precious and loved by God you are be stolen from you. You will, at times, be a partaker in Christ’s sufferings (see 1 Peter 4:12-14), but stay the course to end and great will be your reward (see Matthew 5:10-12).

I bless you as you do some deep work with God. 

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