Friday, October 28, 2022

Trusting God When It Is Difficult


This week with her permission, I am going to use the words of a Facebook friend of mine.  She recently posted the words below on her Facebook status.  I got to "know" Rachel in a widow's group online of which I was a member a few years ago.  When Rachel became a widow she and her first husband were missionaries in Mexico.  Rachel too has remarried.  I have much respect for Rachel Chatham and share her words with you below:

For all of my life I've read about the story in the gospels where Jesus calms the storm and rebukes the disciples for their lack of faith.
The complex aspect of this is: Why did Jesus consider it a "lack of faith" for the disciples to be concerned and afraid of the storm?
Commentators say that it is because they weren't trusting in Jesus to take care of them. But the situation is much more complex that that easy answer.
Only two chapters prior to this storm, John the Baptist was thrown in prison for proclaiming the gospel and then later he was killed. Nowhere in scripture is there a guarantee that if we follow Jesus we will have happy and safe boat rides in a turbulent sea.
And yet, Jesus corrected the disciples for their lack of faith.
We all know that I watched my husband die on the mission field all the while his only desire in life was to serve Jesus and to preach the gospel. Isn't that what the disciples were doing in the boat? Weren't they proclaiming the name of Jesus?
When the storm raged It doesn't seem unreasonable for them to be afraid because they all eventually were martyred for their faith.
How did they know that they wouldn't die serving Jesus on a boat as they died later on in proclaiming the gospel? Paul was later shipwrecked, possibly on this very sea, and experienced much suffering because of the cause of Christ.
I think where the problem lies in our thinking is that "God would never..." God would never let our baby die. or God would never allow us to walk through poverty or the loss of a career. and finally, God would never allow my husband die on the mission field........"
Often times, when we approach the encouragement from scripture to "do not fear" it can seem to be based on an assumption that painful tragic things do not happen to God's people.
The encouragement we typically believe is that we are to trust God to calm the storm. Yet, tragic things very much do happen to God's people. The storms aren't always calmed and godly people do literally die in them.
Fear can almost seem reasonable and a normal healthy response, even while trusting God because we don't see in scripture a guarantee of safe travels and protection from tragic events.
What God has shown me in these years of widowhood and painful times, is to trust him, like Daniel, whether we live or die. We trust him whether we are in poverty or blessing, whether we watch our husband die or celebrate a 50th wedding anniversary, whether our baby dies of a life threatening disorder or whether God spares his life.
What God has shown me in the various suffering of my life, is that no matter what happens God is in control and he is good and loving.
I have found the answer to be a whole hearted yielding and surrendering to Jesus no matter what the outcome and having faith in his character that God is good and he's got my back.
II Corinthians 11
"Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked."
II Corinthians 4:17
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, yet our inner self is being renewed day by day. For our light and temporary affliction is producing for us an eternal glory that far outweighs our troubles. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Goodness of God

It has been said that we have either just passed through a trial, are currently in the midst of a trial, or about to enter a trial.  Life is always a mixture of deep trials and also joyful moments.  Some of you are going through deep trials now.  Perhaps you are caring for a loved one who is sick.  Perhaps you are ill yourself and are fighting a serious illness.   Perhaps God has placed you in some other deep trial.  

Yet even through the trials there can be joy.  It is also through the trials ironically, that we learn of the faithfulness and goodness of God.  Through trials we learn that His mercy never fails, and that we are held in His hands.  God is good all the time and in all situations and circumstances.  His goodness and love is always running after us.  This should make us want to break out in song and praise to Him.  

Below is a link to a song about the goodness of God.  Click on the link below, and let the words of the song wash over your heart and soul.  God bless you.

Saturday, October 15, 2022

Things Too Wonderful to Understand

The book of Job in the Old Testament of the Bible is a book I have read more than once.  There are many profound insights in the book of Job especially in the last chapter, Job 42.

Job says to God in verse one of chapter 42, "I know that You can do all things; no plan of Yours is thwarted."  Accepting God's plan in all things is sometimes difficult when going through difficult circumstances.  I found this to be true when I watched my first husband, Wayne, deteriorate step by step in his physical abilities.  I found this to be true also when I loss him to death nearly twelve years ago.  It is further true when the Lord provides both daily blessings and also allows difficult trials and stressful and sad moments in my life today.

Job did not know what God was doing in his life when he sent a whole series of very difficult trials.  Yet in the last chapter of the book of Job, Job comes to the realization that it is not his place to question God.  He says in Job 42:3, "Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me."  God does not owe us explanations for what He allows in our lives.  All we need to know is that God knows what He is doing and that He is a God who is always good.

Later on in the last chapter on Job, Job comes to realize that he has developed greater intimacy with God because of his trials.  Job says in Job 42:5, "My ears had heard of You, but now my eyes have seen you."  In effect, Job is saying this, " In the past I knew things in my head about You, but now my heart knows You in an intimate way that I never experienced before.  This came about because of the trials You allowed in my life."

The same experience that Job had of growing in intimacy with God through trials can be our experience as well.  We can trust God, because He always provides for us even in times of trial, and He is a God who is always there for us through both our joys and our trials.

Sunday, October 2, 2022

Nursing Homes

There are many wonderful nursing homes which provide excellent and loving care.  In some situations this is the best choice for loved ones which can no longer be cared for properly at home or even in  a transitional setting.  My husband just retired after a 6 year term as a board member from such a wonderful nursing home in our area.

Having said that, we all know that nursing home abuse does exist in some facilities and settings.   I was recently made aware of a website/organization which is making people aware of this.  So today I am giving you as readers a link to their page on the web.  Hopefully, you will find their information insightful and helpful in your search for help with your loved ones for whom you are caring.

Here is the link to their page:

Abide in the Vine, Jesus

I love the last words and prayers of Jesus to His disciples as recorded in the book of John in chapters 13-17.  I have always found them to be a great source of comfort and joy especially when I am struggling though difficult circumstances.

Perhaps you, as a reader, are going through difficult circumstances.  It could be a difficult family care-giving situation, a difficult illness yourself, or a host of other trying situations.  To you and all of us Jesus says, "Do not let your heart be troubled.  Trust in God, trust also in Me."  (John 14:1)  Jesus goes on to say in John 14 that He is preparing a place for us with Him, so that we can be with Him some day.  He also says that He is the way to that place and throughout life's trials here on the earth.  Jesus says to us in John 14:6 that He is the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father.  While He is preparing Heaven for us, He has also sent the Holy Spirit to guide, teach, and comfort us now.  What a blessing in facing life's struggles!

Jesus further tells us in John 15 that He is the Vine, and we are the branches.  We need to abide in Him.  We need to remain in Him, to cling to Him.  If we do this, He will give us all we need to walk this life with its challenges and joys.  In fact, He will give us strength and joy in the midst of the trials.  

Jesus, the Vine, cuts off every branch that does not bear spiritual fruit, but He also does prunes branches that are already fruitful.  Living plants need to be pruned in order to be even more fruitful.  Spiritually this means the undesirable things in our lives also has to be pruned away by His loving hands.  That is the reason for some of the challenges and trials we face.  These trials help to prune away undesirable character traits, draws us closer to the Lord in a more intimate relationship, and helps us to stop depending on ourselves and outside resources and to rather depend on him-to abide in the Vine.

Jesus says to us, the branches, "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you to go bear fruit, fruit that will last." (John 15:16)  He will help us to bear fruit in and because of our challenges and trials of life.  We will then be  beautiful reflections of Him, and we will be used in a  mighty way in the place where He has placed us in our  lives.  Pray for His pruning and guidance in life!