Most people older than ten have faced some sort of tragedy. Some of us experienced horror younger than that. A car accident or house fire The death of a loved one Parental divorce Abuse, neglect, or abandonment The list of bad things goes on and on. Yet we know that God redeems. The Bible tells us in Isaiah 61:3 that He exchanges beauty for ashes, or as the Contemporary English Version writes, The Lord has sent me to comfort those who mourn, especially in Jerusalem. He sent me to give them flowers in place of their sorrow, olive oil in place of tears, and joyous praise in place of broken hearts. But how do we get from broken hearts to joyous praise?
A recent conversation among friends on Facebook recently got me thinking. Consider the original question: "How many articles of clothing (not including underwear, workout items, and pajamas) do you think you need? How many do you own? No condemnation...just a question." Does the question make you squirm? Is your closet overflowing? Do you have more than one closet full of clothes? Maybe clothes aren't your thing. Maybe it's jewelry. Or books. Or kitchen gadgets. Or collectible knick knacks. Or trips to the beach or the mountains. The basic question remains the same: How much is enough?
How kind are you? Seriously ... on a scale of one to ten, where would you rate your kindness level? How often do you show appreciation? Are you gracious to others? Do you practice patience or speak compliments? Does the Golden Rule echo in your actions? Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Matthew 7:12, The Message Would your family or coworkers give you the same rating as you are giving yourself? Hmmm.
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, lived a young man named Solomon. He showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the instructions given him by his father David (1 Kings 3:3). Now, he wasn't perfect Now, he wasn't perfect. In fact, immediately after telling us that Solomon walked according to his father's instructions, it also says that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places. A big no-no. Yet God honored his heart, coming to Solomon one night and saying, Ask for whatever you want me to give you (1 Kings 3:5). Can you imagine? How do you find wisdom?
When your world is falling apart, what do you do? I mean really, don't-know-if-you-can-breathe, falling apart. My gut reaction is to isolate and hibernate. I stay off social media and email, I don't leave my house or even answer my door. Chores may get done if they are critical, but otherwise, I tend to even ignore them. I'll likely function enough to offer the most basic care for my family, but by and large, I want to do nothing. The problem with this tendency is that it encourages greater negativity, increases mopiness, and generally demoralizes my already depressed mental state. Want proof my reaction is universal? (And the keys to coming out of it without serious intervention?)
For some reason, our neighborhood is popular with door-to-door salesmen and religious visitors. Vacuum cleaner salesmen, college kids peddling magazines or books, Jehovah's Witnesses. About once a month, someone is knocking on our door. About once a month, I want to hide behind the curtains and pretend I'm not home. Sometimes I do. Good thing the peephole in my door doesn't work like a window. A Door Knocker in the Bible Did you know that a verse in the Bible mentions Jesus knocking on a door?
Last week I talked about God getting quiet, and three questions you can ask yourself to help clarify whether you missed something. But what if you've done everything right? What if you heard God say to do this thing, you obeyed His request, and it's left you sitting in a hard place? A dry place? An uncomfortable place? Now what do you do? I'll warn you: The answer probably isn't what you want to hear. 3 Possibilities to Consider ...
The issue weighed heavily on my mind. My mind circled the arguments, processing the positives and negatives, trying to determine the best way forward. Yet I wasn't sure what to do, and it felt like God wasn't adding His two cents worth. Why wouldn't He answer? Where was a billboard with God's instructions? Or at least some confirmation from a mature believer on which way was the better way? What do you do when Heaven is silent?
Relationships are hard, and trusting the Lord with them is rarely easy. One devastating time in my marriage is crystal clear in my memory. My husband hadn’t slept in two days because of an undiagnosed medical issue and was highly irritable. We fought, and he raced off on his motorcycle. I ran to our room, sat on the edge of the bed, and sobbed. I contemplated divorce, even knowing that wasn’t the answer. I didn't want to stay, but at the same time I didn't want to leave. I felt trapped. Alone. This brief story from my life relates just one time when despair threatened to overwhelm me. When emotions could have determined my choices. When I could have easily followed my heart right out of my marriage. Emotions are funny things. They surge to the surface without effort and can control us if we aren’t careful. Many people advise you to follow your heart, but that's dangerous advice.
Imagine we were meeting at a coffee shop. Or your favorite place to grab lunch. Or the best restaurant in town for great dessert. We're just meeting as friends, getting together to spend an hour or so catching up on each other's lives. Doesn't that sound nice? Now, what if I picked up the check? What if I bought your coffee or sandwich or slice of pie? Would you object? Be honest. It's okay. I would object if you tried to pay for my hot chocolate. What's my point? You, my friend, have a problem.