He Cares For Your Soul

I love how God brings reminders of truth to us just when we need it. God brought Psalm 142:4 across my path today which says, “Look to the right and see ; For there is no one who regards me; There is no escape for me; No one cares for my soul.”  and I had to go look it up.

Who was speaking? Why was he feeling that no one cares for his soul? What did he do? What did God do? These are the questions that ran through my mind.

ps 142Psalm 146 is a prayer that was prayed by David when he was in a cave trying to hide from Saul. David was being pursued by Saul whose intentions were to harm him. I can only imagine how alone he may have felt.

Saul was once a friend who now sought to kill him. It’s one thing to be hated by an enemy who is a stranger, but to have a friend turn on him must have been hard.

Psalm 142 says, “I cry aloud with my voice to the LORD; I make supplication with my voice to the LORD.  I pour out my complaint before Him; I declare my trouble before Him.  When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, You knew my path. In the way where I walk They have hidden a trap for me.  Look to the right and see ; For there is no one who regards me; There is no escape for me; No one cares for my soul.  I cried out to You, O LORD; I said, “You are my refuge, My portion in the land of the living. “Give heed to my cry, For I am brought very low; Deliver me from my persecutors, For they are too strong for me.  “Bring my soul out of prison, So that I may give thanks to Your name; The righteous will surround me, For You will deal bountifully with me.”   

I can feel the emotions of David as he cries out to God. I have been in places where I felt overwhelmed, trapped, and felt the there was no one who cares for my soul. But I am encouraged by David’s reminder that in those times we can take comfort in knowing God sees us, God is our refuge, He hears us and will deliver us.

So may we cry out with David to God in those times that we are troubled in mind, body, or soul and pray this prayer and be comforted by a God who will care for our soul.

Isolation and Forgetfulness

I have had a hard time being in the word over the last month due to the affects of a concussion. Between the headaches, dizziness, lack of focus and inability to read for any length of time, my time in the word has suffered. Due to the dizziness I was “stuck” at home unable to drive. I don’t think “man” was meant to be so alone, apart from community. Sounds and light bothered me so I didn’t go to church. I didn’t go anywhere.

courtesy of freedigitalphoto.net

courtesy of freedigitalphoto.net

For awhile the truth that I know was enough, but then the lies came. I didn’t call anyone or ask if they could come over for coffee and keep me company or help me speak truth. I didn’t share my need. I told myself even if I did call they were too busy anyway. Besides I wasn’t so sure I had the kind of friends that would drop everything just because I was feeling discouraged. It is true that my circle of close friends is very small, but the lie is that they wouldn’t be there if I needed them.

If I would have just asked them I am pretty sure they would be there for me. But then I hate that I need anyone. The lie I live with is that to need others, shows weakness. To need others only brings disappointment. Besides what if I did reach out and ask for help and they rejected me! Rejection, abandoned, forgotten and alone are my deepest fears. They are the weak spots in my heart. They are the areas that God continually, with grace and mercy, must remind me of truth.

So, last night as I drove to Church for the first time in a month I cried out to God begging to let me hear from Him. I cried out letting Him know I needed Him. I have been feeling frustrated, discouraged and very isolated. I felt alone and in so many ways I had lost my way out of the lies that my enemy was bombarding me with.

At that moment this thought came to my mind, “If it weren’t for Your Word Lord I would perish.” During the ministry of music I kept crying out to hear from God. Pastor Mathew brought a powerful message on repentance. He reminded me of my need to live daily with an attitude of repentance before a holy God. I can not do this life apart from Him. I am sinful, filled with weaknesses and fear. I need my Savior!

Then during the last worship song God spoke another reminder into my heart. We sang Word of God Speak by Mercy Me and the last part of the song goes like this, “All that I need is to be with You and in the quiet hear Your voice. Word of God speak would you pour down like rain washing my eyes to see your majesty. To be still and know that You’re in this place Please let me stay and rest in Your holiness.”

After finishing the song the words I heard earlier came to mind, ‘If it weren’t for Your Word Lord I would perish.” His Word is my life line, it’s the air I breathe. It is my comfort.

In my isolation I had forgotten that He is enough. His word is enough. I had began to pray for others to speak words of encouragement. I began to look to others to be there for me. I had forgotten that when we look to others they disappoint, they fail us.

God does use others to speak words of truth and encouragement. We do need brothers and sisters around us. But I had forgotten that first I need to go to Him. I need to allow His word to fill me, revive me and comfort me.

He speaks to His children through His word. I don’t always memorize the word the way I should but the phrase God brought to mind was based on this verse in Psalms. “If Your law had not been my delight, Then I would have perished in my affliction.” (119:92)

If it wasn’t for the word of God I would perish. I would be lost. Even if I had a thousand friends speaking truth, encouraging me, loving me, if I do not have His word then I would perish in my affliction.

Where are you today my friend? Is your heart longing for encouragement? Are you feeling alone, isolated or abandoned? His word is your comfort. His word will revive you. May I encourage you to read through Psalms 119?

Go to His word, let it speak to you.

“This is my comfort in my affliction, That Your word has revived me.” (Psalms 119:50)

Where is God in Suffering?

Today I want to share a few thoughts with you about God’s sovereignty and how I have understood it applying to my life when it comes to suffering and abuse.  I have known suffering and have walked the journey of healing from abuse. I can say today that I would not change anything that has happened in my Little Girl in Classroom 2000life, because I know that God has used it for His glory. I am often asked how I could say that knowing what I’ve been through. So this post is in response to that question. This is my response to “how can you have joy in suffering and where is God?” Before I share my thoughts just let me say that I realize that depending on what you are dealing with this could be a hard truth to accept. It was for me, it took quite some time before I could fully accept and trust in the sovereignty of God.

I do understand that no one would choose to go through tragedy or live with abuse. Unfortunately we live in a world filled with sinful man. God says that mans heart is evil and because it’s evil children are taken advantage of, they are abused. People, young and old die. God has given man a free will and sometimes there are victims of others sinful choices. Yet to say God isn’t sovereign over these areas goes against who scriptures says God is. God does not stand idly by and let things happen, He is in control, He is sovereign. Our destiny is not in our hands, or in the hands of other people. We are held in the hands of our heavenly Father, who controls everything.

One thing we need to understand is that “from the rise and fall of government to tomorrow’s weather to the exact location of every human being, the universe is under God’s control. He has the power and authority to do exactly what pleases him, anywhere he chooses to do it. God’s sovereignty is not only about power and position, but also about a plan.”(Paul D. Tripp) Scripture is pretty clear about God having a plan for this world and for each one of us. God calls us unto himself, He forms us into His likeness, and He is preparing us to live in eternity with him. To the human eye things may seem out of control, both in our individual lives and the lives of the world. But at any given time of the past, present and the future God is accomplishing His plan. His plan is being accomplished when we see “good” happening and when we see “evil” happening.

I know that there is evil in the world, and because God allows man to have a free will, and because of the evil choices of man, there are victims. Not only does bad things happen to people but evil happens to people. Evil happens to us and then we have to live in the aftermath of it. But to say that God is not sovereign over that is to not understand the God of the Bible. God is good, God is in control and God is sovereign over all things. “In God’s wisdom and sovereign will every trial in a Christian’s life is ordained from eternity past, custom-made for that believer’s eternal good, even when it doesn’t seem like it. Nothing happens by accident, not even tragedy, not even sins committed against us. Unless the Bible is wrong, nothing happens outside of God’s decree. Nothing good, nothing bad, nothing pleasant, nothing tragic. Every sorrow we taste will one day prove to be the best possible thing that could have happened. We will thank God endlessly in heaven for the trials he sent to us here. Truth is clear according to Acts 9:16; Phil 1:29; 2 Cor 1:5, Acts 14:22; Rom 8:17 (and others) the Christian is called to share in Christ’s sufferings. Simply put- Christians will suffer in this world. Evil can only raise its head where God deliberately backs away – always for reasons that are specific, wise and good, but often hidden during this present life. Satan has to get permission, he operates under constraints.” 1 (Luke 22:31)

Am I saying that it’s God’s will for a child to be repeatedly raped by her step brother or a step father? Absolutely not! What I am saying is that God chooses not to intervene with the free will choices of man, even evil men. But for those who surrender to God and trust in Him He will use these evil acts in our lives for good. He will help us heal. He will use it for good, for our good and His glory. That which man does to us in order to destroy us God can use for His glory.(Gen 50:19) 2

Unfortunately we don’t always know why, and as humans we think its our “right” to know why. Trusting God must be enough. The best answer we have is “God uses suffering to purge sin from our lives, strengthen our commitment to him, force us to depend on grace, bind us together with other believers, produce discernment, foster sensitivity, discipline our minds, spend our time wisely, stretch our hope, cause us to know Christ better, make us long for truth, lead up to repentance of sin, teach us to give thanks in times of sorrow, increase faith, and strengthen character.”1

So it comes down to this, I choose to trust in His sovereign will for my life whether I understand it or not. I must choose to walk in what I know is true today. The past and what I’ve been through needs to be seen as part of my journey that God has used to get me where I am today. Would I choose to be sexually abused? NO! But I can accept it as part of my journey to who I am today. I can accept it as I allow God to use it in the life of other women. In a few weeks I will be meeting with a young woman whose mother sold her into prostitution and because of the suffering I experienced I will be able to relate to her.

Each of us may have that event or circumstance we’d like to change, but instead of living in the past of guilt, shame or regret we need to live a life that accepts that God wasn’t caught by surprise. He didn’t take His hands off you at that moment. Trust instead in His sovereignty, Trust that all things work together for good to those who love him. All things – both good and bad, whether we have sinned or been sinned against.

Am I joyful that I was abused? No, but I can find joy in knowing that God will not let it destroy me. I can find joy in knowing and trusting in God’s goodness. I can find joy in who He IS!

 

1 Tada, Joni Eareckson ,  Estes, Steve. When God Weeps:Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty. Zondervan (October 1, 2000)

2  Story of Joseph can be found in Genesis chapters 37-50: “But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” Gen 50:19-20

Yet, You are Holy

My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning. O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer; And by night, but I have no rest. Yet You are holy… Psalms 22:1-3

holy

Life is hard. Death is all around us. Nations falling. Power and Greed rule the land.

Yet, You are Holy!

Marriages fail. Children abandoned, broken and murdered. Homelessness. Starvation.

Yet, You are Holy!

Dying Churches. Watered down gospel. False teachers preaching.

Yet, You are Holy!

Sickness. Suffering. Pain. Tears fall. Hearts broken. Sorrow overwhelms.

Yet, You are Holy!

“…O, You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel. In You our fathers trusted and You delivered them. To You they cried out and were delivered; In You they trusted and were not disappointed.” Psalms 22:3-5

We can find true joy when we realize that no matter what we face in this life the character of God remains constant. He is and will always be Holy, Trustworthy and will never disappoint.

Father may we cry out to you in trust. May You alone be trusted for our deliverance. You alone are Holy and will never disappoint. May we be reminded that no matter where we are today, no matter what the journey entails, that You are Holy.

A Father’s Love

a-fathers-love_thumb.jpgEven before I was born I was loved deeply and very precious to my Father. The moment He fashioned me He fell in love. He had never seen anyone so beautiful. His beloved daughter. Tears fell down His eyes as He held me, His precious daughter. He watched me grow; I made Him laugh with the silly things I’d do. My tender heart caused Him to smile. How beautiful I was in His eyes.

There was also a sharp pain in His heart as He watched me, for He also knew what was to come. He knew I would not understand what was to be apart of my life. At such a tender age it would seem that people would want to destroy me. My Father would weep for the pain and suffering I would endure. He knew He had the power to stop my suffering; a suffering that would leave me numb and lost. He understood because His Son had suffered an even greater suffering for the sins of all mankind.

My Father knew I would someday grow to understand the suffering of His Son because of what I would suffer. I would see His suffering and understand the pain and the torment He went through to no fault of His own. He knew I would see the hope, and the beauty in His suffering. His beauty would then reflect in my face.

During my suffering I would feel so alone and abandoned. I felt alone not because He was not there, but because I could not see. I was blind to the truth of Him. I did not see that He had His arms wrapped so tightly around me, loving me.

As evil took over my body tears would run down His face, He would weep loudly and painfully. His groans would be so loud that all of heaven could hear. He would feel all my pain. He would feel the tearing of my soul and the tears that would not come. “Vengeance is mine He’ll cry!” “You will not destroy her! For out of evil I will create beauty. Out of ashes I will create a garland.” “Oh my child, I will not leave you.”

As I sit on His lap tears run down His face. He knows that His precious little girl will walk through years of pain that she will not understand until she is grown. He held her tightly and whispered, “My Beloved, I love you, I will walk with you.”

 

Originally written on Quiet Reflection in 2008.

Can I Have Joy in Trials?

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

I remember a time when I had questions about having joy. How can one have joy in the hard things in life? How do you walk through life with great joy regardless of your circumstances. I didn’t understand. There are those that tried to explain it to me, but my mind seemed blind to understanding.

ID-10091345_thumb.jpgI would always ask “how does one have joy when a father dies and leaves his 24 year old wife with 3 babies under the age of five? Where is the joy of watching your mother try to destroy herself? Or a child being abused? How can you have joy as you watch a father beat your mother? Or watching a child rebel? How can you have joy when a husband looses his job?” So many questions.

Many of the answers I received to my questions were along the line of “it’s because sin is in the world “ “you just have to get beyond those things, forget them and move on” forgive those who hurt you”. I remember some saying that “I needed to forgive God”

Really? As if God has ever done anything that needed to be forgiven! Where is that in scripture? It’s sad to recall all the well meaning answers and advice that is not based on truth, or bits and pieces of truth. So what is the answer to having joy under trials, temptations, distress, stress and so on?

Here is what I have learned. This is what I know. While I have nothing new to say I have realized that often I forget what the past has taught me. I need to be reminded. Maybe you need the reminder too.

What we fail to understand  is that it is impossible to have joy in your suffering. There is nothing joyful about suffering, pain, sorrow, distresses or tribulations. We was try to find joy IN our current circumstances. The object of our joy is all wrong. Nothing about the tribulation or suffering itself can produce joy.

I CAN NOT produce joy on my own. Oh I can put on a happy face, look all bubbly on the outside and TRY to look joyful. But that is not joy and it WILL NOT last.

The object of my joy must be God, and God alone. God, a covenant keeping God and Father in Christ. I need to look to the God of my salvation. I need to remember that He is Christ, the One who pardons iniquity, transgression, and sin.

He, GOD, is the object of my joy.

Joy can never be produced by me or by my circumstances. Joy is the product of the Spirit and it lies in the spiritual. Now, so there is no misunderstanding, I am not talking about the joy I felt on my wedding day or the day a child is born or something good happened. I am addressing the joy I am to have that is mentioned in James 1:2 when it says,  “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,”

What I am talking about is that deep sense of joy knowing that no matter what comes your way you KNOW you will walk through it. You know that it will not destroy you. We can have joy because our focus is not us (ME) at all. Our focus is God.

During trials and suffering we are to look to Him and what we know He is going to do. He is a covenant keeping God and I know that He does not seek to destroy us but seeks to grow and mature us into His image. We must focus on that truth and trust Him.

We can also have joy in trials when we consider who God is. He is a covenant God, the Father of great mercy, the God of all comfort and salvation, who pardoned our sins, clothes us with the robes of righteousness and garments of salvation, and accepts us in Christ. When I choose to focus on the character of God and be mindful of truth I can have great joy and gladness. In Christ there is always a reason for joy because of His person, blood, righteousness, and sacrifice.

God is not asking us to be joyful that we are suffering. He is asking us to be joyful in knowing that He is testing our faith in order to produce endurance. We need to allow God to grow us with all joy. He assures us that when our endurance is fully developed we will be strong in character and ready for whatever God has planned.

Joy is a product of the Spirit of God not our circumstances.

Photo courtesy of magerymajestic, at www.freedigitalphotos.net