“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” // Psalm 73:26
Hey guys! I hope you’ve been having a great start to 2020! It’s been a minute since I’ve released a blog, but I’m going to try and be back with new blogs every week again!
If you read any of the blogs I put out towards the end of last year, you know that I experienced a lot of hurt and disappointment in 2019. I didn’t realize this at the time, but the hurt and reality of all my disappointments had really taken it’s toll on me. I started to question God, and I just plain didn’t understand why nothing that I wanted or had been praying for was happening. I could feel my heart starting to harden, and I knew I was in trouble.
I say all that to say this: out of my own experience, and the experiences of others around me, I know that hurt and pain and suffering is real. So many people wrestling with God–let alone His goodness–when times of trials come. But here’s the thing–sometimes the advice we get or the comfort others give (that comes from well intentions, no doubt) isn’t what we need in those moments. What we need is REAL HOPE for REAL HURT. That’s what I want to talk about the next couple weeks.
We’re not talking about Romans 8:28–though that’s a great verse, and is certainly true.
We’re not talking about– “Everything happens for a reason”, though I believe that’s also true.
We’re not talking about– “It’ll happen, just have to wait”.
We’re talking about:
Who is God when my world falls apart and what can I hang my hope on to get through this? Because it doesn’t feel like anything is going to help me right now.
That’s where I was, and that is where so many of you are right now. So we’ll start here.
Recently I was reading Luke 8 in my Bible, and was reading the story of when the disciples were in a boat with Jesus and a really bad storm kicked up. These guys were in danger. The Bible goes so far as to say they were in “great danger”. Panicked, they rushed to Jesus, scared for their lives (literally), and they say, ““Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” (vs. 24).
So Jesus gets up and literally commands the winds and the waves to calm. And they do. When the storm subsided and all was calm, Jesus turned to His panicked disciples and says this: “Where is your faith?”
This hit me so hard when I read this. As almost Jesus Himself was saying these words directly to me. “Where is your faith?”
This got me thinking about where my faith actually was. I could say it was in God. But was it?
I think that’s where so many of us are right now. The winds are roaring and the waves are swamping our lives and we are drowning–just like the disciples. They knew where to turn, but I don’t know if they fully grasped Who they were turning to. If they had, would their reaction have been the same? Would panic have overtaken them? Or would they have remained calmly confident?
Honestly, I’m not sure. Fear is a human emotion, and if we were in a boat about to go under, I would surely be panicked. But in the midst of that panic, I have to wonder if there would there be an underlying peace because we knew Who is in our boat.
So I want to leave us with that question today. “Where is your faith?” Could it be that your faith is actually in yourself? Have you been putting everything all on your shoulders? Or maybe your faith is in someone else. Or something else. Honestly take a look at what you’re putting your faith in.
Next week, we’re going to talk about the components of the One we put our faith in. What makes Him trustworthy? Why can I choose to put my faith in Him? Let’s talk about it. I want you to experience the real hope of Jesus. Because that’s where healing and real hope comes from.
Until Next Time,
“Yet I will wait patiently … Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to tread on the heights.” // Habakkuk 3:16b, 17-19
2019. Can you believe it’s the end of the year–*ahem*–decade already? I feel like I say this every year, but it’s worth saying again, this year flew! And while I had hopes and aspirations for this year, when I look back, it looked way–and I mean WAY–different than I thought it would.
And if I’m being honest, not in the bestest ways.
Until God gave me a different persective.
When I started to reflect on 2019, I wondered how I would remember this year. When I thought about it, one thing came to mind.
This was my year of “almosts”.
I ALMOST made the move across the country I had been hoping and praying for. But didn’t.
I ALMOST went on vacation to California. Until that got canceled.
I ALMOST instead went on vacation to North Carolina. Until our car didn’t want to cooperate.
I ALMOST accepted an offer of publication on my book. Until I realized it wasn’t the right publisher for me.
I ALMOST met a guy and started a relationship I so longed to be in. Until I got my heart broken before it even started due to circumstances out of my control.
Do you seem the theme here? When I looked back on 2019, this is what I saw. I saw a year of false starts, false hopes, and unfuliflled dreams.
I saw “ALMOST”.
If you’re like most people, almost isn’t good enough. It falls just short of expectation. No one ever achieved or celebrated anything that ALMOST happened. Because simply put, it just didn’t.
I didn’t move across the country. I didn’t go on any vacations–anywhere. I didn’t publish my book. I didn’t get to date that guy.
It seemed like in 2019 … I didn’t almost do … anything.
This isn’t going to be some blog about how we should shift our perspective. That we should cheeringly looking at what DID happen, and what DID make 2019 awesome. I’m not going there at all.
Where I am going is this: Even when dreams are left unfulfilled and the heart aches more than it can bear, God is still faithful. God is still in control. And God has better.
What’s interesting is my word for 2019 was “faithful”. The idea that because God is faithful to me, I will be faithful to Him. And because of His faithfulness, He can be trusted. So, while I ALMOST did a lot this year, here’s one thing I know for sure: God was faithful through it all. And I learned a heck of a lot through it.
I didn’t move across the country because God’s timing wasn’t right.
I didn’t go on vacation, because God was protecting me.
I didn’t get my book published because there’s a better home for it out there I can’t see yet.
I didn’t date that guy because simply put:
GOD. HAS. BETTER.
That was the lesson I learned this year. It’s funny because 2018 was all about pursuing God’s best. 2019 was all about trusting and seeking His better. What hard about “better” is that we often get so blinded by the here and now, that we can’t see what could possible BE better than what’s in front of us. And because of that, we question God when things don’t go the way we want them to. We kick and scream when He takes things away from us because we can’t see what’s just around the bend. But I have learned time and time again that God always has better. A L W A Y S.
I love the book of Habakkuk (some of y’all are trying to figure out where that is, so lemme help you — Old Testament, almost to the New 🙂 ). I’m not sure if I’ve ever read the whole book (all 3 chapters!), until recently, but I always knew of it’s concluding verses. But when I read the whole book of Habakkuk recently, it amazed me. Simply amazed me.
The book starts out by Habakkuk complaining to God, frustrated that He is not seeking justice against those who have wronged Israel. He doesn’t understand why God is allowing Israel to be pursued and destroyed by these foreign countries. It opens like this in Habakkuk 1:2-3:
“How long, Lord, must I call for help,
but You do not listen?
Or cry out to You, “Violence!”
but You do not save?
Why do You make me look at injustice?
Why do You tolerate wrongdoing?”
You hear the frustration in Habakkuk’s voice while He cries out to God? That’s real. That’s relatable. The book then continues, recording God’s response in 1:5:
“Look at the nations and watch--
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe,
even if you were told.”
This conversation between Habakkuk and God spills into chapter two. But this time, God’s response silences Habakkuk’s frustration. In 2:3, God says this:
“For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
it speaks of the end
and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
it will certainly come
and will not delay. “
That’s a word for someone today — your time will come. It may linger … but WAIT for it. It WILL come. It may not be in our timing, but it’ll be in God’s perfect timing. By the end of the book, we see a different Habakkuk. In the closing chapter, we see Habakkuk trusting in God’s timing, trusting He is powerful and will indeed do what He’s said, and concluding that he will wait for God patiently. The concluding verses show us that God has become Habakkuk’s strength, and therefore can endure–not only anything including famine and hardship–but do it joyfully. We read this in Habakkuk 3:17-19:
“Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.”
So, what is my point in all this? Though 2019 seemed to be a year of disappointments, a year of “almosts”, a year of getting my hopes up to get them let down–God walked me through something similar to what He did Habakkuk thousands of years ago. He’s showed me that He hasn’t forgotten. He is still working. He is still faithful. And He is up to something better.
So while my year may have been a year of “almosts” and false starts, this is how I will remember 2019:
The year God taught me He has better.
And I hope that if you had a disappointing year, or if disappointments meet you in the future, you can remember Habakkuk. That you can trust God, even when the promise lingers. You can wait patiently because you know He’s always working to fulfill His purpose in you. And You can rejoice always in God your Savior because He is enough for you.
Until next time,
“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” – John 5:7
We live in a day and age where feelings of discouragement, loneliness, and jealously can be triggered in a moments time. I know I get like this sometimes. Especially lately. This blog post finds me in a (very long) season of waiting. One where prayer after prayer isn’t answered yet … one where I see the answer to my prayer literally happening to everyone around me … but not me. And because of this, I’ve had small moments of self-pity, as we all sometimes do. And in one of those moments, I remember saying, “Why does it always happen to everyone else, but never me?”
Though my words were spoken out of emotion, and I trust that in God’s timing, He will answer my prayer, these words are very real feelings for many of us. Whether these words are uttered over something like a job promotion, or a financial breakthrough, or maybe because healing that hasn’t come yet, we have all felt like this at one time or another.
We find in John 5 the story of a man who had been paralyzed for 38 years. 38 years! Can you imagine this? I’m not even 38 years old, let alone being able to imagine being paralyzed for this long. In this man’s day, there was a legend- a superstition really- that an angel would come and stir up the waters at the Pool of Bethesda, and when that happened, the first person inside the water would be healed. It was around this pool that the paralyzed man, along with many others who were blind and disabled, would gather and wait for their opportunity to be healed.
Jesus met this man one day at the Pool of Bethesda-which literally translates, “House of Mercy”. And when Jesus saw the man there and learned of his condition, Jesus asked the man in verse 6, “Do you want to get well?” To that, the man replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
Does this sound like you? Every time you want something, or are praying desperately for something, you feel like you get trampled on or beat to the prize. Like when you are desperately praying for a new job, and your co-worker gets a promotion. And when the next promotion comes up, another co-worker gets it. After a while, it all gets frustrating. And while all this time this paralyzed man was waiting by the Pool to get healed by a superstition he believed, Jesus stepped in during year 38 of the man being paralyzed, and He offered healing. This man didn’t need a Pool, he needed Jesus.
I believe this is the lesson we as Christians need to learn today. Are we still going to want and pray for that promotion? Absolutely. Are we still going to plead with God for healing? You bet. But when we’re left waiting-maybe for 38 minutes or maybe for 38 years-that’s where Jesus wants to step in and meet you. It’s in that waiting where He is standing with arms wide open saying, “Come on in. Let me be enough for you.”
It’s hard when opportunities and time pass us by- believe me…I’m in the valley of waiting with you. But it’s not until we find that we want Jesus more than we want anything else that we’ll ever truly be satisfied. And I’ve found that in this waiting process, waiting for God’s best is better than any quick fix or substitute we could ever really want. Let’s keep steadfast in prayer, our heart’s seeking His truth, and let’s offer praise for all He’s already given us. If we trust in Him, wait on His timing, and find our hope and strength in Him, He will provide us with everything we need in time. And until that, He’ll provide us with Himself. And that is worth more than anything anybody else has.
Until next time,