Archive for the “Sadness” Category

Ask God for His Strategy - Then Implement ItFaith is the confidence, assurance and substance of things hoped for – things we confidently expect to happen. It is the conviction and evidence of things not yet seen.
Hebrews 11:1 (expanded translation using NLT, NASB, NKJV, NRSV and Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary)

This series is about moving from discouragement to faith. We’ve discussed three faith building actions that each of us can take to move our journey forward:

Let’s move on to the exciting, two-part fourth action.

Faith Building Action 4 – Ask God for His Strategy – Then Implement It!
Discouragement can come from many sources. Logically, then, Rebuilding our faith might take the shape of any of a number of different strategies. Here are some examples:

Rest – If your discouragement came from overdoing, you need rest. If you’re a fan of the Bourne Trilogy by Robert Ludlum you’ll recognize the quote “Rest is a weapon.” It is a true statement.

Becoming overtired or overworked, opens a door that the enemy loves to run through. Often, havoc comes into our life and in our condition of being overtired, we can’t stand against it and we become discouraged. So if you’ve just finished a season of extraordinary effort for the Kingdom (whether from obeying God or simply taken more than He required upon yourself), a period of rest may be the best strategy to return to full faith strength.

Change – Sometimes discouragement comes simply because we’ve become bored with our routine. God can use such a time to nudge us into starting something new. Faith, by definition, means moving before we see God’s whole plan laid out before us. God’s strategy to rebuild your strength may be to point you in a new direction, giving you opportunities to trust Him. Experiencing the result of that trust builds your faith to trust Him more.

Persevere – There are faith lessons to be learned when we are required to simply persevere – which basically means to gut it out! Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines persevere as “to persist in a state, enterprise, or undertaking in spite of counterinfluences, opposition, or discouragement.” Perseverance is defined as “continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition.” Despite failures, opposition and difficulties, sometimes we’re called simply to persevere.

Paul speaks of persevering in many different ways, but most notably as finishing well.

6As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. 7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. 8And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return.
2 Timothy 4:6-8a (NLT)

Persevere, friends – a crown of righteousness awaits you!

Seek healing in some other way – God’s plan for healing often takes us on a path to deal with past hurts and woundedness and He often uses others to help in our healing. His strategy for you might be to see a Christian counselor or sit under the teaching of a specific minister for a period of time or attend a specific conference. He might have you get involved in a small group outside your church. Or he may take you on a more personal journey to wholeness by having you write a book, create an art series or pursue one or more spiritual discipline more intentionally.

Our God is a creative God and He knows you better than you know yourself. Seek God for His strategy during this time. Once you have a hint at the first step in His strategy, implement it! Don’t wait around until you have the whole plan. Many, many people get stuck in this stage of their healing. All that accomplishes is the prolonging of their discouragement. You won’t fully see God move in your life until you begin to move as He directs.

Let me add that if you have fallen from discouragement into depression, you may not hear God speak. Your emotions are so overshadowing your ability to hear God that you may need to rely on someone else to hear God for you! I am not saying that God is not able to speak to you. I am saying that no matter how loudly God speaks you may not hear Him. If you stubbornly wait until you hear Him, you may hinder your own healing. So when a trusted advisor or friend suggests something that makes no sense to you but is witnessed to by another trusted advisor or friend – do it! (By the way, stubbornly waiting until you hear God is the equivalent of requiring that God speak to you in the way you want Him to. That’s called placing your own wisdom/desires above God’s. That’s called pride. That’s called sin and it’s putting yourself in opposition to God. Don’t go there!)

To stagnate in the place of discouragement as you wait to hear new things from God puts you perilously close to becoming lukewarm. God is not pleased with those who are lukewarm (Revelation 3:16). So don’t get stuck – step out in faith!

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“When you feel like your heart is broken beyond repair, remember that nothing about this place is ordinary. You are uniquely poised, at this very moment, to share an intimate part of God’s character. It’s the place of the broken heart, and it’s sacred ground.” Stephanie Voiland

Experiencing rejection, betrayal or abandonment? Read Stephanie Voiland’s article “The Sacredness of a Broken Heart.” It’s a great article and you’ll be glad you took the time to read it.

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I apologize, readers, that over the past month I haven’t come close to achieving my goal of two to three posts each week. A couple of days each week I’ve driven across town to sit with a dying friend through her final days and nights on this earth. What a privilege it has been! I’ve found, though, that my mind and heart were so focused on my friend that writing blogs was difficult. I’ve been reading Scripture quite a bit, and thoroughly enjoying it, but unable to get many thoughts in writing. (I did sometimes write short notes on Facebook – be sure to become a friend of the Apprehending Grace FB page.)

My friend went home to be with the Lord Tuesday morning. Today, I’d like to share some reflections with you. I’m looking over the past month and simply musing on life here on earth and God’s interruptions in it.

  • Life is precious. It is so easy to get bogged down in the trials and challenges, even the minor annoyances, of this life. Don’t let it happen! Each day is a gift from God. Over the past few years I have struggled often waking up not being as joyful and thankful as I want to be. I have committed over and over to say to the Lord “Thank You!” each morning. After a few days I forget. I’ve wracked my brain trying to figure out what trigger to use to remind myself to be thankful first thing in the morning. During this process, I’ve realized that the first thing I look at each morning is the clock that is next to my pillow and at eye level. I’ve put a simply sign on it that says “Thank You, Lord, for today!”
  • Enjoy moments. Don’t let the challenges of this life be your focus. Even as my friend’s strength was growing weak, we went for a “walk” around the hospice house (she in the wheel chair, I in the driver’s position). I wheeled her up to a glass door to look out. She motioned for me to move her closer. Assuming she couldn’t see out the window, I did so. That wasn’t her intention. She immediately pushed on the crash bar and turned to me motioning for me to join in the fun of her “jail break.” She was determined to have fun in her last days.
  • Remember God’s promises. We talked a lot about the promises of God over the past month. Yesterday, I was reading a book by Philip Yancey called Finding God in Unexpected Places. It’s a great book full of short chapters about finding God in all walks of life. He quotes a former pastor of his as saying this:

As churches grow wealthier and more successful, they’re less likely to sing “This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through” and more likely to intone “This is my Father’s world.

God has given us many precious promises, and it seems that the better this world gets, the more we put our hope in it instead of God’s promises. Let’s focus more on God’s promises than what this world may or may not have for us.

  • Leaving this earth is often quite difficult. The dying process is long and arduous for many people. I’ve often wondered at that. One thought I have is that we were made for everlasting life – our bodies resist dying because we weren’t meant to die. Death is a result of sin. Praise God that He has made it possible for us to pass from this life into eternal life – because Jesus died in our place. Hallelujah! What a Savior!
  • Family and friends are more important than most other things. Hence, I’ve neglected my blog and to a lesser degree I neglected my business. I also neglected my husband, but he was totally understanding and encouraged me to do so. Now this was an “emergency” situation, but I am sorry I waited for the emergency to get to know my friend better. I’ve called her “friend” throughout this blog because she was. But she was also my cousin and after high school we moved away from each other and barely largely lost contact. About eight years ago we moved to within two hours of each other, but still only saw one another once a twice a year at family gatherings. I so enjoyed getting to know her again and am sorry we didn’t make getting reacquainted a priority sooner.
  • Be forgiving. Among the many conversations we had, my friend made the comment “we need to make room for one another’s craziness.” We’re all a little crazy, and family relationships can make us even crazier. What she was saying, a bit more colorfully perhaps, was “love one another” (John 13:34).
  • God is in control. So many, many times over the past month, I watched God control my schedule to accomplish His purposes. Unfortunately, in my heart I didn’t always respond positively and in faith. Sometimes I grumbled. God is so gracious that He did it anyway and then unfolded His plans before my very eyes.
  • Our enemy, satan, comes to steal, kill & destroy. Christ came so that we might have abundant life. (John 10:10) I hate the cancer that took my friend’s life (and the lives of five other family members in the past five years). Satan is the author of that cancer. God, in His abundant grace and overwhelming love, is the author of life. He created it, sustains it and He makes it possible for it to never end. I choose life! I hope you do to!
  • God is our peace. The circumstances of this world might give us a temporal joy or happiness, but God gives peace. I love the temporal joy and happiness, but I’ll take the abiding peace over it any day. Out of that peace grows an abiding joy and strength. Thank You, God!
  • God is good. When all is said and done, God is good. Period. No question, no doubt. God is good.

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I’ve spent almost the last hour looking for a quote. It’s a really good quote, but I can’t find it. So I’m going to paraphrase it…”The best thing for a dull mind is to break up the routine.” Now that’s not original, The original was much more eloquent. Unfortunately, I can’t remember who said it, either. I’m guessing A.W. Tozer or C.S. Lewis. Oh well please pretend it’s eloquent and properly cited. (If anyone can find the real quote, I’d be much abliged to you if you were to pass the info on to me.)

Everyone…yes, EVERYONE, has a routine that provides structure to their lives. For some, the routine is easily recognizable and looks (from the outside) very constricting. For others, it may appear that there’s nothing but haphazardness about someone’s life…but upon close inspection, one will find a routine, even if it’s only the routine of sleeping and waking with an obvious eschewing of any routine in between. Even the eschewing of routine is a form of routine that provides structure to the person’s life.

I’ve been thinking a lot about routine lately because Phil has a new job and it’s messing with our routines. It’s a part time job — 20 hours a week — but different hours every week and at least so far it’s been constantly changing. We’re told that it will repeat, but in the 2 months he’s been there that’s not proven to be the case. This new non-routine has caused many of the things that have defined who we are as a couple no longer exist. I’m sure that sounds overstated, but it’s certainly how it feels. (I guess this is where I lecture myself on truth vs. perceptions — perception is NOT reality — truth is reality…but that’s a topic for another blog.) You see, as a couple, we had routines related to when we woke up, when we ate, when we worked, when we played and when we “talked about our day.” Now that’s all jumbled up.

Phil’s new job isn’t the only thing prompting these wonderings about routine. When my dad died, I felt as if all of my internal structures has been shattered. It both made sense and it made no sense. It made no sense because I hadn’t actually depended on Dad for anything over the past 20 years or more (except perhaps the occasional advice…which I usually didn’t follow anyway). Yet it made sense because something that had been truth for 51 years, suddenly, on the first day of my 52nd year of life was no longer true. My dad had existed, had been alive…now he isn’t. And truth isn’t supposed to change. And the internal structure that had existed because of that fact had been shattered. Weird.

So I’m meditating a bit on the subject of “routine.” Routine provides structure for our lives. Yet occasionally it must be jumbled up a bit to bring us out of the slumber it nurtures. A.W. Tozer recognized this when he wrote “Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth” (The Pursuit of God: p. 17).

Undoubtedly, God is a God of routine and structure. He created a world with day and night, high tide and low tide, summer and winter. Yet He recognizes our sinful tendency to not appreciate that which we have and to become self-absorbed when we’re not absorbed with something greater than ourselves. So He built into our lives seasons that jumble up the routines — seasons of mourning and seaons of joy, seasons of success and seasons of failure.

We like to pretend that we should always be at the top of our game, or at least nearing the top with the top just another step or two ahead of us. But that’s not consistent with Scripture — either the teaching or the experience documented in Scripture. “To everything there is a season” Ecclesiastes tells us. Part of “everything” is joy AND sadness, success AND failure.
Enough rambling! Suffice it to say that God has been jumbling my routines. From what I read in other blogs and from what I hear talking to others, I’m not alone. Here’s to God doing NEW things in our lives — yours and mine. May we all be open to them.

Comment by dansdesk
Good thoughts! I’m not saying this about you but I wonder how often God shakes up my routine because it’s a “bad” routine!
Thursday July 19, 2007 – 04:16pm (EDT)

Response by Sandyhov
I’m absolutely positive (for me, not you) that it’s sometimes shaken because it’s a “bad” routine. This current shaking is a prime example. There were many reasons for Phil taking the part-time job at the hospital, but part of it was that we just came to a point where after almost 20 years in business it was a bit unhealthy for Phil & I to be working together at Data Designs as we were. We needed more outside interaction. He needed to be around people more. Yes, God’s shaking is scary but good.
Monday July 30, 2007 – 09:21pm (EDT)

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