Sometimes in life, things get hard. Life gets hard. As a Christian, we learn that there are different seasons of life and each has its own purpose. (See Ecclesiastes chapter three.) But, just because we know this, it doesn’t make the hard times any easier. This is where our faith comes in. And, even more importantly, this is where our faith is strengthened.
I have some family and friends who are going through some trying times right now. They are all dealing with health issues—either their own health issues, or health issues of beloved family members. If you know me, you know that I am a tender-hearted person. And, I hate seeing people I love and care about having to be in these situations. (And, I hope that each of you know that I am and have been lifting each of you up in prayer.)
I would like to remind everyone out there—each of you who are hurting, who are suffering, who feel sadness and loss—there is a place to find comfort. That place is in the Word of God; the Bible.
If you need some comfort today, I think a great place to start reading is Psalm. There is a great deal of soothing and solacing verses to be found there.
To get you started, here are some of my favorites:
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.”
Have you ever had something happen to you and you just knew that it was God? There is no other way to explain what happened, except that it had to be God? I just love these moments in life, don’t you? I refer to these occurrences as “a God thing.” So, for example, when something happens that you didn’t expect to happen, but something good comes from it, I would say that was a God thing.
I have had some friends and family share stories with me recently that fall into this category. Back in the heat of summer, one friend had her car break down in the middle lane on I-285 in Atlanta. If you are familiar with Atlanta, this is a very scary spot to breakdown. Two lanes of cars flying around you on both sides and people driving crazy. Add in the heat from summer, plus the extra heat from being on the road and no air conditioning, and a dying cell phone that she couldn’t charge, and this is the perfect mix for a harrowing situation. She could not get out of her car. All she could do was sit there and pray. I mean, she truly could have died in this situation. If that had been me, I would have probably had an anxiety attack.
Thankfully, the police showed up. They assisted in maneuvering my friend’s car to the side of the road, without causing her or anyone else to get into an accident. When she shared this story, the first thing I thought of was that God was watching out her and taking care of her. This was a God thing.
Another friend, along with her husband and daughter, recently had some car troubles as well. They had taken a trip to the mountains. They had stopped at an overlook to enjoy the scenery. When they went back to their car, it wouldn’t start. It was going to be dark soon. And, they were already hearing the howls of coyotes. They called for a tow truck, but because of their remote location, it would take a few hours for the tow truck to get there. They didn’t have much option but to sit there and wait. After a few hours, they saw headlights coming their way.
They thought it was the tow truck coming to save them. It wasn’t. Three guys got of the car and asked if they could help. When my friends explained their situation, the guys asked if they could pray over their car and told them that Jesus loved them. The three men that stopped also happened to be named Matthew, David, and James—all Biblical names! Those three men waited with my friends until the tow truck got there, so they would not have to be out there by themselves. And, the whole time they talked about Jesus. My friend said that she knew that God had sent them to help them in a distressing situation. This was a God thing.
These stories are just a few examples that come to my mind. I bet if you look back over your life so far, you have a few of these too. And, if you really start to examine your life, you will realize that God is working in your life in a myriad of ways. Over the course of many years, you can even start tracing back things that happened a while ago, and see God at work in your life. You can start connecting the dots and making more sense of events in your life. Maybe you remember something that happened in your life years ago, that was bad at the time, but now, years later you realize that good came from it. These are God things too! And, I also refer to these events as beauty from ashes. (See Isaiah 61:3)
We may not see it, but God is working in our lives each and every day. When we grasp this basic understanding, it helps us to open our eyes to all that God is doing in our lives. Which, in turn, helps us to be me grateful and thankful. This work that God is doing in each one of us, well, that’s a God thing!
Do you ever get yourself into the same messes over and over again? You don’t like it and you don’t consciously do it on purpose, but somehow you keep finding yourself in the same types of situations? I hate to say this, but I do. (And, I am hoping that I am not the only one. Well, maybe I should rephrase that. I don’t seriously want you to be that way. But, knowing that there are other people out there like me, helps me to feel better. There is something soothing to your soul when you realize that you are not alone, right? I just don’t want to be alone.)
I have always been a hard-headed person. And, sadly, in my case, I think there is a lot of truth to that old saying, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” But, this old dog is finally ready to learn something new.
There are some areas in my life right now that I am unhappy with. And, frankly, I have been unhappy with them for a long time. I have tried various tactics over the years to overcome this unhappiness, and despite my best efforts, I still find myself unhappy. So, I am finally saying, “Enough!” No more. I just can’t do this anymore. My way(s) of doing things is not working.
Obviously, all the things that I have tried, have failed. So, the “new” trick I am going to try is something that I have learned by reading and studying my Bible. The trick I am referring to is this: doing things the way God tells us to. I am going to try doing things God’s way, instead of my way.
When people or things upset us, or make us angry, that is just the devil tormenting us. We can respond to this in one of two ways: by following our human feelings or by exercising our self-control. God wants us to deal with things in a positive way. Romans 12:21 reminds us, “Do not let yourself be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” When we respond in a positive way, that upsets the devil. Plus, when we get and stay upset and/or angry, we are only hurting ourselves more.
One of the best things we can do in situations that cause anger, is to pray for the people who caused it. This is NOT an easy thing to do. These are likely people that you don’t care much for or respect. But, God tells us that we are to love our enemies. Matthew 5:44 tells us, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
As I mentioned before, this is tough for me and why I feel like that “old dog”. I have this horrible habit of holding on to things. I don’t “let things go” even though I know I should. I know it isn’t healthy for me. I know it is bad. Yet, I do it anyway.
I also know that I am the only person who can change my behavior. No one else can make me feel or do or say anything that I don’t want to. It is all on me. Even the fact that I let certain people get under my skin. It is me who allows that. I KNOW this. I KNOW this. And, unfortunately, the devil knows this too. And, I stupidly fall into his trap time and time again.
And, I just can’t take it anymore. I really can’t.
That is why I am taking to heart being a new person in Christ. That is why I am looking at others through the eyes of Christ and praying for them. That is why I am turning over my anger and the people who cause it to God and letting Him deal with them. That is why I am trusting God to take care of these things for me. Because it is obvious I can’t do it myself. Plus, Romans 12:19 cautions, “Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back,’ says the Lord.”
The only way I can get out of these situations that I always seem to find myself in, is to be determined to do the right things that God calls us to do. I am committed to doing things God’s way. I know that if I do things His way, I will eventually see good results.
I will end this post by saying that I know we all want to be happy and content in this life. And, I truly believe that if we are completely devoted to following God’s will for us, we will all find that happiness and joy that we seek. John 10:10 reminds us, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
Growing up, I believe that most of us were taught to tell the truth. We were taught that lying was bad and that we should always be honest. As kids, we probably didn’t pay as much attention to this lesson as we should have. But, as adults, I hope you have learned by now that honesty really is the best policy. (Because, believe me, it really is the best policy!)
I think we have all heard the statement, “the truth will set you free”, but have you ever wondered what that statement was actually about? If you are NOT a child of God, you may have figured that it just went along with the “honesty is the best policy” teaching. And, while they do go together, there is a much more important and profound principle behind this statement. This is actually scripture; a Bible verse found in John chapter 8, verse 32. It says, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Do you know what the “truth” is? If not, please allow me to enlighten you. Jesus is the Truth. In the Bible, we learn that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. (See John 14:6) So, if you take John 8:32 and replace the word “truth” with “Jesus”, you get: Then you will know Jesus, and Jesus will set you free.
Jesus offers us freedom from the bondage of sin. It is a spiritual freedom. As humans, we are slaves to the sin in our lives. And, while we will always sin in this life, we do NOT have to be chained to it for eternity. When we believe in Jesus, He releases us from the yoke of sin.
When we become saved, that is when we believe in Jesus Christ and invite Him to live in our hearts, we become a new creation. 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new one has come!”
Once we start a relationship with God, we are fundamentally changed. We realize that our lives are no longer worldly, but are spiritual. And, while we will still sin, our hearts are changed and we become aware of our sinful nature, and therefore, we strive to sin less.
Each day that spend time with God, we grow as Christians. And, as we grow in Christ, we see the world differently. We start to see the world through the eyes of Christ. We start to care more for our fellow human beings. We start to become more kind and caring in general. And, we want others to come to know God, like we know Him. We start to realize that we have a purpose in life. And, that purpose is share the love of Jesus Christ.
So, the truth is, only Jesus can save us. And, once you know this “truth”, once you know Jesus, He will set you free! The truth is that God loved us so much that He sent His son to die on the cross for OUR sins. (See John 3:16) I believe that that is the most powerful truth in the world! And, once you know this truth, you are truly set free!
I am so glad you are here! I am Erica Strickland, a girl who loves God. My goal here is to simply share His love and light.