Hope for the Hurting

I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say “God only gives you what you can handle.” Seriously – I’d have a hefty savings account. It’s a comment commonly meant to provide comfort during difficult times. But is it? Comforting? I never found it so.

Let me begin by saying I get that this statement likely comes from a place of positive intent. When people witness pain and suffering, most of the time they want to provide some level of help or comfort. I doubt anyone offers this to hurt or shame anyone.

The problem though is the  message behind this statement implies that God lets things happen to you just because you are strong. This might even suggest if you were weaker things might go easier for you. This could not be further from the truth. God doesn’t choose suffering for us based on our ability to weather the storm, he weathers the storms we cannot handle. (Luke 8:23 – 25)  

The thing is, suffering is universal. Bad things happen, and there’s not enough reasoning in the entire world to explain why. We want answers! We say things like “why did this happen?” We mistakenly think if we could get to the bottom of the “why” there would be a better chance of acceptance. The honest truth is that it’s not possible to find peace in understanding. The bible says God gives us peace that goes beyond what we comprehend. (Philippians 4:7) That means that through Him, we can have peace that is not dependent on our understanding of how or why. The secret is in our focus. Who or what are we focusing on? (Isaiah 26:3)

Like you, I’ve been hurt. I began life as an unwanted burden, reminded daily that abortion would have been better option than giving birth to me. I was a sore and painful scar that I nursed for a good portion of my life. But the happy ending in this tragedy is that I learned a long time ago where to look for comfort and it is this I offer as a solution. If you are hurting and broken.. If you are looking for an answer for every wrong you’ve faced, there is a God who loves and cares for you.

He did not design you with an end goal of pain and suffering. That’s just not His nature. His nature is compassionate. (2 Corinthians 1:3) His nature is grace. (1 Corinthians 15:10) And, His nature is love. (1 John 4:8) He created you and I in love and grace and compassion. And it is on this I choose to focus.

So, when I am hurt or in pain, I focus on God’s promise to be near us. (Job 36:15, Psalm 22:24) I set my sight on His promise is to deliver us and keep us through pain and difficult times. (Isaiah 14;3) And, I keep my eyes on His promises to heal our hurts. (Matthew 4:24)

Suffering is difficult, but God is our comforter and hope. It is that experience I offer you, friends. (Galatians 6:2) God gives peace, and comfort to me, and I offer the same to you. (2 Corinthians 1: 6 -7). Focus on Him and his promises, and together we can weather storms and lift each other up. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

Bravery or Fear?

I want to be brave. I want to fearlessly walk down unknown roads, and launch into deep waters. I want the kind of trust that goes even when I don’t know where I’m being led.

The truth though, is my brave talk is not always matched by my faith, and that’s frustrating. What I want to do, hope to accomplish, and dream of achieving is reliant on my willingness to step out of the safety and security of the boat, and that is sometimes where I sink. (Matthew 14:22-33)

There are times when I am my own worst enemy. My grand ideas of recklessly following God would be a whole lot easier if it weren’t for me. It’s not that I dont know what God’s word says about trusting Him to guide and protect me; it’s just not always easy to live that out.

So what am I to do when my faith doesn’t seem big enough to slay giants? (1 Samuel 17) How can I be brave when I am so weak? It seems insurmountable, but I promise you, it’s not.

I’m pretty clear that fearlessness does not come by my own strength. (Zechariah 4:6) In fact, the Bible says I am stronger through God, precisely when I am weak. (2 Corinthians 12:9,10) It says God doesn’t give us fear – he gave us power!

So, for me, it’s pretty clear this bravery thing is birthed in my relationship with God. In God I am strong. His word reminds me over and over not to fear. (Matthew 4:27, Joshua 1: 6-9, 2 Samuel 10:12)

What I know is my bravery is not based on my feelings of fearlessness. Braveru is not based on me, and this knowledge pushes me out into the unknown. I am confident in His promise to make me courageous. (1 Chronicles 19:13) so, this is how I fly, how I run, how I step out – in His strength and not by mine. (Zechariah 4:6)

So where do you need to be fearless? If you need a dose of bravery, I challenge you to take a step. Reach up towards whatever scares you. Go with the knowledge that God is your strength, he gives you bravery, and makes you fearless. (Romans 8: 27, 27)

Faith to Dream

What was your dream? You know, the secret longing, the sacred hope, the expectation you’ve carried in your heart for longer than you care to remember.
We all have them. Some of us have very open hopes and dreams. Perhaps we’ve been fortunate enough to experience some of them. But more than likely, there are desires we’ve hidden away, or given up on. It’s the hopes and dreams we’ve given up on that I want to talk about.
I know what it’s like to lose hope. For years I quietly waited for God to unveil a dream I’d had to share my story with other women. I was convinced God had called me to bring the incredible hope He had given me to others. I felt His calling on my life, and it was powerful and real. But, I did not walk through every door God had clearly opened in front of me. (2 Timothy 1:9)
What held me back wasn’t fear or doubt, it was the voice of those around me. I asked for permission from others and was told “not yet,” so I waited. I was told “someday,” so I didn’t walk forward. Finally I was told “no,” and I gave up. It crushed me – for a while. (Proverbs 13:12)
I was sad, but not broken, and soon I began to feel a spark of hope The dream God had given me was too powerful to ignore. The flame God places in us cannot be extinguished, and soon I began to feel it rise in me again. I began to realize I had let someone other than my creator determine the validity of my dream. Lesson learned – don’t put man’s word above God’s. (Isaiah 2:22)
The thing about dreams is they are individual to each of us. We were singularly designed by God; one of a kind, with unique purposes and dreams. God created to fulfill His purpose and He set that purpose in our heart. Our dreams are God inspired.(Ephesians 1:13)
So if God is the author of our dreams, why should we doubt? God promises to guide us (Psalm31:3) He promises not only give us dreams, but to fulfill them. (Philippians 2:13) And, He promises to give us the desires of our hearts. (Psalm37:4)
Knowing this, I challenge you to give yourself permission to uncover the desires you’ve set aside. Look without fear or trepidation at what you believe impossible, and for a moment consider it possible. Why shouldn’t you? The bible gives us many examples of promises fulfilled, against all logic. (Genesis 2:1, Romans 4:18)