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Posts tagged ‘Christian’

Five Key Things To Know About Marriage

#1: Marriage is not all about you. It’s not about your happiness and self-fulfillment. It’s not about getting your needs met. It’s about going through life together and serving God together and serving each other. It’s about establishing a family. It’s about committing your lives to each other even though you may be very different in 10, 20, or 40 years from the people you are now. 

#2: You are about to learn a painful lesson–you are both very selfish people. This may be difficult to comprehend during the happy and hazy days of courtship, but it’s true, and it shocks many couples during their first years of marriage. It’s important to know this revelation of selfishness is coming, because then you can make adjustments for it, and you will be a lot better off.

#3: The person you love the most is also the person who can hurt you the deepest. That’s the risk and pain of marriage. And the beauty of marriage is working through your hurt and pain and resolving your conflicts and solving your problems.

#4: You can’t make it work on your own. It’s obvious that marriage is difficult–just look at how many couples today end in divorce. This is why it’s so critical to center your lives and your marriage on the God who created marriage. To make your marriage last for a lifetime, you need to rely on God for the power and love and strength and wisdom and endurance you need.

#5: Never stop enjoying each other. Always remember that marriage is an incredible gift to be enjoyed. Ecclesiastes 9:9 says, “Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun.”

Enjoy the little things of life with your spouse: the food you enjoy together at home or in restaurants … the movies you like … the little inside jokes nobody else understands except for you … the times you make each other laugh … the games you play together.

And focus on making memories together: Plan special dates and weekend getaways. Make sure you reserve time for each other after you have kids. When you are old, you won’t look back and remember how great it was to buy that new furniture or watch that great show on television. You’re going to remember what you did together and saw together and created together.

The Secret to a Lasting Marriage: Embrace Imperfection

SOURCE:  Deb Graham

When I was a little girl, my mom liked to make breakfast food for dinner every now and then. And I remember one night in particular when she had made breakfast after a long, hard day at work.

On that evening so long ago, my mom placed a plate of eggs, sausage, and extremely burned toast in front of my dad. I remember waiting to see if anyone noticed! Yet all my dad did was reach for his toast, smile at my mom, and ask me how my day was at school.

I don’t remember what I told him that night, but I do remember watching him smear butter and jelly on that toast and eat every bite! When I got up from the table that evening, I remember hearing my mom apologize to my dad for burning the toast. And I’ll never forget what he said: “Baby, I love burned toast.”

Later that night, I went to kiss Daddy good night and I asked him if he really liked his toast burned. He wrapped me in his arms and said, “Debbie, your momma put in a hard day at work today and she’s real tired. And besides-a little burnt toast never hurt anyone!”

In bed that night, I thought about that scene at dinner and the kindness my daddy showed my mom. To this day, it’s a cherished memory from my childhood that I’ll never forget. And it’s one that came to mind just recently when Jack and I sat down to eat dinner.

I had arrived home, late as usual, and decided we would have breakfast food for dinner. Some things never change, I suppose!

To my amazement, I found the ingredients I needed, and quickly began to cook eggs, turkey sausage, and buttered toast. Thinking I had things under control, I glanced through the mail for the day. It was only a few minutes later that I remembered that I had forgotten to take the toast out of the oven!

Now, had it been any other day — and had we had more than two pieces of bread in the entire house — I would have started all over. But it had been one of those days and I had just used up the last two pieces of bread. So burnt toast it was!

As I set the plate down in front of Jack, I waited for a comment about the toast. But all I got was a “Thank you!” I watched as he ate bite by bite, all the time waiting for some comment about the toast. But instead, all Jack said was, “Babe, this is great. Thanks for cooking tonight. I know you had a hard day.”

As I took a bite of my charred toast that night, I thought about my mom and dad, how burnt toast hadn’t been a deal-breaker for them. And I quietly thanked God for giving me a marriage where burnt toast wasn’t a deal-breaker either!

You know, life is full of imperfect things-and imperfect people. I’m not the best housekeeper or cook. And you might be surprised to find out that Jack isn’t the perfect husband! He likes to play his music too loud, he will always find a way to avoid yard work, and he watches far too many sports. Believe it or not, watching “Golf Academy” is not my idea of a great night at home!

But somehow in the past 37 years Jack and I have learned to accept the imperfections in each other. Over time, we have stopped trying to make each other in our own mold and have learned to celebrate our differences. You might say that we’ve learned to love each other for who we really are!

For example, I like to take my time, I’m a perfectionist, and I’m even-tempered. I tend to work too much and sleep too little. Jack, on the other hand, is disciplined, studious, an early riser, and is a marketer’s dream consumer. I count pennies and Jack could care less! Where he is strong, I am weak, and vice versa.

And while you might say that Jack and I are opposites, we’re also very much alike. I can look at him and tell you what he’s thinking. I can predict his actions before he finalizes his plans. On the other hand, he knows whether I’m troubled or not the moment I enter a room.

We share the same goals. We love the same things. And we are still best friends. We’ve traveled through many valleys and enjoyed many mountaintops. And yet, at the same time, Jack and I must work every minute of every day to make this thing called “marriage” work!

What I’ve learned over the years is that learning to accept each other’s faults – and choosing to celebrate each other’s differences – is the one of the most important keys to creating a healthy, growing, and lasting marriage relationship.

And that’s my prayer for you today. That you will learn to take the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of your married life and lay them at the feet of Jesus. Because in the end, He’s the only One who will be able to give you a marriage where burnt toast isn’t a deal-breaker!

Deb Graham, is active in Christian retailing where she manages a mega church bookstore. She is a contributor to various publications in that industry. She also serves on the board of directors for the National Religious Broadcasters, FamilyNet TV Network and PowerPoint Ministries. She and her husband, Jack are the parents of three grown children and have one grandson.

Being Formed in Forgiveness

Perhaps no issue more quickly assesses the true state of our spiritual formation in Christ than how we respond to being sinned against. Forgiveness becomes concrete when we talk about how we deal with anger. How do you deal with your anger? Maybe a rude driver on the road cuts you off, Someone steals your credit card, A friend criticizes you, A family member continually mistreats you.

Most of us know that as Christians we should forgive in these cases. However, we may need to clear up some misconceptions so that our forgiveness will be genuine and result in healing for us and release for our offenders. “Forgive and forget,” some say, but forgiveness is not about forgetting. It is about not being resentful, but you can remember and not hold onto anger. It’s important that we remember our experiences in life so that we can learn from them.

“Just let it go to God and move on,” is a common approach. This advice may work for minor offences, but to attempt to overlook deep wounds and repeated violations is denial. If forgiveness is to be real then it has to be honest about the violation against you that needs to be forgiven. Forgiveness in these cases is a process of working through hurt, anger, and other feelings. “You can’t heal a wound by saying it’s not there” (Jeremiah 6:14, LB).

“I’ll forgive when…” It’s easy to think that until your offender apologizes or stops mistreating you that you don’t need to forgive. It doesn’t work that way; forgiveness is a gift of mercy. No one deserves to be forgiven! The only way to forgive is to “Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13). By appreciating how fortunate you are that God has forgiven you of your sins then you are helped to share that forgiveness with the one who has sinned against you. “I can’t forgive,” some believe, “it’s not a safe relationship for me.” But this thinking confuses forgiveness and reconciliation. If you’ve been abused and are vulnerable to be re-injured then indeed you need boundaries to protect yourself. At the same time, you can learn to release your offender to God’s justice, refusing to hold onto a posture of angry judgment.

I’ve found that the acid test for whether or not I’ve forgiven someone is if instead of holding onto anger at those who sin against me I can pray for and sincerely desire God’s blessings on that person. Jesus taught us: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who persecute you” (Luke 6:27-28). We can’t do this by gritting our teeth and forcing it!

How do we learn to forgive and bless the one who curses us? “Train yourselves to be godly” Paul answers (1 Timothy 4:7). We each need to grow in grace to become the kind of person who, like God, forgives. We need to be formed in God’s forgiveness through a heart connection to God’s favor in which we’re thankful that God has blessed us though we don’t deserve it and his blessings are flowing through us to others. Then we can offer the gift of his mercy to those who sin against us, even if in some cases it takes some time to pray our way to that point.

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The Spirit Filled Life

(Adapted from The Disciplines of The Holy Spirit by Siang-Yang Tan)

The Spirit-filled life is the Christ-directed life by which Jesus lives His life in and through us in the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised His followers they would have powerful, loving, abundant, and fruitful lives as the result of being filled with the Holy Spirit.

First, it is important to understand that a person initially becomes a Christian through the work of the Holy Spirit (John 3:1-8). From the moment of conversion, or spiritual birth, the Holy Spirit dwells in a person. In this sense, all Christians, at the point of conversion, receive “the baptism of the Holy Spirit,” or as Paul says, we are all baptized by one Spirit into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). However, though the Spirit is present in all Christians, this does not mean all Christians are filled – empowered, released, guided, and controlled – by the Holy Spirit.

The filling of the Holy Spirit is an ongoing reality. Paul says in Ephesians 5:18, “Be filled with the Spirit.” In the original language, this verse actually means “continually be filled with the Spirit.” Renewal and a release of the Spirit’s presence and power are needed on a daily basis.

Most of the time, the filling of the Spirit is experienced in a quiet way, with a deep sense of peace or joy, perhaps bringing clarity of insight or understanding regarding present circumstances or future plans. These times of filling may not involve intense emotions, and there may be a few days or weeks of “lag time” before it is apparent that the Spirit is at work in new ways. Other times the filling of the Spirit happens with dramatic power and can include outward manifestations such as laughing, crying, feeling warm all over, or even experiencing a power surge like electricity. Dramatic manifestations in and of themselves are not necessarily signs of the Spirit’s Presence. God created us as unique personalities with different needs, so the Spirit touches us and empowers us in ways appropriate to our uniqueness. What is most important is to be filled with the Spirit and to leave the manifestations to the sovereignty of God and the work of the Spirit.

The apostle Paul, who encourages us so strongly to be continually filled with the Spirit, also cautions us not to grieve the Holy Spirit, especially by sins of the flesh such as bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, and every form of malice (Eph. 4:30); and not to quench the Spirit or put out the Spirit’s fire by our unbelief and evil (1 Thess. 5:19). When we are open to the Spirit – continually filled and seeking to be filled – we are less likely to quench or grieve the Spirit in our daily living.

Some of the blessings of the Spirit-filled life are:

*greater love and intimacy with God
*exaltation of Jesus as Son of God and Savior
*power and boldness to witness and preach
*greater wisdom and faith
*deep joy (singing and worship)
*release of spiritual gifts for ministry
*victory over sin and temptation
*effectiveness and power in prayer
*quiet confidence during opposition
*deeper trust in Scripture as the Word of God
*renewed zeal for evangelism
*fresh love of Christ and others

The blessings of being filled with the Spirit are tremendous! That’s why God tells us to be filled. He gives us the power we don’t have, so that we can become more like Jesus and do the work of Jesus.

How then can one be filled with the Spirit? By asking! God is a good and generous Father who desires to give good gifts to His children.

First, confess your sins and receive God’s cleansing and forgiveness by the Blood of Christ (1 John 1:9). We are lost, needing to come to ourselves, to repent and confess our sins and return to the loving arms of our Heavenly Father.

Second, yield every area of your life to the control of the Holy Spirit, under the Lordship of Jesus Christ (Rom. 12: 1-2). We must give up the things we hold so close: known sin, anger, brokenness, rebellion, control, and pride so that God has authority over everything in our lives. As C. S. Lewis puts it: “Christ says, ‘Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You.”

Third, ask! In obedience to the command in Ephesians 5:18, ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit. God’s purpose is to give you Himself. “For everyone who asks receives,” Jesus says. It is the will of our Father in heaven to “give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him” (Luke 11:10, 13).

As you ask for the Spirit’s filling, pray specifically for His power and the release of His gifts so that you can live a more Christlike life and be more effective in building up the Body of Christ and reaching out to a lost world with the Gospel.

Fourth, give thanks! Thank God by faith for His answer to such prayers because they are in accordance with His will (1 John 5:14-15). We live in constant dependence upon the love and mercy of God, and our thanksgiving is a constant response to His help and guidance that comes to us at every moment through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Fifth, expect great things to happen. Anticipate that the Holy Spirit will work deeply and powerfully, whether in dramatic or in more quiet ways. God wants you to let Him do through you whatever He purposes. He is able to do anything He pleases through any ordinary man or woman who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him. If you feel weak, broken, limited, or ordinary, you are just the kind of person through whom God likes to work.

Impossible Marriage

(Question/Answer re “Impossible Marriage” Situation by Michelle Wiener-Davis, Author of Divorce Busting.)
I’VE TRIED EVERYTHING, BUT NOTHING WORKS !!!

QUESTION —
Dear Michele:
“I’m working on my marriage, but it still isn’t working.” Michele, after reading your books (Divorce Remedy, Divorce Busting and Getting Through to the Man You Love), I have one question: The underlying assumption of all three books is that you DO love your spouse. I am in a situation in which I don’t really love my spouse, and actually often don’t like or respect him. Yet he is a good father, and our children are incredibly devoted to our little family. I definitely believe that a divorce would be the best thing for ME (and probably for him), but the worst thing for my children. It’s been hard for me to try to divorce bust because I can’t seem to get over the hump of feeling I’m knocking myself out to work on something I don’t really want, namely, staying married to my husband. Does this mean mine is just one of the marriages that can’t be saved? Most of the posts I read on the boards seem to be from people who WANT their spouses. Any comments would be appreciated, and I’m sure would be enlightening to many on the board, because I’ve heard from many about to be Walkaway Wife’s who feel the same way I do — little, if any, love or respect for our spouses, and little, if any, desire to be married to them. Thank you. Jenny

ANSWER —
Dear Jenny,
You ask an interesting question and I hope my response will be helpful.

First, I want you to know that your assumption that my books presuppose love for one’s spouse is completely incorrect. My books presuppose a commitment to working on one’s marriage. It is absolutely true that when you love your spouse, it makes going through the hard times more palatable and sharing the good times more enjoyable. No question about it. But I don’t assume people reading the books love their spouses.

I know you won’t like what I’m about to say, but I can tell from your post that you have never really committed to working on your marriage. Yes, I know you’ve had a telephone consultation and some counseling. But that doth not commitment make. Too many people say they’re working on their marriages when they drag their bodies to therapy or talk to some sort of expert. That’s not even scratching the surface. Working on your marriage means making the decision to be there in spirit, not necessarily to be head over heels in love when you start, but to invest yourself fully.

Working on your marriage means giving of yourself completely, putting your spouse’s needs before your own- and vise versa. It means quitting the game of keeping score. It means forgiving and letting go. Working on your marriage means focusing on people’s strengths and downplaying their shortcomings. It means not expecting to have all or even the majority of your needs satisfied by one person. It means vowing to have a full and satisfying life of your own so that you don’t blame your spouse unfairly about your unhappiness. It means appreciating the little things and overlooking life’s annoyances. It means recognizing that no one, not even you or me, is perfect.

I’m not sure why I think this, but I have a distinct feeling that you are holding on to resentments from the past. (I don’t even know you but the feeling is there nonetheless). It seems to me, that your current willingness to stay is built on guilt and self-sacrifice rather than any pleasure derived from the gift you would be giving your children and “your little family” and as a result, yourself. As long as you look at staying through the eyes of resentment, you will not be able to fully immerse yourself in what you need to do to make your family truly work.

Unfortunately, no one, not your parents, friends, family, therapist, clergy or me, can make the decision to have a good, healthy family for you. Only you can make that choice. You have been sitting on the fence- staying but holding back. (Maybe that’s why you chose Paradox as your username.) This won’t get you where you need to go. I can promise you that. Make a decision. Own your decision. Stop fooling yourself into thinking you’re working on things when you’re not. If you feel you can’t forgive and start fresh, take ownership of that. Go. However, you know my first choice. But in the end, that doesn’t really matter. Yours is the choice that matters. If you choose marriage, the rest is relatively easy. You decide. Love is a decision.
Michele

REST: Experiencing God's Peace in a Restless World

(Adapted from the book Rest: Experiencing God’s Peace in a Restless World by Dr. Siang-Yang Tan)

We are truly living in an age of anxiety. Anxiety has become the leading emotional problem of our day. Common responses to the questions, “How are you doing?” include: “I am really busy.” “I’m exhausted.” “There’s just too much to do.” “I’m tired. I need a vacation.” “I’m burned out.” “There’s too much going on.” “I’m so stressed out, I can’t keep up anymore!”

The buzzwords of our lives today are: Busyness. Stress. Overload. The demands of life have far outgrown the resources we have to meet them, leading to what has been termed, “The Overload Syndrome.” People are exhausted.  People are stressed.  People are overloaded.  We need more time.  We need more space.  We need more reserves.  We need more buffer.

Closely related to overwork and overload is our preoccupation with speed. In our embrace of speed, we are obsessed with efficiency and productivity. We are horrified at the thought of wasting any time. Bill Gates recently wrote a book entitled Business at the Speed of Thought. In trying to beat the clock, we walk faster, drive faster, work faster. But at a great cost. Levels of stress and anxiety are increased exponentially. Unrest is the result. Unrest is feeling fearful, anxious, panicked, scattered, harried, hurried, overwhelmed, exhausted, discontent, driven, stressed. It’s the opposite of what we most deeply long for: rest.

People are seeking rest today with a vengeance! They are doing things such as taking stress management classes, going on retreats, and trying hard to change their lifestyles so they can find some peace and rest again. Ironically, more and more people are stressed out trying to overcome stress. We try too hard to find rest, and the hard work of rest often leads to further unrest and restlessness. We need to have a deeper, more biblical understanding of rest and how to experience or enter into rest – God’s rest, in God’s way.

Rest can be described as a state of peace, contentment, serenity, refreshment, stillness, tranquility, or calm. The qualities of rest include: quietness of heart; a sober awareness of who we are and who God is; an ability to let go (and not try so hard, even at resting); an ability to enjoy leisure, nature, and things that do not involve performance; reflection; trust; an ability to live from our higher or true self -to determine our values and live by them, enjoying the moment, not living in the past or the future; breathing easily and deeply; waiting without impatience; not being impulsive or rash.

What is the difference between rest and leisure or amusement? Rest is found beyond leisure. It is God who instituted and commanded rest – true Sabbath rest – for humankind (see Ex 20:8-11; 34:21). He is also the first “rester” Himself (see Gen 2:2-3; Ex 31:17). This rest was not meant to be a luxury, but rather a necessity for those who want to have growth and maturity. Since we have not understood that rest is a necessity, we have perverted its meaning, substituting for the rest that God first demonstrated things called leisure or amusement�.Leisure and amusement may be enjoyable, but they are to the private world of the individual like cotton candy to the digestive system. They provide momentary lift, but they will not last�.The world and the church need genuinely rested Christians (and families): Those who are regularly refreshed by true Sabbath rest, not just leisure or time off. When godly rest is achieved, you will see just how tough and resilient Christians (and families) can actually be.

Taken from three main words that are used in the Old Testament to describe rest, we can conclude these terms paint us a rich and multifaceted picture. Rest involves something we do, something we experience and something God gives us. We see that we must regularly cease from our work and become still before God to gain a sense of tranquility and to loose the shackles of stress. God provides supernatural security and peace.

Also, we should not think of work versus rest but work and rest. God invented both at virtually the same time; they are meant to complement, not fight against each other. A godly life is a life of rest. A godly life is a life of work. Scripture places rest and work side by side and sees them both as good.

Despite our deep desire to experience true Sabbath rest, many of us, ironically, are afraid of rest. There may be various reasons. First, we may be addicted to the adrenaline rush of busyness. Second, we may be afraid of rest because we are fearful of facing our true state of being: our emptiness, our bad feelings, our painful memories. It is easier and more comfortable to keep busy, to keep going on without stopping to rest. Resting and reflecting may bring us face to face with painful inner feelings and struggles we would rather avoid or keep out of our consciousness. Third, we may be fearful of rest because we tend to define ourselves by what we produce or how we perform. We have a tendency to use external criteria of success to define our self-worth and the worth of our families. Many of us feel we must continue to produce, perform, excel, and keep up. We are afraid to slow down and rest because we may be left behind in our business, careers, and comparisons to others. Fourth, closely connected to the previous reason, many of us may feel that it’s all up to us to “make it” in life, believing that if we slow down or change, things will simply fall apart. Many of us are afraid of rest because we are afraid of losing speed, losing ground, and losing our lifestyles. Finally, we may be afraid of rest because we feel trapped in our ever-increasing cycle of activity and accelerated busyness. We can’t see a way out. The situation may appear so hopeless and helpless that we give up trying to rest at all. In fact, to stop and rest makes us feel more anxious about all the things we are leaving undone. We end up avoiding rest and trying to do even more in the time-starved days of our lives.

We continue to suffer from the disease of “hurry sickness.” As has been written, “hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. Hurry can destroy our souls. Hurry can keep us from living well.” “Hurry is not of the devil; hurry is the devil.” The enemy of our souls knows full well how hurry sickness or unrest can ultimately destroy us. He will do his best to keep us from God’s rest. He entices us to drive ourselves onward, create ever more activity, fill our emptiness with external stimuli to avoid the disquiet in our soul. Consequently, we often clutch at people and things that keep us engaged in the cycle of a hurried and harried life.

There are four aspects of rest that are necessary to understand:

Physical: Many of us suffer today from heart disease as well as other stress-related illnesses, including addictions, panic attacks, exhaustion, insomnia, headaches, muscle tension, and high blood pressure. Such physical suffering often stems from our inability to manage our lives and to learn how to rest.

Physical rest includes time for leisure and sleep, especially taking a Sabbath day off each week and sleeping at least eight hours a night. It also involves good nutrition, regular exercise, and practicing at least one good relaxation technique as part of stress management. We protect our physical rest by refusing to overwork and making sure we have enough of a time buffer.

Emotional: Many of us feel as if we can’t keep up with the demands and stresses of our lives. The results often include depression, anxiety, panic, fear, confusion, and feeling trapped or overwhelmed.

Emotional rest means experiencing peace, quiet, tranquility, contentment, serenity, and refreshment instead of anxiety, fear, panic, tension, discontent, depression, exhaustion, and fatigue. Intellectual or mental rest is part of emotional rest. If our minds are at rest, our emotions can relax. Emotional rest also comes from spiritual rest.

Relational: Many of us experience “restless relationships” or “fractured relationships.” Whether in the home, church, school, workplace, or the larger community of which we are a part, the presence of unresolved conflicts, broken relationships, misunderstanding, contention, bitterness, strife, and especially an unforgiving spirit can cause much unrest and pain.

Relational rest can be found in the context of our caring and loving relationships with other people. Such relationships don’t work without a heart of love and a soul that is experiencing some level of spiritual and emotional peace deep within. Our spiritual, emotional, and physical rest are all deepened when we receive the gifts of loving and caring relationships in a family of people who believe in Jesus Christ.

Spiritual: Many of us find it difficult to trust God, to hear His voice, to sense His presence. God seems far away, and the weight of the world rests on our shoulders. We may have an exaggerated sense of self, leading us t believe it is up to us alone to free ourselves from this burden. We may go through the motions of trusting in God but do not reap the rewards or blessing.

Spiritual rest is by far the most crucial type of rest, although many of us miss it. We need rest from our guilt, doubt, confusion, emptiness, dryness, and despair. We long for the peace of God that transcends all understanding (see Phil 4:7). Such supernatural peace comes when we learn to pray with thanksgiving (Phil 4:6) and to cast all our cares or anxiety upon Him because He cares for us (I Pet 5:7). The writer of the book of Hebrews specifically deals with spiritual rest – God’s rest – in Hebrews 4:1: “Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.” The promise of entering into or experiencing God’s rest – true spiritual rest in Him – is still true for the people of God. God’s rest is available today to those of us who believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ and receive His rest by faith (Heb 4:2-3). We can still enter into His rest experientially now by maintaining an active faith relationship with the One who invented rest in the first place.

F. B. Meyers called the theme in Hebrews 4 the Gospel of Rest:

When we once learn to live by faith, believing that our Father loves us, and will not forget or forsake us, but is pledged to supply all our needs; when we acquire the holy habit of talking to Him about all, and handing all over to Him, at the moment that the tiniest shadow is cast upon the soul; when we accept insult, and annoyance, and interruption, coming to us from whatever quarter as being His permission, and therefore, as part of His dear will for us – then we have learned the secret of the Gospel of Rest.

God's Reason For Our Suffering

(Adapted from an article, “Praying Through Problems,” by Stormie Omartian)

There are different reasons that tough times happen, and if we can gain an understanding of the reason for our suffering, it will help us overcome our pain, rise to a place of peace, and see our faith grow in the midst of it.

Sometimes difficult things happen to us so that the glory and power of God can be revealed in and through us. Jesus’ disciples asked Him if a man’s blindness was because the man’s parents had sinned or he had sinned. Jesus replied, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him” (John 9:3 NKJV). We may not be able to understand why certain things happen, and we may never know the whole story until we go to be with the Lord. However, when we turn to God in the midst of these difficult situations, God’s glory will be seen in them.

Sometimes God uses difficult times to purify us. The Bible says, “Since Christ suffered in His body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin” (I Peter 4:1 NIV). Sometimes suffering will burn sin and selfishness out of our lives. God allows suffering to happen so that we will learn to live for Him and not for ourselves-that we will pursue His will and not our own.

Sometimes our misery is caused by God disciplining us. “No chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11). The fruit that this godly disciplining and pruning produces in us is worth the trouble we have to go through to get it, even though it doesn’t seem like it at the time. Be careful not to resist it or hate it. “Do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives” (Hebrews 12:5-6).

Sometimes we are caught in the middle of the enemy’s work. The enemy would like to make you miserable and destroy your life. Often the reason for the anguish, sorrow, sadness, grief, or pain you feel entirely is Satan’s doing and no fault of your own or anyone else’s. Your comfort is in knowing that as you praise God in the midst of the attack upon you, He will defeat the enemy and bring good out of it that you can’t even fathom.

How do we pray through difficult times?

Regardless of the reason for your difficulty, your prayers will make a positive difference on the outcome. Every day you have another opportunity to affect your future with the words you speak to God. Don’t worry about how many times you feel you are praying the same prayer over and over. God freshly hears your words spoken to Him each time. Your prayer has new life every time you pray it.

Even if you don’t see answers to your prayers right away, each prayer sets something in motion. There is so much happening in the spirit realm that you don’t see. Along with telling God your specific needs, here are some ways to pray that will help you get through the difficult times:

Pray for wisdom. Whenever we don’t make good choices in our lives, there is a price to pay. And we are never more in danger of making wrong decisions than when we are stressed, in pain, or suffering in some way. During those times it’s easy to make a decision born out of desperation, so it’s always good to ask God for wisdom and discernment. And this needs to be an ongoing prayer because too often we have to make quick decisions. On those occasions we don’t have time to seek the will of God. We need to already know it.

Pray for the Holy Spirit’s help. When we’re in the midst of tragedy, loss, devastation, or disappointment, we hurt terribly and find it impossible to think beyond the pain. But we don’t have to go through those difficult times alone, because the Holy Spirit is there to help us. When we turn to Him for help and comfort, we will find it. He will give us revelation and power, the very things we need most when we are struggling.

Pray to have the mind of Christ. The Bible says you “have the mind of Christ” (I Cor. 2:16), and you are to “let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:5). It also says, “since Christ suffered for you in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin” (I Peter 4:1). If you ask God to help you arm yourself with the mind of Christ, He will enable you to endure the suffering for the glory set before you. In other words, He will help you focus on the good that He will bring out of the situation instead of the misery you are experiencing.

Pray for a greater sense of God’s Presence. In times of suffering, ask God to help you sense His Presence in a stronger way every day. Feeling God’s Presence around you will help you increase your faith and not be overcome with doubt. It will give you strength to stand strong in God’s truth and not be swept away by your emotions or lies of the enemy. It will help you be content in your current situation because He is there. We can come to the place where we don’t have to be afraid of bad news because our heart is steadfast, trusting in Him (Psalm 112:7).

Pray that you will stay in God’s Word and obey it. Nothing is more solid than the Word of God. Even when so incapacitated with life situations, reading or even hearing God’s Word will lift the spirits and provide strength. The Word speaks of God’s promises and gives hope. It will allow you to feel that somehow everything will be all right.

Pray to see the good in the bad. None of us likes pain or uncertainty – we want things the way we want them. But the challenging and miserable times are not without their aspect of good. There are things that happen to us in those times that are as precious as diamonds. It’s during the difficult times that we have the opportunity to experience the Lord’s Presence in a deeper way. When we cling to Him, He will reveal the good things that are right in front of us.

Pray that all your expectations will be in God alone. Disappointment and suffering are inevitable because life can never consistently met our expectations. But when we put our expectations in the Lord and acknowledge that our help comes from Him, it takes the pressure off others to meet our needs. We make a mistake by expecting too much from people, life, and ourselves when our expectations should be in God. It pleases Him when we have faith enough in the midst of our disappointment to put our hope and expectations in Him. Don’t run to bitterness or unforgiveness. Run to your father’s arms instead, so He can hold and sustain you.

Pray that you will forgive others. Often our greatest times of hurt and disappointment occur when someone fails us – or we feel they have. People can hurt us deeply. But our fulfillment and happiness don’t depend on other people – they depend on God. Of course, we rely on other people for certain things, and it’s painful when they let us down. But the ultimate success or joy of our life doesn’t depend on them. We have to forgive and release them and not continue to suffer over what others do or don’t do to us.

Pray that God will help you forgive yourself. It’s devastating when we have failed others. Or we think we have failed when we really haven’t, but we torture ourselves, allowing our regret and condemnation to pound our souls like a giant sledgehammer. It’s a weight we can’t carry and were never meant to. Even when we have to bear the consequences for the wrong choices we’ve made, God is still there to bring good out of it. Even in our greatest depth of failure, God redeems everything when we reach humbly to Him. While it is good to examine our motives, thoughts, and actions, it’s counterproductive to beat ourselves up with a constant battering of, “If only I hadn’t…,” “If I just would have…,” Or “Why didn’t I ….”

Pray that you will not get discouraged. Discouragement can descend on you like a flood. You think you are standing strong, and in a weary moment, you get washed away by discouragement. Even though it may seem like forever as you wait for your difficult time to end, and you feel like you don’t have the strength to withstand any longer, tell yourself that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you (Phil. 4:13). Declare that you will “rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him” (Psalm 37:7). Keep in mind that God has been known to do a quick work for which He has been preparing a long time. It could be today!

Regardless of your present situation, know that God has an abundance of blessings for you. He is working powerfully in your life right where you are; don’t stop praying. Close your eyes, call His Name, and sense His Presence. He wants you to trust that when you are afraid, you can turn to Him and find peace. When you are weary, you will find His strength. When you are empty, you will find His fullness. When you are sad, you will find His joy. And when you are in the middle of a raging storm, you will find His shelter and provision. Don’t let yourself be blinded by circumstances, afraid of what’s happening, easily discouraged, drawn toward bitterness, or quick to complain. Instead, look for God in the midst of your circumstances.

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