Does God Care That I’m Hurting?

No one on earth escapes hard times.  Perhaps difficult situations cause us to feel stressed, frustrated, rejected, angry, trapped — or — perhaps nothing has happened at all.  Perhaps life is going well for us, and yet, feelings of despair and loneliness come upon us.  We have the unexplainable “blues.”   When we get the blues (and we all do at times) we might question, “Does God really care about how I’m feeling?”  In answer to that, let me share this beautiful verse in Psalm 34:18,  “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”

It’s easy, when we are feeling low, to forget that God cares.  In fact, we can quickly turn our thoughts away from God, in order to concentrate more fully on our misery, but one thing is for certain — misery begets misery.  We can become our own worst enemy when we are dealing with any level of depression.  When misery attacks, the one thing we need to do, call upon our Father, becomes a last resort.  Misery grows, and feelings of rejection from God and friends, takes on a false realism in the recesses of our mind.  The “blues” likes to feed on misery.  Therefore, the deeper we go into misery, the fatter becomes the blues.  Before we know it, we’re rolling in melancholy and feelings of desolation.  We have one big, fat problem, and we don’t know how to lose it.

I encourage each of us, when misery begins feeding on our inner turmoil — begin to starve it!  How do we do that?  It’s a training of our minds and it takes practice, but like anything that is practiced, we become skilled.  In this case, we become adept in knowing how to better choke the blues away.  Take a look at instructions given to us in Philippians 4:8, “And now dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.  Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.  Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”   This is such an important instruction that, when adhered to, helps to bring our thoughts out of the doldrums, and back into joyful thinking.

I can share from personal experience — when I feel down and choose to think on “what is true,” despondency begins to lift.  If, on the other hand, I continue to think on the misery itself, then despondency grows.  We can feed it or starve it.  Never forget, you are not alone even when you feel you are; your Father in heaven “is close to the brokenhearted and ready to rescue those whose spirits are crushed.”   Let us take command of our minds.  Be the one who takes the reigns of your own depressing thoughts that want to run wildly in the wrong direction.  Lead your horse of despair to quiet waters and there reflect on “what is true and honorable, and right and pure and lovely and admirable.”  Think on Jesus and His love for you.  Think of His heart’s desire to rescue you.  Then, envision your rescue.  Imagine crawling into your heavenly Father’s lap, and rest there.  Remind yourself of His love.   Recall the times He has shown His care for you.  Practice thinking on those things, and watch unexplained despondency melt away into peace.

Knowing God’s Will

Contemplating God’s will, and trying to determine what that will is for our individual lives, is a question that comes to every Christian.  We ask things like: What job or career does God want me to pursue?  What church should I attend?  Who should I marry?  Where should I live?  Should I go to college?  Should I teach a  Sunday School class?   What does God want me to do?  How does He want me to pray?  What should I pray for concerning myself and the people I care about?  The questions continue for the whole of our lives.  We so want to get it right; stress levels can rise with worry.   We put ourselves under great pressure with thoughts that we may miss the boat of God’s choice, and land in a sea of chaos, because of our own bad decisions.  Therefore, we ask, is it really possible to know God’s will?  Does it have to be so hard?

There is good news — but not easy news,  in answer to the question of knowing God’s will.  God’s Word gives us the answer in Romans 12:2: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”  There we have the answer to knowing God’s will; we must let Him change the way we think which will transform us into a new person.  What kind of a person?  A person who resembles Jesus Himself by the way he or she talks, behaves, responds to people when they are kind or unkind, and by the attitudes they maintain when trouble strikes.  When we let God transform us to be like His Son, then we begin to have the mind of Christ.  Is that even possible?  Yes.  Philippians 2:5 tells us, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ.”  Will we ever be perfect?  No, not until we get to heaven, but on earth we can certainly get better.  Like an athlete in training, the more we practice, the closer we get to our goal.  No training — no goal reached.

When we make the choice to obey God’s instruction in Romans 12:2, and ask Him to transform us in behavior and attitude, then the way we think becomes more and more like Jesus.  When our mind becomes more like Jesus, we can better determine what God’s will is for our lives.

Too many Christians, sadly, don’t want to work at living according to God’s instructions.  Too many  Christians don’t even know what God’s instructions are because they don’t want to take the time to read and study His wonderful, holy words to us.  These same Christians will be the ones to complain that God isn’t answering their prayers, or showing them what to do in various situations.

One thing for certain:  we cannot ignore God, refuse to learn about Him, and then expect to know His will for our lives.

Another thing for certain:  we can talk to Him, read about Him, meditate on His instructions, and fully expect to know His will for our lives.

It’s not easy, but it’s wonderful and exciting.  It’s a lifelong adventure.  There’s no joy to compare.  I encourage each of us: determine to pursue God; then His will for your life will unfold as you go along the way.

Butterflies and Runaway Thoughts

You have all shared in my joy this week of getting a great report from my oncologist.   It felt so good to hear the words, “everything is looking good.”  My heart felt light and happy, but moments before, that was not the case.

As I drove to the hospital I was aware of the sudden flutter of butterflies.  I felt nervous.  Strange.  I didn’t feel butterflies when I had the surgery or the radiation treatments.  This was just a check-up.  Perhaps I was nervous of what might be found.

Yes, that was it.  What if the cancer was still there?  What would they recommend next?  How long would all that take?  What if it was spreading? When would I ever get back to Kyrgyzstan?  What if…?  What if….?  Oh, those “what if’s” are making me crazy with fear!  Butterflies – gone wild!

Wait.  Stop.  What’s happening?  Oh, it’s you again, you awful enemy, making your attempts to rob me of peace.  Well, it won’t work.  I’ve found you out – again.  Get behind me Satan!  Jesus, fill me with your peace.  Ah, that’s more like it.  Thank you, Lord.

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, whose thoughts are fixed on you. Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal rock.”  Isaiah 26: 3-4