Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Encouragement for difficult seasons as you wait

When people are in pain, their hearts yearn to know two things for sure. 

First, that they are loved and secondly, that everything is going to be alright. 

Today if you're in pain, whether it's physical or emotional, I would like to remind you that YES, you are loved. You are loved by a holy God, who is our heavenly Father, a God who is absolutely crazy about you and YES, everything is going to be alright because all trials, all struggles and all storms have an expiration date. All hard things come to an end one day. And God is for you. He is always for you. 

I've learned through personal experience that God often does His very best work in me, in the midst of my pain, in the midst of my struggles, and in the midst of my trials. Waiting to get past the "hard" things in life isn't always easy but it doesn't have to be really hard either I've learned. I find that I always draw closer to God when life feels difficult and unfair and by drawing closer to God, it makes the load feel lighter. Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:28 that we should come to Him when we are feeling weary and in Him we will find rest. He really does lighten the load. And while the problem or the confusion or the difficulty may not necessarily disappear right away or "yet," I find that my perspective regarding the problem and my pain and my struggle changes. It's amazing how a paradigm shift takes place when we allow God to bless us with His wisdom and His promises for us. The Bible is filled and loaded with so many beautiful promises for our life. 

As I draw closer to God, I find that I read my Bible a little more often than usual (because it brings me comfort, restores my peace and blesses me with divine wisdom) and I discover that my prayer life changes too. It changes in really good ways. I go deeper with Him, in what I pray about, what I cry about. I get really "real" before God and with God emotionally and pray His promises over my situation and for the people I am praying for. Every trial I endure I've learned brings me closer to opening myself up and allowing Him to really hear the cries of my heart. And that's what intimacy with our God is all about. That's what He wants. While He knows all things, He desires for us to come to Him and share our hearts with Him. He desires this because God's purpose for us is to have a relationship with Him, an intimate and beautiful relationship with Him. He never wants us to feel alone. He wants you to know that you can run to Him. He wants to walk with us and do life with us, heart to heart but only if we permit it and yet sadly most of us shut Him out. Too often we compartmentalize God and box Him up. We put Him in a pretty little box, place the box on a shelf and we only ever open the box when we need Him, when we're hurting, when we feel desperate. But God desires to walk with us every day, He wants us to share our hearts with Him and He wants us to feel His presence every day whether its a good day or a bad day. 

We're always in such a rush to get past the pain. Have you ever noticed that? Truth be told, I'm guilty of that too. And hello .... it's so-o obvious why we want to get past the pain or avoid it all together because pain is awful and hard and often times it feels really dark. And it's exhausting! Have you noticed how exhausting it is??? And I know that I don't have to remind you what pain or difficulty or struggle feels like because if you have a pulse and are reading this, you have surely at some point in your life suffered through some horrible hard thing that you had to survive or get through. 

Personally speaking, I have an aversion to pain ( I'm sure I'm not alone ) BUT and this is a big BUT ...  I've discovered and have come to realize that we all experience pain and difficulty in life and will continue to experience pain and difficulty until God calls us home. Let's remember that we are only passing through, this is not our real home.  I've read the Bible and read it often and no where does it say that we will live without difficulty. God never promised us a life without pain or difficulty but He did and does promise to be with us ( it says so in the Bible! ) and I love that about Him. I love that we will never, ever be alone because God is always with us, whether we feel His presence or not, He is with us. I've learned that if we allow God to work with us, He creates beauty out of ashes, out of the pain we endure and the mess we create or are left with. Pain I've learned happens for many different reasons. And there is always purpose in pain. Pain I've learned alarms us and it takes place to make us aware, to wake us up and to help us understand that there is something to be learned, something to be addressed, something to be surrendered. So don't run from the pain, don't avoid it or numb it and don't be afraid when it surfaces. Deal with it. Learn from it. Be better because of it. Choose to go through it, to sit with it, to learn from it because God wants us to live our best lives and He wants us to be our best selves. 

And in case you're curious, it's totally okay to ask God questions in the midst of your difficulty. And it's totally okay to be angry when you feel pain. It's a natural human response. God is never surprised or offended by our anger toward pain or sadness or even Himself. He knows all things dear one, after all, He is our Creator, and He knows EVERYTHING about us. He knows EVERYTHING about us and He still loves us anyway. Isn't that amazing? That my dear is what you call unconditional love. That's divine love. That's God my dear. He is the ONLY One who can EVER love us that way because He is the very essence of love. Even on my best days, I'm a mess and yet He still loves me. That just blows my mind and I'm pretty sure that is why I will always love Him so-o much! Nobody and I mean nobody could EVER possibly love us, like God loves us. 

Getting back to anger though, be careful with that emotion. Anger I learned ten years ago is the symptom of being hurt, anger is what we feel when we are hurt, when we are wounded. But to live a healthy life, a life of freedom (because God calls us to live with freedom) we need to do our part to ensure that anger is temporary. We never want to park ourselves in anger because if you allow yourself to remain angry long enough, anger becomes bitterness and bitterness makes your heart hard and bitterness with a hard heart will kill you. It's the slowest death known to man kind and it will rob you of the joy and the peace and the love that God desires for you to experience. So be careful with anger. Anger has its place but it should always be temporary. 

Three primary questions I've discovered I ask God when I go through difficulty are:

1.) God, what are you trying to teach me here?
2.) God, what is it that you want me to do in this season while I'm waiting?
3.) God, what do you want me to do with the knowledge and the wisdom I'm gleaning and will glean from this difficulty?

Have you ever considered asking God these types of questions when you're going through a difficult season in life? When it comes to God, It's never too late. Never. God always whispers: "Come as you are dear one. It's my job to clean you up, to fix you, to heal you, to equip you and make you better." 

Three verses that I hope will encourage you if you're experiencing difficulty:

Wait for the LORD; be strong, take heart and wait for the LORD. ~Psalm 27:14

I am trusting you, O Lord. You are my God! ~ Psalm 31:14

God acts on behalf of those who wait for Him. ~Isaiah 64:4

Today's Prayer:

Dear God: 

Thank you for all the challenges that take place in my life. I know they're all experiences and lessons I'm learning to make me wiser and stronger. And I know that when I'm wiser and stronger, I'm better equipped to bless others and love others in ways I couldn't have without my experiences. Thank you that your word says that You are always with me. Thank you that You are always willing and able to help me become my very best self. Thank you for never giving up on me and thank You for helping me to never give up. Last but not least, thank You for loving me, always. 

Until next time, may the God of our universe wrap you in His arms and envelope you with His love and bless you immeasurably. And may He comfort you during your most difficult moments and seasons in life. 

As always, thank you for stopping by to read what I post on my blog. God bless you. 

xx, Ruthie

P.S. It took me about a week to write this piece as I too am "waiting." I'm waiting for many things and at the top of my list, I'm waiting to heal from a back injury which has left me a bit immobilized. I've been on pain meds to keep me comfortable until I heal. I wrote when I could, mostly on my smart phone as I rested in bed and finished editing this piece tonight. My physical pain prompted me to think about pain and "pain" and "waiting" were the topics that inspired this writing. But while I know that many do not struggle with chronic physical pain due to an injury, there are many who can relate to emotional pain. When it comes to emotional pain or difficulty, you're either suffering right now or just survived a hard thing or you know someone who is struggling. And if you know someone who is struggling and you think this post will encourage them, please prayerfully consider sharing it with them. Be a blessing to someone today and remind them that it's going to be alright and that all hard things have an expiration date. When we go through difficulty, its always so comforting to have people we love and trust come along side of us to encourage us and to remind us that we are not alone and that it's going to be okay. Maybe today, you can be that person for someone. God bless you dear one and many thanks for reading.