As some of you know, my mother had a horrible fall 19 days ago that resulted in days in ICU, then on the trauma floor, then surgery, and eventually discharged to a rehab center to begin her long road to recovery. As is always the case with difficult situations, satan sees this as an opportunity to confuse and confound God’s people. And for a while, he was able to confuse and confound me. But not any more.
Most mornings, I listen to three or four worship songs on Pandora to prepare me for worship before I open His word, listen for His voice, and spend time in prayer. I had already listened to four songs and was ready to turn off the music when I saw the title of the next song, “In Over My Head.”
That was exactly how I felt at that moment: In over my head. I decided I’d listen to one more song. I’m glad I did.
The version I listened to was an 8-minute worship set and I listened to it for almost an hour, drawing closer to the Father with each repeat, claiming the words as my own.
What about you? Have you felt lately like you’re in over your head? Deadlines or debt got you down? Rejections and responsibilities weighing heavy on your heart? Or perhaps you’re like me and watching your parents or children struggle in life. It’s almost more than you can bear.
Would you join me and prayerfully listen to the words of the 5-minute version of this song by Jenn Johnson, offering them as a gift to Jesus, the Healer of all broken hearts?
After worshiping for quite a while–playing it over and over again–I felt the warmth and healing begin deep inside and work its way to my heart, mind, and spirit.
I realized that the evil one wanted me to dwell on the broken heart and the shock of all that had happened, but Jesus wants me to dwell only on Him, regardless of the circumstances. I gave it all to Him that morning. And every time that snake started replaying the what-ifs, I replayed the song for him . . . and praised God that He alone is in control.
I had to decide I was going to believe our Father who seeks and saves the lost rather than believe the father of lies who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy our lives. Powerful revelation!
Then the Lord took me to Isaiah 43:1b-3a.
â€ś. . . Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine. Â When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.
For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior . . . .” Isaiah 43:1b-3a (NLT)
Powerful, powerful passage! The “a” and “b” are because He’s speaking to Israel, but since I’m adopted into the family, He’s speaking it to me–and you–when we fully trust Him, let go of the pain, and give it wholly to Him. I could not allow the evil one to win or confuse my heart and my mind any longer.
It’s a beautiful thing to be in over our heads, to lose control. That’s where, no matter whether we sink or swim, it makes no difference. Either way, when we allow Jesus to take over, we’re finally free.
I know today’s scripture is one we’ve all heard hundreds of times before, but I believe the Lord must be trying to tell me something, and perhaps He wants to tell you, too.
In just the past 5 or 6 days, I’ve had similar conversations with ladies in multiple venues: Several women at two different weekend retreats where I was the speaker; on a phone call with a lady who had questions about Christian Communicators Conference; at a restaurant where I met with a precious CC sister; and in the car with a dear young lady who picked me up at the airport.
In each situation, the sister in the Lord had either gone through or was currently going through a difficult situation and–at least at one point–wasn’t sure what God was doing. In each case, there were two questions regarding the struggle:
Why this, Lord? Why now?
I couldn’t believe I had heard the repeated refrain over and over again. Not necessarily in those same words, but it had been the same basic conflict in each case: Why was this happening and why was it happening now, at this point in my life?
Why am I having this conflict in my marriage at a time when I’m growing closer to you?
Why did I go through this completely unexpected medical issue at this young age?
Why did I let that sin overtake me when I have such a precious family?
Why did that woman discourage me at a time when I feel I’m following God’s direction?
Why this? Why now?
As I kept hearing these questions and talking and praying with these ladies, one verse continued to replay itself over and over in my heart and mind. It’s one we all learned early in our walk with Christ, and yet its words ring truer to me today than ever before as this world and our culture grow further and further from God.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, whohave been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (NIV)
Why this? God often uses His own blessings to draw us to Himself, whether it’s complications in our health or our children or our marriages.
Why now? Satan often uses the deepest joys of our hearts to attempt to put a distance between us and the Father.
But the good news is, the Lord is always the victor, because what Satan meant for evil, God can turn it upside down and use it for good.
I can look back on several hardships in my life that seemed to have been anything but a blessing. And yet it was those very things that God used to ultimately orchestrate His perfect will for my life and my family. If the struggle hadn’t happened, the good couldn’t have come about. It’s as simple as that.
Why this and why now?
Because it had to be. Because God wants to give us His best and bring glory to His name.
I pray His blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,
I remember the carefree childhood days of summer in the ’50s and ’60s. Nothing to do but sleep late, ride bikes, and play in the creek. No deadlines. No schedules. No emails or phone calls or text messages reminding me to do this or plan that or show up for the other.
No worries of life or death or the future. But it’s not the ’50s and ’60s anymore, and what we face today certainly isn’t child’s play.
It’s serious stuff.
It only takes is a quick look at recent headlines to see the current condition of our world. It’s disheartening, to say the least. As a matter of fact, I originally began itemizing the issues here, but quickly realized that the simple act of listing them provided a route of sadness straight to my heart.
The truth is that left unguarded, our hearts can be consumed with fear.
But praise God, just as we had no fears of life or death or the future when we were kids, God’s Word makes it clear that as believers we have no reason to be sad or fearful today.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. Psalm 20:7 (NIV)
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? Romans 8:39 (NIV)
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devilâ€™s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:10-12 (NIV)
â€śIf the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” John 15:18-19 (NIV)
But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. â€śDo not fear their threats; do not be frightened.â€ťBut in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect… 1 Peter 3:14-15 (NIV)
â€śI have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.â€ť John 16:33 (NIV)
I especially love the last verse, spoken by our Savior, Jesus Christ: “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
In other words, yes, He tells us there will be hardships, struggles, conflicts, and hate, but praise Him, He has already overcome it all! Yes, the the struggles of being a Christian in this world may be difficult and sometimes scary, but we can have confidence that there’s no reason to fear.
Amen and amen!
As Rabbi Jonathan Cahn recently said, “Outside of Him, there is no safety. Inside of Him, there is no fear.”
I pray these words encourage us all to remain inside of Him, where there is NO fear…
Good morning, writer. It’s Friday. How did your week go?
Did you get another rejection? Have an argument with a friend? Struggle with your health?
Did you run out of ideas? Run out of money? Run out of time?
Did you feel alone?
In some ways, I’ve had an incredible week. Great events over the past few days, a few checks coming in, commitments for future programs.
And yet, in other ways, it’s been a tough one. I haven’t felt the best, missed a few deadlines, suffered the results of miscommunication.
But the good news is, regardless of what the week brought, God has always been there by my side. And for that, I am eternally grateful.
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior. Habakkuk 3:17-18
Will you join me in rejoicing, even in the midst of the struggle?
I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,
Perhaps you’ve noticed there’s been a lot of recent conversation here at the Christian Writer’s Den about stress, weariness, disappointment, hurt, and other symptoms of living on this earth. You’ve seen quite a few comments on the blog, but there have been many, many more that were sent to me personally, ones that were too tender to post out loud.
For those who’ve shared your hardship with me, please know I continue to pray for you. But even for those who are just going through the daily struggles of life, the pressure can be wearying.
Regardless of what we’re going through, we’re often afraid to admit our frustrations and fears. After all, we know we have Jesus and His strength in our corners, ready and quite able to take our burdens. If only we’d admit our struggle. But we’re supposed to be strong. How can we admit such weakness to our brothers and sisters?
David, the man after God’s own heart, had similar hardships and fears. The difference is, he admitted them…in writing…for all to see. Like many of us, David was a writer, singer, and poet and his words written over 2,000 years ago speak clearly to me today. Do they speak to you?
In Psalm 3, David cried out to God while he was running from his son, Absalom, who was trying to kill him. But even though he was facing possible death, he knew where his strength came from…
But you, O Lord, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head. Psalm 3:3 (ESV)
What a beautiful picture. The Lord Himself as a shield, surrounding David with His protection. I can see myself in that picture too, can you? If I close my eyes I can imagine Jesus sitting next to me as I rest against Him, my head gently cradled in His arms. I’m weary and tired and hurt…but He holds me with love.
He is my shield.
He is my glory.
He is the lifter of my head.
I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,
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