Trials


A few days ago I received a note from someone letting me know that my identity is being misused in another forum on the Internet. Someone other than myself is referring to this site and posing as connected to this location. I am guessing it has not been a positive representation.

I have to admit that it doesn’t make me very happy, but honestly there is little I can do about it other than continue to respond with the love and grace God has given me, while continuing to be wise about how I speak and act, and maintaining the security on this site.

Imitation is supposed to be the sincerest form of flattery. While the individual(s) who is claiming to be me or claiming to be tied to this site is not exactly imitating me, they are representing themselves as connected with this site. There are millions of sites they could have chosen, so it is interesting to me that they would choose my very small corner of the world. I also have  had to laugh because the enemy (Satan) would love to use this to bring him glory and hurt Christ, but I know that things like this do not come from the Lord.

Realize that when you see representations of others out in the world, that it may not be a true and genuine response or representation. Sometimes what you see is a poor knockoff, a false representation, or a cheap imitation.

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One of the things I have learned through my journey over the last few years is that there are easy days and days that are more difficult ones. The last few days have been some of those more difficult days.

I am still learning that there are conversations which engage and bless my heart and soul, and others that may cause me struggle.

Unfortunately I am still not very good at recognizing ahead of time those that might lead to struggle and then avoiding them.

Recently I engaged in a conversation that has caused me struggle. One of the hardest pieces for me over the past year has been learning to deal with the love I still feel for my last pastor and the people of that church, and having absolutely no outlet to express it since they will not speak with me. In this conversation someone voiced an opinion they hold which left me conflicted. It is their right to hold their opinions, even if I do not agree with them. I do not believe this person had any intention of saying anything that would cause me to struggle, but the truth is it did.

Struggles come in all sorts of forms, and we don’t always know when they are headed our way. We can not always avoid them.

We can however prepare ahead of time to deal with them when they arrive.

In this situation, the root of my struggle is twofold 1) I am left asking what the biblical truth is about a specific subject 2) My heart aches that someone has spoke negatively about someone I care about, even if our relationship is currently broken and unresolved.

For the first issue, the best way to respond is through time in the Bible and in prayer. The Lord knows the truth and he can reveal it to me. He alone defines what truth is. Men may disagree, but the Lord knows how to take multiple scriptures that speak to different sides of an issue and to bring them together to make sense. I could have prepared ahead by spending more time in Scripture before this conversation, and by recognizing this area of uncertainty, however since I did not do that I need to turn to Scripture quickly and not let the questions and uncertainty fester and cause me confusion or distraction.

The second issue is more difficult for me to deal with in my relation to others. On my own, I have spent time mourning the loss of these relationships and allowing the Lord to minister to my heart. Each time this comes up I have to go back to him and allow the Lord to comfort me on a deeper level. I continue to try to reconcile the broken relationships and have to deal with the constant disappointment associated with that. I also have to protect my heart and soul from anger, resentment, and bitterness.

When I speak to others about my story I have faced some very hard conversations and pressure. Over and over again I have been told to have nothing to do with the people from my old church. I have been told to let go of the past and to move forward. I have had to listen to great criticism of others, and have faced a lot of criticism about how I have responded. There are some people I have encountered who hold a great deal of anger and bitterness in their hearts. They get angry about things that are not a part of their story due to resentment and offense they hold in their heart. I have been told to turn my back on others and to not work through the issues. I have been told it is okay to forget them. I have been told I am justified to feel angry, hurt, and to be unkind and unloving toward others.

I just can not agree! No matter what others have done or will do to me I have to choose to follow what the Lord has shown me love, sacrifice, and truth.

The Lord has changed my heart and healed it so deeply that I can not even understand much of what I have been told by others. I do not feel offense or anger. I do still live with the pain of the brokenness and disunity that exists. My heart desires love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.

Today my heart hurts. I wish the world would be a place where the only conversations I even could engage in would bless my heart and soul.

Unfortunately, life brings struggle, but I know that God can use every single struggle to bless, grow, change, and draw me to be more like him. That is where I want to go!

It would be great if life was predictable. Some days I want a road map that tells me what lies ahead.

Unfortunately that is not what we have been given.

God wants us to live by faith.

Have you ever considered things may happen in life just to grow your faith?

This week I have been placed in a very difficult position between two people I care for immensely. Things have occurred that put me in a position where I am being pushed to choose sides. I am being asked to behave in ways that I do not agree with. It has been challenging for me to keep perspective, feel hopeful, or see things through any perspective that isn’t painful and hard.

The situation could lead me to frustration, anger, resentment, or broken relationships. I am trying to choose the exact opposite. I don’t want to choose between these two friends, I want to choose God’s way and relationship with Christ. Circumstances leave me battling to choose hope, to believe God is bigger than the circumstances, and to be joyful in the midst of this.

I am learning to ask different questions:

Do I believe God is who he says he is?

Do I believe God can change lives, minds, and hearts?

Do I believe God is big enough to either change the situation, or change me?

Can I rejoice in the Lord even when I can’t rejoice in my circumstances?

Some days the circumstances in our lives are difficult, but living by faith is a choice.

What have you learned that helps you get through difficult times? How do you faith a choice?

I just finished rereading Faithquake by Doug Herman. Doug was a pastor when his wife was diagnosed with HIV. Later his daughter also contracted HIV and he and their son Josh lost wife/mother and daughter/sister within a short time period. The HIV came through a blood transfusion, through blood donated by someone who was participating in homosexual partnerships. The illness, journey, and loss of his family shook his faith and left him questioning things he had never looked at before.

There were times Doug wanted to give up.

There were times Doug was unsure about what he believed.

There were times when Doug was shaken.

“Quitting seems all too common today. Look at the divorce and suicide rates. Obviously many people are not content with their lives.  The actions range from dramatic to insignificant, but they are indicative of people who do not follow through.  And tempting though it was to give it all up during our Faithquake, Evon and I decided to stand.  For us that meant enduring the thoughtless a reactions of people.  It meant to we would continually seek medications and treatments in conjunction with our prayers for healing.  We had decided to stay and in our faith, continuing to seek god and worship him as Lord even though we didn’t understand him.  We could easily have given up, and though we were greatly tempted at times to do so, we stood instead.  Above all, in our efforts to stay, we had to fight another enormous temptation: spiritual anemia.”

“Anemia is a condition of the blood where a deficiency of hemoglobin accompanied by reduced red blood cell counts causes of weakness and breathlessness.  Anemia is expressed physically in decreased power, vigor, and vitality.  Spiritual anemia has parallel symptoms.  They are even more serious than the physical ones because they are soul-deep – of eternal significance.  This spiritually anemic person lacks the power, enthusiasm, and endurance of soul required not only to endure a Faithquake but to rebuild after having one.” (p70-71)

“If, in the face of crisis, you and I are anemic in the spiritual sense, we need a transfusion.  This must come from one who has already encountered the disease of sin and subdued it.  We need the blood of and overcomer-Jesus Christ.” (p73)

“When we experience a shaking in life, we feel it emotionally and struggle with that intellectually.  But spiritually we can survive intact when we live our lives in God’s presence.  This is the deep, inner communion with God where spiritual truths are found and strengthened.  It is here that we abide in the presence of Christ.  It is here that we cannot be shaken.  Sad to say, we often allow our spiritual security to find its foundation in elements other than Christ himself.  We may have all the training and heritage of Christianity, but we have never personally anchored our soul onto this immovable rock.  This is a situation I found myself in when we discovered that Evon was HIV positive.  I had been taught about Christ.  I knew him as savior and lord but not yet as Rock.  Thus, I was shaken.” (p88)

Doug chose to stand, stay, and believe. So should we!

Do you believe in Christ as Lord and Savior? Have you anchored your life to him as the rock that provides you stability in the storms of life?

 “God’s grace isn’t always comfortable because he isn’t primarily working on our comfort; he’s working on our character.  With violent grace he will crush us because he loves us and is committed to our restoration, deliverance, and refinement.  And that is something worth celebrating.” Whiter Than Snow by Paul David Tripp

When we face trials we often think that circumstances, another person, our flesh, or the enemy are to cause, but Scripture also says that sometimes the cause of the trial could be God himself. In Genesis 22:1 and Hebrews 11:17 scripture says God tested Abraham. Satan tests and tempts us hoping to cause us to stumble and fall, losing faith. On the other hand God tests us to develop our character and to confirm and grow our faith. He brings or allows trials to refine us so that our true character will shine forth.

For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver. (Psalm 66:10)

Trials, tests, and temptations are never easy or comfortable, but if we keep our eyes fixed on Christ and look at the situation in light of eternity it is easier to have courage and faith in the midst of the difficult time.

No matter what we are going through God knows about it and is therefore involved in some way. He will never let the righteous fall. (Psalm 55:22)

  • Above you are God’s overshadowing wings (Psalm 91:4)
  • Beneath you are God’s everlasting arms (Deut. 33:27)
  • Around you the angel of the Lord encamps on all sides to deliver you (Psalm 34:7)
  • Inside you God’s peace that passes all understanding guards your heart and mind in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:7)