I wonder what your day has been like today? Has it been good? Are you in good spirits and feeling like everything is working out? Perhaps your day, or your week or even your month has been quite the opposite. Maybe everything in your life is going horribly wrong right now from your viewpoint and maybe you have been feeling like “simply, no longer caring” about much of anything. I have been there. For many years I have battled depression. What was hardest for me was always just dealing with life’s ups and downs. My relationships suffered, my work suffered and there were times I just didn’t even bother getting out of bed. It was almost like when things went bad, I went under. Today, I am healed from all of it and I am so grateful to God for the change in my being. I realize there are others that struggle too sometimes and in honor of yet another “tough time” in my life currently…I want to share some goodness with you!
Lately, as I have been studying scripture I came across some interesting ones in the book of Philippians. In Chapter 1, Paul is writing a letter to the church group at Philippi and he mentions being in “chains” (Philippians 1:13-14). I thought, “wait, is this guy in JAIL?” Yes, Paul, an apostle of Jesus, who has been diligently going around the world preaching the “Good News” is in a prison cell, writing a letter of encouragement to the church. He says, “that even being thrown in prison was a good thing because it advanced God’s message.” The prison guards and every prisoner were all aware that he was happily “in chains for Christ”. It makes me think about our times of suffering and how bad we seem to always want the pain and hardship to go away. The truth is, that when we are going through tough times in our lives, that is a time of serious strength training, a time when God is preparing us, perhaps to be a witness to someone else that is silently watching us very closely.
A few years ago, my employer implemented a wellness service for the employees. Basically, we are charged with getting a health screening that checks things like cholesterol, blood pressure and blood glucose. etc… Once the results are received, the employees are given a free phone consultation with a dietician. My cholesterol levels were less than stellar and I remember my first conversation with my assigned dietician clearly. She was telling me that I needed to eat more whole grains and vegetables and she wondered about my exercise habits. Well, I had none; but something she said about exercise stuck with me,
“…you need to exercise your heart regularly. If you do that, it will be strong so whenever it has to beat harder, like when you are running, or stressed or in ‘flight or fight’ mode, it won’t give up on you! If you don’t prepare it by slowly building up tolerance, when the time comes for it to go into overdrive, it may fail.”
I hadn’t really thought of it that way before, but it made so much sense to me. So it’s like that…the little trials, the small setbacks, the tiny disappointments are God’s way of training us to have faith, to learn to trust Him and to learn to pray instead of worry. Once we have this habit of strength and faith and speaking the Word of God back to our problems…then we can just about handle anything satan tries to throw at us. The best part of this though, is really not how wonderfully we can pull through a situation, the greatest part is the TESTIMONY on the other side that will show other’s what kind of God we serve. “If He did it before, He can do it again…and again… and again!” Amen?
In my women’s group at church we are studying the book of Daniel. Most of you probably already know the famous bible story about Daniel in the lion’s den. In case you’ve never read it, here is a brief summary: There were some wicked men that didn’t like this guy Daniel and they talked the King into sending him to his death because he refused to stop praying to God and would not worship the king or his idols. The King really didn’t even want to do it because he liked Daniel, but he did it to “save face” (you know how pride can be, right?) and once he’d done it he stayed up all night worried about Daniel. Of course, Daniel prayed and worshipped God through the night and was alive and well when the King went to check on him the next day. What I really love about this story is not just about the fact that Daniel was saved by God from being killed and eaten by the animal, I mean that part is a no brain-er for me because I know God always comes through. For me, the greatest part is the revelation and the confirmation of God’s power to everyone else that saw what happened. It was such a powerful testimony, that the King made it a law that everyone must serve the living God that Daniel worshipped. He wrote a decree and publicly made the declaration that the God that Daniel served “rescues and saves” and that “he endures forever”! Wow, what a testimony that is. Daniel’s faith changed the heart of others. You know about those people in your life that need to “see things to believe”? Yes, we all have them around. What if one miraculous movement of God upon your life could turn an unbeliever into a Christian? If it were possible, for just one person to be saved while you went through a trying time, just to be publicly delivered…would you volunteer for the pain?
In Romans, Paul says that we should, “Glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:3-4 Sounds pretty awesomely spiritual doesn’t it? It even seems logical, reasonable and simple for any committed Christian to understand and remember…wouldn’t you think? Yet, what happens to so many of us when reality hits and times get really tough? We lose our jobs, our homes, relationships that we cherished fall apart or when we or someone we love gets sick or…the hardest trial yet…when a loved-one dies un-expectantly and we don’t understand why or how God could allow it. That’s when we really need help…what then do we do?
Answer: We worship God through the pain. See the truth is, things go wrong in life and it’s not always an act of God nor a trick by satan. Sometimes, it’s just ‘cause and effect’ of our earthly actions, or you know…the way life happens. Here’s the thing… the devil knows all of this already, but when tough times come, he takes the opportunity to try to trick you into thinking the worst possible thoughts. He wants you blaming God. The devil tries his best to get you to be sad, hopeless, depressed, afraid, angry and generally just in a very dark place emotionally. Satan knows that if you are feeling all of these negative feelings that you won’t have the energy or time to pray. See God would prefer that you trust Him and lean on Him in these times…it’s the time when we really need to pray because what we need most is God’s strength and power to get us through to the other side. And guess what else? PRAISE WILL CONFUSE THE ENEMY! (Thank you Mr. Sapp!) That’s right…Satan is waiting for you to fall apart, but imagine the surprise and horror in hell when instead, you start to pray, praise God, dance around smiling and happy, right smack dab in the middle of your sorrow? Watch this. Here’s what happens when you sing praises to God: Your little tiny voice floats into the air and reaches all the way to heaven…the angels perk up as they hear you and they start to sing along. (…and trust me…whatever Jesus music you are singing…they can name that tune!) Imagine how it goes…God is actually smiling, heaven is rejoicing with you and angels are dispatched by God as a result of your prayer…they swoop on down to wherever you are and a fight begins. They demolish the demons that have been lurking around you, whispering despair and fear into your mind. The darkness has gone and the Heavenly Hosts (the Angels) are there with you…and even though you can’t see them…your body feels warm and tingly…you no longer feel like crying. All of a sudden…you feel better, you get some encouragement…you know it might not be easy, but you feel a burst of Holy adrenaline! Whatever you are going through today, YOU CAN AND WILL GET THROUGH IT!
Warning: DEFINITELY TRY THIS AT HOME!
No…I mean it! TRY IT! RIGHT NOW! Wherever you are…start to praise God even if you don’t feel like it….do it anyway! Someone is watching to see how you handle your trials…give them an amazing testimony of faith!
Tomorrow is another day and what Satan hopes will harm you, God will turn around to bless you! God always comes through!
Remember that brothers and sisters!
Dear Heavenly Father,
I want to thank you so much for the love you have given us, your children. Your mercy is everlasting and we never deserve it Father, but we are so grateful. I thank you Lord, for the opportunity to fellowship and share with others through this blog. Now Father, I ask that you bless anyone that may read this today, Father that may be going through the toughest struggle of their lives. Lord, no matter what it is, I ask that you shower them with your love, grace and mercy Lord, and cover them with the blood of Jesus. I rebuke satan’s attack on them using depression, oppression, despair and fear in the name of Jesus. We thank you Father for sending your precious Son, your Word tells us that He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed and because of this, we thank you God! I pray for healing in body, in mind, mending in hearts and peace for the souls of my readers Lord. I ask that you deliver them from whatever bondage that is holding them back from seeking you Father, whatever keeps them from crying out in prayer and praise, I ask that the chains be broken immediately in Jesus’ name! Send your angels from heaven to minister peace to whoever has stumbled onto this page today Lord, someone that needs a breakthrough. We ask you for it Father and we thank you in advance for it Lord. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!