Repost of Praising My Way Through Grief

Lately, I’ve been going through a time of grieving. This grieving does not have to do with the death of a loved one, but the seeming death of dreams I’ve had for loved ones. Some days I feel the more I pray, the more situations happen that add to my grief.

Yet in the midst of grief and my temptation to wallow in self-pity, I’m reminded that praising God is mandatory if I want victory.

Today I’m reposting a blog with a song added that I posted on April 29, 2012—two months after my youngest brother committed suicide. God helped me through that time of grief, and He will help me now. Staying in praise seems to be a key to receiving that help.

I pray that this will be the course of my heart: I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. Psalm 34:1 KJV

*****

Praising My Way Through Grief

Praising God when things are going well seems the right thing to do.

But when my world seems to be shattered, praising God can feel unnatural.

And so it is.

This is why God rejoices when I do it, and my life is transformed in the process.

There’s no doubt that the Word instructs me to keep on praising the Lord—no matter what my circumstances are like.

I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. Psalm 34:1 KJV

What a challenge this has been in my Christian life. Too often I want to “bless the LORD” with my praise only when all seems right with my world.

When it feels to my near-sighted soul that He has withdrawn His blessings from me–such as when tragedy or trouble comes–I want to withdraw my praise.

The course in the midst of troubles has too often been: I will praise Him when things get better—when He is blessing me again.

The truth is that God never stops blessing me. Every day and every moment of the day He pours His grace on me. He helps me through my troubles—if I’m willing to receive that help. His love for me does not change—even though my circumstances may.

Praises can cease when I start judging God– accusing Him of bringing calamity to my life for all sorts of unholy reasons. The truth is God remains holy and righteous through every season of my life. His view of me does not change just because I think it does or because my view of Him becomes skewed. He is not punishing me through trials just because my wayward soul determines it is so.

When tragedy struck in my life due to the suicide of my brother, there was a part of me that wanted to stop praising God—especially since this was the second suicide of a sibling I had to face. How can I praise a God who refused to intervene to save this precious life? Or my sister’s life many years ago? But those thoughts were short-lived as I determined to stay in praise no matter what my emotions told me.

As I have stayed in the Word—especially in the psalms—I’ve been reminded that God is deserving of all my praise. Praise the Lord! I’ve recalled all He has brought me through. Praise the Lord! I’ve recollected how at times He has carried me when I’ve felt too weak to go on—both in this tragedy and in the midst of calamities in the past. Praise the Lord!

Not only do I praise God for His faithfulness in days gone by and in my present struggles, but I also praise Him for His promise to be faithful in the future. I feel excited about what He is going to do next to continue to bring good out of this latest heartbreak as He has done with every challenge in my life.

My heart echoes what David said in Psalm 43:5

…for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. (NIV)

Here is a song that has comforted me so much over the years:

“Praise You In The Storm” by Casting Crowns

 

 

 

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Time In Prison Repost

Not long ago, I spoke with the man I mentioned in a blog I first posted on October 7 2017. Once again, he spoke if engaging in a battle dealing with chronic pain. Rereading that blog reminded me as I deal with my own chronic pain—of the emotional kind—that God will help us as we draw close to Him.

Time in Prison Repost

A while ago a man I know and love talked about his chronic pain. Every day no matter what he does, he cannot escape the pain he feels.

“It’s like being in prison,” he said.

Although chronic physical pain remains something I do not deal with, I can relate to chronic emotional pain. For years I battled severe depression from which I failed for a time to find an escape. I praise God He set me free over many years through counseling by Christian counselors—both lay and professional– and by the Holy Spirit.

During those years, and sometimes in more recent years and months when painful circumstances threaten to shatter my peace, I felt the same way my loved one does, “It’s like being in prison.”

But yet as I thought about the whole idea of pain and prison, Paul’s time behind bars which I read about in Scripture, came to mind.

This directive came too, Do what he did when he was in prison.

I studied Paul’s time in prison—especially in the book of Philippians–and compiled a list of what Paul did while in prison:

He prayed to God. Acts 16:25

He sang hymns of praise. Acts 16:25

He thanked God for others. Philippians 1:3

He prayed for others. Philippians 1:3

He wrote a letter of encouragement: his letter to the Philippians.

He saw the good of his prison time—“greater progress of the gospel.” Philippians 1:12

He rejoiced in the Lord. Philippians 1:18

He gave godly counsel. Philippians 2:14

He urged others to rejoice. Philippians 2:17, 4:4

He spoke of trusting God. Philippians 2:24

He reached out to meet the needs of others. Philippians 2:25

He believed Christ would be exalted in his body. Philippians 3:20

He encouraged others to let go of anxiety and to pray. Philippians 4:6

He encouraged others to control their thinking. Philippians 4:8

He learned about contentment. Philippians 4:11-12

He depended on Christ’s strength. Philippians 4:13

He gave glory to God. Philippians 4:20

He encouraged others to take hold of God’s grace. Philippians 4:23

As I read the complete book of Philippians, I discovered Paul kept his focus on Jesus, shared his faith with others, maintained an excellent attitude and encouraged that in others, and sent life-changing teachings and warnings to fellow Christians.

What he didn’t do was complain, feel sorry for himself, withdraw from God or fellow Christians, or proclaim lies about the Lord and His goodness, IE, “God doesn’t love or care about me anymore,” or “God has abandoned me.”

Since I saw that my loved one and I tend to slip into the above negative behaviors during our “prison time,” my prayer for both of us centers on learning to handle difficult circumstances in a way which pleases God—the way Paul dealt with his time in prison.

The difference between Paul and myself comes to this: I tend to do what comes naturally. What Paul did was supernatural.

God wants me to live a supernatural life, which comes about by being vitally connected to Him. I accomplish this when I abide in Him and depend on the guidance of the Holy Spirit rather than what my mind tells me to think and do.

In the days ahead, as I continue to face various difficult circumstances over which I have no control, I pray for God to help me to be like Paul. I will review the list above on a regular basis and ask God to empower me to live it out.

Doing so will help me grow, will be a powerful witness to those who don’t know the Lord, and will bring glory to God.

I thank God in advance for all He’s going to do in me and through me as I embrace these truths.

“King of My Heart” by Kutless

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jkMnq2Hfzo

 

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

I Will Call Upon the Lord

In a recent blog, I wrote about being rescued by God and how calling out to God facilitates that rescue.

I confess too often I don’t call out to God when hard times come. One reason is that I’m feeling sad and at times mad because He allowed difficult trials in my life. Also, too often when I call on Him to remove the hard circumstances, they get worse.

It’s taken me a long time to realize (as I’ve written before) that God seems to have little interest in quickly ending my hard times. What He seems bent on doing is helping me to grow through them. And He provides for my needs in difficult days and shows His faithfulness.

I remember years ago, I looked up the verses that talked about calling out to God and wrote them on cards and called them my “calling cards.”

In my latest attempts to keep from drowning in a sea of overpowering waves, I realize once again that God isn’t going to get me out of these turbulent waters any time soon. So I’m determined to call on Him—every day. My goal is to listen to and for His voice and make the choice to obey, even though He refuses to give me my way—which is to get me out of these life-threatening, swirling waters.

As I call on Him, I see He is able to calm the waves of the sea. And when He doesn’t, calms the turbulence in me—if I let Him and as I draw close to Him. I have to let that be enough and realize He is building my strength and character as I wrestle with the sea, which can be calm one minute, and then the torrents rise up again.

Here are verses—taken from the Psalms–which speak of calling on the Lord. My list started out longer, but now I have kept the ones which contain a promise. Many others were pleas for God to do something as He was called upon–like this verse: I call to you, Lord, come quickly to me; hear me when I call to you. Ps 141:1

Here are the ones with promises italicized:

I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain. Psalm 3:4 NIV

the Lord hears when I call to him. Psalm 4:3

I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies. Ps 18:3

Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. Psalm 30:2

you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help. Psalm 31:22

This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. Psalm 34:6

…call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” Psalm 50:15

As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Psalm 55:16

You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. Psalm 86:5

I call on the Lord in my distress, and he answers me. Psalm 120:1

When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me. Psalm 138:3

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. Ps 145:18

David spoke many times of calling on the Lord, and often miracles happened when He did, but yet as I read the Psalms I see that even though David was referred to as a man after God’s own heart, there were times he failed to call on the Lord. This brought about disastrous results. Two times that come to mind are when he didn’t go to war and instead stayed home and slept with one of his soldier’s wives who became pregnant, and then he murdered that soldier. (See 2 Samuel 11)

Another occasion when it seemed he repeatedly failed to call on the Lord in regard to his children, with the end result being one son killing another. (See 2 Samuel 13)

 When I don’t call on the Lord, I’m declaring I can manage matters on my own—that I don’t need God. Then I can easily make a mess of things.

Calling on Him instead of being self-sufficient shows I trust Him, and I believe that He hears me and will answer—not in the way I demand, but in the way that seems best to Him.

One of my favorite calling on Him verses from the above list is Psalm 50:15: “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” (NKJV)

When I call on the Lord, He promises to deliver me. And when I let Him deliver me, which leads me on to obedience, it brings Him glory. But just the act of allowing Him to deliver me also brings Him glory.

Today and in the days ahead, I’m determined to call on the Lord and receive all the promises attached to His caring command.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yv1lcj4LHHw

“I Will Call Upon the Lord” by Keith Lancaster & The Acappella Company

 

 

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

God As Rescuer

Today, I feel in need of rescue.

Too often I’m busy at rescue attempts concerning others, but they are failed missions. Yet in the midst of these, I’m reminded God doesn’t promise to help me rescue others, but He does promise to rescue me.

So today I ask God to please rescue me from hopelessness and negative thinking concerning loved ones who are bent on following paths that lead to destruction. I request rescue from worry and trying to blame myself for their wrong choices. Rescue from feeling so hurt and bitter by the mean things people say and do to me because they are hurting. Rescue from trying to find comfort in the things of this world instead of in His loving arms. Rescue from the lies that continue to whisper that I’m not good enough and I’ll never measure up as a wife, mother, grandmother, writer, Christian.

Today I found this verse in the Word when I looked up the word “rescue.”

“Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless” (1 Samuel 12:21 NIV.)

I realize that what I turn to often in times of trouble are idols—like TV and food. Even though I wrote about these as strongholds, I suppose they can be both.

I remember years ago I came up with an acronym or rather God gave it to me: Idols = I Desire Other Love Sources.

It’s true that I turn to other things and to people when I sense that God doesn’t love me and/or refuses to rescue me.

What I’m also realizing is I want to be rescued from difficult circumstances, and God mostly wants to rescue me from my enemies—many of which are not people but my own issues, such as fear, hopelessness, a sense of unworthiness, and the feeling that God doesn’t love me. These issues originate with the one true enemy of my soul, Satan.

Another verse came to mind: “I called to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies.” Psalm 18:3

I see that there is an action required from me if I am to be rescued from my enemies—calling on God. This verse says “saved” rather than “rescued” from my enemies.

Here is the definition of “rescue” that I found in the dictionary: “to save (someone) from a dangerous or distressing situation.”

So saving and rescuing are related.

Here are some synonyms for rescue: save, preserve, recover, redeem, recapture, salvage, reclaim, retain, keep back, safeguard, protect, retrieve, withdraw, take to safety, come to the aid of, relieve, bail out.

When I think that God wants to rescue me and read all of those words for rescue, I feel overwhelmed.

As I looked at the synonyms for rescue, I read “come to the aid of,” which means “help.” So the words “rescue” and “help” are also related.

There are verses in Scripture which remind me God desires to help (rescue) me such as Psalm 46:1: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help (rescuer) in trouble.”

So to find out more about God’s desire to rescue me and to gain hints on how I can cooperate with His rescue mission (of me), I can look up not only the verses which contain the word, “rescue” but also the words “enemies,” “save,” and “help” to read about how God can and will rescue me as I call out to Him.

I confess too often I don’t call out to God. Instead I call on friends or I call on or turn to the TV or food to be my rescuer.

So verses with enemies, save, and help all point to God as my rescuer. Here are more verses which contain those words, where I can connect it to the word “rescue.”

but you give us victory over (rescue us from) our enemies,…Psalm 44:7

 With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down (rescue us from) our enemies. Psalm 60:12. Psalm 108:13 repeats this.

If my people would only listen to me, if Israel would only follow my ways, how quickly I would subdue (rescue them from) their enemies and turn my hand against their foes! Psalm 81:13-14

I rewrote these verses with my name inserted. The requirements for me to be rescued from my enemies are listening to God and following His ways.

If Elaine would only listen to me, If Elaine would only follow my ways. How quickly I would subdue (rescue her from) her enemies and turn my hand against her foes!

Now I’m looking up the word “save,” which is a synonym for rescue.

You save (rescue) the humble, but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them low. 2 Samuel 22:28

My shield is God Most High, who saves (rescues) the upright in heart. Psalm 7:10

Show me the wonders of your great love, you who save (rescue) by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes. Psalm 17:7

A horse (and all that I depend on besides God) is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save (rescue.) Psalm 33:17

This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved (rescued) him out of all (All? Really” All? Wow!) his troubles. Psalm 34:6  

The requirements that I read in the above verses are for me to be humble, to be upright in heart, to take refuge in Him, to call on Him, and to stop depending on things in this world for rescue.

Here are several more verses with the word, “help.”

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps (rescues) me. Psalm 28:7

Then my enemies will turn back when I call for help (rescue)… Psalm 56:9

The Lord is with me; he is my helper (rescuer)… Psalm 118:7

The requirements of me I read in these verses is trusting in Him and calling on Him for rescue.

After reading all these verses which point to the truth that God truly wants to rescue me (and my loved ones as well) I see the issue I struggle with. It’s not believing in God’s desire—His passion for rescue, and looking for other means of rescue, which I determine are not as bad as other people’s, i.e., drugs, alcohol, gambling, affairs. I now see that me and my loved ones are struggling with similar issues.

For both myself and them, I want grace to believe in and receive God’s rescue.

Thank You, Lord, for rescuing me the day I was saved and for continuing to rescue me from being overwhelmed by the hurts and heartaches of this world and the threat of becoming immobile and useless because of them. Help me to trust You as I continue to humble myself before You, call on You instead of on idols to rescue me, and seek You as my one and only refuge. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

“Rescue” by Lauren Daigle

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FhQCYGYXzw

The story behind the song, “Rescue.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-ngZ__Knro

Note: To read another blog I wrote about God as rescuer, click on this link:

https://elainecreasman.wordpress.com/2018/08/31/rescuer/

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Tearing Down Strongholds-Part 2

At my weekly Bible study recently, we broke into small groups and were instructed to pray about our issues and listen for and write down God’s answers. I prayed about the strongholds of food and TV.

After praying, one friend in our group of three said this is what she felt the Lord gave her: “Food-comfort from past hurt. TV-knocks out loneliness. Sit with Me without either and let Me show you I AM there, right with you. Hebrews 13:5. (“I will never leave you or forsake you.”) I will comfort. God of ALL comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3)

The other lady in my group said, “Go back to that child and find out why you turned to TV and food.

What came to mind, which I spoke out loud to them was this: “I didn’t want to feel my feelings.”

She said, “He felt your pain.”

The first lady added, “He cried when you cried.”

What the Lord gave me as I called out to Him at the Bible study was, “Sup with me—literally and figuratively. (Invite Him to be with me when I turn to food and also take time to enjoy “eating” the food, which is His Word. See Jeremiah 15:16) Time with Me has no negative side effects, like TV and food.”

Then the Lord brought a song to my mind which He gave me years ago to sing to myself and to the psych patients I worked with. The song had comforted the adult in me, and I first received the song from the Lord in the present tense, but God wanted me to sing it over the little child in me and look back to my childhood as I sang it:

Rest assured, my child, I loved you.

Rest assured, my child, I cared.

When life was hard, and the road was long,

know that I was always there.

When you couldn’t understand,

I was holding Your hand.

So rest assured, my child.

Rest assured.

Then I was given this instruction: Time with Me first.

I realized that watching TV and eating are not bad. It’s just that I have chosen them so many times in my childhood and since instead of God—that during times when I believed the lie that God abandoned me, I maintained a strong hold on TV and food because I couldn’t seem to gain or regain a strong hold on God.

I felt like I had gone through therapy at the Bible study, and I determined to receive the truth presented there to help fully tear down those strongholds which were based on lies about God and whether He cared about me when I was a child and whether He cared about me when He let such hard things happen to me as an adult.

I realized one of the emotions which was a trigger for me as far as turning to food and TV was depression.

How I long to turn to God as my stronghold immediately when I feel depressed.

Here are verses I looked up which speak of God as my stronghold:

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Psalm 9:9 NIV

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2

The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1

The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble. Psalm 37:39

Note: In the Amplified Bible in some of these verses, after the word “stronghold,” in brackets there are the words “refuge” and “high tower.” That helps me to understand more about God as my stronghold. Next, I could look up verses with those words in them.

Then I discovered Psalm 43, which I can pray instead of turning to food and TV during those times when I feel God is not my stronghold, which will help to set my soul straight.

“Vindicate me, my God, and plead my cause against an unfaithful nation. (In my life, it’s “unfaithful,” rejecting people.) Rescue me from those who are deceitful and wicked. You are God my stronghold. Why have you rejected me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy? Send me your light and your faithful care, let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell. Then I will go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight. I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God. Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

After reading this, I see that David was depressed and felt God was rejecting him. I relate. So I see when I go to God, I can tell Him how I really feel–like David did. A revelation just came to mind. Sometimes I have a hard time going to God because I want to be over my negative feelings and thoughts before I do.

Even as I had the above Psalm ready for each day, and I understood facts about my strongholds, when more disturbing circumstances happened this week, I still turned to food and TV at times. I realized how much of a habit it was. I also saw that although I wanted to use food and TV to avoid dealing with my feelings—especially depression—turning to these strongholds only made me feel more depressed.

One truth that came to mind in regard to depression over circumstances is Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Even though some bad things are happening lately, I can choose to believe this truth.

I see that another issue involved in turning to strongholds other than God is that when hard times come, on certain days I feel too immobilized to pray. Instead I say—I speak about the negative circumstances in between turning to food and TV. Instead of this, I can turn to others who will pray with me or go directly to God in prayer.

I want to turn to God. I long to cry out to Him and ask that He alone be the stronghold of my life, but I admit that some days I feel blocked from doing that. I long to receive more of His truth in order to remove these blocks and tear down these strongholds that seem to have been torn down at one time or perhaps many times, but I have rebuilt them once again as hard times came.

In the days ahead when new circumstances may once again tempt me to believe more lies, I feel determined to receive and believe the truth that no matter what happens, God is there to be the stronghold of my life, and I can let go of every other stronghold. I pray the hurt child in me and the broken-hearted adult will let go of lies and fully receive truth. I realize I haven’t yet arrived there; I’m still in the process of doing that.

Lord, I’m ready to have these two strongholds demolished. I know it may take time, but I trust You to help me to turn to You instead of to them. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

“When We Pray” by Tauren Wells

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqicUCaa6ag

 

 

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Tearing Down Strongholds: Part 1

I never used the word “stronghold” before I became a Christian.

But in one week not long ago, I heard two pastors talk about strongholds. Although I thought I knew about the concept in Scripture, these two pastors gave me some fresh insights.

The first pastor, whom I listened to on the radio, told me to stop saying the word “addiction” and instead use the word “stronghold.” One reason he gave was this: “the word ‘addiction’ does not appear in Scripture.”

I admitted after hearing him, that when I prayed I did ask God to help my loved ones get over their addictions—to gambling, alcohol, drugs, working, pornography and the list goes on.

One thing about the word “stronghold” is that it is more descriptive than the word “addiction.” For my loved one with a severe gambling problem, gambling certainly has a strong hold on his life.

I looked up the word “stronghold” in the dictionary recently. I read: “A place that has been fortified so as to protect against attack; a well-fortified place, a fortress.”

So is my stronghold the place I go when I feel attacked, my fortress where I can hide and feel safe?

Since I heard that pastor on the radio say to use “stronghold” instead of “addiction,” I’ve been doing so. Lord, deliver ____ from the stronghold of gambling.” “Deliver ____ from the stronghold of drugs.”

Then I started thinking, What are my strongholds? Two came to mind: food and TV. I’ve admitted many times before that I struggle with both of these. How interesting that these were the two main fortresses I ran to as a child when life seemed more than I could bear. I didn’t turn to God since He seemed an absent Father, who was talked about in church and occasionally in our home, and someone we prayed to, but never seemed present, like my faithful, visible companions of food and television.

So is a stronghold something we turn to instead of God? If I’m honest I have seen food and TV as places that protected me against attack and as fortresses I could run to–especially as a child.

The second pastor who talked about strongholds was the pastor at my home church.

We were studying II Corinthians 10 that day and Pastor was going through the chapter verse by verse. When he came to verse 4, my ears perked up: “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds” (NIV). Then he read verse 5, which I had never connected to the strongholds verse, even though it comes immediately after it: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

What the pastor concluded from putting those verses together was that every stronghold is based on a lie or lies, so we need the truth to get rid of strongholds. I had never heard or thought of that before in quite that way.

However, I had been delivered from other strongholds, like fear, by letting go of the lies like, “I have no choice but to be fearful” and by embracing truth like “I can be delivered from fear” as presented in Psalm 34:4: “I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.”

As I pondered the lie vs the truth in regard to my strongholds of TV and food, I realized one lie I believed in connection with them both was that I could receive comfort from them that I could not receive from the Lord.

I confessed once again as I have so many times before that even though in so many ways I am freer from these than ever before, I still tend to turn to them in difficult times when it seems the more I pray, the worse circumstances become. With the TV shows I watch—House Hunters and others on HGTV, Judge Judy, and baseball–everything is solved or there is a winner or loser during the half hour or hour show, (baseball takes a bit longer).

Yet, in my life with God, I’ve been praying many prayers for decades which are still not answered to my satisfaction, and the circumstances still bring much heartache.

With food, I feel better right away when I eat some sweets during those times my life and the people around me seem so far from being sweet.

The truth is that when I turn to God in hard times instead of to food and TV, He does bring sweetness into my life as I let go of demanding that He solve every circumstance in my life according to my time table. Instead of bringing change to circumstances, He brings blessings which bring changes in me—comfort, peace, joy, and hope.

I praise God that as I use His weapons—especially the weapon of truth—the strongholds in my life can be demolished.

Next week, I will bring part 2 of  “Tearing Down Strongholds.”

“Even Then” by Micah Tyler

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7PBysTjztCU

 

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Repost of Letting Go of Fear While Waiting For The Storm

Today I’m reposting a blog from two years ago—one I wrote as we awaited Hurricane Irma. Although other parts of Florida were hit hard, the outcome of Irma for us and for our area was that although there were many trees, fences, and power lines down, and so much debris, there was relatively little damage to homes, and the force of the winds was much less than what was first expected.

Now there is another hurricane looming: Dorian. Although the hurricane is not headed for the Tampa Bay area, there are still many in its path that are overcome by fear. I talked to someone on Florida’s east coast who at one point freaked out with fear, convinced that the hurricane would surely hit their home and destroy everything they owned. Now the hurricane has turned, and that individual has calmed some. Yet there are others in its current path who are battling immense fear as they hear that the storm is now heading their way.

Every time I think of hurricanes, I think of the storms that come into our lives. The bottom line is whether it’s a hurricane or the storm of a trial or trauma, God can still be trusted. He can and will calm us as we wait.

LETTING GO OF FEAR WHILE WAITING FOR THE STORM

First posted on September 9, 2017

“Dreading the Worst.”

I read the newspaper headline as I jogged past a newspaper in our neighbors’ driveway.

Many people I encounter in recent days seem filled with dread.

“I’m so afraid,” a number of people said to me today.

What brings on this fear and dread?

Hurricane Irma looms to the south of us and threatens to bring forceful winds, lots of rain, and a storm surge.

I believe in preparation for such storms.

But I reject that fear should be our number one emotional response.

Instead of dreading the worst, I pray for the best possible outcome—for the least injury and loss of life and minimal damage to property.

As I focus on the Lord, He urges me not to join in with the fear and fretting going on around me.

One reason for this is the waiting and not knowing.

But isn’t much of life like that?

As I contemplate the choice of fear or faith in the times of approaching storms—even those with hurricane force winds–I know certain wonderful assets these impending storms like Irma can’t take from me.

Some which come quickly to mind are God’s peace, God’s presence, God’s love, my salvation, joy. Also, storms can’t negate the promises God offers to me from His Word.

Yet if I give in to fear, all of these items on my list can seem out of reach and unreal. I can feel alone and trapped in fear.

I realize one reason people give in to fear as they wait for a hurricane to arrive is they spend the day watching TV and see the winds tear through other areas. Those images loom large in their minds.

Yes, I want to know where the storm is and what to expect, but I don’t have to keep my eyes on the problem of the impending storm all day long.

I can focus on the Lord—my provider in the midst of storms—in the natural world and those storms which threaten my heart and soul.

I think of St Maarten where Irma brought devastating damage. Instead of allowing those images to torment my mind, I thought of how the island could be restored—again. On a cruise several years ago, I visited this island with my husband, and we really enjoyed our time there. We had a bus tour with a wonderful bus driver/ tour guide.

He told of a past hurricane which damaged so much on their island. But the wonderful news was they rebuilt it all and once again welcomed cruise ships and the tourists who provided their livelihood.

Today I prayed for that bus driver–that God would keep him strong and help him to grow in faith during this difficult time.

Yesterday I listened to the radio in my car as I ran errands. Uplifting songs lifted me above fearful thoughts of Irma.

One verse the DJ read reassured me: “He caused the storm to be still, So that the waves of the sea were hushed” (Psalm 107:29).  This verse reminded me my God looms so much larger than this or any storm.

At any moment with one word or with one breath, He could dissipate the storm. But for some reason, it seems He allows most to take their course.

But this I know: even when the storm rages around me, He can cause my soul to be still in the midst of the storm, and He can hush the waves inside of me which threaten to mess with me and my life.

The DJ encouraged listeners to continue to tune in throughout the time we waited for the storm to arrive and to let go of fear.

I like what He said at the end of his pep talk to Christians in Florida facing Irma’s arrival: “Let’s trust Him as we go through the storm together.”

That’s exactly what storms do—the hurricane kind and the kind which threaten to ravage our souls—they teach us to trust God.

As I wait for Irma to reach my town, that’s exactly what I’m determined to do—to let go of fear and trust the Lord.

This verse comes to mind: “What time I am afraid, I will have confidence in and put my trust and reliance in You” (Psalm 56:3 AMPC).

I pray for grace to keep obeying this life-changing directive.

I look forward to all the ways God will continue to assure me in the midst of this storm and others I will face in the future.

No matter what happens, He remains faithful.

My Anchor – Christy Nockels & Passion

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCymt6cZY5w

 

 

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , | 2 Comments