“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death will not exist any more – or mourning, or crying, or pain, for the former things have ceased to exist.” Revelation 21:4 (NET)
How do you cope with the loss of a loved one? Do you blame God for your pain and run away, or do you run to Him for comfort? You can take comfort if you remember that this life is temporary and you will see your loved ones again. But yet, the loss can feel so devastating that it sends us running instead.
What do I mean by running? Leaving God behind to find a different source of comfort is what I mean. Being a runner myself, I know the routine. When bad things happen, I get so mad at God that I decide living without Him is better. Wrong! Trying to find comfort outside of the realm of God leaves us unsatisfied and empty. We not only don’t find comfort, but we also find ourselves wrapped up in unhealthy relationships, hanging out in the wrong places, and possibly, trapped in the middle of some addiction.
The consequences we accumulate from running are why it is essential to keep our eyes on things above. Especially since the best comfort and healing come from God. I thank God that He understands how much we hurt when we lose someone. We can raise our arms to Him and describe every emotion we are feeling from the loss. We can openly tell Him how we feel about the situation because God already knows our feelings. We are not hiding anything from Him by not admitting it. Not facing the pain and not giving it over to God will cause us to run.
I don’t know about you, but I cannot wait until we are in the kingdom, where God will wipe away our tears, and death shall be no more. Until then, let’s keep taking our pain to God in prayer.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1 (ESV)
Who do you turn to in chaotic situations? Is there a significant person that you run to, or do you only rely on yourself? I have heard people talk about how they solely depend on themselves. Others say there is a significant person in their life that is called their rock. I have experienced both in my life.
There have been times when I put the responsibility of refuge and strength on another person. There have also been times when I have only trusted myself to fill the need. In both situations, I was unhappy and unfulfilled.
It’s easy to turn to ourselves or cling to others when in need or trouble. But since we are human, we are always let down. God is there and won’t let us down, but we have to seek Him.
Coming to God and depending on Him to be our refuge and strength is not easy, but I can say, from experience, that it is more fulfilling. The more we seek Him, the easier it gets.
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Romans 12:12 (ESV)
My joy in hope
patience in tribulation
is only because
of constant prayer!
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10 (ESV)
Who, or what broke your heart? Did you turn to God or away from Him? Every time something went wrong in my life, I ran away. When did you stop running, or have you?
It was eleven years ago that I fell on my face crying uncontrollably to God. I humbly asked Him to show me how to rest in His arms. I wanted to know how to discipline myself according to His principles. I pleaded with Him to stop me from chasing after my desires. I couldn’t handle the shame anymore. Another broken heart, and I was too tired to keep running.
As I got up the next day and continued living as I always had, God got up and went to work on me! God does create a clean heart in us. But we first have to be willing to give our hearts to Him.
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” Isaiah 26:3 (ESV).
Do you have peace? Do your feelings seem to range between sadness, anger, and fear these days? We hurt for what is going on in the world. We are mad at the spread of a plague that doesn’t seem to be ending. We fear for our loved ones. How can we have peace and know that God is in complete control? As I listen to others’ concerns, I scramble to think of what I can say to share the peace that I have found.
If this pandemic had happened in my younger days, even ten years ago, I would not have had any hope at all. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in God. I have always believed in Him. But choices based on how I wanted to live is what filled my life. I didn’t seek God’s direction in anything. I lived in how I wanted to live and felt that I was alright in God’s eyes because I believed in Him. But I didn’t have any peace. I was full of anxiety daily. Anything out of the ordinary would scare me and send me into a state of depression. So how do I have so much peace today in the middle of all that is going on?
Seek God’s direction daily. Do not make life choices without first studying the bible and praying for God’s guidance. Learn to lean on God and trust Him with anything that comes into our life. We don’t need to change when coming to Jesus, but because we turn to Him and follow His direction, God changes us. This change is where we will find peace.
These emotions that try to seep into our life will only last for a minute as we come to God and trust His plan and purpose for our life. It’s not because we say we believe. It’s because we live out what God teaches us.
That is why I am not anxious. That is why I have peace.
“He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing” Proverbs 29:1 (ESV).
Do you ever feel you are running in circles? Do you keep making the same mistakes? We think each trial we go through has taught us our lesson, and then we do it again. When we feel as though our life can’t get worse, something happens to prove us wrong.
Have you ever accepted Jesus as your Savior? Do you live your life following God’s direction? If not, the consequences in your life may be a direct result of ignoring Him and doing your own thing.
That is the way my life was. Each time I made a decision that took me further away from God, the consequence became worse. I was very rebellious and just wanted to live life my way. By the time I gave in and repented, I had so many regrets I didn’t think that I would be able to recover. It has not been easy, but I am finding peace and restoration.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd and does not let His sheep go astray. If we walk away from God after our Salvation, He starts the discipline process to bring us back to Him. He will not quit. Once we belong to Him, we will always belong to Him.
That is why God keeps disciplining us. But the longer it takes us to respond, the more punishment we will go through. If we keep refusing to repent, we will get to a place of brokenness that can’t heal.
I’m thankful that God didn’t stop disciplining me, but I wish I had learned my lesson sooner.
“Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence” Colossians 2:23 (NIV).
As we walk away from habits in our lives that are not pleasing to God, we need to ask ourselves if we are walking away because we love the Lord, or are we just behaving to obey a set of rules? If we make changes in our life, but still harbor those desires in our hearts, are we headed for danger? There must be more to our life than just following the rules. There needs to be proper knowledge of who God is, true love in our hearts for Him, and a genuine desire to obey Him because of who He is.
Raised in a Christian home, I was in church whenever the doors were open. I learned how to behave, but I did not understand the why of that behavior. I mean, I did not see how the principles in God’s word applied to my action. I believed in God, but I did not understand that my walk with Him could be a relational one. I did not get how to love Him or how much He loved me. As a result, I developed a pattern in my life of just behaving in a way that was always temporary because of the sinful desires buried deep in my heart. I did not learn to deal with those desires the proper way.
If we only behave to follow the rules, our desires will not go away. They will stay dormant in our hearts, waiting for that one trigger to bring it out again. Only God can change this in us as we give Him each desire, one by one.
Following a set of rules does nothing for the indulgence of sin. But learning how to love and trust God is the only right way to get away from a sinful life.
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions” Psalm 51:1 (ESV).
Sometimes choices are made that lead us to live contrary to God’s word. We think we are making the right choices, but end up in a mess if we did not follow God’s direction. Once there, we realize our mistake, but we feel that we have no right to ask God for guidance. Guilt and shame keep us from returning to God. Can we come back to Him after all the bad things that we have done?
It was pride that had me on the path of following my way of life instead of God’s way. Tired of the mess in my life, I knew that coming back to God was the only answer. But the lies that He will not forgive me kept me isolated in my sin. I got stuck in the trap of thinking that I could not come back to God. I did not feel worthy of being forgiven. But running from God and doing my own thing got old. I finally became tired of living in the consequences of my choices.
I am grateful that God’s love and mercy endure forever! Our past does not matter. We can turn back to God, and He can make good out of our bad choices.
God loves you! Stop running.
“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with your heart,” Jeremiah 29:12-13 (ESV).
What is on your heart when you come to God? Do you try to hide anything? I know I have. God sees all. God knows all. We can tell Him all that is on our heart, and may as well since He already knows what is there! We can, and should, always come to Him with a sincere heart. There is no need to try and fool Him with fancy words or a lack of them. He knows how we feel about everyone and everything in our life. If we genuinely want to seek God and His direction in our life, we need to seek Him with a sincere heart.
I know that I cannot hide from God, but I still tried. I lived a life making my own decisions and not seeking God’s direction in any of them. I would always cry out to God when things got tough, but never out of sincerity. I would still hold something back that I would not turn over to Him. I was always justifying my actions, at the same time, asking my Heavenly Father for help. But after asking for help, I would get up and keep going my own way. How foolish of me to think I could find God with an insincere heart!
He already knows what we harbor in our hearts. Trying to pull a fast one on God does not work, yet I spent most of my life trying. If only I had sought God with a sincere heart, one that desired change and was full of repentance. Now I know that finding God means I need to seek Him with my heart; I have given up trying to hide anything from Him. I am glad that I gave up trying and so thankful for God’s forgiveness.
We always want to come to God with a sincere heart because that is when we will find Him.
“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil” Ephesians 4:26-27 (ESV).
How does a person be angry and not sin? A still better question might be, how do we keep the devil from an opportunity with our anger? We know not to throw temper tantrums. We’ve learned that from an early age, whether we have stopped throwing them or not. But the opposite of throwing a fit can be just as bad, and maybe worse in some cases. I chose to hold anger in and stuff it down deep.
That is how I have dealt with anger for most of my life. Oh, I had outbursts here and there. But only because I could only hold in so much before it had to go somewhere. I can guarantee the explosion was never pretty. When we don’t deal with the anger, it festers in our thoughts. Those thoughts become too much to bear, so we stuff them. Stuffed emotions come out in our actions and speech, whether we realize it or not.
Dwelling on the anger and stuffing my feelings quenched the Holy Spirit in my life, so He could not work through me. We give the devil room to move in and make himself at home when we hold on to resentment. That is what I did. I wasted most of my life being angry about something that I could not change, and because I chose to stuff my anger and not wholly forgive, my life turned upside down.
Today, I try not to give the devil an opportunity. I go into my prayer closet, and I lay my anger down before the Lord. My prayer starts out ranting about what I am angry about, but always ends with a humble, “But Lord, I cannot change the situation. Please make me the right person in this situation through my actions and speech and give me love in my heart for others. Not my will, but yours”.
The transformation of my attitude by the end of my prayer always amazes me!