Losing Faith

bad-ol-putty-tad-creditsAs I type in this title, I cringe. Why would we ever lose faith in our awesome heavenly Father? He has done so much for us. But if I speak the truth in my heart, I have to admit that I have lost faith, even this week.  We want to sugarcoat it by calling our faithlessness confusion or disappointment, but sadly, it still boils down to a loss of faith. And what does it look like? Do these examples sound familiar:

We pray for the Lord to do something. We pray A LOT and for a long time and we feel really good about it, but the prayer goes unanswered, and we lose faith.  Is God listening?  Why would He not answer our prayers?  We reason that it’s not a selfish prayer; in fact, it’s a prayer for salvation or holiness in the life of someone we love, but it goes unanswered, and we doubt God: lost faith.

We choose to be submissive in a difficult area with our husbands, knowing that our actions will improve our relationship, but instead of seeing a more understanding mate, he’s more difficult than ever, and we lose faith.  We pour ourselves into our children and they make a decision like moving to South Dakota, oops! They make a decision which is not in our plans, and we wonder: God, are You there?

Confession time: As you can see, I’m still dealing with having my children and grandchildren halfway across the country! I don’t like it, but does that mean it is not God’s will? The real problem is that my hopes and dreams died. My son was supposed to be our assistant pastor (I guess we should have told him! :)) and take over our ministry while we sailed off into the sunset!  My grandchildren were supposed to grow up serving the Lord with their cousins AND live close to grandpa and grandma—that was my plan, but it wasn’t God’s plan.

Do I see what God sees?

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8,9

The answer is a very resounding NO!! God knows everything, sees everything, plans everything for our good and His glory… even when it hurts.

We plan, we work, we pray, but it ALL needs to rest on God’s plan, God’s power, and God’s answers.

And why does Satan fight us on the battlefield of faith?  Perhaps Matthew 25:21 will shed some light:

His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

We all want to hear, “Well done,” from our Master, or we should; and it is our faith, which is the catalyst, to make that happen. So, here’s a few things that I have learned to battle faithlessness:

  1. Know your enemy: Our enemy is tenaciously devious! He will stop at nothing to stop your work for God! Doubts (another word for faithlessness) weaken our ministries, homes, and testimonies, and Satan knows that! Be on guard, and…
  2. Know your weapon: I’m so glad that James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you is in the Bible. AWESOME! Do you see what this verse is saying? We have the only weapon to fight against our enemy, and it works! That’s why your pastor, Sunday school teacher, mentor, etc. press your to memorize Bible verses. they are your arsenal against the enemy. How big IS your arsenal? Quote the Word, sing His praises, and Satan WILL flee!
  3. Know your flesh: We all have weaknesses and Satan know each one, perhaps even better than we know ourselves! That’s because we are good at NOT speaking the truth in our hearts. Right now, I’m not looking at photo albums because my heart is raw, and I know it will take me down a path that is not helpful! Be on guard and remember that we are in a battle. Take your sword, soldier, and keep the faith!  You are NOT a wimp–you became a warrior the moment Jesus Christ entered your heart!  The battle’s on: Go! Fight! WIN! In Jesus’ name!

He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. Psalm 15:2

 

When your heart is breaking

 

ID-100234581Rip! Tear! Snap!  What was that? Oh, it was just my heart, breaking in two! What are you facing, dear reader? For me, it was saying goodbye to my son, daughter-by-choice, and three grandchildren: ages one, three, and five. It’s breaking my heart!

For eight years, my son and his family have lived close by. For seven of those years, he and his wife served beside us in our ministry. Now, they will be 1,200 miles way: yes, close enough to drive to, yes, we’ll see them again, but that’s not the point!  No more grandkid sleep-overs—watching the cousins play together, no more family gatherings for every holiday, (especially Memorial Day and July 4th which had become a family tradition). No more singing together in church as a family, no more just stopping in, no more… It’s done.

I can look at others in our small congregation who are facing HUGE trials which make me feel like a spoiled brat—and I am, or have been, but that doesn’t make the pain go away! I can quote one of my favorite lines from Ever After, where Cinderella’s stepmother says, “Just remember, things can always get worse.” It’s true!  What comfort!  At least, it makes me laugh, albeit a little too hysterically.

I’ve been really thinking a lot about Job lately—now that will put things into the right perspective! He lost everything. Do you realize that HE LOST EVERYTHING?!!!

Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. Job 1:20,21

Now there’s a man with a proper focus!  He never shows a “poor me” attitude, he doesn’t blame God, he doesn’t blame the servants by saying something stupid like, “What were you doing over there near the Sabeans anyway!” He doesn’t bemoan his children’s actions: “I told them to build stronger houses, and what were they all doing together? Didn’t you see this coming?”  He didn’t even blame himself by saying, “I should have…”  He simply accepts it as from the Lord.  Some would call that weak.  I’d call it amazing grace, which we cannot work up. It MUST come from God.  When times are really tough, we can only anchor ourselves in the grace which we receive through our time in prayer and His Word, coming to our God with a yielded heart.

But that’s not all! When Satan smites Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown (2:6), there are no words this time.  I’m not sure if the scraping with pieces of broken clay pots and sitting in ashes were medicinal or acts of contrition—probably a little of both, but we see a man who gets no help from anyone. We often think ill of Job’s wife, but can we even imagine this woman’s overwhelming grief?  We don’t know the time lapse between Satan’s first and second attack, but we do know that the first attack was sudden, all at one time. In a matter of moments, everything is gone.  Was she there when the servants came running in with bad news, one right after another? Where they still digging through the rubble to find the bodies of her children? How long did she have to even try to digest the information before she awoke to find her husband writhing in pain?  And what would you have said?  I can’t condemn her! And once again, Job’s comment stops us short:

…shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?

In all this did not Job sin with his lips. (2:10)

Where will you go for comfort? For healing?  What will you try to use to fill up the empty, aching hole in your heart? How are you going to react? Anger feels so good and bitterness tastes sweet when we allow Satan to whisper in our ear!

I have chosen to stay on my Rock, and here is my mantra:

Lord, I will trust You –

When I don’t understand

When my heart is breaking

When I am alone

When I am poor

When my character has been maligned

When I am tired

When I am empty

When I am discouraged

When I am depressed

When I am questioning EVERYTHING

When I am full of doubts

When my dreams are shattered, I will trust YOU!

And I will NOT stop praising and serving You!

Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. John 6:68

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Dealing with Disappointment (Part Two)

 Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.”  Proverbs 13:12

You may have noticed that the countdown calendar is not on my blog page any more.  That’s because I just heard from my publisher that the date of publication has been moved back to March 2013.  That is very discouraging! FYI:

  • Feb 2011 – finished Twelve Smooth Stones
  • Mar 2011 – submitted the book proposal to Christian Manuscript Submissions.com
  • Jun 2011 – contacted by Kirkdale press
  • Oct 2011 – signed a contract with them
  • Mar 2012 – received the August publication date

Discouragement 101!  Hope has truly been deferred, and I apologize to you dear folks who seemed just as excited about the book’s publication as I was!

So what were my reactions:

  1. Unbelief – How could this be?
  2. Anger – How can they do this to me?
  3. Discouragement – Why am I even doing this?
  4. Doubt – Who do I think I am anyway – I’m not an author!
  5. Blame – Why did you do this, Lord?
  6. Refocus –

Why did God do this?  Do I know?  No.  Do I need to know? No.  I just need to take this opportunity to build my trust in Him.  He is my heavenly Father.  He GAVE me the book, so what He chooses to do with it is His prerogative, not mine.  Can you imagine a servant to the king, or an aid to the president telling him what to do?!  I get a better understanding of Nehemiah’s situation when he stood before the king, not hiding his discouragement.  His sad countenance caught the king’s attention and the Lord used it for good; but how quickly we jump over the phrase: “…Then I was very sore afraid,” (Nehemiah 2:2)

So what do I do?  Do I write a scathing letter to the publisher?  I may ask some questions, but the way I approach them must be in line with my faith in God.  His character must be seen in me, no matter the circumstances!

“…but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life”  This phrase is mentioned eleven times in the Bible: three times in Genesis, four times in Proverbs and Revelation.  It makes a fascinating study; however, I’ll just share Matthew Henry’s comments:

Nothing is more grateful than to enjoy that, at last, which we have long wished and waited for: When the desire does come it puts men into a sort of paradise, a garden of pleasure, for it is a tree of life. It will aggravate the eternal misery of the wicked that their hopes will be frustrated; and it will make the happiness of heaven the more welcome to the saints that it is what they have earnestly longed for as the crown of their hopes.

This has been a great lesson for me in trusting God.  I hope it is a help to you as well.

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