buildingbodies4christ

building on the foundation of Jesus Christ

Archive for the tag “Hard times”

The Stirring

What could possibly go wrong with a day of exploring a cave with twelve young boys? I’m sure if the young coach would have thought it through, it might have occurred to him it wasn’t a good idea during monsoon season. But like all of us in those seasons of our lives, we don’t necessarily think of those things that could go wrong – especially when we are young and life hasn’t thrown us a curve or two. Been there, done that and have the scars to prove it. You too? Too many times we end up needing a savior to rescue us from our misfortunes. But sometimes in those misfortunes, we find our greatest victory.

We’ve all heard the stories of these children and many more of unfortunate circumstances for other children stuck in a situation that was not of their own doing. Children are vulnerable to the whims of the adults who are in charge of their care. It’s unfortunate some of those adults don’t make the best decisions on behalf of those children. Maybe they don’t think their decisions through. The best laid plans don’t always have good outcomes. But sometimes they do, even when the odds are stacked against them.

On my July 4th holiday, I had a movie marathon. One movie opened my heart in a new way. It was about children. Particularly, about one Irish child’s unfortunate circumstance that produced a great victory for hundreds of thousands of children in Vietnam and Mongolia. The story was told through the movie Noble, the story of Christine Noble. One woman changed thousands of children’s lives by her willingness to go. This one woman had a dream of Vietnamese children suffering in the gutters of a city in Vietnam. That dream changed her life and the lives of countless others. One woman.

This week, I also finished a book I had been reading called Love Does by Bob Goff. Love Does is part of Bob’s story and the work he does just because he can. Bob is a willing participant in Jesus’ work around the world. Bob’s heart was positioned to be used for the children of Uganda. His foundation has built boarding and schools for the children in Uganda. Uganda has many orphaned children due to wars and AIDS.

Bob and a young man boarded a plane for Uganda with an idea to help the Ugandan children. They drove up to the northern part of the country through war-torn countryside and checkpoints along the way and saw the needs so great they knew they had to do something.

Christine boarded a plane for Vietnam. She didn’t know how she was going to help either, but she knew she needed to try. She began to walk the city and through God’s direction found the place where the need was the greatest. And she began the task to build a better life for the ones she found there. And the idea grew.

God led both of these inspirational people were led on their journeys. They listened to the inner voice and the stirring in their souls to do something. They didn’t know how. They didn’t have the resources. But God did. They were just willing participants in God’s work to help these children have a brighter future. Bob and Christine had an idea. They had no idea how that idea was going to play out. They just started to walk their idea out. And God was faithful to lead them to the right people and the right places.

Sometimes we might think, these types of people are different. But I think we’re all called to have the same willingness to go and walk out the ideas that stirs our souls. Sometimes we over think our ideas – we’re afraid to fail, so why even try? But maybe God has stirred our souls. Maybe God has given us the ideas to walk them out and depend on Him to show us the way.

God’s heart leans in the direction of children. God hears the children’s cries of help. God directs our steps to help these children. I know there are many times children have cried out for help, but no one comes. It doesn’t mean God doesn’t hear. I think it has more to do with those He prompts to do something and we failed to act on the stirring.

There are some divers who have flown around the world to help the children in the cave. The divers’ hearts have been stirred to action. It might seem insignificant at the time, but it could change everything for the future of the country. It only took one stirring to begin the change in Uganda and one stirring to begin the change in Vietnam. One stirring.

The Spirit of God is looking for hearts that are willing to be stirred for the sake of the children. Today it may be children in a cave in Thailand or in an orphanage in Uganda or Vietnam; but tomorrow maybe in a red-light district in Greece or at a border crossing in Texas. What would God have us do for the children? Any ideas?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

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His Love Endures

I woke up this morning with this thought on my mind – His love endures forever. It’s the message from the 136th Psalm, which recounts the Israelite’s journey with the response of God’s love enduring forever as He carried them through as they reached the Promised Land. With that thought on my mind, I recalled the books that I have read over the last three weeks. Three different books with one theme – God carries us through those tough times because of His love for us. Not because of our goodness, but because of His.

The first book was the real life story of enduring brain trauma by Laura Story (When God Doesn’t Fix It). Her husband had a brain tumor that was removed but complications set in. When they got married, they expected a perfect life. But one and a half years in, their lives took an unexpected turn. Their story will never be perfect. Their lives are hard because God didn’t fix the problem or heal Laura’s husband. But God still carries them through. God’s love endures forever.

The next book I read was from Jerry Jenkins (Though None Go with Me) about a modern-day version of the account of Job, if he was a woman set in the early 20th century. The story is about the tragedy of this woman’s life as she endured the hardships of loss, misfortune and loneliness through the ages. She dedicated her life to God at an early age as the “experiment of obedience.” Through all the hard times, she could have cursed God; but she remembered her dedication on that day when she gave it all to Him. The pastor told her on that day that her life would not be easy. And it wasn’t. But through it all, God carried her through. God’s love endures forever.

The last book I finished yesterday was from Francine Rivers called Tamar. It’s a fictional account of the historical story of Judah and Tamar. The story is found in Genesis 38, set in the middle of the account of Joseph’s story. It’s like a little rabbit trail that the writer takes us on as we read through Joseph’s life. I’ll get back to Francine’s story in a minute. This account of Judah’s life is interesting to me.

Early on in my life, I thought Jesus’ line came through Joseph, not Judah. I mean, Joseph got the most write-up, right? So wouldn’t it stand to reason, God had selected him for the role in Jesus’ lineage? Joseph was the righteous one not Judah. Judah did a great injustice to Joseph. However, Judah played a role for God to bring Joseph to the place he needed to be in order to save the Israelites. Judah does step up in the end of the story to help right the wrong, but I don’t know why Judah was God’s man; especially after the story of Tamar. Do you know the story?

Tamar was a Canaanite woman who was given to Er, Judah’s first born son, to be his wife. Er did what was wrong in the sight of God, and God took him out of the picture. Tamar was given to the second son, Onan. Again, he also did what was wrong in the sight of God, and he too was taken out. So Tamar is without a son to carry on Judah’s line, but there was a third son. However, after two sons dying; Judah was not inclined to give this girl another chance. So she was sent back home.

After a time, she realizes Judah is not going to do the honorable thing and takes matters into her own hands. After Judah’s wife dies, Tamar sets up a plan to deceive Judah by playing a temple prostitute. The plan works; she conceives twins. One of those twins, Perez, is the one who is in the line of Jesus. Fascinating, isn’t it?

Francine’s book is about the fictional account from Tamar’s point of view. Although Tamar was a Canaanite, she began to believe in Judah’s God (fictional account). God carried her through the tragedies that she endured through those harsh times. Because Tamar did what she needed to do to carry on Judah’s line, God blessed her and gave her two sons for Judah. Judah did the right thing in the end. And maybe the story of Judah finally taking responsibility for Joseph was because of Tamar. In the end, Judah’s line continues because of God’s love endures forever.

These books made me think of God’s love for us. He really does carry us through; not because of us and our goodness, but because of His goodness and His love for us. His love does endure forever. We are His creation. He called all that He had made very good. We don’t always do what’s right in His sight. But He loves us anyway. His love is shown through His Son. His Son is our example of His love enduring forever. That truly is very good. Thank you, Jesus for Your constant love for us. Believe it and let Him carry you through.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.
to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
Psalm 136:1-4

 

What Could Have Been

On Tuesday I heard two messages with the same theme. Pain and suffering with the right perspective. One story was shared with Andy Andrews on his latest podcast. The other story was shared with Louie Giglio at Passion City Church. This woman had a stroke with complications. Her and her husband shared the difficulties as they found a new normal. Their story was inspiring and hopeful. Her attitude was one of pure joy. The first lady was looking for a new perspective in the midst of her pain and suffering from her past. She couldn’t get past the hurt of her past. She wanted “what could have been” instead of what she got.

Sometimes it’s hard to move past the past. We play the “what if” game thinking that the other choice would have been better than the one that was made. We don’t know what the “other” decision would have led to; we assume everything would have been better if the other path had been chosen. But we will never know “what could have been” if the choice was different. God allows our struggles. He chose us for this unique opportunity to do the hard thing. He even equips us to endure it.

In the book of James, we are told to count our pain and suffering as pure joy. He wrote that it is a test of our faith. This is where we get honest with God. We admit our part of the problem. We give ourselves over to God for healing and restoration. We are supposed to draw nearer to Him in these hard places. He has seen to it that we need this hard place for our growth and development. We have been counted worthy of this time to learn endurance for God’s glory through it all.

There were a couple of crossroads in my life that were pretty significant. One was made for me; the other was a bad decision on my part. But God allowed both. The first choice was made by my parents to move a few hours away from my sisters at a critical time in my life at the age of thirteen. I had a hard time dealing with and took me a great deal to overcome.

It was a joke in my family for many years that I would never forgive my parents for making the move. Many years after the fact, I asked my Mom if they had prayed about the decision to move. The answer was yes. At that point, I knew I had to be okay with the past because this was the will of God. I don’t know why we had to move – whether it was for my good or for someone else’s good. But God brought good out of it for me.

“What could have been” if I hadn’t moved seems to be a long list of opportunities I would not have had. I would have never experienced everything that I experienced, traveled where I traveled, met the people I met; things would have been totally different. I would have never gone to college where I went or experienced one of the highlights of my life – winning a national championship in women’s basketball at that college.

Mom asked me before she died if I had forgiven them, the answer was yes. The joke was not really a joke for her. She wanted to know before she left this earth that we were truly okay. It was all good.

The other decision that I made was at a bad time in my life. I made a lot of stupid decisions that led to a lot of heartache for me and my parents. It was not one of my stellar moments. I was in a relationship that was not a good one for me. The one I was seeing had a bit of a control problem. I realized one morning that I needed to get out of the relationship when I woke up with a shotgun close to the bed.

I don’t know if it was a scare tactic or what was explained as safety precaution for hearing something outside that night. The scare worked if that’s what it was. I knew in my heart that I needed to get out but I was deceived into thinking this was a good relationship. But God set me up; my parents were made aware of what was going on. To make a long story short, with the help of my parents I moved on to a new place.

We all face difficulties and have to face the hard times. But God will help us through it. He promises He will never leave us alone. Our part is to lean upon Him. He will give us the endurance to sustain us in those hard times. Pain and suffering is the way we become more like Jesus. God gets the glory win we shine the light on His working through it. Others get the benefit from the wisdom we gained in it. We get the blessing of helping others through their pain and suffering as only we can do as ones who have experienced what we’ve experienced. Yes, we can count it as joy because we have endured the worst and made better for it. It just takes the right perspective to see God at work in it. Lean on Him and watch Him work through it!

Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
Psalm 23:4 (NLT)

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