Trusting God Even When it’s Hard

How do we trust God when we can’t see the way?

How do we trust God when nothing makes sense?

When life seems to be spinning out of control?

When someone we love is sick or hurting, and we are helpless to help?

We all know trusting God is easy when life is good, when all is well in our worlds. Yet the true test of our trust is shown not in the good, easy times, but in the difficult.

Trusting God to do the impossible is easy to instruct others, but difficult to hold onto when you’re the one needing to believe.

Holding fast to the Lord seems painless until He is all we have to hold onto.

I think of the saints of old, and how they trusted God. Abraham trusted God with Issac. Joseph trusted God as he waited in prison to be remembered. David trusted God when he was running for his life. Shadrach, Meshach and Abindigo trusted God regardless of the outcome. Daniel trusted God as he faced the lions. And the list goes on and on.

Yet, these great men of old were still just that men. They weren’t perfect, more holy than you or me. They still struggled I’m sure to trust and believe in the midst of such times. The Psalms of David give us a glimpse of this as we read of him crying out to the Lord.

So how do we do as Proverbs 3:5-6 instructs?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.

  1. We must remember who we serve. The LORD, with whom all things are possible. The One and only who spoke all things into existence. Whose voice the wind and waves obey.
  2. We must remember His faithfulness. In the midst of difficulties, it is easy to see only the difficulties. Yet, this is the prime time we need to remember his faithfulness. Taking the time to think back on all He has done for us, how He has always taken care of us, and resting in the fact that the same is true now.
  3. We must remember to lay our burdens and cares at His feet, knowing He cares for us. Too often we pray about our difficulties, and yet we hold onto them, still trying to resolve the issues, still attempting to fix the problems. Then we become weary and feel we can’t go on. When this is not what the Lord intends. He calls us to, lay them down and trust Him to work it out.
  4. We must remember to spend time in His presence. In Psalm 73, the Psalmist was overcome with life’s problems, overcome with the unfairness of how the wicked seemed to prosper. Until He came into the presence of the Lord. Then all things were brought into perspective. As we read and study the Word of God, the peace of God radiates our soul. The joy of the Lord becomes our strength, and our faith is increased.
  5. We must remember to do as the verse says, to rely not on our own understanding, but in all our ways to acknowledge Him. We will become weary, depressed, angry, afraid if we rely upon our own understanding. We will be spinning our wheels, with no answers. Instead we must rely upon Him. Rely upon the fact that nothing about our problems or situation takes the Lord by surprise. He ordained all the days of our lives before they came to be. And He can be trusted to bring about what He has planned.
  6. We must remember to acknowledge that He is God and we are not. We can’t fix the problems, we can’t manipulate the details, we can’t orchestrate the events. But, He can. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and ever-present. He doesn’t need our help, but He desires our trust.

I don’t know the struggles you are going through, any more than you know mine. But the Lord knows each and every detail, and He calls us to trust Him. He calls us to believe on Him, to rely on Him, to draw our strength from Him, and to find our rest in His presence.

 

To My Teenage Son

As of today, we have two teenage sons! I shake my head as I write this, because it doesn’t seem possible. In my mind, they are still little boys, yet as I look at them, watching them grow and change into young men, my heart melts with love.

So to my kind-hearted, generous son on the brink of his teenage years, there are some things I want you to know.

  1. You are loved. Loved first and foremost by the Lord, and loved by us. And what matters more than anything else in this life is that you seek to love the Lord with everything you got!
  2. You are important. Not because of how many friends you have, how cool you are, but because you were made in the image of God, and there is no one else like you!
  3. You are a child of God. So, no matter what the crowd says, you should always do what is right. I know from experience how easy it is to follow the crowd. But the Bible teaches us that we are to swim against the stream. It is easy to follow, but hard to walk the narrow road. Yet, it is on the narrow road that you will find abundant, everlasting life.
  4. You can’t love God and this world. Friendship with the world is hatred towards God. It seems harsh, it seems extreme but it is true. We can not love this world or the things of it and love God. We must love Him and the things of God more. Fixing our eyes on what is unseen rather than what is seen.
  5. Jesus is to be your best friend. I know having good friends is important, yet never forget that Jesus is to be your best friend. Though others will fail you, others will let you down, He never will.
  6. You are different because you belong to Christ. So you should always stand up for what is right. It won’t always be easy, and it may mean you get laughed at. Yet, this is what pleases the Lord.
  7. You are a gentleman. When girls begin to notice you, (and they will) remember that it matters more what a girl’s heart looks like, than what she looks like. “Charm is deceptive and beauty is vain, but a women who fears the Lord is to be praised (Pr. 31:30).”
  8. You are to be a man of God’s Word. And though this world may tell you one thing, it is what God’s Word says that matters. Always stand firm upon and hold fast to God’s Word. For only here will you find the truth, truth that will set you free, to be the man of God, the Lord longs for you to be.
  9. You are not home yet. In your mere 13 years, you have had 5 different homes, lived in 3 different countries and have done amazing at it all. Yet, no matter what remember this world is not our home. We are merely passing through. Seek to live for the Lord as you travel through.
  10. You are amazing and nothing God leads you to do is impossible. So reach for the stars, pray big, do whatever God ask. And one day you will stand back amazed at all the Lord can and will accomplish through your life!

When we miss out on what God has because we are afraid…

I still remember the fear, I had never done any evangelism before. Yet, here I was, a first year seminary student doing evangelism on the University of Memphis campus. I listened and learned as others in my group approached students hanging out after class. Then they said it was my turn. I was so afraid. I mean I knew God desired that I tell others about Him, I knew that these needed to hear the Good News. But, man was I afraid.

I could have gone running the other way or got my friend to take my place. Yet, if I had I would have missed out on what God had in store. For as I began to share the Gospel, the students listened respectively, but in the end basically said, thanks but no thanks and walked away. I was disappointed, but happy I had obeyed the Lord. But amazingly there was another girl I had not noticed standing nearby who had heard everything I had said. Before I knew what was happening, she approached me, and asked me to tell her what she needed to do to be saved! Awesome! Had I let my fear rule, I would have missed out.

Fast forward 8 years or so when I was sitting in my comfortable home in Tennessee. When the phone rang with a request from a professor that my husband and I pray about moving to Korea to teach in a seminary. Again, I could have let my fear of the unknown, the fear of raising my kids abroad, the fear of all the details that had to be worked out keep me from obedience. But, I would have missed two of the best years of my life, as our family served the Lord in South Korea.

Now, here I sit in my house in Nepal. Living here with my family for almost 3 years now. The unknowns once more could have kept me from this place. In fact I wrestled with God about bringing my kids to this faraway land. Yet, once more I can’t imagine the joys I would have missed had I let my fear keep me from here.

But this has not always been the case. I can’t begin to list the different times I have allowed fear to keep me from obedience. When my husband and I first married, we were on our way to China. We were almost through the process with our mission agency, ready to go to orientation and training when along came our first-born. One look at his tiny face, and my heart constricted in fear. No way was I taking this little one to China. Surely God would understand, surely my husband would understand. And sure, they did understand, but to this day I live with that regret. For I know now that the same God who has cared for us all these years, would have cared for us then. I know I missed out on seeing what God could have used us to accomplish for him. I know that our lives today would be far different, had I not allowed fear to stand in the way, but had embraced what God had.

Thankfully, God can always take our mistakes, take our fears and use them for His glory. I have no doubt He did this in our lives, but I know then and at other times I let fear keep me from experiencing what God had.

Even now there are unknowns of what the tomorrows hold. Easy for me to want the security of what makes sense. The security of the constant, the comfortable. Rather than setting aside fears, and letting God lead.

As I have been reading through Deuteronomy I have been amazed at this same theme. The Israelites whom God delivered from the hand of Pharoah as they walked across the Red Sea never knew the joy of living in the Promised Land. The missed out on the great things the Lord had because of their fear and rebellion against Him.  In chapter 2 Moses repeats to the next generation, those who would enter into the Promised Land, “do not be afraid, do not be discouraged.” He repeatedly told them this, because he knew their hearts. He had seen how fear and discouragement had kept the others from believing and trusting God. He had watched as each one died in the wilderness, missing out on what God had. So he tells them, do not be afraid, do not be discouraged!!! Trust God, believe Him!!

This same message rings true for each of us today. Of course what God ask of us will be different. Our lives are not meant to be compared. Yet, we each have a choice to make. Will we believe God, following Him despite our fears? Or will we allow our fears to cause us to miss out on what God intends. We can remain comfortable and safe or we can let go of our fears and trust God for the impossible.

Again I am thankful for how God can and does use our mistakes, our failures to accomplish His plans. I’m thankful that nothing is wasted. Yet, I long to trust Him more, believe Him for greater things,and watch in anticipation of what He can and will do for those who truly have their faith completely in Him.

A New Year… A New Start… Focused on Christ

a-new-year2016 is passed. Another year finished, another year in the journey.

2017 has begun. A new start, a new journey.

Last night we attended a New Year’s Eve prayer meeting that my husband shared at. He shared from the Gospel of John where Jesus says, “I have glorified You on earth by accomplishing the work You gave Me to do (John 17:4).”

Then he asked the question, can this be said of you in 2016? He mentioned that often as a new year begins we start well, we make our resolutions and we have great intentions… but often we get distracted from these things and before long we get in a rut and forget all about our good intentions.

As he shared I thought how true what he was saying was. How quickly I get distracted from what matters, how often I am so much more like Martha than Mary. Distracted by many things and failing to choose what matters.

It is easy to be busy in ministry. Easy to get so busy doing that you forget whom you are doing things for. You forget to draw your strength from the Lord, forget that it truly is all about Him!

As we knelt to pray I spent a good amount of time confessing how distracted I have been this past year. Confessing my need for Christ, confessing my need to fix my eyes on Him, and do the work He has for me to do, not necessarily the work others think I should do.

But I also prayed that His grace would be sufficient for me to do this… because I know my natural tendency is to do things for Him, rather than sit at His feet.

The older I get the more I realize that it really isn’t about what we do or accomplish for the Lord… because He truly doesn’t need us. It is really just about drawing closer and closer to Him and allowing Him to live in and through us.

Mary chose what was greater, this is my desire for 2017. To truly throw off everything that entangles and weighs me down and to run the race which Christ has prepared for me! To sit at His feet and be transformed more and more!

 

What we take for granted………….

himalayan-mtsFor the past month now in Nepal, the snow mountains which are hidden most of the year behind the clouds and smog have been displayed in all their beauty. The first few days as I would look out my window and catch a glimpse of them, I stood in awe of the Lord’s mighty work. Marveling at how great He is that He could create something so grand.

But something happened as the days and weeks continued to pass by. Instead of standing in awe of this masterpiece visibly seen from my bedroom window… the other day I noticed that after a quick glance I passed them by.

And I thought to myself, how often is this the same with God.

At times I stand in awe of how great and awesome our God is. I am overwhelmed by His unending love. I am humbled by His amazing grace and like Isaiah fall before this great God undone.

Then there are days when I forget or I quickly overlook these same truths.

As it is nearing Thanksgiving, I am reminded of all I have to be thankful for, things so often I am quick to take for granted. Things I think so little of until I am reminded of those who have so much less.

In our house we have a thankful tree, which we have been adding leaves written with what we are thankful  for, for the past month. As I was reading the items listed today I was overwhelmed by the goodness and greatness of our God.

Of course living here has taught us to be thankful for the simple things like cooking gas, water, electricity and the gyeser (heater for hot showers). But then again, aren’t these things we all should be thankful for.

The heavens declare the glory of the Lord, they display His greatness for all the world to see. And this great, amazing God loves us and provides for us daily.

May we all stop in the midst of our busy lives to truly give thanks for who God is and for all He has done!

 

 

When God is your refuge and strong tower…

refugeThis past week my oldest son went with his class on a school trip to Lumbini, Nepal. What was supposed to take 4 1/2 hours took 7 for them to arrive,but what was worse was the 11 hours it took them to get home.

For my son the trip was amazing. He got to see all kinds of “cool” things, as well as fish with his hands. But for this mom back in Kathmandu, this trip put me out of my comfort zone.Because I had to trust God with one of my most valuable possessions (and can I say that is just sometimes harder than you realize).

But the worst was last night… well it started yesterday afternoon when I got a phone call from my son. He was calling to let me know that their arrival time was going to be later than the anticipated 6 pm. Because they were stuck in traffic, sitting still. Apparently there had been a landslide and the road was blocked with debris.

Well as you can imagine, the thought of a landslide happening on the very road my son’s bus was on was a hard pill to swallow. Sending me to my knees in prayer. All evening I read the Psalms and prayed for the safe arrival of the group. I prayed that God would surround that bus with His protection and get them safely home.

As the hours ticked by, I prayed. But something happened as I prayed, the peace of God overwhelmed my heart. As I confessed my fear,my lack of trust, my worry.. God filled those places with His peace.

He became my refuge, my strong tower, my rock that safe place I could run to, cling to and hold fast to as I waited out the storm.

Finally around 10:30 he called to say they were almost to the school and asked his dad to come get him. (Happy dance!!!)

When he walked in the door, the first words out of his mouth were, “God really protected us today.” Then he proceeded to let me know that not only had there been one landslide,there had been two, one in front of them, and one behind them. But God had kept them safe. Worse still was the story he told us about a bus going up the hill, who’s breaks went out. He told us the bus came flying backwards down the hill, missing them only by a little bit.

These were things I was glad I didn’t know earlier, but proved to my anxious heart once again… that God had not only heard my prayers, He had answered them. He had surrounded that bus with His angels and brought them safely home.

Living in a foreign country is hard, allowing your teenage son, to go on school trips to places you have never been is harder still.

But God is faithful. Even when I am not. Even when I fail, lack faith and allow fear to reign. He is faithful to allow me to rest in the safety of His wings.

Whatever you may be experiencing today, run to Him. When others fail, He never does. When others don’t understand, He’s there. When you can do nothing in your own power, He is all-powerful.

It is easy to tell others to just trust God when they are in the storms. Harder though is to follow that “good” advice when you find yourself in such place.

Yet, each time, God shows up and shows out, when I let go and trust Him to do what only He can do.

Blessings from Nepal!!

 

To the one who is waiting on God…

thG2HN27RCI know it is hard, I understand.

I’ve been where you are, and it is a tough place to be.

For two years, our family went through a time of waiting. A time wondering what God was doing and why at times He just seemed silent.

Two years of seeking to know what He wanted, two years of praying, fasting and crying out to Him.

Then, He answered, and led us to the other side of the world to serve Him.

In those two years, we learned so much about trusting Him. And in those two years, He worked to prepare us for the life we are now seeking to live.

In my quiet time this week, as I read the story of Abraham and Sarah, I was reminded of some truths about waiting.

Waiting on God often leads to….

  1. Doubt, and questioning if God knows or cares.

Abram and Sarai had been promised that their offspring would outnumber the stars in the sky… yet years and years passed before this came to pass. Times when they doubted and wondered at God’s promise.

2. Blame

-Sarai blamed God for keeping her childless, believing the lie that it was somehow His fault. That God was holding out on her.

3. Leads to scheming

-When Sarai became impatient with God, she came up with her own plan.

4. Anger

-When Sarai’s plan didn’t seem to work, or go as planned. She became angry with both Abram and Hagar.

But God is gracious and though we often fail, He is faithful to bless us and do as He has promised. Though Abram and Sari failed to wait, failed to trust. God still established His covenant with them.

5. Can lead to confusion

Abram thought it would be easiest if Ishmael was the chosen one. To him, this made sense. But the easy way is not always the best way. And God’s ways are always greater and higher than our own.

6. Unbelief

-When Sarai heard God’s plan, she laughed. She didn’t believe it was possible at her age to have a child. But God spoke and made it clear that “nothing is too hard for the Lord.”

7. Fear

-Sarai was afraid when she knew that He’d heard her laugh and lied, to try to cover it up.

8. Many times lead to sin

– In the midst of the wait for the promise. Abram and Sarai go to the Negev. Abram fears for his life, so he has Sarai lie about who she is. But God, spoke to Abimelech in a dream, preventing Him for taking Sarai as His own, protecting His good and perfect plan.

9. Eventually leads to fulfillment

-Though Sarah and Abraham lost their way and gave into their own plans. In God’s perfect time and way, He allowed Sarah to conceive just as He had promised.

10. Leads to joy.

-The fullfillment of God’s plans, though the waiting is heard, lead to joy and fulfillment.

God’s ways and His plans often fail to make sense.We can’t understand at times what He is doing or why things have to be so hard. But His goal isn’t to make life easy for us, but to transform us into His likeness. To teach us to truly trust and depend upon Him.

After the promised child comes, the one through whom the descendents will come through. God tells Abraham to take Issac,the son he loves, and to offer him as a sacrifice.

Along Abrahams journey of faith, He has grown in his walk with the Lord. He has learned to trust Him. And though what God asked didn’t make any sense. Abraham did as God asked, but He believed God would do something great. For he tells the servants to wait, until they had made the sacrifice and then they’d return.

It got to the point that Abraham had Issac upon the altar, ready to slay him, when God spoke and told him to stop because He knew Abraham feared Him alone, and He provided the ram.

Throughout Abraham’s journey of faith, he has often feared man, feared for his life, but now God sees He fears Him alone.

In our faith walks, there are always times of waiting. And times of waiting are hard. But don’t lose heart, God sees where you are. He has a plan and He will bring it to fulfillment as you wait on Him. And take heart, though you may fail along the way, He is faithful. He is gracious, and His plans will not thwarted.

As you go through the wait, He is preparing you for bigger things.

Had God asked Abraham at the beginning of his journey to sacrifice Issac, I’m sure he would have probably failed. But through the journey, as God taught Him to look to Him and to trust in Him He came to understand who God is and to rely upon the Almighty God, whom He served.

When I look back upon our time of waiting, I realize how much like Sarai and Abram I was. My fleshly tendencies often led me to give into the above. Yet, though I failed, He never did. Though I didn’t understand or see the big picture. God did.  And had we never gone through the waiting, and learned to rely upon Him, we wouldn’t be able to know Him as we do today. He did so much in that time of waiting to prepare us for today. Teaching us things we might not have learned any other way.

So to the one who is waiting upon God, don’t lose heart.

Rejoice and know He is there with you. Walking beside you and carrying you when you don’t feel you can go on.

Draw close to Him and He will draw close to you.

Learn from Him as you wait, knowing that the lessons learned now, will be lessons He has you teach others in the days ahead.

Nothing is wasted in God’ good and perfect plan.