“God never wastes a trial.”
If I had to choose a motto for my life, this would be one of my top five. You might think, “why in the world would you choose a motto about trials?” Great question! You see, sometimes the most seemingly ridiculous things end up being beautiful and good. Let me explain.
Imagine that I had one of those moments where my life flashed before my eyes and I was blessed with the benefit of seeing a panorama of events, both good and bad. I would see moments of love and joy, sidled up next to moments of pain and heartache. I would see stellar life choices that I made, but also some amazingly poor choices that brought great sorrow and distress into my life. You, too?
But, let me tell you the beautiful thing in all of this hot mess that is my life. God never wastes a trial or a heartache. Every poor choice, every time those choices brought pain. Shoot! Even when my choices are good and right, there is the opportunity for God to bring something beautiful and useful out of a heap of ashes or bed of roses. AND HE DOES! I’ve seen it time and time again in my life.
Case in point! Years ago I shared about my decades-ago struggles with loving a family member in this video. Frequently, when I speak to women, I have the opportunity to share this same story. I cannot even begin to count how many times women have come up to me and said, “What? You too? I thought I was the only one who felt that way!” Just last week I had the privilege of coming alongside a beautiful young woman who is walking this very path in her own life. I pray that I was able to speak encouragement into her heart in regard to loving a family member when all you feel is anger toward them.
It is in those moments that the truth of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 comes alive:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
I cannot resist giving you verse 4 from The Message:
He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.
It is true, y’all…..God never wastes a trial. He has purpose in them. He has good in them. They may not feel good or purposeful. You may just have to grit your teeth and think, ‘this too shall pass. It is passing like a kidney stone, but I have faith that it will pass…and that God will somehow redeem it.”
Even as I type this post I am walking a path where another person is slandering my character and reputation with lies and twisted truth, yet I keep trusting that God’s got it and that one day I will be able to use the comfort I am receiving from Him to comfort another person going through similar circumstances.
Do you have a 2 Corinthians 1:4 testimony? Sister, God did not allow difficult circumstances in your life for no reason at all. He has purpose in them, but you must walk by faith toward that purpose until you can see it with your eyes. If you can see above the circumstances to the good that God is working in your heart, are you willing to share it to encourage other people? I would love to read how God has comforted you in a difficult situation so that you can turn around and comfort others going through similar situations. Would you share in the comments or via email?
God never wastes a trial!
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Here is the link to a book that has brought me great peace in times of trial and trouble. I encourage you to check it out.
Today it is my privilege to welcome Sarah to my Sharing Life series. We met in an online blogger’s group and I have found her to be engaging and serious about reaching out to teen girls. She is the founder and operator of Transformed4More.com, a ministry for teenaged girls. She has a heart for teenagers and wants them to realize that the false ideas and fantasies the world sells them will never fulfill them. That is something only God can do.
Please connect with Sarah using the links at the end of this post.
Oh, the teenage years. Whether they were the best days of your life, or you’re glad you only had to do them once, most can agree it proves a stressful time. Parents, teachers, friends, dating, driving, getting your first job, preparing for adult life in such a short span can be overwhelming at times.
Over the past decade, there has been a dramatic shift in our culture towards the acceptance of sin in virtually any form. Today, it is more important than ever to be sure you are setting an example for Christ and mentoring any teenager or young person you can.
The thought of mentoring a teenager can seem intimidating to some; however, today’s post is geared to help you overcome your fear and show you how to help mentor any teen you come in consistent contact with. So how do you help?
Don’t let fear stop you
“What if they don’t think I’m cool?”
“I haven’t been in high school in 20 years, what do I know about teens today?”
“What would we talk about?”
“What if I mess up?”
Fear commonly gets in the way when we attempt to do God’s work. Don’t listen to the fear; it is not of God. In fact, the Bible says “Fear not” over 300 times!
Many people think teenagers are particularly judgmental. This may be true in how they relate to their peers, but, honestly, it does not often stretch to adults. Most of the time, they appreciate the chance to talk about themselves and have someone take an interest in them.
Don’t let the fear of “what if” stop you from making Kingdom impact.
Hebrews 13:8 states, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Does this mean you have to mentor a teen forever? No, but since we are to model the life of Christ, this verse reveals the importance of consistency. This trait proves a key factor in building a mentoring relationship.
If you want to be a true mentor, you need to be consistent with your time. Whether it’s checking up on them Sunday at church, coffee on Thursday nights, or get togethers every other week, being intentional about your time goes a long way in showing the teen that you genuinely care. They can “smell” fake. I swear.
Listen more than you talk
James 1:19 stresses, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.”
When mentoring, it can be hard not to want to share your expertise and life experience that you feel would help your teen. However, always do more listening than speaking; sometimes all they need is for you to listen.
After you feel like they’ve “gotten it off their chest,” ask if they would like your advice or if they’d like to know how a similar situation happened to you. Realizing that you truly listened to them will make them more open to your stories and advice.
It’s been said, “Whoever wants the next generation will get them.” Satan is fighting hard to add to his numbers. We need take steps to do whatever we can to win this next generation for Christ. Is there any teen in your life you could invest more in to? Are there mentoring opportunities you’ve always wanted to do, but fear is holding you back? Don’t let it!
Never be afraid to do Kingdom work. If God is with you, who can be against you?
You can connect with Sarah in several ways:
You Tube: Transformed4More Ministries
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I don’t know about you, but for me, it is so easy to fall into the world’s line of thinking.
I got mine, you get yours.
It’s all about me.
What’s in it for me?
Problem is, for a Christian, this way of thinking is completely contrary to what Jesus taught. It is also contrary to what I had modeled for me growing up. Although I never fully realized the scope of what my parents did for others until they were gone, I knew they were generous toward those who were in need…both in the body of Christ and outside of it.
At my Daddy’s funeral, my Mother, Sister, and I greeted hundreds who came to pay their respects. Over and over people told us how my Daddy had helped them.
He paid my house payment when I was about to lose my home.
He came to my appliance store, bought a refrigerator, and told me where to deliver it. But he said that I was not to tell the recipients who provided it.
When my electricity was about to be cut off, he paid my bill.
He bailed me out of jail when I made a poor choice.
Then, when my Mother died, many shared similar stories of her love and generosity.
These testimonies, and so many more, were evidence of Romans 12:13 in the life of my parents.
Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
I love the reminder offered by John MacArthur in his commentary on the book of Romans.
The flow of the supernatural life is outward, not inward.
It is true. The life modeled after Jesus is not a life of selfish ambition, but one of self-less sacrifice and offering.
Billy Graham said:
The smallest package I ever saw was a man wrapped up wholly in himself.
As I think about the life that Jesus lived, I see a life of service and hospitality to others:
He restored life
He ate with the outcast
He never heaped shame on those who sought Him out
He took my place on the cross and paid the fine for my sin
So, really, how can I justify being selfish and self-serving? Everything I have…my body, my money, my talents, my time, my home, everything…..is on loan to me from God. None of it is really mine, so if the Jesus-life tells me to be generous in giving and hospitable to others, how can I do otherwise?
The question then becomes whether the flow of my life is outward or inward. It is the question for your life, as well.
Outward or Inward?
One of the ways I seek to help women develop that outward flowing life is to encourage them to walk more intimately with Christ. September 15-17, 2017 the Come Away retreat for women will offer ladies an opportunity to lean into Jesus in a beautiful, relaxed setting. In our world of constant stimulation and social media, one must be intentional in their pursuit of Christ. Come Away with Jesus for a weekend! Click HERE to learn more.
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What does your prayer list/journal look like? If it is anything like mine, it is filled with a whole passel of painful things as well as random praises sprinkled throughout. Let me give you a sampling of the things over which I am currently praying:
A marriage that has had the tarnation beat out of it….but the couple has decided to try one more time and work it out
An inoperable brain tumor in a loved one
An overwhelmed single mom of a handful of kids
A family with several members who need Jesus
An alcoholic who has no interest in Jesus or in life
New community Bible study groups beginning at our church (Yay!)
An upcoming retreat…that I am organizing and speaking (so humbled that God allows me to do this)
My kids and my nephews
Our divided and angry country
A beautiful 20-something who is battling an eating disorder
My new church (How blessed we are to have it!)
A family whose 50-something dad is battling an aggressive form of dementia
A precious elderly saint who is going blind while dealing with a husband with dementia
A friend in the battle of their life with alcohol
And SO MUCH MORE!!!
Even with the good things sprinkled in, there are some days I can hardly open my journal without crying. There is so much hurt in our world, so much pain, so much mess. How can I make a difference? How do I even process it all? Some days all I can do is put my head down on the table and cry out, “Jesus, please help.”
Into all of it comes Romans 12:12:
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
I have to remind myself that because of Jesus, there is hope for every situation. It is always too soon to give up on Jesus and the work that He longs to do in the lives of other people, and in my life. I have a flip calendar in my downstairs bathroom and one of the pages says, “I have hope and I’m not afraid to use it.” I love that. People, we must hold onto the hope of new life and healing and strength and provision that Jesus can offer. We must.
We also must be patient in trials and tribulation. Oh yeah, I want life to be easy, but the reality is that it usually is NOT. I want hurt and pain and trials to pass quickly….like a day off work…zoom, and it is over. Problem is sometimes God needs some time to work some junk out of us and trials are the only way it will happen. I know you are glad you stopped in and read this post today! We must be patient as we go through trials, remembering that God has allowed that trial for some reason. We must trust that He will make it pass. It may pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass.
Finally, we must be constant in prayer. It is so important to stay in relationship and communication with God. In the good times and the bad, we need to have that ongoing dialogue with Him. He wants to hear from us. We need to hear from Him. So, friends, let us
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
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I am not a lazy woman. Most days I have a list of tasks that need accomplished and I revel in checking off that list throughout the day. As I have shared here and here before, rest is not something that comes easily to me. I have to be very intentional about carving out times of rest and relaxation. I definitely do not want to have to re-travel the road of God having to put me on my back in order to convince me to rest.
So, why is it that for someone who is so driven in daily tasks, it is sometimes easy to slide into laziness in my Christian walk? Oh, you too?
That brings me to Romans 12:11, the verse that we are studying in our Authentic Christianity series this week.
Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. (ESV)
Let’s take a look at the verse in the NIV.
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. (NIV)
As we have already studied in this series there are certain behaviors and attitudes that mark a Christ-follower.
Offering our entire selves to Christ as a living sacrifice
Allowing our minds to be transformed by His Word
Calling evil what it is
There are also other actions that mark a believer:
Sharing Christ with others
Making life and character choices that are godly
I am diligent about some of these things, but not so much with some others. I do very well with staying in Bible study, but sometimes grow lazy in my prayer life and in sharing Jesus with other people. Whether consciously or unconsciously, I fall into Satan’s trap of thinking that my prayer life is not as important as staying in the Word. Now, that makes about as much sense as me deciding that I will read all about my husband, Greg, but it really is not important for me to talk with him. Our relationship would never grow and deepen if we did not talk to each other. Same thing with my relationship with the Lord. If I only read about Him in the Word, but never have conversations with Him, my faith will stagnate.
Then, there is the issue of talking about Jesus and what He has done in my life with other people. Sometimes I am timid about it. Sometimes I am fearful of what others will think of me. But, according to Scripture, believers in Jesus have everything we need to live a godly life (2 Peter 1:3), and that means we are equipped to share Him with others. Could it be that I am not remembering the sacrifice Jesus made for me? Perhaps I have grown lazy in my remembering the cross and the empty tomb?
Y’all, I do not want to be lacking in enthusiasm and passion for serving my Jesus. I want to always remember the sacrifice that He made for me. So, how do we keep our spiritual fervor?
Well, I think that it has to start with remembering…remembering what Jesus has done for us…remembering what He has saved us FROM, as well as TO. It also includes staying diligent in studying His Word and in prayer. I am convinced it also requires me to stay in fellowship with other believers. Christian community is where we are encouraged and, yes, even corrected when we stray.
The better you and I know Jesus, the more we love Him. A vibrant Christian walk does not just happen, friend. It requires diligence and work. It requires sacrifice and persistence. But, it is so worth it.
So, let’s not be Eeyore Christians….walking around all gloomy and negative. Let’s show the world that walking with Jesus is exciting and fulfilling by maintaining our spiritual vibrancy!
Are there other ways you maintain your passion for Christ? I’d love for you to share them in the comments.
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Have you ever watched a sea gull? When in flight he powerfully lifts himself higher and higher with every flap of his wings until he is higher than any other gull. Then, he gracefully circles down to the earth. The gull seems to be all about performing and excelling.
What happens, though, when Mr. Gull gets into a flock of gulls? It is not a pretty sight. There are territorial fights over food that cause feathers to fly everywhere. The word ‘share’ is not in the gull’s vocabulary. Philip Yancey said that ‘they are so fiercely competitive and jealous that if you tie a red ribbon around the leg of one gull, making him stand out, you sentence him to execution. The others in his flock will furiously attack him with claws and beaks, hammering through feathers and flesh to draw blood. They’ll continue until he lies flattened in a bloody heap.”
By contrast, consider a flock of geese. You’ve seen them flying in a V-formation, honking all the way to wherever they are going. Scientists know that geese fly faster in that V-formation. The lead goose is the one doing all the work, flying against the wind. It is because of this that there is a regular swapping of positions among the geese in the V which allows the flock to fly long distances without stopping to rest. Everyone shares in the tough job.
The geese with the easiest jobs are those in the back…the last one on each end of the V. It has been observed that the stronger geese allow the weaker and older of the flock to stay in these lighter-work positions. All that honking may even be a way for the geese to encourage one another to keep flying.
If a goose becomes too sick or weak to fly, she is not abandoned. A healthy goose will stay on the ground with the sick or weak one until she is ready to fly again. While gulls are individualistic and territorial, geese are concerned about the flock as a whole, as well as their individual goose-friends.
Into this story we insert today’s verse in our Authentic Christianity study. Check out Romans 12:10.
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
The kind of love that is being spoken of in this verse is the love of a friend or a family member, rather than romantic love. As Christians we are to be tenderly affectionate toward other Christians. We are to seek the good of our Christian brothers and sisters, rather than maligning them and dishonoring them. The apostle Paul echoed this admonition in Philippians 2:3 when he told the believers in Philippi to consider others better than themselves.
I will just tell you that the last part of Romans 12:10 is hugely convicting to me. HUGELY! I fail miserably at showing honor to other people. Oh sure, I honor my parents and those who are older than me. But, I sometimes get a big old ‘F’ when it comes to honoring those who seem to be making poor life choices or are different than me. This should remind us of Romans 12:3 where we are told to ‘not think more highly of ourselves than we ought’. If we take this verse seriously, we will show real appreciation, respect, and care for others. We will put their welfare before our own, and we will be Jesus-with-skin-on to them.
So, friend, are you a gull or a goose?
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