Archive for the ‘trials’ Category
I’ve fought the idea of writing about my own story of depression and anxiety. I haven’t ever felt ‘well’ enough to write coherently, let alone find the courage to answer those who would disagree with me. Those who would think my pain was something I could or can control. Most people don’t understand depression/anxiety unless they have had it or have walked with someone who has. I was clueless to this whole issue until it happened to me, and it didn’t go away. Not for a long time. It still rears its ugly head from time to time.
Does that mean I can’t be a believer or that God is somehow disappointed in me? Does it mean I just don’t understand the sovereignty of God in my life? NO, it does not. This is not something I can control and believe me, if there was some to-do list that would make it stop I’d be all over it. But there’s not. There’s not even Read the rest of this entry »
Ray Ortlund has re-posted a piece on his blog that first appeared about a year ago. I posted it here when he first posted it and I’m posting it again now that it’s been re-posted. It’s that important and I need to hear it over and over. He said,
It’s what everyone needs. Everyone. Gospel + safety + time. A lot of gospel + a lot of safety + a lot of time.
Gospel: good news for bad people through the finished work of Christ on the cross and the endless power of the Holy Spirit. Multiple exposures. Constant immersion. Wave upon wave of grace and truth, according to the Bible.
Safety: a non-accusing environment. No finger-pointing. No embarrassing anyone. No manipulation. No oppression. No condescension. But respect and sympathy and understanding, where sinners can confess and unburden their souls.
Time: no pressure. Not even self-imposed pressure. No deadlines on growth. Urgency, but not hurry, because no one changes quickly. A lot of space for complicated people to rethink their lives at a deep level. God is patient.
This is what our churches must be: gentle environments of gospel + safety + time. It’s where we’re finally free to grow.
When we pressure other Christians to change in ways we think they should change (because after all, a believer looks a certain way), or if change doesn’t happen according to our time table (because after all, a believer looks a certain way), we are putting our own egos ahead of grace and the gospel. We are not preaching Christ, but ourselves. The Holy Spirit has His own time table for change. The church is called to be a gentle, patient, safe haven for broken sinners like us while the Holy Spirit gently works. Colossians 3:12-15
I’m reading a book by Tullian Tchividjian called Glorious Ruin. I’ve only read the introduction and chapter one and its already rocking my world. Tullian knows what it means to suffer and he doesn’t offer pat answers for those who are suffering. I can’t wait to finish it but until then, here is a taste of what its like:
We are not responsible for finding the right formula to combat or unlock our suffering. The good news of the gospel does not consist of theological assertions or some elaborate religious how-to manual. The good news is Jesus Himself, the Man of Sorrows, the crucified God who meets us in our grief. Indeed, information, even information about Jesus, is relatively useless when it comes to the aching soul. Only the Holy Spirit can comfort a person in the depths of grief. Neil Young claims that “only love can break your heart.” But only God can heal it.
How many times have I offered up pat answers to someone else’s pain? How many times have I quoted Romans 8:28 to someone in the midst of a dark trial? How many times have I had a list of things for someone to do so that they could “get right with God”? Only God knows this and I cling to the truth that I am forgiven for my brutality toward other brothers and sisters. He took me into my own deep waters of pain and suffering to teach me that He meets me in my sorrow. It’s the precious work of the Holy Spirit to bring soothing balm to a wounded spirit. How great is that? There is still much pain, much sorrow in my heart but He is with me, showing me his love and acceptance. I can’t wait to read more of this book.
During this morning’s Bible reading, something really jumped out at me. I was reading about Isaac in Genesis 25,
These are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham fathered Isaac, and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, the sister of Laban the Aramean, to be his wife. And Isaac prayed to the LORD for his wife, because she was barren. And the LORD granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived. (Genesis 25:19-21)
Here’s what jumped out at me. Isaac was 40 years old when he married Rebekah, but Rebekah couldn’t have children so Isaac prayed for her to be able to conceive. Then the very next sentence says that the Lord granted his prayer and she conceived. Pretty cool, right? Yes. But look closer at Read the rest of this entry »
More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)
Sometimes I lose hope. It’s usually because I stop looking outside of myself for my hope and joy, and start gazing instead at my own spiritual navel, basing my hope on circumstances of the moment that seem slow to change. Or they seem like they’re not changing at all. At other times it’s due to personal pity parties that I like to throw on occasion, usually after spending Read the rest of this entry »
I’m reading through a book by Scotty Smith called Objects of His Affection: Coming Alive to the Compelling Love of God. The Lord has used Scotty Smith in a tremendous way recently. We have gone through some fierce trials these past few years and Scotty’s words of grace and the gospel have done much to help in the healing of my heart. I have just started this book and hope to share tidbits as I read through it.
Our trials have been very painful. What trials aren’t, right? But when trials come so close together its sometimes hard to recover from one before the next one begins. I feel that my heart is raw and ravaged. Not by Jesus, but by the revelation of my own sin and the deep hurt caused by others. It’s at those times that Read the rest of this entry »