Pines and cedars along the road at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Don’t fear your troubles

When you’re going through a difficult time, do you find it comforting or annoying to talk to someone who has been through the same experience? Maybe it depends on the person and maybe it depends on how they talk about it, because in many instances I love gleaning wisdom and advice from someone who has walked a similar path. But in some instances it grates on my nerves to have someone telling me they know exactly how I feel.

Generally speaking, though, when I’m down or at a loss for words, I really appreciate having someone close who knows what I’m going through. And I hope that I’ve been the kind of friend who can offer advice and encouragement to others who are experiencing troubles similar to what I’ve weathered.

Pines and cedars along the road at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Pines and cedars along the road at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.

There are no accidents in our lives. Like I posted yesterday, God has a plan for everything, so that means no coincidences. The place we work, the people we meet, the circumstances we encounter–it’s all a part of something bigger, and there’s a reason for it.

The difficult part is remembering that fact in the thick of it.

Life has trouble. Life has lots of trouble, and each of us is going to hit bumps and potholes that jar us and trip us and send us tripping over our own feet. We’re going to get scrapes and bruises. We’re going to stub our toes and break our nails. We’re going to face sadness and discouragement and depression and fear.

But none of that will kill us. At least, it doesn’t have to. And if you choose not to let those circumstances be the end of your life and instead choose to see them as stepping stones, your life will be so much better. And then, something amazing happens.

One day, you’ll be talking to someone you thought you knew, and you’ll discover that they’re getting ready to go through the same things you did. Those same things in your life that taught you how good God is and how faithful and how awesome. Those same things that helped your faith grow so big and so strong that nothing can shake your trust in God.

You’re going to find people all around you who are going through the same things you did. Maybe not exactly the same, but the emotions will be the same. The fears will be the same. The results will be the same. And then you’ll have the opportunity–the responsibility–to reach out and tell your story. Because if God can be faithful to you, He can be faithful to anyone.

And I promise there is nothing in the world that can compare to sharing your story with someone else and watching their faith and relationship with God grow as a result. In that moment, you become so much more than just a child of God; you get to be a real, tangible part of what He’s doing in other people’s hearts.

So don’t scorn the trouble in your life. Don’t run away from it. And don’t get angry at God. He’s going to help you through it, and after He does, you’re going to know Him so much better than before. And then, you can help other people get to know Him too.

Because what else is the Christian life about if it’s not introducing people to Christ? And how better to do it than to tell the story of how you faced the impossible with God at your side and made it through?

 

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Entitlement in blessing

When someone does something nice for you, what is your reaction? Do you expect people to be nice to you and do things for you? So when someone does, do you just act like they were required to do it? Do you refuse to accept someone’s kindness? Are you humbled that someone would be kind to you? Do you run around and tell everyone about it?

I love to watch little kids open presents. They get so excited, and once they have it open and know what’s inside, they’ll usually run around showing everyone.

If someone does something nice for you, generally your first reaction is going to be to tell people about it. Isn’t it? You’ll want to tell your friends and your family and the people you work with that someone you know did something amazing for you.

That’s what I thought when I read today’s verse, 1 Chronicles 16:8.

8 Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.
      Let the whole world know what he has done.

1 Chronicles is one of those Old Testament books that gets looked over sometimes. It’s a history book, usually used for extended reference with 1 Kings. But it has detail in it that 1 Kings doesn’t, and we can learn things from the Chronicles that we don’t in the Kings.

In 1 Chronicles 16, David and a select group of people are moving the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. This was a big event. In the Old Testament, the Ark of the Covenant was a symbol of God. It was where He would speak to the High Priest. The Israelites carried it into battle with them. It was a symbol. Not an idol. And it was supposed to be at the center of the Temple, in a chamber called the Holy of Holies. Well for some reason or another (it’s complicated), the Ark needed to be moved back to Jerusalem (I can’t remember if this was the time the Philistines stole it or if it was a separate occurence).

In any case, when David and his people got the Ark back to Jerusalem, David wrote a song. The first line of the song is today’s verse.

When was the last time God did something for you that He didn’t have to do? I bet it was more recent than you think. Did you wake up this morning? Are you able to read and understand the words in this post? Do you taste the coffee you’re drinking?

How much has God done for you just in your early morning routine?

I think we expect God to just do things for us because He’s a good God. But we live in such a screwed up world that the entitlement mentality of our culture has spread to our faith.

God is not required to do anything for us. I mean, He already sacrificed His Son so we could have eternal life. What more can we ask from Him? Yes, He tells us to ask Him for what we need, that we don’t have because we don’t ask. But even when we ask, we’re supposed to have the right heart. And many times, I don’t think we do.

God has done amazing things for us. God is doing amazing things for us, and many times we don’t even realize it. So we don’t thank Him like we should, and we don’t tell others about it either.

So today, think about what God has done for you. Because even the “little” things are bigger than we think, too big for us to accomplish on our own. And once you see the things that God has done for you, tell others about it. Because nothing demonstrates gratitude like telling other people what someone else has done for you.

God helped me wake up this morning. He gave me a life where I have a warm bed and hot coffee to drink. He’s provided me with a job that I enjoy, even though it stresses me out sometimes. He’s given me a car to drive that is still going strong at nearly 121,000 miles. He gave me the ability to write and the hands to type my thoughts down. He gave me a family that’s incredible and friends who help keep my focus straight. He gave me a church that’s out-of-this-world awesome. He’s given me opportunities to do the things I love and help people at the same time. He’s given me everything that I need and many things that I wanted. And the things that I wanted that He hasn’t given me are probably just around the bend.

God has been good to me. Very good. And the least I can do is proclaim that goodness to other people. I want the whole world to know that God has blessed me when He didn’t have to.

How has God blessed you this morning?

Think about it. Thank Him for it. And then tell somebody.