4.17.2013

Preparing Your Heart: For Trouble

As I prepare to speak at The Pearl Event III in Nashville a month from today, I want to share some things I've learned along the way about the beauty and the reality of true forgiveness and redemption.
It doesn't happen overnight and it's not always seamless, but it's worth everything. 
There will be several posts on how to get to that place, and this is the first in that series.
Everyone has a story. Some are more idyllic, some are more weathered.
The Bible is clear about the fact that trouble is coming.
"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Trouble is no respecter of persons.
Trouble doesn't care who your daddy is, what your job title is, how much money you have, which neighborhood you live in, what kind of car you drive, what university you attended, what sorority you rushed, how many Sundays you've attended church, where you attend church...and the list goes on.

If you've been fortunate enough to have avoided major trouble in your life please know that it is foolish to think that you are exempt.
It is coming. 
But, should you live in fear? Should you be paranoid as you turn every corner and round every curve about what lies around the bend?
Absolutely not. The only thing we are to fear is the Lord. 
Living in a bubble isn't going to secure us. In fact, it binds us to a lifestyle of a lack of faith. 
You see, if even during the times when life is ebbing and flowing we are still seeking God in prayer and communicating with Him regularly, He will prepare our hearts for when the trouble comes.
When trouble does come our way we will be better equipped to weather the storm rather than believing lies about our troubles.

The enemy loves nothing more than to lie to us about God.
Some common lies are:
-Our troubled circumstances are punishment for our sins.
-If we were truly Christians, then God would spare us from trouble.
-If God truly loves us, then He would not inflict pain upon us.
-We aren't worthy of being loved or forgiven for our sin nature.

The truth is that:
-God does not punish us. We live in a fallen world. We are sinners. Perfection is unattainable. 
We make poor choices that we suffer consequences for.
-Man has free will and therefore we are accountable and responsible for our own decisions.
-God loves us so much that He sent His only Son to DIE on a cross for you and for me. 
Talk about pain. Talk about sacrifice for the greater good. Talk about love.
-There is nothing that you nor I could do to make God stop loving you.
He created you. He knitted you in the womb. He knew you before you were made. He knows every hair on your head. You are not here by chance. You were chosen.
You are special. You are worthy. You mean everything to Him.
When you wholeheartedly accept those truths it is only then that you will really start living for God and desiring to find His calling, His purpose for you.
Are you seeking what your purpose in His plan is?
Or, are you living your life for yourself and your own selfish desires, never considering that you may be ignoring what God has called or is calling you to do?

"Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy.  For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.  If you need wisdom -- if you want to know what God wants you to do -- ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking." James 1:2-5

So, back to trouble...what does trouble mean? How do you define it?
It is different for everyone. No two stories are exactly the same.
For me, trouble evokes a variety of memories.
Some situations, primarily during my childhood, were completely out of my hands and I had no choice but to be involved.
 Others were self-inflicted, poor choices -ONE really poor choice in particular (I will be sharing about this at The Pearl Event), that I made and spent years sorting through rubble trying to piece myself back together.
But, I couldn't piece myself back together, only God could.
I am broken, but more recently I am looking more like a piece of mosaic tile work.
God has been gluing me back together, piece by piece.
God is an artist.

What is the purpose of trouble? How can any good come out of a situation so horrible?
If we turn our hearts and faces and hands toward God, He will use trouble to grow us and to achieve a goal that's bigger than you or me. 
We have to look at the whole picture, the big picture.
Look at how small man is compared to the universe. God created both.
He can use a horrific experience and make it into something beautiful and bright.
Do you honestly believe the witnesses of Jesus' death on a cross thought that any good could possibly come out of that?
Do you think they understood or knew what a great work God was doing?
Do you think they had the slightest inkling that millions would fall on their faces surrendering their hearts to Him for thousands of years to come?
God knew. He still knows. He knows what is best for us and that is what He gives us.
Besides, is there any pain we could endure here that would compare to the pain that Jesus suffered through as he was beaten, dragged, nailed into, and bleeding to death while hanging on a wooden cross wearing a sharp crown of thorns?
I don't know about you, but thinking about the crucifixion really puts things into perspective for me.

The Bible (Paul) says:
"For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.  For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.  For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.  When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed." 1 Peter 2:19-24

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." Romans 8:18


So, how will you handle your trouble?
Will you allow it to define you? Will you wallow in it? Will it control you?
OR
Will you choose to look for the blessings and the joy and beauty in it even if you have to crawl on your hands and knees sifting through the dirt and the ugliness of it trying to see that single ounce of hope and promise?
It's your choice, you get to choose.

The point is that no matter what kind of trouble you are enduring: self-inflicted or out of your control, God can and will use it for good if you will allow Him to.
There is no pain too great for Him, so you can take your pain to the cross.
He loves you, He wants you to let Him work your situation out for good, He wants to grow your faith, He wants your whole heart, He wants your undivided attention.
He wants ALL of YOU.
Isn't that overwhelming? That He could love you that much? That He could want you that much?
I want you to marinate in those truths. Believe them. Embrace them. Accept them. 
You are worth it all to Him, even the pain of sacrificing His own Son, who was without sin. 
So, any trouble we could endure should be seen as an opportunity to grow closer to Jesus, to feel an ounce of what he felt, to sacrifice, all for the big picture.
Trouble is worth the pain if it means we grow in our relationship with Christ, and more importantly, lead others to Him.

The next in the series will be on Preparing Your Heart for Truth: Confessing Your Sin and Asking for Forgiveness.
Please continue to be in prayer for The Pearl Event and if you haven't gotten your tickets yet (includes your lunch), please get them today here!

8 comments:

  1. Such truth resonates in your latest post my friend. Amen and amen! Love this. Looking forward to the rest of the series.

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    1. Thank you, sweet Rachel. I just finally found the sidebar link to subscribe to your blog via email, so now I'm officially subscribed, lol! #blondemoment xoxo

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  2. What a touching message. Thanks for sharing! :) I wish I could go to The Pearl Event, but I won't be back to the states in time. I know it will be wonderful! Good luck to you.

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    1. Thank you so much! I wish you could go, to, but I completely understand!! Love and blessings to you! xoxo

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  3. So true, thank you so much for sharing. None of us get through life without trouble and I can't get through trouble without Jesus. Praying for you at The Pearl Event and that lives would be touched & changed. Almost time for my trip to your beautiful state, can't wait! Will send you pictures.

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    1. Mindy, thank you for reading and for your encouraging words! I especially thank you for praying for the Pearl Event-that means more to me than you could ever imagine. I am so excited for your trip to Savannah! I am going to be there April 28-30, then again the following weekend. We are only 2 hrs. and 45 min. away and I have some doctor's appointments there. Since we used to live there I liked my doctor and didn't want to change. I can't wait to see your pictures!! Have a blast!! xoxo

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  4. I can't express how much this post is helping me. Thank you!

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    1. I am happy to hear that you are benefiting from it! Whatever you're going through, I am praying that you will have the strength to endure it and that you will be blessed. xoxo

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