Monthly Archives: July 2016

There are many lenses I have viewed my husband through over the last eight months. The lens of anger and hurt, of bitterness and displacement. Even though the world would say that I have a right to all of these reactions, I am learning that we have to be very cautious about which lens we choose to view our life through. Viewing our life through a wrong lens distorts our understanding of the gospel and brings disaster into our lives. 

After many hard knocks I have come to understand that it’s only the lens of God’s word that should influence our lives. It’s the only way for true contentment and fulfilment with the one who knows us best.

When we are looking through a wrong lens, sin is crouching at our door.
 

Proverbs 17:9 says:

Love forgets mistakes; nagging about them parts the best of friends. 

God forgets our mistakes, he hurls our iniquities into the depths of the sea. If we are loving God before ourselves, then we do the same when people hurt and offend us. 

James 1:25 says:

 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it, not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it, they will be blessed in what they do.

When we experience betrayal and hurt our instinctive reaction often turns to bitterness and distance, anger and unforgiveness. Looking through the lens of God’s  word  enables us to see that God reacts to us very differently. God  reacts with kindness and forgiveness, with tenacious love and with no thought to his own feelings when we have hurt and offended him. When we are looking through the right lens we begin to view those who have offended us as loved and precious to God. When we break it down, we begin to view ourselves as no better than those who have hurt us. We are all sinners that don’t deserve the outrageous kindness of our Heavenly Father. So, if  God reacts with love, grace and forgiveness when he is hurt and offended, so must we. 

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Trust is hard. In order to trust we have to let go.

We feel  vulnerable letting go and we stand exposed.

If we knew the end results before we let go, it would mean that we could hang on to perceived control and the process would be made easier for us. We do it blind; in the dark ; not knowing the outcome.

Trusting and letting go has been one of the hardest lessons I have learned. 

When we really trust it means fretting, anxiety and worry are binned – otherwise we aren’t trusting. 

When we trust it means that circumstances in our lives, however impossible are handed over to God, and we trust him to work it out without us frantically trying to help him, because we think our wisdom is valid.

Trusting and letting go has been an excruciating journey that has really tested me and shaken me up.

I have never blogged about my children. Each one is unique and precious. I was like a lioness with my Cubs when they received the devastating news. I can’t verbalise how pained I was for them. I can’t express my anger and horror and sorrow I felt for them all. If I could have absorbed all their pain for them I would have. I wanted to absorb all their brokenness and make them better. This was my job.

For me, trusting and letting go in this situation was a NO GO. I was not willing to just hand them over to God and say:

 ‘ Lord, you are in control, I hand each one of my children over to you, and I know that even in this, you are working everything for their good. Help me to know that whatever the outcome looks like, they belong to you, and you have the right to work out this situation in whatever way pleases you.’

So I fretted and obsessed and worried. Each child in a different location and each child overwhelmed with hurt. I lay awake at night, obsessed in the day. I tried to fix things, I tried to make things right, I tried with all my might, but I would not hand them over. They were mine and too precious for me not to worry over. 

This led to an accusing spirit in me. My husband should have protected, he was a role model, he should have loved them. He should have practiced what he preached, literally.

I have now  come to the end of myself and have now prayed that prayer that I was so unwilling to pray.  I have been humbled and God has opened my eyes to the fact that they are his children before they are mine. He is the wise parent, not me. My children are experiencing pain and hurt and everything I didn’t want them to experience, but God is using that wonderfully in each of them for his glory.

I have handed control over to the ultimate parent. The only parent who truly loves, wholly understands and uses each situation to hone us. He will shape each of my children to be more like himself through this. Of this I have no doubt, as I am seeing it already. May God be praised. 

When I first arrived here, I felt completely distraught. I was in shock, and I didn’t know if I should turn to my left or to my right. I decided I would get stuck into church work as soon as I was able, so that I could have some sense of community and belonging. I can remember working my first night in the homeless shelter;  It was in the depth of winter, and once the men were in their beds and the lights were out, I felt so disconnected and so bereft I broke down and wept. I thought it would bring me community but it emphasised loss and strangeness of life. I wept and wept.  The lady in charge was very kind as I spilled out all my grief and tale of woe. A few weeks later after a Sunday morning service, this same lady gave me a book of daily readings  by Jennifer Rees Larcombe, which I have been blessed by many times. 

Today I have read  Isaiah ch 62:3

“You will be a crown of splendour in the Lord’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God.”

She says:

“Fortunately to become this crown we don’t have to do anything; it is all about how we react to what other people do.pearls are formed when a grain of sand gets into the oyster’s shell, irritating it’s soft body until it wraps it around with the protective layers that later form a valuable Jewel. Diamonds are created only after years of pressure deep underground. Gold has to be exposed to intense heat so that all the impurities surface and can be skimmed off (job 23:10). Accepting, without bitterness, the heat of life’s traumas, grinding pressures or endless small irritations is what forms our treasures of darkness. ( isa 45:3)”

It feels excruciating being in the fire. It feels overwhelmingly lonely and painful being in the pit, it’s frightening in the darkness. But if God is doing his work through it, he is making us more like himself. Refining cannot be a painless exercise. It’s full of  agony and sorrow,  and we sometimes feel we can’t stand up under it. 

Paul felt overwhelmed and wanted God to remove his burden in 2 Corinthians 12:9, and this is how God responds:

“my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 

Paul responds by saying ;

“Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
If we are putting all our trust in God, and we are relying and looking to him for grace, he will bring us through and bring glory to himself. 

 

I have experienced over the last 8 months that bitterness hurts us.

Like all the lies of the devil, he tells us that we have every right to be angry and bitter, and that its the best route to take. How can we possibly forgive after such catastrophic sins have been committed against us. This is the world’s view also, so when we are sinned against, our default position is anger and bitterness, resentment and self pity. 

For all of us who have felt the full force of harbouring resentment, we know that after a while, nothing good comes from it and we lose our joy in the Lord. There is a huge spiritual dimension to this, but also a physical one too. Below is an extract from an article I’ve been reading lately:

“Brain Affected by Thoughts?”

“We’ve all heard doctors warn that fits of anger may cause high blood-pressure or even lead to coronary heart disease and heart attacks. 

new research shockingly reveals that unforgiving, resentful, pessimistic or negative thoughts cause the “memory trees” in a brain’s dendrites to become sparse and thorny. They no longer look like healthy, abundant “branches” sometimes referred to as “magic trees” by neurologists and brain researchers. Anger Makes Abscesses in the Brain. Let me put it another way. When we are unloving, angry and unforgiving of others, special photographs of the dendrites in our brains begin to look as if dark abscesses have taken root. Literally. We develop black holes in our brains.”  ( Valorie Mays)

The author goes  on to say that when we begin to forgive the damage is reversed and brings healing and restoration.

This has really turned my thinking around today. Everything in Satan’s  kingdom brings havoc, destruction and damage. He is so subtle and quietly urges us to nurse grudges and bitterness. At the beginning of this process I felt that God was almost cruel in commanding me to forgive and love. I felt I had the right to nurse hate and resentment. But in fact, God gives us every command because he is kind and loving, and wants the very best for us.

We haven’t suddenly got an easy solution, but we have a knowledge that God does everything for our ultimate good. So when we are tempted to hold a grudge and nurse resentment and be full of overwhelming self pity, we can remember that we are in satan’s realm and only damage will come from it.  Praying that we follow God’s wise commands even though it feels costly, because it will bring joy and healing, but most importantly it will bring glory to himself. 

It’s so easy to nurse a resentment, to bear a grudge, to think ill of someone who has hurt us. We can easily feel justified thinking about our hurt and the unfairness of what’s been meted out to us. 


Even as Christians we can be eaten up inside with resentment. We can nurse those resentments and we can deliberately remember the hurt done to us. 

It’s impossible not to remember hurt but we can choose how we respond to it. 

I have been helped today by looking at 1 Corinthians 13.

I find this passage such a challenge. This is what it says:

Love is

  • Patient
  • Kind
  • Not envious
  • Not boastful
  • Not proud 
  • Not rude
  • Not self- seeking
  • Not easily angered
  • Keeps no record of wrongs
  • Does not delight in evil  but rejoices in truth 
  • It protects 
  • Always trusts
  • Always hopes
  • Always perseveres
  • Love never fails

How challenging never to keep a record of wrongs. How amazing church would be if we all loved each other in this way. This is God’s formulae for loving each other. Therefore it must be the way for ultimate happiness and contentment.  How we need God’s help and grace to carry this out. 

As we think about the hurt inflicted upon us, it’s helpful to have this passage in our minds. Satan tells us it’s not fair to just forget,  but it’s the best way forward because this command is from God, and everything he commands is for our spiritual good. 

Any hurt that we experience fades into insignificance compared to the hurt the Lord suffered for us. He had the sins of the whole world upon his shoulders,  yet he loved and protected and kept no record of wrongs which were many.

I know that during the last few weeks I have been caught up with hurt and heartache and to deliberately forget and not keep a record seemed too hard. The results were discontentment and misery. 

It’s an easy path to remember and to be hurt. We can all testify to this. Jesus chose to keep no record of the hurts and offences against him. Such love and such grace. The road that Jesus trod is the only road for us that will  bring ultimate contentment and fulfilment. This road never fails. Love never fails.


Philippians 4:11-13

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

My life has plateaued, and the adrenalin that was frantically pumping in every direction has finally halted. Being in a constant state of high alert is finally over, and I am faced with my new life which I didn’t choose. I have struggled to find contentment with my life as it is now.

Rick Warren says:

“Contentment means my happiness is not dependent upon circumstances. Most people get caught in “when” thinking — “When I get such and such, then I’ll be happy.” ”

This morning, driving to work I  prayed for contentment. I also acknowledged that I didn’t want to pray this prayer, and I needed God to work In my life to enable me to mean the words that I was saying.  This took energy  and effort  because I was asking God to make me content with something I was discontent with.  Its hard to ask God for true contentment if  we don’t feel proactive about changing our attitudes.

Paul says in Philippians 4:11 that  He had to learn to be content. It wasn’t something that came to him naturally.  I’m sure he didn’t want to be in dire need or in prison or shipwrecked or hungry. Yet paul experienced all these things and through it, learned contentment.

I know my heart is rebellious and I know how wrong I am. I am struggling and grappling and trying to work through finding contentment in this situation I am now in. The key is loving God more and wanting every situation we find ourselves in, good  or bad to please God.

This is my prayer for today:

Lord,
I am discontent about many things in my life.  There is an unwillingness to accept the here and now. I am discontent over all I have lost. Forgive me for my rebellious heart that is so slow and reluctant to ask for contentment with the life I now have.

To know contemtement in every situation pleases you. You know best, and whatever happens in our lives, help me to trust you and understand that you are working out everything for my ultimate good. Help me to know that contentment can only come from you. It has  to be learned and applied as we look to you for help.Thank you for your willingness to forgive again and again. Thank you for Jesus who gladly gave up everything, and yet was content to submit to your will. Help me to do the same.

Amen.

Negative feelings are truly awful. They paralyse and debilitate and make us feel overwhelmed and crush our spirit.

Negative feelings are difficult to shake off, and I have never had the ability to compartmentalise my feelings by locking them away for a later date. I am consumed by them.

I have to learn not to listen to the lies that come into my mind. Sometimes they come with force like a huge violent wave. When they are believed,  feelings of despair are never far away. 

I think that my last blog is the link. Feeling flat, not having the energy to read and pray, and Satan seeing a huge chink in my armour. 

Satan is an expert in understanding and exploiting our weaknesses. He loves it when we leave the armour off. Christians who aren’t praying are a huge target. 

Yesterday I was overwhelmed by shame. When I try to break it down, I realise it’s because I’m still hung up about people’s perception of us now.

Thankfully, the only validation that we need comes through Jesus. 

When our mood is low, sometimes it seems impossible to be braced and prepared for those fiery darts. God is near to all who call on him in faith. As I am writing this I am struggling,  but I know it’s the truth.

This is a hard lesson to learn and I’m very slow to grasp it. I need to be always braced and there are good reasons that God tells us to pray continually.  I haven’t prayed as I should have done this week and I have struggled with pride. I want to feel affirmed by others and I want to look good in the world’s eyes.


Praying for grace and help to resist the lies of the devil, and for forgiveness once again as I come to the cross. 

“Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.”

Psalm 32