Fear or Faith?

 

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Recently, a dear young mother asked me to write a blog on a particular topic that concerned her.  I have been sitting on her request for weeks simply because I don’t feel that I would be the final authority on this subject.  Nevertheless, I have prayed and pondered about it and feel like I have something to share.

Her topic? How do we walk out a faithfilled life with all that’s going on in our world?  How do we find peace in the midst of so much world turmoil??

Let’s be honest, there’s a lot going on in the world that is, frankly, scary.  I have written previous blog posts that have touched on the challenges we are all facing.  Young parents fear for their children’s’ futures, seniors fear for their healthcare, and financially there are great uncertainties. Some people fear chem- trails, GMO’s, immunizations, and public schools.  So many real concerns!!

ISIS, Ebola, Russia, China, and Israel are creating unrest in all our hearts. No matter how you lean as a voter; all of us have concerns about our government.  All these things have potential to cause us to be fearful, anxious, and hopeless.  I hear it in conversations I have with people daily.

Some folks would say that it is all the sign of the times and wait expectantly for the Lord’s quick return.  Some folks would say that “back in their day” these kinds of things took place and they too, thought it was “the end of days”.  And it could truly be.

BUT…………

What if there are still generations of people to be born and life continues on this earth?  How do we navigate these uncertainties without making knee-jerk, fear based decisions?  How do we live an intentional, hope-filled life free from the burden of paralyzing fear?

In God’s wisdom and goodness, He knew these times would come.  He gave us messages of encouragement and ways to live in His Word that have key answers to these questions.

John 16:33 says, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Phil 4: 6-7 says, “ Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

 Matthew 6:25-34 says “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Proverbs 12:25 tells us, “Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.

1 Peter 5:7 promises us, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”

Hebrews 11:1 says,” Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

Life is full of many concerns stemming from the absence of certainty and control over our future. While we can never be completely free from worry, the Bible gives us powerful promises to show us how to minimize worry and anxiety in our lives.

When I am filled with fear I find that I am severely distracted from the people and opportunities that God wants to bring my way. Fear works to cause us to have tunnel vision, missing out of the chances today to make a difference, and THAT is a tragedy.

God has called us to live fully, purposefully, and faithfully “until He returns.” Making fear based decisions for our lives, our children’s’ lives; will stand in the way of the peace God promises us.

Now, making wise decisions, being smart in our choices is imperative.  God promises to give us wisdom if we simply ask for it.

My last thought to share is this:  Prayer is powerful and we must be people who pray during uncertain times!! Prayer is a gift to us; we can bring all those things that burden our souls to Him.  We can pray for those in harms way.  We can pray for peace.

2 Chronicles 7:14 says, ” if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land!”

I know this is an especially long blog on a seemingly a negative subject; but I believe it is timely. I hope you do too.  🙂

 

 

Unanswered Prayers.

 

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I had the good fortune this week to have the opportunity to talk with a friend and fellow coach about trusting God.  Her honesty was refreshing and both of us acknowledged how difficult it can be to trust God in the face of unanswered prayers. Now I am mature enough to know the God is not a “spiritual Santa Clause” so I’m not talking about prayers that involve frivolous requests.  ” I pray I get a parking place.”, I pray I win a trip”, or I pray I can get a new, fancy car”.  No, I am talking about prayers for a friend that has cancer; who passes away.  I’m thinking about those who pray to become parents; remaining childless. Or the prayers of protection those who have beloved children pray; only to lose their children long before their lives have been lived.  How do we navigate continuing to trust what God’s word clearly tells us:

Luke 11:9 says “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

Mark 11:24  Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

I believe these promises are true and have experienced God’s faithfulness over and over again!  But, I have also walked through the darkness of prayers that were prayed with absolute faith yet have remained unanswered.  How do we remain faith filled?  How to we keep ourselves from feeling as though God is distant and unfeeling?  How do we protect ourselves from becoming angry and disillusioned?   In the movie God’s Not Dead, the college professor makes a profound statement; ” The biggest atheists are those were had been believers and experienced unanswered prayers”.

Have you experienced unanswered prayer?  How have you kept yourself faith filled in the midst of the disappointment?

Three years ago, I had a precious family members life taken brutally at a young age.  I had prayed for him all his life.  I had seen God do mighty things in and with his life.  He was amazingly talented and deeply loving.  Upon the news of his death I spent almost 90 days angry at God, seeking understanding with the knowledge that God “could” have stepped in and protected him from losing his life.  I was devastated and confused by the scriptures that had once given me comfort.  Those verses now served to cause greater hurt.

God is good.  His shoulders were big enough for my questions; even my anger.  In His still small voice He just kept reminding me that He would help me through the pain. He would never leave me nor forsake me. He spoke the truth that His ways are higher than my ways.  And slowly, with the power of the Holy Spirit, I could feel myself beginning to whisper   “Even so, I will trust you.”

I couldn’t even begin to give you a formula for navigating this particular spiritual challenge, but there are a few action steps that will help keep your heart from becoming bitter.

1.  Stay in God’s Word, it speaks to your soul.

2.  Be brave to talk about your questions, don’t isolate.

3.  Make sure you continue to look at your many blessings, even in the midst of unanswered prayer.

4.  Be willing to learn something fresh from what you are having to walk through.

5.  Remember, loss and challenge falls on the just and the unjust.  It is part of our human condition and can help you gain keen empathy that will enable you to love and support others along the way.

Steven Arterburn in his article , When Prayers seem Unanswered says;

It certainly seems like a secure bet that sometimes God doesn’t answer our prayers because he’s aware that his, ours, and the whole world’s best interests will not be served if he does. It’s safe to say that when God decides what’s best, he’s got a broader perspective for making that decision than anything we can bring to the table.

All of which brings us to the very good reason that when mature Christians do pray for something, they tend not to say, “God, please do [such and such],” but rather, “God, if it is your will, please do [such and such].” This is the all-important caveat. Always leave to him the final determination of whether or not what you’re asking for is, in fact, the thing most ultimately beneficial.

We all want to live a life trusting the Lord. However, life can broadside us.  Rather than pulling away, becoming angry, and perhaps even bitter, choose to remember God’s heart for you and I. Find yourself whispering “Even so, I will trust you.”

 

 

When Women Pray~

LOOK OUT!!  When a group of passionate women turn their hearts to an infinite God firmly believing that He longs to answer their heartfelt requests….LOOK OUT!!!

I believe there is an untapped source of spiritual might amongst women today.  Our lives often distract us with our busy  work schedules, care for others and home, that we can have very little precious time to pray for the needs around us.  Many times our prayers are simply a thought of “God help me in this”, “God I need your wisdom”, “God, please be with my child”.  All of those matter deeply to the heart of God, yet scripture also encourages us that  “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous woman matters  much.” James 5:16

Take time to pray.

I have experienced the power of what God can do when a group of women choose to establish firm times to pray, alone or as a group, and believed for answered prayer.

Take time to pray.

Two years ago on a weekend away where I gave myself permission to “reflect, pray, and plan” I wrote in my journal numerous petitions to God for family, friends, the world, my life, and my city.  Upon returning to those pages I was astounded ( and seriously, why should I be surprised by a limitless God?) by the many prayers that had been answered with Gusto! 🙂  Oh, the power of prayer.

Take time to pray.

In Evelyn Christensen’s book; “What Happens When Women Pray” she talks about having a heart of readiness as you come to the Lord in prayer.  Scripture also back this teaching up by saying Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. —mark 11:24-25

Take time to pray.

When Jesus  arose we were granted the most profound privilege ever known…entrance into His throne-room of grace! We can freely stand in His very presence certain of who He is, Certain of who we are in Him, and certain He can do what He says He can do~ and boldly ask God for help, for healing, for direction, for anointing, for protection, for provision,  for peace & grace!! Incredible!

Take time to pray.

We all work hard to lead and live, love and provide all that is within our power to accomplish in our lives and the lives of those we love, but we are limited.  Our limitless God has given us a tool, a gift really~ Prayer.  In prayer we recognize that HE is the source of our strength, HE is the one who knows what is wisest for our lives, and HE asks us to bring our hearts desires to Him! So Awesome!

Take time to pray.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.