What Can I Do?

When we are in a trial, our first reaction is to ask, “How can I get out of this?” It’s human nature to want to run away, to get out of a difficult situation instead of going through it. Psalm 34:17 tells us, “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.” But deliverance doesn’t always come as quickly as we would like. So what can we do while we wait for our time of deliverance? The Word tells us what we should do: “The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice. The law of his God is in his heart, his steps do not slip.” (Psalm 37:30)

So, if our mouths are to utter wisdom, is it wise to speak negative things while enduring a time of trial? Is it wise to complain or express doubt about the situation? God loves justice, so it would be right to speak out that God is going to bring justice to your situation. His Word, the holy scriptures, should be in our heart so that we will not stumble or fall. “Your Word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.” (Psalms 119:11 NAS) Find scriptures that speak positive, hope-filled things to or about your situation and read them over and over. Meditate day and night on them. Write them down. Carry them with you to work, as you go about your day. The enemy of our soul is always right there putting doubts and bad thoughts in our mind, so we have to counteract those messages with God’s word. Psalm 37:23 tells us, “The steps of a man (woman) are established by the Lord, when he delights in His way, though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.” And I love the next verse which says, “I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.”

King David struggled through many tests and trials throughout his life, yet out of these trials he wrote most of the Psalms which offer so much real-ness and encouragement for anyone who is struggling. Read the Psalms and mark the verses that relate to your situation and that will encourage and bless you as you wait upon the Lord.

You may feel overwhelmed by the trial you face. Maybe you have lost your strength from fear or discouragement and you think it’s impossible to pull out of it all. God’s Word will strengthen you. As you meditate on His Word, your thoughts will begin to line up with God’s thoughts. Hebrews 12:12-13 offers valuable instruction from the Lord: “Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.” This, to me, is a picture of worship. Put on some praise and worship music and get yourself up and lift your hands up and worship the Lord. Sing out words of praise despite how you feel. You may even need to jump and dance, get your feet moving as you worship! Isaiah 61:3 paints a wonderful picture of this: “. . .to grant to those who mourn in Zion, to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

Find reasons to praise the Lord in the midst of your trial. It’s easy to speak out the negative things, the hopeless things, so you will have to make a conscious decision and effort to think of the things you have to be thankful for and to offer your praises to God. In praising Him, you will open the door to be led by faith instead of doubt and unbelief. God has given all of us “The measure of faith,” but it is up to us to exercise it and allow our faith to grow.

Ask your friends or a close family member to help you be positive, to help you stay focused on God’s Word instead of your problems. If you don’t have any one close to you who can support you in this, pray for God to bring a prayer partner into your life. We all need support in difficult times.

In everything we do, in everyday life, we are faced with choices. The choices we make always begin with our thoughts; we then act on our thoughts and live them out. So it is important to examine the choices we make throughout the day. God has given us all the ability to choose how we’re going to live and what we’re going to think. Use the power God has given you to choose His way for you.

King David’s statement of faith, recorded in Acts 2:25-28, is still true for each of us today: “I saw the Lord always before me, for He is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.” His presence will make you glad, so make room in your day to focus on Him. As you reach out to God, He will make Himself known to you and will give you His peace that is beyond our understanding (Philippians 4:7) and fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy (Job 8:21 NIV).

Another important thing we can do while facing tough times is to reach out to others. When we help someone else who is in need, we think less of our own problems and gain a personal blessing by being of service to another. In the words of the Lord Jesus, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)

Let’s pray together:

Dear Heavenly Father,

You are truly my Father, so I come to you as your child. Please help me to keep Your Word before me and to lift praises to You in spite of how I feel. Help me to see and learn all that You want me to see and learn in this trial. I open my heart and mind to you. Please fill me and touch me in my time of need. Show me others I may reach out to and help so I can be a blessing. Thank you that you hold me in Your loving hand and You are watching over my life to perform something good, even something great, as I learn to trust in You every step of the way.

I ask this all in the mighty name of Jesus Christ,

Amen

Except as noted, all scripture references are from the English Standard Version.

Are You There, God?

In a time of economic downturn even believers can become fearful, as many struggle financially and some have even lost their jobs.  In 28 years of marriage, Matt and I have received many blessings and victories.  Yet, we’ve also experienced countless trials and tough times.  It is during the tough times, when our faith has been tested, that we have seen God come through in amazing ways so that we could take none of the credit and all the glory belonged to Him.

When we face hard times, there is always a “pressing through” that is painful and discouraging to walk.  In the midst of it, it’s hard to see God at work.  We are so quick to fall into doubt and fear, asking, “Where is God in all of this?”

If you are in a difficult place and need a miracle from God, I want to encourage you to not lose heart.  This is JUST the place where the door is wide open for you to see Him come through for you in a mighty way.  There have been many times when I have said to God, “You sure must think I can handle a lot,” when I was sure it was more than I could bear.  Yet, with His help, I made it through to the other side.

In tough times, we face two choices:  be angry at God, OR, draw closer to God.  Hebrews 7:25 says, “…He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”  Jesus is the one who makes intercession for us, that is, He acts on our behalf before His Father, the Lord God Almighty.  Jesus acts on our behalf when we draw near to Him.

I like the saying, “You can become bitter or better.”  The choice is always up to us.  Sometimes, halfway through a trial, our frame of mind will change from one state to the other.  It is of course best to work on “becoming better” rather than allowing ourselves to become bitter.  Yet, if you find yourself becoming bitter, there is hope in Christ.  It takes repentance, admitting that we have been wrong, and then choosing to turn in a new direction with God’s help.

James 4:8 tells us, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”  Often in times of trial, I have had to take time to repent to God for my bad attitude, or for doubting Him instead of trusting Him.  He is always faithful to forgive us and cleanse us.  It takes recognizing that we are weak and He is all-powerful, but it also takes seeing that He loves us, even when we don’t endure a trial with perfect behavior.  He isn’t trying to punish us.  I have seen for myself that if I will submit my attitude to God, He will turn my outlook around and I will find it easier to endure a trial.  Eventually, with His help, I will begin to see a way out of the struggle.

In Psalm 31:1-4, King David gives us a wonderful example to follow:  “In you, O Lord, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me!  Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily!  Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me!  For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me; you take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for you are my refuge.”

If we think God is punishing us, or He has something against us, this false belief will prevent us from turning to Him.  We will be too afraid to draw close to Him.  I find that these false thoughts also stir up confusion.  You wonder, “Is God done being mad?  Is the punishment enough now?  I don’t know what God’s trying to teach me, have I learned what I’m supposed to learn?”  The Psalms and other books of the Bible contain many examples of times when someone experienced such troubled thoughts, and they ring true for those who are going through a time of difficulty.  Psalm 107:6 tells us, “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress.”  (Read the entire 42nd Psalm)

So often, we try to figure out everything before the trial ends.  Yet typically, it is not until we are past the trial that we are able to see a purpose, or to understand that we have learned something of value. We see so much more clearly afterward.  During a trial, we can see only part of the situation.  Our vision is limited.  God may speak to us during our struggle, but He usually only gives us a part of what we want to see and know.  I believe this is because He wants us to keep looking to Him, trusting in His guidance and not in our own limited abilities.

I want to encourage you to look for the little things, the small morsels of understanding as you walk in the midst of your struggle.  God is actively moving and speaking and revealing Himself all along.  We just have to let our eyes see and our minds understand the little miracles He sends our way.  I encourage you to journal everything, with dates, so you can keep track of the praises along the way.  After the trial, when you read back through your journal, you will see God in every step of your journey.

There have been many times when I have been struggling and not able to see a way out, when a good friend would send me a “word from the Lord” that was just in time and so uplifting for me.  First Corinthians 14:1 teaches us, “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.”  I have often held on to that special word to carry me through very dark times.  Eventually, I would see God’s word fulfilled, but during the trial, my faith would be increased as I held on to the hope of victory before it came.

Jesus promised us that we WILL have trials and tribulations, but HE has overcome the world (John 16:33).   HE has given us HIS overcoming power!  In NO WAY does God mean for us to be defeated!  Satan and his demons long to steal, kill and destroy, to defeat us every chance they can.  We must recognize that there are forces of darkness fighting against us.  We are in a spiritual battle.  So know this: that God intends for you and me to be victorious overcomers so we can help others to also be victorious.

The Apostle Paul writes, “In all things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39)

Yes, while going through a difficult trial it can seem as though the Lord is far away, that the difficulty has somehow separated us from God.  But His word says nothing can separate us from His love.  He IS love and He is always with us no matter what we may be facing.

Maybe someone close to you who is enduring a time of great difficulty.  This can be a great opportunity for you to stand with that person, to pray with them and see them through the trial.  We are not meant to live the Christian life alone.  We are to walk together, encouraging one another in our faith.  So let’s not encourage doubt and unbelief when someone is struggling.  Let’s not agree with their negativity or bitterness.  Let’s speak words of life and encouragement.  Let’s speak scriptures that will build up their faith to understand and believe that God IS making a way for them because He loves them and is for them, not against them. More than ever, we need to support and encourage one another.

Let’s Pray:

Father God, I thank you that your word is our guide through every path of life and it especially helps me when I am struggling.  Thank you for your great love and mercy that never fail to comfort me, even when I can’t see what’s ahead.  Help me to trust you in everything and to believe that You are for me and that You are making a way of escape for me.  I can take comfort in knowing that You know all about my struggles and my weaknesses and you WILL see me through to victory.

In Jesus’ Holy name I pray, Amen.

Where Are You Living?

Are you living mostly in the past, the present or the future? When I was asked this question, I realized that I had never thought about it or taken the time to analyze where my thoughts were focused most of the time. I realized for the first time that I spent much of my time replaying things from the past, especially at night before going to sleep. I would re-live events from that day or from days before. I also realized I spent a lot of my time worrying about the future, and I would come up with all kinds of “what ifs.” I spent the least amount of my thinking time enjoying the present. I could enjoy the present for a moment, but then into my mind would pop something someone had done to me that was hurtful, and I would run with it. My thoughts would be consumed by those hurtful memories, and when I would finally catch myself, I would have to consciously work my way out of the dark place to regain my peace of mind.

We live our lives in our minds, first with our thoughts, then living out what we are thinking. Isaiah 26: 3 says, “You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind {both its inclination and its character} is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.” (Amplified Version) There are so many things that go on in any given day for most people. Our lives are so busy. Our society has us pushed to our physical and mental limits. It’s difficult to keep our minds on God with so many other things demanding our attention.

When it comes to thinking about our future, many of us worry about what may be ahead, especially in times of economic turmoil like today. It’s easy to live in fear. But Jeremiah 29:11 gives us this promise from God: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (New King James) Do you know that we can trust God even in a recession? We can rest on what His word teaches us instead of what the world tells us to believe. In Matthew 6:25 and 30-33, Jesus Himself speaks to us: “Therefore I tell you, stop being perpetually uneasy (anxious and worried) about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink; or about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life greater {in quality} than food, and the body {far above and more excellent} than clothing? But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and green and tomorrow is tossed into the furnace, will He not much more surely clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry and be anxious, saying, what are we going to have to eat? Or, what are we going to have to drink? Or, what are we going to have to wear? For the Gentiles (heathen) wish for and crave and diligently seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows well that you need them all. But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His Kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right) and then all these things taken together will be given you besides.” (Amplified Version)

For some people, it is difficult to live in the present because the present is so miserable. Perhaps you are facing health issues, or financial challenges, or problems in a relationship, or any of the countless trials we face. I know from personal experience how hopeless life can seem at times. But I have learned that our attitude plays an important role in overcoming times of difficulty. Maintaining a positive outlook and attitude helps us to maintain our faith in the Lord as He helps us make it through the trial. I have good friends who encourage me when I have a bad attitude, and I try to do the same for them. It’s important to have a good support group around us. But in tough times it definitely takes determination and the power of the Holy Spirit to help us be calm and positive. It is imperative that we keep our eyes and minds meditating on God’s Word for support and help.

There are times when I struggle to stay in peace. I quote the scriptures but quickly fall out of peace, then feel guilty because I couldn’t get the Word to work for me. “I must be doing something wrong,” I think, because I know God’s word does not return void, and it is powerful to accomplish much for me. Well, I learned some interesting things from Dr. Caroline Leaf, a Christian whose specialty is the human brain. In her book, Who Switched Off My Brain? Controlling Toxic Thoughts and Emotions, she describes the anatomy of a thought and the influence it has over emotions and attitudes. Understanding how this all works helps us learn to control and change our thought life so that we can change our resulting behaviors. Dr. Caroline says, “Don’t let a thought come into your mind without recognizing if it’s a good thought or a bad thought. If it’s a bad thought, throw it out and replace this with a good thought.” For years I would apply the scripture, “Take captive every thought that exalts itself above the knowledge of God,” but I wasn’t getting results until I realized that the negative thought that I threw out must be replaced with something positive. It is important to know that we really can and must control what comes into our minds.

I have also learned that traumatic experiences can produce powerful holds on our mind and adverse reactions in our body because the mind is held up or bound up by the traumatic experience. A powerful hold takes time and help from others to break free of, but above all we must seek the Lord’s help and face the matter so we can come to live in freedom and victory. The trauma will keep you living in the past and will cause you to be fearful of the future, preventing you from enjoying the present, today, now, which God intends for us to experience and enjoy. When we fail to live in the present, we miss opportunities to impact those around us who may need our encouragement and support.

I wish I had heard Dr. Caroline Leaf’s message years ago. In fact, it would be great for parents to study, learn and teach to their young children and teens, and it would also be a great Home School learning project. I want to end by quoting from Dr. Caroline’s book: “Behavior starts with a thought. Thoughts stimulate emotions, which then result in attitude, and finally produce behavior.” I wish every believer would get a copy of Dr. Caroline’s book and DVD. She gives a clear biblical perspective on the mind and thoughts and how our thoughts affect us emotionally, spiritually and physically. I highly recommend getting her materials. You will never think the same again. (www.drleaf.net)

Try discovering where you live your life the most; in the past, the present or the future. In Matthew 6:35 our Lord Jesus Christ teaches us, “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (New American Standard) If you’re not living mostly in the present, begin today to make the necessary mental and spiritual adjustments.

Let’s pray:

Dear Father,

In the daily challenges of life, we need Your help and understanding to know what our part is in changing our life and perspectives. Thank you, Father, that You created such an amazing part of us, the human brain, and that You care about what we are thinking. Help us to glorify You in our thoughts and in our actions, this day and every day.

In Jesus’ Precious Name,

Amen

What About Faith?

What is faith? Do we need faith? Do we have faith?

Let’s see what the word of God has to say about faith:

Question #1: “What is faith?”
We find the definition in Hebrews 11:1 − “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” I personally like the King James Version: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Question #2: “Do we need faith?”
We find the answer to this question in Hebrews 11 also, at verse 6: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.”

Wouldn’t you agree that faith is important if it’s impossible to please God without it?

Question #3: “Do we have faith?”
The answer is found in Romans 12:3: “…each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned,” or “according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” (KJV) (Man, woman and child)

Hallelujah, this is awesome news. We HAVE BEEN GIVEN “the measure” of faith. God has provided it for us!

You may feel your faith is small or weak but it is possible to increase “the measure” of faith God has given us.

Romans 10:17 says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ,” or “hearing by the word of God.” (KJV)

Yes there is some responsibility on our part concerning our faith.

First Thessalonians says, “But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love…” Habakkuk 2:4b tells us, “. . .the righteous shall live by his faith.”

Jesus had a lot to say about faith. There are many scripture verses about faith in the New Testament. For example, in Matthew 17:20 Jesus told his disciples, “…if you have faith like a grain of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move, and NOTHING will be impossible for you.”

Wow, that’s a bold statement! Looking at this I believe there is a whole lot more that we could be accomplishing in this life if we believe Jesus’ words. Do you know how tiny a mustard seed is? It is about the size of the head of a straight pin. So, God gave us “the measure” of faith and THEN he tells us it takes only a tiny amount to see great things happen.

Romans 1:17 says, “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

2 Corinthians 5:6-7 reads, “So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.”

Ephesians 2:8 tells us, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”

We were even saved by faith!

“Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2)

Jesus’ Disciples asked Him to increase their faith (Luke 17:5), and Jesus replied to them, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this Mulberry Tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea; and it would obey you.”

We don’t have to fear the fact that faith is necessary. Faith doesn’t have to seem ‘out of reach’ or impossible to walk in. I have found some people to be offended by the thought of faith being required of them. But if faith can cause mountains to be moved and victory to come to my life, I WANT FAITH!

It is very important to know that faith is not all we need. The apostle James wrote, “What good is it, my brothers (& sisters) if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” (James 2:14). In verse 17 he continues, “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is DEAD.”

So what kind of “works” is James talking about? What “works” must I produce in order for my faith to work?” Most of our trials and difficulties last awhile, and we don’t see the breakthrough or answer come in just a few days. How do we stand and believe for the answer day after day, week after week, and maybe even month after month?

In times of having to “stand firm and believe” (one of the works) I have learned that just because something has been a certain way a long time doesn’t mean it always will be that way. Faith “sees” my circumstance change into something new and then take joy in the process in seeing it come to pass. Faith focuses on the “PROMISE” in the “PROCESS,” the promise being found in God’s word for your situation. The process will never come to the promise without faith.

Unbelief can get in the way of our faith. In Mark 9 we read about a man whose son was demon possessed. The boy’s father brought him to Jesus’ disciples but they were not able to cast out the demon. So the father brought his son to Jesus. (I love the persistence of this father). The words of this father were, “But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “If you CAN? All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father cried out, “I believe, help my unbelief.” Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and it left the boy.

The father recognized that unbelief was blocking the way. He cried to Jesus for help and his request was granted. I believe we can do the same today and Jesus will help us.

We are all at a different place in our faith in God. But ALL of us have the same requirement: FAITH! It is up to us to USE it, WALK in it and then allow it to grow so we can please our heavenly Father by believing. Living a life of faith can be an exciting journey! I believe God has many blessings to reveal to you as you walk in faith with Him.

Let’s pray: Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for supplying me with “the measure” of faith. Thank you for making me aware that it’s there and that I am to use it and allow my faith to grow so I can see You work even greater things in my life. Help me to cooperate with Your Holy Spirit as you lead me through the trials of life. Thank You for making a way for me to believe and that you’ll even help me when I doubt. Thank You, Lord, for loving me. I commit to you right now to a walk of faith, in Jesus mighty name, Amen.

Here are some more scriptures on faith for additional study:

Except as noted, all scripture references are taken from the English Standard Version.

Count It All Joy?

The title of this message is taken from James 1:2-4, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

The first time I read these verses I couldn’t see how doing this could be possible.  As life moved along, I endured many difficult trials, and I’ll admit I wasn’t successful in “counting it ALL joy” as James instructs.  But before you agree whole-heartedly let me say that I believe there is something in “counting it all joy” that is possible for us to walk in.  Let me start by sharing a personal experience:

I was lying on a small cot in the hospital room near the bed where our three-year old son, Mathew, lay sound asleep.  Just two months after turning three, our first-born son began having seizures.  After several of these episodes, a neurologist ordered E.E.G.s, brain scans and medications.  This particular night was spent in the hospital after Mathew had endured numerous tests, all showing a normal brain.

I lay there unable to sleep, my heart racing from fear, my mind cluttered with doubt, confusion and the dreadful “what ifs.”  In the midst of the turmoil, I uttered desperate prayers, crying out to the Lord for help, for mercy, for an answer.  Suddenly, I heard a sound that seemed to envelope my entire head where I lay.  It was unlike anything I had ever heard.  It didn’t frighten me.  There was a settling peace within the sound.  It was like the sound of what I would imagine Angel wings making as they fluttered back and forth.  As I heard this sound, a strong presence of the Lord came over every part of me and I heard a voice speak softly, “Mathew is going to be fine.”  At that point I was in a soft whirl-wind of peace that settled everything in me, and I drifted off to sleep.

But the trial of seizures continued for seven long months, testing our faith, our spiritual strength, and our commitment to following God.  Testing us more than anything we’d ever experienced before or since.  I wondered, “Is there something we’re going to gain from this?  Lord what do you want us to learn?  Can we hurry up and learn it and bring this whole thing to an end?”

Medication after medication was tried with no success.  The seizures increased, and toward the end, Mathew was seizing every few seconds.  At this point, the Neurologist gave us a devastating prognosis:  “I think your son has a rare brain disease and won’t live past the age of five.”  Matt and I had been claiming promises in God’s word, we had been feeding ourselves with the Holy Scriptures, and when the doctor announced his diagnosis, my first thoughts went to these words, “I will not believe the report of man, I will believe the report of the Lord.”  I remembered those soft words spoken to me in the hospital, as well as many scriptures of promise.

A few years before, I had experienced God’s divine healing in my own body, so as Mathew’s condition grew worse, everything in me was clinging to the promise, “God’s going to heal Mathew.”  Even though I had all of this, I still had many opportunities to doubt those words.  We are so moved by what we see and it is difficult to “Speak to that which is not as though it were.”

Matt and I had many godly people around us praying for us and Mathew, believing for God to heal Mathew.  We are so grateful for such tremendous support.  At the end of the seventh month, there was breakthrough, and Mathew was healed.  Leading up to Mathew’s healing, we had begun seeing another Doctor.  He not only confirmed the healing, but still says to this day, “God healed your son.”

Throughout this very difficult trial, we turned to God’s Word and to worship.  While Matt was at work and I was home dealing with the situation, in order to avoid giving in to fear, I had to focus on God’s Word and lift up praises with worship and singing.  Before putting Mathew to bed at night, I would read the Bible to him and then he and I would worship the Lord together.  Many times we would be engulfed in God’s presence as we lifted up our “sacrifices of praise.”  Mathew’s small hands would be lifted up as he worshiped in-between seizures.  Isaiah 61 begins, “He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion, to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit, that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.”  These words were quoted by Jesus in Luke 4:18-19.

The ultimate test for us came before Mathew was healed.  Matt and I had to come to the commitment that even if God doesn’t heal Mathew, we would still serve Him.  It was just days after we made this commitment that everything turned in another direction toward Mathew’s healing.  Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.”  We couldn’t rejoice in our son’s suffering, but we could rejoice in God and who He is in our situation.  This was powerful for us to grasp.  Matt and I received great encouragement from many of the Psalms.  I love the words in Psalm 44:1-2, “Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; he is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge. . . .”  We felt the battle of the enemy of our souls.  Satan wanted us to give up and give in and lose hope.

What I love about King David is he was so real and honest about his emotions and struggles.  I could relate to his words in these verses:  “Give ear to my prayer, O God, and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy!  Attend to me, and answer me; I am restless in my complaint and I moan, because of the noise of the enemy. . .My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen upon me.  Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror overwhelms me.  And I say, Oh that I had wings like a dove!  I would fly away and be at rest; I would hurry and find a shelter from the raging wind and tempest.  But I call to God, and the Lord will save me.  Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, he hears my voice.  He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, for many are arrayed against me.”  (Ps.55) “Oh God, save me, by your name, and vindicate me by your might.  O God, hear my prayer; give ear to the words of my mouth.  Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life.  He will return the evil to my enemies; in your faithfulness put an end to them.  I will give thanks to your name, O Lord, for it is good.  For he has delivered me from every trouble and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies.”  (Ps. 54)

What I appreciate about David is that he was honest about how he felt and what he was thinking, but he always came back to praising God and remembering His goodness to him.

It’s true that this life can dish out tough times where we are left with a desperation for God to send the breakthrough, our victory.  Matt and I had many victories within our own hearts before Mathew was healed physically.  We had spiritual surgery within us in the trial and testing.  And we can “Count it ALL joy,” knowing that God will work good things out of every situation and He is ever working within us to make us more like Him.

Let’s pray:
Dear Heavenly Father, you are so wise, all knowing, you know everything about us and you know what needs to be rooted out and what needs to be formed in us.  Please help us in these times of trial and testing of our faith that steadfastness will be produced in us and we will be complete, lacking nothing in YOU.  Help us to never go back to who we were so we can become all that you want us to become.  Thank you that we are never alone, that you are with us helping us through every hardship.  Help us to stand on your Word and promises and to know that You are faithful and You will see us through.
We ask this all in the blessed name of Jesus,
Amen.

*All scripture references are from the English Standard Version