“Grief never ends…But it changes. It’s a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith…It is the price of love.” Unknown
In John 11:35, it simply says:
Jesus wept. The shortest verse in the Bible, but shows that even the Son of God understands what we go through during the loss of someone we care about. Go to God in your grief and draw comfort from your Heavenly Father.
“But a key truth on which we can stand is this—our God is a good God! Psalm 34:8 says, “Taste and see that the LORD is good.” God is a good God. We must begin here. Though we don’t understand His actions, we can trust His heart!” Max Lucado, Traveling Light
Will you believe that God is good? He is big enough to handle any problem you bring His way. Trust God with your pain and grief.
This quote is so powerful and critical for people to not only know these truths but to believe them! I recently read an article that stated…
“An estimated 13 million students are bullied annually, according to government statistics.”
Let that set in…13 million! Bullying is a major issue that does not end once a student gets home, but continues on through social media, long after the final school bell rings. Any type of bullying, whether verbal, physical or in cyberspace should never be tolerated and needs to end! October is “National Bullying Prevention Month.” I want to encourage everyone to Speak Up and Stop Bullying if you see it going on because the ramifications can be enormous! At a minimum, feelings of inadequacy because of a lack of friends will result, but more than likely, depression will set in.
Just look at the what happened the other day when an incoming high-school freshman named Hannah reached out to Taylor Swift on Instagram, (Sunday – 9/7/14) to share her heartbreaking fears of being bullied in the new school year. The 24-year-old singer responded so compassionately to her High School fan that it made headlines. You can read the article here that shares the exchange.
Taylor Swift has a new single called “Shake it Off” which the main chorus makes this declaration:
‘Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off
It is a catchy song but the message is that bullying IS going to happen and we need to take hold of our feelings and “shake it off.” I agree to a point but there is more that we need to do but let me know get ahead of myself…
Depression and hopelessness are real, and if you are suffering from this, know you are NOT alone! Beside millions of other people who are experiencing some form of depression, God is with you always, even if you do not have a relationship with Him, God is just one prayer away…All you need to do is take one step in the His direction and just like a Daddy running to His child that is hurt, so your Heavenly Father will come running to you! God is just waiting for you to make a move in His direction. But sometimes that is so hard to conceive of a loving father in heaven right? Do you know why that is? Because of the war that we are in. What war you ask? The war for our mind, for our life, for our eternal soul…we are in a spiritual battle with a very real enemy…the Devil tries very hard to cause doubt, confusion, and disillusionment about God’s character and about our identity as a “Child of God.” That is why allowing depression to continue is so dangerous. So many people suffer from it but never talk about it because of the stigma that society places on it. Whether it is from fear of people minimizing your feelings or not wanting to appear weak or ________ (you fill in the blank)…The silent killer of souls continues to rage on.
DO NOT ALLOW the depression you feel to keep you isolated, because this is the Devil’s greatest tactics…He works hard to isolate us from God, from other people and ultimately destroy us with our own negative thoughts of hopelessness. This is called Spiritual Warfare (see Ephesians 6:11-17 for more detail)…It is real and depression is a bi-product of the battle. So how do you overcome depression…easier said than done right? In His mercy and love, God gave us His Word (the Bible) to be a road map that can help you navigate out of your depression. You have heard the saying…“You are what you eat,” well the same is true for your mind and emotions, they will be focused on whatever you feed them, (or don’t feed it.) Reading the Bible is not something for religious fanatics or weirdo’s, it is for anyone who wants to live a life of peace and joy, which only will come when you understand your Identity in God. You can choose to remain angry and rebellious, refusing to trust God, but I guarantee you that you are not going to achieve peace or joy trying to handle your problems on your own…We were never created to do that. We were created to having fellowship with God and Jesus and they will carry the burden…see Matthew 11:28-30 for proof. One verse that has given me comfort in times of trouble is Psalm 27:13–14 (NLT) which says…
“Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.”
Wait patiently, be brave and courageous through this season and know that regardless of anything you have done, God will always love you and be with you. You are His child and He Chose you from before time existed! You may be thinking, how do I know that, well I am glad you asked…
Ephesians 1:3-6 (NIV) says…
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love He predestined us for adoption to sonship [daughtership] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One He loves.”
God says we are CHOSEN! You are an adopted child though Jesus Christ! All you need to do is make the decision to release the guilt, the shame, the hurt, whatever it is, and accept the free gift of Grace and Salvation through faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection for the payment of ANY past, present and future sins! (See Romans 10:8-13 to read more).
Kick the negative thoughts and the enemy to the curb!! You are loved and forgiven! God is just one prayer away. What will you do?
If you are interested in reading more on this topic check out this post called:
Life has a way of knocking you down but there is a way to navigate the storms that come our way and that is in trusting in Jesus! In Matthew 14:27-33 (NLT) it shows what happened to Peter when he took his eyes of Jesus…
“But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”
Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
“Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.
But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,”Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. Then the disciples worshiped him.
“You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.”
Are you despairing today? Feeling hopeless? Do you feel like you are stuck? Just like Peter, when you focus on the wrong things, you will start to sink and will remain trapped. To further the point, look at what David, a man well acquainted with persecution and adversity said in Psalm 40:2…
“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and the mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”
The New Living Translation states it this way:
“He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.”
That is exactly what Jesus can do for you today! All you need to do is change your perspective and look up to our Heavenly Father…God is just waiting to come to your rescue! He sent Jesus as part of that rescue plan and He is willing and able to pull you out of any mess you find yourself in. So the answer to our question today is to…Keep Your Focus on Jesus!
I will close with this foundation truth from Hebrews 12:1-2 (NASB) that I pray will bring you great comfort!
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
If you would like to read more on this subject, check out 2 posts:
I remember growing up in Pennsylvania as a kid, I wanted to make some extra money; so I made a pitcher of lemonade and set up a folding table and got to work. The problem was, I lived off a small country road and there was very little traffic, whether by foot or vehicle. Needless to say, I did not make much that day…hahaha! You’ve heard the old adage…
Which is a phrase used to encourage optimism and a “can-do attitude” in the face of adversity or misfortune. Though it is put on bumper stickers and feels played out, there is tremendous truth that we can use in our lives when we are squeezed!
I once heard a great analogy contrasting the pressures of life with a sponge. Bishop O.W. Prince compared it this way:
“What is really inside of us will come spilling out of us when life puts the squeeze on us. Crisis will usually reveal what is really in our hearts. It is easy to do and say the right things when life is calm and everything is going right, but what we say and do when chaos hits and the pressure is on tends to paint a more accurate picture of who we really are.”
Wow! That is convicting! God has been showing me that I have some work to do! Just like a sponge, when we are squeezed, what is in us will come flowing out! The question is, will it be sour like lemons or sweet like lemonade? In James 19-20 (NLT), we are given this word of advice…
“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.”
So I ask you…What’s in your Sponge?
When you are squeezed, what comes out? WILL it cause a mess and hurt those around you, or WILL it be full of grace and uplifting? Here is a promise of what will happen if you choose the latter…
“God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12 (NLT)
Are you suffering today? Aching from being hurt by someone’s betrayal or persecuted for something you did not do? You are not alone, the Bible recounts in Genesis how Joseph was betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery, only to then be wrongly accused of attempted rape and thrown into prison…BUT God used these horrible betrayals that people inflicted, and elevated Joseph to second-in-command of all of Egypt. Take comfort from Genesis 50:20 (NLT) that God turn any trial into a triumph!!!
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.”
I love that, what was :intended to harm me,” was used by God to “save the lives of many people. We cannot see the whole picture, God is always working and you never know how what God will turn a bad situation around.
There is no situation TOO BIG for God, NOTHING is impossible for Him! Trust God today with everything! He will never leave you or forsake you!!
Chapter 4 of 1 Peter is really incredible because it talks all about how to live for God and what you can expect when you become a Christian. It starts out with…
“So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude He had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin. You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God.” 1 Peter 4:1-2 (NLT)
What would things be like if, instead of being anxious about life, we were “anxious to do the will of God?” If instead of viewing Christianity through “Rose Colored Glasses,” we lived our lives “ready to suffer too?” We need to break those glasses and understand the truth that we will suffer for Christ, there is no “if” in that passage…but that there are benefits to the suffering for being a Christian. 1 Peter 4:12-13 (NLT) says
Verse 14 tells us what the result will be if we persevere…
“If you are insulted because you bear the name of Christ, you will be blessed, for the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you.”
How many times are you surprised when trials come?? If we are honest, probably more times than any of us would care to admit to, I am sure…but I love what results…”trials make you partners with Christ in His suffering” which results in joy and that “you will be blessed.” My absolute favorite part is found in verse 16, which if we grasped this, it would forever change our perspective!
“But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name!” (1 Peter 4:16 NLT)
Repeat this over and over…
“Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name!” Instead of the “woe is me” attitude, because you were insulted or had to sit alone at lunch or lost a friend because of your faith; if we really saw it for what it is, a “privilege,” we would be completely on fire for God! I would like to encourage all of us to start this day in a new way…let’s be anxious to do the will of God!!