What to do with problems that won’t go away

What to do with problems that won’t go away

Taking a look inside: Life-coaching principles to help us live boldly in a broken world
Week #1

(If you’ll recall, I promised a four week series, moving from looking at ourselves all the way to thinking globally. True to form, I jumped into a monthly plan half-way through the month. Ha!

So this is a bonus week for you: we’ll deal with ourselves today and move right into marriage on Friday. Glad you’re here!)

What to do with problems

If you’re anything like me, or any of the people I know, you are currently praying for a problem to go away.

Financial trouble… difficulties with kids… marriage issues… health problems…

I’m no fool. I can quickly and accurately define all of those as bad.

For nine years I defined Haiti’s corruption as bad. It kept my husband and me from adopting our three Haitian kids the whole time we lived there. What’s good about leaving three kids behind in a country experiencing a coup? What’s good about losing thousands upon thousands of dollars to wicked, wealthy liars and politicians?

I don’t know. But in Romans 8:28, God promises to work all things together for the good of those who love Him.

Again and again, you and I fall for the lie that our lives here on Earth should be easy and fair.

Of course, our souls tell us we were made for glory, and we’re right. Man and woman were placed in a perfect Garden, and someday, because of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice, we’ll see Heaven.

But for a little while longer, we’re here. And Jesus Himself said, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33).

Things get even stickier when we read we should “always” be “giving thanks to God the Father for everything” (Ephesians 5:20).

Does that include our troubles?

James MacDonald, in his series “Lord, Change My Attitude” says he sees three basic levels of thankfulness:

Level One: When you aren’t really feeling it, but you want to be obedient anyway, so you offer up a “sacrifice of praise” (Hebrews 13:15).

Level Two: When you’ve matured a little more and can give God thanks even during the hard times for who He is, His presence and help in your life: “in everything give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Level Three: When you’ve come to trust God so much that you can thank Him for everything including your problems, knowing that He’s working it all out for your good and His glory (Ephesians 5:20).

At the same time I was mulling over these truths, I heard James MacDonald in another sermon on my son’s radio:

“Stop asking God to take away your problems!”
(I wasn’t sure if I should turn the radio up or slap it off.)

“You keep asking God to take away this problem… take away this problem… Well, He’s not going to do it! Don’t you understand? That problem is the one thing making you desperate for God right now! Why would He take it away?”

It’s an echo of James 1:2-4:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Trials of many kinds.

Sounds like James (both of them) may have peeked into my life lately.

What are we going to do with these problems that just don’t go away?

Keep begging for God to take them? Grow cynical? Lose faith? Let anger or envy consume us?

What if we both just stop right now?

What if we choose a level? Maybe it’s Level One. That’s okay. Maybe in faith, we’ll shoot for Level Three.

What if we just bow our heads and say, “Thank You; thank You for these problems that aren’t going away”?

And what if in this moment we just trust God… we tell Him we need perseverance… we need to be mature and complete?

I don’t think He’ll mind if you mention that you’d be grateful to get past this problem someday. I’m going to include that part too.

But let me tell you… when I look deep into my own heart, it doesn’t take me long to realize how desperately I need God to change me. Life directed by my own fleshly nature would take me down some pretty awful roads.

If I can recognize the lie that I deserve a life free from pain and problems and instead consider my trials pure joy, I just might become a little more like the mature and complete woman God intends me to be.

Will you say it with me?

Thank you, Jesus, for my trials. Don’t let me waste them. Change me.

*Friends in the midst of serious stuff… I pray that Jesus will meet you in a special way in the days ahead. I also long for you to find Christians friends and godly counselors to encourage your heart and bring you hope. Let me know if I can pray for you or help point you to someone who can be of help.

*Those of you on the frustrated level… let me know if you’re interested in life coaching. There are a lot of lies we fall for in life that lead to unhealthy attitudes and life patterns. If you’d like to schedule a free consultation to talk about your current challenges and how you can rise above them, just let me know.

Thanks so much for joining me today!

Blessings,

Jennifer

Freed in frustration

Freed in frustration

Stress. Pressure. Struggle. Trials.

Count them all joy? (James 1:2)

I pray against them. Don’t you?

When Jaden has seizures, I pray they will end.

When my bank account is empty, I pray it will be filled.

When my friend suffers, I pray for relief.

When the days ahead look dark, I pray for sunshine.

But this week God gave me just a glimpse of what He’s up to.

MyWays

I opened my kids’ history book in preparation to teach “The Principle of Christian Character” and found one answer to the “why?” we all ask:

“Character” literally means “to stamp and engrave through pressure.” This sums up nicely what God is doing in our lives. God’s plan is to make each person like Him. Romans 8:29 tells us that God has predestined that we are to be conformed into the image of Christ. He is building His character within us, or you might say, He is stamping and engraving upon us His image. In so doing, He often uses pressure.

(America’s Providential History by Dr. Mark A. Beliles & Stephen K. McDowell)

characterblackandwhite

Tullian Tchividjian provided a little more insight for me via Liberate on Moody radio. Let me summarize:

Our trials remove from us what we believe we need most — the very things we think we need to be happy, to survive.

But when God takes those things from us, and our peace and joy go along with them, we discover that they have been our idols.

If we can’t be happy without it, it’s an idol.

God is all about liberating us from our idols. He longs to prove to us that we will have all we need in Him, rather than…

Health, control, success, recognition, appreciation,

Marriage, children, possessions, financial security,

Just one peaceful day…

When I find any of those in jeopardy, my reaction is usually to bemoan my fate.

(And maybe think that God might be able to bring some good from it.)

But praise God for a glimpse of something more:

A realization that…

Free

Our frustrations, our pain, our battles are FULL of purpose!

  • They are stamping and engraving Christ’s character into our lives.
  • They are releasing us from the bondage of idols.
  • They free us to “count it all joy!”

“Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

James 1:2-4

___

**Is this a new angle for you too? Would you share any of your insights about being refined?

Growing weary of the faith walk?

Growing weary of the faith walk?

James1

My husband and I have been comparing notes on how sometimes circumstances seem to conspire against us just to prove to us what big babies we are… basically the opposite of James 1:2-4.

Honestly, I rarely consider it pure joy to have my faith tested.

It’s painful realizing how pathetic I can be.

I look back and marvel at all I learned — yesterday, last year, seven years ago…

not to mention dependence through thirty-one years of knowing the Great Provider.

How I wish every lesson had “stuck.”

But far too often, I forget. I forget that God came through… sustained… healed… provided.

I look at circumstances, look at tomorrow, throw my hands onto my head and wail, “Oh no, what are we going to do?”

I am “of little faith” just like the Israelites in the desert and Peter walking on the waves.

Sometimes I grow weary of trust — being dependent on Him for everything. I grow tired of constantly needing help, needing guidance, needing to be taught.

I prefer control.

I’d rather teach than learn. I’d like to dust my hands off and say, “Well, that was challenging, but well worth it. Now, let me help you out!”

But the minute I let myself think I’ve “arrived,” I stumble over my own immaturity. In trying so hard to know it all, I find myself wallowing in even deeper neediness.

It’s far from enjoyable — being needy, learning, learning, learning.

It’s humbling. It’s uncomfortable, even frightening. I long to be competent.

But then I would miss the whole thing — the whole point of my walk with Jesus:

My neediness and His sufficiency.

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick… For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Matthew 9:12 NIV
I’m a sick, needy sinner.

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us…”
Titus 3:5 NKJV
I couldn’t save myself.

“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:19 NASB
All my provision comes from Him.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me… For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

My strength comes from Him.

So again, I acknowledge that I need Jesus… desperately.

I may have learned much in the past, but I admit that I need to learn again today.

Circumstances will continue to conspire against me (under God’s watchful, sovereign eye), reminding me that I am needy; but, I as I confess my weakness, I embrace His power.

Through Him, I can “count it all joy.” I can be made “mature and complete.”

________

Are you having a difficult time counting it all joy? What are you learning about trusting God?

Growing weary of the faith walk?

Growing weary of the faith walk?

James1

My husband and I have been comparing notes on how sometimes circumstances seem to conspire against us just to prove to us what big babies we are… basically the opposite of James 1:2-4.

Honestly, I rarely consider it pure joy to have my faith tested.

It’s painful realizing how pathetic I can be.

I look back and marvel at all I learned — yesterday, last year, seven years ago…

not to mention dependence through thirty-one years of knowing the Great Provider.

How I wish every lesson had “stuck.”

But far too often, I forget. I forget that God came through… sustained… healed… provided.

I look at circumstances, look at tomorrow, throw my hands onto my head and wail, “Oh no, what are we going to do?”

I am “of little faith” just like the Israelites in the desert and Peter walking on the waves.

Sometimes I grow weary of trust — being dependent on Him for everything. I grow tired of constantly needing help, needing guidance, needing to be taught.

I prefer control.

I’d rather teach than learn. I’d like to dust my hands off and say, “Well, that was challenging, but well worth it. Now, let me help you out!”

But the minute I let myself think I’ve “arrived,” I stumble over my own immaturity. In trying so hard to know it all, I find myself wallowing in even deeper neediness.

It’s far from enjoyable — being needy, learning, learning, learning.

It’s humbling. It’s uncomfortable, even frightening. I long to be competent.

But then I would miss the whole thing — the whole point of my walk with Jesus:

My neediness and His sufficiency.

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick… For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Matthew 9:12 NIV
I’m a sick, needy sinner.

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us…”
Titus 3:5 NKJV
I couldn’t save myself.

“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:19 NASB
All my provision comes from Him.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me… For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

My strength comes from Him.

So again, I acknowledge that I need Jesus… desperately.

I may have learned much in the past, but I admit that I need to learn again today.

Circumstances will continue to conspire against me (under God’s watchful, sovereign eye), reminding me that I am needy; but, I as I confess my weakness, I embrace His power.

Through Him, I can “count it all joy.” I can be made “mature and complete.”

________

Are you having a difficult time counting it all joy? What are you learning about trusting God?