Sunday, November 30, 2014

Created to Glorify God

 The other day a young lady told me that she didn’t feel pretty.  I couldn’t believe my ears.  When I say this young lady is gorgeous, I mean she is absolutely stunningly beautiful with a personality to match.  I asked her what she perceived to be wrong with her looks and she told me that she didn’t like her lips, her teeth, or the scar on her face.  I spent a few minutes telling her that there is nothing wrong with her.  The things she perceives as flaws are not flaws at all.  She is beautiful just the way she is.  But then I decided to get a little deeper and explain the danger of focusing so much on ourselves that we lose sight of our true purpose.

The truth is that the enemy of our soul, Satan, hates us.  We remind him a great deal of our Creator and his goal is to kill, steal, and destroy us.  He knows how much it hurts God to see us hurting.  Satan uses the media and whatever else he can to feed us the idea that we’re not good enough because we don’t look like this person or because we don’t have as much as that person.  We forget that our Creator made us just the way we are and He doesn’t make any mistakes.  When we buy into Satan’s lies, our attention shifts away from God, where it should be, onto ourselves, where it should not be.  This is dangerous because we aren’t able to fully walk in our purpose when God is not the center of our attention.

It is so important for you to understand that your purpose is so much bigger than just you.  Romans 11:36 (LB) says, “For everything comes from God alone.  Everything lives by His power, and everything is for His glory.”  What is our purpose?  It is to glorify God.  We were created to worship Him.  We were born to serve others.  Instead of spending time beating ourselves up for not looking exactly like someone else, we should thank God for creating us and then use our time to tell others about and draw attention to Him—for He is good.  He is all we need to live a joyful life.

It sounds like it’s easier said than done, but I encourage you to give it a try.  Instead of thinking about things you dislike about yourself all day long, think about ways you can be a blessing to others and then do those things.  Instead of sulking because you don’t like the way your hair looks today, choose to worship God and thank Him for all His many blessings.  Instead of talking negatively about yourself, take time to share Jesus with someone who may not know Him.  I guarantee you will feel so much better when you do.  You will be walking and living in your purpose.  You will be doing what you were born to do.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Unspeakable Joy in the Midst of Difficulties

I lost my parents in 2012.  My father died a few days before the 4th of July; and my mother, the day before Thanksgiving.  I’d be lying if I said that dealing with the loss of two people I had known and loved longer than anyone else on this earth was easy for me.  I’d be lying if I said that as these two holidays approach there isn't a part of me that gets emotional.  I’d be lying if I said I don’t still have days when I cry because I miss them so much.  But I am so thankful that I have been able to lean and depend on Jesus through it all. 

I remember when I found out that my parents had terminal cancer.  I was so afraid.  I was angry.  I felt overwhelmed and frustrated because I was aware of my powerlessness.  I talked with God all day every day because I knew that He was the only One who would fully understand how I felt.  He was the only One who could calm my fears.  He was the only One who thoroughly knew and understood my heart and I trusted Him to help me through.  I’m sure people who knew how much I loved my parents thought I would have an emotional breakdown.  But in my weakness, God was strong.  Because of Him I made it through that difficult period with an increased measure of faith and trust in Him.

I’m currently in the process of clearing my things out of their home, which I must say is also very difficult for me.  Looking through my old papers the other day took me on a trip down memory lane.  I realized that although the sickness and death of my parents was hands down the most difficult time of my life, there have been some other emotionally difficult times in my life as well—multiple heartbreaks, betrayal by friends, being the subject of slander, sometimes falling short of my expectations academically or creatively, etc.  In journal after journal I see that no matter what was happening in my life, I always poured out my heart to God.  I always told Him exactly how I felt and looked to Him for direction, comfort, understanding, joy, and peace.  He is the One who sustained me.

Many people make the mistake of retreating within themselves when they go through difficulties.  Sometimes they stop going to church.  Sometimes they stop reading the bible.  Sometimes they are so upset or disappointed with God that they refuse to talk with Him at all.  That only prolongs truly making it through the situation because He is the only One who can heal our broken hearts and make us whole. I encourage you to resist the urge to retreat and pour out your heart to Him.

Seeing my old journals and letters to God reminded me that being a Christian doesn’t promise that things will be easy in this life.  On the contrary, they will be difficult.  At times they will be really difficult.  But Jesus promises that He will never leave us nor forsake us.  Because He actually walked the earth, He has experienced every emotion we will ever feel.  It follows that when we are having difficult times emotionally, Jesus knows exactly how we feel and He is right there with us in the midst of our struggles.  He will comfort us and see us through every single one of them, if we just look to Him.  I am a witness to that.

Romans 8:28 is my favorite scripture.  I am thankful that my difficulties will always turn out for good.  I trust God and know that He knows what He is doing.  I smile from within because I am a witness of God’s goodness.  I truly have unspeakable joy on the inside—joy that transcends what happens to me.  I thank Him because He has always been there for me no matter what.  I thank Him because I am able to understand, empathize with, and help others who have emotional struggles.  I’m thankful because although I have had difficulties, I have never stayed in them.  I have only grown through them.  I have looked to Him for strength and direction and He has, without fail, seen me through each and every one of them. 
Psalm 34:19 says: Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.  I thoroughly believe that.  And I am confident that when new difficulties arise He will be faithful to help me through those as well. 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to you own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths” Proverbs 3:5-6

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16

“I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken.” Psalm 37:25