May I share with you what I have learned…
God always speaks out against the injustices we suffer. He always upholds us when we are wronged. He walks with us through our hard times. He never lets us down.
I have also learned that even though everyone has a choice, we can’t make anyone choose to do what is right. And, even though their choices may ruin our lives, God always has another way. He redirects our eyes to something new.
Because we understand grief, we can comfort those who grieve. Because we suffer injustice, we can fight for those who are crushed. God doesn’t consider our past as wasted years; it is the foundation on which he builds hope.
Does this ever happen to you? The Bible says, “Do not fear,” and you still cling to fear in certain relationships. It says, “Be strong in the Lord,” and you still feel overwhelmed in certain situations. It says, “Rejoice in the Lord,” and sometimes all you can do is fight back tears at certain pains you experience.
It does to me. Then last night it hit me. I have been living two lives, with two opposing gods. I think I have to please certain people, yet, I also want to please God.
Last night I resolved to live only one life, to live for the God I love. I don’t know what it will look like, or how to even do it. All I know is that I set myself free. What about you?
Conflict is sparks flying. It is emotions rising. It is experiencing what most of us think we would rather avoid. Yet, sometimes conflict is necessary. When we speak up for the slandered. When we defend the defenseless. When we risk our reputation to protect the innocent.
But our actions can only resolve part of the problem. The slandered might still feel worthless. The defenseless might still feel powerless. And, the innocent might still feel betrayed. These are reactions that continue to harm.
Conflict then shows us another face. It fights for the hearts that sink into despair. It fights against the lies that drag them there. Yes, conflict is sometimes called love.
A few days ago I experienced something painful in my heart. I prayed that God would send me someone to help me regain perspective. I set off on a walk. Maybe I would meet this person, and maybe they would stop me. But, I wouldn’t take the initiative, I would let God do it.
I had barely started out when a virtual stranger stopped me. She asked me how I was.
I was taken aback, and didn’t want to share. But I had prayed, and God had done his part. I had better do mine. I told her what was going on. “I’ve been there too,” she said. “It isn’t your fault…”
God does answer our prayers! But, we too have to do our part.
Derek bought me a hat, a green one with a bow in the back. We both like it, but others have not been so positive. “You look eccentric!” “You really look funny!” And the best one.. “Your hat looks like a lily pad!”
I appreciate the honesty. But… there is a wonderful verse in the Bible. It says that God “has made everything beautiful in its time.”* We don’t need to worry about opinions. God created beauty to stand out as different, for that is what beauty is. Each of us is beautiful, regardless of our peculiarities.
I still wear my hat, and when people meet me, they nod and smile. They even stop for a chat. My lily-pad hat might be eccentric, but so is God’s love.
* (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
“If you want to walk on water,” a minister said, looking around at us, “get out of the boat!”
I gasped. That was blunt! But it was true as well. How can I follow Jesus anywhere, at anytime, and at any cost, if I don’t want to climb out of the security of a boat?
Thankfully, Jesus understands our fear of failure, and anxieties at finding ourselves out of our depth, but he still stretches out his hand. “Come!” he calls to each one of us. He dares us to step out of our little boat. He dares us to put everything on the line for him. He dares us to trust that if we sink, he will reach out and hold us up. “Come!”
The other night my mobile phone’s GPS told me that my thirty-minute journey would take two hours! Another accident, I thought. I followed the directions. Then it said, “Turn left on Bicycle Route 6.” What? It thought I was a bike!
I reset my phone, and it took me down a single-track road. Four kilometers later, no lights or habitations around, tall metal bollards blocked my way. Only bicycles could pass through. I came unglued. “I’m a car,” I cried out, “not a bike!”
Then it hit me. I wasn’t a car. I wasn’t even an insignificant dot to a satellite in the sky. I was scared, and God’s precious daughter. I could trust HIM… I turned off my mobile phone and prayed. God got me home with his GPS.
Sometimes what we experience is not understood. “But I do!” people might say. “I can totally relate! It’s just like when I got a bicycle puncture. Deflating.”
Our heart sinks. We fall silent. We feel like we are sitting at the bottom of a deep well. Alone. Unheard. If only someone understood. If only we could share our heart.
Yet, something good can come out of a well. There is a light, and it is up above. It makes us lift our heads. There is a person we can talk to – God.
Jeremiah also ended up in a well. He said, “I called on your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit. You came near and said, ‘Do not fear.’“ (from Lamentations 3: 55-57)
Sometimes people hurt us and we end up deeply shaken. But those people also accomplish something else. They reveal to us what is in our hearts. I don’t often like what I find in mine: anger, fear, pride… I even contemplate revenge.
Someone in the Bible suffered injustice as well, yet he reacted differently. He cried out, “My soul finds rest in God alone… He alone is my rock and my salvation. He is my fortress. I will never be shaken.” (Psalm 62:1-2)
Can anything good come out of pain? There is one thing. Through it God can show us if we have wandered away from him. Through it we can make the choice to return and find rest in him.