There were about twelve of us.
We were sitting around the table talking about “The Respect Dare.”
One of the men asked, “So it’s a book for a married woman whose marriage isn’t working?”
I looked at him and paused.
“It’s a book for nearly all married women,” I replied.
He looked confused.
“Most married women are unhappy in their marriages,” I said. I paused. I sighed. “Am I wrong, ladies?”
And the silence weighted the room cold.
Most would find assurance, solace, comfort, something in being right. My heart felt heavy for these new found women friends whose pain silently spoke volumes to the quiet room.
Unfortunately, I know they’re not alone.
Like most women who’ve lived nearly half a century, I’m not a stranger to pain. And neither are you.
By now, we’ve either struggled with surgeries, infertility, miscarriage, childbirth, or nursing.
We’ve loved and lost, endured depression, and buried a friend or more. Many of our parents are dead.
Our husbands have strayed, become distant, left us, or hard hearts (sometimes our own) fill our marriage bed.
The ache of isolation is hidden from us by the lying shield of our bitterness and anger.
Our hearts are broken. We feel alone. And when we have turned to our teachers, we hear, “submit, like Christ,” or “serve, like Christ,” and guilt invades our psyche and our spirit, and we feel instead we might already just be dead, like He was.
There comes a point in all our walks were we must make a decision about the Truth of the Bible and the collision the Word has with the circumstances of our lives. We wonder, “Are these things we teach our children really true?”
Our faith, to fully mature, fully breathe, fully embrace life abundant (which was the reason Jesus came in the first place), our faith has to wrestle through the question, “Why does a God who loves me allow bad things to happen?”
Either ALL things, all things, work together for good for those who love God, for those who are called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28), or… they don’t. Which essentially means the Bible isn’t True. And that our God isn’t powerful enough to protect us or prevent these things from happening in the first place.
If we’ll only accept good from God, that means we do NOT accept that He is all powerful, all knowing, and omniscient. That he can either overcome the illnesses and the difficulties of this world, or he can’t – and if that is the case, what’s the point? For us to have life abundant, our God must be HUGE – He must be the Creator…but this also means that He is in control of it all… and the hardest thing for us to accept is that He allows the pains and sufferings of this world.
But accept we must, if we are to have life abundant and big faith.
But that also means that the violence of a ravaged uterus that results in the bloody death of a deeply wanted baby was something He allowed…and our frail human hearts simply struggle with this thought.
It means that the moment to moment threat of suicide in the mind of young new mother, robbed of the joy of a new baby and finding herself sobbing uncontrollably and unreasonably for hours, begging for some reason not to slice her wrists wide open in the bathtub and watch the life drain out of her as she succumbs to death to stop the torment and pain…it means He allows this battle, too, for a reason. And that He means it for good.
It means the sexually abused and beaten young woman who finds herself pregnant at 15, by her own father, outcast by her own family for telling the truth of what happened to her and for choosing to keep the heart growing within her beating; it means all this pain was for good.
How can God’s love for us be wrapped up in this much pain and suffering?
Have you ever let one of your children learn a hard life lesson? Doesn’t it often make them cry? So are you a cruel mother, or do you have your child’s best interests at heart? Sometimes they learn only through experiencing difficulty. Those of you with teenagers and toddlers know what I’m talking about.
So, while I do not disagree with the advice of “submit,” “obey,” or “serve,” I will tell you there is something more important that comes first.
There’s a story in Luke, where Jesus heals ten lepers. He sends them off to see the priests, but one of them comes running back to Jesus…and the NIV reads in Luke 17:15-19, “One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him – and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ Then he said to him, ‘Rise and go; your faith has made you well.'”
Are you confused? How did the guy’s faith make him well if Jesus healed him in the first place, just like the other nine?
The original Greek of “well” is “sozo” … it means “to save.”
When did the leper receive saving faith? When he came back and GAVE THANKS.
Psalm 50:23 reads, “He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.
We’re not just talking about this guy getting well from a skin disease, we’re talking about a diseased soul coming to terms with full wholeness of being through salvation.
By giving thanks.
And Jesus, when faced with literally thousands of mouths to feed and just a few loaves and just a few fishes, first gives thanks, then a miracle occurs.
And before He raised Lazarus from the dead, He gave thanks.
And we see revelation occur only after Jesus gives thanks on the road to Emmaus for the food and hands it to his disciples.
We frequently challenge you throughout Daughters of Sarah to “see life through the lens of the Holy Spirit,” this is depicted in Philippians 4:4-13 (emphasis mine):
Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me, put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
When we ask God to help us SEE the world the way He does, through the context of His Word, to the extent that we know it, He helps us SEE whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy – and if we do that, we should then give thanks. So, don’t miss this, know the Word. Then give thanks.
1 Thes 5:18 reads, “In everything, give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
It will change your life.
Romans 8:28 reads, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
In ALL THINGS. It can be a bitter pill when our heart aches with missing our beautiful friend whose body, racked with pain and cancer cells, ceases to function and she dies a brutal, hairless, painful death.
In ALL things. And the attitude of Job comes to mind, that we should take blessings from the Father, but not what we label as troubles? The Lord gives and takes away. And always, these troubles result in blessings for us…
Do we trust Him?
Life abundant. It’s the opposite of captivity. And too many of us are held captive by our fears, by lies, by misperceptions of how things are “supposed to be.” As we saw from our leper friend, it begins with giving thanks, and recognizing what has been done for us, knowing how precious we are to Him.
Life abundant. Hardships allowed in love by a God who says that in Christ WE ARE:
purposed, chosen, appointed, formed fearfully and wonderfully, His own handiwork, His friend, His child, an heir of God, a temple of the Holy Spirit, wise, righteous, sanctified, redeemed, free, holy and blameless, forgiven, blessed, positions of honor with Christ, alive, saved by grace through faith, brought near to Him, new, adopted, under Christ’s headship, marked as belonging to God by the Holy Spirit, welcomed to come boldly to God, part of Christ’s church, fulfilled in Christ, set free from the sin nature, glorified, powerful, loving, self-disciplined, safe, innocent, a recipient of His great love forever, complete.
And as we walk through the checkout lines of life combatting the lies of airbrushed and artificial shadows of women whose true flesh has been deemed not lovely enough by the enemy, we must find our identity in what the Audience of One has to say about who we are: We are HIS. He is our King.
Will we accept this privileged position? Or will we continue to buy the lies of the world that tell us other things?
In addition to “Father, forgive me,” my most frequent prayer throughout the day is, “Father, help me SEE Your glory in the midst of this. Show me what is True, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy, help me think about these things. Help me experience and BE Your grace…” When I poured a cup of coffee yesterday, I stopped and gave thanks for the warmth that radiated through the cup to my hands, the heat melting the icy shards of arthritic pain just enough… instead of complaining, I’m choosing gratitude. If you struggle with this type of prayer, spend half an hour watching videos on Youtube about poverty in Africa. It will humble you. Even in the midst of difficulties, JOY is there, His glory is there – waiting to be revealed. Yesterday, when my kids were in the middle of hot disagreement, I gave thanks for them and the argument. I prayed God would help me BE grace, that He would give me wisdom…and I did it out loud, in front of them. Openly inviting The One Who Loves into the trouble at hand only helps to reveal His glory, which is just waiting… just waiting…
I want to challenge you to make a practice of giving thanks and counting your blessings. If you write them down, you’ll see they record your life. Give thanks. For the little things, for the big things, for the simple things. Even for what we label as “trouble.”
Ask God to help you SEE. It will change your life.
Dare ya! J
Double-dog-dare you to join us on January 5th (next Thursday) for a full day of teaching on marriage at the taping event for Daughters of Sarah… More info here.
Privileged to be on the journey with you….