Thursday, July 20, 2023

struggles, hard times, and resting in God

 


Happy Thursday, friends! This post is inspired by something I shared on social media yesterday, and also by a devotional that I read each day. I thought I'd share it with you here, because as usual, if I feel like I need to hear something like this, I can't help but wonder if someone else might need the same thing. I hope you leave this little space encouraged today. 



I love this verse, and the great reminder it is to me. Life is hard, friends, even with Jesus, it's hard. But without Him, it would be impossible! So many people that I know and love are hurting right now—whether with an actual physical need or with a mental or emotional need, which can be far worse. If that's you today and you are a believer in Jesus who has placed your faith in Him, I pray you take comfort in this beautiful verse. 


If you don't know Jesus, what are you waiting for? I am always here if you want to talk more about this, so feel free to email me. Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never allow the righteous to be shaken (Psalm 55:22). Also, how can I pray for you? It would be an honor! Comment or email me at allboys@gmail.com with whatever your request is, and I will pray. I believe in the power of prayer, my friends, and that the prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective (James 5:16).  


I know so many who struggle and keep it to themselves, but I am the opposite of that and this is why—because I believe in the power of prayer, I always want all the prayer I can get. Life is beautiful, but it's also very messy and complicated, and I always want to be honest and forthcoming about the struggles I face. I don't do it for sympathy or attention, but for the prayers of the righteous. I have experienced time and again how they matter and I know that the Lord hears our cries. 


The second thing I want to share today is from my devotional book that I read daily, Live in Grace Walk in Love by Bob Goff. I'm going to just write it here below, but know that these words are his and not mine. I'll use italics for his words that I read yesterday that greatly spoke to my heart, starting with the passage from the top of the page. (This is a passage about when Elijah encountered the Lord.)


Then he said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the LORD's presence." At that moment, the LORD passed by. A great and mighty wind was tearing at the mountains and was shattering cliffs before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper. 1 Kings 19:11-12


Nothing puts a damper on a night out with friends like a restaurant that's too loud. We all know the feeling of leaning in close to our buddies, putting our ears up to their faces in hopes of being able to get the gist of what they're saying. 

We can't hear one another when there's too much noise in our lives. We miss our kids' subtle cries for help and our friends' invitations into deeper relationships. As we run from commitment to commitment on autopilot most of the time, we lose sight of all the things that bring us to wonder. We don't see them because we don't hear them. If we can't hear the people around us amid all the noise in our lives, think how hard it is to hear God, who the Bible says often speaks to us in a whisper.

I don't know about you, but I've never heard the audible voice of God. I've asked Him plenty of of times to say a sentence to me, or a word. I've even asked Him to buy a vowel. But it's been crickets. If you want to hear God's words, just read the Bible out loud. He's never answered my prayers with a booming voice or crash of thunder. I understand Him by reading what He said. God also speaks through hunches, ideas, and new desires. For all of these, they will be informed by our faith, our hopes, and our experience. God speaks through invitations that show up just days after I prayed for direction. God's voice often feels like my own thoughts, but wiser and more tenderhearted. Here's the thing: I only hear God when the noise around me fades and it's quiet enough for me to tune in to His soft whispers.

God won't try to speak over all the noise in our lives. Be still. Turn down the volume on the chaos of everyday life. Sit in the silence with expectation, and wait for love to whisper your name.


I may not have written those words, but I feel like I could have. How true and beautiful are they? I am intertwining these two thoughts today because they coincided in my life yesterday. As I said above, so many that I know and love are hurting right now, and I started to feel so burdened for them yesterday. I just started praying, because my heart was too heavy to process things. I was thanking God for the fact that He wants me to cast my burdens on Him, which brought to mind the verse that says that in Psalm. There's also a New Testament version to the same thought: 1 Peter 5:7 says to cast all your cares on him, because he cares about you. Even though I know this and what these verses say, truth be told, how often do I sit and pray very intently? If I'm being honest here, and I like to be that with you, the answer is not enough. How many times do I skip my quiet time and the reading of His word?


What stops me from going to Him more? Is it time? Distraction? Lack of want-to? Tiredness? Boredom? 


Yes, to all of the above. Most often, it's distraction, or having my priorities wrong. When I say distraction, I equate that with "noise" in my life. Is it blogging? Reading? Watching a show? Busying myself with chores? Like Bob wrote, God won't try to speak over all that noise. We must clear it out of our lives first! Sometimes that just means taking the time to sit down and pray. And when I say "pray", I don't mean just going to Him with a laundry list of things I need help with. I mean sitting down, and going through the different ways to pray, starting with praising Him for who He is, thanking Him for all that He's done, asking Him to show me sin that needs to be confessed in my life, and then I pray for everything else, whether family, friends, the church, my pastors, ministries, missionaries...you get the drift. God is not legalistic, and I am so thankful for that, but I never feel right about just sitting down and asking for things. God is holy and righteous, faithful and just, and He deserves our praise more than anything or anyone else. That's why I pray the way I do, not that He is grading me here. 


If you want to read more about the topic of prayer, I'm sharing two old blog posts. One is this one when I talked about using a prayer notebook several years ago. And here's one that I titled, Some Ways I Pray. All the things I want to say here today, I said on those older posts, which is why I'm sharing them again. Anyway, after spending time with the Lord in prayer yesterday, guess what happened? Well, His word is true, and my burden felt lifted. There is something so special about just pouring out your heart to God. He listens, He cares! Not only does He do those things, there is something about getting the words out of your own heart and mind and just saying them out loud to Him. I suggest trying it, if you've not done that in a while. I no longer use a prayer notebook, but I do use my journal to jot down prayer requests that I know of at the moment. 


Speaking of, can I pray for you? I already asked that way back up at the top of this post, but I'm asking again. If you prefer to reach out to me by email, that address is allboys@gmail.com. 


Do you have thoughts on what I shared today? I'd love to hear from you. Thanks for reading my blog today, friends. Love to all. 

13 comments:

  1. Thanks for all of the reminders of God's ways of speaking to us and the encouraging Bible verses. It's so easy for me to get caught up in the day to day noise and not making spending time with Jesus a priority. Thanks for sharing the areas of your life that you find sometimes taking precedence over spending time with Him. I like your reminder of how to come to God in prayer. I try to do that as well- to thank him first for all he's done, to acknowledge his love and his power, to confess and then to come to him with my petitions. Though in a pinch or panic, I've been known to go straight to what seems like my imminent need or want... Again, thanks for the encouragement and writing truths! Have a great day!

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  2. Thank you for this beautiful reminder- Amen

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  3. What great words from you and from Bob. I need silence and space and margin in my life. I can't function with the constant busyness and the noise.
    Please pray for Mason to have a good experience in England and to meet at least one friend. I am starting to really feel the anxiety about letting him go and have this big adventure.
    Thank you so much!

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  4. Debbie, I love what you said. I love what you said in the first paragraph- about wanting the big, bold answers and missing out on the everyday little miracles that He does in our lives. I love that! It's so true. There's a song that I love by Maverick City Music= Million Little Miracles that this conversation reminds me of.

    Thanks for sharing about the way you were taught at your old church. It makes sense to think those things after being taught all of that. In my own mind, I have a tendency to be legalistic- but I know that's ME, not God. I was feeling convicted yesterday, though, about not spending good, quality time with Him recently. (Hello, new puppy and early mornings of me being sleepy!)

    After yesterday, I felt like I'd been away on a little retreat. I felt so refreshed afterward!

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  5. Maria, I feel that same way sometimes! Yesterday was one such time. I do also sometimes just sit and pray quickly, and I know He hears that too! It's me that can sometimes be legalistic about this...yesterday praise for Him just started pouring out, because life can be overwhelming.

    Thanks for your sweet words!

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  6. Holly, I always appreciate your sweet words! 💚💙🤍

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  7. Thank you, Amy! I need those same things in my life. I loved what Bob had to say and how God is that quiet whisper. I will pray for Mason- I have often prayed a similar prayer over the lives of my sons. God has always been faithful to give them at least ONE loyal friend! I know He will do the same for Mason and will pray that while he's gone. I can imagine that it would be nerve-wracking to send your son or daughter overseas for a full semester. I know it's an awesome opportunity, but as a mom, whew. I feel you on that one. I'll pray for you too! And for Mason's brother- will he miss him? I think of Jonah and Noah- they're not as close as they once were, but if it were that long, I think they would be a little depressed if they couldn't see each other for months. 💙💜

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  8. I was raised in a very legalistic church. I loved them and I believe they taught the truth, but I felt like every time I did anything wrong, I was headed to hell. Never felt like I was saved. But I've been learning that God is not trying to kick us out of the family, but is trying to keep us in. Something my husband has told us over and over Jesus is not like a traffic cop hiding and trying to catch us in sin so he can kick us out of heaven. He is for us and wants us to make it to heaven. Jesus Loves Me This I Know, for the Bible Tells Me So. All I need to do is confess to Him and turn away from that sin or attitude or whatever it is. He's not condemning me, but teaching me when I'm wrong to bring me to be more like Jesus. That is the desire of my heart. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings today and thanks for the reminder of that still, small voice. Hope you have a great day.

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  9. Cathy, I love what you said and what your husband says- God is for us and He wants us with Him. I had some very warped teaching as well from a young age, but thank the Lord He showed me that it was wrong. He is loving, kind, gracious, and merciful! Amen. Thank you for sharing!

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  10. "God won't speak over all the noise in our lives..." That is powerful and something for me to consider more this week. I feel like there is not a lot of "noise" in my life (it's actually a bit too quiet at times!) but, to be sure, the devil offers plenty of distractions! I need to recognize them for what they are and then work to eliminate them. Thanks for sharing your heart today!

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  11. Jennifer, that was for me too! Isn't the Lord sweet to show us areas for improvement and growth?

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  12. So encouraging to hear how the Lord spoke to you yesterday and I am extremely thankful for you being a prayer warrior for me this year during difficult times. My prayer request is continuing for healing and reconciliation. I am thankful that we can be in prayer throughout the day with all the little things, but I do need to spend more intentional, queit time being in prayer without the distractions. I once heard someone say that sometimes prayer can be like eating...sometimes we have quick meals throughout the day, but we do need to just sit and linger at the table often too.

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  13. Thanks, Marilyn! I've been happy to pray for you in the past year. Thank you for trusting me with your heart! I am so glad things are turning around for you both right now. You are so right! I love that about equating prayer with eating. That's so good, and it's so true.

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