When You’re Troubled in Spirit


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Confession here…

Often, especially these days when there is so much pain in the world and even in my own life, I feel troubled in spirit. Even though I trust God and know that he’s in complete control of my life, my circumstances and my future, I can still be grieved by situations.

Someone’s actions or betrayal may hurt me. Sorrow grips my heart when I learn of a loved one’s struggle with tragedy, illness or death. Perhaps a difficult choice weighs on me—I know the best thing to do means putting aside my own wishes to uplift someone else.

But today, I read something that relieved me.

“Jesus was troubled in spirit.”             John 13:21

Say what?

Jesus? The Son of God, Jesus? God himself, Jesus? That Jesus?

Wow.

I don’t know about you, but that brought a thrill of hope to me. See, those words come right before he told his disciples that someone would betray him.

I’ve been betrayed. Jesus knows how I felt.

Then I remembered a couple of other times that Jesus felt troubled. When his friend Lazarus died, Jesus wept. And the hours before he was crucified, he prayed, sweating drops of blood because he was “deeply distressed and troubled.” But how can I be a Christian, trusting in an omnipotent God and be troubled?

How could Jesus?

Jesus knew the outcome of Judas betraying him. He knew he’d be tortured and hung on a cross. But he also knew he’d be alive again. And when his friend died, Jesus knew he’d be raising Lazarus from the dead. So why was he troubled if he knew that good was coming?

And if I trust God and know good is coming why would I be troubled?

Emotions are God given. When life happens, we feel joy, excitement, surprise and sometimes grief, sorrow or even anger. Feeling emotion is obviously an experience Jesus can relate to. We are created in his image so why wouldn’t we feel those same emotions?

And yet, the next words of Jesus seem contradictory.

He tells his followers to not let their hearts be troubled. But I believe he’s saying it as an encouragement rather than a command. Maybe what he’s saying is don’t allow your hearts remain troubled. Feeling troubled is normal, but staying troubled will not be helpful.

So, what do we do with a troubled spirit?

In John chapter fourteen, Jesus reminds his followers that they can trust him, and he assures them of their future with him. He also promises the Holy Spirit—a counselor or helper that will guide them, or us, through life.

And finally, he gives us peace.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not be troubled and do not be afraid.”       John 14:27

I believe he’s telling us that even when we feel troubled in spirit, which we will, we don’t need to continue feeling troubled or afraid because we can trust him to take care of everything no matter what our situation looks like. We can rely on his spirit to give us peace in each circumstance.

Each time Jesus was troubled, he spent time with his father, God.

God waits for us to come to him in the same way—bringing our troubled spirit, our grief, our sorrow and laying it at his feet so he can exchange them for his peace and promise for our future. When we remain in his love for us, we can rest there and not allow our hearts to remain troubled.

If your heart is troubled as mine has been recently, I invite you to join me at the Father’s feet laying down our situations and picking up his peace and his promises for our future.

Let’s remain in his love.

If your heart is troubled, I’d love to pray for you. Would you let me know in the comments below or email me at laurabennet14@gmail.com

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True Confessions


He told me everything I ever did.”

Samaritan woman at the well.   John 4:39

Remember this was the woman who Jesus took the time to converse with when she went to draw water, hoping no one would be around.DSC_0186

 

Jesus offered her “living water” or a life of freedom, abundance and no condemnation.

And after their little conversation, in which Jesus revealed that he knew the truth about her messed up life- that she had been with a number of men including those not her husband and she had been hiding out in shame – she realized that he was someone special. Important. A prophet. Or better yet, the Messiah!

She had believed that someday the Messiah would come, and when he did, she was ready.

There was no condemnation in Jesus telling her the truth about her life, only freedom.

Isn’t it a relief when something we’ve hidden comes out in the open?

We don’t usually think of our sin or shame being uncovered as a good thing. But Jesus confronts us to free us, not to shame us.

Because of everything I had done and everything done to me, I was entangled and trapped by every kind of fear.

Recognize any of these?

  • I was afraid of making people mad and what they would say about me.
  • I was afraid of not being loved.
  • I was afraid of a failed marriage. Again.
  • I was afraid of never being good enough for someone.
  • I was afraid of making mistakes.
  • I was afraid I wasn’t submitted or committed enough to live up to God’s word.
  • I was afraid of being abandoned.
  • I was afraid of losing my children because I couldn’t support a family on my own.
  • I was afraid nothing in my life would ever turn out right.

Quite a list, huh? My fears kept me so stuck, I couldn’t see the truth.

Like the woman at the well.

So when Jesus plainly spoke truth, she breathed a sigh of relief. And couldn’t wait to tell people!

Francine Rivers has a new book out, Bridge to Haven, in which the main character, Abra lives this very battle. Circumstances create lies in her young mind and heart, and she clings to the lies rather than believe the truth. Because of those lies and the fear they create, she makes choices that entangle her even more, until her life is such a mess, she can’t imagine it ever being worthwhile.

I can relate.

Next week, I’ll share a couple of other things that kept me stuck in a mess. But until then, may I pose a few questions?

What are you afraid of? What truth do you need to see or hear? Has someone who loves you tried to tell you, but you were stuck or unable to see?

See you next time for more True Confessions.

Cricket Anyone?


Another excerpt from “The Miracle of Us: Confessions of Two Online Daters”

Brendan and I sneaked off without kids to watch a cricket match…

It appealed to my sense of adventure to leave at bedtime for a night out. I grabbed Brendan’s hand as we went outside to the car.

“Isn’t it fun to sneak out this late? Like two kids instead of middle aged parents?” I kissed him, and he gave me his “indulging Laura” chuckle.

“Silly girl. I love you. Get in. Cricket and a beer are waiting.”

My turn to chuckle. I was finally getting used to my Aussie man and his beer. Sports of any kind couldn’t be played or watched without beer. People couldn’t be visited without taking beer. A hot day required beer. At our wedding we would have ginger beer. Thank goodness for World Market making a touch of Australia available in the States.

Cricket.

A long, flat bat and a narrow, extended playing space enclosed by nets. Those were my first observations. Then Brendan proceeded to explain to me that this was the indoor version of cricket which varied from the actual outdoor game. Still, the game enthralled me with its speed and well placed batting of the ball. I found it fascinating. Trying to understand the terms, scoring and “foreign” accents proved a bit challenging, and being one of few women present added to the intimidation. But, I thoroughly enjoyed watching and learning.

I really tried not to drive Brendan crazy with too many questions, but he explained things to me as if I already understood the game except that particular question. And since I didn’t understand anything, I usually ended up with more questions as a result of his answers, not less.

Brendan tossed back a beer while I sipped on water. His sarcastic Aussie teasing punctuated minimal conversation. I was content to simply sit quietly and take in five matches in progress at the same time. Most of the time I couldn’t understand the guys’ comments or accents, especially not above the cracking of solid balls against bats and the players’ roaring cheers.

I truly appreciated the sport and would have liked more time to watch this popular, intriguing game of fours, sixes and wickets.

Brendan assured me that the outdoor version played over five days would have bored me with hair tearing tedium.

I wasn’t so sure.

Any cricket enthusiasts out there? Willing to share your experience?

Diving Into the Unknown


I realize it has been three very long weeks of no online dating posts which continue the saga of me and Brendan, and I promise to get back to the story soon. However, as I searched my journals this week for some specific information for this book I am working on about us — Confessions of Two Online Daters-The Miracle of Us (working title), I came across an analogy of our dating relationship (especially at the beginning) that seems worth sharing.

This is the excerpt from my journal:

“Do I feel drawn to continue this because I want to create something that isn’t possible, or because You have created something that through You is? It seems easy to say Hey, just one e-mail at a time, but my heart is getting dragged so quickly into it all. It’s not like I’m afraid of anything really–You have protected me in every situation. I guess it’s just how quickly I jump once I believe I should. How does one take a slow descent instead?

I picture the Grand Canyon and flying off the edge – exhilaration, beauty, excitement, a good bit of fear and not really knowing for sure how you’ll land; then there’s the mule ride in a slow descent to the bottom, still fun and a bit fear-inducing, but also slow and a little tedious or even boring.

I feel like this is both at the same time. One slow step at a time, but diving into the unknown and impossibilities. You have to take me only one step at a time when I want to jump and fly.”

Well, I believed flying to Australia was God’s plan for us, but when I arrived at the airport, it’s not like at that instant we rode off in a pumpkin carriage to our palace and lived happily ever after. Yes, we drove off to paradise – Surfer’s to be exact, but even in that first trip that felt like the next Grand Canyon mule step/diving off the edge into the unknown, our romantic thrills collided with some challenging realities.

Within a few hours of our arrival, Brendan’s mother-in-law, Monica, called and reminded Brendan of their plans for her to watch the children that evening so Brendan could attend a school function. Talk about harsh reality in the middle of romance land! In-laws and children all in one night! Brendan had lost his mother at a young age, so his late wife’s mother had filled that empty spot in his life. However, that meant that my potential “mother-in-law” was really the mother of Brendan’s first wife. No matter how we looked at it, the situation was awkward for all of us.

Ashley and I ended up spending the evening with the kids and their grandmother while Brendan went to their school. Monica kindly chatted and asked questions about our trip even in the midst of what I’m sure must have felt difficult for her as we sat in her daughter’s home. Fortunately, the subject of Poland came up as she immigrated to Australia from there, and I had visited where she once lived. It seemed miraculous to me that we had a connection that made a way for us in a less than comfortable situation. God knew. What seemed like diving off the edge of a cliff actually turned out to be the safest route because our unknown is known by God.

And that’s only part of the story…