Drought, terror, fires, disaster and personal challenges. Yesterday, I heard of a family who has been out of work for nearly three years, blown through all their severance, savings and retirement funds and don’t know how they will meet next month’s rent.
I so get it.
And as believers in an almighty amazing God, we can feel a bit lost. Right? It isn’t actually God I doubt, it’s me. Did I hear Him right? Did I miss something? Is there an area of disobedience where I thought I was obeying? Why are my husband and I hearing different things from the same God?
But recently when talking with a friend, we realized that some of the challenge is simply learning to keep our hands open or off entirely and let God do his work in his way and timing. But I confess, the journey feels a little like river rafting in rapids…without a paddle, or even a boat.
Bruised, battered, exhausted and drowning. Or so it seems.
But I’m finding that by relaxing and looking up (like floating in a pool) and going with the flow, the struggle is far less painful than fighting the current and scrambling for a handhold. (Never been in rapids before so I’m guessing here.)
And every day I’m a little surprised – okay, I know I shouldn’t be, but I am – that little pieces smooth out, fall into place or even vanish. I believe that God is sending the right help at the right time if I am at peace and ready, but not freaked out.
Close my eyes.
Focus on Jesus.
Take a deep breath…and wait…for a minute. Or five.
I think that is what God means when he says in the Bible…
Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
So often, what I’m missing is the presence of God. But if I just take the time to settle into it…
He’s there. Waiting.
He says he’ll quiet me with his love and sing over me because he delights in me. (Zephaniah 3:17)
I think maybe he’s saying the same thing to you.
How do you find peace when things are crazy difficult?
There’s a book in the Bible about a man named Nehemiah.
He was brokenhearted over the fact that the city of Jerusalem was in ruins, and after praying to God about it, he embarked on a mission to rebuild the walls.
I love this story for a number of reasons.
First of all, I’m moved that someone saw devastation and cared enough to find out how he could help. I feel this way when I hear stories of people whose lives have been ruined. Maybe it was destroyed by a natural disaster, or because of another person’s selfish action, or even by their own poor choices, but whatever the reason, the ruins of someone’s life solicit a compassionate longing to help them rebuild.
I think that’s how God feels about us.
Secondly, I love that Nehemiah took action. After he grieved for a city that lay in ruins, he asked God to help him and then set out to obtain permission, supplies and a group of people to rebuild the city even though he “was very much afraid.” The king granted him all the time and supplies he needed.
God gives us time and what we need to rebuild. He’s patient.
Next, it encourages me that Nehemiah didn’t give up, even when his group came up against so much opposition. A local official ridiculed and tormented the people, asking them what they thought they were doing. Lies were flung at them to convince them that their efforts were in vain, that their attempts were feeble and inadequate. Too much was ruined. The rubble couldn’t be reclaimed for a purpose.
I’ve heard those same lies so many times.
At one point in my life, I was exhausted from working to hold together my marriage and my family. My strength was giving out because of unresolved daily conflicts, and my determination to stay married in spite of a horribly dysfunctional situation. My children were showing the effects of living under the strain in our home. I was certain that the “rubble” was too much to wade through. Nothing seemed salvageable.
So God showed me this story about Nehemiah.
Finally, I love the story because God has a plan for rebuilding. As I studied Nehemiah’s situation, I saw some applications for my life. For me the plan looked like this:
Fight for my family even if it meant doing things that seemed to tear us apart. I had to separate from my ex-husband for a time in order to allow us to deal with issues. Pulling out of most of our activities became necessary so we could focus on our family.
Concentrate on what God wanted to change in me. Allow God to heal me and leave my husband and marriage in His hands. Success for me would depend on what God did in my life.
Set up a guard against the things that crept in to hurt my relationships with God and my children. For me those things were fatigue, busyness, not making time for them, and trying to figure everything out without seeking God.
Put God ahead of my marriage. I had been setting my desire for the “perfect “marriage ahead of God. I compromised truth in order to keep peace. My fear caused me to push aside things God tried to tell me even when they would have helped me.
Be aware of Satan’s plot to destroy our family. I had to choose to fight for the well-being of myself and my children even when the enemy told me to give up because it wouldn’t be worth it. Recognizing the lies of the enemy is imperative, but not always easy. We have to be so alert. Nehemiah had the people keep a weapon in one hand while they built with the other.
Rebuilding our lives can be scary.
We can’t see all that lies ahead. It’s like driving on the darkest road or in dense fog at night. Our headlights only shine far enough for us to keep moving. We drive as far as we can see, and as we drive, the path is illuminated ahead of us.
Rebuilding happens one day at a time.
We can’t look too far ahead or worry about what will come. Instead we have to trust God to provide what we need for that day. When I look ahead and start to worry about the future, God asks
Do you have what you need today?
The answer is always “yes.” I always have what I need today. When the next day comes, I have what I need again. Nothing surprises God. He’s already seen all of our life and has a great plan for it. We can trust him to bring restoration to every area of our lives. He can make us well if we want to get well.
How is God rebuilding your life? Check out lostcompanion who is tenaciously rebuilding hers…