Saturday, June 23 will be our
VBS Kickoff at 4 – 5:45 PM
We will have a bouncy house, games, and food!
Fun for the whole family!
Saturday, June 23 – Wednesday, June 27
Saturday, June 23 we will begin at 6 – 8 (right after kick-off) with our first night of VBS! Sunday, June 24 during our Sunday School hour @ 9:30 AM and will continue during our 10:30 AM worship service.
Sunday night, June 24 will be 6 – 8 PM
Monday – Wednesday will be 6:30 – 8:30 PM
Wednesday night will be Parent Night!
*Come join the fun and dive into God’s word!!*
Join us this Saturday May 19th from 1-3 p.m. at the church. This will be a wonderful time of fun and fellowship.
Your Change Can Change Lives! IBC will have bottles available April 29, 2018. Place change, cash or checks to fill the bottle and then return the bottle on or before May 20th.
Each year, baby bottles are dispersed to churches, businesses, and other groups across Forsyth County in efforts to raise funds for the mothers and children that visit our center. Every baby bottle filled with loose change, cash, or check provides live-saving assistance as well as loving, practical support for mothers in need. Whether it is diapers, clothes, or parenting classes, you are helping provide the compassionate, emotional support these women so desperately desire. We greatly appreciate any funds that are raised to support the women we try to encourage every day!
Salem Pregnancy is a safe refuge for hurting women who find themselves in an unplanned pregnancy. They listen to your fears, your questions, and your personal struggles with compassion and offer real solutions. They provide you with factual information so that you can make an informed decision about your next decision.
ABOUT SALEM PREGNANCY CARE CENTER SERVICES
Free lab-quality pregnancy tests
Information regarding community resources (housing, food, medical care, parenting classes, etc.)
Pregnancy Medicaid Assistance (pregnancy test verification)
Non-judgmental, confidential guidance and help
Free maternity and baby clothes
Parenting program and faith-based study for pregnant women
FREE Mobile Ultrasound (for qualified clients). Following a positive pregnancy test, a vaginal ultrasound may be approved. This procedure will determine the following: whether the pregnancy is viable (detect a fetal heartbeat), if the fetus is stabilized in the uterus, the gestational age, and the due date.
How often have we asked ourselves these questions? . . . When should I pray? . . . What should I say? . . . Where should I pray? . . . Why should I pray? . . . Will my praying really make a difference? . . . and the question for this month is . . . What is prayer? By examining God’s Word, we can discover ‘what prayer is’ and ‘what prayer is not’. We read many prayers of faithful saints throughout the Bible and Jesus gave us clear instructions as He modeled prayer and taught His disciples how to pray.
‘Lord teach us to pray as you prayed’
Jesus is our perfect example for prayer as He modeled a love relationship between Him and His Father during His time here on earth. Jesus lived a lifestyle of praying before His disciples – they even asked Him to teach them to pray as we read in Luke 11:1 – ‘And it came to pass that, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, one of His disciples said unto Him, Lord, teach us to pray…’ The disciples had witnessed Jesus spending many hours praying with His Father. Jesus stepped away often from the busyness and the crowds to spent time with His Father praying before decisions, praying for strength when tempted, praying for direction, praying the Father’s will, praying in the garden before He paid the sacrifice for our sins at Calvary. Prayer does not come naturally to most believers – it is learned as it is modeled by others, taught, and put into practice. Our prayer is that all of us will develop such a love relationship with our Heavenly Father that we will pray without ceasing as we bring glory to God and see Christ’s Kingdom work accomplished here on earth.
- Prayer is not to be feared
Prayer is living in the presence of God as we engage in intimate conversation with a Heavenly Father Who is always pursuing a love relationship with His child. We were created for His pleasure and fellowship as we read in Revelation 4:11b- ‘You have created all things, and for Your pleasure they are and were created’. God loves us so much that He provided a way for our salvation so that He could fellowship with us. Jeremiah 33:3 tells us that God promises to answer us if we call on Him and He will show us mighty things that we could never know. Our loving response back to God should be the same as the psalmist David in Psalms 42:1 ‘Father, as the deer pants for water, so my heart pants for You’.
- Prayer is not primarily about you
Prayer is focused on God, Who He is and His desires. The model prayer that Jesus taught His disciples in Matthew 6:9-13 begins and ends with praise and adoration for God – ‘Our Father, Who are in Heaven, hallowed by Thy name . . . for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever.’ As Elaine Helms shares in her book, Prayer101, ‘We become like who we worship, so keeping our eyes on Jesus as we pray will draw us closer to Him. Getting to know the names and attributes of God will help us know what our objective is in becoming more Christlike.’ (for further study, names and attributes of God related to the monthly focus will be found under the tab ‘Listening and Responding to God’)
- Prayer is not having to wonder what to pray
Prayer is listening to God speak through His Word and the Holy Spirit directing us to pray back to God His Words so His will is accomplished on earth as it has already been in Heaven (Matthew 6:10). The priority of prayer is the will of God. As we ‘delight ourselves in the Lord’ (Psalms 37:4), our heart will line up with His and we’ll know what to pray. The more we read His Word, the more we will begin to see our world from His perspective. He will direct our prayers and as Elaine Helms shares in her book, Prayer101, ‘God will include us in His work here on earth as He invites us into partnership with Him to implement His own decisions in the affairs of mankind.’ This is why we are prompted to intercede on behalf of the spiritually lost, our family, those in authority, our churches, other Christians, the work of missionaries around the world, etc. It is ‘joy unspeakable and full of glory’ as we work with our Heavenly Father by praying the prayers He wants prayed to accomplish His plans and to see the glory of God in our world today. A quote from Andrew Murray – ‘My prayer life must be brought entirely under the control of Christ and His love. Then, for the first time, will prayer become what it really is, the natural and joyous breathing of the spiritual life, by which the heavenly atmosphere is inhaled and then exhaled in prayer’.
- Prayer is not about giving God a wish list of wants
Prayer is a moment by moment trusting and believing that God knows what is best for us in every situation. Jesus tells us in the model prayer that we are to ask for ‘our daily bread’. God has promised to provide our daily needs and He will as Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:25-34. Our first and foremost desire should be as stated in Matthew 6:33 – ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.’ He wants us to depend on Him daily for our needs just as the children of Israel were given manna for each day. The motive for all that we ask should not be our own selfish wants, but that God will be glorified in our relationships, careers, family, finances, ministry, etc.
- Prayer is not passive
Prayer is actively engaging in a battle against the Enemy for souls and Christ’s Kingdom. Satan doesn’t want us to have an intimate love relationship with our Father. When we become a child of God, we are identified with Christ and become an enemy of Satan as we read in Ephesians 6:12 – ‘For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.’ As a solder in God’s army, He provides us with the uniform of His Spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:10-19), as we prepare for battle using the Word of God and prayer as our offensive weapons against the Enemy. Our charge as praying Christians is unity. To use a few of the words in the song ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ – ‘Like a mighty army moves the church of God; We are not divided, all one body we’ emphasizes the strength of all of us actively engaging in prayer together. Jesus’ prayer for His disciples and us in John 17:21 was and still is today – ‘That they may all be one, even as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be one in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me’. Elaine Helms shares in her book, Prayer 101 – ‘We can link arms with intercessors around the world like highways on a map and bring the power of God to earth as it is in heaven’. Let’s stay alert in the Spirit and persevere in prayer to set captives free from the enemy. We are blessed to be a solder in God’s army.
‘The Holy Spirit has us by one hand as He indwells us and Jesus has us by the other hand as He is at the right hand of God – so we’re in pretty good company when we are praying’. (T. W. Hunt)
Despite the passage of time, despite the cultural differences, mothers of the Bible still speak profoundly to us today. All mothers need the timeless wisdom of moms who made a difference and can teach us to do the same.
The Bible is replete with narratives of mothers who grappled with many of the same issues we face today. Their stories help us navigate our own, creating a rich tapestry of faith that continues through each successive generation.
Eve, the mother of all, probably is best remembered as being duped by Satan. From Eve we can learn the importance of being aware of the enemy’s schemes, his desire to ruin families.
When we have important decisions to make, are overwhelmed, or are facing a trial of some sort, that’s when the enemy moves in as he did with Eve and says, “Did God really say …?” When we are most vulnerable, Satan wants us to doubt God’s character and his words to us. Don’t ever question what God says in his Word. If you begin to doubt, doubt your doubt. Sounds confusing, but it works. Be discerning and stick close to God.
Satan approached Eve when she was alone and vulnerable; from this we can learn the importance of staying in community. Join a women’s group at church or invite some Christian moms into your home for fellowship.
The widow of Zarephath struggled, as many mothers do today, with putting food on the table. Whether a single mom or in a family facing economic hardship, many moms are worried about having enough food. The woman of Zarephath was asked by God to give what little she had to someone else, something we probably don’t consider, believing that we need to conserve and ration what little we have. Give our food to someone else? Ludicrous! But not in God’s eyes. It’s in the giving that we receive, in the trusting that provision transpires.
Trust God as your Provider. If all you can spare is a single can of corn, give it. Take it to the local food bank or homeless shelter as a step of faith, believing that God will provide for your every need. Even a single can of corn is a beautiful sacrifice in the eyes of God. If we could easily do without it, it wouldn’t really be a sacrifice. May we be willing to say with David, “I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God that which cost me nothing” (2 Samuel 24:24, author paraphrase).
Hannah reminds us that our children really belong to the Lord; they are with us for just a brief time. I’m sure Hannah cherished every minute she had with Samuel, yet she knew from the very beginning whose he really was.
As moms we have the wonderful privilege of raising our children for however long they are with us. Yes, they are loud, they sap our energy, and at times they get on our nerves. But they are also beautiful, unique, and a wonder to behold. Enjoy every step of the parenting journey, for these children grow up way too fast.
The Canaanite woman reminds me of myself: stubborn, persistent, dogged. Like a mother bear protecting her cub, this mom wasn’t about to give an inch as she pleaded with Jesus on behalf of her child. I like that. Jesus did too, and said to her, “Dear woman, your faith is great. Your request is granted (Matthew 15:28).
No matter what you are going through, never give up. No matter how much your child rebels, never give up. If you are waiting for your prodigal to come home, keep waiting and never give up. God loves a persevering woman.
Mary watched her beloved son die on the cross, a pain so intense I’m sure she felt as though the nails were piercing her heart as surely as they were piercing her son’s hands. Mary grieved, but she kept on living. She became a “mom” to the disciple John.
Parenting can be painful, but it’s worth it. Perhaps you’ve loved and lost a child; I’ve lost three children myself through miscarriage. Maybe your prodigal has left home and you haven’t heard from him since. Or maybe years of infertility have left you barren. Become a mom to the motherless. My husband and I are in the process of adopting a child. Or be a much-needed spiritual mom to a kid who could use some godly guidance. Whatever you do, love with all you have.
While these are just some of the mothers of the Bible we can glean from, perhaps the greatest cumulative lesson to be learned is that the responsibilities of motherhood are great, but the rewards are even greater.
By Tammy Darling
50 Evidences of the Need for a Fresh Visitation of the Spirit in Revival
We Need Revival . . .
when we do not love Him as we once did.
when earthly interests and occupations are more important to us than eternal ones
when we would rather watch TV and read secular books and magazines than read the Bible and pray.
when church dinners are better attended than prayer meetings.
when concerts draw bigger crowds than prayer meetings.
when we have little or no desire for prayer.
when we would rather make money than give money.
when we put people into leadership positions in our churches who do not meet scriptural qualifications.
when our Christianity is joyless and passionless.
when we know truth in our heads that we are not practicing in our lives.
when we make little effort to witness to the lost.
when we have time for sports, recreation, and entertainment, but not for Bible study and prayer.
when we do not tremble at the Word of God.
when preaching lacks conviction, confrontation, and divine fire and anointing.
when we seldom think thoughts of eternity.
when God’s people are more concerned about their jobs and their careers than about the Kingdom of Christ and the salvation of the lost.
when God’s people get together with other believers and the conversation is primarily about the news, weather, and sports, rather than the Lord.
when church services are predictable and “business as usual.”
when believers can be at odds with each other and not feel compelled to pursue reconciliation.
when Christian husbands and wives are not praying together.
when our marriages are co-existing rather than full of the love of Christ.
when our children are growing up to adopt worldly values, secular philosophies, and ungodly lifestyles.
when we are more concerned about our children’s education and their athletic activities than about the condition of their souls.
when sin in the church is pushed under the carpet.
when known sin is not dealt with through the biblical process of discipline and restoration.
when we tolerate “little” sins of gossip, a critical spirit, and lack of love.
when we will watch things on television and movies that are not holy.
when our singing is half-hearted and our worship lifeless.
when our prayers are empty words designed to impress others.
when our prayers lack fervency.
when our hearts are cold and our eyes are dry.
when we aren’t seeing regular evidence of the supernatural power of God.
when we have ceased to weep and mourn and grieve over our own sin and the sin of others.
when we are content to live with explainable, ordinary Christianity and church services.
when we are bored with worship.
when people have to be entertained to be drawn to church.
when our music and dress become patterned after the world.
when we start fitting into and adapting to the world, rather than calling the world to adapt to God’s standards of holiness.
when we don’t long for the company and fellowship of God’s people.
when people have to be begged to give and to serve in the church.
when our giving is measured and calculated, rather than extravagant and sacrificial. . . . when we aren’t seeing lost people drawn to Jesus on a regular basis.
when we aren’t exercising faith and believing God for the impossible.
when we are more concerned about what others think about us than what God thinks about us.
when we are unmoved by the fact that 2.5 billion people in this world have never heard the name of Jesus.
when we are unmoved by the thought of neighbors, business associates, and acquaintances who are lost and without Christ.
when the lost world around us doesn’t know or care that we exist.
when we are making little or no difference in the secular world around us.
when the fire has gone out in our hearts, our marriages, and the church.
when we are blind to the extent of our need and don’t think we need revival.
By Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth
© Revive Our Hearts. Used with permission. www.ReviveOurHearts.com
Every person has two heads. The human community is a world of two-headed people. James called this double-mindedness. At times we think and act one way, and at other times we think and act another way.
Listen to James talk about this problem.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. – James 1:5-6
James understood human psychology—the study of the soul—and was not surprised when he observed odd behavior from his friends. Of course, being the half-brother of Jesus had to be a plus in his ongoing discipleship training.
Do you know your friends have two heads? Do you know that you’re a human oscillator, moving back and forth from faith to fear and back to faith again? Some days we are standing on the promises of God and other days we feel buried under an avalanche of other things that disrupt our faith.
We can be like the father with the sick boy in Mark 9:24: “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.” To varying degrees, we will be “unbelieving believers” until Jesus comes back. Perfect, uninterrupted faith is a great idea, but it is impossible for fallen people because of sin’s encroachments.
One of the reasons for this faith/fear tension is because there are unsavory things in our hearts that connect to our fears. These hidden things are only known by the Lord (Hebrews 4:13). Part of fear’s deception motivates us to hide behind our fig leaves (Genesis 3:7). We are afraid, which prompts us to keep these things from others.
If you don’t have unhindered access to your friends, there will be times when their actions will appear unstable. Their behavior will confuse you when they begin acting in strange ways. There are two conditions that contribute to this kind of behavior.
- Your friend has not been open about his (or her) life because they are afraid to be that open to you.
- You have not been intrusive enough because you do not understand this aspect of human psychology, or you do not care enough–for whatever reason–to dig deeper into their lives.
James is instructing us about the possibilities of a “another life” that exists inside of us—a manifestation of a fear-based person, and what can happen when fear controls our hearts. This problem is why our behavior moves from stability to instability. Let me illustrate with a case study.
The Silent Churn Of the Soul
Mable married Biff twenty-one years ago. Biff has had an anger problem for most of those years. He has a selfish ideal of how life should go and when it does not go according to “his gospel,” he reacts with anger.
Sometimes he would be volatile and accusative. Other times he would sulk like Ahab, manipulating the situation through his silence (1 Kings 21:5). He has trained Mable well. She learned the ropes early, knowing when to speak and when not to speak.
Biff has been mostly unaware of what has been going on in Mable’s heart. From his perspective, she was fine as long as she was not demanding too much from him. What he did not perceive was Mable building a secret world in her heart that she wrapped with fear.
Initially, Mable’s secret world was mostly about her fear–she was afraid of Biff. But as the marriage progressed and his anger continued unabated, her fear metastasized into bitterness, frustration, hopelessness, unforgiveness, regret, jealously and hurt.
These were soul-diminishing combinations for Mable, who had no portals to find help. She lost herself in women’s ministry, but ministry is not a sanctification solution for a troubled marriage. Ignoring a problem by working harder for the Lord does not work.
A prison of silence had incarcerated Mable, and it was churning in her soul. Then, with seemingly no provocation and to Biff’s complete surprise, she went off the deep end, exploding at Biff just before she walked out the door for the last time.
The Unexplored Wife
Biff sat in my office dumbfounded. From his perspective, the marriage was good, though not fabulous. He worked hard. He provided for his family. They lived in the best neighborhood and lacked for virtually nothing.
He was genuinely perplexed by her behavior. He was even more overwhelmed by her emails that laid out what seemed to be everything she had thought but never said for the past two decades. Biff said,
I have no idea who this woman is. It’s like she has two heads. We have been married for more than twenty years, and now I believe that I married a stranger.
He is right. He does not know Mable. He has made little effort to understand her beyond getting a handle on her “love languages.” He gave her what she wanted, but could not provide what she needed.
His attempts to care for his wife never went beyond behavioral modification or his commitment to himself to do better, which always ran out of gas. He understood her as much as he wanted to and if there were things that would challenge his need to do soul care, he would not delve deeper with Mable.
Biff “loved” his wife but being caught in his sin of anger, coupled with her sin of “double-minded fear,” things were overly complicated for their marriage to survive. Their relationship gives a more profound and nuanced meaning to Peter’s appeal:
Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. – 1 Peter 3:7
Warning – This case study is a theological and psychological study about how fear morphs into other sin patterns that perpetuate dysfunction in relationships.
It is not a discussion about blame, especially placing primary responsibility on Mable for the demise of their marriage. The point of this piece is to help identify what happens in our hearts if we don’t bring our fears into the light, and proper soul care happens.
James implies we all have the propensity not to trust God fully. He says when doubt comes, our behavior will move toward instability. This problem is the human condition that Adam and Eve gifted to us (Romans 5:12).
Mable was not sanctified entirely, and Biff’s anger exposed her hidden fears. It was a silent and vicious cycle in their lives. Biff would bark, and Mable would cower. Mable had much more awareness of what was happening to her, but she was afraid to entreat her husband, obviously.
She was lost somewhere between faith and fear with no one to care for her. Biff was mostly oblivious and unqualified, and her community did not know what was happening inside their home. Biff had the opportunity and privilege to understand his wife, but he not only fell on the job, but he complicated an already complicated soul.
He rolled through his home large and in charge and Mable learned to toe the line, trying to keep him happy, while silently longing for Biff to love her well. There was only so much silence her soul could contain before it overflowed into shocking behavior.
Tips For the Two-Headed Person
Because Mable is an illustration of all of us, here are two things to think about when you are tempted to go into your two-headed-mode.
1 – You Cannot Live Like This – It is impossible to live in an ongoing suspension between fear and faith without it negatively affecting your soul. Mable is a typical example of a person stuck in this tension.
There was a truth she perceived about her life and marriage, but she was not correctly appropriating the grace the Lord provides. She was understandably afraid of her husband. She was unwittingly pressing the truth she knew further down into her soul (James 4:17). Paul talked about this.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. – Romans 1:18
This verse sounds harsh when applied to someone like Mable, who is a victim of her husband’s anger. I do not mean it harshly, but theologically. Carefully unpack what Paul is saying. The Lord is in opposition to anyone who will not reach out for His truth in their time of need but chooses to suppress the truth while doing things their way.
If you humble yourself and trust His way through the process, He will provide favor. If you do not follow His way through the process, He will provide opposition (James 4:6). Now go back to what James was saying. If you are in need of God’s wisdom, do not suppress it out of your life by not seeking it, while clinging to your way of fixing your problems. Your approach will lead to death (Proverbs 14:12, 16:25).
Mable was doing what James said not to do, and she was experiencing a slow death by a thousand paper cuts. It first began as fear. Rather than seeking the Lord’s wisdom, she suppressed her fear. What she did not know was how her fear was going to metastasize.
As the years went by, a host of other sins began to attach themselves to her soul. In time, this became more than she could endure. Even in the end, she did not seek the Lord’s wisdom but chose to leave her marriage.
2 – You Must Get Help – James says if you lack wisdom, you must ask for it. This juncture is a crucial point: how do you find wisdom? Some individuals teach all you have to do is pray. That will not work well because that is not the Lord’s full mind on how wisdom comes to us.
The Lord has provided several means for us to access His wisdom. Prayer is essential, no doubt. Then there is the Word of God. We also have the illuminating power of the Spirit of God. Lastly, we have the community of God. There are four elements involved in asking for wisdom:
- You must do something.
- The Spirit must do something.
- The Word must do something.
- God’s people must do something.
The Lord has placed counter-measures that have checks and balances to make sure we have His pure wisdom. This multi-perspective approach keeps us from going into the ditches of foolish behavior.
- If you act on your own, there will be temptations of self-deception and self-reliance.
- If you are “Spirit-centered” without the counter-balance of God’s Word and God’s people, you’ll land in subjectivism.
- If you only use God’s Word, you may misunderstand and misapply it.
- If you access the community of faith alone, the advice may not be Spirit-illuminated or Bible-based.
The wisdom of the Lord is needful, but you must access it comprehensively. What Mable needed to do was drive a stake down in her marriage. Like Gandalf telling the fiery beast you will go no farther, she should have done similarly.
Call to Action
She could respond to Biff with love, grace, and the permission of the Lord. Yes, she is called to submit, but the Lord does not expect her to be a doormat. By not “sending up a flare” regarding their awful marriage, Mable was not “loving” her husband biblically; sin had caught Biff in a trap (cf. Galatians 6:1-2). If this is you, here are six things to consider.
- You must determine that you’re going to seek the wisdom of the Lord.
- You must use all the “means of grace” available to you to keep you centered in God’s wisdom.
- You must try to talk to your husband, incrementally revealing what is going on in your heart. (This point assumes that he’s mature enough to handle your truth. If he is not, you must find help outside of your marriage.)
- You must secure a safe context where you can share what is going on in your heart, revealing your innermost thoughts.
- If he refuses to get help, you must continue to trust the Lord by seeking wisdom from others on how to live in your marriage.
- You must find ongoing care because the temptation to oscillate between fear and faith will be active.
Like Aaron and Hur holding up the arms of Moses, you will need support from competent friends (Exodus 17:12). You cannot go back into the prison of your marriage without help because you will default to the “habituation to fear” and all its accompanying and unwanted enemies of your soul.
As you continue to trust the Lord by fighting for your soul and your marriage, you may need to access the protective and authoritative care of your local church. If your relationship regresses, the church must become your covering and your voice.
The cross is draped in purple (the color of royalty) on Palm Sunday, the day Christ entered Jerusalem as King riding a donkey. Jesus is indeed the King of the Jews, but much more, the King of kings and Lord of lords.
The cross is draped in black on Good Friday, representing the death of Christ on the cross for our sins.
The cross is draped in white on Easter Sunday, representing the resurrection of Christ.
Join us at 6:00pm on March 25th for a wonderful Easter Program. Yahweh: Jesus is Coming is a story that will touch your heart. Save the date!
When I went through the most challenging time of my life, the Lord taught me many things that formed a “theology of suffering” that changed how I thought about God, myself, and others.
Each abuse is different, and mind is not like yours, but from a heartbreaking, gut-wrenching, and soul-discomfiting point of view, it is similar. The disappointment is thick, the anger can be all-consuming, the bitterness seeks to creep in, and the process out of it is slow, tedious, and sometimes maddening.
But as you have already experienced to some degree, and are experiencing in an ongoing way, God was there at the beginning of your disappointment (Genesis 39:2), and He is there now (Hebrews 13:8). The Lord is answering one of your most prolonged and most desired prayers, though not in a way that you ever wanted or anticipated.
That prayer is your heart’s desire to look like Jesus. All Christians want to be Christlike, though, sadly, the process to that good end is usually not how we expected or wanted. But the benefit of Christ-transformation is life-changing. Paul asked for it this way:
That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. – Philippians 3:10
You’re living out that prayer now. You are learning more about Jesus through the things that you are suffering.
The good news is that as you continue to persevere in your suffering, you will mature through it. The gifts that will be yours are impossible to explain or appreciate fully.
Our ministry is an outward manifestation of God’s gift to me (Philippians 1:29). Most of those “gifts of suffering” are internal and heart transforming. Here are a few examples.
You are developing a maturing peace (Philippians 4:7).
You are less wound up about many things, not sweating the smaller things (1 Corinthians 13:5).
It’s becoming easier to empathize with others (Hebrews 13:3).
You may have more tears than you did in the past (John 11:35).
There are fewer enticements toward the things of the world (James 1:14-15).
You have a more significant passion for helping others (2 Corinthians 5:20).
If you happen to be a writer, please give yourself to journaling your thoughts. I began journaling in 1994, and it has been one of the best things I’ve ever done. My “journal thoughts” formed the basis for our ministry.
If writing is not your thing, find a friend that you can talk through what the Lord is working into you (Philippians 2:12-13)
Fight tenaciously for any sin that is yours, which is the heart of Matthew 7:3-5. Those humble acknowledgments may be a few “mile markers” down the road, but you must go there.
Without owning things that are not yours, being honest about your role in life’s disappointments is part of the process when working through the Lord’s gift of suffering (Peter 2:21).
Another mile marker, though just as hard, is to pity those who have hurt you (Psalm 103:13-14). I’m not saying that you forgive them; you can’t do that until they ask you, but you can pity them because they are in a worse condition than they probably know.
To own your sin and to have pity on those who have hurt you does not negate the abuse, and it is not a sign of weakness (1 Corinthians 1:25) or a call to submit to more suffering.
What it is though, is a sign of Christian maturity, God-given humility, and biblical clarity (1 Corinthians 2:14). Similar to Joseph in Genesis 50:20, he learned God’s purpose in the pain while not submitting to the control of others.
And then there is another more subtle form of abuse that happens to individuals like us, which may take a while to perceive. At least it took me a while to recognize.
Long after the abusive person leaves, the abused begins to reflect back on what happened, how it happened, why it happened, and a thousand other ancillary thoughts and questions that come to the mind.
This problem is especially acute for reflective thinkers. If you’re not careful, bitterness can creep in through regret, anger, missed opportunities, a realization of personal failure, a desire for a redo, or a wish that you never met the abuser.
Some of this reflection is vital to sort it all out, but the more subtle form of the “backward glance” is that it can turn to bitterness. Bitterness is “self-inflicted abuse” that comes through the revisiting of past disappointments without a redemptive grid in which to filter what has happened to you.
May the Lord give you the clarity and wisdom you need to be able to look back so you can benefit while shrugging off any temptation to blame yourself or be bitter (Hebrews 12:15).
Most of the time a person rarely perceives the bitterness until years later. I noticed mine when I went back to read my journals, and then I exclaimed,
Oh, my! I was so bitter when I was going through that. I never saw it.
Find a Friend
This problem is where a loving community can be one of your best allies. Surrounding yourself with good companions is a non-negotiable when going through some of the more challenging disappointments in life (Hebrews 10:24-25).