12.15.2016

Why Did This Happen, God?

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV)

Has God ever hurt your feelings? I’ll be honest, sometimes I’ll read those verses from Philippians and think to myself: This is a tough pill to swallow.

Content in any and every situation?

Really?

When my middle daughter, Ashley, was younger, she was a state champion gymnast. To see her do gymnastics was like looking at God smile. She was beautiful, graceful and captivating to watch.

Then one night while practicing for one of the largest tournaments she’d ever competed in, she fell. It was a move she’d done hundreds of times with the greatest of ease. But this time something went terribly wrong and that one mistake destroyed her gymnastic dreams.

We spent a year going from doctor to doctor, only to be told she’d never be able to support the weight of her body on her injured shoulder again. Watching a 14-year-old girl wrestle with the fact that her dreams were stripped from her doesn’t exactly lend itself to feelings of contentment. Now, I know in the grand scheme of life, people face much worse situations. But in her world, this was huge.

It was so tempting to want to wallow in the “why” questions and tell God He’d hurt our feelings.

Why did this happen?

Why didn’t You stop this, God?

Why weren’t my prayers answered?

Have you ever been there? Have you ever had a big situation in your life where you just couldn’t process why God would allow this to happen? Maybe it’s one of your young children having behavioral issues that seems crazy complicated and daunting. Or one of your older children having issues with addictions and devastating life choices. Or your husband being distant or possibly even destructive in making choices that are harming your marriage. Or another year of singleness that brings you wave after wave of grief, while watching others celebrating the gift of true love.

It’s so tempting to wallow in the “why.”

Asking why is perfectly normal. Asking why isn’t unspiritual. However, if asking this question pushes us further from God rather than drawing us closer to Him, it is the wrong question.

If asking the why question doesn’t offer hope, what will?

The what question.

In other words: “Now that this is my reality, what am I supposed to do with it?”

Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally brothers and sisters, 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.”

I like to call this verse, “Directions on Where to Park My Mind.”

And that’s exactly what Ashley had to do with her dashed gymnastics dreams. Instead of wallowing in why did this happen, I had to help her say:

This is my reality. Now what am I going to do with it?
What can I learn from this?
What part of this is for my protection?
What other opportunities could God be providing?
What maturity could God be building into me?

Switching from the why to the what questions paves the road to parking our minds in a much better place.

Is it always easy? No.

But is it a way to find a perspective beyond situations where we feel God has allowed something in our lives we don’t understand and we absolutely don’t like?

Yes, it is, and I pray this helps you today. Because even if our circumstances aren’t good, we can trust God’s purpose always is.

Dear Lord, I want to process everything I face in life through the filter of Your love. I know You love me. But sometimes it’s just hard to understand the circumstances that come my way. I find myself consumed with trying to figure things out rather than looking for Your perspective and trusting You. Thank You for this new way to look at things. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

If disappointing circumstances have left your heart feeling empty and depleted, you can trade those feelings for a more personal fulfillment from knowing who Jesus is. That’s what my new Bible study, Finding I Am, is all about. You can pre-order your copy here and receive FREE resources you won’t be able to get once the study releases!

And today I’m giving away 5 copies of the Finding I Am study guide to randomly chosen commenters! Just leave a comment below for your chance to win.

11.22.2016

If God is Near, Why Does He Feel So Far Away?

There is a desperate cry within my heart that I’ve longed with every fiber of my being to see come to pass. Minutes have turned into days and weeks and years of learning to make some sort of spiritual peace. On my good days I stand assured, “It’s just not God’s timing yet.”

But on my less stellar days I crumble, afraid and hurt, “God, why? You know how much this ache in my heart steals a piece of too many of my smiles. Quite honestly, I’m tired of wondering if you’re withholding because I’m not good enough, capable enough, spiritual enough, trusting enough, or mature enough. I guess I’m really tired of hoping.”

And I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way.

What is that relationship, that insecurity, that hurt, that desire, that prayer you’ve brought to God countless times?

In my own pain, I’ve learned that Jesus not only cares about our deep, spiritual wrestling, but He wants to step in and see us through it.

That’s why I wrote my new Bible study, Finding I AM: How Jesus Fully Satisfies the Cry of Your Heart. Through this interactive, in-depth study, you will learn to:

· Trade feelings of emptiness and depletion for a more personal fulfillment from knowing who Jesus is.
· Stop living like a slave to your circumstances by training your heart to embrace the life-giving freedom God wants for you.
· Gain a better understanding of how Jesus’ words 2,000 years ago are so very applicable to the answers we are searching for today.

If you’re new to Bible studies, this is the place to start. If you’ve studied the Bible for years, it’s time to travel to the Holy Land via video and see the truth of Jesus come to life like never before.

Finding I AM doesn’t release until January but if you pre-order today you’ll get all kinds of free resources to help you along the journey!

You can pre-order by clicking here.

8.25.2016

Something I’ve Never Told Anyone

Hey everyone! I’m Melissa Taylor, Director of Online Bible Studies at Proverbs 31 Ministries. Lysa invited me to guest post on her blog today which is perfect because I’m going to take this opportunity to confess something that I’ve never told anyone.

There have been times I have been invited to something, yet I declined because I couldn’t afford it. To be honest, sometimes I’d rather just not be invited because afterwards I feel like I’m not as good as others. That they are better than me. That I wish I was them. And even though I was included, I feel left out.

There. I said it.

Recently I was invited to go the the spa with some girlfriends to celebrate a friend’s birthday. It would’ve been so much fun, but here was the reality: We had just sent two kids off to college. Another still lives at home. Money is tight. It’s clear this is not in the budget and so, with bitterness in my heart, I declined.

It’s not the first time this has happened. I’ve declined several invitations based on the financial cost it would entail.

I’ve asked God, “Can’t You just bless me with a little more? Why does it seem that everyone else gets to go to these amazing places and do all these fun things and I can’t? I’m missing out on so much!”

If you’re thinking, “Wow, this girl is a spoiled brat!” I’d have to agree with you. Remember, this has been my little secret up ‘til now.

Then Lysa’s book Uninvited came along. At first I thought, “This sounds like a great book, but I don’t think it’s for me personally. I get invited to lots of things!”

Then I read Chapter 1, “I’d Rather Ignore Honesty.” BAM. It hit me hard! I realized that although I may not be rejected, I’m putting myself into the “rejected” category with my self-rejection. No one else thinks I’m a less than, left out loser. Just me.

Rejection has many faces. Sometimes it’s brought on by others, and sometimes we bring it on ourselves. My feeling less than was not due to another’s words or actions. It was my own self-rejection which was rooted in pride — something I needed to deal with.

In Chapter 11, Lysa writes:

This could be an invitation to live in expectation of something else. Today’s disappointment is making room for tomorrow’s appointment.

One thing I’ve failed to acknowledge is the real reason I say “No, thank you.” It’s not because we don’t have enough money. It’s because God has given me an invitation to live in expectation of something else, like: My daughter’s lacrosse game. A date night with my husband. A vacation with my family. Getting my hair done. Taking my dogs to the vet.

Reading Uninvited has helped me realize that today’s disappointment is the reason I can say yes to tomorrow’s appointment. And the next time I need to decline an invitation due to the cost, I don’t need wallow in self-pity. Instead, I need to view it with the expectation of what God has in store for me.

If you can relate on any level, I want to invite you to join me for Proverbs 31 Ministries’ next Online Bible Study of Uninvited, beginning September 6. All you need to participate is the Uninvited book!

You can sign up and find out more about online Bible studies by clicking here.

Lysa and I can’t wait to do this study with you!