Waiting Looks Like Worship

Sharing today from the True Woman Blog at Revive Our Hearts.

Waiting Looks Like Worship

Lost in a sea of dirty dishes, the aftermath of a dinner mostly liked by my children, I heard the familiar ding of my phone with a text, a welcome distraction from the casserole dish I was scrubbing. Expecting it to be a reminder for my son’s next baseball practice, I was delighted when instead I saw the name of a college student I had been a high school youth leader for.

“What does it mean to trust the Lord?” she asked. “I mean, what does that really look like?” I smiled, remembering all too well the ending months of my college career, unattached, and unsure what life held for me after graduation. Waiting for God to give direction, I had those thoughts as well.

But the funny thing is, I’m still having those thoughts. Only now the question marks aren’t “Who I’m going to marry?” or “Where am I going to live?” Those answers have come. Now I’m waiting on God to heal in ways I never saw coming. Waiting on God to move in the lives of my unsaved friends. Waiting on God to bring revival. Waiting on God to provide. Waiting on God to direct. Waiting on God to open or close the doors of a future ministry.

And I’m still asking, “What does it mean to trust the Lord?” I mean, what does that really look like?

We’re All Waiting for Something

In the years since college, I’ve realized waiting is just a part of life. But more importantly, it’s part of the Christian life. Hebrews 11 says the saints who have gone before us—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and others—though counted as faithful, are still waiting. They’re waiting for the promise of God, the kingdom of heaven, “the city that has foundations whose designer and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10).

They were waiting for the coming of Christ, while we are waiting for the return of Christ. For “we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). One day we’ll be free of our sinful bodies. One day there will be no more pain and suffering. One day Christ Himself will wipe away the last of our tears (Rev. 21:4).

But in the meantime we wait, because it’s in the waiting that faith grows. It’s in the waiting that we learn to trust, to wait with patience and perseverance and not give up on the God who doesn’t give up on us. Romans 5:4 says, “endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” In other words, waiting makes space for hope to grow. “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom. 5:5).

The Battle Is in the Waiting

Oh, but it’s a battle, isn’t it, to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus in the long enduring wait for healing or reconciliation or direction? Amid waves of uncertainty, waiting just might be the hardest thing we ever do. 

Read the rest here.

Trapped in My Own Mind – Three Lies Depression Loves

Today I’m sharing from Set Apart.

Trapped in My Own Mind –
Three Lies Depression Loves

By

I can’t live like this anymore!” I cried through sobs. “I just want to die!”

I sat on my bed and tried to make sense of what was going on inside. I was tired of the chronic pain, the frequent bouts of illness, and the weariness of dealing with my kids’ struggles. But what broke me was the torture of being a prisoner in my own mind. It took everything in me just to keep breathing, while part of me wished my breathing would just stop.

Oh, how I longed to be with Jesus — free from my aching body and broken mind. But I knew deep within me that my life was not my own and that the Lord must have a purpose for these days.

Constant Cloud

Zack Eswine captured my own inner reality — the constant cloud of depression — in his book Spurgeon’s Sorrows,

Painful circumstances . . . put on their muddy boots and stand thick, full weighted and heavy upon our tired chests. It is almost like anxiety tying rope around the ankles and hands of our breath. Tied to a chair, with the lights out, we sit swallowing in panic the dark air.

These kinds of circumstances . . . steal the gifts of divine love too, as if all of God’s love letters and picture albums are burning up in a fire just outside the door, a fire which we are helpless to stop. We sit there, helpless in the dark of divine absence, tied to this chair, present only to ash and wheeze, while all we hold dear seems lost forever. We even wonder if we’ve brought this all on ourselves. It’s our fault. God is against us. (18)

Depression can cloud our view of God, weigh down our spirits, distort reality, and tempt us to question all that we’ve known to be true. Sometimes, our depression is due to circumstances that have pounded us, wave upon wave, until we can no longer hold our heads above the water. Other times, it comes as a result of illness, as Charles Spurgeon writes, “You may be without any real reason for grief, and yet may be among the most unhappy of men because, for the time, your body has conquered your soul” (“The Saddest Cry from the Cross”).

In Good Company

If you have experienced this kind of darkness, you are in good company. Job, after initially responding with faith in the immediate aftermath of his loss, suddenly found himself walking in the valley of despair as his suffering continued:

“When I say, ‘My bed will comfort me, my couch will ease my complaint,’ then you scare me with dreams and terrify me with visions, so that I would choose strangling and death rather than my bones. I loathe my life; I would not live forever. Leave me alone, for my days are a breath.” (Job 7:13–16)

I thank God that he gives us a glimpse into the darkest days of Job’s life. Job’s story assures us that we aren’t alone in our battle with despair, and it offers us perspective when we struggle to feel God’s presence on our darkest days. Whether we are battling depression or trying to encourage someone who is, we must remember three truths in the face of depression’s lies.

1. Depression does not mean God is punishing you.

It’s easy to believe that our despair is a sign of God’s displeasure. Though at times we may feel the heavy hand of God upon us in order to draw us into repentance (Psalm 32:3–4), depression often fills our minds with lies, tempting us to believe that our feelings are an accurate reflection of our relationship with Christ.

Read the rest here.

The Red Sea in Front of Me – Reaching for God in Despair

Today I’m sharing from Set Apart.

The Red Sea in Front of Me –
Reaching for God in Despair

By

There is no escaping the painful realities that surround my family. Our own Red Sea looms before us while the relentless enemies of physical and mental illness, financial strain, layered losses, and temptations to lose heart, pursue us from all sides.

While crushing circumstances involving physical and mental health, finances, marital pressures, and loss have been sufficient to defeat us; it’s the inner turmoil and constant temptation to sin against God by doubting his goodness and wisdom that make me plead most for my heavenly home.

In recent suffering, the Lord brought to mind the Israelites, who I imagine felt similarly as they stood before the Red Sea. Not long after the Lord had miraculously delivered them from Egypt they found themselves facing imminent death, walled in by an impassable Sea and enemies closing in behind them. I resonate all too much with their response to Moses:

Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: “Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians?” For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness. (Exodus 14:11–12)

Though their response was irrational, portraying a distorted view of the reality of slavery, they spoke out of a very real sense of fear and helplessness. They wondered, Why would God free us from Egypt, only to lead us to our deaths? At that point, even slavery sounded better.

Why Was I Led Here?

Much like the Israelites stood terrified before the Red Sea, I have wrestled with similar thoughts. Why would a God who loved me enough to save me lead me into such awful and seemingly never-ending circumstances? I cannot save myself. I cannot save my family.

And as much as I wish I could say that my response has continually reflected Moses’s words to this complaining people — “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord” — I admit that it often has not. Rather, fearing our pain will never end; I have stumbled, pounded my fists in anguish and wondered if God is still fighting for us.

As followers of Christ, we all must face the reality that we are helpless to save ourselves. Whether it’s merely a traffic jam that makes us late for a job interview, or a life filled with inescapable pain, God mercifully brings us to impassable seas to help us see our need for him.

So how do we respond when we see no way out, no hope this side of heaven? We need to see, stand, and trust.

Read the rest here.

Cultivating Joy

Today I’m sharing an article by that was published recently on FaithGateway.

Cultivating Joy

When I was young, I thought that following God and being a Christian would lead to a life that was kind of easy, filled only with happiness and free from pain and sorrow. Silly me. I’m not even sure where I got that idea, except maybe from teachings spouted by TV evangelists who espoused a prosperity “name it and claim it” doctrine that was popular when I first chose to follow Jesus. It tickles the ears, doesn’t it? It’s so appealing, this thought that if you are a true believer you are spared suffering and gifted only with a positive existence.

It is also completely contrary to what the Scriptures teach.

If Jesus was perfected through His suffering, who are we to think we won’t be perfected through the same means? (Hebrews 2:10).

Now, don’t get me wrong, Jesus came that we might have life and life to the full (John 10:10), and it’s the joy of the Lord that is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). It’s just that this promised joy and life come to us in the midst of the easy and the hard, the triumphs and the travails.

The key, then, is to intentionally cultivate that joy in our hearts — to choose it — no matter what season we’re in, the easy or the hard.

And life is hard a lot of the time. This world we live in is not Eden. We are not in Heaven. Not yet. But, in the middle of this often difficult journey, God “has taken great measures to preserve our freedom of choice.”1 We have the freedom to choose to grow in joy or to retreat from it.

Said another way, life will inevitably be hard, and as maturing believers with our eyes set on Jesus, we will constantly be presented with opportunities to make choices that will either lead to a deeper joy or not. Here’s what I mean:

It’s hard to stand up against the group when they are going the wrong direction — spiritually or any other way. But it’s also hard on our consciences afterward if we don’t. That Jiminy Cricket won’t be quiet.

It’s hard to be kind to the mean, curmudgeonly neighbor. It’s hard as well to be convicted later of being unloving. It’s hard to not spend the money on the item we so desire.

It’s hard to save money. It’s also hard to be in debt.

It’s hard to have a loving but tough confrontational conversation with a friend. It’s also hard to not have one and then have offense and distance creep into that friendship.

What is Passion Week / Holy Week?

Sharing today from the GotQuestions? site.

What is Passion Week /
Holy Week?

Question: “What is Passion Week / Holy Week?”

Answer: Passion Week (also known as Holy Week) is the time from Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday (Resurrection Sunday). Also included within Passion Week are Holy MondayHoly Tuesday, Spy WednesdayMaundy ThursdayGood Friday, and Holy Saturday. Passion Week is so named because of the passion with which Jesus willingly went to the cross in order to pay for the sins of His people. Passion Week is described in Matthew chapters 21-27; Mark chapters 11-15; Luke chapters 19-23; and John chapters 12-19. Passion Week begins with the triumphal entry on Palm Sunday on the back of a colt as prophesied in Zechariah 9:9.

Passion Week contained several memorable events. Jesus cleansed the Temple for the second time (Luke 19:45-46), then disputed with the Pharisees regarding His authority. Then He gave His Olivet Discourse on the end times and taught many things, including the signs of His second coming. Jesus ate His Last Supper with His disciples in the upper room (Luke 22:7-38), then went to the garden of Gethsemane to pray as He waited for His hour to come. It was here that Jesus, having been betrayed by Judas, was arrested and taken to several sham trials before the chief priests, Pontius Pilate, and Herod (Luke 22:54-23:25).

Read the rest here.

Our Suffering Savior: A Physician’s Perspective

Today I’m sharing from Answers in Genesis

Our Suffering Savior

A Physician’s Perspective

During the Easter season, we usually hear again the stories of the Passion Week and the Crucifixion—Jesus’s betrayal by Judas, His unfair trial, the road to Calvary, Jesus’s last words. We also sing about the Old Rugged Cross. But few look beyond these stories to consider what our Lord Jesus Christ actually endured during those hours on the cross. Unlike first-century Christians, for whom crucifixion was a familiar reality, most of us have a sanitized view of our Lord’s suffering.

The physical suffering that Jesus willingly endured was beyond horrific. To better understand the extent of His suffering is to get a glimpse of His love for us.

In the Garden

The suffering began soon after the Last Supper when Jesus and His disciples went to the Garden of Gethsemane. Knowing that the time of His death was near, Jesus prayed intently. According to Luke 22:44, “Being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”

Medical literature documents that bloody sweat, known as hematidrosis, does occur. This condition is seen in rare instances of extreme emotional stress. The resulting blood loss is not severe, but it does cause the skin to be exquisitely tender, making what was to come even more painful.

During His Trials

After these hours of emotional distress in the garden, Jesus was betrayed and arrested. His captors mocked and beat Him after He faced the Sanhedrin and the Roman authorities. He was ultimately sentenced to crucifixion on a cross.

Before sentencing Jesus to death, Pilate attempted to appease the Jews by having Him beaten. John 19:1 notes, “So then Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him.” However, this brief description does not communicate the brutal nature of what was to follow.

Scourging was a particularly vicious form of punishment. The victim was stripped of his clothes, and his hands were raised above his head and tied to a post. Then one or two soldiers would repeatedly beat the victim with a whip, usually made of several leather strips with jagged pieces of iron or sheep bone tied onto them.

One blow after another was delivered across the shoulders, back, and buttocks. Initial blows ripped gashes into His already tender skin, and those that followed dug deeper into our Savior’s tissues, tearing muscles and blood vessels. The subsequent blood loss further weakened Him. Torn and exposed nerves on the back caused indescribable pain.

This brutal scourging was only the beginning of Jesus’s suffering. After being untied from the blood-stained scourging post, the soldiers placed a scarlet robe on Him. Each breath, each movement of His body, caused the robe to rub against His torn flesh. Then a crown of thorns was placed on His head. As the trained Roman soldiers beat Him, these thorns drove deeper into His head, causing profuse bleeding and intense pain. Later, the scarlet robe was torn from His back, reopening the deep wounds.

How horrible was Jesus’s suffering at this point? Isaiah 52:14 says, “Just as many were astonished at you, so His visage was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men.” Jesus had been so severely beaten, He no longer looked like a human being.

Read the rest here.

Be Hospitable

Be Hospitable

By Pat Knight

When the apostle Paul’s ship was forced to stop in the port city of Tyre of Macedonia to unload cargo, he found the hospitality in the New Testament church to be overwhelming. The Christian inhabitants gracefully invited Paul and his associates to stay with them. Paul spent quality time preaching, teaching, and encouraging the Christian disciples there. The people’s hospitality was rewarded by the traveler’s friendship and ministry. At the end of the week, in spite of the consistent warning from his friends that danger awaited him, Paul remained focused on his goal, ready once again to resume his journey toward Jerusalem. “‘And now, compelled by the Holy Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me, a task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace’” (Acts 20:22-24)

After ministering to their new friends, when the time arrived for Paul and his associates to sail, the whole town accompanied them to the ship. Envision the men, women, and children praying and weeping as they embraced the apostle and his beloved companions. Tell-tale round depressions clustered together remained, representing knee impressions in the sand made as the people knelt to pray.

Once Paul and his travelers boarded the ship and the crowd dispersed, there were scattered footprints leading from the seashore back up the path into town. Gradually the tide washed away the evidence of love and friendship in the sand, but the visual impressions remained in the minds of Paul’s followers, a memory that would not easily fade.

How often have we been disappointed when our plans to achieve a goal or arrive at a destination have been disrupted? We failed to recognize that with God our journey is as important as the outcome. While we focus our eyes on the destination, God uses each step of the journey to teach us. God doesn’t just plan to meet us at our next stop—He travels every mile alongside us, guiding from within our hearts.

Just as Paul was forced to disembark twice on his trip to Jerusalem prior to arriving in Tyre, God knew of Paul’s agenda on both occasions. He already had blessings planned along Paul’s journey. Is there any reason God would not have similar plans for each of us?

God is frugal of time and talent, wasteful of neither. He guided travelers to hospitable strangers in Tyre, who took them in and provided their needs. The hospitality was rewarded with Paul’s friendship and ministry—the kind that remains to comfort over the years. The travelers nearly forgot about being inconvenienced, for joy superseded their disappointment.

Our inopportune situations may not be as straightforward as what Paul experienced. We may not learn the purpose for an interruption of plans until later, if at all. We are comforted knowing God’s plans for us are perfect. God is faithful and always provides our needs.

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.
For we say with confidence,
‘The Lord is my helper;
I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’”
(Hebrews 13:5-6).

What an assurance from our loving God who always keeps His promises!

God makes plans for our lives. He perpetually considers our longings and safety. He never disappoints. God never fails to keep His promises nor will He ever desert us. Paul learned that God’s purposes are perfect and His schedules precise. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). And, He is worthy of our trust!