Christian=Spared From Troubles?

Did you ever think being a Christian would make your life…easier? I think a lot of Christians are in that boat. We think (even subconciously) that knowing Jesus and the truth about salvation will make this earthly life a breeze. It is true that knowing our Savior and the waves of grace makes life manageable, and even joyful. Yet an easy life is not a promise in the Bible…Far from it, in fact!

Recently I faced a situation that I never, ever anticipated would happen to me. I

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Photo by Kyle Broad on Unsplash

thought I was wiser. I thought that my knowledge and education would keep me from that situation. If I’m completely honest, there was even a part of me that thought Christ would spare me from that type of situation. Yet…Christ never promised our life on earth would be easy. Never. Recently, I discovered that Matthew 11:30 (“For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”) is not translated well. Instead of “easy,” the word from Greek is better translated as “suitable,” “well fitting,” or “useful.” The crosses we have are well-fitted to us, and useful for the particular growth we need as individuals. As much as we protest our crosses, they are fitted to our shoulders, not someone else’s. Christ gives us many forms of grace to endure whatever it is we face. 

Being a Christian doesn’t make us immune from the troubles of this world. Countless Christians have done the “right things” and still faced martyrdom, spousal abuse, bankruptcy, natural disasters, chronic illness, and any other struggle you can name. We are in the world, though we are not of it. The advantage we have as Christians is knowing Who helps us carry our burdens. We are never left to our own devices, but in every moment we are completely loved and upheld. We know that the suffering here is not the end, but there is a life of eternal joy that awaits us one day. Our suffering is not without meaning. Remember what came after the crucifixion? We can look forward to the same, whether on the horizon of our earthly lives or in Heaven.

“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.” Hebrews 10:36

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:18

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

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Photo by Will van Wingerden on Unsplash

 

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The Pain & Fruit of Investing.

 

Currently my life is in a season of pruning, and what I am also learning to refer to

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as “investment.” Investing is painful. It involves risk. Investing requires giving up something in hopes of a greater return down the road. At the very outset, it requires some sort of sacrifice. It may be a very long time before you see any gain or fruit from that sacrifice. For example, investing money is painful. The money is placed into an account where it cannot be touched until a certain point. The goal is that the amount of money will grow. But what if an emergency arises and you need that money? Painful, and risky. Other forms of investment are financing a wedding, buying a house, starting a business, or investing in an education. These are different types of investment that we hope will bear fruit in some way.

An investment that we are all called to make is purity. Living in purity is an investment for a future marriage. It is even an investment in yourself. Living a chaste life protects you from disease and unhealthy emotional attachments. It requires the daily surrender of one’s desires for the good of one’s self, future spouse, and consideration of the good of a child. Choosing to forgo suitors who are not God’s best for you is a related form of investment. It is easy to settle and may be easy to find multiple people who want to be with you. Taking the time to wait for the right spouse and for sex is an investment in your future joy, your future spouse’s joy, and even the joy of your children. Many people have not made this investment, and have brought suffering onto themselves and others.

Plain and simple: investing equals sacrifice. Sometimes these investments involve very difficult sacrifices. Many choose not to make these sacrifices simply because they are so arduous and involve (sometimes very delayed) gratification. Yet investing creates wealth. It creates an abundance that could not have come without the sacrifice. It is like when a tree is pruned. The tree appears bare aftter the pruning. A person who doesn’t know about horticulture will scoff and think the tree is ruined.  But after some time, the tree will be bursting with fruit. This is our hope with our investments. In some way, at some time we do not know, they will bear great fruit.

I trust that this difficult and painful investing process will one day pay off. So can you. I have planted my seeds in the ground, sacrificed much that is dear. I will wait for the sun and rain to grow them. I can only trust the One who has called me. Let us eagerly await the day when we can harvest the fruit from these decisions to invest.

“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” 2 Corinthians 9:6

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

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Photo by Jelleke V. on Unsplash

 

The Word on Wednesday-Seasons.

“There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

     a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
     a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
     a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
     a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
     a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
     a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

 

We grasp at the seasons we consider good. The being born seasons, the planting seasons where we joyfully await the fruit of our labor. The building and healing seasons, and the laughing and dancing seasons. Ecclesiastes tells us there is a time for everything, a season for everything under the heavens. All of the seasons are necessary. Without the different seasons, we would not grow. We would not learn to rely on our Heavenly Father if the seasons were all easy.

I know that many believers, and the world in general, are enduring the difficult seasons: uprooting seasons, seasons where there is emptiness and mourning. There is even threat of killing and war. In these circumstances, we learn to lean on the Lord and His steady faithfulness. We learn to better love our neighbor. We learn to await His promises, and the joyous seasons. Embrace your season. This earthly life is temporary. Seasons don’t last forever, but the enduring love of our Father does. 

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Photo by Jordan McQueen on Unsplash

Pondering Strength.

Strength isn’t built overnight. It comes through weathering stormy seasons and emerging after you didn’t think it was possible. It is like building muscle. You can’t build muscle unless you are consistently working out and even gradually moving up to more difficult workouts or higher weights. You build strength by weathering small and large storms. I think a person can be born with a tendency for strength, but they must undergo some difficulty for that strength to be tested and built up.

There are not-so-distant seasons of my life where I look back and wonder “how did I do that?” Was that really me who lived through those things and made those hard decisions that didn’t make sense to others? Where I am now, I wonder, too. How am I living through this crazy season where nothing has stayed the same?  The answer: grace. The grace of God was sufficient for that time. Grace is sufficient for today, too.

In whatever you are facing, His grace will be sufficient for you. I can’t promise you that it will be easy. But I can promise God is faithful. He tests us for our good. He loves us way too much for us to stay the same. Where we encounter difficulty, we can also cling to His grace and supernatural strength. 

There will be a day when you look back and wonder how you made it. And you will make it. Take your Heavenly Father’s hand and discover the depths of His love as you go through the depths of difficulty. Discover who you really are. Let the storm transform you into a pillar of strength.  

“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”~1 Peter 1:6-7

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Photo by Tommy Lisbin on Unsplash

 

Wisdom from St. Edith Stein.

Today we celebrate St. Edith Stein. She was a brilliant woman who died this day in 1942 at Auschwitz. Born Jewish, she became a great philosopher and author. Her journey led her to the Catholic Church, and her great hunger for Christ led her to become a Carmelite nun. Below is one of her quotes that I believe we can all take comfort in on our journey.

“God is there in these moments of rest and can give us in a single instant exactly what we need. Then the rest of the day can take its course, under the same effort and strain, perhaps, but in peace. And when night comes, and you look back over the day and see how fragmentary everything has been, and how much you planned that has gone undone, and all the reasons you have to be embarrassed and ashamed: just take everything exactly as it is, put it in God’s hands and leave it with Him. Then you will be able to rest in Him — really rest — and start the next day as a new life.”~St. Edith Stein

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Book Review: Josiah’s Fire

I just finished reading one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read. The book is called Josiah’s Fire, and is written by the mother of Josiah, Tahni Cullen.

Josiah means “the fire of the Lord.” Josiah truly grew to fit this name. Josiah was born in 2005 and developed as a typical child would.

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Image from Amazon

However, around the age of 2, his family members noticed that something was amiss. He lost all the words that he said before, and no longer made eye contact. He seemed unreachable. Eventually, he was diagnosed with autism. Josiah’s mom was heartbroken about this diagnosis, and especially heartbroken that she could no longer communicate with her son. However, Josiah later began to communicate in amazing ways. The family obtained an iPad. Josiah began to type what was going on in his head (though he was still seemingly learning to read)–and his parents were blown away.

Josiah’s writing’s revealed deep spiritual truths. His writings are beautiful and poetic. “Run to the dazzling river of life. You come out like a dry man, only saturated in plans.” This young boy, even less than 9 years old at the time many of the things were written, knew details about heaven, and details about family members he had never met. Little Josiah was even given messages and encouragements to bring to specific people. God even revealed to him the shopping mall where a witch would be, and Josiah asked his mom to take him there. Jesus gave Josiah a message to bring to the witch, a message telling her to turn from her current life and worship Him. Though he cannot speak, Josiah truly demonstrates God’s fire and brings a call for renewal. “God is demonstrating “father” in every movement of His life. Gentle Father, joyful one, bold in every way, but gentle toward people who are faced with sin.”

Autism and other disorders are very misunderstood. The people who live with these disorders are often viewed as if they are not intelligent. Josiah knocks this myth out of the water. It was interesting to read his insights and his frustrations about how his body did not do the things he wanted it to, and how he longed for healing and to communicate verbally again.

If you are struggling with your beliefs about God, or simply looking for an inspirational book. I would recommend this book. It’s a great read, though I did have to put it down a few (or a lot!) of times to ponder because the insights are so colossal! 

Have you read Josiah’s Fire? What are your thoughts?

Creating Space.

It’s that time again! I am over at Modern Ruth Project for my monthly post. My post (for July) focuses on creating space. I talk about how God called me out of my job and onto focus on other aspects of me. Space is scary, because we don’t know what it will be filled with. And sometimes, God simply gives us space so that there is nothing to distract us from Him!

Go check out my post! I especially recommend it if you are also going through any type of change or unexpected circumstance.

Don’t be afraid of space, because space allows room to grow!

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Photo by Kari Shea on Unsplash

Together journeying toward the Creator and becoming the creations we were meant to be.