Thankful for the Tears

A year ago at a beach trip a young man was asked which Bible character would he want to meet and why? The young man did not miss a beat in his reply as he stated with a quiet conviction – Job. His reason clung in the air with all gravity and held the listeners ‘I want to know if it still hurt after God gave him back what was lost.’

Loss, devastation, grief, pain- as a Christian these states are not avoidable realities, but eved present actualities. They were promised, they are part of the Christian stimulus package. The only demarcation between us and the world is that at the end of each trial if we endure we find that what we gain fills us with insurmountable gratitude and stronger faith if we submit to the process.

I was reminded of this truth one evening as I sat in a Bible study and listened to a man of God describe the pain from the loss of his first child. He described how surreal it was, the confusion of why it all happened and the hole in his heart at the time.

Following this was a gentleman who spoke candidly of being stripped of everything – money, relationships, job, and status being so low that he didn’t know when His next meal would be.

As I looked around at these faces what stood out to me was that what I saw was not sadness, or depression. What I saw was quite the opposite. These faces  had joy, peace and hope. I sat in a room of persons rejoicing that God was by our side and faithful to His promises even in the midst of pain.  Even as they described hardships and heart ache they also were sharing about how God came through during those hard times and how grateful they were even for the pain. They were at the place where they understood that these trials were actually a testament of the goodness of God.

How?

In the trials we learn that God is loving. Loving, not because He kept us from every danger and disappointment, but loving in that He gave us the grace  to endure through each devastation. We see that He is faithful to use each of these heart wrenching devastating times for our benefit, bringing us closer to Him, instilling trust in Him and reinforcing our faith. But most of all we see that He is Sovereign, intentionally moving in each situation. 

In Russell Kelfer’s poem Wait from his book Wait: A Journey to Discovering the Heart of God, he pens this response from God explaining what we would lack if we didn’t go through tests.

If you don’t go through..

“You’d not know the depth of My love for each saint;

You’d not know the power I give to the faint;

You’d not learn to see through the clouds of despair;

You’d not learn to trust just by knowing I’m there;

You’d not know the joy of resting in Me; When darkness and silence were all you could see.

You’d never experience that fullness of love

As the peace of My Spirit descends like a dove;

You’d know that I give and I save, for a start,

But you’d not know the depth of the beat of My heart.

The glow of My comfort late into the night,

The faith that I give when you walk without sight,

The depth that’s beyond getting just what you asked

Of an infinite God, who makes what you have last.

You’d never know, should your pain quickly flee,

What it means that, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee.’”

It is because of our trials that we know our Father better. Though we are refined by fire, it makes us pure as gold. When gold, He continues the process as He cuts to bring shape and definition through the details.

Does it hurt? Yes! Do we cry? definitely! But as we endure by His grace, the Word and the support of body of Christ we come out at the end thankful for those tears.

Peace

 

 

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3

 

I was waiting for him at the store. He was just my friend but my emotions felt otherwise. I made an extra attempt to straighten up myself before I left work so I would look presentable and I eagerly waited as I scanned each person that passed by to see if it was him. My mind raced as I thought of seeing him again. I was rushed because I was late and a little miffed because of a slight annoyance earlier, and added to all of this was the fact that my mood was susceptible to the PMS monster that was standing by my shoulder.

He was late. He was never late. He always made it a duty to be on time for anything he did. Cue the crazy thoughts and baffling questions that are normal to some extent but if not met with rational answers they can lead to a crazy woman.

“What was wrong today?”

“Was he mad at me?”

“Did I do something wrong?”

“Was he with another girl?”

 My thoughts whirled around in my head and probably was the trigger for my cramps which were previously a slight, numb sensation to a now ever increasing pain.

I looked up and there he was… with another girl walking beside him (she was only his friend but that didn’t seem to matter to my crazy self). I do not have to explain the new thoughts that surfaced, nor the state of my emotions that were threatening to maul me right there in the store. I stood there transfixed by the weight of my emotions and mustered up the best hello and pleasant face I could find (trust me my face is a great betrayer of my emotions). We exchanged pleasantries, handled business and I did my best to walk out with as much dignity as possible; which in hindsight probably looked more like a stuffy poodle.

I walked or huffed and puffed my way back to work  as my mind was filled with more degenerate thoughts (not necessary to spill them all). While my mind was bombarded with a slew of cynical speculations the Holy Spirit interrupted my tirade and I literally heard Him say “stop”. Right away as if my train wreck of thoughts was intercepted and God put the breaks on the havoc that was my mind He reminded me of the scripture I so religiously placed as my status on FB that same morning after my time of devotions. He will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast because he trust in Him. I can assure you, my mind was neither at peace or steadfast. My mind looked more like one of a raving lunatic.

I paused right there on the street and called out to God to help me, to stabilize me, to keep my mind at peace and in His faithfulness He did. Somewhere between my prayer and another potentially aggravating event (because no day comes with just one disappointment) the Lord gave me peace. I didn’t even realize when it actually came. I just suddenly became aware that I had” it”,the peace that passes all understanding (trust me I had no understanding for how I could be so calm). When it came I was floored by it. I was amazed at how the Lord worked and how God’s grace truly became sufficient in my weak (oh so very pathetic) moment.

He not only gave me peace but He sustained it. He smoothed out what was a mess, and regulated my mind. “The LORD gives His people strength, the LORD blesses them with peace.” Psalm 29:11 NLT

 

Perfect Girl Antidote

“But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations”.

Psalm 33:11


 

I was messaging a friend of mine over her struggles with how she handled herself in relating to a guy she cared about. She made a statement that lead me to my laptop to start this blog. She stated, “knowing that God is control is so freeing. It makes me be more authentic with myself and with [the guy]… I don’t have to be the perfect girl!”My heart soared.

Myles Munroe said in his book Understanding the Purpose and Power of Woman: a book for women and the Men Who Love them that  “[God’s] purpose will be accomplished. No one can interfere with  or hinder it. When  [God] gives a purpose to something, your plans, ideas, opinions, perceptions, and prejudices ..are inapplicable.” I think that list of inapplicable things should include our mess-ups, silly moments, and our disagreements. If we would just understand that God can take care of the silly thing we said, the mistake we made, or even the blatant wrong thing we did, we would probably lose some of the anxiety we place on ourselves in relationships. 

In a world where we girls are pressured by external standards to be witty, cute, charming and have a healthy understanding of sports, cars, and sci-fi its normal for us to want to gauge all we say and do in order to maintain the illusion of perfection to our desired mate. Added to this list are the requirements of a godly woman which include: display submission, gentleness, and a working knowledge of the Word. Sister, we have a quite a list of things to accomplish.  And what about men? Well, they are told, to have purpose, be able to lead, be able to take care of us, be romantic, sensitive, caring, brave, look like Michael Ealy.. oh wait that’s my list! LOL.  But you get the picture, on both sides there is this insurmountable pressure to get it right.

With all of this it’s no wonder we sometimes tend to spiral into a roller-coaster basket-case of over-thinking, and over-analyzing. I remember in my own relating to a particular guy, I tried so hard that I lost myself. I truly became overly pleasing, acquiescing, and in my view brain dead. Well maybe that’s a bit harsh, but I couldn’t have had much of a brain if I allowed myself to become so unlike me in an effort to present myself as a good catch. I mean the Bible says the Lord  (the GOD of heaven and earth) delights in me, and I was worried about keeping a guy’s affection!

Now I know that not every woman worries constantly when steering through this what can be the relationship mine-field, and  I know that guys are just so chill (don’t worry men, I won’t tell the readers that some of you sometimes stress over relating to women). I must also admit that  there are the enlightened, and have it all together few. (Kudos to you, and please drop me a line or send up a prayer for us to get to your place of nirvana). But, for the rest of us who worry, get tongue-tied, practice our lines in the mirror, and re-read our texts one hundred times, I encourage you to say this freeing statement with me, “GOD IS IN CONTROL”. Do you feel any different? No? Well, that’s because that is just a statement. A nicely worded jump-start to my main point that we don’t have to have  it all together. Our plans can fail us. The time we spend pre-planning the conversation, worrying why he/she hasn’t responded to the message we “know” they saw (I tell you technology has upped the ante in the relationship world), we lose sight of the fact that we can plan all we want but God is in control. We have read it many times but let’s refresh our memory and renew our minds with the Word (the real antidote).

“Many plans are in a man’s mind, but it is the Lord’s purpose for him that will stand”. Proverbs 19:21 (AMP)

God’s plans are sovereign and they will prevail. He has everything under control. Seriously, He handled the creation of the world and was able to get rest at the end of it. He pre-planned salvation knowing that we would need it. (It seems that one rule thing proved tricky for Adam and Eve, but I am not judging). With all of this I am certain  He can handle the relationship dance we start when we meet the objects of our affection. I am firm believer that God is a Lord of providence. Whoever He brings into your life He will and can take care of everything once we are submitted to Him; that’s a promise. He is faithful. Be free. Take the “God is in control” pill and let it be the antidote to your anxiety.