Prove Your Worth

“Prove your worth!”  This relentless demand is sometimes subtle, sometime unmistakable and at its core looks to events, things, and people to validate and prove worth. It is a temptation that focuses on appearances and keeps you from living in the solid truth that you are a loved child of God. It is confidence found in positive feedback and validation from others, rather than confidence in God.

Take a moment and think about the ways you are tempted to prove your worth.  Why do you do the things you do, behave the way you behave or choose to pursue and do the things you do?  Are you seeking proof that you are valuable, wanted, worthy, accepted and loved? Are you consistently worried about how things appear or will be judged by others? Do you feel this desire for proof of worth more strongly when the pain and struggle of life overwhelm you?

Jesus faced this same temptation.  After experiencing the heavens breaking open, and the Father stating his love and pleasure in Him, he was led by the Spirit into the desert and faced 40 days of no food, loneliness, harsh conditions and overall lack. Then, to make matters worse, evil showed up and said, “IF you are the Son of God, then…”  

It is easy to read those words in Matthew chapter 4 and not take the time to imagine what it must have been like.  Deserts are desolate, filled with danger, dry, uncomfortable and lonely. The desert is a picture of hardship and lack. Jesus was not only physically in the desert, but emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically. 

Evil went right to the heart of things with the attack, packing a punch with the opening word, “if…”  IF you are really the Son of God, you would not be suffering. Maybe your Father really does not care about you, or even knows what He is doing.   Prove your value and worth by fixing this issue.  Come on, just turn those stones into bread, use your own power, strength, and ability to fix the pain.  If you were really God’s Son and loved, you would not be experiencing this pain and hardship. 

Not that long ago I found myself in an extended desert experience.  Life no longer made sense. Variations of “If you are, then…” flooded my mind and affected my heart.  I found myself begging God to tell me what I needed to do to make the pain stop?  I bargained, tried things, turned to rules, regulations anything to try and make the pain go away.  In the dark and lonely hours of the night, I just wanted to stop hurting – I did not want to live anymore but I also did not want to exist in eternity with a God who had allowed my worst fears to be realized.  There was no escape.  The messages sent to my mind that I was not loved, God was not pleased, and that I was not doing enough, were agonizing.  I was stuck on a hamster wheel of performance-based, if I do this then He will do that relationship with God and did not know how to get off. Evil whispered, “If you are really loved by God, then…”

Perhaps you are experiencing the “If you are, then…” temptation. It is an invitation from evil to prove your worth and value.

  • Prove you are a loving parent by ensuring….
  • Prove you are an excellent student by…
  • Prove you are a good person by…
  • Prove you are a worthy employee by…
  • Prove you are a loving spouse by…
  • Prove you are worth loving…
  • Prove you are worth…
  • Prove you are
  • Prove you

This invitation to prove goes against the truth that you are loved and enough.  You will never be able to produce enough proof.  There will always be a call to do more, be more, prove more.  The truth is, you are already worthy and there is no need to prove it.  You were created by God with worth, and as his child you are worthy, your existence has already been validated, your worth priceless.  You are wholly loved.

For me, the pain of learning that being loved is NOT performance based was beyond agonizing.  But as I look back on those dark days, I am grateful for that suffering, because through that desert journey, I was set free to experience God’s gift of grace and love. I was being taught to live by every word that comes from God.  God was inviting me to meditate on and accept that I am wholly loved, wanted, cherished and of value beyond price. Instead of running myself ragged trying to produce enough proof in response to all the evil voices demanding evidence, evidence that would never have tipped the scales in my favor, the call was to rest in God’s love. God is the doer, and as I walk with him and learn to hear his voice, I become a partner with God in what HE does.  That melts away the pressure to perform and do, and what a wonderous freedom and joy there is living with this truth.

Can you sit with all the yuck, and begin to search for the invitation God may be giving you? It could be an invitation to forgive, an invitation to accept love, an invitation to put down the need for validation.  An invitation to do life WITH God instead of FOR Him.

There are seasons of life when this temptation to prove your worth seems louder. When you experience failure, rejection, difficulty and loss, the pain and lack of reasons why can tempt you to get caught up in the insatiable desire for “proof.” The lie is that if God loves you, you will never experience pain, and that the pain is somehow there because you didn’t do enough, or because God won’t perform and fix things.  Confidence in yourself and other people will always be a crumbly foundation built on sand.  Confidence in God, no matter how things appear will never fail.

When you find yourself tempted to seek proof, fill your mind with God’s truth and fix your confidence in His love for you.  This is not easy, but you will not be alone.  God is with you, and will help you as you retrain your mind and focus on Him, living confidently in His love.

Romans 8:35-39

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”[a] No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Zephaniah 3:17

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save, he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will quiet you by his love, he will exult over you with loud singing.”


A Choice of Focus

“Worship is intense focusing of a surrendered will, with mind and feelings on the greatness and goodness of God.” – Dallas Willard

In Ephesians, Paul prays for those he is writing to and says, “I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you wisdom to see clearly and really understand who Christ is and all that he has done for you.”  In a world of uncertainty, what might happen if you prayed that prayer at the beginning of each day?

When life is scary, painful and filled with uncertainty, the temptation is to allow those things to have the loudest voice. Difficult and painful experiences can consume us, especially when a longed for outcome to a situation doesn’t occur, or seems impossible.  The “what-ifs” of life become the focus of our thoughts, and hours are spent chasing down potential scenarios as we depend on our own ability to work a way around, and obtain what is desired.  We are worshiping what we want and it drowns out the clear evidence of God’s goodness, love and faithfulness.  

Dallas Willard has a wonderful way of describing worship.  Worship is “an intense focusing of a surrendered will, with mind and feelings focused on the greatness and goodness of God.”  The word “worship” is most often associated with religion or faith – but the truth is, we can “worship” or have focus of mind and feeling on almost anything.

When we focus on a desired outcome, we are putting that outcome first and foremost in our thoughts and mind.  This can lead to a relationship with God that is more transactional in nature. God becomes much like a finicky vending machine that is holding the things we want. We run ourselves ragged trying to figure out what we need to do or say to finally get God to cooperate with our plans and give us what is desired. In a way we seek to manipulate God as we trust our own wisdom, strength and abilities instead of trusting an almighty good and loving God.

Worshiping God is a choice to focus on His goodness and greatness instead of the problem at hand or on ourselves. This does not mean suffering will end or the thing you desire will be dispensed.  This is not a formula for manipulating God to give you want you want.  It is a choice to lay down your will, surrender to God and trust him in all things knowing he is loving and good.  Does this scare you?  If it does, it may be an indicator of where you are placing your trust and faith.

Surrendering to God used to scare me, and honestly at times it still does.  What if God allows my pain to continue, or doesn’t rescue me from the difficult circumstances I find myself in?  I’m a classic over-thinker with an ability to imagine almost every negative outcome and then work to exhaustion to figure things out.  The formulaic, rules based approach to relationship with God feels comfortable because then I can predict what might happen.  But God wants more than just a “if you do this, then I’ll do that” relationship.  He wants a relationship based on complete trust in his love for me.

In each moment of every day we have a choice to surrender and trust God, or surrender to our feelings, wants and desires and trust ourselves or even other people.  The difference between these two approaches to life are stark.

Focusing on desired outcomes and trusting our plans and abilities produces anxiety and fear.  It is all based on performance, gaining approval and results in immense amounts of stress. The desired outcome becomes the God we pursue and it will leave us wanting in the end.  

Trusting God involves living life with open hands, waiting, trusting and accepting love when life is hard, abandoning all outcomes into God’s care and learning to wait on Him.  It brings peace, joy and contentment in the middle of any circumstance. This way of faith does not excuse effort, allow for abdication in making decisions or mean dreams and plans should never be pursued.  It does leave the outcome up to God, and trusts that God’s outcome is perfect and loving. It does demand that we invite God into every aspect of our lives and apprentice ourselves to Jesus, living our lives the way he would live our life. Living this way takes training and is purposeful in its focus on God.

In the midst of a world filled with uncertainty and fear, this is my prayer for you,

 “I pray that God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

 will give you the wisdom to see clearly and really understand who Christ is and all that he has done for you.  

In the midst of whatever you are going through, 

may your heart be flooded with light so you can see something of the future he has called you to share.  

You are precious to God.  Realize that God has been made rich because you who are Christ’s have been given to him!

 I pray that you will begin to understand how incredibly great his power is to help those who believe him. 

 (Ephesians 1:17-21 paraphrased )

Be purposeful today.  Choose to see the good and beautiful.  Choose to drink in and experience the common everyday blessings.  Look back, and unbury the evidence of God’s goodness and love from the mountains of pain and hardship as well as take time to savor the sweet memories that bring joy. Look forward with joyful anticipation to the future God has for you. Live in the present, aware of God’s goodness and love. Pray, and ask God to give you the wisdom to see clearly all He has done.

Living at Ropes End

We’ve all been at Ropes End at various points in our lives.  Sometimes Ropes End simply describes a day where small inconveniences piled up into large mountains of frustration.  Other times Ropes End is where we literally come to the end of all we can do and frightening “what if” scenarios fill our weary minds as the struggle to hold on or just let go rages.  

What if Ropes End was really a place of new beginnings, growth, goodness and blessing? What if the rope you are holding onto is actually holding you back, tying you to things that are preventing you from experiencing all that God has for you?  Ropes End is a place of decision.  Will you trust in your strength, ability, intelligence and talent or depend on God.

You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.” (Matthew 5:3 The Message)

I’ll be the first to admit that when at Ropes End, I can be found hanging onto a thin rope by a sliver of a fingernail depending on myself and doing everything in my power to figure things out.  My frenzied mind is filled with noise, and while I hear God’s invitation to let go and trust, invite him into the storm and depend on Him, the fear of the unknown keeps me clinging to a rope that holds me back.

The disciples found themselves at Ropes End in the middle of a sea during a violent storm.  They had made a decision to follow Jesus and seen him do amazing things.  However, in their view here they were struggling with all they had to keep the boat afloat and stay alive and Jesus was napping. It wasn’t until they had run out of options that in terror they woke Jesus saying, “Don’t you care if we drown?”

The disciples were focused on their ability to get themselves across the lake safely, and didn’t even seem to consider that Jesus may have another way. They forgot how Jesus had been there in the past because all their attention was focused on the raging storm.   In their wildest imaginations, none of them could have predicted that with a word, Jesus would calm the storm.  

Have you ever felt like Jesus was napping while you were struggling?  When you came to the end of all the options you could think of, did you feel abandoned, alone and hopeless?  Difficulties and pain come in all shapes and sizes, and Jesus wants to be invited into them all.  Ropes End is actually a place where we are invited to trust God at deeper levels, and choose to use the minds, strength and talents we have while depending on Him for the outcome.  It is laying aside plans, dreams and agendas and being still and listening for direction from the One who is always for you, and will never leave or forsake you. 

When I found myself in the middle of a violent storm, the situation hopeless and beyond painful, it felt like my cries and pleas for help were ignored.  The fight to stay alive was so exhausting there were times I just wanted to give up and drown.

It was there, at Ropes End that I experienced God’s love in profound ways.  The invitation was to stop fighting and trust.  I imagined myself as a small child, with a heart of complete dependence and trust choosing to lie down next to Jesus in the bottom of that boat and rest while the storm raged knowing I was completely safe in His care.  I wish I knew how to describe this sense of peace in the midst of chaos and pain. There are no words, only the indescribable feeling of being perfectly loved.  The limits I had placed on things, and as a result had placed on God lived only in my imagination.  God is not limited by anything. 

 God blesses those people who depend only on him. They belong to the kingdom of heaven!  Matthew 5:3 (Contemporary English Version)

Take a moment and think back to times you have been at Ropes End.  Do you have a clearer picture of how the agenda, plans and dreams you were pursuing were blinding you to other directions, opportunities, relationships and experiences?  Did the walls of the box you put the situation and God in stifle your faith?  Did you grow and experience His care and love in ways you couldn’t have outside of the hardships faced? 

Letting go of the rope of dependence upon self is not easy.  It doesn’t mean that suddenly life will be amazing and all your dreams will come true.  It is not an invitation to sit and do nothing.  The invitation is to experience God with you and learn to depend on him in all things.  It is submitting your agenda to His agenda.  It is allowing yourself to be loved and grow in faith and trust.  Coming to the end of your rope is often the place where new life begins.

Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland. – Isaiah 43:18-19

Ropes End presents a choice to either continue depending on you, or learn to depend on God.  What will you choose? 

You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.” (Matthew 5:3 The Message)

Life For God or With God?

 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” – Matthew 11:28-30

There is a big difference between living life “with” God and living life “for” God.  The “for” God life is one that constantly seeks approval, reward, and signs of worthiness.  There may be an intellectual understanding of God’s unconditional love, but our actions reveal a constant striving to earn it. 

When the experiences of life become the standard we use to define whether or not God cares for and loves us, our relationship with God is reduced to a list of rules to follow and roles to play.  Difficulties come and our developed formulas no longer work, resulting in confusion, anger and stress. In some aspects God is related to as though he is a vending machine. Just put the right thoughts and actions in the payment slot, and what we long for and desire will be dispensed. 

The “for” God life ultimately places trust in ourselves and focuses on our efforts. If I give, I will be financially blessed. If I live a life of integrity, the truth will come out and justice will prevail.  If I develop my gifts and talents, I will be rewarded with a job I love.  If I have enough faith, my loved one will be healed.

The life God offers, is the “with” life where love is not earned, but freely given.  The “for” God life is all about earning, the “with” God life is all about trust. Through-out Scripture, the consistent promise of God is that he is with us. 

  • Isaiah 43:2 “When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you.”
  • Joshua 1:9 “Yes, be bold and strong! Banish fear and doubt! For remember, the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
  • Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”
  • Deuteronomy 31:8 “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
  • John 14:16 “If you love me, obey me; and I will ask the Father and he will give you another Comforter, and he will never leave you.”

God is inviting you to accept his gift of love and rest in complete and total trust. Your confidence can be placed in God and all outcomes released into his care, because he is faithful, good and will always do what is best and right.

Jesus showed us what this looks like as he placed ultimate trust in his Father.  In the midst of agony, sorrow, grief and fear in the Garden of Gethsemane, although he prayed for the cup to pass, he surrendered to love praying, “Not my will but yours.”  While Jesus felt abandoned, and cried out “My God, My God why have you forsaken me,” he knew he was not alone.  With his last breath, Jesus spoke words of total trust, “Into your hands I commit my spirit.”

The trust Jesus placed in the Father resulted in the resurrection and victory over sin and death.  Praise God for this gift, and praise God for the example Jesus set that we can trust God in all things.

During some very dark, lonely and difficult days, I struggled and wondered if God had abandoned me.  Along with Jesus, I cried out, “My God, My God why have you forsaken me.” While I struggled to fix and pleaded with God to produce the outcome I desired, God was inviting me to rest in him and abandon all outcomes into his care.  He offered peace and joy, gently drawing me closer and teaching me to trust in his love, and become more aware of his presence. In the middle of those dark days, I learned to experience God at a deeper level, and trust in him. The gift of his presence has far exceeded any outcome I longed for.

Think about Matthew 11:28-30 and imagine God’s loving voice speaking directly to your soul.  Hear your name as God invites you to experience his rest.  Say it out loud and surrender yourself into his love and care.

“Dearest child (insert your name) are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Embrace Waiting

Waiting.  Our culture does not appreciate or embrace waiting. Instant pudding, instant coffee, microwaves, fast food, overnight shipping and high speed internet all feed the addiction to hurry and an irritation with those things that require time and a process.  Those agonizing final 10 seconds on the microwave timer can feel like an absolute eternity? Why do you think it is such a struggle to wait?

There are so many things in life that require waiting and a process.  What happens when the process is hurried or even skipped? Have you ever experienced a time where you have hurried through or decided to ignore or skip the time and effort required?  How did it turn out?

As believers, we are in the midst of being transformed into the likeness of Jesus.  Our lives are to reflect Him.  This is far from an instantaneous process. It requires setting aside our agenda and focus on self, and living God’s plan and focusing on Him. It is learning how to live in God’s strength instead of being obsessed with our own abilities, efforts and talents.  It is setting aside trusting self and trusting God instead – even when we don’t understand and can’t see the purpose or goal.  This is not something done by trying harder, doing more or accomplishing goals, but by relying on God at work in you. 

“Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life.”  (Romans 8:5, the Message)

God is so full of love, compassion and kindness, and knows that waiting can be painful and exhausting.

The moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs,
our aching groans.”  (Romans 8:26 the Message)

I used to think that faith in the wait looked like never struggling with doubt, always being cheerful and focusing only on the good I could see without acknowledging the pain. Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,” was a cliché tossed as a quick reason for the struggle, and felt like having a Band-aid applied to a compound fracture.

God never asks you to put aside your feelings and pain.  He knows the wait is hard.  He sees when you come to the end of yourself and have nothing left but agony, fear and tears. He loves you enough to not allow a premature birth, but instead gives strength and intercedes for you when you don’t know how to pray anymore.

What are you waiting on today?  About what are you saying, “I just want this to be over.”  The wait is not punishment, discipline, punitive or teasing.  It is love.  A love that is perfect, unexplainable and from which NOTHING can separate you.

So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture.  (Romans 8:31-35, the Message)

Strength in the Journey

He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”  

Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him.  

He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.

– Luke 22:41-44

This story has become familiar to many – so familiar that at times we fail to completely immerse ourselves in the story emotionally.  In our minds we can tend to skip to the resurrection, and in a way diminish the pain and agony Jesus must have felt in these moments.

Jesus demonstrates emotional honesty with the Father, and at the same time complete trust.  “Please take this cup of suffering away…yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” 

Can you see Him, in the garden completely alone, begging for relief and a different way, while at the same time trusting God and submitting to His Father’s will? Can you relate to Jesus?  Have there been times where you have begged for relief from pain, or for God to change the path you have been asked to walk? Do you trust him with your life?  Are you able to abandon all outcomes and desires into his care because you are secure in His love?

While another way was not provided for Jesus, strength was.  “Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him.”  Think about your own seasons of suffering.  Were there people, events, books or songs that brought you comfort and gave you the strength to endure?  Can you see the goodness and love of God providing strength and comfort?

My prayer is that you are able to identify with Jesus in His suffering, and know that he identifies with you in yours.  That you will have an increased awareness of “angels” that have been sent to give you strength and courage as you run the race of faith.

“My old self has been crucified with Christ.
It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.
So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave himself for me.” 
Galatians 2:20

Trusting God, Growing Faith

Life is unpredictable.  It catches us by surprise and our first instinct is to work harder, figure things out and force it into a predictable pattern once again.  The effort of managing life in order to achieve the outcome we have determined as best is exhausting.  When the end of the rope is reached, despair, hopelessness, anger, depression, fear and a desire to give up can overcome the truth that there is a God who is not limited by anything, and who is able. 

The storms of life that whirl around us tempt us to focus on what we see and feel.  We are tempted to trust ourselves and other people, instead of trusting in a God who has no limitations, and cannot be contained within the confines of the box we imagine Him in.  During these times, it is important to acknowledge how you feel, and pour out your pain before the Lord.

Psalm 77 is a song of lament.  The writer gives us a glimpse of his emotional state as he cries out to God in desperation and pain.

“I cry aloud to God;
    I cry aloud, and he hears me.
In times of trouble I pray to the Lord;
    all night long I lift my hands in prayer,
    but I cannot find comfort.
When I think of God, I sigh;
    when I meditate, I feel discouraged.

He keeps me awake all night; 
    I am so worried that I cannot speak.
I think of days gone by
    and remember years of long ago.
I spend the night in deep thought;[b]
    I meditate, and this is what I ask myself:
“Will the Lord always reject us?
    Will he never again be pleased with us?
Has he stopped loving us?
    Does his promise no longer stand?
Has God forgotten to be merciful?
    Has anger taken the place of his compassion?”
10 Then I said, “What hurts me most is this—
    that God is no longer powerful.”[

Have you been or are you now in a place where you can relate to what the Psalmist has written?  Desperate and feeling rejected, unloved and that God is no longer powerful and doing nothing to save you from your circumstances?  Have you experienced sleepless nights, where meditation and scripture provide no comfort? Are you so overcome with worry that you can barely function or speak?  Have you asked the questions the Psalmist has asked?  Do you wonder if God is actually powerful enough to help you?

Cry out to Him in prayer.  Don’t hold anything back…empty your pain before the Lord.  Re-write the lament the Psalmist pours out into your own words. God has big shoulders, and wants to hear your raw emotion and feelings.

Can you picture the writer of this Psalm, emotion and energy spent after his lament, choosing to turn from the pain he is experiencing to focus on the God who is able?  Notice the determination the Psalmist makes in these verses.  “I will,” he states.  He is being purposeful, and choosing to remember God’s faithfulness to him in the past

11 I will remember your great deeds, Lord;
    I will recall the wonders you did in the past.
12 I will think about all that you have done;
    I will meditate on all your mighty acts.

Pain can overwhelm us and put a dark cloud over all the good things God has done.  We forget how we have experienced his presence and power in the past.  Choosing to remember how the hand of God has worked in your life in the past switches the focus from you and your abilities onto God and His faithfulness and love.  Practicing gratitude for all God provides from small to large helps to remind you of God’s goodness. Take a moment and ask God to help you recall how he has been with you in the past. Write a list of the ways you have experienced Him during difficult and joyful seasons.  As you focus on the goodness of God, you will find your faith strengthening.

Evidence of God’s goodness, power and love can also be found in how he has dealt with people through-out history.  The Psalmist encourages himself further by recalling how God intervened in an impossible situation in the generations that came before.

16 When the waters saw you, O God, they were afraid,
    and the depths of the sea trembled.
17 The clouds poured down rain;
    thunder crashed from the sky,
    and lightning flashed in all directions.
18 The crash of your thunder rolled out,
    and flashes of lightning lit up the world;
    the earth trembled and shook.
19 You walked through the waves;
    you crossed the deep sea,
    but your footprints could not be seen.
20 You led your people like a shepherd,
    with Moses and Aaron in charge.

The Bible is filled with how God has done amazing things for people in the past. 

  • The parting of the Red Sea.– Exodus 1
  • David versus Goliath. – I Samuel 17
  • The day the sun stood still. – Joshua 10
  • Praise and songs of worship brings victory in battle.– 2 Chronicles 20
  • Daniel in the lions den. – Daniel 6
  • Shadrach Meshach and Abednego walk in the fire. – Daniel 3
  • Paul and Silas set free from prison. – Acts 16:16-40

Is there a story that brings you comfort as you see how God moved on their behalf in the past?  Put yourself in the story, imagine their fears and anxiety. Take a moment and write down how what God did for them brings you comfort and encouragement. The God who walked with these men and women of faith, is the same God that walks with you.

Friend, where is your focus? Looking back, can you see how God has brought blessings out of difficulties in the past? Are you able to recognize that while you felt you knew what the perfect outcome should be, God in grace and mercy knew better?  Can you let go of outcomes and perceived control and trust in the love and goodness of God in your present circumstances?

As you look over what you have written, from the lament through the remembering of God’s faithfulness, my hope is that you have found courage and strength in Christ.  That choosing to remember how God has been there in the past will help you have eyes of faith to see that He is with you in your current situation.  Trust in God, look for where he has been and is at work, and listen for his voice of love.

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”  Isaiah 26:3

What do you want God to do?

“What do you want me to do for you?”  If Jesus asked you this question, what would your answer be? In Mark 10:46-52 we meet a blind beggar named Bartimaeus who had the opportunity to answer just this question, and then received for more than he asked for.

Take a moment and use your imagination to put yourself in Bartimaeus’ shoes. We aren’t told how he became blind, but whether it was from birth or due to a disease or accident, blindness in that culture resulted in a forced career of begging.  Day after day, he would have sat exposed to the hot sun in the dust, hoping for a few coins to be thrown his way to satisfy daily needs.  It must have felt endless, each day long, hopeless and like the one before.  There would have been no treatments, no programs and very little compassion and care extended.  Can you relate?

A glimmer of hope begins to rise as rumors about a man named Jesus begin to circulate.  People who were once plagued with physical limitations and ailments were now healed.  Could there really be a chance at healing?  Every day, Bartimaeus wonders if this will be the day Jesus walks by, ears straining for indications He is near.  I wonder how many days he sat, nurturing this hope. Did he ever become discouraged in the wait? Then, during a day that felt like all the rest, as crowds of people walk by, Bartimaeus’ ears perk up, Jesus is near.  Can you imagine the rush of hope that must have flooded over his soul?  With abandon, he begins to cry out, to beg for Jesus to have mercy on him, to notice him, to see him as worthy of being helped.

The reaction of those around Bartimaeus as he cries for help is stunning. He is told to be quiet, and criticized for his behavior. They are embarrassed at his desperate cries for help. Didn’t he know his place?  Surely a beggar is unworthy of the attention of someone like Jesus.  Rather than listen to the “advice” of those around him and accept his situation and position in life, He yells all the louder.  “Jesus, have mercy on me!”  After years of depending on himself and other people for survival, he puts hope and faith in Jesus, seeing Him alone as the answer.

Jesus stops…he hears Bartimaeus’ cry.   Jesus doesn’t go to Bartimaeus; instead he uses the very people who had told him to keep quiet, to invite him to come to where Jesus is.  One moment Bartimaeus was on his knees in the dirt, arms outstretched, crying out at the top of his lungs for Jesus to have mercy, and the next he is running towards the sound of the voice he had been straining so long to hear.  Despair shifts to hope.  He hears Jesus speak directly to him and ask, “What do you want me to do for you?”  Bartimaeus’ heart pounds in his chest as he says, “I want to see!” 

What do you want Jesus to do for you?  Is it healing from an illness or handicap, restoration of a relationship, financial blessing, a loving life partner, the ability to have a child, a career…?  If you were to receive the thing you long for, would it satisfy? 

Bartimaeus did receive his sight, a direct answer to his cries for mercy.  After he was healed, the Scriptures say Bartimaeus followed Jesus.  I suspect that he gained more than his eyesight.  He saw Jesus and realized his deepest desire wasn’t for physical sight; it was for a relationship with Jesus and spiritual sight.

Are you feeling discouraged, afraid, anxious, lonely or confused?  Do you find yourself in the middle of what appears to be an impossible situation?  Cry out to Jesus.  Ask him for spiritual eyes to see, and give you the strength to completely trust in a loving and good God.  

Philippians 4:6-7   “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”  The Message