Today we honor a man who was bold and courageous, while still showing God’s love and grace. We are grateful for his godly example. His memory and accomplishments will live on forever.
There have been times that I’ve been angry at God, blamed God, about the junk in my life. It’s easy to blame God for not “coming through” when we want Him to. Perhaps for you it’s financial hardship, or trouble in your marriage, or a rebellious child. For me, it’s fear and anxiety. I have found myself thinking about the “What ifs”. “What if this isn’t where we are supposed to be living? What if this is not the right job for me? What if this is as good as it gets? What if…” Slowly, I start drowning in my thoughts and that’s when I start begging God, (which is very different from praying) for peace and for Him to please come through for me. Thank God for His grace and unending love for us, though. He still seems to listen in those out of whack moments.
In one of those scary-thoughts-going-crazy-tempted-to-blame-God-for-my-anxiety-and-fear-moments, I felt that I should reevaluate my tactics. This begging thing wasn’t making my situation any better, if anything; it was making my situation worse. I believe God stepped in and said, “Ok, stop whining and start winning.” But how do we “win” over our urge to blame and complain? I believe it’s by realizing who’s on our side. I don’t consider God being the type to wash His hands and turn His face from us and our issues. Instead, He encourages us to walk through the ups and downs of life with courage because He is walking through it all with us. He is on our side, through it all.
God’s word declares, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned or scorched, nor will the flame kindle upon you.” (Isaiah 43:2)
Through this passage God is basically saying that He guarantees He will be with us, through every possible, known and unknown, situation. When our minds start wandering to anxious and fearful territories, we can swiftly turn the other way, without complaint and remember that God promised He’d be with us. Winning over self-pity starts by believing God is on our side. He empowers us and gives us victory over any and every difficult circumstance.
Once, we believe and accept God’s promise that He’ll be with us through it all, we must believe the second part of that verse: that the hard places won’t “kindle upon” us. In other words, the marital struggle, the anxiety, the fear, the financial struggle will not consume us. We don’t have to blame God or complain or feel self-pity, when God assures us, that none of these things can consume us.
I’m learning to stop myself in my own tracks and declare what God says to me, “When I pass through the dangers of life, the trenches of life, God will be with me. When I walk by or in the fires of life, God will be with me. And I will not get burned nor will these troubles consume me”. We win over our urge to blame and complain when we take a minute to accept, receive and believe that God is with us and He won’t let us be consumed.
Thank you Father for being our rescuer, our helper and our protector. Thank you for being with us no matter how deep in the trenches of life we may be. Forgive us for giving into our urge to blame and complain. Give us the courage to walk through the storms of life knowing that you are with us. We know you will embrace us, cover us, and walk beside us as we go through the uphills and downhills of life. In Jesus name, amen.
What bible verse have you declared over you life that has helped you trust that God is with you, through it all?
What can you do today to believe and accept God’s promises for you life?
Special shout out to my dear friend, Laura Smythers, for editing my blogs. She’s a wife, teacher, educator, and passionate follower of Christ. Thank you for helping these posts happen.
You might think I’m kind of nerdy when I admit the following: I have memorized the movie The Wizard of Oz by heart. I know every single song and I can literally play it in my mind as if I was watching the movie. It comes in handy when I can’t sleep. DON’T JUDGE ME!
When I was in middle school I was enrolled in a performing arts school and one of the first plays I was part of was The Wizard of Oz. The funniest part of the story is that I got casted as one of the munchkins. And honestly, since middle school, I think I only grew about two inches. I’m pretty short (4 foot and 11 inches tall). Despite being shorter than the average 24-year-old, I don’t mind when people make fun of my height… but it wasn’t always like that. I was a very insecure girl all through middle school and high school. I hated myself. Looking at myself in the mirror was torture and I just wanted to change myself into another person. When I decided to make Jesus my Lord and Savior at the age of 15, I knew that my “old” mentality had to change. However, the deep-rooted insecurity that I had struggled with for most of my youth had taken root into a very ugly and disgusting monster called “fear”.
I can’t remember when I started to fear, worry, and feel anxiety all the time. It came over me like a wave that I couldn’t manage to jump over. When God started using me to pour into other young women’s lives, it was a struggle to not feel intimidated by other leaders that were being used by God as well. I always felt inadequate, less than, and insufficient. And my reaction was to be a little “extra”. You know what I mean by “extra”. Extra nice, extra humble, extra spiritual and extra fashionable. Basically, extra FAKE! God was using me and I was allowing Him to use me, but I think He got tired of me serving Him in fear. He asked me to step down from a few of my responsibilities and during that time, God examined my heart and revealed the junk I had stored away.
In that time of self-evaluation, I came across a verse that I have read many times. Many people use this verse when they pray. Honestly, it’s one of those verses that you kind of disregard over time. But when you truly understand it’s meaning and depth, it changes the way you think and live. It reads: “This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:6-7)
When we live in fear, it counteracts the action of “fanning into flame” our God-given gifts. It is clear that with rekindled fire and zeal for God, fear cannot be present. Fear is an extinguisher to faith and we cannot grow in the continual presence of fear. Interestingly, the word fear in this context is better translated as cowardice or the lack of bravery.
If you recall, the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz wanted nothing more than to stop feeling scared. He is my favorite character in the movie. Maybe because I could identify with him. The king of the jungle was living in fear which didn’t make him much of a king. He says something in the movie that struck a chord in me, “Courage! What makes a king out of a slave? Courage!”. Living courageously (lacking fear), has the power to set us free! Courage allows us to be real and walk in our true identity. If you are a believer in Christ, your identity is that of royalty and the only thing you should be a slave to is your faith in God. Like it says in 2 Timothy, we will have power, love and self-disciple. Power to overcome feelings of intimidation and love to serve others freely as God calls us to. Most importantly, courage conditions us to live dependent on God and not our reckless emotions.
Some practical steps to be free from fear are:
1. Speak to someone you trust that can give you sound advice on the matter. Surround yourself with people who will speak words of love and life into you.
2. Be diligent in deepening your relationship with the God by attending church regularly and reading the bible. Sometimes we do this out of habit but when we learn to do it with authenticity, it makes all the difference in the world.
3. Actively remove negative thoughts from your mind. Don’t contemplate voices and thoughts that are not edifying to you. If it’s a thought that makes you feel less than, fearful and anxious it’s time to purge it.
What are some steps you have taken to overcome personal struggles in your life?