Tag Archives: Struggles

Psalm 142, 143, 144; 1 Corinthians 10:14-33

With my voice I cry out to the Lord;

with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord.

I pour out my complaint before him;

I tell my trouble before him…

I cry to you, O Lord;

I say, “You are my refuge,

my portion in the land of the living.”

Attend to my cry,

for I am brought very low!

Deliver me from my persecutors,

for they are too strong for me! Psalm 142:1-2; 5-6

My struggles bring me low, mentally and emotionally. They often feel overwhelming, especially when they seem to be never-ending. Though they are nothing like David’s circumstances were, in exile, hiding out from his enemy in caves in the wilderness, my struggles still are demoralizing and frustrating.

I personally don’t think that God puts tribulation in my path, but I do believe that He uses the struggles of my life to teach me, draw out negative character traits, and help me grow as a person and as a believer. I also am certain that He uses them to show me more of who He is, more of His faithfulness.

Sometimes it takes me a while to get over myself and my disappointment at the circumstances of my life. Sometimes it takes me a bit to realize that the enemy is trying to convince me to believe his lies. But largely, I have come to learn that in the midst of a battle I have a choice to be overcome by the situation or to trust in Jesus.

Hear my prayer, O Lord;

give ear to my pleas for mercy!

In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness!

Enter not into judgment with your servant,

for no one living is righteous before you…

I stretch out my hands to you;

my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah

Answer me quickly, O Lord!

My spirit fails!

Hide not your face from me,

lest I be like those who go down to the pit.

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,

for in you I trust.

Make me know the way I should go,

for to you I lift up my soul. Psalm 143 1-2; 6-8

He really is bigger than any of my problems. He can handle my emotions. He can handle my anger, my desperation, my hopelessness. He just wants me to be honest and to call out to Him. He wants me to come to Him in my weakness, when my spirit is failing and I am feeling deserted. He wants me to lean into His love and be carried by His goodness. He wants me to stop looking at my surroundings; and instead, He wants me raise my hands to Him in worship, lift my voice in praise, and focus my eyes on His face.

Blessed be the Lord, my rock,

who trains my hands for war,

and my fingers for battle;

he is my steadfast love and my fortress,

my stronghold and my deliverer,

my shield and he in whom I take refuge,

who subdues peoples under me. Psalm 144:1-2

When I look back at past trials in my life, I can see that His hand has guided me, that He has taught me valuable lessons. I can see that He has been my rock and my stronghold of protection. I can see that He has never left me alone, but has helped me move through the crazy mazes of life with skill and with wisdom.

Yesappa, Blessed be Your name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie (writing from the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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2 Kings 18-19; John 6:22-44

The field commander said to them, “Tell Hezekiah this:

“The great king, the king of Assyria, says: What can you trust in now? You say you have battle plans and power for war, but your words mean nothing. Whom are you trusting for help so that you turn against me?

“Don’t listen to Hezekiah. He is fooling you when he says, ‘The Lord will save us.’ Has a god of any other nation saved his people from the power of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah? They did not save Samaria from my power. Not one of all the gods of these countries has saved his people from me. Neither can the Lord save Jerusalem from my power.” 2 Kings 18:19-20; 32b-35 (NCV)

When I am in the midst of a struggle in life, I can hear two voices at war in my head.

The voice of the enemy screams at me, shouting half-truths about the struggle and solutions to the problem, taunting me with intimidation, threatening my life, and questioning the faithfulness of my God. The enemy tries to scare me into believing that I am all alone, that maybe the Lord really isn’t all-knowing, all-powerful, that He isn’t a loving God but an angry God. The enemy attempts to turn my heart, my mind, my soul against the only True and Living God, tries to weaken my trust in Him.

“Israel, how can I give you up?

How can I give you away, Israel?

I don’t want to make you like Admah

or treat you like Zeboiim.

My heart beats for you,

and my love for you stirs up my pity.

I won’t punish you in my anger,

and I won’t destroy Israel again.

I am God and not a human;

I am the Holy One, and I am among you.

I will not come against you in anger.

Hosea 11:8-9 (NCV)

The voice of God whispers, still and small, yet clear. He speaks kindness, love. He shares His heart for me, His child; He reminds me that He will never leave me nor forsake me, even when, according to the world’s standards, I may have done something to deserve punishment. He retells His Good News – He gave His Son, the final blood sacrifice, offered me the priceless gift of grace and mercy, and provided redemption and reconciliation. He shares His strength with me, shares His truth with me, shares His wisdom with me. He gives me the answer – Trust. In. Me.

It is up to me to decide who to trust, what voice to listen to. Sometimes it is hard to hear anything but the loud, clamoring noise from the enemy camp. It is hard to stand up to the heckling and there are moments in my human weakness when I succumb to the jeers and give in. I start to believe the lies of the enemy.

Maybe Onesimus was separated from you for a short time so you could have him back forever— no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a loved brother. I love him very much, but you will love him even more, both as a person and as a believer in the Lord. Philemon 1:15-16 (NCV)

Then, in my feebleness, in those moments of separation from my Heavenly Father, I feel a strength that is not my own lifting me up, strengthening me. His truth rings in my ear, reverberates into my heart. His low tones rumble encouragement to my spirit and I remember the choice I made years ago to trust in Him and lean not on my own understanding. I remember that He chose me first, before the beginning of time, before I ever cared for Him. The battle of the voices ends and God’s voice resounds clear.

The Lord has chosen Jerusalem;

he wants it for his home.

He says, “This is my resting place forever.

Here is where I want to stay.

Psalm 132:13-14 (NCV)

I am in Him and He is in me forever and ever. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

from the archives, originally published November 5, 2013

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, ESV Through the Bible in a Year

2 Kings 18; Philemon; Hosea 11; Psalms 132, 133, 134

The field commander said to them, “Tell Hezekiah this:

“The great king, the king of Assyria, says: What can you trust in now? You say you have battle plans and power for war, but your words mean nothing. Whom are you trusting for help so that you turn against me?

“Don’t listen to Hezekiah. He is fooling you when he says, ‘The Lord will save us.’ Has a god of any other nation saved his people from the power of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah? They did not save Samaria from my power. Not one of all the gods of these countries has saved his people from me. Neither can the Lord save Jerusalem from my power.” 2 Kings 18:19-20; 32b-35 (NCV)

When I am in the midst of a struggle in life, I can hear two voices at war in my head.

The voice of the enemy screams at me, shouting half-truths about the struggle and solutions to the problem, taunting me with intimidation, threatening my life, and questioning the faithfulness of my God. The enemy tries to scare me into believing that I am all alone, that maybe the Lord really isn’t all-knowing, all-powerful, that He isn’t a loving God but an angry God. The enemy attempts to turn my heart, my mind, my soul against the only True and Living God, tries to weaken my trust in Him.

“Israel, how can I give you up?

How can I give you away, Israel?

I don’t want to make you like Admah

or treat you like Zeboiim.

My heart beats for you,

and my love for you stirs up my pity.

I won’t punish you in my anger,

and I won’t destroy Israel again.

I am God and not a human;

I am the Holy One, and I am among you.

I will not come against you in anger.

Hosea 11:8-9 (NCV)

The voice of God whispers, still and small, yet clear. He speaks kindness, love. He shares His heart for me, His child; He reminds me that He will never leave me nor forsake me, even when, according to the world’s standards, I may have done something to deserve punishment. He retells His Good News – He gave His Son, the final blood sacrifice, offered me the priceless gift of grace and mercy, and provided redemption and reconciliation. He shares His strength with me, shares His truth with me, shares His wisdom with me. He gives me the answer – Trust. In. Me.

It is up to me to decide who to trust, what voice to listen to. Sometimes it is hard to hear anything but the loud, clamoring noise from the enemy camp. It is hard to stand up to the heckling and there are moments in my human weakness when I succumb to the jeers and give in. I start to believe the lies of the enemy.

Maybe Onesimus was separated from you for a short time so you could have him back forever— no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a loved brother. I love him very much, but you will love him even more, both as a person and as a believer in the Lord. Philemon 1:15-16 (NCV)

Then, in my feebleness, in those moments of separation from my Heavenly Father, I feel a strength that is not my own lifting me up, strengthening me. His truth rings in my ear, reverberates into my heart. His low tones rumble encouragement to my spirit and I remember the choice I made years ago to trust in Him and lean not on my own understanding. I remember that He chose me first, before the beginning of time, before I ever cared for Him. The battle of the voices ends and God’s voice resounds clear.

The Lord has chosen Jerusalem;

he wants it for his home.

He says, “This is my resting place forever.

Here is where I want to stay.

Psalm 132:13-14 (NCV)

I am in Him and He is in me forever and ever. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Filed under 2 Kings, 66 Books, Hosea, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Philemon, Psalms

2 Samuel 20; 2 Corinthians 13; Ezekiel 27; Psalms 75, 76

Look closely at yourselves. Test yourselves to see if you are living in the faith. You know that Jesus Christ is in you—unless you fail the test. (NCV)

Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. (NKJV)

Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith. (NLT)

Examine and test and evaluate your own selves to see whether you are holding to your faith and showing the proper fruits of it. Test and prove yourselves [not Christ]. Do you not yourselves realize and know [thoroughly by an ever-increasing experience] that Jesus Christ is in you—unless you are [counterfeits] disapproved on trial and rejected? (AMP)

Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it. (MSG)

2 Corinthians 13:5

When Christ shed his blood on the cross, He created the path for redemption. And when I heard and believed the Good News, He renewed me, heart, mind, and soul, and took up residence in me.

I know this. I believe this. And yet some most days, when I am struggling with loneliness, or anger, or bitterness and resentment, or exhaustion, or a lack of patience, or a bad attitude, or whatever else I am getting ‘poked’ with on any given day, I question myself. I question my faith. I wonder if there is any good fruit in me.

I used to burn with passion for God, attending every prayer meeting and worship time that was available to me, even the all-nighters. I was on fire. I wanted to experience His love and give it away to everyone I met. I basked in His glory and worshipped and danced with all my might like David. I never questioned my faith; I never doubted my fruit.

Fast forward a few years, and now I just feel burned out by life. Five years as a missionary (in the field and on furlough), almost four years as a wife, and just about three years as a mother has taken its toll on me. I give and give and give, and yet I realize I am giving from the dregs of a nearly empty tank.

When I look within, I see Him there and the desire to walk with Him, and talk with Him rises up in my heart. I intend to spend time with Him, to strengthen our relationship, to worship, to pray, to read His Words…to reconnect…to refuel. Just as soon as I have a second to myself, a moment when a little someone isn’t screaming, or crying, or tugging on my leg to hurry up and get an I.want.Right.NOW.

And then I get a piece of time, a few precious moments to myself, and often, instead of relaxing in my Savior’s presence, enjoying, savoring His goodness, His splendor…I plug into a computer game or YouTube videos of “some country’s” Got Talent. I get caught up in the wasteland of needless information.

Today, once more, I examined myself, my faith, and I recognize that though I am in a different season, I have not failed, even when sometimes I stumble. In the midst of my struggles, I look to my Heavenly Father. I choose to rely on Holy Spirit for help and for comfort. And, though I may zone out in front of the computer at times to ‘escape’, I still spend time with Jesus each day.

My time with Him is no longer stretches of ‘alone’ time reading the Word and praying. My time with Him is much sweeter in a way, because it is time I share with my children too. And the fruit that comes from this time spent together is fruit that in the future will be multiplied 100 fold.

Yesappa, thank You for Your grace upon me, upon my life. Thank You for meeting me right where I am. Keep walking with me; be unrelenting in Your pursuit of me. Keep drawing me closer to You especially in the midst of life, of motherhood. Help me teach my children about You as we spend time together with You. Help me be solid in the faith regardless of the different seasons I go through. Help me to always remember that You are with me and that You will never leave me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

The earth with all its people may shake,

but I am the one who holds it steady. Selah

Psalm 75:3 (NCV)

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

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Genesis 30; Mark 1; Esther 6; Romans 1

People did not think it was important to have a true knowledge of God. So God left them and allowed them to have their own worthless thinking and to do things they should not do. They are filled with every kind of sin, evil, selfishness, and hatred. They are full of jealousy, murder, fighting, lying, and thinking the worst about each other. They gossip and say evil things about each other. They hate God. They are rude and conceited and brag about themselves. They invent ways of doing evil. They do not obey their parents. They are foolish, they do not keep their promises, and they show no kindness or mercy to others. They know God’s law says that those who live like this should die. But they themselves not only continue to do these evil things, they applaud others who do them. Romans 1:28-32 (NCV)

It is true now. It was true then. Evil behavior has run rampant since the fruit was plucked from the tree. Over and over we can see illustrations of sin – jealousy, murder, fighting, lying, and so on – in the Bible, in the news, and even in our own lives.

I read today’s passages and I hear the discontentedness of Rachel in her desire for another son soon after Joseph’s birth. I feel the jealousy of Leah toward her sister the beloved wife. I experience the competition between the two as they shamelessly throw their maids at Jacob in order to produce more children and one-up the other and as they literally barter their way into their husband’s bed.

I see the double-edged deceit between Laban and Jacob. Laban hiding away the streaked and speckled sheep in his flock, promised to Jacob, conniving to squeeze every last blessing out of him before he leaves with his family. And, Jacob manipulating the mating of the pure sheep that were left to strengthen his own flock and weaken Laban’s.

I witness the pride of Haman believing that he would be the only man the King would want to honor and being humiliated by having to honor Mordecai, the man who he planned on hanging on the gallows. He runs home with his head covered to hide from the embarrassment, only serving to fuel his hatred more.

I’d like to say that I have been innocent of these sins. But if I did, I would be lying. I struggle daily with sin. I grapple with the battlefield in my mind. My desire is to always take every thought captive, but often jealousy, frustration, worthless thinking, bitterness, resentment ooze their way out. I believe lies that the enemy whispers in my ear and temporarily forget true knowledge of God in the midst of my circumstances.

Each moment, I have a choice. I can give myself over to my sin, my ‘stinking thinking,’ or I can baptize myself in His love and hear His truths wash over me, changing my heart and forgiving my sin. I can listen to the lies or to the Voice from heaven saying, “You are my [daughter], whom I love, and I am very pleased with you.” (Mark 1:9-11)

My prayer is that I use each moment wisely. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie, Vadipatti, India (written in the U.S.A.)

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Esther, Genesis, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Mark, New Testament, Old Testament, Romans

Jeremiah 9, 10, 14; Colossians 1

Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us. Colossians 1:9-12 (MSG)

Since I became a believer this prayer from Paul has been a prayer that I have not only prayed for others, but also prayed fervently for myself. I want to be attuned to God’s heart so much so that, to the best of my ability, I will know His will and be courageous enough to walk in it. I want to have His strength, so that even in my weakness I can demonstrate His Glory within me.

Sometimes I am successful in hearing what God wants from me and then obeying. Most times I trip and fall and my own will becomes more important to me than anything else. I think that it is a never-ending daily struggle for every one of us – flesh versus spirit. And in that, I have to believe that in spite of my human failings that my Papa, Father God still loves me with an everlasting love.

He chose me for this journey, for this work, the many tasks I am given each day, from the mundane duties of laundry and washing the dishes to the craziness of raising children to the awe of leading someone into the Kingdom. He chose me, not for who I am or what I have to offer, but because of what He did for me on the cross. He chose me because I am a Glory-carrier and I have determined to not hide His light under a bushel.

When He chose me, He knew the struggles that I would have with bad attitudes, unforgiveness, bitterness, jealousy, ungratefulness, etc., the frustrating circumstances of my life, the trials and tribulations that I would be encountering during the journey. He was aware of the heart break that I would experience and that I would cause. He knew what would weaken my countenance and what would threaten to diminish my faith. He knew that the day to day of life would make it difficult to maintain that face-to-face time we both desire so much.

And, yet, He still chooses me to take part in His work in this life. He chooses to strengthen me. He chooses to show me His will. He chooses to know me and be proud of me. He chooses to love me.

    If you brag, brag of this and this only:
That you understand and know me.
I’m God, and I act in loyal love.
I do what’s right and set things right and fair,
and delight in those who do the same things.
These are my trademarks.
Jeremiah 9:24 (MSG)

Yesappa, Thank You for choosing me. Thank You for making me strong in my weakness. Thank You for Your goodness and Your Glory. Thank You for loving me. Help me in my journey. Help me do what is right and fair. Help me walk in Your will. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie, Vadipatti, India

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Colossians, Jeremiah, New Testament, Old Testament