When We Struggle in Life-Doubt

Terri of diaryofaquadraplegic.com shared a post yesterday-God with Us. In her post she shared about her recent health struggles. We commented back and forth a little about doubt, which prompted my post today.

When we are weakened by a health struggle or a severe trial, we can tend to get down on ourselves for having doubt. It does not help when we hear things like doubt is the opposite of faith. As someone who has lived with chronic illness for thirty years and has had my own shares of struggles, I want to share a few reflections that I find encouraging.

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When John the Baptist was in jail and knew he faced execution by King Herod for calling King Herod out on his sin, he sent word to Jesus. John wanted reassurance. He sent word to Jesus in Matthew 11:2-3:

And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to Him, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?”

John was in a dire situation. He has was jail and knew he would soon die. He had doubt and wanted to be reassured. He had spent quite a bit of time calling people to repent to be ready for the kingdom. John identified Jesus as the Lamb of God and as the one whose sandals he was not fit to tie. John is the one who because of his testimony, some of his own disciples went to follow Jesus and yet in his dire situation John want reassurance.

How did Jesus respond? Did he rebuke John for doubt? Did he give a an empty cliche?

Jesus responded by giving John the proof that would strengthen John in his faith in Matthew 11:

Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”

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When we struggle because of illness, a terrible trial, it is what we do with our doubt that matters not whether we have doubt. If we look to Jesus within our doubt, within our suffering, he responds as our Sympathetic High Priest just as he did for John the Baptist. Jesus knew the situation John was in and gave John what he needed. We do well to remember the words of Hebrews 4:14-16:

 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

When we struggle, when we doubt, when we are overwhelmed, let us come to Jesus to receive grace and mercy in our time of need.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

God’s Timing

It was time this past March to finally let go of it that old winter coat. I had bought it several years before and was using duct tape on the tears in it. It had duct tape on more than one spot. The zipper did not work so well anymore either. So last March, I finally threw it out with the garbage.

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Yesterday it was finally time to get a new winter coat, but what is a person to do when it is Christmas shopping time and the stores are busy. I did what any sensible shopping adverse person would do. I went on Amazon and ordered a winter coat. It will arrive on Friday just in time for the cold weather to come. So far I have been just fine with my hooded sweatshirt, but the temps that are supposed to be coming a coat will be needed.

Finally time makes me think of the phrase in the bible-in the fullness of time. in Galatian 4:4-5:

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,  to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

Jesus was born into his earthly life in the fullness of time. He was born at just the right time. God’s timing is not the same as our timing. If I had to choose a time to come, it would have been the modern world with all of its conveniences not 2,000 years ago when life was rough. But in God’s timing, 2,000 years ago was perfect timing for Jesus to be born into this life.

It can be encouraging to remember God has his perfect timing when we pray. Sometimes what we pray for is delayed, but then we need to trust that God sees the whole picture, so he knows what is best.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Give Me Ears to Hear by Iveth Luna

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27

How wonderful it is when we hear our Savior through inner promptings, through our fellow Christians, and many other ways Jesus communicates with us.

But we are still living in this fallen world that is full of confusion, difficulties, and uncertainty. At times we let all of that cloud us from hearing our Savior, however, he can still break through.

I love this new song by Iveth Luna-Give Me Ears to Hear. We can always pray and ask Jesus to help us hear him and help us to see his guidance for us.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Tired Teacher

Fall break is here for all of my classes. After a morning teacher’s meeting today, I am off until next Wednesday. Last night I realized how much I need it. It is safe to say I was TIRED. One of the issues that bothers me the most, besides constant pain, about living with chronic illness is fatigue.

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While other teachers were talking about short trips to visit family or projects to get done around home, my thoughts were of doing things like sleeping and taking naps. 🙂

But I have a feeling that next Monday and Tuesday will also involve time at the coffee shop to do more writing. I might even see other teachers there who are summer regulars at the coffee shop, but too busy to hang out there during the school year.

The top of my list for next Monday and Tuesday is along the lines of Luke 5:16 and following the example of Jesus.

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

It is from times of prayer that refreshment comes and this teacher needs that.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

World Mental Health Day-Jesus Understands

Yesterday was World Mental Health Day to raise awareness about mental health. In honor of that, I would like to share a thought with you. Did you ever think about the fact that Jesus understands anguish?

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The night before Jesus was crucified he went to the garden to pray. In Matthew 26::38 he said to his disciples:

“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

Luke 22:44 gives a little more insight to what Jesus was experiencing at the moment.

And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

Jesus knew he was about to be tortured and crucified, so he was filled with anguish.

When we come to Jesus in prayer, we are praying to someone who understands anguish, someone who understands emotional pain.

If we struggle with depression or anxiety, we can come to Jesus in prayer knowing he has experienced sorrow and anguish.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Please Pray for Her- Alisa Turner

My favorite song is My Prayer For You by Alisa Turner. She has suffered terribly from Lyme Disease for years. While she was doing better, she recorded her album Miracle or Not that my favorite song is on. It is the only CD I play in my car. There have been times that I repeatedly play My Prayer for You on days that are rougher for me living with chronic illness.

I first heard My Prayer for You after I was diagnosed with Celiacs and had to deal with all that included. No offense intended to anyone with Celiacs, but for me it has paled in comparison to Psoriatic Arthritis. When asked by a doctor about my pain levels, I always answer something like- a 5 to 6 on a good day. Then if asked how many good days I have, my answer is about half the time. That means at least half of my life is spent with days that pain ranges anywhere from a 7 to 9. I also have those days that it is a full blown ten.

That is why My Prayer For You is playing so much in my car, The lyrics, written by someone who suffers from a chronic illness, speak to me. Lyrics like:

For anyone who’s prayed a thousand prayers
And still can’t find the answer anywhere
Fighting off the lie that no one cares
For anyone who’s out there losing hope
Feeling you’re forsaken and alone
Clinging to the last strands of your rope

May God give you eyes to see, He’s still greater
Courage to rise and believe He’s able
May God be your peace in the fire you’re walking through
This is my prayer now
This is my prayer for you

So when I saw her post about her need for medical treatments and her current struggles, it hit home for me. Please pray for her. After watching her video about needing medical treatments, watch My Prayer For You. You will be glad you did.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Prayers Were Needed/Prayers Were Answered

About a month ago, I shared a post- Prayers Needed that was about an email I received letting me know my current position would not have enough hours to keep my benefits and then my van died beyond repair. The past four weeks have been a valley time.

This week in a span of two days, it turned around. On Thursday thanks to generous donors, I bought a Hyundai Tuscon. Then yesterday I found out I did not get the position I applied for but my hours were expanded so I can keep my benefits. Even better, my current position pays two dollars an hour more and is what I actually enjoy doing. I had only applied for the position to keep benefits.

As Christians we are not immune to life’s problems, but how we handle them can be a testimony. If we give things to God and seek him through the down times, God works through us.

I am grateful I had more time with my friend Luis from El Salvador. He gave me rides home on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and rides to church on Sundays. Because of the extra time, he opened up about what happened to him in El Salvador when a drug gang tried to force him to join. That led to sharing about how Jesus understands trauma. That is one example from the past four weeks.

But now it is on to new adventures like the English conversation group that is starting at the Ukrainian church today. We will have many Saturdays together of having lessons and sharing life. I love helping refugees with their new lives in America and this group will be at a church that will share Jesus with them.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Coffee Shop- Praying for People I Meet There

Yesterday afternoon I stopped in at the coffee shop I spend time at during the summer. Over the course of this past summer, God has blessed me with many divine appointments there. It happened again yesterday when I chatted with a young woman named Payton.

She is working on her Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Counseling. When she told me that, I shared with her about the book I will be publishing soon. That led to a conversation that let me know how to pray for her. She is open to Jesus and Christianity, but her view at this time is like that of many young people. She doesn’t go to a church. She wants to focus on being spiritual.

The prayer need most on my heart is for Ty the teen boy who I met this summer. We planned to meet on Tuesday afternoons for a time to study. My desire is to help him with school work and share Jesus in the process. Yesterday he did not come. I received a text message from his grandmother letting me know he never showed up for school. She reported him to the police as a runaway. He has had a troubled life with multiple traumas, the death of both parents and being the one to find his grandfather had died. He is also very small for his age. I think of Luke 15:3-6 when I think about Ty.

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?  And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders  and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’

Melanie is a young woman I met and only saw one time there. She is working on her Master’s Degree in Sociology. She is an agnostic who grew up Catholic. I told her I would pray for Jesus to show her that he is for real. I pray each day for God to bring someone into her life to share Jesus with her that day.

God connects us with people for a reason and after that connection, it is a privilege to pray for the person.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Remember Step by Step

One thing I encourage people who feel overwhelmed to remember is step by step. When we experience difficulty, it can seem like the whole thing hits us in the face all at once making it feel overwhelming. Especially those of us who might struggle with depression and anxiety. By breaking down what can seem too big into smaller steps, it breaks it down for us. Yes, I practice what I preach. 🙂

Another aspect that helps with that negative self talk is to remind ourselves each day, maybe more than once during the day, of the steps we have taken. Negative self talk can lead to self defeating behavior. By reminding ourselves of positive steps taken, it helps us avert negative self talk.

One important step is to remember to ask God about it. I love the truth Jesus shared in Matthew 6:8-“Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” God knows what we need each step of the way.

I also include asking others to pray for me and asking others who know more than I do. Case in point when my van died.

Setting up my Go Fund Me was an idea I had and one others encouraged me to do. One thing I readily admit to is that I have no mechanical ability. So when it comes time to look at vehicles, I have friends I can ask to come with me. They know what to look at. Involving others in the process who know more is always a good idea.

Thanking God for each step taken is part of step by step. God does not need that from us, but we need it. It helps us stay connected with God through the process.

The books I am writing are something I have included in my own step by step. Yes, I am the one writing, but I have asked others to read the google doc and share their response. I met with a friend of mine who understands finances to ask him to review what is involved for the business part of it with Amazon to self publish. I hope to have them published in September. The delay has been due to God giving me ideas of sections to add.

When we are faced with adversity, let’s remember-step by step.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

The School of Jesus

Matthew 9:36-“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

A prayer of mine long ago was to ask Jesus to give me his heart for people. Before I rededicated my life to Jesus in July 1989, I did not have a heart for others. As I read through the gospels and how Jesus treated people when he was on earth, it spoke to me so much that I asked him to give me his heart for others.

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How he answered that prayer was to take me through the school of interacting with those who have suffered in life. It began in October 1989 when I came home one evening and felt his presence so much that I fell to the floor. He gave me images in my mind of hurting people and impressed upon me that wherever I go, he would connect me with someone who is suffering.

That ramped up a great deal as I began to teach English Second Language and meet refugees. Hearing their stories of suffering and helping them with their new lives in America while sharing Jesus with them changed me. Their stories are ones of escaping war and danger, oppression, and suffering.

That is how the school of Jesus works. He calls us, places us in situations to teach us, and changes us. As Ephesians 2:10 says:

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

The process of being created in Christ Jesus for good works is not some poof instantly equipped thing. It is a life of being discipled by Jesus through the school of Jesus in real life experiences that change us. It is not easy. It can be heartbreaking at times. But it is so worthwhile.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.