Posts Tagged ‘lost’

A Gift

 

Over the past year I have been fighting.

 

 

I have been fighting against my natural inclination to wallow in the midst of life’s circumstances. I have been purposeful in trying to make myself happy. Trying to find some sustainable source of happiness through activity, busyness, mission, relationships with others, and also in isolation. Each of these provided some temporary elevation of mood—as a smoke that temporarily masks your view from the things around you, but just as quickly dissipates.

 

 

I’ve read books, positive quotes, bible verses, watched Ted Talks, sermons—just about everything I could think of, I tried. I wanted to take the power away from my circumstances, and to be honest the power of people to influence my ability to be happy. I meditated, practiced mindfulness, de-cluttered, traveled, filled up the pages in my passport, went outside my comfort zone, learned, took risks, met new friends, and crossed things off my bucket list. I’ve done everything I could think of to try to outrun and win the battles waging in my head.

 

 

I know I’m not alone in this. The prevalence of self-help books, videos, and articles on how to make yourself happy are a testament to the fact that many of us are seeking this missing link that would make our life more fulfilling and bearable.

 

 

Many people try to find that happiness in people, money or education. But the truth is many of these things though important, are often times insufficient. Life generally does not afford us perfect circumstances.

You can have money, education, and a family that is falling apart.

You can have a one true love… who loves someone else.

A beautiful house, a wonderful family, and lose your job.

 

The one thing that life can actually guarantee us is that we should expect the unexpected, and that rarely will everything be perfect all at the same time.

 

 

That lends to the common belief that happiness, or some would say joy, should transcend circumstances. But how? That is what I’ve spent the past year trying to discover. How! The answer is incredibly simple. Maybe I didn’t need to travel across the world, and isolate myself to discover it, but then again maybe I did.

 

 

 

There is a story in the bible of a woman who lost a coin.

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.'” Luke 15:8–10

 

Though Jesus was using this story to talk about the importance of saving lost souls (which I fully support), I also think this story very aptly describes human nature. Our penchant is to be unsatisfied with the 9 coins we have, and seek after the 1 we are missing. The hoax is that there will always be 1 missing. There will always be something that makes our joy incomplete. Something negative that if we choose to focus on, will steal our joy concerning what isn’t missing and is still present. If we took the same happiness that the woman had when she found the 1 lost coin and multiplied it by 9, we might see that what we do have is more than what we do not. And happiness comes in our perspective in choosing to focus on the 9 remaining even while we search for the 1.

 

Recently I’ve begun to keep a gratitude journal. When I first started it was hard to even think of one thing to put down because all the things that were going wrong weighed so heavily on my mind. But over the past 80 days of writing in this journal, which thanks to the 21st century I have on my phone in the form of an app, it has become easier to fill the lines for each day with things I’m grateful for.

 

Nevertheless, gratitude, and perspective are not the tools for happiness that I have found to be most effective. It is far simpler than that. The tool is simply the knowledge and acceptance of one fact. And that fact is that there is nothing I have that I deserve.

 

We become unhappy because we think we do not have something that we should. We think that life or God, owes us something. We think we deserve to have the things we have, and even the things we don’t.

 

Biblically we could turn to Deuteronomy 10:14 that says “Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the highest heavens, the earth and all that is in it.”

 

Or for those of you less biblically inclined we could consider parents that lose their kids in a school shooting, or kids that grow up in poverty. Did a child who has no agency (defined: the capacity, condition, or state of acting or of exerting power) deserve poverty more that you who grew up in relative abundance? Or do you as a parent deserve to have your kids alive and healthy more than another parent does? Of course not! So if all the bad things that happen to us are not necessarily happening because we deserve them, then the good that happens is not always necessarily because we deserve them either. So all the good things that happen to us are then not owed to us, but rather a gift.

 

 

Thus I’ve realized that I should measure happiness not in what I lack, or that which I think is owed to me, but rather by the gifts I’ve been given. And when I do that I find them to be present in surplus.

 

 

“Breath is the finest gift of nature. Be grateful for this wonderful gift.” ― Amit Ray

 

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Not special, but Strong

Sometimes you have to remind yourself that you are strong. Stronger than you know. Stronger than you give yourself credit for. Strong despite those who left you or hurt you. Your worth is not a variable that someone can thumbs up on Facebook, or unfollow on Twitter. Your worth is grounded in who you are. Who God made you to be. Even on your worst day, after your biggest mistakes, in your loneliest places, you are worth something.

 

No matter how much loss you’ve experienced, rejection you face or road blocks in your way, the fact that you are still here, still alive, still waking up each morning, putting one foot in front of the other and weathering whatever storm life brings, proves your strength! I don’t care if you break down and cry, or get lost in periods of depression or self-hate. I see your strength when you put on a brave face and show up to work on time, smile at a stranger, or make dinner for your kids.

 

Take time to appreciate how far you have come without drowning in the awareness that there is still further yet to go. Notice the wounds that have become scars. Maybe they aren’t fully healed, and maybe they are still tender to the touch, but Praise God for the ones that no longer bleed!

 

This life is hard; but take comfort in the fact that your struggles don’t make you special, because we—individuals all over the world, are with you, struggling together. Your struggle is like a unique snowflake but together we are snow helping each other stay alive, whereas alone we might melt. Today I am praying for you, in the same way I hope you are praying for me. That we keep fighting, we keep surviving, and we keep overcoming.

 

You are strong! Find your strength.

 

 

 

 

Find Him (!)

To me the most amazing thing about the bible, is that it’s real. The people on the pages of this ‘book’ are not just ideal paragons of virtue. They are human. People that we can relate to.

 

If the bible wasn’t filled with people like David, Sampson, Jonah, Job, or Peter; I think I may have lost hope. Or rather I would not have regained hope.


Often times when the weight of the world gets too heavy and we feel alone and hopeless, our hearts grab hold of God. No longer do our minds find God to be an idea or simply a concept, instead he becomes real and a whole lot more relevant.

 

Today I picked up my bible just looking for a snippet. A tidbit. A few words, nothing too time consuming. Just something to help me hold it together and muddle through another moment, another day.

I ended up flipping to Job chapter 23.

 

Then Job replied:

“Even today my complaint is bitter;
    his hand is heavy in spite of my groaning.
If only I knew where to find him;
    if only I could go to his dwelling!
I would state my case before him
    and fill my mouth with arguments.

Ahh, my good buddy Job. I have to say, I love how he keeps it 100%. His complaint is bitter! And there’s no hiding it. He’s had his fill of the struggle and he’s about ready to go toe to toe with God.


Job has some questions, and he needs some answers. Ever at the ready, he’s prepared his case and he’s not afraid of arguing it! But first, he needs to figure out where God is.

I would find out what he would answer me,
    and consider what he would say to me.
Would he vigorously oppose me?
    No, he would not press charges against me.
There the upright can establish their innocence before him,
and there I would be delivered forever from my judge.

 

Hmm, Job isn’t worried. He knows God is good, so if he approaches God, he knows(!) he is gonna be delivered.

 

“But if I go to the east, he is not there;
    if I go to the west, I do not find him.
When he is at work in the north, I do not see him;
  when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.

 

Dang, but a brother still can’t find him though. I mean if he could just find God things would be cool. They could chat, Job could get a few things off his chest. And God would clear up the misunderstanding. Everything goes back to normal.

10 But he knows the way that I take;
    when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.
11 My feet have closely followed his steps;
    I have kept to his way without turning aside.
12 I have not departed from the commands of his lips;
    I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.

 

Ya know, I was following Job up to this point. Then I got lost. And fast. I mean Job is here talking about coming out as gold after being tried, and I’m sitting here just hoping I come out. To say I’ve reached that gold standard would be such a stretch. I mean Job says he hasn’t departed from God’s commands. He says he has treasured God’s word more than bread!


Confession. I’ve gone through more days without God’s word than I’ve gone without ‘bread.’ And yeah, I’m still feeling those after effects.
 

 


Sometimes we make ourselves so busy that we leave no time for God.
We have problems and we need to solve them.
We have issues that won’t fix themselves.
We have struggles that won’t go away.
And we have sins which feel like they are here to stay.
But to treasure God? To make him something we value? Something that is our food? Can we say we’ve done that?

 

The past few days I’ve been fasting, and my reasons for it are not that laudable so I will skip out on that. But what I realized is that food is ever on my mind. Without it I get tired, depressed, and weak. But spiritually that’s how I am without God. I am spiritually drained. I am hopeless. Discouraged. Selfish. and Lost.


I need him. I need God. I need him to be my living water. My bread of life.
I–like Job–am not finding him, but simply because I haven’t been looking. 

 

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Strike 3. You’re out.

“Hello. My name is – , and I am a discouraged Christian. Yes, I go to church. Yes, I read the bible too. But I am struggling. I don’t need your platitudes or your ‘Holy’ advice. I need you to be real with me. Tell me that you have struggled too. Tell me you know how it feels to be discouraged. Tell me that it’s not only me. When will I stop feeling so lost? I keep questioning my beliefs. Is God indeed good? Is He really with me? Does He actually hear my prayers? Don’t just tell me He does, show me. Help me understand why God can be so silent for so long. Tell me how He puts up with the pain that so many ‘good’ people feel and can seemingly allow bad people to prosper? Please, Encourage me. I need it. Give me hope that God is there and that though He is silent, He is never still.”

Marvin-the-Paranoid-Android

We all know how to praise and testify when God provides for us just in the nick of time. When we fasted and prayed and God provided. He came in at the last-minute and He saved us. But how do we testify when God didn’t come through for us the way we asked him to? How do we praise Him when our prayer request went seemingly unanswered? The old ladies can stand up in church and praise God when “the miraculous check came two days before the water and electricity was supposed to be shut off,” but tell me how to Praise God when the check didn’t come and the whole family had to go by without water and electricity. How should she praise God then?

What do you do when you get down on your knees and pray for someone to come and alleviate your pain, and yet the suffering continues? No one needs to tell you how to thank God when He provides you with the job you’ve been praying and fasting for, but what about when you are jobless for almost a year? What about when you can no longer provide for your family, and the eviction notice is lying on the kitchen counter? You don’t need someone to tell you how to survive when everything in your life is going well and you have someone who loves you, but what about when your biological clock has ‘tocked’ and you are still alone?

biological_clock243-940x626

There are some things we are dealing with in our lives that no one else knows about. There are some burdens we carry that we feel are ours alone. There are some struggles that can bring even a ‘strong’ man to his knees. Have you ever felt weary? Have you ever felt like giving up? Have you ever felt like throwing in the towel?

You are not alone.

There is only one solace for the discouraged Christian. And it’s found in God’s word. In Hebrews 11 we see the many things people suffered for their God. They persevered through mocking, scourging, chains, imprisonments, stoning, being sawn in two, temptations, death by the sword, and homelessness. The writer tells us in Hebrews 12 that because of their perseverance and their testimony—we can be encouraged amidst our discouragement. We can see the things that those who came before us endured, and we can know that we too can endure.

man in chain

When we are discouraged, we can look at Christ who passed this way before us. He has tasted and seen our struggle, our pain, and He encourages us to press on. You might think God doesn’t see your pain. That God is indifferent to your cries. But you are not alone. Jesus himself felt forsaken by God when He was on the cross, but God never let His son carry a burden that was greater that He could bear.

When Christ carried up His cross to be crucified it soon became too much for him. Blood, tears and sweat stung his eyes. His body cried out in pain. He could not go on. He fell under the weight of this world. But then God sent Simon to help Jesus carry the cross. God did not take the cross away–but He sent His servant Simon to help lift Christ’s burden. God never left Jesus. God may have seemed silent, but He was always present. He was careful lest His child became too weary of His burden. When every thing spelled doom. God said, don’t give up! I am with you.


Simon Carrying The Cross from Passion of Christ

Discouragement can come to us when we are going the way God wants us to and satan in anger tries to pull us down and out of the game. But the God who hears your prayers, the God who sees your tears, and the God who loves you,  He rebukes the devil and He encourages us once more. Christ sympathizes with our every weaknesses, and He was tempted in every way we are–yet without sin. So do not despair. Christ is with you. He is cheering you on!

“The greatest act of faith some days is to simply get up and face another day.” Because “you can get a thousand no’s from man, and only one “yes” from God,” and that will be enough to see you through. ‘Yes in your life you see limitations, but God sees opportunities. You see failure, but God sees growth. You see problems, but God sees solutions. You see limitations, but God sees possibilities. You see this life… but God sees eternity.’

hope street

There is a time when everything you once feared comes to pass. When the things you told God you couldn’t handle, have come and gone. And yet you are still standing. Your trust has been tested. Your faith has been shaken. Your hope has been trampled. But hold fast!

“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed!” “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 with his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” ”No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.”