Truths You May Have Missed About Struggle in the Christian Life

We had no idea what following Jesus would demand when we started out. Oh, we thought we knew. We had hopes. We had great ideas.

Truths You May Have Missed About Struggle in the Christian Life

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We thought the Christian life meant that once we believed in Jesus, if we walked obediently, certain things would happen:

  • God would bless us
  • Protect us
  • Put us at ease
  • Basically dote on us as His children.

To some extent, we still expect that. But God wants to give us something greater than those things.

Much greater.

How Gethsemane Helps Stretch Our Prayers Past Our Pain

My prayers don’t go far enough. Maybe your prayers need some stretching too. Often our prayers begin and end with asking God to change the way things are around us.

How Gethsemane Helps Stretch Our Prayers Past Our Pain

(Photo: Mosaic of Jesus praying in Gethsemane. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Our prayers have a familiar pattern:

  • “Provide enough money this month”
  • “Protect us as we travel”
  • “Heal my friend from pain”
  • —etc.

These are fine prayers, and all legitimate, but incomplete. They just don’t go far enough.

Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane helps us stretch our prayers past our pain.

Why Jesus Waits to Answer Your Prayer

As much as we wish it were otherwise, life has no easy answers to our struggles. Oh, I know, I know . . . God is the Answer. But what happens when the Answer doesn’t answer?

Why Jesus Waits to Answer Your Prayer

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Because God can stop our pain, we think He should. So we pray. And pray.

But nothing happens.

That’s what occurred with Mary and Martha. They sent a message to Jesus that their brother Lazarus lay sick. But instead of immediately traveling to Bethany, Jesus stayed right where He was beyond the Jordan River. When He finally did arrive, Lazarus had been dead four days.

In other words, Jesus had taken His sweet time showing up.

From what happened next, I see 3 lessons to help us understand why Jesus waits to answer our prayer.

How to Cope When the Will of God is Hard

Sometimes it seems the Lord leads us into a life that can’t possibly be His will. What started with such promise has become such a challenge. It’s tough to know what to do next.

How to Cope When the Will of God is Hard

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What do you do when the life God has promised you looks nothing like the life God has given you?

God had promised a son to Sarai and her husband, Abram. And yet at the same time, God prevented conception. This is the will of God? Go figure.

What God said is a lesson we need to hear.

When God Fails Your Expectations

We don’t say it out loud, but often we expect that if we believe and live correctly, we’ll have great marriages, healthy bank balances, well-balanced children, and freedom from major problems.

When God Fails Your Expectations

(Photo by Photodune)

Of course, we know better—but we still lean on the side of expecting blessing for obedience.

The truth is, we have expectations of God. And sometimes, honestly, He fails those expectations.

Here’s why.

The Question We Ought to Ask When Hurting

It’s been a rough week. This year, our Thanksgiving found us at a hospital, visiting a close relative who had surgery for cancer. It’s strange how Thanksgiving has held many bittersweet flavors in my life.

The Question We Ought to Ask When Hurting

(Photo By Artur Pokusin. Courtesy of Unsplash.com)

I’ve been lost in nostalgia for several reasons.

  • Eleven years ago on Thanksgiving Day we discovered my mother had died.
  • Last week I spoke with another woman who had surgery for cancer the next day.
  • Today marks the birthday of a longtime friend of ours who died from cancer several years ago.

That’s why, in part, when I asked you last week to tell me in one word what you’re thankful for, my one-word answer to that question was HOPE.

When we’re struggling or suffering, there’s one question we need to answer.

Why We Should Remember the Holocaust Today

Today always amazes me. At ten o’clock on this holiday each April, sirens ring loud in Israel. People stop—wherever they are, whatever they are doing—and stand at attention for 120 seconds of silence.

Imagine that for a moment. Two minutes. Silence. Everywhere.

Memorial

(Photo: Janusz Korczak Memorial at Yad Vashem honors one who sheltered Jewish children during the holocaust)

Then the sirens rang again, and life resumed—full-speed. This annual pause allows the nation to remember the six million Jews who were murdered simply because they were Jews.

Today’s date marks Yom Hashoah, known as Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day, the Jewish holiday that remembers those who perished in the Holocaust.

Many times I have visited Jerusalem’s Holocaust Museum, Yad Vashem.

It changes you.

How God Broadens Your Limited Perspective

Have you noticed how often we tend to interpret our faith as we want it to be, rather than as God reveals it to be? We have adopted the lifestyle of a tourist who only wants to see the highlights of the city.

How God Broadens Your Limited Perspective

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Forget all the back alleys of New York. Show me Times Square. Let’s just jump to the Empire State Building. We focus on how the Christian life “ought” to be. (As if the tough parts are electives.)

A broad chasm stretches between the God we want and the God who is. Between the life we want and the life God wants for us.

As tough as it sounds, the only way to bridge this gap is the cross.

How to Follow When God’s Plan is Strange

God’s leading is often strange. That’s because He doesn’t share the plan. He keeps it a secret. We want God’s plan so we can trust the plan. God hides the plan so we will trust Him.

How to Follow When God's Plan is Strange

(Photo by Tom Butler, courtesy of oomf.com)

Genesis began with God blessing all He created. But the fall of man, Abel’s murder, the rebellion at Babel, and the global flood gave cause to doubt that there would be any recovery of that blessing. Genesis 3–11 sketches more than 4,000 years of suffering that people experienced under the curse of sin.

But God’s plan chose one man through whom He would resurrect His blessing for all mankind.

Your life may seem in chaos as well. But God has a plan He is hiding.

How to Stop Staring at Your Marbles

Close one eye and look closely at a marble. It seems massive. In fact, the marble is all you see. It dwarfs everything else. But its size is an illusion.

A basketball is bigger. The planet earth is even bigger. Come to think of it, God is infinitely bigger than your marble. Your problems are like that.

How to Stop Staring at Your Marbles

(Photo by Sarah Charlesworth, CC-BY-SA-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Life is filled with marbles. When you fixate on your marbles, you can’t see the reality that they are small in comparison to God’s power.

Sure, they’re real. Of course they hurt. But your life is more than your problems, just as the world is more than your marbles. Or it can be. You can stop staring at your marbles. You only need to sit up, blink a few times, and look around.

God is much bigger than your marbles.