Gratitude, thankful, thankfulness, joy, blessings, God’s provision, provision, Jesus, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry, nonprofit

Source of Joy: Have You become Bored with God’s Blessings?

God gives us many blessings. Once we move past our initial thankfulness, the weight of what we must steward can distract us from the source of our joy.



Perception

For a month or more, the Lord has been confronting me… I hear messages about my perception of His blessings. Most of the time, He returns me to a small portion of the Israelite’s story; when they journey out of Egypt and into the land God promised…

Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, ‘Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.’

Now the manna was like coriander seed, and its appearance like that of bdellium. The people went about and gathered it and ground it in handmills or beat it in mortars and boiled it in pots and made cakes of it. And the taste of it was like the taste of cakes baked with oil. When the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell with it.

Numbers 11:4-9, ESV

God gives us many blessings. Once we move past our initial thankfulness, the weight of what we must steward can distract us from the source of our joy. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #gratitude #thankful #thankfulness #provision #blessings #steward #joy

Bored of Blessings

As an outsider looking in, I become outraged on God’s behalf. He blessed the Israelites with precious food straight from heaven so they would not have to hunt for food. When they woke in the morning, the manna lay in wait for them, alongside the dew. Then, they had the audacity to dream of returning to their lives as an enslaved people because they were bored with God’s provision.

As Christians, we like talking about the blessings of the Father. We praise God for the blessings as we receive them. Once we have them in our possession though, what do we do with them? Do we continue to praise God for them? Or do we become a little like the Israelites, wishing for more or different blessings in the midst of God’s goodness?

Steward His Blessings

God gives plentifully. 

He will love you, bless you, and multiply you. He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your wine and your oil, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock, in the land that he swore to your fathers to give you.

Deuteronomy 7:13, ESV

The Word promises that God will bless us on Earth. He allows us to multiply through childbirth. He blesses the land and animals that He created for us to provide us with food. Once we possess this bounty, then, we must steward over them.

The blessings, never less so blessings than when we received them, then become responsibilities. This is precisely when we start taking them for granted, viewing them as burdens. Jesus tells us quite clearly in the parable of the talents that we are to steward over what He gives us. When we do we will be blessed with even more responsibility.

Source of Joy

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 

Matthew 25:21, ESV

The master praises the servant for managing the gold given to him well and promises him more to oversee. The promise of more influence brings happiness, much like when we receive a hard-earned promotion. The reality, though, includes more work and greater challenges. We are still called to find joy in those challenges, not in spite of them.

I must reflect on when I received those gifts to remember the joy I found in them. I must seek a greater source of joy in the greatest blessing ever bestowed on me: His love, expressed most earnestly through His death on the cross.

The Joy of the Lord

Entering into the joy of the Lord can be difficult for a few reasons. First, we mistake the temporary and conditional emotion of happiness with joy–an attitude of the heart which is steadfast and constant. Joy persists in the midst of very strong, negative emotions because God is present with us in those moments, He is our source of joy.

Do not get me wrong, happiness is expressed in the Bible. It is not absent, but it does not have the sustaining power of this joy that God gives us freely. In Nehemiah 8, we are told that the joy of the Lord is our strength. It allows us to traverse challenges, to steward our blessings, whether we find happiness in them or not.

Additionally, if you are anything like I am, you look for joy in who you have become or are becoming. I read the bible to find me. I look for who I am and who I should be. At the end of the day, though, the protagonist of the Bible is God. All the stories in the Bible, all the statutes, and all of the commandments point us to who God is and what He has done. God is our joy. He is our strength. He sends His word out as the source of our joy.

so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace;

Isaiah 55:11-12, ESV

A Challenge

I challenge myself to find joy by reading about who God is. I challenge myself to look at what He has given me to steward over and remember their origins as blessings. If this is something you struggle with, I invite you to come alongside me in this challenge.

We must remember God’s gifts of provision and the joy we found in them. But never forget the greatest blessing ever bestowed on us…God’s love, expressed most earnestly through His death on the cross. Click To Tweet

God gives us many blessings. Once we move past our initial thankfulness, the weight of what we must steward can distract us from the source of our joy. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #gratitude #thankful #thankfulness #provision #blessings #steward #joy

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Christian living, controversial, disagreement, fight, fighting, love, mercy, peace, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Fighting: How to Champion Godliness

Fighting godly battles requires us to exercise restraint in the midst of our passion. We must avoid sinning because we are impassioned for God’s will.



Disagreements

Polarized. When we read the news, scroll through social media posts, engage with our relatives — is there a better way to describe how the world seems? There is a “for or against” mentality regarding all hot button issues. The polarization trickles down into less public, more intimate disagreements. “We should agree to disagree” is a hollow statement, not meaning the sum of its parts so much as meaning. “We have to stop talking about this now if we are going to continue liking one another.”

I like to avoid fighting. I find no enjoyment in conflict. Anxiety muzzles me. Inwardly I am impassioned, but outwardly I resist the urge to bark or bite at an offending argument. I justify this through scripture that cautions us to be slow to speak, lest we present ourselves as fools.

Fighting godly battles requires us to exercise restraint in the midst of our passion. We must avoid sinning because we are impassioned for God's will. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #ChristianLiving #controversial #fight #disagreement #love #mercy #peace #fighting

Fighting on Behalf of God

Our faith, though, calls us to action on behalf of the Truth our God instilled in us. Why did He give us the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit if He empowered us only to sit on the sidelines quietly? No. We must learn to fight for people and the will of God while answering the call to be peacemakers.

I think a lot of the reason we get into unproductive, vitriol-fueled fighting is because we do not take time to control our impulses. We do not step aside from our emotion.

A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression.

Proverbs 29:22, ESV

While we are to advocate for that which is right and righteous, God does not call us to sow hatred or to transgress in His name. He asks us to point others toward Him and His kingdom in all that we do and say. When we stand our ground in our arguments, we should have a subconscious self-check going on as we navigate these debates.

-Do the words I speak, show I love God?

-Will the person I am speaking with know that I love them?

-Does the content of my message show mercy, peace, and love to others?

Our Words Matter

At no time does name-calling point others towards the loving-kindness of Jesus. On my way to work, I listen to a podcaster who is well regarded in the Christian community. I respect the message and wisdom he shares. Yet, he frequently calls people idiots.

He does it in a loving aside, or with an endearing chuckle. This lets people know “I’m not really being mean.” But do our choice of words not matter as much as our intent? Words of condemnation can wound. Applied with the proper intent and execution, however, they can restore and empower.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Ephesians 4:29, ESV

Understanding

This goes beyond using kind words and a gentle tone. If we are to build up, we have to understand the foundation of a person’s belief. We have to be in relationship with the person we are talking to. If their thinking is not in alignment with God, then we should be fighting God’s fight for their betterment, not our superiority. We have to seek understanding. Why does this person believe what they do? Where does their certainty lie?

Often in arguments, we look for the other person’s fallacies to come to light. We want that aha! moment. It feels good to catch someone in their utter wrongness and juxtapose it with our inherent rightness. But they came to their beliefs through their own life experiences; through a lens of perspective shaped by different upbringings and influences. We have to understand that in most cases, those we are fighting with feel they are on the right side of morality or history. Start with the common ground that we all want to do good.

Jude’s Guidance

Jude is this small one-chapter book of the Bible. I often fixate on it. This brother of James and Jesus sketches a picture of a community of Christ-followers who had unwittingly allowed people in who succumbed to ungodly desires. Jude does not hesitate to call out these actions as sinful, but throughout he guides us in how to approach those who are not in alignment with the Father.

Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” 

Jude 1:9, NKJV

If a high ranking angel remembered who actually passes judgment while he contended with the devil, then I can speak with a friend who is succumbing to sin without passing my imperfect judgment on her.

It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

Jude 1:19-23, ESV

Stand Firm in Love

Jude makes it clear. We are to stand in opposition to those who are divisive. When we see another human stuck in doubt or sin, we do our best to point them towards repentance and show them that they need saving. We are not, however, to do so in a manner that goes against God’s commands. We are to keep ourselves in the love of our Father.

God clearly asks us to have mercy and show mercy. At the same time, we must hate the sin they are trapped in, and we should not fall into the trappings of sin ourselves. And fighting with someone in a way that causes harm, for the purpose of bringing glory to ourselves, or in a spirit of divisiveness is absolutely falling into the trappings of sin.

Fighting With Both Passion and Restraint

It’s hard. Sometimes the people we love falter. It hurts to see them walk toward sin. Other people believe so staunchly in things that we find diametrically opposed to the will of God. Fighting for godly things is good. We should ask God to break our hearts for the things that break His. We need passion.

Equally, we need restraint. We need to use our zeal for God’s will to determine what battles need championing, and we need restraint to keep our hearts focused on the love of God while we are in the thick of the fight.

Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.

Proverbs 25:28, NKJV
Fighting for godly things is good. We should ask God to break our hearts for the things that break His. We need passion, but, equally, we need restraint. Click To Tweet

Practical Strategies

I’m a very emotional person. Throughout my life, I have gotten so swept up in feeling that I have made great mistakes. I have hurt people. In light of this, I am now a huge proponent of approaching the things in life that impassion me with an arsenal of practical strategies.

We are so lucky that God hides practical strategies within the most poetic moments in His word. In reading Jude over and over again, I am struck by a line that I can use to help guard my tongue. What if I, before I entered into a debate with someone, opened it up as Jude opened his letter?

“Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.”

Jude 1:2, NKJV

What if I said these words, even just in my head, before opening my mouth or before I start typing? Would that change how I approach someone? If I start my conversation with a sentiment of well-wishing, could I continue to portray love while pointing out sin? I think I just might.

Fighting godly battles requires us to exercise restraint in the midst of our passion. We must avoid sinning because we are impassioned for God's will. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #ChristianLiving #controversial #fight #disagreement #love #mercy #peace #fighting

Grief, anger, infertility, pain, suffering, truth, devotional, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Grief: Learning to Praise God in Times of Acute Pain

Grief is crippling. Often times our physical bodies heal faster than our spirits. In these times we must learn to praise God through the pain.



Have mercy on me, LORD, for I am faint; LORD, heal me, for my bones are in agony.
My soul is in anguish. How long, LORD, how long?
Turn, LORD, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love.
No one remembers you when he is dead. Who praises you from the grave ?
I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.
My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes.
Away from me, all you who do evil, for the LORD has heard my weeping.
The LORD has heard my cry for mercy; the LORD accepts my prayer.

Psalm 6:2-9, NIV

Grief is crippling. Often times our physical bodies heal faster than our spirits. In these times we must learn to praise God through the pain. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #scripture #devotional #grief #anger #infertility #pain

Spiritual and Physical Anguish

The moment after the ultrasound that showed that our supposed “miracle baby” was meant for Heaven rather than earth, my body ached with devastating grief. Sorrow is insidious, seeping in and replicating like a virus or cancer. It hits fast and hard — starting at the chest, knocking the wind out of you, and quickly traveling to every muscle, joint, bone, and nerve.  

The bodily pain mended more quickly than my broken spirit, and that pain comes back now and then: when a friend has a baby, when I see the baby pictures of other people’s children, when I have none of mine, when I think of how my due date is fast approaching every November. It has been in those moments–those breathless, agonizing moments, where my faith has been tested. Would this be the time that I fell to my knees to pray for healing? Or would I shake my fist to rail at my Heavenly Father for His cruelty, His neglect, His silence?

Directing Our Anger

I’d like to tell you that I always ended up on my knees, but I have raised my fist towards God in anger more times than I would like to admit. Luckily for me, God has always been capable of taking the brunt of my anger. Fortunately for me, He has already forgiven my rage and impertinence. Thankfully, He has always guided me back to dedicated prayer and relationship with Him.  

I know God has delivered me. He has saved me because of His undying, steadfast love. He always hears my weeping, my cries for mercy. God patiently listens to my pleas and accepts my prayers. His silence isn’t a sign of neglect. This silence has a purpose which He will reveal to me in His time.

Pain of Grief

I think it is important to remember this Psalm, even in the darkest depths of grief. The Psalmist cries out to God just as any one of us does on any given day. He feels the bodily pain of his grief and the weariness from enduring so much sadness. He wonders how long God will allow him to withstand his anguish.

My soul is in deep anguish. How long, LORD, how long?

Psalm 6:3, NIV

This is a familiar refrain. But the Psalmist remembers that no matter how his body aches, how much his soul anguishes, he is blessed with God’s unfailing love. 

These Feelings are Natural

I think we, especially as women, find shame in lifting our frustration and rage up and directing it at God. We know that we are supposed to find solace in Him, to trust in His plans, His timing, His goodness. But the world presents us with such indefinable suffering that there is no tangible “who” to place our blame upon. God, then, becomes the logical culpability bearer.

This is natural. It’s normal. You are no different than I am in this transgression. Plus, God has proven time and time again to be long-suffering with our misplaced anger and doubt in Him. He hasn’t broken off relationship with us in the past, so why would He in our present or future?

This is the comfort we can seek, this unity in our weakness and assurance that our Father will love us through it all. Sit in that for a moment. But don’t stay comfortable too long, because comfortable people do not change. God tells us time and time again in Scripture, we are to be transformed by our relationship with Him. So, now that we have cast away the shame we feel in misplacing our anger in Him…

Seeking a Different Way

We have to seek a different path. Every time I misplace my anger at my circumstances and place it firmly on His shoulders, I go back to the question my small group leader always asks: “What do I know to be true?”

I know God is good beyond my capability to comprehend. I am assured that He loves me with an unfathomable love. I know that His Word bears evidence of His goodness through generation, upon generation who came before me. I know that His way is always best and that I never regret His way once the conclusion has played out in my life. I am certain that what I do not understand today, I will understand when I am in Heaven.

This knowledge should transform how I react. It should impact how I respond to my suffering. I should look to Job and Joseph and see how they embraced God in the midst of their troubles.

Job praised God. His wife wanted him to curse God and die. I know that feeling. I cannot judge her for having that resentment without living at the height of my own hypocrisy. But I can aspire to be more like Job.

Joseph had been so maligned by his brothers that no one could blame him had he cast his brothers out of Egypt without food. He, however, saw the good God did in the midst of his travails and was able to show genuine forgiveness to his bullies and assailants.

Praising through Pain

It seems counterintuitive. We know bad things happen despite our faith and God’s goodness, but in the midst of our suffering, it does not seem like God deserves our praise. That is exactly when we need to get out of our broken hearts into our heads.

What do we know to be true?

He is always worthy.

He is always good.

We must praise Him always.

In the end, we will endure our burdens much more easily when our eyes are set on Him in adoration. The trust we have in what we know to be true about our Father is a buffer that shields us from the harshest parts of our suffering. It won’t remove the stress and pain altogether, but it will shield us from the worst of it and allow us to see how God works in spite of the pain, because of it, and alongside it.

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Romans 5:3-5, ESV
We endure our burdens when our eyes are set on God in adoration. The trust we have in what we know to be true about our Father is a buffer shielding us from the harshest parts of our suffering. Click To Tweet

Grief is crippling. Often times our physical bodies heal faster than our spirits. In these times we must learn to praise God through the pain. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #scripture #devotional #grief #anger #infertility #pain

unsplash-logoKirill Pershin
elders, advice, disciple, listen, stubborn, wisdom, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Elders: Allowing Others’ Wisdom to Shine in our Lives

The wisdom of our elders can help us shape our lives in positive ways. Can we resist the urge to pave our own paths and let others disciple us?



We are in a tough stage in our household. Our six-year-old is learning at lightning speed. We have so much to teach him, but at the same time, his spirit of independence and self-reliance is growing at an alarming rate.

Sometimes, in sharing the wisdom we have from experience, we are met with ultimate resistance. He wants to do it his way. We are most probably wrong because he trusts that what he wants to be true, is true. We, as his elders, want to teach, mold, disciple. He grasps at every feeble toehold of independence he can find. He wants to already know, be fully shaped, and need no discipling.

Sometimes, we allow him to fail. Other times, we beg him to trust our years of experience so that he doesn’t have to fail. It is always hard to discern which will be better for him, but we know that at the end of the day, there are some things he really needs to trust us about.

The wisdom of our elders can help us shape our lives in positive ways. Can we resist the urge to pave our own paths and let others disciple us? Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #advice #listen #elders #disciple

Seeking Elders

We can often be just as resistant in our lives. I cannot tell you how many times, and from how many people, I have heard basic principles about handling my money. Despite having the wisdom of people who have more life experience and more success managing their money pour over me, I resisted; doing what I wanted and crossing my fingers in the hopes that everything would turn out just peachy.

Yet, when the time came that both my husband and I lost our jobs, we were not prepared to be able to survive even a full month on our salary. We had frittered away money on wants we spoke about as needs.

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’

1 Peter 5:5, ESV

The faith that my indwelling wisdom was enough to guide me in this area was full of pride. There is no humility in straying from a tried and true path just because we don’t like the flora surrounding it. We must seek out those who can feed wisdom in our lives. Though we can and will learn from our own risk-taking and failures, there is value in seeking out people to disciple us spiritually and practically.

The Wisdom of Age

So, how do we decide whose wisdom we should follow? Who would be our elders? Obviously, people who are older than us can have wisdom to impart from going through similar stages of life before we did. Their ability to see things from the other side of the finish line should not be dismissed. Why learn from your own mistake when you can learn from someone else’s? Or from their successes?

My father was a smart man, but he struggled to get through college. He took more than the typical four years to graduate. In those years, and in the ones that followed as he pursued his Master’s degree, he learned how he should have studied. He imparted this wisdom to me and my sister many, many, many, many times through our school years.

My sister, much more academically motivated than I, utilized his wisdom far more often than I did. She now has a Ph.D. I did well in college, but did as little as I could to achieve, and achieved far less than I could have. My dad’s wisdom, borne of his own foibles, would have helped me a great deal if I had just applied it instead of taking my easy way out.

The Wisdom of Experience

Sometimes, we go through different experiences at different stages in our lives. Many people raise their own siblings. People marry, have kids, get promotions at different ages. As a couple who married at a later point in our lives than most of our friends, we learn from people who are younger than us in age, but still our elders when it comes to experience. It is important to not just use age as a measuring stick for wisdom. Respect the story as much as the longevity.

Maturity can also be a distinguishing factor in who we rely on for guidance. This can be difficult to assess because it requires self-evaluation that we might not like. It is important, though. We need to recognize if someone is mature enough to choose logic over emotion when we react purely based on our feelings on a regular basis. We need to see balance in others where there is imbalance in ourselves.

Elders in Spiritual Maturity

Additionally, we all come to Christ at different ages and stages. This is a critical area of our lives to be aware of our own maturity, especially in comparison to others. We need to be discipled and we need to disciple others. This cannot happen if the perception of our own spiritual path is skewed. We can’t let pride, or shame, distort the truth.

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

Romans 12:3, ESV

While I truly believe we must each learn who God is through our own careful study of His Word, it is important to have good judgment about our own weaknesses. We need to listen if someone warns us that our ideas or actions do not accurately reflect the intent of the Word. The only way we can do this is to trust the wisdom of our elders and go back to the Word to reassess our understanding and application.

Favor Listening

In the end, we all want to be heard. It is a common turn of phrase to say that one finally felt heard. We have this need to express our thoughts, opinions, beliefs. Sometimes it is rooted in a desire to be affirmed. Other times we need to feel righteous. But God tells us repeatedly that listening is of far more value than speaking in most cases.

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.

Proverbs 18:2, ESV

So, let’s not be foolish. Let’s find wisdom in others. Let’s push aside pride and be willing to learn from our elders. If you do not have at least one person who can qualify as an elder in your life, go seek one today. If you do, really analyze if you are listening to them to learn from their experiences and their relationship with the Lord. Only when we see this discipleship relationship in full action, can we seek opportunities to disciple others, positioning ourselves as elders in their lives.

God tells us repeatedly that listening is of far more value than speaking in most cases. So, let's not be foolish. Let's find wisdom in others. Let's push aside pride and be willing to learn from our elders. Click To Tweet

The wisdom of our elders can help us shape our lives in positive ways. Can we resist the urge to pave our own paths and let others disciple us? Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #advice #listen #elders #disciple

unsplash-logoJoanna Kosinska
peacemaking, peace, salvation, light, busyness, stress, conflict, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Peacemaking: Spreading the Peace God has Given Us

Jesus calls us to peacemaking, which we should not confuse with peacekeeping. Our actions should spread the peace that God has given us.



I’ve always thought of peacemaking as kind of my thing. I like everyone to be happy, and I want things to go smoothly. My mom and I often say we prefer a boring life because we equate a boring, smooth life with peace. We often quip that it is much better than the alternative. It’s better to keep the peace, keep things steady in our lives.

Jesus calls us to peacemaking, which we should not confuse with peacekeeping. Our actions should spread the peace that God has given us. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #stress #busyness #peace #peacemaking #conflict

Looking More Closely

If, however, you look up synonyms for the word boring, some results include dull, humdrum, stale, and lifeless. Lifeless. Synonyms for “full of life” include bold, courageous, resolute, and passionate. The latter sounds more appealing. I would like people to describe me as courageous and resolute, but dull and humdrum are easier to maintain. True, I would like to never experience joblessness again, lose another person I love, or fight with a friend. At the same time, I know how tremendously I grew through my unemployment, how the lives of those I’ve lost have impacted my life and character, and how rewarding it is to fight for a friendship that is important to me.

Still, it’s easier to shoot for boring. Stay silent. Keep the other person content while you bury your hurt or resentment. Just let the status quo remain.

Peacekeeping is an Illusion

This is the very picture of peacekeeping. You keep everything the same, even if growth needs to happen. You keep everyone happy at the expense of your own emotional well-being. Kept things, however, aren’t very useful. If you keep the new television you bought in its box, how will you watch it? If you keep a dog in a kennel, how will you enjoy playing with it?

As humans, peace seems like this ultimate ideal objective that is unfeasible. We joke about the stereotype that beauty pageant contestants answer questions about what our society needs most with “world peace.” The mom memes suggest that we can find some peace either locked behind a bathroom door or at the bottom of a glass of wine.

Peacemaking According to God

What if we examine what God says about peace and peacemaking? I think it’s safe to say we know that God doesn’t expect us to make peace on earth by isolating ourselves or finding a little relaxing “me-time.”

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

John 16:33, NLT

The world would have peace to be an idyllic beach vacation alone or with your husband, where there are no limits. Just take the famous slogan, “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” and apply it to your vacation locale of choice. There is nothing wrong with getting away from your everyday life once in a while, but you have to know that you will return to it at some point, and all the constraints, stressors, and responsibilities will be waiting for you. If that’s the case, if the peace is so temporary and passive, then it’s likely in opposition to the more kinetic idea of peacemaking.

His Gift to Us

In reality, we do not have to search for peace. Jesus told us in scripture that He has already given it to us, and it is actively ours whether our day is moving forward at a leisurely amble or at the full-speed pace of a hill sprint.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

John 14:27, ESV

We are to find peace in Him amidst our circumstances, not find peace in the circumstances He gives us because it is already with us.

Daniel found peace in the lion’s den because the Father was with him. Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego found peace in the fiery furnace because God was with them. Stephen radiated peace as he was seized, and had the peace to ask God to not hold his very own brutal death against his perpetrators because God was beside him the entire time.

In each of these examples, the men in question could have easily kept the peace by quietly loving God, but outwardly following the desires and commands of others. They, however, chose peacemaking over their own comfort. At risk of their own peril, they knew that the gift of peace can only be provided by the one true God. It was more important to make peace in a volatile world than keep the illusion of peace to themselves. They knew peacekeeping would keep people from experiencing the infinite gift that faith in the God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit gives us.

Authenticity of Peacemaking

Ultimately, to experience the peace that Jesus left us with, we have to stop searching for a peace defined by lack of conflict, busyness, and stress. These are all conditions of living among other people in a demanding world. Do not avoid conflict if you are also avoiding shining God’s light or spreading His Gospel. Embrace the peace He gives you. Make peace by drawing others closer to Him — show His light in your life through peacemaking.

Let us strive to be that light on a hill that shines outward and downward, driving the darkness away, making peace in a dissident and tumultuous world.

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’

Isaiah 52:7, ESV
Embrace the peace He gives you. Make peace by drawing others closer to Him — show His light in your life through peacemaking. Click To Tweet

Jesus calls us to peacemaking, which we should not confuse with peacekeeping. Our actions should spread the peace that God has given us. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #stress #busyness #peace #peacemaking #conflict

unsplash-logoLinus Nylund
God's love, individuality, confidence, hurt, worth, encouragement, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

You: Finding Individuality and Worth in God’s Love

We often look inward or outward for our own self-worth. Instead, we should look upward to the One who created us and loves us. You are worth it!



I want to talk to you. Specifically you. A lot of stuff rolls around in that brain of yours, and even more courses through your heart. You have doubts. You need affirmation, or reassurance, or comfort.

We often look inward or outward for our own self-worth. Instead, we should look upward to the one who created us and loves us. You are worth it! Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #scripture #devotional #individuality #hurt #worth #encouragement

People Have Hurt You

You have a strong heart, but it is fragile. A friend has wounded you with her words too many times without apology. Your husband puts his career or his hobby ahead of your relationship. A boss has humiliated you in a team meeting. A stranger made derogatory comments about your body.

Your child said that she wished you were not her mom. Leaders at church overlook your contributions on a regular basis. An old boyfriend threatened you. An acquaintance hit you–someone who should have been safe. Someone you trusted stole your right to consent right out from under you.

You Have Hurt Others

You know how you want others to treat you. Your intentions were right, but you have found yourself on the losing side of your own history too many times. Reprimanding your kids for their negative tone of voice while you yell at them.

You insulted your husband in retribution for the ways he hurt you. Canceled plans on a friend for the third time in a row. You told a friend someone else’s secret–and they found out that you did it. You missed an important deadline at work simply because you were unmotivated. Anger gained a foothold in you, and you pushed a colleague much harder than you intended, and they fell.

You Doubt Your Worth

As you sit in the midst of all the hurt you have inflicted and the hurt you have incurred, you wonder about your own value. You worked hard at school, and yet your job is not as important or high paying as you had envisioned. You have failed at every diet you have ever tried.

Other people have talents and accomplishments that hold so much more weight than your insignificant contributions and pursuits. If your relationship ended tomorrow, you could not imagine anyone else seeing you as valuable enough to love — certainly not for a lifetime. You feel mediocre, invisible, wholly insignificant.

So, How Can God Really Love YOU?

Once you have convinced yourself of this, it becomes really hard to believe with every fiber of your being that God can love YOU. Yes, as John tells us, we should:

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.

1 John 3:1, ESV

But, God loves everyone — which is good, and right — but it is easy to take that knowledge and turn it into a love that is such a corporate entity that it can easily pass over you as just one in the crowd. God sent Christ to die on the cross for us so that our sins were redeemed. But there are so many believers. Wouldn’t it be easy for God to overlook you? Love you, yes, but love everything about you? How could He when the math you’ve done does not add up to you being worthy of his intimate, individual love?

But, He Did Make You with Inherent Worth

For you formed my inward parts;

you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are your works;

my soul knows it very well.

My frame was not hidden from you,

when I was being made in secret,

intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance;

in your book were written, every one of them,

the days that were formed for me,

when as yet there was none of them.

Psalm 139:13-16, ESV

God didn’t make you like a manufacturing company makes little green soldier toys. He made you intimately. He formed you, knitted you together, wove you intricately, and He saw you. You weren’t one of many. He designed you to be uniquely you.

He loves you for who you exclusively are. Individually. He sent Jesus to be an example for you. He sent Jesus to the cross to pay for those very things you have done that you think make you unworthy because He loves you. You hold weight in His kingdom, in His eye, in His heart.

You cannot determine your worth by your own perception or allow the body of believers to assign you value. Don’t let the world tell you how much weight you hold. God has already made that determination. He designed you for a purpose, and you are living that out right now on this earth. Your battle scars and new wounds do not invalidate you as a person of Godly purpose. Your sins do not disqualify you. God loves you.

You.

God didn't make you like a manufacturing company makes little green soldier toys. He made you intimately. He formed you, knitted you together, wove you intricately, and He saw you. Click To Tweet

We often look inward or outward for our own self-worth. Instead, we should look upward to the one who created us and loves us. You are worth it! Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #scripture #devotional #individuality #hurt #worth #encouragement

unsplash-logoJanine Joles
anger, emotion, God’s Word, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Anger: Slowing Anger to Help Us Conform to God’s Image

The anger is rarely righteous and does not help us reflect the image of God. We must look inward and to His Word to inform how we act upon our emotion.



As a child, I boiled over with outrage on a regular basis. I felt the anger so viscerally, I thought it was important to let those around me know how angry I was. My temper tantrums were the things of legends. Neighbors called to check on me. Mom and Dad tried different strategies to address them. All the while, I was content to just express the heck out of it.

The anger is rarely righteous and does not help us reflect the image of God. We must look inward and to His Word to inform how we act upon our emotion. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #anger #emotion #GodsWord

Addressing the Problem

One strategy my parents tried was a punching bag. It was an inflatable balloon, weighted at the bottom so that when I hit it, it might fall all the way over and touch the floor and still right itself. The best thing about this new addition was that they put it in the basement.

The door of the basement led to wooden stairs and held a large ironing board. When I was told to go down to use the punching bag, I had the distinct pleasure of swinging the door open, causing the ironing board to swing and bang against the door. Then, I would slam the door behind me, producing a cacophony of banging as the board bounced back and forth. Subsequently, I got to stomp down the stairs, and this was all before I ever got to the punching bag.

I was very content to rage openly. I found satisfaction in releasing my temper in physical ways. Throwing things felt better than not throwing things. Yelling felt necessary.

As an adult, I had to work through this instinct to rage openly. I sought counseling and learned how to be slow to act on my anger. I learned how to be silent until I could address my hurts more dispassionately.

Discarding Entitlement

But let me tell you a secret. To this day, after all the counseling and all my study of God’s Word, that little stomping menace still lives inside me. I feel incredibly entitled to my outbursts. Even in apologizing, I feel the need to express how rightfully I held my anger. “I’m sorry but…” is a phrase I’m constantly running away from.

Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools.

Ecclesiastes 7:9, ESV

The problem with this entitlement I hold so dearly is it is incredibly foolish. I need to have patience and grace for others. To do so is not only wise but in alignment with the two greatest commandments: to love God and to love others (Matthew 22:37-39).

The Anger of Man is not Righteous

The thing is, I like to trick myself into thinking that my anger is righteous. Even Jesus showed anger, right? He overturned tables in the temple, turned marketplace. He decried the Pharisees’ hypocrisy, calling them a brood of vipers (Matthew 21:12-17).

So, logically speaking, if Jesus lived a perfect life and expressed anger, then I, too, can express righteous anger.

And this is true, but there’s a small problem–my anger is almost never righteous.

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

James 1:19-2, ESV

Jesus’ Righteous Anger

Jesus was angry on the Father’s behalf. He saw people so steeped in sin and hypocrisy that He felt the betrayal against God. I, on the other hand, am angry that someone else’s sin hurts or annoys me. It gets in the way of me being happy or comfortable. This is not righteous anger. Even when I have been wronged, the anger that follows is still the anger of man, being fueled by the warring desires inside of myself.

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.

James 4: 1-2, ESV

Feeling Anger vs. Sinning in Anger

We are all works in progress, battling the sin that wars inside us. But, how? Are we to never feel anger? That would not be in line with scripture, either.

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.

Ephesians 4:26-27, ESV

Paul does not tell the church in Ephesus not to be angry, but to be angry and not sin. How we act on our anger is the opportunity to choose between conforming to the image of God or giving into sin, which gives the devil a foothold in our lives. We should always assess the source of our anger and find the righteous way to address it.

How we act on our anger is the opportunity to choose between conforming to the image of God or giving into sin. We should always assess the source of our anger and find the righteous way to address it. Click To Tweet

As Always, Look to the Word

The Bible is quite clear in how to address quarrels between people. We are to approach people in a spirit of both truth and grace. We are to avoid stirring up division. Paul even tells the Romans not to quarrel over opinions with people who are weak in the faith, cautioning them against passing judgment.

Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

Romans 14:4, ESV

I am a work in progress, and will probably battle with the sin of anger for my whole life. However, I will arm myself with the Word, gain intimate knowledge of what is righteous, versus what is simply of man. I will continue to strive to be slow to speak and slow to express rage so I can walk away from my entitlement. Away and into the arms of my Father who always upholds me because He loves me in my very most unrighteous moments.

The anger is rarely righteous and does not help us reflect the image of God. We must look inward and to His Word to inform how we act upon our emotion. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #anger #emotion #GodsWord

unsplash-logoeberhard grossgasteiger
honor, inspiration, memory, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Remembrance: Erecting Memorials in Our Hearts to God

Jacob and Joshua erected stone memorials for remembrance of the Lord’s work. Do we actively create memorials in our hearts for Him?



My father passed away in November. It seems surreal to think that I am living a part of my life without him in my background. In a quiet moment, I might remember that he is no longer with us. Memories flood me. Remembrance of him, for those of us closest to him, is easy. Still, my mother, sister, and I made plans with other family members to erect a tangible reminder of his life.

Stones

There will be no headstone, as he was cremated rather than buried. Instead, we will purchase a bench or a sitting stone with a memorial plaque to place near one of his favorite places in the mountains in Colorado. This is a common practice for memorializing someone in our culture. There is usually a stone, brick, or plaque somewhere to remind those who come after us that our loved ones were here and made an impact.

The people of the Old Testament were no different. They used stones quite frequently to serve as reminders to those who came after them of significant events. Unlike the headstones of today, though, these stones of remembrance were to point towards God’s presence and actions, rather than memorializing men.

Jacob and Joshua erected stone memorials for remembrance of the Lord's work. Do we actively create memorials in our hearts for Him? Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #honor #memory #inspiration

Inspiration

Jacob had encounters with God that commanded and inspired him to move forward in the Lord’s work. In response, he built a pillar to God…

 And God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body. The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you.” Then God went up from him in the place where he had spoken with him.  And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he had spoken with him, a pillar of stone. He poured out a drink offering on it and poured oil on it. So Jacob called the name of the place where God had spoken with him Bethel.

Genesis 35:11-19, ESV

Generational Remembrance

Joshua had men take twelve stones from the Jordan once they had crossed it. They then erected a memorial to remind their children and their children’s children that God had cut off the waters of the usually overflowing Jordan so that they might cross over it easily. Joshua commanded that one man of each tribe carry a stone.

This action was not merely symbolic or a literary contrivance that looks nice on paper. “Look, there are 12 tribes of Israel, 12 stones, and 12 disciples!” No, Joshua commanded each tribe’s participation, ensuring everyone’s investment. Not one person would forget to hand down the tale because they merely stood on the sidelines watching it happen. No, their hands carried and laid the stones. It was a moment of significance for each tribe individually and collectively.

The people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they encamped at Gilgal on the east border of Jericho. And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’  then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”

Joshua 4:19-24, ESV

Eradication of Sin

Joshua also renewed the covenant the Lord had made with Moses after God had given Ai into their hands. God had dealt swiftly with the sin that was rampant in Ai, just like he did in Jericho.

At that time Joshua built an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel, on Mount Ebal, just as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the people of Israel, as it is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, ‘an altar of uncut stones, upon which no man has wielded an iron tool.’ And they offered on it burnt offerings to the Lord and sacrificed peace offerings. And there, in the presence of the people of Israel, he wrote on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written.

Joshua 8:30-32, ESV

Bear Witness Against Men

More stones were erected when Joshua told the Israelites to choose who they would serve. These stones memorialized that choice accordingly, bearing witness to their feeble promise to God.

So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and put in place statutes and rules for them at Shechem. And Joshua wrote these words in the Book of the Law of God. And he took a large stone and set it up there under the terebinth that was by the sanctuary of the Lord. Joshua said to all the people, ‘Behold, this stone shall be a witness against us, for it has heard all the words of the Lord that he spoke to us. Therefore it shall be a witness against you, lest you deal falsely with your God.’

Joshua 24:25-27, ESV

Christian Life Today

In today’s world, we don’t need stones to remind us of God’s mighty works. We have the evidence of His goodness, His greatness, His wrath, and His correction in our Bibles. In other words, the Bible is a nice, portable collection of stones for us to sift through and reminisce about.

I don’t need to go sit on the bench or stone we will purchase to remember my father. I have placed pillars in my heart that will remain forever. But, do I do that for the Lord? Have I learned enough about Him? Do I love Him with the love of someone who knows her Father intimately enough that stones are unnecessary? Do I recognize the great and miraculous works He performs in my life, and subsequently love Him more for them?

We don't need stones today to remind us of God's mighty works. We have the evidence of His goodness, His greatness, His wrath, and His correction in our Bibles. Click To Tweet

Building My Own Pillars of Remembrance

I vow to read and actively study my Bible more. I promise that I will learn more about God so that I might love him more fiercely every day. And I commit myself to recognize His work in my everyday moments. Therefore, let the stones of remembrance I place in my heart act as memorials and as witnesses to my personal promises to God.

Jacob and Joshua erected stone memorials for remembrance of the Lord's work. Do we actively create memorials in our hearts for Him? Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #honor #memory #inspiration

unsplash-logoJon Phillips
blessing, joy, praise, provision, steward, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Steward: Finding Joy when Blessings Seem Like Burdens

God gives us many blessings. Once we move past our initial thankfulness, the weight of what we must steward can distract us from the source of our joy.



Perception

For a month or more, the Lord has been confronting me… I hear messages about my perception of His blessings. Most of the time, He returns me to a small portion of the Israelite’s story; when they journey out of Egypt and into the land God promised…

Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, ‘Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.’

Now the manna was like coriander seed, and its appearance like that of bdellium. The people went about and gathered it and ground it in handmills or beat it in mortars and boiled it in pots and made cakes of it. And the taste of it was like the taste of cakes baked with oil. When the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell with it.

Numbers 11:4-9, ESV

God gives us many blessings. Once we move past our initial thankfulness, the weight of what we must steward can distract us from the source of our joy. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #blessing #joy #provision

Bored of Blessings

As an outsider looking in, I become outraged on God’s behalf. He blessed the Israelites with precious food straight from heaven so they would not have to hunt for food. When they woke in the morning, the manna lay in wait for them, alongside the dew. Then, they had the audacity to dream of returning to their lives as an enslaved people because they were bored with God’s provision.

As Christians, we like talking about the blessings of the Father. We praise God for the blessings as we receive them. Once we have them in our possession though, what do we do with them? Do we continue to praise God for them? Or do we become a little like the Israelites, wishing for more or different blessings in the midst of God’s goodness?

Steward His Blessings

God gives plentifully. 

He will love you, bless you, and multiply you. He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your wine and your oil, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock, in the land that he swore to your fathers to give you.

Deuteronomy 7:13, ESV

The Word promises that God will bless us on Earth. He allows us to multiply through childbirth. He blesses the land and animals that He created for us to provide us with food. Once we possess this bounty, then, we must steward over them.

The blessings, never less so blessings than when we received them, then become responsibilities. This is precisely when we start taking them for granted, viewing them as burdens. Jesus tells us quite clearly in the parable of the talents that we are to steward over what He gives us. When we do we will be blessed with even more responsibility.

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 

Matthew 25:21, ESV

The master praises the servant for managing the gold given to him well and promises him more to oversee. The promise of more influence brings happiness, much like when we receive a hard-earned promotion. The reality, though, includes more work and greater challenges. We are still called to find joy in those challenges, not in spite of them.

I must reflect on when I received those gifts to remember the joy I found in them, and seek greater joy in the greatest blessing ever bestowed on me: His love, expressed most earnestly through His death on the cross.

The Joy of the Lord

Entering into the Joy of the Lord can be difficult for a few reasons. First, we mistake the temporary and conditional emotion of happiness with joy–an attitude of the heart which is steadfast and constant. Joy persists in the midst of very strong, negative emotions because God is present with us in those moments, He is our source of joy.

Do not get me wrong, happiness is expressed in the Bible. It is not absent, but it does not have the sustaining power of this joy that God gives us freely. In Nehemiah 8, we are told that the joy of the Lord is our strength. It allows us to traverse challenges, to steward our blessings, whether we find happiness in them or not.

Additionally, if you are anything like I am, you look for joy in who you have become or are becoming. I read the bible to find me. I look for who I am and who I should be. At the end of the day, though, the protagonist of the Bible is God. All the stories in the Bible, all the statutes, and all of the commandments point us to who God is and what He has done. God is our joy. He is our strength. He sends His word out for our joy.

so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace;

Isaiah 55:11-12, ESV

A Challenge

I challenge myself to find joy by reading about who God is. I challenge myself to look at what He has given me to steward over and remember their origins as blessings. If this is something you struggle with, I invite you to come alongside me in this challenge.

We must remember God’s gifts of provision and the joy we found in them. But never forget the greatest blessing ever bestowed on us…God’s love, expressed most earnestly through His death on the cross. Click To Tweet

God gives us many blessings. Once we move past our initial thankfulness, the weight of what we must steward can distract us from the source of our joy. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #blessing #joy #provision

Evie Shaffer

boundaries, comfort, sufficient, grace, strength, peace, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Sufficiency: Finding Comfort in the Promises of God

The messages of the world can leave us feeling empty. We must seek our comfort in the promises of God and trust in His sufficiency. 



If you subscribe to the concept of love languages, it would take you five minutes with my son to recognize that his love language is clearly physical touch. In a world where snuggling was an Olympic sport, he would earn gold medals. He could beg to be tickled all day, every day and never stop asking for more. He likes to be right next to you at all times so that if he wants to reach out and touch for even a second, he can. My sweet boy expresses himself through touch, communicating both his love and his anger with his hands and feet.

The messages of the world can leave us feeling empty. We must seek our comfort in the promises of God and trust in His sufficiency. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #boundaries #comfort #grace #scripture #devotional

Understanding Boundaries

We live in a physical world where contact is necessary. However, we draw boundaries around this necessity to keep ourselves and others safe from something as little as awkwardness, to something as big as victimization. Because of these boundaries, my son’s world is constantly telling him that his desire to connect with others and have them connect with him is not okay. He hears the same messages on a loop:

  •    That’s inappropriate.
  •    Too rough.
  •    I’m not available right now.
  •    Keep your hands to yourself.

One night, after carefully explaining appropriate touching to him, he fell apart in my arms and sobbed. “Mommy,” he cried, “I try. So. Hard. But I like people and I want to touch them, but I always get in trouble because it’s just so hard to remember.”

I hugged him tightly and reassured him that I knew he was trying. Recognizing that it was a challenge for him, I let him know the fact he loves people is a good thing. My heart broke for him because I know it is difficult to feel loved when you feel like you are always in trouble. It is especially difficult when you are always in trouble for something that is such a large part of who you are, intrinsically. You can feel wholly insufficient.

Seeking Comfort

It is hard. God created us in a physical world in order to be in relationship with others. At the same time, we are sinners and have to be in relationship with other sinners. This makes for messy relationships and confusing boundaries. And there are times where we feel discontent with our earthly relationships. This discontentment is meant to be healed by finding our comfort, rest, and satisfaction in the arms of Christ.

And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.

Isaiah 58:11, ESV

I think that many of us know this and have moments where we can truly feel it. But resting in the Lord doesn’t have the immediate, recognizable comfort that the embrace of a loved one has for us. His words, also, are harder to hear than those of others in our lives. Especially when we are distracted by the world and its demands.

This reminds me of the Israelites as they waited for Moses. They became fearful and distracted by their circumstances. Since they were not seeing the blessings and protections of the Father in that moment, they created an idol to worship in His stead. They were unable to trust in His sufficiency when they thought He might be absent. While we may not be forging gold into a golden calf in our daily lives, we can make physical contact with others an idol. We can easily take His sufficiency for granted.

Flipping the Script

I have to figure out how to present this to a five-year-old. It’s difficult enough for me to understand and seems like an insurmountable obstacle to apply it when it is needed the most. The best solution for me right now is to teach my boy the scriptures he can turn to. It is so important for him to look for solutions in the Word. I must help him hide those words in his heart so that he can turn the messages from his physical world into messages from God, rooted in Truth.

  • It’s inappropriate to touch someone that way just because you like them, but God’s grace is sufficient for you.
  • That’s too rough. Remember that you are shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.
  • I am not available for you right now, but the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
  • Hands to yourself. Instead, pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling.
  • I know it is So. Hard. But you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.

Maybe, while teaching my son, I will learn this as well.

While we may not be forging gold into a golden calf in our daily lives, we can make physical contact with others an idol. We can easily take His sufficiency for granted. Click To Tweet

The messages of the world can leave us feeling empty. We must seek our comfort in the promises of God and trust in His sufficiency. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #boundaries #comfort #grace #scripture #devotional

Bryan Minear