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
Anger, angry, forgiveness, righteousness, oceans, grace, freedom, broken, sin, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Angry: Silencing Anger through God’s Redemptive Love

Acting on our angry feelings is dangerous and invites a stronghold of sin to take root in our lives. But we can break through with God’s redemptive love.



Be angry and do not sin;

Ephesians 4:26, ESV

I’ve been desperately grasping for a reprieve from anger… grasping for peace amongst the storm of rage. Just when I think I’ve pulled it all together, something happens that creates a massive eruption of spew from my mouth.

Acting on our angry feelings is dangerous and invites a stronghold of sin to take root in our lives. But we can silence this through God's redemptive love. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #anger #angry #righteousanger #sin #grace #freedom

Righteously Angry

Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God.

Romans 12:19, NLT

I keep hearing about righteous anger, but I often wonder if I even have the ability to embody it. Is it possible for a human to have purely righteous anger? Are we able to knock over tables in righteousness…

Matthew 21:12-16, lays out the prime example used when we speak about Jesus’ anger. –I’ll have to be honest, there are times when I think it would be nice to tip some tables over in rage.– However, I would like to challenge our minds to think about the depth of His anger; think about how His anger differs from ours.

Jesus was perfect and blameless. Sinless. He had the ability to show care and bring restoration even in this heated moment. It grieved His heart to see the perversion that had become the Temple of the Lord, for the sake of His faithful.

But those who saw Jesus act and heard His words of conviction, praised Him. Children sang ‘Hosanna’! He overturned perversion and restored the innocent. This is not often the result of human anger.

Human Anger

I can’t account a time when acting on my anger brought about healing. In fact, I tend to lace my fury with the lie that it’s part of my healing process–Well, not if someone else has to heal because of it.

My heart aches. I can’t explain the pain and brokenness my false righteous indignation has caused. I can’t tell you how many messes I’ve had to clean up because I acted out my firey insides. Or how many times I’ve had to ask for forgiveness. Especially from my Savior.

We don’t get a pass on sinful anger just because we call it righteous. If you have to say it’s righteous, it probably isn’t. If you have to account for your actions during bouts of anger, you’ve probably been acting selfishly and, ultimately, sinfully.

Always the Ocean

A lot of life reminds me of the ocean. A lot of my relationship with God reminds me of the ocean. Always with the ocean. This time, thinking of anger… it’s captivating and extremely dangerous.

I know the curative therapy that is the sea; breathing in the salty air, diving into the warm water, letting the waves bring you back to shore. Its majesty lets you know you cannot tame it.

Oh, how small we are.

But that’s how enticing anger is. The eruptions like waves; believing in the false therapy following. Breathing in and out, in and out… Yeah, that’s not working. Diving into the heat of the moment. Its waves pulling you further from shore, with no hope of taming the rage.

Oh, how small I’ve become.

Take a Breath

Because I am still in this season, because I’m not on the other side of this lesson, I feel I should share what God is speaking. In trying to derive advice from The Ultimate Authority, a series of questions ran through my mind. I believe these will allow us to take a breath, evaluate our anger, and have to repent of sin less often.

Am I angry at what makes God angry… did this make filthy, what God made pure?

Am I being honest about my anger? Do I need to repent of these actions?

Do I have the ability to be angry and love at the same time? Is my anger meant to restore or tear apart?

Am I allowing the Holy Spirit to control my anger or am I harming those around me?

Freedom from Anger

Yes, these questions may help bring rational thought to a fueled moment, but how do we feel anger and not sin? How do we handle seasons of anger and break free from its bondage? As I said, I’m still in the thick of it, but these are my daily practices and convictions…

Self-control: Proverbs 16:32

Face to the floor prayer.

Take every thought captive: 2 Corinthians 10:5

Fasting.

Give NO opportunity to the devil: Ephesians 4:27

Biblical meditation.

Do good: Romans 12:19-21

Love God and keep His commands: John 14:15

God’s Peace

In these moments of helplessness, moments where rage takes over, I am reminded of how much I need the redemptive power of my Father. How much I need the freedom given through His blood.

Through His blood, we can repent of our unrighteous, sinful anger. We can be made whole, we can heal through His grace, not our rage.

His grace silences our haughty words. Silences our temper. It covers us and gives us the ability to approach His throne with the things that have broken our hearts. It allows God to speak:

That ocean you love so dearly, its majesty, its nature, its constant rhythm is my love for you. I am the ocean, unwavering, unstoppable, overwhelming, raging. The battle between the ocean and the shore, that’s my battle for you. For your freedom. That peace you feel, that’s my gift to you. No longer will you be a slave to this crashing bitterness. You are delivered. You are redeemed.

Through His blood, we can repent of our unrighteous, sinful anger. We can be made whole, we can heal through His grace, not our rage. Click To Tweet

Acting on our angry feelings is dangerous and invites a stronghold of sin to take root in our lives. But we can silence this through God's redemptive love. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #anger #angry #righteousanger #sin #grace #freedom

unsplash-logoRuslan Valeev
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

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anger, love, gifts, spiritual gifts, messy, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Fools: Do Not Be Lost Among Anger, Be Found in Christ

The way we fill ourselves reflects in how we live. Filling ourselves with Christ will produce great things. But filling ourselves with flesh will ruin us. Will we be like the fools and fill ourselves with things we know cannot sustain? 



Messy Room, Messy life

I’d like to take you through my most recent run-in with teen trouble and disobedience. I am still currently working through it. Please pardon my spotty storytelling and unrighteous anger that may seep into my words.

My room is always a mess. And when I say mess, I mean you’d think everything I’ve ever owned was on the floor. It gets pretty bad. It’s been this way for as long as I can remember and the battle between my parents and I has raged on just as long. As a defiant human being, as we all can be, I’ve never fully come to drop the belief that it’s my room so why should I have to keep it clean? It isn’t negatively affecting them, is it?

Well, let’s just say we all hit our breaking points this past weekend. My sister Natalie and I share the basement as our room and hear the phrase “Clean your room” just as often as we hear our own names. However, and saying it aloud is revealing to me how selfish it all really is, we’ve become entirely numb to the constant reminder…

The way we fill ourselves reflects in how we live. Christ sustains but filling up with the things of this world proves we are fools. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #anger #love #gifts #messy #scripture #devotional

Storytime

Early this weekend my dad told Natalie and I that for the next two weeks before we all part ways for spring break, we will not be allowed to go to any Young Life events aside from Club…

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Young Life, Club is where we have fun, sing songs, and try to introduce our uninterested friends to life with Christ. Campaigners are where the inner circle of believers grow in faith together and brainstorm how to get our friends to come to Club. I also have a small group Wednesday mornings that I’ve been prohibited to attend.

Keep in mind that I have a very uneventful social life, so losing these privileges was, well, no fun.

Last night, there was massive miscommunication. Natalie and I understood that if we cleaned our room and bathroom then we could go to Club. What we completely missed was that we weren’t allowed to go at all.

Both of our parents were out of the house, but we were unaware of their absence. So while walking out we announced our departure and took the lack of a response as a green light. Long story short we were picked up before the event even began and the uncomfortable conversations began. This devotional will be brief and I’d like to include last night’s journal entry…

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

Ecclesiastes 7:9, ESV

Angry Entry

Our world is full of fools. Unfortunately, we cannot exclude ourselves from them. We are the fools. We act foolishly when our foolish plans are foiled. I wanted to go somewhere but my foolish self is resorting to tears and anger. Some not so unfamiliar “friends” of mine. I don’t handle emotions well.

God has blessed me with a heart three sizes too big, but with that increased love also comes increased sorrow. I overflow no matter the emotion and much of my inner turmoil over the years is because I go to isolation, anger, and sadness instead of God when I boil over. Clearly, I did not go to God first tonight.

That was me referencing the first half of my entry which included a lot of my anger towards the situation as I began to simmer down…

Humbled Entry

But God, forgive me for being angry with my parents even if I completely disagree with their choices. And Lord PLEASE help me with everything I feel. Take it. Ease it. Calm it. Calm this storm in me before I drown. Hm. I say that, but I know you will not let me drown. You will give me the strength to swim.

My heart is so anxious, so angry, so sad. I long for something I think I can find among flesh-wearing beings. I will not find it. In all honesty, I can’t name what it is I think I need. What is it I’ve convinced myself I can’t live without? Love? Friendship? Attention? God give me what it is I search for and help me not be angry or discontent when I don’t get it when I want. And open my mind to the possibility that I have no clue what I truly desire. Do not let me lose sight of you and remind me of who I am when I am among the fools. 

Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.

Proverbs 28:26, ESV

Fools Full of God’s Love

It’s hard for me sometimes, despite my struggle with self-esteem, to remain humble in the way I do things with this blog and life in general…

Wow; people love my posts. Wow; I’m singing the national anthem in a parade this weekend. Holy guacamole I won the talent show at my school of 5,000.

But who am I to claim these gifts as my own? Who am I to not constantly be thanking God for these talents and ways I can reach other people’s hearts? It’s times like these when I experience embarrassment, hurt, and a lesson learned… I remember how small and needy I am. But what an incredible thing to have a God who fulfills my needs, quenches my thirst, and fills the gap between me with His infinite love.

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

1 John 4:16, ESV

When we remember how small and needy we are, we must also remember we have a God who fulfills all our needs! He quenches our thirsts and fills our gaps with His infinite love. Click To Tweet

The way we fill ourselves reflects in how we live. Christ sustains but filling up with the things of this world proves we are fools. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #anger #love #gifts #messy #scripture #devotional

Patrick Tomasso