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Serving God’s Kingdom: Persevering Exhaustion and Unfulfillment

Day to day tasks and work can feel unfulfilling, causing exhaustion. We must persevere through negative attitudes to continue serving God’s Kingdom.



Don’t grow tired of doing good… I know it’s easier said than done. I know because I’m exhausted with it.

Day to day tasks and work can feel unfulfilling, causing exhaustion. We must persevere through negative attitudes to continue serving God's Kingdom. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #gratitude #thankful #GodsKingdom #serve #hospitality #perseverance

Exhausted

I’m exhausted from homeschooling my children so they will be trained in righteousness and the truth of God’s Word. I feel the weariness of changing diapers from my two youngest sons, and the foster children I had the years before them.

I’m so tired of giving my husband my full attention at the end of a long day. Not just physically -if that’s what you’re thinking- but the full attention he needs from me to listen to his stories. He loves to share his work with me and let me tell you, it wears me out to be fully attentive.

However, these are the good works I was made to do. The Lord knew he would be my husband, He called me to homeschool my children, and to be a foster/adoptive mother. When I’m singing songs and explaining history and wiping bottoms and making dinner, I’m doing it for Christ! I am serving God’s Kingdom.

Enthusiasm

Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.

Romans 12:11-13, NLT

I think sometimes we forget that our husbands and children are God’s people. We serve others outside our home with such enthusiasm and generosity but can have a begrudging attitude about the people we claim to love most in this world.

Our tendency to this, I believe, is because we don’t get any recognition for doing our work day in and day out. We do what we have to do because we have to do it. When others outside our homes need help, we do it because we love Christ, yes, but there’s also an element of feeling good about ourselves. Often, I tend to do better for near-strangers than my own household.

Sacrifice

I realized this ugliness in myself just a week ago. A neighbor, also a believer, needed help after a surgery. So, I went and cleaned her bathrooms with more detail and fervor than I’d given any task in my own home in months.

As I was cleaning, I felt very convicted. Why was I so willing to do her bathrooms when just wiping down my own countertops and mirrors made me feel like an unappreciated servant? I think the root issue in my life is laziness and pride. I want to do the things that make me happy and bring me joy and have forgotten that’s not what life is.

A life lived for others is full of sacrifice and self-denial. If I say I want to love God and serve others but only mean it when I’m enjoying myself, then I don’t have the right attitude.

A life lived for others is full of sacrifice and self-denial. If we say we want to love God and serve others but only mean it when it's convenient, then we don't have the right attitude. Click To Tweet

Mundane Work

My family deserves my service to them with a heart full of joy. I am serving my King because I’m obeying His call on my life. He wants me where I am and I don’t want to serve Him begrudgingly. My life verse is a great motivator for me when I feel like I can’t find the point in the mundane and repetitive tasks in my life.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

James 1:12, NIV

Am I wrong for comparing my housework and vocation to a trial? Perhaps, but I’m only being honest about how it can feel.

I’ve been through many terrible and hard circumstances in my life, and I know that what I’m experiencing now is nothing like it. I need to have an attitude of gratitude and persevere in serving God’s Kingdom; in the work our loving Father has given me. I pray that my story will encourage some of you struggling in this area to persevere as well.

Day to day tasks and work can feel unfulfilling, causing exhaustion. We must persevere through negative attitudes to continue serving God's Kingdom. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #gratitude #thankful #GodsKingdom #serve #hospitality #perseverance

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Suffering: God is Sufficient Amidst Our Worldly Pain

God promised pain and trials in our lives, but He holds the victory over our suffering. It may not be easy, but we can allow Jesus to hold us amidst hurt.



This morning a precious friend came to mind. I pray for her and her family often because, from my vantage point, her life burdens are heavy, painful, and very hard to bear.

God promised pain and trials in our lives, but He holds victory over our suffering. It may not be easy, but we can allow Jesus to hold us amidst hurt. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #hurt #suffering #pain #comfort #trials

Trading Suffering…

I remember the first time my heart knit with hers. We lived in the same state then and attended the same church. Our worship leader was leading the congregation in a lively, spirited song called, “Trading My Sorrows.” The words to the song were discordant with the upbeat rhythms…at least for where my life was at the time, and incidentally, what my friend was experiencing in her life, too.

Standing silently next to each other in the choir while everyone around us loudly sang, “Yes, Lord, yes, Lord…,” she muttered, “I’m not singing that! I can’t sing that right now!” I murmured back, “Me neither. It’s too close to home right now.” I’m not sure I ever sang that song, again.

How Do We Sing?

My friend had a very ill baby. My father was dying of cancer and my husband had recently been diagnosed with cancer. It was a difficult season of life.

Neither of us knew the long years of sorrow and suffering that lay ahead of us. If we had, the weight of it might have broken us both right there in the choir loft. But God graciously hid our earthly eyes from that vision and walked us one step at a time into the future. At times, He held us.

How do we, as the song states, ‘trade our sorrows, sickness, pain, for the joy of the Lord’? How does one sing and dance about these things when in the midst of them?

Trust He is Sufficient

I’m not convinced that we are called to sing and dance, but trusting in Him is key…

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing, I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10, NKJV

Suffering is Normal

Pastor and writer Tim Keller wrote a book called, Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering, in 2013. One Amazon reviewer had this to say: “Americans seem to suffer more due to the fact that they are even suffering – than because of the suffering in and of itself. Keller wisely shows that suffering is a normal part of living in a fallen world.”

It does seem to be an affront to us when we suffer – as though we should all be given a ‘pass’ on suffering because we are living in the 21st Century! Or because it’s not on the schedule, or because we are Christians, or, as Joni Erikson Tada said:

We are infected by our culture of comfort and convenience, and would rather erase suffering out of the biblical dictionary. We want a God who supports our plans, who is our “accomplice”; someone to whom we can relate as long as he is doing what we want. If he does something else, we “unfriend” him.

Joni Erikson Tada

Finding God

But He doesn’t always do what we want, does He? Daily, our lives are touched with suffering and death, if not personally, then vicariously. Keller wrote:

As I took up life as a minister, I tried to understand why so many people resisted and rejected God. I soon realized that perhaps the main reason was affliction and suffering. How could a good God, a just God, a loving God, allow such misery, depravity, pain, and anguish? Doubts in the mind can grow along with pain in the heart…

But at the same time, I learned that just as many people find God through affliction and suffering. They find that adversity moves them toward God rather than away. Troubled times awaken them out of their haunted sleep of spiritual self-­sufficiency into a serious search for the divine…It is an exaggeration to say that no one finds God unless suffering comes into their lives—­but it is not a big one. When pain and suffering come upon us, we finally see not only that we are not in control of our lives but that we never were.

Tim Keller, Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering

Biblical Suffering

A careful search of the Bible will find, beginning in Genesis, two of the main themes are suffering and adversity. And as Keller noted, the Psalms are filled with cries of pain. Full of questions concerning injustice and why God allows suffering.

Vindicate me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation; Oh, deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man! For You are the God of my strength; Why do You cast me off? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

Psalm 43:1-2, NKJV
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Awake! Why do You sleep, O Lord? Arise! Do not cast us off forever. Why do You hide Your face, and forget our affliction and oppression?

Psalm 44:23-24, NKJV

How have we missed this? Or have we simply denied it? Exodus, Job, Ecclesiastes, Jeremiah, Habakkuk, Hebrews, I Peter- all these and more, my sisters, address suffering, adversity and sorrow. Our Lord, Jesus Christ was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, (Isaiah 53:3).

Upsidedown

Recently, Pope Francis took the authority to change some wording in the Lord’s prayer considered offensive to this world’s senses, opting for a more sensitive approach. We too often choose our finite ideas, which are continually distorted by sin and culture, requiring what John Piper calls a hermeneutical headstand. As Piper stated in his blog post: “We must continually refine them, [our ideas] by what the Bible teaches.”

Right side up, we would say, ‘The Bible teaches that God does such and such. Therefore, we should seek to discover the wisdom and goodness of why he would act that way.’ But standing on our heads, we would say, ‘We already know what is wise and good before the Bible tells us. So, if this text tells us God acts contrary to what we know, we will conclude that the text can’t mean that, or it’s mistaken.’

Daring progressive Christians say the text is mistaken; less daring progressives claim to hold fast to biblical authority while changing the meaning to fit their prior view of God. In either case, authority has shifted from heaven to earth.

John Piper

Jesus Holds the Final Word

Oh, precious one, if you are suffering, I hurt with you. More importantly, Jesus holds you and comforts you if you will allow Him.

After all, doesn’t He have the final word on suffering?

In our suffering, Jesus holds and comforts us if we will allow Him. He holds the final word over our pain! Click To Tweet

God promised pain and trials in our lives, but He holds victory over our suffering. It may not be easy, but we can allow Jesus to hold us amidst hurt. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #hurt #suffering #pain #comfort #trials

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Refuge: Where Can We Find Solace in Times of Anguish?

Despair surrounds us. Trials abound. Where do we find refuge? Can we truly experience peace when we are feeling anguish?



I just got news that a friend’s cancer screening came back CLEAR. We are high-fiving and rejoicing all over Northern Virginia, and beyond! Several of us waiting and praying needed the win – to see God’s mercy displayed. I am crying tears of joy.

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.

2 Corinthians 4:8-10, ESV

So much loss and heartache is swirling around in my sphere. I talked to someone earlier who feels like they’re fighting off despair with a baseball bat. We spoke about how we come into this world with nothing and we leave the same way. Everything we receive in life is a gift, but it is freaking painful when we lose them. It is difficult to believe we won’t end up humiliated if we place all of our trust in God.

Despair surrounds us. Trials abound. Where do we find refuge? Can we truly experience peace when we are feeling anguish?

But once you’ve experienced God, His presence is not something you want to be without. There is always more to discover about God. Still, it has to be personal. I can tell you my homemade chocolate pound cake with chocolate buttercream frosting is scrumptious. (And it is) But if you haven’t tasted it, how can you possibly know?

Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in Him!

Psalm 34:8, NLT

When you lose another job, how can you not be perplexed? When your spouse cheats on you, or you have a miscarriage, how does it not absolutely crush you? Exactly how do you not give into despair when you’re sitting in a jail cell because someone lied about you?

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.

Psalm 46:1-3, NASB

Despair surrounds us. Trials abound. Where do we find refuge? Can we truly experience peace when we are feeling anguish?

Throughout my life God has been a refuge for me. He sustained me and brought me out of darkness. He restored my marriage from the brink of divorce. I’ve experienced His deep peace in times of anguish. The kind where you tune into yourself and realize, this isn’t natural. I should be way more upset right now.

God does not often clue me in ahead of time to His plan, but I know He is at work. I am familiar with His goodness. When I feel like I’m tottering on the edge of despair, I recall to mind how He has been my refuge in the past. Then I have unwavering hope.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.

Isaiah 26:3-4, ESV

What does it look like to make God your refuge?


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Despair surrounds us. Trials abound. Where do we find refuge? Can we truly experience peace when we are feeling anguish?

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I’m a Failure

Life is full of trials and tribulations. We are constantly putting out one fire, only to turn around find another. Just when we think we have found our groove and that we have everything under control, the rug gets pulled out and we realize we never really had control in the first place. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Are you starting to get the point? Are you tired of my analogies yet? Probably, but I know that you know what I’m talking about because we have all experienced this.

Our trials can take many forms. An annoying co-worker, disobedient children, fussy babies, an illness, yet another bill that can’t be paid, a spouse that just doesn’t seem to get you. Whatever it is, all of us are struggling with something. The question is, how do we handle those times when we are being tested?


Here’s what happened…

Earlier in the year my hubby had to go out of town for work. And let me just say, I am super spoiled that this rarely happens. I have a dear friend whose husband travels all the time. I don’t know how she does it, it would make me lose my mind. I depend heavily on my hubby and I don’t mind admitting it. The Lord gives us the grace to handle all of our different situations I suppose. Anyhow…he left town Sunday afternoon. That evening was alright because my dad and step-mom were visiting and I was enjoying my time with them. That night however….

It started with the fact that I had a nasty cough and couldn’t get to sleep until around 12:30. At 3:45 I awoke to the sound of foot steps running down the hall. My older son came barging in telling me that my younger son was throwing up. Wonderful. I hurry and rush to their room to find my 3 year old sitting in a puddle of vomit. But here’s the thing, we had just made bunk beds for the boys and naturally my older son got the top bunk. My younger son is such a snuggle bug, that he would wait for his brother to fall asleep and then crawl into bed with him. So my poor older son was awoken with his little brother throwing up in his bed. And this poor, pregnant mama had to clean up the vomit on a top bunk.

When I got into the room I went in to triage mode. What had to be done first? What was most urgent? First I had to clean it off the floor. Gross. Then I got my son out of the bed, stripped him down, and put him in the bathroom to get cleaned up. Then I got my older son settled on the couch since his bed was ruined for the night. Younger son was settled into his bed. Then the clean up began. Seriously, trying to clean this up on the top bunk while almost 6 months pregnant was no easy task.  At 4:15 I made it back to my bed, but not before walking full speed into the corner of the wall. I had a goose-egg and bruise on my forehead for a week. Once in bed, I hear my younger son up again. He wants to hug. And his belly hurts. Let’s go hug in the bathroom. After getting sick again, I went back to bed and prayed that my other son and I would be spared from whatever this was. I could not get sick, especially not with my hubby out of town. Sleep was pointless since I would have to wake up in less than an hour. The next day was sure to be interesting since my folks were going to be leaving and I would be on my own.

It was actually quite comical the amount of things that went wrong the first 24 hours my hubby was gone, but I was quite pleased with myself on how I was handling it. I was calm and compassionate with my boys. I was even able to get everything done that needed plus some.

It was the next day that I blew it. I had an all-out-3-year-old-style temper tantrum. And I knew in that moment that I failed. I failed the test that I was given. And this got me thinking. How could I not have failed? Were there steps or precautions that I could have taken? What about things I could tell myself to stay calm? Absolutely. I recognized that the hour before bedtime was my most challenging time of the day, so I gave myself a count down. I only had to stay calm for another 45 minutes. And I gave the boys a countdown. Ten minutes to clean up, ten minutes to get bathed, 2 minutes to brush teeth, and then read a book. Once I implemented the plan, the rest of the week went smoothly.

What I learned…

I decided that it was alright, maybe even necessary to fail. Without failing, we won’t know what needs to be changed. We won’t learn. We won’t grow. I still believe this to be true, but my lesson in failing wasn’t over. A few weeks later, I failed again. I was then challenged with the thought that I CAN’T pass the test. I will never, ever, ever get it right.

See, I believe there is such a thing as “sin” and wouldn’t you know it, we all suffer from it. The world is consumed with it actually. And even more of a bummer is that I can’t fix it on my own. But see, I also believe there is such a thing as “grace” and thankfully we all can access it. So, the next time I was presented with the test of rising anger while dealing with these selfish, inconsiderate, deceitful creatures (known as my children) I went into a quiet moment and thanked Jesus for the grace that was given to me because he bore my sin of losing my temper. And then I thanked Him for the Holy Spirit that promises to give us a spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness. That’s the the mom, wife, and friend that I desire to be. It was then that I was able to go to my children and teach them and correct their behavior and show them love. It was then that I was, yet again, changed by grace.

 

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