Blessed, Righteous Suffering

But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed.
1 Peter 3:14

Have you ever asked yourself, Did I make the right decision?

Perhaps the Lord was calling you to trust Him; to step out in confidence, putting your faith into action. After seeking His wisdom through scripture and prayer, you knew it was right. It would be difficult, yes, but necessary. With the courage of the Holy Spirit, you followed His instruction. But it didn’t exactly work out as you expected.

I know the feeling all too well. Recently, God asked me to step out of my comfort zone by boldly speaking truth to a wayward Christian friend. It was scary, but I knew the Lord was asking me to willingly follow His lead. So I did. And I got the silent treatment in return.

Although I knew it was the right thing to do, I couldn’t help but question if following God meant loosing friends?

Sometimes, the right thing is unpopular. Sometimes it’s miserable. Lonely. We may suffer as a result.

Simply put, sometimes it sucks.

As I contemplated my misery and the potential loss of friendship, the Lord encouraged my heart by turning sucks into an acronym for prayer. He gave me five ways to lean in when life tempts me to bail:

Surrender the doubt

James 6:1 – But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt. Trust God is doing what He said He would do. Emotions change with circumstances but His will does not.

Utter a prayer of thanksgiving

I Thessalonians 5:18 – Give thanks in all circumstances. Thank the Lord for the opportunity to develop character, perseverance, and hope through this trial.

Cast our cares on Him

I Peter 5:7 – Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. Tell Him how you’re hurting. It’s ok to release worries by shedding a few tears.

Keep on keepin’ on

Hebrews 12:12 – And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Seek the Lord during hard times. Take the next step. The future is less overwhelming when we approach each day, each hour, each moment as it comes.

Sense the Lord’s presence

Deuteronomy 31:6 – …for the Lord Your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Invite the Holy Spirit into your darkest moments. Allow His presence to filter peace into your heart and mind.

I Peter 3:14 reminds us of the importance of doing what is right. Even when we suffer for it, we are blessed. It is an honor to be used by the Lord; a privilege to endure misery, rejection, and loneliness for His namesake.

As I meditated on the truth of God’s Word, my anxiety was replaced by peace. Finding favor with God far outweighed the favor of a friend.

Doing the right thing is always worth it because it honors God. So the next time doing the right thing makes you think, “this sucks”, remember the acronym. You’ve got this!

Jesus, it can be a real challenge to follow You at times. Thank you for Your blessing upon those who choose rightly. Give us peace in knowing we are honoring You. Amen

Healing Hidden Wounds

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Have you ever stopped to consider the measures we often go to in order to hide our pain? Many wake each morning, the sting of old wounds lingering after a night of sleep aided only by a numbing substance. Rather than acknowledging our feelings, we shove them under the covers as we make our bed, shower, and face another day. We welcome distractions such as busy schedules, laundry to be washed, dishes to be cleaned, meals to be made – anything to keep our minds off the ache we cannot shake.

I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to put on a smile and go about the routine of my day, only to land in a heap on the couch, exhausted by the effort it took to maintain the facade.

Deep, hidden wounds are rarely revealed. They are associated with guilt, shame, or regret over a choice we made or one that was made against us. They are those do-over moments we wish truly existed.

So, what is one to do with these wounds? Continue to self-medicate? Avoid sensitive topics and triggers at all costs? Pretend we are not affected by our past?

For the person who simply cannot go on this way anymore – the one who needs complete healing – keep reading.

Hope is where it all begins. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Do you believe the Lord has plans to prosper you? Perhaps numerous difficult circumstances have left you disenchanted, feeling hopeless of a future blessed by God. Maybe you question His existence, His presence in your life, or if there is a plan at all.

I used to put my hope in things of this world – in people’s approval of me; in my children’s validation of my mothering skills; in my success as a person by what I did rather than who I was. Putting my hope in anything other than the Lord lead to discouraging disappointment. He is the only constant, trustworthy source of unfailing hope.

Regardless of where life has taken you, there is no path that cannot be redirected.

Dare to hope in the power of the Holy Spirit to transform hidden wounds into healed scars. Dare to believe that change can happen – even after years of self-medication, bandages and acceptance of the bed you have laid. Consider the faint possibility that God offers a soothing balm formulated to restore the health of your exact hurt. 

God has a plan for you, my friend. A plan of hope, redemption, and healing – and He is hoping you will venture to trust in Him.

 

Dear Lord, it can be really tough to hope in the unknown. It’s easier to stay in the predictability of our pain than to venture out into the uncertainty of change. Be with us as we begin the process of healing by choosing to put our hope in nothing other than You. Amen