Demand or Desire?

Hello, friends.  I have been incognito for a while, but I want to share a piece of my thought process with you so that you can chew on it as well.

I have been reading Inside Out, by Larry Crabb.  Crabb makes a distinction in Chapter 8 between desires and demands.

As human beings we are completely expected to have deep desires and to experience deep pain, and we are expected to be able to share that with each other.

I am grateful to have that fact validated.  I have experienced plenty of people who were uncomfortable with acknowledging pain.  I myself have been guilty of trying to push through pain and resolve it too quickly.  Learning that it is ok to hurt and have unmet desires has been a relief.

When our desires and hurts are not met or healed in the time frame we desire, however, we can easily turn to demanding that our desires be met or that our hurts be healed.  Job did this when he demanded God declare him not guilty.

Unfortunately, when we demand something of God we are not trusting him.  Job discovered this when God questioned him, and Job repented.

In my most difficult moments I know that I have demanded things of God rather than trusting in his sovereignty, and I have a feeling I will continue to learn that lesson in the coming years.

God is God and I am not, and the sooner I recognize that, the sooner I will be at peace regardless of my circumstances.

How about you?  Do you turn to demanding things of God when his answers are slow in coming or are not what you expect?

Is God Enough for You?

When life hits us hard we question everything, including ourselves.

  • Why did you let this happen, God?
  • If you are good, why am I going through so much pain?
  • Why didn’t I get out when I could?
  • Why did I say that?

What we are really asking, though, is this:

God, are you enough for me?

When your marriage gets difficult, when your work situation takes an unexpected turn, or when your children disrespect you, is God enough for you?  When a friend speaks badly about you behind your back, or when someone takes advantage of you, is God enough for you?

Much of my life I unwittingly placed my value in what others thought of me.  When they spoke or thought poorly of me, I was devastated.  When they questioned my integrity, I was crushed.

I was feeling beat up because I was viewing myself through the eyes of others rather than through the eyes of God.

I still find myself slipping into that same trap from time to time, but when I am able to see myself as God sees me, I have strong, enduring peace.

God knows you and me more intimately than any one person will ever be able to know us. He made us.  Psalm 139:13 says God knits us together in our mother’s womb.

He knows why you are hurting better than you do, and he knows how to heal you better than any self-help book or counselor.  (Counselors are invaluable, by the way; I am not knocking them.  You need a counselor who is a believer, though, for you to really find healing.)

God is enough for me and for you, and he will always be enough.

Where in your life do you need to remember that God is enough for you?

The Meaning of Pain

This is Easter week and I am totally focused on prepping for Easter, but I want to give you something to think about.

The other day I was listening to a message by Andy Stanley, pastor of North Point in Atlanta, and he made this statement:

Why would God, who did not spare his own Son to save us, spare your marriage, your health, your job, or anything else if losing that thing would draw you to himself? (My words)

Needless to say, I was blown away. In this Easter week, think about how much God gave to draw you to himself. You might find yourself, as I did, viewing your struggles and challenges in a very different and more redemptive light.

What has God used in your life to draw you to himself?

Stewardship of Your Story

The last few years has been a study for me in learning through pain, and this past Sunday my pastor added a new chapter in my notes.  If you want to hear the entire message, click here and listen to “Impact #3 Stewardship of Your Story.”  It is worth your time.

He asked the question, “What if God wants to use your pain to help others?”

We like to hide our failures so that we look the way we think people want us to look.  In the end we all end up hiding from each other, afraid to open up and get help when we need it.

The Scripture is full of examples of situations where people’s pain turned to salvation: Joseph saving his family after being sold as a slave, Abraham having to leave all he knew to go somewhere about which he knows nothing.  In Isaiah 53 we read that Christ’s pain was part of our redemption.

At a time when she was vulnerable, poor, a foreigner, and essentially a migrant worker, Ruth was working in Boaz’s fields.  Instead of exploiting her he had compassion on her.  Long story short they end up getting married and restoring the honor of her mother-in-law’s family.

Question: Where did Boaz learn to protect vulnerable women?

When the Israelites were preparing to attack Jericho, they sent in some spies.  Two of these spies got trapped and ended up escaping the authorities because a prostitute hid them.  Hmmm, what were they doing at the prostitute’s place?  But I digress . . .  In return the prostitute, Rahab, asks that she, her parents, and her brothers and sisters be spared when the Israelites attack.  The Israelites honored her request and Rahab went on to live with the Israelites.

Turns out she marries a man from the tribe of Judah.  His name was Salmon.  Their son was named . . you guessed it . . Boaz.  Boaz most likely learned to protect vulnerable women from his father, who married a prostitute and gave her honor back to her.

Check out Matthew 1 and you will find that Christ’s lineage goes through both Rahab and Ruth, two foreigners and one a prostitute.

Question: Would Boaz have learned the same lessons if Rahab had been afraid to live with the Israelites because of her reputation?

Pastor Ken’s point was this. If we have made it through our situation but keep it to ourselves, how will someone else in the same situation get encouragement?

Perhaps, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1, we are given comfort that we might comfort others with the comfort we ourselves have received.  We can choose to hide our pain and be ashamed of it, or we can share it with others so that they can be encouraged and learn from it.

I was so grateful for my friend who was willing to share his painful story with me while I was going through separation and divorce.  He was such an encouragement to me.

Sharing the good things is easy, but sharing pain is something else altogether.  Do you have the courage to share your pain?

When have you been encouraged because someone shared their pain with you?  Have you been able to encourage someone else with your pain?