Promise 2

 “Even now, take your stand and see this great thing the Lord will do before your eyes.”  1 Samuel 12:16 NASB

After times of incredible victory, there always seems to come a season of stretching, pruning, or growth. The truth is, it’s a real struggle to be joyful and grateful in those seasons because they are painful and difficult. When I indulge one of my most human weaknesses, to judge and compare, I conclude that most of my “difficult” times are not actually difficult; they’re more accurately categorized as frustrating and inconvenient. For example, dealing with a teenager who is talking back disrespectfully and challenging authority, while it may seem incredibly difficult at the moment, is not comparatively severe as the tragic loss of a loved one or the helplessness of watching your child suffer from illness or necessary medical procedures. In my categorizing mind, some things warrant my reaching out for God, and then there are other situations that, for some reason, I believe I should be able to deal with easily. 

Some people seem to handle, deal with, and manage their challenges with peace, love, joy, patience, gratitude, kindness, and grace.  But it occurs to me, words like “handle,” “deal with,” and “manage” are all words rooted in control. Can fruits of the Spirit overflow from a place where we are taking control? 

Then there’s me, who, when stress-filled difficulties surface, my head begins to swirl, trying to process, grasping for understanding, and the desperation to be relieved of the challenge bubbles up, or panging in my brain seeking to know precisely the right thing to do or say pulses. It’s humbling to feel so out of control when there’s this voice inside telling me that I should be in control. It’s scary to feel the expectation of the world bearing down and not know what to do, or worse, to do the wrong thing. In my mind, I hear, “What’s wrong with you?” “You should be able to handle this.”, “This is your fault.”, “You should have done…”, “You can’t do this.”, “You’re not smart enough to figure this out.” or “You’ve never been enough.” It’s all the lies of my shadow self.  As long as I remain tethered to those lies, I will continue to stumble through the rocks and the rubble from the avalanche those thoughts trigger. 

It’s so easy to see all the places I’ve failed, the areas that I’ve lacked self-control, patience, kindness, and gentleness. Those places I’ve attempted to “deal with,” “handle,” or “manage.” Why is it so much easier to exhibit the fruits of the Spirit with friends and strangers, rather than the people I love the most? When the stress is high within our family nucleus, and I feel unfairly treated or blamed, I get overstimulated, and my defenses go up. I react, and it’s my reactions that trigger the avalanche of rubble and damage. Why can’t I respond like Jesus? Why is it so difficult to trust that he will “deal with,” “handle,” or “manage” it?  What now, after I’ve blown it and my world has crumbled before me? 

Weary, bruised, and defeated, I cry out to my God and penetrating through my regret and guilt, I hear Him whisper,

“Even now, I love you. Even now, when you can’t see past the darkness, I am with you. Even now, when you believe yourself to be worthless, you are my greatest treasure. Even now, when you view yourself a wretch, I see your radiant beauty. Even now, when you think all is lost, I have so much blessing to abundantly lavish upon you. Even now, when you consider yourself unworthy of forgiveness, I have already forgiven you. 

My love is not conditional. When you look for me, you find me because I’m always here. I never leave you. I am yours, and you are mine. I never reject you. Mistakes happen so you will grow and mature. Besides, I am bigger than your mistakes. Come and stand before me and watch what I will do.”

What are your triggers of frustration?

What are the lies that you hear?

Do you feel defeated?

What are you trying to handle or deal with? Do you want to give it to Jesus?

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