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The “Hidden” Story

A person approaches. He has a cane and walks with a limp. Or maybe, it’s a lady in a wheelchair. Or possibly, there’s a grown child throwing a fit in the store aisle. One look at his distorted face tells you that he has a mental handicap. Your expectations in these situations is determined by what you see. You don’t know the people’s stories, but you do know that they need extra provisions and some extra grace. I’m not saying that these individuals have it easy. I’m just saying they have it “obvious.”
I’m slowly learning that everyone has a handicap, a weakness, something that makes living just a bit harder. However, not everyone has the “obvious” story. I’ve had thyroid issues from early teen years. It wasn’t too big of a deal back then. It wouldn’t rear its ugly head until many years later, in the form of thyroid cancer. So, it wasn’t until a couple of years after I was married that my “hidden” story began. Back pain – Everyone has it. Degenerative discs – It’s common after 40. Nerve pain – It just takes twisting the wrong way. So, when I tell you that is part of my story, you may shrug it off. What you don’t know is that at 23 years old, I had the back of a 65 year old. I don’t have the usual one or two degenerative discs, I have seven or eight in my back and neck. I have had one fusion in my neck, with more on the way. Nerve pain – Just the vibration of the steering wheel, while driving, can send my whole body into aching, shooting, stabbing pain. I have a four-inch three-ring binder that tells this story – filled with 20+ doctors, 16 years of treatments and medications (with resulting addictions), and unanswered questions – much better than I can.
Then, in my 30s, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Everyone has that too. However, if you understand the last part of my story, you might understand how this new diagnosis affects me on a different level. I bought my first cane about four years ago. I hate using it. I’m too young for that kind of “obvious.” I’ve spent months in bed. Get up in the morning, get the kids out the door to school, go back to bed…for the entire day. The 30+ symptoms that came along with this disease are not simple or easy: constant nausea, blurry vision, falling due to muscle/nerve weakness (7 times in just the past 5 months), constant pain, dizziness, weight gain and the list goes on. There are days when it just doesn’t seem worth it.
I’ve struggled with the pain of being told that I couldn’t have my own children – 7 years of aching and longing – of struggling with God. The heartbreak of surrender. Then, the miracle of 7 pregnancies. I have three amazing children on earth, and four that are with Jesus. Nothing is more painful than losing a child…Nothing. Nothing prepares you beforehand or truly restores you afterwards. The pain is real, but it’s not “obvious.” Sometimes, it only takes a single sentence from someone to send you reeling into self-pity, depression, or anger. Why must the hurt be so big, so very hard?
My oldest son is brilliant. He can tell you any fact about WWII in vivid detail. He knows every tank from every country on earth. He knows how fast they can go and what ammunition they carry. He can tell you about missiles, bombs, and bullets – things you didn’t even want to know. He is organized and obedient. He loves us so much that he has promised to live with us forever. I don’t doubt, for one second, that he probably will. He struggles to read, to spell, and to do simple math. He has to really concentrate to read a clock that isn’t digital. He doesn’t need scarcely any sleep. He cannot do change, noise, or germs. He can act out in violent anger or ridiculous absurdity at the drop of a hat. He has no filter. He says exactly what he thinks, the very moment he thinks it, to everyone in earshot. My son has Autism. It’s “hidden.” I’ve watched him try to hurt himself. I’ve watched him struggle through church services and other social events. I see him almost cringe with pain at chaotic noise or motion. His favorite place is home, sitting between his Dad and me, watching tv. I’ve learned not to condemn “that” lady in the store with the unruly 10 year old. “That” lady is me.
But then, in the midst of my story, God gives me an opportunity. He gives me a gift…the gift of a moment. A chance to reach into another person’s life and make it just a little more bearable. He gives me an occasion to touch the heart of another. To feel their hurt, their pain, their story – the “hidden” story. Why? Because I feel it. I experience it. I can empathize to a degree that another person cannot. He gives me a glimpse of what He must see. He has borne our sorrows. He has carried out burdens. Sometimes, He steps into the shoes of another person, and He touches our need.
This is where the joy comes in. The thankfulness. The peace. God doesn’t always choose to take away our pain. We live in a fallen world with fallen people and bodies that are wasting away. However, God does promise to give us joy – HE gives us joy. It is nothing that we can find or make for ourselves. It is simply the result of opening our heart and allowing God to fill it. We must just be willing. It seems impossible. It seems unreal. It seems supernatural. It is. God specializes in all of those things.

  • YOU ARE HERE

 

Life is hard. Imagine that your life is represented by the above line. Imagine that it goes on for infinity. How many times do we get so wrapped up and swallowed by the events that occur within that one single dot, that we miss the whole picture? Our life on earth is a vapor. A moment. A single blink of an eye, in comparison with what is to come. Why don’t we live our dot for the rest of the line? Why don’t we use that dot to propel us into the reality of the future? We aren’t here for us. We are here to serve. We are here to minister. We are here to be Jesus to those around us. In this process, we find joy, gratefulness, and peace beyond anything we can imagine.
Look for the “hidden” story in others. Find joy in your own.

 

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ. Philippians 3:8

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

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Choosing Joy in the Midst of Loss

I.                 Stages of Grief –

(www.perfectjoyministries.com, “Online Studies”)

There is no rhyme or reason to grieving:

Ø  The Explosion – emotions go off like a bomb

Ø  The Skip – self-explanatory

Ø  The U-turn – A particular stage can be reached, and then, because we are not quite ready to process the pain, we can recede back into the previous stage. Or perhaps the fear of losing the comfortable blanket of grief will cause a reversal right back into one of the beginning stages.

Ø  The Vacillation (Indecisiveness) – Two stages of the grief cycle may go back and forth repeatedly for days, for weeks, or perhaps even for months. Just when it may seem that final stages have been reached, something new present itself, and once again, old familiar emotions will need to be worked through. Sometimes, there are layers that need to be peeled away, and only as we move to a new stage of grief, is that underlying layer revealed. So then, we need to go back to a former stage, in order to work through the newly discovered layer, before once again, moving back to a later stage of healing.

Ø  The Ricochet – Just when we were confident that the one stage had been reconciled, we find ourselves thrown back into it, unexpectedly. This occurrence can often cause devastation or depression, as we find that a stage we were relieved to have left behind, has us immersed once again.

 

 

A.     Shock and Denial – There is no sin or shame in being in an initial place of shock or denial. In fact, this is often the body’s normal response to emotions, which are too great to take in all at once. It becomes sin when we remain here, when we consciously choose to remain in this place, refusing to face the pain.  The line between the two is what each person must determine for themselves.

 

B.     Pain and Guilt – Even when you do not have reason for physical pain, it seems that mental pain often causes physical pain. Guilt is not from God. Conviction is from God, the purpose of which is repentance and restoration from the bondage of sin. But guilt that tears at us with blame and condemnation is not.

 

C.     Anger and Bargaining – Sometimes, anger feels more manageable than pain. Anger often masks the feeling of pain in our hearts. For this cause, some continue on in anger so they don’t have to feel pain. Over time this anger will become debilitating, not only personally but for the people surrounding the one harboring it.   Also, in our anger, we often lash out at those around us, in the hopes that we might hurt the person responsible for our pain. Sometimes, we believe that God has “punished” us because of something that we did or didn’t do.  Because of this, we think that if we promise to do something differently, God will change His mind.

 

D.    Depression and Loneliness – Loneliness sets in, because no one else understands the pain we are experiencing. People have short attention spans for other people’s issues. Discouragement slows you down for a little while. Depression stops everything for a long time. We sin when we allow self-pity to consume us, when our depression causes us to remain in such bondage that we no longer enter life or live in the role God has called us to live in.

 

E.     The Upward Turn – The time comes when we realize life is going to go on and we can either be a part of it, or we can stay in the endless cycle of anger, guilt, depression, and loneliness. In some ways, reaching this place often brings a new guilt. “How dare we be happy again?”  A laugh erupts, a good day happens, and a fear may creep in that we’re forgetting.  We may even be able to tell our story with a few less tears and a few more smiles. These prior stages have become our new normal, and they feel almost like an emotional shrine for the circumstances that brought them about in the first place. To leave them is to enter new, unfamiliar territory – a different life than we had before the tragedy and a different life than we’ve had while grieving.  It is the unknown of a new normal – the new normal for the rest of life, and also a new normal of ourselves.

 

F.     Working Through – In this stage we work through all the emotions surrounding the upward turn – whether fear, guilt or even the sense of losing the “security” that grief, in an odd way, has brought us.  This stage has a lot to do with “re-programming” our belief system. 

 

G.    Acceptance and Hope – “It’s not okay…but God…!” We know we have reached a healed place when our emotions find an even keel and stop bouncing all over the map – when we realize that life is finding a new normal and settling into a routine of purpose yet again.  We feel alive in a new way.  We have peace and joy.

 

II.              A Biblical Response

A.     God’s grace is sufficient for our NEEDS, not always for our wants as well. We need to learn how to prioritize and how to say “no.”

B.     We need to remember to keep looking UP, and avoid looking AROUND

C.     Anger is not always a sin. However, we can sin in our anger.  There is the righteous indignation of God, and then, there is the unrighteous wrath of man.  One is due to an injustice or a sin against the sovereign God of all, and the other is due to what we perceive as an injustice against us. The more we grow to be like Christ, the more we will learn how to respond instead of just simply reacting to circumstances in our lives, and, in time, those responses will be Godlier.

D.    We must avoid self-pity. Pride can keep us from getting the help that we need.  We do not want others to think badly of us or, sometimes, we just want the attention that depression can bring us.

E.     Instead of asking, “Why me?” you should ask, “Why NOT me?”

F.     What we believe determines how we will respond to our circumstances.

G.    We are not able to generate joy from within ourselves. We simply reflect the joy that God gives us. God redeems all pain. The pain you are experiencing right now, WILL benefit you later.

III.         Common Traps

A.     Jealousy –  

Two of the lies that we tell ourselves:

Lie #1: “I deserve…” – You believe that you deserve more or better than what you have.

Lie #2: “It’s not fair…” – God isn’t fair or doesn’t love you enough to give you what you want, or you feel that someone less deserving has what you want.

 

Truth: You deserve nothing. Life isn’t fair. However, because of his mercy, He blesses us.

He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. Psalm 103:10

So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. Romans 9:16

It’s not about you. It’s all about Him.

B.     Guilt – The guilt of what we may have done or may have not done in order to create this situation. Guilt is not from God. Conviction is from God, the purpose of which is repentance and restoration from the bondage of sin. But guilt that tears at us with blame and condemnation is not. We must remember that God has the power to “over-ride” anything that we might do consciously or unconsciously. God’s is not limited by our thoughts of Him.

I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. Ecclesiastes 3:14

We can only do the next right thing. After that, we must trust that all things will work out for our good and His glory in the end.

C.     Anger – So often we choose to repress our grief or pain. This often finds its way out of us in the form of anger. Anger is the emotion that we choose in order to avoid less comfortable feelings such as confusion, fear, and sadness.

·         “The difference between righteous and unrighteous indignation is illustrated by asking, ‘Whose honor is being preserved?’  If I am angry because God has been dishonored and that vexes me, I am probably experiencing righteous anger.  If my anger is in the garden variety, ‘I can’t believe you are doing this to me…,’ it is probably unrighteous anger.” – Tedd Tripp in Shepherding a Child’s Heart

 

For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:20

 

·         If we would be angry and not sin, we must be angry at nothing but sin; and we should be more jealous for the glory of God than for any interest or reputation of our own. – Matthew Henry’s Commentary

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. Romans 1:18

(Just as a side-note: Rage is uncontrollable anger. If you feel that you are suffering from this, you should talk to your doctor asap. There is likely a chemical imbalance that needs to be corrected.)

IV.            The Anger Solution:

A.    Acknowledge that you must change your belief in order to change your behavior. Anger is simply the difference between what we expect to happen and what really happens. If we can shrink that gap, we will reduce the anger as well.

“You can’t cease to be angry about things simply by trying hard not to be. You need to change your mind about how important some things really are: get your priorities in order. Then, when something is withheld or damaged, or you are criticized or slighted, anger will not be your first response.”

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all hatred. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 4:26-27, 30-32

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1

B.     Contentment. If you are not content right now, you never will be. There will always be something bigger, better, and more desirable. The truth is that it would also come with its own set of trials and difficulties. Don’t live in a “what-if” world.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12-13

C.     Avoid the temptation to question God’s motives. This is something that we often try to justify in the Christian community; however, scripture is pretty clear that God’s ways are not our ways and because He created us, He has the right to do whatever He wants.

But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory. Romans 9:20-23

Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. Ecclesiastes 5:2

D.    God’s sovereignty is either your bondage or your freedom. It’s your choice. We have to remember and believe that because He is a good and perfect Father, He wants the very best for our lives. He is just and compassionate. He will only do what is right all the time. He works in dimensions that we cannot even fathom.

“God gives us what we would ask for if we knew what He knows.”

 

Face your anger head-on. Time does not heal anger, so don’t bury it. Learn to control your reactions vs. your responses, and don’t let your emotions steal your reflection of joy!

“When life knocks you over, whatever you are filled with will spill out.”

Original material by Holly M Besser.  Perfect Joy Ministries ©2017. May not be used or re-printed without permission.  Bsbp52p01-15-2017

 

Beautiful Weeds

A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog about how the painful and difficult things in our lives, are sometime actually good things.

https://perfectjoyministries.wordpress.com/2013/01/28/from-the-hand-of-god/

As I weeded our garden this past weekend, it struck me that the opposite also applies. I had been enjoying and admiring the beautiful buttercups in their simplicity and brightness, when I realized that I was going to have to pull them out of their current location. They did not belong in the bed that they had chosen to plant roots. They, along with some equally pretty tiny white flowers, had grown in the midst of our moss garden, which is dotted by the occasional boxwood and small evergreen shrub.

flowers.JPG

A “weed” is defined as “a wild plant growing where it is not wanted and in competition with cultivated plants.” No matter how beautiful the flower, it was a weed in its current setting. It was not intended for that place at that time.

In our lives, we often ask God for “good” things – things that, in and of themselves, are beautiful and desirable. However, if He were to give them to us, they would be like the beautiful weeds in my garden. They would be impractical and out-of-sync with the story that God is writing of your life. It’s not that these beautiful and good things will never be in your life, they just need to occur in the proper place and time.

Be patient. God isn’t finished with you yet. He hasn’t accomplished everything that He wants to accomplish in your life. He is still “cultivating” your garden. It may take a bit longer than you thought. It may be discouraging and frustrating, but try to enjoy the beauty that is already in your life in this current time and place. Look around at the beautifully designed garden that is your life. Clean out the weeds and find the good!

Philippians 1:6

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Original material by Holly M. Besser, ©2016. May not be used or re-printed without permission. bp7206-01-16

Mother’s Day Judgements

I hate when I hear people say, “Stop judging,” or “You aren’t supposed to judge.” Occasionally, this statement just shows a lack of understanding on their part, but usually, it is revealing a major double standard. We all judge. Every. single. one. of. us. From the moment we get up in the morning, until the moment we go to bed at night, we are casting estimations and judgments on the people and situations around us. Scripture never says to avoid all judging. God simply asks us to judge fairly and with a just measure.

As we come to another Mother’s Day, I would encourage you to stop and think about your standards and expectations for others. My dear friend just lost a baby today. She has already had to bury two babies in the past year. Both boys. Both beautiful and very much loved. I had the privilege of being present at the birth of one of them – nearly 17 weeks and perfect in every way. I have no doubt in my mind that these children made her a mother, but certainly not in the way that she would have chosen.

Most people would be quick to voice their sadness and dismay at the thought of these little lives lost. No one would disagree that she deserves to grieve.

However…

This was her eighth loss. Yup, eighth. She also has five living children. Yup, five. Okay, so this is where you to begin to rethink your first assessment, right?

Why would she do this to herself?

Why go through it over and over again?

It’s her own fault. She should have seen it coming.

She already has a handful of other children.

Who wants more than five children anyhow? Two is plenty!

God is obviously saying, “no.” Give up!

Surprisingly, as someone who has only lost four children to miscarriage, I can feel the sting of these statements. People will say these things…out loud! Not just to each other, but, yes, directly to the mother.

This mother’s day is going to be horribly difficult for my sweet friend. Not only does she have to grieve the loss of her precious little one and all of the dreams, hopes, and plans that she had for them, but she will also have to do it silently. No one will “get it.” Why bother sharing?

On Sunday, our churches will be filled with the happy celebration of the children that we hold in our arms. Because, after all, that is what makes one a Mother, right? We will talk of the blessing of having our “quiver full” and being surrounded by sweet pint-sized voices. We will speak lovingly of dirty, chubby little fingers and the sound of tiny feet running to us for a hug. We will talk of the blessing of investing in our children, even as we watch the hand prints on the window getting bigger and bigger.

Is there anything wrong with that? Absolutely not! Should we be less happy to pacify those who do not have what we do? Absolutely not! My point is simply this: Be careful of passing a judgement that you would not want someone to pass on you. As the Scripture says:

For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Matthew 7:2

Would you want someone else to tell you how many children you should have? What exactly is the “magic” number? Would you want someone else to tell you how much you can handle? What the story of your life should look like? Do you want someone else to decide what God will is for you? How far He may have you go? How much He may ask you to endure?

Just take a moment to consider, before you cast your verdict upon someone this Mother’s Day. Instead of sharing your opinions, try sharing your hugs. That quiet mom of five may be suffering in silence.

Original material by Holly M. Besser, ©2016.  May not be used or re-printed without permission.  bp7105-06-16

 

I Am Mom

But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

1 Peter 3:4

 

Even as young girls, we dreamed of a time when someone would call us “Mom.” As we entered our adult years, most of us found that this was still a dream. Various circumstances kept us from seeing this dream fulfilled. We anxiously awaited a day when “the stars would align” and we would finally become this unachievable individual.

And then, one day, after many tears, many heartbreaks, and many losses, we are Mom. This tiny being stares at us with huge eyes and climbs right into our heart. The world is finally just as it should be…or is it?

And then, reality. sets. in.

Somehow, all the years of aching and longing did not prepare us for the fact that being a Mom isn’t easy. It doesn’t just come naturally. It’s not a “walk in the park.” Being a mom is hard, really hard. Sometimes, it just plain stinks. And more often than not, we fail.

I prayed for seven years for my children. I cried and begged God for a baby. And then, I worked another six years to get three of them. I gave back four more. Seven pregnancies in six years. No pain, no gain, right? I just figured that being a Mom would be a joy – all the time. Not. I don’t cherish every single minute and sometimes, I even wonder what I was thinking.

My point?

I think that all moms struggle with feeling inadequate and insufficient. However, when you spend a good portion of your life yearning for something, you feel pretty guilty when you get it and then don’t always appreciate it, or when you feel that you have failed at making it successful.

  1. Here are a few truths to remember: God placed those children in your care for a reason. There is something that only you can teach them to prepare them for their future. Even your flaws will teach things that they need to make them into the adults that God wants them to be. Your handicaps and your inadequacies will give them compassion and understanding that they wouldn’t otherwise learn.

    Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee. Jeremiah 1:5a

    According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love. Ephesians 1:4

    And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope. Romans 5:3-4

    2. You are the only biological mom they will ever have, so you are the best one they could have. If you are the only one, it just stands to reason that you are the best. Stop comparing yourself to your children’s other mothers, who don’t exist, and don’t compare yourself to other children’s mothers either. You can only see their “outsides.” You have no idea what they might be dealing with on the “inside.” God sees your heart. He knows your struggles and your shortcomings. Look to Him to help you work on these areas.

    Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding. 2 Corinthians 10:12

    For he knows the secrets of the heart. Psalm 44:2b

    Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment. John 7:24

    Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! Psalm 139:23

    And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. Luke 16:15

    If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5

    3. God will fill in the voids where you lack. You are human. God knows that we are not perfect. He doesn’t ask you to be perfect. He asks you to point your children to Him. You shouldn’t be their final role model anyhow. They should be looking to Christ to find fulfillment and satisfaction.

    Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

    Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children. Deuteronomy 4:9

    You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. Deuteronomy 6:5-6

    4. Being a mom is a role that you fill, not your identity. You may fail at times, but it doesn’t mean that you are a failure. It means that you are learning. We are all learning. You won’t stop learning until you leave this life. Take those mistakes as opportunities to share humility, repentance, and forgiveness with your children. They need to learn it too.

    For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. Psalm 103:14

    Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Psalm 51:1

    Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:13b

    5. Be the best woman that you can be. (Proverbs 31) That is all that you must do. Look at Scripture and see what is required of a mother. I know that I spent years being guilty because I didn’t constantly want to play with my children. Low and behold, I learned that I wasn’t called to be their entertainer! What a relief! Also, Don’t spend time worrying about what others say or think. It truly doesn’t matter. You don’t answer to them. You only answer to God for how you care for your children.

    For whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 1 John 3:20

    Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. Colossians 3:23

    6. God will help you every. step. of. the. way. Just be YOU!

    My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26       

    Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

    Original material by Holly M Besser. Perfect Joy Ministries ©2015. May not be used or re-printed without permission. bsbp50p09-30-2015

Does He Really Understand?

For we do not have a high priest [Jesus] who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15

How many of you have read this verse or had it quoted to you in the midst of a struggle, just to wonder how it could truly be possible that Jesus could fathom what we have to go through? I don’t know about you, but I tend to add the fact that He had supernatural strength into the mix, and it just doesn’t seem like it really adds up. I absolutely believe that Jesus went through hell on this earth to provide a way for us to have a relationship with God. I know that He cares about me and everything that I go through. However, sometimes, it’s hard to fathom that He can really understand what it feels like to relate with my spouse and children. It’s hard to believe that He knows what I feel like as I live with chronic pain, struggles with medications, and so many other day to day things that we just don’t see in black in white in the Bible. It also seems that being the Son of God would give Him the upper hand in dealing with these temptations.

As I pondered on it this past week, I think I might have figured out my real problem. We have all heard this verse in context, but we aren’t usually presented with it in that way, when we need it. Check out the rest of the passage:

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (vs.16)

The focus is not on the trial, struggle, or temptation. The focus is on how we are to handle it. Jesus may never have had the exact same temptation, but everything we deal with can be summed up in the same human weaknesses. We all struggle with the temptation to give in to fear, anger, pride, jealousy, resentment, bitterness, etc. Jesus was tested in all of these areas too. Satan tried to get Jesus to give in to His current weaknesses, whenever he tempted Him.

Matthew 4

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”

11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

Jesus has been there. He has been tempted to give into every weakness that we have. The answer is in the way that He handled it. What did He do? He went straight to the truth in order to “receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

We don’t struggle because we are facing something brand new to human kind.

We struggle because we don’t have the confidence to approach the throne of grace! The answers, the help, the solutions are there. We just have to accept them as a gift from God.

There is the old hymn that says it perfectly:

What a Friend we have in Jesus,

All our sins and griefs to bear!

What a privilege to carry

Everything to God in prayer!

***O what peace we often forfeit,

O what needless pain we bear,

All because we do not carry

Everything to God in prayer!***

Have we trials and temptations?

Is there trouble anywhere?

We should never be discouraged,

Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Can we find a friend so faithful

Who will all our sorrows share?

Jesus knows our every weakness,

Take it to the Lord in prayer.

 

Are we weak and heavy-laden,

Cumbered with a load of care?

Precious Savior, still our refuge—

Take it to the Lord in prayer;

Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?

Take it to the Lord in prayer;

In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,

Thou wilt find a solace there.

 

Don’t carry that pain needlessly anymore. Don’t struggle with that temptation over and over. Don’t miss out on the true and lasting peace that God wants for us in this life. Take the upper hand that Jesus had on earth. Seek God’s truth, seek His face, and live victoriously!

Original material by Holly M. Besser, ©2015. May not be used or re-printed without permission. bp6606-12-15

 

A Mother’s Day Letter

I want to write this letter to share my heart with you. I want to let you know that you are not alone. I want you to know that your struggle, as hard as it may be, is not unbearable – it is not impossible to navigate – not impossible to endure. I want you to know that your trial can be accompanied by joy, and even thanksgiving. I want you to know that God is already in your future. He has the perfect story written for your life. All you need to do is trust – trust His sovereignty and His love.

Dear Mommy,

Mother’s Day is upon us once again. What emotions this day invokes – sadness, fear, disappointment, heartache, and even anger. It also conveys feelings of joy, thanksgiving, excitement, and acceptance.

I remember the seven long years of wishing, waiting, and dreaming of having a child – so many tears. I begged God, daily, for a baby. I remember how I felt the first time a doctor told me that I could never get pregnant. I remember how I felt after the 20th doctor told me that I couldn’t get pregnant. Oh, the discussions that I had with God! I remember the two weeks in constant and fervent prayer, asking for answers and for peace. Then, it came – total and utter surrender, complete abandon to the will and the sovereignty of God. I’m not saying it came easy. It hurt – a lot. It felt like my heart was ripped from my body. Everything that I had always wanted was gone…gone, just gone.

Then, I remember the feeling of hope being rekindled, as yet another doctor dared to dream my dream. She opposed the former opinions and gave me the courage to begin dreaming again. I remember the feelings of excitement and delight, when I saw two pink lines – the joy of telling family and friends. The morning sickness didn’t bother me one bit…I was too thrilled!

I remember taking my son home. I remember the fears – SIDS, germs, and jaundice. There were the terrible emotions that came with my post-partum depression. I had wanted this baby so badly, and now, I just wanted to give him back! I remember crying with him every night. I remember screaming out to God for deliverance. I remember the frustration, the anger, the sadness, the guilt and regret…and of course, more fear.

Then, I remember the emotions that came as the medications finally began working – the clarity and the peace. The awe and wonder that comes with watching your first child takes steps, starts talking, and all the other things that merit our amazement as they grow.

I remember seeing those two pink lines for the second time. What joy! However, the feelings of elation where soon replaced with sorrow, when I miscarried a week later. Another pregnancy was detected a month later, and hope and anticipation returned. 10 weeks later, an ultrasound quickly crushed my positivity along with my dreams for a baby to hold. Confusion, grief, and despair consumed my heart.

A third positive pregnancy test a month later was the beginning of a whole new set of emotions that I never would have associated with having a child. Pregnancy would never be the same again.

Being a mom is hard work, but becoming a mom proved to be even harder. I know the emotional roller coaster ride that wanting a child can be. I felt every sentiment possible during the seven years that I had my seven children (3 earth-side and 4 in heaven). It seemed that each Mother’s Day was different. I was always in a different situation. However, I did realize that I was always disappointed in the day, no matter what. So, I finally did some soul-searching and discovered the issue. Last year, I posted a blog: https://perfectjoyministries.wordpress.com/2014/05/10/happy-mothers-day-2/, which gives you some great pointers for preparing for Mother’s Day. I hope you will take a moment to read it. I think it may give you a whole new perspective this year.

In closing, I want you to know that you are not alone. Whether you are dealing with infertility, struggling with multiple losses, trying to adopt, or a combination of the above, there are other Mommies who are in similar shoes. We are all the same, really. We are women with a desire and a reality that don’t match. Our hearts are big and our arms are not full. Our plans have been thwarted and our path has been re-routed.

However, the miracle of it all comes in the ironic form of a baby. Jesus came to earth, born to a mother, just like one of us. She faced the same emotions that we do. Her Son belonged to God, just like our children do. She had to choose to trust and obey, just as we do. In the end, Jesus was the answer. He is our hope. He is our peace. He is our joy. Mother’s Day isn’t just about having a child in your arms. It is about giving thanks to the one Who makes it all possible…in His time.

With all my love,

Holly

Original material by Holly M. Besser, ©2015. May not be used or re-printed without permission. bp6705-08-15