When God Doesn’t Fix It: learning to hold onto faith in the midst of the mess

When God Doesn’t Fix It learning to hold onto faith in the midst of the mess.jpg

Sometimes I forget there’s such a thing as a messy faith to go along with my messy life.

 

And in this moment, I’ll be totally honest – I’m not really sure how to best express what I’ve been feeling, lately. My thoughts are jumbled, my words ineloquent, and the feeling of being stuck permeates my every thought.

 

It’s quarter till eleven on Monday night where I am, and everything in me feels weary, uncomfortable, aimless. To try and pretend I have it all together, or that my messiness is endearing simply wouldn’t be right – I’m drained, deep thinking has left me unsettled, and all I want is for everything just to feel right again.

 

As I sit here, I begin to think hard and deep once again –

 

What do we do when reality hits and our lives don’t turn out the way we wanted them to?

 

What do we do when studying the Bible seems to leave us wrestling with questions more than finding answers?

 

What do we do when we find ourselves heartbroken, or filled with guilt and shame, just barely grasping what exactly grace is? Continue reading “When God Doesn’t Fix It: learning to hold onto faith in the midst of the mess”

Hope For When God’s Promises Seem to Be Hidden by Pain

hope-for-when-gods-promises-seem-to-be-hidden-by-pain

Often, I’ll look around me and see those people that just seem to have everything so together.

 

Whether online or face to face, there are always those people that simply seem to have life down. They’re walking around, living life, and gently saying things like, “Oh yes, I trust God,” and “Of course I can feel how much God loves me,” and “I am so content, no matter what.”

 

And seeing those people like that…it’s so inspiring, yet oftentimes so intimidating.

 

Because it’s easy for us to say, or at least for me to say, “I trust You, God,” when life is simple.

Continue reading “Hope For When God’s Promises Seem to Be Hidden by Pain”

When We Can’t Explain the World’s Pain

when-we-cant-explain-the-worlds-pain

Wordless.

 

Sometimes that’s what life makes us.

 

When we see the tragedies in the world, our own selves falling apart, the world splitting with injustice, and evil, and suffering – we don’t know what to say.

 

In our heads, we know that God is all good, all powerful, and full of compassion and love.

 

Yet when life makes us ache, brings us to our breaking point, and the world shouts, “How could you believe in a God that allows you to suffer?” we’re often silent.

Continue reading “When We Can’t Explain the World’s Pain”

How to Help a Hurting Friend

How to Help a Hurting Friend

Maybe I talk about hurt too much. Maybe I’ve mentioned depression and stress and anxiety and failure so often that I sound like I need serious help.

 

If I do, I’m sorry.

 

But we can’t ignore pain.

 

As I sit here at my computer, I’m gazing out the window at the wet earth around me.

It’s been raining for days. A bone-chilling draft penetrates my skin, enough so that nothing warms me, not even my cup of coffee, and my beef stew is long-since hot.

 

Sometimes, that’s what hurt feels like, whether it’s mental, emotional, or physical.

 

It’s uncomfortable, and not something easily shaken away. Pain lingers, with no button to press or Band-Aid to put on to make it all better.

 

I’ve been on both sides of hurt. I’ve had friends in need, and I myself have had times like those as well.

 

Perhaps you’re mainly on the other side of things; watching friends suffer, and not knowing how to help them. Or maybe you’re the hurting one. Maybe people see you in need of help and ask, “What can I do for you?” and you simply respond, “Nothing, I’m good,” with a fake smile plastered on, reminiscent of Barbie.

 

But no matter how strong we are, or at least how strong we pretend to be, we’re all weak on the inside. We all need people around us to support us and help us to heal.

 

Are you wondering how to help a hurting friend? Here are three ways.

 

Pray For Them.

 

There’s nothing more beautiful and powerful than prayer. When a friend tells you, “I’ve been praying for you,” it’s touching. To think that someone would take the time to implore the Creator of the universe on our behalf is one of the kindest things we can hear.

Yes, because it’s a thoughtful gesture, but more so because we know that prayer works. Perhaps not always in the fix-it-quick way we might think, but in the way that God knows is best.

 

Sometimes, I can feel that someone’s been praying for me, when a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I just feel free.

It’s a blessing to get a text a little while later, saying, “Hey Amanda, I prayed for you today. How are you doing?”

 

Wow.

 

James 5:16

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

 

Stay With Them.

 

It’s almost hypocrisy to flee upon finding out someone’s aching, after promising to be there for them.

 

It’s easy to walk out of a friendship when the person’s fallen into difficult days, for it requires no energy on our part.

But please, I beg of you, if you want to help your hurting friend, stick by them. Stay alongside them when they tell you they’re “fine.” Don’t judge them when they refuse help – sometimes, they’re just testing you to see if you’ll remain by their side, because it’s what they really need.

 

Don’t give up on your friend. Forgive them if they’ve damaged your friendship. Keep loving them, even when they act like they don’t want to be loved. Trust me, they do.

 

Proverbs 17:17

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

 

Galatians 6:2

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

 

Encourage Them.

 

Encouragement is incredible. It has an innate power to keep us running when we want to give up. It inspires us to push on toward our goals. It motivates us to get out of bed in the morning because we know we are cared for.

 

Whether sharing Bible verses, sweet, comforting words, sending a care package or letter, or just letting someone know that they’re not alone, encouragement of all kinds is a blessing.

 

To your hurting friend (or perhaps even you), it may mean the world.

 

And don’t give up. Keep encouraging them and lavishing the love of Christ on your friend.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:11

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

 

*aj

The Loneliness Cure

Lonely Girl

It’s real.

Loneliness.

Loneliness is ever so real, and oh, have I felt it.

Sometimes I try to escape the feeling of loneliness by distracting myself. Listening to music, reading a book, texting a friend. Though it may make me “cheer up,” for a moment, I just go back to feeling alone.

It hurts. Trust me.

When my friends leave, when I don’t talk to someone for eight months, when I haven’t seen my best friend in so long, when I haven’t cried with anyone since who-knows-when, when I haven’t been able to pour my heart out to someone at my level – that’s when it hits.

I would not call it depression; I would simply put it as devastating lonely disappointment. The more I dwell on how imperfect I and everyone else is, the more I see the flaws in every aspect of life. And the more I dwell on flaws (mine include), the more I feel sorry for myself.

I feel sorry that people haven’t texted me, or that I wasn’t invited to so-and-so’s house the other night, or that my old friends aren’t my closest friends anymore. I feel sorry for myself because ultimately, life is not perfect. And I can’t expect it to be.

It hurts me to dwell on “how few” friends I have. That is, friends that I am free to share my heart with; friends that I trust; friends that will talk to me out-of-the-blue, because they just really do care. (Um, yes, this probably sounds pathetic and over-dramatized. I do have a lot of friends, it’s just hard to consider *all* my friends to be my closest friends.)

But I’ve realized something really important.

No matter the number of friends I have, no matter the quality of friends I have, no matter what I’m given in life, I’m still going to be lonely.

That is, if I rely on people. We’ve already established that people are imperfect, and this world is flawed. Therefore, it stands to reason, that there is no way that friends alone can cure my loneliness.

But Someone else can.

That amazing Someone is God, who created us to love Him and crave His love. And by His amazing Word, I know that He is the only one that can cure me.

Isaiah 41:10

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

 

Deuteronomy 31:6

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

 

Psalm 38:9-11; 15

“O Lord, all my longing is before you;

    my sighing is not hidden from you.

My heart throbs; my strength fails me,

    and the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me.

My friends and companions stand aloof from my plague,

    and my nearest kin stand far off.

[…]

But for you, O Lord, do I wait;

    it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.”

 

Joshua 1:5

“No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.”

 

Psalm 34:17-18

“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

 

Psalm 9:9

“The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.”

 

Isaiah 26:3

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

 

See, the Lord God Almighty (and all-merciful) is the One who our hearts long for. My heart longs to be filled with His love, and His peace, and His strength, and His saving, and His steady grace to fill me where I cannot fill myself. It’s so amazing to have this to lean on!

So whenever I am wallowing in my loneliness, I make myself remember. I remember how much God loves me. I remember how much grace He gives me. I remember how He will never leave me. I remember how He’s saved me. I remember that He’s on my side. I remember how He gives me courage to face anything, because He is here with me. I remember that He is my friend who will never fail me. I remember that He restores my soul.

And no matter what, He will uphold me. No matter what I’m going through, He will be here with me.

And in comparison to my loneliness – this horrible beast that wants to ruin me – it has absolutely NOTHING on the God who bought my life with His own.

Loneliness can be cured. But not by a phone call, or a friendship, or a trinket, or a pep talk.

My loneliness can only be cured by the love that comes from my Father in Heaven, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

When I’m feeling alone – I am not alone. I have the God of Angel Armies on my side, and no one can stand against. Praise the Lord!

*aj