While babysitting this week, I read my daughter-in-laws notes she had written during the Sunday message at her church. The sentence that caught my attention was, “Life is hard, people are difficult, but how you respond is your choice and not their fault.”
No one makes you react in a negative way when you have been wronged. The scripture used in this sermon was Hebrews 12:15, “Let no root of bitterness springing up among you cause trouble and by it, many be defiled.” When bitterness takes root it pulls those around the issue into the trouble. No one is left without injury. Bitterness needs to be cut at the ground. The only one capable of that is the one harboring it.
Another sentence I liked from the sermon notes was, “Nursing a hurt slowly changes us as we begin to define ourselves by the perceived wrongs perpetrated against us and not the freedom purchased for us.” Our injuries come from other people, who are just as imperfect as we are. Cling to the freedom God gives and allow others to make mistakes. Do not cultivate the wrongs done. If ignored, they will starve to death. Use your energy to garden the positive in your life.
Have you ever accidently hurt someone you care about because you were harboring and nurturing bitterness against another person?
Torn by conflict among some of my Christian friends I wondered how I could survive my confusion over it in my spiritual life. I found help in Romans 15: 4-5, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
First, there is a lesson in every scripture. We can go to the Bible whenever confused or angry to find comfort and the encouragement that gives us hope.
Second, we cannot avoid challenges in our faith. That is how we build endurance, which is the ability to withstand hardship, adversity or stress. To be able to withstand, there first must be hardship, adversity or stress. The good news is in verse five that tells us God is the one who gives us the ability to endure. Though none of us get out of those challenges, God is with us through them, strengthening our hope.
Third, the same God who has given us hope has given us a spirit of unity. Drawing together as one body to worship our Lord should be as natural as seeking His presence in scripture and prayer.
I was worried about appearing to choose sides in the ongoing conflict when a dear friend said, “I stand with God who loves both sides.” I pray that this adversity will bring all those involved closer to God and to one another.
Confusion is not from God. I know my faith will survive because of the hope I have in Him.
Have you ever allowed others to transfer their negative feelings to your own faith?
Spring is the time for new life to emerge. June is particularly connected with the new life of the graduate. Celebrations are found at every level of advancement in the education system. The graduate faces new adventures and new responsibilities.
This is especially true for the student leaving high school or college. The “real” world is before them and they must try their skills, the way a baby bird flutters about testing his wings.
My daughter graduated last Saturday with a degree in dental hygiene, nine years after she received her dental assisting license. You’d think that her wings would be well developed in launching her new beginning. But each succession brings its own uncertainty.
So it is true in all our lives. Learning, growing and changing doesn’t require a formal educational system. Every day brings opportunities to gain knowledge. Each challenge should be seen as a training field for strengthening our skills. A disagreement can teach us to be more tolerable; a misunderstanding can show us how to listen better; or a hurtful remark may teach us forgiveness.
Proverbs 1:7 says, “Fools despise wisdom and discipline.” Don’t be a fool: look for your chance to absorb all the knowledge available.
Have you learned something lately that changed the way you thought about that thing?
For those of you who have Facebook, you may understand the addiction. I check my wall nearly every day to see who has something to say. One thing I read on a friend’s post from Lovely Quotes of Love was, “We are not given a good life or a bad life. We are given a life. It is up to us to make it good or bad.”
At first, I thought, “How true.” Then I remembered those at the Soup Kitchen who struggle from one day to the next. They weren’t dealt the same hand we were. Or were they? We all have the freedom of choice. What we choose now will determine future options. It may be easy for us to brush others off by saying, “They made bad choices.” But we do not know their story or why they are in difficult circumstances.
Still, I believe the quote is true. We were given life. We do not have to settle for what we are dealt. We can improve our life by what we remember. “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8 NIV) We can make each day good or bad by what we fix our minds on.
I’d like to take one more step by adding a few words at the end, “It is up to us to make it good or bad for other people.” We can actually increase the joy in our lives by helping those who can use assistance. It can be by giving them food or clothing, or by giving them what every person needs; respect and encouragement.
Life is about decisions. What choices are you making today that will improve someone’s life?
Job was a man with problems. That’s an understatement; Job was a man who had literally lost everything. He not only lost his physical empire, he lost the power, prestige and security which came with it. He not only lost his wife and children, but their love and companionship. The friends he had left could hardly be called “friends.” They nagged at him to “curse God and die.”
Every one of us has lost something dear to us. We may be tempted to follow Job’s friends’ advice and curse God. There was a time when I blamed God for my problems; after all He is the one who made me fat and ugly and therefore, unlovable.
The one thing that Job did not lose was the main thing that I had lost: trust in God.
“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” (Job 1:21 NIV) Job lost everything of earthly value, yet he praised the Lord. Verse 22 says, “In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” Beyond the abundance of what he once had, Job remained faithful and trusting, even into the ashes of despair.
I was in the valley of despair because I did not trust God. I looked for human values to validate my worth. When I believed God that He (the creator of all) loved me (the least of all) then I began to see who He wanted me to be. No matter what calamity you face the first step to recovery is to praise God.
Are you looking to the world or to God for your value and purpose in this life?