Who does God say you are…when you feel like giving up?
Some days it is easy to want to give in to emotions and give up on dreams, or goals, or just survival. We read about Hagar in Genesis 16. She was an Egyptian maidservant to Sarai, Abram’s wife. When she became pregnant with Abram’s son, at Sarai’s suggestion, there developed bitterness between the two. Sarai mistreated Hagar and the pregnant servant ran away into the desert. An angel of the Lord told Hagar to return to Sarai and Abram where she gave birth to Abram’s son, Ishmael.
Hagar probably felt secure in Abram’s household while Ishmael was his only son. But when the elderly Sarai finally became pregnant with the child God had promised, Hagar and Ishmael was banished. Hagar again found herself in the wilderness with little water and food, only now she had a child to watch die of thirst. She separated herself from him to avoid hearing his cries and prepared to die from her circumstances.
God had not abandoned her during her first ordeal and He heard her cries again. An angel of the Lord told her to take the boy by the hand because “God will make him into a great nation.” (vs. 18) God then showed her a well and they survived to fulfill God’s promise.
When I was young I won’t allow myself to dream about my desires of wanting a loving family. I gave up on life because I thought my dream was unattainable. God gave me a vision of that dream in my future. Like Sarai, I laughed. But still I wondered; what if I give up just before the dream becomes possible. What if I gave up and God showed me what could have been mine if only I had trusted Him. That well of refreshing water may be just beyond my vision. Nothing is beyond God’s vision or care. Don’t give up on God because you can’t see the answer.
Have you ever felt like giving up on a dream or a goal that you thought God had given you? How did you keep your trust during discouraging circumstances?
Last week I mentioned I felt I may be doing good works to please others or even myself. I believed I was doing what God had shown me, so how was I working to please others?
God gave me the desire to help a single woman with a tiny baby. I loved the bright smile of the little girl and getting to know her mother and how I could best help them. I helped her with a resume and how to search for a job. Then one day she said, “I am a single mother, I should be given enough money that I don’t have to leave my child to work.”
Another woman I befriended was in an abusive relationship. After she was taken to the hospital with broken ribs, I offered to help her move to a women’s shelter. She declined my offer. The situation was similar to one I had been through a couple years ago. I helped that lady move out only to have her move right back in.
I started a self-esteem support group for women. The first three-month session, six women came and I saw real improvement in two of them. The second session, no one came.
Was I doing things on my own or was God really guiding me to these people? I was becoming discouraged when I didn’t see the results I expected. That’s it! I was waiting for the outcome I wanted. Doing God’s will isn’t a matter of seeing the results I want. I knew when I connected my work with a favorable outcome that I was working for myself. God led me to be a positive light to others and He would use it to His benefit. I may only be watering a seed that may not be ripe to harvest for years. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” Colossians 3:23
Have you ever felt God asked you to do something but it didn’t turn out the way you expected? How did you react? Discouraged? Disappointed? Doubted that you even heard God? How did you regain your trust in your feeling God’s guidance?
I remember a story from years ago when some refugees from Vietnam relocated to our area. A middle-aged couple, who spoke no English, had nothing in the house to eat and decided to take the few dollars they had and go to the store. They had to spend their precious little resources wisely but could not read the labels on the packages. They needed something large enough for the both of them and something that would be good to eat.
After much pondering, the couple decided to purchase a large, round can with the picture of delicious-looking fried chicken on it. Pleased that they found something they recognized, they cheerfully took their meal home. Disappointment quickly swept over them as they stared at a white, sticky paste instead of their desired chicken. They had expected the picture on the can to represent what was inside and they did not understand the word across the label; Crisco.
Often people wear the label of Christian and work to give a picture of what they think God wants, but inside there is a sticky mess. “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart,” I Samuel 16:7. You may deceive people but the Lord sees what is inside and knows what to do with it. There is nothing wrong with Crisco if you want Crisco. There is if you need chicken. No matter what your inside looks like, the Lord knows how to create something beautiful. Let Him make you everything He wants you to be.
Do you hide what is going on in your life because it is not a pretty picture? How do you give it to God and trust Him to make it good?
A nurse friend of mine had challenges with her job, her children and selling her house. She didn’t think she could handle another stressful issue when her husband became seriously ill. At this point she said, “If God doesn’t give us more than we can handle, He must be looking at someone else’s chart.” Of course, it was a very difficult time but she made it through to a see better days.
I read on a Face Book post, “God sometimes pushes us to our limits because He has greater faith in us than we have in ourselves.” (By JCLU Forever) We all have had times when we don’t think we can handle life’s situations. But God knows it is by stepping (or being pushed) outside our comfort zone that we grow. He has faith in our ability to trust Him. Trusting Him strengthens our faith.
Just like my friend, we can feel we have passed our limit of heartache and hurt. That is when we can collapse in God’s loving arms, knowing He will be there to catch us. My friend was sure God had mistaken her for someone who could handle the pain. In the end, she had a less stressful job, a nicer house and a stronger relationship with her husband. God knew who He was dealing with.
Have you ever thought God allowed more than you could handle? How did you deal with it?
Wow! I received a letter from Publishers Clearing House and I MAY have already won millions of dollars! What will I do first? Travel? New car? College for my grandson? No worries; there is enough for all my dreams.
Wait, there is a warning: “Failure to follow…serious forfeiture of money.” I wonder how forfeiting millions of dollars is not serious. Anyway, all I have to do is find the labels, scattered throughout the stack of ads, notices and magazine offers, and stick them in the correct places. Then send it in and I have a one-in-a-bazillion chance of winning!
How many people get their hopes up to receive everything they ever wanted for just returning an envelope? There is a better way to receive the biggest treasure of all: peace and eternal life. There is a catch; you have to believe in Jesus. But that’s it. No sorting papers or sticking labels.
John 3:16 promises, “God so loved the world (that includes you), that He gave his one and only son, that whoever (that’s you, again) believes (one simple step) in him shall not (guaranteed) perish but have eternal life (the greatest treasure). (NIV)
Is your faith in winning the lottery or in trusting God?