Archive for Faith in Hard Times

Like a Sparkling Slither of Sunlight

I wake up every day, feeling like a sense of dread in my stomach, wondering if God is going to be with me that day or not. Truly, the Bible says that God is always with us and that he does not leave us, but it certainly doesn’t always feel that way. Ever since I have accepted Christ into my life, I have:

-Been sure to love him with everything in me. The Bible says to love God with all your heart and all your strength and all your soul
-Been sure to dedicate everything important in my life to him (music, school, work/money, relationships), make him my very first priority
-Been sure to love others with the same love he has given me. I attempt to express my love through my actions

The point is I feel like I am giving God my all, everyday. I get mad at him in the day, I pout and I whine and complain to him, and then I try to brush it off so I can face a brand new day with a fresh start. And then the cycle continues again. Wake up eager, go to bed frustrated. I’ve always wanted to be a Christian who was real. Not one to make up a bunch of mumbo jumbo crap just because. I want to genuinely love God and express that love through real actions, through changing the way I live, and ultimately helping to change people for the better by showing them how to love God more. I want to be honest, I want to explain, I want things to make sense. But sometimes it’s just difficult. Sometimes I want to give up, and some days I feel like I do give up a little.

But then, out of nowhere, like a sparkling slither of sunlight peaking over the horizon after the coldest, harshest, and darkest winter night, comes a glimmer of hope. It’s starts seemingly faint and barely there, but grows bigger and brighter gradually throughout the day, until it fills up the whole sky with its magnificent beauty.

This reminds me of what God can be like sometimes. I walk around confused and scared and pissed off because a lot of times, things don’t seem to go right. I get so angry I could scream. But in the bleakness and coldness in my heart, I feel this gentle love start to envelop me. Love slowly begins to melt the pain in all of my frostbitten wounds.

God is like that sometimes.

Sometimes, we pray, and we get the things we want; sometimes, he gives us rest and peace, and then other times, he will push us completely to our limits, and then some more, and then just a little more. But I am slowly learning to walk around with this Christ mentality of peace. It’s the mindset of having peace, even in a life filled with chaos, and we can only obtain it by truly trusting God and giving him our problems in this life. He gives us the strength to carry on when everything is falling apart, as it so often is in my own little world.

“My friends, do not be surprised at the terrible trouble which now comes to test you. Do not think that something strange is happening to you. But be happy that you are sharing in Christ’s sufferings so that you will be happy and full of joy when Christ comes again in glory.” 1 Peter 4:12-13

So God will push you, God will test you, and we don’t fail if we fall down, even if we fall down again and again. God knows we will fall and break because we are sinful by nature. However, we only truly fail when we become indifferent and stay down, refusing to get back up. I believe that God is not nearly as upset when we don’t succeed as he is if we don’t try in the first place. I mess up on the daily basis. But everyday, I guarantee that I will get back up and try again.

I am going to kick Satan in the face because I will not let myself be defeated for too long. I have invested too much into Christ to give up so easily, and more importantly, he has invested much too much in me.

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Opening Up

I have a tendency to bottle things up inside. I am a partially introverted person, and if something is bothering me, I rarely let it show. I just thought this would be a post to really let out how frustrated I feel.

I love God with all my heart, and I always have since I have welcomed him into my life. But this life gets so unbearably difficult. Me and my friends go through so much. I deal with extreme depression sometimes, where it feels like everyone hates me, especially God.

Sometimes, I feel like he pushes me too hard, and he seems so scary sometimes. I feel like I don’t have control over my life and that I don’t know how to connect with him. I think these feelings just stem from my depression.

He really hurts me sometimes… or, I guess I shouldn’t say he hurts me, but that he lets me go on feeling hurt. When my heart is broken, I will pour out how I feel to him and he doesn’t stop the hurt. Sometimes, he does, but it takes a lot of patience.

I just find it hard to understand why he pushes me to the edge and forces me to be so patient all the time. I feel like I have to wait for him to move in everything. Letting him have that control isn’t a bad thing. But it’s hard being patient when you are in a lot of pain. Sometimes, I think about hurting myself, but I am sure that is part of my depression.

Anyway, the point of this post is because I wanted to stop feeling like I was hiding. I deal with problems, just like everyone else. It’s a very humbling feeling. Life can be fun, but it can be really difficult, too. The important
part about having faith in God is seeing beyond all the pain, beyond all the hurt, and understanding that no matter how bad it gets, He will give you strength to overcome the madness in the end.

It’s so easy to have faith when your world is perfect. It’s harder when your grandma passes away that you love so much; it’s harder when you deal with depression and suicide crosses your mind from time to time.

It’s hard when you watch your friends struggle and can’t seem to understand why they struggle. It’s hard when nothing in your world goes right, to still have faith in Christ. But it is necessary.

Think about it!

Jesus was perfect, He saved us all. But his life was certainly no walk in the park. People mocked him, beat him, spit on him, yelled at him, cursed him, they hurt the ones he loved. He only loved them with all his heart, and still, they plotted to kill him, and eventually succeeded.

With all of his horrible misfortunes, he could have looked at his life and screamed at the Father for putting him through it. He could have turned his back on us and ignored us because we are such a horrible people. But he didn’t. Think about the outcome of life, what it would be like, if he hadn’t suffered for us. He still had faith despite his misfortune.

People get the idea of faith wrong. Faith is not the absence of fear, but instead, it is choosing to trust in the midst of that fear. It’s realizing that life gets tough, but you don’t give up on God because of it, seeing how he did not give up on us.

Just because Jesus suffered didn’t mean that God didn’t have great plans for him. He was a most faithful servant and now he rules the world, the universe. God noticed when he tolerated all that pain for his sake, and he made him ruler over everything.

I know I feel broken down and left behind sometimes, but God notices when I suffer for him. He notices when I put on a brave face, despite my fears and stresses and problems, and still continue to love him.I get depressed, my life is a mess half of the time. I feel alienated and alone often. Some days, I wake up in so much pain I can’t even get out of bed. But I still find strength despite the madness, because I will be faithful to Jesus as he has been faithful to me.

Faith is not easy. That is why many people turn away from it. Trusting God in the midst of our problems is not easy, but still, it is necessary. I keep pushing on through my pain and discomfort because I have faith that God will see me through it in the end.

Don’t. give. up!

Like a Thief in the Night

My grandma just passed away recently. She was fighting a battle with brain cancer, which I believe she had over the last 5 or so years. The first time it came, they treated her and she was alright for awhile. We were so happy. Then, it came around again and she just got sicker and sicker.

We would go visit her in the hospital, taking time off of work to spend time with her. I remember we were just starting to go back to church again on a regular basis, but because of the cancer, we would leave Saturday to drive from South Carolina to North Carolina to visit her, and typically come back sometime Sunday. I felt bad because she was sick and I felt bad because we couldn’t go to church.

It was hard watching my mom cry when she found out the news. Granny was so sweet. She was cool because she always wanted the family to get together. She lived in North Carolina near other family members. We had family members in Virginia and family in South Carolina. So North Carolina was our where we would meet half way, always at her house.

We would get together for Christmas at Granny’s house. We’d get together for Easter and Thanksgiving there. There were cousins and uncles and aunts and nieces and nephews, sisters and brothers, mothers, fathers, and daughters. It was beautiful how we all would hold hands in a huge circle as someone said grace for Thanksgiving. How we would wake up on Christmas morning to open presents.

I remember how I always wanted to spend more time with her, but I would put it off. I wanted to talk to her and let her know how much I loved her, but I never felt like I really made time for that. It’s hard to look back and wish about all the things you could have done.

I wanted to talk to her about Jesus. I already believe she loved him, but I wanted to share our mutual love and talk to her about my experiences, and hear about hers. I wanted to let her know how much he loved her. I could tell she already knew, but I wanted her to know more, because she deserved that.

Sometimes I wondered if she had already accepted Christ or not. But she was so passionate and caring, it’s hard to think otherwise.

Anyway, I want to share with you the scary feeling of not knowing where your family or friends will end up after they die. Some people are sure that their loved ones already love God, by how they act and how they live through him. Some people are sure that their loved ones don’t love him, also by what they do and how they act.

“Now, brothers and sisters, we do not need to write you about times and dates. You know very well that the day the Lord comes again will be a surprise, like a thief that comes in the night. While people are saying, ‘We have peace and we are safe,’ they will be destroyed quickly.” 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3a

The truth is, we all want to believe that we have all the time in the world to live our lives in the right way. We think that we have tomorrow to talk to this person or that person, or that we can take care of that problem next week. Then next thing you know, it is next week, and we are procrastinating again.

I am so guilty of this. I typically wait to the last minute and put things off, and then rush to get them done. The Bible says that the day the Lord comes will be like a thief in the night. It will take us by surprise, we won’t see it come it. People will guess at the time that he will come, but no one in earth knows. He will come to judge the world.

This spontaneity is also true for when people die. We honestly have no idea when someone will die. We like to think happy thoughts, that our friends and family will die at a good, old age. But statistics and history tell us differently. People die from car crashes, from overdosing and drugs, from suicide, from diseases and illnesses, such as cancer.

I expected my grandma to die in maybe mid to late 70’s, early 80’s. I didn’t think she would be taken from us at the age of 67. I could have sworn she had maybe 10 years left in her, because she was always so alive.

Big mistake making that assumption. I have a few regrets that I didn’t spend as much time with her that I would have liked to, talking to her about boys and God and love and life and happiness, sharing memories.

The fact is, we can’t choose when our loved ones will pass away, so all we can do is make the best of the time we have with them today. You shouldn’t put off calling your friend, making up with your brother; I shouldn’t put off calling my dad, being nicer to my sister. Anyone I know can be taken from me at any moment.

While I am upset that the Lord took my sweet Granny away from me a little too early, I am thankful for what he has taught me through the experience: that we don’t always have tomorrow. The fact that I didn’t get to share my love of Jesus with her puts a fear and an urgency in me to tell others about his love before it is too late. They don’t always have tomorrow, and neither do I. Something awful could happen to me tomorrow and today may be the last time I get to shine bright for the Lord.

He wants us to live with this sense of urgency, that we are here today and gone tomorrow. That we have such little breath in us, such little life in us. Each of us is only a few sentences in his gigantic book of life, so he wants us to be sure that what we say, what we contribute to the story, is something worth sharing. He wants us to have some fear in us, and not so it will cripple us, but to remind us that it’s dangerous to live passively.

Regret is not a good emotion to live with, and once someone is gone, you cannot get them back. He has reminded me to live life to the fullest, because the day comes

like a thief in the night.

Depression part 3- Words of Encouragement

“I will give them a crown to replace their ashes, and the oil of gladness to replace their sorrow, and clothes of praise to replace their spirit of sadness. Then they will be called Trees of Goodness, trees planted by the Lord to show his greatness.” Isaiah 61:3

This verse says that the Lord ultimately will take all of our sadness and suffering away. We will go through difficult times, but the Lord knows how to take care of the people he loves. I always try to remember that god is a good father, and that we are his precious children. That helps me realize that he doesn’t like to see us hurting or frustrated. He wants to take care of us, but we have to learn to trust him so he can share that love with us.

“But the people who trust the Lord will become strong again. They will rise up as an eagle in the sky; they will run and not need rest; they will walk and not become tired.” Isaiah 40:31

Again, trusting that the Lord will lead you and take care of you is crucial. When I trust him, it makes the hard times more bearable. Because then, I am not resting in my strength, but in the strength of God. We can accomplish more, endure more, love more, and be more when we trust in his strength.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is the Father who is full of mercy and all comfort. He comforts us every time we have trouble, so when others have trouble, we can comfort them with the same comfort God gives us.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

God is a loving God, full of mercy. Now, it certainly doesn’t always seem that way, whenever we ask for his help and he doesn’t seem to help, and we pray certain prayers and they don’t ever get answered. But God is a father who knows what is best for his children. Sometimes we want things that we think are best for us, but they are not necessarily what is best for us. The same is true in regular life: children want things they think are good, but the parent knows it’s not necessarily best for the child. They want to eat candy for dinner, and even though it would taste good for awhile, the parent knows that is really a dumb idea.

We only see the current road we are on in life, while God sees all the roads in the map of our life. We have to allow him to lead us and guide us to the right places, and let him bless us how he wishes to bless us. At the end of it, we will see that God knew what we needed far better than we knew what we needed. Trust him when life is easy, and definitely when it gets very hard.

This verse also talks about how God comforts us so that we can comfort others with that same kind of love. That is how we spread Christ’s love through the world. We take the love he gives us and spread it to others, and then those who are not saved will look at Christianity and see the compassion in us, and know us by our love. God invests time and energy in us so that we become more like Christ, and we need to invest time and energy in others in the same manner.

Depression part 1- Difficulties in Life are Not Always our Fault

I struggle with depression a lot. I become really withdrawn and closed off from the world. But still, I find hope in God. When the world is grey through my eyes, he is a ray of sunshine that comes through; when there are clouds, he is my silver lining.

I have to admit that even with Jesus, life beats me down and breaks me. I am thrown in all kinds of situations where I am pushed to give up hope. But even with the sadness, I try to carry myself in a spirit of hope and joy.

Jesus lived this way. I can imagine that it was incredibly difficult to face a world of persecution and hate, by those who are closest to you. Hard to deal with having your life threatened over and over, for what you believe in. But he had a hope about him; a strength and love in him that helped him persevere when times got difficult. Where does one gain such internal strength to face each and every day, despite opposition? That strength comes from the love of God.

“But, Lord, you are my shield, my wonderful God who gives me courage.” Psalm 3:3

“He protects those who are loyal to him, but evil people will be silenced in darkness. Power is not the key to success.” 1 Samuel 2:9

“The Lord your God is with you; the mighty One will save you. He will rejoice over you. You will rest in his love; he will sing and be joyful about you.” Zephaniah 3:17

When we trust in God and hold tight to our faith, he is our protection and strength. That doesn’t mean life won’t get difficult, it doesn’t meant that we won’t get confused or not understand some of the odd things he does, or doesn’t do. But in trusting in him, we begin to stop trusting in the world. This means that when there is chaos in the world, we still have a sense of purpose and mission and hope in life.

I struggle with loneliness, with severe OCD, with lust, with anger and bitterness, and all of these things cause me depression. When I feel ignored and empty, I get severely depressed. At extreme points, I will think about suicide a little. But a hope for something better never fails to push such horrible thoughts away. The love in my heart reminds me that I am living for something bigger and far more wonderful than myself, and I realize that I truly have no right to take my own life away.

I am teaching myself to deal with this as I am trying to teach you to deal with it. I have to remind myself that sometimes, there are circumstances in this life that I cannot control, that are out of my hands, and I have to tell myself not to blame myself.

When something bad happens to my family, I may beat myself up about it, and I shouldn’t. When someone makes life really difficult for me or I feel like I never get anything I want, I am tempted to say that it’s because I’m not good enough, I must have did something bad and God is punishing me for it, he hates me, and so forth. But bad things don’t always happen and make us depressed necessarily because we did anything wrong.

Take Job in the bible, for example. He was a faithful man of God, and he walked with God. His life reflected his faith, and it pleased God. But Satan went to God and said that the only reason Job was faithful was because God had blessed him. If God took away these blessings, Job wouldn’t be faithful to him anymore. So the Lord let Satan take control of him, he let him do anything he wanted with him. He just said that he could not kill Job himself. So Satan destroyed his family, his children, his animals, basically his whole life. And Job and his friends tried to figure out why he was going through such hell. His friends had decided that Job must have done something wrong, and so he was being punished for it.

But that was not the case at all! Job had actually been faithful to God, so this brings me to this point: suffering = God is mad at you is not always true. Sometimes, we do suffer because we sin, but not always. The story of Job also brings me to another point: Job had not done anything wrong, it was some circumstance completely out of his control that brought him such suffering. Again, it’s not always our fault. We should never beat ourselves up for things that are not even our fault.

Sometimes God puts us through trials and difficulties to test us and see how faithful we are; sometimes he does it to get our attention and allow us to come to the conclusion that life is much too difficult to handle by ourselves. He may give us a hard time so that we give up on trusting ourselves and instead, put our trust fully in Christ, who knows how to take complete care of us.

The weight of depression on my shoulders is lifted a little when I realize that it does not always mean that I am guilty of anything. It’s important to realize this so that we can realize that God still loves us and that we are his children. He does want what is best for us, despite what he might put us through. If you always think you get depressed because you are guilty, you fall into a hopeless situation where you may give up on God because you think he does not love you anymore. He always, always, always loves us. Always.

Anger and Bitterness part 7- Words of Encouragement

“Yes, if you forgive others for their sins, your Father in heaven will also forgive you for your sins.” Matthew 6:14

The bible says that we forgive others, even when they have really wronged us, God will forgive us when we have really wronged him. See how that works? Be treated how you want to be treated. If you put aside such anger and the harsh feelings, God will put aside his anger when it comes to the bad things you have done. It can help to make you right with God again.

“Patience is better than strength. Controlling your temper is better than capturing a city.” Proverbs 16:32

You want to know why patience is better than strength, much better than capturing a city? Because being patient is so difficult! This verse is saying that it is such a triumph to develop patience with people and with the Lord, because in reality, it’s hard to be patient. We all want things, we want God to listen to us and do the things we want him to do, at the time we want him to do it. But one really hard lesson I am learning is that God won’t work that way. He will put you in situations that make you wait for him to move; that make you completely trust him. I really feel that way in my life right now: like I can’t get anywhere or do anything or really live at all if God doesn’t act first. He is teaching me to be more patient. Sometimes, we get so angry at God when he doesn’t listen to us, but he is teaching us to be patient, teaching us that he does things when he is ready, and not necessarily when we feel ready.

“My friends, do not try to punish others when they wrong you, but wait for God to punish them with his anger. It is written: ‘I will punish those who do wrong; I will repay them,’ says the Lord.” Romans 12:19

Guys, this is true. When people treat us badly and act horribly towards us, we don’t need to go out of our way to punish them. God sees the things that they do; he sees the things everyone does. We can’t hide anything from him, he knows all that is in our hearts. And he will judge those guilty as guilty. He knows who walks with him, who lives for him. The bible also says,

“They are blessed who realize their spiritual poverty, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. They are blessed who grieve, for God will comfort them. They are blessed who are humble, for the whole earth will be theirs. They are blessed who hunger and thirst after justice, for they will be satisfied. They are blessed who show mercy to others, for God will show mercy to them. They are blessed whose thoughts are pure, for they will see God. They are blessed who work for peace, for they will be called God’s children. They are blessed who are persecuted for doing good, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. People will insult you and hurt you. They will lie and say all kinds of evil things about you because you follow me. But when they do, you will be blessed. Rejoice and be glad, because you have a great reward waiting for you in heaven.” Matthew 5:2-12

God will reward those who work hard for him. If we trust in the Lord, when we grieve, God will ultimately comfort us. A lot of times, it’s not instant comfort, but if we keep trusting in him, he will bring us that comfort. When we are humble and put others before ourselves and look out for others, God will lift us up. He will make the proud last, and the humble first. God does opposite things like that. If we seek out justice, God will satisfy us. If we seek out evil, things will not go well for us. God knows when we have pure thoughts, like I said, he knows what is in our hearts. When we work for peace in the world, while holding on to our faith strongly, we truly are the children of God. God loves it when we work for the good of others. And in many different ways, he will let us know that he loves it. People will persecute us. People will say bad things about us.

But if we pursue God even when our worlds seem to be crumbling (which they often do), God will reward us, and we will be a blessing to others, rewarding others with the good that is in our hearts. I try my best to live like this every day; pursuing God, even when my world seems endlessly difficult. Jesus says we don’t need to worry because in this world, bad things will happen, but we should have faith because he has overcome the world. He has overcome all of our problems, before we even have them. He has overcome all of our struggles and worries, before we even begin to struggle or worry. He has overcome all of our sins, before we even begin to desire the sin in our hearts. Trust in God because he is bigger than you, and he can easily handle things that are impossible for us to handle.

Holding on to bitterness and anger prevents God from using us in his awesome and mighty plan. We come to a screeching halt in our relationship with God. We hold on to past things that have happened, and we stop loving and refuse to care for certain people, and then it’s like a ripple effect in our lives. It effects the things we do, how we view the world, what’s in our hearts, and ultimately, how we decide to live our lives. Be encouraged by knowing that Jesus has already overcome the world! He has overcome your world, my world, his world, her world, their worlds, every one’s. We just have to begin to trust that, and then he can reveal that to us!

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Anger and Bitterness part 6- Humility and Forgiveness

We ultimately have to learn to forgive, and move on with our lives. We can’t hold all that anger and bitterness in. It can wreck our relationship with those around us and with Christ. Sometimes, you are really wronged. Sometimes, people do go too far, cause too many problems and too much drama. But at the end of the day, we are still called to forgive.

Let me stop right here and say that that doesn’t mean that it will be easy. Sometimes, forgiving is one of the hardest things to do. Forgive that person, after all the damaged they caused you? Forgive yourself? Why should you?

I can’t count how many times I have felt betrayed, back-stabbed, or whatever. People have made me so angry I didn’t know what to do, time and time again. I ultimately do forgive the people who have hurt me, but depending on how deep the wound, it could a short amount of time or a very long amount of time for you to heal. It once took me a couple years to forgive someone.

A good thing about forgiveness is that when you finally work up the courage to, and your heart becomes big enough to, you finally get over all the bitterness. You know how sometimes when you refuse to forgive someone, you say “no way! I am never going to let go of it! They hurt me so much!” Have you ever noticed that when you won’t let it go, that pain won’t ever let you go? The more you think about the person, the angrier you get, and the more you feel that pain they caused. But when you forgive, you stop thinking about them, that anger dwindles down, and the pain finally really goes away!

I know this from experience. When I forgave someone who broke my heart, I wasn’t angry at them anymore, I didn’t want them to die, I wasn’t in pain because they ignored me, it was like I was totally uninhibited. I didn’t think of them and wince or cry or anything, as I did before I forgave them. I was perfectly fine. But that was after a couple years and some hard work. I had to focus on other things in my life and stop obsessing over that one thing. I had to spend time with God, reflecting on ways to heal, and how to fix my horrible decisions. I had to pray and ask God to forgive me for holding so much anger in.

One reason we should forgive is because God forgives us when we forgive others.

“Don’t judge others, and you will not be judged. Don’t accuse others of being guilty, and you will not be accused of being guilty. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. ” Luke 6:37

Every mistake we make, every heartache we cause our Father- if we can turn away from the bad things we’ve done and sincerely apologize, God will forgive us. Every time he saw us lie or cheat or be proud or anything, he never stopped loving us. Then who are we to stop loving him when he challenges us? Who are we to stop loving others when they are challenging for us?

Did you realize that while Jesus was on the cross, he was forgiving all of those people who abused him and beat him and mocked him? He was forgiving those who persecuted and executed him? He was forgiving those who were cheering because he was bleeding and dying? Thinking of that makes me feel so small, and so I wonder: who the heck am I not to forgive?

Pray that God will give you the strength to be able to get over your bitterness. It’s not easy, but certainly you can do it with the Lord’s help. God knows it when you trust in him for help. He can help to take away that pain and brokenness inside. I know from experience. If you can learn to say “I forgive what they did to me, I won’t hold it against them anymore”, God will do the same, and turn his head away from your sins and the bad you do. He will treat us how we treat others.

Anger and Bitterness part 4- How to Cope Con’t.

This is a continuation of my last post, about how to cope with being bitter with God. I am challenging myself to get over my bitterness and frustration, that I’ve carried around for a little while. My world is not going perfect, and God is just letting me struggle. But struggle is not a grounds forgiving up on faith. These are more ways to cope with being angry with the Lord, and I hope you can successfully apply them to your life. =]

5. Get out there and help someone. I know when I feel bad, but when I go out there and help someone, it makes me feel better. It makes me feel like I am useful again, if I had been feeling pretty useless before. Even if I am upset with God, if I see someone struggling with an issue with faith that I know how to resolve, it always makes me feel awesome inside to see their faith grow stronger and see the hope restored to their eyes- and then I feel like I have more hope for myself. As the saying goes, “when we help others, we help ourselves.”

6. Exercise! Exercise gets your endorphins pumping, which give you that rush of energy and those ‘feel good’ emotions. I remember at one point in my life, I kept crying on the daily basis. But the night when I really started exercising, I didn’t feel like crying that night. Exercise can release stress, erase feelings of confusion, worry, and anxiety. A lot of people don’t know these kinds of effects of exercise. But exercise really has helped me get over being bitter with the Lord. I channel all of my frustration into my workouts, and over time and over a consistent amount of exercise, I feel much, much better. Break out the treadmill and weights!

7. Do things you love. I do this a lot. In a sense, I sort of distract myself from the problem. When you think about a problem to much- how God seems to have let you down, how he wasn’t there for you, how he let someone break your heart- when you dwell too much, anger and frustration just builds. I know this from much, much experience! LOL, It’s so true. So instead of keeping my head in negative thoughts, I boost my spirits by doing things I love- drawing, writing poetry, singing, making music, reading, playing games, etc. I am not saying that you avoid the problem all together and never deal with it, but I am saying just don’t obsess over it too much. Take a break from the anger and pain, and do something fun. Go hang out. Enjoy yourself. The time I was most angry at God, I had no idea how I would get out of all the negative feelings that I felt. I felt like I would always feel broken and be angry. Since I didn’t really know how to fix the problems, I started doing things that I loved, that would take my mind out of the war of negativity, and over a period of time, that anger gradually went away. I was happier because of the things I did, and it diffused my frustration with God.

8. Humble yourself. Often times, we are selfish and we feel like God owes us something. He doesn’t owe us anything, when he has already giving us everything through his wonderful son, Jesus Christ. Jesus rescued us from our afflictions, and we truly have no right to complain; we should be thankful and praise him for his love. But since we are human and imperfect, we will result to complaining. In the Bible, God’s chosen people, Israel, complained along their journey with God. It’s not right, but it’s something we do. But you have to start realizing that we live this life to glorify God and do the things that he wants, not the other way around. Yes, he loves us, and he will bless us, but it doesn’t mean that life will always be easy. It doesn’t mean that we won’t ever get uncomfortable. Realize why you are so bitter and frustrated with God: where does it seem that he has let you down? And open your eyes to the fact that we obey him, he does not obey us. He will take care of us in his own time. It’s hard for us to wrap our minds around that: ‘in his own time.’ That means whenever he is ready. Not when we are ready, but when he is. Humble yourself and realize that you are so small compared to God. Yes, he will take care of you, but only at the right time.

9. Worship God! Don’t look at me like I’m crazy. Ok, I know this sounds strange. If you are angry at God, why on earth would you bother praising him and worshipping him? Well, I know this from experience. When I am upset with him, sometimes, I can’t bother to try to fix the problem, because it’s too much of a challenge for me. But I love music. So one day, I really wanted to play piano, and there is this nice worship song I wanted to work on, even though I was mad at God. I started playing and singing, and I was having such a good time, I deliberately started singing to God and worshipping him. The joy from playing helped me to worship easily and joyfully. It made me happy with him, the more I fell in love with the music and the more the meaning of the words soaked deep into my brain and my heart. When I tithe, I feel like I am making a difference to someone, so I worship him when I tithe. Through various forms of worship, I feel how much I care about God, and I realize how much he cares about me. Set yourself free in some worship.

10. Another thing I do is actively and sincerely apologize. Lately, my heart has been broken. Romance and friendships have been a little haywire for me, and so sometimes, I blow up at God. I blame him, and say he is a horrible father. This is all in a moment of passionate, painful, anger. But after I have calmed down some, I go back and genuinely apologize. It has to be sincere, truly coming from your heart, or it won’t matter to him; it will only be fake, otherwise. You have to mean it, and he will definitely forgive you. To me, it’s like when I have a bad day. Someone comes in and tries to comfort me, or even people not involved at all, and I may blow up at them because my day already sucks, even though it’s not their fault. That’s how I may accidentally treat God sometimes, because I am, so to speak, ‘having a bad day’. I am frustrated with the world. So like a friend who really feels bad for blowing up at innocent people, I apologize to God because I honestly don’t want to hurt him.

As long as you are seeking to improve, seeking God’s heart despite your hardships, God will always return to you. He will not leave you forever, even though you may feel utterly forsaken in the moment. When I feel utterly forsaken, I have to continually remind myself that he will return and that he truly does love me. A willing heart will always go far, no matter how much you mess up with God. He sees that desire to change, and he is willing to help. God looks at the heart, though man looks at the outside of a person.

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Don’t look at how handsome Eliab is or how tall he is, because I have not chosen him. God does not see the same way people see. People look at the outside of a person, but the Lord looks at the heart.'” 1 Samuel 16:7

Anger and Bitterness part 3- How to Cope

Alright. The tough, tough stuff. How do we cope with being bitter and anger at God? Because if we hold these feelings in too long, that bitterness becomes rage, and we start to hate God and anyone who stands for him. We’ve already acknowledged that we are humans, and that we will naturally become angry at God, even though we are technically wrong. But if you don’t take steps to consistently get rid of that anger, we can fall away from a faithful relationship with God. This is an example of what can happen if you let bitter feelings of God go too far: Are You Mad at God? an article by David Wilkerson.

I will attempt to explain this the best I can, as I battle against my selfishness and bitterness at God, to reach for a higher good. While I am explaining, I am also living it. So I pray that I can be a successful example, and I can show what really works.

1. First, I let God know what I am feeling in my heart. Though he already knows the struggles I deal with on a daily basis, I will feel like I can trust him more when I open up to him and say that I am hurting. I can get it off of my chest, and it will seem like he is more of a friend.

2. Then I pray about my issue. I pray that the Lord takes away my pain, that he heals my internal wounds, that he is glorified through me. Even if it is his will for me to suffer for the time being, I pray that I have strength to hold on to my faith until the end.

“Do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks. And God’s peace, which is so great we cannot understand it, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

3. I get into the word! I have this little book that is divided into sections. It has all kinds of bible verses for various situations. Verses for when I’m angry, rebellious, lonely, rejected, depressed, etc. I use this when I try to deal with my bitterness and anger at God because it’s a lot harder to search in the bible by yourself for verses that relate to you. They can be confusing or hard to come across- not to say that you shouldn’t try it, anyway. But when I am in a moment of desperation, I write out the various things bothering me, I may pray about it, and then I open this little booklet, and find verses that give me strength and peace and that disarm my huge bomb of anger. It can be difficult to get myself to do, but I definitely think it helps in the long run. It helps the bible to become more applicable to my everyday life, and so I find less and less reason to find it irrelevant, like a lot of people to day think. It makes God seem more alive and more ‘here’ to me, caring about how I feel. The book is called ‘God’s Promises for Every Day‘. You should invest in one! I want to live my life by God’s word, so this is a good way to do it.

4. Find Godly people who can help you with your struggles. Sometimes, we have questions that others know the answers to. They can offer guidance when we need it. They may have gone through a similar spell when they were upset with God, and found and effective way to deal with it. They will pray for us and with us, giving us encouraging words to hold onto our faith, and offer community where we can find strength. They give us hope that is harder to find when we are alone. They may be able to see ways out of our bitterness, while we can’t see them. We need a community of faith to keep us grounded and focused on the Lord. I am still struggling with this greatly, and I haven’t found many people that I can talk to about my struggles with bitterness with God. I have always had a horribly difficult time opening up to people, so this is certainly something that I am working on.

On my next post, I will continue on about how to cope with bitterness and anger.

Anger and Bitterness part 2- Reasons We Suffer

So you are angry and bitter. Something terrible has happened in your world. Now what? I won’t lie and pretend to know all the answers. If that were the case, I wouldn’t struggle with anger so much myself.

I do know that we gain strength from suffering. Sometimes, it can give us compassion for others. If we do something wrong 100 times, then figure out how to do it right, if we see someone start to do that thing the wrong way, we would be eager to help out so they wouldn’t have to go through the unnecessary frustration. Sometimes, suffering humbles us. Sometimes, we suffer in extreme ways, in life changing events, and sometimes they aren’t in necessarily huge ways.

I won’t say that every single time we suffer, it was on purpose from God. But I will say that he gives us a reason to have hope while we suffer. He can take our hardships and bring something good out of them. We can glorify him and learn to trust him more.

I feel I should share this with you from ‘Dying to Live‘. Clayton was talking about how he had hit rock bottom in his life:

“One evening during this season of despair, I hit my lowest point emotionally. I was upstairs. The room was completely dark. As I lay on my back in bed, the tears had pooled up in my eyes and were hot on my skin. I was rehearsing my good deeds before God and feeling more and more rotten by the second as I tried to convince Him that, based on all my superior goodness, He should heal my mom, re-open Daddy’s shop, and get me a full ride to Furman, Wake Forest, or Gardner-Webb. It was not working at all. God wasn’t buying it. Neither was I.

It was then, out of the blue, as it were, that the very Holy Spirit of God came and stood on my chest. Hard. Right there in the darkness.

As if someone had snatched back dark curtains to reveal that it was noon outside and the sun was shining bright when I thought it was still 3 a.m. and dark, the light cascaded into my mind and my soul. The epiphany was tangible. It was like I could feel the light from the sun on my face, or maybe like I had been doused with a bucket of ice water unexpectedly while my head was turned the other way. What God unveiled to me right then and right there, with pools of hot tears in my eye sockets, took my breath away.

Son, I know you are lonely and afraid and confused. But I have not left you. I am simply doing what you asked Me to do and I am using these things to do it. I am breaking you and humbling you to prepare you for what lies ahead and to remind you to trust in Me alone. So trust Me. Not yourself. Not your plans. Not football. Not money. Not scholarships. Just trust Me.

The Lord caused him to suffer, for a purpose: to get Clayton to trust him more. Yes, it broke both of their hearts, but it ultimately made him stronger.

I try to remember things like this when I start to get all frustrated and angry with God. Sometimes, it really is his will. God has plans for us that we cannot yet fully understand, and we only get glimpses of this awesome future, until he leads us there slowly, unraveling all the wonder day by day.

To know that I don’t struggle simply for no reason, but that their may be a much deeper meaning behind it, it gives me a sense of peace at mind, amidst all the madness, pain, and confusion.

It’s not going to be easy, but sticking by God, throughout all the misery, will ultimately have good rewards. That gives me hope. Sometimes we come to difficult points in life so that God can test our faith:

“These troubles come to prove that your faith is pure. This purity of faith is worth more than gold, which can be proved to be pure by fire but will ruin. But the purity of your faith will bring you praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is shown to you. You have not seen Christ, but still you love him. You cannot see him now, but you believe in him. So you are filled with a joy that cannot be explained, a joy full of glory. And you are receiving the goal of your faith—the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:7-9

Sometimes, God will put people through tests of faith. If they hold tight to their faith to the end, he will richly bless them.

Sometimes, people make huge mistakes in their walks with God, and they have to suffer because it is a form of discipline. It doesn’t mean God will never love them again, because he always loves them. But it is simply a good parent and a child. The child does something horribly wrong, and what does a good parent do? A good parent will discipline the child, letting them see what they did wrong, and helping them to turn from that, to the right path.

“If you go the wrong way—to the right or to the left—you will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the right way. You should go this way.'” Isaiah 30:21

As Hillsong United says in a song,

“A thousand times I’ve failed
Still your mercy remains
And should I stumble again
Still I’m caught in your grace”

God will lead us back to the right path if we are truly sorry in our hearts, and he will have mercy on us and forgive us. So sometimes, we fail, and we suffer. We shouldn’t turn away from God and be bitter, though; he is simply trying to lead his precious children on the right path to living the most fulfilling lives.

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