Posts Tagged ‘Dying to Live’

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.

Dying to Our Sinful Self

“And for the next ten minutes, I described to him, as best I knew how, the paradox of following Jesus and finding life by giving it away. That when I died to my sin and selfishness by the power of the gospel, I became alive in a much more real way. And because I had experienced the death of my old self, my new self was really alive, like hyper-alive. I was now willing to die for the gospel, but also was willing, and indeed was literally, living for the gospel. And that every day of living for Christ was allowing me to become ‘deader and deader’ to the way I used to be before I was saved from my sins.” Dying to Live, by Clayton King

Dying to live. It’s a strange paradox that I am learning to embrace, just like Clayton King. When we follow Jesus, we have to put ourselves aside, so that Jesus can lead our lives, instead of leading our own lives. We have to gradually learn to put aside the things we want, so that Jesus can achieve the things that he wants for us, instead. We die to sin and selfishness, die to our small dreams and small goals, and we let God take over. He pushes away our selfish wants, and replaces them with his supernatural goals and plans.

I find that the more I let him take control over my life, the more free and powerful I feel. Contrary to how it may seem, when I trust in God to lead me in all the various areas of my life, I don’t feel like I am going crazy because of the smaller amount of control and power I have. I actually feel I have more control over my life than ever before. That’s mainly because before I gave my life to Jesus and let him lead me, my life was always chaotic; I never had enough strength to keep me grounded, and so I constantly drifted in this sea of confusion.

When I let him lead me, he armed me with his strength and his love and his hope. I felt more secure, in that I knew I could handle all the difficult things in this life as long as I trusted him (that certainly doesn’t mean it will be easy, though). I felt protected, and that even when I didn’t know where God was leading me, I could trust him to get me whereever he wanted me to be.

I’d like to be very careful and delicate with my words, though. Trusting him doesn’t mean it frees your life from chaos, insecurity, fear, panic, etc. I constantly feel those things, even with him. He is always leading me some place, and I am not sure of where we are going, or sure of what we will do when we get there. But the difference is that without him, I am just surrounded by chaos, drenched in fear, without any real hope. With him, I still am surrounded by chaos, it’s just now I have hope that I can survive it, because I depend on his strength. Knowing that I always have that sense of peace in the back of my mind, despite what happens to me, always has a way of keeping me sane when I start to lose it.

Anyway, back to the point. God is perfect, glorious, holy, mighty, awesome. We are imperfect, flawed, sinful. Our human nature will always cause us to be greedy, selfish, wanting things that only benefit us. When we are saved, the Holy Spirit comes and lives within us. It begins to do a good work in us, making us more and more like Christ in our hearts. Without the Holy Spirit guiding us, everything we do would cause us to sin, and ultimately lead to death and destruction. We would end up living very unfulfilling lives, missing out on the good blessings God has in store for us.

But when the Holy Spirit lives in us, we are at war against our sinful self, and we have to fight that battle every day, never giving up. We always have 2 options: Do what God wants us to do, or do what our sinful self wants to do. Do we spend the morning reading the bible and spending time with God, or do we be lazy and lay around watching TV? A friend calls with a problem. Do we tell them what they want to here, or refer to the bible and tell them how you think God would want them to respond, through the bible? It’s Sunday. Do we skip church again or force ourselves to get out of bed and spend the morning worshipping Jesus? Our sinful self or our Godly self?

We have choices all around us, and we have to make these decisions all the time. We must continually choose to listen to our Godly self, and die more to our sinful self. It is not something that happens over night; it takes a life time, committing to putting ourselves aside for God on the daily basis.

The more we die to our sinful old self, the way we were before we met Christ, the more we start living for Him. We get to really live, and not just exist. We get to feel super alive and passionate for God. It’s like you used to walk through the days with your eyes closed, sleeping all your life. Now you are awake and you get to live! We die to our old selves to live for Christ. We are dying to live!

Fear and Faith Co-exist

“And though it seems impossible that fear and faith can dwell in the same vessel at the same time and take up the same space, they co-exist all the time. They must. It is not faith on my part at all if I don’t choose to believe in the midst of ear and uncertainty… I think we have gotten the idea of ‘faith’ all wrong. Faith does not mean the absence of fear. Faith actually means choosing to trust in the midst of fear. It is admitting your fear and forging ahead toward an uncertain outcome, believing all the while that things will turn out right. God brings peace in the moment of panic seemingly out of nowhere- out of a dark and quiet corner of your heart you have not heard from in awhile. But right there, just in time, when you need it most, while the sky is falling and the bills keep coming and dark clouds keep gathering, peace comes. Faith wins out. Fear may not go away, but it is trumped by faith in the God who loves you and cares for your every need.” From Clayton King’s Dying to Live

I love reading his book. He is so right, 100%. Faith isn’t only trusting God when it’s convenient, when it’s easy for you. A lot of people wonder why God doesn’t seem to be there for them, and some want so much proof before they really believe in him. There is a huge disconnect between that person’s heart and God’s heart and his wonderful grace. That disconnect is not having enough faith.

People have to learn to trust God, even when it’s difficult, even when they aren’t exactly sure how things will turn out. All they have to be sure of is that God loves them and wants to take care of them, and be convinced that he will lead them to the right place at the right time. Faith in Christ is trusting him, even when you can’t see him, even when you don’t know exactly where he is taking you in life; just recognize that where he is taking you is for your ultimate good.

“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

At the time when I accepted Christ, I had to trust him where I had once tried to trust myself and had failed. I soon realized that his strength was better than my strength, and that he could take care of me better than anyone else could take care of me. It was scary, I wasn’t sure how things would turn out if I gave him complete control over my life, but I gave it a try. It seemed to be my only chance, my only hope for survival.

I was terrified that I would still feel alone, that all my pain would be the same, that I wouldn’t change internally. But God lead me to peace in the midst of all my fear. He healed me, he taught me, he gave me courage and love in the place of emptiness and hurt.

Even now in my walk with Christ, I trust him, even when I have constant fears. I fear I will lose my old friends now that I am in college, I am afraid that the next boy who breaks my heart will make me call it quits for good, that family stress will build up so much I will want to shoot myself (or at least everyone around me!) I’m terrified of being alone, of others who have love, of my emotions being completely out of whack and me crying all the time, that my anxiety might go up.

But I am trusting Christ. So often when I feel like I am about to lose it, I find something beautiful in Christ that I had not really noticed before, and that gives me strength and courage to face another day, to trust God more. The saying goes, “every cloud has a silver lining.” In the midst of panic and uncertainty, that silver lining is a quiet, yet strong peace in Christ, that begins to gush out and rush through my body and soul. But I have to trust him to experience it.

Folks! You have to jump before he can catch you, be willing to fall so that he can life you up. You have to have faith in the midst of fear, so that he can lead you and guide you to the right place, at the right time.

I quote him again:

“And though it seems impossible that fear and faith can dwell in the same vessel at the same time and take up the same space, they co-exist all the time. They must. It is not faith on my part at all if I don’t choose to believe in the midst of ear and uncertainty” Dying to Live

Go buy this book, it is a great book, and I feel stronger and closer to God because of it. Here!