Posts Tagged ‘suffering for Christ’

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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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.

*Poetry Corner- “Wrapped Up in Chains”

Wrapped Up in Chains

So much pain,
I can’t feel
Anything at all
Lord, I did not give you half of my heart
I swore I’d give it all
And so I gave it all

Even with you Lord, I fall hard to the ground
And in chains, forever I’m bound
And I scream in the pain
But internally, I pace myself
And I constantly reflect on
The love in your heart
And even as I hurt, I’m okay
Your mercy, your power, your glory,
Hardwired in my brain,
Excuse me-
I mean, hardwired in my heart

And I stand in the flames
Wrapped up in your chains
And head strong, I move on
If I’m in pain, I’ll resist running away
As long as it brings glory to you
Will it make you happy?
Then I’ll fight my way through
Whether I live or die,
I’ll stand by your side
This world cannot shake the love
I have gained in you
Each bullet in my soul,
I’ll take it for you
At the end of the day
When I’m burning, sitting on the pain
I am running this race
And I will pace myself
So I can make it through
Forgetting myself,
I’m living this life for you

You sacrificed yourself for my freedom
And as a Christian, I cannot live without sacrifice
You were in pain so spiritually, I could survive
And to say following you is easy
Is nothing but a lie
But it’s certainly worth a try
And the preachers preach and they preach
But if they tell everyone this is easy
It is a lie
But I know the grace I’ve recieved
And so I will try
Running this race
Face to face with the pain,
Wearing your name
By carrying chains

But I won’t fall over dead in my heart
This pain is nothing compared to the
Freedom you’ve given me
And I will pace myself
Until I pass the finish line
And I can look you in the eyes
Be by your side
In Heaven

And you laid down your life for mine
As a Christian, I can’t live without self-sacrifice
I’ll see you in heaven when I cross the finish line
Because you are well worth the race, worth the fight

—————————

copyright Jennifer Clayton

I wanted to write a poem about how following Christ isn’t easy, but it is soooo worth the fight. The reward in heaven, the love, the strength.. freakin’ amazing. To be able to stand out in this world as something different, have self-respect, to live for something bigger than you.. to have a purpose, to know the direction you are going in life, to have something to ground you in the midst of all the craziness, to have a relationship when you are lonely… nice.

But it’s not easy. It’s hard work, sacrificing the things I want to live for Christ. I have to lay down my desires and pick up his desires. Carry my cross. But I truly don’t mind. It’s nothing compared to the hell I used to live in before him. Being in pain for him doesn’t hurt nearly as much as having fun without him.. seriously! We have to learn to let him lead us. It is hard, since we are such individualistic people, who want to be independent and go after our goals and make ourselves bigger. But everything I once held dear, I count it all as loss…