Tag Archives: faith

The hurting among us.

fern

“I have learned now that while those who speak about one’s miseries usually hurt, those who keep silence hurt more.”   ― C.S. Lewis

 

“I had no idea!”
“You never said anything!”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”

I don’t know. Honestly, I don’t know. I can talk, alright. I talk too much, in my opinion. I say exactly what I think and why. I speak too quickly, too harshly, and all at full volume.

But.

When I am hurting, I don’t say much. (when I am hurt – then I often say something, regrettably) But when the pain is heart-wrenching and deep, when I cry myself to sleep from the pain, those hurts are hard to get out. I stuff them. Bury them under a breezy manner and quick smiles.

I bet you do it too. You feel scared. What people will think, or worse, what they will say. That must be where it starts – this fear of showing our hurts. We tried, when we were younger and full of trust. We shared, and they were not gentle with us. So we learned to stuff it. To hide it well.  Much too well. woodland fern

-If you knew that woman sitting next to you in church just experienced a miscarriage, you would stop judging her for missing 3 Sundays in a row. You might even hug her.

-if you knew that man ahead of you in the checkout line was still in shock over his wife leaving him – you would stop despising his unkempt appearance. You might even pray for him.

-If you knew that awkward girl was trying to recover from sexual abuse, you would stop telling people how ‘pathetic’ she is. You might even take her out for a meal.

-If you knew that person in the car ahead of you was crying from the pain of losing his child, you would not yell at him for driving so slowly. You might even cry too.

No, we do not judge and despise people when they are going through deep hurts. We sympathize. We are understanding and patient. The problem comes when we don’t know. We assume they are on the same busy path through life that we are following. We only see the tip of the iceberg, and like the Titanic – we don’t see the gigantic pain just under the surface.

See, most people don’t purposely add hurt to hurt. (some do, I’m not talking of those wretched people) Mostly, we try to sympathize and help each other. But still, we don’t share. It’s too private. The hurt is too raw, and besides, how and when and why do you even share how it feels to cry yourself to sleep over a pain that is 10 years old? 20 years old?  Isn’t there a statute of limitations on how long you’re allowed to grieve? Aren’t you supposed to ‘heal’ from childhood abuse, and get over it? “She wasn’t good enough for you anyways! Better fish in the sea!

No, my friend.

To you who are sad. Hurt. Grieving. It’s OK. Be happy if you can, grieve when you need to, feel the hurt when it comes. If you can find 1 or 2 strong and true friends who can handle your pain – that is ideal. I don’t know how I would’ve gotten through some of my deep sorrows in life, were it not for my faithful few friends.  Although, there comes a point when only God can comfort you. Only He knows your heart without words. He understands! Don’t hesitate to run to Him with your pain.

To you who are not in a season of sorrow or loss; be aware. Don’t be too quick to judge someone, especially someone you are not very close to. They likely haven’t told you that their job is unbearable, or their health is poor, or their favorite uncle just died. Be sensitive to everyone. Assume that there is more to their story than they’re telling you. Be merciful.

 

Christians are killing each other.

Christians are killing each otherIf you are on social media these days, you will notice a theme; Christians are angry with each other. Of course, unsaved people are angry too, but that is to be expected. They don’t have the claim of a godly life or the power of a resurrected Christ. Christians – we are held to a higher standard. This election cycle has brought out The Worst in people.

Here is a typical scene I have noticed multiple times in the past few weeks:
First Christian posts something political.
Another Christian comments with a different viewpoint.
First Christian gets angry.
Commenter gets angry.
Sneering, condescension, and bitter words follow.

This has been making me so sad the past few months. Which is good, I guess, in a way, for it has driven me to pray for my brothers and sisters in the Lord more than previously. And anything that drives me to my knees has some purpose.

You know, in Matthew 5, it says this:
“You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.

Whoa. That is strong language! When we are angry with our brother, it’s the same as if we murder them!  This is not a popular Scripture passage, I know. But there it is. You can believe the whole Bible, or you can chop out the parts you don’t like.
This is a serious issue.
Murder.
Killing.
Think about it.
Would you get a gun and walk over to your brother and shoot him in the head? Of course not! Yet you blast out angry words right into his face and not even feel guilty.

What a huge deception Satan has spawned! He has duped us into thinking we can be angry, sneering and contemptuous to each other, and somehow God is going to wink at it.

For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. 16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. Galatians 5:14

The desire of the flesh includes wanting to be right, wanting others to acknowledge that we are right, and wanting to be superior.
If we walk by the Spirit, we will have our eyes fixed on Jesus, and not on each other.

The elections have really brought out the ugly in Christians. Normally sweet, generous, loving people are now angry, judging, and name-calling. Their anxiety about future events and possibilities have blinded them to the wonderful kindness and great Sovereignty of God. It is under stress and in scary times that the hidden things of our hearts are displayed for all to see. What is in our heart will come out.

I challenge all of us to check our hearts. Are we worried? Fearful? Are we easily angered and frustrated with our brothers and sisters in Christ for their differing opinions? Do we still see them as brothers and sisters? I am convinced there will be liberals, conservatives, democrats, republicans, and libertarians in Heaven. One type of political view does not have priority over another. Only individual hearts and lives.

And you know, we aren’t even citizens of this country! (Ouch! I felt that dirty look you just gave me!)

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; Philippians 3:20

I love our country. I have the highest respect and honor for the heroes fighting to protect us, and for the many, many lives given for our freedom. But I am not first an American. I am first a Christian. My allegiance is first and foremost in Heaven, with my Father. He is the one who Created me, His Son saved me from eternal hell, and His Holy Spirit lives within me, empowering me to live victorious by God’s grace.

So when God gives a command, it supersedes the earthly commands. And God has clearly commanded us to love one another and stop being angry with each other. Our fellow countrymen would have us believe that ALL must be sacrificed for the sake of a better USA.
I believe ALL must be sacrificed for fellowship with God our Father, and for His children. That includes sacrificing my need to be right.

Sure, I have posted a few things about the elections, I have commented on a couple posts, (and regretted it a few times) and I do have an opinion on it all. But I want to promote fellowship with my family in Christ – not hard feelings. I never want to be condescending or sneer at them because they feel differently. I don’t want to be in danger of hell fire because I was angry with my brother. Totally not worth it!

So tell me, have you seen this trend of anger among Christians?

The myth of sleeping when baby sleeps.


 

The myth of sleeping when baby sleeps

You’ve all heard it: “Sleep when your baby sleeps”, but really? Have they actually tried running a household while sleeping when baby sleeps? I mean, the baby is awake for the grand total of 1.5 hours, and 97.2 percent of that time is consumed with changing their diaper, feeding them, and trying to get them back to sleep. In the approximately 3 minutes remaining, it is pretty hard to make a meal, launder grungy clothes, clean the bathroom, and comb your hair. Let alone get the nail polish out of the carpet in your toddler’s bedroom, or actually eat a meal.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me who never outgrew their dislike for childhood naps. Or maybe it’s because every time I decide to be good and lay down for a nap – that’s when my 3 year old decides to wake up early from her nap, or my 6 year old feels its an appropriate time to start screeching “NOT FAIR!!” at her brother (who made sure I was drifting off to sleep before starting to teasing her).
Perhaps I am the only one who has no ‘off’ knob on my brain – and as soon as I lay down in a (relatively) quiet spot for 3 seconds, my brain thinks it’s a perfect time to remind me of that closet that needs organized, and that gunky stuff I saw this morning in the fridge, and did I remember to send the car payment or am I gonna wake up from my nap with no car in the drive?

I try. I really do. I think:
“Today I will get a nap no matter what.”
I carefully instruct and warn (threaten) the older kids: “No fighting! None! A scream will earn you extra chores and you know how bad you hate cleaning the fridge when there’s gunky stuff in there! NO teasing! Actually, you two don’t even talk to each other! On second thought – you all go outside and don’t come back in till I say you can!”
“What If we’re hungry or thirsty?”
“Drink from the creek – pretend you’re pioneers, OK? And you won’t starve in 1 hour, I promise… now go.”
I then carefully get the baby asleep and immediately lie down myself. Its quiet. Peaceful. I will put all thoughts of empty socks drawers and crunchy floors out of my head. We can go barefoot tomorrow. It won’t be fun – with the crunchy floors an all – but I am getting a nap!

I am drifting off to sleep, finally, after several stern self-talks and mental floggings. Then I hear it – screams.
Happy screams. Shouts of laughter and joyful calling to one another, but right outside my bedroom window! I sigh and stick my head under my pillow. That does next to nothing for the volume level. I decide I can sleep through it, and will myself to ignore it and focus on the bird songs and whirring of the bathroom fan that I left running to drown out kid-noises.

Except it doesn’t. Nothing drowns out those happy shouts from 10 feet away. I grin a little, and roll out of bed. Sitting there on the edge of the bed I say aloud:
“I give up. I just give up.” And I stand up and walk to my waiting laundry.
“Sleep is not that important”, I tell myself, soothingly. “You can sleep all you want when the kids are gone.”
I know that’s probably not true – but visions of long, uninterrupted nights in my (very distant) future gives me the umph to go on putting one foot in front of another, sorting laundry and sweeping up kitchen floor crunch. I yawn a few times, and whisper pleadings for strength and grace for the rest of this day. To be happy and patient. To love unconditionally and relentlessly. To have a calm and sweet voice and not bark at my family. Because God has been so good and gracious to me – how can I be less to His children? He does, you know. He does give me grace and patience. Love upon love. And joy. True joy that tiredness can’t quench.
But I have to stay nestled in His arms, covered with His grace, and bathed in little prayers throughout my day. Church and friends and good books and long naps won’t get me through. Only my Father God and His power.

The myth of sleeping when baby sleeps.

We love each other! :)

Note: I don’t recommend having your kids drink from a creek. Especially where 800 head of cows also have access to it, if you know what I mean. They will probably get cooties and leeches and all sorts of gross things. Yuck. Please send a bottle of water out for them to drink. 😉 

Hello again, Spring!

Spring! Ah, what a lovely season! I won’t say it is my favorite, anymore, because on the high prairies of Wyoming – spring is still quite chilly most days. But I surely do love the idea of spring! All the new babies in the meadows – skipping and dashing around their mamas, the fresh, thin mist of green springing up in the hay meadows, the flocks of blackbirds filling the air with their chattering… oh yes, spring is indeed a wonderful time of year!

spring calfspring

After 2 months of night shift, my man has finally returned to a normal day schedule. I am so happy about that! Night shift was actually less work for him, so in that way it was good, but I really didn’t enjoy being on an opposite schedule from him. Especially since I homeschool 3 kids and have 2 little ones here too. It definitely took some creativeness to keep everyone reasonably quiet, but it was good experience for me. I can now sympathize much more with others in that situation. :)

Goofy Reata!

Goofy Reata!

Reading with her cousin.

Reading with her cousin.

We had a real warm spell a few weeks ago, and I took advantage of it by getting in some walks. My foster baby is 4 months old, and HATES the wind in his face, so I was tickled to find a secondhand stroller with a wind-guard! Helps a ton to keep him happy and warm.
He is such a good baby. Of course he has his moments, like the carseat! He isn’t a big fan of that. And he decided to disown his pacifier, which does NOT make me happy! I love when I can stick a paci in their mouth on a car ride, or at church, or to go to sleep. But nope. No amount of coaxing will make hm take it anymore. spring

Last week the snow and colder temps returned, along with another round of cold virus in the house. But God is still good and on the throne, so I have no complaints!
I have been trying to get back into a better rhythm of Bible study again, now that I’m settling into life with a baby. I find that keeping a Bible laying beside my chair is the best way for me. I used to think: “Oh, I have the Bible app on my phone, I’ll just use that.”
But the fact is – the Bible app is the slowest app to load. I mean, who wants to wait 2 minutes for the app to load, when Instagram loads in .5 seconds?! Seriously, folks, this is what happens. But I won’t accept that. I must get in my reading daily, or I don’t grow. I don’t thrive. I start going backwards immediately. The Word of God is powerful. We say that – but do we believe it? It really is powerful!!! It gives me direction, instruction, courage, and strength for daily life.

So, that recliner where I sit all the time to feed the baby – that is ‘my’ chair. I have an older Bible laying within arms’ reach. I chose an older Bible, because I don’t want to worry if it gets coffee spilled on it, or if my toddler decides to scribble in it. I keep my precious Christmas-gift-from-my-husband Bible elsewhere. I pick it up and read a verse or two or a couple chapters when I have a few minutes. It’s amazing how much you can get read in a day if you make it a priority! :) I bet you have ‘your’ chair somewhere too. Maybe you can find a Bible that you can lay within arms’ reach and start feeding on God’s Word daily. It will change your life, if you let it. :) If you are afraid of kids or pets messing up your nice Bibles, then you can go to the Dollar Tree and get one for $1.00. I bet you can manage that. 😉 and then no worries. Just read it. Use it. Mark in it. But read it.

Cliff reading at the breakfast table.

Cliff reading at the breakfast table.

God’s Faithfulness.

God's faithfulnessIn the early years of my walk with God, I didn’t realize the great blessing I had in God’s faithfulness. I knew of my sinfulness, and of His forgiveness. But it was several years before I understood what a blessing His faithfulness was in my life.

You see, I hate half-baked goals. I am the queen of half-baked goals! I start things and don’t finish – all the time! It is the second most irritating personality trait I find in myself.* So when I  decided to follow Jesus, I set my compass on Heaven, my feet on the Word of God, and anchored my soul in the love of Christ. I said:  “I will do this right or not at all. I am not going to be a ‘church on Sunday, cuss on Monday’ kind of Christian. I am all in!”

Now, obviously, I have fallen short of the grace of God too often. I have sinned and repented more than I would like to remember. It grieves my heart that I have helped hammer those nails into the hands of my Savior. But Praise God! There is forgiveness for my sin and a new beginning in Christ!

God my Father shows His faithfulness to me by showing me my sinful habits and other unChristlike actions and attitudes. Conviction from the Holy Spirit is such a great blessing. It allows me to see where I need to repent and change. Then I can become more like Christ. It seems unpleasant to my flesh – my ‘self’, but it makes my spirit rejoice, because I know that God cares about me.

Last week one of my kids brought me one of those silica packets that are found in packages to keep things dry and fresh. (It had fallen out of my daughter’s new boot box) She held it out to me, and asked what it was. I told her to take it straight to the trash – it s poisonous and could make her or her little sister very sick! I didn’t let her play with it just because she thought it was a cool item. I wasn’t afraid of hurting her feelings, I was afraid of ruining her health! Any loving parent would protect their child from harm, by pointing out something harmful the child wants to do.

In the same way, we can be thankful that our Father shows us things we are doing that are harmful for us, spiritually. He is completely faithful to show us areas where we are sinning, things we need to change. If He didn’t love us, He would say: “fine, you want to be selfish and unkind, you don’t care about your words, ok, go ahead and do what you want.” But He doesn’t let us harm ourselves – He shows us when we are doing something that will kill us spiritually. If we are born again and walking with Him, we are part of the family of God.  He is our Father. He wants the best for us – His children. He wants us to gain victory over sin and live in joyful peace. So He shows us over and over when we need to change. That is His kindness.

Let’s thank Him for His faithfulness to us each day. Let’s walk in the light and be sensitive to His voice guiding us. If He shows us an area where we are wrong, let’s repent and confess immediately, and turn to Him. If we follow one step at a time, we can gain victory over sin, and His Spirit will not leave us.

*My number one most frustrating personality trait is the fact that I naturally talk before I think. While this is not wrong in itself, I have sinned often with my tongue because of it. Personality is no excuse for sin, and it is an area the Lord has been teaching me control over.

Focusing on the good in foster care.

Focusing on the good in foster care.It has been easy for me as a foster parent to focus on the negativity and the stigma that surrounds foster care. The ignorant or ugly questions, the bad advice (well-meaning or otherwise), the lowered eyebrows and the insensitive remarks. The constant probing, unanswerable questions.
It’s hard to get past that. It’s hard to overlook that. It’s easy to focus on that. Easy to feel that pressure and allow yourself to be stuck in that sad little corner.

But I have found that I can change my focus, and thereby change my outlook. It’s true – the first and most frequent remarks and comments I get, are ignorant at best and hurtful most times. There are many times when the foster family gets overlooked, in favor of the ‘normal’ families. But the fact is, there have been many prayers on our behalf, many kind and encouraging words, several gifts of love, and a couple true-blue friends who invest in my journey as a foster mom. They are there with a listening ear and willing hands.

I can either focus on the unpleasant people, or I can focus on the kind and wonderful friends. The choice is simple. It would be foolish to worry what people think about foster care. The thing is, if God called us to walk this road, then it doesn’t matter who understands. Every person on earth could misunderstand and disapprove, and it would not matter one whit. God is our guide and our Judge, He sees the intent of our hearts, and His alone is the only good opinion I seek.

So I am counting my blessings.
1. A friend who babysat for me with only 12 hours notice, then offered all the baby gear she owned for my foster baby.
2. A friend who faithfully prays for our family and each foster child that we care for. She blesses each child and shows the most devoted love.
3. Sisters who are ready with a listening ear when I am exhausted or excited. They never remind me in the hard times, how excited I was at the beginning! 😉 The sister who is local is always good for baby-snuggling when I am tired and needing a break. She also brings chips.;)
4. Faraway family and friends who send gifts and prayers and love my way.
5. Social media (Instagram!) friends who share their stories and thereby encourage me daily. Their courage, devotion, and faithful love for these little ones bless me tremendously. To hear the struggles, triumphs, and funny stories – these gals get me!

My heart overflows with the blessings God has given me. I snuggle the current tiny one, and breathe in his sweet baby scent, and thank God for allowing me this great blessing of caring for ‘one of the least of these’.

Focusing on the good in foster care.

Contentment at Home, part 2

Contentment at home, part 2

I wanted to expand and perhaps clarify on my previous article about contentment at home.

First of all, I do have a number of small income-producing ventures. I am not against side businesses. It is my opinion that many women are talented or skilled in many money-making ways. Also, many women are ambitious, organized, or driven, and can therefore expend some energy and time on a business venture without sacrificing her home and family life. My point is; the home must come first. I have stepped back from several projects, simply because they were taking first place in my mind, energies, and time. I have a hard rule for myself that my family will always come first.

Second, I do believe that wives and mothers are to be primarily homemakers, not career women. If there is an emergency or necessity, of course God will grant grace. This is why I specify ‘side‘ business. But – living a more luxurious lifestyle is not a necessity. We have grown so accustomed to luxury and ease (in America especially), that it seems ridiculous to live in a small home, or not have the latest tech toy.  I do not believe women should be giving the lion’s share of their waking hours to a job, when there are children at home.  Titus 2:4-5 We should be investing into their hearts, teaching them about Jesus.

Of course this is not popular teaching. I find in my own self, the same selfish desire to do something for me. But the Christian life is at its core unselfish. Dying to self and living for others – this is the way of the cross. Following Jesus in every way – whether it is popular or not. Matthew 16:24  Remember, Jesus too, was unpopular when He walked here as our example. He was so unpopular that people tried to kill Him!

So my thoughts summed up, are these:
Seek the will of God in every area of your life. Ask Him to show you His will about your ambitions and dreams and goals. Ask Him (and your husband, if you have one) what your priority should be.
Read the Word of God.
Spend time in prayer.
Be willing to be made willing,
as Corrie Ten Boom once prayed.

If you are already a full-time stay at home mom? Learn to find contentment in washing clothes, picking up toys, washing dishes, cooking tasty meals. Every job you do is so very important. It is a calling. It is a foundational career. God sees every effort, hears every prayer, and knows every pain. He will give you wisdom and grace to find contentment at home, if you truly seek Him in the midst of your daily duties.

Devotions From The Garden ~ Finding Peace And Rest In Your Busy Life. By Miriam Drennan

Devotions from the garden; book reviewDevotions from the Garden is a book of ninety short meditations from God’s Word, illustrated with beautiful photos of flowers, dewdrops and gardening. Miriam Drennan draws parallels between gardening and our journey of faith.

I enjoyed this devotional. It is short, quick daily readings, that anyone can find time for. And the pictures are so pretty! It isn’t a deep, theological book, rather, it is gentle reminders of God’s goodness and our dependence on Him.

Personally, even when I have only a few minutes, (actually, especially when I only have a few minutes!) I tend to pick up the Bible, rather than a devotional. I get more meat that way! 😉 But this is a nice coffee-table book to peruse when I am sitting here in the evening and want to just read a quick bit of something.

If you enjoy gardening, you might enjoy this one. :)

You can find it here: http://store.faithgateway.com/devotions-from-the-garden

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Focus on good things.

Focus on good things.I have this tendency to constantly be aware of all the bad things in my life..  things that need to get done, need fixing, need paying off, need changed, need cleaning, or need bought. All these needs. All the stress. All the frustrations, just waiting there in that overflowing mailbox. All the fears, over there on Facebook. All the tension and worry, there in the news. All the unrest, there waiting in my house of half-finished projects. All the failures, in my housework, child-training and marriage. All the ‘You’re not good enough!‘, shouting at me from every corner of life.

It’s enough to make me lie in bed and cry myself to sleep with big fat tears. Tears of failure, frustration, weariness and sadness. Tears mixed with sadness for losses, physical pain and emotional hurts. And the longer I focus on these things, the harder I cry, and the more I want to escape from it all.

“Let’s go to Hawaii!” “Wouldn’t it be fun to visit DC again?!” “Oh, I found some cute cabins where we can have a relaxing vacation!”

Oh yes. I would love to run away from LIFE. I would love to hide away in a mountain cabin, or let the warm Hawaii sun burn the problems away. But that wouldn’t solve anything, would it? You  know, it sounds silly to even say such things…  writing them down sounds absurd! We all know that a vacation solves nothing, and you just come home wearier than you left! 😉 (Believe me – I am all in favor of a good vacation! But not as an ‘escape’.)

There is something you can do to clear your mind of all the worries and endless tension; Focus on the good. Purpose to reject worry and fear. It is only through the power of Christ that we can rise above LIFE and live in peace and joy. I am not advocating some sort of yoga or mind-tricks. This is real! This is how we take control of our minds.
Focus on what is good; stop focusing on bad things. This is Scripture.

 Finally, brothers and sisters, 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

“Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:2

This takes self-discipline. You have to repeatedly stop focusing on bad things, and purposely replace those thoughts with good thoughts. This is one of the reasons I need to read Scripture daily; to keep my mind on things above. To have lots of good things to think about! If you struggle with focusing on bad things, here are a couple tips on keeping your mind in a good place:

1. Read the Bible daily. It is your spiritual food, after all. You wouldn’t starve your body for days or weeks – nor should you starve your spirit! No wonder you are so weak.

2. Try to remember hymns and spiritual songs. Sing as you work! Sing as you drive. Sing along to the radio. It helps you focus on Heavenly things.

3. Make a plan for reaching out to others. It always helps me tremendously to remember that my lot in life is not the worst-case scenario. Yours likely isn’t either! Text, call, email…write a letter, for goodness sake! But in your reaching out, don’t just use it as a vent for your problems. Ask them how their week is going. How can you ease their load? Community. This is sorely lacking, and you could be the one to start. :)

How do you set your mind on things above?

God uses trials to sweeten us.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 NASB

When God Smooths us

This is a very familiar verse to me. I have known it since I was a child. But it took many years to really grasp the significance of what it says. When God says something, we know He means it. He doesn’t say things lightly or jokingly.
So when He says that He uses ‘all things‘ to work together for our good, then we can be assured that is exactly what He means. ALL THINGS. All things.

Death of loved ones. Rejection by family. Betrayal by friends. Financial difficulties. Sickness and disease. Chronic pain. Job troubles. Past abuse. And so much more.

These are hard things. But they can all work together – like ingredients in a cake – to make you a sweeter person. A cup of flour is pretty hard to get down, a cup of cocoa is even harder! So bitter! But mix it with the flour, and an egg, and some even more awful baking powder, etc, and soon you have a delicious chocolate cake!

This is how trials in our lives work together. We can sit and taste the cup of cocoa on our tongue for years, every day tasting it again, and every day just as bitter! But when we see that God is using it to make us sweet, we can trust Him with that pain and allow Him to use it in our life story.

The condition, of course, is obedience to God’s commands. 
…to those who love God…
We know from 1 John 2:3-5, that we prove our love of God by our obedience. So then, this promise is for those who obey God. If we are walking in disobedience and living for Self, then we cannot claim this promise. Only those who truly love God can be assured that everything in their life is working together for good.

How do we get past the pain?    We obey God’s commands.
We forgive those who have wronged us.   Luke 6:27-28
We are loving to the unlovely. Matthew 5:44
We depend on God for our livelihood.  Luke 12:28
We give thanks in all things.  1 Thessalonians 5:18
We pray fervently for each other. James 5:16

So be encouraged, my friend! Those hard things in your life are working together for your good. Maybe it seems impossible now, but one day you will look back over your life and understand that through the hardships, you have become more loving, more gentle, more kind and understanding because you were tested and found to be sweet. Instead of bitter cocoa and dry flour, your life will be like a delicious slice of chocolate cake, to everyone who meets you.