Awful or Awesome?

Yesterday at the end of a full and productive week, I was eager for the weekend. You know. Put work on the shelf, get into a book, take a long walk, watch a Hallmark movie. After hours of concentrated work with substantial progress I had that winning feeling. An hour later, I was overcome. The project that every ounce of energy had been poured into has to be reworked, and now instead of three weeks, I have one.

There’s a big difference between being overcome and being an overcomer. Looking at the remnants of the week, I had to make a decision. Let this setback overcome me or begin again and be an overcomer. I thought of King David in the Bible. He went from the mountaintop to the valley in under sixty seconds. In Psalm 116:3 he was “overcome by distress and sorrow.” Then he turns around and writes in the very next verse, “Then I called on the name of the Lord: “Lord, save me!”

 I think someone told me once that David didn’t write all the Psalms, but even if he didn’t there is a common thread that runs through the entire book; peaks and valleys. We all have a little bit of David in us. We feel overloaded, distressed, unappreciated or discouraged because those are our circumstances. We are overcome and feel like we are on our last drop of hope. David felt that way … a lot!  But he knew the power source and recognized that his desire was not to live in the valley, overcome by a setback. His setbacks were not staybacks. He rescued that last drop of hope in Psalm 130:5 “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word, I put my hope.”

David said his whole being waits for the Lord and that’s where his hope lies. We read that with doubt that David would even survive the distress of the 21st century. His life was different back then. Yes, it was. But he had the same God, the same Counselor, the same Omnipotent God. He prayed. I prayed yesterday too…and in the middle of the night…and before the sun was up this morning…and I will pray my way through the next week – because I am not going to be overcome. I am going to be an overcomer and you can be too.

While we wait for the prayer to be answered, for the pain to go away, for joy to return, for sadness to subside how much it would please God if we would use these experiences to become better, not bitter.  Not to be overcome, but to be overcomers.  Romans 12:21 shows us our choices “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Living in discouragement is like living in a dark cocoon, isn’t it? Have you ever noticed how quickly the flame of a candle is extinguished when the lid is put on the jar? It’s almost instantaneous. The flame burning bright goes out when circumstances remove its most important sustainer, oxygen.

We are a little like that candle. Can it just decide it wants to burn again and burst into flame on its own?  Hardly! We have an advantage because we have a brain, we have motor skills, we can decide to act and find a way to get the flame burning again. Are you discouraged today? Let’s take a few minutes to visit 1John 2:14 “I write to you, dear children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” 

We can rise above discouragement. It’s not easy, but it’s a choice. John 1: 5 says “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”  Think about good things today, pray, turn off the news, write yourself a letter, write someone else a letter. 

Today can be awful or it can be awesome.

A few years ago, Mandisa recorded a song called Overcomer. Here is some hope from that song. “You might be down for a moment, feeling like it’s hopeless, that’s when we need to be reminded that we are overcomers.”

Overcome or Overcomer …. Let’s get out there!

 

This is a 5-minute Friday article. The word for this week is OVERCOME and I wrote for 5 minutes, no edits, not over thinking – just shoot from the hip prose.
Are you a writer? Join the 5-Minute Friday group to grow some friendships and gain support even before you need it. http://fiveminutefriday.com/

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Yes – But do you trust me?

Yes, but do you trust me?

Trust is one of the big buzz words today, isn’t it? Open a book, read the newspaper, listen to a talk show, watch the news … trust is a factor. Remember when it was the used car salesman that had the reputation for being shady and underhanded? Today that stereotype extends to anyone from the sidewalk to the boardroom. We are stunned to hear about criminal acts committed in secret by someone we’ve respected. Unbelievable, we say.  How could that happen? Trust is a factor.

Sometimes, I think I throw God into that category. No, not that his acts are criminal, but that his acts are done in secret where they are hidden and undetectable until he chooses to reveal them. Because I don’t understand circumstances of the moment, it’s easy to start questioning. Do you see what’s happening down here God? It’s so obvious that this situation is messed up. I know what it says in James 1:2-3 “Consider it pure joy, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” I get that, but …. Then God says, yes, but do you trust me?

Our pastor has opened the book of Isaiah, chapter 40 and shared some incredible truths about the power of God that I have read before but never with such astonishing revelation.  Have you ever prayed and prayed and kept praying for someone to be cured of an illness, or for a friend’s personal tragedy to be resolved, or begged God to comfort someone who suffered a devastating loss? Have you ever felt like you exhausted every shred of energy praying and God is silent behind the curtain? Isaiah 40: 28 reminds us that while we are worn down, God is still working. “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.”

Yes, but do you trust me?

I tried to take good notes during our pastor’s messages because he read from Isaiah 40 and suddenly the power and outreach of God became much clearer to me. Maybe you don’t humanize God like I do, but sometimes I need a reminder that God is infinite. No, I mean it. I-N-I-F-I-N-I-T-E

Did you know that 70% of the Earth’s surface is water? Did you know that amounts to roughly 139 million square miles? I think (please don’t quote me) that equates to 312 cubic miles of water. It doesn’t really matter if I got the numbers right. What matters is that I trust the God who is described here in Isaiah 40:12 “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?”

In the attached video, you can see billions and billions of stars in the heavens.  Isaiah 40:26 “Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udAL48P5NJU

Did you catch that? Billions upon billions of stars – everyone named by the creator – not one of them is missing. Yes, but do you trust me?

Remember those things God does behind the scenes? God is taking care of every detail. Jeremiah 23:24 says “Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the Lord. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the Lord.”

We have to let God be God. He asks us to trust him not with just the simple, but with the complicated, convoluted, heart wrenching, impossible.  We question, we argue, we plead and that’s OK. What do we do with it though? Do we also worry, bargain, and allow the foundation of our faith to sag? Remember these words in Isaiah 45:3 “I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.”

Yes, but do you trust me? – God