Friday, 14 September 2012

Expect God to Help in His Time - Part II

In my last blog I quoted from a piece written by Elaine Creasman entitled “Lord, Why Won’t You Help Me?”  Her willingness to be transparent made it difficult to ignore the obvious messages that were as applicable to me as well as to her – and maybe you.

I could resonate with her when she questioned why, if God is all knowing, ever present and all powerful, He doesn’t deliver me instantaneously that from which I have asked relief.   This is troubling particularly when I know He can deliver me immediately and what I am asking for will only make me more like His Son.

This is like trying to lay a guilt trip on God – who am I kidding.  As a loving father I learned that it wasn’t wise to just give my children everything they asked for even if it were possible.  Through parenting I learned that my children valued things much more if they had to work for them.  I didn’t want my children to treat me as though I was a vending machine and come to me only when they wanted something.

The parable found in Luke 18 (verses 1-8) about the persistent widow is a reminder that I am not to give up, God wants me to be dependent on Him, He wants me to trust Him and He wants me to expect that He will honor a prayer that is consistent with His will and purpose.

Some of you may be in difficult marriages and you have sought God’s help.  You know He hates divorce (Malachi 2:16) and yet you are not sensing God’s working on your behalf.

As in Elaine’s case God may be using conflict and your efforts to work through them in order to help make you a better wife or husband and a maturing Christian.  Maybe as in Elaine’s case you aren’t actually expecting God to help you.  Maybe you are asking God to change your husband or wife when it is you that God wants to change.  James 4:3 might suggest that we aren’t receiving what we are asking for because our motives are wrong.

Seek Godly counsel from mature Christians, not from those who will affirm you and tell you how awful you have it.  You don’t need a pity party right now but a Godly perspective on what you can do, with God’s help, to improve your situation.



Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Expect God to Help in His Way

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  As the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts Isaiah 55: 8-9

Elaine Creasman
 I recently read a blog posting by Elaine Creasman entitled “Lord, Why Won’t You Help Me?”.  It was incredibly refreshing as she was brutally honest.  She wrote:

“Even though I ask God for help, sometimes my prayer is merely words and I don't actually expect God to give it. Then when God does help, I often refuse to accept the kind of help God is offering me.

This is particularly true in my marriage. God may be using conflicts and my efforts to work through them in order to help make me a better wife and a maturing Christian. But often the help I want is something different: I want God to give me a conflict-free and pain-free marriage. I want wedded bliss!

“My prayer is often, "God, change my husband." Instead, God offers help for me to change. I plead, "God, deliver my husband from this sin in his life." God responds, "I will give you the gift of mercy, so you can forgive." As I've let go of demanding that God help me my way, I've begun to see amazing changes God has worked in my heart and in my marriage.”

Elaine astutely remembers that marriage is not all about her and she reflects on the verse found in Isaiah 55.  She recognizes that her home improvement plan isn’t designed to God’s specifications and that her husband’s flaws may be used by God to help her become more like the person He has created her to be.

What a great lesson for all of us.  Lately I have been asking God to help me to be more patient.  Since then He has presented me with numerous opportunities to be more patient, most of which I have blown.  When I asked God to help me, I was basically saying please take this sin away.  Instead God apparently decided that what I needed were ample situations that tested my patience, hoping that I would wake up and see that these were teachable moments.  He is attempting to grow me instead of just making life easier for me.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Are You Suffering Well?

“19 For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. 20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” 1Peter 2:19-21

Am I suffering well – what kind of stupid question is that?  Some of you are in very difficult marriages.  In some cases it is because you are caring for your spouse who is suffering from a debilitating or terminal illness; in some cases your spouse has some difficult behavioral and/or emotional issues that haunt them; in still other cases your spouse is a non-Christian and God’s Word is of no account.

There are many challenging passages in Scripture and few are more difficult than 1Peter 2:19-21, which basically says that regardless of our circumstances we as Christians should be able to turn the other cheek so to speak, to “suffer” because Christ suffered unjustly and died for us.

1Peter 2:19 calls us to trust God in the midst of our suffering and frankly that is the only way that we can begin to respond righteously when we are being battered by the violent storms of life.  Unfortunately the typical response is to throw ourselves a pity party or to respond in kind to mistreatment.

1Peter 2:20 doesn’t help. Because I am a sinner and God has allowed me free will I am going to make some bad choices, I am going to act in a manner that is not befitting the King whom I claim to serve.  So this verse says to me, “suck it up buttercup” you made your bed so lie in it.

If you have a shrew for a wife you are being called to love her as Christ has loved his bride the church and to make every attempt to understand and know her and to treat her with respect.(1Peter 3:7; Ephesians 5:25)  If your husband would make Shrek look like prince charming you are to win him over by being submissive (1Peter 3:1-6).

This is where faith must kick in big time.  Self-talk may become one of your best and closest friends. We must remind ourselves that God does not waste pain.  We must tell ourselves continually that He is a God of love, mercy and grace.  We must be in His Word nurturing our minds with His promises.  And we must be connected to Christians who will encourage, support and pray for us, not just commiserate with us.