March 28, 2015

Testing and Knowing

As I sit here today, I wonder what in the world is going on in my life. I mean, I am thankful and grateful for the blessings I have, and I am at peace with the path that I am on. Yet, I struggle to know where the Lord intends for me to go, and how He intends for me to get there. I pray every day for the same thing, and I ask the Lord for clarification so that I would know what it is that I am asking Him to do is part of His will for my life. I struggle with testing, and with knowing for certain that what I am doing is right, that it is the way the Lord intends for me, and that I am being faithful in my obedience to His Word and to His will.

I am in the midst of this weird crisis of sorts. In fact, this crisis has been ongoing and no matter how I have tried to figure it out, not so much its coming on, but rather its ending, I simply cannot do it. I feel like I am stuck in a maze, one of those big corn mazes where you don't know which path or route to take to find the open door. I have tried so hard to let things go, to understand why certain things are not happening, and why I seem to be running on a treadmill. I mean, for a while there (a couple years ago), my career was moving forward, my life was in high gear, and I was fully in control (under the Lord's leadership and guidance). It seems like the past two years have been a time of great trial, of struggle, and of never ending "unknown."

I wish I could say that I am happy, but I am not. I am not happy, and that is the truth. If you would have asked me two years ago if I was happy, I would have told you yes, and I would have meant it. But no, in truth now, I am not. This bothers me greatly. I know that happiness is a fleeting emotion, and that it is something we are to experience, but not live by (simply meaning that life is not always a bowl full of cherries). No, life has ups and downs, and there are days, weeks, and months when happiness evades us -- no matter how hard we try to find it, to experience it, to want it. Today, I am not a happy camper, and I am tired of being tired, unhappy, and disappointed. I want to know why I feel the way I do, what I did to bring this on, and what I need to do to get myself righted and back on my way to feeling good again.

Testing and Trials

The Word tells us that God tests us for a purpose. God allows testing to come into our lives for a number of reasons, and they are all GOOD. My faith in the Lord is such that I believe He is good. I say it all the time, God is GOOD. Even on days like today, when I feel crappy and moody, my feelings about God haven't changed. He is good, all the time, He is good. Still, I don't like tests. I don't like trials. I don't like testing of any sort, of any kind, or of any shape. I don't like to be put under the microscope of trial, and I don't like feeling like I do when it happens. And, it happens often. Lately, it seems to be an everyday occurrence.

Why does God test us?

God tests us (yes, Scripture tells us that He does test us) to prove us, to demonstrate to us, the nature of our faith. God knows us well, and He knows our faith (what we believe). He tests us in order to show us our faith, so that we can see where it is that we place our faith, our reliance, and to know what we must do to improve our faith in Him. In short, the tests we encounter always SHOW US the truth. God doesn't need us to pass tests for His benefit. He already knows our strengths and our weaknesses. We are the ones that need to SEE the cracks in our faith pot, and to KNOW why we struggle so much to believe and to trust Him. Often, it is because we place our faith in something other than the Lord. We trust in ourselves, our abilities, our riches, or we trust in others who will provide for us (as in an employer or a spouse). We put our trust in worldly, earthly, and temporal things rather than placing our trust in the Sovereign and Holy God.

The Word says it this way...

Isaiah 2:22 - Don't put your trust in mere humans. They are as frail as breath. What good are they?

Psalm 146:3 - Don't put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there.

When we place our faith (strong belief or trust in someone or something) in things other than in the Lord, we rely on these things for our welfare and benefit. We begin to look to these things for our daily support. The Lord is the Lord overall (Psalm 103:19, 113:4), and the Word tells us that He is Lord over our finances, our future, and even our faith. Yes, the Lord is the author and the finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). Whenever we place our faith, our trust, our belief in someone or something other than His Sovereign will, power, and authority, we are casting doubt on His Nature (His Goodness), and His Lordship in our life. We are, in essence, saying to Him that we do not believe He is God nor do we believe He can effect change in our life. He is impotent to do what He says, what He promises, in His Word to do. We are calling Him a liar, a thief, and a fool (as in someone who lacks wisdom or judgment).

If we were to say that the Lord's face or even in prayer, we would be ashamed for even considering the notion. In fact, we would probably argue that we have never even considered this to be true. Yet, in our heart, and through our actions, we do this very thing every day. We trust in everything and everyone except for the Lord.

Why do we do this?

We do this, in my view, because we are impatient and we want quick answers. We do not want to wait on the Lord for His answer, His provision, for our life. So we run to other people or we look to ways to provide the needed security. The Bible tells us that we are to seek the Lord's face, to ask God (our Heavenly Father) for our needs, and then we are told to have faith (to believe).

Matthew 17:20 - "You don't have enough faith," Jesus told them. "I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it would move. Nothing would be impossible."

Furthermore, Jesus tells us that we are pay attention to where we are placing our faith or to what or whom we are trusting. In Matt. 6:19-21 we read,

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The object of faith is clear. We are to place our faith in no one but God. In doing so, Jesus tells us that nothing will be impossible for us to accomplish.

I know that I struggle with this issue. It is no secret that I have spent the past four-five years stressed over my financial needs. In fact, I would say that I spent the past 30 years worried, but I had faith in my ex-husband, my parents, and my parents-in-law to provide SHOULD we ever need help (and they did, well the parents and PIL). Once I became single, however, I found that I was fixated on finances. I mean, FIXATED. I constantly worried over my bills, my credit cards, and my car payment. I had full responsibility for myself and my teenaged son, and my greatest concern was that I would not be able to make ends meet. I can remember praying to the Lord, asking Him to help me because I didn't know how to do anything -- I was unemployed for almost 18 months -- and during that time, I didn't have any way to sustain my needs. The Lord supplied, and supplied, and supplied, and I ended up learning how to manage my income (what little I had), and to trust and to rely on Him for my every need.

Lately, I have become fixated on needs again. I think it is because of my current situation with my parents. I love my parents, don't get me wrong, and I love the thought of living with them, but I struggle with their declining health. I worry about them, leaving them, and moving to a new place because I think of what they will go through just doing that with me. I worry about my son, his needs, and the fact that I would be uprooting him to move him to a new place, perhaps a place that is not as cosmopolitan as where we currently live.

I don't mean to do it, and I do know where my supply comes from...I know the Lord is my provider and my sustainer. It is just that I worry constantly about having "enough" or about how I am going to get out of debt. I feel like I constantly fear this debt is going to consume me. I know the Lord has me covered, but I see the mounting debt, I see the lack of income, and I see my parents and my son's needs. When I try to figure out how to cover all those needs, I see one big ZERO! 

I panic. I stress. I worry. I fret. 

Yes, I admit it. I do all these things. I also pray. I trust the Lord. I push the thoughts away, and I focus on what I can do now. I think about how the Lord has provided for me in the past and how He has not let me down or let me overdraw my accounts. No, the Lord has provided for every need in my life thus far so surely He will not fail me now. Still, the thoughts creep back into my mind "there is always a first time..." I know that voice. I know the one who whispers it in my ear. It is not the Lord, for the Lord shouts down to me "I am here. I will never leave you nor will I forsake you!" The enemy whispers these doubts, these little reminders that there is always a first time, and to expect the Lord to fail me just like every other person or thing I know. The Lord is not perfect. He is like every human being -- He is flawed and a failure -- He will fail me.

I know the truth. I know the truth of God's word, and I know that these are lies of the devil who seeks to pull me from God's appointed plan. I know that the Lord is perfect, that He is my King, my Ruler, my Sovereign. And furthermore, I know that He has already overcome, He is victorious, and He is faithful and true. The Lord is GOOD to me. He is Good to me all the time!

So today, as I sit here on this good Saturday, and I blog and stew and fuss...I am reminded that the trials I encounter are to help me see the holes in my faith-logic. It is not my faith that is weak, for I know that is not the case. Rather, it is my logic that is faulty. I have bought into the lies of the devil, and I am believing what he is telling me instead of believing the Word of God. I know better, I know better. 

Heavenly Father, 

Thank you for loving me. Jesus, help me to trust you as I should. Help me to put all of my trust in you and not in man. I thank you for the people you have put in my path to support me along my journey, and I ask you to bless them. Help me now to know that you are the One who can truly help me recover and succeed in this life. You are the only one who can heal me, help me, and hold me to your plans, your will, and your way. You are the only one who truly loves me, and you will never forsake me. Forgive me for the times I didn’t trust You, but trusted instead, other people or other things more than You. Teach me how to trust you fully and to find my security in you. I ask this in Jesus name…Amen.

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