Archives for posts with tag: desperation

The theory that it takes 21 days to create a new habit has been debunked over the years.  New research has suggested that the time it takes to create a new habit could vary between individuals.  Additionally, changing a habit also varies in the duration of time it takes to fully adopt a new behavior.  However, I do believe that there is some merit to the 21 days.  The time frame is short enough to not be daunting and long enough to be impactful.  So, with that said, we are going to go all in for the next 21 days on a path to self discovery and reinvention.
Day 1: Weep It Out

There is nothing like a good cry.  Right?  You know the type I’m talking about—the ugly cry—the one where you snort spastically because you can hardly catch your breath and your nose and eyes leak like faucets and muddle your face with a sludge of mucous and tears.  Even Jesus did the ugly cry.  John 11:35 said that Jesus wept.  The verse did not say that he cried; it said that he wept, implying an expression of deep sorrow.  Bawling is cathartic!  It raw!  Most of all, it’s honest.  For many of us, the ugly cry is our first step in acknowledging our vulnerability and/or our humanity in particular areas of our lives.  Weeping is a release of toxicity—pent up emotions.  It’s an opportunity to face our demons head on.  How can we expect to fight what we don’t see.

 

Our inclination to cry out is not just an expected manifestation of our humanity; it is commandment, not to be confused with the Ten Commandment.  The Bible tells us to cry out to God.  Sometimes, if we are not careful, we could tend to minimize the word ‘cry’ and use it interchangeable with the word ‘call.’  Crying out to God does not equal calling on Him.  The former implies a sense of desperation and urgency.  There are times when we have to be completely undignified in expressions—let it all hang out.

 

The good news is that our cries never fall upon deaf ears.  Psalm 18:6 says, “In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears,” (NIV).

 

So, tonight, let it all out.  This blog post is the permission that you need to let it all hang loose.  Weep.  Sob.  Ugly cry.  Let it go.  Psalm 30:5 says, “For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning,” (NLT).

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I have a question for all you Sunday School buffs.  What was the sin that got Adam and Eve kicked out of the Garden of Eden?  Now that the Jeopardy music has stopped playing, what is your final answer.   Ding! Ding! Ding!  If you said, “Eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil,” you won the grand prize.

This afternoon, I was in the middle of writing and entirely different blog when God struck me with the following profound revelation.

  1. Our quest for knowledge is great, as long as it doesn’t come at the price of faith.
    1. The story of Adam and Eve is so complex, and it has so many spiritual implications and interpretations, but here is what God laid on my heart today. In the Garden of Eden, God gave Adam dominion over the land.  The entire land was his to explore.  However, Adam was not satisfied in gradually exploring the kingdom.  He wanted instant gratification—instant knowledge.  Learning the lay of the land would take too long.  Eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil would give him an instant upload of information.  Isn’t that true of you and I.  Rather than simply letting each day play out and taking life day by day, we attempt to skip to the last chapter of our lives, hoping to get a sneak preview.  How many of us have been given Gardens to explore, but continue to fall because of our multiple attempt to eat from our individual Trees of Knowledge of Good and Evil?
  1. Knowledge if left unchecked could become an adversary of faith.
    1. If we knew everything, why on Earth would we need God? There comes a point in our pursuit of knowledge where we have to curb our enthusiasm.  As most scientists know, the deeper we delve into knowledge, the more we realize just how much we do not know—just how inexplicable the universe is.   In fact, many scientists have gone mad trying to find answers for things for which there are no known explanation.  At some point, science will take us to a terminal end—an “x-factor”—an unknown.
  1. If knew everything, then we would become God’s equal. When we equate ourselves with God, we automatically become prideful.
    1. Who would have thought that just wanting to know whether God is going to move in our live could lead to pride? It can, and it does if we are not careful.  Here is why:

Lack of Faith =                                          Doubting God

Doubting God =                                         Doing life by our own will (no need for God)

Doing Life by our own will =                       Pride

Pride =                                                       Lack of Faith.

When we lack faith, what we are essentially saying is that there is no need for God—we are our own God.

The good new is, God is faithful when we are not.  He knows that our hearts are adulterous, yet He loves us nonetheless.  Ephesians 2:8 states that, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God,” (NLT).  I believe that God gives us revelation, not to condemn us, but to allow us to live a life full of His grace.  If nothing else, our revelations remind us that there is no way that we could ever live up to any standard of perfection.  We are only made righteous through the blood of Jesus Christ.  I hope this this post blessed you.  Be blessed until we meet again.

Have you ever wondered whether it (whatever it may be) was all worth it? Well, you are in good company. During the middle of John the Baptist’s deepest pain, he sent his disciples to ask Jesus whether or not He (Jesus) was the chosen one. Essentially, John the Baptist wanted to know whether the sacrifices and the choices he made were all worth it (Luke 7:18-35, NLT).

James 1:5-8 says:

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

These verses tell us that we should:

  1. Ask God for what we want.
  2. Don’t waiver.
  3. KNOW that we have received what we have asked for.

I know today that there are people right now who are struggling with their faith in God. You feel like you have made sacrifices. You have trusted God. You have stepped out on faith, but you still have not seen what it is that you have believed for. I ask that you just hold on. Apply the formula found in James 1:5-8.

  1. Ask God for what you want.
  2. Don’t waiver.
  3. KNOW that you have received what you have asked for.

Early in the Book of Genesis, a great flood washed over the earth. Noah and all the animals were weathering the storm aboard the ark. It must have felt like the storm was not going to relent. I wonder if Noah ever questioned whether he would survive the flood. I wonder if Noah questioned whether God had forgotten about him.

During the greatest storms in our lives, it is easy for us to think that God has forgotten about us. Thankfully, He does not forget. Genesis 1:8 says, “But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and livestock with him in the boat. He sent a wind to blow across the earth, and the floodwaters began to recede,” (NLT).

Just know that God has not forgotten us and left us to fend for ourselves in the storm. At just the right time, He will cause the tides to recede and to relent.

Today, I pray that your floodwaters will recede and that God will answer your prayers. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

One of my favorite books growing up was “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret,” by Judy Bloom. I love the sentiment of the title. It’s a question that we have all asked God.

Today, we ask: Are you there God? It’s me, (insert your name). In our fallen world it’s easy to question God’s whereabouts. There are so many social and political issues that overwhelm the news. It’s easy to wonder if God cares about His World–If He cares about you. Why is God so seemingly quite?  Are you there God? It’s me! That seems to be the cry of a generation.

One of the Scriptures that God laid on my heart a few days ago was John 29:20. “…blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” Many of the daily occurrences in our fallen world serve to challenge our belief in God’s existence.  Sometimes, if we look through the lenses of our natural eyes, we might be inclined to question whether or not God cares about His people. We might even ask ourselves, “Why should God care about us? We are just mere men.” Fortunately, the Bible reminds us that God does care about His creation.  Psalms 8:4-6 says:

 4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. 6thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet, (KJV).

God cares so much about the intimate details of our lives that He even knows the number of hairs on our heads.

Our finite knowledge cannot begin to explain the things of God. I don’t know why God sometimes appears silent when we need Him the most. I don’t really know whether He is, silent, that is. Maybe we miss His voice that sometimes comes in a whisper. The nature of these questions are too complex for me. However, I do know this. Gideon asked for a sign of God’s favor, and he got it. David asked for protection, and his enemies fled. The woman with the issue of blood needed health and was healed when she touched the hem of Jesus’ clothing. What do you need? Shout it from the rooftop. Scream His name! Petition His promises! Jesus, Jesus, Jesus! Are you there? It’s me!

Today’s Prayer: Lord, we come to you with hearts surrendered. Are you there? It’s me. Lord, hear our heart’s cry. Lord, show us your unrelenting love. Give us a sign like you did for Gideon. Today, we ask that you show us a sign of your awe and might. Lord, grant us protection as you did for David. Make our enemies our footstools. Heal our bodies like you did for the woman with the issue of blood. Lord, we thank you, and we bless you. In Jesus’ name. Amen!

As we move into Day 11, one of the greatest piece of advice I have is, “Just say no!”

Not every good thing is worth doing. While an activity or a deed might be inherently good, it doesn’t mean that we have to do it. We have to prioritize our time and make sure that we are spending it appropriately. One of the reasons that I believe that many of us are not further along on our path is because we keep getting distracted by peripheral events. Sometimes, we just have to say “no.”

We cannot spend our lives being people pleaser. There is only one of us, and there is only a finite amount of activities that we can do in a given day. At some point, saying yes to one thing means saying no to another. It is important that we take stock and evaluate to whom and to what we say yes and no to. Before I move on, I have to say this. In love and friendship, there will be times where we have to deny ourselves to help others. If we have never sacrificed ourselves (e.g. our time, our support, our money, etc.) for some else’s benefit, then we are selfish and probably not a good friend. Sorry. It’s true! With that being said, we have to weigh the amount of times we say no to ourselves against the amount of time we say yes to others. If we are constantly saying no to ourselves by constantly appeasing others, that is a gross imbalance. At that point, we have to re-shift our priorities. People who love us will understand when we occasionally say no. If they don’t, that is their problem and not ours.

In order to be where God needs us to be and not stretch ourselves too thin, we have to determine what is important. Even in the church, I see people stretching themselves thin because someone guilted them into a ministry that God never assigned them to. While serving in Sunday School and singing on the choir are all good things, it might not be the right thing for everyone. We don’t have to pursue every good thing. That’s why there are billions of people on the Earth. Each person is called to do something specific. For our happiness, wellness, and sanity, we have to learn to say no.

Today’s Prayer: Father, give us discernment regarding the things that we spend our time on. Give us the courage to say no to the things that waste our time or the things that are sent to distract us from our assignments. Also, give us the courage and the strength to pursue the things that you have laid on our hearts. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen!

It’s so easy to give up on God, isn’t it?  Why wouldn’t it be?  We can’t see Him.  We can’t hear Him?  We can’t experience Him with our five senses, at least not conventionally.  Having faith requires way more energy than just existing.  The notion of waiting patiently can often feel painstakingly disappointing.  Sometimes, it’s so much easier to say, “Why bother?!”

When most people talk about the pinnacle of faith, they usually cite Abraham.  His faith in God allowed him to be the father of many nations.  However, he almost allowed himself to be talked out of the blessings that God had promised him.

God had promised Abram that he would be the father of many nations.  However, many years had passed, and his wife Sarai was still barren.  Not only was she barren, she was also up in age.  For years, there was no sign of God’s promise.  In Sarai’s desperation, she offered Abram, her husband, to her servant Hagar.  The Bible said that, “Abram had sexual relations with Hagar, and she became pregnant,” (Genesis 16:4, NLT).

Now, let’s look at this scenario from a human standpoint.  Unless, Abram was a one-hit wonder, he probably didn’t hit the ball out of the park on the first attempt.  That probably meant that he had multiple encounters with Hagar.  I imagine that in Sarai’s attempt to increase the possibility of conception, she probably chose a young, pretty servant.  In other words, Hagar was probably younger and prettier than Sarai.  Imagine how horrible Sarai must have felt.  Not only was she subject to the feeling of inadequacy, she was now subjected to shame, rejection, humiliation and jealousy.  Additionally, when Hagar found out that she was pregnant, she began to mistreat Sarai, who ultimately became angry and resentful.

There are so many Biblical and cultural implications of the story of Hagar and Abram that we will not get into today.  Let’s fast forward some 13 to 14 years later.  Sarai and Abram whose name were now Sarah and Abraham, respectively, had a son, whom they named Isaac.

Hebrews 12:1-3 says:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up, (NLT).

The Bible illustrated that Abraham struggled with waiting on God (i.e. faith) as we ALL do.  But here is the revelation that I had.  Abraham and Sarah were desperate, but instead of taking their desperation to God, they took their desperation into their own hands and made a huge mess.  Thankfully, God is faithful even when we are not.  He never holds our past against us.  The moment that Abraham took his desperation to God, God refreshed him (Abraham) and reminded him of the promise that He made to him.  Shortly thereafter, Sarah became pregnant.

Here is the other revelation that I had:  Don’t allow others to talk you out of what God has promised you.  Only you know what your conversations with God were.  It’s possible that God’s directives to you might seem ridiculous to others.  It doesn’t matter.  They weren’t meant for them.  They were tailored to you!

I know that there are many people reading these words right now who are on the cusp of giving up on God.  You are desperate.  You are at the point of taking matters into your own hands, which might even include walking away from God.

At this, Abram fell face down on the ground. Then God said to him, “This is my covenant with you: I will make you the father of a multitude of nations! What’s more, I am changing your name. It will no longer be Abram. Instead, you will be called Abraham, for you will be the father of many nations. I will make you extremely fruitful. Your descendants will become many nations, and kings will be among them! “I will confirm my covenant with you and your descendants after you, from generation to generation. This is the everlasting covenant: I will always be your God and the God of your descendants after you. And I will give the entire land of Canaan, where you now live as a foreigner, to you and your descendants. It will be their possession forever, and I will be their God,” (Genesis 17:3-8, NLT).

I believe that one of the reasons why God changed Abraham’s and Sarah’s names was to remind them that He does ALL things new.  God is the author and the finisher of our faith.  He is the Alpha and the Omega.

At this time, I encourage you to fall on the floor.  Roll around if you have to.  Scream out to God in desperation.  Ask Him to remember the promises that He made to you.  If you can’t think of a specific one, Jeremiah 29:11 is a good place to start.  There, God promised to prosper you and give you hope and a future.  Psalms 27:13 says, “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living,” (KJV).

Today’s prayer:  Lord, we come to you in desperation.  We fall at your feet in reverent humility.  Hear our hearts’ cry.  Do not allow us to take matters into our own hands.  The Bible says that you know us better than we know ourselves.  Meet us at the point where our faith is weak and we can no longer stand.  Lord, Sarai’s and Abram’s desperation set in because they did not see you move.  They became weak waiting on you to move.  Proverbs 13:12 says, Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life,” (NLT).  God, today, our hearts’ cry is that you step in before we take matters into our own hands.  Do not let us become so desperate that we move in our own accord.  Lord, show us your power.  Show us that you are the same God of Abraham–the God who created the Universe in His sovereign power.  Lord, we thank you, and we bless your name.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen!

©2015 Khadine Alston.  All Rights Reserved.  Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

One of my favorite books growing up was “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret,” by Judy Bloom. I love the sentiment of the title. It’s a question that we have all asked God.

Today, we ask: Are you there God? It’s me, (insert your name). In our fallen world it’s easy to question God’s whereabouts. There are so many social and political issues that overwhelm the news. It’s easy to wonder if God cares about His World–If He cares about you. Why is God so seemingly quite?  Are you there God? It’s me! That seems to be the cry of a generation.

One of the Scriptures that God laid on my heart a few days ago was John 29:20. “…blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” Many of the daily occurrences in our fallen world serve to challenge our belief in God’s existence.  Sometimes, if we look through the lenses of our natural eyes, we might be inclined to question whether or not God cares about His people. We might even ask ourselves, “Why should God care about us? We are just mere men.” Fortunately, the Bible reminds us that God does care about His creation.  Psalms 8:4-6 says:

 4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. 6thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet, (KJV).

God cares so much about the intimate details of our lives that He even knows the number of hairs on our heads.

Our finite knowledge cannot begin to explain the things of God. I don’t know why God sometimes appears silent when we need Him the most. I don’t really know whether He is, silent, that is. Maybe we miss His voice that sometimes comes in a whisper. The nature of these questions are too complex for me. However, I do know this. Gideon asked for a sign of God’s favor, and he got it. David asked for protection, and his enemies fled. The woman with the issue of blood needed health and was healed when she touched the hem of Jesus’ clothing. What do you need? Shout it from the rooftop. Scream His name! Petition His promises! Jesus, Jesus, Jesus! Are you there? It’s me!

Today’s Prayer: Lord, we come to you with hearts surrendered. Are you there? It’s me. Lord, hear our heart’s cry. Lord, show us your unrelenting love. Give us a sign like you did for Gideon. Today, we ask that you show us a sign of your awe and might. Lord, grant us protection as you did for David. Make our enemies our footstools. Heal our bodies like you did for the woman with the issue of blood. Lord, we thank you, and we bless you. In Jesus’ name. Amen!

A few weeks ago, shortly before New Year’s Eve, I was going through some old journals and reading over prayer requests from previous years. Many of those prayers had been answered in one form or another, while others still remained “unanswered.” For some reason, this made me ask the question: What does faith really look like? Immediately, I started thinking about Jesus’ ministry on Earth. More specifically, I started thinking about the people who Jesus impacted. As far as I could remember, I could not think of one where an individual’s prayer was not immediately answered the moment that they encountered Jesus. For example, the woman with the issue of blood had been bleeding for years, yet the moment she touched the hem of Jesus’ garment, she was healed by her faith in Jesus. The same could be said of the lepers, the lames and the blind. The MOMENT they encountered Jesus, their prayers were heard and answered.

Most of us know that God does not act on our timetable. His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts. However, those stories did challenge the way I perceived my faith. I believe the reason why all of those people received an immediate response was because of the desperation of their fate. Jesus was all they had left. I am sure that the woman with the issue of blood must have seen all the experts of her day, assuming that she could have even afforded their services. The lepers were scorned, mistreated and exiled. Few people might have even cared enough to offer them assistance. I mean, how could they? Most people would have been scared for their own safety, as leprosy was a highly infectious disease at the time.

The people who came to Jesus were desperate. He was their last hope. In fact, He was their only hope. He HAD TO work. This made me ask myself the question: When was the last time I was that desperate? When was the last time I said, “Jesus HAS TO work?” I wonder how many of those “unanswered” prayers in my journal had to do with my own lack of desperation (i.e. lack of faith)?  How many times have I made God my last resort instead of my only hope?  With that being said, it’s important that I clarify one thing.  God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts.  Sometimes, no matter how hard we pray and believe, things just don’t work out the way that we anticipated.  Sometimes, God has plans that are different than ours, and even though we’ve exercised our faith, we still do not receive the answers we desire.  This purpose of this post is not to assert that all unanswered prayers are due to lack of faith, but to challenge the way we pursued Jesus.  I guess my question for all of us, including myself, is how desperate are we? Is Jesus our only hope?

Father,
Tonight, we come before you with desperation. We desperately want to make Jesus our only hope. We put our trust and faith in Him and Him alone. In your Word, You said that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, we can command mountains to move. Today, we stand on your word and your promises and command the mountains in our lives to jump into the sea. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.