Archives for posts with tag: Disappointment

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.

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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!

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.

Did you know that scientific research says that when one sense is lost, the other senses heighten? In fact, some studies of brain imaging have found that people who are blind can locate sounds using both the auditory cortex AND the occipital lobe, the region of the brain that processes visual stimuli.

Let’s conduct our own study.  For the next 30 seconds, close your eyes and concentrate on the world around you. What did you hear? For me, I heard the sultry sound of an alto saxophone as it blared a rhythmic jazz melody.  I also heard something that I hadn’t noticed before–the subtle bass that accompanied the sax. I heard the sounds of footsteps as they move towards and away from me. I noticed voices and laughter from distant conversations. With my eyes closed, I was so much more aware of my world around me.

What about our Christian life? How many of us are missing out on God’s best because our experiences are solely driven by what our eyes perceive? How many times in the natural have our sight deceived us?

This morning, I skimmed through a rather disturbing story on the Internet. It was about a pastor who decided that he would spend 2014 “without God.” After his year long journey, he decided that he was now an atheist.  Now, I don’t know what life experiences drove him to that drastic decision.  My speculation is that at some point, he felt disappointed by God.  Maybe God didn’t come through in the way he thought that he would. If we were truly honest with ourselves, we would admit that many of us have questioned whether a life with Christ is worth the heartache.  Even John the Baptist, who was sent to pave the way for Christ, questioned his authenticity before he was behead. The truth is, we ALL wrestle with unbelief.

After reading the article about the pastor’s year-long quest, I decided to go on a quest of my own, which I hope all of you will join me on. For the next 21 days, I am going to live like I am blind.  Wow! That’s a huge assertion!  What does that mean? For the next 21 days, I will be intentional about hearing what God has said and NOT focusing on what I see.

Remember when Paul and Silas were arrested? They had done nothing wrong.  However, instead of being upset during one of their darkest moments, they decided that they would pray and praise God. When they did, God not only delivered them, he made their enemies their footstools.

Some say it takes 21 days to form a habit. Whether or not 21 days is the magic number is irrelevant.  The point is this: The more we repeat a series of actions, the more those actions become ingrained in our character.  The hope of this challenge is that for the next 21 days, we will focus on JUST God. We will forget about who did what, who did whom and who did squat. For the next 21 days, we will fix our eyes on the sparrow and we will “see” what it looks like to truly walk by faith and not by sight. For the next 21 days, we will make a conscious effort to pray and praise God despite our circumstances. Even if the distance between our current circumstances and God’s promises looks immeasurable to the naked eyes, we WILL press into God. We will glorify Him. We will bless Him.

In His Word, God said that our faith could move mountains.  Could you imagine what the manifestation of our faith in our lives could look like? Well, let’s see! See you tomorrow for day 1.

Tupac Quote

“I gotta stop treating people like I owe them something,” Tupac.

This quote came across my social media page the other day, and it stopped me in my tracks. Wow! How liberating.

I have always believed that no one owes me anything. I had never thought about that sentiment from the opposite perspective. However, it was something that I needed to hear. It’s something I believe that many of us need to hear.

As Christians, particularly Christian women, we believe that we have to be everything to everyone. We can’t. There is only one God, and only He can be everything to all. We are human, and we will fail and falter. The problem is, when we have conditioned people into thinking that our role in their lives is to be subservient to them, this becomes the expected norm of the relationship. They call. We answer. They ask. We give. They dish. We take. Most people do not like change. So, oftentimes, we find that once we try to redefine these skewed relationships, people become resistant and some often get angry. They might say things like, “You’ve change,” “You’re just not the same person,” “You’ve gotten brand new.” The truth is, you probably haven’t really changed. You’ve probably always hated being treated like a doormat, but you just never said anything. To those people whom you’ve allowed to walk all over you, there was no perceived problem in the relationship, because as far as they were concerned, their needs were being met. You filled the lonely gaps between romantic relationships. You picked up the pieces after the break up. You spent hours “talking” while they vented about a problem. For them, there was no problem. But what about your lonely nights, broken heart and failed dreams? Were they on the phone for hours listening to you cry and vent like you had been for them?

“But, they are my friend,” you say. “I’ve know them since (fill in the blank).”

“Ten years ago, they did that one favor that I feel obligated to repay over and over and over again.”

Whenever we judge the merit of a relationship, we should never judge it based on the question, “What have you done for me lately?” However, relationships MUST be symbiotic. If you find that you keep holding yourself hostage to that one, kind deed that an individual performed many moons ago, and you constantly feel indebted and need to repay that act, it might be time that you reevaluate your motives and reevaluate your relationships. Yes, we must remember kindness. So many of us are quick to forget. Yes, we must maintain a sense of loyalty, but we do not owe anyone anything. We have a responsibility to love God and to love His people, but we are not indebted to anyone.

In my own life, I have had to redefine several relationships. There were people who were always used to me running to their beck and call. They called. I answered. They asked. I gave. They dished. I took. Now that I have established new boundaries, there are those who’ve said that I have changed. They don’t like the fact that I am no longer their doormat. However, I can’t be who God has called me to be and go where He wants me to go if I am wrapped up living people’s lives and riding the waves of their emotions.

One of the biggest lessons that God taught me a few years ago is that the reason why many of us cannot get past our current season is that we keep bypassing our exit and repeating seasons with people who are currently in the season that God is trying to graduate us from. Friend, sometimes the very thing that we are trying to save someone from might be the fire that God is using to refine them. So, now, instead of moving into our new season, we are going into battle against God and getting burned.

For 2015, I encourage you to evaluate ALL your relationships. The Bible says, “Iron sharpens iron,” (Proverbs 27:17). If you are in relationships that are not allowing you to grow, move on. Those lopsided relationships might be the very things that are hindering your growth.

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!

25

Wow! How quickly did we burn through the days of 2013? For many of us, January 1, 2013 is but a distant memory. So many of us started 2013 with a laundry list of goals and aspiration. For some, our enthusiasm and exuberance dwindled as the days faded. Now, with only 31 days left to the conclusion of the 2013, it’s so easy to give up on those 2013 dreams if they have not yet materialized. However, keep this in mind. The year is not over yet. In one instance, Jesus caused a fig tree to wither; He calmed a raging sea and He mended the skin of a leper. If he did that in one instance, imagine what He could do in 31 days! As we draw near to Christmas, instead of acknowledging all the couldas, wouldas, shouldas; let’s spend the next 25 days giving thanks for all the things that are going right. Over the next 25 days, I would us to embark on a 25-day thanksgiving journey. Each day, I will challenge you to list the one thing that you most grateful for in 2013. Here goes:

25-Day Thanksgiving Christmas Countdown
Day 25: Today I am most thankful for DISAPPOINTMENTS!

DramaMasks
Is God a stage mom? Wow! That’s a loaded question.
What is a stage mom? Wikipedia defines a stage mom (or dad) as a parent of a child actor who “aggressively manages” the careers of their child (children). In fact, with so many more people looking for their “big break,” the definition has expanded to include a broader scope of entertainment, including the sports arena.
So, what does this have to do with God? Growing up, I have often heard several religious leaders say that God is more concerned with our process than He is with our outcome. In other words, God is more into character building. Let’s assume for a moment that’s true. Most of us could probably intellectualize the fact that untoward events build character. However, when we are hurting, character building is the last thing on our minds.
In order to answer the question, “Is God a stage mom” we must first ask and answer the question, “Does God really care about how we feel during the process.”
The Bible says that God is our “Comforter.” Here is where the problem starts for many of us. Our ignorance can often lead us to a misguided sense of emotions. You see, for me, when I think of a comforter, I think of someone who shows up AFTER an incident has occurred. It make sense, right? We would not need to be comforted if an unfavorable incident/event has not occurred. See, if that is my definition of comforter, then it could be very easy for me to misunderstand who God is, especially in those moments where it feels like God is absent during the midst of my storms. It this is my definition of comforter, I could easily believe that God only shows up at the end or my storm to give me the proverbial “there-there,” “way to go” pat on the back.
Here is a moment where I feel like I have to be completely transparent to drive the point home. There have been times in my life where I have felt like God has said, “Just suck it up. It’s for your own good. It will all work out in the end.” This leads me to the comparison of the stage mom.
The stage mother pushes her child, sometimes beyond the level of comfort, because she know that if she pushes her child hard enough, he or she will enter stardom. The truth is, a lot of children of stage parents do go on to become entertainers and/or athletes. However, many of them become broken in the process. Look at some of our child stars. Yeah, the outcome was “great,” but the process broke them. This is where my point comes home. The focus on process over outcome is what separates God from the stage moms. Stage moms are concerned with outcome resulted in children, and eventually adults, who were broken in the process. God is concerned about the process, which when done correctly, can yield the same, or better, outcomes.
I must say that there have been seasons in my life where I have felt disappointed while going through the process. However, I cannot think of one moment where I have ever regretted a God-directed outcome. NEVER!
So, what about that whole comforter issue? Again, life is all about perspective. The Greek word for “Comforter” or “Counselor” is “parakletos.” It means “one who is called to the side of another” or “one who is called to plea a cause,” (Bible Dictionary). The name “paraclete” was given by Jesus Christ to the Holy Spirit. It means Advocate and helper as well as comforter. Imagine, Advocate was the name given by Jesus to the Holy Spirit—the third person of the trinity (John 14:16). So, now when we hear that God is our Comforter, it should means so much more to us. It should signify how much God loves us. He loves us so much that He sacrificially gave a part of himself so that He would always be with us. The fact that God dwells in us means that it is IMPOSSIBLE for us to ever be alone. If our Comforter is the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit ALWAYS lives inside us, then we are ALWAYS comforted. We should take great cheer tonight to know that God will always be our “paraclete.”

Have you ever felt like God has left you hanging?  C’mon, tell the truth! Never?  Let me ask it a different way.  Have you ever experienced a time when you know within your heart that God has instructed you to do something specific, yet when you did what you thought He told you to do, the results were not what you expected?  In fact, not only were the results not what you expected, they seemed to cause you more shame and heartbreak than happiness and reward.  Still can’t relate?  What about one of the following examples:

  1. Have you ever followed God’s instruction to quit your job with the intention of starting a new business only find yourself unemployed with no business?
  2. Have you ever pursued a relationship on God’s instruction only to be rejected and humiliated?
  3. Have you ever moved to a new state (or country) on God’s command only to experience the worse loneliness you have ever experienced?
  4. Have you ever made yourself vulnerable only to be scoffed at?

If you have ever experienced any of the following, know that you are not alone.  You are probably thinking, “Great! So, now what?”  The pious thing to say would be, “Trust God and everything will work itself out.”  While this is true, it’s not always easy. 

Sometimes, pursuing what we believe to be the voice of God could lead to humiliation, exhaustion, disappointment and doubt.  Remember Joseph?  He told his family that God had revealed to him in a dream that he was going to be a great leader. Imagine how embarrassed he must have felt when he sat in jail, falsely accused of rape.  How many times did he question himself?  How many times did he question God?  How many times did he ask whether he had heard God correctly?  What about you?  You have testified to others about God’s greatness, but you have yet to see the fruit of your labor (or belief/obedience).  The business that you know that God told you to build is under water.  You poured everything you had into it.  The relationship that you thought would prosper is nonexistent or failing.  Your enemies are secretly (or publicly) triumphing over your failures.  You are exhausted.  What do you do?  You are beginning to wonder whether you heard God correctly.  You are beginning to wonder whether you would ever get it right.   How could you be so wrong?  The pain is overwhelming.  So what do you do?

The first thing I want you to do is put on your seatbelt.  What I am going to tell you will probably give you spiritual whiplash.

What might seem to us like a spiritual goose chase could actually be a divine appointment.  Know that it is not a bad thing to return to God empty-handed after you have pursued His directives.  Here’s why.  When God sent you out, He sent you out armed with a promise.  However, a promise is just the beginning of the story.  In order for the entire story to be assembled, you will need additional directive from God.  So you go off with the promise.  You have to plant the promise at your destination because you will need to return to God for further directions, and you cannot return with the promise.  Why?  The Bible says that His Word cannot return to him void.  Are you excited yet?  This is the point where most of us miss the mark.  We go back to God and quarrel with Him about being empty-handed.  However, we should be celebrating.  Instead of accusing God of disappointing us, we should be asking him how to water the seed we just planted in the place He just sent us. 

This revelation should excite us.  It might not stop the pain and the sadness, but it will give us some insight into who God is.  In Psalm 37:25, David said, “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread,” (NIV).  According to David, the apple of God’s eyes, God will never forsake us.  If we delight in God, he will give us our heart’s desires (Psalm 37:4).  We should know that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and our ways are not His ways (Isaiah 55:8).  Sometimes, we might have to water His planted promises for a while.  However, once they are planted THEY cannot return to Him void.  Take heart tonight and know that God will never take us somewhere that His grace would not sustain us.