Faith . . .
My friend fell in love with Jesus. That was a crime in his home land. When he arrived in the U.S. he prayed for two things. One, to start fresh. Two, that his wife would become a believer. She was disillusioned by religion and declared that she was now an atheist.
One day I met his wife. She was beautiful. She came to church to appease her husband. Over the next few weeks I had the chance to get to know her better. One day she came up to me after church. I don’t know if it’s possible for a mere human’s face to shine with glory, but hers radiated. She told me that she had become a follower of Christ.
Her husband stood beside her, his face just as filled with joy.
She worships all day long, he said. She’s so hungry for the Word. She has the Bible on her lap any time she has a moment.
Now that they are both believers they are both in danger if they return home. When my friends asks for prayer, it’s that his father’s faith will shine if death knocks at his door. It’s for friends and neighbors who are believers and suffer for that faith, because they are targets.
When I think about my friends’ stories, I imagine being in their shoes. They started over with no family around to help. They had to go back to the university for years, because their education was not accepted in their new country. They face prejudice from a neighbor or a stranger who has no idea how amazing they are or what they’ve endured, and who labels them as “different.”
Can you imagine spilling over with gratitude, even in all of this, because of Jesus?
Yesterday we looked at changing our negative conversations with others, but today we are changing the conversation about faith.
- Faith isn’t tied to what God has done for us lately.
- Faith isn’t valuable only when things are going well.
- Faith isn’t about meeting our every need.
Faith means that Jesus saved us, rescued us, gave his life for us. It means that he walks with us daily. It means that the Holy Spirit lives within us, and we are empowered to live a life that makes a difference.
Because of faith, we are blessed far beyond what we understand.
Because of faith, we have a promise of eternity with Christ.
Because of faith, we are identified as a child of God.
Faith is being loved, but it’s also is loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Faith is loving others like Jesus loves us.
[bctt tweet=”The goodness of God is not shaped by our circumstances, but we are shaped by the goodness of God as he walks through circumstances with us. #ComeWithMe” username=”suzanneeller”]
When we start to live a life of thank you in our faith we become noticers of the good in our faith, because Jesus is good.
I will never be able to totally relate to my friend’s struggles. I’ve not suffered persecution. I’m not judged by my ethnicity, though I have friends who are. My spouse has always loved Jesus. I’ve not been asked to discard all my education to start over. I have friends and family close by who would scoop me up in a moment, if I felt alone.
Yet I’ve experienced cancer — four times. Twice for me. Once for my sweet guy. Once for my daughter. I’ve stood by my son’s broken body in the hospital room after he was critically injured by a drunk driver. I’ve wrestled with medical bills piled high. I know what it is to be left behind by a biological father that should have treasured all of his children. I know what it is to see a business fail, though we placed our heart and soul in it. I know what it is to feel sad or uncertain.
Paul describes his walk of faith in this way:
Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked. I spent a night and a day in the open sea. In my frequent journeys, I have been in danger from rivers and from bandits, in danger from my countrymen and from the Gentiles, in danger in the city and in the country, in danger on the sea and among false brothers, . . . (2 Corinthians 11:24-26)
That is why, for the sake of Christ, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)
Paul’s story is one of hardship, but there was also joy.
In the midst of all of it, his faith — his relationship with Christ — was his anchor. In his weakness, he was strong due to his utter dependence upon Christ.
Paul didn’t ignore the hard parts of his faith. He simply added the good in.
[bctt tweet=”Faith does not equal an easy life. Faith equals a full and abundant life that has nothing to do with our circumstances. #ComeWithMe #livingfreetogether” username=”suzanneeller”]
And that defines faith that says thank you.
Yes, I’m struggling in this area but I have the freedom to be honest about that. I will be grateful for who God is in the midst of this battle.
Lord, I almost forgot that my faith isn’t so that I might live an easy life, but that I would have life to the full. A life of intimacy with you. A life marked as a daughter of God. A life of walking with you, wherever you lead. Thank you for that.
Adding the good in changes the trajectory of our faith.
Like my friend, and like the apostle Paul, it leads to untapped joy just waiting to be discovered because of our faith.
Day #7 of Living a Life of Thank You
Q: Paul describes the hard places in his life. Share yours. Don’t be afraid to be honest about it. Then, share the good of your faith in that same circumstance.
Q: Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:10, “For when I am weak, I am strong.” What does that mean to you personally?
- On page 131 of Come With Me, it reads:
Gratitude is one of the easiest and most profound ways to give. That’s why we verbalize the blessings, not just on a busy day when we are juggling and nothing is going right, but when the stakes are higher. Saying the words out loud are a kiss on Jesus’ cheek.
- Will you do that right now? Will you stop and thank God for rescuing you? For redeeming you. Don’t tie it in to your current circumstances, or what you hope he’ll do, but for what he’s already done for or in you.
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I’ve shared before about my struggles – dealing with insecurities especially since my fight with cancer almost 9 years ago, going through a divorce at the same time, not knowing for sure how God can use me. And while I’ll admit there are times that I’ve doubted, God never gave up on me. He may not have changed the situation, but He always showed me in some way that He was with me. Sometimes I just became so focused on the situation that I missed that until later. I thank God today that He has never given up on me and that He loves me.
Such a power-packed, strong statement of faith!
My constant hard place is looking into the future for my daughter, who is functionally nonverbal and will never be able to live independently. Questions plague me and fears mount when I do that. But I know God’s grace is sufficient for each present moment. That’s my assured hope, because God is faithful!
Living a life of thanks is a beautiful topic to explore, Suzie. Thanks for beginning the conversation.
i prayed for you. xoxo
My hard place right now is going through a separation and an inevitable divorce from my husband who I loved with all my heart and soul. I gave my everything to our marriage only for him to decide after 7 yrs of marriage he didn’t love me anymore.
I am grateful for my mom, my children and grandchildren and my friends. They are all sup porting me. I am also grateful for God’s love.
Missee, I’m so sorry for such a great loss. Praying that God will take up residence in those hurting places and give you peace that passes all understanding. You are loved. You are of value. You are worthy of love. I’m so grateful you came here today.
Missee, I have been in a similar situation. Two years into our marriage, my husband decided he didn’t want to be married anymore. I was completely blindsided! I knew there were problems within our marriage, but I didn’t believe they were insurmountable. I agreed to a separation, on the condition that we continued trying to save our marriage. My husband is a non-believer, but during our separation, I prayed fervently for reconciliation. After about 3 months, I was ready to accept a divorce. I don’t believe in divorce, except for the situations outlined in scripture, but I felt that I had done all I could to save my marriage and my husband was still set on divorce. So I was willing to accept that it was inevitable. I went by the house to collect some of my things one day, and fell down the basement stairs. I was hurt pretty badly. I had banged my head on the concrete floor and when I tried to get up, I couldn’t feel my legs. (It turned out that I had compressed a disc on some nerves.) My husband was working nights at the time, and was upstairs asleep. I had my cell phone in my pocket, and miraculously, it hadn’t gotten destroyed in the fall. I called my husband, dialing over and over until he woke up and answered. He came to the basement and when he saw me, he began to cry. He called an ambulance and held my hand while we waited. He followed me to the hospital and sat with me while we waited on tests to come back. They decided to transfer me to a different hospital for more extensive testing. He insisted on going. I was not the picture of grace. I told him repeatedly that I didn’t need him there, that he was no longer obligated to me, etc. He would not give in. He sat by my bedside for 3 days. We talked, but I avoided the subject of our marriage. When I was discharged, he drove me home to my parents’ house. We sat awkwardly in the driveway for several silent minutes. Finally, I reached for the door handle to get out. He grabbed my other hand and asked if we could talk about “us”. I told him I didn’t think there was anything left to say, and he asked if I’d just listen to him for a minute. He told me that when he got to the basement and saw me lying there, bruised and bleeding, something inside him came unglued. He said he realized that he still loved me and didn’t want to live without me. He asked if I would give him another chance. I agreed to try. Eventually, I moved back home with him. We will celebrate 7 years of marriage in October. He is still a non-believer, and our marriage is far from perfect. I pray every day that he will see Jesus in me and come to God. But even through the imperfection, our marriage is much stronger now than it was before we separated. God can restore a marriage. He did it for us, and He can do it for you. Don’t give up. Keep praying and seeking His will for both you and your husband. I pray that all will turn out for the best!
“When we start to live a life of thank you in our faith we become noticers of the good, because Jesus is good.” My goodness, YES!
I have always been the one to find the good in most situations, but recent months have left me jaded and tired, in shambles over one particular crossroad. Until last night. My husband and I discussed one last option that hadn’t been there before. It felt . . . right. While I can’t say that it’s THE decision we’ll end up making, in the moment, I truly believed that God had opened my eyes to finally see what He’d been trying to show me all along. I finally succumbed to the truth that God’s faithfulness isn’t tied to whether or not we receive answers or signs, but rather that He is faithful because He has promised us eternal life with Him! What a powerful shift this was for me. Even though I’ve known and believed it before, it was as though I’d been blinded to it in this one particular area of doubt. How shameful of me.
Thank you for opening this conversation, Suzie. It is beautiful.
You are beautiful and perfect. Loved and adored. God’s own. I pray you don’t feel shame.
Happy dancing with you!
I had struggles as a child and experienced incestuous and physical abuse. At 52 years of age, I realize some of my behavior patterns are still skewed by those experiences.
However, I am grateful I am still alive, have 2 beautiful children, have never been arrested, never addicted, have a home to live in, and graduated college, to name a few.
Many who survive horrific childhoods do not become productive citizens. While my circumstances are far from ideal right now, I can tell I’m at a turning point. One of the problems I have had is keeping a job. I have defense mechanisms that kick in, and negative feelings of self worth that can creep up when I feel challenged or nervous, so a work environment has been particularly challenging for me. I have had jobs to pay the bills, but I have never had job security or developed a satisfying career on any level.
God is working with me right now to “fine tune” some things, so I finish my healing, drop the destructive behavior patterns that still linger, and experience more financial security and joy from my work going forward. It’s very hard right now. To get ready for this change, I had to quit my dead end job and my bills this month are not all getting paid. God is providing a new route for me to follow, but it’s scary.
I thank God I am at this point. I am blessed to be right here, able to follow God’s lead. I pray for strength to continue to add the good in throughout this transitional time and beyond.
Lord, thank you for the healing work you are doing in Shelly. You promise to continue the work you’ve begun. I pray new joy wakes her every morning. I pray that she is delighted by your love. Thank you that you redeem the past. That one day Shelly will sit with others who are experiencing what she has experienced, and she can tell them of your faithfulness through the healing and restorative process. One more day, Father. Give her one more day. One more hour. One more minute to remember that she is loved by you. Then, you’ll do it all over again tomorrow!
Amen to Suzie’s prayer for you, Shelly.
I really enjoyed this article. God bless you, Suzie
The hard places in my life…. I have already shared about my struggle with barrenness and my grief over losing my Dad. Another hard place is being married to a non-believer. It’s a constant strain on our marriage, and by proxy, on my Faith. I work so hard trying to witness to my husband, but in nearly 8 years together, (we were together a year before we married), he hasn’t budged. But I continue to pray that he will eventually come to God. Another hard area is my struggle with isolation. I don’t work outside the home due to medical reasons. I don’t have any friends. I have long-time friends that I keep in contact with through social media, but none that I see or spend time with. When my husband and I were first married, he was a long-haul truck driver. I felt it was my duty to be available to him whenever he was home on the weekends. My friends, who were all married with children, were only free on the weekends. They would invite me out, but I declined because my husband was my #1 priority (which is how it should be). Eventually, theys stopped asking me and our friendships drifted apart. The more isolated became, the less socially adept I became. At this point, I have social anxiety. It is sometimes difficult for me to do the simplest things like going grocery shopping. I hate going by myself, and will put it off until my husband is available to go with me. I also battle depression, which has increased since my Dad died. I am taking an antidepressant, which helps, but I still struggle. I often feel guilty for being depressed when I have so many blessings to be grateful for. I also have profound difficulties with feeling insecure and inadequate. My husband is very supportive, but sometimes he falls short of being what I need. I am trying to depend less on him and more on God.
In your last sentence I see hope: I am trying to depend less on him and more on God.
Lord, even you said in John 5:13, that by “myself I can do nothing.” Empower Alicia. Do what she cannot do on her own. Light up this strong woman who reaches for you, and show her a new day, a new life, and conquer these fears she hates. In the powerful name of Jesus, amen.
Alicia, I agree with Suzie’s prayer for you. In Jesus’s name, amen.
Alicia I would love to help you. I struggled with social anxiety, agoraphobia and anxiety/panic for more than 20 years. Anxiety since a child and others over the years . If you contact Suzie directly in a PM she can give you my personal phone number. I am now free and just recently moved away from my comfort zone to Houston Texas and now live a totally different life. I am thankful but He can also do it for you too. Please contact me or Suzie. I have a website but it is down now but I am on Twitter and also on Fb
I asked a friend to also comment. She’s been where you are now with anxiety. God freed her miraculously. Her name is Angie Webb. When I was diagnosed with cancer, it was those who had already beat cancer that gave me hope. I believe Angie’s story can offer you hope!
Prayers being sent for you, Alicia! God is with you – He is for you – He was there in your first beginnings, before anyone else. He will never leave you. He will never turn away from you. He will never reject you. You are very right – depend more on God, and less on people. We all need God. God is the only one who can give us the longings of our heart. He is the living water! He is the bread of life! In other words, He is everything we need and He never runs out of provision. I’ve been in the places you are — social anxiety, depression, loneliness, self-doubt. The answer that has helped me most has always been Jesus. I fix my eyes on Him! Whatever it takes! And if others in my life aren’t following as closely behind – they usually pick up the pace when I start following Him more closely. 🙂 But even so, He will strengthen you and give you everything people simply can’t or won’t. Stay in the Word – and seek out fellow believers in whatever way you can. Bless you! You are never alone!
I prayed for you. xoxo
Thank you, ladies, for your understanding words and prayers. It means more to me than I can say. It’s also comforting to know that I’m not alone, that others have struggled with my same issues and emerged victorious.