Man, do I ever need this post!
Have you ever heard of the phrase “He/she’s a whinging Pom”- Well I am originally from England and I can testify this is an accurate title.
I am not completely convinced this constant “whinging” or complaining is always evidence of an unhappy heart or even an unhappy life. I would like to think it is a release of truth and way of sharing our personal experience of life’s daily frustrations and trials with others. A way of being vulnerable with our fellow man and experiencing empathy.
I tend to be a pretty open person, I share truths about my life easily, but especially with those who I trust and am closest to.
Like many of you, I have been weighed down most of my life with one trial after another. Whether it be illness, financial concerns, relationship upheavals, injury, grief, persecution and the like. It seems as soon as I get one sorted there is another one waiting in the midst to hit me from left field. Sound familiar?
I share my trials, like those listed above, and also the daily irritations of life, such as emotional instability, disappointment in others, offense at the deception of the world system, frustration and confusion of motherhood and wifedom, overwhelming workload, or just plain inconveniences.
However, there is an element of negativity to complaining that I recently became self-conscious of. That perhaps my constant sharing of all that is troubling me might actually be making those around me, those I love most, feel heavier because of it. This hit my heart hard! The last thing I want to do is drag anyone down. I have an extremely blessed life and want everyone to know how grateful I am.
Feeling convicted in my spirit by this, I was desperate to find a way to either stop complaining completely, or to change my attitude so that my complaining isn’t disheartening my loved ones and ruining my testimony. I have been praying on this, and seeking the Lord’s wisdom, and this morning I woke up with the answer!
It came to me like this…
LEARN TO FOCUS ON THE LOVE PATTERN
The pattern of life under God’s control is – Suffering leads to Growth or Change all while abounded by Blessings.
Let me explain that a little better….
Suffering softens us and exposes our weaknesses, so rather than complaining negatively about life’s trials, use the urge to complain to prompt us to “Boast in our weakness” (thanks Jefferson Bethke). By being grateful that God sees us completely and hears our cries for change, and accepting that these trials expose our weakness, we take our weakness to God which pushes us further and deeper into relationship and intimacy with Him through Christ. Whose grace and strength washes over us, giving us a new level of change or growth, plus a new level of faith and freedom. All the time He gives comforting signs He is with us, along with abundant provision and protection.
All this is done from His LOVE! Love for you and love for me. This ‘love pattern’ is designed to pull us into His loving arms, regardless of how ‘good’ we have been but rather dependant on how frail and flawed we admit that we are.
Our positive vulnerability will encourage others to be vulnerable, building true connection and empathy with those we share this earth with. All the while giving us an opportunity to share this wonderful news of redemption.
So therefore when someone asks us how our day was and we feel that familiar urge rise within us, lets shift the focus of our complaint from defeat to victory, using our trials to spread the joy of God’s LOVE PATTERN.
I need to end on a prayer here…
Dear Gracious Lord, I lift up your name in Glory as I realise this wisdom you have shared with us. Help us all to keep your love pattern the focus of our trials. Don’t let our weakness allow this wisdom to be forgotten, use us and our trials to spread your love! In the mighty name of your Son I pray! Amen!
Have you ever experienced an immense trial, and found you managed to bear through it? You knew that you had a good reason to loose the plot, however, you found a supernatural place of calm amidst the storm. Have you gone through some of the most troubling ordeals and not been shaken, in faith or character, by them? I believe I have, once or twice.
On the other hand, in the most unfathomable fashion, a tiny splinter of affliction can send us spinning into a cycle of destructive behaviour. Transforming us into the most ungodly version of ourselves. I have definitely been there too. When being a prisoner of our own flesh becomes unbearable. I have felt like this more times than I can count, especially during bouts of depression. I am sure many others have too.
Don’t get me wrong, most of the time I quite like being me. But sometimes, other times, I get sick of the sound of my own voice, sick of the thoughts piling up in my head, sick of the sight of my reflection. These times I just want to escape myself, because I know there is a much better version of myself out there somewhere. Somewhere elusive.
The tricky part is, I can’t MAKE myself be the better version. No matter how hard I try, I can’t stop myself falling into the sin and nature that is part of my flesh. I say to myself to do one thing, and find myself doing another. Sometimes it is as if I can hear myself from a distant place in my mind, through miles of murky water, saying the very thing I ordered myself not to say. I am a wretched version of myself sometimes!
These times bring me to my knees, and in need of comfort. There are times we all need comforting. Who is the best comforter I know? The Lord. I open the pages of His word, I see Paul, a great man of God struggling with the very same inner enemies as me. The words comfort me…
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate, I do.”
“So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am!”
“So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature – a slave to the law of sin.”
(Romans 7:15 & 21-25)
Woa! Those words bring me such comfort, because they express my own battle so perfectly. Empathy is a wonderful consolation for shame and self-condemnation.
I think, the reason I, and others, have found that calm place amidst the biggest storms, is because we knew we couldn’t manage it all. Somewhere in our subconscious, we knew the trial was too big for us on our own, our hearts were fragile and we accepted that. Our ego got turned off, our pride took a step aside. Our broken and contrite hearts were exposed, and God will not ignore a heart like that.
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”
The greatest peace I have found while trapped in this body, is when I see the Lord take over. When I have reached my wits end. When I stop kidding myself into thinking I have enough self-control to be better, and beg God to take the reigns. I repent of all my misgivings, my efforts to depend on myself and not on Him. I repent of my easily led flesh that encourages me to wander toward the distractions of the world and away from God.
When you reach your wits end, that’s when God begins. I hope you enjoy the words of this wonderful poem.
Wit’s End Corner
Are you standing at “Wit’s End Corner”?
Friend with troubled brow
Are you thinking of what is before you,
And all you are bearing now?
Does all the world seem against you,
And you in the battle alone?
Remember-at “Wit’s End Corner”
Is just where God’s power is shown.
Are you standing at “Wit’s End Corner”?
Blinded with wearying pain,
Feeling you cannot endure it,
You cannot bear the strain,
Bruised through the constant suffering,
Dizzy, and dazed, and numb?
Remember-at “Wit’s End Corner”
Is where Jesus loves to come.
Are you standing at “Wit’s End Corner”?
Your work before you spread,
A mountain of tasks unfinished,
And pressing on heart and head,
Longing for strength to do it,
Stretching out trembling hands?
Remember–at “Wit’s End Corner”
The Burden-bearer stands.
Are you standing at “Wit’s End Corner”?
Then you’re just in the very spot
To learn the wondrous resources
Of Him who faileth not:
No doubt to a brighter pathway
Your footsteps will soon be moved,
But only at “Wit’s End Corner”
Is the “God who is able” proved.
Poem by Antoinette Wilson
This post is very well said…Some priceless insights for all to accept in order to be victorious in each new stage of life.
If we take the mindset that our time on earth is that of a classroom or school, we would understand and accept that every storm, trial, challenge, and difficulty was a test. Tests are given by teachers to check for student understanding and to see whether they have mastered a skill.
Teachers introduce a concept and model it. The life of Jesus on earth, His death, and resurrection takes care of this step (Basically the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). Teachers then ask their students to practice the new skill. They watch to see how their students do with the new information and with a careful eye monitor their progress. They watch to see if any are overwhelmed and pull them aside to reteach or give extra help if they are frustrated or failing. A test is then given and graded. Some students are ready to move on…
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I started this blog for a number of reasons. I have a strong desire to share with others how to recognise and overcome our inner enemies. I hoped my experiences would prevent others from being captives of lies and destruction in their lives. Yet recently the Lord allowed me to come face-to-face with a new level of my own inner war.
I had known for a few weeks that a trial was coming in the form of a get-together. I knew that my forgiveness and trust would be challenged. I won’t lie and tell you I wasn’t anxious. I wasn’t afraid of who may come at me, I was concerned about how I may react if my boundaries were challenged and the situation turned ugly. I still don’t trust myself or my reactions when faced with inner enemies from my past. I know I need to keep my boundaries strong when they are shot at and stomped upon, but strong boundaries are a relatively new practice for me and I have yet to test them properly against the ‘big guns’ in my life, not enough to feel secure in them anyway.
I decided to go on a 3 day fast, and to pray for God to hold me in His safe grip. I reminded myself that all is in God’s hands and to be prepared, rather than taken unaware, if the situation turned down an ugly path.
The shock factor is what sends me into an uncontrollable spiral, so I try to avoid being shocked if at all possible.
I sensed the spiritual pressure building a day or two before the test, my reactions were aggressive and volatile. I kept praying, and filling myself with the word of God, apologising to all around me for my prickly nature. The trial came and went without drama, but it was when I relaxed in the aftermath that my inner enemies saw fit to sink their claws into me and my old insecurities. This was an onslaught from left field and I was entirely shocked!
For the following 3days I was completely overwhelmed with spiritual attack, I believed the lies they were feeding me, and allowed them to control my reactions and emotions. No matter how much I prayed or read my Bible, I couldn’t lift my head out from the murkiness to see clearly. I truly believed every lying thought in my head. My attack opened the door, inviting itself into my home. Arguments and tears flooded the rooms, harsh words and discord became rampant. Love, joy, peace and truth were nowhere to be found!
On the fourth day the curse was broken and I saw….
My enemies had been telling me I was failing God, that I would never complete His request of me to write His novel. That my Husband didn’t really support my writing, or understand me, or love me for all my uniqueness, lies provoking thoughts that all my blessings were a moment from collapse. No matter how hard I tried to explain, hoping someone would convince me differently, I was left hanging over the abyss with only lies to keep me company.
In my usual analytical fashion I assessed myself trying figure out what had inspired this attack. Besides the fact that I am usually spiritually challenged around a full moon, and had the lingering residual pressure from the get-together. I was also facing strong emotions as I cleaned out old boxes, ones which had belonged to my Dad and had been sitting in my garage, since he passed.
As I sit here and reflect on it all, I feel so weak for allowing my old insecurities to rise up and cause dysfunction in my family. I’ve confessed, I’ve praised, I’ve sobbed for my Dad, wishing him to be here to pray for me, like he used to, when times like this arise and I am left exposed and vulnerable.
Yet I can’t help but understand that something huge happened in the spiritual realm as a result of all this. Plus of course my own massive realisations. New levels of self-awareness, humility and growth. Renewed faith and confidence in God’s strength to still pull me out of all the dark times, and all in His perfect timing and not mine.
I would love for all my posts to be filled with encouragement from my accomplished victories, rather than wallowing in despondent self-assessment. Yet I refuse to hide from the truth of my weakness, and will give glory for the only strength that gets me through. His!
A few years ago, I was going through the toughest time, so far, in my life. It was a time I had been called to obey God in an area of my life that was more difficult, and scary, and emotional than I have ever had to do before or since. I was directed to walk away from my God given promise, away from my blessed ‘dream come true’ and wait for it to come find me again in a new stage of God’s perfect will.
As I waited in obedience I spent a lot of time sharing my heart in the sanctuary of those trustworthy and dearest to me, this lessened my heaviness and got me through many ominous weeks.
I wonder if any of them managed to keep up with the plot of my story very well?
I remember that I spoke a lot about my fears, the sense of impending doom which hovered around me day and night, as I waited on the promised outcome of both the situation and my life. Much of the time I was floored, barely able to hold the phone to my ear as I poured my tears into the receiver. Overwhelmed with thoughts hammering me to give up, cave in, and disobey. Convincing me I was drowning in an ocean of faithless doubt.
Then the next time I reached out I felt elated, the sun shone brighter and colour reappeared in my world, as I shared some small, seemingly insignificant, event that had sparked hope in me. Often I was directed to a reminder of God’s promise, a perfect sign to confirm that all was not lost. I would let this tiny shred of positive gold uplift me to clouds of high hope. I would prattle on and on, in a excited, overjoyed way, certain that this divine piece of evidence was the turning point in my pain, proof that my promise was not far from my reach. However usually, if I held on too tight, my buoyant piece of fluff would be blown away by the days end.
Another wave would come, heavy and unexpected, it would swallow my hope whole, like unwelcome and uninvited guests, dragging their luggage of negativity and dread into my life.
My mood and focus polarised from one minute to the next, like an unpredictable swelling sea. I filled my soul with scriptures speaking of God’s strength and faithfulness, of His love and mercy. I sang songs of praise daily, determined to keep my faith strong through the trial. If I stopped this for too long I crumbled under the attack of an enemy, who slipped through the cracks in my armour, and toyed with me in the worst ways. I was simply blown in all directions by breezes from the spiritual world. It was unbearable at times, unsure if I was even sane anymore.
My Dad was a priceless ally during this stormy season, as I helplessly clung to obedience like it was a lone life jacket floating in shipwrecked waters, I recall clearly the pearls of wisdom he gave me.
“Waiting patiently on God, in a tumultuous time, is less extreme if you can learn to stay neutral. If you allow yourself to get too emotionally high then you will have farther to fall when the next blow hits. If you stay hopeless and low it will be harder to drag yourself back up to be able to cope each day. Try hard not to be pulled either side of the line into optimism or pessimism, until you have proof that the season has changed and God has completely fulfilled His promise to you.”
He went on to explain that the enemy may give me positive hope only to make his blows of destruction all the more painful and hard to bear. I was to remain in the middle, not overjoyed and not defeated.
He was absolutely right, it made all the difference to try to execute any amount of emotional self-control and trust that God was working things out in His own time and His own way. The waves began to level out.
“Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen.” (Hebrews 11:1 KJV)
We can get through these types of trials without the massive tumult of highest highs and the lowest lows, if we try to walk the neutral line between the fear and the promise. Realising that faith in an unseen God can allow all our hopes to become reality.
Somehow, with the continual support from those who poured into me with faith, compassion and scripture, I managed to hold on in obedience for a number of months until the season did change. The proof was confirmed in the most miraculous ways. And God did in fact bring my promise back into my life. Only when it came back, it was far better than the version of the promise I had let go of and trusted into His hands. He is an awesome and powerful God, only limited by our own lack of faith, our impatience and our mistaken presumption that He is unwilling to perform.