Loss

Scars and Trust

My trust in the Lord has always been, best put, complicated. I would be dishonest if I was to say it was consistent and constant. If anything, I have most identified with doubting Thomas. Most identified with the "wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind." I long to be consistent, to be steady - immovable in my trust - and yet that typically isn't the case. 

The shock and resulting darkness of losing my parents in a short period of time and at such a young age left many scars. Scars, that although healed, still bears scar tissue. 

Our bodies have a natural way of healing through scars. The scar is a result of a wound in the body and the healing process of the body internally making an effort to heal that wound. Pain from scar tissue can actually occur long after the wound/surgical area has healed. All that needs to occur is a small amount of pressure, a squeezing of sorts internally or externally in and around the scar tissue and the nerves that are present there.

I had three C-sections. I have three operations worth (technically four with an emergency post op procedure) of scar tissue and the more you have built up, the more after pain may occur. It's just more sensitive. As a result, I often experience pain internally for various reasons or if I exude a lot of physical labor or activity (running, lifting, etc). 

I explain all of this not to give you weird insight into my physical pain, I promise. :) I share it because it so perfectly exemplifies what occurs in our own lives. When we experience loss, trauma, painful circumstances, and more - our mind, soul, and spirit works to find healing. The hope is that we allow Christ to do His best work of restoration and healing. Yet, we must acknowledge that even when He does, scar tissue will remain. We live in a fallen, imperfect world - and no healing will be perfectly complete until eternity. 

The more we fight this, the more we will actually move away from God in distrust. We must recognize that, at times, there are events or situations that come along and "squeeze" or "put pressure" on the scar tissue of those old wounds. This causes a rush of pain, and as a result memories of the trauma and loss may occur. Or, at the very least, we find ourselves overwhelmed with uncertainty. We are reminded that sometimes things don't work out, and sometimes God just allows pain.

This. This right here. It pushes hard against the real desire within us to trust in our faithful God. We tell ourselves, I know He is faithful - why can't I just trust? Because at the depth of who we are, we do trust Him. We know emphatically that He is trustworthy. Oh, but that scar tissue is pushing back reminding us of the long nights, the darkness that covered, the fear that ensued, the stark disappointment. 

Grace. Give yourself grace, my dear friend. Because your sweet Father is - in those moments where your trust waivers - pouring out His mercy and grace to help you build your trust again. 

When I experience that pain from my c-sections it never is as intense as when it was fresh and it never lasts that long. In fact, the more time that occurs and I am removed from those operations the less it occurs. 

He reminds us the pain will release. It will pass, and we will find our trust again. We just must hold on. Dig in deep in those moments. Turn quickly towards Him, call out, hold on - and wait.

For He will keep in perfect peace those whose minds stay on Him because they trust Him (Is. 26:3). In those moments where the pain or uncertainty is greater and clouding your senses - remind yourself of His faithfulness. Call to mind the hope you have in Him. Call to mind the millions of ways He has rescued you over and over again. And keep your heart and mind stayed on Him. 

And, when the pain is released or you find yourself being able to catch your breath - you will be able to say with sweet confidence again - Yes. I trust you with ALL my heart. The peaceful places. The painful ones. I trust you emphatically. 

“Praise the Lord! For he has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” Psalms 28:6-7 NLT

 ...by Christan Causey

...by Christan Causey

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The Lack on Mother's Day

We live in a culture that is, often times, in direct opposition to God's way and God's Word. It is a culture and world that is focused on all the wrong things. Finding happiness and contentment in fleeting earthly pleasures rather than things eternal. It's our nature really. This flesh. Paul said it best when he said we know better, yet we still want the wrong things, long for the wrong things, and do the wrong things.

And, here's thing, God wants us to enjoy life. He desires that we should receive His good gifts with grateful hearts, soaking in the pleasure that comes from them. His Word says that He desires to give good gifts to His children. He desires that we live full lives.

Yet, He also desires for us to live life in surrender to Him. He desires that we understand that an abundant joy-filled life does not come from having an easy, put together, all the right things kind of life.

Rather, it is a heart that says, I understand I am most blessed when I am broken before God. I am most blessed when I mourn and grieve over the sin that fills my heart, and - through grace- strive to live in a way that honors Him. I am most happy and content when I humble myself and my position - when I serve and give generously to others around me. Blessed am I when "my hope is found in nothing else, but Jesus Christ".

These Hallmark holidays like Mother's Day and others challenge this in so many ways. Is there anything that so perfectly speaks to this beast inside of us? The beast that says to be happy, to celebrate, to fit in - I must be like you and you must be like me. And may nothing ostracize us from the other.

Mother's Day, while having a good purpose, can create pain for many. As much as it is, for many, a reminder of the joy and graciousness of God in our lives - it is, for many, a reminder of loss, sorrow, and even shame. And, for many (like myself) it is a reminder of deep pain, yet great joy. A reminder of loss, yet God's miraculous redemption and restoration. Which is wonderful. But overall, for me, it is bittersweet. It's hard to feel these deep varying emotions.

I am simply saying we just need to be aware, be sensitive.

We need to give care and understanding.

With good intentions-our church's are the worst. We should know better. We expect the schools, the stores, and Hollywood to fall prey to this obsession of a cultural holiday that celebrates only what you have-and forces the mourning of what you do not. It saddens me that we could possibly cause pain in our church services, because we insist on celebrating and recognizing a holiday that has nothing to do with the core of the Gospel. Sure, Christ said to honor your parents. And we should-each day-respect, love, and honor our parents. But that really doesn't have much to do with our corporate worship. Recognizing the moms in our congregation is not really necessary to our worship to God on Sunday morning. It's just a thing we do. And if this thing that we just do out of tradition and sentimentality could potentially hurt or cause pain - I am not sure it is worth it. Please understand I say this - not out of judgement - just out of an awareness of my own experiences and the awareness of the raw emotional pain of many dear friends and family. If your church, as mine did, recognized Mother's Day...there is no need to be ashamed or to criticize. I am sure for most, as mine was, it was done with grace and sensitivity. At least I hope so. These are just some things to reflect on.

Are we feeding the cultural lie that we must have to not lack?

How many of us fight envy and bitterness, because we do not have what everyone is saying we should have on this special day? How many of us feel a little less than simply because we cannot celebrate with joy a day like Mother's Day?

How many of us have learned not to have any expectations on a day like today-lest we be disappointed and hurt again?

How many of us are tempted to stay home, to downplay any celebrations because what is missing is too noticeable and too big to face?

Peter Scazzero (author of "Emotionally Healthy Spirituality") suggests that we often create illusions and pretense that blind us to the limits of earthly pleasures. And, that's what it really comes down to doesn't it?

On a day like Mother's Day, we forget the limits of earthly pleasures, and fall prey to the illusion that we are or our lives are less than if we only have reason to grieve rather than celebrate. That somehow we are less fortunate, less blessed, and just less.

If you have reason to celebrate, then by all means, celebrate the gifts you have. Embrace it fully. Let it soak in. But, please, remember that our true joy and contentment-our unwavering hope is found in Christ alone. And that has nothing to do with Mother's Day.

If on Mother's Day, you have reason to grieve - if it is bittersweet because of the loss that the day represents - than know that God sees you, He knows you, and is with you in your pain. He longs for you to know His hope and joy. He wraps arms of comfort around you. For in our deepest sense of loss and pain, true healing is found. And no matter what this day or any other day brings, we are more than blessed by the blood and grace that covers all lack.

God, remind us always - in your grace - that true contentment, hope, celebration, joy, and more is found in you alone.

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By: Christan Causey

Glorious Suffering

Are you suffering? Is it causing you to doubt the love and faithfulness of God? Do you feel that your suffering is punishment for your guilt, and you’ve got to somehow make it right so you can escape? Don’t give in to that thinking (unless of course you’re paying the consequences of poor choices)!

I have heard it preached and proclaimed that those who are in the perfect will of God are immune from suffering, and the material blessing on their lives is proof of God’s favor. On the flip side, if someone is going through trials and hardships, they must not be living in the will of God, and need to repent and get right before they can again experience the favor of God! This message doesn’t align with what I see in Scripture.

For a great example of this, we can look at something Jesus prayed shortly before He was betrayed:

“’Abba, Father,’ he cried out, ‘everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine’” (Mark 14:36 NLT).

Jesus knew He would soon have to endure horrible suffering, and He was not exactly thrilled about it! Although He prayed to be released from the trials to come, He was submitted to his Father’s will. That evening Jesus was betrayed by a friend, falsely accused, slapped and punched. The next day He was flogged, mocked, and nailed to the cross. He carried the sin of the world, and felt abandoned by his Father. Then, He died.

Are we willing to suffer in the will of God? Those of us who call ourselves Christians, or Christ followers, should not be so quick to try to wriggle our way out of suffering. Jesus said, “A slave is not greater than the master” (John 15:20 NLT). We cannot expect an easier road than our Master had to walk. There are times when living in the will of God is not a field of daisies and tulips! Living submitted to God brings times of sorrow and heartache. But in the midst of the hardship, we know that “joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5 NLT). We know that there is a joy set before us to help us endure the suffering.

“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” (Hebrews 12:1b-2 NLT).

Not only is there joy ahead of us on the other side of our heartache and pain, but suffering itself is actually advantageous! No, I’m not encouraging you to start beating yourself or to go seeking out trials and tribulations. Don’t worry, if you’re not in a rough season right now, your time will come! But when it does, I want you to have the right mindset.

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation” (Romans 5:3-4 NLT).

“For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever” (2 Corinthians 4:17 NLT)!

Don’t shortchange yourself and miss out on the benefits to come! Endure suffering as Christ did, and reap the rewards of endurance, strong character, confident hope, and eternal glory. Keep your eyes on Jesus, and run your race well!