Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Talk Tuesday- Does Discouragement Direct Your Faith?

Does Discouragement Direct Your Faith? Do your circumstances change the way you see God? Let's chat, we want to hear from you! I have had cause to reflect on these questions over the last month. I'd like to share a story...

Income tax time rolled around this year, but not as usual for us. Normally, it would mean a nice refund. As many of you know, I have experienced certain health issues which have affected many areas of our lives, including our income tax return. Needless to say, the assessment came in the mail, demanding that for the first time ever, we pay what I call a 'hefty' sum back to the government. Now this amount was a reassessment of the 2009 return we submitted, which included a higher amount. "Ok," I said to myself, "God is good, He is our provider, so I will not fret." We prayed and trusted. Within a few weeks another of those brown envelopes came to our home from Revenue Canada. As we read it, it seemed to indicate that a reduced $$$ amount was due to be paid! It was substantially less than our first 2009 reassessment and I began to shout, "See, God is good! He is our Provider! Look at how faithful He is!" I told this to anyone who would listen.

The next day, I went to pay the 'reduced' amount through tele-banking. I was excited and on top of things. Then, I heard the banking agent ask me to confirm the tax year I was making the payment for. As my eyes trailed to the top of the letter, I realized it said 2008! Uhm, yes, not only were we reassessed for 2009 but also for 2008 and that 'reduced' amount I was singing about the day before was actually an additional charge for the 2008 reassessment! I quickly hung up the phone and called my husband away from mowing the lawn, to hear the news.

He said, "Tash, we have to trust in the goodness of GOD. The same GOD whose praises you were singing yesterday is the same GOD today. We have to worship Him and trust Him just as we did when we thought we had to pay less." Then while driving home another day, he said, "We have to trust in God's nature. We cannot let our situation determine what we think of God. Whatever GOD puts you through, He has the best plan for your life."

We recently attended a church service where the Pastor (Sam) said, "Faith is trusting that GOD is who He says He is, and that He will do what He says He will do."

I began to reflect on these truths, our situation, my behaviour and GOD's faithfulness. Brothers and sisters, we must not let our circumstances direct our faith but let faith direct our circumstances. We can trust in GOD's faithfulness, trust in His nature and allow Him to be the centre of our lives, including every situation that comes our way. Here are some truths about GOD to meditate on:

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." Hebrews 13:8

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17

"God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?" Numbers 23:19

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11


Anonymous said...

Discouragement leaves me to question God and then I feel guilty for doing so. Who am I to question Him?!

Sometimes I just can't get past the 'why me's', and I feel so bitter about my situation, bitter towards others who 'have it easy' and even a bit bitter towards God - like He forgot me - or is punishing me. But even though this may be my initial feeling, I know I can't trust my emotions. I need to go back to His promises. And I always think of that song: 'even on the road marked with suffering, and there's pain in the offering - Blessed be your name'

I know I shouldn't feel entitled to only living a good/blessed life, because the Lord giveth and He taketh away. The pain, and anguish are my paths to growth and all part of God's plan for my life.

I have also found when I give up struggling against God - like even accepting that I suffer...and have others pray with and for me, that's when God will give me a reprieve.

Blessed said...

I can relate to feelings of disappointment and discouragement when I am faced with life's trials. I remember being on the verge of tears at one point, while telling a friend that I accept God's decisions in my life, but I cannot help feeling defeated. I agree with Anonymous that it's when we surrender completely to God and acknowledge His control over the situation that we are given a reprieve.

We are but human, and are given to automatic emotional outbursts. However, as Christians, we have the power to surrender everything to God and to plead the most powerful and precious blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ over every aspect of our lives. As referenced in Natashs's testimony, God says "For I know the plans I have for you...plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11). My grandmother also says, "Man appoints, but God disappoints" because He knows what is best for each one of us.

Be blessed and prosper.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your honesty folks. Funny, I s/w a friend (believer) yesterday at work. I could so tell he has become quite withdrawn faith wise and he's been 'threatening' to do so for a while! :)- He is a father of 3 and to relate to him I said, "I understand ur frustration and I think I know what ur saying: You are a father and if your daughter came to you hurting, you wouldn't hide yourself real well in the house so she couldn't find you but would make urself so visible and be so present for her. Yet so often and for so long a time u feel like u're groping, looking for God in the dark" etc. I didn't want to give him any pie in the sky answers. Ironically that morning in my Q.T. I wrote in my journal that God uses not only nations to accomplish his purposes but also individual people for his divine purposes. I also told him that my meeting and talking to him that day was totally unplanned, so be encouraged! This could be God making his presence known!! I can really relate to all these posts though -- honest. God is faithful though and as said, he gives the 'reprieve' at exactly the right time. That's also been my experience too! That's also the key to the great scriptures mentioned. Have u noticed: all those promises are true, but what it doesn't say is that God will do it all 'right away'! It's God's timing that we so often struggle with and that's also what I shared with my friend. God's timing is soooooooo, so perfect, that 'some count it as slowness' (2 Peter 3:9) but really that interpretation develops in our heads because of our humaness, finiteness and weakness. God's timing seems to wear us out! But he is faithful. And he sends encouragement! LIKE THIS! BAM!!

Beloved said...

Great article and great insights in the posts ...

I have also been realizing that we need to praise and thank God in ALL things ... people around us should see a consistent pattern about being excited and encouraged in the things of God, no matter what He is or is not doing in our lives. I say this because sometimes it can send an odd message to unbelievers (or even Christians whose faith is fragile) when we get excited about something we think God has done, then when we find it isn't actually what we thought, and they see that. It can actually be a bit embarrassing.

So if you are on a journey with the Lord over a certain situation, I am learning that it is good to praise and thank God step by step, no matter what, but in some cases it is probably not always wise to share every detail all along the way ... because then if you have to backtrack on something you proclaimed that He did, which wasn't actually accurate, it can paint a picture that we don't actually know the Lord as well as we think! Sometimes I wonder if it borders on presumption. I know that often it is not ... it is an honest misunderstanding of how events are unfolding ... such as Tash's testimony ... I have had times when I have thought I had breakthrough in a certain situation, but then found that I didn't, quite yet ... that I was putting the cart a little before the horse. (Single ladies, have any of you ever met a single man that you were SURE was going to be your husband, and told others so???)

So I think we should be careful to praise and thank God all the time, and then when it comes to the unfolding of certain testimonies that God is buidling in our lives, to be careful how much we share before it comes to pass. Hope this makes sense to anyone reading ...

Another perspective can also be taken here. A godly friend of mine shared with me how sometimes the enemy knows that a breakthrough is coming, and just before it comes (don't know how) ... he might orchestrate a "counterfeit" that you might fall for, which would raise up your hopes, but for "less than the best..." in order to discourage you when you find it not to be what you expected. Or, after the genuine breakthrough, he can cause a couple of major obstacles to come about to make it seem that the breakthrough you thought was happening, isn't actually happening after all ... or he might cause it to be delayed it a bit further ... but that you just have to continue having faith .. because IT WILL come through!

The faith journey can be quite perplexing sometimes ... my flesh sometimes wants to think the circumstance was a bit of a joke ... BUT IT ISN'T. The Lord is VERY FIRM in His purpose to PROVE Himself to each of us, even though He really doesn't need to. STAND FIRM, no matter what ... the Lord ALWAYS knows what His plans are, and He WASTES NOTHING ... EVERYTHING counts ... even disappointments and misunderstandings and false starts .... ALL THINGS are working TOGETHER for GOOD for YOU and for HIS glory.

Your steadfast faith in spite of apparent disappointments and setbacks WILL be rewarded!!!

Keep the faith brothers and sisters... no matter what is happening.

"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails, and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior." (Habakkuk 3:17-18)

Blessed said...

Beloved, your post is truly encouraging. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the encouragement. I tend to constantly struggle with fear and self pity when Im not right with God. It's not always because somethings happened but it seems like I let the fear into my life by not trusting the Lord. I struggle to sleep thinking about the next day. I struggle to be at peace 'cuz Im afraid of things not turning out the way I want. I also struggle that other people may not like me or think I'm not good enough for them. Im sure this whole fear thing is not from God.

When I look back its not the time when I was most popular/prosperous that I felt strongest or at peace. It's when I was talking to God and praying to Him daily basis.

I struggle to spend some quiet time with Him these days. I try to read few verses before I go to sleep each night but it does not prompt me to think of God or wanting to pray to Him.

My husband is not a christian. Hes a good guy and he goes to church with me but hes not quite sure. I tried to push him to pray and share with me but he told me hes not there yet.

I know I need to be strong and remain firm in faith. I know I need to be patient to bring him to Jesus but sometimes I wish that we could share and pray together...and I feel bad that I sometimes blame my husband that I'm no longer as close to God as before...

Anonymous said...

Well,well this is a good one..Does Discouragement Direct your Faith. I would say it's a process that can bring great results between a good and a bad situation.

This vital process is being determined and controlled by Father God to make us stronger as He uses this tool (Discouragement)to reset and to direct our Faith as we put our Trust in Him.

example:- the story of Joseph from the pit of discouragement(bad) to the Prime Minister of Egypt.(good)

Have a Blessed and beautiful day.

Natasha said...

Dear Anonymous #3,

Thank you for sharing your heart with us. I, too, used to have trouble sleeping at night, thinking of all the possible things that could go wrong in life. I prayed and asked GOD for His help. He gave me His peace and restfulness. I understand your struggle in a sense. Here is a verse to encourage you:

Isaiah 26:3 (New King James Version)

3 You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.

We will partner with you in prayer for your husband's salvation. I am learning that it is the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of people who brings them to salvation in Jesus Christ. Only if I live out my life under the lordship of Jesus Christ, can I become salt and light-an effective witness of His power at work to those around me. Continue to draw close to Jesus and leave the saving of your husband to the work of the Holy Spirit.

I, too, used to leave the reading of the Bible to right before going to bed but it never amounted to anything substantial in terms of my prayer life. I had to be deliberate and carve out time each day, to spend in prayer, Bible reading and devotion. It may start out as 15 minutes each day and then grow, but it will be 15 quality minutes in stillness with GOD.

I will also pray for you that GOD would give you His peace. As we draw close to Him, we experience His peace, love and grace. We also hear His voice in stillness and quietness.

Isaiah 30:15 (New International Version)

15 This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:
"In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength."

Thank you again, for your honesty, humility and example of Godly love. May He bless you and your husband immensely.

In Jesus name I pray,