Freedom Friday: Light & Momentary

As I write this, I am still pregnant.

I was supposed to have a September baby, but here we are, creeping into October. I wrestle with the odds stacked against me in having the birth I want. I went to bed last night, thinking about all the challenges. I won’t list them, but they are many.

BK_duedate

40 weeks pregnant

I woke up quite early today, before the sun came up. I lit a candle because I didn’t feel like turning on a light. I wanted to see the sun come up. I prayed, centering myself around God’s truth found in His Word. I got on my knees to pray (no small feat these days!). And the following verses came to mind:

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

This is one of my earliest memory verses. When Jesus called me by name, I faced some difficult obstacles. I wrestled deeply with depression and anxiety. My default setting sent me into despair and hopelessness on a regular basis. I memorized a number of Scriptures to help continually turn my heart and my mind back to Jesus, what He had done for me, and the truth that He would continue to work in my life.

These particular verses were so much a part of my every day that Roy, my then boyfriend, and I would say to each other at trying moments, “Light & momentary, babe. Light & momentary.”

Whatever challenges you are facing today might feel monstrous. They seem insurmountable. But in God’s perspective, they are light & momentary.

Let that soak in for a second. Think about how much of your brain space those worries are consuming. Now think of something you have to deal with today that is light & momentary. Can you change your thinking to also view your challenges the way you’d consider what sandwich to pick for lunch?

The apostle Paul goes on to talk about how our souls groan to be in our heavenly dwelling, “so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” But we are not there yet. And so how  do we keep this perspective? In this “meantime” in which we live, how do we remind ourselves that the trials we face are light & momentary?

We fix our eyes on what is unseen.

We have a tendency to stare deeply into our struggles, as if by analyzing them over and over, we will find answers. Psalm 25:15 says, “My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare.” Notice it doesn’t say, “My eyes are ever on the snare, because only then can I figure out what to do.” That would be fixing our eyes on what is seen. That’s the opposite of what we are to do. Paul says, “Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight” 2 Corinthians 5:6-7.

We walk and live in light of faith and what we know to be true, based on what God has spoken through His Word, rather than what we see. Our perspective is so limited. And we all have a filter through which we view life that is often damaged by our past experiences. We have to continually refocus our gaze onto the things of God.

So when those trials threaten to consume you, keep turning them over to God, “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” 1 Peter 5:7. Fix your eyes on the One who is able to lead you out of those trials instead. Do this over and over. It takes practice and perseverance to make this a habit, to change that default setting.

God is able.

Lord, today, the obstacles I see threaten to overwhelm me. But instead of staring at them, I choose to adjust my gaze. I choose to look deeply into Your Truth rather than the apparent “truth” of my circumstances. I choose to remind myself of the “light & momentary”-ness of what I am facing, and ponder instead the great work You are doing in me as I take my eyes off the snare. Thank You that You are able when I am not. 

Freedom Friday: When God’s Best is Suffering

I’ve been reading through Jeremiah for over a month. One painful chapter a day. During an already challenging time in my life, it’s not an easy book to read. Here is a man, in the center of God’s perfect will for him, who continually is imprisoned, beaten, ridiculed, plotted against, starved, and harassed for the words God has given him to say.

While being immersed in Jeremiah, I received a ministry newsletter with the following caption:

I was troubled at first by this tagline, even though I know this to be a balanced ministry. In a “You Can Have An Awesome (and Pain-free) Life Today!” type of Christianity that we often see and practice in America, we don’t like suffering. We much prefer to listen to those voices promising blessing, prosperity, peace and abundance.

The Gospel does actually promise those things. They may not look like we expect, but they are available. But they are not easily won.
They come through obedience.
Jeremiah was obedient, and what it brought him was suffering.

Joni Eareckson Tada, no stranger to suffering, states, “I want to see God move powerfully. But often the way He moves the most powerfully is in suffering. We wouldn’t even have access to Jesus’s power if it weren’t for the suffering of the cross.”

The Gospel promises suffering. You can read what I’ve written about it in that link. The Bible says that just as Jesus suffered, so must we suffer, and in that suffering, share in His glory (1 Peter 4:12-13, Romans 8:16-18).

Oh, Lord, I desperately want to share in Your glory.

So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you. 1 Peter 4:19 (NLT), emphasis mine

Throughout the suffering of Jeremiah, God sends rescuers to make the journey a bit easier for him. When Jeremiah was placed in a cistern and sunk deep into the mud, Ebed-Melech (an Ethiopian) went to King Zedekiah to advocate on Jeremiah’s behalf, insisting (in opposition to the other officials who had put him in the cistern to die) that Jeremiah would starve if left there. The king relented and told Ebed-Melech to take 30 men to pull Jeremiah out. It took 30 men to get him out.

But before they went to the cistern, Ebed-Melech first took the men to find old rags and discarded clothing, which he lowered down to Jeremiah before pulling him out. Why? So Jeremiah’s armpits would not get rope burn when he was pulled out!

I’m amazed at the way we can see God’s care and provision during trials if we, with willing hearts, open our eyes to see it.

How do we find God’s best for us?

If you are celebrating Lent during this season, you may be intimately aware of the fact that for Jesus, God’s best was the cross.

How do we find God’s best for us? Through steps of obedience. By doing what we know to do today, and clinging to Him no matter where it leads us.

Because sometimes, often times, God’s best for us is suffering.