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‘Bad Day’? It’s a Matter of Perspective.

24 Sep

I’m always surprised by how people define “bad day.” For many, a “bad day” is when:

  • You can’t find earrings at Charming Charlie’s to match your dress for caution-baddayinprogress_lolwithgod_dawnwilsona birthday party. (This almost never happens because that store is amazing!)
  • You break a fingernail, right after getting a professional manicure.
  • You can’t find a parking space a few paces away from Home Depot’s front door.
  • You discover someone ate the last chocolate chip cookie in the bag … which you carefully hid.

Really?

OK. This isn’t going to be an especially lighthearted post. But I thought about this topic after I got upset looking for that aforementioned parking space. God really spoke to my heart that day. Broke it, actually.

THESE are the kinds of real-life “bad day” issues that lead to REAL frustration or fear:

  • You can’t find your child at the mall for more than 60 minutes.
  • Your husband loses his job. Again.
  • Your cancer returns. With a vengeance.
  • Your home is burglarized, your house ransacked and you discover many treasures are missing.

And then there are “bad days” most of us will never have to face.

  • Total rejection: A woman who cannot find a job because no one in her village will hire a “Christ-follower.”
  • Horrific persecution: A pastor whose leg is broken during torture in Laos because he dared to preach the gospel.
  • Unspeakable pain: A mother who weeps because her daughter was raped because the family converted to Christianity.

A bad day is a matter of perspective, isn’t it?

There’s simply no comparison between the first group and the last.

We can view the circumstances in our lives in multiple ways, and how we view them affects how we feel and respond.

One of the best ways to view circumstances—especially the tough ones (because really, with the absurd ones we just need to grow up!)—is through the lenses of trust and gratitude.

Trust when you feel abandoned? Gratitude when a crisis comes?

Stay with me here ….

There is great power in trusting God; and there is great transformation in a thankful heart.

For the Christian, there may be many bad days, even awful-horrible days; but there is more to life than even these circumstances. In the midst of great upheaval and struggle:

  • We can trust the Lord when we are afraid, and be grateful that most of the things we most fear never even happen.
  • We can trust the Lord for what we don’t understand, with gratitude that He is never perplexed and always has a plan.
  • We can trust the Lord with an uncertain future, gratefully acknowledging He will be in our future as assuredly as He has in the past.
  • We can trust the Lord to care for us, grateful for His endless resources and loving supply.
  • And we can trust the Lord when life falls apart—when we suffer incredible loss or pain—still grateful He is sovereign and will yet accomplish His will in, for and through us.

Granted, this is easier said than done. But daily practice is good heart preparation.

When we practice trust and gratitude in the simple, everyday circumstances of our lives, these habits will strengthen us when the bigger challenges and unexpected trials come.

In wisdom, we exercise our trust and gratitude “muscles,” and God (because He cares about us) wants to help us with that. As Matthew Henry wrote,*

Christianity teaches men to be joyful under troubles: such exercises are sent from God’s love….”

Believe me. I am not taking on this topic lightly.

I love and pray for The Persecuted Church and have found both conviction and great strength in the stories of God’s struggling children around the world. These believers “count it all joy” when they face trials of various kinds (James 1:2-8). Many rejoice and even celebrate, knowing God is working and they will receive great reward for any sufferings they face (Matthew 5:12; Romans 5:3; James 1:12).

How can they do this? They’ve counted the cost of following Christ and partaking in HIS sufferings (Luke 14:25-33; 1 Peter 4:13-16). They’ve  found God’s grace sufficient and strengthening in their greatest times of need (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

When asked how we can pray for them, members of The Persecuted Church usually do not ask people to pray their burdens will be lightened, but rather that they will be wise to make good use of their afflictions—especially to be a strong witness to those who observe how they are suffering for Christ.

In cushy America, our concept of suffering for the Lord is so skewed. We’re constantly praying for “safety,” but not for opportunities to share Christ. Amy Carmichael wrote, “We must learn to pray far more for spiritual victory than for protection from battle wounds.”

So convicting. Especially when I lament over a broken fingernail or empty cookie bag.

It puts our petty “bad days” to shame, doesn’t it?

Are you having a bad day today? How might more trust in the Lord coupled with the practice of gratitude help your perspective … and ultimately, your responses?

 – Dawn

 * Matthew Henry, Commentary on James 1:1-22.

 

 

 

 

 

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Good Kings, Bad Kings

30 Apr

I’m going to get silly a moment about kings:

  1. When is a piece of wood like a king? When it’s a Ruler.Throne_Pixabay
  2. What is the first thing a king does when he comes to the throne? He sits down.
  3. Where do kings get crowned. On the head.
  4. Which king felt a fraction of his former self? Henry the 1/8th.
  5. Easter church billboard: The King lives! (And we don’t mean Elvis.)

There are stories throughout history of Kings (and Queens) who blessed their people. There are just as many who yelled, “Off with their heads!” and sent their perceived enemiessometimes innocent peopleto dark dungeons. Not a laughing matter!

I’ve been thinking about leadership as we’re in this silly season prior to the November election. I’ve wondered, how should I respond? I do know the Bible is full of stories of good kings and bad kings–rulers who reigned with great integrity and other leaders who failed miserably.

For example, Hezekiah, king of Judah ruled from 715-686 BC. He was the best (2 Kings 18-20; Isaiah 36-39; 2 Chronicles 29-32).

Omri, king of Israel ruled from 885-874 BC. Like others in his family, he was super badinfamous in his wickedness (1 Kings 16:21-26; Micah 6:16).

Sometimes we can’t do anything about the leaders we have. In many countries, citizens have absolutely no choice. We can do our best in a Democracy to vote and install leaders who will be strong, courageous, wise and represent the values taught in the scriptures; but we may still end up with fools, inept leaders or pushy “tyrants.”

So how do we live in light of this? What does God expect of Christian citizens?

1. First and foremost, we must remember we’re a child of the King and our ultimate citizenship is not on earth.

We were created for eternity. We are citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20; Ephesians 2:19) and the choices we make in the here and now are important.

2. God is sovereign and in control.

His will reigns supreme (Daniel 4:17, 34-35);  and HIS Kingdom should be our highest priority (Matthew 6:33)

3. God sets up and takes down rulers (Daniel 2:21; Romans 13:1).

Nothing happens without God’s knowledge, and He will accomplish His will.

4. God can even use man’s intended foolish choices and wickedness to serve His purposes in our lives (Romans 8:28).

Note: The question of evil in the world and God’s will is a difficult one. A good discussion of this, dealing with one specific horrible time in history under a wicked man, is here.

5. The Christian’s hope is in God, not any government or leader. Jesus is our Savior; not any elected official.

Again, our citizenship is in heaven, and “we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20, NIV). Someday, all things will be subject to Him (v. 21).

6. We recognize government is established for our benefit, ideally “to commend those who do right” (1 Peter 2:13-15). Government’s responsibility is to rule for our good. It’s not supposed to be a “terror” to good works, only to evil ones.

Note: This is not license to disobey government just because we don’t like something that riles us, but when government powers run amok, demanding we disobey God, we must consider our “higher power” (Acts 5:29).  Sometimes, this may mean suffering or putting our lives in risk in order to stand with the Lord. (See the example of Daniel in 3:18.)

7. God is a God of order, and He established hierarchies of authority to keep things orderly(For good commentary on this point, read “Christian View of Government and Law” by Kerby Anderson of LeaderU.)

  • Government, as noted, was established to maintain order, but it was also designed to restrain evil.
  • The Church was established to bring God glory (Hebrews 12:18-24; 1 Peter 2:9-10) and Jesus taught government and church should work together, with the church recognizing and practicing sovereignty in spiritual matters (Matthew 22:21).
  • The family was also established under God’s authority with purpose and design (Genesis 1:26-28; 2:20-25; Ephesians 5:22-32; 1 Peter 3:1-7) and the government sometimes steps in to protect spousal/children’s rights when there is abuse.
  • Education as an institution was established by God as a function of the family, although tutors and teachers can be a natural extension (Psalm 127:3; Deuteronomy 4:9; Galatians 4:2)

7. We are to respect, honor and pray for our authorities (Romans 13:1-8).

It’s too easy to slam leaders (and even candidates for leadership) instead of discussing principles and policies. And too often we forget to pray for our leaders and God-given institutions. (It’s crucial to pray during each election season.)

8. We are to become “light” in our culture (Matthew 5:16). When we “shine” for the Lord as lights in the world, people may see our good works and bring glory to God.

How do we do this? We can speak out against injustice. We can share the truth of scripture and sincerely love people (which means getting involved in their lives to help them).

I know this can all be a complicated issue, and I don’t wish to simplify these things too much. But I do know this. Whether we blossom under “good kings” or struggle under “bad kings,” God does give us some clear direction about our actions as citizens. He certainly gives us enough insight to be able to make the wisest possible choices.

Have you registered to vote? Are you praying for your leaders? How can you be a light for God in your sphere of influence?

Graphic of Throne courtesty of Pixabay.com

-Dawn

Are You a Patient ‘Patient’?

27 Feb

There are so many LOL opportunities at a doctor’s waiting room.

“Adam, an elderly man was seated in the doctor’s waiting room. When he was called in to see the doctor, Adam slowly got up, and, grasping his cane and hunching over, slowly made his way into theOldManWithCane_TheMiracle examining room.

“After only a few minutes, Adam emerged from the room, walking completely upright. Paul, another patient who had watched him hobble into the room all hunched over, stared in amazement.

“‘That must be a miracle doctor in there.’ he exclaimed. ‘What treatment did he give you? What’s his secret?’

Adam stared at Paul and said, ‘Well, the doctor looked me up and down, analysed the situation, and gave me a cane that was four inches longer than the one I had been using.’*

LOL! Things are not always what they seem, are they?

I’ve been in a lot of doctor’s offices lately, and I’ve started wondering if I’m a patient patient.

Not long ago, I watched a crabby old man complain and complain and COMPLAIN! He griped about the time he had to wait. He sniped at the receptionist. In general, he was a miserable guy and determined to make others in the waiting room uncomfortable too.

He wasn’t a patient patient.

And as I sat there thinking about how I felt watching him, I started thinking about how I act as a “patient” of the Great Physician. As God is working to heal my soul and sanctify my life–to make me more like Jesus–I get so impatient sometimes.

But God is teaching me three things:

1. I need to “wait” on the Lord with anticipation and hope.

Waiting as the Bible describes it is a positive experience–or it’s supposed to be.  Here are just a few of the scriptures that teach us this truth:

  • “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long” (Psalm 25:4-5)
  • “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14).
  • “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him” (Lamentations 3:25).
  • “But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me” (Micah 7:7).
  • Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you” (Psalm 33:20-22).

That doesn’t mean there’s no suffering in the wait (Psalm 40:1-3; Colossians 1:11), but rather that God will use hard circumstances to build strength of character in us when the going gets tough . . .IF we are turning to Him to get through them.

A.W. Tozer said, “Problems patiently endured will work for our spiritual perfecting.”

The truth is, while we wait we can still choose to set aside bitter complaining and rejoice in the Lord.

“… we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3-4).

We don’t have to act like that grumpy old guy in the waiting room!

2. I need to remember the Great Physician knows what is best for my life.

I need to relax in Him … rest in Him (Isaiah 30:15) if I want to experience His deliverance and strength. The blessing is, God can make us “fruitful” even in our times of affliction (Genesis 41:52b).

The One who sees the beginning and ending of time knows what is best, and I believe He “who began a good work” in His own will “bring it to completion” when Jesus returns (Philippians 1:6).

3. I need to practice patient trust.

I need ditch my pride and stop trying to make all the elements of my life work the way I want them to. Instead, I need to exercise faith that God will accomplish His purposes in me (Hebrews 11:1). I need to practice patience daily.

God’s thoughts are above my thoughts (Isaiah 55:8), so I need to trust His wisdom and rest in His sovereign care.

Trusting God is releasing our lives to His control. It’s understanding His work may take some time, and it may not follow our agenda. 

Years ago, a friend of mine (also named Dawn) shared this poem with me and it stuck with me, deep in my heart:

“Just as my child brings his broken toys with tears for me to mend,
I took my broken dreams to God because He was my friend.
But then instead of leaving Him in peace to work alone,
I hung around and tried to help with ways that were my own.
At last I snatched them back and cried, ‘How could you be so slow?’
‘What could I do, my child? ‘ He said. ‘You never did let go’.” **

Oh, how we need to practice the patience of faith!

Are you a patient patient? What can you do to better trust the One who loves you and desires to heal and change your life for His glory?

 * Humor – Will and Guy’s Selection of Clean Doctor’s Jokes.

** Poem by Junior Frontilus

– Dawn

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