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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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Claim the Name

29 May

I ran across some unusual names online:

  • Howdy Ledbetter ClaimTheName_Christian
  • Rose Bush
  • Flex Plexico
  • Azalia Snail
  • Pearl Button
  • Yourhighness Morgan
  • Stan Still
  • Justin Case
  • Barb Dwyer
  • and Anna Sasin

I wondered, how do people cope with their names when those names make people laugh? I mean, can you imagine:

“What’s your name?”

“Howdy.”

“Hi. But what’s your name?”

“Howdy!”

See what I mean?

These days, there’s a name that people laugh about all the time.

It’s the name: “Christian.”

In Acts we read that Barnabas brought Paul to Antioch and they taught the disciples there; and we read these disciples, “… were called Christians first at Antioch “ (Acts 11:26, NIV). So “Christian” was a descriptive name for followers of “Christ,” the Anointed One.

And the name stuck.

Christian doctrine developed from the teachings of Jesus and the inspired writings of the Apostles—and as the Gospel of Christ was preached after His resurrection, many embraced the Savior.

The second mention of the name “Christian” was in Acts 26. Herod Agrippa II told Paul, “Keep this up much longer and you’ll make a Christian out of me!” (Acts 26:28, The Message).

The new believers scattered under great persecution. It was dangerous to name the name of Christ or be identified as one of His followers.

Members of the early church faced abuse and even martyrdom — much like Christians in many countries today — but still, they claimed that wonderful name!

The apostles encouraged the believers to embrace their new name with courage and joy. They  were exhorted, “…if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name” (1 Peter 4:16, NIV).

This is a message we need in our churches today.

Believers who claim the name of Jesus are  generally accepted in secular society until they stand up for the uncompromising truth of scripture.

We cringe when we see Christians being martyred in hideous ways around the world, but there’s another kind of persecution going on. Almost weekly now in the United States and much of the Western world, we read reports of Christians facing harsh criticism and public persecution for their stand of faith.

Just today (5-17-15), I read about an Air Force general who spoke of God in a talk, and his critics are pressing for a court martial! A demand letter was sent claiming the general’s God-honoring words were “brazenly illicit and wholly unconstitutional, fundamentalist Christian proselytizing.”

The general, who was wearing his uniform at the time, simply gave a speech for a private Christian organization. Then he asked those in attendance to pray for Defense Department leaders and troops preparing to be deployed.

There was a time in America when the General’s words would be normal and accepted, but not today. There are forces at work that seek to silence vocal, Bible-believing Christians. Enemies of the cross would have believers cower … become more “tolerant” … and never claim that Jesus is “The way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6).*

The truth is, the disciple is not above his master (Matthew 10:24-25). Hebrews 13:13-14 reminds us that we may, like Jesus, have to go “outside the camp, bearing His reproach.” It may take great courage to claim His name in our increasingly secularized country.

Jesus said being His disciple would be costly, but that we would be blessed people for His sake (Luke 6:22; 9:23; Matthew 5:11).

I can just imagine the apostles as they left the Sanhedrin, “rejoicing that they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name” (Acts 5:41, NIV).

Can you imagine yourself suffering disgrace, persecution and even abuse “for the Name”?

It may be in our future, fellow Christians. We need to prepare our hearts.

And be encouraged. Someday our Lord’s mighty, matchless name will ring throughout the universe. At the sound of His name, every knee will bow! (Philippians 2:10)

Have you struggled to stand up for being a Christian? Ask the Holy Spirit to give you courage.

* For further study on this topic, read this article:

“How Can Christians Say Jesus Is the Only Way to God?”

– Dawn

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