This past Sunday, Easter Sunday, my pastor asked me to give a testimony about how God's resurrection power had changed my life. I was saved at the age of 30, when, after falling to the bottom of a pit of hopelessness, I was rescued by the love and grace of Jesus. Perhaps at some point, I'll put my testimony here, but that's not the point of this post.
I absolutely love to talk about Christ has changed my life, and so agreeing to give my testimony in church, in front of the Easter crowd, wasn't difficult for me. The difficult part was that I was supposed to keep it between 3-5 minutes! Those who know me know I can't even start to tell a story in less than 5 minutes...my pastor knows it too, but he says that, hoping I'll at least try to be succinct....it doesn't really work.
Anyway, I prayed that God would use my testimony to touch someone else's heart, maybe someone who was in that sort of despair I used to feel, who needed to feel the love of Christ. What I didn't realize was how God would use my testimony to speak to me!
I've had a lot of struggles lately, and have felt like satan, while he'll never win the war, has been pretty dominant on the battlefield of my life recently. Health struggles, INSURANCE struggles (the devil came up with America's health insurance plan, you know...mostly kidding, please don't send me angry emails if you work for a health insurance company!!), the rebellion of a teenager, enormous medical bills, house repair issues, braces for another teenager, broken arms, a drunk driver totaling my son's car and causing him medical problems for months, and just the daily life a single mom trying to keep all the balls in the air...and that's just over the last 8 months or so!!
As I spoke on Sunday, I was reminded of how powerful God really IS, and how much He really has changed me--how faithful He has been to see me through every single struggle I've faced...and if He has already seen me through all these years, and brought me through them stronger in my faith than ever, then I have to trust that He is also faithful to see me through anything I face now, or anything in my future. A rebellious son? God knew that was gonna happen way, way before I did...He's not surprised, and He's not worried. My health? God knows what's wrong with me, and He's allowing everything for a reason. And since His plans for me are for my good, I can trust Him.
We will always have problems in this life, but how we manage to get through these struggles really comes down to two things, and they are dependent on one another:
Where your focus is
Where your trust is
I can focus on my problems--and I've got plenty of them to look at! But when I do that, they become bigger and bigger, and it seems like that's all there is...just problems everywhere! And as I dwell on them, I become very negative in my thinking, and much more vulnerable to the attacks of satan on my emotions.
But when I choose instead to focus on God--well, the problems become secondary...they're still there, but they don't have the hold on me they did before.
One of the best ways for me to focus on God is to focus on His Word...when I start to worry or think negatively, I purposely replace those thoughts with Scripture that reminds me of the Truth...
Worried about the rebellion of a child? "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it." (Prov 22:6)
Worried about how to make ends meet? "But my God shall supply ALL your needs, according to HIS riches in glory." (Phil 4:19)
Facing a seemingly impossible situaton? I love this one..."unto Him who is able to do IMMEASURABLY more than all we can think or imagine, according to the power that worketh in us,..."(Eph 3:20) or simply "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" (Gen 18:14)
I could go on and on (and I usually do...) but you get the point. Rick Warren says the only difference between worrying and meditating is what you are focusing on!
I think I'll make the issue of where our trust is a whole separate post, so look for it tomorrow. Today, though, I issue a challenge:
Commit whatever problems you are facing to God...even if you don't see HOW He's gonna handle them, He will.
Then--try to "catch" yourself thinking negatively, focusing on a problem...and when it happens, purposely choose to replace that thought with a Scripture, a promise to God that reminds you that the truth is that God's got it under control.
My guess is that by the end of the day, you'll begin to see a difference in your outlook!
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6