Wednesday, May 30, 2012

When Waiting Becomes My Thorn

Welcome! This week we are in Chapter 5 “Do You Know I Am Suffering with a Thorn?...He Is My Sufficiency” of Angela Thomas’ book Do You Know Who I Am?

Last week, I wrote about being weary and worn out, but there’s a weariness I didn’t mention…the weariness of waiting on God.

Hoping, trusting, and praying for years and years, without seeing Him make changes…it makes me tired and frustrated.

I’m talking about real-life situations that can only be changed by the hand of God…praying for a loved one to come to faith, a child to come back home, addictions to be broken, marriages to be healed, love to be found, the list goes on.

I trust, and I hope, and I pray…but some days I am tired of waiting for God to do something!

So, I wonder…is my weariness of waiting on God my thorn?

Please don’t misunderstand—I’m not saying that God’s timing or His ways are my thorn. What I’m saying is that I can’t do this waiting thing on my own, and that’s my thorn.

Some days go well. I trust God’s plan and I have faith that He will make the changes He sees necessary in His perfect time. I know He has a purpose for my life and His plans are worth waiting for.

Then there are other days. When I bump into my thorn (what I am waiting for) and it hurts all over again. Maybe you know the days I’m referring to…I’ve been hurt by the same person or situation. Again. I’m discouraged and frustrated, and it’s leading me to feel angry and fed up. With everyone and everything.

My thorn is inflicting pain, and in my weariness of waiting, I’m tired and cranky, and I’ve started questioning God.

God, can’t You see what’s happening here? Why don’t You change it? Why won’t You do something?!?

The enemy has me where he wants me—doubting God. I’m tired of waiting, so if God’s not going to work on the situation, it’s time to take it into my own hands, right?

What a dangerous path I’m starting down. If I’m doubting God, who’s going to help me get through this waiting? Not the enemy because he has me right where he wants me, and that’s a place I don’t want to go.

So, with the pain of my thorn, I turn to God, crying out my frustration to Him. I remember that I can always trust Him, even when I don’t trust others.
But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. Look down and have mercy on me. Give your strength to your servant; save me, the son of your servant. Send me a sign of your favor. Then those who hate me will be put to shame, for you, O Lord, help and comfort me. (Psalm 86:15-17 NLT)
God listens, consoles, and strengthens me for the wait. He diffuses my anger before I react in a way that will make everything worse. He knows my weaknesses, and He knows patience is one of the many.

Satan will to use my thorn to hurt me. But God will use it for good, if I let Him. Only God can turn hearts and change the real-life situations. Only He can end the waiting. But in and through the wait, my faith and trust in Him will grow deeper and stronger. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll learn to wait patiently.

In Christ,
Laura


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Look to the Lord for Help {Something to Think About}


As for me, I look to the Lord for help.
I wait confidently for God to save me,
and my God will certainly hear me.
(Micah 7:7 NLT)

Wait on, and trust in, the Lord!


In Christ,
Laura


Do You Know Who I Am? Study - Week 5

Welcome and thanks for visiting! We're in chapter 5 this week of Do You Know Who I Am? and Other Brave Questions Women Ask by Angela Thomas.

Happy Memorial Day!
In Christ,
Laura

Week 5 – May 27—June 2

Monday/Tuesday—Read the first half of Chapter 5 “Do You Know I Am Suffering with a Thorn?...He Is My Sufficiency.” Journal your thoughts in your book or a notebook as you read.

Remember to visit my blog during the week at Laura Rath ~ Journey in Faith.

Wednesday/Thursday—Read the second half of Chapter 5.

Friday—Spend time in prayer and reflection. Catch up on the reading if necessary.

Questions to Ponder— (from the end of the book)
  • What is your “thorn”?
  • What could God be showing you by not removing it right now?
  • How can you use your weaknesses to be a stronger person, and strengthen your faith?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Weary and Worn Out

“My heart whispers to God, ‘Do You know that I am worn out? Do You see how hard I’m trying? Do You know I can’t keep up?’” –Angela Thomas, Do You Know Who I Am?
I didn’t write this, but I could have, and I would venture to say many others could have written it too. Some days weeks I feel exhausted and worn out. It doesn’t matter what I do because it never seems like enough, and no matter how hard I try to keep up, I can’t.
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NLT)
For years this has been one of my favorite verses. I feel like Jesus is telling me directly, “I know how your struggles weigh you down. Come to me and rest.”

I know I need to rest—physically, spiritually, and emotionally—but there is so much I’m responsible for, I can’t get myself to slow down long enough to replenish. I struggle with giving myself permission to let go of something for a while and relax.

God not only gives that permission, it’s the way He created us—to need rest. And He provides it…physical rest for our bodies, spiritual rest for our souls, and emotional rest for our hearts. Through His power, God renews us.
Have you never heard?
Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
He gives power to the weak
and strength to the powerless.
Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.
(Isaiah 40:28-30 NLT) 
God never feels weak or weary. He is never exhausted. Through His limitless understanding, He knows everything about me—how hard I try, how disappointment and discouragement drain me, and how worn out I am.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:31 NLT)  
Hope and trust in this world is crushing, but hope and trust in the Lord is uplifting. He sets me on eagle’s wings—with strength and energy, a new attitude to face the day, and a new resolve to persevere.

Thank you for joining me here today. We are in chapter 4 “Do You Know I Am Worn Out?...He Does Not Grow Weary” of Do You Know Who I Am? by Angela Thomas.

In Christ,
Laura

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Do You Know Who I Am? Online Study-Wk 4

Welcome! We are in chapter 4 this week of Angela Thomas' book Do You Know Who I Am? and Other Brave Questions Women Ask.

Have a great week!
In Christ,
Laura

Week 4 – May 20—26

Monday/Tuesday—Read the first half of Chapter 4 “Do You Know I Am Worn Out?...He Does Not Grow Weary.” Journal your thoughts in your book or a notebook as you read.

Remember to visit my blog during the week at Laura Rath ~ Journey in Faith.

Wednesday/Thursday—Read the second half of Chapter 4.

Friday—Spend time in prayer and reflect back on the reading.

Questions to Ponder
  • When are times you have felt worn out and what did you do to overcome it?
  • Is there a difference for you between being physically tired and emotionally tired? Does one wear you out more than the other?
  • Can you feel a difference between physical rest and spiritual rest?
Posts About Rest

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Trust God to Comfort

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:2-4 NIV
A few years ago, I read this verse in a friend’s Bible and wrote it down. Little did I know that months later, I would experience it.

My friend and I had spent the day together. I was worn out and upset over a situation, and during our time together, we talked and cried, she shared Scripture and prayed over me. God used her to comfort me, and it was a powerful afternoon. I borrowed her Bible to look up the Scripture she had prayed over me, and in the process read this verse. I wrote it down along with notes. It impacted me, but I didn’t know exactly why at the time.

Months later, she called me upset and distraught. That morning I had read a devotion by Max Lucado, and not surprisingly, it was exactly what God wanted me to share with her during that call. I remembered this verse and where and when I had read it, and I realized I was able to minister to her in a way I had never done before. Not only had she found comfort and strength in our conversation, I was in awe (and tears) at how God was using me.

I believe God provides comfort we won’t find anywhere else—often in ways we don’t expect. The question is…do I turn to God right away, or after I’ve given in to fear and panic?

Maybe you’ve seen an overtired child headed for a full meltdown. The sooner the child can be consoled, the less chance of a complete meltdown. But once that point is reached, it’s more difficult and takes longer to calm the child.

Sometimes I feel like that. I’m an emotional person and can easily get carried away with my feelings and the what-ifs in life. However, I’m learning that the sooner I go to God, the less easily fear can take hold of me.

When I turn to God immediately, or better yet, when I’m in constant communication with Him, He gives me a perspective I don’t have on my own. If there is something I can do about what is going on, I trust Him to show me; and if there is nothing I can do at the time, He reveals that also. Either way, He comforts me, gives me peace, and reminds me that it’s all in His hands.

Times when I wait or forget to take it to God, fear, worry, and panic have time to set in and take over. Even when my head reminds me that God can handle it, my emotions have already led me into a full meltdown. Then it’s harder for me to calm down and let go of it.

I really like Matthew 6:34 in The Message translation…
Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. Matthew 6:34 The Message
How reassuring it is to know I’m not on my own. God is at work right now and He will be at work in the future. No matter what happens or doesn’t happen, He will comfort and strengthen me, and will be there to walk me through.

Thank you for joining me here today! If you are reading Do You Know Who I Am? by Angela Thomas with us, we are in chapter 3 Do You Know I Am Trembling Inside?...He Is My Comfort.”

In Christ,


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Do You Know Who I Am? Online Study-Wk 3

Welcome and Happy Mother's Day! 
We are in chapter 3 this week of Angela Thomas' book Do You Know Who I Am?

Blessings,
Laura

Week 3 – May 13—19

Monday/Tuesday—Read the first half of Chapter 3 “Do You Know I Am Trembling Inside?...He Is My Comfort.” I encourage you to journal your thoughts in your book or a notebook as you read.

Remember to visit my blog during the week at www.laurarath.blogspot.com.

Wednesday/Thursday—Read the second half of Chapter 3.

Friday—Spend time in prayer and reflect back on key parts of the reading that made an impact on you.

Questions to Ponder
  • Do you have a favorite Scripture verse you turn to for comfort?
  • Has there been a time you were able to comfort someone after you received comfort from God?

Friday, May 11, 2012

My Identity in Christ

It’s Five Minute Friday where Lisa-Jo offers a writing prompt and we write for 5 minutes. No editing and no over thinking. Today’s writing prompt: Identity.

Shortly after I was married, I received a personal letter in the mail addressed to Mrs. (husband’s first name) Rath. The Mrs. was correct, as was my new last name, but I wondered when I’d lost my own first name. It bothered me. In my mind, I had my own identity, and I wasn’t planning to lose it!

Now, all these years later, I realize my own identity is not so great. It’s just me on my own. My own strength and energy. My own ability. My own dreams. My own shoulders to carry the load.

I’ve changed my mind…I give up the identity found in myself, and I’m clinging to my identity in Christ. That’s the identity I want people to see.

It’s through Christ where I find…strength…energy…and ability.

His dreams for my life are far better than mine, and His shoulders can carry far more than mine can.

In my own identity, I am limited to myself, but God gives me a new identity in Jesus, and through Him I can do anything.
For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13
In Christ,
Laura

Linking up with Five Minute Friday and Spiritual Sundays .

Thursday, May 10, 2012

God Loves Me…Messy and All

Welcome! I’m over at 5 Minutes for Faith today talking about our messy lives. Here's a little of what you'll find...

My daughter does not like to clean her room. She never has. In fact, unlike me, she seems to like clothes on the floor and stuff everywhere.

Years ago when she was younger, I once again brought up the fact that her room was out of hand, and she needed to spend time cleaning it up. She wasn’t happy. The more we talked (I explained, she debated) the more upset she got, until finally she burst into tears, and cried, “God made me this way, and you should love me messy!”

Will you join me at 5 Minutes for Faith to read the rest? When you do, please leave a comment. I’d love to know you stopped by!

In Christ,
Laura

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

God Sees Us

Welcome! If you are reading Do You Know Who I Am? by Angela Thomas with us, we are in Chapter 2 “Do You Know I Am Invisible?…He Is My God Who Sees.” Enjoy reading and please stay as long as you like! 
“Because this world makes us feel so unnoticed, we sometimes begin to believe God can’t see us either. Or maybe He just doesn’t care. Or He has too much to do…” –Angela Thomas, Do You Know Who I Am?
Have you ever felt this way? I have. I’ll admit that I once caught myself thinking that since it was Easter weekend, God was too busy for me and my problems.

And that, my friends, is what the enemy wants us to believe! Satan rejoices when we think God is too busy to notice us, doesn’t care, or doesn’t love us. But the enemy is wrong! And we have to recognize these thoughts the moment we start thinking them before they start to take hold in our minds and feelings.

The Truth is God sees us, hears us, and is with us every moment of every day. He loves us and cares for us.
Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:10 NIV
God never leaves us, and when we cry out to Him, He hears us! He sees our pain and does not turn away.

As we go through difficult times, we are not invisible to God. Sometimes He will stop the storm we are in, but when He doesn’t, there is a purpose for our being there. And God is there with us to lead us and walk us through the storm.

So many times I don’t know the purpose for the situation I have to go through. Whether it’s the result of my own poor choices or something that is out of my control, I wish God would take it away. But God knows the purpose. Often, there is something He wants to show me in the midst of what I’m going through—something I won’t learn if He just takes it away.

It is in the struggles of life where there can be greater growth than when everything is going smoothly. We learn to trust and lean on God. He brings us to a place of complete dependence on Him. When we are at our weakest and not trying to do it all on our own—that is we can see the magnificence of His work. We see things happen that can only be God’s work.

Often when I’m trudging through life God is preparing me for something in the future. During the preparation, I don’t see it and I don’t understand it. But when I look back months or years later, I can see the work He was doing in me, preparing me for what He’s called me to—a calling that I would not be equipped for without going through what may have seemed like a time of waiting or doing nothing.

God is not cruel. He doesn’t make us go through painful situations just to see us suffer. I do believe, though, that at times He will allow us to go through them. Sometimes what we’re walking through is a consequence of our own behavior, while other times it’s of no fault of our own. Either way, God can and will bring good from everything for those who love Him. (Romans 8:28)

When I’m struggling and find myself asking God why He’s not doing something, it helps me to remember a few things.

First, God is with me and I know that He hears me. I am not invisible to Him.

Second, God is not ignoring me, but when the situation continues, I ask myself what God might be trying to show me. What does He want me to learn from this?

Lastly, it may feel like God isn’t doing anything to relieve the pain. But think about this for a moment…what might He be shouldering before it ever gets to us? In those times, I can see how it could be much worse, but for reasons I cannot explain, it isn’t.

What I can’t explain, God can. That’s because He is intimately involved in my life.

And He is intimately involved in your life too.

In Christ,
Laura



Saturday, May 5, 2012

God’s Peace {Something to Think About}

And God's peace, which is so great we cannot understand it, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. 
-Philippians 4:7 NCV

God’s peace
…pray for it
…let it wash over you
…soak it up

Praying God showers you with His peace today!

In Christ,
Laura


Do You Know Who I Am? Study - Week 2

Welcome! We are in week 2 of our study of Do You Know Who I Am? and Other Brave Questions Women Ask by Angela Thomas. If you are reading with us, what did you think of chapter 1? What jumped out at you and what do you want to remember after the study?

We had some great conversation in the comments section last week. I hope we have a repeat this week!

Have a great week!

In Christ,
Laura

Week 2 – May 6—12
Please remember this is a suggested reading schedule. Don’t worry if you fall behind or read ahead. This is your study!

Monday/Tuesday—Read the first half of Chapter 2 “Do You Know I Am Invisible?...He Is My God Who Sees”

Remember to visit my blog during the week at www.laurarath.blogspot.com.

Wednesday/Thursday—Read the second half of Chapter 2.

Friday—Reflect on the reading and spend time in prayer.

Questions to Ponder
  • Are there times when you feel invisible? Do you believe that God sees you? What can you do to change your thinking the next time you feel invisible?
  • On pg. 37, there are 4 ways of living in His sight. Is there one (or more) of the four ways that you already practice? Is there a way you can begin living in His sight? 
  • Do you practice a different way of living in His sight? Leave a comment on my blog to share and start a conversation.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Real with God

Welcome! It’s Five Minute Friday where Lisa-Jo offers a writing prompt and we write for 5 minutes. No editing and no over thinking. Today’s writing prompt: Real.

When do we learn to not be real? As girls, at what age do we discover that’s it’s not okay to be ourselves?

Society sets a standard that goes against what God wants. Our culture says to be who everyone else thinks we should be.

Fake. Pretty. Perfect.

Dishonest with ourselves and others.

As we talk to others, they ask how we are. We say “Fine. It’s all good.” That’s the answer society wants to hear. For if each of us becomes real and honest, someone might need to take notice or care.

Culturally, we are busy rushing around, busy trying to do it all, busy pushing our way to the top. We don’t know what to do with someone else’s transparency. How would we react if someone said, “Things are not fine!”

So, know this. There is One Who says come to Me. Be real with Me. Tell Me all that is on your mind. I want to know.

And when we’ve poured out our hearts to Him, our feelings, our hurts, our dreams…He holds us while we rest.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NLT)

We can be real with God. We should be real with God. And can I tell you something? Ready?

He already knows.

He already knows everything there is to know about you and me. Our dreams, our pain, our hearts, what we’ve done and haven’t done. There is nothing we can tell Him that will surprise Him or change His love for us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. (Romans 8:38 NLT)

With God we can be real. We can accept and soak up the love and comfort He covers us with. And we can let Him make us whole again.

In Christ,
Laura


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Called to Follow Jesus

Welcome! If you are studying Do You Know Who I Am? by Angela Thomas with us, we are in Chapter 1, “Do You Know I Am Afraid to Dream Big?...He is Worthy.” Even if you are not reading the book, I hope you’ll stay awhile and continue to read…   
“With this one lifetime, I am called to follow Jesus.” –from Do You Know Who I Am? by Angela Thomas
Do you consider yourself called to follow after Jesus?

We often think God only calls those who are qualified. Not true. The Bible is full of people like you and me—people who don’t have it all figured out and often make poor choices—who were called by God.

Maybe you’ve heard this saying, “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.” Meaning whatever God calls us to, He will equip us and show us the way.

Wherever we are in life, we are called to follow Jesus
…as a spouse.
…as a parent.
…as a friend or co-worker.
…as we read and study His Word.
…as He plants dreams in our hearts.
…as we struggle through trials.
…as we enter a new stage in life, often one we don’t want to be in.

God calls and we want to answer, but what happens when it’s just too much and we stumble and fall?

In all honesty, sometimes I am just plain weary. I’m tired of the struggle of life. My focus is on what I can see now and what I can’t see in the future.

My attention is on me, instead of on Him where it should be. I give in to fear and it keeps me from my calling—to trust God and step out in faith.

Maybe you can relate to this.

But here is where you and I have a choice. We can let fear hold us back or we can focus on God and trust Him.

You see, when God calls us, He equips us. Through His Word, He reveals more of Himself to us, and our relationship with Him grows deeper. He provides rest, strength, and ability. He is there to see us through, and he wants our focus to be on Him.

Perhaps you remember Peter…
Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”
 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”
 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
 “Yes, come,” Jesus said.
 So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” (Matthew 14:24-31 NLT)
When my full attention is on Jesus, there is no room for doubt and fear. But when my focus shifts to what is going on around me, I go down like Peter.

I often picture myself frantically looking around, while Jesus calmly stands in front of me saying, “Right here, Laura. Focus on Me.”

You and I are called to focus on Jesus—to follow after Him with everything we are. When we do, the experience will be incredible! Better than we ever could imagine!

Are you ready?

He is worthy. And He is waiting for us.

In Christ,
Laura