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Allison Althoff
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Natalie Lederhouse
Natalie Lederhouse

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August 17, 2010

Years of Confusion

How to learn to trust God in the midst of uncertainty

The ground starts to shake; parts of the earth are shifting. An earthquake begins to separate the land around you. Bits of the earth are crumbling into the depths of the ground. To the left to the right, behind you, and in front of you is sinking ground. Chaos and destruction is destroying everything around you . . . but the land directly below your feet remains unshaken.

There was a point in my life where I felt like I was the person on that small piece of land watching everything fall apart around me. Around 2006, my time was spent between hospitals as I watched two people very close to me battle life-threatening diseases.

I watched my aunt struggle with the fiercest and fastest form of lung cancer I’ve ever seen. Within six weeks, I saw a life so full of love and joy reduced to painful chemo treatments and breathing tubes. I sat helpless until the last day when she couldn’t fight anymore and lost her battle to cancer.

A few weeks later I found myself back in the hospital trying to muster up strength for a friend who was undergoing multiple brain surgeries. After six attempts, he was finally released from the hospital.

Around this same time, I struggled to find a job. Fresh out of college, I thought I had a safety net: a diploma from a private university. That turned out to be just a piece of paper with a lot student loans attached to it. Months turned into years as I had plenty of interviews but no job offers.

I did what every other degree-holding, job-seeking post graduate would do: I took a job at Starbucks. Over-caffeinated I was; happy I was not. I was an eager young person ready and willing to make my mark in the world and definitely ready for a life of independence.

Frustration, depression, and anger were slowly creeping into my soul. To say I was confused about my life would be an understatement. I began to doubt the very character of God and his promises.

But God, I prayed, I’m doing everything in my life to glorify and serve you. Bible studies, prayer meetings, helping out with the children’s ministry, singing on the worship team. How could I be doing everything right and still have no blessings, no provisions?

Where are you, Lord? I wondered, frustrated. My wait continued, with silence from God.

During one of my darkest days, a friend gave me some encouragement, which changed my whole outlook and understanding. She told me to remember that no matter what, we must continue to follow our great Shepherd. We must trust and believe that he hasn’t turned his back on us. But sometimes all we can see is his back because we’re following him so closely.

And the land directly below your feet remains unshaken . . .

This is the imagery I think of when I read Hebrews 12:26–28 when God says he will shake up the heavens and earth so that what cannot be shaken will remain. Slowly, I came to realize that even when everything around me was swirling out of control, when I chose to trust him, I was on solid ground. Everything may have been shaken, but what would remain was a deeply rooted faith in Christ Jesus and his sovereignty.

While I still don’t understand why I had to wait and struggle through that period of waiting, I’ve realized ultimately it doesn’t matter. Because God is in control.

I couldn’t control those circumstances, but I could focus on the things I could control. I could control my faith. So instead of doubting, I began to offer God a sacrifice of praise, just as David commanded in Psalm 27:6: “At his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the LORD” (NIV, emphasis mine).

When we struggle, we can praise God—even if there’s nothing inside of us that wants to. Praise will be our biggest weapon. Keeping our eyes focused on what’s holy, and seeking to praise him because he’s good will ensure that we will collide with our destiny.

Related Tags: faith, hope, waiting

Comments

Amen, no matter what happens we need to keep our eyes on Jesus and continue to trust Him...especially when its all we have left!! We will see His hand was on us and guiding us and that will be our testimony!!

I agree that we need to praise God in difficult circumstances. But I've always questioned what this looks like in particularly horrible circumstances, the type that seem to warrant mourning and grieving: a murdered child, the aftermath of a rape, a parent's suicide, things like that. Just telling someone in that situation to keep your eyes on Jesus (while a true statement) seems inadequate advice for dealing with their devastation, in part because the word "praise" often carries the connotation of being happy, arms lifted high, singing hyms/choruses in church. Any ideas on what praising God while mourning & dealing with devastating situations looks like?

Dear Laura D, I read your question about praising God in the midst of horrible life events. You wondered what that might look like. During those times, our loving Shepherd is simply holding us in his arms because we have no strength. As we sob in His presence, and surrender to His sovereignty, HE sings over us. He sings a song of joy. Our willingness to follow Him and not give up is our sacrifice of praise. May the God of Peace encircle the person that you were writing about and and may Peace rule in their hearts.

Dear Laura, This may be theologically incorrect but I believe the way you praise God in terrible times is just by getting through it no matter how hard. Tears, sobs, screaming in frustration are human responses to very real pain and suffering-Jesus did them so no shame here. Those are the times the Church just needs to love and hold and support each other.

Thanks, y'all. I appreciate your responses. I've wondered about this issue in the last few years, having witnessed some horrific things happen to those around me. I hope that they don't feel that they aren't "praising" God simply because they aren't doing the singing-at-the-top-of-your-lungs version. (Dawn, thank you for the kind thoughts for the women I was writing about. I pray the same things for them.)

Thanks for reminding me of the word about God shaking all that can be shaken. I'd forgotten that, momentarily...

I continue to trust God amidst the confusion the devil havs created in my life. I trust that God will turn everything around, expose the strategies of the enemy and deliver many from the suffering inflicted by the devil.

Gina, God continue to bless and to encourage you, thank you for sharing your story and reminding us in Africa that God is a faithful God wherever and whichever circumstance one finds oneself, God grace was sufficient to raise me to a situation I can also encourage others and have been blessed by your sharing Ruth 2;12 to you God bless you always Angelita

God is still God and ever faithful. Trust him

This makes me think of the words of JJ Heller's song, Your Hands--When my world is shaking, Heaven stands.

Just remember Jesus' and also Paul's struggles and yours won't seem so bad. But if they happen to seem worse, don't complain; instead, keeping a positive outlook will certainly help your attidtude. Instead of asking why, ask what now?! Way easier said than done, but God will help! I need to remind myself of these points daily! And like Dawn said, there is nothing wrong with some anger and sadness, just as long as those emotions don't rule your life...

Gina: Surrounded by "shaking" - determined to stand I have found we may not be able to praise the Lord in singing, joy, and laughter. However, we can worship Him for who He is. We may only be able to thank Him for who He is in our lives. For example, "I thank you Lord that You are Jehovah Rapha, Jehovah Jireh, Jehovah Nissi, El Shaddai, etc. etc. The Lord is impressed by our faith and obedience (not our self pity and/or woe is me/why me attitudes) inspite of our circumstances. Love you, Michelle

Hi Gina! I agree that by keeping our eyes on Him and seeking to praise Him because of who He is and His goodness will ensure our encounter with our destinies. That was very good Gina. There is a reason why the armor of God calls it the "shield of faith". This is because no matter what we're going thru, no matter how hard (believe me i can relate on some REALLY hard stuff) your faith will always shield you from destruction. Our faith is our shield. We are to keep our shields of faith up! Even when we feel like we have little to no faith at all, that little bit of faith is all God needs (mustard seed of it). We may feel small, but God uses the smallest people to serve the largest purposes. Remember this Gina: Praise is glorifying the Lord for the things He's done; Worship is praising Him for who He is and glorifying Him in how you live! When you feel like things are spiraling out of control in your life; remember "God is in control", and it doesn't matter what we say and/or do. God will NOT let His children down. He'll always come thru when you need Him the most. It's always in His timing (not ours;remember that). Depression is no stranger to me either hun. Just remember that self pity-woe is me, why me, etc. is all about one thing and that is "me". There will always be people out there that are experiencing the exact same pains and sometimes/lots of times worse. Next time Satan tries to creep into your thinking picture this: you groveling on the ground crying, etc. woe is me God, why me, why is this happening to me. Then picture God in heaven looking down at you saying this, "Why don't you stop crying about it and get up and pray about it and do something about it. Invest your faith." God is not impressed by self pity at all. I have also asked the question, "where are you God?" many times in my life. God also showed me that like in the poem "footprints", when I couldn't see him, it was because He was carrying me. Just remember that. When you feel like you can't see Him. He's probably just carrying you. Those footprints on the ground are most likely His; not yours.

Gina, You are an amazing woman and have been blessed with the gift of love and compassion.As your uncle, i have observed you grow from a child, to a child of GOD. To see you now as a woman and my niece is truly a blessing.Iam greatful to be a part of your life and you have taught me alot...please be true to yourself ...and i will pray that the good lord will use yiu in miracles ways
Ungly uncle Dave>>>>

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