Today’s Quote on Prayer

“When we become frustrated with God’s apparent delay in answering our prayer, it is good to remember that He is interested in developing faith and perseverance in our character. Wait on the Lord!”  ~Dennis Fisher

Scripture for reflection: Psalm 27; James 1:2-4

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Today’s Quote on Suffering

“In the midst of every crisis, we face choices that lead to either isolation or intimacy. We can hunker down and withdraw, or we can open up and receive. We can pull back and try to cope alone, or we can allow ourselves to be used as a catalyst for grace and love to flow.”  ~David Lyons

Scripture for reflection: II Corinthians 1:3-7

HOPE

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Hope in the Face of Rejection

 

I am sad and weary. I feel like I’ve been blind-sided, sucker punched in my stomach and robbed of joy. And yet, I sit here trying to write about hope.

I question everything I thought I knew because my world has tilted and I don’t know how to make it better. Will I be OK when all I want to do is retreat from the world?

This distress invades every part of my body. I can’t cry. I can’t scream. I can’t pray.

My mind tries to understand, to work it out. But, I can’t come up with a way to resolve it.

Maybe, if I start a list of everything that happened, write out the details, I can make sense of it. It’s hard to believe that anything good can come from it, and I don’t know if I can challenge myself to try to learn from it.

I wonder if it is possible to release the hurt, confusion, and frustration I feel without allowing bitterness and anger and hate to enter my heart.

What happened?

I met a woman, who I thought had the potential to become a friend. She appeared to be as beautiful on the inside as she was on the outside. We shared an afternoon together and realized how many things we had in common – the most important was our love for Christ. Her grace made me feel accepted.

We laughed and talked like old friends as we shared a meal. She noticed some of my limits and asked questions that seemed genuine. We talked about some of life’s challenges and the necessity of our faith to keep us grounded.

She seemed surprised to learn that I couldn’t attend church regularly. Her comments about my joy and peace caught me off guard. When she noticed my confusion, she elaborated. “I just can’t imagine having such a positive attitude while facing pain every day!”

“Clinging to God and relying on His strength is the only way it is possible,” I told her.

We looked forward to seeing each other when we realized we would be attending the same event a few weeks later.

When the event arrived, my hope of a new friendship quickly disappeared.  This beautiful, elegant woman shunned me. I felt like she was embarrassed to be associated with me, and her behavior confused me. I tried to make sense of her reaction to me. What happened to make her react this way?

On the car ride home, I mentioned it to my husband, and he thought that I failed to measure up to some sort of unspoken standard.

Even though I agreed that it is wise to get to know other people before a close, personal relationship could develop, I had a hard time understanding her behavior and attitude because she was my sister in Christ.

It hurt.

Even though I’ve lived with chronic health issues since I was twelve years old, it still hurt to get rejected because of my health.

Did she shun me because I accepted myself?  Exactly as I was, right then, in that moment?

I don’t have quick or easy answers.

I. Just. Trust. God.

Through each day.

 Through each procedure.

 Through each challenge.

Of course, I’d like to attend every service at church, to be active in Sunday School and the women’s ministry. Travel to conferences and fellowship with church members on fun outings. But that’s not my reality right now.

I’ve made peace with it.

I’ve lost friends because of it.

And, sometimes, I get lonely as a result of it.

I’m sure that everyone who lives with challenges can relate. To let down our guards and welcome others into our lives, just to have them reject us because of our physical limits is h-a-r-d!

I don’t think I’ll ever find out the real reason for this woman’s rejection.

Even though it still stings, I thank God it happened now, not years down the road – after we had developed a stronger and deeper bond.

And, I ask Him to purify my heart. To keep bitterness out of it and to flood it with His love and compassion.

I don’t want to inflict this type of pain on someone else.

I believe we all have trials and challenges we are dealing with and trying to overcome. Some of them may be visible. Others, not so much. So, when we meet someone new or interact with others, we need to make sure we’re representing the love, mercy, and compassion of Christ.

My prayer is that I will never become legalistic or quick to criticize or judge others. I want to be the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37); to care for others (Matthew 25:31-46); and to live a life of love (John 13:34-35).

I want to glorify Christ in all that I do (Matthew 5:13-16).

I’m sure I’ll continue to face criticisms, rejections, maybe even mocking and disbelief. But I can’t let the fear of pain and hostility keep me from trying to honor God in every aspect of my life.

And, I encourage you to live a life filled with the hope, love, and joy that Christ wants you to live. Yes, you may have trouble along the way, but always remember your strength comes from Him and He has overcome any challenge you may face (John 16:33).

 

Prayer:  Father, thank You for creating each one of us in Your image. We are unique, yes; but, we are also the same because You made us and You love us. Help us to extend that love to each other, especially to our brothers and sisters who make up the family of Christ.