I was thinking yesterday of the things that have helped me weather the toughest thing I have ever gone through- my son’s extended and very difficult skin condition. A quick rundown- he was on very potent steroid creams (black box label kind of thing) and we realized that they had basically destroyed his health. Now we are trying to help him heal from the damage.
God taught me a lesson years ago about the importance of gratitude. I had heard a radio program where the author Ann Voskamp was interviewed about her book, One Thousand Gifts. She talked about how gratitude had pulled her out of depression and totally changed her life. I didn’t even read the book but I was deeply impacted by that one hour interview.
It totally remolded my approach to life. Every day I do look for the good and offer up thanks and praise to God. It’s so ingrained in me that it’s my automatic “go-to” response. There’s been many, many times where my son was crying in pain or just being negative about his (admittedly, terrible) circumstances. I comfort him but am quick to guide the conversation back to the things in his life that are “good and perfect gifts”. I truly, firmly believe that thankful attitude has helped us both get through this- and with a good measure of joy.
The biggest battle we face is between our own ears.
We need to take in the truth and renew our minds every single day. I don’t always have time to read the Bible but I do play the local radio station, Faith Radio 900, every day. It’s got great biblical teaching that really helps me stay on track.
God is also speaking to me about taking every thought captive and casting down vain imaginations. When a thought enters our mind that shouldn’t be there, we take action to cast it down. That’s much easier to do when you are actively filling your mind with the truth of God’s Word.
I also pray frequently about the other battleground- my heart. Wordly wisdom would tell you garbage like “follow your heart” or “the heart wants what it wants”. The Bible has this to say in Jeremiah 17:9 – “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” If we blindly follow our whims, impulses, desires AKA our “hearts” we are setting ourselves up for disaster. We can’t always trust our feelings or even understand them. Not only that, but feelings are so fickle and quick to desert us after leading us into a mess.
I pray often that God would give me a soft, malleable heart. “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26
We especially need to pray over our own hearts during times of testing. The 3rd chapter of Hebrews talks about how the Israelites hardened their hearts in their time of wilderness testing, and the tragic outcome; “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.”‘
What this says is that our times of testing and trying are our times of refinement. We all come to God and are completely accepted, however, we all have junk that needs to be dealt with. Junk that would surface at the worst possible time and destroy or hinder our testimony. If we are faithful to soften our hearts and work with God through tough times, there is a promised period of rest on the other side. God’s rest- which includes blessings, peace, joy, etc., but this also means that if we don’t cooperate we will never reach these “green pastures” that God wants to lead us too.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9
So, whatever you’re facing today, don’t give up. Press in. Follow hard after God.
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12