Great is His Faithfulness, Even in Grief and Mourning

CT.4-7
Photo and artwork belong to ComparisonTrap.org

This is the continuation of an earlier post about a Bible study in which I’m facilitating and participating.


Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness, I say to myself,
“The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
~ Lamentations 3:22-24

The Comparison Trap:  Week Four, Day Seven… Some of my reminders and my takeaways from the daily devotional include:

It’s been an insightful day. My takeaways are from the Scripture verses and from some of Sandra Stanley’s shared thoughts, but not too much from today’s devotional content. This has just been one of those days, but the Scripture still applies to the day.

I spent the afternoon and evening serving at church for the visitation of a friend’s husband who passed away suddenly on Monday morning. That friend has been a part of this Comparison Trap group study. Tomorrow is the funeral (on the day you’ll probably be reading this).

When I walked her to the restroom today on a break from greeting hundreds upon hundreds of people who had come to pay their respects and to honor her husband, she told me a story about the amazing love she’s seen poured out over her family.

Her husband was a state trooper, and the fellowship given to her by his brotherhood has overwhelmed her. Her coworkers took her car and had new brakes, rotors and other needed maintenance done on it when she had to leave it at work after hearing the news of her husband’s death. Her table-mates from the study and many of the women from the group and church stepped forward to bring food and serve in the kitchen with whatever needed to be done today.

“Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail,”  the verse above reads. The body of Christ has surrounded her through this tragedy, and it’s through His compassion she’s been able to see it in others.

“God is compassionate. It breaks his heart to see us struggle,”  Sandra tells us in this final devotional. It does, and His way of showing us His compassion is often by using others to display it.

“Great is your faithfulness…” 

The book of Lamentations is full of lamenting, wailing and grief. It covers pain, judgment, mourning and suffering. The book paints a picture of suffering so great that it is often difficult to see hope and to remember the promises of God.

But tucked away within the mourning of Lamentations, there are promises of hope to come. Within the heart of the message of this book, we can see that the writer expresses his confident assurance that God does not turn away from those who turn toward Him for help.

Tomorrow is the funeral for my friend’s husband.

In her grief, I want her to know that the Lord weeps with her, and it breaks His heart to see her struggling. His compassions never do fail, and His love for her will not allow her to be consumed by her grief. His mercies are new every morning, and His faithfulness in her life is truly great. The Lord is her portion, and her faith in Him will get her through the challenges to come.

There will be thousands of troopers who will stand in honor of this fallen police officer; there will be hundreds of friends and family members who will come to grieve with her; there are dozens of small group members who are praying for her; but, there is one Christ Jesus who will be there to comfort her and to bring her His hope in the days, weeks, months and years to come.

Great is His faithfulness. Friend, you are loved.


 

Can He Really Use My Imperfect Parts?

CT.4-6
Photo and artwork belong to ComparisonTrap.org

This is the continuation of an earlier post about a Bible study in which I’m facilitating and participating.


But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness.
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses,
so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

The Comparison Trap:  Week Four, Day Six… Some of my reminders and my takeaways from the daily devotional include:

We all have a story.
Our story matters.
It matters to God, and there are others who can learn from our story.

I feel like I say this to women all the time, because there are so many who are hesitant to share their story, thinking it means nothing, it’s full of shame, it’s full of mistakes, and that none of those things really matter… to anyone, but especially to God.

Sandra Stanley begins this devotional by telling us, “Comparison may be whispering to you the lie that those pieces of your story should be kept hidden—that admitting them out loud would be intentionally pointing out that you don’t measure up, that you aren’t perfect enough.”

His grace IS sufficient for us, and His power IS made perfect in my weaknesses. We struggle to believe this… and we struggle when we think we need to have no weaknesses to be used by Him… and that we must be perfect in order for His power to be made perfect. Stop it.

We’re so wrong when we allow those whispers to speak lies to us.

“God can leverage and use the unpolished, imperfect parts of your story.”

He will if you let him. It’s often in the shattered dreams that we find Him. It’s often in the broken bits that we discover more about Him. It’s often in the questions we ask where we’ll find hope. It’s often in hearing others’ stories where we’ll realize ours matters, too.

Whose unpolished and imperfect parts can be used?

It’s those of us who wonder from where our value comes.

It’s those of us who want to know how a broken heart can heal.

It’s those of us who are living in singleness.

It’s those of us who wonder who else cares.

It’s those of us who have watched our husbands die.

It’s those of us who cry in our quiet moments.

It’s those of us who feel the need to put on the smile mask.

It’s those of us who have watched our marriages fall apart.

It’s those of us who were violated.

It’s those of us who are lonely.

It’s those of us who wonder, “Why me?”

It’s those of us who have lost a child.

It’s those of us who have never been able to carry a child.

It’s those of us who have been cheated upon.

It’s those of us who feel lost.

It’s those of us who don’t know how to get through today.

It’s those of us who don’t know from where our hope comes.

Sandra walks us out of today’s devotional with a wonderful prayer:

“Heavenly Father, it seems a little crazy to me that you’re interested in taking the broken stuff of my life and using it for good. But since you say so, I’m offering all of it to you now. Please give me new eyes to see my story the way you do and to see how I can put it to good use.”

Amen. His grace is sufficient… even in our weaknesses. He uses every bit of it for His purpose, when we allow Christ’s power to rest on us.


 

The Quest for Life’s Purpose & Meaning

CT.4-5
Photo and artwork belong to ComparisonTrap.org

This is the continuation of an earlier post about a Bible study in which I’m facilitating and participating.


Jesus replied:  “Love the Lord your God with
all your heart and with all your soul and with
all your mind.” This is the first and greatest
commandment. And the second is like it:
“Love your neighbor as yourself.”
All the Law and the Prophets hang
on these two commandments.
~ Matthew 22:37-40

The Comparison Trap:  Week Four, Day Five… Some of my reminders and my takeaways from the daily devotional include:

As Christians, we often wonder what our purpose in life is meant to be. We wonder where God might be leading us… how He might be calling us… what He would want us to be doing with our life on this side of eternity.

Seeking and searching for those answers can lead us toward love, peace, joy, and hope, and they can lead us into darkness, depression, addiction or hopelessness. There is often a great struggle to find our purpose.

The Bible is the powerful Word of God.
It full of His words to us.
It is full of instruction.

Authors have made millions speaking at seminars, workshops, writing self-help books, and promoting their latest and greatest methods for figuring out our lives. Truly, the answer to finding our purpose can be summed up in these four Scripture verses.

The answer is:  Love God and love others.

Sandra reminds us that, “when we choose to honor and celebrate one another, we are honoring and celebrating someone precious to God.”  She goes on to say that, “Doing so serves us well by cleaning out envy and jealousy, but Jesus reminds us that it also serves God well.”

Jesus is the one who spoke the words of the Scripture above. He calls us to love God and to love others. This is His purpose for our life, and when we are willing to embrace it, we will be filled with the Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Not only will we be filled, but we will also be a part of filling others.

It is a beautiful thing to “love others well by applauding their accomplishments and celebrating their skills.”

It is a beautiful thing to be loved by God, to love Him, and to love others.


 

Celebrating the Abundance of Success

CT.4-4
Photo and artwork belong to ComparisonTrap.org

This is the continuation of an earlier post about a Bible study in which I’m facilitating and participating.


The harvest is great, but the workers are few.
So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest;
ask him to send more workers into his fields.
~ Luke 10:2

The Comparison Trap:  Week Four, Day Four… Some of my reminders and my takeaways from the daily devotional include:

Our faith is so important. 

We’re challenged at almost every turn by negativity, hardships, death, or a lack of hope. When we aren’t, we struggle with thinking that the good stuff—like love, success, opportunity, joy, hope and praise—are in limited supply. Because of this kind of thinking, we often grab onto what we can, and we hold tight, not wanting to share it.

“The harvest is great, but the workers are few.”  Part of our faith is not just sitting back and letting others make a way for the harvest, but it is us going out and into the world to be one of those who brings the message to others. There is work to be done.

There is enough work to go around, but there is also enough hope, happiness, success, love and praise to share with others. When we can do that without the soil of comparison, we help to prepare for the harvest.

Sandra says, “Seeing a friend win at something doesn’t diminish your shot at success.”  She continues, “There is enough to go around; in fact, there is so much to go around that today’s verse reminds us our prayer should really be for more friends to find success putting their gifts to use for God.”

When we celebrate the successes of others, it doesn’t take away from ours. When we offer praise to others, it means we’re willing to think of them and recognize what they’ve accomplished. When we see others using their God-given talents and gifts, it should encourage us toward the purpose of our faith.

I tend to think that we’ve got a better shot at success when we’re willing to celebrate the success of those around us. I think the same about love, joy, peace and hope, too. Our faith is so important. Are you ready to be a worker in the harvest? See you in the field.


 

 

 

 

Encouragement Outweighs Envy Every Time

CT.4-3
Photo and artwork belong to ComparisonTrap.org

This is the continuation of an earlier post about a Bible study in which I’m facilitating and participating.


And let us consider how we may spur
one another on toward love and good deeds,
not giving up meeting together,
as some are in the habit of doing,
but encouraging one another—and all the more
as you see the Day approaching.
~ Hebrews 10:24-25

The Comparison Trap:  Week Four, Day Three… Some of my reminders and my takeaways from the daily devotional include:

I have a short and sweet takeaway today. It’s not because there isn’t much to chew on from today’s Scripture and devotional, though. It’s because there is just SO much to dwell upon within this verse, and I’d just prefer you do just that.

Encouragement outweighs envy every single time, and it truly gets us out of the comparison trap.

With the Scripture verse in mind, I’d like to share Sandra’s closing prayer for the Day Three devotional. Please ponder both today, and be an encourager by spurring others on toward love and good deeds!

“Father, I’m so grateful for the people who have cheered me on to past achievements with their prayers, text messages, and affirming notes. Show me how to be the encourager my friends, family, and co-workers need to accomplish the big things you’ve planned for them.”