One of my favorite stories in the Bible is about the Shunammite woman in 2 Kings 4.
I think of her story often, especially when I am faced with change. Each time I read her story God shows me something new. His word is like that. His word is alive and will meet you at your point of need.
This past year has been a trying year for me; a real test of faith. At times it was as though I were on an emotional roller coaster. I would find myself at the peak of a high and think I have arrived, only to be plummeted down the next slope. Up and down. Seriously, I do not know how people survive life without knowing Jesus.
Do you ever feel that way? Just as you arrive to the peak of the mountain you are staring at the ground floor again? I don’t know about you, but I am going to be real honest here, there were moments where I really questioned if I would have the strength to start all over again. And to be even more real, if it weren’t for the grace of God and His love for me, I would have probably just sat down and stared into oblivion and wish it all to be over. Doesn’t sound very spiritual, does it? I am just being real.
This is when I was reminded of the Shunammite woman. I can imagine her voice, her heart, her grief, when she said to Elisha, “Did I desire a son? Did I not say ‘do not deceive me?”
I have said things very similar to God. It is OK for me to share this with you, because He knows anyway. My moaning’s to God sounded something like this, “Why would you give this to me, just to take it away? I am tired of starting over! It is not fair! When will it be my turn? How much more do I have to take?!”
The thing about pity parties is no one shows up. It is usually a party of one. Even when you felt you did everything right, it wasn’t your fault, you may still find yourself at the bottom of the roller coaster, scratching your head and wondering what just happened. Perhaps it is a relationship gone bad, a loss of a job, loss of home, health issues, or any other curve ball that has been thrown at you.
Let us remember, trials will come. Things do happen, to all of us. Not everyone we want in our lives will want to stay there. There will be times you will be misunderstood, harshly judged, and wrongly accused. It happens to all of us. But this does not have to be the end of us. The dream He gave you, He hasn’t taken it back. The gifts He gave you, He hasn’t taken that back either. Just because it has not come to pass the way you thought it would does not mean it will not come to pass.
James 1 says, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave in the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double minded man and unstable in all his ways.
God does, and will, open doors. We still have to do our part and walk through them. He will also close doors and we will have to choose to trust Him and let that door close.
My friend, I write this to encourage you. Though the plans you laid, have fallen, trust the Lord. His ways are perfect. Trust Him when He says your steps are ordered by Him. Listen for His voice. You will not always see a big flashing sign pointing you in the direction you should go. You may not even get the memo warning you change is coming and it may happen abruptly. But what you can count on and trust, is His Spirit to lead you.
So when your foundation has been shaken, when all you thought you had gained has been stripped away from you, in that moment of decision, choose to believe. Shut the pity party down. Ask God to search your heart and let this time have its perfect work, so what is produced from this will bring forth a harvest. Be like the Shunammite woman, she did not assemble a funeral, she went right to the source. Take it to Jesus, my friend.
If you walk in forgiveness, maintain a teachable spirit, and choose love; you will see this is not a season of loss, but of growth.
Be Free & Stay Free
“I’m tired.” She said, tears welling up in her eyes, as she took another sip of her coffee.
We sat at the table in silence; she staring into her coffee and me looking at her. I didn’t know what to say to her. I prayed for God to give me words of comfort for her, but nothing came. Maybe she just needs me to listen.
After a long pause, she took another sip of her coffee, put her cup down and looked me in the eye. I could see the traces of sleepless nights on her face. The circles under her eyes made her look older than she was and the puffiness told me she had been crying.
“Why can’t I get it right? Why do people always leave me? Am I that unlovable?” She looked away, gazed out the window and I could see a new tear forming at the corner of her eye. “I give it my all, I try to be the perfect person. No matter what I do it is never enough.”
I have known her for a long time. She came from a broken home; abandoned by her father. She married at a young age to an abusive husband, who eventually left her and her children. After two failed marriages, a couple failed relationships, a most recent heartbreak, and years of struggle, my friend sat in front of me and confessed she can no longer go on. “Something has got to give!” She said in a barely audible whisper.
My friend didn’t see herself as others saw her. She always saw herself as someone who is… less than. But, what I saw was a strong woman. A beautiful, compassionate, woman. She always had a smile on her face, she loved extravagantly, and anyone who came into contact with her became an instant friend. She was beautiful on the inside and out. Everyone noticed her. This always surprised me when she felt as though she were invisible.
I wanted to tell her it is not that she is unworthy, she just chooses unworthy people to give her heart to. I know she does this because she does not see her own worth and what a treasure she really is.
I take her by the hand and I look into her eyes- her beautiful sad eyes. I can feel my own heart breaking for her.
“Don’t you ever for a minute think you are unworthy.” I firmly tell her. “You are so precious to Him, you are a treasure in His hands. Yes, others have left you and hurt you. But, my dear friend, He will never leave you. He is not angry with you. He has a plan and a purpose for you. Your vision has been clouded, you have not been able to hear Him because of the voices in your own head, but this does not mean He is not near. He has seen everything that has been done to you and He has seen everything you have done. He forgives you, He loves you, and He wants you to give your burdens to Him. He wants you to trust Him with your cares, your anxieties, and your dreams.”
I want to tell her to take her eyes off people and focus on Him, because I know her wounds go so much deeper. Only He can touch the depth of her wounded soul and bring the healing she cries out for. But I also know it will require her to completely trust Him and be vulnerable again. Her trust has been shattered so many times from trusting the wrong people, I wonder if she will even be able to open up and receive His healing for her.
Our conversation shifts to the surface, because this is where she feels comfortable. We talk about our jobs, the weather, the children, anything and everything to not have to talk anymore about the discomfort and pain she is feeling. Both of us are only half in the conversation, going through the motions of not addressing the obvious need she has.
Thirty minutes later I am watching her through my rear mirror as she drives off. I sit in my car, silent, thinking about the conversation with my friend. And I pray for her. I pray for God to reveal Himself to her and to show her who she is in Him. I pray the motions of joy she portrays to the outside world become real joy. I pray for her deliverance and that she would turn away from anyone who is not Gods best for her. May she be so focused in the revelation of His love for her that she will never settle for anyone or anything that is less. Oh, that she would come to the understanding her past is not her future. She is accepted by the true lover of her soul.
Yes, my friend, you are beautiful. You are beautiful because you belong to Him. We live in a fallen world filled with broken people. It was never His plan for us to be hurt, abused, overlooked, rejected… But it happens, sometimes by other people and sometimes through our own choices. The consequence can feel unbearable and suffocating, but it does not have to be the death of us.
Oh, my broken friend, lay yourself at His feet. He will lift you up and in His arms you are safe.
Be Free & Stay Free