December 23, 2015

Tools for the Pain

We have all experienced time of pain. Whether it be depression, post-partum depression, anxiety, loss, or perceived loss, the pain is all very real. Recently, I was pondering the tools God gives us to help us through our tough times (and our good times). Here is the thing about tools – you have to learn to use them. I LOVE tools. In my mind, I am a renovation master, a master of the skill saw, a wiz with the drill.

The truth is, I love tools but my skills are pretty limited. Why? Why haven’t I taken the time to learn to use a skill saw, a jig saw, a drill or the others? Why do I need to? I have a husband that can build anything (and when I say anything, I really mean it. He built our house). It is an easy escape to just call Scott to take care of things for me. “Hey, Husband, can you build this table for me?” “Hey, Scott, let’s add a bathroom upstairs for KK.” “Oh! Honey, do you think you could make this shelf for me?” Really, the list is limitless … and so is his current Honey Do List! But what do I do when he isn’t home and I need something done immediately? You know, that bookshelf that I purchased on a whim that needs to be assembled or the shelving unit I bought that he told me wouldn’t work but I needed to prove him wrong (and by the way, he was right). Or that dog house I bought that I was too proud to ask him for help? I pull out my own tool kit.; the one that consists of a butter knife and a high heel shoe. Yes, I am serious; I think most things can be assembled with a butter knife and a high heel shoe.

I had a tool kit once. Scott told me he would help me learn to use the tools included but it was easier to just ask him to take care of it for me. Do you know what happened to that tool kit? I sold it in a yard sale. Many times, we do the same thing with God. He gives us tools to use but we don’t like that. We want the immediate fix. We want something done the way we want it done and we want it done right now! Can anyone relate? I want to share a couple of things that I thought through the other night.

It was late in the evening and I was super exhausted. I had worked a 10plus hour day at the church THEN did my mom taxi job, a couple of loads of laundry, took care of dinner and then promised someone I would get them some thoughts on a particular situation. In my moment of exhaustion, God began to sweetly unfold some great truth to me. God has given us tools to make it through some tough times, we just need to use them! Here ya go …

1. Relationships:

a. Abraham and Isaac were in community as they were walking to the mountain. Both men were fully aware of the current situation but both focused on the end result (God will provide) rather than the immediate need (we have no sacrifice).

b. Jochebed (Moses mom) was about to send her son down the river … in a basket of sorts. That is huge! What about crocodiles, what about waves …. What if, what if, what if …. However, she had Miriam. The one that was able to go and get Jochebed and bring her to the palace.

c. Relationships are the currency of the kingdom. Everywhere we look in the Bible, we see relationships. It is so important we even have scriptures about the importance of relationships.

d. So if this is one of the tools God has given us to help us through our good and bad days, it is something that needs to be examined. Who are your relationships with? I’m not talking about girls day out or shopping trips. I’m talking about who is walking out this faith walk with you? Who is bringing you back in when you are having a rough go of it, who is rejoicing with you when you are having a great go of it? Who is able to speak the hard things to you – even when it is difficult to say/receive and you know it is in love and not get hurt or offended?

e. There is a difference in a best friend relationship and a spiritual mother/mentor relationship. Do you have this relationship in your life?

f. It is so important to make time to have this in your life. When a spiritual walk is out of balance, chaos will ensue.

2. The Word: There is no substitute for getting in God’s word. There was one season of my life where I worked a full time job and two part time jobs as well I also had a small child at home and a husband that I helped with his ministry position all the while trying to maintain our marriage. Where was I going to find time to read the Word? It seemed impossible. A very dear lady told me to use my lunch hour. I packed a lunch and would spend my lunch break reading the Bible. It began to bring so much peace to my soul. The scriptures about the bread of life became so real to me during those times. Those were very hectic and chaotic days of our life. Scott and I were like ships passing in the night but we were both in the Word and it was an anchor for us. We will always stay too busy to get in the Word. We have to arrange the busy to make the time. It isn’t about a religious obligation to read a chapter in the Bible a day or complete a Bible study workbook. It is so much more than that. It is having communication with God. Sometimes that means meditating on the same scripture for a while or reading the same section of scriptures over and over. It is about relationship.

3. Prayer: This is the communication time

a. So many times we go to prayer and just lay it all out there for God and walk away. Prayer is so much more than that.

b. Recently, Scott preached a message on how we make prayer hard. We shortchange the opportunity to say prayers instead of living the lifestyle of prayer. We should be aware of His presence and that is our directive in prayer. I can be in prayer without ever saying prayers out of my mouth. We let our minds run wild because we can’t rope our minds into submission of the Word. Our thoughts become our mediation and we become unaware of His presence, which is always with us.

c. Prayer is a constant, ongoing mode rather than an action. Yes, there are the times when God will call you away to just pray for a period of time but we should be in a mode of prayer all day long, every day.

d. Where are you in your prayer life? Are you laying it all out there and just walking away or are you daily inviting God’s presence to surround you? Are you surrendering your day to Him or are you asking Him to surrender His day to you?

4. Worship:

a. This is our time to just give God honor. This can be hard, especially when you are in the midst of pain.

b. Think about this – in the pain you are enduring, are you only looking at the pain or are you looking at the long-term picture.

c. When we are in a situation that is trying (Maybe you have lost a child, or have a loved one with caner. Maybe a dream has been shattered or a hope is lost) we always focus on that immediate situation.

d. If we think about the end result, it is easier to give honor to God.

e. Many years ago, I had a dream of a huge family. I could only have one child and my dream of a large family was lost. As I look back on that pain, it was so real. However, when I look at my life now, I am so fulfilled parenting my daughter.

f. Don’t withdraw from God because of pain. Draw near to Him and ask him to help you see the big picture.

I challenge you – use the tools that have been set before you. God desires relationship with us and we need to use the tools He has provided.

– Tammy