I wrote to my sister about my Pastor's message on Sunday morning. It was from Matthew 5 and how God wants us to have a happy life, but our happiness is not based on a feeling, but on being content in Him and who He is. She emailed me a link from a message at Mamre Baptist Church. This message was given by Pastor Ryan McKee. I'd like to share a few things that impacted me in this message.
First of all, when I went to the link, the title of the sermon caught me. I love this statement "Life is Hard, but God is good." I sing a song with this in the title. This song was a favorite of my daddy. When I first got the song to sing, I sang it many times and people would comment on how much they liked it, and how much it spoke truth to them. I didn't get it. I sang it at my grandmother's funeral - my mom asked me to sing it and said, "I only want you to sing it if you can sing it again, because this is your daddy's favorite song." I told her that was fine, I could do it. I knew the words, I sang them from heart, but I hadn't lived it yet. However, God allowed me to walk through a valley several years ago. It was such a dark valley, that I couldn't even sing this song. I would cry just hearing the first line of the song. Eventually God allowed me to come through the valley. He allowed me to be able to sing the song again...not just sing it as I had before, but really know what it meant. Really express it in the song too. Last year, my daddy passed away. God and I had a talk about this song. I knew it was my daddy's favorite and I wanted to be able to sing it in memory of him. How life can crash around you and be very hard to us, but yet in those moments He shows up and let's us see who He is and that He's there.
The second verse of that song says, "Jesus never said it was an easy road to travel, He only said that you would never be alone. When your last thread of hope begins to come unraveled. Don't give up, He walks beside you on this journey home." Believers, God never leaves us. He is always with us. (This is God's omniscience - everywhere). We may feel that darkness around us...but God is there...with us...holding us in the palm of His hand. We can't even jump out! Because of knowing that He is always with me, I'm able to sing this song again. I sang it a few weeks after daddy graduated to Heaven, and again this past Sunday night. I know the song, I've lived the song, and because I am learning to know God more I'm able to share it with others too.
Secondly, God doesn't bring bad things (or hard things) to us to punish us! God allows things to happen to us for us to bring glory to Him. Last year, I had a word/phrase for 2012 and how I believe God was teaching me. It was "WAIT ON THE LORD." The verse I used was Psalm 27:14 "Wait on the Lord and be of good courage and He will strengthen your heart. Wait, I say on the Lord." I believe God used this phrase and verse helped me through my dad's health decline and eventually his graduation to Heaven. At the end of last year, I began to seek God for what He wanted me to focus my study. I began to feel He wasn't finished with the waiting lesson, but I was opened for looking at forgiveness (which I believe He's using too - in fact He has used the lesson of waiting with forgiveness). But, I'm still believing that waiting is what I'll be learning again this year.
Yesterday, I had a doctor's appointment for a program that UK Hospital is doing ovarian cancer. The program works this way, a woman goes to the clinic to get a yearly ovarian scan. Early detection is vital in surviving ovarian cancer and they are doing this study to show that. This year was my sixth scan. Apparently they had seen a cyst before yesterday, but the girl who did my scan, mentioned that she was looking at it. So I began asking some questions. She said it had shown up on the previous scans, but that yesterday it did look bigger. She mentioned that the doctor would review the scan and if he wanted to have me back sooner than a year - they would call me within two weeks. I left the office, and drove back. As I was driving, I just gave this situation to God. I want Him to have the glory in my life and that includes anything even health situations.
This afternoon, I got a call and the doctor wanted me to come back in July for another scan to see how things were going. Again, I prayed for God to have the glory in this matter.
Third, the believers ultimate end in life is to know God. To truly know GOD! To glorify Him. To have a fuller, meaningful relationship with Him. I was created by God to bring glory to Him, but not just bring glory to Him, but to get to know Him...To talk to Him (praying), and to listen to Him (reading the Bible). Because I do these things, I develop my relationship with Him. That doesn't mean things are going to be peachy and all sunshine. There are people in our world who preach "health and wealth." This is not biblical. The Bible does teach that we are to be happy from Matthew 5, but this happiness is not based on feelings and being all sunshine and healthy. It's a contentment of being in Christ. Ryan says,
"How many times are we told that God wants His children to be happy? and I would suggest to you that it true. God does want His children to be happy, but our happiness lies not in getting what we want, but in knowing God. There is nothing more meaningful in life, than knowing Him. And in order to know God more fully in a fallen world, there must be trials and must be suffering."
James 1:2-4 tells us to "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." I love how The Message puts this passage. "Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when test and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows it's true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way."
Sometimes we pray that trials will pass quickly from us, but what we need to do is just pray for strength to endure. To praise Him for the trial and for what He's going to do in our lives and the lives of others. This reminds me of a scene from my favorite movie "Facing the Giants." When the coach says, "let's praise Him if we win, and praise Him if we lose." I think when we look at praising God IN EVERYTHING. We are able to handle those trials He allows to come our way.
I don't have all this mastered, but I'm thankful God still teaches me and allows me to share my thoughts with others.