Have you ever made it a daily habit to do something that many people do not do or even think about? Perhaps you made it a habit to read. Or maybe you made it a habit to run. Whatever it was, if you stopped doing it, something may not have felt right. That’s what happened to me after I stopped doing daily devotionals. Read this post to learn about my non-devotional experience. Continue reading The Importance of Devotionals
Strong waves of worry quickly bang against both sides of my mind.
Impatience and anger cause my whole body to inflame.
And then I cry,
the tears emitting exhaustion.
At least I am temporarily distracted from chaos.
I put my headphones on,
listen to prayer audio for peace.
The impact from the waves of worry becomes less forceful.
The anger and impatience fade.
My body softens.
everything becomes silent.
In this silence,
I fall into a restful sleep.
In my subconscious, I am safe,
sure to awaken well-rested and restored.
Life changes every day,
even in little ways.
No day is the same.
We cannot predict tomorrow from today,
but we can pray.
During my hour of worship this morning, the NLT version of Romans 5:3-4 really caught my attention.
Here’s what it said:
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.”
The reason it stuck out to me was that it shined a positive light on what we typically see as negative. Whether it be a breakup, lay-off, death, failing grade, etc., most of us would be crushed. We’d feel weak. How can these trials “help us develop endurance”?
I’ve been thinking about this today, going over and over the words “rejoice”, “problems”, “trials”, and “endurance”. It didn’t make any sense at all! It almost sounded like a bad sales pitch, encouraging you to buy into the idea that we “need” problems and trials because they’re “good” for us. It sounds ridiculous, right?
That’s what I used to think. To me, trials were tests. I looked at tests as “survival of the fittest” and “you have it, or you don’t”. I thought life only consisted of failure or success, and you were ultimately either a winner or a loser. There was no in-between. After every trial started and after every failure, I thought God was messing with my head. I thought I was ultimately a hopeless person with no real future (a loser). So why rejoice?
But after I read the passage at least 20 times, I realized I missed something. I’ve faced similar trials multiple times (I.e. trying to make honor roll, trying to get a promotion, trying to enroll in a class that was already filled up, trying to get insurance figured out. etc.). Thinking about the outcomes now, they weren’t all bad. I didn’t get into a class that was full, but I did make honor roll. I didn’t make honor roll one semester, but I made it during the following one.
I fell so many times, but God gave me successes to push me further in life. The more progress I made, the more I had a reason to “rejoice”. God wanted me to apply a positive outlook on the future (hope), and He wanted me to seek help from Him to keep going and develop more hope. The more I continue to seek Him now, the more He gives me patience, peace, strength, wisdom, hope, etc. for more accomplishments and fulfillment of my purpose. I believe that God wants the same for everyone–the will to come to Him with problems and to use the strength that He gives them in the midst of despair. Only through Him do we find what we don’t always see–hope.
I challenge you to think about your trials and the outcomes. Were they all good/bad, or did they vary? What happened after a success? Did you still seek God? What about after a failure? How has your hope/happiness been affected by your relationship with God?
Feel free to comment with any of your own thoughts/stories.
I believe that prayer can help us see a change in ourselves and in life.
After Noah built the Ark, he proved his righteousness to God. Because of his righteousness, God heard and responded to his plea to not destroy the Earth. So he granted Noah’s request.
In the same way, God hears our pleas. Although he might not always grant our requests the way He did for Noah, He listens to us in the same way. He works miracles that may not be seen in our own lives right away, but we can see them happen in others’ lives. This discovery gives us something to discuss with God.
This happened to me after seeing Facebook posts about others’ success–new jobs, new houses, marriage. After long moments of jealousy, I remembered what others have told me: This can happen for you, too.
So I prayed. I asked God to give me all of these things. After tracking my level of envy and patience, I realized that those two things were getting worse. So instead of asking God for “success”, I needed to ask Him to fix my heart and mindset.
As I prayed for a change in myself, I became more patient and less envious. After seeing others’ successes, I started to find it easier to remember: This can happen to you, too.
I believe that the same is true for everyone. Although it is hard to remember this, we can be reminded of it through prayer.
Outside of a Starbucks, I sit under an umbrella that shields me from the burning sun. Here, in the silence and the shade, I think about today’s devotional on the topic of patience.
During my quiet time in this shade, I am surrounded only by God, protected from distractions. Patiently, I wait for the breeze. When it comes, I will welcome it as I welcome God’s words.
In this shade, during my silent waiting, I hear cars rush past the coffee shop. They send loud noise and a breeze my way.
Through the noise, I hear God’s words. I welcome them, then understand them.
“Since you have waited patiently in silence, I give you these words that you will put to paper. I give you the breeze so that you will not be burned by summer’s heat,” God says.
Inhaling and embracing God’s message, I hear fewer cars and feel less of a breeze. Behind me, I see the door of the coffee shop open. A boy and his mom walk out. The mom talks of the coolness inside.
Coolness sounds ever-so inviting.
“Go inside,” God says.
I go inside. Feeling refreshed by air conditioning, I sit down to write everything I feel, hear, and learn.
“Now, put this writing in your blog,” God says.
I obey Him. Here it is.
In previous posts, I’ve talked about faith in God and signs from Him. I’ve also talked about seeking Him during times of discontentment, fear, and anxiety. In this post, I’ll be talking about how I found peace at a store.
It was a few weeks ago. I was thinking about financial issues. I was scared because I knew that I was almost 26, which meant that I would soon be off of my mom’s health insurance plan. I didn’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t get my own insurance when I needed it.
So I did what I do best: I freaked out.
I freaked out over finances, over my job, over the future…over pretty much everything.
My first thought: I’m screwed!
After about an hour of crying, I got myself together. I listened to some Christian music, got my purse and iPad, and walked to The Dollar Tree. My intention was to shop for a little bit and then do a devotional on my iPad.
Well, God had something different in store for me…and it didn’t involve technology. As I was roaming the aisles, I started wondering whether I should buy a devotional. I decided not to, as I didn’t finish the other ones I owned. But as I continued shopping, the anxiety about money and the future creeped up again. I couldn’t find peace.
But somehow, in the stationery aisle, I found peace. On the center of the shelf was a box of devotionals. One of the devotionals was about to fall out of the box. So I took it out. The cover said “Peace”.
I didn’t go shopping for a devotional. I didn’t go shopping expecting to find peace, though I did hope for it. And lo and behold…There it was in the form of a devotional.
Suddenly, I forgot about money, stress, the future, and my plans. I just laughed.
My final thought: I’ll be okay.
In the middle of a store, God blessed me with peace.
Yesterday, I was reading a book called “Stripped: When God’s Call Turns from ‘Yes!’ to ‘Why me?'” by Lina Abujamra. One of the topics that really struck me was why God has us wait for things to happen.
The four reasons were for God to “grow us”, “protect us”, “test us”, and “purify us”.
Like the author (and probably most of us), I can’t stand waiting. I can’t stand waiting to feel “good enough.” I can’t stand waiting until the day I can be “perfect” at my job. I can’t stand waiting for all anxiety to just go away.
I’ve always lived by these two mottos: “Good things come to those who wait” and “Hard work pays off”.
Cliche? Yes. But it’s the truth. A few years ago, I distorted the meaning of these mottos to sound something like this: “It takes a lot of time to see results. But with hard work, it will happen. Everything will be ‘Great’!”
Great. In my mind, great meant perfect: no anxiety, total happiness with my job, absolute perfection 24/7. I was patient, but only for perfection. That patience only lasted so long.
The more time passes, the more impatient I become. The more I STILL feel the anxiety. The more I STILL distort the meaning of the mottos. Even worse, the more I question both mottos separately.
But sometimes, in the midst of this impatience, the waiting time gives me time to allow God to “grow” me. I finally realize that we should not hope for perfection, but we should hope for the best in the future. “The best” not meaning perfection, but God’s plan to fulfill us. I am ultimately hoping for patience and peace in God’s plan. I am waiting for this hope to fulfill me.
God is “testing” me to continue letting Him give me signs of hope, signs of His presence. He’s throwing obstacles as tough love, to get me to keep being steadfast in faith, to never question His existence.
God is “protecting” me from false beliefs. He’s protecting me from forever rebelling against His plan and forcing my own instead. He’s protecting me from running from myself and my emotions. From this protection, He’s keeping me grounded in reality and focused on Him, able to distinguish the difference between Him and mankind.
Finally, God is purifying me by not allowing money, jobs, and the future on Earth to be the core values in my existence.
So what am I ultimately waiting for? I’m waiting for greater contentment and acceptance in God’s plan. I’m waiting for whatever knowledge and strength may come out of His plan. This waiting can be hard…REALLY hard. But the outcome will be worth the wait.
To pray is to connect with God through conversation. Like in the Psalms, it can be about anything–temptation, sin, fear, disappointment, blessings, relationships, the future, etc.
Some of the aforementioned topics are very personal, things that may be better off just mentioned between you and God.
But when can it be appropriate and even beneficial to pray with someone?
I’ve been in a lot of situations when I could easily pray with others. One of these situations occurred with a counsellor at a Christian camp; another occurred with a pastor at church. The topics were very diverse, but every situation held one common theme: the need to seek help from God.
I used to think that it was awkward to pray with someone. So I only prayed by myself. But sometimes, when I really needed to just talk to someone, they asked me if they could pray for me.
One example happened just a few weeks ago when I was having a conversation with someone at church. I was struggling with frustration from insecurities, and when I explained everything, he asked if he could pray for me. Of course, I said yes. When he prayed for me, I felt the spirit move me to add to the prayer. With both of us praying, not only was our faith strengthened, but our friendship was strengthened as well.
God asks for personal prayer time. He also answers prayers by giving us people to pray with, binding us together in faith. The best people to pray with are people who share our faith, people we either know very well or people from our church who offer prayer.