Adversity, Bible, Life's Moments

How Can You Mend A Broken Heart

Adversity often pounds away at the human heart until the heart finally breaks. Then the questions flood the soul…

…what now?
…where do I go from here?
…who do I turn to at this point?
…when will my broken heart
feel better?

Making adversity even worse is the simple, yet profoundly terrible, truth that we never thought it would happen to us. Like the opening lines from the Bee Gee hit, How Can You Mend A Broken Heart:

“I can think of younger days
when living for my life was everything a man could want to do. I could never see tomorrow but I was never told about the sorrow.”

We’re just not prepared. Adversity is random. It’s out of contol. Unexpected most times.

But there is someone who specializes in mending broken hearts. If we’re listening, he’s letting us know all the time. Even while reveling in Michael Buble’s cover (my favorite version) of the Brothers Gibb timeless song, the Lord reminded me yet again with his word…

Praise the Lord!
For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.
The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:1-3

What once was a song to bring tears has now become a propellent for thanksgiving, because what was once unanswered is now no longer so. It’s not how can you mend a broken heart, but who has mended my broken heart.

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Adversity, Bible, Life's Moments

In the Still of the Night

In the still of the night, more than any other time, my flesh begins to crawl. No, not like that…not the spooky afraid of the dark sort of thing. I’m referring to flesh in the biblical sense…those old memories, those hauntings, those willowy vestiges of a man long since dead. You know, the memories still lodged in my brain from a time before my Nic at Night moment.

Do you know about Nicodemus? You can read about him in The Gospel of John, chapter three. He came to Jesus during the night and this happened…

” ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.

Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.

How can someone be born when they are old?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!

Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.‘ ”

I’m not sure about Nicodemus, but I took Jesus at his word and my world changed. I changed. I was born again. Old habits died off. Old yearnings went away. Supernatural change was afoot. I received a new Spirit…but not a new body. My body is not yet redeemed. The brain can still process junk…if I allow it. This is the crawling flesh to which I refer. And, in the still of the night, the hauntings of the past arise. Slowly at first. Being tired, I sometimes fail to rush to the breech. I forget all I need do is submit to the Lord, listen for his word, and rest. If I linger too long sin finds an approach. My thoughts become my worst adversity. Then I pray…

Then I pray…and this happens…the word of God comes from the Spirit of God. Oh no, don’t misunderstand. It’s not inspiration. It’s not a “new word from the Lord.” It’s his word given by prophet, apostle, or Jesus himself and left for us in the Bible. When the flesh crawls his word is the last thing I look for or think of, but then the real me, my new spirit, once again becomes witness to the Holy Spirit testifying within me that I’m not that person anymore. I’m a child of God. Words like “It is good to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your lovingkindness in the morning and your faithfulness by night” (Psalm 92:1,2) begin to pour in. His word. His will. Meant for me…for peace…in the still of the night.

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Adversity, Bible, Life's Moments

Late At Night When the Heart is Troubled

Late at night, when the heart is troubled, the Spirit of God whispers his word to my spirit, “You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance” (Psalm 32:7). This is what King David knew to be true of the Lord. It is now the very real and tangible evidence of the presence of God for me. As Francis Schaeffer said, “He is there and he is not silent.” It is also the seed of a beautiful song of praise:
You are my hiding place
You always fill my heart
With songs of deliverance
Whenever I am afraid
I will trust in You
I will trust in You
Let the weak say I am strong
In the strength of the Lord

And, if it was true for King David, it’s true for us when Jesus is on our throne. Amen. Come on tomorrow!

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Adversity, Bible, Life's Moments

If You’re Going Through Hell…

One reference attributed the following quote to Winston Churchill, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” Seems they were wrong. Upon further research, it seems the quote’s been used, modified, and used yet again over and over. The best I am able to tell, the original came from the Christian Science Monitor from sometime early last century. I decided against using the quote. Why? Well, not so much because of its dubious background, but on account of the simple fact that it is so terribly incomplete. Sure, such platitudes are nice…
“When the going gets tough the tough get going.”

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

“Just do it.”

However, that’s not how the Lord sees it. When adversity is due to no fault of your own, the Lord never asks you to plow through, to find your way through on your own, to light your own way through. In fact, to do so will make things worse…

Isaiah 51:10,11

10  Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of his servant? Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God.

11  Behold, all you who kindle a fire, who equip yourselves with burning torches! Walk by the light of your fire, and by the torches that you have kindled. This you have from my hand: you shall lie down in torment.

Simple…don’t fight darkness with the wrong source of light…keep trusting him.

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Adversity, Bible, Life's Moments

Adversity Diminished

Paul, my Dad, knew adversity. As a youngster, he faced down the real great depression (the 1930’s). As a young man, he served in the 81st Infantry as they joined in the terrible battles of the Palau Islands and Leyte. As a young husband and father, his days as a combat medic were not over… he was reactivated for the Korean War. Again he was called up in 1960 for the Berlin Crisis. After a year of blessed non-deployment he was allowed separation. With four children ranging from 5 to 13 he and Mom said, “Enough,” and back to South Dakota we went. However, the siren call still beckoned…back they went. In 1966, Dad obeyed one final time as Uncle Sam sent him to Viet Nam with the 1st Cav. In 1978, he hung up his helmet and boots for the last time. Dad knew adversity. During the months of March through July 5 of this year he fought yet another battle. One he could not win. He failed to thrive. He went home to Jesus. It wasn’t pretty. Through it all another battle raged…inside. It was his. It was internal. He struggled to see the hand of God’s love. Yes, he bowed before the King of kings. Jesus was his Savior, but it was an uneasy truce.

Jeremiah also knew adversity. Oh man, he knew it well. You might be unfamiliar with his life. If so, consider reading two books in the Bible: Jeremiah and Lamentations. Needless to say he had much to say about a hard subject during a hard time.

I have poured his words into my heart. Hurtful words. Sad words. Hard words. Yet words dripping with hope. They are in fact the Lord’s words…and I need them. Dad needed them.

I need them for multiple reasons, but mostly because I want joy and laughter to increase and sorrow and tears to decrease. Don’t we all.

Just this morning adversity came knocking again. I’ll spare you the details. No more had it made an attempt to camp out in my soul…when God’s word through Jeremiah flooded my spirit…

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:21-23).

I’ll leave it to you to discover just how miserable Jeremiah had become through no fault of his own. Read Lamentations. It’s short. It won’t take long, but hang on. It’s a difficult journey. Pay very close attention when you get to 3:16-18. Jeremiah could not have been lower. His hope in the Lord was gone. It’s as though he shook his fist toward the sky and shouted, “God I’m through with you!” Dad did this too.

The Lord’s word through Jeremiah ringing as a reminder in my mind was the Spirit of God whispering yet again to my spirit, my inner true self. What was true for Jeremiah is true for every believer in Jesus Christ. God’s love never fails. His mercy never ends. His love and mercy are new every day, because he is faithful. He doesn’t change. However, more than that, his presence is always with us. The word of God, tucked away in my heart, cascading like a river of fresh cool water over my troubled thoughts was God’s way of showing in real time that he is here…always, ever, in joy and in sorrow.

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

So keep fronting me, Adversity. Keep stepping in where you do not belong. You will continue to be escorted right out the back door. And that rushing wind you feel and hear pushing you away? It’s name is Pneuma…Spirit… the Holy Spirit…the One who leads and guides and reminds…the One who illuminates our minds with the eternal word of God…the One who testifies with my spirit that I am a child of God. The One who, finally, helped Dad see just how greatly he was and is loved.

My heart both broke and soared on July 5th. It hurt knowing in this life Dad never won the love battle. He simply could not see what Jeremiah knew…“the steadfast love of the LORD never ceases.” It soared knowing in heaven the war finally ended…his hope was no longer dashed. He doesn’t even need hope, because he knows face to face, heart to heart, from the eyes and lips of Jesus, “(my) mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning.”  

How about you? What does your battle look like? When adversity comes calling, what do you do? 

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Adversity, Bible

A Great Reminder About a Great Man Who Needed a Savior

You won’t be disappointed in an article by Randy Alcorn at Eternal Perspectives Ministry: Charles Spurgeon’s Joy and Fruitfulness in Ministry, Born Out of Suffering and Sorrow. (see link below)

The life of C. H. Spurgeon is both inspirational and sobering. He knew something about adversity…if you want to thrive you need the Lord. I have long appreciated this quote from him: “No stars gleam as brightly as those which glisten in the polar sky. No water tastes so sweet as that which springs amid the desert sand. And no faith is so precious as that which lives and triumphs through adversity. Tested faith brings experience. You would never have believed your own weakness had you not needed to pass through trials. And you would never have known God’s strength had His strength not been needed to carry you through.”

Just follow the link…

http://www.epm.org/blog/2017/May/22/spurgeon-ministry-suffering

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Adversity

Coffee Beans and Adversity

Bitter or Better 2

I recently read a wonderful story. I stumbled upon it at the following web address: http://www.upmoments.com/she-tells-her-grandma-that-shes-just-been-cheated-on/.

You’re gonna like it. It’s sweet. It’s poignant. And it’s truthful…to a point. Well, stick around until the end, you’ll see what I mean.

Here’s the story:

“A young woman went to her grandmother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her – her husband had cheated on her and she was devastated. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as soon as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her grandmother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, ‘Tell me what you see.’

‘Carrots, eggs, and coffee,’ she replied.

Her grandmother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The grandmother then asked the granddaughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.

Finally, the grandmother asked the granddaughter to sip the coffee. The granddaughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The granddaughter then asked, ‘What does it mean, grandmother?’

Her grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

“Which are you?” she asked her granddaughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity? Do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level?

How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?”

See what I mean? It’s a beautiful story…a parable illuminating truth…except for one thing…boil the beans again and again and again, and you no longer have the desired outcome. The analogy fails. Like the coffee beans, a person left to him or herself simply cannot be boiled over and over and over. Pretty soon there’s nothing left to produce the wonderful change described in the story…

unless…

unless the beans are very special…

unless the beans are miraculously renewed over and over and over again. Then the bean–and the person–can keep giving over and over and over again.

Then, in the face of adversity, we can make things better, not bitter. Whether coffee or life there must be something that’s new and fresh. With coffee the requirement is new beans. With us the requirement is new life. This is the miracle of regeneration. Its effects are spectacular.

Here, take a quick look…

“For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,  as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”        2 Corinthians 4:15-18

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