Christ’s Glory Through His Death and What This Means For Us

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We’ve all encountered someone who later turned out to be much different than we originally thought. Maybe they presented as the perfect, compassionate friend only to turn on us when we didn’t meet their expectations. Or perhaps the opposite occurred and we assumed someone was shallow or selfish or irresponsible, only to discover, when life became hard, they showed themselves to be steady, present, and unshakable.

It’s so easy to misjudge someone and assign selfish motives or ill intent. For years, I did this to my husband, and it nearly destroyed our marriage. He and I are different in so many ways, including how we receive and express love. I’m a “quality time” person who measures the health of our relationship based on the depth of our conversations. He’s a provider and protector at heart whom will spend hours if not days searching for that perfect gift and earning the income to provide it.

Not being a “gift” person, I not only didn’t understand this, but in my misunderstanding, I assumed his motives were as opposite to truth as possible. In my thinking, he loved his job more than my daughter and I and was merely buying us presents or trinkets to appease us. But then we went through a difficult financial period and I watched him sacrifice time, energy, sleep—everything—for us. I’ve seen this again and again. When times become difficult, his inner hero emerges, casting out all doubt regarding who he is and the depth of his love.

We see the true nature and affections of a person during difficult circumstances, or as a former publishing colleague once put it, “Squeeze a sponge and what’s inside comes out.” Likely we can all attest to the truth in that statement, not just in regard to others, but in relation to Christ as well.

I’ve shared previously how my view of God has shifted over the years. The more I come to know Him, the clearer His heart becomes. Through difficulties, upheavals, and uncertainties, He’s revealed misconceptions and allowed my faslehoods to surface so that my heart can become, ever-deeper, anchored in truth. When it felt as if my world were spinning out of control, He held me and worked my chaos to good. When it seemed as if everyone else had abandoned me, He remained and drew me close. When bitterness welled within and even my prayers turned angry, He spoke words of love to my breaking heart.

Again and again, through hard times and good, God has shown me His love and faithfulness are beyond anything I could expect or imagine. However, He’s revealed Himself most clearly through the cross. If I ever doubt who He is and how He feels, not just about me but for all His creation, may God remind me, afresh, of the price He paid. May that dark moment in history forever be a beacon to my heart and yours, a reminder of who Christ is at His core.

In John chapter 13, shortly before His death, Jesus gathered His disciples close and explained to them all that was to come. “One of you who has just eaten from this bowl with Me will betray Me” He said (v. 23, NLT). “For the Son of Man must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago” (v. 24, NLT). What’s more, “All of you will desert Me” (Mark 14:27a, NLT). He told them He was going to die but that He would also rise again.

After His betrayer had left, Jesus said to His precious friends, “Now is the Son glorified and God is glorified in Him. If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify the Son in Himself, and will glorify Him at once” (John 13:31, NIV).

Christ was glorified on and through the cross, an act that Scripture reveals as “the very lowest point of His degradation” but which “John’s gospel always represents as the very highest point of His glory.” For the cross glorified Christ “in two ways. It was the revelation of His heart; it was the throne of His sovereign power” (MacLaren).

This is what it means to be glorified, edoxasthē in the original Greek. It’s ascribing God His true value and recognizing or acknowledging Him for who He truly is and honoring Him in that.

On the cross, we see Jesus’ unchanging nature: the victorious, self-sacrificing God who loves His children fiercely and will stop at nothing to draw us close. In His resurrection, we see His sovereignty over death and sin.

Through Christ’s horrific death, God the Father and God the Son received clear and immeasurable glory, casting a beam of truth and grace upon all mankind.

And now that we’ve seen Him for who He truly is, He invites us to live in that truth. To live changed, for Christ’s grace and truth, when received, always lead to transformation, so that we too, His redeemed children, are revealed in how we live and love.

Or to put is perhaps more simply: Jesus showed who He truly is and the depth of His love through sacrifice. I must do the same.

Let’s talk about this! How often do you pause to contemplate all Christ did on the cross and what that reveals about Him? When has His death and resurrection felt most real to you?

Speaking of thoughts that produce gratitude and praise … YouVersion has recently released my Bible reading plan, Bible reading plan imageCultivating a Thankful Heart–just in time for Thanksgiving! You can check it out HERE.

 

How God Responds to Our Pain

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If you want to catch a glimpse of God’s heart for you, simply watch a mother with her newborn. The hours spent walking the floor as she tries to soothe her little one to sleep. The energy sacrificed to care for her. The joy she feels when the child grows or laughs or simply breathes. Her anguish when her child is sick or in pain.

Nothing tears me up and drives me to pray quite like seeing my daughter struggle. About two and a half years ago she accepted and eight-month coop in North Carolina. Anxious for an opportunity to venture into the adult world, she left Nebraska with hope-filled anticipation.

Her enthusiasm soon turned into a scary depression, triggered by numerous circumstances. First, she was considerably younger than all her coworkers, which made it difficult for her to form relationships. Second, she was paired with an extremely critical and domineering roommate who caused my daughter to doubt everything good about herself. Navigating a management role at the age of 19, this was her first time living so far from home, and she was lonely. She struggled to find a faith community and missed her friends and family. As time went on, her feelings of isolation grew, which only served to deepen what we later learned was undiagnosed depression.

Watching her struggle from afar, I felt powerless to help her. I often longed to catch a plane, if for no other reason than to stay close. To hold her, and in so doing, to shoulder some of her load.

When we’re hurting, like my daughter was, it helps to know we’re not alone. The truth is, if we belong to Jesus, we never Quote from pulse and woman looking out the window are, regardless of how we feel. Scripture promises that. It tells us, throughout its pages, that God is with us, loves us fiercely, and will never leave us. What’s more, when we feel as if our heart is shredded, when the pain is so intense, it steals our words and we find ourselves unable to pray, the Holy Spirit steps in and intercedes for us.

Romans 8:26 tells us “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us through wordless groans” (NIV). Words in the original Greek often convey such richer meaning than our English translations, and that is true here.

When we suffer, and we will, the Spirit closely identifies with our suffering and comes alongside us in a deeply personal, empowering way. The late biblical commentator Matthew Poole phrased it this way: “The word” helps, or more accurately, joins to help, sunantilambanomai in the Greek, “imports such help, as when another of great strength steps in and sustains the burden that lies too heavy on our shoulders.”

But God does so much more than that. He feels our pain and prays for and with us with “groanings too deep for words” (ESV).

I’ve never understood the depth of this verse, the depth of God’s emotion conveyed by the words Paul chose, until I too prayed and “groaned” for my daughter during her struggle. If God feels even half of what I did, and I know He does, as His love is so much greater than mine, than I know, when I’m hurting, His heart breaks as well, and His heartbreak spurs Him to action.

God stays with me, offers His strength in place of my weakness, and prays with and for me. He doesn’t let up nor will He leave until He’s carried me safely to the other side. He will do the same for you.

Let’s talk about this! Did you know that God prays for you? That He’s deeply concerned for you and loves you as deeply as Romans 8:26 indicates? How does this knowledge bring comfort when you feel pain? Share your thoughts and examples with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another!

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Additional Resources:

The Problem of Pain by CS Lewis

Thinking Right When Things Go Wrong by JC Hutchison

God Meant it For Good by RT Kendall

Finding Jesus in the Center of My Pain by Jessica Brodie

 

Setting Aside Expectations to Love With Grace

 

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Sometimes I forget that transformation takes time. I’m not just talking in regard to my own growth, but this is especially true when I watch others. I can easily expect them to have reached a certain level and therefore to behave and think a certain way.

The problem is, I have spiritual forgetfulness. I forget where I once was and how slow my progress came; all the tentative steps forward followed by numerous slips and stumbles backward. I forget about all the nights I lay in bed reviewing my day—all the ways I had failed and all the people I had hurt. I often felt so defeated.

I felt certain I wasn’t growing, wasn’t changing; at least not in ways I could readily see. And I worried that maybe I never would, that maybe this Christianity thing wasn’t working for me, or that something about me was irreparably broken. I didn’t understand the reason for my struggle or the process of growth. I didn’t realize that transformation takes time. A lot of time.

It takes time for worldviews to shift, for attitudes to change, and habits to be broken.

This spiritual forgetfulness causes me to lay unrealistic expectations on my precious sisters in Christ, and in the process I unknowingly speak condemnation. In my attitudes and my expectations I say, “You’re not doing this right. This faith-thing isn’t working for you. You’re irreparably broken or maybe too hard hearted for God’s grace to reign within you.”

When discussing sinful behavior displayed by others, I often hear, “Yes Jesus loved the sinner, but He told them to ‘Go and sin no more.’” And this is true; Christ never encouraged or applauded or condoned sin. But neither did He—nor does He—expect instant transformation. Nor do we have any idea what transpired in people’s lives days or even months after their encounters with Jesus.

Consider the woman at the well. You can find her story in John chapter 4. Though she has initiated a great deal of speculation, we don’t really know what her behavior had been prior to encountering Jesus. We do know, however, that she lived perpetually empty—because Christ offered to fill her. We know she wasn’t living as the radiant daughter He created her to be, because apart from Christ, we’re all living false versions of ourselves. We also know she had spent decades among other humans, navigating her way, without God, through a broken and sinful world. Therefore we know she behaved sinfully and harbored deceived thinking.

We all did, before God’s intervention. And we all do, on occasion, likely more often than we’d care to admit, even now.

Our thoughts, desires, and habits change, slowly but steadily, as we draw ever-closer to Christ and soak in Scripture (Romans 12:2).

As we “renew our minds” daily with truth, as we surrender to God’s Spirit within, He takes us from “glory to glory.” In other words, He molds us ever-increasingly into the likeness of His Son. This speaks of an ongoing progression, one I’m certain the Samaritan woman experienced, and needed to experience. By the time she met Jesus, she’d lived a lifetime apart from Him. She’d developed a particular way of perceiving, acting, and reacting. She might’ve been fowl mouthed, short-tempered, and addicted to men. Those parts of her, whatever her particular sins were, had become ingrained deep within. I suspect it took years, if not decades, for God to remove and redeem them.

At least, that was the case for me, and I’m still learning, growing, and changing.

Sometimes, I encounter people who remember me from five years ago or perhaps even one year ago, and they expect that woman today. But she’s gone. She’s been transformed. She has grown and she has experienced a new level of freedom. And a year from now, God willing, I’ll be dramatically different—more patient and loving and self-controlled—than I am today.

Some people recognize this, and they treat me as if that were true. In this, I find the freedom, courage, and the hope to keep growing. But others don’t get it, and when they treat me as if those things were not true, as If I haven’t grown, or perhaps can’t grow, I’m tempted toward shame and defeat.

How we treat others matters. I want to be one who speaks life. I want to recognize growth regardless of how big or how small, to celebrate it and call it out. I want to allow others to change, not holding past behaviors or attitudes against fall background with lantern and quote from postthem. I want to treat others with the same gentleness with which Christ treats me. I love the apostle Paul’s words in Philippians 1:6. Speaking to relatively new believers living in Philippi, he said, “being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Paul was confident God would continue to grow the Philippian believers.

I want to live and love with that same confidence. I want to live recognizing that it is God who transforms, and that God always complete what He starts.

I’ll say it again: God always completes what He starts, in His way and His time, by the power of His Spirit working in all of us broken and sinful humans.

Let’s talk about this! When do you most find you struggle with unrealistic expectations, when it comes to your growth or the growth of others? How does God direct you during those times? Share your thoughts, stories, and questions with us in the comments below.

Speaking of grace, and God’s gift that came through Christ, you may also enjoy an article I recently wrote for iBelieve on all the symbolism and truth wrapped up in Christ’s birth and birthplace. You can read it HERE.

 

Other people’s sin, our lives, and God’s Sovereignty

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Where does man’s choice, most specifically, man’s sin, and God’s sovereignty, intersect? I suspect we’ve all wrestled with that question at some point. We understand that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving, faithful, and true. We believe the One who formed the stars from nothing and set our world into motion can easily orchestrate the details of our lives.

But what about human choice? What about when our boss makes a foolish decision and the company goes bankrupt, or one person’s sin drastically impacts the life of another? We all watch the news, and if we’re honest, we wonder, Lord, where were You when that parent began abusing that child, or that shooter purchased that gun, or that drunk driver got behind the wheel of his car?

Though admittedly, the answers to such questions are much more complicated than my temporal, short-sighted mind quote pulled from text with sunset backgroundcould ever understand, I’m comforted with this: Today isn’t the end, and one day God will indeed turn all things to good.

Scripture reveals this again and again. Consider Sarai, later called Sarah, Abraham’s wife. Her story is told in Genesis chapters 12-23. God called her and her husband out of a pagan city-state and led them to what scholars refer to as the Promised Land. They followed,  obediently it seemed, until Abraham became scared—twice—and betrayed his wife—twice. She soon found herself in a helpless, terrifying situation.

But God came through. He saw her, He rescued her, and He ultimately penned a beautiful story through her.

Then there was the young Hebrew named Joseph, born three generations later. God called him out from among his brothers for an amazing God-ordained purpose—the saving of many lives. Only shortly after that call, the immature teen bragged about a series of dreams God gave him. His siblings became enraged, beat him, and sold him into slavery. And that wasn’t the worst he experienced. Later, while serving faithfully in a foreign land, his master’s wife hit on him, numerous times. Driven by integrity, he rebuffed her. She became incensed, accused him of assault, and had him thrown into prison.

But again, God came through. Not immediately, not even quickly, but in His perfect timing. At just the right time, actually. He orchestrated Joseph’s release and placed him in a position of leadership, just as Joseph’s dreams had predicted, decade’s prior.

I could go on, and perhaps you could too. Maybe like me, you could even share examples from your life—of times when others attempted to harm you but God ultimately turned the situation to good, like Romans 8:28 promised. That verse states, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (NIV)

Notice Scripture didn’t say, “God will only allow that which is good.” Rather, it says, “He will turn to good …”

In other words, yes, God may very well let us experience some of our worst fears. But when we do, we can trust that those terrifying moments won’t last forever and that God will one day use them for good.

Quote pulled from post with sunrise backgroundThat is where our confidence rests—not in the circumstances of today but rather the promises of tomorrow when God will make all things right. This means we can trust, though life might hurt now, heaven is coming, and I believe when we’re standing on the other side of eternity, experiencing life as God intended it, we’ll deem every momentary struggle endured today not only worth it but insignificant in comparison to the paradise God held secure for us.

Let’s talk about this! Where do you place your confidence? Do you trust that God indeed holds your tomorrow? And if so, how does that trust impact your today? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

Also, I realized a bit ago, I never gave a “deadline” for the book bundle giveaway! I will close the contest to new entries pictures of bookson Nov. 16th. Y’all can “vote” on your favorite entry between from Nov. 21st through Nov. 30th. I’ll announce the winner the first week of December–that way whomever wins can use the books as Christmas gifts, should they choose.

For more information or to enter, go HERE.

And if you haven’t done so, make sure to check out Wholly Loved’s latest Bible reading plan, 20 Days of Relational Health! You can find it HERE.

Our hearts crave deep, lasting connections–to know we are loved and belong. This Bible reading plan will help you Image for Wholly Loved's Relational Health Bible Reading Plangrow in your relationships as you learn to love others well, speak and live in truth, and set the healthy boundaries that will allow your relationships to thrive.

Deepening our Knowledge–gnóseōs–of Christ through surrender

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Our relationship with Christ begins and is sustained through surrender. With every crisis and uncertainty, as we close our eyes and, with boldness, relinquish our grip, we land firm and secure in our Savior’s hands. It’s then that we realize He truly is loving, faithful, all-powerful, attentive, and true.

For most of my life, I held a very distorted view of God. I knew intellectually that He was loving and kind. At least, that was the Sunday school answer I would have given, if asked. But my actions, most specifically my fears, demonstrated my true beliefs—beliefs hidden so deep, my conscious mind wasn’t even aware they were there. Through a series of events, God allowed my world to completely unravel. At least, that was what it felt like. In reality, He was unraveling lies and fears that were never meant to be part of my world so that I could truly come alive—in Him.

This all began when my husband quit his job—twice, actually, in under a year—and moved our family, quite literally, across the country. Through what became a three-year upheaval period, God allowed all my fears and insecurities to rise to the surface, uncovering the lies attached to them. In this, I came to realize, though I claimed God was my provider, sustainer, protector, guide, and friend, my continual fight for control proved I believed otherwise. In many ways, I knew of God, but I didn’t truly know God, not at the deep, peace-sustaining level.

If I had, I would have understood I had no cause for alarm and no reason to self-protect or fight for control. As I surrendered, through gritted teeth at first, I came to understand just how true all those truths Scripture revealed truly were. That terrifying, mind-shifting experience resulted in an intimacy with Christ I hadn’t even thought to pursue prior, and a much deeper understanding of who He is.

I’m learning to say, “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider quote on knowing Christ and a picture of a candle.everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord …” (Phil. 3:7-8, NIV).

Those words in Philippians were written by an ancient church planter named Paul who truly had forsaken all things in order to know Christ. Prior to his conversation, he’d known of God but he didn’t come to truly know Him, personally and intimately, until He surrendered. And through his continual surrender, his intimacy with Christ grew to a level I suspect few of us will experience, because few of us will ever truly understand what it means to say, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).

As I said, our relationship begins and is sustained—is deepened and fueled—I through surrender. As we rely on Him—His power, protection, strength, and provision—our understanding moves from mere intellectual assent to a deep and abiding knowledge that forms within a strong, unshakable foundation.

“This is eternal life,” Christ said, while praying to the Father, “that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3, NIV). The word our Bibles translate as know, ginóskó in the original Greek, points to a deep intimacy acquired through experience. But even this word lacks some of the depth revealed through its Hebrew counterpart, yada. This is the same word Scripture uses to describe the union Adam and Eve experienced through intercourse. Genesis 4:1 says, “now the man knew his wife Eve ..” (NRSV).

Our culture has turned sex into something selfish and ugly, but God designed this most intimate of acts to, in some mysterious way, unite two individuals into one. It’s a complete unveiling of oneself, a living “naked but not afraid.” To know one another fully, without shame or fear.

This is the level of intimacy Christ longs for with us, to usher us into a relationship so fulfilling, we, like Paul, would consider all else rubbish for the sake of knowing, truly knowing, Him.

We reach that place of ever-increasing intimacy through surrender.

Let’s talk about this! How does surrender lead to a deeper intimacy with Christ? When have you found this to be true? If surrender deepens our knowledge of Him, how can lack of surrender hinder this?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another!

Before you go, I have fun news. Wholly Loved Ministries has released their next Bible reading plan, 20 Days of Relational Health! You can find it HERE.

Our hearts crave deep, lasting connections–to know we are loved and belong. This Bible reading plan will help you Image for Wholly Loved's Relational Health Bible Reading Plangrow in your relationships as you learn to love others well, speak and live in truth, and set the healthy boundaries that will allow your relationships to thrive.

 

 

Resting in God’s Sovereignty and Infallible Wisdom

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Irony—heading to a speaking engagement on living centered in Christ and empowered by Him while firmly planted in my wisdom and strength. I know I can do so much more surrendered to God than I’ll ever do on my own, but sometimes I forget. I only see what’s right in front of me, and even that’s often distorted. But God sees all and knows all, including how He wants to use me. My role isn’t too figure everything out but instead to listen and remain pliable to His leading.

The more out of control I feel, the more I’m tempted to fight for it. As my focus narrows, my vision slips off of my Savior, and lands squarely on fallible, short-sided, and often deceived self. I begin to think that I have all the answers or the insight to formulate the best plan.

But then God reminds me, through the chaos, that He retains full control. He saw it all, before a moment unfolded,Psalm 147:5 because He knows all (Ps. 147:5) and works in and through all (Rom. 8:28). He “works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:11, ESV).

As a speaker, I’ve come to expect my fall to turn hectic, that’s when most women’s groups book their annual retreats. Add in some unexpected contracts and schedule shifts, and what felt challenging before pricks all my insecurities. I worry I won’t accomplish all I need to in time or that I won’t complete the tasks well.

These worries pricked recently when a series of unexpected and challenging obligations hit.

Then came Friday, when I learned, due to unavoidable and unforeseen events, I needed to cover a speaking engagement for a friend the following Monday. No big deal, right? Sure, my schedule was tight, but I could make it work. Besides, I already had a talk written on the very subject the group needed. So, though stretched, I confidently replied, “No problem.”

She answered, in essence, “Maybe God has a plan for this.”

Such truth in that statement, for we know that He always has a plan. He’s always working behind the scenes, connecting dots and gently nudging us this way and that, as He perfects His perfect will. Sometimes we’re able to watch His perfect wisdom unfold before us; other times we catch mere glimpses and are asked to trust. To trust that He truly is sovereign and knows the best course of action, and the precise time for execution, for whatever we might face.

When God guides us toward something, He always provides all we need to accomplish whatever He’s assigned.

I know this. I do. But sometimes I get so caught up in whatever is before me, whatever seems to be standing in my way, I forget. And sometimes, in His love and grace, God provides not one but three traffic jams, and some missed turns and dead ends to remind me—He’s always in control, and His ways truly are best.

That’s precisely what happened Monday. The day quickly turned crazy with technological difficulties and numerous unexpected yet urgent responsibilities added to an already full day. As a result, I wasn’t able to rehearse my talk, other than in bits and pieces.

Then came the rush hour traffic I severely underestimated—in part due to an accident on the 680. Honestly, if I laid out my drive, you’d laugh, it became so ridiculously strange. I arrived slightly frazzled and frustrated to discover the group had experienced numerous hiccups and last-minute changes themselves. Relaying this to me, one woman replied, “I’m not surprised. Satan loves to trip us up.”

Though I understand the truth in her statement—Scripture does indeed tell us we have a spiritual enemy determined to trip us up, it also reveals a much stronger, more powerful and constant force Who is always working on our behalf. That became so clear, a short time later, as I stood and spoke grace over the woman gathered that night. Unprepared as I felt, I was forced to rely less on my wisdom and preparations and surrender to God’s leading.

I encouraged them to stop striving to be that perfect mom, to display perfect patience and grace, and to lean into their Savior instead. To let Him prove Himself strong on their behalf. The tears brimming in their eyes and the soft smiles that emerged indicated those truths resonated, I believe, much more deeply then my initial presentation would have.

That night, in my weakened, frazzled state, they got a little less of fallible Jennifer Slattery and a bit more of their ever-wise, ever-present King.

Because God knew. He knew what they needed to hear, and He knew precisely how to get me out of the way so that He could speak those truths through me.

Text from the post with a skyline pictureHis wisdom is perfect and His power unconquerable; knowing that gives me courage to surrender. In fact, I would be foolish not to.

May we all choose to say, daily, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

As we die to ourselves—our wisdom and our will—Christ’s power is unleashed within us.

Let’s talk about this! How often do you contemplate God’s unfathomable wisdom? What does His wisdom mean for your current situation? How does His unchanging nature encourage your surrender?

Share your thoughts and stories or suggestions with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from one another!

Before you go, I have fun news. Wholly Loved Ministries has released their next Bible reading plan, 20 Days of Relational Health! You can find it HERE.

Our hearts crave deep, lasting connections–to know we are loved and belong. This Bible reading plan will help you Image for Wholly Loved's Relational Health Bible Reading Plangrow in your relationships as you learn to love others well, speak and live in truth, and set the healthy boundaries that will allow your relationships to thrive.

Before you go, I invite you to join me on Gail Pallotta’s blog to hear a bit about my first Love Inspired novel, Restoring Her Faith. You can read more HERE.

When Our Greatest Need Leads to Our Greatest Blessing

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What if your greatest need, your greatest challenge, strategically leads to your greatest blessing? What if, in your place of struggle, of uncertainty, God is chiseling away all that is shaky and false to lay beneath you a sure and steady foundation? What if, when it feels as if everything around you is shattering, God is actually using those broken pieces to create something eternally beautiful and precious?

My mind likes to shoot straight to fear. When our car breaks down, or our daughter struggles, or maybe someone I love experiences a health challenge, I’m tempted to forget. To forget that God is with me, with us. To forget He’s ever present, certain and true. That His love is big enough to cover every need and hurt. But most of all, I’m tempted to forget that He is in my difficulty, using the situation to reveal hidden lies lurking in my heart. Shining His light on what is diseased in order to bring life and light to what’s gone dead.

For years, I felt food insecure. Even with a full pantry and well-funded savings account, financially, everything felt uncertain. I remembered my time wandering the street of Tacoma, of eating potatoes, and lets be honest, large quantities of malt liquor.

My vision from that time was selective, distorted. I remembered the hard more than God’s hand. And so, I lived in fear. Fear that, at any moment, the life I’d created—that I thought I’d created—would unravel.

In essence, I made much of myself and little of God. I placed my husband’s paycheck, or working car, or our checking account in place of my faithful Provider. Yet, in the deepest recesses of my fearful heart, I intuitively knew that none of those things had the power to carry me. But in focusing on all those lesser, powerless, ever-shifting provisions, I forgot who was and always has been holding me.

My focus on the “bread” hindered my view of the “Baker” and this kept me from resting firmly in His embrace.

This was precisely what happened some two thousand years ago, when Jesus and His disciples encountered a large crowd of hungry people. We likely miss the magnitude of this situation as most of us have never truly been food insecure. When we want something to eat, we run to the store or hit the nearest restaurant. But for ancient man, hunger was a real and pressing concern.

And so, seeing their hunger, Jesus said to Philip, one of His disciples, “You feed them.”

To which Philip replied, in essence, “Um, what?”

“Philip answered Him, ‘It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!’” (John 6:7, NIV). Peter responded much the same, saying “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” (John 6:8, NIV).

Like I so often do, Philip and Peter allowed their need to blind them from their Provider. In that moment, the need felt huge and their God felt small.

Have you ever been there? I have. And when I land in that place, God doesn’t chastise me or turn away. Instead, He draws me close and says, “What you have is enough, because I, who always am enough, will make it enough.”

That’s precisely how He responded to His disciples. “Jesus said, ‘Have the people sit down.’ There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish’” (John 6:10-11, NIV).

Did you catch that? Jesus didn’t just give the people a little. He didn’t feed them enough to hold them over until they could find another meal. He gave them each as much as they wanted. He gave them an abundance, because He is the God of abundance, and He wants us to know that He alone, not our jobs or our paychecks, will meet our needs.

Text pulled from post with a flower background.God calls us to utilize what we have, not obsess over what we lack. When needs arise, it’s easy to become paralyzed by our lack. But even in our lack, we have hope, because we have Christ. And the same God who used a simple lunch of five loaves and two fish can use our meager resources and feeble strength to perfect all that concerns us.

In fact, sometimes, oftentimes, He will allow us to land in situations that feel hopeless so that we can truly and securely grab hold of the only One who is hope. That is a precious blessing that will never fade or disappoint.

What are you facing today? What might God be showing you through it? In the middle of your struggle, what lies are rising to the surface? That God doesn’t care? That He won’t provide for or protect you? That He’s distant or not listening?

What does truth say?

Share your thoughts, stories, and encouragement with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another! And make sure to connect with me on Facebook and Instagram!

And for the creatives among us, I’m hosting a fun story lib contest to celebrate my new contract (another release scheduled for June 2020). The winner will receive all of the below books, signed. You can find out more HERE.

pictures of books

For those of you who feel unseen or unvalued, I encourage you to read my post on walking in Hagar’s shoes on Stephanie Landsem’s blog. Find that HERE. And if you’ve never read any of her novels, you totally should. She’s an amazing writer!

Contact me HERE if you’d like me to come speak (or video into) to your Bible study group, book club, or at your next women’s event.