(The below first posted in the summer of 2016.)

Don’t Despise the Wildnerness
by Julie Arduini

It was 2003. I lived in Upstate NY and the financial consequences from 9/11 hit our small city hard. The main corporation in town, Corning Inc., let go 20% of their workforce. At the time, their stock was worth less than a slice of pizza at the local shop. Most businesses in town were somehow connected to Corning, including my husband’s employer. His work dried up to the point that the employer left the business and told his employees to keep it baby-1178539_640running—without salary or benefits.

Our baby came into our lives that August and I thought for sure my new role as a full-time mom would be the needed turn. Not long after her birth my husband realized he had to get another job. Our health insurance alone was a huge amount per month plus a 20% co-pay. On paper, we never had the amount. In reality, God provided. Yet, something had to give.

Once my husband started working as a temp to help make ends meet, we received news that our daughter’s newborn tests were abnormal. After hearing all was fine, we later learned the office made a mistake and our daughter was not fine. They sat me down and told me that because she lost 8 weeks of needed medicine, we were to prepare our child for mental retardation.

The hits became relentless. Our daughter got sick before Thanksgiving. Although we were changing doctors, we still hadn’t found one, so we went back. He prescribed a medicine with codeine, something I questioned for a three-month baby. He assured me he’d prescribed this for years.

Our daughter nearly died on Thanksgiving Eve.medic-563425_640

As she recovered, we learned my dad had lung cancer. I refused to believe it. He looked so good. They didn’t want anyone to know for fear he’d be treated differently. As Hannah battled RSV and pneumonia and my husband learned his second job was ending and that a company five hours away wanted to hire him—my dad wasn’t getting better. Three weeks after my husband moved to his new job knowing no one in an apartment the company found for him, my dad passed away.

I was grieving while taking care of two small ones, including a chronically sick baby. My mom was beside herself losing her husband and her daughter’s family. Once I sold the house and reunited with my husband, I remember sitting in Ohio, shell-shocked.

I felt completely abandoned by God.

It was in Ohio I found mentors and Bible studies that helped me. One day I was reading Beth Moore and she mentioned Hosea 2:14: 

That verse made this season almost feel like a gift.

A blessing.

As the grief subsided, I realized there were lessons I learned in the wilderness I never could have grasped in the clearing. I was introduced to opportunities that I never imagined I could have been prepared for. Those excruciating times were when God drew me close and taught me things. Showed me secrets and strategies. Most of all, loved me in an intimate way I’d never known.

The wilderness is scary and no one would voluntarily sign up for it. However, I don’t resist it anymore. I know a lot of fruit comes out of the wilderness. I wouldn’t be writing without those times. I hope my story encourages you. Don’t be afraid of your Hosea 2:14 wilderness.

***

“You need to leave me alone. It’s the least you can do.”

entangled2_editedCarla Rowling has been given her dream of attending cosmetology school. The gift is so generous she feels unworthy because of choices she made as a teen. The pressure mounts as Carla juggles school, is a single mom, helps her best friend Jenna plan her wedding, spends time with boyfriend Will Marshall, and deals with the fact that her son’s father is back in their lives.

Will Marshall is the one Speculator Falls resident everyone can count on. His truck deliveries are reliable. He’s the first to help friends like Ben Regan with boat work or be a card partner with Bart Davis. Will’s ready to settle down with Carla, loving her is natural. He’s bonded with her son, Noah. But when Carla starts cosmetology school, she puts emotional distance between her and Will.

Can Carla release her past and create a future full of highlights, or, will she burn her options worse than a bad perm?

Buy Entangled on Amazon.

***

profileJulie Arduini loves to encourage readers to surrender the good, the bad, and —maybe one day—the chocolate. She’s the author of the  re-release, ENTRUSTED: Surrendering the Present, as well as the sequel, ENTANGLED: Surrendering the Past. She also shared her story in the infertility devotional, A WALK IN THE VALLEY. She blogs every other Wednesday for Christians Read. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two children. Learn more by visiting her at http://juliearduini.com, where she invites readers to subscribe to her monthly newsletter full of resources and giveaway opportunities at JULIE ARDUINI: SURRENDER ISSUES AND CHOCOLATE and the weekly e mail. SUNDAY’S SURRENDER AND CHOCOLATE.

Connect with Julie on her websiteFacebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Before you go, make sure to catch the latest Faith Over Fear podcast episode: 

Freed From Toxic Relationships to Help Others Break Free (with Carolyn Whitney) – Ep. 131 Faith Over Fear

You may have heard someone say something to the effect of, “God will use your pain in your future ministry.” This doesn’t necessarily mean He will ask you to launch an organization or create a program within your social sphere or community, although He may. Rather, this stems from God’s promise to use you to comfort others with the same comfort He’s shown. You, whether that means listening with understanding as someone shares their hurts and struggles or walking beside someone seeking increased freedom. We hope today’s episode speaks to individuals in one of two places in their healing journey: 1) For those still in the thick of pain, hold tight to this—God longs to bring beauty from your pain by first healing you then giving you the strength and desire to help others heal. 2) For those who have experienced some degree of healing, prayerfully consider if God is asking you to walk alongside someone who is hurting or living enslaved. And finally, we hope this episode opens conversation on toxic versus healthy relationships.(Scroll down to find the group discussion questions)Find Carolyn Whitney and her ministry: https://sistersinchristkc.org/our-teamhttps://www.instagram.com/sistersinchristkc/https://www.facebook.com/sistersinchristkcFind Kelly Campbell and Wholly Loved, at:https://www.WhollyLoved.comFind Wholly Loved Ministries at:WhollyLoved.comJoin the private Faith Over Fear Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/442736966614671Join the Private Wholly Loved Community Group (also on Facebook):https://www.facebook.com/groups/443325386241769Group Discussion Questions:1.What resonated with you most in this episode?2.Have you ever felt like you were living in a "glass house" where things looked good from the outside but where circumstances or emotions felt chaotic, unpredictable, or unsafe, or uncertain? 3.When going through challenging or painful circumstances, how easily do you seek support from others, and what do you think impacts this?4.How would you describe the general health of your support system, and why would you describe it this way?5.What are some ways we can walk with family and friends through their mental health battles while still maintaining healthy boundaries for ourselves (and our children)?6.How can healthy connections with others help one heal from traumatic experiences7.What are some important steps to take when faced with a big transition in your life?8.What is one action step God might be wanting you to take as a result of listening to this episode?
  1. Freed From Toxic Relationships to Help Others Break Free (with Carolyn Whitney) – Ep. 131
  2. Thankfulness in Changing Seasons – Ep. 130
  3. Fighting Anxiety and Fear Through Praise (with Becky Harling) – Ep. 129
  4. When Self-Reliance Leads to Addiction (with Carol McCracken) – Ep. 128
  5. Breaking Free from Generational Dysfunction (with Gina Birkemeier) – Ep. 127

Have you ever experienced a time of loss and sadness that is simultaneously also filled with deep joy? That was our family this week as we journeyed to Ohio to celebrate the life and mourn the passing of my husband’s grandfather.

Grandpa Bob was 95 when he died, and what a man! A World War 2 Navy veteran who enlisted at age 17 and saw significant action—including the Battle of Iwo Jima, the Okinawa Invasion, and Operation Crossroads for the Bikini Atoll nuclear bomb tests—he also served in the Korean Conflict on the USS Wisconsin. After his discharge, he spent his career in Ohio’s oil and gas drilling operations. He had three kids, then remarried and gained three stepkids, and at his death claimed 12 grandkids (plus spouses) and 15 great-grandkids, all who loved him dearly.

Matt and I and our four kids road-tripped from South Carolina last week for the funeral, joined by parents and a host of other cousins, aunts, and uncles, all of us surrounding Grandma Mary, his wife. At age 98, she and Grandpa Bob still lived in their house. Together, we mourned his death but celebrated his life with deep and affirming joy.

Why joy? See, in addition to being an outstanding person and family man, Grandpa Bob’s most important role was “child of God.” A Christian and active member of his local United Methodist church, one thing we all knew when Grandpa Bob passed on was that we didn’t need to wonder or worry what would become of him. We knew, because he was a follower of Jesus, that he was assured eternal life.

Yes, there were tears at his funeral. We miss him! But there was also… laughter. Giggles. Jokes. His eulogies at the service—delivered by his pastor, one of his sons, and his stepson—recounted stories about mishaps with dynamite and catching himself on fire, his love for John Wayne and gardening, and his silliness rolling around on the ground with puppy dogs or playing at Cedar Point.

“Loyal, faithful, and hardworking,” are how his pastor, Jim, described him. “Disciplined but always fair,” his son, Uncle RJ, said.

A man of stories, said everyone.

That’s how I, a latecomer blessed to marry into this family, knew him. Grandpa Bob was an outstanding storyteller. I remember how we’d visit and he’d tell about standing on the deck of his ship in WW2, or about riding horses, another of his loves.

Uncle RJ shared how he had the opportunity these last years to spend at least two mornings a week having long coffee chats with his dad, listening to old tales told and retold, sometimes the same story twice in one day. What always struck RJ was the joy with which he told those stories. That’s what I had loved, too… and, come to think of it, is what always makes an extraordinary storyteller. It’s the love of the tale.

Grandpa Bob had that. He shared that. And oh, what a legacy.

A couple of the grandkids were not able to attend the funeral, and during the service, Uncle Warren shared a special memory one of his own sons had about Grandpa Bob. During their last visit, they’d sat on the porch together talking about the future, and Grandpa Bob passed on some sage advice to him: “We are ultimately measured as men by how we react to uncontrollable things.”

Wise, wise words from a good, good man.

As Pastor Jim said at the funeral, an eternal perspective in this life keeps us in balance. As believers in Christ Jesus, we know infinitely more awaits us in heaven. The casket is not our end.

Each of us who believe can hold fast to the promises of Scripture, promises like 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14: “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him” (NIV)*.

It’s not that we do not grieve, but that we don’t grieve as others.

Our grief is rooted in hope, in joy, in promise.

We will be together again one day—thanks be to God.

Rest in peace, Grandpa Bob. We love you dearly.

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Get to Know Jessica Brodie

Jessica's author headshot

Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden. She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism, and part of the team at Wholly Loved Ministries. Learn more about her fiction and read her faith blog at http://jessicabrodie.com

Before you go, make sure to catch the latest Faith Over Fear podcast episode:

Freed From Toxic Relationships to Help Others Break Free (with Carolyn Whitney) – Ep. 131 Faith Over Fear

You may have heard someone say something to the effect of, “God will use your pain in your future ministry.” This doesn’t necessarily mean He will ask you to launch an organization or create a program within your social sphere or community, although He may. Rather, this stems from God’s promise to use you to comfort others with the same comfort He’s shown. You, whether that means listening with understanding as someone shares their hurts and struggles or walking beside someone seeking increased freedom. We hope today’s episode speaks to individuals in one of two places in their healing journey: 1) For those still in the thick of pain, hold tight to this—God longs to bring beauty from your pain by first healing you then giving you the strength and desire to help others heal. 2) For those who have experienced some degree of healing, prayerfully consider if God is asking you to walk alongside someone who is hurting or living enslaved. And finally, we hope this episode opens conversation on toxic versus healthy relationships.(Scroll down to find the group discussion questions)Find Carolyn Whitney and her ministry: https://sistersinchristkc.org/our-teamhttps://www.instagram.com/sistersinchristkc/https://www.facebook.com/sistersinchristkcFind Kelly Campbell and Wholly Loved, at:https://www.WhollyLoved.comFind Wholly Loved Ministries at:WhollyLoved.comJoin the private Faith Over Fear Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/442736966614671Join the Private Wholly Loved Community Group (also on Facebook):https://www.facebook.com/groups/443325386241769Group Discussion Questions:1.What resonated with you most in this episode?2.Have you ever felt like you were living in a "glass house" where things looked good from the outside but where circumstances or emotions felt chaotic, unpredictable, or unsafe, or uncertain? 3.When going through challenging or painful circumstances, how easily do you seek support from others, and what do you think impacts this?4.How would you describe the general health of your support system, and why would you describe it this way?5.What are some ways we can walk with family and friends through their mental health battles while still maintaining healthy boundaries for ourselves (and our children)?6.How can healthy connections with others help one heal from traumatic experiences7.What are some important steps to take when faced with a big transition in your life?8.What is one action step God might be wanting you to take as a result of listening to this episode?
  1. Freed From Toxic Relationships to Help Others Break Free (with Carolyn Whitney) – Ep. 131
  2. Thankfulness in Changing Seasons – Ep. 130
  3. Fighting Anxiety and Fear Through Praise (with Becky Harling) – Ep. 129
  4. When Self-Reliance Leads to Addiction (with Carol McCracken) – Ep. 128
  5. Breaking Free from Generational Dysfunction (with Gina Birkemeier) – Ep. 127

In many of my conversations with those who are grieving or feel as if they’re losing hope, I often hear self-condemnation. I hear them place judgment on their feelings and struggle, and this grieves me because I know how contrary this is to Christ’s heart for them. I also know how much harder our journeys become when we view ourselves and our emotions so critically. I’ve heard it said that much of the anxiety we experience stems from unresolved grief, which I take to mean sorrow pushed down, suppressed, and ignored.

Quote pulled from post with decorate background.

Healing doesn’t come from denial or a determination of the will but rather from leaning hard into Jesus and following His lead, however He leads and at whatever pace He deems best.

Walking Through Life’s Hardships by Chaka Heinze

Ever since my son died three years ago, I’ve struggled with some fear of the future. 

The crazy thing is I’m a champion of believing and telling people about God’s goodness. I will shout from the rooftops that I serve a God who loves me more than anyone else ever could and who proved it once and for all time on the cross.  

He has blessed me more than I deserve, surrounded me with incredible people, and held me through the darkest times. 

He is God. My Rock. My Fortress. My Redeemer. 

And yet too often, I live with a palpable fear of the future God has planned for me. 

Not my ultimate future. I know heaven will be glorious. Jesus will right every wrong, and joy will reign. My son, Landen, will greet me with the hugest hug and a smile on those dimpled cheeks. 

My heavenly future is secure. 

It’s my future in the here and now that worries me. Thoughts of what comes next can cause me to recoil within myself and run to safer distractions. 

A valid question might arise in your mind, “If she believes God is who He says He is, why does she struggle with any kind of fear?” 

 The truth is that in the past our very good and gracious God allowed intense pain in my life. I followed Him, and He led me into painful places. I trusted Him, and He allowed me to endure heartrending sorrow. I praised His name, and He still asked me to experience the very worst thing a parent can endure. 

The future brings a possibility of hurt. Even as a follower of Christ, I still live in a broken world, and bad things happen here. 

Chaka Heinze

I’m not going to give you a pat answer. Some hurts are deeper than a simple prayer, a casual scripture, or a kind word can reach. There are wounds that God Himself must tend to in His divine sovereignty and in His own time. Mine have been some of those. 

I don’t have all the answers, but I want to share what I am doing. I have decided to imitate my Jesus.  

Hebrews 12:2b on a graphic with design elements.

The Bible says, “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12:1-3, NIV).” 

What made Jesus leave heaven’s perfection to come down to earth and endure a brutal death He didn’t deserve for crimes He never committed? We were the joy He clung to on that cursed tree. As He hung there your face and mine were among the pictures He saw in His mind’s eye. For Him, rescuing us and getting us safely home was worth sacrificing His everything.  

Chaka Quote pulled from post.

So I have decided in this time of uncertainty—with my future unfolding without my little boy in it—like Jesus, I will fix my eyes on the joy set before me.  

Jesus is that joy. With my far-off gaze on Him, I can see Him beyond my fear, pain, and wounds. 

I could end this by saying, “Fix your eyes on him.” And that would be a good platitude—a healthy goal. But Instead of an answer right now, I want to offer an invitation. I would rather show the things God is teaching me and allow him to use my story to benefit someone else.  

I want to offer you a ringside seat and reveal the good, the bad, and the downright ugly of the last few years adjusting to this new reality without my son.  

If you are facing fear, hardship, or heartache, perhaps we can walk together on a journey toward Jesus. I would love to join you in prayer and hope for whatever God might be doing in your life right now. 

Get to Know Chaka!

Online Engagement: Live Video

Chaka is a gifted author and speaker with Wholly Loved Ministries. She is a wife and mother of five who is intimately familiar with God’s love and faithfulness during times of struggle. The loss of her eleven-year-old son in 2018 served to increase her heart for encouraging and mentoring women facing hardships in their lives. Chaka is active in her local church, serves as a MOPS mentor, and is eager to glorify God with her writing. Find her at https://www.chakaheinze.com/

Listen to her grief journey Faith Over Fear episode 78 titled the Courage to Grieve

Freed From Toxic Relationships to Help Others Break Free (with Carolyn Whitney) – Ep. 131 Faith Over Fear

You may have heard someone say something to the effect of, “God will use your pain in your future ministry.” This doesn’t necessarily mean He will ask you to launch an organization or create a program within your social sphere or community, although He may. Rather, this stems from God’s promise to use you to comfort others with the same comfort He’s shown. You, whether that means listening with understanding as someone shares their hurts and struggles or walking beside someone seeking increased freedom. We hope today’s episode speaks to individuals in one of two places in their healing journey: 1) For those still in the thick of pain, hold tight to this—God longs to bring beauty from your pain by first healing you then giving you the strength and desire to help others heal. 2) For those who have experienced some degree of healing, prayerfully consider if God is asking you to walk alongside someone who is hurting or living enslaved. And finally, we hope this episode opens conversation on toxic versus healthy relationships.(Scroll down to find the group discussion questions)Find Carolyn Whitney and her ministry: https://sistersinchristkc.org/our-teamhttps://www.instagram.com/sistersinchristkc/https://www.facebook.com/sistersinchristkcFind Kelly Campbell and Wholly Loved, at:https://www.WhollyLoved.comFind Wholly Loved Ministries at:WhollyLoved.comJoin the private Faith Over Fear Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/442736966614671Join the Private Wholly Loved Community Group (also on Facebook):https://www.facebook.com/groups/443325386241769Group Discussion Questions:1.What resonated with you most in this episode?2.Have you ever felt like you were living in a "glass house" where things looked good from the outside but where circumstances or emotions felt chaotic, unpredictable, or unsafe, or uncertain? 3.When going through challenging or painful circumstances, how easily do you seek support from others, and what do you think impacts this?4.How would you describe the general health of your support system, and why would you describe it this way?5.What are some ways we can walk with family and friends through their mental health battles while still maintaining healthy boundaries for ourselves (and our children)?6.How can healthy connections with others help one heal from traumatic experiences7.What are some important steps to take when faced with a big transition in your life?8.What is one action step God might be wanting you to take as a result of listening to this episode?
  1. Freed From Toxic Relationships to Help Others Break Free (with Carolyn Whitney) – Ep. 131
  2. Thankfulness in Changing Seasons – Ep. 130
  3. Fighting Anxiety and Fear Through Praise (with Becky Harling) – Ep. 129
  4. When Self-Reliance Leads to Addiction (with Carol McCracken) – Ep. 128
  5. Breaking Free from Generational Dysfunction (with Gina Birkemeier) – Ep. 127

The Power of Repentance (Jonah 3:10) Your Daily Bible Verse

Want to listen without the ads? Become a BibleStudyTools.com PLUS Member today: https://www.biblestudytools.com/subscribe/ Meet Our Hosts: JENNIFER SLATTERY is a writer and speaker who hosts the Faith Over Fear podcast. She’s addressed women’s groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of Building a Family and numerous other titles and maintains a devotional blog at https://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com Follow Jennifer: https://www.lifeaudio.com/faith-over-fear/ https://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte https://www.instagram.com/slatteryjennifer/ GRACE FOX has published hundreds of articles and authored 10 books including the award-winning devotional, Finding Hope in Crisis: Devotions for Calm in Chaos. She’s a member of the “First 5” writing team for Proverbs 31 Ministries and a regular contributor to Guideposts’ Mornings with Jesus. Grace lives aboard a sailboat in Vancouver, British Columbia. Married in 1982, she and her husband celebrate three grown kids and eleven grandchildren. Check out Grace’s newest book, Keeping Hope Alive: https://www.tyndale.com/p/keeping-hope-alive/9781649380517 Subscribe to her weekly devotional blog and monthly update on her website: www.gracefox.com Follow Grace: Facebook: www.fb.com/gracefox.author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/graceloewenfox/   Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/gracefoxauthor QUINNISE PETTWAY is a writer, facilitator, Licensed Professional Counselor, wife, and mother whose mission is to help Christians encounter and embrace God as Father and walk boldly as His beloved children. She's the author of A Glimpse of Our Father: Lessons Parenthood Reveals for All of God's Children and hosts a weekly small group called “Gathering For A Glimpse” where she journeys with participants through the book to dive deeper into the heart of our heavenly Father. Follow Quinnise: Website- https://aglimpseofourfather.com/ Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/aglimpseofourfather Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/quinnisepettway/ Check out her YouVersion Bible App Devotional Plan (Inspired by full book) A Glimpse of Our Father: A 5-Day Devotional Plan for All of God's Children: http://bible.us/r/82J JOSHUA LILLIE is a passionate follower of Jesus, spreadsheet enthusiast, and lover of all kinds of art and music. Joshua has almost a decade of experience in music ministry, and has served both in house church and megachurch environments in pastoral and administrative roles, eager to see every man, woman, and child increasingly surrender their lives to King Jesus. He currently serves on staff with Christ Community Church in Omaha, NE, and as an ordained minister with the Christian & Missionary Alliance, a global denomination of Jesus-followers making Him known among the nations.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
  1. The Power of Repentance (Jonah 3:10)
  2. Showing Grace to Those Who Are Hard to Love (Ephesians 2:1)
  3. When God Comforts (2 Corinthians 13:4)
  4. Fight the Good Fight, Finish the Race, Keep the Faith (2 Timothy 4:7)
  5. How God Strengthens Us for Times of Crisis (Luke 22:10)

Young plan sprouting from the ground with a quote pulled from the post.

When my world was coming undone and I wondered the streets of Tacoma, Washington, trying to numb my pain, I felt alone. I thought for sure God had turned His back on me, and honestly, I expected Him to. I certainly wasn’t doing anything to draw Him to me. To the contrary. My behavior had given Him every reason to walk away.

When my marriage was struggling and my husband quit his job mere months after moving our family across the country, far from the close-knit community we’d grown so attached to—I felt unseen then as well. Abandoned.

I told God, quite clearly, all about it. Actually, more accurately, I cried out, “Don’t you see, Lord?”

I’ve hurled that accusation at my Father numerous times throughout my life, only to later realize how inaccurate my perception was. In fact, more often than not, it was during those frightening and heart-wrenching moments that God was doing His greatest work. He was lovingly, carefully creating beauty from my rubble.

He saw me in my pain, in my mess, even in my rebellion. In each instance, His compassion moved Him to action and His action brought life.

This has always been Christ’s way. When others reject us, He seeks us out. When we’re betrayed, He stands beside us as our most loyal and ever-present friend. When life feels chaotic, He remains a firm, immovable rock beneath our feet. And He comes to us when we’re overwrought with despair.

Before we can even speak the word, He’s there.

Quote from post with sunrise background.

Just as He was, some two-thousand years for a poor widow who’d lost her only son. As a parent who adores her daughter, I can’t imagine the pain this woman felt as a mom. Agony exacerbated by her utterly destitute state. In her male-dominated society where the majority of women were completely dependent on men, her situation probably felt hopeless. Today’s equivalent of losing a child, a job, all resources, and your ability to work in one day.

Did she cry out for God’s miraculous intervention, His presence—prior to her son’s last breath or after?

Did she feel abandoned in her pain?

Or was her heart too broken for her mind to even form a cohesive thought, let alone for her to utter the words, “My God, please help.”

We don’t know how she did or didn’t respond, did or didn’t pray. And that is precisely why this account is so powerful.

Luke 7:11-13 states, “… Jesus went to a town called Nain, and His disciples and a large crowd went along with Him. 12 As He approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, His heart went out to her and He said, ‘Don’t cry’” (NIV).

Notice, the woman didn’t ask for His help. So consumed with her grief, she might not have even known Jesus had come to town. But He knew her and felt deep compassion for her pain. The original Greek literally means to be moved in one’s bowels. When was the last time something hit you so strongly, you experienced a gut reaction? As a mom, I’ve felt that way numerous times—times when my intense emotions for my beloved daughter elicited a physical reaction.

If you’re a parent, you can probably relate. Our hearts are intricately tied to our kids, am I right?

Just as, I believe, Christ’s heart is inseparably tied to ours.

This story assures us Christ sees and He cares. Our pain does much more than stir His emotions. It moves Him to action as well.

“Don’t cry,” He said. 14 “Then He went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” 15 The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother” (V. 14-15, NIV).

He met the woman in her pain, in her need, and brought life to what she and everyone else deemed irrevocably dead.

This story reminds me that no situation is so bleak that God’s light can’t break through.

Is there an area of your life that feels beyond hope? How does Jesus’s response to this grieving widow from Nain help breathe fresh life into your circumstances today?

Share your thoughts in the comments below, and make sure to connect with me on Facebook and Instagram.

For those following the chronological reading plan:

Week 16 Chronological reading plan

Before you go, make sure to listen to the latest Faith Over Fear podcast:

Freed From Toxic Relationships to Help Others Break Free (with Carolyn Whitney) – Ep. 131 Faith Over Fear

You may have heard someone say something to the effect of, “God will use your pain in your future ministry.” This doesn’t necessarily mean He will ask you to launch an organization or create a program within your social sphere or community, although He may. Rather, this stems from God’s promise to use you to comfort others with the same comfort He’s shown. You, whether that means listening with understanding as someone shares their hurts and struggles or walking beside someone seeking increased freedom. We hope today’s episode speaks to individuals in one of two places in their healing journey: 1) For those still in the thick of pain, hold tight to this—God longs to bring beauty from your pain by first healing you then giving you the strength and desire to help others heal. 2) For those who have experienced some degree of healing, prayerfully consider if God is asking you to walk alongside someone who is hurting or living enslaved. And finally, we hope this episode opens conversation on toxic versus healthy relationships.(Scroll down to find the group discussion questions)Find Carolyn Whitney and her ministry: https://sistersinchristkc.org/our-teamhttps://www.instagram.com/sistersinchristkc/https://www.facebook.com/sistersinchristkcFind Kelly Campbell and Wholly Loved, at:https://www.WhollyLoved.comFind Wholly Loved Ministries at:WhollyLoved.comJoin the private Faith Over Fear Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/442736966614671Join the Private Wholly Loved Community Group (also on Facebook):https://www.facebook.com/groups/443325386241769Group Discussion Questions:1.What resonated with you most in this episode?2.Have you ever felt like you were living in a "glass house" where things looked good from the outside but where circumstances or emotions felt chaotic, unpredictable, or unsafe, or uncertain? 3.When going through challenging or painful circumstances, how easily do you seek support from others, and what do you think impacts this?4.How would you describe the general health of your support system, and why would you describe it this way?5.What are some ways we can walk with family and friends through their mental health battles while still maintaining healthy boundaries for ourselves (and our children)?6.How can healthy connections with others help one heal from traumatic experiences7.What are some important steps to take when faced with a big transition in your life?8.What is one action step God might be wanting you to take as a result of listening to this episode?
  1. Freed From Toxic Relationships to Help Others Break Free (with Carolyn Whitney) – Ep. 131
  2. Thankfulness in Changing Seasons – Ep. 130
  3. Fighting Anxiety and Fear Through Praise (with Becky Harling) – Ep. 129
  4. When Self-Reliance Leads to Addiction (with Carol McCracken) – Ep. 128
  5. Breaking Free from Generational Dysfunction (with Gina Birkemeier) – Ep. 127

Sometimes God’s voice seems so clear. Other times, and maybe even when we are most desperate to hear God, He seems silent. When that occurs, how do we respond? While we all have different journeys, we can trust that God will speak to us, in His way and His timing. He will speak to us uniquely, knowing precisely what we need to hear. But even more than that, we can trust that He is with us and will stay with us, always. Whether we “feel” His presence or not.

His heart? To lead us back to His embrace. My guest today shares how God helped her walk through an intensely painful time and how, for a time, she nearly lost her way.

When You Can’t Hear God

By Deb Gorman

For years, I thought that believers always listened to and obeyed God, myself included. Then I grew up. The truth is that there have been shining moments in my life when God led me, I did what He said to do, and what a blessing it was—for me and those around me. But only moments. Nice. Most of my experience with Christ has been trial and error, largely because of what I call the Me Factor. There’s been too much me and not enough Jesus. My ability to hear Christ is hindered when there’s too much of me and not enough of Him.

Let me explain.

Many times, I can’t hear God’s voice—even though I read my Bible every morning, pray for myself and those around me, and serve in various capacities in my church and community.

Why do believers sometimes get to a place in life when God seems to “go dark”? When we ask, and ask, and ask again, but our asking seems to get stuck in some great void above our heads.

Is there something that can turn the God-voice-knob to “off”?

Betrayal, when not handled well, can cause our spiritual ears to stop up, and stall spiritual growth. Betrayal is what King David, ancient Israel’s second king, spoke of in Psalm 55:12-15.

“For it is not an enemy who taunts me—
then I could bear it;
it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me—
then I could hide from him.
13 But it is you, a man, my equal,
my companion, my familiar friend.
14 We used to take sweet counsel together;
within God’s house we walked in the throng.
15 Let death steal over them;
let them go down to Sheol alive;
for evil is in their dwelling place and in their heart” (ESV).

Betrayal hurts the most between people who trust each other.

Over the years, my family has experienced many—too many—forms of betrayal. I won’t go into all of it. I’m sure you have your own stories, because betrayal has been part of our DNA since the first humans, standing naked before their Creator, pointed at each other and said, “He [she] did it”. (Gen. 3:12-13)

But I will say that those of us who have experienced the betrayal of suicide carry the heaviest burden of all. This was how my sister’s suicide felt to me—like a betrayal.

We had made promises to each other as we grew into young women. We’d always be there for each other. We’d tend to our aging parents together. We’d make sure our children knew each other, grew up together, loved each other. Even though she was younger than me, I looked up to her in so many ways. She cared for people in a way that I couldn’t. I admired her and depended on her friendship.

So when my beloved only sister—three years younger than me—committed suicide in March of 1989, I felt betrayed. A young mother of two small boys, she said good-bye to her husband, drove her two boys to their schools, then drove hundreds of miles away to a motel in Montana and ended her life.

So many things happened to her family and friends in the years that followed that one horrendous decision. I venture to say that all of us, in one way or another, walked away from God for a time. Some are still walking away.

Why? Because instead of prostrating ourselves at the foot of the Cross, we employed The Me Factor and made my sister’s suicide about us. I can’t intelligently speak to what was in the rest of the family’s minds, nor can I judge them. I can only see the results—from March 25, 1989 to today. We still share a brokenness that will only be healed in His presence.

But I can say out loud what I did.

I blamed God. Sometimes I still do. But, thirty-one years of heartbreak later, I know the truth. She not only broke my heart, she broke His. He was there with her in the room as she made the decision. He stood by her. And I’m sure He wept over her body with tears I will never be able to shed in this life.

For years, I couldn’t attend church. I couldn’t explain to my children why their favorite aunt would do such a thing. I couldn’t explain why their relationship with their cousins had all but died. Every black thought that entered my head was infused with why, why, why? Her decision became the focal point of my life. And then, I became the focal point of my life. The Me Factor took over, causing me to forget about her pain that led to her decision. It was all about me.

That’s the pity of it. I allowed her betrayal to lead me to do the same to the God who loved me. The day—decades later—that I could finally say, “God did not cause this. It was the pain of this broken world that caused it” was the day that I finally walked out of the gloom, back into the light of His presence. The day IA W Tozer quote on hearing God could once again hear God’s voice.

At first, His voice was faint, like the sound of music floating on the breeze from far away. But the more I let go of The Me Factor, the stronger His message became.

His message? It was I know, Deb, I know. I know you don’t understand, but I do. I know you  walked away from Me, but I haven’t moved. I know you have many questions, and I promise, someday you will sit on My lap and ask them. And I know the answer you need most right now. She is here with Me and I’m taking care of her.

This life will always contain sorrow. How we respond will either cause growth or stunt it. We must make sure we take the pain of our sorrow to the Only One who can heal. He’s got this.

  • What can you identify in your life that causes you to not be able to hear God’s direction?
  • What keeps you from experiencing the love He wants to pour over you?
  • What keeps you stuck in a period of stagnated growth?
  • Are you willing to take your bundle of pain and lay it at His feet—and trust that He understands? That He’s got this?

Get to know Deb!

Deb Gorman's HeadshotDeb Gorman, owner of Debo Publishing, is a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, cleverly disguised as a wife, mom, grandmom, and author. Her purpose is to regift the Word of God to believers and seekers everywhere, using the talent and imagination God gave her. Her prayer is that His Name would be praised and His glory would fill the earth! Visit her online at debggorman.com.

Cover image for Leaving Your LoverCheck out Deb’s book, Leaving Your Lover: They Have Left the Path of Truth:

Have you ever confronted a fork in the road of life and paused, wondering which way to go? Or maybe you took the path that seemed most logical, without much thought.

Perhaps the new direction was the correct one…but perhaps not. What do you do if you travel the wrong path? You can’t seem to retrace your steps because a sweeping crevasse looms now between the right choice and the wrong choice, one you can’t traverse without grave risk of slipping and falling into a thousand feet of sharp-edged, rocky nothingness.

Read the stories of thirteen people from the Bible who stood at the fork and made a choice. See where their journeys took them. Pause at the fork in your road and make the right decision, not just for the here and now but for future descendants—your children, grandchildren, and generations beyond, doomed to suffer the consequences of a wrong choice and who scream silently at you to go back.

And if you’re now on the wrong road, don’t believe the lie that you can’t turn back. For the first terror-filled step into the great divide will lay out a cross-shaped bridge before you, stained with holy blood—the sure road that will lead to the beginning, where you will find grace to start again.

Buy it HERE.

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Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer