What To Do When Things Fall Apart? Focus on God's Love
So I have been having what feels like an awful decade and though the majority of the blame essentially can be placed on my shoulders it still is a hard place to be.
Last night though ( along with a series of moments along the way) helped move things in a different direction.
I've had two major surgeries and have had pain in my face and shoulder off and on for months now... I've also 'lost' my voice ( long story)... And of course there's the emo unending moments which drive me internally mad. ...
And last night... Pain left me.... My voice returned and I'm emo happy instead of in despair. :).
I liked this devotional series cuz it has been reminding me of the end in sight. Xo
A series by Rick Warren
“For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.” (Lamentations 3:31-32 NIV)
What do you do when your world is falling apart?
Maybe you got the dreaded phone call that said, “Sorry, the test came back and it’s cancer,” or your spouse walked out on you, or someone you loved just died. Maybe you lost your job, or the falling stock market has left you on shaky financial ground. Things in your life were going so smoothly, and then the next minute it’s as if a storm hit your life, and now all your plans have been destroyed. What do you do?
There are entire books in the Bible that deal with this question. One of them, the book of Lamentations, was written by the prophet Jeremiah after he witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem and the people of Israel being taken into slavery by the Babylonians.
In Lamentations, Jeremiah is brutally honest as he states his complaints to God. He basically tells God, “I don’t like anything that’s going on in my life right now. I don’t like what I see happening in the economy. I don’t like what I see happening to our national security. I don’t like seeing people starving and out of work. I don’t like seeing the immorality, injustice and crime. And I really don’t like our people being taken away into slavery.”
But in the middle of this book of complaints, through this God-breathed Scripture that is “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training” us (2 Timothy 3:16 NLT), God shows us how to deal with our feelings when our world crumbles.
This week, I want to look at the six specific things God tells us to do when our lives fall apart. You may not need this right now in your life. Everything might be all roses and sunshine for you, and if that’s the case, then praise God! But I hope you will take these devotionals to heart, because I guarantee you will need them someday. Inevitably there will come a time in your life — probably multiple times — when the wheels come off, and you’ll need to know what to do when you go through those rough times.
So here’s my homework assignment for you today: take time to read chapter 3 of Lamentations. Just set aside 10 minutes of your day and read it slowly, remembering what Jeremiah was experiencing as he wrote these words. Ask God to speak to you and prepare your heart for what he wants you to learn this week.
>>These are the verses that spoke to me:
17 I gave up on life altogether.
I’ve forgotten what the good life is like.18 I said to myself, “This is it. I’m finished.
God is a lost cause.”
It’s a Good Thing to Hope for Help from God19 I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.20 I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
the feeling of hitting the bottom.21 But there’s one other thing I remember,
and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:22 God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.23 They’re created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!24 I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He’s all I’ve got left.25 God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
to the woman who diligently seeks.26 It’s a good thing to quietly hope,
quietly hope for help from God.27 It’s a good thing when you’re young
to stick it out through the hard times.28 When life is heavy and hard to take,
go off by yourself. Enter the silence.29 Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions:
Wait for hope to appear.30 Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face.
The “worst” is never the worst.31 Why? Because the Master won’t ever
walk out and fail to return.32 If he works severely, he also works tenderly.
His stockpiles of loyal love are immense.33 He takes no pleasure in making life hard,
in throwing roadblocks in the way:40 Let’s take a good look at the way we’re living
and reorder our lives under God.41 Let’s lift our hearts and hands at one and the same time,
praying to God in heaven:48 Rivers of tears pour from my eyes
at the smashup of my dear people.49 “The tears stream from my eyes,
an artesian well of tears,50 Until you, God, look down from on high,
look and see my tears.55 “I called out your name, O God,
called from the bottom of the pit.56 You listened when I called out, ‘Don’t shut your ears!
Get me out of here! Save me!’57 You came close when I called out.
You said, ‘It’s going to be all right.’58 “You took my side, Master;
you brought me back alive!59 God, you saw the wrongs heaped on me.
Give me my day in court! (Lamentations 3:17-33, 40, 41, 48-50, 55-59 MSG)
“I am a man who has seen affliction, by the rod of his wrath. He has driven me away and made me walk in darkness rather than light; he has turned his hand against me again and again, all day long. He has made my skin grow old and broken my bones. He has surrounded me with bitterness and hardship. He has made me dwell in darkness like the dead. He has walled me in so I cannot escape; he has weighed me down with chains. Even when I call out or cry for help, he shuts out my prayer. He has barred my way with blocks of stone; he has made my paths crooked.” (Lamentations 3:1-10 NIV)
Jeremiah didn’t mince words. He told God exactly how he felt, and you know what? God is okay with that. He wants you to unload all your frustrations on him. Don’t unload them on your spouse, your kids, your boss or some online blog. Take it all to God, because he can handle it.
God can handle your anger, complaints and frustrations. He wants you to unload on him, because you need to get it all out. It’s cathartic. If you don’t, then here’s what will happen: As I like to say, “When I swallow my emotions and my anger, my stomach keeps score. When I swallow my fear and resentment, my back keeps score.” If you don’t talk things out, you’re going to take them out on your body.
So you need to get it out, and God can take whatever you’ve got. Go ahead, have a temper tantrum with him. God is your Heavenly Father and will still love you, just as a parent loves his or her child even when that child throws a fit.
You can’t see why God allows what he allows in your life, and God doesn’t owe you an explanation, because he’s God and you aren’t. But someday, and it might not be until you get to heaven, you’ll be able to look back and see the big plan. Until that day comes, keep taking your concerns to God.
“The thought of my pain and my homelessness is bitter poison. I think of it constantly, and my spirit is depressed. Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. The Lord is all I have, so in him I put my hope.” (Lamentations 3:19-26 TEV)
When your world is falling apart, it’s so easy to focus on the pain, the problems, the pressure and the difficulties. It’s the natural response. But the biblical response is to turn your focus to God’s love.
Even though you’re mad at God, you need to remind yourself how much he loves you. Focus on his unconditional love. Remember that you can’t make God stop loving you. You can complain, yell at him and scream at him, but he will still love you forever.
You can see this biblical approach in Jeremiah’s life in Lamentations 3:19-26. Jeremiah starts out focused on his pain: “The thought of my pain and my homelessness is bitter poison. I think of it constantly, and my spirit is depressed.” Jeremiah was consumed by the devastation around him; it consumed his thoughts and made him bitter and depressed.
If you want to change your life, you have to change your thoughts. So that’s what Jeremiah does. We see the mental switch in the next verse: “Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. The Lord is all I have, so in him I put my hope.”
You don’t know God is all you need until God is all you’ve got. But that’s all you need, because God will take care of you.
We make dumb mistakes when we start doubting God’s love. We start to think, “I know better than God, and I’m going to start choosing my way to do things rather than following God’s way of doing things.” Or we think God is a cosmic killjoy who looks for ways to make our lives miserable.
We need to change our thinking. We need to remember, “The Lord is merciful and will not reject us forever. He may bring us sorrow, but his love for us is sure and strong. He takes no pleasure in causing us grief and pain” (Lamentations 3:31-33 TEV).
God loves you. He is not the strict parent that you couldn’t please. He is not the imperfect parent with weaknesses and faults who messed up. He is God — the eternal, all-knowing, infallible God who created you to love you and will never leave you.
So when you feel like you’ve lost everything, stop focusing on what’s lost and start focusing on what’s left: God and his love for you.
“When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions. Wait for hope to appear.” (Lamentations 3:28-29 MSG)
The concept of waiting on God is a spiritual habit. It is the single greatest antidote to anxiety and tension. It’s a spiritual discipline that you must learn to do or you will be under stress your entire life.
This is what it means to wait on God: you sit down and shut up. Find a place to be quiet and sit still in silence. Don’t read anything. Don’t pray. Just take some deep breaths, sit before God and say, “God, I’m just going to wait on you.” It’s amazing what a calming ability this has on your heart and mind. “Those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. … They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31 NLT).
God wants to talk to you. If you aren’t hearing him, it’s because you aren’t making time in your schedule to listen to him. You’re too busy listening to your iPod, playing with your iPad, watching television, playing video games or talking on your cell phone. You might be overworking.
If you want to hear God, you need to sit in silence. Turn off all the electronics and remove yourself from all the distractions. Find a comfortable place and sit there. Tell God you’re waiting to hear from him and then listen. Be quiet.
This is what Jesus told the disciples to do: “Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace” (Matthew 6:6-7 MSG). That’s the power of a quiet time.
So here is my challenge to you: Every day for the next seven days, I want you to spend 10 minutes in silence before God. Tell God you’re there to wait on him, and then just sit there. You can read a little bit and talk to God in prayer, but the majority of your time needs to be spent in silence before God. You’ll be amazed at the new strength you will find.
“The Lord is good to everyone who trusts in him, so it is best for us to wait in patience – to wait for him to save us” (Lamentations 3:25-26 TEV). Wait in patience and wait for God to save you. When your world falls apart, you want to put it back together instantly, but that won’t happen. It didn’t fall apart instantly, and it’s going to take time to put things back together. But wait in patience, because God’s timing is perfect.
“Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:40 NIV)
There are a lot of things in life that can’t be changed. For example, you can’t change your past or the genes you inherited. With things like that, peace of mind will only come when you accept them.
But you do change the things you can change when your world falls apart. No, you can’t bring back the loved one who died. And no, you can’t change the other person, no matter how much you try. The only thing you can change is you.
You can change your attitude and skills. You can change your character and values. And you can change the way you use your time and what’s important to you.
In order to change these things, you’re going to have to do a self-evaluation, which requires being honest with yourself. You have to admit the areas of your life that are broken: The relationship is broken. The finances are broken. The career is broken.
Jeremiah says, “Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord” (Lamentations 3:40 NIV). Do a relational inventory, a spiritual inventory, and a moral inventory.
Look at your relationships and ask, “What’s my relationship with my spouse, my friends or my boss really like right now?”
Do a spiritual inventory and ask, “How am I doing in my relationship with God? What’s my character like? How does it match up to God’s Word?”
Then take a moral inventory, asking, “What sins in my life are tearing me down?”
When you start doing these evaluations, you’ll realize you’ve stored up a lot of emotions, like guilt, anger, frustration, grief and remorse.
You’ll need to deal with these emotions in order to have personal recovery in your life. Don’t ignore them and don’t give up on making a change in your life. God is for you, and he will help you you’re your deepest hurts and regrets. Give them to God and listen for what he tells you to do.
My enemies threw me in to a pit and dropped stones on me. The water flowed above my head, and I cried out, ‘This is the end!’ But I called on your name, Lord, from deep within the well, and you heard me! You listened to my pleading; you heard my weeping! Yes, you came at my despairing cry and told me, ‘Do not fear!’” (Lamentations 3:53-57 NLT)
When things fall apart in your life, you will experience a lot of emotions that can hold you back, such as grief, anger, frustration and regret. But the most damaging emotion of them all is fear.
Fear is the emotion that keeps you stuck in the past. Fear paralyzes you. Fear is the number one problem most people face — fear that they’re not going to make it, fear of the future, or fear of what other people think.
Jeremiah had a lot of reasons to be afraid. His job was to deliver a very unpopular message to his nation. He was so hated that he was tossed into a pit, and then his enemies threw rocks down on top of him. He recorded his cries to God in today’s verse. Jeremiah was afraid, and in his fear he turned to God; he called on God's name.
If you are battling fear in your life today, God says the same thing to you that he said to Jeremiah: “Do not fear!” God is in control and will get you through whatever you’re facing. He will get you out of the pit in his perfect timing. So ask God to relieve your fears.
There are three antidotes to fear:
Fill your life with the truth. “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32 KJV). The more you fill your mind with God’s Word, the more it will drive fear from your life.
Fill your life with love. “Perfect love casts out fear …” (1 John 4:18 NKJV). The more you get to know God, the more you will understand his unconditional love. As you understand his deep love for you, you will see that his perfect love drives away your fear.
Fill your life with faith. As you begin to trust God and his perfect love for you, you will begin to overcome your fears. Faith is God’s antidote to fear.
If you are afraid that your life has fallen apart and your best days are behind you, you’re wrong. God can always turn things around. He sent his son, Jesus Christ, to “seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10 NIV).
No matter what you’re going through, no matter how bad your circumstances appear, turn from your fear and expect Jesus to restore your life.
Pray this prayer of Jeremiah: “Restore me, O Lord, and bring me back to you again! Give me back the joy I once had!” (Lamentations 5:21 NLT).
>>Lord, help me to continue to draw close to you in bad and good times. Please keep your arms surrounding me so that I'll be forever safe and comforted. Let me shine as a testament of you love and faithfulness. Let me be that beacon drawing others to you.
Thank you for never letting me go.
Thank you for always watching over me.
Thank you for being such an Awesome God.
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