Category Archive: Discouragement

Wait–I Will Take Care of You

I recall a time when one of my staff members (let’s call her Betty) tried to stab me in the back in any way she could. She didn’t like it that I actually expected her to work! Because Betty was good friends with the company president and babysat his children, I was limited in how I could respond to her.

During that time I felt attacked and quite lonely. Just about every day I ordered a salad at McDonald’s, then parked in the lot across the street from a huge, beautiful oak tree. There I read the Psalms and prayed, asking God to resolve this issue, to guide me, to give me His grace to deal with Betty and her undermining. And it seemed every scripture, every word to my heart said “Wait. I will take care of this.”

To wait on God means to pause and soberly consider our own inadequacy and the Lord’s all-sufficiency, and to seek counsel and help from the Lord, and to hope in Him (Psalm 33:20-22; Isa. 8:17) … The folly of not waiting for God is that we forfeit the blessing of having God work for us. The evil of not waiting on God is that we oppose God’s will to exalt Himself in mercy.

John Piper

So I waited. I did require that Betty, who handled payroll, be transferred out of my department and into Accounting. Soon after the accounting manager discovered that this woman had paid herself three extra weeks’ vacation. Once the President learned she had stolen from him, Betty was fired immediately.

So waiting on the Lord was exactly what I needed to do and He resolved the issue, as He had promised.

But Betty’s termination was not the most significant outcome of my wait. God was doing His own work in my heart at the same time. I needed to recognize my inability to handle this situation, and entrust it to God. I needed to trust that if she turned all the other managers against me, my Father still had a plan for me. Had I tried to resolve this on my own I really would have missed the “blessing of having God work for me” (Piper).

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor (woman) called, and the Lord heard (her); he saved (her) out of all (her) troubles.

Psalm 34:4-6

How often do we try to fix things on our own? We are such a self-sufficient culture. We avoid asking for help if at all possible. But in so doing, we miss seeing God at work on our behalf, and also miss the joy of seeing others come to our aid, of working together for a solution.

Oh, troubles will continue until we meet Jesus face to face. But that incident was a specific reminder to me of God’s watchcare over me. And now, with a pandemic, physical distancing, and national/global chaos, I try to remember His faithfulness in the past. His character does not change. His faithfulness remains in every situation.

Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.

Lamentations 3:21-26

So, when in a difficult time, wait. Talk to God about your concerns. He loves you infinitely. You may need to talk to a pastor, counselor, or friend. Then wait with patience. Wait with expectation. Wait with praise. Wait with grace.

The Blessing

Like many in the midst of this pandemic, I am looking for places of hope. Pastor Rene Schlaepfer, at Twin Lakes Church in Aptos, California encourages us with the following thoughts from the story of Jesus calming the storm in Matthew 8.

In the midst of the WHAT is making us anxious, there is a WHO saying “Look at Me.” When our focus moves from the storm itself to the One who is with us on this journey, when our faith in someone surpasses our fear of the something, then we can be at peace. We will face storms–they will come into our lives unpredictably, unexpectedly, inevitably, and impartially.

  1. Jesus is close. In the middle of the storm, Jesus was right there in the boat with the disciples. And in this pandemic, He is here with us. Isaiah 43:1-2: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.”
  2. Jesus cares. The disciples said, “Jesus, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” He does. As hard as this is for some of us, we are to relax in His care. I Peter 5:7: “Cast all your anxiety on him for he cares for you.”
  3. Jesus is in control. In our Western culture we like to think we are in control. A pandemic like this shows us how little control we actually have. But we can rely on the One who is in control. Mark 4: “Jesus got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!'”

I rely on these truths for myself and for those family and friends who are ill, have lost jobs, are going through marital struggles, and are just feeling anxious.

I will leave you with a wonderful song by musicians from 25 churches in Hawaii, from six islands. Skip the ad and go to The Hawaii Blessing, hosted by Hawaiian Island Ministries (HIM).

May God bless you and keep you and give you His peace.

Prayer for a Pandemic

My emotions have run the gamut this week … fear, joy (at how people are serving each other), anxiety, hope, depression, and on and on …

How about yours?

Psalm 91 encouraged me this week, and I will copy it here in full.

1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

3 Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

***

A dear friend sent me this wonderful prayer from the Sisters of the Incarnate Word. It reminds me that even in my concerns for my own family and friends, I need to remember the many others in very great need during this time.

Prayer for a Pandemic, Cameron Bellm

May we who are merely inconvenienced remember those whose lives are at stake.

May we who have the luxury of working from home remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.

May we who have no risk factors remember those most vulnerable.

May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close remember those who have no options.

May we who have to cancel our trips remember those that have no safe place to go.

May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market remember those who have no margin at all.

May we who settle in for a quarantine at home remember those who have no home.

As fear grips our country, let us choose love.

During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other, let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.

Amen.

https://www.ccvichapel.org/post/prayer-for-a-pandemic-cameron-bellm

God be with you, bless you, meet all your needs by His mighty power.

Resolutions?

Someone said yesterday, “If you never make a resolution, you won’t break it.” True … so what do you do for New Year’s?

Make resolutions? (and if you do, how long do they last?)

Choose a scripture, or a word, for the year? (Like “courage,” “wait,” “rest,” or “kind.”)

I haven’t made specific resolutions in years, knowing they are often made on a whim–lose weight, spend more time with God, travel more, say yes to less–and don’t have the spiritual or emotional muscle to continue as real goals or objectives that are attainable and measurable.

But this year I’m thinking of choosing a word.

Praying, listening for what that word might be. Where do I need to focus? What word might God put on my heart to hold my attention?

I love what I read in Sarah Young’s JESUS TODAY:

Gaze at Me; glance at problems–this is the secret of living victoriously. Your tendency is to gaze at problems for prolonged periods of time, glancing at Me for help. This is natural for someone with a fallen mind living in a fallen world…

…Ask My Spirit to help you fix your gaze on Me. Invite Him to alert you whenever you get overly focused on problems so you can redirect your attention to Me. This is hard work, because it is not only unnatural but also counter-cultural…Ask Him to help you deal with difficulties as needed, while reserving the bulk of your attention for Me–your constant Companion.”

Jesus Today, p. 58

Maybe “Gaze” will be my word. Not sure yet. But I need to do this in deeper ways as I tend to get frustrated easily, discouraged readily. I need to gaze at Jesus, rely on Him in new ways, allow His Spirit to work through me. I’ll keep you posted.

Do you have a word for the year? Would you share it with me?

Blessings!

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:2

Reunion, Reconciliation

Thirty-eight years! It’s that long since I’ve seen some of the colleagues with whom I worked in the Los Angeles ghetto for ten years.

After a painful breakup/firing/split, I left not only the ministry but the city, eventually returning to my roots in Northern California.

This breakup impacted me in ways I imagined divorce felt like. It hurt! Misunderstandings and controlling leadership prevented my former friends from communicating with me. I felt isolated, cast off, forgotten.

When I first moved to Los Angeles, I knew nothing about setting up a corporation. But I worked with a man who had the vision for an inner city ministry, and I handled the details. With many calls to City and State, we were established as a nonprofit organization. I worked closely with the President on the corporation’s implementation, guidelines, fundraising, and communication. I coached foreign workers on applying for the appropriate work visas and, on one occasion, spoke directly with the immigration official at the Vancouver airport who was not going to allow a young woman to board her flight to LA. But after my lengthy conversation with the officer, Nancy arrived to minister with us later that day.

I taught children and teens and lived with other staff women in the LA ghetto. We lived and ministered together and chose to be part of the community we served. We suffered together when someone we loved was hurt, killed, or when our own lives were threatened. This was my second family. And now we were separated for many reasons.

Between 5 and 19 women lived in this house during my ten years there.

Over the years it took me to heal from the impact of a controlling leader and unrealistic expectations, I prayed that God would somehow bring back some of those friendships. He has done that with some of the most significant peer relationships I had, and I am deeply grateful for the ability to clarify, question, and grow together as we talked in depth about how God used the ministry, and even the control, to teach and build us.

Unfortunately I’m not alone in my experience of burnout.

Others have gone through similar experiences. Controlling leadership that steps into the place God rightly inhabits, and its resulting burnout, can cause someone to lose faith, not only in a specific ministry or leader, but in God himself.

So how do we heal?

We cry. We rest. We look for those areas of personality or conflict that we own, and learn to release those we do not. Some of us write. With time, we learn to forgive.

We seek out people who are ‘safe’; those with whom we can be real who will love without judgment, listen without trying to “fix,” help us laugh and cry with us and accept us where we are at that moment.

We may seek help from friends, pastors, or professional counselors. We breathe out the pain and breathe in, increased understanding.

We look for ways we can encourage others with the strength and comfort God has given us, knowing He wastes nothing, including our hurt.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.

II Corinthians 1:3-5, NLT

And sometimes we reach out at some point and there is a positive response that allows bridges to be built and relationships to jump-start, wobbly at first, then growing stronger as the cords deepen.

So next weekend I’m flying to Los Angeles for a reunion with some of the women with whom I worked on staff, most of whom I haven’t seen in 38 years! Will I laugh? Cry? Probably both, as we remember the good times and the ways God used the ministry, and perhaps grieve over some of the boulders and stones along the way.

Knowing this reunion is happening 38 years after I left Los Angeles gives me great hope that God is still in the business of reconciliation.

Can’t wait to tell you more about our time together!