Round three from the Women of Faith Amazing Freedom conference. (Don’t worry, this boxing match only has four rounds.)
The next speaker was Carol Kent, a woman whose son committed murder and now has an incredible prison ministry from within the barbed wire fence (and apparently will be interviewed on one of the news magazine shows sometime soon but I can’t remember the details or find them online). She focused her talk on what to do when something horrible and unexpected happens in your life. “Just when you think life is going to get better … you get a surprise.” Now nothing really major has happened to me or a member of my family but this nagging financial situation … there’s my issue. My husband and I worked all summer calling credit cards and settling with them or setting up a low interest rate and payment plan. I thought that would be the answer. Once we called the last card and hung up the phone our financial situation would improve. I thought things would get better. My surprise … they aren’t going to get better quite yet. Apparently, I have more to learn and need to continue walking through this period of financial difficulty to learn how to manage the resources I have better.
Carol gave four choices we need to make in the face of difficult situations. 1) Choose LIFE instead of emotional death. How often do we want to retreat to a cocoon of comfort instead of facing the situation head on? 2) Choose GRATITUDE. She brought out two of my favorite verses in scripture, Philippians 4:6-7 ~
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
These verses are encouraging to me and a great reminder that when I’m worried or stressed I need to take it to God instead of trying to take control and fix it myself since eventually I’ll fail on my own strength.4) Choose VULNERABILITY. Put yourself out there and be willing to share from you heart, not concerning yourself too much with what others might say or how others might respond. Not an easy thing when you are pretty sure others might look down on you or your choices. 3) Choose PURPOSEFUL ACTION. Isaiah 43:19 ~
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”
I may not be called to go on a national speaking tour and write a book or two after a difficult time in my life, but I can share my struggle with others and maybe encourage them in theirs. Through any situation God works and he does new things. I need to be open to him using my desert to be a blessing to myself and others.
Finally, Carol reminded us that “this life is not all you have.” Heaven is waiting on the other side of this life if we choose to accept God’s gift of salvation through Christ’s death on the cross. What hope that gives in the midst of strife! To know that this life is just a hurdle, the best is yet to come. But what about right now? When things are tough and maybe a bit unbearable? “When you choose life, gratitude, vulnerability and purposeful action you can have amazing freedom.” So I need to make a conscious choice to trust in God’s plan for my life, that He knows what He’s doing in me and will be with me through the tough times. Then I must live in gratitude for all that Christ has done and is doing in my life, being vulnerable with others that they might be encouraged through my struggle. Finally, I must do something to get myself out of the rut. Maybe that’s helping someone or maybe it’s related to whatever your trial is, helping at a homeless shelter or a pregnancy center. When we are serving others we are less likely to focus on ourselves. I do think that it’s important to make a conscious choice to face our problems head on and not let the problem overcome us. For me the only way to do that is to rely on God for the strength to get through. I also think I need to get better at getting out there and doing something to help others since I need to take the focus off of myself.
So if you have something difficult going on in your life, I encourage you to take some time to think of someone else and try and meet one of his or her needs. That just might help you see the bigger picture and take the focus of yourself.