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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

If you are visiting today for the first time after reading my Proverbs 31 Devotion, welcome. If you are a regular bloggy friend, thanks so much for stopping by.  I'm deeply touched you would spend a few of your precious minutes today with me.  I'm praying God has a gift for you, packaged in His Word. 

I imagine many, if not all of you, are dealing with something  hard in your life.  Actually, most women face hard challenges.  I'm no exception. I've been overwhelmed by my circumstances in the past.  Once, I was so trapped in fear I couldn't eat or sleep.  Many times worry pesters me like a thirsty mosquito.  I've got five teenagers ... need I say more?

Yet in His mercy, God has brought me through some tough times. Today, perhaps I can share some hope and practical tips with you.  In fact, I want to look at a familiar Bible story for some of both:  the feeding of the 5,000.  As I was praying about what to write, God used Scripture to clarify something that He has taught me in my own life.  Let's look at the Mark 6: 30-44 version.

To set the scene, Jesus and the disciples were exhausted.  They had been ministering all day and wanted to rest.  In fact, they were trying to get away for some peace and quiet.  However, people were so desperate they ran after them, and actually got to the other side of a lake before Jesus did.

Have you ever felt exhausted by the demands on you?  Have you felt emotionally bankrupt, with relentless needs chasing after you?  Have you been at the end of your resources with nothing left to give?

That's probably how the disciples felt that day.  Empty.  Just when they wanted to curl up and rest, Jesus started to minister to the people.  Didn't He notice they were exhuasted? 

In fact, the disciples tried to stop Him.  They said, "This is a remote place ... and it's already very late. Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat."

So not only were the disciples exhausted, they were in a barren place with NO resources.

Have you every felt like that?  Have you ever been in a "desert" place, isolated and alone, with no resources and yet people expect you to do something for them?  In fact, Jesus expected the disciples to do something too.

"But he answered, 'You give them something to eat.'"

Can you picture the scene here?  Exhausted disciples ... remote place ... no resources.  Sounds a lot like me at times.  The good news for all of us today is that Jesus has a plan for our hard times.  One of them is found in this familiar story.  I think we can apply a 5-step principle from this passage to dealing with hard times.

1)  The disciples speak honestly to Jesus.  They are tired, and it's pretty complainy, but it's HONEST.
2)  Jesus asks them to present what they have. (5 loaves of bread and two fish)
3)  Jesus tells the disciples to have the people sit down in groups.  (v. 39)
4)  Jesus thanks God for the food.  (v. 41)
5)  The disciples are put to work serving the people they didn't think they could serve, as Jesus worked a miracle and expanded their resources.  (v. 41)

Most of this is pretty obvious.  Jesus values honesty and He can take little and expand it. I've read lots about those truths.  But the part that hit me this week was telling the people to sit down in groups.  Why did He do that?  Here's my take.

In the face of an overhelming, potentially desperate, situation, Jesus knew everybody needed order.   Not just the hungry multitudes, but those called to do the work.  What if by breaking the people into groups, the overwhelming situation seemed a little more managable? 

Perhap Jesus sensed that the disciples needed to have control over something. And by organizing what they could, the disciples focused on what was in their control.  While they did that, Jesus did His part ... performed a miracle.

As I face hard in my own life, there is wisdom in this for me.  Sometimes, all I think about is what I CAN'T control.  I focus on the problem and how unfair the situation is.  Even though I've prayed, confessed my needs and presented my resources to Jesus, all I think about is what I gave Him.  Or how little I have to face the problem. It's a pretty myopic view. 

I somehow forget that I'm loved by the One who can feed 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish ... and have leftovers!!! 

Now I see the wisdom in focusing on what is still within my control, and trusting Jesus with what only He can do - that's the miracle part.  It's not a distraction technique ... it's an act of faith. 

What should you to do today while Jesus is taking care of the rest?

In His Love,



karen g said...

Glynnis, great words of encouragement today. Many days of late I have wanted to just give up and have felt that life was too difficult and God was missing. That's it - i was dwelling on what i could not do and not on what God CAN do. Thank you for the reminder that He is with us and miracles and blessings are what He does.
I get the teenager thing, I'm with ya!
karen g

Mary Lynn said...

Thanks for the encouragement! I have been praying for my house in Ga to sell so my little ones and I can join my husband in Ohio to live. This has been one of the absoulute hardest things I have been faced with. The house has not been shown yet, I hear only negative stories about others selling homes in the area. My prayer has been for a Nov. 1 sale date. God can still work a miracle for my family. But I have been very discouraged and focusing too much on my limitations in the situation and worrying about the Ohio end. (Where does one live with 3 cats and 2 active littles in the snowy winter?- all while paying mortgage in Ga as well??) I can only take care of my kids, transitioning out of ministry here and keeping the house in a state of cleanliness to show. Prayer and God will have to handle the rest. I needed this bit of encouragement today! Thanks!!!
mary lynn

Anonymous said...

We have been in a "hard" situation for a couple of years now. I still believe with all my heart that God is my redeemer. I am so glad that people like you can come along when needed and encourage us. I am excited to see what God can do with those few loaves and fish in our lives. Nanci

Anonymous said...

I loved the devotion today on Prov.31. "Hard"comes in all sizes and shapes. It has taken many years and I'm not great at it yet but I try not to react when "hard" comes knocking at my door. I try to be proactive as you suggested. Do what I can do and leave the rest to "My Redeemer". For He is not in the grave but He lives and is intimately acquainted with all of my trials. His heart is full of compassion and I know He will make everything beautiful in its time.
Recently, I have felt a lot like Job so
thanks for the encouragemant!

kim said...

Thanks for the words of encouragement. On Sunday, I had uttered the words to my heart "How much brokeness can one take before they can't be put back together?" Your words have given me permission to face this question head on, search God's word for truth and claim His love and provision through all things! Blessings to you for sharing your gift of writing with us all!

Amy DeTrempe said...

This was great. I have so been in the exhaustive place. And, I totally missed "groups" in my reading. Very interesting and something to think about. Thank you for the encouraging post.

Allison Morrison said...

Thanks you so much for the encouragement today. I've never read that about the groups...well, I've read it, but not saw it. So true. I need to rest. I need to be one of the 5,000 that was sitting in a group waiting my turn to be served. I need to know that He has it under control and has all along.

Natalie said...

Here with 2 teen girls trying to shepherd them through to adulthood as loving, responsible Christian young women. So tired at the end of everyday. So many responsibilities, financial worries, work work work, non-motivated teens, anger. Thanks for reminding me I can only do so much and that God will do the rest. Another comment herein stated that My Redeemer is not in the grave, He is alive and helping me. That encourages my teary soul this morning.

Sara said...

First time to visit and what drew me here were the words "when hard threatens to overwhelm". We've been doing hard for 3 years now: teenager leaving home to choose alternate life, husband physically ill and doesn't choose to fix it, self-employed and basically do it all, parent with Alzheimer's and placement in a home, and I could go on. I've felt many times that God took me to the desert for the crows to pick my bones clean. And I've looked for the good in that, like, now I'm ready to be filled with good God things. I'm still waiting but very discouraged and God seems very distant. I think I'll pull out the Book of Job and revisit that again. One of my favorite verses is Job 42:2: You can do all things, Oh Lord. No plan of Yours can be thwarted. Obviously this is His plan for me right now.

Anonymous said...

I asked God for a word this morning and I am wondering if this is it. Seems like I am in a hard place right now. Single mother with a rebellious and disrespectful teen, work, school, bills to be paid and on and on. Tired at the end of each day. Thank you for the reminder that I should do what I can and God will do what I cannot.This is what I think God is telling me because over the past week I have been stressed and frustrated about assignments to post before deadlines and rebellion from my son. God I hear you. Please pray for me Glynnis.

Cheri Bunch said...

Dear Glynnis~
First of all, your blog decor looks beautiful! I absolutely love it!

Secondly, you have ministered to me on a very deep level through your devotion with P31 today and your blog post. Thank you so much!

I have recently been through some tough things. I love how you put it ... "Job did hard well" . I am not going to let that phrase rest today. I think I will chew and chew on it.

I have recently studied Job. I have learned so much from his testimony!

I also love your post and I really needed it.

Please know that you are much appreciated today! I am thanking the Lord for you! I think I heard Him say, "Amen".


BJ said...

Tears are leaking as I read, re-read today's Proverbs 31 devotional...and now I write my very first blog ever. I thought I understood "hard": my husband of 30 years left me and our three children; I lost my home, my military lifestyle with him, a new career path I loved, my dearest friend, soul mate & love of my life; and my dreams for our future. But most of all, I lost my hope and joy. I started over in a new place with nothing but a load of Salvation Army furniture, a sick cat, the encouragement of my children, and my faith. Fast forward five years. "Hard" is the threat of, again, losing all I have struggled to gain. By the end of this school year my salary will have been cut by thousands (for the 2nd time) and the modest cottage I bought now has to be sold. Last night my Christian realtor's heart ached as she told me I will be lucky if I "break even"...that is if I can even get an offer.

My grandmother, also a teacher, raised her five boys through the Great Depression in a windblown, harsh, corner of Montana in tents, shacks, and one room cabins. The only complaint I was ever told she made was about the incessant wind. Now this beautiful place is the playground of the ultra wealthy, many who probably had a hand in America’s housing woes and economic crisis. It is their “summer home”, a playground of “McMansions”, Montana style, for a few weeks a year…while Americans are losing the homes they live in. I travel the roads of my beloved Montana and I see “for sale” and “foreclosed” on homes, while those playhouses press down upon me under the weight of lost dreams stolen from us by the greed of those who sold the soul of our land for a fast buck.

Losing my dream of my little Montana home is hard.

The difference this time is that I refuse to lose my hope and joy..."For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! (I will) always be joyful and never stop praying. I will be thankful in all circumstances. And I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Isaiah 43:19, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17, Philippians 4:13)".

I will pray.
I will sing praises.
I will give thanks.
I will forgive.

I am going to go walk in the wind today.

Thoughts for the day said...

BJ I was so moved by your writing. Being married 37 years I cannot imagine starting over. Please know you are not alone. Wish there was a way to write you. take care

BJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Glynnis Whitwer said...

To all my sisters who have posted a comment - please know the Lord sees your pain.

To Mary Lynn - one of my most stressed times was selling a house with 3 small children at home and a husband who moved ahead of me. I found refuge in singing praise music. It reminded me of how big God really is in comparison to my problem.

To Sara - God bless you during this time as a caregiver. I just got a free book about this. Email me and I'll send it to you. editor@proverbs31.org

To BJ - how I wish I could come and hold your hand and pray with you. You are beset on all sides. I've got some ideas for how you can make money teaching online. Please email me at editor@proverbs31.org. I'll send you my book 'work@home' and share some ideas.

Thank you for praying for each other. I love the sisterhood of Christ.

Beverly Bardwell said...

I have never blogged here before but I get P31 daily and read them as often as possible. Today's devotion caught my attention because I am in the mist of "hard" all around me and I am greatly overwhelmed. My husband had his hours cut over 3 months ago and since then, we have been in the red with the bank every week. We have not yet been married a year and our marriage is being tested to the max. I brought 2 children into this marriage and he brought 4. My 7 year old has had an autoimmune disease since she was 4 months old and my 4 year old was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes (insulin dependent) 3 weeks ago. Perscriptions are many and very costly. My 4 year old in the past 3 weeks has also had strep throat and now a virus, my two newest teenage daughters are rebelling, we are in the hole and owe the bank money, we have not paid rent for our new home for this month and next month's rent is due in a week and a half. I am scheduled for surgery this friday to try and find out what is happening with my female organs and it doesnt look good. I have been in the depths of depression for quite sometime now. I see no way out or up. So I appreciate your words of encouragement today because what I am lacking righ now is faith. I have not seen the light at the end of the tunnel, only darkness as my family and I seem to keep falling down this endless pit. I will read Job again and pray that the Lord comforts me and reassures me that He is my answer.

Gabriele said...

This is my first time to your blog, and it was wonderful and God speaking right to me through your post today. I am in nursing school and have recently gotten married. I am worried about passing the quarter and about our tight income to pay for the next. Thank you for your post today!

Glynnis Whitwer said...

Beverly - I stopped what I was doing and prayed for you. I asked the Lord who 'owns' everything to pour His resources into your life, and fill your mind and heart with His hope and peace.

I hope you have a church family, and I encourage you to share your situation with them. You are not the only ones in a desperate financial situation. Hang on to what you have. It sounds like you have a wonderful husband. You can get through this together.

Also, please go to www.Proverbs31.org and post a prayer request. We've got an amazing prayer team.

I'll keep praying for you sister.

proudgrits11 said...

love it!!! Great insight!!!! It's so easy to get overwhelmed and, like you said, forget to do what we CAN control. Or we want to control EVERYthing!! I'll have to really reflect on this....lots of good ways to apply it!!

BJ said...

A day of prayer and praise for all of us who have been impacted by "Hard". The amazing grace that came from your writing, Glynnis, has certainly touched the hearts of a lot of women today. I can not tell you how much your words lifted me up this morning (I read P31 as soon as I turn my computer on). I truly felt the prayers...and the hope they communicated...to all of us who are living "hard" right now. To my newly found sisters, I am praying for you too!

Anonymous said...

These words are for me today. Life is really overwhelming for me right now. I keep saying "I cannot do this". He is saying, "yes you can." I feel like that just where I am in life that He is wanting me to learn to be totaly dependent on Him. It is a process. I want to trust that He is just what I need and that He does have a plan. I love Him and want to walk in awareness of His presence each moment.

Sandie said...

Or did he put them into groups so they could encourage and strengthen one another while Jesus performed the miracle?

LisaShaw said...

This is priceless!

I was especially encouraged in how you answered why you think Jesus broke everyone into groups.

I also can relate to when you said: "Many times worry pesters me like a thirsty mosquito."

Good meaty message of great wisdom. Thank you for sharing His truth!


Lisa said...

I am afraid to say I know what hard feels like, I am afraid it is like saying “God I can’t take anymore….”, I am afraid he will show me that I can….

Jill May said...

I came to your blog today after reading your P31 devotional. This spoke so strongly to me today. this afternoon I stood by my beloved dad, and watched him draw his last breath and saw his 2 year battle with cancer come to an end. I am exhausted, depleated and mourning. This has been the hardest thing I have faced in my 37 years. But, in the last few weeks he was in Hospice, he allowed the Lord into his heart, and I can let him go knowing he is with Jesus. I know that the Lord will carry me through, but I know that the journey will be long. I know that God is always good, even when life is hard. Thank you for lifting my heavy spirit today.

Glynnis Whitwer said...

To Jill - Please accept my deepest sympathies at the loss of your dear father. This is a grief like no other. I pray the Lord's peace settles on your today and in the days to come.

My own father passed away just a few years ago, and accepted Christ in his last few weeks at the invitation of his grandson. And so, I rejoice with you knowing your father will await you in heaven.

In His Love,

My Journey to Hope said...

Man, I needed to read this today. I feel like Job, well, not so bad, but on a much smaller scale. Your devo was really encouraging, as was your blog. I'm pondering what I can control, when it all seems like chaos. I love the verse you used- "Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him." My hope is still in the Lord. Thank you for the reminder.

:) Michelle