Work through it with Faith!

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A half-century ago, Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross studied how we react to grief. She found that people generally follow this pattern: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Not all people experience every one of those or the the same sequence, but the pattern is generally true and knowing it helps us cope and become proactive. Think about your own emotional experiences in the last 2 months. Even if you have not had friend or family member sick or dying, life has taken a hard hit, hasn’t it? Nothing is quite the same and we are constantly told that it never will be. That is hard to grasp and to fit into our plans for life.

Christian, there is an abundant life of faith in the middle of this mess. So let’s talk about that for a few minutes this Monday morning.

When we were first learning about the pandemic many of us coped by telling ourselves, “It’s not really that bad. It will be over quickly.”
That’s denial.

Then, it dragged on and we wondered why we felt so much irritation, why we found ourselves lashing out at others. Anger showed up!

And so we started figuring out our own response, “Maybe if I do this, or go here, or talk to that person, or …” Yes, we tried making a deal with life and/or God. Bargaining!

But, week 6 came and instead of things changing, we were told to stay home longer, that our job was on hold, that our bank account was rapidly emptying and we wondered why we just wanted to stay in bed or eat junk or worse … that’s depression.

Acceptance is a beautiful thing. It’s not an end point, but an entry to understanding, adjustment, and new reality. Acceptance is that process in which we start to see life as it is, not as we wished it to be. “This really is happening. It is beyond my control. So, how will I respond?”  We must not confuse acceptance with giving up and or resignation. People who ‘give up’ lose their joy, choosing just to survive by killing their emotions. They throw away relationships, deciding that hope is too hard. You know those people. They are cynical, often bitter, mere shells of the person they once were.

It starts with being authentic about what we think and how we are seeing life. Often it requires someone who listens and provides feedback, who lets us empty our heart and soul and sort through our thoughts.  For Christians it must include time of prayer and openness before the Lord. We match our fears with His Word, settling on the foundations of Truth.  The Psalms are an incredible resource for this process, helping us to give form to our feelings, leading us to praise and worship, reminding us of the eternal hope we have in the Lord.

Acceptance does not usually arrive with a flash of insight that brings instantaneous transformation. It is like the coming of Springtime. Remember those days in March when the sun warms your face, when the shoots of green start to appear, followed by buds on the trees? Steadily, but imperceptibly, the earth transforms – winter to summer.  Acceptance comes like that, warm days of hope, frosty mornings reminding you that you are not quite there yet, but hope continues to emerge, as we turn our hearts toward God, the giver of life.

Jesus pours hope into us saying,  “I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can shut. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me. … Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world. Look, I am coming quickly. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown. (Revelation 3:8-11, NLT)

Maybe that is a truth that feels like it beyond the edge of your faith this morning.  Don’t be ashamed or fearful. Tell Him that you want to hold on. Adopt the prayer of that distressed Dad in the Gospels whose daughter had died, a man who cried, “Lord, I believe! Help me overcome my doubts!”

We all have days when we just have to just keep going, asking the Lord to lead us along paths, the end of which we cannot see. We will stumble over our sinful nature getting angry, going negative, wandering into self-pity or fear. We will allow ourselves to waste the day in distractions. Does that ever happen to you?  When I have those days I fantasize about a perfect words without battles, without temptation, without suffering, without disappointment.

Real life in the real world is about living our faith, patiently dealing with the sins, the obstacles, the disappointments, the temptations, the tests, the people who provoke… with the help of the Holy Spirit, who will lead us to a richer life in His truth, full of hope.

John Bunyan captured the process with his amazing classic – Pilgrim’s Progress.  Ah, yes, we are on the journey to our home.  If we want to please God, we have to be willing keep walking, trusting the infinite grace of our Savior.  “Patient endurance is what you need now, so you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.” (Hebrews 10:36, NLT) Keep asking God to move you to acceptance that is shaped by faith. Keep serving others with the gifts that God has given you, even when it seems that nothing is being accomplished.

Here’s a word from the Word. Meditate on it for a few moments right now. Invite the Holy Spirit to use it to strengthen your resolve to remain faithful to Christ.  “Be careful to put into action God’s saving work in your lives, (work out your salvation – NIV) obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him. In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing, so that no one can speak a word of blame against you. You are to live clean, innocent lives as children of God in a dark world full of crooked and perverse people. Let your lives shine brightly before them. Hold tightly to the word of life, so that when Christ returns, I will be proud that I did not lose the race and that my work was not useless.” (Philippians 2:12-16, NLT)

________

Way Maker

You are here moving in our midst
I worship You I worship You
You are here working in this place
I worship You I worship You

(You are) Way Maker Miracle Worker Promise Keeper
Light in the darkness my God that is who You are

You are here touching ev’ry heart
I worship You I worship You
You are here healing ev’ry heart
I worship You I worship You

You are here turning lives around
I worship You I worship You
You are here mending ev’ry heart
I worship You yeah I worship You Lord

That is who You are
That is who You are
That is who You are
That is who You are

Even when I don’t see it You’re working
Even when I don’t feel it You’re working
You never stop You never stop working
You never stop You never stop working

Osinachi Kalu Okoro Egbu © 2016 Integrity Music Europe (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing (Integrity Music [DC Cook]))

CCLI License # 810055

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