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For the broken

I believe that sin is real and rampant. I believe there is an enemy of God and His people. One that prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Pet 5:8). A trickster, who disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14), but who is truly a murderer and a liar (John 8:44). I believe that his temptations can and do overcome even the most faithful servants of God, even beloved King David.

BUT!
I worship a God that rebuilds ruined places and plants that which is desolate (Ez 36:36), whose strength is made perfect when we are weak (2 Cor 12:9), who can restore His people and make them strong, firm and steadfast following suffering (1 Peter 5:10). I worship a God that can restore what the locusts have eaten (Joel 2).

“The thief comes only to seek and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Jesus, John 10:10

If you are devastated or hurting this morning, please be encouraged that the Lord is there with you. Let me remind you of a few of His wonderful names:

El Roi (The God that Sees)
Jehovah Shammah (The Lord Is There)
Jehovah Shalom (The Lord Is Peace)
El Shaddai (Lord God Almighty)
Jehovah Rapha (The Lord That Heals)
El Olam (The Everlasting God)

When you are hurting, He is with you. He sees. He cares. He has peace and healing for you. You cannot do it on your own, but He can.  But maybe that isn’t quite enough to comfort you, maybe it makes you feel vulnerable and helpless because it’s out of your control. Here is what you can do: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Rom 12:12). “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you” (Ps 55:22). Know that “Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning” (Ps 30:5).

 For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
and to revive the heart of the contrite.”
Isaiah 57:15

 

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Battling the binge (Guest post)

In my teens and early twenties I fought bulimia and binge eating, it was confusing for me. I had a sporadic history of both problems instead of a continuous long-running battle. I could be fine for a year and a half and then be crippled for eight months wherever food was concerned. Eventually I came to realize that my eating disorder was really just a symptom. There was a deeper, underlying cause….

I’m honored to have the opportunity to share my story on the One Degree Ministries’ blog today. I haven’t written publicly about this struggle yet, I’m excited to see what the Lord will do with my story and experiences in this regard.

As with every victory over struggle, once I’ve moved past the struggle and have become stronger I marvel at the Lord’s grace and favor. That He would care enough to bless me in this area, that He even cares about the food I put in my mouth and the issues of my heart, humbles me and I know that it is only by His strength that I stand on the other side of this struggle.

You can read the rest of my story on the One Degree Ministries’ blog. If you have questions or comments that you don’t wish to post in the comments publicly, I welcome your private messages via email to nicole@shatterproofministries.com

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I Trust You… I Trust You Not…

I lay in bed trying to close my eyes and give over to sleep. But every time I close my eyes, the fears come back and my eyes pop back open. I blink nervously for a while. My mind races with numerous scenarios of what things could go wrong when my eyes are shut. When my eyes are open again I can remind myself of all God has accomplished already, and the promises in His word that He will remain faithful. I feel soothed again, and let my heavy eyelids droop once more… Then a minute later–pop! I’m awake again, back in paranoia.

Why do I do this? Why do I think that somehow as long as I can be “on duty” in my life that my problems can be managed? I cannot keep my eyes open forever! Eventually I have a choice to make, do I trust that God will come through? Like, really trust it not just say it–there’s a big difference!

Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand… For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’  Isaiah 41:10, 13

It’s natural to have an unsettled feeling after going through out of control life circumstances. After we’ve basked in the warmth of what the Lord has done in a situation we can sometimes slip back into a spirit of fear and worry that another crisis will soon arrive. And this is where our faith muscle is tested and trained; when we have to make the choice whether to trust God even though we have no certainty as to the future. But having walked with the Lord for any length of time we have experienced the loving protection of Our Father while we cowered in the dark and low places. Emerson Eggerichs has said, “Don’t doubt in the dark what God showed you in the light.”

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” Jesus, in John 14:1

My idea of how I want God to come through in a situation may be different than God’s plan for that situation. And that is scary… But it His plan is best. But in 1 Corinthians Paul refers to Isaiah 64 “As it is written: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’”. I can’t even possibly conceive of God’s wonderful plan for my life and my problems. And the Lord has promised so much to me, and proven faithful every time I needed Him. I need only take a deep breath and relax, allowing myself to let go of what troubles me and let God handle those things.

Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal. Isaiah 26:4

Originally published in the Fall 2012 Real Women Real Life
Oak Creek Assembly of God Women’s Ministry Newsletter
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A Plan in the Process of Pain

I recently saw the Makeover Week episode of The Biggest Loser. The contestants have been working very hard to lose weight all season and on this episode their new bodies were treated to makeovers. When the makeover process was complete, each contestant was blessed with a surprise visit from a family member or friend.

One woman walked out in her sparkly strapless ball gown, looking like a princess right off the Disney screen. Her Dad was there waiting. He stared at his beautiful daughter, hugged her and stared some more in proud awe. What surprised me was the woman’s reaction in this moment. She didn’t appear to enjoy this like you would expect. Her tears welled up. She looked at her father and hugged him silently. Her eye contact and body language communicated for her.

“I did it, Daddy. I’m finally beautiful, I can’t even believe this is me!” she seemed to say. In disbelief, she simply stood there and sobbed.

What a ‘eureka’ moment for me! All the times I’ve conquered a battle in my life have been sweet–but not as sweet as the stunning realization that I made it through. My mind and emotions replay all it took to get there: the blood, sweat and tears paid, the hard times endured, the testing, the suffering, the desperation, the hopeless moments of asking “why do I even try?”

But I did make it through! God carried me through and I was better for it! I was stronger, more hopeful, more beautiful–in ways that cannot fade with age. He had a purpose and He blessed me even in my afflictions.

…we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5, NIV

We appreciate our suffering not because it’s easy and painless but because God provides for our needs. He never abandons us and carefully grows us, prunes us. He created us so He knows what it will take to make us more patient, committed, graceful, forgiving, etc. And as we clear each of our hurdles in life, God then uses us to help others to clear their hurdles. It’s a beautiful thing!

The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 1 that the God of all comfort comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort He has given us. We endure that we might help others endure.

My prayer is that this gives you hope. God has a plan even for your painful processes. See your way to God and His loving, protecting arms even if you can’t possibly see to the other side of your battle. He will take your right hand and say “Do not fear, I will help you”. And when your storm has been weathered, when your battle is won, you can grab the hand of someone else still struggling and exclaim, “I did it! Because of my Father!” glorifying God by pointing another weary soul to Him for help.

Originally published in the Summer 2011 Real Women Real Life
Oak Creek Assembly of God Women’s Ministry Newsletter

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Being Shatterproof

In my first few weeks as a Christian I experienced the incredible power of God healing
diseases in my mind and body–a powerful experience to be sure. But with triumph came
adversity from within my own family. A wise friend told me, “When you’re under attack
from the enemy and the Holy Spirit throws open the doors of your ‘spiritual armory’
looking for weapons to use in the battle, you don’t want Him to find an empty cabinet!”

This useful illustration helped me grasp how non-negotiable Bible reading is for the
Christian. If I didn’t prioritize my Scripture reading and put God’s truth and promises
in my heart, there wouldn’t be anything for the Spirit to draw from when I came under
attack. In those early years in my walk with God the trials and hardships intensified
greatly, had I not followed the instructions of my spiritual mentors I would have surely
shattered. But falling to pieces is not God’s plan. We have His power, His strength to
draw upon.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;
persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  2 Corinthians 4:7-9

Who would benefit from your shattering to pieces when trouble comes? Certainly not you
or your family, only the enemy of this world—the one Jesus calls a thief.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life,
and have it to the full.  John 10:10

It can be down right debilitating to handle loss, uncertainty, pain and suffering. We are
so weak and so incapable, but being broken by God during these times of trial doesn’t
mean we have to fall to pieces. It all comes down to trust.

Gulp… Trust, I know. Us women are just so great at this, right? Hear me out. How would
your experience in suffering various trials change if when trials came you forced yourself
to look upon Psalm 91 and focused on God’s protection?

The first two verses speak of trusting God to protect us and finding rest in that trust.
Have you ever wished that you could just experience rest, if just for a moment? Does it
seem impossible? It doesn’t have to be. I challenge you to bask in the warm protection
of Psalm 91 and memorize it for life’s toughest times. The tender picture of protection in
Psalm 91 is available to all of us.

God will never leave you, God will not forsake you and God will not abandon you in
the midst of your suffering. All the cracks remaining in you afterward are evidence that
while you may have been broken, you certainly did not shatter irreparably. You were
broken by God’s hands. And in God’s hands, you will be held together. You will be
protected. You will be safe. You will not shatter.

 

Originally published in the Spring 2011 Real Women Real Life
Oak Creek Assembly of God Women’s Ministry Newsletter