If in this life only we have hope in Christ,
we are of all men the most pitiable.
(1 Cor. 15:19 NKJV)
"Now where is your God?" is one of the questions unbelievers ask us when things get tough for us. They want to know why this is happening to us. Could it be because we have been bad? They demand an answer why the God we trust in isn't there to help us out of our troubles. They wonder why, if God exists, He is ignoring us.
Could you answer these questions? Today? Now? How about during a time while you are going through tremendous grief, pain and sorrow?
Some of us Christians seem to handle hardships better than others. Could it be because we are in denial over things that are happening to us? Or is it because we are just stronger than others? Do some of us have more faith in Christ? Or can some of us just bear a bigger load?
"My Carmen can handle even that without any doubt." I still recall these words my mom used to tell others when they asked how on earth I could face another miscarriage in my life. Oh yes! Yes, I was strong — on the outside — no problem. But with each miscarriage I lost a bit more of myself.
My mom died in 2011. We didn't have such a close relationship as I wished for, but I loved her. I thought I could get over her death in time, but the pain is still very real to me. Eight years later and I'm still thinking a lot of her. Throughout the year I remember things she used to say and some of the traditions she loved to keep.
What hardships have come along your way? How did you manage to survive and live through them?
"I'm afraid I don't see the baby's heartbeat anymore." What? That can't be! Check the screen again! But it was true... How was I ever able to deal with another miscarriage?
The cell phone slipped out of my hands, and my body sank into the chair. "Mom died." What? That can't be! I had to face reality. How was I ever able to deal with this?
Where do you go from there? What do you answer to the nagging question: Where is God when you need Him?"
The difference lies in this life only vs the hope we have as an anchor of the soul. What hope? That this life is not all there is. If it would be, so the verse says, we are of all the most pitiable. Why would anyone in her right mind trade all the eat, drink and be merry for a miserable life to live and then die and be gone forever? Why not live life to the fullest? Because there is more to it than this life.
The world doesn't believe in eternal life. So they claim that they have to make the best out of the here and now. We, however, cling to the fact that there is more to come in the future. We look forward to the day when:
God will wipe away every tear from our eyes.
There shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.
There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.
The question remains: Where is our God now? Our God is in heaven.
No matter if all is good in life or if you are currently facing hardships, I'm challenging you today to think of this question where God is and to read and meditate on Psalm 115.
Decisions. Decisions. Decisions. Where should we look for answers? Who is there to help us decide? How will we know right from wrong? We have to draw near to God.
At times I find it hard to make a choice. What should I wear to church on Sunday? Do I pack the peanut butter and jelly sandwich or the cheese sandwich for lunch? What will I make for dinner tonight? Is there enough milk left for tomorrow, or do I have to make an extra trip to the store to buy more?
How about you? Do you find it hard to make decisions?
It doesn't end here, does it? Sometimes there is money involved. Should I buy the cheaper shoes that I can afford right now, or should I wait and spend more money to buy the branded leather ones? Do I really need a new car or will the one I drive last another two years? How much should I save each month?
And, what about the life-changing decisions? Should I go out with this guy or not? When is it okay to get married? How many children do I want to have? Should I seek a college degree or not? Where should I go to work? Do I accept a full-time job or not after getting married?
Questions after questions, and we are longing for the LORD to answer them, don't we? God is probably not telling us which of the two sandwiches we should pack into our lunchboxes. Concerning a sale, He might not give us the answer right away, and we will need to wait a little bit longer to find out whether we should buy a more expensive item or not. One of the ways God is leading us in our decisions is by sending people into our lives who will give us wise counsel. He can use a friend or sister to guide us (back) onto the right path. The best advice for us to make the right choices in life is found in God's Word. To seek it, we have to pick up our Bibles and read.
We must be aware, though, that the devil is crafty and a deceiver from the beginning. It's no mistake that he is called the father of lies. He always questions God's commands and asks us, "Has God indeed said?" If we give in and reason with the devil then the foundation on which we stand on is shaken. We have to be careful not to fall for the devil's lie. Many times the forbidden food looks so good, so ideal, so pleasant to our eyes that we desire it, reach out, take it, and eat it. The consequences are often devastating and always lead to some sort of death, e.g. death of our marriage, not necessarily death of our bodies but of our health, or the death of an important contract. (see also Genesis 3:1-6)
Yes, God's Word is still relevant today no matter if Satan continues to question it. Sad but true, we need to be aware that the original lie, Has God indeed said?, can even be found in churches at times. Its wording will be different, e.g.
Before any major decision: Pray. Read your Bible. Wait and expect the LORD to answer.
God is never done working in our lives. No matter if we are in our 40s, 50s, 60s or 70s, we need wise counsel from other Christian women who are mature in their faith.
My mom's birthday is coming up in a few days. If she hadn't died eight years ago she would have turned 78 this year. I still miss her so much, and sometimes I wonder how different our lives and our relationship would have been if both of us would have been raised in a Christian home.
I started this website, The Christian Homemaker, with the goal in mind to teach young women about homemaking in the light of God's Word. Likewise I wanted to exchange thoughts with the older women on how we can reach the next generation.
How will the young women know if they are going in the right direction? We need to help our daughters in how to make decisions because if we don't somebody else will. The world will more than miss the mark in teaching young women about true love, hope, and faith in the LORD Jesus. A worldly oriented society pushes our daughters unto wrong paths, but it will bail out when things get tough or advice them to give into extreme actions.
To be continued...
A full-time homemaker doesn't leave her home to make money, but she is out to save the family some money each month. The family's finances will not increase, but they will decrease slower than usual. In other words, less money spend will make the regular income last longer.
Following are few ideas on how to stretch your monthly resources:
What does God's Word tell us about our finances? If we would do a topic search about money we would bump into keywords and phrases like:
Don't love money. Love God instead.
God owns everything. It's all His. In 1 Chronicles we read:
11 Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, The power and the glory,
See, we don't own our money. We are stewards of it. God gives us the resources freely, but He also asks us to be wise in the way we handle them. As full-time Christian homemakers we are given the opportunity to praise and honor Him in the way we are handling "our" monthly income.
In Exodus 18 we find a story about Moses judging the people. Some of the issues brought before him were minor while others were major problems that needed to be solved. From morning until evening the people came to Moses asking him to settle their issues. At some point the workload became too heavy for Moses. He was not able to carry it out on his own. Jethro, his father-in-law, said to him:
Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself.
Just like Moses we tend to think we can and have to do everything on our own. We wash, hang up, take down, iron, and fold the clothes. We prepare, cook, and serve the food. We clear the table, rinse the dishes, load and unload the dishwasher. When we are running out of our own strength we try to push ourselves just a little bit further.
Just like Moses we have to listen and admit that we have our limits. We are not able to perform all tasks on our own. And we are certainly not able to do the impossible. We can't change others and we can't fix their problems for them. In fact, we ourselves are in desperate need of help so that we can and are willing to change. We have to face our hardships, and while we are going through them we are in need of someone who can not only do the possible but who is also able to do the impossible.
When the death of a loved one, divorce, drug addiction, abuse, sickness, mobbing, or any other worldy lions attack us then we are in desperate need for someone who can carry us through and make the impossible possible.
And when he came to the den, he cried out with a lamenting voice to Daniel. The king spoke, saying to Daniel, "Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?”
What lions are you facing right now? Do you believe in the One who is able to deliver you from them?
In my last post, Tough Decisions, I shared with you a story about one of my saddest times in my life. After reading a tract about marriage, divorce, and remarriage my husband and I had to face the question of whether we could stay married or if we would have to get a divorce. This is a follow up to Friday's post.
We prayed. We asked, no, we begged, we pleaded with the LORD for our marriage.
What are you supposed to do in a situation like that? Search for articles, read books, go online for help? How about asking your pastor, friend, or members of your family what they would do? For us the dilemma started after reading what a particular denomination says about remarriage.
I will not mention the tract in details nor tell you more about that denomination. This post is not intended to refute their arguments nor to belittle their denomination.
The whole point I want you to get out of this post is: Search the Scriptures for answers. I don't mean for you to pick and choose as you please (oh, I'm very much guilty of having done that before) but to diligently search for answers in the Bible.
Searching for answers in God's Word means to be ready:
Our marriage could have ended right there. To move forward we had to accept to do whatever He would require us to do. We had to lay our marriage on the Altar of God. All glory to Him, He had plans for us to remain married.
No matter what you are facing, in all you do, seek God's will first.
This had been one of the saddest times of my life. I had read a tract about marriage, divorce, and remarriage, handed it over to my husband, and eagerly waited for him to share his thoughts about it with me.
“Let's pray. Let's ask God to reveal to us, through His Word, what He wants us to do.”
We prayed. We asked, we begged, we pleaded with the LORD for our marriage.
This particular tract argued that a person who remarried, after having been married and divorced before, must get a divorce and go back to the first spouse and marry that spouse again. The second marriage, or any that follows after the first one, except after the death of the first spouse, is sinful in God's eyes.
In a situation like this one we tend to find out all we can by...
reading articles and books about it
searching the internet for answers
asking our pastor, friends, or members of our close family what they suggest we should do
However, this kind of situation calls for a serious digging into the Bible!
Pray for wisdom and understanding from God.
Read your Bible. Trust in God's Word.
Wait upon the LORD to reveal His answer to you.
We prayed, we searched the Scriptures, and we asked God for direction. The hardest part was to admit and be ready that, if the LORD says and requires us to get a divorce, we will have to do as God tells us to do. It felt like something is tearing my heart apart...
It's hard to come to a point where your heart longs to go this way but God seems to be leading you unto another way. When faced with tough decisions, what will you do? Will you choose God's ways over man's ways? How far will you go?
The past three weeks had been quite tough. In the middle of struggling with problems it's hard to be still and know that God is still in control, isn't it?
One thing happened after another and each situation brought new challenges along. I'm worried about things and so I try to plan ahead to avoid any bad consequences. Planning and organizing just comes naturally to me. Something that isn't in my (human) nature, though, is to be still and to wait upon the LORD.
How about you?
Just a short while ago we had been reading through the Book of Isaiah. Then, the other day, I have stumbled across Psalm 27. I looked over the notes again to remind myself of what we had discussed during our Bible study a few weeks ago. Verse 14 says: Wait on the LORD, be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart. Wait, I say, on the LORD! (NKJV)
Yes, it isn't always easy to wait on the LORD. We want to take matters into our own hands, don't we? We want to make things happen then and now - the sooner, the better. The problem is that, often enough, we will fail due to our own weakness; we will faint and be weary, and utterly fall.
But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:31 NKJV)
If you find yourself going through a tough time these days, take a short time out and open up your Bible to Isaiah 40. Start reading from verse 21 and onward, or, better yet, read the whole chapter (it's only 31 verses long) of Isaiah 40. Then, go ahead and read Psalm 27 to comfort and encourage yourself - to know that, no matter what you are facing today, God remains faithful and in control.
Blessed is the man
Yesterday my husband and I finished the first six months of our Bible reading plan*. This means that we just started our second round of reading through the Book of Psalms and therefore we have read Psalm 1 this morning. If you are following me at my other blog, too, you probably read my post about Favorite Books where I'm talking about my love for the Psalms:
I love the Psalms — reading them, meditating on them, and especially singing them.
Reading and believing in God's Word doesn't make all of our problems and sorrows disappear. We will find much comfort and hope in the Word of God, though. By seeking the LORD Jesus Christ with all our heart, we will soon know that He is the only One who is capable to give us eternal life and the One who will, in the near future, wipe away every tear from our eyes. Then there shall be no more death, nor more sorrow, no more crying, and no more pain! (see Revelation 21:4)
Don't be fooled. Some might try to tell you that there is a way in the middle. But there is not. From cover to cover the Bible tells us that there are only two ways in this life to choose from: The Way of the Word vs. The Way of the World.
*Bible Reading Plan We are using The Legacy Reading Plan as a guideline. I have slightly adjusted the plan so that we are following along reading the books as suggested, reading one Proverb a day, and reading one Psalm a day instead of three Psalms per week. This will take us once through all the other books of the Bible (Old and New Testament), except for Proverbs and Psalms. Our slightly changed plan guides us twelve times through the Book of Proverbs and twice through the Book of Psalms.
As I was sitting at the breakfast table this morning I glanced at the glass door of my oven and I didn’t like what I saw. It was dirty. Why did it look that smeary all of the sudden? I tell you why: the beam of the morning sun, shining brightly on it, exposed the stains that are usually hidden behind the dark glass door.
I thought of somebody I have shared the Gospel with a while ago. She was obviously curious and bombarded me with all sorts of questions about the Christian life. To be honest, that made me really happy. Why? Because I think whenever a person is asking us questions about our faith there is an open door. We should take the opportunity to share more about that precious hope we have. We need to be ready to give an answer about what we believe.
A little later on, that same week, we went for a walk together. At the end of the walk, back at where we had parked the cars, I took the gift-wrapped book out of my car and gave it to her.
Addressing her by her name, I said to her: “I want you to have this.”
Immediately, she got cocky and replied: “Is this a religious book? Because if it is, I don’t want to have it.”
“It’s not a religious book,” I told her, “It’s the Bible.”
She answered: “Well, that is a religious book. I don’t want to have it. Take it back home with you and give it to somebody else.”
I told her that I couldn’t pass it on to somebody else because I had written a dedication for her into it. Even though it contained a personal letter specifically for her, I left it right there at the parking lot in the hope that someone would pick it up, take it home and read it.