Dear Friend,

Dear ___________,

I saw your request this morning and have been thinking about it and praying, too. I’ll just tell you what things were like for me and let you see if any of it applies to you and is useful for you. I read the books and heard the sermons on praising God (and then He will answer our prayers), on having faith (without which it’s impossible to please God so they make you feel guilty if you don’t think you have it), on rebuking and commanding things (felt like Don Quixote fighting windmills), and finally felt like I couldn’t take this mess anymore. I felt like a train that hit a brick wall – totally busted up from end to end, top to bottom and inside and out. I remember wondering what on earth God expected from me? I couldn’t read my Bible – I kept hearing the stuff in my head that was taught that I was angry about. We changed churches. Husband kept us going, and that was a good thing. We had 3 sons and they didn’t need a train-wrecked mom to cause them to miss church. But every Sunday after we got home I went to bed with a migraine or tension headache. This went on for quite awhile and then one day I got a bookmark in the mail from Billy Graham, I think. It had Micah 6:8 on it: “What does God require of you, but to do justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” Well, that answered my question about what God expects. I put that where I could see it every day. I got to the point that I told God that I didn’t care if He ever answered another prayer of mine; I was just so thankful for salvation and I really didn’t feel like He had to do another thing for me since He did that.

The church we changed to was preaching the gospel. We heard sermons about the cross. But – after a few years it changed. The pastor died and the latest new one didn’t preach from the Bible really. He even said so one Easter – told visitors to come back and see whether or not they wanted to stay at our church because that day’s sermon would be different – that day he was preaching from the Word! He did and it was different – then the next Sunday he was back onto whatever. It was how to sermons….how to have a happy family, how to have a good marriage, how to be financially successful and every other thing successful. On the front of our bulletin it even said “Winning @ Life.” It was like Dr. Phil with scripture thrown in. That’s not the gospel. It’s a form of godliness that denies the power of the gospel. Between that and a ‘revival’ that started up that a lot of folks at our church thought was real, I began to feel like I was in a windy tunnel of bad doctrine. My whole family wanted to leave and finally we were able to and we switched denominations entirely this time.

I have since learned that what was wearing me out is called a Theology of Glory. It’s like we are supposed to be advancing into higher levels of spirituality and faith – like able to believe God for more and more as we grow. This is not the historical view of the church. Now I am learning to trust God whatever the circumstances. I ask Him to change them and right now – as you know, I guess – I’ve been having a real tough time. Our income has been cut by about 20%, our youngest son was so sick with mono I thought we might lose him, I lost a cat and a friend in the same week, my other cat just threw up his guts for the 3rd time in less than 24 hours while I was writing this, AND more…in less than one year.

My pastor is telling me that this will develop patience in me and to remember Job. He said he’s praying for the circumstances but mostly he’s praying for me that God will strengthen me and help me and uphold me. I thought that was interesting because the verse I am making sure I see everyday is Is. 41:10 where God says he will do those things and not to be afraid or dismayed. I am battling being dismayed. It’s not easy but I have to remember that I am a Christian because God chose me. In James 1:18 it says it was by His will He brought us forth by the word of truth that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures. And in Eph. in the second chapter it says He picked out what good works we would do beforehand. So, it’s His will that I keep cleaning up cat puke and am unable to work on the church library, to work with a book club that I wanted to lead, to possibly get a job to help our income, to even take a rest. I don’t know why except that He is working out the image of Christ in me. I’d love to get out of this city and especially out of this bad part of town I live in. I wonder sometimes if people don’t think I could just do something to change and it and why don’t I? And I wonder why I can’t? It always comes back to God and He is apparently wanting me to trust Him to the degree that Job learned to trust.

So, I think it’s about learning to trust the wisdom and goodness of God even when it hurts and makes no sense to our logical minds. I think a person trying to understand God is like an ant trying to learn the ways of a man. And if I start thinking that God is being mean to me – I have to ask myself if I think I am more compassionate than HE is? He knows things that I don’t and He has purposes that I don’t understand. And I’ve learned that this is what faith really is. Not to believe that God will change the circumstances, although He may, but to trust that He will do the best thing.

And while I wait to see if things are going to change I am reading Is. 41:10: “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.”

I’m praying for you, ___________. God holds onto us and carries us when we are too tired to hold on for ourselves. That’s in Isaiah, too, chapter 40 verse 11.

love and blessing…diane