Category Archives: Disappointment with God

Believing!

DSC_1456By Judy Villanueva

“But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” “If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:22-24)

“A short-cut!” my husband exclaimed and off he traipsed across the lake-bed. I was a small distance behind and watched as he blazed a new trail only to end up thigh deep in mud! Oof! He was thoroughly stuck and had to lay down flat in order to work his legs free and maneuver his way back to solid ground. I guess that’s a good picture of my life as it relates to “believing”. I want to believe and do…until I don’t…and then, I’m just stuck in the mud of unbelief, uncertain where to turn or how to get back on feet of faith. My challenge of belief is not whether God CAN do anything, but rather, lies in the muddy mire of WILL He do what I ask?

The “can” and the “will” of it are two separate matters, I suppose, but when I’m on my knees pleading for pity — I want both! The CAN of God inspires me to ask with great expectation for anything and everything on my heart but it is the WILL of God that governs His CAN and demands that I exercise faith.

Do I trust His yes or no? Will I tolerate “what happens next” when it isn’t what I’ve prayed for?

“If you can?” are the words that seem to jump out at me today with care and confrontation. They seems to look me in the eyes with love and ask if I do, in fact, know with Whom I am speaking when I pray.

When I want what I want, are my prayers lifted to the God who not only CAN but always DOES in perfect harmony with His wise and good purposes? In the midst of my pain or impatience, can I remember that the One to Whom I pray CAN ONLY be true and faithful? What then shall I believe?

That I’ll always understand the answers God gives or that He WILL forever ACT with perfection and love…beyond my understanding?

Jesus words, “If I can?” invite me to stop and look at Him today, to sit at His side and let His voice overshadow my doubts. When He is next to me and at the heart of all my prayers, I can feel my feet of faith grow wings and my unbelief set free from the mud to trust God do the impossible … above and beyond what I can see or understand!

“Jesus, in Your presence I find rest for my soul and faith to believe that everything is possible. Draw me close to Your heart where I am reminded with Whom I am speaking and given courage to believe that You CAN and WILL be faithful always. Amen.”

What about you?

Are you mindful when you pray that you are speaking with the God of the universe? It helps!

What fuels your believing? Feelings or faith?

What are you believing God for today?

God cannot but WILL and ACT in accord with His perfect knowledge and faithful heart. You can trust Him and believe that beyond what you can see.

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Don’t Cry

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By Judy Villanueva

Luke 7:11-15

Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”

Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.

Huddled close together we prayed.  A stranger to me, she came forward after Sunday service and shared her story of buried hopes and disappointed dreams.  She recounted one loss after another and described a sadness that broke my heart.  Hopelessness seemed to surround us and I could feel its crushing weight.  “No! No! No!” were the words I quietly prayed  in response and “Jesus, come save us.”  Sometimes life deals us blows that knock the wind right out of us and leave us vulnerable and tired.  Sometimes all we can do is trust that God sees us, that He cares deeply and that His voice can call us back to life!

The widow had already lost her husband and now her only son has died.  I imagine that hope and joy lie next to him lifeless, as well.  I wonder if she knew Who it was that noticed her that day—Whose heart went out to her and said, “Don’t cry.”  Do you ever feel that your life is happening way down here on earth…out of view?  Every time I read that Jesus sees one of His beloved, I am relieved, reassured, and so, so glad!  That He feels for the widow confronts my wounded notion that Jesus, being God, knows everything and has no reason to feel for us. On the contrary!

“God with us” means that He travels through our moments in “real time” and feels our life with us!

The widow watches Jesus touch her son’s coffin, “Young man, I say to you, get up!”  I’m guessing that before she can even make sense of what she has just heard, she sees her son sit up and feels him placed back in her arms!   Can you imagine?   Instead of her worst nightmare, an unbelievable joy sweeps her up and twirls her around!  He’s alive!  Her son lives!  Have you ever felt helplessly at the mercy of your circumstances?  Has disappointment ever stolen your hope?

This story reminds me that it’s all about Jesus!  It’s never about me figuring “it” out…you know, how to be alive!

But rather, it is always about a kind God who sees me in the middle of my life and cares.  It helps me to remember His true heart that says, “Don’t cry” when I am utterly devastated…and strengthens me to witness His power over death!  Watching Jesus give back this son to his mother places hope back in my arms and fills my heart with joy!

“Thank you, Jesus, that you notice my coming and going, my joys and sorrows…and feel my life with me!  Help me in my helplessness and please tell my lifeless hopes to “Get up!”  I pray for anyone reading this who may feel weary and hopeless…that they would feel Your love today and Your touch on their life.  Amen.”

What about you?

Have you ever felt helplessly at the mercy of your circumstances?

Has disappointment ever stolen your hope?

Do you have friends who will be with you in your sorrows?  Is there a prayer team waiting for you to come forward?

God sees your life and cares!  His heart goes out to you today!

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Take Courage

DSC_0167By Judy Villanueva

John 16:33

These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble, but take courage! I have overcome the world.”

“I wonder if cows are glad when the sun comes up, after being in the dark all night.”  My husband’s pondering made me smile as I tried to picture happy cows at dawn!  We had been driving for some time and, as the sun began to rise, I realized that I, too, am glad for the coming of light each morning.  So many faces flashed through my mind of loved ones who are waiting in the dark…worn out, discouraged and eager to be glad again.  A broken heart, a tormented mind, a hope deferred, a dread realized…each one bearing a trial that disrupts peace, troubles the soul and threatens faith in a good and mighty God.

When I think of peace in tribulation, the image of Jesus sound asleep in a violent storm comes to mind. Can you picture that small boat tossed about on the Sea of Galilee and the disciples white with fear?  I often read Scripture as though  looking through a telescope, viewing a familiar story and watching it unfold as a reality.  Coming upon Jesus, with His head on a pillow, fast asleep, helps me touch the peace of God.  Look!

God’s reign over all of life blanketed our Savior with a Shalom that freed Him to let go of worry…and sleep in the middle of a raging storm.

Jesus had no fear for His life because He knew His Father had it covered.  Asleep on a boat or hanging on a cross, Jesus’ life was held in the grip of God.  So is ours.  It’s tempting to tie our peace to circumstances and outcomes that we cannot control.

Only Jesus fully grasps the cosmic triumph that happened when He overcame the world, but He did and because He did, we can take courage!

I suspect that, rather than cursing the storms, we find peace as we join Him on the boat and put our heads on the pillow next to His.  With Jesus, we are helped to bear our pain and trust the One who reigns…for the coming of Light in the morning and the power to make us glad again.

“Father, bring Light to our darkness and peace to our storms.  Give us courage to trust You and reassurance that you are with us.  Be our peace and gladness today  and help us as we wait for the dawn.  Amen.”

What about you?

Are you in a season of loss or trial?

What does it mean to you that Jesus has overcome the world?

Have you experienced peace in Christ?

What is the prayer of your heart today?

The One who overcame is with you.  Take courage!

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Just Believe!

DSC_1209By Judy Villanueva

“Don’t be afraid, just believe!”  (Luke 8:50)

“Do not be deceived, Wormwood.  Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”  (CS Lewis, Screwtape Letters)

Pain, loss, and disappointment have loud voices and, over time,  it can become near impossible to hear Hope over their cries.  They seem to shout, “Don’t you dare hope because stuff happens…even when you pray.”  It is an annihilating lie that likes to take up residence in crushed and weary souls.   It starts by taking an inch but invades with the full intention of shrouding the truth about God and ruling with its message of despair.  Before we know it, this trio is dictating the final word about God…a word that declares Him unfaithful, unable, and unavailable.  But, don’t believe it…not for one minute!

God is good always and no matter what!

He is incapable of being unfaithful.  Despite trials and tribulations, God remains God, and that means He remains perfectly good and perfectly in charge of our lives, our world and this very moment in history.  I do not understand it and wrestle with issues of belief regularly because of the suffering around me.  I admit that atrocities and sorrows devastate my heart and tempt me to doubt God.  I wish I was stronger…but I am just me.   God is helping me to accept that peace will not come from my ability to make sense of pain because I do not have that capacity!  Rather, He woos me to keep looking at His face.

When I read the gospels and watch Jesus healing, washing feet, and dining with sinners, I get a glimpse.  When I watch Him hurt with hurting people and feel compassion for widows, lepers and weary travelers, I get a glimpse.

When I stand at the cross and look up into eyes that look down upon me with a love that wraps all the way around me, I can see… and feel His face!

My soul receives healing and correction…and, somewhere deep within me, I feel a peace wash over the panic of worry and fear.  At the cross, in His face, the dictations of disappointment are silenced, all matter of matters are brought to peace and I am able to “just believe!”

“Lord, I hear you exhorting me to trust You above any other voice that tempts me to doubt your faithful heart!  Quiet the noise of dissonant voices and help me not to lean on my own understanding.  Woo me to Your face and help me to rest in the beauty of Your good heart.  Amen.”

 

What about you?

Have pain, loss and disappointment shrouded your view of God?

Are you weary and afraid?

Do you know how to look at God?  If not, start by reading the Gospels and watch Jesus.

Have you seen the love of God looking down upon you from the cross?  Stand there and let it wrap all the way around you!

 

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“We Will Remember” by Tommy Walker

“Sovereign”  by Chris Tomlin

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Dissonant Notes

DSC_0396By Judy Villanueva

“I love You, O Lord, my strength.”
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
And I am saved from my enemies.  (Psalm 18:1-3)

I came to faith with great energy to hope in God — to wait with expectation for what God would say and what He would do!  Young and full of faith, I climbed out on the proverbial limb and watched for Jesus but, answers to prayer lingered and unwelcomed outcomes arrived instead.  Disappointment in prayer began to undermine the song I wanted to sing from the branches and before I knew it I was on the ground dusting myself off and kicking aside the cracked branch next to me.

Dissonant notes. They are notes that play on the base clef of our souls.  On the treble clef we hear the melody of faith, joy and peace.  We believe God’s word and trust Him.  But, if we listen closely we may become aware of dissonant notes that are also playing, the ones a little off-key that remind us of disappointments, losses, and our wounded souls.  Did you know that it is possible to feel hurt by God?  Now, that may sound irreverent , but I’ll suggest it’s just honest.  It is what happens along our faith journeys in this fallen world when we don’t understand the unexpected things that happen in life.  We believe that God is faithful but we cannot make sense of pain, sickness, and suffering in this world.

So, what do we do with our dissonant notes?  First, it is helpful to listen and allow them to help us understand the hurts inside of us.

In listening we come to realize how pain may have warped our image of God and interfered with our ability to trust Him.

Rather than ignoring our hurts and disappointments, we can offer them a place to heal.  In God’s Word we find powerful and reorienting Truth that creates melodies of hope within us  and purifies the way we see and know God.  Taking time to rest and be still aids in quieting our souls and fosters a sense of  God’s presence.  Here we learn to accept what cannot know or control and trust that God is faithful and able to watch over our lives.  Finally, in worship we learn to sing alongside our off-key notes with melodies of grace that invite them into the larger songs being written through our lives by God — songs of His faithfulness, redemptive power, and everlasting love!

“Lord, I am so aware of my off-key notes, especially when I am discouraged or disappointed. Thank You that all my notes find their place in the song You are writing through my life. Help me to wait and watch for Your faithfulness. Amen.”

What About You?

Are you aware of the notes that play in your soul?  Contented and off-key?

Have you taken time to listen and understand them?

Can you bring your soul full of notes (joys and sorrows) to Jesus…to rest and be loved?

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