Monday, October 2, 2017

Doing Something Positive with the Negatives

Dear Friends,
Along with four other women, Elisabeth waited by a shortwave radio for what must have seemed like an eternity, listening for a message from their husbands, who had taken a flight into hostile Indian territory. The young couples had been trying to reach the Auca Indians in Ecuador with the gospel. When no message was received, a search party was sent out after the men, and eventually the dreadful truth was discovered. The young missionaries were found lying facedown in the river, killed by the poisoned lances of the Indians. 
This terrible happening had not been on Elisabeth’s agenda! She and her husband, Jim, had been looking forward to a missionary career together. Now her whole world had crashed around her. 
Elisabeth discovered she had a choice. She could resign herself to the situation and return home with her young daughter, or she could ask the Lord, “In what redemptive way can you use this?”
Elisabeth chose to trust God to do something positive with the negatives. And she decided to be part of the action. She and her young daughter and Rachel Saint (Nate Saint’s sister) bravely set off into the jungle and found the tribe that had killed Nate and Jim. The women were well received and allowed to make their home among the Indians. After the Bible was translated and the gospel shared, many in the tribe turned to Christ. Later, Nate and Marge Saint’s daughter, Kathie, was baptized in the river where her daddy had died. Truly God used that particular situation in a redemptive way. God wants to buy up the opportunities that come our way as we learn to trust Him and to use trouble as a springboard for action. 
Trusting God brings a certain element of hope to our hearts—a confident expectation that all is not lost and that there is something redeemable in the most awful situation. This trust is a tenacious, spiritual insistence that God can be trusted not only to be totally and thoroughly aware of our dilemmas, but also to be in control and already taking eternal measures to work out His ultimate purposes.
“But,” you may ask, “what are we supposed to trust God to do for us?” To right the wrong? To reverse a disease? To bring our loved ones back from the dead or an unfaithful spouse home again? Sometimes God does the unbelievable, but other times He doesn’t. There are, however, certain things we can bank on Him doing. 

Dare to trust God that He can redeem any difficult circumstances in your life. He will.  

Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Saturday, September 23, 2017

When Feelings Fail You

Dear Friends,
“If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is light to you.” ~ Psalm 139: 11-12
It’s truly hard to cope with feelings that overwhelm us or, worse, to go through difficult times without any good or comforting feelings. When we deal with the unseen world—the world of faith and spiritual life—it’s even harder. When it’s so dark all around us that we can’t “see” or “feel” God at all, we are tempted to put our trust in a real, live, concrete person and not in an unseen Spirit. And, yet the growing we do at this level is really independent of feelings, sight, and touch. It has to do largely with the unseen, not the seen; the unknowable, not the knowable; and with God, not us. 
If there is one major lesson I have learned about myself in times of trouble, it is that I need to live in my knowings and not my feelings, because I cannot trust my feelings. My feelings leave me gasping and spluttering as I dive into the cold waters of trouble. This is hard for those of us who like to live our lives in the feeling realm. And it’s especially hard when we are hurting through our physical and emotional senses. Job struggled with this. He needed someone to touch him. He needed to feel his wife’s arms around him. But the Scriptures say she wouldn’t come near enough to comfort him with that loving touch he so desperately needed. “My breath is offensive to my wife,” he said. We get a sense of Job’s feelings about his feelings in chapter 23. Job wanted, about all else, to “connect” with God, to sense His real and necessary presence. But he couldn’t “find Him.” It was as if God did not exist in Job’s personal universe anymore. “If only I knew where to find Him,” he laments. “If only I could go to His dwelling! But if I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find him” (Job 23:3,8). “Where is he?” Job cries out. He cannot see God’s face. He feels that God is hiding from him. Above all, Job longs to talk to God about it all, but God seems to be absent. And Job was feeling this for perhaps the very first time in his life. 
Have you ever felt that way? The Bible talks a lot about walking by faith and not by sight. The Word of God often uses metaphors of light shining in the darkness of our minds. This is the light of knowledge that God is, that God is there, that God is good, and that God is concerned with our well-being even when we don’t feel His presence. God’s face is always turned toward us, not away from us. Just because we don’t feel Him doesn’t mean He is absent. He is with us in our trouble—always.  
Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Persisting Through the Pain

Dear Friends,
When you can’t praise God for what He allows, try praising Him for who He is in the middle of what He allows. The love of God is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, and He is the Spirit of perseverance. A friend who serves the Lord in France and has seen her hard-won converts falling by the wayside, moving out of the area, or just becoming so discouraged they stopped coming to the mission altogether, keeps on keeping on. “So who is He for you, Cathy?” I asked her. “He’s wonderful,” she replied, her eyes shining. “He’s so wonderful it doesn’t even matter that everything is so dreadful. I can praise Him for who He is even in this mess!” If we are oriented to performance and results, it’s hard to remember that obedience—faithfulness and persistence—is all He asks of us. Praise helps us remember that.
Praise helps us to stop worrying so much about the outcome. It helps us trust Him more. It reminds us God is big enough, strong enough, and loving enough to sustain and help—even when we feel useless. Praise lifts our lagging spirits. In fact, Isaiah tells us God will give us “the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isa. 61:3).
Chuck Swindoll writes about pain being “one of the few things we all have in common.” “Maybe,” he says, “You are the one with the crushed spirit right now—the hidden heartache that is too deep for words and too private for prayer chains.” If this is so, ask God to use pain positively in your life to grow the beautiful and fragrant flower of persistence.
Spend time in James 5:10-12 and ask God to work in your heart a mighty enabling to endure.
Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine