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

Friday, September 8, 2017

Believing God Can

Dear Friends,
Remember Martha, Mary, and Lazarus? When Lazarus died, Martha was hurt that Jesus had not come and healed Him. After all, she and Mary had sent Him an urgent message, telling Him their brother was very ill. Jesus asked Martha if she believed He was the resurrection and the life. She replied that she did. She stood in front of friends and foe alike and testified that Jesus was able to raise the dead (John 11:24). “Then take away the stone from his grave,” said Jesus. “Lord,” Martha replied at once, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been dead for four days.”
That’s Martha—ever the practical thinker! But you see, she hadn’t applied the truth to her own heart. She had been taught by Jesus enough to believe He was God and He could indeed raise the dead. But she had not stayed still long enough to believe He was her God and would raise her dead! She could not roll away the stone.
The last glimpse we get of Martha is in John, chapter 12, where we read that “Martha served.”  The occasion was another gathering of Jesus and the disciples; it was in fact a dinner in Jesus’ honor given in the house of Simon the Leper. This time, however, Martha received no rebuke from her Lord. Martha was doing what she did best. As was Mary, who offered Jesus her little alabaster box of ointment. The house was filled with the fragrance of Martha’s cooking, her gift of practicality, and with the fragrance of Mary’s perfume, her gift of praise. Both aromas alerted everyone to the fact that Christ was present.

There are two sorts of believers; those who believe He “could”—like Martha, and those who believe He “would”—like Mary. The difference lies in the choice we make: the choice to serve Him first. This choice will certainly not mean we will be any less busy! But our busyness will be Christ-directed, Christ-honoring, and Christ-empowered. We will be running, but never running on empty!
Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine