Sustenance is defined as something that supports life. What kind of life do you have?? Is your life supported?? Is it one that is willing to take the Band-Aid off and allow the healing to begin?? Or, is it one where you have been punished and enslaved by the lies the enemy leaks into your mind? Is your mind guarded or is it vulnerable?? Part of ripping off that Band-Aid involves honesty with yourself and with Father. Tell Him what you are really feeling deep inside. Reach out to Him. Call on that friend or friends we identified last week. Back in college at FSU, I had a friend named Amy. Once, I came to Amy grumbling and complaining about my life. Amy took a bold move that day, instead of just listening to me and bemoaning with me; she gave me a piece of advice. She told me that I needed to go sit and write a “Thank You Note” to God for all He had been doing in my life. I remember feeling a twinge of anger towards her as I began to write. Then, the victories and blessings came flowing into my mind like a soothing balm. It was then that I realized what her goal was. She wanted to change my perspective and reorient my eyes onto the “Author and Perfecter of my Faith.”
“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!”
Hebrews 12: 1-3 (The Message)
There are times when you feel like you cannot see past the moment that is blaring in your face trying to capture your attention. Those are the times when we all need to look back at what Father has done in our lives and what Jesus endured during His time on Earth. Those wandering, uncontrollable thoughts need to be reined in and refocused. 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to take thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ.
Your best bet is to stop them before they enter your mind. Anabel Gillham tells a story of the day a vacuum salesman got into her house, and she could not get him out. She heard a voice and just yelled come in, and of course, in he marched. His demonstration began right away with a cup of dirt scattered across the floor. Once he had crossed the threshold of her home, it was hard to get him out. He continued to show off his vacuum and proclaim the incredible features and the benefits of owning this product. Boy oh boy doesn’t that sound like the same old song and dance that the enemy tries to sell us at those moments when we are tired, angry, and weak. Once the thoughts get past the threshold of our minds, it is harder for them to be kicked back out again and replaced with truth.
Charles Stanley, the pastor of First Baptist of Atlanta, shares an acronym called HALT to explain times when we need to stop and refocus our minds. These are times when that old song and dance tends to work on us more often.
H: hungry….not just for food but possibly for love and attention
A: angry… anger that is uncontrollable and all-consuming
L: loneliness….these are times when you miss companionship, inclusion into a group, or just want someone to share your life and struggles with on a daily basis
T: tired….when we do not get enough sleep…our minds are prone to wander
HALT and find a friend to help you during these times. Yell out to Father and seek His face…proclaim what is true in the face of temptation and fallacies.
Halt and read what God’s perspective is…
Don't you know anything? Haven't you been listening?
God doesn't come and go. God lasts.
He's Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn't get tired out, doesn't pause to catch his breath.
And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired,
gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don't get tired,
they walk and don't lag behind.
Keep on pressing on and running the race…
Love your fellow runner…
We’re never promised that life would be easy or comfortable, just abundant. Sometimes life is messy and hard. Whether they are things we’ve gone through, are going through, or will go through, sometimes we’re faced with difficult times and in the midst of them, it feels like we will not survive. Whether it’s a death, loss, grief, a transition, illness, heartache, or helping someone else through their tough times, the Bible fully equips us with examples of endurance and encouragement to persevere and push through.
Romans 8:18 says, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” And Philippians 1:6 says, “And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus.” We do and will suffer, but there is glory to come! God has started something (or did or will) in us, in you, that He wants to finish and has a plan!
We must embrace and not erase. We must persevere and push through. (Don’t you love it when we use rhymes, alliteration, and acronyms?? :)) We must endure! We’re not expected to do it alone and we don’t have to. Godly friends and a support system can make all the difference. What glory has been revealed in you? How can you see God using the things you’ve had to endure? How can God use your perseverance in the lives around you? Take time to reflect on these things and record it (write it, type it, blog it, tweet it, paint it, sew it, whatever YOU do). Be aware of how God is and can use you through your endurance and trust in Him.
Moses had Aaron. David had Jonathan. Joshua had Caleb. Esther had Mordecai and Hegai. Ruth had Naomi (and vice versa). Mary had Elizabeth. Jesus had the disciples. Who do you have?
As we see through example after example in the Bible, we’re not not meant to go through life alone! Even without the examples, I believe our instincts just know - we need friends! We need a support system. We need a sense of community. We often think of friends and the fun times we can and do have with them. Friends are of course for those fun and easy times, but a friend beside you in a difficult time is invaluable. Friends can make the unendurable endurable. A friend can often be just what we need to persevere and push through.
Moses, David, Esther, Ruth, Naomi, Mary and Jesus all faced seriously difficult struggles. Their struggles involved death, loss, a lack of physical needs, fear, and heartache. Our struggles are not so different. Just as life wasn’t always pretty and easy for them, it is not for us. They had the support of friends to help them make it through and we need that too!
And I have good news! God doesn’t leave us blind wondering what kinds of friends to choose or what we need. Romans 12:9-10 says “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly [or sisterly :)] affection.” Continuing in verses 12-13 the author says, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” And then in verses 15-16, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another.” A friend’s love should be genuine and an affectionate sisterly love. A friend should hold fast to what is good. A friend will rejoice in our hope and when we rejoice. A friend should weep when we weep and be patient in difficult times.
Today I encourage you, whether in the midst of a struggle or in a less difficult time of life, to find your friends! It may be one, it may be a group, but don’t try to persevere and push through alone. We are still called to endure, but with Godly women by your side to encourage you, hug you, hold you while you cry, hold your hand when you can’t do it alone, argue with you when you want to give up, the journey is a little easier and more bearable. If life is sunshiny and bright now, find a group to rejoice with who will be there to weep with you when it gets a little tougher. We’re not meant to do life alone. Take the first step and reach out to a potential friend today. Thank goodness we’re not in kindergarten and no one is going to tell you she doesn’t want to be your friend because your favorite color isn’t pink. Don’t be afraid. You can do it! You need it! We all need it!
In the book While the Heart Waits, the author says the struggle is where God is found, not in the erasing of the experience, but in the embracing of it. Embracing looks different for everyone. From our examples in 2 Timothy 2:1-7 we see this. As the soldier embraces his struggles he makes sacrifices, stays strong, and willingly faces conflict. As the athlete embraces her struggles she is dedicated, disciplined, and diligent. As the farmer embraces his struggles he is patient, hard-working, and ready to deal with whatever comes his way. Their difficulties aren’t taken away, but they embrace and push through them. Sometimes God does take things away, but not always! Embracing doesn’t mean it’s easy or any less painful! It just means you trust God to provide what you need to make it through.
In the Psalms, David was honest with God and we can be too. In Psalm 55:4-5, David says, “My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror overwhelms me.” His pain and heartache are evident. It’s okay to hurt! But God never intends for us to run and escape struggles, He wants us to trust Him to sustain us through it. At the end of Psalm 55, David says, “Cast your burden on the Lord and he will sustain you.”
What does embracing look like for you? Take time to search your heart and understand what not running away from difficulties will look like in your life. Do you need to cry out to God? Do you need to face a conflict, cry, scream, reach out to someone to hold your hand? Do it today.
When you fall and scrape your knee, eventually you have to take the band-aid off to allow the healing process to be completed. You can’t cover it up forever.
Today is band-aid ripping off day!
Embrace, don’t erase.
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