How To Encourage Someone Who Is Hurting

I have something to confess. I have been guilty of giving the typical christian cliche response when my friends and family have come to me with struggles. In my heart, I am a “fixer” trying to save the world and when someone in my life is hurting, my initial response is to fix the situation and remove the hurt and pain.
Recently, while reading the book of Job, the Lord convicted my heart of that very thing and opened my eyes to seeing how that is not helpful. 
 
To refresh your memory, Satan was “checking in” with God in heaven (Job 1:6) and they began talking about Job. The Lord told Satan “there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil.” God was confident in Job’s faithfulness and obedience to him so he allowed Satan to use his power over Job commanding only one thing, that he not “lay a hand on his person.” Satan used his power indeed, causing Job to lose his property and his children and infecting him boils all over his body. Job was in so much pain he cried out to the Lord cursing the day of his birth. 
 
Can you imagine losing everything you own, losing your family and battling an illness that daily causes tremendous pain. Job was justifiably upset. He cried out to God in anger, he didn’t understand what was going on. God comforted Job from afar but he provided 3 men on earth that were friends to Job during this difficult time in his life. Job’s 3 friends are a great example of what not to do in response to when other’s are troubled.  
 
In Chapter 4 we are introduced to Eliphaz who reacts by telling Job “Remember now, who ever perished being innocent?” Eliphaz was convinced the reason Job was facing so much turmoil in his life was because of some unconfessed sin he needed to deal with. His friends Bildad and Zophar had similar feelings, telling Job he needed to repent for whatever he had done. 
 
All three of these men saw what Job was going through and believed He was being punished by God. They urged him to confess and repent for his wrongdoing, when all the while, Job was being taken through a trial we would be talking about years later as we reflect upon Job’s faithfulness to the Lord through his difficulty. These men had no idea what was really going on but they formed opinions about what they thought was happening and tried to “help” Job by giving him advice. 
 
When it comes to encouraging other’s through difficult times, here are some do’s and don’ts we can take away from this passage. 
 
Do:
– Prayerfully consider how you will respond. If a friend approaches you in times of trouble or sadness, grief or mourning, allow yourself time to say a prayer (even a quick one) asking the Lord to speak through you what HE wants you to say. 
– Listen more and talk less. Often times when someone is hurting they just need to get it out. They don’t always need the problem to be fixed right then and there. You can be the most help by letting them talk to you and not responding. 
– Always pray for discernment. If you are continually asking the Lord to provide discernment, He will. The holy spirit is our helper and he will speak to you and guide you if you are seeking it. 
 
Don’t:
– Don’t be impulsive. One of the things Job’s friends did right was lay with him and wait (2:13). They didn’t speak, they just sat with him and waited, acknowledging that his grief was great. 
– Don’t respond with the typical christian cliche’s like; “God works in mysterious ways,” “God has a plan for you,” “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle,” and “If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.” They are not helpful. 
– Don’t google “bible verses for encouragement” and pick the first thing that “speaks to you” to send to your friend in need, instead, ask the Lord to speak to your heart and tell you how to encourage and support. 
 
Lastly, I want to point out the Lord’s response to Job’s three friends in this situation. In Chapter 42 v. 7 God says “My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as my servant Job has… My servant Job shall pray for you.” God was not a fan of the human approach, opinions and empty words are not helpful. When those around us are grieving or going through a difficult time, pray, wait and then respond.

The 60 Day Challenge

At the beginning of July, I opened my e-mail to find a short blog from one of my favorite author’s, Lysa Terkeurat. In her blog, A Soul That Longs For More, Lysa began telling a story about the time God instructed her to give her bible away. It’s a very moving story and you can click here to read the whole thing. 

As Lysa concluded her blog, she explained that a month after giving her bible to the man on the airplane, he called to tell her he had taken a week off work to read it and had shared his testimony with numerous people. As I read those words, I shifted as conviction covered me. This man knew the book he held in his hands held value which no amount of monetary goods could compare. He treated it as though had had found the treasure he had been searching for his whole life. Knowing how valuable it is, he took a week, AN ENTIRE WEEK, off work just to read it. Front to back, inside and out, he wouldn’t put it down until he had soaked up every word. 
 
Embarrassed. 
Ashamed. 
Unworthy. 
Undeserving. 
Guilty. 
Repentant. 
 
Those are the emotions I felt as I realized I had never once felt the passion and drive this man felt to set EVERYTHING in his life aside just to be with our sweet Jesus. 
 
That Sunday, I got up to go to church to hear that our pastor was challenging the church body to read the entire bible in 2 months. Yup, a short 60 days! The pastor partnered the challenge with the words “If you spend at least 1 hour in your bible a day, you can do it.”
1 hour doesn’t seem like much when you think about it in the context of a 24 hour day but when you subtract 7 – 8 hours of sleep, an 8 (more like 10 or 12 for some) hour work day and the other tedious tasks throughout the day, that 1 hour may feel a little overwhelming. 
As I thought about all of the 365 day reading plans designed to assist you in getting through the bible in 1 year, I was surprised to find that instead of being hesitant to take the challenge, I was more than excited.
 
With my bible and journal ready, I embarked upon my 60 day reading challenge and was eager to see where my journey would lead. This challenge has been the most life changing experience for me. It has increased my intimacy with the Lord,  completely changed my attitude and fine tunned the voice of the Holy Spirit.
I know there are others of you who are driven by the same competitive nature inside of me so I want to challenge you to join the 60 day challenge. Pick up your bible and spend some amazing quality time with the Lord. Let him move your heart and speak to you through passages you’ve read in the past and new words you’ve never read. Open your heart and mind to the things He desires to say to you through words written so long ago and be receptive to what you hear Him sayg I promise you one thing, if you will allow Him to, God is about to move in your life in a mighty way! 
 
A few suggestions as you embark upon this challenge; 
– Pray. Pray before your time with the Lord asking Him to remove distractions and help you to focus on the things He wants you to hear. Pray for your heart and mind to be open and that you will listen and remember what He is revealing to you. 
Journal. If as you read, you underline or mark a verse in your bible, take a second to meditate on that verse. Write that verse down and write why it stood out to you. Thank the Lord for speaking and let the passage sink in.
Find an accountability partner. Satan is really good at making us feel defeated and want to give up. Find someone you can take this challenge with who can help push and motivate you to finish and not give up. 
Don’t save the old testament for last 🙂 This seems silly but it’s so true. The old testament can be difficult to read sometimes and many of us are guilty of avoiding it or reading it less than the new testament. I would highly encourage you to read 2 to 3 New testament books and then read one of the harder old testament books after that. 
 
I don’t have an outline or schedule I followed, I just read as my heart lead but if you would like my help or suggestions I would be more than happy to send them to you. Happy reading everyone! 

Satisfying Your Craving

Last week, I was teaching my kids how to learn to tell time. It’s a difficult task to teach time to children, and it’s even more difficult to teach it to children who don’t speak the same language as you and only understand a third of what you are saying. Yeah, not easy.

 

The best thing I could think of was to draw a time line on the board. We started with the simple phrase “wake up,” to discuss morning. To teach afternoon, we began speaking about lunch and my instincts decided it was a good idea to point to my stomach and yell “GET IN MY BELLLY!” At first the kids looked at me like I was crazy (a look I often get), but soon they all started mocking my behavior and began pointing to their stomachs and yelling as well. It was a sight to see for sure.  
 
This past Thursday, I met with some ladies for a bible study I’ve started to lead. The study is for women who are also struggling with weight and or body image issues. As I prepared for our first meeting, I laughed out loud thinking about my recent experience with my kids. In our study, we are going through a book I’ve mentioned in my blog before called Made To Crave. Lysa TerKeurst argues that God intended for us to crave. She explains how God designed us to crave but instead of craving more of Him, sometimes we crave other things like food, intimacy, drugs, alcohol, etc.  
 
As I’ve read through her book, the words “We crave what we consume,” have been circling around in my mind. I know many of you reading this don’t struggle with weight but stay with me, I promise this blog is applicable to you as well. 
 
I have had my fair share of cutting things out. No sugar, no fast food, no eating after 7pm, all in an attempt to lose weight. But one thing is true each time, whenever I am not eating something specific, like chocolate or fast food, my body, once rid of whatever I was previously consuming, no longer craves it. It’s interesting how that works.
BUT, the first time I eat a piece of cake or a tiny Hershey’s kiss after I’ve gone so long without sugar, suddenly, my body wants and desires more. 
 
Lysa talks about how the same thing applies to our spiritual life. She calls it spiritual malnutrition. For example, if you aren’t reading your bible daily, if it isn’t part of your daily routine, you may not even think twice about pulling it out to read it in the morning before you go to work. But when you do pull it out and dig in, the Holy Spirit will speak to you and you will begin to want more. 
 
My prayer is that anyone reading this who is suffering from spiritual malnutrition will pray asking the Lord to give you a desire to crave more of Him. I pray that you will always be hungry for what His word has to offer. It is good, so good and I hope you will dig in and take a taste. After all, it’s the one thing you can eat and eat and eat that won’t cause you to get fat! So, eat it up y’all!
 
Psalm 34:8 Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him. 

Rest In MY Presence

I’ve said this before but the best thing that has happened to me since being in Korea has been the abundance of intimate time I get with the Lord. I can literally feel him chiseling away the things I need to rid, while molding and changing me. As painful as it has been at times, it is a beautiful thing. 
 
Lately, I have been feeling a lot of conviction about my prayer life. The other day in Jesus calling, I read these words, 
 
“I am God of both intricate detail and overflowing abundance. When you 
entrust the details of your life to Me, you are surprised by how 
thoroughly I answer your petitions. I take pleasure in hearing your prayers, 
so feel free to bring Me all your requests. The more you pray, the more 
answers you can receive. Best of all, your faith is strengthened as you 
see how precisely I respond to your specific prayers.” 
 
I was particularly convicted by the last sentence. My prayer time lately has been rushed, before and after quiet time, or little prayers throughout the day but God has really dealt with my heart on setting aside time specifically for intimacy with him through prayer. 
 
In church right now we are still picking apart second Kings. For the last few weeks we have learned about many of the Kings who reigned over Israel and Judah who are known for the bad things they’ve done. We’ve read about King after King who allowed the worship of idols to continue in the land. Kings whose pride and disobedience ultimately lead to their death. Kings who began reigning after killing the King who reigned before them. It’s been a string of depressive messages.
I’ve been looking forward to the day we would be reading about the man my pastor referred to as “The greatest King since David,” and today was that day. Hezekiah was known for his goodness. And I was so happy to be reading something positive after all the death and destruction we have been studying the last few weeks.  
 
In 2 Kings 18, Hezekiah is described as a man who “trusted in the Lord,” a man who “held fast to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him, but kept his commandments.” In verse 7 we are told “The Lord was with him; he prospered wherever he went.” As I read about Hezekiah, I was so encouraged by his commitment to honor the Lord. Specifically, his commitment to seek the Lord as his first response to trouble.
In Chapter 19 verse 1 we see Hezekiah’s response to a message he received. I’m not going to tell you the story because chapter 18 and 19 are jam packed with lessons from God and I would love for you to read it on your own and allow the Lord to speak to your heart. In verse 1, Hezekiah tears his clothes at the news he receives and immediately goes into the house of the Lord. He then sends messengers to the prophet Isaiah who explains to Isaiah they are in great trouble and asks Isaiah to pray. Hezekiah receives a second message from the king of Assyria, and in verse 14, he responds to the second message by turning to the Lord in prayer and laying out the letters before God. 
 
Hezekiah is a great example of how we should respond in times of trouble. Just as Jesus did all throughout the new testament, Hezekiah’s first reaction to the trouble he ran into was to seek the Lord. God knows our thoughts and our troubles long before we bring them to him. He desires to hear our hearts through spoken words, silent prayers, or prayers through praise. He longs to hear us speak to him. 
 
Listen to the words Sarah Young writes in Jesus calling and allow the Lord to speak to your heart. When you are done reading these words, I hope you will sit before the Lord and talk to Him. Connect with Him and let Him hear you.
 
“Come to Me with all your weaknesses: physical, emotional and spiritual. 
Rest in the comfort of My Presence, remember that nothing is impossible with Me… Remember that I am sovereign over everything. Every problem can teach 
you something, transforming you little by little…Trouble and distress are 
woven into the very fabric of this perishing world. Only My life in you can 
empower you to face this endless flow of problems with good cheer. 
As you sit quietly in My Presence, I shine Peace into your troubled mind and heart. 
Little by little, you are freed from earthly shackles and lifted up above your circumstances. Rest in My Presence, receiving Joy that no one can take away from you.” 

Cuan Grande Es Dios

 
Before you read this blog I hope you will click on the 
link above and watch the video I’ve attached. 
 

Recently, I was encouraged to meditate on how amazing our God is. For those that have a relationship with the Lord, things like feeling the Holy Spirit speak to you or a beautiful sunset, remind you of God and hopefully bring you into moments of praise and thankfulness. We are continually reminded of our God throughout the day and we know how good God is, but sometimes we think about it but we don’t truly stop and meditate on His greatness.  

 
As I was listening to worship music via youtube, I stumbled across Chris Tomlin’s How Great is Our God (world edition). As I watched and listened to people from all over the world singing about our God in their native languages, I found myself covered in chills and crying the “ugly cry” as I shouted out to God of His greatness. I shouted at the top of my lungs as if I couldn’t scream loud enough. I don’t know if my neighbors heard the shouting, but in that moment I was grateful for a corner apartment on the top floor of my building so fewer people are left feeling annoyed by the loud shouting that frequently comes from my apartment. 
 
In his book Crazy Love, Francis Chan reminds us that God “…cannot be contained in this world, explained by our vocabulary or grasped by our understanding.” God is far bigger than any little box we try to put Him in and Revelation 4 and Isaiah 6 help paint a beautiful picture of just how amazing our God is. In Revelation 4 John writes about the glimpse of heaven he saw. He tells us that “A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne.” He speaks about 24 elders who “fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever.” They lay their crowns before the throne and say: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” John speaks about the 4 living creatures he sees who “were covered with eyes, in front and in back.” He tells us that DAY and NIGHT, they never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” 
 
Can you imagine coming into contact with such a creature? Some of us would run, others would stop to take pictures and many of us would be confused about how such a creature exists. But isn’t it wonderful to think about how intricate God is in everything He designs? I love that the bible tells us that DAY and NIGHT, these creatures never stop singing praises to the Lord. The Lord is so amazingly wonderful and absolutely deserves for us to sing praises to him all day long but sometimes all He gets from us is a short quiet time as we roll out of bed and rush to get ready for work. He deserves for us to sit in awe of his presence. He deserves for us to shout of his goodness at the top of our lungs all day and all night, and He deserves for us to stop being so busy that He gets the leftover time in our day.