When someone you love dies, it feels like the world keeps running right by you. In the beginning, friends and family will say they are sorry for your loss or some other words that they try to comfort you with. Others will not know what to say and not say anything.
Everyone tries to help in their own way. But in reality, nothing they say can help, nothing can take the pain away. There is a feeling of wanting to cry out, “How dare you keep going as if nothing is different!”
Everything is different. The world is a darker place because they are gone. Sometimes, there is a feeling of people just wanting you to “get over it” and move on.
What if we cannot “get over it” and go back to work or doing whatever it is we typically do? Our entire life is different, and it feels like nobody notices, nobody slows down to acknowledge that an incredible life is now gone, and their laughter is no more.
There are feelings of wanting to shout into the air as people hustle and bustle by you, “Do you care?”
How dare others move forward as if nothing is different. Maybe nothing is different to them. Maybe you are alone in the hurt and not sure where to go or who will even listen. The pain is real, the desire for the world to just stop spinning and take notice of the loss is real.
I have learned that the world will not stop spinning, people will not stop hustling and bustling, work will not stop piling up. None of these things will occur. It is during these times that we must find a safe space, wherever that is to you, and we must pour our heart out to the only One who knows exactly how we feel. The only One who loved that person more than we did: Jesus.
We must allow Him to comfort us; we must. There is no other answer, there is no other path. I am not saying we will heal after ten minutes of prayer. Not at all. This wound may never heal, but with Jesus, we will learn how to function in our new world. One second at a time, then one minute at a time – Jesus is our Comforter (2 Corinthians 1:3-7).
We cannot move forward without Him. This wound is too deep for us to just absorb. Find your private time to talk to Jesus, do it for your loved one that is no longer there to tell you to do it. Cry, yell or sit still with Jesus whenever you need the world to stop spinning. Jesus never tires of hearing from you, and you can have the same conversation with Him 100 times, and He will hold you 100 times and listen to every word you say because He loves the sound of your voice.
In 1 Corinthians 7, there is an entire section on marriage and how God intended His design of marriage to work. I want to consider specifically verse 4, “The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife.”
I acknowledge this verse is talking about sexual relations between a man and a woman in the holy bonds of marriage. However, I want to offer an additional perspective on this authority. When I got married, I said these verses to my husband, and we live them out daily. Recently, we each have been under various spiritual attacks of all kinds. Some of these attacks have been rather brutal. Some of these attacks have resulted in dark thinking and deep spiritual struggles.
I found that when my husband is under attack, I pray more for him than my usual, daily prayers. For example, I will set hourly reminders to pray for him to be cleansed. I am not sure if you have ever seen your spouse in a dark place when enduring a spiritual attack, it can be scary. Which is exactly what the enemy wants you to focus on, fear instead of Jesus.
Every believer has the armor of God (Ephesians 6), but there are times during an attack when we are too weak to pick up the sword of the Spirit or the shield of faith. We need someone else to help us fight and draw on the strength of the Holy Spirit we have inside of us.
Recently, when my husband was under severe spiritual attacks, of course I prayed for him. But this verse began to take on new meaning for me during that time. When my husband said 1 Corinthians 7:4 to me, he gave me authority over his body. Why can’t that apply to wielding my God-given authority to protect his body, too?
With this new perspective, I began to use the name of Jesus commanding anything that was not of Jesus or from Jesus to leave my husband’s heart, mind, body and environment immediately. I commanded it never to return, and I forbid it in the name of Jesus to send any other enemy agents in its place.
I picked up the sword of the Spirit, (Word of God), and the shield of faith and used the armor of God to protect my husband, too. As married people, we need to see an attack on our spouse as a direct attack on us, our family, and our vows before God.
When one is under attack, there is a de-motivation to fight or a feeling of weakness that usually comes with the attack. It is in those moments when our spouses cannot fight to protect themselves, that we wield the authority given to us by this verse above, empowered by the precious blood of Jesus to defend our loved ones. How dare they attack a child of God and especially one that has a spouse who is unafraid of spiritual warfare.
The battle has been won! Jesus is our Savior and our Victor, through His name, we have power. Through the Holy Spirit living in us, we have authority. All we need to do to protect our loved one and fight is invoke the authority that we already have been given from our Lord Jesus.
Father in Heaven,
We know that attacks are part of being a Christian. There are many verses in the Bible teaching us how to fight against the enemy and how to know the strategies of the enemy. One of the most beautiful human relationships is that of a husband and bride. Marriage is God’s design and when our vows are being lived out in a manner that bring glory to You, God, attacks are a guarantee. Give us strength and wisdom and remind us of our authority in You to fight to protect those we love. To fend off the attacks of the enemy. In the name of Jesus, we stand against the enemy, he will have no part in our families’ lives.
When we think of the Old Testament prophets, whether Isaiah, Daniel, Amos, Ezekiel or Malachi, we tend to think they had “superpowers.” These were people that received messages directly from God to then pass on to others. It is very common in the Scriptures for God to say, “Prophesy” and then share a message to be passed on. For example:
“Then Isaiah said, ‘Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. He will be eating curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, for before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste.'” Isaiah 7:13-16 NIV
This is one of the most incredible prophecies in history. Verses such as this that later come true can result in us viewing the Old Testament prophets as superhuman. They were all human, though, and full of sin – just like you and me. Yet, they heard God, and He told them things, amazing things.
While a prophet was an individual that God used to communicate messages, present day believers have the Holy Spirit. Through the incredible gift of the Holy Spirit, we are presented visions, provided whispers, or even told the future. Of course, everyone has been told the future – all we have to do is read the book of Revelation. But I am talking about the more immediate future.
Several years ago, I had a boss who is a devout Christian. He was an executive at a large company that is commonly known. I did not know “Joe” extremely well, just that he was a Christian and a great leader. He was very well-liked and a hard worker. Yet, one morning during my quiet time, I felt the Spirit tell me very clearly that my boss was going to be fired unexpectedly. I thought, “This is silly and hard to believe. He is highly thought of by the executives and his teams love him.”
I felt burdened to tell my boss what I heard. With him being a Christian, I did not have to explain the Holy Spirit or His role in the life of a believer. I asked Joe to go for a walk with me outside because I was not sure how he would react to one of his team members coming up to him and saying the Spirit told me you are going to be fired.
I asked for Divine help with the words. I just simply said, “Joe, I feel very strongly that the Holy Spirit told me you will be fired soon. I cannot explain why I heard this, and I have no facts to support whether it is true, but I need to tell you.”
He replied that he trusts God, and if that is God’s will, then so be it. I could tell Joe believed me and he did not dismiss what I was saying, even though perhaps it seemed ludicrous.
Within a few days, Joe was escorted out of the building. He had been fired. Everyone was shocked and saddened. I was, of course, sad, but grateful that Joe was not caught off-guard.
We still stay in touch. He is happier now and living out a dream. As I reflect on this occasion in my life, there is no way that I would have known that information other than the Holy Spirit telling me. At the time, I thought what I was doing was irrational – hearing predictions and then sharing them. While this all may sound odd, we read in the Bible:
“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.” John 16:13 NLT
Father in Heaven,
Help us to walk close to You. Help us to hear and obey the Holy Spirit. May we be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, guided in the truth and be shown the future. We thank You for the Holy Spirit.
As followers of Jesus, we are not to look like the rest of the world. There are consequences when we try to mold our lives to reflect the world around us versus what God has said in His Word.
A great example of this is after the book of Judges, the Israelites approach Samuel the prophet (Hannah’s son, 1 Samuel 1:20) and tell him that they want a king.
“So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, ‘You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.'” 1 Samuel 8:4-5 NIV
On the surface, it appears that the people are asking for a king to be appointed because the sons of Samuel are crooked and evil. The reality is that God was their King, and they were to follow all His ways in the Word of God. They should not have needed a human king. However, as we see at the very end of the book of Judges, everyone did what they wanted, and there was chaos.
“In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” Judges 21:25 NIV
Samuel’s reaction is to pray to the Lord. If only we would all learn to pause and lay out decisions and concerns before the Lord.
“But when they said, ‘Give us a king to lead us,’ this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. And the LORD told him: ‘Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.'” 1 Samuel 8:6-9 NIV
God plainly says that the people have rejected Him, not Samuel. It is easy to look at the Israelites and believe we are not like them, yet, unfortunately, as we look at the world around us, we have also rejected God. We have each played a part in our societies and cultures moving away from God: the places where we have not spoken Truth into situations, the ways we have voted, how we have spent our money, and the list goes on and on. With each decision we make, there are consequences. God communicates to Samuel the ramifications of the peoples’ desire to have a king.
“Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, ‘This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the LORD will not answer you in that day.'” 1 Samuel 8:10-18 NIV
When we make decisions that result in us straying from the path He has for us, there are consequences. Throughout the Bible, God informs us of the problems that occur when we do not follow His commands. He also describes the many blessings of obedience (see Deuteronomy 11:8-32). Why wouldn’t we want His blessings in our lives or in the lives of others?
A place for reflection is where are we proceeding with decisions that God has already told us in His word will have a bad outcome? Spend time asking God Psalm 139:24, “Look to see if there is any idolatrous way in me, then lead me on the eternal path!” (CEB)
Let us not be like the people during Samuel’s time.
“But the people refused to listen to Samuel. ‘No!’ they said. ‘We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.'” 1 Samuel 8:19-20 NIV
It may seem better to mirror what others have or do – this can be wanting others’ possessions, how we interact with our families, or how we manage our finances. However, we are to look like Jesus. He was not concerned at all about mirroring the world; in fact, it was the opposite (see John 15:19). Also, James 4:4 says, “Don’t you know that friendship with the world means hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the world’s friend becomes God’s enemy” (CEB).
If we choose to ignore God’s warnings about the outcomes of our decisions and proceed against His will, then God may very well “hand us over” to what we desire.
“When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the LORD. The LORD answered, ‘Listen to them and give them a king.'”
from 1 Samuel 8:21-22 NIV
All of the warnings God provided the people of Israel in 1 Samuel 8:10-18 above were fulfilled. Their lives were worse after Saul was installed as king than if they had just followed God and accepted Him as their King.
It is the same with us. Our lives will be filled with His love and peace if we just obey the Word of God (see Psalm 63).
Father in Heaven,
Help us to listen to You and seek Your guidance in decisions. Help us to read Your Word and give us hearts that crave to obey and are quick to confess sin.
Have you ever prayed and fasted for so long, waiting to know His path for you, with no answer? I have to the point where I began to think, “Why won’t He just tell me what to do? I will do it, but I am tired of this. Sometimes this all feels like a game!”
When you have feelings such as these, we must put on our spiritual armor and take every thought captive. These thoughts are of the enemy. I know this because God has already told us and showed us the path we need to be on. And we have failed to follow it.
“But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:21-24 NIV
This verse says “all have sinned” – you, me, everyone in the past, and everyone in the future. All – except Jesus, of course. He died without sin so you and I can spend eternity with Him and live on Earth forgiven of our sin.
You may ask when did God tell me the path to be on, what about the answer I need to a specific decision, or what is the step I am to be taking right now, and so on. All valid questions. I offer that when we are praying for His path on the big things in life, we need to ask ourselves where we have failed with His path on the “little” things in life. When was the last time we told a lie, had a lustful thought, were mean to our neighbor, or said words that were unloving, and so on?
“Whoever is faithful with little is also faithful with much, and the one who is dishonest with little is also dishonest with much.” Luke 16:10 CEB
I am not saying that we will be perfect. We are not and will not be perfect, as we are humans. My suggestion is that we keep praying and fasting for His path on the big things in life, but in the meantime put a heavy focus on ourselves and where we can become more obedient in every area of our lives. God’s goal is for each of us to be more and more like His Son, to better prepare us for what lies ahead. He is building our endurance and character to be able to enjoy what He has ahead for us on His path. If we allow ourselves to be casual with commandments like lying or loving our neighbor, then how can we be faithful with much?
Yes, keep praying and fasting for His path and do what He told us to do in the meantime. We must work every day to read and obey, work at walking with the Spirit and obeying Him (Matthew 6:33). We must ask for forgiveness when we fail (1 John 1:9), forgive others (Colossians 3:13), and do not keep repeating the same sin – that is a sign of a lack of repentance. We need to ask and strive to be more like Jesus every day (2 Corinthians 5:17), and when He gives us those opportunities to be Jesus to others, we must take them. That may mean praying with somebody or sending an email or mailing a card or leaving a letter for a neighbor sharing the gospel.
You do not have to be a superhero daily, but just keep your eyes open. Yesterday, I was in a store and a man noticed a lady who appeared very sad. He asked if he could help her. They wound up sharing a God-given moment where encouraging words and a prayer were exchanged. The global pandemic has put every single human being on a level playing field. The virus does not care what color, race, background or education you have – you are at risk. There is raw, real pain across our globe right now, and we are the light.
“Jesus spoke to the people again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me won’t walk in darkness but will have the light of life.'” John 8:12 CEB
We bring the light of life and God wherever we are – whether that is in a store or online in social media or a business video meeting. We are His light. We have the Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead in us; let’s act like it in a world where there is the most pain and suffering possibly ever in our lifetimes. As believers, we are to steward the light He gave us. We are not to hide it, but shine it bright (Matthew 5:14). You may have nothing, but if you believe in Jesus then you have eternal life and the Holy Spirit in you, so be an excellent steward with what you DO have. Be faithful with what you do have.
God has told us all what to do. The commandments are for every single person on this planet. Yes, He has a unique purpose for each of us as well, but the commands are the foundation. Love our enemies (Matthew 5:44), honor our parents (Matthew 19:19), love our neighbors (Matthew 22:39), love God with all our hearts, being and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5), and love each other (Romans 12:10). If you love Jesus, we are to obey all of His commands daily.
“This is love: that we live according to his commands. This is the command that you heard from the beginning: live in love.” 2 John 1:6 CEB
We must build up that foundation so He can build out the plan for us. Conquer your thoughts and your actions, steward your God-given talent and the light He has given you.
One final thought on the matter, if you are like me and want God to just tell you what to do. As Dr. Martin Luther King said so beautifully, “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
If you are thinking I do not even know the next step at all, return to what God has already told you. How can we live that step out today, then tomorrow, and so forth, demonstrating how we handle the “little” things that prepare us for the “big” things?
Whenever I have a hard time hearing from God or need additional time with Him after morning prayers and reading, I head to a park. I am blessed to be able to choose from a number of parks near me. I look for parks that are not crowded and are more “natural” versus ones designed for people who want pavement. I bring ear buds and a playlist filled with worship music so I can tune into worshiping Him while walking in His creation. I typically will have an ear bud in one ear with the music while listening to sounds around me with my other ear.
If you do not have a park near you, find a quiet and safe place to put both of your ear buds in and listen to praise music. Close your eyes and just focus on Him. The goal is to draw closer to God, not necessarily be in a park or surrounded by nature – unless those help you draw closer. James 4:8 says, “Come close to God, and God will come close to you” (NLT).
On a recent walk with Him in the park, here are things I heard and things He showed me. I pray these insights bless you.
Do not allow fear to rob you of seeing God already at work
Are there times that you learn of an activity or a ministry and you are filled with joy just thinking about the opportunity to get involved? That is your passion being illuminated by God already at work. Your immediate reaction is excitement, energy, and a desire to get involved.
Soon after that, however, the fear sets in: How would this work? I have no time. I would not know anyone there. What if I don’t know what I am doing?
When we feel God leading us into an assignment or a task, it will most likely be scary. When we are scared of something, it causes us pause, to proceed with caution or rethink what we are doing. Being scared is normal when we are stepping into something new or something that only God can achieve that we cannot do in our own strength. This is different than fear.
Fear is defined as a potentially paralyzing emotion caused by impending danger, evil or pain, whether the threat is real or not. Fear can result in us not doing what we feel passionate about or led to do. Fear is the tool of the enemy. We must trust in Him to equip us for His calling.
Sometimes, trees fall down in winter but they are replaced with fresh growth in the spring
When one thing is torn down in your life, He will raise new life from it – in His timing. When one opportunity is gone, He sends something else. We just have to always keep our eyes open. While you are in a season of waiting, use this time to work on you. This season is a once in a lifetime opportunity when you will be the age you are, have these specific people around you, and be in your current situation.
Listen through the daily noise of life, and you will find Him in unexpected places
In the park, right next to a major highway, was a little waterfall. It is easy to be focused on the circumstances around us, for they are in our faces and demand our attention. God is present everywhere, but tends to be a whisper.
“‘Go out and stand before me on the mountain,’ the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.” 1 Kings 19:11-12 NLT
What if you don’t hear from Him? There have been times in my life when I was desperate to hear from Him for a looming decision with an expiring timeline. I had been on my knees praying James 1:5: “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking” (NLT). I poured out my heart to Him asking why I had not heard, despite trying many things and praying those verses.
Then I heard, “You have heard from Me. You have the Bible.” This is why it is crucial to keep reading the Word. If not already, you should make it a daily habit. If you think you don’t have enough time, start with a verse a day and slowly increase from there. Keep praying. Keep worshiping Him. Keep doing the last thing you heard Him tell you to do. The enemy will attack you and want to discourage you from obeying God. Remain vigilant. Enlist prayer partners. Stay focused on Jesus. Let Him bend you, break you, and mold you into who He created you to be.
“Overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.”
from Romans 8:37 NLT
My former spouse made choices that unfortunately impact the lives of my children to this day. It is because of these choices that we cannot have “normal” experiences. There are huge barriers for us complicating what should be everyday tasks. Things that others can take care of in 30 minutes take my children weeks and sometimes months if the government has to be involved to address the barriers. I have to keep forgiving my former spouse every time one of these incidents arises as the enemy works hard to fill me with resentment. I can now understand when Jesus says to forgive someone “seventy times seven.”
“Then Peter came to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, how many times may my brother sin against me and I forgive him, up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I tell you, not seven times but seventy times seven!'” Matthew 18:21 – 22 NLV
When I first read these verses, I thought, “That is a lot of forgiveness for one person, and why would I be such a ‘welcome mat’ to allow that person to keep sinning against me?” The Lord has since shown me that forgiveness may not be one specific moment in time and then it is done. The enemy will continue to try to bring up what has been done to us to cause us to retreat to places of unforgiveness. We must take those thoughts captive.
Forgiving someone does not mean condoning or agreeing with the behavior. Forgiving means shedding our chains of resentment versus carrying them around when we do not forgive. I need to forgive my former spouse literally every day and sometimes multiple times a day. As a result, I have forgiven him hundreds of times. For clarity, I have taken every step necessary to protect myself and my children from further harm; Jesus does not condone anyone repeatedly hurting anyone.
If constantly forgiving those who hurt us is not enough, we have an enemy who knows exactly how to attack us. Recently, I lied because I felt like I had to protect my child from my former spouse. Lies are a sin, and all sin is a statement to God indicating, “I do not trust You to make this work.” In the moment, I thought the lie was the best way to protect my child. After the lie occurred, I confessed it to God and thought about why I lied. One thought was that if my former spouse had not done the things he did, I would not have had to lie. But that thought is, in fact, another lie. It is irrelevant what my former spouse did; God is capable and powerful enough to protect my child from anything. And I did not “have” to lie. None of us “have” to lie. We choose to lie because we think it is easier, better, faster, etc. Perhaps sometimes it is easier to lie, but followers of Jesus are not called to take the easy path.
“Since Christ has suffered in His body, we must be ready to suffer also. Suffering puts an end to sin. You should no longer spend the rest of your life giving in to the sinful desires of the flesh. But do what God wants as long as you live in this world.” 1 Peter 4:1–2 NLV
Following Jesus can result in suffering of all kinds. However, whether it is forgiving someone 490 times or trusting God even when a lie is easier, we are to obey what God commands us to do. While any suffering is limited to our brief time in the earthly realm, our eternal reward for following Jesus is His love. No matter what the enemy or former spouses or other dark influences may try to throw at us, we fight from victory.
“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, ‘For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.’) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” Romans 8:35-37 NLT