When God seems silent or like He is not with us in our circumstances, He is still with us. He even calls Himself, “Immanuel—God with us.” Sometimes silence hurts, it becomes palpable and seemingly surrounds us like darkness when we hear nothing from the Lord. Sometimes, it seems that those of us who love God experience greater suffering or greater difficulties.
Job faced such a time when it seemed as though God remained silent. He had lost everything, suffered physically and emotionally, and stopped worshiping God. In Job’s distress, he eroded into a season of distressing thoughts, self-pity, and bitter complaining.
Jesus said to expect troubles in John 16:33. He knew the potential chaos when troubles emerge in our lives—so, He promised His peace. The various ways we handle troubles emotionally, determine whether or not we erode into distress and end up practicing ungodly behaviors, which sometimes affect our health and wellness.
Are you exempt from the scripture that tells us to expect trouble?
How do you handle trouble when it emerges?
How often do we bemoan our situations, complain to all who will listen, and refuse to hear God ourselves, and end up in distress?
How might you keep from eroding into distress during trouble?
All of us experience seasons of life similar to Job’s seasons: dark times, times of loss, testing, and those who surround us questioning our walk with Christ or our level of commitment to the things of God.
During these times, we may enter into distressing thoughts, a pity party, or into bitterness that stirs complaints and grumblings with negative attitudes. Or, we may learn from this time to hope in God, that we suffer no more than others, and that we “abide in the shelter of the Almighty.”
Such times may act as sirens sounding as reminders to hope in Christ alone and possibly take some life inventory. Life examination plus life application lead to understanding our distress and how we may handle our troubles in a godly manner.
Take inventory of your distressed thoughts, talk, emotions, moods, and attitudes in the list below that you most likely learned from your parents and caregivers (nurturers). Examine your nurture (upbringing) that lured you to inflict distress. Uncover how you possibly reached this place of distress. Your nurture (upbringing) and nature developed the way you interact with people and intersect with life events. We will look at our natures in a later devotional.
Highlight the nurture (upbringing) that applies to you:
- Addictions in family
- Strict family rules
- Religious beliefs controlled through guilt
- Overbearing parents/authority
- Siblings who parent other siblings or parents
- Non-expressive feelings
- Emotionally unstable environment
- Disapproval or discouragement
- Family tension and anxiety
- Over-reacting within family
- Separation from or loss of family member(s)
- Constant need to prove oneself
- Instability of parents or relationships
- On-going conflicts in family [i]
You may change one or all of the learned characteristics. For now, we are in the assessing phase of how we have learned how to handle troubles.
In the meantime, use the following exercise to start changing your mindset learned from nature and nurture. Notice the difference in your mindset and attitudes after a few days:
Encouragement to self: “I am created for His pleasure; I can do all things through Christ”
Affirmations to others – look for the good (I appreciate your _______________)
Keeping focus on the value of my thoughts, talk, emotions, moods, and attitudes
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Today’s Tasting: Job 21-23
Job, now alone, attempted to reason life events in his own mind. He had lost everything he owned, along with every family member. He complained to friends around him about how the wicked seemed to have a better life than he had, and he loved God.
God seemed silent and his friends seemed like the negative ones. Job’s friend countered his words to offer the challenge to change his thinking, which means to “repent.”
“Agree with God and be at peace…Receive instructions from his mouth, and lay up his words in your heart…For then you will delight yourself in the Almighty and lift up your face to God. You will make your prayer to him, and he will hear you” (Job 22:21-27 ESV).
Job replied, “My complaint is bitter, my hand is heavy on account of my groaning…Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power? He is not here…I don’t perceive Him…I do not behold Him…But, He knows:
- When He has tried me, I shall come out as gold
- My foot has held fast to His steps
- I have kept His ways and have not turned aside
- I have not departed from His commandments
- I have treasured His words
He will complete what He appoints for me…I am not silenced because of the darkness” (See Job 23).
[i] List adapted from Overcoming Anxiety and Depression by Lucinda Bassett
Carolyn Marlowe CCLC
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