Learning to Trust in the Dark Times

Have you ever noticed that difficulty seems to come all at once? Where health challenges, a death, a major car bill, an unexpected family fall out all happens in the same week.1418812_77341743

So the question I want to look at is how do you get through a really difficult week, month, or even year? How do you get through a time where all sorts of crisis happen all at once? Yes of course, as a pastor, the answer is Jesus, but what does that actually mean?

Well what I’ve learned over the years is that the way to get through difficult times is to invest in trust – trust in Jesus, others, and even ourselves.

The first person I try to place my active trust in – is God. I want to be specific what that means for me. For me it means reminding myself that Jesus is good, true, faithful, and loving. When difficulty happens it can so easily take all of our focus and we forget that God is still good and in control. So I seek to remind myself that God is not caught off guard, God is not unmoving up in heaven. Our God is active, caring, loving, and faithful. God will lead me through whatever I am facing, and I seek to place my trust in him.

I also try to trust in my friends. By this I mean those people who God has placed in my life and have been walking with me. Jesus so often shows up in a difficult week through the actions, words, and encouragements of my friends and family. A wife who does something special, a friend who texts to say they are praying for me out of the blue, or some produce from a neighbor. This is how Jesus often shows up in practical ways through other people giving their time, support, and encouragement. This is something I’ve been learning to lean on and even ask for in a difficult week. Ask for care, ask for support, ask for prayer and trust in those God has placed around you.

And lastly, I try to trust in myself. This seems at first rather self-centered so let me clarify what I mean. I seek to trust in who Jesus has called me to be, and how he has been working in my life. What I try to trust in – is the God who has been shaping me, forming me, who is within me, and who will lead me. So when I’m tired, and unsure what to say or do I trust that God will use me. I trust in the abilities he has given me, and the promise that if I’m willing he will use me. I think we need to do the same to trust that God wants to use each and everyone of us. To trust that as followers of Jesus, we have the Holy Spirit within us, and Jesus wants to use the gift and abilities we have to get through a difficult time.

So if difficulty sneaks up on you, or crisis surprises you, this is how I’ve been learning to make it through. Trusting in the goodness of Jesus Christ, trusting in support he’s placed around me, and trusting in who he has called me to be.

So that’s me. What about you? What has helped you get through a long week? Do you have friends or family you can rely on? If not, do you have a church that you can call for support? Are you remembering that God is good and his purposes for your life is good? Are you trusting in what he is doing in and through you?

In essence are you trusting him?

And I hope you are, but if today for whatever reason trust is low here is my prayer for you today:

That God would prove his trustworthiness in amazing and ordinary ways to you this week. That you would sense his provision, his goodness, and his grace. That friends would surprise you with support, and God would assure you of his care. That your trust would grow. Grace and peace.

How Did This Happen?

1236829_46998155There is a question that everyone asks at some point in life. It’s this: “How did this happen?”

You might ask this question when you see a marriage that was strong…shatter. You might ask this question when you see a family fall a part, or when you see a church split. Often in the aftermath of deep loss and tragic fractures we ask “How did this happen?” Things looked to be going well and all of a sudden there was a divorce, a break, a fracture, or a split.

This is the question we’ll be looking at on Sunday. How do these things happen? How do relationships fall a part? Why do churches falter and fail? Why do some marriages that seem healthy end in so much hurt?

And most importantly, while we’ll be talking about how these things happen, we want to ask a second question. We want to ask an even more important question, “How do we keep these things from happening”. So on Sunday we’ll discover what Jesus has to say about this.

But before we get there what do you think? How do you keep a relationship whole? How do you keep a relationship fresh? How do you ensure that difficulties don’t turn into fractures and breaks? What is it that you do with in your marriage and friendships to prevent decay and difficulty?

Because I think the reality is that making relationships work is harder than we often think. It’s easy for things to slip and break. But on Sunday we’ll discover how keeping things together has a lot to do with staying awake…

Surviving the Darkness

On Sunday we are exploring a real necessary topic: how do you survive darkness? How do you survive the deep darkness of depression, bankruptcy, health failures, death, or persecution?706719_18781219

On Sunday we are going to be examining the letter written to the church in Smyrna who is going through a deep time of persecution and darkness. Even though Jesus promises that the darkness will continue for a moment, the letter gives deep hope in the midst of the dark. The question we will be exploring is what gives hope in the midst of darkness?

That is a good question to reflect on today. What has given you hope when you’ve gone through tragedy? What has helped shed light when you’re in the darkness of depression? When life seems to crumble, what helped you carry on?

The reason I think it’s so important to reflect on it is because in the darkness we just want to get through it, and we often forget what got us through it. But if we are going to be a community that supports one another we will need to remember what helped us through, so that we can help others.

So what’s helped you move through difficulty? Is there someone you can help today?

Because one thing is for sure. We do not get through difficulty alone. We only get through it together. So who can you support? Or if you are in difficulty who can you reach out to? Because the promise of Scripture and of Jesus is that in the end darkness doesn’t win. Life wins. And that can give us hope no matter where we are at.

And so come Sunday we will explore two little words that Jesus says that gives people facing persecution, death, and darkness new hope and how it can help us. And if you haven’t guessed what they are…it’s simple…life wins…