Proof in Pain

What do you do when things keep going wrong?

I don’t mean you get called out for the corners you cut, at least then you would have the comfort in believing that things would be better if you pushed yourself harder… I mean, what do you do when you push yourself far beyond your limits daily, you address every sin you can think of, you organize yourself, you face things you don’t like doing, cut things out of your life that hold you back, pray daily and hard, read your bible daily and intently, seek wisdom of others, and you still fail! (Not that you are perfect but if life required perfection, which ones of us could stand?) When the problems that keep coming up aren’t from lack of foresight, but incredibly unlikely things which mercilessly barrage you and threaten to overtake you. “If it’s out of your hands, why worry about it?” Is comforting until most of your life is out of your hands… until you find yourself continuously backed into a corner… as your own strength and endurance is continually taken away from you, as the size of your problems only seem to multiply…

What do you do when life is unfair, there is no hope, and the harder you pray, the more ridiculously hard life gets?

You find hope in that…

Because there is no logical reason for all of this to happen… because it is totally unfair to suffer so much when others who work half as hard end up 10x more successful and relaxed. Because it makes no sense that the harder you pray for deliverance, the harder your suffering becomes…. it makes no sense unless you consider life simply trying to tell you to grow up and take life in your own hands.

But why would life try to say that? Why would a non sentient state of being alter the forces of our world just to get that point across? The only way is if there were an entity of great power trying to make one give up hope that there is an entity of great power. The only one who would benefit for the denial of their own existence is one who wishes to destroy you, or the devil. The only reason the devil would work so hard to make you give up would be if there was one he was trying to keep you from seeing.

The world says, “Because there is suffering there is no God.” I say, “because there is suffering there MUST be God!”

Take faith, walk strong, pray!

Advertisements

Pray!

Prayer is not a final resort.
 
It is not a cop out answer you turn to when you cannot think of what else to do.
 
Saying “I’m praying about it.” Is not saying “I’ve given up trying.” or “I’m giving this up to luck.”
 
Prayer is the foundation of whatever you do!
 
It is the first step, not the last.
 
It is accepting reality not denying it!
 
I find we as Christians have come to put far too much value on the power of human ingenuity. We turn to wisdom before we turn to faith. But what wisdom is there in denying faith??
 
How many times do you say “Well I’m praying about it.” and instead of being met with encouragement, or cheers, you are met with the question “Yes… but what are you DOING about it??”
 
Though I understand why people ask this question. It will never make sense why such strong Christians ask it.
 
What am I doing? It’s simple! I’m praying!! I am bringing my fears before God who in turn brings my weaknesses and my direction before me. I could tell of the innovations I make. Of the ambitions I have. Of the dreams I chase. I could tell of the life improvements I make, of the sins I fight, of the weaknesses I face. I could tell of the plans I plot, the lessons I learn, the advice I ask for.
 
But who cares about that?? Will any of that save me? At the end of the day it is not my strength but God who decides when I will be saved.
 
So are those things worthless? NO! They are good! Do them! But we as modern day Christians have such a backwards faith.
 
You do NOT do good things so you can follow God. You follow God so you can do good things!
 
Prayer is not desperation. Prayer is not a shirking of responsibility. Prayer is not a putting everything on the luck of the draw. If you feel that is what prayer is, then I am sorry, but you are not praying!
 
Prayer is turning to God. Prayer is relying on Him. Prayer is realizing that all of your greatest strengths and attempts are useless if God does not have your back. Realizing that God can do infinitely more with nothing than you could ever do with everything! Prayer does not change God. Prayer changes us so God can work in us!
 
But what about when prayers don’t get answered? What about when you pray for things to happen and instead you get the reverse result?? Isn’t this just proof that God wants you to stop relying on Him and take responsibility for your own life? That you’re ignoring God’s will because you aren’t getting the answer YOU want, so you just need to chase after every opportunity you see around you?
 
If God wants you to stop relying on Him, be VERY afraid because that probably means you are in hell.
 
First off let me say that God is NOT required to answer your prayers. You are required to turn to Him but He is not bound to your prayers by contract. He answers them out of love.
 
That being said. The answer to God not answering your prayers, is to pray all the harder. Pray that you understand where God is leading. Pray that you might be aware of what God wants you to do. Pray that you not let your own wants and ambitions get in the way of where God is leading.
 
Prayer is NOT demanding things of God. Prayer is resigning yourself to God’s will!
 
God does not have a guessing game with us. God doesn’t give us 100 answers and then watch us squirm as to which choice is right. If you don’t know the answer than ask Him. God wants us to rely on Him. Those He condemned in the Bible are those who decided to act on what they considered to be God’s will instead of asking God where to go.
 
When Saul took the ark into battle. When Abraham had a child with their concubine. When Peter chased after the soldier arresting Jesus. Were these all not wise strategies by human logic? Were these all not people taking it upon themselves the methods and practices that God had taught them so far to bring forward the results God wanted??
 
Methods are not what save you. God is what saves you!
 
Pray! Before all things pray! After all things pray! Through all things pray! I cannot say this enough. We do not pray when we are lost. We pray so we will not be lost in the first place!

When God Doesn’t Answer Your Prayers; Pray!

A few times now I’ve asked the question… what do you do when God doesn’t answer prayer? What do you do when instead things just get worse?
 
You watch as your hope slowly goes away. You wrack your brain for what you could be doing wrong. You work yourself to passing out because “Your still standing! That means you can still do more!” Subconsciously you lower your expectations to your prayers because… well you’ve been going for months, and years now of having your prayers not answered… it’s okay… you know the answer… why would it change now??
 
The answer though, at least from what I’m starting to see, is none of those things above.
 
So what do you do when God doesn’t answer your prayers? What do you do when instead your situation continues to get worse and worse?
 
You pray again…. And you believe….
 
Pray and persevere! If you wake up to find that nothing has happened, pray again! Perhaps there is a level of spiritual warfare you are not aware of like in Daniel. Perhaps God is using this to help you grow. But pray again!
 
Is God bound to helping you? Does God HAVE to answer prayer?? OF COURSE NOT! He is God! He doesn’t answer to you and me! He isn’t bound to codes and rules! He is God!
 
But! It is because He is God that you can take faith that He WILL provide. That He WILL answer prayer. Not because He has to, but because it is who He is!
 
But what if He doesn’t answer prayer? Then what will happen to me?? Won’t I just look like a fool desperately whacking my head against this same wall as I slowly drown? What if I’m missing something? What if I was wrong all along?? What if God wants me to do it myself??
 
PRAY! PRAY! PRAY PRAY PRAY PRAY!
 
If God wants you to do something differently then ask for Him to show you! If God is waiting for you to do something, Ask Him what it is.
 
Do we serve a God who is mute? Who plays a “hot and cold!” game with us in finding His will? Does He delight in seeing us torment ourselves worrying about if we are doing it right or not???
 
DON’T BE AN IDIOT!
 
If you’re that worried about if you’re doing things right or not, then ASK GOD! ASK HIM! ASK HIM FOR CLARITY! He created the universe with nothing but His voice, do you honestly think He can’t get through our thick skulls to clear things up?
 
I cannot say this enough. If you truly believe in God, then why do people question this so much? Why do people feel it rests on their shoulders alone to determine what’s God’s will and what’s just our own selfishness talking?? If that’s the case you may be better off not believing anything at all! If you don’t believe that God can do so little as explain what He wants you to do when you genuinely want to know in spite of your fear, then what good is it to ask ANYTHING of Him??? Are you turning to God because you truly believe there is a creator far more powerful and wise than you could ever hope to understand?? Or are you simply fulfilling some sugar pill of a reason to have morals.
 
If you believe there is a God then BELIEVE THERE IS A GOD! If you don’t believe God is there, then don’t! How empty a life would we live in if we tried to go half way???
 
And what if God doesn’t answer? Did Abraham see himself turn into a great nation? Did Moses see the promise land? Did the disciples see the return of God??
 
These people devoted their lives to causes they never saw happen in their life times… are they to be pitied? Did they waste their lives that they could have spent building up wealth and security on something they felt might happen yet never did???
 
NO! The Bible praises them. We hold them in high respect for their faith. Even though they did not see the exact thing they were looking for come to fruition, the journey God took them on in their faith rewarded them in ways we do not realize. But even if they didn’t… is it not better to die following God than to live running away from Him?
 
What can this world offer that’s worth living for? Wealth is a cold companion, relationships can feel shallow, people betray us, power is fleeting, fame turns against us… Without purpose and the rock to stand on, are we not just biding time until we die? Is it not better to die living for something than to live to fear dying??
 
And if you do start to doubt… what will happen? Will your life problems suddenly go away because you stopped trusting in God? Will giving life your best suddenly start working because you stopped giving glory to the creator of all things?
 
The only reason that would work is if there was someone pleased enough with your lack of hope to stop fighting you and give you what you want. The only one who would find joy from such a choice would be a devil, and be careful when he gives you what you want. The juiciest bait lies in the deadliest trap.
 
If God does not answer your prayers, that is His choice. That is His right. That is His decision. BUT DON’T STOP PRAYING! AND DON’T STOP BELIEVING!
 
It is God’s choice whether He answers your prayers or not. It is your choice whether you’ll keep believing in Him or not.
 
No matter what trial you face. Be it spiritual, mental, physical, legal, societal, mechanical, or any level of problems you can find yourself in… God CAN save you. God says He WILL look out for us. God says to ask and He WILL answer, provided we chase His will. BUT! Even if He doesn’t. Even if we fall. Even if we lose everything and are laughed and ridiculed out… Even so! I will still follow Him. For He is the only choice there ever has been.
 
Amen

In the Belly of the Whale

What do you do when you’re in the belly of the whale?

I see a lot of posts, and hear a lot of advice from people who laugh and give nostalgic smiles, and say things like

“I used to be like you… full of dreams, full of passion. But I realized that life didn’t work that way. You need to buckle down and work hard. Put aside your passions until your can afford it. Put a fire under you and take on the jobs you don’t like… because even the best jobs are going to have days you don’t like! But God is faithful to those who work hard. Those who have ambition. Those who take life into their own hands and instead of waiting for him to do something make something with what they have! Remember the parable of the talents!”

But the problem is… what if your dreams and passions are to keep food on your table and a roof over your head? What if it’s not about doing work that’s unpleasant, but being overwhelmed from crying yourself to sleep as your body continues to break down one thing after another? What if you’re dealing with the sins in your life, trying to make responsible choices, but then thieves come, investments fall through, unexpected expenses keep popping up with health and things breaking?

5 years ago, I tried to live life according to my dreams… I took a job offered to me that would bring me closer to the person I was dating, I got an apartment that I could afford and seemed sturdy and safe. My plan was to work my way up and muscle through the grunt labour for a year or two so I could apply for better jobs and put my business diploma to use. Then when I was self sufficient I would marry my girlfriend, and we could live a nice, simple life, trying to help out those in our community around us by sharing with what God had blessed us with.

But as I worked there, I discovered something worrisome. I discovered that my best was below mediocre. I discovered my body was physically not capable of keeping up with the bare minimum requirements needed to keep working.

For an entire year I pushed myself. I lost about 60 lbs (40 of which were in the first 2 months), I saw my doctor, I exercised, I ate well, I pushed myself to the point that I would pass out for two days straight, and was often coughing up blood from the exertion barely being able to speak anymore… and yet not only could I not keep up with those who would simply be chatting or goofing off… my numbers were actually getting worse! I tried applying for other jobs, but my employee profile was tied to my ability to do my job, so my resumes would be instantly thrown out before they were even looked at. I was given a tough choice… quit with no job, or risk permanent damage to my body….

I chose the former and moved back home… then ended up working 6 hours a week for a year which put me into further debt. I wasn’t just a victim… I shop when I’m stressed… sometimes it’s for investments I think can help me move forward, sometimes it’s for distractions to distract me from reality around me. I got to my eyeballs in debt in spite of my applying everywhere and trying every angle I could get… Finally I fasted and prayed, and the next day I was offered a job as janitor at my church that I hadnt even applied for.

Around that time, I started studying Japanese. Originally it was just a step towards learning many languages (make your first your hardest and all other languages will be easy) but during that time, God slowly put Japan on my heart more and more. Till finally I asked Him to send me where He wants and He put Japan on my heart….. But I was up to my eyeballs in debt… and graduated college not university which makes immigration tough! And I knew my parents would hate the idea considering how much trouble I was already in!

So I backed out, justifying it by saying to God, “If you can provide the way there and win over my parents, I’ll study the language because thats all I can do!”

And I continued running… hiding and waiting for there to be less and less obstacles in my path… God offered many opportunities for me to follow… People who seemed eager to help me, contacts in conversation schools and churches… but I put them off… because I was scared… because I felt I couldnt do it… I was Jonah running from Ninevah. Though not because I feared Ninevah, because I feared the land I was in right now.

When I had the injury back in May, I realized I couldn’t run anymore (literally) I realized, it wasnt about trying to find a safe path to follow God… I needed to follow God so HE could lead me down the safe paths. And so I applied for University… I did serious research. I confronted my parents. I studied seriously…. I took myself from If God makes a way” to “I WILL follow Him!”

But now I am in the belly of the whale…. it must have been hard for Jonah… to finally decide to follow God and realize it was beyond his power to do so…. I understand that fully… But what do you do in those situations? When questions like “Where will I live, where will I work, how will I afford these next 2 years until I can go?” Fill your head.

You pray. You pray and you follow God.

The whale that prevented Jonah from going to Ninevah is exactly what got him there.

Pray and follow God. Trust in Him, not your own understanding. Human wisdom and pride are poor companions for following God. Focus on what you can do now. Let God worry about what you can’t do.

You are not making the path. You are following the maker!

You can do it. You are not alone. Amen

The Way Forward

Give God Your Best!
Continue To Strive To Improve
But realize that it is not your strength that can save you.
Realize until God says it’s time for you to be saved you will not be.
 
Is it your own failings that are holding you back? Would your life have been better if you had known about one weakness or another? Do you panic constantly about what sin in your life you can’t find yet that is keeping you from moving forward??
 
Don’t be crazy. If God worked like that how could anyone move forward? Are we not all sinners? Do we all not fall so short of where God wants us to be?
 
If life is not going the way it should then pray. Pray for God to save you. Pray for God to show you all you need to improve on. Pray for God to give you the courage to endure and the wisdom to move forward. But if you cannot think of how to improve, or if you stumble after trying so hard to overcome one sin in your life…. will God keep hitting you until you get it??
 
If there were a sin in your life you knew about but would rather justify or ignore than deal with than that is different. In fact, there will be many who will tell you this is the case as others can pick up the appearance of evil in yourself better than you can… but only you and God can truly know your heart.
 
If you know of sin in your life, deal with it! Even if you fail at dealing with it, keep trying to deal with it! Pray to God for help, He is very reliable when it comes to dealing with temptations! But if you don’t know what you’re doing wrong. If you can’t think of how you can do any better in your old weakness. Should you be beating yourself up on how you cannot move forward?
 
Does God’s plan rest on your shoulders? Does God’s plan rely on you having the purity of a saint? Does God’s plan require you to have a greater strength than any other human in the world?
 
God does not ask you to be perfect to complete His plans. In fact the Bible says many times that you never will be perfect.
 
It is not our goal to be perfect and lead His plans. It is our goal to follow Him!
 
God has used liars, cheaters, murderers, and lunatics. Idiots, cowards, the depressed, and the anxious. God CAN use you. God WILL use you. Realize your current circumstances does not rest on your shoulders alone. It is God who will decide what and when your rescue will be. And He will do all things for His glory and your good. So trust in Him!
 
Amen

When Your Best Gives You Nothing

What do you do when God doesn’t answer prayer?
 
What do you do when your best falls flat?
 
If you were being lazy, or not willing to give up a problematic vice, then at least you would have the comfort of believing you could dig yourself out of your current circumstances if only you kick your butt into gear…. but what if you’re already doing everything you can think of?
 
Now I don’t mean to say you’re doing everything perfect, because let’s admit it… we’re human beings. Our perspective is so limited that there’s no way we can figure out every possible answer… but if you’re praying, reading your bible, addressing weak areas, looking to others for advice, grabbing opportunities as you see them, making opportunities when you can’t see any, addressing areas you keep putting off, throwing yourself out there, and trying to stay open to where you are weak.
 
Not that you are doing it perfectly, but that you are giving it the best effort that you can.
 
We like to believe that as long as you put in enough effort, things will go our way. That anyone who doesn’t seem to keep up, is clearly not giving it their all… but there are also times when life just stinks.
 
When you give out resumes but they all fall through
Where you network with others but are quickly overlooked
Where you advertise but are immediately overshadowed
Where you budget, but unexpected experiences come up
Where you give the quality but have no fame
Where you try new things, but fall through
Where you give your best effort, but are slower than those who slack off
Where you fight through pain, but it doesn’t matter since you can’t bring results
Where you look for advice, and hear only what you already know
Where you look for comfort, but can not find understanding
 
There are times where you long to move forward but you no longer know what forward looks like.
Where if you panic and try anything, you’ll end up somewhere worse, but if you hold out and stay, things will fall apart anyways
 
So what do you do when human logic is clueless?
What do you do when human effort fails?
What do you do when the path forward is not clear?
What do you do when there’s no explanation for how badly things keep working out?
 
You pray. You pray. You pray.
 
When people ask me what I’m doing and I say I am praying… I do not say that to mean I don’t do anything on my own. No. I apply for jobs, I sell my wares and services, I seek opportunities, I look for ways to improve my weaknesses, to grow my skillset, to improve my existing one. I budget, rebudget, and rebudget again. I seek advice, learn from others, make connections.
 
Yes, I do all the things I can think of to do, but I tell you now that all those things in and of themselves are worthless if that is what you think what will save you.
 
Even if my odds of failure are 10000:1, if the Lord is still holding me back to teach me, then that 1 time will hit every time. If I were going by worldly standards I’d have nothing to say but that my luck is horrible…. but because I know God I can say I am still learning and growing.
 
So what? Has God abandoned me? Am I just sitting by waiting for judgement to come?
 
No! I would not say that at all!
 
I stand on a battlefield with thousands of enemies, and three giants have been approaching me closer and closer. They are giants who wish to kill me. They are giants I cannot defeat. They are giants I have prayed ceaselessly for months for God to save me from. They are giants who continue to remain untouched.
 
So where is God? What happened to my hope? Are my prayers so useless? Is it wrong for me to want? Is it wrong for me to hope? Is it wrong for me to ask? Am I just abandoned? Are my prayers defective??
 
It is true that the giants remain untouched…. and if the giants were all I looked at, then yes. I would say I had been abandoned… And yet… God has been at work…. He has been slaying countless enemies one by one. Enemies I have put off dealing with for far too long. Enemies who had weakened me. Enemies who had held me back.
 
I am still no match for the giants before me. No matter how strong God makes me, there is no way that I can save myself. But why would God take time to repair a ship He intended to let an approaching storm destroy? In that I can find encouragement, when all that lies before me is despair.
 
Now I want to take a moment to say, that I am not saying this as one who knows he will be saved. To tell you honestly, I’ve had my prayers unanswered time and time again…. it shames me to say there are days when I almost feel expectant that I will be ignored again… I have no proof that God will not let me drown. That God will not let me be attacked. That I won’t come out of this beaten beyond recognition.
 
But I do not serve God because He can save me. Were He to abandon me to my fate, were heaven itself to be not true. I would still have to serve Him. I do not serve God for what I get out of it. I serve God for He is God!
 
But Because I serve Him I ask Him. Because I serve Him I know His love for us. Because I serve Him I feel the courage to ask. Not because of what I deserve. But because He loves me enough to listen to my concerns. Because He loves me enough that He will provide and protect.
 
However, if I am to fail… my one regret would be that I am sure there would be those who would look at me and say “After all the talking he did! This is his result??” and believe God to be a fake. Or even worse! Those in the church who would say “We tried to warn him. God only helps those who take initiative. God only helps those who lead the way.” and use it to solidate such beliefs within their minds.
 
I will confess I would love to be saved. I don’t like hurting every day. I don’t like being scared at all times. The chains around my neck choke me to the point I feel I can hardly breathe. But more than anything… since God has brought me this far, I would love to be able to show the world what faith in Him can do.
 
I know there are many who read these posts, even when there are few who seem to like or comment. I get stopped from time to time from people who thank me, whether they agree with me or not, for giving them something to think about, and it makes me glad.
 
But I can rattle off philosophy, theology, economics, observations, and theories for as long as I can breathe…. but even still, there is no greater witness than to live your faith out to the fullest.
 
These last 5 years have been rough. These last 3 months have been murder…. but if there can be any good to come from my suffering, I want it to be this.
 
I want people to see what it means to choose to have faith. And more importantly I want people to see what wonders God can do with it.
 
Amen

Follow Him

Why is this world so scary?
 
Why do we hold so much fear?
 
What job will we have?
What will they think of us?
Will I get in trouble for this?
Will this work?
Will I have enough money to pay my bills this month?
Will I end up on the streets?
Will I lose everything I own?
Will I go bankrupt?
Will I live my life single?
Will they be offended?
Will they be disappointed in me?
Will they scold me again?
Will I lose support?
What if I get sick?
What if another emergency comes up?
 
We take worry after worry upon ourselves. We lose sleep and energy over obsessing over them. We go to great lengths to knock out as many threats as we can… but to what end?
 
You can give life your best to the point of exhaustion and depression, but if God so wills in, you will be accused of being a slacker.
 
You can apply to thousands of jobs, with a perfect resume, and wonderfully supported cover letter, but if God so wills it you will continue being overlooked and picked over for people with better smiles
 
You can be supportive and wise, but unless it’s the time God permits, you will only ever be considered “Just a friend.”
 
You can search the wisest people for direction and advice, but unless God inspires them, they will just tell you what you’ve already known and have already been working on as if it is the “Save all Answer”
 
You can live like a monk and save what pennies you can, but unless God protects you, all it takes is one scam, one unexpected crisis, and you’ll find yourself even deeper in the hole.
 
You can obsess over self care, taking all sorts of medicines, avoiding things you’re weak at, and exercising to grow stronger, but unless God watches over you, in three seconds you can have an accident that will ruin everything.
 
We are not on this earth to please others. We are not on this earth to protect/provide for ourselves. We are not on this earth to show the best business practices, wisest lifestyle choices, or best relationship advice.
 
We are here to follow God where He leads. To show what He can do through us. To show how He defies all logic. How to the world His logic is madness, but to Him their wisdom is meaningless.
 
At the end of the day, do not worry about the hundreds of thousands of people you must keep happy in order to follow God. In the end you are only responsible for following Him. If people get angry at you, it is because He let that happen in your life. If you go through loss, it’s because He let it happen. But do not be sidetracked trying to appease the many voices that come at you from all sides. Focus only on following God! He is able to restore all that you have lost and more. He is able to protect you no matter where you go. He is able to provide for you, no matter what you have. He can do more with nothing than you could do with everything.
 
Follow Him so you can have no shame. No matter what others say. No matter how they misinterpret you. No matter how they judge you from your state of life, not what you are doing. Realize God is the judge. God is the provider. That there is nothing you can accomplish without Him. So cling to Him, follow Him. Trust in Him
 
Amen