I am often asked to give advice to people in tricky situations. Here is some tough advice I gave to someone recently which may be worth others reading. The person who received this straight talking, straight shooting injection actually received it well and thanked me for it.
Take a look and see if maybe you need to hear something as straight as this from time to time.
A woman was facing a tough emotional challenge. Her husband had recently separated from her and the in-laws had turned against her. Yet they would all be together for a weekend to celebrate the graduation of one of the children.
The woman desperately wanted to trust God, yet was caught in a roller-coaster of her own emotions. As I tuned in to her situation I decided that the best thing for me to do was to speak pretty straight. So, I did. What follows is an edited version of the letter I sent her.
What you have shared about your situation indicates you are really struggling between a strong desire to trust God and call out to Him on one hand, and your own personal, emotional needs on the other.
This is a tricky place to be in.
Allow me to speak directly to you, even though I don’t know you.
You are likely like most of us western Christians. We know and love God, but we have a culture which indulges us and leads us to believe that life owes us happiness.
We then tend to transfer that to God and believe that God is obligated to make us happy.
But God loves us.
God’s Real Love
Real love works like this ….
It is when one person wants what is really best for the other person and meets those needs, even it costs them dearly to do so.
Being “happy” is not what we need. We need deliverance, transformation, humility, faith, intimate relationship with God and much more.
God met our need for forgiveness and adoption into His family – which is a need we did not know we had – by sending Jesus to die for us.
God wanted what was best for us, but the cost to Him was enormous.
God wants you to be happily married and to have a successful family life.
But God also knows that you need to have deep work done in your heart.
He wants you to walk deeply with Him.
So He is allowing you to be stretched in order for you to take hold of Him in a new and more powerful way.
Take a look at Psalm 107 and see that this is something God does all the time.
That psalm tells us that God allows people to go into terrible troubles, so that they will cry out to the Lord like they’ve never done before.
God then rescues them.
At the end of the psalm it says that if you understand what the psalm is saying you will understand how God’s love works in practice.
We also know from God’s dealings with Israel in the wilderness that He gave them many trials to test their heart and to see if they would really trust Him or not.
“… remember all the way which the LORD your God led you these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you, and to prove you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments, or not.” Deuteronomy 8:2
How Will You Respond?
You are being tested on whether you can trust God and die to your own needs, or whether you will get angry with God, because your needs are more valuable to you than He is.
You now have a unique opportunity to do things that people having an easy life can’t do with such power.
You can now,
give thanks in everything,
choose to love and honor him whether He blesses you or not,
bless others even when you desperately want to be blessed,
love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength,
find the peace that passes understanding,
die to yourself, crucifying your flesh with its affections and desires,
lay down your life,
take on the sufferings of Christ,
put God first in your life, even when it nearly kills you to do so….
Anyone can say “Praise the Lord” when they are comfortable and blessed.
But to say “Praise the Lord” in the middle of your heartache is much, much more powerful, both as worship to God and as release for you.
Rule Your Spirit
Of course, in order for you to do that you have to achieve “rule over your own spirit”.
Proverbs says that if you can’t rule your own spirit you are like a city that has no walls.
“He that has no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.” Proverbs 25:28
When you have no walls, the enemies of fear, doubt, depression, emotional upheaval, and all that kind of stuff, just storm into your heart and mind whenever they want to.
If that is happening to you, then you have lost control of your inner life.
You have no rule over your own spirit.
So how can you truly give yourself to God, when you don’t really control the steering wheel?
Your worship and devotion to God will be much more real when you get control of your own spirit and choose, against all odds and in the face of terrible pain, to bless and worship God.
And one way to help you is to determine to bless others.
Be a Blessing
Choose to bless God.
Choose to bless your sons.
Choose to bless your husband.
Choose to bless your in-laws.
Choose to make other people’s days happy, without them ever knowing your pain.
And do all of that without any thought for your own pain, needs and demands. Silence them. Die to them, so you can have the energy and focus to be a blessing.
If you can make your life about “them” and God, and not about “you”, then you will be gaining control and rule over your own spirit.
The two greatest commandments are to Love God and Love Others. We are not supposed to neglect either because of our own self pre-occupation.
All About You
If things end up being “all about you” then you are heading for destruction and the trash-heap and there’s nothing we can do for you.
If you make other people the victims of your feelings, refusing to obey God’s commands, then you are going to end up miserable. If you life is focused on you, and you are feeling miserable then things can only get worse.
If your life is focused on God and on blessing others, then you can be lifted out of the quagmire of your own troubled feelings.
I know that‘s pretty straight talk, and I don’t expect you to be delighted with it.
But I believe God wants to bless you, so I’m giving you what I believe you need to hear.
And This is the Reply
Very cool straight talk! It will serve me well today and for the rest of my life. I take your words to heart, and I thank you for sharing your wisdom with me. I will carry your words with me at all times.
I will die to myself more and more each day. I will live more and more for Him, Our God! For me to carry my daily crosses is a divine privilege. God does not owe me anything, but I owe God everything!
I know God has a great plan for me. I do not ask for an easy life, just the grace to bear it, cheerfully. I know God was and is pruning me, only so that I may grow more beautiful in His sight. I want to bring as many people as possible with me to heaven. No one is going to drag me down to hell, but I sure will drag others with me to heaven, even if that means using straight talk. And, Yes, I will always bless those who I may have a hard time with as well with the people I have a great time with.
You have a beautiful soul, Chris. Thanks again for the straight talk.