Friday, January 3, 2020

In Times of Adversity

2 Peter 1:3-8 Good News Translation (GNT)

God's Call and Choice

God's divine power has given us everything we need to live a truly religious life through our knowledge of the one who called us to share in his own[a] glory and goodness. In this way he has given us the very great and precious gifts he promised, so that by means of these gifts you may escape from the destructive lust that is in the world, and may come to share the divine nature. For this very reason do your best to add goodness to your faith; to your goodness add knowledge; to your knowledge add self-control; to your self-control add endurance; to your endurance add godliness; to your godliness add Christian affection, and to your Christian affection add love. These are the qualities you need, and if you have them in abundance, they will make you active and effective in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We are going to face adversity. We are going to face hills and valleys. We will face the enemy, usually when we least expect it, but this verse in 2 Peter truly sums up how we should face it; with goodness, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, Christian affection, and love. Wow! I don't know about you, but I fail often! (at more than one of these and on some days all of these) If I have goodness and knowledge during adversity, I may lack endurance or love. If I have self-control and Christian affection I may lack knowledge or godliness. I have learned none of these are possible without God. I have also learned from a year of reflection, counseling, and immersing myself in God's word I must be disciplined when it comes to facing adversity. You may be asking am I saying I need to be punished and the answer is no. The other form of discipline (having self-control produced by training; in this case training the mind). In the classroom, we teach using mindset training and it works. In order to be disciplined, we must practice our mindset. For me, that has meant stopping and reflecting on God's word before reacting. James 1:19 says, "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry." (NIV)

I have practiced just the opposite of this rule most of my life. Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE to talk. There isn't anything wrong with being social, but I have learned I enjoy listening much more and learning. In my past when faced with adversity I was quick to speak, but not listen. I am not one to get angry, but just like anyone when I do it's never good. I have always been one to wear my feelings on my sleeve, take things personally, be the first to get involved in an altercation to try and mend the situation, over-explain my point of view or a situation. None of these traits make life easy and usually always got me into trouble somehow.

I have faced much adversity in the past 25 years. All of it I can say was allowed or caused by me. I didn't take time to listen to God or truth be known I felt I could "help" God or "fix" the problem myself. UGHHHH!!! What a long journey to learning a very valuable lesson!! Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger (in my case get involved or get my feelings hurt). I took a break from my blog because I needed time to reflect and listen to God. The beginning of this post was written in October, but I felt with every fiber of my being that God was telling me to save the draft and walk away. I did just that and now have so much more clarity. At the time the adversity was much too personal for me to write about. I know God knew I would make it personal and that is not the intention of this blog, ever!

Life isn't easy. NO one has the easy road ALL of the time. Oh, our social media posts want us to believe we do, but we all know that we only share our highlights, leaving the lowlights in the closet praying no one opens that door. I have said before those should not be aired out on social media, but find Godly people to walk you through difficult times. I am blessed by my prayer warriors daily. Before trusting God and having others pray for me I stressed until I made myself sick worrying about what others thought of me. Knowing when I decided to share this blog I would run head-on into adversity, knowing when I decided to share my personal life I would run into adversity, knowing when I shared my finances I would run into adversity. I didn't know the outcome of any of these events, but I knew God would be there and He would love me and pick me up when I couldn't go anymore. 2019 was not an easy year, but a learning year and boy did I learn!!

If you are like me and have faced adversity or maybe some of you are facing it now, I want to tell you God will get you through and He will teach you if you will let Him. Rest assured we will face adversity and being equipped will help us to get through it.

My takeaways from 2019:

  1.  Always turn to God, for everything! 
  2. Understand we are human and we make mistakes. Ask for forgiveness and learn from those mistakes.
  3. Realize not everyone is going to like you and that's ok. (Boy that was a biggie for me)
  4. Not my circus, not my monkeys! (One of my favs from a coworker and it took me years to adopt this saying. I apply it to circumstances that aren't any of my business (like gossip or someone complaining about something or someone else). My life has been much simpler not sticking my nose where it doesn't belong. 
  5. Realizing I'm the only one that knows the truth about my life (and God) and that is all that matters. 
  6. Pray harder for those that hurt you because it is true that hurt people, hurt people.
  7. Love like today is your very last day and find the good in life. Even when it seems there isn't any left.
  8. Forgive others, even when they don't ask for forgiveness and pray for them.
  9. Enjoy life to its fullest making memories! Spend as much time with those you love. We don't know when God will choose to bring us home. 
  10. Strive every minute (heck every second) of every day to live with goodness, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, Christian affection, and love. The Bible says, "These are the qualities you need, and if you have them in abundance, they will make you active and effective in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Praying in 2020 I can practice what I have learned. I am sure I will forget some of these lessons and have to be retaught again and again. I am only human. I am challenging myself and you (if you want to take the challenge) to build up those around you, not allowing others to steal your joy, and most importantly spend more time listening to God. He will speak to you through devotionals, Bible studies, pastors, sermons, and, my favorite, through mere strangers when you are least expecting it:) I don't know about you, but I can't wait to see what God has in store for me this year! I know with Him ALL things are possible!!