Lorraine continues to be a wonderful guest blogger for My TIE. Especially since I am working through re-formulating my own writing in 2015. She continues to express her experiences as she continually finds God in the middle of her life's storms. I am forever thankful for her honesty. But even more, I am appreciative that she allows us at church and you as her readers an insight of how God is transforming her life in these storms. I know there are greater things yet to come for Lorraine.
Pastor Tom Ford
When people think they are at the darkest point in their lives and that there is no sign of things improving, they often say “it cannot get worse than this.” The reality is things can indeed get worse.
For those of you who have been following my story may remember that I have been trying to leave my current job for four years now while coping with my mom’s illness and her eventual passing. God has yet to deliver me out of the challenging situation at work or at home. He has been using my dual storms to build my character and to make me a light for others in a dark and broken world.
A matter of fact a couple of weeks ago, the dual storms that I have been battling with both took a turn for the worse. I was however reminded that in dealing with disappointments, we can either focus on our loss, or on God Himself.
God allows for disappointments
There were times when I expressed my frustration that God has delivered everyone I ministered to at work out of the fire, and even for how I have supported my boss on the loss of her sister. My boss has been, and is still the cause of my anxiety at work. I also spent over six months doing prayer walks around a children’s hospital after each frustrated day at work remembering a young child from my church. He was diagnosed with cancer at the age of five and went through months of treatment and has since been fully healed. I could not help but to ask, what more does God want me to do? After 125 job applications and 12 job interviews, God is still keeping me here.
A weekend or so ago, I drove an hour and a half in bad traffic, picked up desserts from a specialty bakery and arrived at my dad’s place just to find out he was going out for dinner. I had no advance notice. Dad decided to just leave me there at his place to have dinner alone with his nanny (who spent all afternoon preparing the delicious home-cooked meal) to go out with my brother because he called to ask dad out at the last minute. I felt hurt and was in tears.
The nanny told me dad has always been asking about my brother and is always wondering how he is doing because dad hardly hears from him. Since mom passed away a year ago, I have given up almost all of my weekends so that I can visit my dad and have been ministering to him since he told me he wanted to go where mom is – to be with the Lord in Heaven. At times there was much hope that I thought may be the Lord did take mom away for a reason – to bring dad to Him also.
In the past year, I have driven dad to attend Alpha class which introduces the basics of the Christian faith, and have arranged for him to attend a new church where he can be better equipped to get to know the Lord. A support network has been set up where dad now gets regular rides to and from church and for my cousin to spend time with him on Sundays so that he can feel and experience the love of God. I have also spent the past year sharing Pastor Rick Warren’s daily email devotion with dad hoping that would inspire him to read about the Lord and the life Christ would want all of us to live. The incidence on that weekend confirmed what I have always feared for: that my brother (who has yet to know Christ) is my dad’s number one priority; and I was just his back-up or the “spare” when my brother is not available. I have feared that my dad would use the daily devotion as an excuse to tell my brother I write to him every day, so that my brother will be in touch with him more often; and yet the devotional passages would never be read. Well, both my fears became a reality – that dad does not have Jesus in his heart. He is still living a self-centered life and worries about everything every day.
Faith in God’s goodness keeps hope alive
Keeping hope alive is the only way we can get through life’s trials, tribulations, setbacks and disappointments knowing that God is in control of our lives and the story is not over until the end of time. Focusing on God’s goodness is what we can see beyond disappointments and keep going. Hope strengthens us and reminds us that God will lead us onto the best path. Hope can lift up our spirits and keep us from giving up at the times of failure and disappointment.
Although I may be feeling the recent hurtful setback with my dad, and that I am still stuck at my darkening work environment waiting for God to accomplish His mission through me; I have not yet given up hope. What we want may not be what God wants for us. His plan is always bigger than ours. God does indeed answer our prayers and He does so in three different ways:
1. “Yes” – because we deserve it;
2. “No” – because we deserve better; or
3. “Not yet” – because the best is yet to come.
What happened in the last couple of weeks at work and at home could easily set me back in my faith journey, but instead it was a good reminder for me to trust the Lord more each day. God uses life’s challenges to build our character and to test our faith. Only God can change people and it is up to us to trust Him that in His time, He will answer our prayers in His way.
God tells us in His Word, “Love the Lord, all his faithful people! The Lord preserves those who are true to him, but the proud he pays back in full. Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” Psalm 31:23-24 (NIV)
We need to thank Lord for every gift and every blessing that He has graciously given to us and to remember His goodness when times of testing and disappointment tempts us to give up. If we focus on people, we will always be disappointed, but if we focus on the Lord, there is always hope. The choice is ours! Let us be encouraged to let the Lord know that our hope is in Him.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (NIV)
July 19, 2015