Claiming God’s Promises When Prayer Is Answered In A Different Way Than We Hoped

Claiming God's Promises When Prayer Is Answered In A Different Way Than We Hoped | thisgratefulmama.com

Last Wednesday, our son had an allergic reaction to peanut butter. Peanut butter we gave him, knowing he may have a reaction.

Wait. What?

Let’s backup a bit. Our son was diagnosed with a peanut and tree nut allergy shortly after his first birthday. We quickly became Epi-Pen carrying, label-reading, question-asking protectors of our son.

All along, we have prayed for our son’s protection. And we have prayed with expectant hope for healing from all food allergies. 

Over the past two years, his tree nut blood test results have increased but his peanut results have steadily decreased.

This year, both blood and skin tests were clearly negative for peanut allergy. We hoped our prayer had been answered. 

Our allergist recommended an oral food allergy challenge. While we agreed with the allergist’s recommendation, this was not a decision we made lightly. Consenting to allow our child, who we have protected from peanuts for 6 years, to EAT peanuts is a scary thing. We also knew our son did not fully comprehend what a reaction could feel like or how dangerous and scary it could be.

We requested prayer. One day I’ll go into specifics about how so many of those specific prayers were answered.

Last week, we went to the hospital and watched our child eat peanut butter for the first time. Between the third and fourth dose of peanut butter, he began to react. The details of the reaction aren’t what I am writing about today.

Here’s what you need to know: Our son had an allergic reaction to peanuts. He is doing well and has recovered fully. We received great care and have a plan moving forward to keep him safe.

Now, let’s get back to what I do want to talk about today. Our son still has a peanut allergy and this is not the result we prayed and hoped for.

We are disappointed. I’ve had some deeply emotional moments with loved ones and before God this past week. It hurts to fully hope for something and not receive it. We hoped to celebrate his healing.

It hurts that our son will still be carrying this allergy and the possibility of serious injury or death if we make just ONE mistake. It hurts that sometimes he feels excluded or left out because of what he can and cannot eat.

It breaks my mama-heart that I cannot fix this.

When our prayers are answered in a different way than we asked and we’re feeling broken – what do we do next?

Claiming God's Promises When Prayer Is Answered In A Different Way Than We Hoped | thisgratefulmama.com 

Grieve

When we’ve prayed – in our case, for 6 years – it is OK to grieve when the answer isn’t what we asked for. We love our son and want him to be free from this burden. One way to express this grief is to lament. In Psalms, God has given us many examples of lament. It is OK to tell Him what we feel – He already knows our thoughts and won’t turn us away.

I’ve spent some time this week pouring out my heart to God – the disappointment and sadness, and how scary it was to watch our son’s reaction. It feels strange – but pretending I don’t feel these things makes my prayers fake and prevents me from feeling His comfort and peace.

God calls us to come to Him and He promises comfort.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
-Matthew 11:28-30

Claiming God's Promises When Prayer Is Answered In A Different Way Than We Hoped | thisgratefulmama.com

Claim God’s Promises

But lament isn’t just telling God how we feel – it also involves reminding ourselves of who God says He is in His Word, and what He promises to do. As we claim His promises, we acknowledge His character and sovereignty, and surrender to His will.

With my emotions out of the way, God began to show me a new perspective based on His promises – not the way I feel

This was not the answer we hoped for – but we are not without hope.

On the surface, it appears God said NO to our prayer to heal our son. But that is not an accurate answer. What God did say is ‘Not yet.’

The Bible is clear that God is ABLE to heal. There are many accounts of Jesus healing people throughout the gospels. But even Paul, who was a profoundly effective, faithful servant of God, had a ‘thorn in his flesh’ (2 Cor 12:7) that God did not heal during Paul’s life on earth.

God responded to Paul’s prayer for healing with a promise:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
– 2 Corinthians 12:9

Although God is ABLE, He does not heal everything we ask Him to. His thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways (Is. 55:8-9). God does promise that in every weakness, His grace is enough. And He promises the power of Christ in those weaknesses.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort
-2 Corinthians 1:3

God doesn’t leave us to struggle on our own – He promises comfort. 

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
-Romans 5:3-5

God promises that our suffering, whatever it may be, will not be in vain. Furthermore, He will use it to make us more like Him, giving us hope while pouring out His love upon us.

I do not know if our son will be healed of food allergies while on earth. Romans 5 reminded me that continuing to pray and hope will not be put to shame – because God IS ABLE. I will not stop asking God to heal our son just because God hasn’t done it yet

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
-Romans 8:28

God promises that He will work in all situations for our good and for God’s glory. We have already seen God’s faithfulness in this area – good has already come from these allergies.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
-Revelation 21:4

Finally, God promises that ALL will be healed in heaven. I trust God with our son’s heart and have full confidence our son will see heaven. I also have full confidence that our son WILL be healed of all food allergies in heaven.

This morning I woke up needing to hear all of these things, even though God has been showing them to me all week. I needed to be reminded of His love and to have my soul lifted up.

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
    for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
    for to you I lift up my soul.
-Psalm 143:8

Can I let you in on a secret? This post isn’t actually for all of you. It’s for me. Sometimes we need to be reminded of truths God shows us and to speak them into our own lives. God is who He says He is. His promises are still true, even when He does not answer my prayers in the way I want Him to, when I want Him to.

Claiming God’s Promises When Prayer Is Answered Differently Than We Hoped | thisgratefulmama.com

Which of these promises do YOU need to claim in your current circumstances? 

 

Do you know what a Link Party is? It is a place for bloggers to share their posts. It is also one of my favorite ways to find encouraging posts from great bloggers – you will certainly find great posts from amazing bloggers. Check them out!

This post was shared at the following Link Parties:

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Alone In A Crowded Room – Purposeful Steps When Struggling With Loneliness

Alone In A Crowded Room - Purposeful Steps When Struggling With Loneliness | thisgratefulmama.com

Alone In A Crowded Room - Purposeful Steps When Struggling With Loneliness | thisgratefulmama.com

A mom leaves an event full of lovely women, laughter and fun only to stumble through the door at home in tears.

This was me several times last week.

For much of my adult life, I’ve struggled with loneliness. I’m surrounded by people – good people. But often I stand in a crowded room and feel unseen. 

And alone.

As an introvert, large social events and groups tend to be a challenge. I’m much more comfortable with just one or two people. In many groups, I tend to sit back and listen instead of jumping into the conversation. As a result, unless someone asks me a direct question, I may not speak at all. Often, I go home feeling like I had things to say and I regret not speaking.

That regret becomes frustration. That frustration opens old wounds. I don’t feel heard. Or seen.

Did it even matter I was there at all? Familiar feelings of loneliness rise – powerful and painfully real.

Still, other times, these feelings of loneliness rise up out of nowhere, uninvited, and without cause. 

These feelings aren’t based on truth. They are a result of me believing a terrible internal lie – that I wasn’t wanted or needed.

The truth is, I was invited to the event I spoke of earlier. My presence was welcomed. My words and thoughts would have been welcomed as well. No one said or did anything unkind or cold to me. Loneliness doesn’t always show up when it makes sense. Often times, the feelings are real, but they don’t make sense at all.

Why do I still feeling lonely?

Usually it isn’t others who make me feel lonely.

It’s me. 

But that doesn’t change the overwhelming way feelings of loneliness hurt. Experience has shown that left unchecked, loneliness can be paralyzing. Focusing on loneliness robs my days of joy and causes me to pull back from relationships – further perpetuating the problem.

When loneliness surfaces, it is imperative that I take purposeful steps to battle against it. As I said before, I am still struggling (even as I write this) with loneliness and perceived rejection.

These are a few ways I’m learning to address loneliness when it comes up.

Seek God

Alone In A Crowded Room - Purposeful Steps When Struggling With Loneliness | thisgratefulmama.com

Alone In A Crowded Room - Purposeful Steps When Struggling With Loneliness | thisgratefulmama.com

A good friend is a beautiful thing. But no friendship can rid me of loneliness. When I’m lonely, what I need most is more of God. Whether I ‘feel’ His presence or not, I need to press into Him by reading His Word and praying.

When I feel lonely, the enemy’s lies seem like truth. I question my worth. I begin to suppress God’s truth about who God says I am. When this happens, I need to tell God my thoughts, even though they go against what He says.

‘God I know You made me without mistake. I know I am fully loved and fully known by You. Yet, right now I feel inadequate, unloved, unworthy and rejected. I feel so alone and unseen by others. Help me to see myself and this circumstance as you do. Will you help me believe it and walk in truth?’

Often, pouring out feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, and self-loathing at God’s feet brings peace. It is hard to be in God’s presence and believe lies. Being with Him opens my eyes to truth and helps my soul rest in His comforting arms.

In the midst of loneliness, the focus is on me. I desperately need to worship God. Worship turns my focus outward and upward. He is still God, and He is good – regardless of any emotion or circumstance I may be in. When I remember God’s character – His goodness, faithfulness and kindness – and how He has revealed Himself to me, it becomes hard to feel alone.

Kari Jobe’s ‘I Am Not Alone‘ has helped me worship this week. What comfort there is in recalling that God never leaves me and always goes before me!

See A Friend

Alone In A Crowded Room - Purposeful Steps When Struggling With Loneliness | thisgratefulmama.com

Alone In A Crowded Room - Purposeful Steps When Struggling With Loneliness | thisgratefulmama.com

Isn’t it strange that when struggling with loneliness, I tend to isolate myself?

Isolating myself happens when I believe and accept the lie that no one cares if I’m there or not. In all honesty, even after spending time with God, I sometimes still feel lonely and disconnected. Isolation only makes things worse.

In these moments, I need a good friend. I am grateful to have several women in my life with whom I can share hard things. One friend, in particular comes to mind – she lifts me up, encourages me, and points me to Jesus. We don’t see each other that often, but when we do, it is like no time has passed between us. We do spend time catching up on daily life, but we always spend time talking about what is on our hearts.

Time spent with a good friend lifts the soul.

God gave us the gift of fellowship so we can be mutually encouraged by one another. But we need to be IN fellowship with others to experience it. 

Last week, after a rough morning wrestling with emotions, I called that friend. We met at a park with the kids. Kids played. We took a walk. We talked. I shared my heart – she listened and then spoke truth and kindness into hurting places. I left feeling recharged, refreshed and so very grateful. Time spent with her is life-giving. Friends like this are a priceless gift.

As an introvert, I know I need more one-on-one time with good friends. This time has to be built into my life on a regular basis because life is BUSY. Schedule it. Show up. 

BE A Friend

Alone In A Crowded Room - Purposeful Steps When Struggling With Loneliness | thisgratefulmama.com

Alone In A Crowded Room - Purposeful Steps When Struggling With Loneliness | thisgratefulmama.com

Sometimes we long for deeper friendships, but we haven’t made it our mission to just go out and BE a friend.

Friendship is a two-way street – if we want people to be there for us, we need to be there for them! Cultivating deep relationships takes time and purposeful effort.

Check in with that friend about ‘that thing’ they mentioned last time you talked – the appointment, interview, struggle, celebration or milestone. Notice when a friend is unusually quiet and ask how they are doing. Then be prepared to make time to listen to how they’re really doing. 

Often, I feel the most lonely when I’m busy. Some seasons, like after having a baby, may just be busy. It happens to all of us. But sometimes, we allow good things to make us so busy that there is no margin for people. When this happens, we need to make some adjustments to maintain valuable friendships. Examine your schedule and priorities to be sure you’ve left room for people. 

Let people know you care. Be available to others. Being connected to others in daily life opens the door to have conversations about what is on your heart.

Start with one person. Who will it be?

 

This post was shared at the Salt & Light Linkup #23, head on over to see tons of encouraging posts!

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That Time I Got A Speeding Ticket – Teaching Kids About Grace

That Time I Got A Speeding Ticket - Teaching Kids About Grace | thisgratefulmama.com

Exactly 3 days after the accident with sunshine girl’s finger and the Epi-Pen, I had another humbling experience.

A speeding ticket.

My first one.

In the mini van.

With all three kids.

In the aftermath of the Epi-Pen accident, I wasn’t feeling like the best mom. I was actively fighting for joy from some pretty heavy mom-guilt. Not that there is ever a good time for a speeding ticket, but this one certainly came at a bad time.

The Ticket

We were having a rough morning. The littlest one was teething and in apparently fierce discomfort. She was just not herself.

After attempting to soothe and distract at home, it was clear we needed to get out of the house. I decided to do a quick errand.

Because baby was so unhappy, I decided to drive further to a less crowded store, hoping she would fall asleep coming home.

As we neared the store, the road was closed. We turned right at the barricade and continued on an unfamiliar road. I was just cruising along at roughly the same speed as the previous road, checking street signs to figure out where to turn.

Heading down a hill, I noticed a small park and thought – I should remember that. Then, I saw a police car parked at the bottom of the hill.

Yikes. Sharp intake of breath. You know that feeling, don’t you? See a police car and tap the brakes even though you’re not sure how fast you’re going?

Hmm. How fast was I going? Didn’t know.

Then I saw the speed limit sign at the bottom of the hill. 30.

Pretty sure I was going faster than that. Sure enough, on came the lights as he pulled into the street.

‘OK guys, mama is going to get a speeding ticket’.

Our very cautious, rule-following oldest child looked wide-eyed from the back. He was silent but his shocked face revealed concern. Or maybe horror.

I assured the kids it was going to be OK and reminded them that police help people. Today this one was going to help mommy be a better diver.

The officer was very kind but informed me I was going 52 in a 30.

By a park.

And my license plate tabs were expired.

Without excuse, I apologized. Pretty sure my eyes were as wide as our son’s.

I told him about being diverted from the road closure and how I was paying attention to street signs instead of the speed limit. I was sure we’d paid for our tabs so told him I would go home and find them. He headed to his car.

The kids were silent, even the baby. For possibly the first time all morning.

When the officer returned, indeed our tabs were paid for. Find them. Then he gave me my very first speeding ticket – but not the ticket I deserved.

I deserved a ticket for driving 52 in a 30 by a park. That friends, is a humongous ticket. Instead, he gave me a ticket for going 44 in a 30. Two full tiers below what I deserved.

I choked back tears and thanked him.

Teaching Grace

As a rule-follower myself, I could not hold back the tears as he walked away. I was still so surprised it happened, embarrassed and humbled, and felt guilty for getting the ticket in front of the kids. Then I felt bad for crying in front of the kids, but could. not. stop.

Not my best mom-moment.

I may have prayed a silent ‘really, God? – don’t you remember Monday?‘ prayer. Ok. Yes. Actually I’m sure I did that.

Now in the store parking lot just around the corner, I wept.

Our poor kids were silently watching, unsure of what to do next. Finally, our son spoke up from the back – ‘Mama. I’m so sorry you got a ticket‘.

His kind words caused me to glance up at his reflection in the rear-view mirror. His worried look put a stop to my tears – there was a lesson in this.

The moment must not be wasted. 

Oh Lord, please give me the words to use this moment for YOUR glory.

You guys, it is in these moments, when we have made a mistake, failed or been humbled in front of our children – in the midst of authentic remorse and emotion, when well-chosen words can be most powerful.

Our children are often the first-hand witness that parents are not perfect. While we don’t need to discuss our every failing with our kids, something that unfolds right in front of them should be addressed.

How we address it matters.

When these things happen, whether a speeding ticket or some other obvious show of imperfection, we need to use the moment to teach them about truth.

After some deep breaths, we talked about why I was pulled over. And the many reasons I deserved a BIG ticket – speeding was breaking the rules, having expired tabs was irresponsible, and how as a mom, I should be even more attentive to places like parks where kids could be crossing the street.

The officer had every right to give me exactly what I deserved – but he didn’t.

We talked about how the officer treated me. He spoke kindly to me and listened to what I had to say. He treated me with respect and we talked about how in our family, we respect police officers.

Then, despite the emotional roller coaster in my brain, joy crept in and we begain to talk about grace.

The officer chose to give me a smaller ticket than I deserved. In doing so, he showed me grace I did not earn or ask for.

Their sister’s middle name is Grace, which means a gift undeserved.

And like the officer’s gift was undeserved, I also do not deserve the grace of God. It still baffles me that God showed such lavish grace in sending His son Jesus to die as punishment for my sins. And for the sins of our children.

All because of the simple yet profound reason that God loves us. The imperfect, the sinful, the unlovable – we are the beloved redeemed because of lavish grace and love of Jesus Christ.

Just like I was unaware of my speeding, we were once unaware of our own sin. We didn’t ask him to give grace, He did it on His own. Salvation is God’s work alone.

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 (ESV)

We don’t deserve it, but Jesus stands in our place of the judgement we deserve because He chooses to. We just need to acknowledge Him and receive it.

We deserve punishment.

We get grace.

Because He loves us.

The heart of the Gospel.

Smiles. Nodding. I think these precious children really got it.

We prayed, thanking God for Jesus. We thanked God for the police officer and the kindness he showed mommy. And for the reminder of what Jesus did for each of us.

The call to my husband started fresh but brief tears as I explained how the stellar mom who allowed the accident on Monday had just gotten a speeding ticket with all the kids in the car on Thursday.

Not a great week.

My husband showed me unwarranted grace, just as he did on Monday. He is an undeserved gift to me.

Finally, we got out of the car and stumbled into the store with my tear-streaked face but a sense of God-given peace that cannot be described here with mere words.

The outing wasn’t exactly the ‘distraction’ I’d planned. I’m grateful we ended up with a lesson of eternal value that left a strong impression on their hearts.

I guess if getting a speeding ticket is what it took to give them a tangible understanding of grace, then so be it.

Sometimes the most humbling moments as moms teach the most powerful lessons to our kids.

That Time I Got A Speeding Ticket - Teaching Kids About Grace | thisgratefulmama.com

ALL speeding tickets might not be so bad after all – but I’d rather not get another one.

If you see me driving around town like a granny, now you’ll know why.

That Time I Got A Speeding Ticket - Teaching Kids About Grace | thisgratefulmama.com

This post was shared on the Salt & Light Linkup (#16). Click on the image below to find other great posts relating to Christian encouragement. Check it out!

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6 Ways To Reclaim JOY When Stuck In Mom Guilt

 

Reclaim JOY When Stuck In Mom Guilt | thisgratefulmama.com

Mom guilt is very good at stealing our joy.

Some days do not go as planned. Some days are filled with joy and success but as night falls, I find myself dwelling on my failure – big or small.  

Failure to accomplish everything on my TO DO list
Failure to exercise and eat as healthy as I should
Failure to be patient with the kids or my husband
Failure to love and connect in a meaningful way with my husband
Failure to play and be the fun mom our kids needed
Failure to apologize for my failings

Oh, how the list could go on! I’m sure you get the point. Hopefully I don’t fail in ALL of these ways in one day, but some days it sure feels like it.

Why IS it so easy for moms to focus on failure instead of success? 

Perhaps it is because we just love our kids so much, and we see the effects of our failings in their hurt and in their behavior.

It is good to hold ourselves to a high standard, but we often go too far.

When we focus on just failures, we lose important perspective about what really was accomplished that day – the kids felt loved, fun happened, chores were completed, and relationships were tended to.

The truth is, even the worst parenting day is filled with mostly success.

Instead of focusing on big and small victories, we focus on big and small failures.

Instead of recognizing that we are GREAT moms, we focus on that weak moment when we lost our temper.

You guys, that weak moment probably lasted about 5 minutes. In 12 awake hours (we likely have more), that is just 0.69% of the time spent with our kids.

Less than 1%, but we’re fixated on it.

As we reflect on the day, failing areas stick out like a sore thumb while successes are minimized or ignored completely. If this kind of self-critical thinking isn’t actively battled, it can become a painful, self-defeating habit.

While honest self-reflection and evaluation is helpful and necessary for growth and healthy relationships, over-critical thinking benefits no one. 

Did you hear me? Mom-guilt benefits no one and it steals your JOY.

Instead of motivating us to do better or to grow, mom-guilt leaves us discouraged and defeated.

What if we chose to move past mom-guilt and self-judgement and actively sought out a true and right perspective of our days? I believe we’d find motivation and encouragement to do our job better tomorrow. And our families would benefit from a JOYFUL mom.  

Reclaiming JOY when stuck in mom guilt takes concerted effort.

Can we try together?

6 Ways To Reclaim JOY When Stuck In Mom Guilt

Adjust Your Focus

Focusing on failure alone creates a mindset that is all about me – and how I can’t do anything rightThat is exactly what the enemy wants. Satan is the accuser (Rev 12:10) and right now he is prowling around like a roaring lion waiting for someone to devour (1 Pet 5:8). When we carry mom-guilt, Satan is the only one who wins. 

When we allow it, failures can consume our thoughts. We go way past honest reflection and desire to learn our lesson. We replay failures, think of what we should have done, and it consumes our thoughts. When we continue to beat ourselves up, dredging up past failings to build a case to prove we are failing as moms, we are much too focused on ourselves – we become our own accuser. Our guilt changes the way we parent and we aren’t giving our kids our best. Time to adjust our gaze. Jesus has already died for our failure AND our mom-guilt. 

Turn your eyes upon His face and recognize how He sees youBeloved. Worthy. Forgiven. And exactly the mom your children need.

Battle In Prayer

Do you ever think God’s view of you is wrong? That you are simply a failure He cannot love? When we can’t accept His TRUE assessment of us, our pride says His sacrifice isn’t enough for us. Believing we’re just too far beyond His reach is the worst kind of lie we can carry in our souls. This is a spiritual battle that needs to be fought with spiritual words – not fancy, well spoken words, but honest, raw words spoken from a heart desperate for God’s love and peace. Pray when mom-guilt rises. Even when you don’t have the words – He knows your heart. Lay it all out at His feet. Tell Him your doubtAsk Him to show you His love and help you believe it. 

Accept Grace

As you recognize how God sees you, it is time to accept His grace and give it to yourself. Why is it so easy to tell other moms their failures and mistakes are no big deal? We encourage others to give themselves grace and then give ourselves NONE. Jesus didn’t die so we could live in bondage in our minds. There is NO life in mom-guilt. We need to do the work of forgiving ourselves and then move on.

Practice Gratitude

When we live in the light of forgiveness, we have so much to be thankful for! We see our children as precious gifts, and our motherhood as a calling. We begin to see our successes and are grateful God gave us the patience, skills and ability to achieve them. WHEN we fail, we see with true perspective that we can do better, but are able to apologize, take action to not repeat the failure, and move forward without dwelling in guilt.

Model Authenticity

There is no place for perfection in parenting – there are no perfect moms. Reclaim JOY When Stuck In Mom Guilt | thisgratefulmama.com

Did you get that? None.

We will continue to grow and learn from our mistakes, but we will never, ever be perfect. And it is OK. Showing our kids we are not perfect gives them room to not be perfect too. Kids learn by example – if we beat ourselves up for imperfection, they will have a false and unattainable expectation that they be perfect too. Demonstrating how to handle our own failure starts with forgiving ourselves. Then, and only then, can we help them learn the same lesson when they stand in the shadow of their own failures. 

Hope

What if we viewed our failings as a chance to grow and for our kids to see the transforming power of Jesus in our lives? What if we thanked God for letting us fail so we could learn and help our kids learn lessons of eternal value? We can trust Him to be faithful to use our failings for His glory and to plant truth in the hearts of our kids. Start and end this day holding tight to the promise that His mercy is new every morning. And His faithfulness is greater than our failings.

Reclaim JOY When Stuck In Mom Guilt | thisgratefulmama.com    6 Ways to Reclaim JOY When Stuck In Mom Guilt | thisgratefulmama.com6 Ways To Reclaim JOY When Stuck In Mom Guilt | Thisgratefulmama.com

Doubt

 

Doubt | thisgratefulmama.com

Last year, my daughter and I studied the book of John at Bible Study Fellowship. One theme that struck me was how John, a disciple and close friend of Jesus, identifies himself.

The one whom Jesus loved.

I was baffled by how it seemed to be new information even though I have studied John before. God’s timing is perfect – it took the entire year, but He finally revealed why this theme was so important to me.

To explain why, I need to first give you the backstory.

Our third child was born in May of 2016. She, like our firstborn son experienced silent reflux symptoms and spent her first months writhing and screaming in pain. It was gut-wrenching and we felt helpless.

Again.

Unlike the first time around, we had previous experience. We recognized the symptoms and assumed we knew what to do. Then our doctor agreed so she began reflux mediation.

But symptoms remained.

Long story short, we later learned she had a tongue and lip tie that was corrected by a pediatric dentist. Once healed, she was able to eat without choking or gulping air. Her reflux was controlled with medication.

Life settled down. She no longer writhed in pain.

And we put it behind us.

Well. Not quite.

My emotional distress over the issue lingered. I wrestled with why a child should endure such pain. And WHY it happened again to one of our children.

As feelings surfaced, I distracted myself. I reasoned – it was over, we had moved on. We had a healthy, thriving and now happy baby.

Lingering on what was felt like the opposite of gratitude. And I was grateful she was feeling better.

So I ignored it. Stuffed it. 

This was building to be more than just a little distress. Old, deep-seated emotions and pain from the first time when we watched our son struggle now mingled with the new these fresh new emotions. The old emotions had not lost their sharp, raw edge, even with the passage of time. (I’ve shared some about difficulties during my first year as a mom before. I’m not going to rehash it now but you can read about it here.)

The truth is, babies are born with all kinds of maladies and challenges – reflux is by far, not the worst. But when anything causes your child pain, it affects you deeply as a parent. This time around, our daughter’s pain also affected our other children.  They too coped with the stress of their sister’s pain and their parents’ attention being consumed by the baby.

Now, on to my doubt.

The last day of BSF is ‘sharing day’ – picture 500 women and an open microphone. Women share publicly what God has done in their lives through the study.

It’s amazing.

The morning was crazy and I was running late. As I slid into a row towards the back, I sighed with relief.

My plan was to just sit and listen to other women praise God for what He had done in their lives that year.

Then this funny thing happened. I kept having this strange thought that I needed to share. My heart started pounding and I thought – not in front of all these people.

Nope.

If the Holy Spirit has prompted you to share something before, then you know exactly what I’m talking about – whether to one person or before 500.

The heart pounding – it’s a THING.

Suddenly I’m scribbling notes with a pink sharpie on an old receipt – trying to get my thoughts in order before I head up front.

Several times in the study of John the topic of doubt came up. Each time, I quickly assessed myself (as in, not really) and pridefully said, of course I don’t doubt God!

He is who He says He is. Nothing is too hard for Him. His word is true and powerful. 

How could I doubt Him?

The most famous example of doubt is in John 20. ‘Doubting’ Thomas is not with the other disciples when Jesus appears to them after the resurrection. Thomas does not believe the disciples account and wants physical proof – to touch Jesus’ wounds.

You guys, Jesus is so kind.

He knew Thomas’ doubts and soon lovingly gave the opportunity to see and touch His wounds, without reprimand. Thomas believes and proclaims, ‘My Lord and My God!‘.

During the lecture the week we studied Thomas, we were challenged to ask God to show us our doubts and bring those doubts to Jesus. It was so compelling, I began praying before we even left the parking lot.

It wasn’t long before it was clear that I did have doubt.

I never doubted that Jesus was ABLE to prevent our children’s pain.

I never doubted He was ABLE to heal them at any time. 

We prayed and prayed. Both children were healed in His unique way, and in His time. But not in OUR Time.

So I doubted His love

For our son. For our daughter. For our family.

For ME. 

We placed our hope and faith in Him in our distress and didn’t get the response we desired. We prayed boldly. We trusted.

We pleaded and cried out before Him as we held our sweet hurting babies.

And for a time that seemed far too long, they kept on hurting.

And doubt creeped in.

Looking back, I see God’s faithfulness. He carried us, sending help and comfort, even when it felt He was far away and unresponsive.

If I had read Thomas’ story at the beginning of the year, I would have likely ignored what it challenged me to see – I wasn’t ready to face my doubt. 

But God’s loving kindness is so gentle. Before He revealed my doubt, He impressed upon me that my true identity is the one whom Jesus loves. And how the same is true for each of our children.

It is no accident that all these feelings from our firstborn were stirred up and relived with our daughter, just before starting the study of John – the gospel of love.

I will never fully comprehend on this side of heaven what God was doing when He allowed our babies to struggle. But He does show us glimpses of His work. I believe ONE reason He allowed this again in our life was to free me from the burden of doubt. 

Only after He had prepared me by showing me His steadfast love, did He reveal I doubted it. And carried around those feelings for the last 7 years.

That is long time to carry around doubt laced with pain.

So, tearfully but with unexpected boldness, I found myself speaking into an open microphone before 500 women proclaiming God’s love and confessing my doubt.

The God of restoration revealed my doubt, not to shame me, but to free me. He did it to redeem the part of my soul I had shut off from Him because it was shrouded in the fear that God didn’t really love us as I desperately needed Him to.

What a wonderful God we serve – who doesn’t leave us in our broken condition and continues to actively capture and heal our hearts! 

And He will continue to help us break free from the broken we harbor and carry around inside.

Today I stand in that freedom, knowing there will be other difficulties and hard things in my life and in the lives of our family that will challenge my faith and the truth of God’s word.

Without a doubt, there will be other doubts. 

This experience has shown me how in the past I’ve judged Thomas for his doubt.

You know what? ‘Doubting’ Thomas gets a bad-rap.

We all encounter doubts. Walking with Jesus in the midst of a broken world means we are imperfect and incapable of imperfect faith. Doubt is reality. There’s a little Thomas in all of us – when we claim to never doubt, we are deceived by pride.

As with every Bible character, their examples of imperfection and God’s loving response is left there for people just like me. And you. I’m so grateful God included Thomas’ story in the Bible to encourage us in our doubt. God wisely let us know that even one of the 12 disciples, who walked side by side with Jesus here on earth, had doubts too.

Today I stand better equipped to handle new doubts because I have experienced firsthand how Jesus knows my doubts, before I do. He does not waste them. Instead, He gently uses doubts to strengthen and embolden our faith. He draws us closer to Him and will continue to do so until we are with Him and like Him in eternity.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6 (ESV)

Amen.

 

Doubt | thisgratefulmama.com

PS: If you aren’t familiar with BSF, you may want to be! It’s an international organization providing FREE, true to God’s word, Bible studies to men, women and children. Next year’s study is Romans and starts in September – check it out!

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The One Whom Jesus Loved

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This year I’ve been studying the book of John with Bible Study Fellowship (BSF). Reading John’s account of Jesus’ life, one particular truth stands out.

John refers to himself as ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved‘. (John 13:23, 19:26, 21:20)

The one Jesus loved.

Years ago, reading this for the first time, John seemed kind of arrogant to me. The ONE Jesus loved – who does he think he is?’

Was he saying he was MORE loved than the other disciples? That idea didn’t seem consistent with Jesus’ character in the rest of the Bible. Confusion fueled the desire to know more.

And you know what? As I’ve studied the Bible, learning about God’s character and attributes, I identify myself more and more as John did.

I can tell you with certainty, it is not arrogance.

John knew he wasn’t more loved than his peers. John was Jesus’ friend and eye-witness to His life. He walked alongside Jesus daily, watching Him love everyone He came into contact with.

Everyone.

No matter how sinful, no matter how much they loved or didn’t love Jesus back – Jesus loved ALL people.

Jesus’ love is SO important to John that he replaces his own name with Jesus’ love – John’s most important characteristic.

So often, I succumb to a wrong-view of myself. I focus on negative aspects of my personality, image or actions. When who I believe I am doesn’t match who God says I am, my day is robbed of joy. Then too easily, this wrong-thinking infects my actions, thoughts and relationships.

What we think about ourselves needs to be rooted in truth. Who better to tell us who we are than the one who created us in His own image?

How do you identify yourself?

Often, we identify ourselves by what we do – mom, dad, scientist, manager, teacher, student, child, sister, brother, volunteer…

What we do is important, but have you considered your more important, all-encompassing identity?

Not what you do, or who you do it with, but WHO you are.

Jesus Christ knows each of us, inside and out. There is nothing you can hide from Him and nothing He doesn’t know about you, good or bad.

We are fully seen.

Fully heard.

Fully known.

And fully LOVED.

Do you know this truth in your bones?

As celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus, will you take time to reflect on who HE says you are?

YOU are SO loved that He purposefully came to earth – fully God and fully man – to save you.

He lived a perfect life, demonstrating perfect love as He interacted with the people HE created.

He knew every sin of every person as He spoke truth in love. He lovingly healed their bodies and their souls.

He laid His life down on purpose.

Jesus is the perfect, unblemished Passover Lamb who takes away the sin of the world.

His perfect, sinless blood reconciles sinful, UNHOLY man with God.

We can be united with the holy God who cannot be in the presence of our sin. He is SO holy, He needs to be described by repeating holy 3 times.

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.

Now united with Him through Jesus, what if we lived out our identity as John did?

Who are you?

The _________ whom Jesus loved.

You see?

The mama whom Jesus loved so much He died for her so she can spend eternity with Him.

The daughter whom Jesus loved so much He laid His life down so she can be forgiven.

The manager whom Jesus loved so much He purposefully died on a cross to bear her punishment.

The father whom Jesus loved so much He came to earth to reveal His perfect Father in heaven.

The blogger whom Jesus loved so much He chose to suffer so that she can share in His glory.

The one whom Jesus loved and longs to reveal Himself to – so you know you are fully seen, fully heard, fully known, and despite all your shortcomings, are fully loved.

Will you ask Him to help you believe it?

It Takes A Village To Raise A Child With Food Allergies – Thank You For Keeping Our Kids Safe Even When You Don’t Understand Allergies

It Takes A Village To Raise A Child With Food Allergies - Thank You For Keeping Our Kids Safe Even When You Don't Understand Allergies

During a recent grocery store trip, I overheard a fellow mom on her cell phone. She was asking what on earth to buy in the bakery section for her child’s class room birthday treat. It needed to be peanut free.

She went on to say she didn’t understand why, if peanut wasn’t on the label, she couldn’t buy it. Then she mumbled something about the equipment.

I could tell she was in a hurry. Intending to point her in the right direction, I made my way to the display of Lofthouse Nut-Free frosted cookies. I planned to hold them up and just point to the ‘Nut-Free’ label. I didn’t want to interrupt her conversation but knew it can be hard to find a peanut-safe option in the bakery section – especially if you aren’t sure what to look for on the label. It would be easy to unknowingly buy a treat that isn’t safe.

Or maybe just give up.

As I walked up, she released a loud sigh of frustration and exclaimed into the phone, Why can’t those kids just be normal so I can buy a box of cupcakes“. 

Sigh. Normal? Ugh.

Now what?

I felt my face flush. What ran through my head was to educate her – you know, with strong, emotion-filled, angry words. 

But I could see that type of ‘education’ would not do either of us much good. She was already frustrated, and heaping my anger on top of her anger isn’t likely to produce much understanding.

I’m also not real keen on starting an argument in the bakery section of the grocery store. With my kids.

Plus, here she was, trying to read the labels, and trying to pick something all the kids could enjoy. Despite what she said, her actions were those of someone trying to do the right thing. 

She just didn’t understand why.

She didn’t need anger, she needed grace. So instead of marching up with a lengthy defense of children with food allergies, I walked up, smiled, and pointed at the Nut-Free label. She looked, paused and looked up at me.

Relief. Gratitude.

She told her friend ‘just a minute’ and put her hand over the phone. She whispered ‘Thank you. I have no idea how to make sure what I buy is right or not. Last time it wasn’t. They wouldn’t serve it in class and my daughter didn’t have a treat for her birthday‘.

Wow.

As a food allergy mom, I know all-too-well the disappointment when my child can’t have a treat. This might be the first time I realized it also happens to children without food allergies.

I see how this could cause frustration in parents whose children don’t have an allergy.

Sometimes, as an allergy mom, I just wish other parents could put themselves in my shoes – maybe they’d finally understand what its like.

This time, I put myself in her shoes. There was a time when I knew very little about food allergies and food allergy labeling – before I became an Epi-Pen carrying mom and had to take a crash course in keeping our own child safe. If I had gone to the store with good intentions, it would frustrate me if I still bought the wrong thing. Food labeling even confuses food allergy parents sometimes. If I tried to buy something safe for all the children, I’d be so hurt to hear they didn’t serve it because it still wasn’t safe.

Yeah, that would make me pretty upset. And it would make me easily frustrated the next time I’m in a store, again, trying to do the right thing. Especially if I’m still not sure what to actually buy.

So, as she looked up at me, I smiled back and nodded. I whispered that the frosted Lofthouse cookies that say Nut-Free are always a safe option.

And then I said, Thank you for doing your best to keep children like mine safe.

She smiled back, and then looked slightly embarrassed, probably realizing I overheard her comment. But I chose to give her an encouraging smile, a little wave, and move on.

This encounter wasn’t about me. Or my child. It was about simply doing something small to educate another mom who was actively seeking a way to keep other children safe while giving her child a special birthday. Now she knows a safe option for the future. And she has been thanked by one allergy mom for her efforts.

Are you one of the parents out there who try their best to keep all the kids safe?

Thank you, to each of you, who don’t understand food allergies, but try to buy safe options anyway.

Thank you for trying to learn about food labeling, and for asking questions about what to buy. If you ever have questions about what to buy (or why it matters), I’m happy to help.

Thank you for taking time out of your day to make your best effort with good intentions.

I’m sorry when those good intentions have not been rewarded. Please know they are appreciated nonetheless. 

Thank you for doing your best to keep all of our kids safe. We will happily do the same for you in whatever challenge your child or family may face now and in the future.

As I’ve shared before, it truly does take a village to raise a child with food allergies.

Thank you for doing your best – from this grateful mama to you.