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Jealousy Loss Perspective Questions Unexplained Waiting

The Green-Eyed Monster

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There have been times that I have found myself thinking, “When will it be my turn?” These kinds of thoughts usually find their way into my mind when someone else has had their breakthrough when I think I am deserving of one as well. To be honest, there have been times I thought I deserved it even more than they did. I’m sure no one else has ever felt this way (queue sarcastic eye roll) but the reality is that we’re sorely tempted to compare our situations with what others are facing and weigh their value on our scale of what is fair.

Books have been written, seminars and conferences dedicated to climbing “the ladder of success.” All of us will, at some point, reach for a goal that often has to do with financial, social, or physical success. We want the promotion, the prestige, new house, car, and to be in the best shape of our lives. It feels great when someone recognizes our efforts or blessings and we feel deflated when others seem to be moving towards success while it seems we are lagging behind.

Why do we engage in this internal competition?

We’re quick to quote Scripture and verse for our own need for encouragement, but loathe to shower on others what we crave for ourselves. The green monster of jealousy, yes it sounds horrible but it is what it is, will find its way into our lives as if by stealth and we may go a long while unaware of its dangerous presence in our lives. The only way to counter jealousy is to sow authentic joy into those who have had a breakthrough.

Acts 20:35, “it’s more blessed to give than to receive” quoted frequently in the sense of giving financial gifts, works not only in our lives when we physically offer a gift to someone – it is equally powerful when we rejoice with those who have come through a situation and seen God work for them.

Years ago when our family was young, we experienced a series of 4 miscarriages after having our first child. For nearly 5 years, we had miscarriage after miscarriage; it was a trying time for us. As have many who have struggled with repetitive miscarriages, I found it difficult to rejoice with other young moms-to-be when they announced their pregnancies. Sometimes I would avoid those situations as much as possible so I could lick my wounds. Understandable as my actions were, they weren’t helping me long-term to heal emotionally. There’s something about sowing into others that births joy and healing to our own wounded and disappointed souls.

As difficult as it was for me to be happy for others, I always felt better when I summoned the courage to do so even though my feelings of grief still lingered. In turn, I reaped the strength I needed and was able to grieve and heal from those losses. My turn did come later and now I find myself a mother of 4 and grandmother of 2. I was reminded of the sting of those years recently when, during our move to Burundi from Malawi in late May this year, a vase I had that had been given to me full of flowers when we lost one of our babies, shattered. I had kept the vase with me everywhere I went; in some way it was a connection to those little ones who never saw one sunrise, and when it shattered, I felt the sting. Memories washed over me for a few hours while I unpacked. Whilst I felt the sorrow of the losses, I felt a greater thanksgiving for God bringing me through those dark days and leading me to one of the greatest lessons of my life – rejoicing with those who rejoice.

God is always looking for what is best for us. He never, yes never, assigns anything to us meant to harm us – no matter how hard it might be in the moment, the end result is good, so good. The green-eyed monster is always looking to raise its ugly head in our lives in order to keep us stagnant, stale, in pain, and broken. So what’s the remedy? Sowing into those around us, then we will discover the real life-changing breakthrough that is not like a momentary blessing of a promotion or even having children (for our kids grow up and move away). The breakthrough God is trying to get us to is one that will have lifelong and even eternal impact, we only must summon the courage and look past our own pain to slay the green-eyed monster.

Romans 12:9-15 NIV Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” 

 

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Faith Fasting Journey Missions New Year Fast Questions The Unexpected

A Zacchaeus Moment

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I have a friend who loves to put puzzles together; she’s amazing. She has the patience to work any puzzle to the end. She will often talk about her puzzles, describing how long she works on them to complete the picture. Every piece is studied and put aside on the table – to be used when it fits in its rightful place. Oftentimes those pieces won’t fit for days or weeks as other pieces have to be fit first. In due time, the puzzle is completed and every piece in place.

I’ve had things happen to me in life that I couldn’t explain and there are still some things I can’t explain; they still don’t have a place to fit into in my life. So, those pieces just sit out on the periphery of the puzzle, waiting to be fit at the right moment. They are prepared for the time they will be needed. Yet, until that moment comes, those pieces won’t make sense. Like my friend, they have to sit on the side of the puzzle table until they fit.

Jesus went to a city called Jericho (Luke 19:1-10) and in that city, there was a man named Zacchaeus. I remember being a young child in Sunday School singing, “Zacchaeus was a wee little man, a wee little man was he! He climbed up in a sycamore tree the Lord he wanted to see!” The problem Zacchaeus had was greater than his lack of height; he was a tax collector and leaping over his despised status among his countrymen was no small task (pun not intended).

How was this short man, who no one wanted to help (really, even today who wants to help a tax collector?), supposed to get a glimpse of the Lord Jesus as He passed by? He didn’t even consider that Jesus would stop to change his life forever – that would be impossible for he was nothing but despised by all who surrounded him. Why would Jesus consider stopping for him? However, Zacchaeus did hope to at least get a glimpse of the Lord as he passed through the city.

If you read Luke 19:1-10, you’ll see that Zacchaeus climbed a tree to see Jesus as he was quite short – he needed a boost. Sitting in the tree, Jesus drew near to him and engaged him in conversation and from that point on, Zacchaeus’ life was forever changed. He restored money to those he had stolen from, his character changed from the inside out.

But have you ever considered that long before Zacchaeus climbed the tree, God planted it to meet his need? He placed a piece of the puzzle in the right place so at the right time, Zacchaeus would encounter Jesus. Until that time, it was a random tree that at best offered shade for weary travelers on warm summer days. It wasn’t until Jesus walked through Jericho and met Zacchaeus that the real purpose of the tree was revealed: it was meant to bring Zacchaeus closer to Jesus.

I imagine Zacchaeus had no intention of even speaking with Jesus and might have even scurried off in fear had Jesus begun walking towards him. In the tree, Zacchaeus was cornered on his branch. He had nowhere to hide.

There are pieces of the puzzle that will fit into our lives just at the moment they are designed to fit; we simply need to leave the pieces alone until the Zacchaeus moment arrives.

It will fit perfectly.

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Psalm 18:30 NLT “God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to Him for protection.”

 

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Waiting

Hopeless!

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It’s hopeless!

How many times have you heard yourself say something is “hopeless”?

Since it has been said that confession is good for the soul, I confess that I’ve fallen into that trap of believing and declaring a situation to be “hopeless.” There have been times in life that I have felt utterly and completely down and out and wanted to throw in the towel.

If you’ve ever dabbled in learning a foreign language you know what I mean. No amount of listening to audio recordings or studying a book can magically plant a new language into your mouth. It takes hard work that, for a time, doesn’t seem to pay off. Day in, day out, week in, week out, month in, month out, it seems no progress has been made in your valiant attempt to learn and understand a new language.

I remember each time I’ve studied a language, there were months of “I don’t get it” before something clicked. The first language we learned in 1987 was Swahili and my “aha moment” took longer to come than with subsequent languages I have learned. I had almost given up at one point when, while I was in the market frantically flipping through the pages in my dictionary in another attempt to find a word for “banana.” I had flipped through my dictionary each time I had gone to the market to find the word for banana. In effect, I had tried to say banana “bunches” of times! (Ok, there’s my attempt at a play on words…) My dictionary was worn, why wouldn’t “banana” come out of my mouth after having studied it, said it, written it, and looked for it in my dictionary so many times?

Tears stung the backs of my eyes in embarrassment as the ladies in the market, who knew me after several months of my visiting them, chuckled at my forgetfulness. Banana, banana, banana… Suddenly, through the tears and chuckles of onlookers a word came to my mind: “ndizi.” My “aha” moment! And the words for “I want” accompanied it! “Nataka!” I said, “Nataka ndizi!” How many times I said it I don’t know. A personal victory!!! I ran home with smiles and lots of ndizi!

When we surrender our lives to God, the good news is that nothing is hopeless nor are we helpless.

Romans 4:18 ESV “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed.”

Living as children of God means living in His hope – and this hope we live in isn’t like the hope we have when trying out a new cake recipe, “I hope this works!”

There are times when things don’t work as we have foreseen; things turn out very differently. However, in the grand scheme of things, God has a plan in mind. What Satan throws our way to destroy us, God turns around and we ultimately have that “aha moment” when we understand more was at stake than learning how to say “banana.”

It may seem to you today that all hope is lost, 2016 was a difficult year and you have little hope that 2017 will be any better. Let me encourage you, all is not lost. Take what little hope you have and grab your Book of meanings, the Bible, and keep on studying it. One day the answer will dawn – and you’ll go running home, arms full of blessings.

“Faith is to believe what you do not yet see; the reward for this faith is to see what you believe.” Augustine