I hope you have had a wonderful April! For me, it’s been a month of celebration, with my best friend and BOTH my parents celebrating big birthdays! But as well as plenty of parties, there have been plenty of lessons out here in Paris. Not always easy lessons, but certainly ever-necessary ones. God chose April 2018 to teach me five key ones… here they are; I hope they bless you too:
1. Your questions won’t always be answered immediately.
We don’t always get immediate answers, but God always knows best. And answers wouldn’t always solve everything or make things any better anyway.
A challenging situation a few months ago left me questioning why it had happened. It had impacted me for years, and I couldn’t figure out why God had allowed it to happen for so long. Often, when we go through difficult periods, the temptation is to either blame God or demand answers to our ‘why’s.
But God showed me through a series of challenging situations that, actually, even the answers to our ‘why’s won’t always cure the pain we’re feeling. Rick Warren, an amazing pastor, once said in a sermon that if his best friend were to pass away, knowing ‘why’ he passed away wouldn’t ease the pain at all.
Contrary to our belief in the moment, we don’t always need to know the answers. And God convicted me that He isn’t obliged to give us answers when we demand them. And if He doesn’t, it’s because He knows best and He desires us to trust that.
If you’re going through a ‘why’ period right now, be comforted that God knows all the answers and that is where they are safest. Knowing why you are going through what you are going through isn’t really the answer to your pain. It won’t make the difficulties any less difficult, or the pain any less piercing. Trusting that God knows best is, honestly, the best cure for heartache.
2. Your upgrades won’t be found within your comfort zone.
Your upgrade is on the other side of your obedience. You can have prayed for something for ages and have had loads of faith throughout that time that you’d get it. But what if the final stretch of receiving the blessing involves letting go of the familiar — and even all that was familiar when you had the faith and were praying for all that time for this blessing? What if the final stretch, the thing that would place the blessing into your hand, meant being placed right outside your comfort zone? You can’t get the upgrade if you’re clinging to what WAS/the familiar. I wonder if sometimes we block our own blessings because we are too friendly with the familiar and too pally with the past.
3. Your difficulties may be a sign of ensuing blessing.
Difficult seasons often precede seasons of the most immense blessing. My testimony in 2017-18 is honestly that if your character is being tested and stretched like never before, chances are God is preparing you for something big and beautiful. He is the source of all good gifts, after all, and He rewards those who diligently seek Him and His will.
4. Your prayers can be bold and faith-filled!
God answers prayers and He is always working. Pray AUDACIOUSLY!!! All too often we are too timid in our prayers and I know I’m guilty of this. God wants us to be BOLD and have FAITH that He can do the ‘exceeding, abundant, above all we can ask or think’ blessings and that He DESIRES to do so in our lives. We struggle to think that applies to us, but that’s a lie of the enemy. God loves boldness—countless times in the Bible, His instructions are ‘be bold’, ‘be strong’, ’take courage’ or ‘do not be afraid’. This applies to our prayer life, too!
5. Your emotions are NOT your master.
Live outside of your emotions. You’ll find immense peace and control when you realise you don’t have to live by how you feel. I’ve been trying to do this more intentionally throughout April, and am on this journey with you! Here is a great sermon by Rick Warren that provides brilliant advice on how to manage your emotions.
See you in May, the final month of my Year Abroad!!!
Photo: Aaron Burden
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