A Deeper Cure for the Brokenhearted

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We all have heard the saying, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” And we all nod because it is true.

But how can we be kind and help those around us who are facing hard battles?

How we answer to this question is important, but more important is how we act on the answer we give.

In a day in which relativism has crept into our Christian thinking more that we would want to admit, it is important to keep coming back to the Scriptures, and dig in there to prove what is true and act on that. It is important to remind ourselves each day  that the only way to effectively help someone (including ourselves!) who is fighting a battle against her own flesh, thoughts, and emotions is to give them the hope that is only found in Christ.

If you are a Christian woman I am sure you would agree with the statement above. Yes, yes, we all say, Christ is the answer. Solus Christus. From beginning to end, from top to bottom, in and out, always: Christ alone.

But the way we flesh out this answer is another different thing.

The world has many options to offer us as a cure for the pain that the battles we face bring to us. The cabinet of solutions to our anxiety, fear, depression (depression in teens, depression in postpartum women, depression in mid-age women, depression when we get our period, and depression when our periods cease), bad moods, moods that swing and moods that hurt others include breathing exercises, yoga poses, candlelight, silence retreats, quiet spaces, eat-this-food but this-food-not regimes, and all sorts of oils applied in all sorts of ways.

Why do many Christian women feel so tempted to open this cabinet and take one or two of these cures to offer to their hurting friend when we all have agreed to believe that the more potent, the true and deeper cure to our pain is found in Christ alone?

Friends, the way to be kind to those fighting a hard battle is to open the Word in front of them and give them true hope. Hope anchored in that which is not perishable, hope anchored in the words breathed out by God.

One way to see if we actually believe what we say is to listen to the words we say,  and pay attention to the solutions we think of first.

If my friend is struggling with mood swings, what is the first thing I think of? “Oh, I am going to recommend to her this breathing exercise, this oil, this ________” Or,  “Oh, I am going to message her every morning a verse of the Scripture to remind her that in Christ self-dominion is possible, that in Christ we are not slaves to our hormones. That because of the finished work of Christ we have been promised victory over our flesh.”

Or what if you meet a person who is not a believer and she shares with you all about her battles and emotional pain she is going through, what is the first thing you do? Recommend her this new diet, this new oil, this new ________? Or since you know that the heart of the problem needs a deeper solution you share the gospel with her?

We must fear the Lord and recognize that when we offer those hurting a cure for their emotional and spiritual pain outside the gospel, we are offering them something that might actually draw them away from God and the true hope which is found in Him.

Why would they need Christ to be joyful if they can find joy in exercising and burning their pain away at the gym?

Why would they need the Gospel to fight against mood changes if they can stop eating this and start eating that to find hormonal balance?

Why would they need to read and pray and mediate on the Word of God if they can cope with their fears and anxieties with an oil?

Our Creator, the One who made us, who knows each one of our cells and molecules and  dancing hormones, who knows the depth of our thoughts and the marrow of our souls, the One who knows the number of our hairs and has collected each one of our tears in a bottle, the One who doesn’t sleep and sees us tossing around at midnight and intercedes for us. The Almighty God who has called us by name and has become our Redeemer, has spoken words to heal our deepest hurts and satisfy our longings and give us life and hope that never fades.

In Isaiah there is a wonderful verse (50:4) that points us to Christ, and tells us that He will have words to sustain those who are weary.  The Prophet continues, and in different places he keeps pointing us to Jesus, our comforter. It is only the Lord who can make the wilderness like Eden and the desert like the gardens of God. He alone can bring joy and gladness and a heart full of thanksgiving to the one whose heart is now hard and dry and bitter (51:3). Only in Jesus’ words can we find everlasting joy and gladness because His words are our medicine (Is. 51:11, Prov 4:20-22).

Many of our anxious thoughts and fears are rooted in our sinful thoughts and habits, so only God’s forgiveness will set us free and bring true healing to our hearts. Nothing else will. Many things can apparently cover the symptoms for a season, but the pain, the heaviness of spirit, the discontentment, will always come back until we fall on our knees and repent and believe.

David knew this. He said,

“Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s”

(Psalm 103 ESV)

Nothing else. Just the goodness of the Lord and His Words coming like the rain will heal our weary souls and renew our strength.

And this other verse from Psalm 119 is encouraging too,

“I am severely afflicted,
give me life, O Lord, according to your word!” (v.107 ESV)

Can you imagine the pain the Psalmist was experiencing at the time he wrote this? And where does he turn for help? When he was severely afflicted, he knew better than to try to look for help in vain things for help, he turned to God and God alone. How we all need to believe in the Word in such a way that we would immediately turn to it when our hearts are in sorrow.

Friends, “the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning, His faithfulness is great” (Lam.3)  We can come, dearest Sisters, to the Father in the name of Jesus and say, “The Lord is my portion, therefore I will hope in Him.” (Lam 3). If we place our hope in anything else than the finished work of Christ, the Lord himself will shatter it to pieces because He is a jealous God who wants His children to put their hope in Him alone.

Along with the Psalms, the epistle of 1 Peter is a wonderful read to help us build our hope in God. Consider these verses, for example (and then go read the whole epistle)  (emphasis mine):

“Blessed be the Lord and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ…”

“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

“He [Jesus] was  foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”

Let’s pray that the Lord will enlighten the eyes of our hearts that we may be able to see, to know what is the hope to which He has called us, and what are the riches of his glorious inheritance, and what is the immeasurable power toward us who believe in Him… (Ephesians 1: 15-23)

How we also need to understand the importance of praying earnestly for one another when we go through different trials. How we need to pray that the Lord will give us and our brothers and sisters spiritual strength to persevere,  and how we need to remind each other that “God is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power at work with us.” (Eph 3:20-21)

Do we really believe that the Spirit can help us in our weaknesses? Do we believe with our flesh and blood that God who did not spare His own Son, but gave him up for us all,  will also give us graciously with Jesus all things we need? (see Romans 8)

May we grow in our faith to a point in which it can be said of us what was said of Abraham,  in hope she believed against hope, she saw her weak body, and yet her faith did not weaken. No unbelief made her waver concerning the promises of God she knew well because she was in the Word always. She saw her weakness but her faith grew stronger because in all she did she gave glory to God and did not let unbelief take root in her heart. She was always convinced that God was able to do what He had promised. (Read Romans 5:13-25)

The only true safe place for us to be is before the throne of the Father in the name of Jesus. There we will always find “mercy and grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:14-16)

Under His sun and by grace,

Becky

Are we Busy or Distracted?

Christ in the House of Martha and Mary by Diego Rodriguez DaSilva y Velázquez

 

“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”” Luke 10: 38-42

Wait. Read that passage again. Two more times, maybe?

I have been mediating on this passage and it came to my attention that Martha’s problem was not necessarily being busy, it was something else.

Martha was busy at her home, and she understood that hospitality is a big word that implies big work. She got that part and that is good. But keep reading. Her problem was not that she was busy doing what needed to be done, hers was a heart problem that is seen as follows:

1. Martha was distracted by much serving. Much serving was not the problem, having a house full of guests, or littles at home to feed or grown-ups to listen to, or having to make extra soup for a friend in need, or classes and papers to grade, and doctors’ appointments to make, and laundry and exams, and a husband to embrace and a friend in need to listen to are not the real problem. The problem is how that busyness, how that much serving can distract our hearts and draw our attention to something else that will destroy our relationship with God and others.

Jeremiah Burroughs in his book, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, says that Christian contentment is “opposed to an unsettled and unstable spirit, whereby the heart is distracted from the present duty that God requires in our several relationships towards God, ourselves and others.

This is exactly what I see in the passage. Martha’s heart got distracted and her heart became unsettled and unstable. Instead of looking at Jesus, the object of her service, she looked at herself and in turn, her eyes veered to her sister in comparison.

2.  Notice that after Martha’s heart is distracted, she turns to Jesus, but not to listen to Him. He looks to Him in order to complain. How could He have missed the fact that she was doing more than Mary? How could He not see her diligent service and her sister’s poor attitude towards their duties?

Jesus’ answer goes directly to the heart of the matter. He does not address the “how-much-I-am-doing vs. the-how-much-she-is-not-doing” argument (that we moms have heard from our children too often, just like our Heavenly Father has heard from his children more than often!). Martha’s problem was anxiousness, a troubled heart -not busy hands, and also the fact that she started comparing herself with her own sister. She wanted Jesus to make her an example before Mary. Martha clearly had not learned contentment in the midst of a busy day.

Again we read Jeremiah Burroughs’ wise words: “[Christan contentment] is opposed to murmuring and repining at the hand of God…” and “Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious, frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.”

How challenging and fitting it is for us to read this passage. Many of us are in a season in which our lives are full, trying to do less is what we dream of, but in reality we just can’t.  But we can do one important thing: check the attitude of our heart in the midst of all those busy moments. In doing so, we will be choosing “the good portion” that Jesus wants us to choose.

So let’s check our own heart: Am I continually and quietly murmuring and complaining -even in prayer? Is it my tendency to be distracted in my heart only to find myself comparing my days with those of my neighbor? Can I see my present condition and my hands full, and praise God and see Him and listen to Him as I come and go? Or am I using this busy season in my life only as an excuse to not come to Jesus to worship Him?

“A Christian knows that he should not be diverted by small matters, but should answer every distraction, and resist every temptation.” Jeremiah Burroughs.

Grace upon grace,

Becky

>When the Sound of the Bagpipes Made Me Cry

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This story started six months ago, when our son started to learn how to play the chanter (the instrument you first need to learn how to play before start playing the bagpipes). He was very diligent, every day we would hear him making music, and we’d smile. He has making such a big progress. So one day, dad bought him the real thing: professional bagpipes. His instrument traveled many, many miles. It made it home, however,  a piece was broken, so our son had to wait few more weeks until the replacement came.

He still spent many hours behind the chanter. He really wanted to be ready to play among his friends at the End of the Year Gathering in PA.

The bagpipes were ready only a week before our trip. Four hours a day seemed not to be enough to practice, but we were all surprised. It sounded beautiful! The night before our trip, he calls me, and plays for me, I smiled and breathed thanks. He felt he was ready, he would definitely bring his pipes to the trip. His dream was about to come true.

To our surprise, on the first checkpoint at the airport in Mexico, they wouldn’t let him bring his pipes on board, and we did not have enough time to check them in; so we just handed them to our friends who (thank God!) were still waving us good-bye from the other side of the checkpoint.

I cried and my son hugged me. We just couldn’t believe it… all those hours, all those dreams. For a moment I almost forgot that I am living in the Sacred.

My Beloved held my hand, and said to me “This is God dealing with our son. He has a plan.”

We made it to the EOTYG safely, we even tried to forget about it. We were with our beloved friends, and we had so many reasons to be happy and grateful.

Until one evening, in the lobby of our hotel, we had the privilege to meet a wonderful family, whose son also played the bagpipes and had brought them with him.  We smiled, and of course, shared our story with them.

Few days later, on the open mic night, all of a sudden, with out expecting it, our son had some bagpipes in hand and started to play. I turned around and looked into the eyes of the mom whose son had brought bagpipes. We were both crying, while our sons were smiling.

This was God dealing with my son’s heart. He had a plan, a lesson to teach him and I was just an spectator.

Moments like this, help us see that at the end it is God who deals personally with each one of our children. At the end of the day, it will be Him and each one of our children alone. We watch as spectators, and give thanks.

It is in moments like this that we are reminded that God is sovereign over all things.  That we are living under His sun and by His grace.

Becky

>We All Are Clay Vases

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Katie Lloyd Photography*





The church building’s doors were wide opened, and as we got in,  people came to us and gave us a warm welcome. Some faces we only get to see once a year, so we hugged hard;  some other faces were new, and touched our lives profoundly.


My little one held my hand hard and her eyes were all filled with tears as she saw in the row in front of us a beautiful family,  a family that taught me more than all the words that were spoken from the pulpit. Six biological children and one little adopted girl (from about 2 years old to 10); only one of the children had both arms; most had none. 


Seeing them broke my heart to pieces. You know how I have been reading about suffering, affliction, trials; how I have been memorizing the Word and mediating on James’ and Paul’s words to the church (in the epistle to the Philippians) concerning affliction. But suddenly, I had a living epistle in front of me.  A father kneeling low to hug his son and whisper with him the Catechism; a little boy holding the  hymn book with his only minuscule arm for his sister who had no arms. Mom was holding her precious Chinese girl (of about 2 years old) as she praised God, and kissed her lips. Smiles were exchanged between all the family members at all times. It was clear that even though they could not hug each other, they had learned to love with their eyes, in a deep and beautiful way. After the Lord’s Supper, mom and dad sat together, he whispered something to his wife’s ear and they smiled with their eyes closed and tenderly he embraced her.


As the church service was dismissed, they turned to us and gave us a warm welcome. What a beautiful smile this young mom had, and it surprised me that after crossing a few words she said she was sorry that they had to leave to some other state in the middle of the week, because they would have loved to host us for dinner! 


We all are clay vases, all different, all made with different purposes. Some are strong, some are weak, some are fragile, and some others, some that may seem to be broken and the world might despise are full of fresh water. These vases are chosen by God to teach us a lesson. I pray I  will not miss learning it.


Today I am grateful for the Maker of vases that can hold His grace. 




Becky 






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*Thanks to Katie Lloyd for granting me permission to use her image. 
You can always buy her prints here.

>Learning Contentment, Day by Day -part five-

>My thoughts and notes on the book, The Art of Divine Contentment by the Puritan author, Thomas Watson.

Thank you for joining me on this journey…

The book is over, my life goes on.

I pray that God will find me always content.

Never wanting more…
Always longing for Him.
Never complaining…
Always satisfied in Him.

Other Posts in this series:

The School of Contentment -part one-
Learning Contentment -part two-
Divine Contentment -part three-
Contentment, Be Welcome -part four-

>Contentment…Be Welcome -part four-

>I am enjoying reading and doing some notes in my red art  book…

The book which I have been studying is “The Art of Divine Contentment”, by Thomas Watson.

Chapters  12 and 13

God willing, I will be here tomorrow, to share His goodness, His teaching…

Other posts in this series:

The School of Contentment -part one-
Learning Contentment -part two-
Divine Contentment -part three-