When the World Doesn't Understand

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Hold not thy peace, O God of my praise; For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful are opened against me: they have spoken against me with a lying tongue. They compassed me about also with words of hatred; and fought against me without a cause. . .For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me. I am gone like the shadow when it declineth: I am tossed up and down as the locust. My knees are weak through fasting; and my flesh faileth of fatness. I became also a reproach unto them: when they looked upon me they shaked their heads. Help me, O Lord my God: O save me according to thy mercy: That they may know that this is thy hand; that thou, Lord, hast done it.
— Psalm 109:1-3,22-27

David and I have a lot in common.  He was easily swayed by his emotions as am I.  He messed up in some pretty big ways, and I have too.  He truly wanted to live his life for the Lord, but sometimes his “want to” and his “know how” didn’t see eye to eye.  And, as we see in the passage above, David understood all too well what it was like to do the right thing and be despised for it.  Unfortunately, I now know that pain as well.

In our attempts to find a good home for Barnabas, I thought it would be a good idea to reach out to fellow dog-lovers, particularly those who love pit bulls.  So, I joined a couple of “pit bull lovers”groups on Facebook and described our situation.  I felt if anyone would understand what we’re going through and be able to give helpful advice and suggestions, it would be these people.  Boy, was I wrong!

I cannot even tell you some of the things that were said to me because I do not use such language.  To hear most of the people within these groups talk, I was more evil than Satan himself for even thinking about giving away my dog.  I was ridiculed.  I was called every name under the sun.  Some even stated it would have been better for Barnabas if we had never adopted him because we’re such horrible people.  I was not prepared for such an onslaught of animosity, and my heavy heart could not bear it.  I dropped out the groups, refusing to read another single post.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised.  After all, most of those people probably were not saved, and the world simply cannot understand why any sane person would give up their home, family, and yes, dog, to go to another country to tell others about Jesus.  It doesn’t make sense to them.  In their minds, there’s nothing greater than living the American dream (or the equivalent to that in other countries around the world).  They don’t understand that there’s something out there bigger than themselves and their happiness.  They’ve never tasted the grace of God, so they cannot comprehend why we would give up everything to tell others about it.  To be honest, on my tougher days, I have to remind myself why we’re doing what we’re doing.

But even though I know we’re doing a great work, it’s difficult when others look down on us because of it.  It’s hard to be ridiculed and thought a fool.  It’s discouraging when people demean our efforts to be the best person we can be and accuse us of being cold and uncaring.  Like David, I took my pain to the Lord, and I poured out my heart.  That’s when God directed me to Psalm 109, particularly the last couple of verses.

I will greatly praise the Lord with my mouth; yea, I will praise him among the multitude. For he shall stand at the right hand of the poor, to save him from those that condemn his soul.
— Psalm 109:30-31

No, the world may not understand what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, but God does.  And He will stand by us and save us from those who are condemning us.  He may not shelter us from the insults, but He will give peace and blessed reminders that any work done for Him is a good work and will be rewarded.  We’re not alone.  The world may mock and criticize, but it doesn’t matter what they think.  All that matters is what God says.  And with that in mind, I can worship and praise Him for all He’s done and all He will do.  And then, I can follow God’s leading and help the world to understand, one soul at a time.

Really, God? All Things? -- An Excerpt from Daily Discussions of a Doubting Disciple

This morning, I was chatting with my mom about the process of rehoming our sweet dog, Barnabas. As you can imagine, this has been beyond difficult for Jason and me, and as the time grows closer to say our goodbyes, my heart grows so heavy it feels it will burst. I know this is something we have to do, but I have yet to understand why. Why would God ask so much of us? I didn’t share all of this with my mother, but over the past few weeks, I’ve shared enough with her that she knows how much this hurts us.

As Jason and I headed out to take Barnabas on a hike before the day grew too warm, I received a text message from my mom. It read, “A very wise and talented author has written something that will hlep you as you face this hard choice you know you must soon make. See Daily Discussions of a Doubting Disciple page 79. She can help you.”

For those of you who aren’t aware, Daily Discussions of a Doubting Disciple is the title of one of my books. Yes, my mother used my own words against me. Only, they weren’t really against me. As I read the message within those pages, I realized I already had all the answers I needed. No, I may not understand why God is asking this of us, but I know I can trust that He will work even this for our good. Below you’ll find the devotion I wrote several years ago when facing a similar crisis of faith. I hope it will encourage you as it encouraged me.


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As many of you know, at the early part of last week, I dislocated my shoulder.  I spent the remainder of the week lying on the couch or bed in great pain and doped up on muscle relaxers.  (By the way, I HATE medicine, so the fact that I took so much will tell you how much pain I was in.)  Jason had a very busy week at work, so he wasn't able to help much with housework or other chores, and so I watched, helplessly, as my house (which I had just cleaned) became cluttered with dirty dishes, laundry, and take-out boxes.

When I was coherent enough to think straight, my thoughts consisted mainly of the following:

*My book tour starts on the 22nd, and I'm not ready.  I have interview questions to answer, guest posts to write and publicizing to do.

*I have to march at the college graduation on Friday night.  I need to be well by then.

*Abby's (my niece) play is on Saturday.  I can't miss that.  She's worked so hard, and this year she's actually in the play.  Not to mention, I spent all that time making her costume. 

*My house is falling apart.  I can't stand this mess any longer.  I need to get better.

*The dogs are growing restless.  They haven't been for a walk in a while.  I'd take them if I could, but I can barely make it back and forth to the bathroom.

*I need to prepare my Sunday School lesson and offertory for Sunday.  Offertory?  Can I play the piano at all?  Oh dear!

And on and on the thoughts circled.  Let me tell you, it was more than a little frustrating and depressing.  And yet, all the while, Romans 8:28 kept joining the other thoughts.   And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

"Really?"  I asked.  "What good could possibly come from this?"  But still, the thought would not go away.

It remained with me as my house grew more and more cluttered before my eyes.  It calmed me when my book tour grew closer, and I still found myself unable to concentrate long enough to come up with a coherent sentence.  It encouraged me when I missed graduation and my niece's play.  And it helped me accept the fact that I was going to have to "sit out" from my normal duties at church on Sunday.

I can honestly tell you, now that I'm back on the mend (although I'm not there yet), that I still have no idea what "good" God is working from this past week.  It was painful, exhausting and extremely frustrating.  I began this week still not feeling 100%, yet facing two weeks' worth of work.  Still, the reminder is there.  It whispers to my soul every moment of every hour of every day, "It's good.  It's all good.  It will be good.  You'll see."

I don't know what you may be facing today, but may I remind you of the same.  It's good.  It's all good.  It will be good.  Just keep trusting.  Just keep praying.  And above all, keep going. . .even when the way is unclear and the path seems painful.

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What If He Doesn't? -- A Repost

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Have you ever tried to bargain with God? Have you ever thought or said that if God did something for you, you would serve Him with all your heart? Maybe you requested health or a job or a spouse. In your mind, your happiness depended on getting the thing that you so desired, so you pleaded with God to meet the need.

If you can relate in any way at all, then you are in good company. In Genesis 28, we see Jacob doing a similar thing. After having an extraordinary dream, he wakes and builds an altar to God. On the surface, it seems like Jacob is doing an honorable thing and that his actions display a heartfelt trust in God and a desire to serve. But, if you read his words carefully, you'll see that's not the case at all.

And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God:
— Genesis 28:20-21

Notice his conditional promise to God. He said, "If God does this and that, then He will be my God." But my question for Jacob is this: what if God doesn't? What if God doesn't live up to our expectations? What if He doesn't do things the way we expect Him to? What if He doesn't give us the things we so desire? Will He still be our God?

It's time for us to determine in our hearts that we will serve God no matter what and that we will trust Him no matter what comes. In the good times and the bad, we will glorify Him because He is worthy. Whether He does things the way we want Him to or not, we will still live for Him because, no matter the circumstances, He is God. He always has been and always will be, it's only a matter of whether or not we will acknowledge that fact.

It's easy to serve and obey God when things are going well, and life is rolling along smoothly, but the real test of faith comes when life knocks us flat on our face and threatens to overwhelm us. During those times, is the Lord still our God? Do we still cling to Him and testify of Him? Can we still revel in His goodness even when things don't seem good?

God has promised to meet all of our needs, but He never clarified how or when He would do so. That is entirely up to Him, and our job is to trust and obey. Please don't bargain with God, saying that you'll only serve Him if He does this and that. God doesn't owe us anything. He already paid the ultimate price for our sins so that we could have eternal life. What more do we want? We need to have the attitude of the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace – if God will deliver us, fine, and if not, that's fine too. For God's ways are best, and everything He does for us is above and beyond what we deserve. We are indebted to Him, not the other way around.

Are you willing to serve God no matter what? Let Him know that today!