God didn’t say it’d be easy

After spending a week in Trent Vineyard, Nottingham, surrounded by people who love Jesus and hearing their stories of faithfulness despite pain and disappointment I’ve come to understand a bit more how following Christ doesn’t promise being exempt from misery.

I want to start off by saying I don’t believe God gave me my depression, a fallen world did. He is a good Father who adores us and although I suffer he still conducts good works through it. It is easy for us to cry and yell at God for the hurt and pain that we experience from life, we are permitted to do so (Exodus 2:23; Psalm 61:2; Matthew 27:46) – even Jesus cried out to his Father – and he does listen. However, a lot of the time we miss the good that God can do in the midst of despair and pain when we are obedient.

I’m not taking away from the fact that it is not going to be easy, as I have said before God confirms over and over again that we will face trial, tribulation and persecution (Acts; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, James 1:12, Romans 3:3-5). We just have to open our bibles and we see the constant conflict and persecution God’s children went through for years.

Read the story of Moses (Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus and Deuteronomy), it took 10 plagues before Pharaoh let the Israelite’s go (Exodus, 7-11). It took 40 years before the Israelite’s got to the promised land (Joshua 5:6). Moses, a faithful man of God, did not even get to enter this promised land because of disobedience (Numbers 20:10-13, Deuteronomy 34:4-5). Thankfully we have Jesus to thank that we are no longer punished for our sins as Moses was but that is a whole other topic all together. What I wanted to establish with you is that this belief “following Jesus means everything will be good and easy” is false and this is my conclusion after only one story in the bible.

We watch as Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 12 -21) waited 24 years, convinced she is barren, before they receive their promised son. The story of Joseph (Genesis 30-50) follows a similar pattern. Joseph sees two dreams (Genesis 37) as a young man where he declares his brother’s sheaths bow down before his and then that the moon and eleven stars bow down to him. This is followed by years of torture where Joseph is sold into slavery and later lands himself in prison (Genesis 39). By no means did Joseph have it easy but he remained faithful by holding on to the promises God had gave him and by the end of the story we see Joseph rise to power as the dreams God had given him came to pass (Genesis 41:27 – 45:38). In the book of Job, we see Job lose everything (Job 1:13-22) his family, his livestock, his friends and his health (Job 2). He cries out to God in a depressive manner, he can’t see any future in front of him, he begs for death (Job 3) but in all this he still remains faithful to his Father God. In the end God doubles his fortunes but he had to go through the pain of losing everything to gain everything (Job 42:10).

In the new testament, we reach Paul the apostle (Acts and the many letters he wrote e.g. Corinthians, Philippians) a man who faced severe prosecution while preaching the Gospel and still persevered. A man thrown in prison and finally was beheaded for Christ. Even God’s own son faced trials. Jesus faced the rejection of his people (Luke 4:14-30), the shame of carrying his own cross (John 19:17; Matthew 27:32) and the pain of being nailed to the cross (John 19:18; Matthew 27:38). If that doesn’t show hardship well then, I am at a loss.

You see throughout the bible are stories, historical accounts, of the trials faithful women and men faced. This is what gives me strength.

When my depression hits I feel like the Israelite’s in the desert not being able to see the promised land. Through periods of lowness when I am just waiting for something good to happen I feel like Abraham and Sarah waiting for that child. When someone makes a comment (not out of malice but it still hurts) I feel like Joseph who was laughed at by his brothers. I can relate so closely to these biblical heroes because although their life was thousands of years ago we still face the same challenges today.

But as I get to the end of these stories I see the glimmer of hope and how God still used these painful situations. In my own story I have seen the work of God as he allows me to help other people battling the same illnesses by sharing my own story, encouraging people and being able to help people. It doesn’t make it any easier, it doesn’t take away my pain or my feeling of worthlessness or my low self-esteem and every day I still battle with the impact of depression. However, by focusing on his word I can at least bring good in a bad situation.

God didn’t give me the mental illness but he still used it for his good. 

I encourage you; look for the good. Look for the ways you can turn these situations around. Most of all however what I want you to take from this is that you have a Father in heaven  who adores you and is keeping his promises even when we can’t see or feel it.

“… And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” 

Matthew 28:20 

Love,

Hannah xoxo

 

Treat them as Gentiles and Tax collectors

“…let him be to you as a Gentiles and a Tax collector.” Matthew 18:17

I walked out of church this Sunday with a skip in my step all because of this verse.

 

This year has been a battle of forgiveness; learning to forgive myself and others.

Myself, well I found that slightly easier. I was able to write down all the things I needed to forgive myself for and learn to deal with the mistakes head on. I could forgive my flaws because I knew I could fix them and I suppose came to understand God’s forgiveness for me.

Forgiving others; that is another story.

This has been a year of ups and downs as many of you know and within it there has been a lot of relationships hurt and broken. I knew I needed to forgive them and well I was trying, quite a lot. However, something was missing. I was able to forgive them outwardly; I could be civil, have conversations and act like it had all blown over. Inside my thoughts were different. I would remind myself of how I had felt hurt by them and get frustrated at why they didn’t seem to face the music of their own actions.

Really, I was acting forgiveness without actually forgiving.

On Sunday, as the speaker came to his final point he read the verse “…let him be to you as a Gentiles and a Tax collector.” (Matt 18:17). A friend and I turned to each other with raised eyebrows as she said HARSH. To be honest, hearing this at first I had a slight smirk – I thought “knew it, I have the right to feel this way – I can treat them as “gentiles” and “tax collectors”.” The problem, I was thinking of the way the communities treated these people not the way Jesus treats them.

As the speaker continued he brought us to the stories of Jesus’s actions towards these people:

  • Healing the daughter of a Canaanite (Matthew 15:21-28)
  • Heals the Centurion’s servant (Luke 7:1-10; Matthew 8: 5-13)
  • He called a Tax Collector to be his disciple (Matthew 9: 9-12)
  • He asked Zacchaeus (the chief Tax Collector) if he could stay at his house. (Luke 19:1-10)

So what is the common factor in all this stories?!

HE SHOWED THEM LOVE.

I realised, I was missing love. If someone asked me had I forgiven them, easy – the answer was yes. If they asked me whether I loved them. Ha, well that is where the hesitation came. But on realising Jesus showed them love it was a light bulb moment for me and in this same moment I felt I could finally answer the question Yes I did love them. Why? Because I grasped the understanding of Jesus’s love from this one verse. I was now able to say with confidence that I really did love them and know that I didn’t feel the resentfulness or hurt. I was finally able to know that if they came to me with any problem, just general chat or to be friends I could be there without wanting to go through everything that happened. It had all truly passed all because of love.

Later I came to Colossians 3:13-15.

“…forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…”

Which summed up forgiving perfectly.

Forgive

Love

Peace

This sounds like one of those cheesy mems/good quotes but you know what?! It’s true.

We need to forgive with love so we are at peace.

As christian we want to reflect Jesus right? So let’s forgive as God has forgiven.