Helping women live victorious lives in Christ

Posts tagged ‘forgiveness’

Is Mustard Seed Faith Enough?

Many Christians (I’m sure) are familiar with this passage from the book of Hebrews: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1, NASB). Have you ever prayed for something for an extended period of time, but subconsciously given up hope that your prayer would ever be answered?  We say the right words when we pray and we end our prayer with “in Jesus’ name, Amen,” and yet, deep down inside, we just don’t believe that our answer will ever come.  Well, I will confess that I’ve prayed this particular prayer but didn’t believe it would be answered.  Was it because I didn’t believe that God could?  No, to the contrary, as a part of my prayer, I would confess that I knew God was able.  Or, was it because I didn’t have enough faith to truly believe that God would do what He promised?  For me, it was the latter. The fact of the matter is, I’d seen God answer similar prayers for other people (and rejoiced with them when He did), but somehow didn’t think he would answer it for me (although I knew He could).

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Then one day, during my prayer and devotional time, the Holy Spirit convicted me, and showed me that the reason I felt hopeless about my situation was because I was living in unbelief about it.  Once I was convicted, I had to pray for forgiveness and ask God to “help my unbelief,” the same thing a father said to Jesus when he brought his son who was possessed by a spirit to Him asking for help. The father said, “if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” (emphasis mine)  Jesus’ responds this way: “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.”  Immediately, the father was convicted and says: “I do believe; help my unbelief” (be sure to read Mark 9 for the entire story).  After I was convicted, I asked God to help me and give me faith the size of a mustard seed.  Frankly, I felt like I needed to start small in asking for faith in this particular situation (note: my faith has been great in other situations, but not in this one), because I felt just like that father who brought his son to Jesus.  The small amount of faith I began to ask for is mustard seed faith, which really isn’t a whole lot!

As you can see from the picture, a mustard seed is a tiny thing!  So small that it seems to get lost in the palm of a person’s hand.  Is that amount of faith enough? Shouldn’t I have a little bit more than that?  The answer to the question of whether mustard seed faith is enough, based on what Jesus said, is a resounding YES!  He says in Matthew 17:20, “if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” (NASB)

So, I decided to take a small step and confess that I have this much faith that God will answer my prayer.  Yes, I believe this sized faith is enough, and I’m standing on that belief and walking in faith (and not by sight).  My prayer has not yet been answered, but I now have hope about it (something I’d given up on a while ago).

Why am I confessing this to you?  I’m being transparent because someone is experiencing this same thing as we speak!  You’ve prayed and prayed and prayed, the answer hasn’t come, and at some point, you made up in your mind that it would never come.  I want to encourage you to take heart!  Ask God to help your unbelief and give you just a little bit of faith.  Stand on that little bit of faith and watch what God will do!  While you’re waiting for your answer, He’s working on you to make you stronger, wiser and better.

If you can relate to this, feel free to comment and share your thoughts.  I pray God’s blessings on you as He reveals more of Himself to you during this time.

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Dealing with Difficult People

We deal with difficult people on a regular basis…that co-worker who never speaks to you, the church member who never has anything nice to say, or that neighbor who complains about everything and everyone on your block.  We can try not to interact with these people (as much as possible) to not be pulled into their drama. But…what if the difficult person is your life is someone very close you, someone you just can’t avoid?  Are you living with a difficult spouse or child?  What about a close friend?  These are people you just don’t want to write off, but it seems to be getting more and more difficult to deal with them.  I’m experiencing this right now, so let me share with you how I’m trying to deal…

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The first thing to recognize about this difficult person is that he or she is wounded.  Negative things happen to all of us (divorce, job loss, rejection, failure, etc.), but sometimes those negative experiences have a negative effect on a person long after the experience has ended. They haven’t dealt with the hurt or disappointment that came as a result of the past situation, and it’s festering in their minds and souls.  Maybe they were in a previous abusive relationship, and now they don’t trust you in the current relationship. Or maybe they grew up being blamed for everything and now they become very defensive when someone tries to constructively help them.    Knowing what the person has been through helps you to put their behavior in context.  It does NOT excuse their behavior (let me be clear on that), but at least you can understand where the behavior may be coming from.  And knowing their past experiences may help you be more compassionate toward that person.

Then, you should pray for that person.  Prayer will soften your heart toward him or her and help you not become bitter and resentful (the last thing you need is two angry and bitter people trying to be in relationship with one another).  Ask God to heal that person’s brokenness, ask God to help them see how their behavior affects others, and ask God to give you a forgiving spirit as you interact with that person.  Trust that God can transform anyone.  According to 2 Corinthians 3:18, “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”  Pray that God will transform that person to reflect more of God’s image, and in the process, He will also transform you to reflect more of God’s image.

Scripture commands to do this: “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” (Romans 12:18, KJV) Try your best to do your part to live peaceably with the difficult person in your life.  It’s not always easy, but when they lash out at you, try not to lash back (did I say that it’s not easy??)  This doesn’t mean be a doormat, but there is a time and place to address the situation with the difficult person (and the best time is probably not in the middle of a confrontation).  Ask God to give you wisdom to know when to address the issue and the words to say (with the right emotional temperament).

I pray this encourages you, as it reminds me what I need to do in my own situation.  I would love to hear your comments, so please feel free to share your thoughts.

The Freedom of Forgiveness

 

As I begin write this, the entire world is mourning the passing of Nelson Mandela. After months of illness, Mr. Mandela has passed away at age 95. News outlets show picture after picture of Mr. Mandela from his days as an activist against the apartheid regime, to his lengthy imprisonment, to his release from prison in 1990, to the impact he had a president of South Africa, and finally to his days as an elder statesman. Even in old age and illness, there was still something about this man that draws people to him. There was a glow, a light that emanates from his very soul. Where does someone who has suffered immeasurable injustice, not only against him, but all who are like him, get this light, the glow? What is its source?

The answer I believe is the freedom found in forgiveness. Mr. Mandela was someone who chose to forgive those who for decades have wronged him.  He did not seek retribution, and encouraged others to live the same way.  He released those who persecuted him.  And this release brought about his freedom, even while he was still physically in bondage.

Although I’ve never had the opportunity to visit Robbins Island where he was imprisoned for 27 years, I can only imagine what it must have been like to be subjected to such harsh treatment for about a third of his life, the prime years of his life.  But Mr. Mandela made the conscious decision to forgive, the process of which is not easy, and did not allow anger and bitterness to entrap him.  Anger and bitterness are traps that keep one bound and unable to live fully, traps of the enemy of our souls – Satan, traps that the enemy tries to use to prevent you from walking into the calling on your life. 

How could Mr. Mandela display such a beautiful smile, having experienced such a difficult life? How do 95 year old eyes still twinkle? How can joy and peace emanate from someone who has experienced trials many of us will never have to encounter?  Freedom allows joy and peace to shine through a person, without that person having to even say a word. And forgiveness is what brings about this freedom.

The Bible instructs us to forgive as God has forgiven you.  If you have unforgiveness in your heart, go to God’s word and learn what He expects of us regarding forgiveness (Matthew chapter 6:14-15 and Colossians 3:13 are just a few scriptures).  In her book “The Power of Forgiveness,” Joyce Meyer says, “Wounded emotions can become a prison that locks us into our pain and keep others out.” Confess the sin of unforgiveness, then ask God to give you the freedom that comes with forgiveness.  He is standing ready to release you today!  He will do it!