When Circumstances Overwhelm Us

I have friends in Houston, Texas, and surrounding towns—you may also—who are experiencing the rains and winds of Hurricane Harvey’s lingering effects. For all that can be predicted, they know they have to wait and then live through what actually comes. And that’s hard. At the same time, all other challenging matters of life haven’t evaporated. For the moment, they may shrink in comparison, but they’re still there.

You know what I mean. A new trial develops, yet the other hard things remain, too. We press on, hanging in there, until sometimes we wear down, fall apart, cry, pray, vent, and try our best to keep praying—to keep holding on to the One who holds us and holds all creation.

“I have been pouring out my soul before the LORD . . . speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.” (1 Samuel 1.15b-16)

All week I’ve been planted in this passage in 1 Samuel 1.1-20, where God unfolds how Hannah perseveres in faith and how he attends her heart through her circumstances. Hannah prays for years to conceive a child, plus her husband’s other wife regularly provokes her that she’s born multiple children. One big trial compounded by another—Can you relate?

Hannah is “deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly.” (v.10)

Anxiety, worry, pain, and frustration accompany Hannah’s heart. Yet, the Companion whose company she steadfastly chooses is her LORD. She takes her experiences and feelings to God, not holding back. She unloads every aspect of her burden, letting tears wash her empty.

This is intimacy with God. Raw and honest, yet worshipful. God is Hannah’s heavenly Father and Lord.

“Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.” (v.18b)

Her face was no longer sad. She went “her way,” back to the circumstances that currently define her life. Yet, she went changed—changed by her encounter with the living God. Changed by his love that filled all places in her heart when she emptied all that burdened her. She “went” with God, with His peace that passes all understanding.

Hannah’s no-longer-sad face reflects a heart that has overcome the overwhelm of circumstances in the power of God’s love. She trusts God—that He sees, listens, holds, and loves her through all circumstance.

Dear God,
Thank you for sharing a segment of Hannah’s life and relationship with us. Help us seek to know you more as our Father and Lord, who loves us immeasurably. Teach and prompt us to steadfastly walk with You through all circumstances. Amen.

Dealing with Roadblocks

Last Saturday my friend Libby and I hopped in the car and headed to her church. Boxes of my books were in the backseat, and I was looking forward to speaking and sharing Becoming A Peaceful Mom. She was eager to gather with the others who helped organize the event to finish last-minute details. Excitement and anticipation for what the Lord had in store filled our hearts.

And then we saw the roadblock. Today was the “Mutt Strutt”, an event that draws hundreds of people and their dogs. We drove up to the police officer and asked if we could pass through somehow . . . No. We asked him about other street approaches to get to the church  . . . All have roadblocks in place. We explained about the event and how others would soon be driving up . . . I’m sorry. Of course, we had to see for ourselves, so we dashed around. All were blocked.

At the first roadblock, our frustration took form with self-determination to find a way to the church. We could not change the circumstance. We sighed a lot 🙂 and just maybe I went around one roadblock to park the car. And we prayed—We vented our questions, Lord, how do we get there? How is everyone else going to get there? How are we going to get these boxes up that hill that’s a couple of blocks away?  . . . Then our prayer shifted—God, you’re so much bigger than this. You have the way through. Show us what to do.

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41.10)

How you ever noticed that God’s help doesn’t always look the way we think it should? Libby jogged up the hill while making calls and soon walked back down toward me with a plan. We grabbed as many books as we could carry and began to walk uphill. Uphill among the walkers and dogs. . . Did I mention it was really humid?

(One of the walkers who offered to help carry books.)

As we panted, laughed, and our clothes began to stick to our backs, we praised God that he is good and is not surprised by any of this. We prayed that each woman who was trying to come would not be hindered by the roadblocks.

We got to the church, as did the rest of the team, 15 minutes before the event was to begin. We were sticky, dashing around, focused. And then the women began to arrive. God filled the newly accessible parking lot and then some. Mostly, He filled out hearts.

Do you ever feel hindered by a roadblock?  Or one roadblock after another seems to clutter your path?

No roadblock prevents God from fulfilling his plan.  Ever.

He goes before you and before your child. He walks with you. He leads with a plan, and hopes we seek him and then follow him.

Whatever you face, face it with God. Invite him in to the circumstance. Invite him to lead. Unload your worries and be filled with His peace. No matter how weak in faith or overwhelmed you feel, praise him for he is our faithful God.

Making the Most of Meanwhile

DSC01012Don’t you love to hear a good story unfold? You know, the kind that has phrases like:

“and she had no idea that 2 weeks ago he…”
“no one knew that all along her boss had quietly initiated…”
“to everyone’s surprise, they had been planning this for months…”
“that single experience was the quiet catalyst that would eventually…”

Circumstances and conversations…pieces and parts occurring, often unknown to us, over time in various settings. Culminating to “What a story!”

This summer I’ve been studying 1 and 2 Chronicles. It is story – true and relative, history. If you haven’t read it, I hope you do! A couple of weeks ago, one word in a story held my focus:

MEANWHILE

DSC01013I thought about my life and each of our kid’s lives.  I can never know all the moving parts. The condition of each heart. The impact of words or circumstance. Decisions in process. Timing. The response or reaction of all who make up “other”. The outcome.

I’ve certainly tried. Exhausting myself analyzing, re-analyzing, then analyzing and re-analying with others. I cringe when I think of the hours I’ve wasted.

In 2 Chronicles, Chapter 20, King Jehoshaphat, learning that a huge army is going to attack his kingdom, is afraid. He “set his face to seek the LORD” and prayed, “For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (v.12) He also called all his people to seek the Lord… “MEANWHILE all Judah stood before the LORD, with their little ones, their wives, and their children. And the Spirit of the LORD came…”

I don’t know how long this season was, but I can imagine the fear. Desperate, they grew dependent. Desperate, they grew faithful. In the “meanwhile” of their circumstance, they prayed. Men, women, children and moms “with their little ones”.

DSC01011Do you ever feel powerless? Overwhelmed? Does your child?

Make the most of every MEANWHILE.  Pray. Ask others to pray, to intercede to God on your behalf.

No matter your child’s age, lead them toward prayer. Toward talking to God.
Pray over them, gently and briefly. Offer to pray with them. Silently, pray for them. Direct and encourage them to pray for others and their circumstance. Pray as a family. Pray aloud, so that your children hear and see how spontaneous, simple and significant talking to God can be.

Pray that your children will pray.

We have a lot of “meanwhiles” in life. Our children will, too.
Waiting seasons, challenging relationships, difficult decisions, hard circumstances…

The rest of the story (Chapter 20) is amazing, a testimony to the sovereignty of God – the One who knows all the moving parts, knows the condition of every heart, knows the impact of all words and circumstances, knows every decision that’s in process and knows timing because He reigns over it . 

Our “meanwhiles” and our children’s “meanwhiles” can bear testimony to the faithfulness of God and how intimately He yearns for us to participate with Him in His larger-than-what-we-can-see plan.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll share some “meanwhiles”. What have some of yours been? I’d love to read them.