"Do I Trust You God?" #livelikeWill

The sadness hovering over our community this week has been debilitating to me personally.  The death of Will McKamey has dominated my mind and prayers. This beautiful young man was the type of kid the world needs more of.  Just doesn’t seem fair does it?  It’s just not the natural order of life to loose a young man with so much promise and goodness.

I have wrestled with so many questions this week.  Why things happen…tragedy, heartache, sickness and trials? 

The devil always throws a few more jabs when we’re discouraged……my husband had testing this week  revealing troublesome health issues.  Waiting with my husband in recovery as he slept……. I was miserable in spirit and I just found myself asking GOD….do I really trust you?

These are hard days Lord…..do I really trust you?

This life stinks Lord….do I really trust you?

It’s so hard to pray when discouragement bares down hard and you wrestle with life and death issues.

Getting down in the pit and rolling around in the discouragement is exactly what the enemy wants us to do because it throws us off our game…..focus….. and mission.  I’m sad to say I fell straight into the enemies snare.

I am amazed at the faith of the McKamey family……rejoicing in grief…..because they know where Will is.  I honestly don’t know what I would do in their situation?   I think back to the time my own son collapsed on the track after winning a regional meet.  It was his senior year and he had just won the KIL county championship the previous week.  He was preparing for his fourth visit to state, predicted to win it all in his division.

Doctor’s told us he had swelling on the brain from a bleed.  The swelling caused seizures and unconsciousness.  We were stricken with fear….I was numb.  He was a week away from graduating, we didn’t know if he would be able to walk across stage.  Diagnosed with a weak, leaking vascular angioma in the left frontal lobe of his brain, we were told surgery was too dangerous…..the risk for stroke too great…..and just like that…the scholarships were gone…..the athletic career ended …..it was over for our seventeen year old ambitious son. 

When I heard Will collapsed last Saturday morning, I immediately told my husband.  We stopped and prayed for him right then…..we knew what this family was going through.  My heart just ached for them.  I am still aching although I cannot understand the grief they are now in.  My son couldn’t compete anymore….their son is now in heaven……I can’t really relate to their loss.

How does a family go on in the face of tragedy?

How do we cope in times of hardship and discouragement?

Everywhere I have turned this week I have been reminded of the scripture in Isaiah 40. This precious chapter holds several of my favorite reminders that give me hope and remind me who GOD really is.

In verse 11 it says…….

          Like a shepherd HE will tend HIS flock, in HIS arm HE will gather the lambs…..And
         carry them in HIS bosom;  HE will gently lead the nursing ewes.

HE is our shepherd in all the seasons of life…..and death.   The shepherd keeps us from straying….in our deeds and thoughts.  Sheep are prone to stray, they are easily confused and frightened……. they are totally dependent on the shepherd for protection and guidance.  They listen to their shepherds voice and follow him…..they don’t lead……they follow.

If we know JESUS as our SAVIOR…..HE is our good shepherd…..and we can totally be dependent on HIM.  HIS voice won’t lead us astray.

In verse 18 it says………

             To whom then will you liken GOD?  Or what likeness will you compare with HIM?
             
Who in your life has been everything for you?  Man will let you down….even family…spouses….but GOD will never let you down.  Who in your life can compare with GOD?  There is nobody in my life that can restore me….heal me…..replenish me…..comfort me….. only GOD has done these things for me……nobody compares with my GOD.

Verse 26 reminds us that HE is our creator…….

 “Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these stars, The One who leads forth their host by number, HE calls them all by name;  Because of the greatness of HIS might and the strength of HIS power, not one of them is missing.”

HE hung the stars, HE calls them all by name, HE knows exactly where each one should be, they don’t go missing.  HE knows and calls us by our name…..HE knit us in our mother’s womb…..we are not invisible to HIM….therefore; HE tends to our needs….our broken hearts….our souls…..HE sees us. 

The scripture goes on to say………

 “HE gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might HE increases power.  Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly……Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.”

So here we are LORD…..we are weary.  Weary to the point that we lack might……so we wait for you LORD.  We wait for new strength…..we wait until you take our weariness away.  We need our good shepherd to keep us from going astray in our grief and discouragement…..we need you to call us by name and tend to our hurting hearts.

Who else can we trust?

Who else has been faithful the way our LORD has?

Only HE can be ALL and EVERYTHING to us.

Only HE can give peace to the McKamey family….only HE can give them a portion of healing to sustain them in the days to come…..

Only GOD can be their ALL and EVERYTHING.

No man or earthy thing can comfort them like our GOD can.

I honestly don’t know how people make it without JESUS?  How do they cope?  Who gives them peace and joy in tribulation?

I can’t function without my JESUS…..

We will experience hardship, loss, and pain in this life but the only one who can sustain us is JESUS.

JESUS is the only one we can trust.

Will McKamey’s life is powerful evidence of his trust in JESUS as well…….he knew him……he relied on him……he had felt his healing power before…….and now he is basking in his SAVIOR’S presence.

Tell me friends…….who do you trust?

 #livelikeWill

                               http://www.wate.com/story/19991699/will-mckamey-folo

          https://www.facebook.com/pages/Prayers-for-Navy-Will-Family-The-McKameys/289915881162967

"Anybody giving you a hard time?" How do you handle oppression….or are you the oppressor?

Anybody giving you a hard time?  Are you being held back in using your talents?  Is there someone who blatantly ridicules or picks on you? Are you left out of invites or projects on purpose?   Do you know of a few who enjoy to gossip about you?  Has someone hurt a loved one as a indirect offense to you?  Are you being bullied professionally or emotionally?  Is there a person that manipulates you to their benefit?

I have experienced just about all of these scenarios and have sat on the sideline, grimacing as my family and friends trudge through these dark valleys.   All of these situations and more are sure examples of oppression….so… what exactly is oppression? 

Webster’s Dictionary states oppression as…..

      “An unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power; a sense of being weighed down in body
        or mind.” 

Encarta Dictionary states oppression as……

     “To subject a person or people to harsh or a cruel form of domination;  to inflict stress on;
        or to be a source of worry, stress or trouble to somebody.”

“To be a source of worry, stress or trouble to somebody”….gosh that one really resonates with me….how about you?  I can also relate to the “unjust exercise of authority or power”……can I get an “amen” on this one?

Being the english, wordsmith, geek I am….I also looked up terms for oppression in the Thesaurus. Here are just a few…….”Persecution, discrimination, maltreatment, annoyance, intimidation, harassment, tyranny, torment, cruelty, torture, hassle, irritate.”

Ah…..there’s the words that can really resonate with a Christian.

Regardless of what form you have experienced oppression….it is important to remember when you are experiencing the circumstances listed above…..

 We wrestle not against flesh and blood (which is the authority, or the co-worker, the friend, classmate, church acquaintance, boss, spouse, neighbor afflicting us) but against the rulers, against authorities, against the world powers of the darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.”      Ephesians 6:12

You see….even though it is a person in bodily form that is afflicting you….they are being used as a tool of satan to oppress you….to discourage you….to keep you down.  Ironically….they are being abused by satan to either accomplish their own plans or they are blinded to their role in the scenario.

And…yes….they obviously have problems if they are causing you emotional suffering….for whatever reason….perhaps jealousy, or malice, selfishness or just plain evilness…. but they are being used in a grander scheme they have no knowledge of.

We’ll take more about how to handle these people and circumstances in a moment….but just humor me for a moment as I ask some hard questions.  

I would hate to come face to face with the realization that ugly feelings in my heart were being used of satan to oppress someone else….wouldn’t you?

It’s really hard to get honest with GOD and say….”Okay GOD….I don’t want to be around that new girl at church….why?   Or….GOD….why does this person make me act rude or impatient?  Or GOD why do I withhold love or good from this person?   Why do I not want to invite this person to serve on a committee or to my social gatherings?”

Or do I form assumptions based on another person’s opinion that causes me to treat that person different?  Well that’s not fair is it?  Who wants to be judged by someone else’s flawed opinion?  I certainly don’t because there is always two sides to every story and unless you are in the middle of it….you are probably not going to know everything. 

These are hard questions we must ask in order to be right with GOD. The devil’s playground in a church, job or any social setting is relationships.  He loves to whisper all those ugly things in our ears causing us to oppress, ignore, disassociate, and treat others poorly. Maybe we covet their blessings, or feel threatened by their skills?  Perhaps we feel inferior….or we’re just plain selfish and have our own agendas?

I encourage you to ask these hard questions if there is someone in your life you make a point to keep out of your group, business or ministry….because deep down….there is a reason and GOD will reveal it if we truly seek to be right with HIM.  Or maybe you know why you avoid them and just don’t want to face it?  Whatever the situation….it’s just not pleasing to GOD when we oppress anybody.

It is entirely possible for a person to be oblivious to the oppression they assert because their world exists around them and their causes.  All we can do is pray for those this selfish.

Having been on the side of one being oppressed….I can tell you, it doesn’t feel good.  You can’t put your finger on it….what or why you are left out….why you are mistreated…..why you are ignored…..what you did wrong to cause the rudeness or the mean spirit.  It hurts to be held back from using your talents.  It hurts to feel disregarded, judged or unimportant.  It’s a feeling that lingers in your emotions and one that can cause great discouragement…..it can cause us to give up…..and that’s just what the devil wants.

So how do we handle oppression directed our way?

1 –  Pray for those oppressing you.

“You have heard it said, Love your neighbors and hate your enemy.  But I tell you, love your    enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your father in heaven.”                                                                                      Matthew 5:43-45

Make it a matter to pray for those that treat you less than CHRISTlike.  Ask GOD to guard your emotions from their mistreatment.  Sometimes it’s even necessary to remove yourself from the situation if it becomes caustic or dangerous…physically and emotionally.

    2 –  Kill them with kindness.  Go out of your way to win them over.

 ” Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”  1 Peter 4:8 

If you are up to the challenge….you can love them into submission.  It works….though it may be a long process requiring a lot of prayer and mental creativity….. it can work.

   3 –  Confront them in a CHRIST like manner.

     “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.  
       If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.”                     Matthew 18:15 

Ask them point blank….Have I done something to offend you?  Why do you leave me out?  Why are you rude to me?  Why do you ignore me or gossip about me….or hold me back from opportunity?  You must be prayed up and ready to confront them as lovingly and in a calm matter as you can….yet it is important to express truth.  Be careful not to let the confrontation escalate to another level.  You don’t want to make the situation worse by the way you handle the conversation.  To add to that…make sure you have the conversation face to face because your tone, intentions and heart can be misconstrued in the impersonal format of email or text. 

  4  –  Tell them you are praying for them and you love them.

 Regardless of what the outcome and especially if it does not end well….make sure their reaction does not cause you to sin and say things you regret.  Tell them you will continue to pray for them and that you love them…period.  No reasons….no righteous declarations of your sinning against me….just plain love them and pray for them.  There is not much else you can do if you confront them with a clean heart.

   5 –  Refuse to let them discourage you.

 Stay in your bible….seek other opportunities….make new friends – perhaps others that are in the same boat with you.  Whatever you do….don’t let their sin….cause you to sin by gossiping, or retaliating, or carrying a grudge.  Learn from it….make a point to engage those that you can encourage…..teach your kids the right way to treat people….take something positive away from the situation.  GOD will show you in time what lessons or good that come from being oppressed.  One thing for sure….oppression will give you a more merciful heart.

Years back I was in a situation where I was denied the opportunity to use a certain skill set.  But GOD opened up a whole new world to me that I never dreamed possible as I followed his lead to pen my heart.  Today….I am so thankful for that valley….I would not be where I am now had I not walked through it.

 Just like Joseph said in the bible after his jealous brothers sold him into slavery….

     “You intended to harm me, but GOD intended it for good to accomplish what is now being
        done.”                                                                                        Genesis 50:20   

Regardless of the outcome of your oppression….GOD will let something good come out of it!!

 I leave you with this encouragement from GOD’S word.

“Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrong doers!  For they will soon fade like grass and wither like the green herb.  Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.  Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”                                                                                                  Psalm 37:1

Friends….take courage….give your hurts to JESUS….recognize the true source of your oppression and love your brothers and sisters in CHRIST regardless of what they do to you.  Be careful not to oppress or discourage……and hold tightly to JESUS’ hand while walking in the valley.