When Being Kind Isn’t Easy

When Being Kind Isn't Easy

We are arriving to that time of the year when the days get shorter, sunlight showing up only sparingly. As it is, the days are getting longer too — this math that is not my favorite. It is difficult to see the light around this time of the year. I notice it clearly these days. Some days I manage to catch the sunrise on my way to work. Most days it is still dark when I leave to work. Overtime keeps me at work long into the afternoon or evening. So I haven’t been able to leave work early enough to see the sun for a couple weeks now.

So it is that these weeks, I have come in contact with quite a few difficult people. Not that they mean to be difficult. I am sure that is not what is their main purpose. But when dealing with them means that they are yelling at me, it is hard to label them as anything else than difficult. I think that this has something to do with the fact that I have been reading Bible verses on kindness lately. And after these phone calls? I feel like I am failing miserably.

It can take a long time, to arrive at the end of the rope. It looks different every time, too. Maybe you have done all you could for that person, for this situation — but it hasn’t helped. There is nothing left for you to do now, and it hurts. Maybe you tried all you could to apologize, to make amends, to make things right — but this situation is not changing. All the guilt, shame, sorrow keeps you awake at nights now. Or maybe you have exhausted yourself beyond what you can take. All you have now, is the strength to carry on for another two minutes.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.” (Philippians 4:4-5)

How is it possible to be kind in these situations? With mean and angry people, in difficult and challenging situations, when you are exhausted and weary? When circumstances stretch you thin is it even possible to be gentle and kind? Let alone to be known to all by our gentleness. This, again, falls into the category of mathematics that I have a hard time figuring out.

So this must be the key: to rejoice in the Lord always. Still the same question remains. How do we do this with difficult people? How do we rejoice in circumstances that are just plain hard and awful? When exhaustion is a cloak we constantly wear?

This is what I have come to realize. When I am stretched thin and my strength is running out? God will be my Strength and He will give me strength. When I have done all I could with this difficult person? I can pray for them and give them to the One who can actually change their hearts. When I struggle? I can give my heart to the One who can change my heart.

“He who follows righteousness and mercy finds life, righteousness, and honor.” (Proverbs 21:21)

So it is, that we can always rejoice in the Lord — because we know the hope we have in Him. When the kindness we can naturally muster up runs out — we only need to lift up the situation, the people, our hearts to the One whose kindness towards us will never run out.

Linking up: #MomentsofHope Link-UpGlimpses Link UpModest Monday




The Ministry of Small Things

The Ministry of Small Things
One morning, I read these words from Oswald Chambers in my morning devotional time. “It is inbred in us that we have to do exceptional things for God; but we have not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things, to be holy in the mean streets, among mean people, and this is not learned in five minutes.”

I think about these words a lot these days, as they challenge me greatly. 

It has been a battle here lately, wondering whether I am useful to God. I am in a season of change, my weeks extremely busy and not quite as I would choose them to be. There are many prayers rising up these nights, some of them quite desperate. “Lord, am I supposed to continue this ministry? Should I just stop this? Am I of any use here? I am not doing as well here as I think I should be.”

The struggle has been there for quite some time. But the answer came on a Sunday morning, on the floor of our Kids’ Ministry room. It all started with a kid who grabbed my hand and asked if we could draw together. There we sat on the floor, drawing houses and flowers and helicopters — which was quite the challenge for me, as I am so bad at drawing. But one by one, kids kept joining us. Soon there was the challenge of age difference between the kids, which usually means that someone comments on the drawing skills (or the lack thereof) of another kid. Which, then, usually results in my attempts to make everyone feel like they are doing their best. That day, I decidedly encouraged every kid and in turn, they kept encouraging and complimenting one another.

Right there, on that floor surrounded by kids, I felt God nudging me to see what was happening.

A small person had asked to get my attention and time, and I had had no objections to that. They had asked me to step outside of my comfort zone (seriously, I am so bad at drawing), and I had said yes. In the midst of a busy Sunday afternoon, I laid aside my plans and accepted a new one without murmuring. I noticed the people that came into the room — small and big, kids and adults alike. I talked with them and shared Jesus with them.

To me, this was all so very small. Unnoticeable, really. Because it was a small thing, I also categorized it as something that did not really matter. But that moment mattered — to me and, I would guess, to the kids. Also to God. Not because I brought someone to Jesus (although it is possible that maybe in the midst of all of it, someone felt the love and grace of God). It was not because I had done a great job, ministering to small and big needs alike.

Rather, in the midst of the ministry of small things — came my surrender.

I surrendered my need to earn love, to work towards a good standing before God. I surrendered my desire to do big things for God — and instead, He had me do great things for Him. Looking at it now, I see that my desperate pleas for God to use me were answered. But the answer looked so different than what I had imagined. And the answer was also so much better than what I had imagined.

You see, I wanted to change the world so I could earn God’s love. In the ministry of small things and surrendering, God showed me that His love has already changed the world — and my heart.

Book Review: Unseen by Sara Hagerty

Book review of Unseen by Sara Hagerty

In Unseen, Sara Hagerty tells us that God has created every heart to be seen, and that He sees every heart. In a society that lives for being successful, to produce and do something all the time — we often feel like we waste time when we are not accomplishing something. But what matters, is the time we spend with God. That we grow closer to Him. This, though, happens in moments that are unseen by the rest. Moments that, maybe, feel like they are not significant. But in these moments, we come face to face with God. So maybe it is in those moments when we are not accomplishing seventeen things at the same time. Maybe it is those “unseen” moments, that are the best for our soul.

In all honesty, God used this book to breathe life into my soul. As someone who so often tries to earn love, I find myself wanting to be seen. But the life of a Christian is not based on the mountaintop experiences. It is more about walking in the valleys, in the lowlands. In the unseen moments, where are hearts are seen only by God. Those are the moments that form our hearts.

At the end of every chapter, Hagerty provides Bible verses for the reader to study God’s Word more on this topic. I loved this. I recommend this book for every one to read.

See also my other book reviews and book recommendations.

I received this book free from the publisher through The BookLook Bloggers book review program. However, all the opinions expressed here are my own.

When God Is Silent

The Silence of God

It is one of the harder things to experience, having to wait on God when He is silent. I have been thinking about this quite a bit lately, the silence of God. In those silent seasons we often face doubts and confusion, mixed with plenty of questions. Did I do something wrong? Have I sinned? Did I hear God wrong the last time?

There are seasons when my these questions keep popping up in my inbox. I am comforted by this, for clearly I am not the only one experiencing those silent seasons. At the same time, my heart hurts with these people, wearied down by questions and unanswered prayers. Why is God silent? What can I do to make Him speak to me again?

Though I have thought about this lately, I have no answers to these questions. Yet I have started thinking, have started to understand — that maybe what I need is not answers. Maybe what I need, is a change of perspective.

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven.”
(Ecclesiastes 3:1)

It seems like life truly happens in seasons, just like the preacher in Ecclesiastes put so beautifully. It also seems like every fall, I am aware of how life thrums on inevitably in seasons, one season blending into the next and suddenly, you realize you are in the midst of a new season. This change and the realization of it, can come with joy — or with great sorrow. Just as painful are the relentless seasons that seem to go on. What is true of seasons, though, is that they will eventually end and a new one will come.

It is our human nature, that always craves for more. I see it in my own life, in my own heart. I also see it in the lives of others. God performs a miracle, with a beautiful answer to those prayers that have worn our knees and wrenched our hearts dry of tears. Yet, a season later, be it months or years — we ask for more. When we are again in the season of waiting on God, it seems to break our hearts. Murmuring echoes loud in the hollows of our heart, with grief unexplainable.

How often we pray for something, for a miracle even. We endure the long seasons of heartbreak, as we wait on God. We know God is teaching us patience; yet we feel weary down to the bone. Then, the answer comes. The miracle comes — and we are surprised by joy. We fall on our knees, thanking God and praising Him — until one day, we do not anymore.

It seems like the praise and thanksgiving, like everything else, tend to come in seasons in our lives.

“A time to kill,
    And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
    And a time to build up;
A time to weep,
    And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
    And a time to dance.”
(Ecclesiastes 3:3-4)

As I am in a season of learning to change my perspective, I see that this is something that I can, maybe, view differently. What if the silence of God is not something to break our hearts over? What if the silence of God — is actually a beautiful thing, this season of growth that happens secretly, naturally, miraculously in our hearts.

Oswald Chambers wrote about this in the most beautiful way: “Are you mourning before God because you have not had an audible response? You will find that God has trusted you in the most intimate way possible, with an absolute silence, not of despair, but of pleasure, because He saw that you could stand a bigger revelation.”

What if the silence of God — is not a deafening silence, the type that comes and destroys? What if this silence, is there with the purpose of creating something new, something beautiful?

“A wonderful thing about God’s silence is that the contagion of His stillness gets into you and you become perfectly confident — “I know God has heard me.” His silence is the proof that He has. As long as you have the idea that God will bless you in answer to prayer, He will do it, but He will never give you the grace of silence.” (Oswald Chambers)

Knowing myself, I think there will be confusion, possibly even doubt, the next time God falls silent. But then, I will choose to see it as the beginning of something great. It will be the beginning of God creating something greater in me.

Linking up: #UNITE Link Up#MomentsofHope Link-UpModest Monday