“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.”
—Lamentations 3:19-22 (NIV)
Sometimes our emotions can bring us so low, we feel paralyzed and stuck, stuck, stuck! Faster than a kid’s tongue sticks to a frozen flagpole, the exact combination of events sends us into a downward spiral and threatens to pin us in the stranglehold of despair.
Confusion sets in. Doubt, anger, frustration, worry, and regret all grapple for the top spot. What to tackle first?
I debated this recently as I jumped from reading A Confident Heart: How to Stop Doubting Yourself and Live in the Security of God’s Promises to The Storm Inside: Trade the Chaos of How You Feel for the Truth of Who You Are to Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions. All within a week!
I wanted to master those things, but I couldn’t decide where to start. Talk about a train wreck! The books on my nightstand told the story.
Then, in an attempt to inspire myself, I started looking through old journals. Among various half-baked ideas, I had written “Turn your mess into a message.”
I had to laugh because just the day before a random cartoon image had popped into my mind. It was a vision of the mess I was: lying in bed with a huge round icepack plopped atop my head like a hat, a thermometer sticking out of my mouth, fuzzy slippers on my feet, and x’s over my eyes. It was how I felt. And there was nothing wrong with me physically.
Let’s just admit it: the month of December often leaves us feeling this way. In my humble opinion, it’s NOT “the most wonderful time of the year.” Songs lie.
Oh, it could be. Oh, it should be the most wonderful time of the year. But the reality is—it’s the most stressful time of the year.
When a friend asked me how the holidays were and I said, “Stressful,” she commiserated. I told her about the Unglued book and how one chapter is titled, “I’m Not a Freak-Out Woman.”
She said, “I am SOOOO a freak-out woman!” We howled. I told her she wasn’t alone.
Still, we must cope and press through. So aside from making resolutions to do better in 2016, I propose a little kindness to ourselves during the month of January.
If I were my own friend (and often times I am not), I’d remind myself of some truths from God’s Word.
God loves us despite our mess.
His compassions never fail (Lamentations 3:22). Isn’t that just what we need? A little compassion and understanding, and who better than the Lord Himself to provide it! You will never find anyone who understands your situation better than He does, and best of all, He wants to help. Because of His great love!
If this seems hard to understand or believe, try remembering God’s faithfulness during other difficult times, and you’ll feel assured: He cares for you. He’s already shown it.
We are not stuck.
Perceptions can be deceptions. Just because we think nothing is changing and we aren’t progressing, that is unlikely if we are truly seeking God. Yes, we have setbacks. But often those setbacks come before a big breakthrough. Progress is not easy, and our enemy loves to throw up roadblocks. Re-align with God by wielding the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17). Here’s a handy verse to memorize for the seemingly stuck times: “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6, NIV).
God delights in “doing a new thing.”
God’s plans roll along. He is not surprised by our mess nor is He deterred by it. And He always allows for human error in the equation of eternity.
“See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”
—Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)
So while we may see a wilderness and a wasteland…perceptions can be deceptions. God works in possibilities! This verse from Isaiah shows how God persisted with Israel (despite their bad behavior). He is still working with His people today.
And that’s you and me.
Praise God! We serve The One who is in the business of turning messes into messages.