To be, or not to be? Should I suffer in silence? Or, should I fight the battle? It’s a decision that runs deep.

Do I see things as I want them to be? Or, do I see things as they are?

When I awake, do I know that I have another day to make a difference in my life? Or, do I know that I have one more day to make a difference in someone else’s life?

In everything that my hand touches, do I do everything that I think I possibly can? Or, do I do everything that I think I possibly can, plus a little more, because God is with me?

When affliction hits, as it certainly will, do I see the pain that it is causing me? Or, do I see the masterpiece that God is forging me into?

When I am successful with the race, do I smile and realize that all of my hard has work paid off? Or, do I turn and thank all of the people who taught me how to win? 

Do I see things as I want them to be? Or, do I see things as they are?

Or, do I see things through God’s eyes?

“I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.” ~ Thomas Paine

To be, or not to be? Should I suffer in silence? Or, should I fight the battle? It’s a decision that runs deep. It’s a decision that’s made every day. 

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” ~ James 1:2-4 ESV

Fight the battle. Discover the hope. Cultivate the joy. 

STGrimes
“Turning today’s pain into confident expectations for a great tomorrow”

What should we pray for when we’re “sent out into the wilderness”? Streams in the dessert!

We all can agree. All can identify with the feeling of being “sent out into the wilderness” where we are full of pain and can see no clear path forward – like Israel’s exodus Babylon. Yet, when Israel was in Babylon, this is what God said.

Isaiah 43:18-19 “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”

One commentary has this to say about these verses. “The original exodus did not exhaust God’s power but provided a pattern of new exodus-like deliverances. The Jewish exiles should not live in the past but should look for God to bring them home from Babylon through another ‘exodus.’ A way in the wilderness. Where there is no clear path forward, God creates one. Rivers in the desert. Where there is no natural relief or refreshment, God provides it.”

For me, Isaiah clearly tells us that God is not a God of keeping everything the same. God is a God where he has provided a path for us to grow, and use and improve the skills that we have been gifted with. In these verses, we can clearly see that when we are at a place where there is no clear path forward, where we don’t know where to take our next step, when pain threatens to paralyze us, God creates a path forward. God provides rivers in the desert. Where no water exists for our sustenance, God creates nourishment for us. It just takes baby steps on our part to learn to see it. 

God knows when we are in pain. And, each time he sees us in distress, he provides for us that which we need. The greatest example of God seeing our pain and providing confident expectations of a great future is when Christ died on the cross for each and every one of us. He endured immense pain and strife. He endured OUR pain and strife. He paid the price for OUR mistakes, not His. He showed us that he understands. He showed us that there is an end to our suffering. He showed us that when we are done with this suffering that we are going to a great place. 

Still, we have to have the perspective to see that we do have a choice. We have to have the perspective to know that we need to make a decision to search for the confident expectations that God is holding out to us, the hope that God has shown to us over and over. 

God cannot force hope upon us. We have to choose it. We have to choose to see it. Stories upon stories exist that show us that God can do it and DOES do it! Even so, we have to experience the stories in our own lives. We have to “know” for ourselves that God can truly take care of us. Each experience produces endurance. Each experience builds trust. Then, trust yields it’s perfect result in the form of confident expectations that we will always be taken care of. 

If you feel like you’re in the wilderness right now, pray for hope. Pray for hope. Pray for hope and look for answers in unexpected places. He’s waiting.

STGrimes.com
“Turning today’s pain into confident expectations for a great tomorrow.”

What do we risk when we only focus on the obstacles and deny our faith in God?

What do we risk when we focus solely on the obstacles? What indeed. 

Watch the step, not God
clear
bump
boulder
mountain
impregnable
Where is God?
Where can you find hope?
Where can you find trust? 
Where can you find love?
Where can you find joy?
Depressed
Hopeless
Hostility
Anger
Quit
Obstacles become petrified
And light disappears into darkness
like an eclipse blocking out the daytime sun 

What do we risk when we focus solely on the obstacles?

Focusing on the obstacles themselves and not on building trust and hope in God leads to worry. And, as Mahatma Gandhi said, “There is nothing that wastes the body like worry, and one who has any faith in God should be ashamed to worry about anything whatsoever.” 

So, what do we risk when we focus only on the obstacles? We waste our body away with worry. Studies show that trials hurt more when all we see is the trial. The same trials hurt less when we see the purpose behind the trial, when we KNOW that all things work together for good for those who love God! And, that leads to hope and joy instead of worry. 

So, what do we risk when we focus only on the obstacles? Focusing solely on the obstacles and not on God creates in us a cold, stone heart. That thought has always scared me. 

Here’s some food for thought. Freedom of choice is our greatest gift. Given that, are the objects blocking our path truly obstacles? Or, are they what we need to grow into what we’ve asked to be? 

Does the vine tell the branches where to grow?
Does the seed tell the tree where to send its branches?
Does the gas in your gas tank tell the steering wheel which way to turn?

This is what I hear God saying, “I can provide you with the tools. I can provide you with the gas to keep your engine revving. But, I cannot force you to use your tools. I can only suggest with wisdom. I cannot tell you to improve your skills. However, I can provide the wisdom and the events that offer experience to grow and be successful. I can also offer you examples of others who have perfected that skill.”  

Of what use is bitterness? Of what use is hatred? Of what use is complaining? Will they further you on your path? Will they provide helping hands that can teach you and assist you on your path. Will bitterness and hatred and and complaining and worry provide any sort of lasting success? No! 

Our greatest gift is the gift to choose how to use the skills that we have been given. Our greatest gift is the choice that we have for how we will respond to the experiences that are thrust upon us. We have the freedom of choice to see that obstacle as an opportunity for us to grow and be sucessful. We have the freedom of choice to choose wisdom … or not. 

Having a balanced view of the good and the bad that life throws at us is the key for finding and experiencing joy and peace through hope. “In life, the things that go wrong are often the very things that lead to other things going right”. ~ Arianna Huffington

The choice is yours, as it always will be. Will you choose to look at the obstacles? Or, will you choose to see God’s perspective. God isn’t hiding. God’s word is in the bible that sitting on the shelf. He’s holding out His hands and waiting for you. 

I know what I want, because I have it in my hands right now.

STGrimes.com
“Turning today’s pain in confident expectations for a great tomorrow”

Fear or Faith, it’s our choice …

Negative fear wants us to see the immediate horror and stop us. However, we can choose to look past the fear and see the rainbow that is waiting for us at the end of the present storm. 

“I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.” ~ Thomas Paine
“Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvelously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” ~ James 1:2-4 ESV
It’s always our choice. 

Should we look at the fear grasping at us? Or, should we look at the object of our faith and know that He is God and casts out fear? 

Should we look at the cuts and scraps that we are receiving? Or, should be look at the masterpiece that we are becoming?

Should we let fear stop us? Or should we claim the promise that all things work together for good for those who love God?

What will you choose, fear or faith?

STGrimes.com
“Turning today’s pain into confident expectations for a bright tomorrow”

We show that we care when we use what we have to help those on our path. Can we really make a difference?

Peter said “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” 1 Peter 4:9-10

~~~

One day, life hit me too hard, like buckshot tearing apart a piece of wood. With stomach aching, head pounding, and heart racing I knew the world was against me. No one cared and I had proof! I walked into the forest for some peace and quiet. I was looking for a way to give up. 

Along the path I was joined by a woman who had seen many years in this life. Yet, her features radiated calmness and serenity. Softly, she spoke. “I have a few thoughts for you to consider.”

“Who has been the biggest influence on your life? Why?”

“When in life have you felt most alone? Who was there for you?”

“What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life? Who taught them to you?”

“What are you proudest of? Who helped you to get there?”

“If you could hold on to one memory from your life forever, what would that be? Who would you share it with?”

My face tightened into a knot as I fought against the thoughts that came flooding in with each question. “What do you expect me to say?”

She smiled and said, “A path with no obstacles is a parking lot. Sing the song that you have. As Henry van Dyke said, ‘Use what talents you possess, the woods will be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.’ Don’t give up and let others use their skills to help you. As you learn to trust in their help, your hope will grow. – and so will your peace and joy.”

I watched her go in silence. “Thanks. I just need to keep hearing that.”

We show that we care when we use what we have to help those on our path.

STGrimes.com
“Turning today’s pain into confident expectations for a great tomorrow”