There is Promise in Pain (Week Twelve)

Week Twelve Study Overview: Today, we discuss Job chapters 22-24, and think through God’s timing.

Key Point of Struggle: When God’s timing does not match our own.

Key Proof of Comfort: Our God of the impossible lives without the confinement of time, and teaches us what it means to wait for His perfect plan.

  • If you’ve not read Job chapters 22-24, now would be a great time.

In my own life, I’ve often struggled with God’s timing versus my own.  His timing usually seems inconvenient and forces uncomfortable circumstances. When we were trying to have another baby, fifteen years passed and not one step of the way was easy. Other people who hadn’t walked a day in my shoes wanted to tell me all about God’s timing. It did nothing but aggravate me.

I was aggravated because they were right. Good, godly people had great intentions and wanted to comfort me with truth. Let me tell you, it’s difficult to accept something might take years to come to fruition, or possibly might never happen at all.

This whole thing about time and space, where God is concerned, is tough to wrap our brains around. He does not adhere to the laws of physics. He’s everywhere at once and yet sometimes it feels like He’s not where we need Him. Or at least, it feels as if He’s inactive in that space. Too often we become caught up in the idea that God should have some kind of magic wand and wave it whenever we call on His name. It doesn’t work that way. It never will.

In chapter 22, we hear from Eliphaz again, and though he mixes some truth within his upside down theology, he really just uses his breath to belittle and persecute Job for sins not committed. In chapter 23, Job talks a lot about judgment. (This will be the topic of our #WordforYourWeekend subscriber only content.) And, in chapter 24 we take a front row seat and watch Job struggle over the feeling that God seems absent and deliverance is coming slowly… if ever.

In one way or another, we can all understand Job’s feelings. We need rescue and when we cry out to God, it’s as if the only voice we hear speaking back is the echo of our own. It’s frustrating. Job begins chapter 24 with yet another question.

“Since times are not hidden from the Almighty, why do those who know Him see not His days?”

-Job 24:1

It seems to me that Job begins to feel as if living a righteous life has earned him the right to understand God’s timing. He’s unsure as to why he cannot grasp the plan of God and see things as He does. All of this is about the divine will of God. Yes, we CAN expect Him to work on our behalf. No, we CANNOT expect it to be according to our timetable.

When we seek a close relationship with the Almighty and feel as if He’s actually our Father, it becomes easy to feel overlooked when enduring trial. We expect our Father to pick us up, hold us, and defeat our foes. And, friends, He does. However, He does it according to perfection. Our time and plans are not perfect, only His. We cannot begin to understand what it means to live according to perfect will. This is why we struggle. Our flesh gets in the way. The enemy wants to whisper lies that God isn’t there, isn’t fighting for us, and isn’t working according to a perfect will. We must be ready to battle.

In all of this, Job couldn’t understand why the righteous and wicked seemed to be treated in the same manner. I believe it’s because we have a tough time comprehending what a perfect will is. We think we understand, but tragedy and trial makes us weary. Job was weary. I’m often guilty of the same weariness.

Faith takes perseverance regardless of how we feel.

I don’t know what it is you’re waiting for. Personally, I’m waiting for a few big things right now. Everyday I’m conditioning myself to remember I need the perfect will of God. I want what He wants. And, I want it when He wants me to have it. It’s like spiritual exercise to tell myself those same words every day. And just like physical exercise, the more I discipline myself, the more results I see.

If you find yourself feeling worried about God’ timetable, let me encourage you to stand firmly in His promises while reminding yourself that His will is perfect. He never fails.

  • In your journal, write a list of everything you’re waiting for God to do. Prioritize it, and then write a prayer to God underneath asking Him to help you find contentment in His perfect will. Ask Him to unveil what perfect really means, and even if you are having a hard time seeing it, allow faith in His perfection to help you carry on. Jesus will help you, He never disappoints.
  • For next week, please read Job chapters 25-31. We will cover a lot of ground!

If you’re a subscriber, I’ll see you Friday on Word for Your Weekend. If not, you’re only an email address away from deeper study!

Love,

Jennifer

 

Finding Your Place (And an Announcement!)

Jenniferkostick.com(3)

We’re almost ready to say goodbye to another year. I don’t know how 2015 treated you in particular, but I’m sure some of us are ready to turn the page with excitement. A new year means new possibilities and new hope. Friend, we can’t live without hope. There’s just no way to wake up in the morning and face this world without humbling ourselves to the realization that we serve a good God who has the ability to change everything with one word.

Dear Jesus, please speak mercy over us.

I like to set goals at the beginning of each year. Not so much resolutions like eat healthy, exercise, and lose weight. Although, I’m not hating those ideas… However, I find more fulfillment when I pray about what God might want me to do, and then figure out how He wants me to do it. Seriously, it can seem like rocket science until we realize it’s simply obedience. And, yes, I realize sometimes obedience is not at all simple. But as far as life’s journey goes… He doesn’t expect us to have the map in hand, He just wants us to obey one step at time until we get where He designated us to be.

For me, 2015 was challenging and exciting all at the same time. I spent the year healing from loss and learning to process grief all over again, I became a full time seminary student, and a prominent literary agency found me and asked me to review a book for them. In exchange they reviewed a manuscript for a new book I’ve written. I was given excellent feedback that went as far as a phone meeting with the director of author relations, but essentially was told they can’t sell me quite yet because my platform isn’t large enough. Believe it or not, I wasn’t scarred over the process. If anything, it’s confirmation to keep doing what God wants me to do, which is encourage women.

And, so, 2016 means that I will be self publishing another book!!! I’ll be announcing more about that within the next couple months! I also have four speaking engagements to kick off the year, but most of all, I’m excited to finally appreciate that as a child of God, it’s my Father who decides my path. My platform as it stands right now might mean that a large publishing house won’t pick me up, but God always picks me up. He uses me for who I am, where I am. And friend, I’m excited to be here.

I’ve often envisioned myself standing in front of one of those giant maps at the mall staring at the big red dot that seems to audibly, and unrelentingly, scream, “YOU ARE HERE.” In my silly daydream the journey to get from one end of the property to the other seems exhausting, because let’s face it, those maps are confusing. But here’s the truth I’ve awakened to: It’s not about getting from point “A” to point “B.” It’s about discovering the unique plan created for me and finding my place within it. In case you’re wondering, you also have a unique plan and a very specific place to occupy!

This online space grew by leaps and bounds in 2015. I don’t do crazy advertising, I’m not one to carry affiliate links on my blog, not because I’ve not been given opportunity, but because I want to encourage people in their faith and never want to make people feel as if I’m selling something. It’s bad enough I ask you to buy my book, but I’m called to that. Listen, I’m not judging anyone who does promote affiliate links, it’s smart for branding and growing. And, if I ever feel led to make the decision to try it then I will, but right now, I usually turn those opportunities down because God has impressed me to grow solely through words of encouragement. I say all that to say, it’s a miracle my blog has grown over the last year! Or ever!

To be honest, over the years, making those decisions have been unnerving. It’s scary to walk in obedience knowing that because I don’t network the way the industry tells me to, that I might never grow my platform to the extent I’ve been told it needs to reach. However, when it comes down to it, He calls us to individual ministries uniquely set apart by Him to do what He created us to do. My plan is different from yours, your plan is different from mine, and  it’s exciting!

We all need to reawaken to His distinctive love. (Tweet that)

He’s carved out plans specifically for each life, tailored to individual needs that will fulfill His purposes. Wow!

I don’t know what it is you’ve been called to conquer in 2016, and maybe you don’t know yet either, but what I do know is that God is for you and He wants you to look at the place you’re standing in right now as a place of hope. He has a journey specifically for you and it’s filled with adventure and love far beyond your wildest dreams.

He is the God who will do exceedingly, abundantly more than you ever thought possible. But friend, He will do it HIS WAY. The sooner each one of us grasps that truth with open arms, the sooner we will follow His lead with great expectation of promises only He can fulfill.

Here’s to new hope!

Happy almost New Year!

Love,

Jennifer

 

Facing Infertility and Loss at Christmastime (An Interview)

Facing Infertility and Loss at Christmastime

Hello Friend. As you know, I started my ministry to women because of a long, hard-fought battle with secondary infertility. Christmas can be a difficult time for those praying desperately for a child. So much of Christmas is focused on children and family that I can almost hear the sounds of hearts breaking everywhere over loss felt from the emptiness of gifts around trees, and seats around dinner tables.

I not only longed to have another child, but I lost a baby girl to stillbirth and suffered five miscarriages along the way. So, for me, the empty spaces at Christmas wasn’t just about the hoping and waiting for those who might one day fill those places, but for those I knew never would – those who were already in their eternal home.

Today, I’m being interviewed on Lisa’s blog. She has a beautiful story and has also fought long and hard. I’m honored to be featured there sharing about hope and why it’s so important to hold tightly to it.

Will you join me?

Read more here.

Love,

Jennifer

 

More Than Enough

More Than Enough - Christin Ditchfield for Jennifer KostickDear Friend,

I’m excited to share a guest post from my friend Christin Ditchfield! She’s not only a successful, best-selling author, she’s a beautiful woman of God who openly shares her heart with women all around the world. She has a word of encouragement for us today, and I pray it speaks to your soul the way it spoke to mine.

I’m hoping to bless someone by giving away a book bundle with some of Christin’s best titles! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post between today and Friday, November 20th. I will be announcing the winner On Saturday, November 21st. I promise that when you get to know Christin, you WILL be blessed!

Enjoy!

Love,

Jennifer


 

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick…”

In my twenties, I used to quote this verse to God a lot. I guess I was not-so-subtly hinting:

“This is YOUR fault. This desperate ache… this gut-wrenching pain. It’s no wonder I feel this way. Your Word even says so — so I have a good excuse for wallowing in my misery and self-pity. If You don’t want me to, if You care about me at all, You’ll do something. Soon. Quickly.”

I could have been referring to many different things. We all have to grow up and face the harsh realities of life eventually – and while our stories may not be the same, we can be sure they all include many kinds of disillusionment and disappointment.

But in this particular instance, I was referring to my childlessness … caused primarily by my singleness… though my doctor kept warning there were signs of trouble ahead, and if I wanted a family, I needed to start immediately.

I won’t recount all the thoughtless and often cruel, but well-meaning (?) things people at church said to me, from my late teens through my twenties and thirties. The ones who tried to be encouraging, the ones who asked nosy questions or made ridiculous suggestions, the ones who’d never had a real conversation with me, but thought they knew what “my problem” was.

Or all the trite clichéd Christian books that promised if I (pretended to) stop looking, wait patiently, fix all the things that were wrong with me, and find a place of perfect peace, contentment, and spiritual maturity, God would bring the perfect man to me.

Or the real grief, heartache, and loneliness I wrestled with — not for two or three years, like so many singles ministry leaders (before they got married — bless them). But for decades. Feeling rejected by God. Cast aside. Overlooked. Wondering why I was denied the blessings He gave so freely to just about everybody?

Hurt and frustrated that – because I didn’t have a husband or children – others seemed to see me as less of an adult, less of a woman.

Like that one church that uninvited me as their retreat speaker when they found out I was single, because I couldn’t possibly have anything to say to married women.

I wasn’t planning to speak on marriage. I was planning to speak on the things we all have in common: Disappointment, hurt, heartbreak, pain. Hopes deferred. Whatever those hopes may be. And what I’ve learned:

That the answer isn’t in a magical or Scriptural formula that will fix the problem or make the pain go away. God hasn’t promised anyone a husband (or a better husband) or a baby (or another baby). Or a more supportive family. Or a friend or a house or a job or a book contract or a ministry. Or physical health, wealth, weight loss, beauty, popularity, or anything we think will bring us happiness or fulfillment in this life.

And if we think everybody else has those things, sisters, we need to look again. MOST people on this planet don’t have a fraction of the blessings you and I take for granted every day.

As for those women who do have it all? I can tell you, after twenty-five years of women’s ministry, stepping off the platform to hold sobbing women in my arms, it’s almost never as good as it seems. Or they may have what you want or what I want, but it’s not THEIR unfulfilled dream…

Whatever IT is you think will make you happy, that thing you just can’t live without – if I may, I’d like to encourage you today: Let it go. Give it to Jesus… for real, not because someone told you that if you do, He’ll give it back to you. Or that He’ll give you something bigger and better in its place.

He might not.

Jesus doesn’t promise to give you what you want. He doesn’t promise you bigger and better. He promises you Himself.

It won’t always feel like it, but you WILL find that He is enough. More than enough. Worth every battle, every trial, every tear you have cried. When you get on the other side of this, the closeness and intimacy with Him, the depth of your relationship with Him… that’s the real gift.

I’m in my forties now and I won’t lie to you. There are moments when my childlessness still knocks me off my feet with a tidal wave of grief. But I’ve learned to tread water, to reach out for the support of my loving friends and family, and to count all the wonderful blessings of the very rich, full life and ministry God has given me.

And when I can come up for air and breathe again, I know that I wouldn’t trade knowing Jesus the way I do – which has come (in part) through that very heartache and suffering – for the life I once begged Him to give me.

ChristinDitchfield2014Christin Ditchfield is an internationally syndicated radio host, conference speaker, and author of more than 66 books, including What Women Should Know About Letting It Go: Breaking Free From the Power of Guilt, Discouragement, and Defeat. She blogs at www.ChristinDitchfield.com

 

What We Are NOT Made For…

Inspiration

The following words from Oswald Chambers have been echoing through the corridors of my mind.

“We are not made for the mountain, for sunrises, or for the other beautiful attractions in life – those are simply intended to be moments of inspiration. We are made for the valley and the ordinary things of life and that is where we have to prove our stamina and strength.”

-Oswald Chambers

I often joke while walking through fancy, upscale department stores, declaring I was made for all the gorgeous shoes on the shelves. They seem to beckon me with some type of magnetic pull. When I take a vacation and find myself lying on a beach facing the Caribbean Sea, I question why God chose to place my day-to-day life where freezing temps are the norm and dark clouds are known for hiding the sun.

And then I’m thankful for godly men like Oswald chambers who put righteous inspired thought to paper with the leading of the Holy Spirit because let’s face it… Nordstrom might be able to cover my feet with fancy shoes, but it cannot convey where these feet of mine have been. It cannot tell the story of how step-by-step they walked through the valley of the shadow, bare.

The Caribbean Sea may help to relax the weary soul, but the beauty of that crystal, clear, turquoise Sea doesn’t inspire me to stay there. It fills me up to go, to do. I find rest inside living and remembering the valleys from where I came, and the knowing I’m meant to remind others they can make it, too.

And we don’t have to solicit air travel or walk next to a wall of highfalutin Jimmy Choo’s for inspiration…

Inspiration right outside your door

We can walk out our front doors to be inspired by the pinky-orange glow of sunset, or find life in the dead tree losing its leaves. We can close our eyes and remember the kind smiles from loved ones no longer with us, or reflect on a tragedy turned triumph.

We are meant for the ordinary, and to learn that everything ordinary turns extraordinary when Christ is part of the equation.

I wasn’t made for fancy shoes and white sand beaches. It’s a nice thought, but it couldn’t be further from the truth.

In 1996, I was made for slowly walking through dark valleys with tear covered bare feet because I lost my baby girl.

Every miscarriage, every loss of a loved one, every hope-filled possibility turned problematic, seemingly impossible situation is not only what I was made for in that moment, but a call to whom I would become.

Every step led me closer to Jesus and gave me power and stamina that bubbled forth inside my soul enabling me to share my story and encourage others to share theirs.

Uncomfortable struggles in the midst of dark valleys shapes who we are. It’s there we find freedom in Christ allowing tears to turn into joy and hope.

I want to encourage you with this today:

If you are in the middle of a dark valley, don’t look at it as a death sentence or punishment. Jesus is there with you and you can and will make it through the depths of despair. What your living through in that place is not meant to keep you there forever, it’s meant to give you strength, endurance, and teach you love in a way you’ve never known before. You can make it!

If you are discouraged because life feels too ordinary, become comfortable with it. Wrap yourself inside the ordinary! Whether you realize it or not, someone else is watching your life and paying close attention to how you deal with everyday, ordinary circumstances. When your faith in Christ shines brightly, you will turn the ordinary into extraordinary because someone else will consider Him because of what they’ve seen in you.

Even in the midst of turmoil, despair, and the boring ordinary of every day, we are meant to point others to Christ!

Listen, there’s nothing wrong with fancy shoes and nice vacations. I’m just saying that we weren’t meant for complete comfort. We were meant to use our difficulties to reach others. We are meant to use our faith through ordinary situations to open somebody’s eyes to the extraordinary of Christ.

We are meant to serve regardless of how much or little we have. And, we are meant to do this ordinary life filled with valley’s and beautiful inspiration the best we can.

This is supposed to be a month of thankfulness. We should start by thanking Christ for placing us where He saw fit, and determine to show His love smack-dab in the center of it.

Love,

Jennifer

PS: Next Wednesday, November 18th, I have a special treat for you! Best-selling author Christin Ditchfield will be sharing with us on a topic near and dear to the hearts of many women. Earlier in the year, I conducted a survey for my readers and a large amount of you asked me to write about singleness. Christin has a beautiful, hope-filled perspective. Every woman, single or not, can gain from what she has to say! I’m also going to be hosting a giveaway of some of Christin’s books! You won’t want to miss it!

Also, Sunday, November 29th begins Advent! I will be sharing a short post each day throughout the Advent season. God has been working on my heart about this for quite some time. There will be many giveaways, including Ann Voskamp‘s devotional The Greatest Gift. Together, we will pursue peace and stillness within the days leading to Christmas, rather than the stress which loves to steal our joy. There will be more details on this at the end of next week.

How Waiting Can Lead to Stillness

The Struggle to Live a Still LifeOctober seems to have flown by. It’s hard to believe we only have today and tomorrow left in this series. Over the last month, we’ve discussed how stillness leads to our gifts and gives us the ability to use them. We talked about it in the sense of moving according to God’s will and never our own, and we’ve even explored when God seems still.

Today, I want to address something I think most of us struggle with: waiting.

Waiting can be a joy killer. Am I right?

I could write for another whole month just on the waiting process. I experienced secondary infertility and it was fifteen years before I received an answer to prayer. When it comes to waiting, I consider myself a professional. I bet you can relate. Your reason for having to wait might be different from mine, but we all walk through the season at one time or another.

Waiting in ministry can also be extremely frustrating. Have you ever felt like God called you to do something specific and then it doesn’t happen?

Maybe you’re called to write, speak, sing, teach, administrate something within a church, start a new program… whatever it is, let me encourage you with this: just because it hasn’t happened yet doesn’t mean it won’t. Everything takes time and it’s always for good reason.

I’ve been thinking about king David. Samuel anointed him to be the future king and then David went back to tending sheep. And not only that, he spent thirteen years running from Saul before he became who he was destined to be. Can you imagine what it must have been like to run all those years knowing there was a greater call? Not to mention… he was literally fighting for his life throughout that time.

Almost five years ago, I stepped down from the position of assistant worship leader at my church. I knew in my heart I wasn’t supposed to do that anymore. I wasn’t saying goodbye to music ministry forever, but for that particular season God had other plans. Had I not stepped down, I would have never began my blog, published my book, began speaking regularly, or be attending seminary. It was a very difficult letting go process, but God gave me something new and beautiful to hold onto during that time.

When we have gifts, we don’t necessarily like it when God says, “Just wait.”

Part of waiting is learning to listen to God, and when we learn to listen, inch-by-inch we will move to the center of stillness. The move won’t be easy, mine wasn’t. However, it was necessary for my calling.

Maybe you know that God has called you to do something but it’s taking forever. Maybe you’re questioning if you heard Him right to begin with. Here is a checklist I go through to make sure if it’s me or God speaking.

  1. Does “it” keep coming to mind?

For me, the general rule is that if I can’t stop thinking about my calling, then it’s He who placed the desire within me.

  1. Am I working toward the goal?

If you’re passionate about something then you’ll want to make sure you are equipped for the calling. A worship leader cannot be a worship leader without practicing their instrument. A speaker/teacher/preacher cannot give a word without knowing THE WORD. It has to be studied. If you want to start a new program then you have to research it and learn everything about it. Most of the time, we are called to wait so that we can properly train and prepare our hearts in the process.

  1. Has it been confirmed?

Whether it’s through another person or the word of God, you will find confirmation. And when it happens, you’ll know if it’s the real thing.

After almost five years, I’m at the point where I’m experiencing the above three points and God is moving my husband and I forward. The waiting is ending.

We often need to hold on through all kinds of emotion and difficulty before we see our visions come to pass. In 1 Peter 1:13, Peter tells us to gird up the loins of our minds. He wants us to stay focused. Waiting can often lead us to a place of discouragement that causes our minds to drift away. Don’t allow that to happen.

Be confident in the gift you’ve been given, pray daily about it, and study the word. waiting is only for a season. We walk through the desert, we don’t pitch a tent and stay there forever.

Keep on keeping on, friend.

I’ll meet you back here tomorrow for the conclusion of The Struggle to Live a Still Life.

Love,

Jennifer

 

Stillness and the Emotional Dam

Stillness and the Emotional DamToday I’m thinking about Hannah. About how much turmoil she must have felt the day Peninnah threw it in her face that she didn’t have a child. I can almost see her wailing before God, crying out, and pleading for a miracle. In fact, she was making such a fuss that Eli thought she was drunk.

She wasn’t…

Hannah was a desperate woman full of sorrow who simply could not wait still any longer.

This word still can go so many directions, but all I see in this picture is that Hannah prayed. Yes, she felt bitter from an empty womb turned gaping wound refusing to heal, but in all this… Hannah prayed.

She trusted God. So what if she yelled and cried and looked like a drunken hot mess, she was pouring it all out to the living God, the only One she could trust to eventually deliver her from grief.

It’s perfectly okay for stillness to mean begging, pleading, and wailing, as long as it always ends with trusting.

Hannah grappled with God and because she trusted Him with her deepest pain, she stayed in the presence of a stillness that can only come from the Almighty.

Do you know that, oftentimes, stillness comes after the emotional dam finally breaks? I have no idea why, but it’s usually necessary to lose it before the process of healing begins.

You can trust God with your deepest pain, friend.

Through it, He will lead you deeper into stillness.

Love,

Jennifer

PS: If you’ve missed any of my October Series, The Struggle to Live a Still Life, Click here and scroll down for previous posts. New email subscribers receive my eBook, Mercy Waits, as a gift!

The story of Hannah is found in I Samuel.

Stillness Requires Vision

Stillness Requires VisionEverything that’s human about us requires more than just staying in the same spot. We are eager to move on to the next big thing and usually we have it all planned out in our heads. This is why it’s frustrating when God calls us to a season of waiting and praying.

However, deeply tucked inside the waiting for whatever comes next, bubbles hope.

I love watching my children blow bubbles in the summertime. Each one glistens in the sunlight showing off a rainbow of colors that float into the air just like our prayers.

And I have to think that our hope and prayers, when given with a thankful, repentant heart waiting still in His presence, must translate into beautiful colors reflected off the hope we have in Christ. Our hope glistens in the S-O-N.

Yesterday, I mentioned that God places our desires deep within our hearts and the more we seek Him, the more available we are to His will rather than our own.

I tend to see those desires as tiny bubbles releasing in the air one by one. Those desires translate to hope, and hope leads to visions and dreams of what’s to come.

I’ve said this already, but I’m going to say it again: To be still in God doesn’t mean we can’t move ahead. It doesn’t mean we can’t pursue dreams and passions placed deeply inside our souls. Being still in His presence actually means moving within it. it’s about stepping forward at His pace and never our own.

In order to do that, we must have hope and vision for our future. It’s time to build on a solid foundation of Christ understanding that being still really means listening intently to His voice in our lives, even when we are running full speed ahead. As long as each stride is in Him, we will be okay.

If you’ve somehow lost the vision for your life, if you’ve forgotten how to dream, you must remember hope.

We have a sure hope in Christ Jesus and stillness in Him requires to trust in that hope. Open your eyes to things ahead, and let your dreams bubble forth.

Love,

Jennifer

If you’ve missed any part of my October Series, The Struggle to Live a Still Life, click here.

 

 

For When the Break Isn’t Clean

For When the Break Isn't CleanI was a young twenty-something looking around the waiting room at a bunch of forty-something year old women. Infertility branded me barren for a season and anger seeped out of my pores like sweat.

Like so many other appointments gone wrong, the treatment wasn’t working and I couldn’t wish away the pink grave stone in the cemetery down the street – the stone that marked the end of my baby daughter’s life here on earth before it truly began.

I had choir practice that evening. I was to rehearse my solo with the whole choir behind me. It was a Brooklyn Tabernacle upbeat song designed to bring the congregation to their feet. The problem was that I was having a hard time standing on mine.

I arrived at practice and took my place on the platform. With microphone in hand I prepared to sing. It was the last place I wanted to be, and not a single note sounded like I wanted it to sound. I had a difficult time translating the feeling of joy within the song when there was so much uncertainty about what God was doing in my own life.

I felt let down by God and my heart showed signs of a break. But the break wasn’t clean. it was messy and the edges were jagged. It seemed it would never fit back together again.

But God…

Those are some of my very favorite words in the entire Bible, because despite our circumstances or how things might feel…

But God has a plan.

But God has a purpose.

But God never lets us down.

I’ve been talking a lot about stones, both living and dead. The stone on my daughters grave mixed with my inability to become pregnant again weighed me down that evening at choir practice. And though I may not have been at my best vocally, or had a skip in my step, the point is that I chose to sing through it. And though my legs may have wobbled, I stood still in the stillness of Jesus.

I’m not patting myself on the back.

It took me years of reflecting on that moment to see that God was holding me up and giving me the air I needed to sing. Every note was an offering.

It took thousands of tears and angry words before I could thank Him for the grief that drove me closer to Him.

On September 19, 2009, I wrote in the margin of my Bible, next to Isaiah 40, the following words…

“God is calling me to use my testimony to strengthen and comfort hurting people.”

Isaiah 40

Our deepest grief transforms into our greatest gifts. (tweet that)

The interesting thing about the entry in the margin of my Bible, is the date I recorded it. I began my blog on September 19, 2012. I wrote the above passage three years to the day before I ever wrote a single word, before I ever had a single thought about a blog or even knew what a blog was.

Let the words of my mouth...

The hand of God was working, friend.

His hand was working through every tear and transformed them into a gift I didn’t even know I possessed.

And I believe the same is happening for you.

But God has gifts stored deep inside you.

But God is waiting for the grief to stir them up, that you might use them to love others and be healed. In the process, He will be glorified.

But God!!!

“Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” Says, your God.

Isaiah 40:1

Today in the comments, can you share a time you pushed through your grief to use your gift and stand in the stillness of Christ? I would love to hear your heart speak.

Love,

Jennifer

If you’ve missed any part of this series, click here.

PS: In honor of Write 31 Days I’m having a special giveaway. If you subscribe to my blog via email, Amazon will send you a kindle edition of my book, Nothing to Hold but Hope, as a gift. The offer is good through October 7th 2015.

Write the Vision

Write the VisionWhen I was waiting for God to bless us with another child, the process seemed to take forever. Fifteen years is a really long time for a woman who longs for the godly desire of life and feels with each passing month that hope is dwindling.

In our society, we race against the clock wanting everything now. I wonder what the time zone in heaven is, because I’ve lived in both eastern and pacific zones and neither one seems anything close to the clock God works according to.

I believe the dreams and desires I can’t shake have been divinely placed, and are meant to come to fruition. The problem is always the question of when...

I have a feeling that most of you are probably nodding your head in agreement. Everything seems to take too long and the process usually has us asking Him at least one of the following three questions.

  1. Is this desire really from You, God?
  2. Do I not have enough faith for You to answer?
  3. Why must I endure so much pain in the process of waiting?

Today, I was reading in Habakkuk. This minor prophet brings a message of hope and trust for a nation who is in need of comfort. Just like any of us seeking divine answers, Habakkuk is one to ask God questions.

After the second question Habakkuk asks God, He waits for His answer. He was confused as to what he was seeing unfolding all around him and was determined to stand firm for an answer.

As usual, God did not disappoint.

Then the Lord answered me and said:

“Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry. “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.

-Habakkuk 2:2-4

 

(Just as a disclaimer, I’m always careful to dig into the context of the scripture before I rip it apart and apply it to my life in the way I feel God is speaking specifically to me. I’ve done that in this book and can now use this wisdom and apply it directly to my situation. It’s important to understand that Habakkuk wanted to know why good people were suffering and why evil rulers were allowed to rule. God answered specifically according to his questions.)

For me, writing down our desires from God, dating the entries, and writing prayers to Him concerning the seeds which have been planted deeply in the heart, is extremely important in the process of waiting for growth and completion. The Lord told Habakkuk to write the vision and make it plain.

He also said that the vision will speak and not lie. He told him to wait for it, because though it may seem to tarry, it will surely come. SURELY.

God went on to say, “Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith.”

Humility is key throughout the process of waiting. It’s too easy to take ownership of our dreams and desires as if they are all about us. We can become prideful and feel as if we hold the rights to them. We don’t. We must remain humble and realize that when the Lord God Himself chooses us to place a beautiful dream inside, it connects directly to Him. He is choosing us to be vessels for a greater purpose, and I believe that most of the time, we aren’t anywhere close to grasping the depth of His purpose. Now that’s the promise of hope, friends!

I’m going to talk more about this in the coming week.

May your Sunday be filled with new hope as you wait on the Lord to fulfill every desire He has placed within you.

Love,

Jennifer

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