How to feel God’s comfort

We all inevitably go through stretches in our marriages (or with kids, finances, health, etc!) that are pretty rough on our hearts.  Yes, we can persevere, pray, and trust in God during those times, and all those things are super important.  But sometimes, we just plain need comfort.  We need to sit in the lap of our heavenly father and have Him hold us tight.

Here is what I have discovered.  Reading the Psalms slowly and out loud is like a warm embrace from my heavenly Father.  As those words roll off my lips, I can almost feel His love and compassion flow over me.  I sense the tenderness of His heart toward me.  I gain hope once again.

Try it for yourself.  I would suggest some of these Psalms:  Psalm 103, Psalm 91, Psalm 34, and Psalm 37.   God longs to comfort you.  He loves you.  As Psalm 103 says, “Our Father is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love.

The power of pausing during prayer

When we face a challenge, a dilemma, or even a crisis…we tend to search high and low for the easy answer.   We cry out to God, asking him to give us the magic pill that will make it all go away!  We call our mom or our girlfriends, and we whine and complain about the problem, hoping they will have the magical, painless answer to our situation.  Well, here’s the thing.  The answer isn’t easy, but it is simple.  Seek God’s counsel and then actually pause to listen. 

Proverbs 18:13 says “To answer before listening, that is folly and shame.”  Yet, that is exactly what many of us do.  We complain to God.  We pray that he would magically fix our situation in the way that WE say is best, and yet, we don’t actually consult the Bible to see what guidance he has for us.  We pray that God would tell us what to do about the problem, yet we don’t actually pause to listen for the Holy Spirit’s quiet whisper of guidance.

The answer is simple.  Dive into God’s Word.  It will guide you.  Psalm 119:105 says. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”   Ask God to give you direction through a quiet whisper to your spirit from the Holy Spirit, who is our counselor.  John 14:26 says (in the Amplified Bible), “But the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf, He will teach you all things.”

Finding true comfort during distress

All wives inevitably hit a rough patch or two in their marriage.  In fact, there will likely be moments when you think “Why did I even marry this man?!”  He may break a little piece of your heart when he forgets your anniversary, or is overly harsh with the kids, or develops a habit of satisfying himself while viewing pornography instead of making love to you.  At these moments, you need comfort for your broken heart.

It’s our tendency to reach for something easy and tangible as a source of comfort.  You might try to find some joy in buying lots of new clothes. YouI might turn to excessive food.  But neither one of those choices truly comforts us.  They actually lead to additional grief in the long run!  Instead, we need to train ourselves to run to God at those heart-breaking moments.  He is waiting with open arms.  Plus, Jesus knows what it feels like to suffer grief, betrayal, and a broken heart.

I love these two verses of comfort.  Psalm 103:2-4 “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits; who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion”.  And Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit”.  Meditate on those 2 verses and ask God to come close to you.  He will, and I believe you will experience the warmth of his love! 

One additional tip:  I’ve found it especially helpful to find a quiet place of solitude (no cell phone, no noise!) where I can just sit with the Lord in stillness for 5 or 10 minutes, letting his peace and comfort wash over me.

If husband isn’t following Christ

Being married to an unbeliever can be frustrating and discouraging.  You’re pulling one way.  He’s pulling another.  You make decisions based on your faith and trust in God.  He thinks only of himself. Ugh.

There is hope, but your situation may not change overnight.  The key is persistent prayer. One wife, whom I know quite well, prayed earnestly for about 15 years before her husband finally came to Christ.  It was discouraging at times, but she kept believing that God would answer her prayer, and He did.  It just took time (15 years!) for God to soften her husband’s heart.

May I suggest that you pray Ezekiel 36:26-27 every day for your husband, inserting his name in the verse?  The verse talks about God turning a heart of stone into a heart of flesh.  In other words, God can soften hard hearts!  Here is how you might want to pray this verse:  “Jesus, give (insert your husband’s name) a new heart and put a new spirit in him. Jesus, remove (insert name)’s heart of stone and give him a heart of flesh.  Jesus, put your Spirit in (insert name) and move him to follow your decrees and be careful to keep your laws.”

Also, to encourage yourself to keep diligently praying and trusting God, you may want to read the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18.

Feeling alone in your struggle

We’re all struggling with something.  It could be your marriage or your kids or your finances or your health or the political divisiveness that is separating longtime friends!  Often when we’re in the middle of a big challenge, we can feel very alone, even if we’re surrounded by people.  It seems like no one really understands what we’re going through.  We feel all alone in the battle.

But we’re not alone!  And this is not just a Christian bumper sticker or a warm and fuzzy saying on a Christian greeting card.  As some of you know, I recently lost my husband to illness.  He was the love of my life, my companion, my best friend, my encourager, my partner in ministry, and so much more.  Talk about feeling alone when he departed this earth!

For several months, I grieved, and that is totally appropriate and necessary.  That grief turned even more heavy when I realized I was all alone.  I might have family and friends, but I had lost my constant companion and best friend and partner in life.  But then I sensed God bringing to mind some of Jesus’ final words to his disciples.  In Matthew 28:20 he told his disciples something HUGE!  “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  

God was reminding me that Jesus is truly with me…every day…in every struggle…during my reflective morning coffee time to my search for guidance during the middle of a struggle.  He is my constant companion.   I’m finding that in the middle of a challenge, the question has changed from “What should I do?”  to “What should WE do, Jesus?”   I’m even inviting Jesus to join me during mundane tasks and grocery shopping and an afternoon walk.  He is always with me.  I’m not alone.  Is it time to invite Jesus to be your constant companion?

** or view this topic as a 3 minute VIDEO BELOW

How to receive God’s guidance

We all want to receive guidance from the Lord. You may need to make a decision in your marriage or with your children or regarding your work situation, and you wonder which way to go.  Well, the good news is that God promises to guide us!  Psalm 32:8 says “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”  The tricky thing is figuring out exactly how to access his counsel!

Here are two primary ways to access his wisdom and his counsel.  The first is….spending time reading His Word.  Duh.  But how many times do we come up with excuses as to why we don’t have the time or energy to spend much time reading the Bible?  Maybe it’s time to stop making excuses and DECIDE to make Bible reading a priority in your life.  I bet you make time to brush your teeth and take a shower, so why can’t you carve out 15 minutes for reading the Bible every morning?  😊  Reading the Bible will give you direct guidance on so many decisions you’ll need to make throughout any given day.  2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Next, spend time worshipping God and in “listening prayer”.  When we worship God, he draws near, and he longs to whisper to us through His Holy Spirit if we will strain to listen for that whisper to our souls.  1 Kings 19:12 “After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.”  So try this.  Put on some worship music, or start singing a worship song. As you praise Him, close your eyes and envision God with you.  Now ask Him to whisper guidance to your heart.  Strain to listen. Did he give you a vision or nudge your heart in some way?  I believe He will guide you.  Just make sure that anything you believe you hear from God does not contradict what He says in the Bible.

** Or view this topic as a 2 minute VIDEO BELOW

Sensing God’s comforting presence

If you’re like me, sometimes you desperately need to sense God’s presence.  When my relationships are challenged and I’m not “feeling the love” from people in my life, I so need to sense God’s love and his comfort.  The good news is that God promises to hold us when we cry out to Him!  In Isaiah 51:12, God says “I, even I, am he who comforts you.  Who are you that you fear mere mortals?”

However, it’s not like I can literally see him or reach out and grab his hand, so how can I take advantage of the comfort that He promises me?  Well, I take a clue from King David.  In Psalm 63:2, he says to God “I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.”   I believe David is talking about God giving David a vision of himself as David was worshipping. 

I’ve tried this and it is a marvelous thing!  I enter a time of praising God, with or without music, and then I ask God to help me envision myself being in His presence in perhaps his throne room or maybe in a beautiful mountain meadow beside a pristine brook.  Why don’t you try this right now?  Close your eyes, voice thankfulness and praise to God, and then ask Him to allow you to see yourself with Him in a particular setting.  Can you sense His presence?  Do you sense His great love for you?  Can you feel His comfort?  Do you sense the warmth of His love?  If possible, actually try to get out into his beautiful creation and saturate your senses with the beauty he designed!

If you’re struggling to experience God’s comfort, let me just say that you MUST believe that God will indeed reveal his comfort to you.  Have faith that you will sense God’s comfort.  Remember, your faith that God will fulfill his promises is vital.  James 1:6-7 says, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.  For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord

** or view this topic as a 2 minute VIDEO BELOW

Are you multiple-choicing Jesus?

I don’t know about you, but I fall into a really crazy and unproductive pattern when I seek God for advice and direction.  I intend to be a good listener, but instead of quieting myself and really straining for God to speak to me through his Holy Spirit, I keep….talking!  In fact, one second after I ask God the question “what should I do about …..?”, I start mulling over the options.  My thoughts start ricocheting in my head and after a few minutes, I feel like I’ve boiled down the choices to 3 or 4 options for God to choose from. Yikes! 

The other day I found myself doing this again.  This time, however, I heard God speak a word of correction (or what some might call rebuke!).  I heard him say “Why are you multiple-choicing me?”  He reminded me that He doesn’t need me to lay out options from which to choose.  He reminded me that, often, his answer or direction is not even listed among my multiple-choice options!  I heard him whisper to my spirit, “What if my answer is “e” and you have only given me A-D from which to choose?”

Thank you, Lord, for reminding me that I need to do less talking and more listening. This is the essence of James 1:19  “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak…”

By the way, one tip that has helped me quiet my thoughts so I can actually hear the Lord’s whisper of guidance is this:  Close your eyes and envision being with the Lord. (I like to envision walking beside him in a beautiful meadow next to a quiet stream).  Then, while your mind is occupied with that vision, ask your question.  Within a few moments, I usually sense Him whispering a word to me, or giving me a vision, or bringing a Bible verse to mind that will guide me.

Invite 3rd person into your marriage

One of my super humbling moments as a newly divorced woman actually reminds me of a vital marriage principle.  Here’s the event forever etched in my memory from December of 2002:

It was nearing Christmas and I had just gone through a divorce after 18 years of marriage.  My children were 16 and 14 at the time and I wanted to keep as many Christmas traditions in place as possible, so I announced that I was taking the kids to cut down our Christmas tree from a local tree farm.  Just before we took off, I realized I didn’t have any way to tie the tree to the top of my SUV.  But hey, I’m a reasonably intelligent person, or so I thought. lol  I wasn’t going to let anything deter me!

So I searched my new house for something resembling rope or a bungee cord.  Alas, there was no such thing on hand.  All I had was some….sewing thread. Hmmm. Well, maybe a whole bunch of thread would work?

Off we went to pick out our beautiful Christmas tree.  My son cut it down.  Unlike me, he apparently knew how to handle this part of the operation.  We hoisted the tree to the top of my SUV and then I carefully wove my spool of thread back and forth across the tree to secure it to the roof.  My kids just shook their heads in disbelief.  Then we took off, and we actually made it about a half-mile before the tree took a slow, inelegant slide from the top of the car to the road. Splat!

Why am I sharing this story with you?  I’m using it to remind both you and me that a tiny thread is not sufficient to hold anything heavy when the wind starts blowing against it.  In the same way, we need a super strong rope to hold a marriage together when we are slammed by the wind of miscommunication, frustration, and unmet expectations in marriage. We need a rope of three strands…you, your husband and the Lord.  Ecclesiastes 4:12 says “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Sit down with your husband and brainstorm ideas on how you can keep God in the center of your marriage. You will need him to help hold you guys together when you encounter the inevitable adversity and challenges that hit every marriage! Invite a third party into your marriage…the Holy Spirit!

How to develop true love for God

Many Christians are familiar with the verses in Matthew 22:37-38 where Jesus is asked about the greatest commandment.   Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. 

Well, I’ve been asked lately about how to develop this actual love for God.  You see, it’s very difficult to truly love someone you’ve never experienced.  You and I must experience the Lord’s power and love for ourselves in order to truly fall in love with Him.  Otherwise, we have head knowledge from the Bible, but no heart knowledge!

Looking back at my own journey with Christ, I realized that I’ve grown to truly love Him as I earnestly sought His help through prayer and then saw Him answer those prayers in loving and powerful ways. I experienced God!

 So I urge you to begin seeking the Lord with your whole heart.  Come to Him with your deepest needs, but make sure you’ve done your best to obey Him first.  After all, God says in James 5:16 that the “prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective”.  So, in other words, God powerfully responds to the person who truly seeks to obey His commands and follow His promptings.  After you’ve done all you can do to obey the Lord, pray earnestly for His help.  When He shows up, take notice!  God just connected with you and allowed you to experience His love, power and help!  Now, you have heart knowledge of the Lord!