When life throws you an unexpected curveball, it’s pretty easy to sink into depression, bitterness, victimhood or gloom. For some of you, that curveball is catching your husband connecting online with another woman…or your teen developing a drug addiction…or a cancer diagnosis for you or a loved one. For me, my latest curveball was my husband succumbing to covid and passing away unexpectedly. I became a widow, and suddenly by whole life changed. My partner and companion in life was gone in an instant.
As I was taking a walk the other day and grieving with the Lord, I sensed him prompting me to do 3 things in order to move forward with joy and purpose in my life, despite the curveball that came my way. He whispered to me, “Tackle what needs to be taken care of each day, dwell on what is actually good in your life and let yourself enjoy those things, and look for the opportunities I’m giving you each day to partner with me in expanding my kingdom and being a great reflection of Jesus.”
Wow! As he spoke those 3 things to my heart, I could tell my mood started to shift. Instead of focusing on the loss or the heartbreak, God was giving me the recipe to break free from gloom and embrace the purpose and joy he still has for me. Let’s review those 3 things along with the Bible verses that correspond to each instruction:
Tackle what needs to be taken care of today…just today. Don’t focus on the “what ifs” of the future. Matthew 6:33-34 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.
Focus on the blessings you DO have in your life and allow yourself to actually enjoy those things. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Ask God to show you the opportunities he has for you each day to partner with him in reflecting Jesus and expanding his kingdom. This gives you joy and purpose! Colossians 4:5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.
I first wrote this devotional a little over a year ago. But I think it may very well help one of you today. Here’s what I wrote:
As I’m writing this devotional on November 16, 2021, it has officially been one week since my beloved husband Raul passed away unexpectedly from covid. My world is turned upside down. Everything changed in an instant. The grief was and is intense. It comes in waves. There is a gaping hole where we used to partner together in daily life and in ministry. The love of my life is gone, and although I rejoice that he is with Jesus, I can’t help but feel like this is all so unfair.
Perhaps you are going through something equally as devastating; different, but still devastating. You may have a prodigal teen who is getting into trouble with drugs. You may have just received a cancer diagnosis that has rocked your world. You and I will definitely need to grieve the losses in our lives. Sometimes we mourn the actual loss of a loved one, and other times, we need to grieve the loss of what we thought our life or our health or our family would be like.
This morning, when I was trying to worship God through my pain, he gently gave me a different perspective that helped me quite a bit, so I would like to share it with you in the hope that it will somehow help you even a tiny bit as well. As I was grieving and asking him the “why did you allow this to happen” question, he whispered to me “But I gave you a gift that you didn’t deserve. I gave you 16 wonderful years with Raul.” Mind-blown. Perspective shifted. I suddenly realized that I’m a sinner who has made mistakes in my life, and yet God, in his extravagant kindness, chose to bless me with a gift I didn’t deserve…for 16 years. It made me thankful. Instead of sinking into depression and bitterness, I realized that God blessed me beyond measure with 16 great years.
God’s kindness to me reminded me to stop fixating on my pain and to start thinking about what I should be truly thankful for. Then this verse came to mind. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Even though you are going through something painful, can you take a moment to remember ways that God has blessed you? He IS a loving God. He blesses us more than we deserve.
I don’t know about you, but I sometimes feel my shoulder and neck muscles getting really tight. My head starts to throb. I even sometimes feel a little short of breath…or like I can’t even draw a full breath. These are all warning signs that I am filled with toxic anxiety and worry!
What is the remedy for anxiety and worry. Well, the solution is often really quite simple (although hard to remember to do!). We must remind ourselves that Jesus loves us and that he is completely trustworthy! We need to speak truth to our souls!
King David, who wrote many of the Psalms. often talked to his soul. In tough situations or when he was consumed with fear, he would basically give a pep talk to his soul. He would remind his soul of the truth about God. For instance, in Psalm 42:5, David writes “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” Is it time to talk truth to your soul?
I regain peace when I remind my soul that God is loving, God is powerful, God is wise, and God is in control!
Sometimes, we feel like we’ve reached the end of our rope! You may be discouraged because you’ve been praying for God to change your husband’s attitude or behavior, and it’s just not happening. You may be discouraged because you hoped your children would turn out a certain way, and they seem to be making bad decisions. You may be discouraged because you’ve been searching for a new job and you can’t find one that fits your abilities and availability. Now what?
Well, first, don’t give up praying. In Luke 18:1, the Bible says…”Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” So, keep asking God for a miracle. However, maybe it’s time to put on a new set of glasses. Maybe you’ve been insisting that God do what YOU think is best, instead of praying that God’s perfect will be done. Now is the time to ask God to reveal his perspective on this issue. Why don’t you ask him these 3 questions, and then spend some quiet time listening for his response:
1) Lord, can you help me to see this situation through your eyes?
2) How are you trying to change me or teach me through this situation?
3) Is there a lie the enemy is trying to get me to believe about this situation?
So many of us struggle with fear and anxiety, and sometimes that struggle escalates to a full-blown anxiety attack. We know that God does not intend for us to live in debilitating fear, but how do we break free?
I’ve personally found much relief by applying these 6 Bible verses:
2 Corinthians 10:5 “we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ”. This means when fear-based, hopeless, defeatist thoughts enter my mind, I need to examine them and ask whether this is something God would say!
1 Peter 5:8-9 “Be sober-minded and alert. The devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.” This means when I notice my thoughts are becoming hopeless or fearful, I need to recognize the devil is whispering those thoughts to me! I must take a stand and refuse to align my thoughts with the devil! Sometimes I even hold out my hand and shout “NO”.
Isaiah 41:10 “do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” This means I remind myself that I am not walking through my challenges and worries alone. Jesus is right there beside me all the time and all the way.
Romans 8:28 “And we know that God works all things together for good for those who love him” This means that I remind myself that even if my worst fear comes to pass, God can still bring something good out of that situation. That brings me comfort.
Psalm 139:16 “all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” This means that when fear-based thoughts enter my mind, I choose to remind myself that God already knows my future and my kid’s future. Nothing that happens to me or my kids will take God by surprise! He knows the future. He’s already there.
James 4:8 “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you” This means I choose to pivot from the fear and turn toward God in a very deliberate way. When I do that, He comforts me! “Drawing near to God” could mean everything from turning on a worship song, to reading the Bible, to calling a faith-filled friend, to hugging my actual Bible as I lay down to go to sleep at night.
Who would have thunk it? (Yes, I know thunk is not a word). Anyway, I discovered something absolutely fascinating several years ago, and it was confirmed by a young wife at Squadron of Sisters during a subsequent meeting. Husbands can become very stressed, anxious and uneasy when their home is a mess! I had read surveys about this before, but it was really underscored by what a wife shared with our group.
She said her husband started to have pretty severe anxiety problems. She didn’t understand why. He had a good job. She had a good job. Their relationship was going well. So what could be the problem? Well, she attended an SOS meeting where we shared that men really desire a tidy household. So, she went home and created a chore chart with stickers (yes, like parents use with their kids!). She didn’t do all the chores herself. She simply took charge of creating a plan to make sure the house could become tidy and clean.
The result? Within a very short time, her husband’s anxiety completely disappeared! Wow! I guess that Proverbs 31 wife really has it figured out. In verse 27, the Bible describes her as a woman who “looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” Coming up with a plan to keep your house tidy and clean can really boost your man’s sanity! P.S. You might find that your anxiety drops a notch or two as well!
I don’t know about you, but I can sometimes get consumed with the “what if” questions. What if a loved one passes away? What if I don’t have enough money to be secure in old age? What if my kids make a really bad life-altering decision? When I start thinking this way, my serenity level plunges, and my anxiety level shoots through the roof!
Well, here are two decisions that both you and I can make in order to regain peace of mind:
1) We must decide to follow the instructions given in Philippians 4:6-7, which says, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” In other words, we need to tell God all our concerns, ask Him to be in control, and then LEAVE the concerns in His hands!
2) We must remind ourselves every morning that Jesus is FOR us and that we can trust Him to bring something good out of even the most daunting or difficult situation. I mean, seriously, do we believe God loves us and that He is perfect in all His ways? If we REALLY do, then we can relax and realize that, even in difficult circumstances, He has a plan to bring about good thing in the lives of those who love Him. This is the essence of Romans 8:28… “and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.“
Most every person I know struggles with something, and often in the midst of that struggle, we get stuck in a rut. Even though we don’t like where we are, we often do the very things that keep us mired down in that area.
Some people get stuck in a rut regarding a dysfunctional coping mechanism such as drinking too much alcohol, or overeating, or over-shopping! Other people get stuck in a rut in terms of unhealthy and unhelpful communication with their family members. They might get stuck in the habit of yelling and criticizing or complaining. And still other people get stuck in a rut regarding depression and despair. Obviously, no one wants to stay in this rut, but we can’t seem to get ourselves unstuck!
Please allow me to share a few Bible insights that have really helped me get unstuck so I can move forward with joy, peace, and hope.
I’ve learned to do what Paul teaches in Philippians 3:13-14…. Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Let me make this personal. I lost my husband about 10 months ago. It was shocking. It was devastating. My world tipped upside down. And I could have easily got stuck in depression and even resentment toward God. However, I distinctly remember the moment I decided to pivot from the pain and turn forward, asking God to open up new adventures and new joys in my life. That was a choice. It was a really good one. I was able to heal and start grabbing hold of joy again.
I’ve learned to pause and consult God when I notice dysfunctional habits in my life. I ask Him to change my heart so that I desire good things, healthy things, and behavior that please Him. On my own, I don’t really have the strength to make these changes, but when God comes in and changes my heart in response to prayer, then I have the strength and strong desire necessary to make those changes! Listen to what God says in Ezekiel 36:26-27 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Ask God to change your heart. That’s the first step in getting unstuck from bad habits and unhealthy behavior.
I’m coming to believe more and more that we would all benefit from living a more natural lifestyle…as in the way God created things to be! Let me give two examples that might apply to you as a wife:
1) Did you know that most husbands, when surveyed, say they prefer their wives to wear less makeup? The clear majority of men say they actually like their women to wear either no make-up at all or just light make-up. In other words, they prefer a natural look…the appearance that God gave you in the first place!
2) If you’ve been battling your weight, did you know that going all-natural can greatly assist you in dropping those extra pounds? Let me tell you from personal experience, it’s true!! For over 8 years now, I have been eliminating almost all refined and processed foods from my diet, and wow! I am enjoying wonderful whole grain foods, cheeses, meats, fruits, veggies, etc. I lost and kept off a lot of weight, my early on-set arthritis has disappeared, and I feel great!
Maybe God knew best when he created us 🙂 Deuteronomy 32:4 says “He is the Rock, his works are perfect…” Maybe it’s time we got back to living the way God intended when he created us!