Comfort in Suffering

Everyone grows tired of the same old attempts to make us feel good when we are going through the most difficult times in our lives. For the most part, they mean well. Does it really feel like that to you, though?

If we are being honest, we want to believe that “everything will be alright” and “time heals all wounds”. At 2AM in the morning when you can’t sleep and have been crying your eyes out, these words ring less than hollow.

The meaning behind those words are saying, “I care, but I don’t really know what to say or do.” In the end, they mean well and really do care for you.

Unless they have gone through what you are going through or are a professional counselor/minister, anything they say may not give you any sense of relief or comfort.

When I learned that almost everything I can say or do for someone going through a divorce will not provide much help, it set me back a little bit. It caused me to rethink my approach when it comes to advice and direction for divorce healing.

To those of you who have read my previous blog posts or I have been blessed to help you in person, you know those words. I will share them later in this post, for those that need them.

Today, I saw a video that I had to watch twice. It is a video from Celebration Church of Jacksonville, FL. They produce a weekly video to compliment their daily bible study called The Whole Story Reading Plan. It is in partnership with The Bible Project and an amazing way to gain a fuller understanding of the Bible.

In this weekly video titled “Comfort in the Mystery“, I gained a fresh perspective of the Book of Job.

We all know the story (or do we?). Job was a good man that God allowed to go through suffering. Man, did I learn some things. From a guy who has been a Christian for over 25 years and heard numerous sermons on Job, this was eye-opening.

The video is about 30 minutes long. When you are ready and have the time to process it, feel free to watch it (posted again below). Watch it fully a couple of times, like I did.

(Disclaimer: You may be confused by some of the things said, if you have not deeply studied the Bible. Just listen for the application of the Word, paying attention to how God’s Word provides comfort in and through suffering. I will refer you to the book Supernatural by Dr. Michael Heiser for information on what be new or confusing to you.)

Hopefully, you will feel encouraged that God knows what you are going through and desires you to be whole, not just healed.

He has the answers to your questions. He has the salve for your wounds. He has the hands to mend your broken heart.

I promised you earlier that I would share with you what I say to those needing comfort and direction in times of divorce.

If you are looking for answers, I don’t have them. If you want me to tell you it will get better, it will eventually. If you want to know how to fell or how to act, beats me. So what good can I provide?

A continually, fully surrendered, honest relationship with Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior that is growing each and every day is what you need. Simple as that.

It is not hard, yet extremely challenging. It is not easy, yet it is exceedingly fulfilling. It is not warm and fuzzy, at least when you start. It is not confusing, as long as you remain obedient.

I have not had one person tell me that the above has not worked, if they honestly surrender complete control over EVERY area of their life and follow Jesus with blind and growing faith.

Don’t kid yourself. What you are going through is real life!!! Guess who gave you that life? God did and he does not make mistakes.

He is the only one who knows exactly what you need, when you need it, and how you need it. A true and honest growing relationship with Him will provide the peace, wisdom, and knowledge needed as you process from divorce to healing and on to wholeness.

God knows. God loves you. Let Him love you the way He wants to love you.

Get to know Him.

Be blessed!!

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There Was Jesus

Such an amazing song to encourage those that need some encouragement right now.

The lyrics are listed below. Be blessed!!

There Was Jesus


Every time I tried to make it on my own

Every time I tried to stand and start to fall

All those lonely roads that I have traveled on

There was Jesus

When the life I built came crashing to the ground

When the friends I had were nowhere to be found

I couldn’t see it then but I can see it now

There was Jesus

In the waiting, in the searching

In the healing and the hurting

Like a blessing buried in the broken pieces

Every minute, every moment

Of where I been and where I’m going

Even when I didn’t know it

Or couldn’t see it

There was Jesus

For this man who needs amazing kind of grace

For forgiveness at a price I couldn’t pay

I’m not perfect so I thank God every day

There was Jesus

On the mountain in the valleys (There was Jesus)

In the shadows of the alleys (There was Jesus)

In the fire, in the flood (There was Jesus)

Always is and always was

I never walk alone

Music by Zach Williams and Dolly Parton performing “There Was Jesus” (Official Music Video). (C) 2020 Provident Label Group LLC, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

Psalm 23: Divorce Translation

It seems even those who don’t know the Bible have heard at least parts of this passage of scripture. It is one of the most popular and encouraging group of verses quoted and paraphrased every hour of every day somewhere in the world.

I would like to share this version with you. I will quote a verse and then translate it for those needing the hope and encouragement you need now during the divorce healing process.

Psalm 23:1 ESV

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

Translation:

Jesus is watching over you. He is looking out for danger and possible attacks against you. If you have Him, you have everything you need to get through this. Don’t think another relationship will give you true peace. It won’t fill that God-shaped hole inside of you.

Psalm 23:2 ESV

He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.

Translation:

Jesus will make you rest. He will cause you to take time to be refreshed. He will make sure it is a place still full of life and nourishment (grass and water). As a lamb, you need a safe place to pause and regain your strength. Jesus will allow you to see the lush, green grass between your toes and the mirror-like surface of the freshest water you have ever seen.

Psalm 23:3 ESV

Translation:

He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Jesus brings back your soul from the place of brokeness. He fixes the shattered pieces and puts them together again. He will be your ever present help as you make decisions that will affect you and your family from this day forward. It will be a path that glorifies Him as it brings forth transformation in you.

Psalm 23:4 ESV

Translation:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me.

Jesus will calm your fears of what is to come as you choose to walk with him through this valley in your life. Though it may feel like you are near death and being haunted by an evil shadow, He is right there with you. Hold on to Him, because He wants to hold onto you. His rod is an instrument of protection from harm as it displays His strength towards the enemy. His staff is the way He guides you, lovingly rescuing you from those places you seem to find yourself in that are not good for you. Those give you a peace, knowing how much He loves you in those ways.

Psalm 23:5 ESV

Translation:

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, you anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows.

Jesus is creating a place where you will feast upon God’s blessings while others will be able to see His goodness towards you. He will flood your heart and mind with an abundance of peace and joy as you commune with Him at His table. There will come a day that you will be able to help others from the overflow of His goodness in your life. Your healing will flow out to those around you because of what God has done in you.

Psalm 23:6 ESV

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Translation:

Get ready for the rest of your life!! You will experience a life where people will see God’s goodness and mercy flow out of you wherever you go. You can experience the life God has for you, as a son or daughter of the King in His house full of love and peace. As you stay in His home, you will.

Don’t let your emotions and self-image cause you to stray. Wolves are waiting for you to be isolated and wounded. God will come to your rescue. Just call on Jesus and rest in Him. He is your shepherd.

Be blessed.

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The Next Chapter

(Please read all the way to the end)

God is always writing a new chapter in our lives. Our life story is being written by an author and creator that already knows how the story will end.

Do we know how it will go?

Of course not. We are living that story and you can’t see into the future. While we can do everything we can to invest, change, grow, and learn to become what we believe is our better self, many things go into the next chapter.

I used to think I wanted to know my future. The older I get, the more I realize that I would not have chosen that future. I wanted to be a rock star. I wanted to see the world. I wanted to have things and be someone that is nothing close to what I have or who I am now.

Saying all of that, I would not change one thing in my past because of what God has done in and through my life to bring me to where I am now.

Do I have regrets? More than I can ever count? Do I wish things would have been different? Only if I would have what I have now, know what I know now, be as blessed as I am now, and know that through everything, God has been faithful to bring forth wholeness to me through it all, in spite of me and my failings.

So, why are we both taking a moment right now to acknowledge the turning of a page in our lives?

Our story is not made up of only a couple dozen chapters. It is a complete rendering of our life on earth. It has many characters, plot twists, and shocking events. It includes love, pain, joy, loss, life, and death.

It is a record for all of eternity that you exist. You matter. You are a part of human history and God’s story.

While most lives will never make the history books in our schools or the shelves of our libraries and Kindles, it still is being written. It is still there. It will always be there, even if nobody ever sees it or reads it.

God has a place for our story. He is recording our daily lives, knowing how it will end. Yet, He is letting us co-write it.

We know that God gave us a free will. There are consequences and results from every decision and action for our whole life. This is our part of the story writing.

Think of it as a REAL (not psuedo-real) reality show. As you go through voting people off, back-stabbing, helping your teammates, lifting others up, and striving to be your best, God is putting pen to paper on your story.

How do you think God goes about recording your prayers to Him? Is it like you talking to Him for advice on how to handle a situation or relationship? Do you ignore His subtle and sometimes abrupt requests for just a few minutes to spend time with Him?

Since He knows the whole story, I wonder if we see how advantageous it would be to ask Him about His plans on how our story should go. God has a best plan for us. It is up to us to come into alignment with that plan in order for Him to give us our best life.

How would our life story change if we asked the One who knows how the story ends? How would being obedient to His calling and direction affect our selfish and simplistic look at our lives? Could we see our life actually is a vital part of human history?

What is your next chapter?

Will it be full of disappointment, pain, and selfishness to the point of destruction at the hand of substance abuse, suicide, or just giving up on life and letting things happen?

Will it be full or a restoration of your self-image, a renewing of your mental well-being, and a testimony to God’s redeeming work in your life?

Take a moment right now to decide how you want the next chapter to read. Set a few minutes aside to quiet yourself and honestly talk to God.

Tell Him what you are feeling. Be honest. If you can’t be honest with yourself and others, at least be honest with Him. He loves you and is on your side. Let it out.

Ask Him what this next chapter looks like. It may amaze you that He wants to write about the healing and wholeness He has for you. He is wants to marvel that this will not be a chapter in your life that will look back to the other chapters already written but looks look forward to the life story to come.

Picture yourself at a Panera (where I am right now enjoying a hot Orange Mint Herbal Tea) sitting across from God himself. He has a pad and paper in front of Him and has a nice pen in His right hand touching the paper. On the top of the page reads “The Next Chapter”.

He looks at you with excitement in His heart, wondering what you want written down. His eyes are filled with a love you are just now starting to understand. His voice asks you softly, “My child, what is next? How do you want this to start?”

What is your response?

 

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The Space Between

The word liminal comes from the Latin word ‘limen’, meaning threshold – any point or place of entering or beginning. A liminal space is the time between the ‘what was’ and the ‘next.’ It is a place of transition, a season of waiting, and not knowing.

Author and Franciscan friar Richard Rohr describes this space as:

where we are betwixt and between the familiar and the completely unknown. There alone is our old world left behind, while we are not yet sure of the new existence. That’s a good space where genuine newness can begin. Get there often and stay as long as you can by whatever means possible…This is the sacred space where the old world is able to fall apart, and a bigger world is revealed. If we don’t encounter liminal space in our lives, we start idealizing normalcy.

These thresholds of wondering and not knowing our ‘next’ are inevitable and most are incredibly disruptive. Yet, these spaces are required and necessary for growth that precedes your healing.

From the point where you take that leap of faith until you land on solid ground, it can be scary. It can be lonely. It can be confusing and exhausting.

It is ALWAYS a testimony.

This is the place that scares us. This is the place where our comfort zone has been left for the unknown zone. This is where fear and faith collide to do battle for the future of our life.

Look at the person in the picture above again. Notice a few things about them:

 

They are looking forward —

Unless you are a diver or playing around near a pool, you look ahead when you leap. You are  seeking a place that is in front of you.

Have you ever wondered why God put our eyes on the front of our head? Yes, to look forward. We have to strain to see behind us without a mirror. It should be a struggle to focus on what is already behind us.

God wants us to look at what lies ahead instead of what lies in ruins behind us. You can’t change the past. You can only learn from it and move forward.

13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,

They are heading somewhere —

There is movement away from the past towards a new present. A decision was made to embrace change. They trust where they are heading will be better than where they have been, a place of pain.

There is a hope, a desire for more than what has happened to them. A sense of a new beginning that can only happen when they step out in faith.

But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
    nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—

 

They are not where they used to be —

The space between is not the place of your past. You are not there any more. Rejoice in that!!

You are now residing in a new space. Liminal space is temporary, just like where you may be living right now.

A nice big house may have become a small 2 bedroom apartment either with your children or all by yourself. The house may be the same, but your family may not be there with you.

A negative change in your physical home can become a welcome change in your non-physical home. Your soul can be at rest with His Holy Spirit no matter where you live,  in a mansion or in a rescue shelter.

He lives in you. Seeking Him and welcoming Him into your new ‘home’ will mean a closer, more life-giving relationship with the God who will never leave you nor forsake you.

10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly,

 

They are above where they will land —

It seems a little odd, but do you notice in the picture the person is higher than where they will end up on the other side? Why is that?

First, it takes strength to jump out in faith. You need to know that God will be your strength and will give you the power to propel away from your past to land in your future. Go for it!!

Second, you can’t just crawl off the faith cliff. You will fall straight down. The person above put physical, mental, and emotional energy into moving out from their past. You can too.

Third, where you are headed will be a foundation for your future. It will be the solid ground where you can stabilize yourself for the journey ahead. Count on it.

13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

 

Will everything be perfect from this point forward? Of course, not. Will everything work out? I hope so. Will it be difficult? Probably. Will it be worth it? DEFINITELY!!

When you thrust your whole being upwards towards the God who created you and loves you, the picture above is where you will be. You will be closer to Him, away from your past, above your problems, and heading towards a solid rock where your new life will begin.

Be blessed!!

 

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Does Anybody Care?

Why does it seem that people don’t care what you are going through?

Have you wondered why so many friends and even family seem to distant themselves from you when they find out you are separated or divorced? Maybe not everyone, but the vast majority of people seem to move further away instead of reaching out to connect with you.

From being on both sides of the issue (twice divorced and in ministry to friends and others), I have realized that a few different issues may be the reason.

Confusion

People just don’t know what to think or say most of the time. It is similar to when someone passes away and you want to say something but don’t have the words. You don’t want to upset the other person or cause them further pain. The same goes for divorce.

I remember having friends of mine, acquaintances and other church family, that seemed to keep their distance when I was going through my divorces. I had one or two very close friends and family, but it seemed like my whole social circle disappeared.

As I look back, it may not be anything more than something as simple as them being confused on the best way to encourage and help the person going through this difficult season. You don’t want to make things worse or cause further pain so you choose the “wait and see” approach. Maybe they will reach out to you. Then again….

Believe me, I am sure you feel confused at this time so how do you think those around you feel? How can they be of help when you don’t have a firm grasp on yourself and what you need?

Pain

Yes, you are not the only one feeling pain.

The relationship you had before brought you friendships and acquaintances that now see a broken relationship. The relationship you had with them as a couple is now a mine field of pain for all involved.

They may not feel like it is the right time to approach you so they hold off. They might rather give you all the space you need when in reality, you really need them now more than ever. They care about you, but they don’t want to be the instrument that may cause you more pain by bringing up your ex or the situation.

Self-preservation

This may seem odd, but some people may not be a true friend or a person that really cares about who you really are. This is the time when true friendships rise to the occasion.

Some people feel like it may just be easier to not give anything to your relationship with them  because it would just be easier for them. They feel like they will say hi if they see you on the street, but they are unwilling to see the benefit in investing in a friendship or relationship with you any more.

That may seem harsh, but this is a time when real relationships are deepened and shallow relationships fade away. In some ways, this reason may feel like a bandage that got ripped of of your friendship. It will hurt more earlier, but in the long run it may be the best for everyone.

 

So now what?

 

It is all up to you.

Is it really that simple?

Maybe, maybe not. That is what I think though.

Forgive them, for they know not what they do. Of course, that is what Jesus said on the cross, but it applies here too.

Only you can know when the right time is to talk about your divorce and your feelings. You have the ultimate control. You can get help and reach out to others, or not. You can ignore that text or call, or you can answer it. It is up to you.

There is a time when you don’t want others to bother you, but that is the last thing you need to do for an extended period of time. Isolation leads to many wrong decisions, thoughts, and actions. It is okay to quiet yourself and process, but processing is an action word that leads to a conclusion.

You can’t live in process. Don’t just sit alone and keep going over the same things over and over and over and over and….. you get the picture. That is not a process. That is immobilization. You are allowing your circumstances to cause you to stop living your life.

You have a choice to reach out or to isolate. You have the choice to take time to process and then get help, or you can just hold on to the baggage as you waste another day of your life wondering how things are going to get better.

If I am coming across a little harsh, I am sorry. I do not mean to, but sometimes we all need a word that wakes us up a little. Sometimes all it takes is the right word to make us rethink and take action when we don’t feel like it.

Life is going to go on without you. You have a life that means more than you may ever understand. You have a purpose and a reason to move forward into healing, even if you just take a baby step here and there.

People want to reach out, but they usually don’t know what to say. People want to help if they can, but they don’t want you to feel more pain. People want to encourage you and lift you up in prayer, but it is just easier to pray from afar than to be present in the flesh.

If you don’t have a couple of very good close friends that you can talk to, find some. You will need them. Reach out to a pastor or Christian counselor. Reach out to a Care Ministry or join a DivorceCare group. Most of all, know that there ARE people that want to be there for you, even if it is just to give you a shoulder to cry on or an open ear to listen to you.

People care, it just may not seem like that right now. Find the ones who REALLY care, those who will be there for you through thick and thin. Let God use them to give you a hug, a kind word, and a friendship that will stand the test of time.

Earlier this week, I called a friend I know is on his way to divorce. I just felt that I needed him to know that if he wanted to talk, I would be there for him. That was it. Just someone to listen to him. A lot of time, that is all we need. Someone to listen. I told him I would be praying for him and we could grab lunch soon. He really appreciated it and wants to do lunch soon.

Let people be the hands and feet of God for you at this time. He is there for you. Usually it is through another person. Reach out and let others reach you. It does hurt, but it gets better.

I know how it feels to wonder if anyone cares, and that is why I reach out. My prayer is that someone reaches out to you and you let them be there for you.

Be blessed!!

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God’s Perspective on Suffering

Suffering

Why does God allow suffering? Is God just? Does God rule this world with true justice? Why do bad things happen to good people?

We all have these questions sometime in our lives. As someone dealing with divorce, you may be questioning these right now.

One of the most unique books of the Bible is Job. It is known for it’s teaching on suffering.

I could give you a bunch of encouraging words, anecdotes, feel-good methods, and applications when it comes to suffering. I will choose instead to point you to this video.

If you are struggling with suffering and just need questions like those above answered, take just 11 minutes and watch this. It is an overview of the whole book of Job from The Bible Project. It can do in 11 minutes what most preachers and counselors would take weeks to convey.

The end of the video does help describe how to process suffering and leads us to lean into God through prayer and faith.

After you watch the video, feel free to let me know in the comments your thoughts, feelings, or just let me know if it helped you. I would love to hear from you.

Be blessed!!

Here is a more question and answer/simpler version. More story telling. 7 minutes.

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Broken

Me: Hey God.
God: Hello…..
Me: I’m falling apart. Can you put me back together?
God: I would rather not.
Me: Why?
God: Because you aren’t a puzzle.
Me: What about all of the pieces of my life that are falling down onto the ground?
God: Let them stay there for a while. They fell off for a reason. Take some time and decide if you need any of those pieces back.
Me: You don’t understand! I’m breaking down!
God: No – you don’t understand. You are breaking through. What you are feeling are just growing pains. You are shedding the things and the people in your life that are holding you back. You aren’t falling apart. You are falling into place. Relax. Take some deep breaths and allow those things you don’t need anymore to fall off of you. Quit holding onto the pieces that don’t fit you anymore. Let them fall off. Let them go.
Me: Once I start doing that, what will be left of me?
God: Only the very best pieces of you.
Me: I’m scared of changing.
God: I keep telling you – YOU AREN’T CHANGING!! YOU ARE BECOMING!
Me: Becoming who?
God: Becoming who I created you to be! A person of light and love and charity and hope and courage and joy and mercy and grace and compassion. I made you for more than the shallow pieces you have decided to adorn yourself with that you cling to with such greed and fear. Let those things fall off of you. I love you! Don’t change! … Become! Become! Become who I made you to be. I’m going to keep telling you this until you remember it.
Me: There goes another piece.
God: Yep. Let it be.
Me: So … I’m not broken?
God: Of course Not! – but you are breaking like the dawn. It’s a new day. Become!!!
~Author Unknown

Can You Help Me?

When I started this blog years ago, I never knew that it would reach all over the world and help so many special people. Each and every one of them (including YOU) has been a blessing from God to encourage me to continue helping people that need healing from divorce.

And now, I would love your help!!

I believe that God is leading me to create a new YouVersion Bible App Reading Plan. I have been blown away by how many people have responded to the other two plans I created (as of today, over 137,000). I give God all of the glory and a huge thank you to YouVersion for allowing me to just be a small part of the healing process that He is doing in their lives. I am extremely humbled.

Soooooooo, what next?

I WOULD LOVE YOUR HELP!!

I know that you may not be ready to share about your divorce situation, and I am totally fine with that. If you are not, you may skip the rest of this post. Feel free to check out any of the other posts I have on this blog. May they give you the help and direction you need during this time in your life. Check back soon because I will be creating another new blog post soon and would love to know what you think.

If you are at a point where I could ask you to suggest topics for my next Reading Plan, I would LOVE for you to help me out.

TITLE: (pending) DIVORCE TO HEALING: THE FIRST 7 DAYS

REQUEST: In as much detail as you feel willing to share; describe the first 7 days of your divorce and what helped you out the most in those 7 days? Can you narrow it down to a few different topics? Are there specific feelings of fear, regret, anger, etc.. that dominated that time? Looking back, if you had a Reading Plan offering assistance during that time, what 7 things would have given you the most help during those first 7 days?

I know this may not be something you feel comfortable to share, and I totally understand. I just wanted to give you an opportunity to share, if you feel like God has gotten you to a point where you are willing to help others with your experience.

Go ahead and leave your thoughts in the comments. If you would like to share, but would only like to share with me in private, go ahead and send me a personal email at divorcetohealing@gmail.com and I will keep your comments between us.

Ask God what He would have you share. You may have an insight that could change the life for someone just like you, a person forever changed by the pain of divorce.

I want to say thank you in advance. I know this may be tough for some people. God has brought some of you to a place where you are ready to share your thoughts. He has given you a testimony in how He has helped you gain wisdom and peace through your healing process. Now is a great time to share your thoughts.

Thank you all for taking a few moments to give me a greater look into what it takes to handle the first 7 days of a divorce. I don’t take it lightly. I appreciate each and every one of you.

Be blessed!!

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