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May 10 2017

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Life Hurts: How to get from paralyzed to praise

Life Hurts: How to get from paralyzed to praiseLife Hurts: How to get from paralyzed to praise

A long-term painful situation pushed me to grow in my faith. Life hurt, and I didn’t know how I was going to survive. Instead of staying paralyzed, I trudged toward a deepening relationship with God and, in time, was able to praise him. Read more about my story here.

Two obstacles

When life was hurting the most, I wrestled with two spiritual boulders:

  • submitting to God’s sovereignty (Read more about God’s sovereignty here and here.)
  • accepting his love for me as perfect love. When life is painful, God’s sovereignty and love get put on the heart’s examination table.

“What we believe about God is quickly exposed by pain.”

~Stasi Eldridge (Becoming Myselfaffiliate link)

I thought to myself and reasoned out.

If God’s in control, then…

I’d finish the sentence with the two ideas that made the most sense to me:

  • he wouldn’t let this happen. (Doubting God’s sovereignty.)
  • God will make things better than before. (Trusting God’s sovereignty yet only in a way that fit my understanding.) My definition of “better than before” was a picture of ease. “Better” meant advantage.

When it came to God’s love for me, the sentences were the same.

If God loved me, then… 

  • … he wouldn’t let this happen. (Doubting God’s love.)
  • But, if he allowed it to happen—and loved me—then he was going to put me into a better situation.  I “simply” need to wait on him. (Trusting God’s love while still holding on to my reasoning.)

I hoped and doubted at the same time. I didn’t struggle as much with “God is in charge of everything” until that conflicted with my plans. I believed God’s love was tied to him orchestrating my “better than before” plan.  My faith wavered on shifting sand.

I prayed and waited and hoped, but my hope evaporated. Waiting was never my strength. When nothing seemed to improve, a cloud of discouragement oppressed me. In desperation, I’d return to prayer while simultaneously questioning God’s sovereignty and love because life didn’t line up to my Pollyanna-like faith. I battled with submitting to God’s will and trusting his love. I didn’t go from paralyzed to praise over night—it was a long, uphill fight. I had to work at submitting and trusting while my situation stayed the same and my heart ached.

How can I submit to God’s sovereignty when I don’t like it?

Funny how parenting makes us repeat things to our children that are for our ears too. How can my children submit to my authority when they don’t like it? When I tell my children to respect my decisions, it makes perfect sense to me. I love them and have their best in mind. So when I think about God’s authority over me, I need to do what I want my children to do: willingly submit. Just as my children sometimes fight against my authority, I fight against the ultimate Authority. Submitting is a decision of the will. That’s how anyone can submit: it’s a choice.

Letting go of my will feels wrong, but it’s not. It’s right. God reminds me of that truth with every parenting battle. And with teenagers in the mix, I get lots of reminders. Even so, I still wrestle with God over situations that seem wrong. But every time I practice choosing his way over mine, submitting gets easier.

Humility

When life is painful, God's sovereignty and love get put on the heart's examination table.The biggest help in the process of submitting to God’s sovereignty is to admit I don’t have all the answers. I’m no arrogant know-it-all, but I must think I’m brilliant if I’m putting God on trial for allowing certain things in my life. Notice I write in the present tense and use the word “process.” While my reflections on “dark days” are a story of my past, submitting to God’s sovereignty is an ongoing, everyday reality. The tighter grip I have on my way, the harder I resist.

God is all-knowing. While I agree with that in theory, I must press into truth when life hurts and doesn’t make sense. If God knows it all, then there is no detail missing from his scope of vision.

I’m not all-knowing. When I’m hurting, I can make the hard choice to trust God’s full-picture knowledge. God has a perfect track record—it’s pain that makes the choice hard.

One more key to helping me both submit to God’s sovereignty and accept God’s love

While humility is essential in my heart shift, God used another key characteristic in helping me move from paralyzed to praise. That key is gratitude. I’ll be writing more about that next week.

Until then, remember:

  • Going from paralyzed to praise doesn’t happen an overnight, it’s a long, uphill fight. It’s worth the fight.
  • Submitting is a decision of the will.
  • Every time you practice choosing his way over yours, submitting gets easier.
  • God has a perfect track record—it’s pain that makes the choice (to submit to his will) hard.

Does life hurt for you right now?

Can you relate to my story? Do you need to know there is hope to not only survive but thrive through life’s hurts? I’d love to pray for you. Please send me an email letting me know how I can pray for you. Don’t forget to sign up to receive my recent blog posts via email.

Helpful resources for when life hurts

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