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Monday, September 30, 2013

How to Respond When Bad Things Happen

When bad things happen we wonder where God is. We feel as if God doesn't care or even that He has abandoned us. Deep down we know that isn't true, but the internal confusion can still persist. What can we do?

Paul shared a list of things to help remold our thoughts in Philippians 4:8-9: 
“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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”  Focusing our thoughts as God as commanded in His Word brings the promise of God’s peace.

 But you might ask, “How do I do that? What can I think about?”  Great question. Let me suggest some things.  Just as emergency workers are trained to follow a set of procedures when a crisis occurs, it is good for us to have a plan in mind for when bad things happen to train out thoughts how to respond in a way that pleases God. Here are some starters that I use and have found helpful.

Begin with the following statement, say it out loud:

I can trust God because:

1. God is in control; God has a plan.  He is under no obligation to share His plan with me and I am not able to see everything from His perspective. This helps develop our faith. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,  neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.  As the rain and the snow  come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish,  so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:8-11

2. God loves you, He loves me. The cross is a reminder forever of the depth of the love of God. As we contemplate the cross where God sacrificed His only Son for us that we might have an eternal relationship with Him in eternity, we can never doubt the love of Almighty God.”But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

3. The purpose of my life is to glorify God.
– We do this by allowing Him to shape us into the image of His Son by developing a relationship with Him: “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.  Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” Ephesians 4:13-15

– by leading others to that relationship, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15:8

– by being obedient to His commands, “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” John 15: 10

– and by worshiping Him in Spirit and in truth. “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-24.

4. What happens to me is not as critical as my response to what happens.  Not that what happens is not important, but my response is indicative of the depth of relationship with God and how well I know Him. “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” Acts 20:24

5. I can thank God. Scripture says that "in everything" we give thanks, not "for". “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Each time those negative thoughts of doubt and despair coming knocking at your mind’s door, go back and begin to repeat: “I can trust God because....”

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