On Losing Focus

(This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post on November 11, 2016.)

time-for-god
ericcartier.com

It happens: we’ve started a task, we’re a few moments in, and then another idea flashes across our minds. For me, that other idea is usually something I need to add to my to-do list. And for me, the task I’d started, quite frequently, is my daily devotional journaling with God.

Let’s be honest. First, I use the word “daily” loosely. I have a daily desire, but the actual execution on a day-to-day basis is…well, not so daily. (I do however talk to God — all day, everyday — so there’s that. But I digress…)

God frequently speaks to me through song. I’ll wake up and He will have me singing or humming a song through the Holy Spirit. I always enjoy that, a sweet reminder that He was with me all night and was downloading His truths and will for me and answering my prayers.

One particular morning I awakened to the tune of Lauren Daigle’s “First” emanating from my Spirit.

I meditated on that song for a few minutes. I felt in it an excitement of knowing that it was God telling me He wanted to spend time with me first thing that morning. And it was a little reminder of loving correction: I should seek and desire and want God more than anything, and that want should be of His presence, not his presents.

I was in a peaceful, joyful place. And then it struck. That errant thought that completely draws you out of intimacy with your Father for a fleeting moment.

It was a to-do item. Something I “had” to remember to do today.

I was irritated, bothered. Why’d my brain have to tell me this now?!

Then the Holy Spirit placed John 10:10 NLT into my remembrance: “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

Almost immediately, the Holy Spirit had me circle “stea”l and then He said, “Your focus.”

Whoa.

So many times I’d read that verse, heard it growing up, and always thought of things being stolen. As I marveled at this revelation, God kept talking.

“The thief can also steal your faith, peace, love, and joy, if you let him. He can kill your dreams, intentions, and hope, if you let him. He can destroy your destiny, your future, and your expectation, if you let him.”

I went on to read that very verse in two more translations, The Message and the Amplified versions. And I began to notice that the “rich and satisfying life” part became “abundance” once I reached the Amplified version. I was led to learn more about the term “abundance”.

According to the Blue Letter Bible, “abundance” is a Greek adjective that reads “perissos” in its original form. But the definitions are what got me:

  • Exceeding some number or measure or rank or need
  • Over and above, more than is necessary, superadded
  • Exceedingly abundantly, supremely
  • Something further, more, much more than all, more plainly
  • Superior, extraordinary, surpassing, uncommon
  • Pre-eminence, superiority, advantage, more eminent, more remarkable, more excellent.

That was cool and all, but I didn’t get it. So I waited for an explanation, for the dots to be connected. And God said to me: You can only see this in terms of things (I really like handbags and cars and gadgets!) because that’s all your mind can handle, He told me. But there’s more, international speaker. Prophet.

See, we often lose sight of the more. We spend so much time fixating on what the thief came to take, that we lose sight of what we still have and what’s waiting for us.

We get so flustered that we’re not yet at a place where our time with God comes completely unaffected by worldly distraction, that we don’t celebrate that we can just return to sweet, quiet time with our Father.

(I literally just got a phone call. Ugh! OK, back on track. Where was I?…Oh!…)

And while we’re trying to protect all of our stuff from the thief, He’s taking the one thing we aren’t looking at: our focus.

We’re trying to protect our peace when a coworker eats our lunch by saying, “Not today satan!” And satan’s already taken our focus off of our gratitude to God for having food.

We’re trying to protect our joy when a friend says something unintentionally hurtful to us, but satan’s already taken our focus off of the blessing of friendship.

We’re trying to protect our hearts so we’re turning down new friendships and potential dates left and right, but satan’s already taken our focus off of giving and directing that love to God.

We’re trying to protect our dreams by not telling anyone about the desire God’s placed in our heart, but satan’s already taken our focus off of the freedom and joy God wanted that dream to give us.

See how it works?

Well, I decided this morning to just get back to my quiet, devotional time. Even when my husband came home 20 minutes later. Even when my sister called a few minutes after that. I just — took my focus back.

See, what we focus on matters. And the enemy knows that. Because one moment of lost focus could cost us all of the abundance God is promising us.

And His abundance, the more He still has for us that is so splendid we can’t even imagine it, is far greater than what the enemy is currently trying to take.

So cut yourself some slack; you’re human. There will be times when you can press in like never before and experience God in new, intimate ways. But there will also be times when you can’t for the life of you cease the torrent of mundane thoughts that race through your mind.

Keep the faith. Keep your focus. God’s got more for you if you’d just focus on Him and not the thief and his wily ways.

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#bepetty for Jesus

Last week I had the privilege of preaching for the first time.

Now, anyone who knows me personally or who has followed this blog for a while may be saying, “You’ve been preaching for years.”  But last week was the first time I’d been invited to speak…in a church…from a pulpit…with the express purpose of bringing the Word.

I was nervous and exhilarated and humbled that God would choose me for such an awesome and important task.  But the word He gave me for this young adult audience was unique and on-time…just as He is and just as our relationship is.

Gratefully, my dear friend Penny videoed the entire 13-minute sermon.  Take a few minutes, check it out,  and commit to #bepetty for Jesus.

And I have to give credit to the amazing Awesomely Luvvie who is the genius behind all the “petty” names at the end. Pick up her petty T-shirt here!  *And no, she didn’t ask me to endorse this and I’m not being compensated.  Just giving a shout out to something/someone who inspired  me.

Blessings to you!  I hope it inspires you and speaks to your situation.

Adjust Your Crown

(I originally wrote this as a Mother’s Day post, but it’s some pretty powerful #MotivationMonday material!)

Stop abdicating your power. 

The word “abdicate” means to renounce one’s throne. To vacate. 

It’s not as simple as giving up one’s power, because anyone can give up power. The dog walker, the custodian, heck, even the President. Because they are of the world and walk in and execute in worldly power. 

But to renounce a throne, one must first be royal and then decide to walk away. Having the status of a king or queen or a member of their family and choosing to leave. 

So, mothers, daughters, sisters, Christians! If we are to stop abdicating our power we first must know who we are, and we are royalty. The Bible tells us that in 1 Pet 2:9 NIV:

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

The second key thing that must happen in order for us to stop abdicating our power is we must them make a decision. To decide takes power. 

Ever had to decide to fire someone? Break up with someone? Leave that job? Move to that new place? Start that new company?

The word says that faith without works, without actions, is dead. 

The reality is that not moving, not taking action, IS in fact a decision. 

And I know decisions can be tough. God knows decisions can be tough. But He promises us that when we’re weak His grace is sufficient, His strength is perfected. 

I’ll leave you with two examples of women who made decisions not to abdicate their power – even in their most broken, most vulnerable, most hurt, most empty states – but their decisions changed the trajectories of their lives and of ours. 

The woman with the alabaster box and the woman with the issue of blood. 

Because they decided to push through, to offer their last, to put it all on the line, to use the only power they had, not only were they healed, their demonstrations became examples of how giving God all we have can result in great moves of power on our behalf. 

And get this: they didn’t even know Jesus like we do. They didn’t have a relationship him. They weren’t meeting him and falling down crying every Sunday. They had a chance encounter with the king and they DECIDED not to give up the POWER they FELT in that moment. 
So how much more so should we fight for, walk in, and own our power because we know the Prince of Princes and the King of Kings? The alpha and the omega. The bright and morning star. The lily in the valley. Our beginning and our end. Our shepherd. Our all and all. 

Because He lives, we can face tomorrow. 

Because He lives, all fear is gone. 

I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. No turning back.

Decide today not to abdicate your power, ladies. 

Your healing is in the power of Christ. Your promotion is the power of Christ. The legacy of the great women of the bible is in that blood and because of that there’s no pain too great, no problem too big that you cannot overcome. 

So adjust your crown and walk fully in the power, authority, and dominion that are your birthright simply because your God’s kid. Monday ain’t got nothing on you!

source: Pinterest

Them Fightin’ Words

The Word of God says:

“The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”

‭‭John‬ ‭10:3-5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

http://bible.com/116/jhn.10.3-5.nlt

As children of God, we’re His sheep. He calls us by name and we follow him…and Him only. It’s a critical goal of our walk – to learn and decipher His voice from the “noise” of life – but we so often fall short. 

In life, so many other things beckon for us and our attention. The enemy wants us to follow the money, or the “in-crowd.”  He wants us to follow what feels right or what the world dictates. Chase that promotion. Chase that girl/guy. Follow that high. Walk this way. 

The enemy calls our names…but we shouldn’t answer. We shouldn’t follow him. In fact, Jesus says (and I’m paraphrasing here, “Nah, son, they with me. I betchu they won’t follow you. Mine is the only voice they know.”

So if our lives are the only God some folks see if. If we know there is a group of folks looking for a reason to discredit our Father and our Savior, when we choose to listen to AND FOLLOW voices that aren’t our Shepherd’s, we’re in effect calling Jesus a liar.

Now, fret not. God’s gon’ get ALL His glory, whether it’s from you and me or not. (Remember those rocks?) But I can’t help but to think…

Who you callin’ a liar?!

I for one don’t want to be responsible for calling my Risen Saviour a liar simply because I couldn’t control my flesh, or because I thought I knew better, or I couldn’t get past what I wanted for what He has ordained. 

Nope. I’m good. Because the last I checked it was the devil who was a liar. See how crafty he is?!

One lie “good” Christians tell

Just a thought I had:

Stop telling people “God won’t put more on you than you can bear.”

That’s not Bible.

The truth is that He WILL put more on us than we can bear. It’s how He grows our faith and trust in Him. If He didn’t strategically and purposefully allow adversity in our lives, we wouldn’t come to know His power for ourselves and then trust Him more and more. And if He didn’t allow situations where we were forced to trust Him, how could we ever come to a place where we could have faith for the “exceedingly abundantly” He’s already promised us?

I mean, how could you trust God for that bill being paid, that job, that car, that house, or that healing if you hadn’t already learned through experiencing Him yourself in your challenges that He’s able?

If He didn’t put more on us than we could bear, we wouldn’t need Him and we certainly wouldn’t need Jesus. Heck, we’d be our own saviors every time.

This is why the Bible says we should rejoice in our weaknesses because it gives God a chance to show Himself strong, to show up and show off on our behalf.

With the things I’m fighting, the things I’ve been through, the things you’re up against and been through, you would have lost your natural mind, maybe even taken your own life BUT for God.

I absolutely believe that God puts more on me than I can bear — not overcome, but bear — because otherwise how will He prepare me for what’s to come? What testimony would I have if I never had to cry out to Him in my dark places? And what kind of faith would I have if I didn’t have to believe — while I sat in those dark places, even as tears streamed — that He’d purposed that moment to bless me only AFTER He guaranteed that the weapon wouldn’t prosper and that I would win, it would all work to my good?

I don’t know who else I’m talking to right now, but know this: you ain’t always gotta be strong. He wants you to let Him be your strength. To grow you, to grow your faith, and to increase your expectation in Him.

God’s got more for you on the other side of this — no matter what your “this” is.

I love you. More importantly, God loves you!

What are you feeding?

Here’s a short thought for the day…

Your FOCUS feeds your FEELINGS. 

If you FOCUS on your faults, flaws, and failures, that will feed you fear, anxiety, helplessness and sadness. 

But when you FOCUS on His face, His presence feeds your faith with joy, peace, patience, and power. 

Choose today, all day and repeatedly throughout the day, to FOCUS on what feeds your FAITH. 

That means repeatedly choosing to look to, rest in, trust and give attention to the problem SOLVER instead of the problem. 

  
Read PSALM 46:1–2 and decide now to let  FAITH FUEL your day today. 

Because though what we face sometimes surprises us, nothing is a surprise to God. He’s already delivered us before the storm erupts. 

He’s FAITHFUL. So feed your faith, and follow Him. He’ll empower you to walk on the very waters the enemy sent to drown you. 

  

Tense Matters

blessed
Photo from: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-uZkd0giwfTE/UZHJ7PNVq0I/AAAAAAAAGaM/ujxEWmkQPrc/s1600/blessed.jpg

Psalms 13:5 NLT reads:

But I trust in your unfailing love.  I will rejoice because you have rescued me.

As I read and re-read this passage this morning, the thing that really stuck in my Spirit was the tense of the words the author chose.

Preceding verse five, the author was crying out to God, asking Him how long will he endure struggle, imploring our Savior to answer him, to show up.

But then we get to verse five and something amazing happens.  The sense of woe ends sharply and, if we look closely enough, we see a change — not in the author’s circumstances, but in his perspective.

Verse five begins with the word “but.”  The word “but” can play a number of roles in English grammar.  It can be a preposition, an adverb.  However, in this use I believe it’s most important as a conjunction, a word to add together groups of words.  That’s what’s important to note: even though a change is occurring in the author, nothing has changed in his circumstances.  Rather, he’s chosen to use what he’s going through as a part of what’s to come.

Further, any good grammarian will also point out that the use of “but” also signifies that everything before it is now inconsequential in reference to what will follow.

My bills are due and I don’t know how I’m going to pay them, BUT

My body is ill and the doctors say they don’t know what more they can do, BUT

The vision You gave me is too big/expensive/scary and I don’t know if I can accomplish it BUT

They said they’d always be there for me, and they’re gone now that I need them, BUT

It feels like I’m going through this all alone, BUT

The verse goes on, after signaling a change in the author’s perspective to say, “But I trust in your unfailing love.”

“I trust.”  That’s current.  That’s present.  That’s now.  And, following the author’s please for response, and then his decision to shift his focus, “I trust” being present tense tells us that even though all hell was breaking out in this man’s life, the hell didn’t negate his faith.  In essence he’s showing us that even as he’s going through it and doesn’t know how much more he can or even when God will will show up, he still trusts in God’s unfailing love.

The author knows that no matter how badly it hurts, or how uncomfortable what he’s going through is, his circumstances do not affect or reflect the fact that God loves him and that God’s love never fails.  It never falters.  It never doesn’t reach us.  It never judges us.  It never decides to show up today and not tomorrow.  It never abandons us because we’ve sinned or doubted.  God’s love just is.

You need to know that trials and trust are not and should not be mutually exclusive in your life.  They will not be exclusive.  In fact, this scripture shows us that trust in the Lord is ever more important when we’re going through our trials.  That trust is a reminder that we aren’t in it alone, that God still cares, and that He isn’t oblivious to what we’re going through.  Trials and trust in God go hand in hand.

The verse then goes on to say, “I will rejoice because you have rescued me.”

Now this is where it gets really good, where the “but” has shown us that the author’s perspective is changing, and the “I trust” show us what the author’s two conflicting states of mind are, “I will rejoice” shows us a decision.

“Will” is future tense.  It also reflects a decision.  The author, even though he’s going through hell, even though it doesn’t appear that God has reached out to save him, he knows that in spite of his uncomfortable circumstances that God still loves him unfailing. And, as a result of that knowledge, the author decides that he will rejoice.

Right there in the midst of his hell.  

Right there in the midst of his storm, his trial, his going through.  

Right there with the overdrawn bank account.  

Right there with the 100th no call back after applying for a job.  

Right there with the raggedy car that won’t start.  

Right there with the daycare closed and no way for you to watch the kids and go to work.  

Right there with the rent/mortgage being due and no money to pay it.  

Right there with that unreliable friend/partner.

Right there in the midst of those silent cries alone at night.

Right there.

Right.  

There.

Right in the thick of it, the author decides, no matter what it looks like or feels like, I am going to rejoice.  And that’s an important decision because the Bible tells us that when we choose to celebrate in the midst of our adversity it confuses the enemy.

In fact, when I looked at the word “rejoice” in my concordance, I learned this:

  • the original word used here is a Hebrew verb
  • in the Bible it’s used to mean to exult and to be glad
  • Strong’s Concordance goes on to define it as “to spin around (under the influence of any violent emotion)…be glad, joy, be joyful…”

Whoa.  “To spin around under the influence of any violent emotion.” To me, that means that all of the anger, the fear, the frustration, the helplessness, the pain, and every other intense emotion the author was feeling as he cried out to God in the beginning of the chapter was still there.

Even as he decided to change his perspective, he then decided he would force himself to be glad, pouring out all of the negative emotions the enemy wanted to use to oppress and depress him as positive praise for a God that never fails — even, and especially, when hell is breaking out all around us.

Then the verse continues with, “because you have rescued me.”

“Because” is a preposition here.  It’s setting us up to understand why.  Everything that comes after because tells us why the author’s perspective changed and why he forced himself to praise God in the middle of his turmoil.

And why did he, you ask?  “Because you [God] has rescued me.”

Don’t miss that: “rescued” is past tense.

It’s already done.

Before this storm erupted.  Before all hell broke loose.  Before I lost all my money.  Before he or she walked out.  Before the doctor gave me the diagnosis.  Before the bills became due.  Before I lost my job.  Before I cried myself to sleep.

Before it all even happened, God had already rescued you.  He’d already saved you.  He’d already provided.  He’d already blessed you.  He’d already made a way.

Already.  Before.

And get this, once a person or a thing has been rescued, that which threatened them can no longer harm them.

So before you started “going through” God had already seen to it that what you would go through wouldn’t hurt you, couldn’t hurt you.

That means that before the storm even erupted in your life, God had already made you victorious over it.

Already.  Before.

Look, tense matters.  Tense matters in this scripture because it reminds us that everything that happened before we were saved, before we prayed, before we rejoiced, before we decided to worship God is no longer important and never could touch us.

And tense matters because if you’re still overcome with the emotion your circumstances have you feeling, then this scripture is a roadmap to peace.

Tense matters because where you are has no bearing on WHOSE you are or where you WILL be.

Tense matters because if He did it back then.  If He did it before.  He’s the same God, with the same unfailing love.  He WILL show up and show out on your behalf this time, too.

Tense matters because how we choose our thoughts and words dictates whether we remain stuck in a place where we’re telling our God — Who’s already saved us — about our problems, or whether we’ll choose to move to a place where we tell our problems about our God.

Tense matters because we have the God-given authority to change our circumstances, to speak life and death to situations in our lives based solely on the words we speak.

So tense matters.  Because you can be going through forever, or you can choose to celebrate the victory you already had now.

It matters.  It matters to God.  It matters to your storm.  It matters for you.

 

 

 

Keep Hope Alive

Hope is a dangerous thing.

I remember my favorite actor, Morgan Freeman, saying that in one of my favorite movies, “The Shawshank Redemption.”

In the movie, all of the lead stars were prisoners, in prison with long sentences ahead of them. Most had been in there their entire adult lives.

Freeman’s character, “Red”, was telling a new inmate that for those imprisoned with no end or liberty in sight, hope can be a dangerous thing. It can cause you to go crazy – waiting on and anxiously anticipating the unseen.

But the “new fish” in the cell block, “Andy”, rebuffed that analysis. He countered that in fact, in times of imprisonment, hope is the strongest tool one has to not just make it, to survive, but to do so with some peace and even confidence.

There are so many imprisoned today. Not just in the literal sense of serving time, but in the figurative as well.

There are those who feel trapped in dead-end jobs, relationships, circumstances, and storms.

Some feel like they’ll never crawl from beneath the boulder of debt (raises both hands), fear, guilt, or shame crushing them.

There are those who’ve been fighting for liberty from injustices and past wrongs; addictions and disappointments; pain and sadness.

If that’s you, and you’re reading this desperate for some sign that God has not forgotten you in your struggle, I say to you, KEEP HOPE ALIVE.

Hope is what keeps you open and aware during your struggle so that when your breakthrough comes you’ll know it, you’ll be expecting it, and you won’t prolong your stay going through hell.

Hope is what drives you to pray harder, work smarter, and zero in on what lies ahead with expectation and faith-filled promise that tomorrow will be better than your today.

I’d agree with Red, too, and say that hope is indeed a dangerous thing. It sets you apart from others, giving you a divine confidence. Hope will make you creative and bold. It’ll give you wisdom and reveal new levels of faith.

Hope was how Peter, Paul, Silas, Daniel, and 3 Hebrew Boys not only made it out of their trials, their prisons, but remained standing throughout their ordeals.

And it’s how you are and will, too.

Allow yourself to hope in the Lord. That hope, that belief in your gut that God didn’t bring you all the way here to leave you, to let this one situation take you out, is where you’ll draw the strength you need to stand.

Hope in the Lord. Hope for better days in your finances, your health, your relationships, your jobs, and your prayers. Hope because you know His promises and because His word is still true: He will never leave you, never forsake you.

Hope even when the people behind you and around you say you’re crazy and look at you funny.

Hope when the devil tries to make things even worse.

Hope when you’ve done all that you know how to.

Hope when your last dollar was gone days ago and it feels like you’ve got nowhere to turn.

Hope because it gives God a clear path to show up and show off on your behalf, in your situation.

Hope because when you’re cornered God stands before you to fight your battle and lead you clear out.

Hope.

Because hope, you see, holds the key to your breakthrough.

Hope makes you dangerous because when you’ve decided to not accept what you see as the end then there’s nothing around you that can hurt you or hold you back anymore.

I HOPE that something I’ve written here confirms for you that God has heard your prayers and seen your tears.

He knows the bills are due.

He knows what the doctors have said.

He knows you don’t want to be alone, that you want to have a child.

He knows you’re tired and lonely and sad.

He knows.

He sees you.

He cares.

And all He needs to turn it all around for you is your hope.

So, as the Bible says in Romans‬ ‭15‬:‭13‬ AMP, may the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope.

Live dangerously today. Keep your hope alive.

Dealing With Disappointment

Some of you may remember that last Thursday I finally brought to fruition a God idea nearly a year in the making.

But what no one knows (save my husband and my Mama) is that the day before my big event was bookmarked with disappointment.

The day started with me receiving word that I had not won a Chase Mission Main Street small business grant for my small business.

Disappointed is an understatement for how I felt. I felt abandoned, alone, angry, sad and overwhelmed all at once.

Just like that, the way I thought God was going to move in my life had changed. And I was left with the overwhelming heaviness of the reality of my situation. My goals for my business, the debt my family had amassed supporting my business, they weren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

I cried a lot that morning. I couldn’t sleep I was so grief-stricken. And when I got into the shower, I broke down. The tears and the anger and the hurt all flowed freely. I was overcome.

But somehow, mid-rant, I found myself humming this song: “Lord You are good and your mercy endureth forever. Lord You are good and your mercy endureth forever!…I worship you! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!”

Even now, a week later, I remember clearly the puzzled look that crept across my face when I realized the dichotomy of the moment: here I am sobbing into the shower stream on the outside, but my Spirit was praising God.

The reality is that nowhere does God say we won’t be disappointed. Similarly, nowhere does He say we aren’t allowed to feel, to have emotional, human responses to the changes in our lives.

So even as our flesh mourns, if we stay prayed up, our Spirit will minister to us…even without out participation.

In fact, as I reflect now, I smile at the thought of a scripture that the Lord brought me to in my devotion.  It was Job talking, chapter 13, verse 15a: “God may kill me, but I will trust Him…”  That’s how I felt in that shower, ranting about how sad and disappointed I was.  Reminding God of His word and His promises.  (He’d later – much more politely, I might add – remind me that HOW He plans to fulfill the promises of His word is none of my business.  My only responsibility is to believe and expect that He will.)

The corresponding disappointment bookmark came later that Thursday evening. My day ended with my best subcontractor giving me 30 days notice. She’d gotten a job offer for a job that was perfect for her and where she wanted to go. For months, I’d been praying that God would enable me to hire her full-time. But, it wasn’t to be.

But I didn’t take this second spate of news as hard as I’d taken the morning news. And the reason why is because in between the two events I stumbled across the Feels Like Home blog; specifically this entry on 13 Bible Verses and 6 Steps to Deal with Disappointment.

Here’s the part that pulled me out of my pity party and put my day in perspective, directly from the blog:

13 Bible Verses & 6 Steps to Overcome Disappointment

Believe in God’s plan. Our God is a miracle worker. He can part waters, move boulders, heal the dead (not just the sick, remember, the dead), save, destroy, bless, and curse. He can do anything, everything, things beyond our comprehension.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

When I say you have to believe, I mean you have to believe that God has got this thing in His hands. He is looking out for you. He is working out a plan that is bigger than you, and you are going to be better for it in the end.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

Sometimes, it takes a painful disappointment to teach us a skill or strengthen our faith or to put us in the right place at the right time. We don’t know His ways or His thoughts. We just have to believe in His promise.

Grieve. Things have not gone the way you wanted. Your hopes and expectations have been defeated. You need to spend some quiet time being sad, mourning the way you thought things would be.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

Cry. Exercise. Read. Do whatever it is that releases the sadness, the disappointment, the defeat.

And then, eventually, you have to stop grieving and move on.

Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:5

Disappointment is not meant to define you, my friend. It is not meant to hold you hostage or weigh you down into the mire of depression. Don’t give it that power.

Pray. You had to know this was coming, right? Spend some time talking to your Heavenly Father. Tell Him your heartache. Tell Him about the plans you had and ask Him to show you why He’s taken them away. I promise you that He has good in this for you, and it’s okay to ask Him what that good is.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28

Talk to Him like you’d talk to your best friend. Your prayer doesn’t have to be pretty or sound like one at your church. It just has to be honest and come from your heart.

Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall. Psalm 55:22

You, my friend, are the godly. You are chasing after God, trying to do the right thing, seeking a better understanding of Him. Aren’t you? He’s talking about you.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Listen and wait. Big things happen when we pray. Sometimes, they are blessings beyond our expectations.

But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. Matthew 6:6

Sometimes they happen right away, but usually they happen later when we least expect them. Keep waiting. You’ll know when your prayer has been answered.

Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. Psalms 27:14

Search for the good. This is a miserable time to try to be thankful. I don’t know about you, but all I want to do is wallow in self pity of my dreams deferred (or dreams lost). This is the time when it’s hardest – and most important – to find the good, grab onto it with both hands, and celebrate it. You need to.

This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

In beginning this post in the middle of the night, I came to understand that it wouldn’t have happened if my plans had worked out. I wouldn’t have been sleeping fitfully. I wouldn’t have jumped out of bed to write these words. It was God’s plan for me to write these words. (It has been an incredibly soothing and cathartic process). It is also His plan for you to be reading them right now. I am thankful that He chose me.

Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:19b-20

Believe in yourself. You too are part of God’s great plan. He is preparing you to do His work right now, even in this time of disappointment. No matter what burden comes, know that He will help you stand underneath it, carry it up the hill, and triumph over it in the end.*

Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:28-31

God believes in you. You may not feel equipped to handle this on your own, but He’ll give you what you need to get through it.

For I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

*The triumph doesn’t always happen when we think it should. Sometimes, we only triumph over our struggles as we leave this broken world. A conversation I had with my pastor illustrates this point:

“Tara, God will heal her.”

“I just don’t know that He will. She is so sick. She hardly gets out of bed.”

“He is going to heal her. He might heal her body now, or He might heal her soul in heaven, but you can trust Him to heal her.”

Wow. The simplicity and immensity of that statement left me with many tears but complete peace. We can trust Him to defeat our disappointment, no matter what it is.

Look, I don’t know where your disappointment lies.

Maybe it’s in a relationship that ended, or never took off. A professional opportunity that passed you by. Or a personal dream that has yet to come to fruition.

Whatever it is, I hope these passages encourage you. No matter how disappointed we feel, nothing has changed with God: He’s still just as in love with us; just as dedicated to our success and peace and joy; just as committed to giving us “hope and a future.”

Sometimes, just sometimes, we have to go through the disappointment to get closer to our destiny.

Because sometimes the thing we really wanted wasn’t God’s best for us. And what is yet to come is infinitely better.