Showing posts with label build the foundation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label build the foundation. Show all posts

Friday, April 21, 2017

Lonely and Depressed: Don’t Let Your Faith Dwindle!

The Bible tells us: “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.”(Hebrews 11:1) What do we hope for? We hope for God’s promises to become a reality in our lives. Faith believes these promises will be fulfilled. Faith is experiencing God’s love, even though we might not see Him with our eyes. Faith is the glasses, placed on the eyes of our heart, through which we see God. Faith is a gift.

In the Bible, God also tells us: “The victory that conquers the world is our faith.” (1 John 5:4) This is a huge statement to meditate on, because faith is something we should never take for granted.

Is our faith real, or is it a counterfeit? Does it arise out of the passing emotion of the moment, or is it everlasting? Is it there to stay, or will it be stolen by the enemy when trials, persecution or temptations come? In my opinion, a great benefit comes from second-guessing ourselves and not being too proud about the greatness of our faith. Why? We can become too excited and too overconfident, and then we will be in danger because this is when the enemy will attack us. Scripture says “Be sober and vigilant.  Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him steadfast in faith…”(1 Peter 5:8-9) Faith is a shield, and so we must always have our shield up and ready but if we are overconfident, we might not realize our shield is not as strong as it needs to be! We do not want to get too comfortable and let down our guard. Hence we must give our hearts and elevate our minds to God each morning, surrendering our will and placing our trust in Him, humbly asking Him to strengthen our faith.

How can we believe in someone we do not see? God is so good and loving to His children that He has revealed Himself to us. All we need to do is to want to get to know Him. It is difficult to believe in Someone we do not personally know, to believe in that Person’s goodness, love, mercy and power. If we say we have faith in God, but we have not taken the time to get to know Him, this could mislead us we might end up thinking it is enough to just say we have faith.

            Saying we have faith is not enough. It does not necessarily mean we have faith in our hearts. We might want to have faith, might even try to have faith, but without getting to know God, our efforts are in vain. Knowing requires learning. I know math only after I learn math. Likewise, I know my classmates only after I take time to learn about who they are and what is going on in their lives.

            In the same way, learning about God can lead us to knowing God. And knowing God will lead us to loving God, and loving God will lead us to having great faith and trust in Him. Why? Because, as we fall in love with Him, we will naturally desire to do His will. As we start to do His will, our life will be turned around, and His graces will fully flow into our heart. Faith, God’s greatest gift to us, will then become firmly established in us, and we will be able to see the difference that it makes to live our lives in the presence of God.

            As we get to know God, a great desire to love Him will be unleashed. As we come to understand the greatness of His love for us and see how He loved us first, we will desperately try to love Him back, and then we will quickly come to the realization that to love Him we need to align ourselves with His will. This takes work. We cannot just lean back and say, “I believe in God, and this is enough for me.” No way! We need to put time into our relationship with Him. Only then will we come to experience the fullness of His promises. Only then will we come to enjoy the fruits of His Spirit living in us. Only then will we come to live under the shadow of His wings.

            When we get to know God, we learn that we need to follow His ways in order to be fulfilled in this world and completely happy in the next. We cannot just try to do it our way! He is all knowing, and we are not, so we need to listen to Him and do what He tells us! Through prayer, meditation and Bible reading, we come to understand what He wants from us. If we are humble and we recognize that there is much for us to learn and much for us to change, we will allow His loving hands to mold us and make us brand new. Then we will start experiencing a brand new life.

            We must make a commitment to learn His ways, doing what He tells us, obeying His loving words of advice for us. Like the psalmist, we need to pray: “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path. I make a solemn vow to keep your just edicts…Your decrees are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart. My heart is set on fulfilling your laws; they are my reward forever.” (Psalm 119:105-106,111-112) This psalm reflects a true understanding of the fact that God loves us with an everlasting perfect love. All He wants is for us is to be safe under the shadow of His protection. His desire for us is for us to experience the joy that it is to have His love living inside our hearts. His desire for us is for us to come to everlasting life.

            We must take to heart words of advice that have been said by Christians before us. Great saints give great advice. I once read that “In the deepest solitude, God speaks to our hearts.” Maybe that is why sometimes He allows us to become a bit lonely, so that we can let go of all that is preventing us from listening to Him. Only then, when we are ready to listen, can He lovingly speak to our hearts and show us the way to be followed.

Faith makes us act. If faith does not make us act, then we have fooled ourselves, and perhaps we have no faith at all. As it says in the book of James, faith without actions is dead. (James 2:17) And faith that is dead is no faith at all. True faith saves us because it leads us to go to Him and to follow Him with our hearts and with our actions. Have we come to know God yet? What are we waiting for?!

Wisdom to contemplate:

“But without faith it is impossible to please him, for anyone who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)

“No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

“For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7)

“Jesus said to him, ‘“If you can!” Everything is possible to one who has faith.’ Then the boy’s father cried out, ‘I do believe, help my unbelief!’”
 (Mark 9:23-24 )

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me.” (John 14:1)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Acquaintance, Date, Match: Lies or love?

So…let’s keep talking about love. How do we know when, and if, it is love that we are feeling? Many of us have thought that we were “in love” on more than a few occasions. We have been sure that “this time this is the one.” At least for us girls, it starts very early; we have strong feelings and can’t fight them. Like fools, all we do is think about the person who has stolen our hearts. And as soon as we are not around that person, we wonder when he will call. So we wait desperately next to the phone, dreaming of that last tender kiss. We go to bed dying of anticipation for the next school day, wondering if that special person will be there, hoping that at least we’ll get to say hi.

            In my opinion, “love” is no less “love” because it is in the heart of a young person; it can be as strong as, or even stronger than, the feelings we may experience when we grow older. We daydream in the same way while we listen to love songs or gaze into the sky on a starry night. We wish with the same intensity that it will last forever. We plan and dream about the same things, and then we suffer and hurt the same way when the relationship comes to an end.

             So how can we tell when love is for real? I think the answer to this question is not what is most important. Are you surprised? Maybe a bit confused? Let me explain. Love is real. Love is out there for every single one of us who believes in it. What will determine if we will find the love of our lives? What will determine if we will be happy and if one day we’ll be able to experience the great blessing of real love in our lives?

            When we feel in love, we should not be afraid; we should just let things flow. But there are a few rules we should follow if we want to have a better chance at finding true love. First, we must be real. No acting. No role playing. Do you know what I mean? Many times we try to give a certain impression, as if we are picking a character we are going to play in a movie. We decide what type of partner we want to be and what kind of relationship we want to have without being ourselves or allowing things to happen naturally.

            But if we force things in one way or another, if we pretend to be someone we are not, or if we act in some way that we normally wouldn’t, then we start out without truth. And when there is no truth, there is no chance for a good relationship. We have to start our relationships with as much honesty as we possibly can. We must be honest with our partner and with ourselves. In this way, we build the foundation of our relationship on rock.

            The second thing is to let things flow. Everything is perfect if we trust in God. Everything happens for the best when we allow things to develop naturally and we know in our hearts that we have been honest. So, if the relationship does not work out, even though we might be feeling immense pain, we can find the strength to let go. By trusting that things always happen for the best, we allow God to extend his loving hand to us. He wants us to find our soul mate. He wants us to find our calling in life. He wants us to be happy.

            So why don’t we all do this? There are many wrong reasons for why we may pick and/or hold on to the wrong person. Here are some of them:

Ø  We are lonely: We want to feel loved, special and cared for. We see couples everywhere; love is in the songs on the radio, at the movies and on the TV. We rush into a relationship because we are so tired of being alone. It seems as if we are the only one who has not been able to have a steady relationship. All of our friends seem to be married or have boyfriends/girlfriends. We feel there must be something wrong with us! Are we not lovable? We think of how our family loves us, but we think they have to because they are stuck with us. Sometimes even our family members don’t love us as they should. And so we want that special someone to come along. Someone who will sweep us off our feet. Someone who will love us because he thinks we are amazing. Someone who wants to spend every minute next to us. Someone who dreams with us. And we wonder if that is ever going to happen to us. Are we good enough, lucky enough? Millions of questions start to flood our minds, questions that cause fear and insecurity, questions that lead us to make wrong choices and big mistakes.

Ø  We feel that we are getting too old: We convince ourselves that time is running out. The funny thing about this is that it does not necessarily hit us at a particular age. We can get bitten by the “age bug lie” at any age. Once our brain believes it, that is enough. We easily fall for it and end up obsessed with the idea that by a particular age we should have found true love. If we fall for this lie, we run a very big risk of one of two things. The first one is that we can end up rushing things and settling for someone, without giving it too much thought. We are driven by the idea that we do not want to be single after a particular age, and we are terrified by the thought that we might end up alone. The second one is that we may end up in a depression because we have reached the deadline we set for ourselves and we are still alone. Last time I checked, there was no “Secret Book of Life” that tells us by what age we must be married or at what age we will find our soul mate. It is different for everyone. For each of us, it may happen at a completely different time in our lives. For some of us, it will happen in our teens, and we will marry our high school sweetheart. Others of us will experience it in our twenties, still others in our thirties, forties, fifties and so on. The important thing is not to rush and to enjoy our life as it is. Every day we live is a gift, and many things are one-time blessings, which means they will not happen twice in a lifetime. That is why, if we end up not enjoying a particular stage in our life, one day we will regret it when we realize how foolish we were and how little faith we had in ourselves and in love itself.

Ø  We want to get away from home: Depending on our cultural background, this may be a big incentive to rushing to find a partner. But this is not the right reason, and when we do something for the wrong reason, usually things end up going wrong. We might think that by getting out of our parents’ house we are going to be happy, but it might end up not being so. If our motivation for making a life with someone is to get out of the house, we will probably pick the wrong partner. And if we are with the wrong person, once we start sharing our life with that person, it will become clear that we have exchanged one bad situation for another, and at a big cost our happiness.

Ø  We lack self-confidence: It is very hard for our self-esteem not to be affected when everyone we know has a boyfriend or is married, everyone except us. This can be dangerous because it is in times like this that our minds can play tricks on us and convince us of many lies. We then start giving in and believing these lies, and in the end we might end up making a big mistake or becoming very unhappy. A partner does not make us a better, happier, prettier, wiser person. We make ourselves a better and happier person. Don’t count on anyone else to make you feel good about yourself. It is God who can change us and transform our lives from the inside out, through the power of prayer. A partner cannot do this for us, and in fact many times the wrong mate can greatly reduce our self-confidence. Let’s feel good about ourselves independent of other people. Let’s feel good about ourselves because we are God’s precious child, and because we are unique and God made only one of us. Only then will we feel good about ourselves next to someone else; otherwise, we set ourselves up for a miserable life.

Ø  We need some love and attention: We humans will do almost anything for attention and love. Actually, most of the things we do (good and bad) are in some way to get that love and attention we so much crave. But we need to focus on getting our love from the source of all love: God. God is love, and when we have invited God into our hearts, we have all the love we need. When our relationship with God is strong and it is His love that is feeding us, then we stop craving the attention of others. If we are not careful about this, we may end up accepting someone as a partner just to get love and attention. This can be a recipe for disaster. We might end up with a broken heart or end up breaking someone else’s heart. Neither option is good.

Ø  Our hormones are rushing us: Sometimes our hormones can really confuse us. We feel a rush of emotion and passion. We feel shaky and hot. We feel butterflies in our stomach. We feel so much emotion it shakes us from the inside out. But we need to be careful because we can feel these exact same feelings with a person who is completely wrong for us. Big passions do not equal big love. We have to try to sort things out with a cool head. Sometimes all we are feeling is a strong but temporary rush that will pass if we breathe deeply and give ourselves some time in order to think straight. Interpreting that rush as love can mean ending up with the wrong person. Be careful.

Ø   We feel pressure from our family: Sometimes, by trying to be a great help, our family members can end up becoming our worst problem. Consider and respect your family’s opinion and advice. But do not give in to pressure and do something that you will regret later on in your life.

Ø  We feel sorry for the other person: Sometimes someone can be very persistent. But we cannot accept someone as a partner only because we feel sorry for that person. How long do you think we can pretend? Such relationships don’t last, and it will be much worse when we can no longer keep pretending and things start falling apart. We should always be truthful with others and fair to ourselves. We must be kind, but we must be honest too. Love is an area where lies of any kind only bring heartache.

Ø  We get into a role, and we end up confused: Believing our own make-believe world, we might dive into a relationship that only exists in our imagination. We refuse to see the other person as he really is, and the situation as it really is. If we do this, one day we will wake up to a life that we do not want, with a person whom we do not love.

Ø  We are used to someone: Do you know what is worse than breaking off a long-term relationship and accepting that we have wasted many years of our life on the wrong person? What is worse is to not break up and waste our whole life. If we put off the inevitable, things will only get more and more complicated. Feelings will get stronger; marriage will happen; babies will come. We cannot allow “feeling comfortable” to steal our happiness. Love is the one area in life in which we must not settle for comfortable, for OK, for less risky, for less hassle. When it comes to love, we should not settle. We should seek true love with every bit of our soul.

Ø  We accept a partner for any other “wrong reason”: I could write a whole book about just this topic, but I think by now you should have gotten the point. In summary: If we believe in love, then love will be a reality for us. If we look for love, love will find us. If we are honest in regard to love, we will experience honesty in our relationships. Give love, and you will receive love! Trust in God and He will bless you with the love of your life.

Wisdom to contemplate:

“Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.” (1 John 3:18)

“He tells the truth who states what he is sure of, but a lying witness speaks deceitfully.” (Proverbs 12:17)

“ Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the evil one.” (Mathew 5:37)