The Beauty of Trials

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Are you in that time and space where …

the nights just seem so long,

the winter just seems to drag on,

the rough patch just got rougher,

Are you in a difficult lot in life right now?  Wandering and wondering …

Why is this happening to me?

This isn’t fair!

How can I carry on?

What will my future be?

 

Much as we hate it, life has its ups and downs: disappointments and betrayals, broken relationships, creditors on the door, lost a job, lost a home, lost a loved-one. For some people, it may have seemed like it’s an all-time low or that the roller-coaster is never coming back up.  Trying times like these leave us hurt, frustrated, anxiety-filled and even depressed.

In the darkest of my nights, tears just rolled down; the grieve was so deep, no words can describe.  During these deepest moments of despair, I cried out, desperately to Jesus and guess what – He met me there!

There and then, He called my name and told me ‘to let go of the past’ and that ‘He is there for me’ and ‘He is enough for me’.  Through it all, I’ve learnt that He loves me more than I can ever imagine and He is always there with me.

So then, why the suffering and pain? I’ve learnt much from these trying times, how to forgive some people and rejoice with others, how to be content with what I have and quit complaining, how to feel for people, how to give and receive love.

Just like there’s no victory without a battle, no rainbow without the rain, no dawn without dusk (and we know the darkest hour lies just before dawn) – There can be no growth without pain.

When life gets overwhelming, everything can seem to crash in together simultaneously, leaving you with no room to breathe. This is when you need to breathe in the air of Jesus – cry out to Him. He will come and hold you, heal and love you, and take you through this season.  He’s been there for me, I’m sure He’ll be there for you.

 

Whatever your circumstances, know that God is working behind the scene, 24 x 7.

Whatever happens know that God has not left you.

It may not be what we expect but then again, how would He be God if He always meets our expectations?

Nonetheless He will bring you to a flourishing end and it will be more beautiful than what you can imagine.

 


Isaiah 55:8-9

“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.

James 1:2-3

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

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Divine Appointment

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It was a normal summer Saturday morning.  Ok, perhaps not so normal perhaps, as I had to drag myself out of bed and travel halfway across the other side of town to meet a prospective client.

It was one of those days in which I wished I should have gotten ready faster and left the house earlier.  Which is why I agreed immediately when my dear sister (although we’ve much sibling rivalry at times) happily volunteered to give me a lift as she was heading out.  She dropped me halfway to my client’s place so I could take a bus to my destination.   To cut the story short, I was well on my way, arrived at the bus stop and after a few minutes the bus came.

Upon boarding the bus, I immediately noticed an empty seat beside an old lady at the front.  I smiled to her, she smiled back and I plonked myself down right beside her.  She’s dressed very prettily in a dress, silver white hair elegant combed back.  The wrinkles on her face and arm tells me that she’s probably around the ripe old age of 90 (I think).

Before I realised how rude I was to be staring at her, she started talking to me.  She introduced herself as Florence (First thing I thought of was Florence Nightingale and wondered if she was ever a nurse). And of course I told her my name.  Then we carried on with our mini conversation as below :

Old Lady :  Oh isn’t it a lovely sunny day?

Me: Well, yes it’s indeed a sunny day (hmm..  so much so for weather talk, it sure is sunny but I’m not sure about the lovely part)

Old Lady: Are you in a hurry Macy?

Me:  Yes, in fact, I’m rushing for an appointment.

Old Lady:  I am going to the Church just round the next corner, I thought you might be interested to come with me.  But, well, since you’re in a hurry today, I want you to have this ( speaking which  she reached into her handbag and wanted to pass me a Christian flyer).

Me: (I said smiling),  I’m a believer too.

Old Lady: Oh, really ! Praise the Lord (she’s smiling so widely with a sparkle in her eyes).  You know God is Good. In life there’ll be ups and

downs, sometimes you may find yourself in a muddy pit.  Don’t be discouraged, God will pull you out of the pit.

 

At this point, my spirit immediately felt comforted, yet I was close to tears.

Flashback to the night before, I really don’t feel like coming to this part of town but had no choice as the appointment had been fixed (and afterall, the client always wins).  This was a place with many memories of a past relationship. I remembered even praying to God before bed the night before to grant me strength and peace in my heart.

 

The next thing I knew, the old Lady spoke again

Old Lady: Macy, can we pray for a while?

I nodded my head.

Old Lady: Dear Father, thank you for Macy and I pray that you’ll keep her and bless her. Amen.

 

After the prayer, she said goodbye (still with that sparkle in her eyes) and got down the bus.

And although this old granny is a complete stranger, it was one of the most wonderfully short and sweet prayer I’ve ever had someone said with me.  The morning started out a little grey for me but meeting the old lady just lifted my spirits up.  Though we only spoke for a while, and I don’t even know her, I felt so divine!  Amazingly, I felt God’s presence with me. It’s such a peaceful and comforting feeling that I can’t explain.

Moreover, the old lady is so full of joy and life at her age!!  That spirit and sparkle in her eyes is something that makes me really say ‘Wow’ , almost like being star struck (or even better).  She’s just so inspiring.

I believe she must have been sent by God.  How wonderous ! How marvelous !

Very often, we ask God to speak to us, give us visions, reveal to us in dreams.  But somehow, I think today God chose to speak to me through a lovely old granny.

 

I will always treasure this wonderful memory in my heart.  Perhaps, one day when I’m that old, God will still use me to encourage some younger woman out there feeling down and out and lonely, to remind her that she’s never alone, that her beloved Father in heaven is watching over her with Love.

 

Romans 8:39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Hope for the Broken Hearted

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For there would be no sunrise without dark nights, … , no restoration without brokenness.  

 

Life is unpredictable.  The only thing constant is change, just like the four seasons.  And much like the many parodies of life, the human heart is so intended for contrast that, without one, we would not comprehend (appreciate) the other.  For there would be no rainbow without the storm, no child birth without pain.   If we follow this reasoning, it is possible to grow seeds of joy in the soil of sorrow!

As the famous author C.S. Lewis so aptly put it – a heart that is so sheltered from the possibility of wreckage “will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”

What’s wrong with an ‘irredeemable’ heart?  To answer that question, rather let’s ponder on “What good is an irredeemable heart?”  Can it spread forth unconditional love; is it capable of genuine magnanimity, let alone, even appreciate true love?   See the picture?  An irredeemable heart is a heart of stone, impervious, insensitive, and incapable of growth.

Hence, perhaps we need to suffer the agony of a broken heart before our heart can be restructured and restored into a more beautiful heart.  Given that, I’ll gladly have my shabby heart wrecked and shattered.  So it can be restructured into something more splendid than before!

Though the process is painful and uncertain, knowing the end result is reason enough to help me focus on staying hopeful.  So besides having an attitude of joy, I’m journeying on with an attitude of gratitude, in anticipation of the beauty to come.

If this is what you’re going through right now, I welcome you on this trail.  Though our paths may be different, I believe we’re getting onto something more magnificent in time to come.  Never lose faith and Joy!

 

Isaiah 61:3 – he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning,

 

 

Hope for the Abandoned

 

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“The spirit of abandonment makes us vulnerable to please others at all cost, often without us realizing it…”

 

I woke up to one of the most beautiful and bewildering dreams I’ve ever had this morning – Almost like Alice in Wonderland.

At the beginning of the dream, I was in a kind of a road/ hiking trip with a few people.   We were travelling together, initially in the city.  As we travelled, I was feeling anxious all the time.  It seems that my travelling companions keep wandering off from me, attracted by other sights or simply just taking turns to disappear.  I would be the one hunting them down and bringing them back on track.

Somehow as we travelled, the background changed to a countryside and eventually I had lost all my travelling companions, it seems even the last friend ‘disappeared’ from me.  For a moment, I was feeling lost and abandoned – all alone in a wide countryside with noone in sight.

I was surrounded by a huge landscape of a flat plain, so huge I could not see beyond the green grass.  As I took a few more steps, still worried over how to get out of the place and lamenting why my companions left me, the background was suddenly filled with thousands and thousands of flowers.  The flowers covered the grass like a carpet, they were all in full bloom with all sorts of colours (yes I dream in colours), so bright and beautiful.  Seeing this amazing sight, I was so mesmerized by Mother nature that I just decided to let go and just rest in mother nature.  So I lie down on the soft carpet of wonderful flowers and closed my eyes.  It feels soft, warm and so comfortable.

When I opened my eyes, I found myself on my bed.  The words resting in Mother Nature echoed in my mind, then I realised that resting in Mother Nature actually meant resting in God!  In that moment, I felt a blessed assurance – God has been and will always be with me!

Since young, I’ve always felt rejected, abandoned, insignificant.  In my darkest hours, I often felt an intense loneliness.  The spirit of abandonment made me so vulnerable to please others at all cost, often without realizing how much this hurt me.  Just like the greenery and flowers in my dream have always been there in the background, God has always been with me!  However, I was so fearful of being abandoned by my companions that I didn’t realise it.

I know I was and will never be alone again – Thank you Lord for your blessed assurance.

“Hebrews 13:5 – for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emotional Abuse

 

FRED et marie (English subtitles) from fredetmarie on Vimeo.

 

When we think about abuse in a relationship, we often think of bruised faces, scars on arms and legs.  What we commonly think of or are more familiar with is physical abuse.  There are many forms of abuse and any form of abuse is cruel.

Unlike physical abuse, emotional (or psychological) abuse is not obvious, it is subtle. Quite often even the victim does not recognize that he/ she is being abused.  Although emotional abuse does not leave black eyes or visible bruises, it is often more seriously damaging to the self-esteem and will of the person being abused.

Physical abuse scars a person’s body but emotional abuse scars a person’s soul.  Often, physical abuse is accompanied or follows emotional abuse.  Emotional battering is used to wear the victim down – often over a long period of time – to cause so much confusion to the person abused so as to undermine his/ her self-concept, to a point that he/ she is willing to take responsibility for the abuser’s actions and behaviour towards him/her or simply just accept it.

Just as there are many forms of physical abuse, there are many varieties of psychological abuse.  They include isolation, crazy-making, verbal abuse, belittling and other humiliating or degrading behaviours.  Though the abusive behaviours may not be easily recognisable by themselves, they are readily identified by recognising the effects they have on the person being abused.

Emotional abuse has the aim of control and dominance. If a person constantly feels as though his/ her feelings, needs, opinions are being devalued, are given no credence, chances are the person is experiencing some form of emotional abuse.

The long term result of emotional and psychological abuse leaves the victim feeling confused, unsure of his/her own judgement and ability to make decisions, sometimes even to the extent of believing that he/ she is going crazy.  Accompanied by these are often low self-esteem, as the victim’s own needs and opinions are often put down, criticised or disregarded.  Depression and even suicidal thoughts set in as the victim feels so trapped in the situation (especially in a close relationship).  Ironically, the victim is often being made blamed for the abuser’s bad behaviours and hence may experience a deep sense of shame and guilt.

Emotional abuse is controlling and wields an invisible prison that keeps the victim in bondage.  In many cases, the victim would have been so manipulated in their thoughts to even recognise that they are being threatened or controlled.  Over extended periods of time, the victim loses all sense of self-direction, self-will, self-confidence and eventually becomes dependent to the abuser and does everything to please/pacify the abuser.  This then perpetuates the vicious cycle of abuse and the abuser gets to keep his dominance over the victim.

Emotional abuse is such a subtle form of control and domination which leaves no visible marks, yet has a profound effect on the emotional and mental well being of the victim.  Victims often feel trapped and so emotionally hurt but cannot point a finger as what is wrong.  Many people have found that once the emotional abuse is no longer effective, physical violence follows.  Many victims suffer in silence – the repressed emotions which left unaddressed often manifest in ill health.

If you or anyone you know is in some form of abuse, please seek help immediately.  Do not make the mistake of thinking that the problem will get better or be resolved with time.  Value yourself and your loved ones enough to stand up for your own right.

The Freedom Programme© in the UK is particularly good at showing up all the myriads of ways in which emotional abuse is used within abusive relationship.  To find out more, check out the Freedom Programme.