Faith, Hardships and Trials

Faith and Healing Amid Turmoil

Robrenna-Heal Post Quote 1(1)

A year ago, as I sat in a church classroom, trying to learn how to heal my wounds, I thought about the woman who bled for twelve years. She went from doctor to doctor, draining her finances to find a cure to stop the bleeding. The woman knew Jesus’s reputation for healing hands, so when she heard He was traversing through town, she wedged her way through the crowd. He was out of reach, and the woman lowered her body to the ground and reached out to touch a piece of His robe. Jesus felt something. The book of Matthew tells her story: Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.  Matthew 9:20-22 (ESV)

The woman feels compelled to touch Jesus to receive healing of her physical — yet invisible — trauma. The woman had become a societal outcast: in her day, women who discharged blood other than or past the time of their period were considered unclean (Leviticus 15:25-27 NIV). Although her wound was physical, I can only imagine what she endured emotionally.

Her wounds were unseen, and so are mine. My emotional scars hide in day to day interactions. No one would suspect the hurt I carry. Some scars are from my choices; others are from the decisions of those around me. My recent wounds stem from living during a pandemic, economic uncertainty, racial tensions, and divisions in our country and the church, not to mention the loss of routine and ability to celebrate life events.

Recently, a friend and I discussed over video chat what to say these days when someone asks, “How are you?” The customary polite answer — “Fine, how are you?” — doesn’t seem entirely correct. The unnamed woman in this story taught me that she knew she wasn’t fine or okay. She knew and admitted to herself that she needed healing. After years of trying to find a remedy, she made it her mission to touch the cloak of Jesus (or, as other translations state, the hem of His robe). She knew that He was the one who could heal her: the One who could provide what she so desperately wanted. I can follow her example and admit these times are hard, and I’m not always okay.I can touch the cloak of Jesus by taking my wounds to him in prayer, worship, and praise. Click To Tweet

As I think back to the church classroom, I now understand the steps I need to take to start the healing process. I can grieve and lament the losses and uncertainty. To heal, I must admit these times are hard, and I’m not always okay. When we hurt, we can cry out to the Lord and touch Jesus’ cloak by taking our wounds to Him in prayer, worship, and praise. I have faith that He sees and hears me, and I can accept the help of those Jesus sends to minister to me. Like the bleeding woman, I have faith that He will turn to me, see me, and say, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has healed you.” Robrenna-Heal Post Quote

A question to ponder:

What are you grieving in these difficult times? Name them.

Lament over each loss, fear, or anxiety.

Offer a prayer of healing to the Lord.

Meet the Author!

Robrenna's Headshot

Robrenna is a real, raw, no-filters, kind of girl. She went from an army brat to a military veteran. A wife to Troy and mom of two teenagers, she has served in women’s, children’s, and middle school ministries.

Robrenna wrote a Bible study for middle school girls based on Identity in Christ. She is the executive administrative assistant for the anti-sex-trafficking organization I’ve Got A Name. Robrenna is the friend you call to walk alongside you in hard, painful places of life as well as the joyful ones. Her passions include mocha coffee, dark chocolate, time with family and friends, and telling others of God’s love, mercy, and grace.

 

Make sure to connect with us on Instagram and Facebook!

Cover for Anchored and Secure devotionalIf you’re seeking resources that will help you grow closer to Christ, make sure to grab a copy of our latest devotional, Anchored and Secure: 60 Days of Resting in Grace:

Thanks to Christ’s death and resurrection, we don’t have to stress, strive, or perform. We simply need to rest in what Christ has already done. That is when we begin to come alive and find the power and courage to live as He intended. That’s when we experience true and lasting freedom. This sixty-day devotional helps women reflect on God’s grace and the freedom of living deeply anchored in Him.

Find it HERE.

Wholly Loved Ministries is a non-profit organization that exists to help women live in Christ’s freedom. Donate now to support our mission or contact us to learn more.

Paypal donation button
Faith, Hearing God, Resting in Christ, security

Stuck in the Middle of a Mess

Have you ever been stuck in the middle of a mess, then out of nowhere comes exactly the help you need?

Between academic overload and heavy work commitments, our lives are incredibly busy and structured, so our family tries to plan a couple of weeks of fun every summer. This year, coronavirus restrictions hindered travel, so we teamed up with my sister’s family and rented a huge lake house in our community, complete with canoes, kayaks, and a 10-person pontoon boat, plus a giant boat tube perfect for pulling five shrieking teens and preteens for hours in the summer sun.

Our vacations are as much for us parents as for the kids—sometimes we, too, need to get a bit wild (within reason!) given our intense workload. So, when my kids begged me to hop on the tube, too, I couldn’t resist.

“Sure!” I shrugged to their delight. My sister shot me are-you-crazy-you-could-get-killed daggers and my husband, who was driving the boat, got that gleam in his eye that meant he was going to ensure I got drenched.

The water felt glorious on my skin as I stepped gently off the boat onto the giant rubber tube, settled carefully next to my stepson, grabbed the tube’s handles, and gave the go-ahead nod.

And then we were off! While my head knew we weren’t going crazy-fast, it certainly felt like we were zipping along at a million miles per hour. “This is the best!” my stepson screeched in glee as we bumped along the surface, water spraying in my eyes and mouth. All I could do was hang on tight as we circled around and around, my family cheering us on from the boat and my legs smacking against the waves of their own free will.

Then whoosh! With a tremendous zing, a wave washed me clean off the tube. There I was, coughing up water, looking like a wet rat, and bobbing like a buoy in my red-white-and-blue lifejacket smack in the center of Lake Murray, South Carolina.

Surely they saw me fall, I told my worried inner self. And, indeed, they had. In moments, the pontoon circled back to pick up first my stepson, then me.

“How was it?” my daughter asked with a wicked grin.

I shook the water out of my ears and gave her a high-five. “Fantastic! Who’s riding with me next?”

Of course, it was fantastic—because everything ended well. I’d fallen off the tube into the center of a clean, safe lake, wearing a life jacket, knowing rescue in the form of my loving husband and family was minutes away.

But there’ve been times in my life when I’ve “fallen off the tube” in the center of the lake of life, with all sorts of unknown and possibly deadly terrors lurking beneath the surface and no rescue in sight. I’ve been in emotional peril and, once or twice, physical danger, too.

Those moments have been scary and almost paralyzing. Divorce. Poverty. Spiritual wilderness. Debilitating illness. I’ve sat at loved ones’ hospital beds and deathbeds, sat vigil long into the night not knowing what rescue, if any, would come.

Sometimes the outcomes have been fine. Sometimes my prayers have been answered. Sometimes not.

Yet, stuck in the middle of the proverbial water, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, remains with me. Even when I didn’t know He was there, He was with me. Even when He didn’t resolve the situation in the way I wanted, He was there, working all things for the ultimate good. By my side. No matter what.

Stuck in the middle of the proverbial water, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, remains with me. Even when I didn’t know He was there, He was with me. Click To Tweet

In Ephesians 2, the apostle Paul reminded the early church that they were once dead—stranded in the center of the dark and scary lake, drowning from the weight of their sins and the evils of this often-cruel world. But through faith in Christ and the good, saving mercy of our Father God, they’d received a “life jacket” and access to the Kingdom of Heaven for all eternity.

As Paul wrote, “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-7 NIV).

We all get stuck in the middle of the lake sometimes. Often, there’s a happy resolution. Sometimes, there’s hardship. We might feel alone, and we might worry about the outcome.

But rest assured: in Jesus, we always have rescue, whether on this side of eternity or the next.

In Jesus, we always have rescue, whether on this side of eternity or the next. Click To Tweet

 

Make sure to connect with us on Instagram and Facebook!

Wholly Loved Ministries is a non-profit organization that exists to help women live in Christ’s freedom. Donate now to support our mission or contact us to learn more.

Paypal donation button

 

 

 

 

 

And before you go … have you grabbed your free e-copy of our Bible study yet? If not, you can do so HERE! (You can get a print copy for just $5 HERE.)

Also, make sure to visit us on Crosswalk to receive daily devotions sent directly to your inbox. You can find our devotions HERE.

Faith

Calling Out For Our Savior

Anchored and Secure Cover Image(Taken from Anchored And Secure: 60 Days of Resting in Grace)

 

Calling Out For My Savior

By Jessica Brodie

“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him.” Matthew 14:30-31a

Between kid demands and colossal work deadlines, I had a major case of stress overload, and my schedule wouldn’t ease soon. By Wednesday, I had a killer headache, and by Friday, I was catching ten-minute naps in my minivan during car line to stay sane.

“Mommy’s just a little edgy,” I’d apologize after snapping at the kids instead of counting to ten.

When I woke up with my jaw clenched tight from grinding my teeth all night, full-on dreading the day ahead instead of steeped in gratitude, I knew something had to change. My soul cried out: Help. God, please—just help.

Sometimes the last thing I think to do is turn to the Lord. In my pride, I think I should be able to handle the demands of life.

But I’m not my savior—Jesus is. In looking up, in reaching out, I find relief.

In the passage today’s verse comes from, Peter saw Jesus walking on water and wanted to join Him, and so, Jesus invited him to come. Peter began to do the impossible. But then he saw the strong wind and became frightened. He faltered and began to fall.

The same happens with us. We start to walk in faith, and at first everything seems fine. Then something happens—calamity befalls, or we lose our nerve—and we start to sink.

If I could only remember the example we get in the Gospel of Matthew, I know I’d save myself a ton of time, suffering, and aggravation. For right there in Peter’s reaction and Jesus’s response, we see what we’re supposed to do when we begin to sink: Not try to fix things ourselves, but call out to Jesus.

In Him find the relief we so desperately crave.

Grab a copy of our latest devotional HERE.

Cover image for studyWe also encourage you to grab a free copy of our Bible study, Becoming His Princess, based on Genesis 12-23. (Find it HERE.)

Do you ever feel insignificant or unseen? As if what you do or even who you are isn’t quite good enough? Does your confidence level vary based on who you’re around and how their bank account or how accomplishment list compares to yours? If so, this study, based on the life of Sarah from the Old Testament Scriptures, is for you.

For seven weeks, we’ll follow her uncertain and at times terrifying journey from the ancient Mesopotamian city of Ur to the land promised to her husband, and ultimately, the place of rest God beckons each of us toward. He met her in the middle of her pain, her shame, and all her striving, and rewrote her story—through grace. A grace bigger than her greatest failures and that proved sufficient for all her insufficiencies. Step by step, God taught this once-scorned woman to live as His beloved, His princess.

As we follow her journey recorded in the pages of Scripture, He’ll help us do the same. We’ll learn to center our identity in Christ, recognize His power and presence in our most challenging circumstances, find rest from our striving, and live daily in His grace.

We also invite you to connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, and to join our private Facebook community HERE.

Hearing God

Learning to Hear From God

When decisions loom and uncertainty hits, do you ever wish you could have a face to face conversation with God? Or at the very least, to receive clear, if A then B guidelines, preferably etched in stone. We often hear others talk about how our faith is not a religion but instead a relationship, implying two-way communication. But how can we experience that kind of intimacy? Our guest today, a sweet friend and gifted writer with a heart for Jesus and others, shares some thoughts on how we can become alert to God’s voice. As you read her thoughts, consider how God might be wanting to speak to you.

How Do I Hear from God?

By Susan Akenwoman holding phone

I’m waiting for that phone call from God.

Moses, the man God called to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, spoke to God face to face. Saul, who wrote much of the New Testament, met Jesus on the road to Damascus and heard Him speak audibly. How often do we wish God would communicate so directly with us? We want clear directions.

graphic using text pulled from postWe do have detailed guidance from Him in His word, the Bible. To truly understand God and His will it’s crucial to know and comprehend Scripture. God never leads us contradictory to His word and His revelation to us is complete.To truly understand God and His will it’s crucial to know and comprehend Scripture. God never leads us contradictory to His word and His revelation to us is complete. Click To Tweet

The first step to hear from God is to know the Bible well. He most often speaks to us through its message.

We don’t see God’s face, but we can still talk to Him directly. We can pray anytime, anywhere, and tell Him whatever is on our hearts bringing any request to Him. He tells us to pray about everything and to ask Him for anything (Philippians 4:6-7). That doesn’t mean He’ll always answer as we want but He’ll do what’s best.

With faith, we study and obey His word seeking Him in prayer, and He directs our steps.

What about those who say, “God told me to do such and such,” God told them how much to give, where to serve, or whom they needed to reach out to? He does speak to our hearts when we are open to Him. But how do we know when it’s Him?

The Holy Spirit moves and speaks to us as He wills. But we need to be listening with open hearts and believe it is Him by faith.

As I was singing praise to God in church one Sunday, the thought came, “I want you to come early on Sunday mornings to pray for the church.” I dismissed it because I enjoyed attending church with my husband and son. I didn’t want to get up earlier and come alone. But I heard the message again the next week and the week after that. I felt God telling me to invite others to join me each Sunday morning to pray. By the third time, I started bargaining, “What if no one else comes?” God answered, “I want you to pray even if you’re the only one.”

These were thoughts. I’ve never heard the audible voice of God. How did I know it was Him speaking? First, it was in line with His word. Second, it was persistent. I would never come up with that plan on my own. And finally, I knew it was God because He gave me the grace to follow through.

I think we make hearing from God more difficult than it needs to be. He’s always speaking to us through the Bible, nature, other believers, and in our thoughts. The problem is we’re often distracted, not listening, or avoiding His message out of fear. Click To TweetHe’s always speaking to us through the Bible, nature, other believers, and in our thoughts. The problem is we’re often distracted, not listening, or avoiding His message out of fear.

We can come to Him in faith, trusting Him to speak, and knowing He is good.graphic with quote from text

Scripture tells us, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6, ESV). In other words, when we seek Him, through prayer, meditation, and Scripture reading, we can trust He’ll reveal Himself and His will to us.

Let’s talk about this! How has God spoken to you recently?

Are you willing to hear what He has to say?

Join the conversation here, in the comments below, or engage with us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, because we can all learn from and encourage one another!

 

Get to know Susan!

Susan is a homemaker, substitute teacher, and writer. She lives in Nebraska but was born and raised in Oklahoma. Her greatest love is for the Lord Jesus Christ who has redeemed her and set her free. Her other loves are her husband, son, and daughter-in-law to be. Susan enjoys reading, photography, spending time with family and friends, writing, and sitting down with a cup of tea. She has a heart for prayer ministry and loves her church! She serves on the Wholly Loved ministry team as a feature, Bible study, and devotional writer. Her work appears in numerous projects, including Becoming His Princess, a Bible study based on Gen. 12-23. You can grab it for free HERE.

Visit her online at Soaring on Butterflies Wings.

Grab a copy of Wholly Loved latest devotional, Anchored and Secure: 60 Days of Resting in Grace, HERE.

About the book:

Anchored and Secure Cover ImageThanks to Christ’s death and resurrection, we don’t have to stress, strive, or perform. We simply need to rest in what Christ has already done. That is when we begin to come alive and find the power and courage to live as He intended. That’s when we experience true and lasting freedom. This sixty-day devotional helps women reflect on God’s grace and the freedom of living deeply anchored in Him.

Connect with Wholly Loved on Facebook and Instagram.

Also, make sure to visit us on Crosswalk to receive daily devotions sent directly to your inbox. You can find our devotions HERE.

Wholly Loved Ministries is a non-profit organization that exists to help women live in Christ’s freedom. Donate now to support our mission or contact us to learn more.


 

Faith

Accompanied in the Furnace

Image of Victoria Mejias and her daughter

My daughter burst through the door shouting she made the honor roll! My son trailed behind her with his head down low.

She is bubblier by nature. He has always been more pessimistic. But something was different. Something was off. He wasn’t his normal self. He didn’t even say, “hello.” Instead he strolled into his room, laid his stuff down, sat down and just stared off.

What was going on with my baby? My first born. I wanted so badly to console him but he wouldn’t let me in.

Two sleepless nights followed. Two consecutive days of no rest – not for either of us. I even asked my daughter what was going on but she had no idea. He was desperately trying to work through a struggle all on his own. But why? He didn’t have to?

On the third night, he asked to come into my room. We sat on the edge of my bed as he looked at me with tears welling up in his eyes. “Mom, can we talk?” My heart leapt hearing those words. “Of course, honey,” I responded.

There he unloaded a very heavy and unsettling story about a racist altercation in the locker room.

At first I fought back tears while I listened. It broke my heart. The whole situation was disturbing. I couldn’t take away his pain. But I decided to cry with him, to comfort him and stay by his side. I thank God he allowed me to share in his pain. Click To Tweet

I could relate. That seems to be my lot in life. Not to have my suffering removed but to feel relieved knowing God is with me through my toughest moments.

It reminds me of one of my favorite Bible passages. Scripture recounts the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – three Jews who refused to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar. These three men remained faithful. Each time the king demanded they worship him they responded that “…the Lord would deliver them.” And one of the most powerful statements yet, “But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up,” as they rejected the king over and over. (Daniel 3:16-18, ESV)

They took a stand for what was right. They were faithful to God. Were they spared suffering? 

No, God didn’t swoop in on a magic carpet and rescue them. They were thrown into the fiery furnace. And did the door swing open? Were they saved from danger? No, instead, the king had the temperature of the furnace turned up seven times hotter.

Isn’t that how life works much of the time? You do the right thing and you’re punished. At least that’s how it goes for me. You pray for a break. But, no, the flames grow and the fire intensifies.

And that is what makes Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s stance so powerful. They recognized they were in danger and still believed God would rescue them but “if not, be it known to you,” they said, they still wouldn’t bow down. The furnace would not break their faith. Click To Tweet And the story did not end there.

Scripture says, “Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, ‘Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?’ ‘But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.’” (Daniel 3:24-25, ESV)

1080x1080 (11)

“Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, ‘Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!’”  (Daniel 3:26, ESV)

What an amazing testimony! That the Lord would accompany us in bad times. That we’d not be alone. That He’d be fully present in the furnace. And not only that but that we’d come out on the other side – freed! 

And “The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them.” (Daniel 3:27, ESV) The only damage the fire caused was to burn off their shackles. Click To Tweet

The truth is we will encounter good times and endure bad ones. But I praise God that we are not alone in our struggles. The Lord is available to us. We need only let Him in.

1080x1080 (10)

Know that when you hurt, He aches and He wants to be with you in your roughest moments. Click To Tweet

Like my son, I think our tendency is to hide and internalize pain. But Jesus is waiting for you with arms open wide. He will see you through the suffering. Refuse to surrender to your trials and turn to Him when you’re hurting. 

So what battle are you fighting? Are you facing trouble or experiencing hardship? Have you let God in to comfort you in your pain?

Get to Know Victoria:

image2

Victoria Mejias is a graduate of the University of Nebraska – Omaha and attended the University of Nebraska College of Law prior to making a leap into public service. She has nearly 20 years of experience in the private, public, legal and non-profit sectors. She has previously served as the Missions and Small Groups Pastor at StoneBridge Christian Church and the Development Director for Open Door Mission / Lydia House. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Heartland United for Puerto Rico and her past service includes a variety of other boards.

Victoria received her Certification in Urban Ministries from the Dallas Theological Seminary’s Urban Ministry Institute in 2012. She has spoken at a variety of venues on matters of leadership, diversity, spirituality and faith– locally, nationally and internationally as far out as Damoh, India at the World Leaders Evangelical Conference. Recently Victoria was the recipient of two Congressional awards for her service by Puerto Rican Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón and Nebraska’s Congressman Don Bacon during a floor speech at the US House of Representatives.

Victoria serves with Wholly Loved Ministries in numerous capacities, including functioning as one of their feature writers, writing articles on behalf of the ministry for iBelieve. She has two children, loves the Lord, reaching the lost and enjoys travel, arts and culture. Visit Victoria online at www.victoriaelizabeth.com.

Also, make sure to visit us on Crosswalk to receive daily devotions sent directly to your inbox. You can find our devotions HERE.

Wholly Loved Ministries is a non-profit organization that exists to help women live in Christ’s freedom. Donate now to support our mission or contact us to learn more.