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Category Archives: Trials

Trials and Testings

The latest trial involves a needed home repair.

A few days ago, I noticed a puddle in the yard near the septic tank. Oh no. A sinking feeling in my stomach began. My husband didn’t really know what to do. I don’t know about septic systems (or electricity or plumbing, etc) and I had expected him to know more. That was most discouraging to me, that he didn’t more about what to do.

However, instead of doing my usual routine (fretting and doing internet searches on the problem and getting more and more upset when I can’t find solutions) I knelt and prayed.

image of an open bible with bookmark
Photo by Wendy van Zyl on Pexels.com

As it turned out, the breaker to the pump had tripped. After resetting, all was well. It just came to my mind to check the breaker panel. I shared with my BSF Bible study on how I was learning not to fret so much, and how God had taken care of the situation. I had stopped to pray when I noticed the puddle, and tried hard not to let impatience and fear rise in my voice when trying to figure out what to do. I refrained from trying to take matters into my own hands (completing frustrating internet searches, emailing DIY forums or contractors in a frenzy) and lean on the Lord.

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I felt as though as I had taken a step forward in sanctification until yesterday. I was running the dish washer, and thought I would check the breaker panel again, just to make sure the pump switch hadn’t tripped again. (When I discovered the tripped breaker last time, I had been running both the dishwasher and the washing machine. We reasoned that maybe it was too much stress on the circuit. I am not sure now if that even makes sense — shows how little we know about circuits and electricity). Well, it was tripped again.

After resetting, my husband said he would get a replacement part for the breaker panel. But, before he could do that, I checked the panel again today, and noticed the breaker had tripped again! I wasn’t running anything either. I reset it but it keeps tripping.

Psalm 37:8 New International Version (NIV)

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;

do not fret—it leads only to evil.

So, the issue is not resolved and I am struggling not to fall into despair.

My husband didn’t do anything about it and wanted to attend a funeral this evening but says he will call his friend who is an electrician tomorrow. We haven’t had much success in the past with his “friends” and family members helping. He has friends or family in HVAC, fencing, electricity, and roofing, yet when we’ve needed help with these issues in the past, none provided help (or if they did help, it didn’t save us any time or money. One didn’t return a call for weeks). So, I’m not relieved yet.

I’m afraid to run water or flush toilets until this is resolved. I’m going through a list of past victories, how the Lord helped with repairs in the past, how He has provided, how I was able to get through trials and find peace again. It’s not helping as it should. I can’t seem to get out of this mud of despair. I feel so weighed down.

My mom suggested calling an uncle who is handy. He wasn’t sure if I needed an electrician or septic tech. When we bought this home, we did get a one year home warranty that covers many systems and appliances. We’ve already used it once for the air conditioning. That was a blessing, though it does cost $75 for each service request.

What is more stressing is that we paid several hundred dollars getting access covers and an alarm installed for the septic system. Well, we’ve discovered the alarm is on the same breaker (not even sure if I’m using these terms correctly) as the pump, so when the breaker tripped for the pump, the alarm doesn’t work! If I hadn’t seen the puddle in the yard, we wouldn’t have known there was a problem until junk backed up into the house!

So, this electrical problem has snowballed into me mulling over past decisions, questioning past actions: This home purchase, paying extra for the alarm and access covers, questioning my marriage too, as my husband doesn’t seem to know how to handle some home repairs. This fretting is frightening, disheartening, unsettling, and extremely discouraging.

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What prompted this post was that I wanted to start documenting how I get through trials to try to bolster my faith and keep me from so much discouragement during trials. I’ll post again on what happens. For tonight, I plan to keep praying, search the Scriptures, and go to bed early. Please help, Lord.

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2018 in Trials

 

Be a Barnabus

If TV commercials were any indication of our normal, everyday life then we would all be having a warm, loving, fun Christmas season filled with good food, laughter, the excitement of shopping and the expectation of gifts.

For someone struggling, the Christmas holiday can feel like a burdensome task of trying to make merry when the heart is sick. If you know someone who is struggling, please be careful with your words and actions. We can inconvenience ourselves in the name of love, can’t we?

I found this article (link below) about encouragement that you may find helpful. I’ve added a few tips below of my own.

Encourage One Another

In addition, if you are attempting to encourage someone who is struggling:

  • Before you attempt to encourage someone who may be down, don’t say something that you wouldn’t want to hear yourself. For example, if someone is struggling with finding a job, don’t start suggesting jobs, especially if it’s work that you wouldn’t want to do yourself! He or she is already looking for work; don’t make the situation feel hopeless.
  • Along the same lines, don’t offer advice at all unless it’s solicited, or unless the person is clearly sinning or in danger.
  • Don’t attempt to encourage by detailing how you overcame your own sorrow, unless you are making it clear how the person can use the advice for his or her own good. For example, if someone has lost a loved one recently, letting them know about your own loss is fine, but don’t hastily follow it up with how it will get better with time, or any other pat response. She’s hurting now. Hurt with her for a while (see Romans 12:15).
  • And, following from above, don’t gloss over someone’s hurt by attempting instant cheerfulness:

Like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar on soda, Is he who sings songs to a troubled heart.” Prov 25:20 NASB

I sincerely wish you all a Merry Christmas. And, if it doesn’t seem so merry, (believe me I understand) remember (as I’m trying to remember!) that this too shall pass.* Drop me a comment below, or if you’d like a private response, fill out the Contact Form. Thank you for reading.

patricia grace

*Not an actual Bible verse. But, see Psalm 102:25-27 and James 4:14 (Links to BlueLetterBible.org)

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2016 in encouragement, Life, Trials

 

Falling Away

Faith feeling wobbly? Concerned that your walk with Christ isn’t what it should be? Are you easily daunted, easily falling away from Christ when trials come?

 

Wobbly, weak, falling away, easily daunted…all of these described me for years. If you struggle with the same issues, then please listen to these teachings from Living Waters/Way of the Master ministries:

Hells Best Kept Secret

On the same page that is linked above, also listen to “True and False Conversion”. Could it be that you’ve come to Christ under a false gospel? (Which isn’t really the gospel or “Good News” at all).

Prayerfully,

patricia grace

 

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2015 in Salvation, Trials

 

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Discipling

My church has no formal setup for discipleship. I am so lonely and in so much need of help, wisdom, and instruction. The especially frustrating part is that many in my church are older, seasoned Christians, no longer raising children and no longer holding formal jobs.

As my 2nd job has me working many Sundays, I attended our prayer service last night, since there’s always a chance I may not make it to Sunday service. Once again, I met kind, warm Christians who inquire after my welfare and tell me that they are praying for me. I need the prayers! But, I have concrete needs as well.

I am in danger of falsely judging my Christian brothers and sisters. I don’t know what is going on in their own lives, but our Pastor, taking a break from normal expository preaching, has been teaching through our church covenant–which includes much about the “one anothers” of Scripture and about discipling–and I know there is much agreement about these commands, but I don’t see it in action. Lots of “amens” heard during the service, but I don’t see how it’s lived out.

I asked a lady at church with whom I’ve gotten closer about whether or not she had a disciple or was discipled, or had an accountability partner. She said she had partnered with another lady who attends our Wednesday evening service, as her own church doesn’t hold a prayer service, and they encourage one another, memorize Scripture together, pray together…She confirmed that there is no formal process at our church, just an expectation that we should be doing things like this with one another. *sigh*

I’ve put it out there several times, to several people, that I am starved for fellowship. I’ve opened my home to others, offered help to others, and made it clear that I am in need. (True, I’ve shunned opportunities for fellowship in the past, and I regret doing so. Lord forgive me. I see the need now, and now that I am lonely, I see how I should have taken opportunities to foster community long ago, before I ended up in such trying circumstances).

One thing that has got me confused is that I’ve learned that several people in my church own multiple properties and are landlords, but no one seems to have a place for me. It’s widely known that after my house sells, I do not have a place to live, other than moving back to my mom’s house. I have made clear that we don’t have enough equity in the home to be able to profit so much that I could secure another home.  I have, however, made clear that I am willing to work, that I am working, and that I am seeking more work.

I can’t say that we should all be giving away our property–I won’t go that far, and I don’t expect free housing from my brothers and sisters in Christ. However, it is troubling that none of these has even made a temporary offer. PLEASE note, I am not asking for free housing, just someone to say “We can help you until the Lord makes clear the path you should take; pay what you can, take care of the place, until you can afford to pay us market rent prices or can move elsewhere”. Perhaps their properties are already under leasing contracts.  Again, I know I shouldn’t judge, as that may very well be the case.

Mostly, I’m just discouraged and hurting and tired of holding it all inside where it’s festering.

It IS still confusing, however, when the majority opinion is that we should not be seeking government assistance, but should be working and earning our own bread. But, when the work doesn’t earn enough to pay bills….then what? Shouldn’t we be filling in the gap for our brothers and sisters?

One lady, the one I mentioned above, has opened her home to me. I may have mentioned before, that I stayed with her for a weekend. Delightful home and delightful lady. But, there isn’t really much room for me. The bed I slept in “has issues” she told me, and asked that I keep to one side of the bed.  The bedroom door doesn’t shut all the way. There are no blinds or drapes that completely give privacy in the room; in fact, other than the bathroom, the windows are not covered throughout the house and all is visible from the outside after dark. There was no empty closet to use and the bedroom has all available spaces filled with her own personal items and toys for when her grandchild visits.

This dear lady, who became a widow not long ago, has opened up a modest space to me, while the wealthier among us have remained silent.

I am being selfish? Am I missing something here? What would you do if you were in my situation?

How wonderful to be in a place where you can give to others. I look forward to the day when the Lord may put me again in a position to be a giver and not the one with so much need. I love to give and I know that is a gift and power from the Lord. I know another thing for certain–my circumstances have caused me to be more sensitive to others who may be in need. Instead of so much judging of others and allowing envy to overtake me, I suppose I should ask the Lord for opportunities to be serving others even in my needy state. That certainly seems more Christian. Now, if He will just give the power and strength to do it. Believe me when I say (er, write) that I know how ungrateful this reads. Will you pray that God help my tired, ungrateful, confused heart?

 

So Tired,

patricia grace

 

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2015 in church, Finances, Giving, Trials

 

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#EthanStrong

My friend’s sister became a new mom just a few days after Christmas.  She delivered a baby boy four months premature, while visiting in-laws out of state. Her and her husband are still with the husband’s family as of today.

There has been an outpouring of support for them by friends and family. I’ve been reading updates from the father on a private Facebook page created to share info about the little guy. The local news where they live even caught on to the story. See the clip here. (You may have to endure an advert at the beginning).

The parents have gotten a lot of bad news this week and are having to make some difficult decisions about wee Ethan. Please pray for a miracle. Please pray for strength and wisdom for the parents.

Their ordeal has caused me to think about the complexity of life, the preciousness of life. Their trial reminds me of a short video about supporting life–no matter how small–no matter the location–no matter the circumstances. Please watch 180movie.com and comment below after viewing it. ****WARNING: the subject matter of the film touches on disturbing events such as the holocaust and may not be suitable for the little ones***

#EthanStrong

Thank you,

patricia grace

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2015 in Life, Prayer Request, Trials

 

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Beans and Beef

Sat down to a dinner of two hamburger patties (no bread or rolls in the house) and some beans from a can. My first thought was how meager the meal was and how I was “suffering”. My next thought was to laugh at myself, realizing that my meal is a veritable king’s feast to much of the world’s population.

I also had some chocolate pudding, from those inexpensive box mixes, that I had made up a few days ago. Not exactly starving here.

The can of beans came from the church pantry months ago, along with the pudding box. I am thankful for these gifts and thankful that I have an abundance, for all that I seem to lack compared to my American neighbors, including my fellow church members. The verse that comes to mind is the one about being content with food and clothing:

Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it.  So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.

 But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. 1 Timothy 6:6-10 NLT (Bold print added)

I’m selling household items to prepare for putting my house on the market. Once the house sells, Lord willing, I don’t have any other permanent living arrangement lined up. My mom and step-dad have, once again, graciously opened their home to me. A friend from church offered for me to stay with her, but she really doesn’t have adequate space (her heart was in the right place, though, and I am so grateful for someone offering practical help and not just throwing out a “Prayin’ for ya!”).

On the one hand, I feel at peace, knowing that our Lord, while serving on Earth in the flesh said “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.” Luke 9:58 NLT  I feel comfort knowing that the Lord can be glorified in me, with or without a house.

On the other hand, I don’t want to be a burden to anyone. I know that we are called to help our brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as all of our neighbors. It necessarily follows that if one is the helper then someone, at some point in time, has to be on the receiving end of that help; however, I dread being that person on the receiving end for an extended period of time. I don’t want to be someone else’s trial or “test of faith”.

I will, as God allows, graciously and gratefully accept help. But, I still cry to the Lord to strengthen me to once again be in a position where I may be the helper.

Recent job applications and interviews have come to a dead end so far. A client recently went back into hospice care and told me today that she no longer needs my services. She appeared sad and told me that she would write me a recommendation if I thought that would help me to find another position. I was really touched by that offer. She is weak and frail and yet she is thinking about my welfare.

I don’t know what the next few days, weeks, and months will bring. No one does. The Lord may return soon. He may call me home soon. Circumstances may improve. Circumstances may grow leaner. Whatever the case, I am thankful (though not as much as I should be) that God is teaching me to lean on Him, trust in Him, depend upon Him. All other supports have proved false. I will keep trusting in the One Who is able to do all things.

beef and beans

patricia grace

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2015 in Blessings, Finances, Trials, Wealth

 

Devil’s Advocate

Then Satan answered the Lord, “Does Job fear God for nothing?  Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.” Job 1:9-11 

A recurring theme of my adult life has been one of struggling with work. Specifically, the struggle has been with finding work that both pays the bills and that I enjoy doing.  Most of my jobs have been low paid monotonous drudgery. For a few years, I found work that I liked well enough, that eventually offered decent pay, but with a boss that was emotionally uneven, controlling, and immature.

Now, I realize that my struggles are shared by millions. I know that my pain is not unique. Before anyone tells me to “deal with it and get on with it”, please know that I have done just that.

Currently, my earnings aren’t enough to pay bills. Since starting my own business, I’ve never stopped looking for full-time work elsewhere. I’ve only turned down jobs that didn’t offer more (or much more) than I already earn–and even then I would have accepted work that I could have done in addition to my current work. But, most offered hours that would necessitate trading my current position for another of much the same offering.

All around me at church, I know there are people struggling with many different issues. The prayer list is pretty much filled with health trials. (In fact, if you removed all the prayer requests that involved health issues, the requests could probably fit into only a few lines of print). However, I haven’t met anyone that is actually living a day-to-day, week-to-week existence. What I mean is that most of the people I meet have homes, cars, retirement accounts, benefits–all the “normal” stuff of a middle-class existence in America. They have enough to support them for months or years, even if they didn’t get a paycheck for a while.

My struggles seem so different from theirs. I have heard of some financial struggles, so I know I’m not the only one. But, overall, I am uncertain that the church feels a need to do much about it and I don’t see anyone suffering the trial of faith that I do when the financial picture turns bleak.

We do have a benevolence fund at our church. A voluntary collection is made every time we have the Lord’s Supper and the funds are set aside strictly to help church members “in need”.  I myself was a one time beneficiary of that fund. And what a joy and help it was! The help came, however, only after I sent a near begging plea to the church email prayer list (“Finances dire. Really needing more income. Praying God would be glorified in this, so that my unbelieving husband would see that God takes care of His children…” That’s pretty much the request I sent out).

When I’ve shared my struggle of faith, I get the response of “I’ll keep praying…” followed by averted eyes and distance.

When I read those verses in Job, I see myself in the words of Satan, and feel terrible for it. Please know, this is painful and embarrassing to admit, but I find myself wishing that God would look at the cozy and secure in my church and “knock them down a notch”. I wonder what the women would do if their husbands who support them sought to separate from them and they had to make their own way. I wonder what the wealthy men would do if God ceased to bless the work of their hands and instead made them work for minimum wage.

If “a man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven” (From John 3:27), then even the work that people find to do and the ability to succeed in it must be a gift from God. The ability to work in that job must be from God, too.  The advice given to me will always be to “work more”, but the opportunities and the very ability to make a living come from God, not our own hands–“Furthermore, as for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, He has also empowered him to eat from them and to receive his reward and rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God.” Ecclesiastes 5:19, italics added.

Once again, I plead and cry out to God for mercy, grace, and HELP. Please help me, oh God. Please Lord Jesus, have mercy on me. Grant me work and make me able and willing to work any job and pay my own bills so that I may “…lead a quiet life and attend to [my] own business and work with [my] hands… so that [I] will behave properly…and not be in any need.” From 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

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Verses taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
 
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Posted by on January 11, 2015 in Finances, Trials, Wealth

 

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