Archive | May 2018

Dear social media user — you don’t need the details to pray…

telephone- details

I’ve hinted at this before. You don’t need all the details to pray for a Christian friend.

I’ve swallowed the words. I’ve “beat around the bush”. But today was the first time I’ve come right out and said it kindly, but boldly to a fellow Christian. “You don’t need the details to pray.”

We were discussing the pros and cons of social media. Then it was suggested that I keep up a Facebook page for my husband’s health issues. I laughed a little laugh, and said, “Well, it would read about the same most weeks. Doing lousy! You don’t need the details to pray.”

I think the reason the conversation spun in this direction was because of those who do feel free to post all their ups and downs, highs and lows, and needs great and small on social media.

I’m in some of those groups. Praying for a little girl stricken with brain cancer right now. But, I don’t get online and ask nosy questions! I don’t PM them for more details, either. Why? It’s. NOT. My. Business.

This may work well for some folks. If that’s you, please don’t feel judged! My dear one has done some of this vulnerable sharing in the past. Rarely ever, now. Why? It’s very hard to build true friendships on social media alone. Oversharing has resulted in some serious fallout.

And how do you judge when someone is not truly committed to your best interest, loyal in Christian love ? Trust is built over time.

A true friend will walk with you faithfully through the hard times as well as the good.  Sharing details with untried friends is like baring your chest and walking through a thicket of blackberries. You’re bound to get shredded by the thorns of everyone’s educated opinion. Or get betrayed by the sharing of information they accidentally let loose.

Church prayer chains can be as challenging as social media.

I’m sorry to say I’ve been the unwilling recipient of some church prayer chain conversations. Not my church family, but truly lovely ladies in many ways. Still, the details they felt entitled to discuss about a third party! Really?

Is that necessary to your prayers? Don’t you realize that what you are sharing about another is actually gossip?

Do you need to dig for the details of where, what kind of cancer, what treatments someone is undergoing, etc…? Why do you NEED to know this information to pray?

Some ladies, I fear, have mastered the art of the compassionate voice so that they can extract information and details that they eagerly share with their inner circle. Men aren’t exempt from the “dig for information”. After all, journalists — male or female — are just another version of Sherlock Holmes.

My own sis-in-love mentioned the challenge of how to answer people’s many questions about her stage 4 breast cancer. What an added stress! I often didn’t know her latest test results, even though I was on her care team and cared deeply. I didn’t pry into her private and painful details. She was also concerned about who would see her house suffering from survival mode.

What your suffering friend most needs is words of caring and prayers. Acts of kindness, helping them share the load while they are in survival mode, will never be forgotten.

“Keep me from the strife of tongues” is a phrase used in Psalm 31:20. While it is written in the context of King David’s enemies, we also see a legitimate prayer model for protection from this specific form of damage.

 

All throughout the Scriptures, we find prayers and warnings regarding our words. It’s too big of a study to attempt here. Read the book of James and the book of Proverbs for starters.

We’ve all been guilty of sharing details we shouldn’t have at some point in our lives. It’s something we should feel godly sorrow and repentance for — with prayer and determination to please God in this area.

Why? Why would details be damaging? How often is it that we relate a story only to find ourselves being corrected on some detail or another? We’re so human! This is how gossip and misinformation start. You miss one or more crucial details from your friend’s story. It happens to the best of us!

I cannot tell you the times when folks have asked me to give them details about the health issues we face. Then, I accidentally left some important detail out! Weeks roll around before I have time for a personal conversation with that person again.

Or consider the spin or “flavor” that gets added to the details? Our personal opinion about the situation?

In truth, we may be close to or actually spreading lies about our neighbors if we dig for more information than we need.  Only the wisest among us handle sensitive information with the kindest and most discreet of hearts.

Even when we’re dying to know more… JUST STOP!

“Child, said the Lion, I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own.”

C. S. Lewis                           The Horse and His Boy

 

Pray for each other! Love not just in word, but in deed and in truth.

Let’s take a cue for the books of I and II Peter, written for a suffering, scattered church family. It takes intention and planning. See the word effort?

“Make every effort to add virtue to your faith;

and to your virtue, knowledge;

and to your knowledge, self-control;

and to your self-control, patient endurance;

and to patient endurance, godliness;

and to your godliness, brotherly kindness;

and to your brotherly kindness, love.

For if these things reside in you and abound,

they ensure that you will neither be useless nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” II Peter 1:5-8

 

The end of all things is near. Therefore be sober and solemn so you can pray.

Above all things, have unfailing love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.”

I Peter 4:7-8  

I’m blessed to see brotherly kindness and unfailing love as the pinnacles of our Christian faith and walk.

We’ve been truly blessed, also, to experience the brotherly kindness and love poured upon us by church family — a small glimpse of God’s eternal mercies.  LOVE brings LIGHT and HOPE to dark trials.

Keep unfailing love as that highest goal, dear care-giving wife. God knows all the details of your sorrows and needs. He will be your refuge and help.

 

 

Advertisements

Psalm 73 — for when you covet an easier life…

depressed woman

One of these days, in eternity future, I’m looking forward to meeting Asaph. Why Asaph, you ask?

And, who in the world was Asaph? Legitimate questions. If we were having this conversation in person, I’d start by answering the second question first.

Well, you know Psalm 73, right? Have you read it?

If you’re having one of those days where you fume at the injustices in the world around you, read Psalm 73.

Asaph is credited with writing this Psalm as well as a few others. Seems like he had a bone to pick with injustice. He was a Levite. You could call him one of the chief temple Music Directors.

Clearly he used his position to express his beef with the world as well as shining truths about God.

Have you had days like this? You’re infuriated at the politicians. Shedding tears over babies being ripped apart in their mother’s wombs. Every. Single. Day.

Some of you, like me, would desperately love to give those babies loving arms and a home, however imperfect. Due to chronic illness, we know the painful reality of secondary infertility.

I have a daughter — I’m very, very grateful. But that same daughter has asked me for a sibling almost since she could talk. She feels the pain of secondary infertility, too.

The cost of adoption and the presence of chronic illness, well…  Then compare the cost of abortion to the cost of adoption — talk about severe injustice!

sad woman statue

Or even closer to home for caregivers —  do you get spitting mad because navigating the medical system to get the help you or your chronically-ill loved one needs is SO crazy hard?

Even worse, you find out you have no coverage for medically-necessary procedures. It’s going to cost you big bucks out of pocket.

Chronic illness is like a financial black hole.

Cancer and chronic illness — two of the biggest legal money-making rackets currently in operation, I’m convinced. Long gone are the days when doctors accepted payments in chickens or eggs (Yes, those were acceptable forms of payment just a hundred years ago.)

Alternative or integrative medicine isn’t immune to industry greed.

Certainly, no one’s winning any affordability prizes in these categories, either. I have family and friends who have poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into trying to get healthy, trying to find which method will work for them.

When we’re actually living in these desperate straits, Asaph’s lament makes total sense to us.

“Truly God is good to Israel, to the pure in heart. But as for me, my feet almost stumbled; my steps had almost slipped.

+For I was envious at the boastful; I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no pains in their death; their bodies are fat.

They are not in trouble as other people, nor are they plagued like others…

they have more than a heart could wish.”

Psalm 73: 1-7

I recently saw a brief tid-bit of a Dr. Phil show.

The mother-daughter duo was there for “help”. The flawlessly made-up daughter was a hot mess of entitlement, mad at her mom because she was getting her spending money cut down to 1k a month.

Upset because her mom had chosen a Mercedes  (she wanted a more expensive car) to give her, you could hear the entire audience gasping at this teen’s audacious words.

First world problems, right?

That’s where the reality of heart-envy sets in.

It’s tempting to say, Girl, look here, I’ll be happy to take that 1k spending money off of your hands. It would pay some extra bills this month.

But that misses the point of this Divine reminder altogether.

“Truly, God IS good to Israel.”

waterfall-2811052_1920

We can’t base our understanding of God’s goodness on the evil we see in the world around us — injustice, violence, and greed.He clearly states that He is good and does good. Sometimes our eyes and hearts are so focused on the evil that we fail to see His goodness.

When we’re experiencing pain, financial loss, or the slow, painful demise of a loved one, we just want relief. We want answers.

Asaph expressed this struggle: “Thus my heart was embittered, and I was pierced in my feelings. I was a brute and did not understand.”

The beauty is that God does not leave us alone. He is good to Israel (those who are true Israel by faith in Christ alone.)

He keeps His covenant promises.

He is the SAME, yesterday, today, and forever.

All the Scripture Asaph knew to help him understand and know God were the Books of the Law. Imagine that when you read the beautiful words that Asaph pens next!

“Nevertheless, I am continually with You;

You have held me by my right hand.

You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.

Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is NOTHING on earth I desire besides You.

My flesh and my heart fails, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Ps. 73:23-26)

 

See Asaph return to trust, rest, and peace, dear caregiver? Dear sufferer of chronic illness? Dear friend or family of someone in dire physical need? You and I are wealthy beyond compare, if we are known and loved by the covenant-keeping God. 

Read the final book of the Bible — the one Asaph had NEVER laid eyes one. His next words tell us about a God who will hand out justice.

He sounds hauntingly like the book of Revelation, written hundreds of years later.

“But those who are far from You will perish; You destroy everyone who is unfaithful to You.” Ps. 73:27

Once again, Asaph quiets his soul and deals a blow to his own discontent. How? What’s the takeaway for me?

“But it is good for me to DRAW NEAR to God;

I have taken refuge in the Lord God, that I may declare all Your works.” Ps. 73:28

I’m so very, very thankful to say — through care-giving for two family members with cancer, chronic illness, multiple surgeries, and recently, stroke — I’ve found this refuge in God. Every. Single. Time.

Has it hurt like crazy still? Like someone keeps shredding my very heart, yes.

When I bow my bleeding heart and seek His face, His WORD speaks to me.

In the pain, loneliness, and suffering that only He can see and understand, His Words light my path with a light so tangible I can almost see it. Real hope. Real peace, in spite of multiple anxieties. Real comfort. That’s why I wanted to share this with you today.

Real struggles, real answers — from my brother Asaph who’s enjoying his final refuge at this very moment.