Thursday

When You Feel Powerless to Influence Your Children


It wasn’t until my daughters were graduated and out of the house that I truly understood the power of prayer. 

In the days leading up to their moves, I was overwhelmed by the knowledge that I could no longer be a daily influence in their lives. How am I going to take care of them? I wondered. How can I continue to influence them when they’re so far away? 

I felt powerless and afraid. Who’s going to stay awake to be sure they get home safely? What happens if they get sick? And the worse fear of all, what if they stop attending church and stray from the faith? These looming dangers easily eclipsed the more minor issues I had worried about when they were children. 

More importantly, they revealed the lie I had believed—that my children were safe as long as I was nearby. And that I had the power to protect them from harm, bad influences, and spiritual apostasy. Without intending to, I had usurped God’s role, at least in my own mind, as their guardian and protector. 

When they moved away, I came face to face with my own impotence. Simultaneously, I rediscovered the greatest power in the world—prayer. 

Stormie Omartian, author of The Power of Praying for Your Adult Children, says: “. . . when we take our concerns to the Lord—trusting that God hears our prayers and answers them on behalf of our adult children—it means our prayers have power to affect change in their lives. And that gives us a peace we can find no other way.” 

While I already had an established prayer routine, something shifted significantly in my heart. Prior to their leaving, I’d stick prayer on my conscientious parenting efforts like a bow on a Christmas box. Now the Lord was showing me that the majority of my efforts needed to move away from physically and emotionally parenting my children and toward spiritually influencing my children through diligent prayer. 

He helped me realize that while I couldn't be everywhere my children were, God could. And he cared for them even more than I did. 

Some parents of adult children have the added burden of a strained or hostile relationship with their children. They feel doubly impotent and frustrated. 

Evangelist D. L. Moody spoke to this when he shared how prayer is the stealth weapon able to penetrate even the thickest defenses. "People may resist our advice, spurn our appeals, reject our suggestions, and not accept our help,” he said, “but they are powerless against our prayers." 

Pastor John Piper has often shared how he prays consistent, focused prayers on behalf of his sons. He transcribed one of his prayers in his book Taste and See: “Even in their sleep, Lord, turn their hearts to you.” 

I love this picture—that God can and does work in the hearts of our children, even while they sleep. His influence is not limited by time, space, or daylight hours. His heart desires to draw them into a rich, full relationship with himself and those around them. 

Are your children far away—relationally, physically, or spiritually? Take heart. You are not powerless. You have the greatest weapon in the world available to you. Through prayer, you can continue to affect your children for good no matter where are. 

“The prayer of a righteous (wo)man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16). 


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Monday

9 Reasons Why God Might Not Rescue You - Part II

The last time we were together, we looked at five reasons why God might choose not to rescue us. You may read Part I of "9 Reasons Why God Might Not Rescue You" HERE. 

Today we'll look at four more:


6. God is building our faith story so one day we can share what we’ve learned with others.

Second Corinthians 1:3-4 reveals this purpose: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”

Because of the faith valleys I’ve walked, I can truly identify with and minister to those who have lost a loved one, parented a prodigal, experienced unemployment, and resurrected a stale marriage. Experiencing God’s faithfulness during these difficult times has enabled me to say with certainty, “God will help you.”

7. God is doing something amazing. 

You can’t see it right now, but he is working out his purpose in your situation. Nothing can thwart God’s good purposes for his children. “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Cor. 2:9).


8. God is developing his mind and heart in you.
When circumstances press us hard into God’s Word and force us to seek him for wisdom, faith, grace, and strength, he begins to conform us to his image. We can’t spend large amounts of time in his presence without starting to think, act, and love like he does.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son. . .” (Rom. 8:28-29).

9. God is teaching you that a close, personal, spiritual relationship with him is sweeter and more precious than a happy, healthy, trouble-free, physical life.

I experienced a trial years ago greater than anything I’d ever walked through before. With one phone call, I felt like everything precious to me had been stripped away.

I awakened the next morning feeling like I had nothing left but God. As I cried, and prayed, and cried some more, Jesus met me there. He wrapped his big tender arms of love around me and spoke words of hope into my troubled soul. He spoke words of truth into my reeling mind. He spoke words of love into my broken heart. And he spoke words of courage into my trampled faith.

My encounter with him was so powerful and real that I will never again doubt his love, care, and purpose. “It was good for me to be afflicted,” King David wrote, “so that I might learn your ways,” and I agree. While I would never voluntarily choose to repeat those dark days, I know God used them to grow my love for him in ways he never could have otherwise.

“. . . I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:8).

There are many reasons God chooses not to rescue us from our trials. I’ve listed a few here to get you thinking. What comforts me in the darkness of suffering is the knowledge that God is just, God is powerful, and God is good. I can rest in this, and you can, too.

What about you? Have you come through a journey of suffering only to catch a glimpse of God’s purpose in the rear view mirror? I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.


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Thursday

Why I'm Glad Granny Didn't Kill Herself

My grandmother suffered from dementia.

During the last year of her life, she couldn't leave her bed, didn't recognize any of us, wore a diaper, and had to be fed every meal she ate. Some people said her life was worthless and non-productive. A waste of resources, space, and energy to care for her.

Every Monday afternoon for two years I'd pack up my two little girls and their school books and drive an hour to visit her. Sometimes she'd be asleep. Sometimes she wouldn't acknowledge me, and she never remembered we'd been there. A whole afternoon and several gallons of gas "wasted."

But we visited, and spooned pudding, and ice cream, and scrambled eggs into her mouth. We kissed her and talked to her and held her hand. We sat by her bed, called the nurse when her diaper needed changing, and pretended we were having a good conversation. I'm sure she suffered in ways we'll never (mercifully) know because she couldn't tell us.

But her suffering wasn't purposeless, nor was her existence. While her life may not have been pain-free or productive from her perspective, it was accomplishing a lot from mine.


Every time I made the long drive to visit her, and care for her, and love her more than I loved myself, and my schedule, and my convenience, I was becoming a better person. More compassionate, more appreciative, more gentle, more unselfish, more humble. Dying to my flesh that sometimes wanted to be anywhere but walking through the doors of that nursing home taught me courage, loyalty, commitment, and love. It taught me that we don't abandon the ones who can no longer care for themselves. That family sticks together no matter what. That we serve each other even when it's not convenient or fun.

And those little girls whom I dragged along at the expense of their school lessons? They were learning the same lessons I was. Some day they'll be taking care of me, and I pray they will have learned the lessons well.

My granny's suffering wasn't wasted. It was invested.



For a wise, biblical response to Brittany Maynard's death, I encourage you to CLICK HERE to read John Piper's blog post,  We Are Not Our Own: On God, Brittany Maynard, and Physician-Assisted Suicide.




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Monday

9 Reasons Why God Might Not Rescue You - Part I

“For when we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within,” (2 Cor. 7:5). 


The New King James translation of this verse uses the painfully descriptive phrase “hard pressed” to describe Paul’s trials. “We were hard pressed on every side.” The origin of this phrase comes from the practice of squeezing a fruit or vegetable (grapes, olives) to extract its juice.


Some days (weeks, months, seasons, years) I feel hard-pressed. Like life has me between a mortar and pestle and is pounding me into fine dust. I know you can relate, because I’ve heard your stories.

You sweat and groan and weep and rage and cannot find relief. The intense pressure doesn’t stop. You plead for rescue, yet the vise of life’s circumstances squeezes tighter and tighter until you think you might scream, and sometimes you do. “Why doesn’t God rescue me?” you cry, and the question echoes back. “Why?”

I believe there are at least nine reasons why God sometimes chooses not to rescue us. If you’re feeling hard-pressed today or know someone who is, I invite you to prayerfully consider these reasons and ask the Lord to show you which might apply to your situation.

Why God Chooses Not to Rescue Us 

1. We don’t believe he can.
God works in response to faith. Hebrews 11:6 tells us that without faith, it is impossible to please him. For God to answer our prayers, we “must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Heb. 11:6). Our lack of faith can be a huge hindrance, not because God can’t overrule our faithlessness, but because he won’t. He never forces faith on someone. Thankfully, all it takes is the faith of a mustard seed to invite God to work in our lives. It's not how much faith we have, but in whom our faith rests that matters.



2. We have sin in our lives.
We cannot willfully choose to disobey God and simultaneously expect him to bless us. As human parents, we withhold blessings from our children when they rebel against us. God often does the same. More important than health, wealth, and happiness is whether we have a right relationship with God. He’ll often use difficult circumstances to help us realize how much we need him.


3. We need to learn to trust him. 
Our faith begins small and increases with every challenge. Like a muscle, our confidence in God’s power grows stronger the more we exercise it. Trials, heartbreaks, and circumstances beyond our control force us to turn to our all-powerful God. Every time we acknowledge our weakness and see him act on our behalves, our faith grows. Before long, we have a long list of answered prayers that makes it easier and easier to trust him.

4. He knows that a rescue wouldn’t be best. 
So often we just want OUT of a difficult situation. We’re not interested in what’s best in the long term, we want relief now. I remember when my daughter wore braces. Every month the orthodontist would tighten the wires on her teeth so much that her teeth would ache for days. If you asked her during this painful time if she wanted her braces removed, she would have said, “YES!”

Her orthodontist knew, however, that while taking off her braces would have ended her temporary suffering, it would have interfered with her longterm health and happiness. The same is true of many of our trials. The apostle Paul knew this when he wrote, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18).

5. There’s a lesson we need to learn or a character quality we need to develop because of this situation. When my husband lost his job, I learned that God is our provider. When I cared for a baby with colic and another with constant ear infections, I learned patience, kindness, and unselfishness. When I worked with difficult coworkers, I learned to see them through Jesus’ eyes, not my own. Instead of asking Why? when we encounter difficulty, what if we asked What?, as in, What can I learn from this situation?

Please join me next time to read four more reasons why God might not rescue us. To ensure that you don't miss it, if you haven't yet subscribed, now might be a good time.


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Thursday

Struggling Together

I’ll never forget the day our pastor confessed that he struggles to read his Bible every day. 

My friend said the comment made her think less of him, but I disagreed. When I heard my his admission, it gave me hope. 

It gave me hope because I know my pastor is a godly man. That he loves Jesus and has dedicated his life to loving and serving Christ and his church. I know he’s a man of prayer. That he’s faithful to his wife. That he seeks to do what’s right. 

Because I’ve seen how God has used him and watched his relationship with the Lord grow, when he revealed his struggle to read God’s Word daily, it showed me that I’m not the only one who struggles with consistency. 

When I see how God has used my pastor, despite his inconsistencies and failures, it gives me hope that God will use me as well. 

Don’t get me wrong, a pastor should read his Bible every day, not because he’s a pastor, but because he’s a Christian. The Word of God is our help, strength, and teacher, and we should never neglect it. This isn’t the issue, however. The issue is that as long as we live, our spiritual nature will war with our sinful nature to do what’s right. 

Paul expresses the struggle in Romans 7:21-23: 

“So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.” 

I led a homeschool support group for many years. As our leadership planned meetings, we quickly discovered that it wasn’t the speakers with the perfect homeschooling track records whose messages resonated with our ladies. It was the ones who had slogged their way through the trenches and overcame significant obstacles who really made an impact on our group. 

Hearing the stories of other believers I respect who struggle and succeed gives me hope that even though I struggle in one area or another, I, too, will succeed. That God will use me—not despite my struggles, but because of my struggles. 

 I’m thankful that Jesus, our ultimate example, was not a high priest who couldn’t be touched with our failures and frailties. Although he was the perfect Godman, he knew what it was like to struggle. 



“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-- yet was without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).





“Let us then,” the writer of Hebrews exhorts, “approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (v. 16). 

My pastor sometimes struggles to read his Bible every day. So do I. 

God is using him in mighty ways to share the love of God with a dark and dying world. I hope God will use me, too. 

Because it’s not perfection God desires, it’s desire that God perfects. 

What about you? Are you struggling in some area of your Christian life? Does it help you to know others are also struggling? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts. 

Update on Winston:
Winston (and his family) would like to thank all of you who prayed and sent well wishes (and get well bones). He's recuperating nicely despite losing a toe during his operation. The pathology report came back clear, and he's looking forward to chasing squirrels again very soon.







I'll be leading a DEVOTION WRITING WORKSHOP in Columbia Saturday, Nov. 15 from 9-12
New Testament Baptist Church, 300 Sims Ave.
Registration is required. $25/person. Contact dianna@mcwhirterlaw.com


For more information on the writing workshop, CLICK HERE.
 

Learn how God can use your life experiences, spiritual insights, and unique perspective to impart spiritual truth to others. Learn how to connect your life lessons to God’s word in a way readers can easily understand in this fun and dynamic writing workshop.


 
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