3 Ways to Trust in an Unseen God

3 Ways to Trust in an Unseen God

3 Ways to Trust in an Unseen God

Trust.

So often we’re called to trust in God, to have faith that his plan is better than ours will ever be. We’re told to trust in someone we often haven’t seen ourselves or don’t fully believe can and will accomplish what we long for.

This distrust causes us to say we trust, to give lip service to the God of the universe and then end up acting outside of God’s instruction because of our anxiety.

This situation is shown clearly in Abraham and Sarah’s story.

Genesis 16:1-2 says, “Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, ‘The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.’”

In that time, this was common practice. If a wife couldn’t have a child, they could select one of their maidservants to stand in for them as a surrogate. Legally, the child would belong to the wife, and he could be the heir to the father. We see this again with Jacob, Leah, Rachel, Bilhah, and Zilpah (Genesis 30). According to the world’s customs, this was an okay way to carry on the family line. However, Sarah’s choice to give Hagar to Abraham was not made out of a desire for more children, but rather a distrust in God’s promise to grant her a son.

As we read on it becomes clear that Sarah regretted that decision. Even before she herself is pregnant, she abuses Hagar to the point that Hagar flees into the desert (Genesis 16). On and on this cycle goes, so far that Hagar returns to the desert after being sent away in Genesis 21. Sarah took matters into her own hands because she was anxious to have children. In the process, she gave herself a world of trouble, because she wasn’t patient for God’s timing, and didn’t trust that it could happen. We see her distrust again when angels come to warn Abraham of God’s plan to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. As they remind Abraham of God’s promise to give him a son through Sarah, Sarah laughs.

In the end, the Lord is faithful to his promise and Sarah bears Isaac. In our 20/20 hindsight, we see that she should have trusted God.

None of this makes it any easier to trust, however. So how can we start trusting in our Creator, in the God who has a wonderful plan for our lives?

1 | Look at what God has done in the past.

It’s easier to believe that someone will do what they say they will when you can see that they’ve done what they said they would in the past. We have the benefit of reading how God has been faithful to his people over and over and over again. Psalm 105 gives an overview of Genesis and Exodus, showcasing how God took care of his people. We can take comfort in knowing we are part of “his people” now, because of Jesus, and his promises apply to us as well.

2 | Release your anxiety to him.

Pray and be honest with God. Tell him what’s on your mind. What scares you, what you want to do to speed up his process. And listen. Bring him into the discussion room where you make decisions, and let his voice have a stronger say in your dilemma than your own. One of the first steps to trusting is to let God know what’s keeping you from trusting. The process of admitting your fears to him and letting him love you even in your fear can bridge the gap of your distrust.

3 | Make a conscious effort to wait for the Lord.

Put your desires on hold, and trust the answer you received when you told God what you wanted to do. If he says no, then you need to make the conscious effort to hold yourself back and not do what he told you not to do. This is one of the hardest parts of trust, but in the same way that you can look back and see how God has been faithful to you, your trust will be proven in your actions.

This isn’t an overnight change, and it won’t be an easy adjustment to make. But it can be done, and we’d love to support you as you move toward trust. We encourage you to reach out if you’d like to talk to one of our pastors or biblical counselors. You can send us an email here.

When You Feel Depressed

When You Feel Depressed

When You Feel Depressed

Dealing with depression is not cut and dry. Whether you know the cause of your depression or not, you are not alone in your feelings. It’s very real and it’s very difficult to climb out of. Hear these truths and encouragements from God’s word today:

“Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.” Psalm 31:24

Psalm 31 begins with a declaration of who David trusts in, followed by a cry for help and confidence that help is coming. It ends with an understanding that “The LORD preserves those who are true to him” (verse 23), and a reminder to “be strong and take heart.” You belong to God, and he will take care of you.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Depression is difficult no matter where you are, but it often feels worst when you feel alone. The good news is that you don’t have to do it alone, or through your own strength. God is with you. He will strengthen you and help you.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

When everything seems to have piled up on top of itself, and it seems like one bad thing after another, we can find peace in knowing we will have trouble, but we have a rescuer from that trouble: Jesus. He overcame so we don’t have to. He fought the battle for us.

“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” Psalm 55:22

When you feel the weight of your troubles, it can help to talk to God about them. He is stronger than we will ever be, and he can carry the weight so you don’t have to. But you first have to give it to him, and he will sustain you.

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” Psalm 77:11-12

When you feel depressed, it can sometimes help to intentionally remind yourself of all the ways God has been faithful for you and others in the past. Whether you journal about how you’ve seen him work in your life or if you simply go back and read the Old Testament, the reminders of God’s faithfulness and the ways he fulfills his promises can help bring hope into the times when you feel the darkness the most.

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock, and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.” Psalm 40:1-3

Lastly, I want to remind you that God hears you, lifts you up, and will put you on solid ground. In the future there will be joy again. Praise God for what he’s done and what he’s doing, even when you can’t see where he’s leading you. He is good, you are not alone, and there will be an end to your battle.

If you feel it would be helpful for you to talk to someone, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. You can send us an email or sign up for biblical counseling here. You don’t have to face depression alone.

Happily Ever After—Or is it?

Happily Ever After—Or is it?

Happily Ever After—Or is it?

Congratulations! You’re married! You made it through the wedding and now it’s time to start your life together as husband and wife.

It’s smooth sailing from here, right?

Well, maybe not. No matter how long you’ve been together, there will always be things you don’t know about your spouse. And these first few months are certainly not free of struggles. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

There are two main areas where you might face significant challenges in these first few months together: conflict and expectation.

Conflict is one of those things that might sneak up on you. Married life is different. Suddenly you share everything—space, a bed, money, a house—with each other. Inevitably, you will fight. If you haven’t fought yet in your relationship, that first fight might come faster than you think it will. That’s okay. Learning how to conflict with each other is one of the most important parts of living together, and depending on how you were taught to handle conflict in your homes of origin, it may or may not be easy for you to learn how to handle conflict with your spouse.

But that’s the key. You’re starting new customs and new traditions together. Your family’s way of handling conflict may not work well or promote a healthy relationship with your spouse. Talk about how you’ve handled conflict in the past and how you’ve been taught to handle conflict so that when you have your first fight the conversation will have already been started.

Secondly, expectations for your relationship, your time, your money, the future, and even what you hope for from your spouse can cause disappointment. If your expectations don’t match up with each other it can be very easy to wonder why your marriage isn’t everything you hoped it would be. This can be eased by starting the conversations and expressing your wishes and hopes to your spouse. Talk with them about what you hope for sexually, socially, and domestically. By keeping the discussion open, it allows you to continue to get to know your spouse and make sure that you’re both on the same page.

If you try to have these conversations and find that it just isn’t working or you keep fighting instead of reaching any points of connection, it could help to reach out to a marriage counselor or an older couple that you trust who you’ve seen work for their marriage and struggle through the hard stuff together.

4 Things I Wish I’d Known Before “I Do”

4 Things I Wish I’d Known Before “I Do”

4 Things I Wish I’d Known Before “I Do”

It’s hard to know what you don’t know until you’ve been to a place you’ve never been. This is especially true in marriage, and there are new challenges every day. Here are some things you might find you wished you knew for just after the wedding.

1 // There will be trouble.

You’re not living with your clone, so don’t be surprised when you have conflict. You are two individuals trying to figure out how to share a life together. That’s not an easy feat.

2 // There will be differences in what you expect.

Going into marriage, even if you’ve talked about your expectations with each other, there will be things you forgot to mention or didn’t think would be a big deal. Expectations, especially unspoken expectations, can make it really hard to live with someone. Go in with an open mind and a willingness to talk about your experiences and expect to compromise.

3 // Sex may not be what you thought it would be.

This is particularly true if you’re both virgins. The tendency is to believe it’ll be the best time ever, and there will be fireworks and the whole thing will be enjoyable. At first, it might not. You’ve never done this before with each other, so don’t worry if it takes time to figure it all out. Be patient with each other and yourselves, and understand that it will work out and you’ll grow into it. If you have concerns about this, talk to a marriage counselor. That way you won’t have to be freaked out about the whole experience, especially if it’s not what you always dreamed of.

4 // Be willing to “leave and cleave.”

One of the hardest things that has to happen when two people get married is that they have to leave their blood relatives. A marriage is meant for two people. As soon as more than that number are involved, everything gets complicated. There are too many cooks in the kitchen or players on the field. Merging your traditions with the traditions of your spouse can be difficult, but if it’s not done well it can make everything harder. Look to your parents as mentors, but don’t be afraid to not do what they say. They are a resource, but ultimately this is your marriage and will be your family. Start new with this other person, and be okay with the struggle that beginning can create.

If you want help working through these or other struggles as you start out in your marriage, please send us an email. We’d love to work with you and help you begin to work through your differences and build a solid foundation for the years to come.

Two Assumptions We Make When We Think We’ve Found “The One”

Two Assumptions We Make When We Think We’ve Found “The One”

Two Assumptions We Make When We Think We’ve Found “The One”

“I think she’s the one for me.”

We hear this phrase a lot when people start dating. Dating can end in one of two ways: (1) you get engaged and then married, or (2) you break up or are otherwise separated.

Looking for “the one” for you can be the most difficult part of dating. After all, how do you know? When you ask your parents, they usually say, “I just knew.” Which, I suppose, was helpful for them. But that answer doesn’t help you know if you “know” yet. So how can you find out if you’ve found “the one?”

Assumption #1: Is this God’s plan for my life?

To have a “one” assumes that we believe God has a plan for our lives and the lives of those around us. Every time one human interacts with another human, we invariably change their life, in a small or large way. Not every interaction is going to be life changing, but every interaction impacts those involved and those who witness it. So, to believe that there is a soul mate out there somewhere in the world that God has in mind for you requires a belief that he has a plan for your life.

Imagine how different the world would be if your parents hadn’t gotten married and raised you, and if your grandparents hadn’t gotten married and raised your parents, and if your great grandparents hadn’t been together and raised your grandparents, and back and back and back. You would not be the same person you are, the person God created you to be, if any one of those pairings was different.

Assumption #2: Is she the one God intended for me?

The second assumption inherent in the question “is she the one God intended for me?” is the assumption that God is involved in these details of our lives. If God is involved, then we can safely believe that he will answer our question with a yes or a no. Therefore, it’s important to take the time to pray and reflect and listen after asking God for guidance.

Some things to look for in a partner are:

Where do they find their identity and approval? From God, or from you?

Who do they encourage you to be? Someone growing closer to God, or closer to the world?

Can you be apart from each other and trust each other to be faithful?

Do you have aspects of your day to day lives that require you to be apart from each other, or are you tied up more in each other than in God’s direction for your life?

Are you both willing to put in the work to continue to make the relationship work, even when it’s hard? Or is one of you more likely to bail out?

And possibly most importantly, do you hold the same beliefs about God, or will you be in constant struggle with each other as you go on in life? To use the biblical term, are you equally yoked?

If you’d like to someone to help talk through some of these questions with you, please send us an email. We’d love to help you puzzle through this part of your life.

Adventures in Dating

Adventures in Dating

Adventures in Dating

Yes! It finally happened! You finally get to go on a date with that guy or that girl. Soon you’ll be engaged and then you’ll be married and then you’ll have kids and then — hold on, let’s slow down. This is your first date. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There are a lot of things you don’t actually know about this person.

At this point you may know their favorite color and what month their birthday is in — maybe. You might know if they have siblings. You might know their favorite coffee order or whether or not they like Italian food. But as important as those things are, there are a lot of things more important that you still need to learn about them. And, even as you stand together at the altar to say your wedding vows (hopefully at least a year later), you won’t know this other person completely.

So what does it look like to enjoy the dating stage without jumping ahead to the married stage? How can you keep the healthy distance that will allow you to grow together at a slow enough pace that it doesn’t feel rushed for either of you? How do you stay out of the whirlwind of love that can so easily sweep you off your feet and put you in situations you never thought you’d be in?

Here are some ways to keep things slow in the beginning so neither of you do anything you’ll later regret:

Go on group dates.

Getting to know each other in a group of people where you can see how the other interacts with your friends and their friends, can tell you a lot more about a person than only hanging out with them one on one. Chances are they’re on their best behavior when they’re alone with you. Seeing them with their friends can help you see behind the guards they put up to who they’ll likely be when they’re comfortable with you. Being in a group can also slow down what you talk about with each other, and help the more intimate conversations take longer to come up, naturally slowing down the process.

Be cautious in how you talk to and about them.

Words have more power than we tend to give them credit for, and the sooner you start to call each other “the one for me” or say things like, “You are my world,” or even “I love you,” the closer you grow and the harder it can be to separate if it comes to that. That’s not to say you should go into new relationships expecting them to fail. But there is no harm in guarding your heart and your mind so you keep God at the center of your life.

Learn to be a communicator.

Communicate about all sorts of things, but especially talk about your expectations going into a relationship. What does that look like for you? What has that looked like in your family? What deep-rooted beliefs do you need to be ready to reconsider, because they clash with your significant other’s? Opening this line of communication early on can help save a lot of heartache later.

Congratulations on entering into dating life! If you have questions or you want to talk with a third party, please send us an email. We’d love to discuss these things with you more in-depth.