When God Takes Away…

 Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said:

‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.’ – Job 1:20-21 NKJV

If you live long enough, there will be a point where God takes away something that you really love and enjoy. This could be a job, a position, a relationship, a dream or even a long time friendship. Just the thought of this can be scary, but there is no way around it. Regardless of how much you love God, things you don’t like will happen. And when loss occurs, it is very easy to become confused and sad.

I can talk about this because I was in this place just over a year ago. I was 22, one year away from college graduation, in what I thought would be my last relationship ever and loving life. But shortly after the one year point, God revealed to us that He wanted our relationship to end. When it happened, I was quietly devastated. I had never experienced being so attached to something and then having it removed from under me. But now that I look back at the situation, I realize that God was working in every single detail.

I want to share some of what I learned from my experience with loss and how to make it through that season.

1. God is sovereign. If He allowed it, there is a great reason for it.

Trusting God is not always easy. It can be downright painful. Seeing something that you loved leave is hard, but there is a point that we have to get to as believers where we decide to trust Him regardless of how we feel. Your faith in God’s plan for you cannot be controlled by your emotions. If it is, you’ll be fickle and you’ll never stand firm. We have to understand that if God allows something to happen, He knew that you could handle it. Nothing that happens to us catches Him off guard, so you have to know that you know that you know that you know that He will help you through it, that He is good and that He is for you.

2. It may not have aligned with His purpose for your life.

There are some ventures and undertakings that we jump into that may benefit us for a time, but that may not align with God’s long-term purpose and vision for our lives. We get comfortable in places when God is trying to move us to where He needs us to be. Maybe God removed it because it wouldn’t have allowed you to reach your fullest potential for Him.

3. He may be saving your from future issues or hurt.

Anytime I think about loss, I remember a testimony a church member shared once. He was serving in the military in Kuwait, and he had been praying that he would be able to return to his family soon. When the day for his scheduled return came, his officers pushed it back and told him that he wouldn’t be leaving yet. He was sad and really disappointed that he wouldn’t be back home when he thought he would be. But shortly thereafter, he was awakened with news that the plane that he wanted to be on had gone down and that people had lost their lives. Sometimes, God is literally blocking issues, pain, hurt or further loss from us by saying “no” right now.

4. He may be removing an idol from you to get closer to you.

I have learned a lot about idols through this experience, so much so that I blogged about it. I’ve realized that God hates them. He will smash them into a billion pieces if you place them where He should be. When I look back, I realize that I had placed the relationship on the altar of my praise, where God should have been. I spent most of my free time with the guy and made no personal time for loving God. The time that I had prior to the relationship quickly vanished. Although I would have said that I was living for God and many people regarded me as an outspoken Christian, God was not the object of my affections. I would have never said that I worshiped my relationship, but my actions said it for me. God is a jealous God. He will not allow us to hold onto those things that keep us from Him, because He loves us that much.

And through all of this, there is hope…

If this speaks to something that you have gone through or if you are currently going through it now, there is hope for you. My best friend Jeida shared something so great with me once. She said, “when we experience loss, we have a choice to make. We can either fill the hole that it left with more things (friends, people, stuff, etc), or we can choose to fill it with Jesus.” When I had to make this choice, I was blessed to have a God-loving friend by my side to help me make the right decision. It was during this time that Jeida would spend hours on the phone with me talking about Jesus, picking me up to go to church and small group Bible studies with her, and she would pray for me when I became sad. Her presence in my life was instrumental to my healing process. That brings me to my first piece of advice for those who are dealing with loss…

1. Surround yourself with a community of God-loving, praying, compassionate and transparent people…

God never meant for us to struggle through issues alone. Galatians 6:2 NKJV says, Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” God created us to be relational people who thrive when in community. We need each other. When you suffer loss, reach out to 2 or 3 people that you can trust who will pour into you, keep your eyes stayed on Christ and just love you sacrificially. The healing process starts when you share what you’re going through. Holding things in doesn’t help. Don’t let pride or shame keep you from getting the support you need. If no one comes to mind, pray and ask God to show you who can support you. If you still have no one, please message me and I will personally pray with you. I mean this.

2. Don’t be ashamed of yourself for crying or feeling down.

Healing from loss usually doesn’t happen overnight. You will experience a wide range of emotions and feelings, but if you give those feelings to God, in time you will be okay. Know that crying or having bad feelings doesn’t mean you don’t trust God, it just means that He is still making you new.

3. Pray, read the word and journal like a madwoman (or madman) and declare God’s promises daily.

Like Jeida said, when you have a void in your life, you have to fill it with something. If you fill it with the knowledge of the love of Christ, His promises, grace, mercy and everything else that is Him, you will receive joy and peace. I poured out my heart to God through prayer and writing in my journal everyday. Some days, I wrote through tears, but I felt relieved as I shared these feelings with my journal and even now when I look back on them, I can see where God has brought me from. What a beautiful sight. Also, declare the promises of God every time you get a chance. When I was going through my toughest days, I repeated certain scriptures and reminders daily. Some of my favorites were:

God is working everything out for my good and for His glory. (this became my motto)

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory;
no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. – Psalm 84:11 NKJV

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. – Psalm 34:18 NIV

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. – Psalm 46:1 NIV

 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7 NIV

 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. – Galatians 6:9 KJV

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. – Isaiah 26:3 NKJV

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. – Romans 8:28 NIV

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39 ESV

Write these on your mirrors, put them on flash cards, hang them up around your room or do whatever you have to do to be reminded constantly of God’s truth concerning you.

4. Don’t jump into anything else to keep yourself distracted or try to open a door that God has closed.

A huge mistake that many people make, especially after a relationship ends, is jumping into another one to fill that void. They find another person to consume their time, share their broken heart with and try to find solace there. This is so dangerous, both for them and the person whose heart they are involving. After loss, healing must take place. If we pursue another relationship before God’s appointed time, we risk further damaging ourselves and hurting another person. Love protects and it preserves. Do not bring someone else into your life until you are emotionally available and God leads you to do so. Lastly, don’t try to open a door that God closed even if you don’t understand why He did it. Obedience doesn’t require explanations or understanding. In His time, He will reveal things to you and you will be thankful that you obeyed Him. Obedience wins.

5. Renew your mind daily. (Romans 12:2, Ephesians 4:23)

There will be days that you wake up with the memory of what is now gone. It can consume your thoughts, but if you can daily submit your thoughts and your mind to God, you can keep those thoughts at bay and keep your mind stayed on Him. Renew your mind daily with the knowledge of Christ.

More than anything else, keep in mind that God’s love for you is unending. His goal is not to hurt you; it is to save you. Your happiness matters to Him but your salvation and growth matter more. And just like Job, God may take something away, but He will always make it worth your while. This doesn’t always mean that you get a better home or job, but it may just mean that He connects with you deeper. God didn’t give me a new relationship, but I have been brought into a deeper place with Him. He gave me more of what I needed to grow and if loss is what it took to get here, I’d go through it all again.

I pray that this blesses you!

Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning… – Job 42:12 NKJV

jclu

Leave the Pieces

And the Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it from Eben–ezer unto Ashdod. When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon. And when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the earth before the ark of the Lord. And they took Dagon, and set him in his place again. And when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him. – 1 Samuel 5:1-4

For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God… – Exodus 34:14

Have you ever lost the thing you valued most or missed out on the opportunity that you dreamed about your whole life? If this happened, I’m sure you’ve wondered why it had to happen. You probably wanted to know why it was taken away, if it had to happen in that manner and what God was up to. My friend, God wasn’t picking on you. He’s actually been in the idol-crushing business for quite some time.

I listened to quite a few sermons this weekend and one of my favorite comes from a series called “Uncompromising Life” by who is in my opinion, one of the greatest men of God on this planet, Damon Thompson. In the 2nd sermon of the series entitled, “The Idol of Self,” Damon really digs into idolatry in our lives and how we have to remove them in order to truly give God our all. He references 1 Samuel 5 where the Philistines had taken the Ark of the Covenant from God’s people and had taken it into their own camp. The Ark of the Covenant represented the presence of God. When the Philistines took the Ark from Israel, they placed it in a temple and placed their Philistine god, Dagon, on top of it.

ImageDagon looks really interesting, but because he’s an idol made by the hands of men, he doesn’t stand a chance against almighty God. During the first night, God knocks Dagon onto the ground. The Philistines come into the temple in the morning and see that he is on the ground so they pick him up and put him back in “his place,” on top of the Ark. During the next night, God obliterates him. The Philistines walk into the room and see Dagon broken on the ground in front of the Ark again, but with the arms and head cut off. This story always blows me away and makes me think about the idols I place in God’s place in my own life.

God has taken a sanctified sledgehammer to so many idols I’ve tried to worship. For most of us, idols aren’t statues. Idols are the things we want with all our heart, the things we place before God, the things we can’t stop thinking about and the things we give all our love to. My idols have been things that I fashioned really well, took much pride in and worshiped with all my time. They are things that I would ignore Him to pursue and things that I spent all my time praying to God for although I had absolutely no desire to actually KNOW Him. And when God would knock them down, just like the Philistines, I’d pick them right back up and place them on top of Him. What the Philistines and so many of us don’t realize is, God desires to be the object of our affections. He couldn’t allow Dagon to just sit on top of Him because He is a jealous God who desires our worship. The first commandment that He gave was about having no others gods before Him. And when I say worship, this isn’t the “turn on my worship music and lift my hands ” sense. God wants us to worship Him with our life. He wants us to spend time with Him seeking Him, communing with Him and finding pleasure in Him. His love for us is so deep and He wants us to love Him back. One of my favorite vivid displays of this desire is in Hosea 3:3 which reads,

And I said unto her, ‘Thou shalt abide for me many days; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man: so will I also be for thee.’

God does not want to share us; He wants to abide freely in our hearts.

God desires to be the object of our affections.

I have really disliked when God knocked down my idols. So much so that just like the Philistines, I would find ways to put the idol back where I thought it belonged. I started finding ways around “no,” I’d talk to tons of people to get “second opinions” and sometimes, I’d even try to go back and re-do what God had undone. I’d even spend all my time thinking about it and make the MEMORY of the idol an IDOl! Crazy, right? Something that both the Philistines and I had to learn is that God doesn’t knock down and smash idols for us to pick them back up and put the pieces back together. God is wise. He is all knowing. He doesn’t have think about His next move because He is Alpha (beginning) and Omega (end). He already knows the future. If God takes something away, even if it doesn’t make sense to me, it is the right move. God is sovereign so even when things that don’t look or seem right from my feeble human perspective, it’s still in my best interests to trust Him anyway because there’s obviously some important reason (that will likely be revealed later) that He is doing what He’s doing. He works everything out for our good and for His glory.

Dag765_500_315

God doesn’t knock down and smash idols for us to pick them back up and put the pieces back together.

During Damon’s message on idols, He said something that blew me away. He said, “Maybe you should stop trying to pick up what God’s presence is trying to eliminate.” If you’re like me, you have control issues like to be in control. I’m being honest, but if you’re like me, you know what I’m talking about. We like to be in control of everything. We want to determine who will be in our life, where we will work, what we’ll eat, what we’ll study, how we’ll spend our money, how we’ll spend our time and everything else. But when you have a Lord, you don’t make all of those decisions. Your Lord makes them for you. We are submitted and bound to Christ. We’re under His authority and not our own because we live to glorify Him, not ourselves.

“Maybe you should stop trying to pick up what God’s presence is trying to eliminate.” – Damon Thompson

One of my favorite people in the Bible who had no problem surrendering himself to God was Paul. In Acts 20:24 he says,

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.

I consider my life worth nothing to me. Those sound like the words of one who was fully submitted to the cause of Christ and not the cause of self. Serving God means that we don’t buck up against Him. It instead means that whatever He gives, we gladly receive and whatever He takes away, we willfully accept. I know that in this phase of life, I’ve had a very hard time leaving the pieces of the idols on the floor. I’ve tried to tape them, glue them, pray that He’d miraculously put them back together, etc. I’ve asked God over and over to help me be okay with what He has taken away and then I finally realized that me not being okay with what He allows is simply a lack of faith in the fact that He really has me taken care of. I want to be in control because I know that I’ll have my own best interests at heart, but I have to have faith and KNOW that my dear Father in Heaven has a better plan for me than I could ever have for myself. And unlike me, He is actually wise enough to make good decisions for me. He not only has my best interests at heart, but He has promised that everything would work together for my good because I love Him and I’m called according to His purpose. There’s no better guarantee that than. If you’re like me and have struggled with this, I pray that God gives you an extra measure of faith to believe that He’ll do what He promised and to know that He’s going to take care of you. I also pray that He’ll give you the strength and courage to leave the idols on the floor, truly let them go and move forward in worshiping Him with every fiber of your being.

If you feel that you can’t relate, ask God to show you the idols in your own life (we all have them) and help you remove them so that you can love Him and worship Him with your whole heart.

Until next time,

Brittany