Monday, August 9, 2010

Discouraging Thoughts and What To Do About Them, Part 2

Dear Reader,
Monday's topic is grief. The process, the twists and turns, the questions, the hope .  .  .
Last week I ran a survey about thoughts that might trouble you or people you know, when facing grief or suffering. Thanks to all you who voted and commented. The results were as followed:

88% struggled, or knew others who struggled with the thought "God is punishing me."
44% struggled, or knew others who struggled with the thought "God doesn't listen to my prayers."
33% struggled, or knew others who struggled with the thought "God has left me."
22% struggled, or knew others who struggled with the thought "God loved my husband more than me."
22% struggled, or knew others who struggled with the thought "God was too busy with other people."
11% struggled, or knew others who struggled with the thought "Everything I touch goes wrong."

And I'm not much at math, but from both public and private comments I received, about 50% of readers didn't ever really have these ideas cross their minds. Which is great! But it's also enlightening to hear  how different each person's grief experience is, and how sufficient God's comfort.

I've gone back to these statements and listed them in a lie/truth format below. I call these statements 'lies' because that's what they are. We need to remember that we have an enemy, the father of lies, who prowls about like a lion looking to devour. As Randy Alcorn writes, "Satan wishes to destroy our faith through suffering; God desires to refine it. (page 406, If God Is Good--Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil)

Also, I've used a fill-in-the-blank style. Copy, paste and print the following onto a word document. That way you can discover God's delightful truth for yourselves. There are many more great promises in Scripture, but these are quick and concise, ideal for blogging and memorizing. I'd encourage you to memorize these verses and others if you face these thoughts. Memorizing Scripture isn't just for little kids in Sunday School! It's a great way to strengthen yourself spiritually and transform your thinking. Talk to your pastor, a counsellor, spiritual mentor or grief group about these verses, too.

Lie: God is punishing me.
Truth: Genesis 50:20—”You intended to harm me but God intended it for ______ to accomplish what is now being done . . .” 
(Since this thought "won" the survey, let me spend an extra moment on it, and please see your pastor if you need more teaching on it. God does not cause one person to die in order to punish another. Scripture taught this over and over in the Old Testament--each is to die for his own sin (Deut. 24:16, for example). And in the New Testament we find that Christ gave Himself as punishment for our sin. When we come to Him in faith and accept His atonement for our sin, we stand forgiven! Romans 8:1--"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Where there is no condemnation, there is no punishment! Husbands do not die because the wife sinned.)

Lie: God doesn’t hear my prayers.
Truth: Psalm 40:1 “I waited patiently for the Lord; he ______ to __ and _____ my cry.”

Lie: God has left me.
Truth: Deuteronomy 31:8—”The Lord himself goes before you and will be ____ you; he will _____ leave you ___ forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Lie: God loved my husband more than me.
Truth: Jeremiah 31:3—“I have loved ___ with an everlasting love. . .”

Lie: God was too busy with other people when I needed Him.
Truth: Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is ______ to the brokenhearted and _____ those who are crushed in spirit.”

Lie: Everything I touch goes wrong.
Truth: Psalm 27:5—”For in the day of trouble he will keep __ safe in his dwelling; he will hide __ in the shelter of his tabernacle and set __ high upon a rock.”

Here are two action points that will help overcome these discouraging thoughts.
1) Be sure to pray for those who struggle with these thoughts. It's a very real battle, fearful and close to despair--they need our prayers most of all! Feel free to mention additional helpful verses and share some comments about how God has helped you through His Word.
2) Continue aggressively defeating wrong thoughts with Scripture. It's hard, it's discouraging and draining, but it's worth every ounce of energy! Use the verses of truth listed above and also consider the following:
  • The Apostle Paul didn't give up. Rather, he said, I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)
  • He also wrote, Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 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. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
  • Read, too Psalm 107. It speaks of hungry and thirsty people, people in darkness and gloom, those who were foolish and rebellious, people in dangerous storms, and proud people brought low. All who cry out to God will see His redemption! One of these days we'll say with the great throng of heaven, "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever!"
I look forward to that day!


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  2. Thanks Polly. It looks like a really good site, and chock full of ideas. :)


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