Friday, July 25, 2014

Why He Lets Some of us See

Have you ever wondered why Jesus allowed Thomas to touch his wounds?

Most of us probably look down on Thomas for his lack of faith. How is it possible that he could question? He was right there with Christ.

We aren't much different. We see God work miracles in provision, and then the next day we throw up our hands begging God to provide again. It's okay to pray for provision, but so often we pray out of worry even though we saw him work the day before.

So is it wrong to to desire to see something from God? It often is a lack of faith, yet sometimes, like Thomas, He shows Himself in such amazing ways that we should never doubt again.

Have you ever wondered why some people see God work more than others? Some people seem to have such an easy life, where they don't seem to have to ask for anything. I wonder if that is a blessing?

Most of the time we see God the most in the storms or in the hardships. We don't pray for those times to come, but ultimately they are what mold us through faith. In the storm, we might yell at God and question Him. Our attitude could be completely wrong, and yet He allows some of us to see Him in a clearer way than others when our faith is lacking.

Those who suffer from cancer might know these moments well. Perhaps in those moments when the pain or fear is at its worst, God gives you a glimpse of himself when he relieves you even if it is for a moment.

Perhaps you experience this as you mourn over a friend or loved one who seems so lost. When you are in the midst of it all, you feel the presence of God almost like a hug. It's happened to me. Once. That friend who I mourned over, and God comforted me in the mourning, is now in heaven.

Maybe you live a "normal" life with a child who has special needs. The normal will never truly be so. In your mind, there is always that "if only" that really shouldn't be there, but it's a struggle to keep it away. In the midst of that battle, your little one, grips your arm or smiles at you when you lay him down for a nap. It's those moments that are miracles to you. Those moments are special where you see God in a way that no one else does.

I think of the family that has become so popularized with their son's "visit to heaven." I only put it in quotes because there is so much skepticism over these things. I have read the book because a church member when I was a pastor's wife was talking about it, and I thought I should be informed. I honestly didn't know what to think, but maybe a family like theirs that had gone through so many trials in one year and perhaps were still not as strong in faith as God desired, needed to see more. It really seems that their faith grew with their son's testimony. Only God knows everything there.

When you are doubting, weak in your faith, hurting, God loves you. He shows us Himself in ways that only He would know we need. When He does allow you to see, it might not be during an easy time, but remember it for the next time.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Stress and Your Body

A few months ago I wrote about underlying stress. This is sort of a part 2 of that post. I have had a stressful few years. I know they could have been worse, but they are what they are. Underlying stress of things that are in the future affect your body a great deal more than we may realize. The same is true for obvious stress.

I feel like I might be an expert on how stress affects the body, but I'm sure there are others who know better. I have an issue with my stomach that is believed to mess with the nerves in that area making it especially sensitive. I had my first issue with this right after I brought home my first son from the hospital. He was born early, we brought him home on an apnea monitor because they wanted to be sure his breathing/heart would not go down too far. It was stressful to go through this with a first child. I think the problem started during the pregnancy, but the pain did not begin until after. We later learned that the chlorine in water was a major irritant of the problem, so giving up chlorinated water took away the problem for a while.

I don't remember having another issue with this until I was first pregnant for our second son, so obviously pregnancy is another trigger of this issue in some cases. It was a stressful pregnancy at different times, but thankfully I did not deal too much with this issue even after Trenton was born. I think I was handling stress better at the time, and that is a good thing, since his birth and after very difficult.

This past year was the most stressful year of my life. We were in a new church as a pastor/pastor's wife, our son suddenly had an extra strange illness which we later learned was cyclic vomiting syndrome. It's a very stressful illness, because you have the underlying stress of knowing it comes every month around the same time. Thankfully, the Lord resolved it.  I had another episode after a very stressful time this past January, and then have been going through it again since our move, lack of insurance for the boys, and husband being away at a new summer job. I think I let the combination of things let me become too anxious at too many times.

I say all of this to show what stress does to me. The other day I was sitting relaxing and happened to start thinking about something in the future that was unknown or that I had to do. I was gripped with stomach pain. Our thoughts are so connected to our bodies. Yes, there are other triggers for problems like this, but for me stress is a major one.

So what can I do about this? It almost seems involuntary, but is it really? I can control my thoughts. I can change my attitude. This is a major help when you have stress-triggered illnesses. I am not unfit to live life because of this illness. I know it will run it's course, and I'll feel better, and oddly enough stress will not affect me in the same way once it does.

I don't know why I go through this. Maybe it is so that I remember that in my weakness, God is strong. Maybe it is to point out that I am being too anxious. The pain is a definite reminder.

If you know that stress is making you sick, there may be a medical problem, but it may be a heart problem along with it. Keep tabs on your thoughts, and you may soon find one of the roots of your pain.