You can always tell what things are important to Jesus. That is why his last three words on the cross summed up everything: “It is finished.” He already knows the things that keep a high level of stronghold on us. Shame and rejection are just two of them. Shame is when we are perceiving ourselves as bad. This perception can be due to issues playing out in any of the following areas: financial, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, physical, and mental. Because we are all broken, we dump shame on ourselves, and then unfortunately we dump shame on others. Last week, we discussed the shame aspect of trauma here. When we wallow in shame, then we see ourselves as unworthy. We become deficient in self-worth. What did the scripture say about our actions in regards to shame? “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2
Rejection: It is Finished
Rejection hits the same brain wires as when we experience physical pain. When rejection plays out, we receive the hidden message, “You are not good enough”. You need to prove yourself. The next natural response to not being “good enough”, is trying to figure out what we need to do in order to qualify. Unfortunately, depending on our background, this could turn into a dangerous ground for Satan to get a foothold. Jesus was despised and rejected as he planned to take his place on the cross. He didn’t need to prove himself, or figure out how to get someone to like him because God, his Father, was all the approval that he needed, and Jesus is all the approval that we need. His life in exchange for our freedom: He was despised and rejected–a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Isaiah 53: 3
We can finally release all of the shame and rejection on the cross by remembering the last three words that Jesus said, ” It is finished”.
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30
Have you ever been in a situation where you had to literally run for your life? I have, and I tell you, it is no joke. I had to run to safety. I was right in the middle of going through a divorce, and there was an issue that came up for visitation to be ceased for a few days. Unfortunately, the order was ignored. My daughter and I continued to get call after call, and doorbell ring after doorbell ring. I told her to stay away from the door as both of our nervous systems went into hypervigilant mode. There is more on the hypervigilant mode of trauma here. And if you have been through any type of PTSD/trauma, you know this moment is like fear on steroids X 100 with you watching and waiting for when and where something will happen.
My dear friend called me while this was taking place. I was supposed to be attending a Divorce Support Group that night. There was no way that I was going to leave my daughter at home to deal with this situation. I texted two members of the group, telling them to have fun, and that I had serious situation going on at the homefront. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t shake the fear. My system was jacked up with adrenaline, anxiety, and fear. That’s when my friend advised that I spend the night at her house. She said that I could have trouble on my hands all night if I didn’t. At this point, I was tired of getting the police involved.
I packed up our night clothes, my important papers, and clothes for the next day. I also had to call my son and get an okay for him to spend a night at a friend’s home. I told him that he was not to return home for any reason.
My friend pulled up to the garage, and my daughter and I ran to get into her jeep, and as she sped off, the three of us quickly glanced to the right, noticing a figure hanging over pretending as if it were limp.
We didn’t get much sleep that night because we were in hypervigilant mode, waking up every 20 minutes or so, having to both shut our phones down from the incessant ringing.
Like myself, David was on the run for his life. Saul’s jealousy turned into anger, and his anger turned into madness: “And Saul was furious and resented this song. “They have ascribed tens of thousands to David,” he said, “but only thousands to me. What more can he have but the kingdom?” 9Andfrom thatdayforward Saulkept a jealous eyeon David. “1 Samuel 18: 8-9
However, David wasn’t able to stay there long. He was advised to leave, running from place to place, cave to cave for safety, but God was with him: Then the prophet Gad said to David, “Do not stay in the stronghold. Depart and go into the land of Judah.” So David left and went to the forest of Hereth.…1 Samuel 22:5, BSB
1 Samuel 23:7-14King James Version (KJV)
7 And it was told Saul that David was come to Keilah. And Saul said, God hath delivered him into mine hand; for he is shut in, by entering into a town that hath gates and bars.
8 And Saul called all the people together to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men.
9 And David knew that Saul secretly practised mischief against him; and he said to Abiathar the priest, Bring hither the ephod.
10 Then said David, O Lord God of Israel, thy servant hath certainly heard that Saul seeketh to come to Keilah, to destroy the city for my sake.
11 Will the men of Keilah deliver me up into his hand? will Saul come down, as thy servant hath heard? O Lord God of Israel, I beseech thee, tell thy servant. And the Lord said, He will come down.
12 Then said David, Will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul? And the Lord said, They will deliver thee up.
13 Then David and his men, which were about six hundred, arose and departed out of Keilah, and went whithersoever they could go. And it was told Saul that David was escaped from Keilah; and he forbare to go forth.
14 And David abode in the wilderness in strong holds, and remained in a mountain in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God delivered him not into his hand.
Even when we are at our lowest point, and in the depths of fear, God is with us.
We thank you for being our refuge when there is nowhere else to go. We pray that during times of crises, we would seek you like never before, knowing that you have an angel of armies running with us.
When we’re waiting for something to happen, there are several things going on:
We want to know when things are going to take place.
We want to know where things are going to take place.
We want to know how things are going to take place.
We want to know if there is something we can do to make things move faster.
After all of the above happens, then we usually go back to the first thing on the list: We want to know when things are going to take place. Sometimes when we are in the waiting process, there are tangible things that we can do, but we find ourselves just sitting back and saying, ” Well, I’m just waiting on God.” There are other times when there isn’t a thing that we can do, except pray and know that God is in control, he loves us, and knows what’s best for us.
Rushing also involves several things going on:
We can’t focus.
We react instead of respond.
We do things out of character.
We forget about involving God in the matter.
We make things even worse.
We suffer severe consequences.
God promised Abraham at a very old age that he would have a son. When Abraham thought that this son would come from one of his servants, God reassured him that this is not what was going to happen:
Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This one will not be your heir, but one who comes from your own body will be your heir.” And the LORD took him outside and said, “Now look to the heavens and count the stars, if you are able .” Then He declared, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the LORD, and it was credited to him as righteousness.
Genesis 15:4-6, Berean Study Bible
After waiting for so long, Abraham and Sarah, his wife, went from the waiting stage to the rushing stage. Sarah decided to take things into her own hands, and have her handmaid to sleep with Abraham to have God’s promise come quicker:
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.”
Abram agreed to what Sarai said.So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife.He slept with Hagar, and she conceived.
Genesis 16: 1-4, NIV
I wish at this point there was some good news to tell, but there isn’t. Things went from bad to worse. Hagar got a little too close for comfort, and Sarah began despising Hagar for her pregnancy. Not only did she despise Hagar, but she blamed Abraham for the plan that she came up with on her own:
When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress.Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me.”
The exciting part about it is that we got a chance to ride the school bus to 55th and Cottage Grove, and race on the track there. All the kids from the projects in my area were going to be there. Three weeks before the race, my mother bought me some new gym shoes. On the morning of the race, right before my mother left to go to work, I was so excited, that I decided to try the gym shoes on again. To my surprise, they didn’t fit. They were so tight, that I was in excruciating pain.
My mother told me that she would have to take the shoes back, and that I would have to race next time, and that there was no point in me going since I only had sandals to wear. Next time meant next year. I wasn’t going to wait till next year.
As soon as all the kids got on the school bus, I hopped myself on too. My mother was gone to work, and I figured I’d be fine racing in sandals. When we got there, they grouped all of the kids according to age. The announcer called out. “Get on your mark. Get ready. Get set. Go!” I took off running like crazy in my sandals. I didn’t get far before I fell and injured myself. My knees were cut open and bleeding. My arms and hands were bleeding. the inside of my wrist was cut and bleeding, since when I fell, I used my hands to protect myself. My older cousin came over and walked me off the track as I was crying and humiliated.
This story of my race wasn’t so triumphant at all. I disobeyed my mom. I hurt myself. I suffered a permanent scar on the inside of my wrist as a reminder today of the sacrifice that I made. Praise God for his mercy and grace, and the redemption that he has for every one of our lives!
We praise you for who you are. We ask that you would help us to consult you in the waiting, and to pray like never before for endurance and perseverance. We know that your plan for our lives is the best plan. You are God alone, and you don’t need our help for you to give us what you have already promised us.
In your name we pray,
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
Have you ever been in such a rush to leave out the door that you left your belt at home? I have done it before, and it’s not a pleasant thing. Nine times out of ten, you are constantly pulling up and tucking in for fear of your bottom layer falling down, or your top layer coming out. Wearing a belt helps to prevent this from happening. Let’s say that we decide to put the belt on, but the buckle is broken. Well, then it makes no sense to even wear the belt at all.
There have been times when I’ve been invited somewhere. I was so excited getting ready for “women fellowship” time. Then, upon arrival, the devil started me up with the comparison trap. I started worrying about whether or not I am overdressed or under-dressed, or if my life is such a mess that I shouldn’t even make myself vulnerable enough to talk about it. After having the tape playing in my head like crazy, I have to talk myself down, and then tell myself, “My identity is in Christ. I am free to be who God created me to be.” Sometimes I calm down pretty quickly. Other times, not so much.
We are all broken, and in our brokenness, we need to build each other up in love, and remember to not leave ourselves exposed leaving out the door. God’s belt of truth is a buckler. It shields and protects. It keeps us together.
There are times in our lives when situations come up that are completely out of our control. When things get this intense, we know that it will take the hand of God to literally turn things around. I find myself laying out prostrate praying to God, waiting for him to deliver. A lot of times God would answer right away, almost before I had finished praying or right after. I would call my friends up and say, “You’re not going to believe what just happened!” There have been other times when my physical body was so wrecked with trauma, and I would literally be at the point of passing out from an acute whirlwind trauma panic attack, as I call it, and I would place my hands on myself, and zone in to prayer, and God would deliver instantly. I love these moments.
But then there are the other moments that we all know about. Days turn into weeks, and weeks turn into months, and months turn into years, and God still hasn’t answered. Can God Deliver? Yes, he can. Will God deliver? We don’t know. We know God is sovereign, all powerful, the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords. As he told Moses, he is the great “I AM”. He is a present tense God. What we don’t know is if he will deliver us from our situations here on earth, right now, later, or in heaven.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew God could deliver them, but they didn’t know if they would be delivered from the fiery furnace:
16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
Will He Deliver?
About three years ago it was time for me to renew my state sticker. I couldn’t renew the state sticker without having an emissions test done. To line up with how things were going at the time, my car didn’t pass the emissions test. We received an extension on the sticker, but to no avail. I was in one of the worst situations of my life financially. The worse. I had no money to get another car. I barely had money to buy food. The next thing we knew, we accumulated six tickets on the car because of the situation. I had it all figured out. God would answer my prayers through a certain situation. He didn’t. The depression from the trauma dropped even lower. God had us to wait ten months and then he came to deliver. Just like he delivered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the fiery furnace.
God gave me a sneak peak of how he would deliver. The night before he delivered, I had a dream. In the dream my friends handed me about four different turquoise colored gifts. One of these gifts was a sewing machine. I woke up thinking that maybe I would be blessed with a sewing machine for my craft table, and I could finally learn how to use one. I felt God’s Spirit, but I didn’t want to overthink the situation. I also asked God if he was trying to tell me something. I went to my small group that morning, and one of the members handed me an envelope with a note and check attached, saying that the Holy Spirit told her to give it to me to help me get a new, used car. I had my timing of deliverance and God had his timing of deliverance.
My mother loves perfume. She absolutely loves it! The funny thing about it is that ever since I was a little girl, she has been in love with perfume. As a child, we had special days when we would go downtown to look around. I liked window shopping, but my mother took this to a whole different level. To be honest, I wanted to look around for a little bit, and then get to the fun part: going to Beef N’ Brandy on State Street for a lunchtime sandwich and french fry special.
We usually looked around for a good three to four hours before she decided that we would eat lunch and head home. Those four hours entailed several makeup counters, jewelry counters, and finally the perfume and cologne counters, making sure that she had several samples of facial products and cologne by the time we finished shopping. Every blue moon, she had saved up enough money to buy herself the fragrance that she had been smelling for months. My mother has smelled so many fragrances over the years, that believe it or not, she has become a specialist at knowing her colognes. Whenever we are out and about, and she smells a familiar scent, she might strike up a conversation with a person, and then ask them, “Oh, is that such and such? I love that fragrance.” There are very few fragrances that she is unfamiliar with.
“The Christ Fragrance”
As Christians, we are supposed to be a fragrance of Christ. What fragrance are we giving off? Do they ask us what cologne we are wearing? Or, are we giving off any scent at all? Do people stand next to us and want to run because of our attitudes or behaviors, or do they want to stay and “smell” a while, because their noses are filled with the overwhelming fragrance of Christ?
For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 2 Corinthians 2:15
Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.”
Today is a dreary, damp day. However, I can look at these pictures and be reminded of how beautiful the last two days were. The weather was perfect for hiking, walking, bicycling, picnicking, you name it. There were about four different times on yesterday in the midst of my crazy, busy day, and long list of things to do, that I kept telling myself that it was time for me to take a walk, stretch my legs, decompress, get some fresh air, and just bask in God’s goodness. It was also a day of struggles with perfectionism trying to reign, and me talking myself down, taking deep breaths, and reminding myself, “Rest in God. His grace is enough. God will give you the grace to get the things done that you need to get done, and then everything else is tomorrow’s grace.” My mind and spirit knew this. However, the trauma started talking, and wanted me giving in to the overall shaky feeling that my body was having.
I took three books to the train station library, and then grabbed one to bring home. My new rule is that if books are coming in, some have to be going out. When I left out of the station, I decided to do what I had been planning for two weeks now: take pictures of the flowers. After taking these pictures, I decided to walk to the beach, and the water was absolutely beautiful. Of course, I couldn’t just enjoy the view. It was so pretty out, that I had to take some more pictures.
As I walked home, eager to do my last thing on the “To Do” list, I heard the screech of a door behind me. I jumped. Someone called my name. It was a friend of mine from my Mom’s group, who happened to see me walking past as she was talking to her children. She invited me to have dinner with them, and then I walked on home afterwards. God’s timing is perfect. If I had gone to the beach any earlier or later, I would have missed this fellowship and blessing of dinner. I also needed the reminder from God to slow down, and take a deep breath, and really, truly smell the flowers. I hope you have a wonderful weekend!
I loved watching the Brady Bunch as a kid. I think every kid in the 70s and 80s watched The Brady Bunch. There was always some drama going on. I also used to watch soap operas starting in my teens. It was one of the many ways my grandmother, Mudear, and I connected. Some of the stories had you so caught up, that you couldn’t wait till the next day to see what happened. Praise God that in my 30s, God delivered me from watching those soap operas. The scenes got to be a little too much at times, and I was totally convicted about needing to give them up. It’s funny because when one of the scenes came on, my grandmother would say, “Oh shoot! I wish they would get to the other scene so that I can find out what happened.” Some of the scenes in the bible play out like a soap opera. The story that we are going to discuss today, should be sang to the tune of “The Brady Bunch” theme song: “Here’s the story of a sin called deception……”Strongholds are hard to break and they run through like cancer in our families. Let’s take a closer look at how the stronghold of deception took place in this particular family.
Isaac and Rebekah had twins: Esau and Jacob. Esau was Isaac’s favorite, and Jacob was Rebekah’s favorite. Rebekah decided to pull Jacob into the game of deception so that he could steal Esau’s birthright. Scene 1 plays out with Rebekah helping Jacob setting up the stew and clothing to trick Isaac. Scene 2 shows us a distraught Esau, who has missed his blessing.
Go out to the flocks, and bring me two fine young goats. I’ll use them to prepare your father’s favorite dish.10 Then take the food to your father so he can eat it and bless you before he dies.”
11 “But look,” Jacob replied to Rebekah, “my brother, Esau, is a hairy man, and my skin is smooth.12 What if my father touches me? He’ll see that I’m trying to trick him, and then he’ll curse me instead of blessing me.”
13 But his mother replied, “Then let the curse fall on me, my son! Just do what I tell you. Go out and get the goats for me!”
14 So Jacob went out and got the young goats for his mother. Rebekah took them and prepared a delicious meal, just the way Isaac liked it.15 Then she took Esau’s favorite clothes, which were there in the house, and gave them to her younger son, Jacob.16 She covered his arms and the smooth part of his neck with the skin of the young goats.17 Then she gave Jacob the delicious meal, including freshly baked bread. Genesis 27:9-17
As soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, and almost before Jacob had left his father, Esau returned from his hunt.31 Esau prepared a delicious meal and brought it to his father. Then he said, “Sit up, my father, and eat my wild game so you can give me your blessing.”
32 But Isaac asked him, “Who are you?”
Esau replied, “It’s your son, your firstborn son, Esau.”
33 Isaac began to tremble uncontrollably and said, “Then who just served me wild game? I have already eaten it, and I blessed him just before you came. And yes, that blessing must stand!”
34 When Esau heard his father’s words, he let out a loud and bitter cry. “Oh my father, what about me? Bless me, too!” he begged.
35 But Isaac said, “Your brother was here, and he tricked me. He has taken away your blessing.”
36 Esau exclaimed, “No wonder his name is Jacob, for now he has cheated me twice. First he took my rights as the firstborn, and now he has stolen my blessing. Oh, haven’t you saved even one blessing for me?” Genesis 27:30-36
Act 2 plays out in that Jacob leaves his homeland, never to see mommie dearest again. Instead, he is heading towards her brother’s home, Good, Old, Uncle Laban. Uncle Laban isn’t as nice as he seems because Jacob makes a deal with him to work seven years for his daughter Rachel. However, like his sister, Laban is filled with deception. At the end of the seven years, Laban gives Jacob Leah instead of Rachel. Leah gets to appear as the passive one, although she fully participated in the scheme, as Jacob did with Rebekah in tricking Isaac. Scene 1 showed the end result of how this played out.
Since Jacob was in love with Rachel, he told her father, “I’ll work for you for seven years if you’ll give me Rachel, your younger daughter, as my wife.”
19 “Agreed!” Laban replied. “I’d rather give her to you than to anyone else. Stay and work with me.”20 So Jacob worked seven years to pay for Rachel. But his love for her was so strong that it seemed to him but a few days.
21 Finally, the time came for him to marry her. “I have fulfilled my agreement,” Jacob said to Laban. “Now give me my wife so I can sleep with her.”
22 So Laban invited everyone in the neighborhood and prepared a wedding feast.23 But that night, when it was dark, Laban took Leah to Jacob, and he slept with her.24 (Laban had given Leah a servant, Zilpah, to be her maid.)
25 But when Jacob woke up in the morning—it was Leah! “What have you done to me?” Jacob raged at Laban. “I worked seven years for Rachel! Why have you tricked me?”
26 “It’s not our custom here to marry off a younger daughter ahead of the firstborn,” Laban replied.27 “But wait until the bridal week is over; then we’ll give you Rachel, too—provided you promise to work another seven years for me.”
28 So Jacob agreed to work seven more years. A week after Jacob had married Leah, Laban gave him Rachel, too.29 (Laban gave Rachel a servant, Bilhah, to be her maid.)30 So Jacob slept with Rachel, too, and he loved her much more than Leah. He then stayed and worked for Laban the additional seven years. Genesis 29: 18-30
Act 3 plays out in that Jacob’s boys are out and about, and Joseph comes in his coat of colors to tell them about his dream. They decide to do something about daddy’s favorite, but not without deceiving their dad into thinking Joseph is dead.
When Joseph’s brothers saw him coming, they recognized him in the distance. As he approached, they made plans to kill him.19 “Here comes the dreamer!” they said.20 “Come on, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns. We can tell our father, ‘A wild animal has eaten him.’ Then we’ll see what becomes of his dreams!”
21 But when Reuben heard of their scheme, he came to Joseph’s rescue. “Let’s not kill him,” he said.22 “Why should we shed any blood? Let’s just throw him into this empty cistern here in the wilderness. Then he’ll die without our laying a hand on him.” Reuben was secretly planning to rescue Joseph and return him to his father.
23 So when Joseph arrived, his brothers ripped off the beautiful robe he was wearing.24 Then they grabbed him and threw him into the cistern. Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it.25 Then, just as they were sitting down to eat, they looked up and saw a caravan of camels in the distance coming toward them. It was a group of Ishmaelite traders taking a load of gum, balm, and aromatic resin from Gilead down to Egypt.
26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain by killing our brother? We’d have to cover up the crime.27 Instead of hurting him, let’s sell him to those Ishmaelite traders. After all, he is our brother—our own flesh and blood!” And his brothers agreed.28 So when the Ishmaelites, who were Midianite traders, came by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him out of the cistern and sold him to them for twenty piecesd]”>[d] of silver. And the traders took him to Egypt.
29 Some time later, Reuben returned to get Joseph out of the cistern. When he discovered that Joseph was missing, he tore his clothes in grief.30 Then he went back to his brothers and lamented, “The boy is gone! What will I do now?”
31 Then the brothers killed a young goat and dipped Joseph’s robe in its blood.32 They sent the beautiful robe to their father with this message: “Look at what we found. Doesn’t this robe belong to your son?”
33 Their father recognized it immediately. “Yes,” he said, “it is my son’s robe. A wild animal must have eaten him. Joseph has clearly been torn to pieces!”34 Then Jacob tore his clothes and dressed himself in burlap. He mourned deeply for his son for a long time.35 His family all tried to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “I will go to my grave mourning for my son,” he would say, and then he would weep. Genesis 37: 18-35, NLT
Scene 2 plays out in that after Joseph is sold as a slave, he is put into high command in Pharaoh’s house. Pharaoh’s wife falsely accuses him of assault, and Joseph is placed in prison. Joseph is released from prison after being able to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. He is promoted just in time to save Egypt from a famine, and wouldn’t you know, his brothers have to come to his town to get food. Instead of Joseph deceiving and punishing his brothers, he chooses to forgive, and redeem the stronghold of deception.
Joseph could stand it no longer. There were many people in the room, and he said to his attendants, “Out, all of you!” So he was alone with his brothers when he told them who he was.2 Then he broke down and wept. He wept so loudly the Egyptians could hear him, and word of it quickly carried to Pharaoh’s palace.
3 “I am Joseph!” he said to his brothers. “Is my father still alive?” But his brothers were speechless! They were stunned to realize that Joseph was standing there in front of them.4 “Please, come closer,” he said to them. So they came closer. And he said again, “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt.5 But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives.6 This famine that has ravaged the land for two years will last five more years, and there will be neither plowing nor harvesting.7 God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors.8 So it was God who sent me here, not you! And he is the one who made me an adviser to Pharaoh—the manager of his entire palace and the governor of all Egypt. Genesis 45: 1-8, NLT
What does this crazy soap opera of events teach us?
Strongholds are sin.
Sometimes as Christians we feel that calling something a stronghold makes the sin sound better. Once we are able to handle the truth that our strongholds are indeed sin, then we are able to start doing something about the sin before it gets out out control. I struggle with the sin of perfectionism.
2. Strongholds become coping mechanisms.
I was born with an imprint of trauma on my brain due to slavery from my ancestors, a slavery-style caste system in the South that my family had to endure, and the continuing oppression of slavery “wrapped with a bow” in the city of Chicago. Trauma has by-products of criticism and perfectionism. Perfectionism became my coping mechanism. It has been a part of me since I was a little girl. However, it is still sin.
3. Strongholds are passed down when they are not resolved.
The hardest thing for us to realize is that our sin gets passed down when it isn’t addressed. God has spoken gently to my heart recently to deal with the sin head on so that my kids can see me walk in this freedom.
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Romans 8: 1, KJV
Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Philippians 4:4
What does the word rejoice mean? Joy is one of the fruit of the spirit. The fruit of the spirit are all independent of our feelings, although when we are going through things, it definitely doesn’t seem like it. When we have joy, it is when we focus on God’s goodness, grace, mercy, and all the things that he has blessed us with. So, when we are rejoicing, it is doing this over and over again until it gets contagious to others. Sometimes when I listen to praise music, and I bask in God, and who he is to get centered, I get so filled, that I am just beside myself, literally having worship service in my kitchen or living room. It’s not that my circumstances have changed at all, but God is using the praise music to steer my heart close to him. So even though nothing has changed, everything has changed.
When we go through trials, and unfortunately, this summer has given me my fair share, we will know beyond a shadow of a doubt what Philippians 4:4 means. It isn’t going to be easy, and it hasn’t been for me. Sometimes I have to air out my feelings and tell God that I know what he says in Romans 8:28, ” And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose”, but right now I am just upset by yet another trial. After I get it out, then I can praise him. What I notice is that when I don’t get my feelings out, then there is internal conflict, and when our emotions are split, we can’t be in the present. I also have to remind myself that God already knows my heart, and since he already knows, what better time to air my frustrations, so that I can move on. So that I can get to the rejoicing part.
I have a saying that I like to tell my kids all the time. They laugh, but it is true: Every morning we get to hit the reset button on God’s mercy.
No matter who we are, at some time or another, we are going to experience grief in our lifetime. Some of us will not only experience grief, but we will experience traumatic events as well. There is no way to prepare for trauma. It sneaks upon you out of nowhere, like an ambush. Grief can be this way as well. You are not prepared for either of these happening, and you don’t know when the symptoms will occur. I can remember times that I was in the grocery store, and I felt like grief was going to overtake me in the aisle. The symptoms of grief are different for everyone. Some of them may be:
inability to stop crying
physical pain and eye troubles
Job experienced trauma and grief. He lost everything that he owned in no time: everything and everyone except his wife. For some reason, ever since I was a child, I marveled over how there was always one person who was able to come back and relay the news to Job about the next devastation that hit him. I have been there with Job. When you get to the point of such compounded trauma, you just end up numbing out. Your brain just can’t seem to handle it all. Job’s friends came to support him, and they were fine until they opened their mouth. God ended up reprimanding them for going on and on to Job with wild explanations for his “suffering”: After the LORD had finished speaking to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “I am angry with you and your two friends, for you have not spoken accurately about me, as my servant Job has.” Job 42:7, NLT
Here are six tips to take to heart if we know someone who is suffering from grief or trauma.
1. Words and Physical Touch: Express to your friends or loved ones how much you love them with words or giving them a hug. If you are not sure of what to say, then just sit with them and say nothing. Sometimes we say the wrong things without realizing it, even if they are true. As Christians, we do know that if that person was saved, they will be in heaven with Jesus. However, it is still hard sometimes for this reality to be of comfort to a person. It is also hard for people to wrap their minds around the fact that the person is no longer suffering. It is still a loss to that person. Sometimes it is better to remind a person that you will be praying for them.
2. Meals: Offer to bring meals over, as well as setup a mealtrain with the small groups at church, as well as the neighborhood friends.
3. Calls and Errands: Offer to run errands or make calls to family members, friends, and churches to inform them of the death. Sometimes when we are in such shock, your focus and memory is off. If the person has a phone book or contact list, it would be nice to go through the list and call each person.
4. Babysit: Suggest taking the kids for a few hours so that the person has time to process and grieve what has happened without having to stuff their pain and scare their children. This is especially helpful if the children are young.
5. Pamper: Treat your friend or loved one to something that would make them feel good: getting a facial, mani-pedi, beauty or barber shop appointment, or a nice outfit.