This is a guest post by my friend, Bridget Thomas, author of a book I love, “Every Day Is a Gift: 30 Days to a More Thankful You.”
We all have some hard days where we struggle with negative emotions and attitudes. Whether it is because of over 6 months of social distancing, financial problems, marriage tension, relationship trouble, parenting issues, work drama, or health woes, we can all relate to feeling out-of-sorts. The question is, what will we do with these churning emotions?
I’m thankful for Bridget’s willingness to share a bit of what the Lord has shown her recently.
What is wrong with me? I asked myself this question recently. I was feeling irritated, frustrated, depressed, and angry. On the surface, there seemed to be no good reason for the turmoil of emotions. It went on for days and I was miserable. I hated feeling this way. I felt as though I was in a wrestling match.
God, please help me, I begged.
Thankfully, the Lord is faithful and He answered me. He gave me what I like to call “God nudges.” Through advice from a friend, God encouraged me to dig deeper. Not everything can be seen on the surface. When a seed is planted deep within the soil, on the surface we only see a lot of dirt. But inches below the ground there is a struggle going on. It takes time before we see a plant breaking through the soil.
Similarly, I was struggling too. On the surface, it looked like a lot of dirt. But deep down, there was something else going on. I was facing some things in my life that I felt incompetent to handle. God showed me that what I was dealing with in my life was causing my tumultuous emotions. Just like a seed has soil pressing in, I had pressure all around me. And like a plant fighting to push up and out of the soil, I was fighting to break free from the difficulties in my life.
But God is God. Couldn’t He just remove the hard things from my life? Oh how we wish it would work that way, but it rarely does. God revealed something else to me about this situation. My pain had a purpose. Through another nudge, I realized that God was pruning me through this process. I have often asked God to change me and to help me be more like Jesus. But I suppose I thought He would just snap His fingers. I didn’t want or expect to walk through a trial as an answer to prayer.
But this is how it works many times. In our yards, we pull weeds, we remove the dead plants and branches, and we sometimes even have to cut away living growth as well. All of this is done to help our plants flourish, to bring more growth, and to produce fruit. In the same way, God will pull weeds from our lives. He will remove things that aren’t benefiting us. And He will sometimes even cut away good things in our lives, if they don’t fit our purpose.
James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Sometimes we might cringe when we hear this verse. Consider it pure joy when we face a trial? Really? Our flesh definitely does not enjoy going through anything difficult.
But from a spiritual perspective, especially if the the difficulty is part of a pruning process, imagine the result if we humbly seek the Lord and open our hearts to whatever it is He is trying to teach us.
I have found that some of the richest times of my life have also been when I was walking through something hard.
This is because when we are broken we tend to run to the Lord and seek Him more than ever. We cling to Him like never before. He lovingly guides and cares for us through our crisis, if we allow Him to.
This is where I found myself recently when I was walking through this pruning process. Pruning can be painful, especially if we don’t realize what is going on. This is how my situation started. I fought the pruning process, kicking and screaming. But now that I am aware of what’s going on, I am more at peace. But one key factor that I learned in all this is that I need to cling to Jesus. If I hold tightly to Him during this process, I will be guaranteed to flourish and produce lasting fruit.
Jesus said in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
How beautiful and amazing that our Heavenly Father loves us that much to prune us and to help us grow. That is true love. If He didn’t love us, He would turn away from us, rather than help us. But He loves us enough to teach us and mold us.
If you are going through something difficult, I encourage you to look below the dirt to see what might be going on under the surface. Is there more than meets the eye? Pray about it and ask God if He is trying to teach you something or mold you in some way?
If you feel what you’re going through is a pruning process, I know it’s painful. But remember that this is also a sign of the Lord’s love. And remember to cling to The Vine – Jesus. In the end, you will see beautiful growth in your life.
Can you think of a time when you struggled and felt discouraged but later saw what the Lord was doing that you would like to share with us?
What are some times of trials that brought about more spiritual maturity and godly fruit in your life?
Do you need prayer or encouragement? Please let us know!
The Importance of Spiritual Pruning
The Ugly Anatomy of a Negative Thought Spiral-of-Death
Baby Steps to Taking Our Thoughts Captive for Christ
Facing Uncertainty and Trials with Joy
Needed to read something like this.
I’m so glad it was a blessing. <3
This post is very timely.
Right now I’m struggling with something. I used to give only 1% of my income to the church because that was all I could afford. In June, I made a leap of faith and increased my donations to 10% (the full tithe) standing on the promise of God in Malachi 3:10 -12. Since then, I have not seen any improvement in my finances or any new career opportunities. I believe that God will eventually fulfill his promises but the waiting period is difficult. I plan to continue tithing and believing in God for huge blessings…but I must admit that it is difficult.
Thank you for sharing. I am excited for you about wanting to give more to the Lord. That is awesome. The particular passage you are talking about is specifically for the Jews. Tithing was a requirement under the Law of Moses.
It’s different now. Although, I do believe God blesses us in many ways as we give. The blessings aren’t necessarily financial. They may be spiritual and eternal kinds of blessings as we give generously.
Is your primary goal to have more money or more career opportunities? Or do you just want to give more to the Lord out of love and gratitude?
I have a post about tithing here that may be a blessing.
Thanks for asking me that thought-provoking question.
The truth is that my motives are (1) to be obedient to God and trust in Him and (2) to achieve for financial and career success.
I tithed obediently for years and experienced financial freedom. My salary went up and up and up and I was able to save loads of money every month. A few years ago, after I got married and had a baby, I decided that I had too many financial responsibilities to tithe so I reduced my donations to church to 1% of my salary. Unfortunately, my finances reduced and reduced during that period.
In June, I decided to trust God again and started back tithing. I know that God will bless me and turn my finances around. It’s just a matter of time.
You are most welcome. <3
It's wonderful to hear your story about when you tithed 10% vs 1%. Thank you for sharing.
My parents have always tithed 10%. Greg's parents have always tithed 10%. Greg and I have always tithed 10%, and so do many people know and respect. Some give even more than that.
I have seen God grant many financial blessings to people who tithe. The believers I know who tithe don't tithe as a financial investment or expect God to give them more money or more financial success.
I guess I look at it as simply, "Lord, I want to give this to you to honor You and to show that I appreciate all You have given me. Everything I have is Yours. I invite You to work in my life and I want to be generous like You are." And then let Him do what He wants to do with it. I don't look at tithing as a business formula. I look at it as an act of faith, obedience, trust, and love. And I personally don't try to measure the results financially or expect more money from God.
I know the Lord told the Israelites to expect material blessing with they tithed and obeyed Him. I don't see a promise that God will give us more money, necessarily, if we give to His church and His work or to the needy as followers of Christ.
He does promise we will reap what we sow and that if we sow generously we will reap generously. But I think that sometimes it can mean we sow generously with money (and time, prayer, love, tears, etc...) into the kingdom and we can see a big spiritual harvest in the Kingdom. It doesn't necessarily mean we will get raises and have more lucrative careers. I don't see any promises for Christians that if they do certain things, they will get rich financially.
The poor widow who gave her last two mites to the Temple didn't get a financial windfall, to my knowledge, because she gave all the money she had. But Jesus noticed. And I am sure she was rewarded in heaven.
Many believers live in poverty all their lives. And yet, God's Word says that the poor are blessed with greater faith. I don't think this means we should try to be poor. But I do think it is possible to have great faith in God and even to give generously financially and not necessarily see a lot of money come to us because of our giving to God.
I believe God will bless us as we give with pure motives. But some of the biggest blessings, in my experience, are spiritual and eternal rewards.
My former pastor decided to tithe when he was just starting as a pastor and they were very poor. God provided sometimes in miraculous ways so that they could pay for their groceries for the week in those early days. It's amazing to hear believers' stories.
I also love to read about George Mueller, who decided to start an orphanage to show other Christians in 19th century England how God would provide. He never asked anyone for money. He just prayed for what the children needed. He eventually took care of over 10,000 orphans over his adult life. Millions of dollars passed through his hands as he prayed for the needs of the children to be met. But he didn't use the money for personal gain. It was all for God's work. He lived a very meager, frugal lifestyle. His goal was to show Christians what God will do if we live by faith. What an inspiring life he lived!
I pray the Lord will grant you wisdom and I pray for His blessings on you.
Here are some interesting posts on the subject of tithing:
Thanks for your detailed post and your reminder about the poor widow who gave the little money she had to the temple.
It’s true that I began tithing as a business formula – expecting to get more money and prestige in return as a reward. I now see how wrong that was. I will continue to tithe just out of thanksgiving and generosity and no longer try to measure the blessings I get from it.
That sounds like a beautiful plan.
Sending you a big hug today, dear sister. <3
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