Throwback Thursday: On complaining, being inconsolable, and being sensitive

Take a moment and read with me from Philippians 2:14-16

Do all things without grumbling or complaining, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

I used to teach in public schools, and this verse was close to my heart each day. It tells one clear way you can stand out as a follower of Christ while living among the world: do everything without grumbling and complaining. Back then, for me, that meant not whining about standardized testing and after school meetings. Today, it comes to mind when thinking about my “lot” in life of infertility. As I read through blogs, forums, and magazines and listen to other women talk, I am overcome by a tidal wave of complaints. And what’s worse is, because we’re suffering something sad and beyond our control, we feel we deserve to be complaining. So no one stops us, and we don’t question ourselves.

So it goes with what I see are two other sin issues of infertility and trial in general: being inconsolable, and being too sensitive. We allow and excuse these behaviors in ourselves and others because we feel we deserve to act this way, given the struggles we are facing. We think it’s natural, normal, and merited. But God commands us to be holy as He is holy without condition. We aren’t exempt from being sinful simply because we are in a hard situation. Why are these choices sinful, you may ask? You already see above that we are commanded not to grumble or complain, so that’s obvious. Here are some reasons I’ve thought of (you may have some to add, and please do!):

  1. Not having a submissive attitude to God’s will – If you are sitting in a pit, whining about your life and refusing to try and improve your attitude, you have a heart issue, dear friend. It may not be easy every day, but you are commanded to submit to the Lord in all things, even in infertility. Attitudes like this show a refusal to submit — just as a disobedient child will slam down with his arms crossed and head shaking, so am I when I complain about my situation and refuse to feel better or take consolation or advice.holy
  2. Not choosing joy – We are commanded to be joyful people, even (especially?) in trial. If you refuse to be joyful, you are in direct disobedience to this command, and that’s sin. There’s not much more I can say about that!
  3. Being touchy is not loving – We are commanded to be loving (God is love, after all). 1 Corinthians 13, everyone’s favorite passage since A Walk to Remember, tells us that “love is not easily angered;” in a looser, modern interpretation, it says “love is not touchy.” When I get easily offended by everything others say, I’m choosing not to be loving. (Yes, I know you’re thinking about how others need to be more sensitive to be loving, but that is not a condition for my love.)
  4. Being selfish at heart – When I feel sensitive or see others acting that way, the first thing that comes to mind is selfishness. While other Christians ought to have the wisdom to be sensitive in their words around others who are suffering, we need to fight the selfish thoughts that feel entitled to this and angry when it’s neglected. We cannot reasonably think everyone around us is constantly censoring their speech in light of what is going on in our hearts. It would be nice, sure, but don’t you hear the “the world revolves around me” mindset in that? We can, in love, choose to let the sting roll off, forgive within without always rebuking, and assume the best of the speaker. We can also choose to accept that everyone is at a different place in their journey, and we cannot demand full wisdom and sanctification of everyone just because it may otherwise hurt us a little more. That’s not reasonable, and it’s selfish.pet
  5. Being ungrateful and discontent at heart – We know this. If we’re complaining, we’re being ungrateful. We’re longing for a change in our life God is not giving, and we’re expressing unhappiness with where He has us. We are not finding our peace and joy in Christ, we are seeking it in other things. I’m not saying this isn’t hard to work at (this is called a trial, after all), but it is necessary to our obedience, our witness, and our sanctification.

You probably already know some or all of those points. Some may turn on a lightbulb and change your attitude immediately. Some may take a lot of prayer and intentionality. But God does not require impossible things of us, so by His grace we can expect to achieve these heart and attitude changes. You have a choice — you may be inclined to these sinful behaviors, but you are not obligated to or entitled to them. You are obligated to holiness, and you can choose it every time, if you want.

Reposted from November 20, 2013

How sweet is His word

honey

I know you shouldn’t really advertise when you’re fasting and such, but I’m kind of excited so I have to share.

For Lent this year I decided to give up sweets and replace them with the sweetness of the Word. To kick it off, I spent time in Psalm 119, soaking in the beautiful verses and searching for some to memorize as I fend off my sweet tooth. In the process, I found some special verses for all of you! So please allow me to share!

“My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to Your word!” 119:25

“My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to Your word!” 119:28

“Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in Your ways.” 119:37  (I thought of hours of destructive googling time and time spent on forums, etc.)

“This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.” 119:50

“At midnight I rise to praise You, because of Your righteous rules.” 119:62 (I thought of hours of sleepless nights, praying instead of worrying.)

“Let Your steadfast love comfort me according to Your promise to Your servant.” 119:76

“Great peace have those who love Your law; nothing can make them stumble.” 119:165

Also, I would love to hear if you are doing anything special during this Lent season, if you don’t mind saying!

You let me catch my breath, even in the valley of death

What a precious song by JJ Heller, a Christian singer and songwriter who I am really coming to love. I can’t find much online to back this up, but I’ve heard JJ Heller and her husband struggled to conceive and eventually adopted (does anyone know for sure if this is true?). Based on the heart of many of her songs, like this one, I wouldn’t be surprised if that were true.

This song seems to speak from the viewpoint of David, particularly in the Psalms. It is such a perfect whisper of the great truth that Christ is absolutely all we need, especially for those of us deeply, painfully longing for something (someone) else.

Here are the lyrics and the Bible verses that I found to compliment them, followed by the song.

Don’t need a thing
My good Shepherd brings me all
You are all I need.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” -Psalm 23:1a

You let me catch my breath
Even in the valley of death
You are all I need.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, […]
for you are with me; your rod and your staff,
  they comfort me.” -Psalm 23:4

All I need to be complete
Is Your love
Your blood that covers me.

“…and in Him you have been made complete…” -Colossians 2:10

You lift up my head
You provide the wine and bread
You, You are all I need.

“But you, O LORD, are […] the lifter of my head.” -Psalm 3:3

“You cause the grass to grow for the livestock
    and plants for man to cultivate,
that he may bring forth food from the earth
and wine to gladden the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine
    and bread to strengthen man’s heart.” -Psalm 104:14-15

There’s no need to fear
Even with my enemies here
You are all I need.

I will fear no evil,
for you are with me…” -Psalm 23:4b

All I need to be complete
Is Your love
Your blood that covers me.

Goodness and mercy are following me
You’re all that I need.

You make a home for me
Where pastures are green as far as I see
You are all I need.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.” -Psalm 23:6

“He makes me lie down in green pastures.” -Psalm 23:1b

All I need to be complete
Is Your love
Your blood that covers me.

Your Infertility Encouragement Mix-tape

I have googled around for similar lists on more than one occasion, but haven’t found much (or much that I like). These songs have been featured on this blog, some more than once, but I thought it might be nice to have them all in one place. I am not a particularly musical person, but I find great comfort in having truths and encouragement sung to me.

In his wonderful book Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering, Pastor Tim Keller talks about the value of being able to “talk yourself down” when in a hard trial. One way this comes is from building a foundation in your heart of truth, scripture, and song. You can also gather these things along the way, which is what I’d like to offer you today. It may seem silly and pointless, but you shouldn’t underestimate the value of repeating truth to your doubting, struggling heart and mind — even if it’s a song on repeat for the thousandth time. Maybe that thousandth time will be what finally convinces you and gives you peace. Or maybe that thousandth time will be the end and you’ll have made it through steadfastly.

It was really hard to make a short list — I kept thinking of more and more gems that blessed me! But in the end I chose ones that stuck the longest and touched the deepest. Perhaps in the future I’ll do a “Part 2.”

Please feel free to let us know which one/s speak to you the most right now, and add your own to the list to encourage the rest of us!

These are in no particular order, I think (except maybe the first one). I will add a favorite lyric with each.

1. “Sovereign Over Us” by Aaron Keyes

Even in the valley You are faithful, and You’re working for our good and for Your glory.

2. “10,000 Reasons” by Matt Redman

Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me, let me be singing when the evening comes.

This song isn’t particularly meant for trials, but I love the idea of daily telling your soul to bless the Lord, no matter what comes.

3. “I Need You Now” by Matt Redman

In a dry and barren land I bow down; I need you now.

4. “Though You Slay Me” by Shane and Shane, featuring John Piper

This is a great song, but I especially treasure it for the John Piper clip in the middle. His cry of “It’s not meaningless!” still rings in my heart. 

5. “We Are Blessed” by All Sons and Daughters

We are loved at the end of our rope. 

6. “The Lord our God” by Passion

From this darkness You will lead us, and forever we will say, “You’re the LORD our God.”

Thanks to Liana Berrus for sharing this one with me.

7. “God Moves,” Performed by Sovereign Grace Music

When tears are great,
And comforts few,
We hope in mercies ever new,
We trust in You.

(…and all of the lyrics, really!)

8. “How Firm a Foundation,” a classic hymn, I especially love the version by Chelsea Moon & the Franz Brothers

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
For I will be with thee thy trouble to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

9. “His Eye is on the Sparrow,” another classic, I also love the Chelsea Moon version, but it’s hard to find online so I’ll go a totally different direction and share this Lauryn Hill version, because why not?

10. “Taste and See” by Shai Linne – yup, it’s Christian rap. My husband and I enjoyed rocking out to this song and album in the hardest parts of our trial while being on the road a lot.

God is good all the time – no intervals!

11. “Waiting Here for You” by Christy Nockels

If faith can move the mountains, then let the mountains move.

12. “Desert Song” by Hillsong

All of my life, in every season, You are still God and I have a reason to sing.

13. “The Silence of God” by Andrew Peterson

And the Man of All Sorrows, He never forgot
What sorrow is carried by the hearts that He bought;
So when the questions dissolve into the silence of God
The aching may remain, but the breaking does not.

14. “Hold on to What you Believe” by Mumford and Sons

Hold on to what you believed in the light when the darkness has robbed you of all your sight. 

Michelle Duggar on the loss of her baby

I’m not sure if this will be encouraging to any of you, but I decided to share it just in case. She talks about how she handled grief when she lost her 20th child, among other things related to that. I know sometimes it can be a blessing to hear someone in a similar situation discuss it. Let me know your thoughts!