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3 Ways to Worship God During Tough Times

Written By Hilary Charlet, USA

Last year was a tough one for me. It started off great—I went to my first-ever Christian conference in February, and it was amazing. Everything I heard and saw at the conference encouraged me, challenged me, and filled my heart with a deeper realization of God’s love for us. The theme of the conference was “Stepping Season.” Little did I know, I was about to enter into my own stepping season that would test everything I learned that weekend.

From the moment I left the conference to the months that followed, it seemed like anything and everything that could go wrong, did. There were weeks of hospital stays for my brother who had a blood clot in his arm and required surgery to remove a rib constraining his vein, strained relationships with people I care deeply about, as well as sleepless nights, heartbreak, tears, rejection, confusion . . . It seemed like it was never going to end.

I was able to smile when I was around others, but when I was on my own, I couldn’t keep it together. I was mad. I had questions. I didn’t understand. I was scared.

I was feeling a lot of emotions, and quite honestly, did not feel like worshipping through it. I just cried a lot at first and prayed that God would heal and comfort me. It was during that time that I learned to worship God in spite of my circumstances.

While I wouldn’t choose to go through it all again, the experiences of the past year taught me the power and faithfulness of God in even the darkest of times. Worship, I realized, was all the more important in difficult times. Here are three things I did that helped me worship Him:

 

1. Dig into His Word

I had spent time doing devotionals in the past, but now it was a daily necessity. Reading about God’s promises and faithfulness in the stories of the Bible gave me hope. Some of the people went through some really rough stuff, sometimes for years. Think of Joseph, for example—sold by his brothers and eventually sent to prison for two years (Genesis 37-41). Think of the seven years of famine (Genesis 41-45). Or the time the flood filled the Earth (Genesis 6-7). Yet God always remained faithful, even when it seemed hopeless. He would certainly remain faithful in my life.

Not only did I encounter God’s Word in my daily quiet time, but it seemed like wherever I turned, the verse Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”, would somehow surface, whether it was in a conversation with someone, reading something random, or even purchasing a t-shirt for a fundraiser.

Even though everything in my own life seemed so out of whack and crazy, this verse assured me that God would somehow use what I was going through for good in the future. Though it hurt at the time, the pain wouldn’t be for no reason at all. God was behind the scenes working, and though it might take time, it will all have a purpose.

Sometimes it’s difficult to open up my Bible and read a story about how good God is, especially when it doesn’t feel like it at the time. However, I am learning to cling tight to His promises. His plans are far greater than any we can imagine. He’s working everything together for our good.

 

2. Turn on your music

Sometimes positive, upbeat music is the last thing we want to hear when we are wallowing in our troubles. It’s worth turning them on anyway. “Mighty Warrior” by David Virgo got me through so many days last year. The lyrics, “Mighty Warrior, You will see that all things work for my good, things work for my good” in particular really spoke to me. It was only months down the road that I realized how the song had helped me declare God’s goodness and faithfulness over my life in spite of what I was going through.

“Walking on Water” by NEEDTOBREATHE was another song that got me through the hard times. During the weeks my brother was in the hospital, my sister-in-law and I heard that song consistently playing on the radio. The lyrics were just what I needed to hear. They reminded me that the Lord was working, and I just had to trust Him through the wind and waves.

Find songs that lift you up, that you can worship through. Put the songs on repeat. Crank it up. Jam out. Look for the truth the song proclaims, and repeat it to yourself until you believe it. Sure, worshipping God might be the last thing we feel like doing. But let’s do it anyway. Worshipping through the hard times brings us new strength and hope. It might be just what we need to get through the day.

 

3. Be honest with God about your emotions

In our hardest times, we need to turn to the Lord. He wants to be there for us, and He wants to listen. Let’s not hide anything from Him. After all, He already knows what we’re feeling, so why not just be raw and real with Him? If we’re angry, we can tell Him. If we’re confused, we can talk to Him about it. We don’t need to have it all together to go to Him. He wants us as we are. Every piece of us. He loves us, and He isn’t going to stop listening just because we’re mad or “yelling” at Him. He can handle it.

David the psalmist is a great example of this. In Psalm 42, for example, he cries out to God, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy? My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’” (Psalm 42:9-10). David was discouraged and sad, and He wasn’t afraid to show it. We needn’t be afraid or feel bad about telling God our emotions either.

Let us take our true emotions and feelings to God, and may He fill us with His peace, joy, restoration, healing, and love. This won’t happen overnight—or maybe it will. For me, it’s still a daily process and something I have to choose day after day. Instead of covering up how I feel, I am learning that sharing my true emotions brings me peace unlike anything else.

 

It’s crazy to look back now at all that the ups and downs of last year, and it’s even crazier to say that I am thankful for it. I now call it my year of plowing—plowing deep and digging into a deeper relationship with God. A lot of things I had hoped for and prayed for have turned out differently, but they surpass what I originally had in mind. There are also still things I don’t understand, but I now have a different perspective on them. I have seen God’s faithfulness, and I trust and believe that He always works it for our good (Romans 8:28).

God might not be changing your circumstances how you would like Him to, but don’t lose hope. God is shaping you and molding you into the person He created you to be, and it’s going to be beautiful. No matter how dark things seems right now, hold tight and know that God loves you deeply. Let us keep worshipping Him, trusting that He will bring us through even the most difficult days.

4 Ways to Navigate A Painful Break-Up

Written By Hilary Charlet, USA

Heartbreak. Tears. A break-up you never saw coming.

Do you remember it? The moment your heart was shattered into a million pieces? The place you were at? The time of day? The weather outside?

It’s funny how sometimes we can remember such vivid details.

I was sitting in my car, waiting to meet my mother for coffee. The weather was partly cloudy—a brisk fall morning. Perfect for a coffee date at my favorite spot. While I was waiting, my boyfriend at the time asked if he could call me. I had just driven five hours home after spending the weekend with him. Everything was great, or so I thought. Until the call. “I can’t do this anymore,” he told me.

Wait, what?

I had been fine when I talked to my mom roughly 10 minutes ago, but by the time she arrived to meet me, I was a mess. My sudden change confused her. Well, surprise! I just had a break-up I never saw coming.

Break-ups can be hard. They can be messy. Picking up the pieces of what you thought could have been forever can be incredibly hard. Moving on seems impossible. I know. I’ve been there. Your heart feels empty.

But in the days after the break-up, I found comfort in Jeremiah 31:4. God tells the nation of Israel, “I will build you up again, and you . . . will be rebuilt.” God promised to rebuild Israel, to give her direction, hope, peace and love. Surely, He will watch over me the same way. Even if I feel like a wreck, God can fill those empty, lonely places in my heart. You know those pieces of our hearts lying on the floor, broken? God can build those pieces into something incredible. I know because I’ve been there.

But it takes time to recover. It doesn’t happen overnight. How do you muster up the strength to accept what is and move forward in the immediate aftermath? Here are four things that helped me on that journey.

 

1. Know your worth

We are fearfully and wonderfully made. God created us in His own image, for His wonderful purposes (Ephesians 2:10). Though people around us might disrespect us or question our worth, we know that we are bought by the blood of Christ. Is there any greater comfort than knowing how very much God Himself values us?

 

2. Enjoy your own company

You don’t have to have someone to go out on dates with to be happy. Spend time with yourself, get to know yourself better. Go on road trips. Go out for coffee. Read. Journal. Find your passion and do more of that.

There is beauty in this season where you are not committed to someone else. You have a unique time to grow as an individual, and more importantly, in your relationship with Christ. There will perhaps be times you feel lonely and might yearn for a relationship. But remember, God is always there, and He can fill those spaces in our hearts with a love that’s greater than any we will experience on this earth.

 

3. Surround yourself with the right people

They say you become who you surround yourself with. Are you surrounding yourself with people who will ask you the right questions, encourage you in your journey, and support you as you walk this road? Friends need to know how to have fun together (ice skating, game nights, etc). But they also need to know how to challenge and grow one another. Be sure you’re aware of who you’re spending your time with and how it affects you.

 

4. Forgive and seek forgiveness

If someone hurt you, lied to you, cheated on you, or ghosted you, don’t stew on it. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. God has wonderful things in store for you, but you won’t see it if you’re too busy remembering past wrongs. If you have been hurt, ask God to give you the strength to forgive and move on.

On the flip side, what if it was my fault? What if I lied, I cheated, I hurt someone that cared deeply about me? Then pray and ask God for forgiveness. If appropriate, also ask forgiveness from the person you hurt. Even though they may or may not give it, we need to remember that ultimately, we are not accountable for other people’s actions. We are accountable for our own. Ask God to continue working in your life and bring about healing.

 

Break-ups hurt. And healing takes time. I won’t even admit to you how long it took me to realize that simple fact, because it was far too long. But in the long process of healing, we know that God is continually renewing us, day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16). He is here. He is never leaving or forsaking us. He is filling the pieces in our hearts that grasp and yearn for something that only He can provide—His unconditional and unfailing love.

God’s love for us is so much better than we can ever imagine. He will walk with us as we recover from a break-up. His love will fill us, whether we end up single or married. Resting in His love, peace, and assurance is so much better than any “happily ever after” in the movies.

In this post-break-up season, I have struggled with pain, insecurities, and doubt. But the Lord has also taught me to lean on and depend on Him completely, to rest in the promise that He is good and that He is working everything together for my good, regardless of how messy it has been (Romans 8:28).

If you have ever experienced or are currently in the process of a break-up, I pray for God’s comfort and healing in your life. I know things are difficult now, but God is with you. I pray that, like me, you will come to experience how much we are loved by God, who died so that we could live. And that’s a love that is irreplaceable.

I Was Told I Would Be A Failure

Written By Hilary Charlet, USA

“You’ll never make it in marketing; you’re too shy and quiet,” my professor told me, “I think you should change your major.”

I have since replayed this memory many times. I had gone to my professor one evening for help with an assignment, and I can still tell you exactly where I stood outside the business building when my teacher dropped the bomb.

What she said wrecked me. I left that office defeated and questioning myself. Back in my dorm, I bawled my eyes out. I was upset for days. But I knew I wasn’t going to change what I was doing. I was in my third year of school already. There was no way I could let all the hard work and effort I’d put into my degree go down the drain because of one little comment.

I’m not sure why, but I’ve always been hard on myself. My parents never pressured my siblings and I to get good grades, but 95 per cent of the time, I found myself striving to get the highest grade possible. Each time I turned in an assignment or took an exam, I faced an unhealthy amount of stress and anxiety. Even when I knew that I had done my best, I continued pressuring myself to go above and beyond.

Even though my professor’s words crushed me, I was determined to try even harder. I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life, but I couldn’t let her be right, so I just worked harder and kept going.

It wasn’t until my final year in school that, for the first time, I completely entrusted my life and the plans for my life to the Lord. My brother’s girlfriend (now wife) moved in with me during my senior year, and her faith was something I admired. Every morning, we would get up for coffee and devotional time, and talk about Jesus. This was the first time that I had a consistent routine of quiet time with the Lord. And as I did so, I kept wanting to know Him more and more.

As I grew to understand God’s love for me and learned that His plans for us are good, I felt complete peace—instead of anxiety—about what was to come. This was a peace I hadn’t experienced before, and I knew that whatever God had in store for me was going to work out, even if I really wanted Him to work it out as soon as possible.

You see, graduation was approaching, but I was still jobless. I had turned down an earlier job offer because I felt that it wasn’t where the Lord wanted me. Though the job would bring me security and comfort, prayers for discernment and clarity led me to feel increasingly certain that this wasn’t the plan for me. Though my classmates all had their next steps planned out, I still had no idea what I wanted to do or where I wanted to be.

About a week before graduation, I finally received an email with a job offer. It was with a company who organized events raising funds for their clients. And guess what field it would be? If you guessed marketing, you’re right.

I knew that through this job, I would be accomplishing good—by raising funds to support team USA for the 2016 Olympics Games. But the job was on the American East Coast and out of my comfort zone. As I prayed about this, I felt that the Lord’s plan was going to be just that—something new in which I’d have to trust Him, even if I was afraid to be so far from home and everything familiar.

It has now been three years since graduation, and my career path has looked very different from many people my age. I haven’t had the standard “full-time job with benefits” or the kind of financial security my friends have, but each opportunity has helped me discover more of my passions.

In all this time, God has proved faithful over and over again—sometimes at the very last second. Even when I thought I knew better, it always turns out that God’s plans are so much better than anything I could have dreamed up. Through prayer, seeking counsel from close friends, and staying grounded in God’s Word, I continue to grow in clarity and confidence in following God’s plan.

That’s not to say that I don’t have moments of doubt. Sometimes I feel as if I’m not reaching my full potential in a given task, and I begin comparing my job with those of my friends. I remember how my professor told me I wouldn’t make it, and a small voice in the back of my mind would creep in: “You’re a failure. Look what you’re doing right now while everyone else is leaps and bounds ahead of you.”

This is not the voice of the Father, but of the enemy that seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. The Bible says that I am a child of God (Galatians 3:26). I am right where I am for a reason. I am valuable. I am capable.

Every time this voice tries to make me feel worthless, I repeat Colossians 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

It’s not a paycheck I’m working for, but God. I am a vessel for Jesus exactly where He wants me; I am not a failure.

The more I lean into God’s Word, the more aware I become of my identity in Him, and the less I need the approval of others. Because I already know who holds the future, I no longer need to worry about what comes next. As I grow in God, I learn that His Word provides direction, peace, discernment, as well as truth about myself and His plans for me. And so, I rely less on others and more on Him.

When you know who you are—a beloved child of God—the painful remarks of others can no longer cause you to question yourself and your path. People might look at your grades or your career choice and tell you that you will be a failure, but guess what? You’re not.

Though we fail at times (and learn from each experience), we know that God loves us more than we could ever imagine, and that He makes firm the steps of those who delight in Him (Psalm 37:23). He is beside us in each and every instance and will never leave our sides. The truth is that, whatever people say, we are beloved, valuable children of God, and if we allow Him to, He will guide us every step of the way into His plans and purposes for our lives.

Why Don’t Miracles Happen Anymore (Or Do They)?

Written By Hilary Charlet, USA

When we were kids, I watched my brother nearly lose his life more than once as he underwent open heart surgery. The surgeon sat us down once, and told us that if my brother survived the night, they’d likely have to amputate his leg.

I watched as tears fell down the doctor’s face. I wanted to curl up in a ball and go back to a few days before when we were playing together outside and everything was fine. Never had my little heart prayed harder than in those following hours.

Only by God’s power did my brother make it through that night, and only by God’s grace did the nurses manage to discover a blood condition he had that was causing a 12-inch blood clot in his leg. Slowly, they figured out what was causing him to become so sick, and day by day, he started to improve. It took 28 days, but he pushed through, one step at a time. There were lots and lots of tears and setbacks and bumps along the way, but God held us together and got us all through it.

Today, my brother is living a normal life. He takes blood thinners and though he did have a blood clot a couple years ago, his leaking heart valve is repaired and he can do anything everyone else can do. He’s now a nurse at a hospital, helping those who are sick as he was when he was a child.

Looking back, I can say without a doubt that God performed a miracle to keep my brother alive.

 

Everyday Occurrences

But such extraordinary events are usually few and far between. Some of us may have the opportunity to witness them in our lifetimes but not for the majority of us.

Why don’t things that happened in the Bible happen anymore?

Why aren’t blind people given sight? Why can’t people walk on water? How come none of us can change water into wine, or multiply a few loaves of bread into enough to feed thousands? Why aren’t people spared their lives after being swallowed by a whale?

Instead, we witness people drowning in boating accidents, parents struggling to feed their children one meal a day, family and friends suffering from illnesses.

Why don’t miracles happen anymore?

As defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a miracle is:

  1. an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs
  2. an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment

Though what we see today might not be as extraordinary as in the biblical times, I would argue that miracles are still as evident as ever. We wake up each day, heart beating, blood pumping through our veins, adrenaline rushing. We walk outside to the sun shining down on us, rain falling from the sky. We observe the seasons changing, leaves falling, crops sprouting, farmers harvesting. These are things we have grown so accustomed to, that have lost their uniqueness, their wonder and awe.

But let’s take a step back and relook these “everyday occurrences”. Think of a baby being born. She comes out of the womb, takes a breath, cries, and knows how to suck in order to get nutrients from the mother. Without being taught, without being told what to do, the baby just knows what it needs to do to survive.

Consider the sun, the moon, and the stars and the beautiful creation of oceans, mountains, hills and valleys. They’re placed precisely where they need to be in order to maintain life on earth.

You see, the miracles in the present age are different from what we read in the Bible, but they are as evident as ever before. What we view as impossible―the diagnosis of what appears to be no hope, the loveless marriage that is headed for divorce, the circumstances in which you feel forgiveness will never be granted―we see these negative situations and feel there is no hope, but then we see God move and soften hearts and flip the situations around. It’s just like what is said in Luke 18:27, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

Why are these miracles different from those of the Israelites or the apostles back in the day? Why can’t we ask the Lord for something in prayer and it be granted to us, since we can no longer physically touch Jesus for healing like they did in the Bible? We don’t know for sure why the miracles vary, but regardless, God is still moving and He is still present. He is all around us, at every moment, and He hears our cries and pleas and is working everything together for our good (Romans 8:28).

A miracle doesn’t have to be a huge display of completely amazing happenings, it can be found in the simplicity of the ordinary. Every breath we take is a miracle. Every day we wake up, we’re given another chance to carry out another day. If life in itself isn’t a miracle, then I don’t know what is.