Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. I’m excited to blog about this subject because it is very precious to me. My relationship with God isn’t something that occurred overnight; it was a process, sometimes joyous and sometimes painful. I’m sure the same is true for us all. Coming to the conclusion that God is our refuge requires a few things.
1. Understanding who God is
There is no way we can allow God to be a refuge if we don’t know anything about Him. When we think of our homes, we trust they are secure. We expect they won’t fall or crumble because they are structurally sound. The same thought pattern must be applied towards God. We have to trust His makeup, the very essence of who God is and studying His character is a great way to know what material He’s made of that makes Him structurally sound.
2. Finding our way to His refuge
When it’s storming outside we seek shelter. In fact we run to it so we don’t get hurt by the storm’s effects. When life’s circumstances are swirling around us, that’s when our trust in God can be built level by level until we realize how protective His shelter can be.
3. Realizing we are safe
When we’re in our homes, we’re at peace. Comfort and relaxation are present. That very same feeling applies to God. We can relax in the assurance that safety is present. Comfort will be provided. Peace that surpasses understanding will cover us. Isn’t it great knowing that all the things we need can be found in the refuge of our God? Protection, peace, and safety are all present in Him.
Hopefully taking some of the guesswork out of finding shelter in God will lead you to the greatest refuge available. Psalm 91:2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust!”
Anyone who suffers from anxiety can relate to holding their breath instead of enjoying life with ease. I admit anxiety has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Not sure what triggered it . . . maybe one bad outcome or some terrifying moment as a child, but whatever the root, I always expected bad things to happen. I would conjure up scenarios of negativity for anything that I was facing. I was constantly afraid and felt as if I was holding my breath, waiting for the next catastrophe.
I decided after living this way for many years I needed to find a way to exhale and breathe my way through life. It hasn’t been easy and there are times that I fall backwards into the anxiety loop, but here are a few simple things that help keep me from suffocating.
1. Accepting that things won’t be perfect
I now realize that anxiety can have a lot to do with wanting perfection. If I didn’t feel like the situation would come out perfectly, a level of panic always ensued. I had to learn to live in imperfect moments, which most likely were far from the bad scenarios I produced in my head.
2. Shutting down negative thoughts immediately
When I’m experiencing an anxious moment my imagination goes wild, but not in a good way because I’ve allowed negative thoughts to flood my brain. Learning to shut down those thought patterns and replace them with positive thoughts was critical. Taking the time to breathe slowly and intentionally helped clear my mind.
3. Changing my perspective on fear
Fighting anxiety means overcoming fear, which becomes very prevalent in those tense moments. I’m constantly learning to use fear to make me aware of the need to slow down, giving me time to think and redirect my thoughts towards a calmer view versus a panicked one of what lies ahead.
Life holds so many opportunities and we cannot allow anxiety to rob us of experiencing them. I had to change my thoughts and perspectives so worry wouldn’t always control me and how I was living my life. You can live in the moment and enjoy it by making a conscious decision to channel any preconceived negative conclusions towards positive results. The world is waiting on you, so take a breath and live.
God, Are You Listening?
We pray, and then we wait, repeating this cycle growing increasingly impatient. We ask, God do You hear us? Are You really listening? That voice of doubt eases in, causing us to feel that God doesn’t really care. Surely if God cared He would answer us and not leave us in limbo. Our problems, situations, and circumstances are surrounding us and we aren’t hearing anything back. We don’t see an immediate change, so surely He has turned a deaf ear our way. How can we be sure we’re being heard? Here are three ways you can know.
1. Reflect on God’s Past Faithfulness
Take a moment and reflect on God’s past faithfulness. Doubt leads to questioning, but remembrance will lead us towards confidence in God. Psalm 105:5 encourages us to remember the wonders He has performed. Right now would be a good time to stop and think about God’s amazing grace that helped you overcome a multitude of situations that you probably viewed as impossible to solve.
2. Trust God in the Silence This is where faith has to meet up with trust. Silence doesn’t equate to a lack of movement on God’s part, so if you’ve recalled His past works, it will allow you to have faith that God is not only listening, but moving to make things better for you. Endurance is possible because your trust in God will allow you to persevere past the moment.
3. Continue to Talk and Pray to God The word in 1 Thess 5:17 says to pray continually, so why don’t we? Luke 11:9 also says to keep knocking and seeking the Lord, but do we really, or is our knock soft and lacking force? Do we believe what we’re asking for will come to pass? Are our prayers in line with God’s will? No, yes, or yes but wait, are the answers we can expect, because God does hear us.
Praying to God, talking to Him will require our trust in His faithfulness and care for us. Now it’s up to us to believe He’s tuned in and listening to every word we utter.
God, That Wasn’t the Answer I had In Mind
There’s nothing like praying and then having the outcome of that prayer turn out completely different from what we had in mind. Prayer requests can range from big to small; therefore, the answers to those prayers will vary as well. How do we handle the answers we have received and still believe in the power of prayer? Here are my suggestions.
1. What was the assumption? Our prayers may not be based on trust but rather an underlying need to still have control or a final say instead of allowing God to handle our situations. Isaiah 55:8-9 reminds us that God’s ways and thoughts are not like ours; in fact, they are higher. Imagine a specific instance when you prayed for something and notice how much better God’s move was on your prayer than what you came up with on your own.
2. Changing Perspective
Instead of focusing on how the answer doesn’t fit your expectation, change your perspective. It can broaden your view and lessen your chances of forming a negative attitude towards God. Allow your view to shift towards Him and concentrate on His characteristics of goodness, grace and mercy, which will allow your heart to be filled with gratitude.
3. Living the Answer
Living the answer means trusting God to provide the steps needed to walk through the answer from the easy to the most difficult. God will never leave or forsake us. We have a loving God who will calm our fears, comfort our hearts, and provide direction as we go about living the answer. We just need to start walking.
Prayer is a vital part of our relationship with the Lord and trust is gained and strengthened as we rely on Him to guide us through life. We don’t always get what we want, how we want it. God’s purpose in our lives is to prosper us according to His will and not our own. God’s sovereignty must remain our pivotal focus because with Him in sight, every answer we receive can be viewed in love.
Talking to God seems so natural to me, it’s almost second nature, but there was a time when it wasn’t always so easy. Talking to someone you don’t know is difficult and the same goes with God. I found ease in praying for others in times of crisis versus involving God in my everyday life. Sharing my ups and downs, disappointments, and sometimes anger at Him when my life was in disarray, didn’t feel like something I should be discussing. What could He possibly find interesting about my life compared to the universe? If you have similar thoughts, I will share three ways that helped me go from barely uttering a word to God, to talking to Him in a real and tangible way.
1. Finding Out Who God Is
For the longest time I thought God was just some Entity that was always ready to punish me. I’ve gone to church most of my life and the consequences of sin were mostly all I knew about God because I never looked further. If something went wrong in my life, I didn’t turn towards God; instead, I felt the need to run away, because surely, I was going to be punished. I was challenged years later to get to know God for myself. That was the beginning of my halt to running away. Once I began to study who God was through reading the Bible, I began to see God as more than someone just waiting to judge me. He was continually trying to draw me near. I dug deep to study His character, finding out qualities that show His distinctive grace and mercy that covers me daily. I challenge you to do the same.
2. Understanding God Wants Me to Talk
As I began to read His word, I found out He likes talking to His creation. Jeremiah 29:12-13 states “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” What a revelation, God wants to listen. This was just one of the many verses that opened my eyes to God’s desire to have conversations with me. I was beginning to realize that prayer was more than a formal act that occurred on Sundays and that I needed to engage Him more and more.
3. Building Our Relationship Our relationship took time to build and I still work on it every day. Praying to God has taken on new meaning because I realize how important our conversations are to my well-being. He wants to hear my struggles and my successes. He doesn’t punish me for being upset at Him, but I feel that He works that much harder to get me to understand what trusting Him throughout any circumstance looks like. My days go better and are so much smoother when I talk to and include Him in my day to day decisions.
My life, like everyone else’s, is full of ups and downs; but, the peace I feel as life comes my way has happened through no other form than talking to God. I hope my road of discovery helps you talk to God, because he wants to hear from you. Start building your relationship today. Read about Him, study His character; He wants to talk to you. I know you’ll find, just as I did, how natural it will become.
As someone who suffers from a chronic illness, one of the hardest things to fathom was the fact that my body was working against me. That bit of information caused a lot of emotional overload as I faced my new truth. While taking care of our physical bodies becomes a priority, we can’t forget about our emotional state because that can affect our ability to adjust or even hinder our progress. I have learned a few things to help me along my journey; I hope they will help you as well.
- Accept A New Normal
Wishing your body would return to how it used to be is hard to let go of because we all desire to be pain free and healthy. If you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic illness, chances are even if you get close to how you used to be, there will still be enough of a difference to make you realize you are living a new normal. Learn your new normal, both the good and bad surrounding it. Enjoy the good times as often as you can and endure the bad times by focusing on a brighter tomorrow with hope and expectation that it will come to pass.
- No need to apologize
One of the hardest places of adjustment is how people respond to the illness you now face. Some may treat you as if you’re now flawed and you’ll find yourself having to defend or justify how you feel and cope because from their perspective, they can’t understand how quickly a good day can turn bad as symptoms arise and subside. Don’t feel the need to apologize; instead, use it as an opportunity to help others understand the difficulties and adjustments associated with your daily life.
- Inspire someone else with your story
Although you may not feel like your story can help someone else, trust me it will. There are so many people suffering in silence and once I understood that, I no longer was embarrassed or ashamed of what I was facing. In fact my Initiative, Words That Surround Your Soul was birthed from wanting to help others like myself understand that they are not alone and someone else can relate to the ups and downs of dealing with a chronic illness. Let your story shine and illuminate the way for someone else to find peace.
Your days may be unpredictable as you face the uncertainties of living with a chronic illness, but embracing the new normal of your life will help to decrease the frustration and allow you to make it through the tumultuous ride that often occurs. Your emotions may be all over the place from anger to disappoint and of course depression will rear its ugly head. Sometimes all you can do is ride out the storm but try to find what gives you rest: music, dancing, meditation, prayer, time with friends, alone time. Get to know the new you.
My hope for you is that you learn to love yourself, and enjoy your life right in the midst of your pain. Keep moving and stay in the fight. Don’t you dare give up!
The pit of despair goes beyond a moment of sadness; it’s a place filled with utter loss of hope. An overwhelming sense of gloom about life’s circumstances can cause us to sink so low that we fail to see anything else around us. Agony, pain, and distress are just some of the discouraging emotions that can engulf us. The perception that few options are available can quickly crowd in, causing us to feel trapped. The goal is to climb out of this place as soon as possible, but we can’t climb without a ladder; therefore, let’s focus on three things that can help us climb that ladder.
1. Realize this place is only temporary.
Nothing in this world is fixed. This place is not permanent; it will only last for a limited amount of time. Focusing on that fact we can picture ourselves projecting above and beyond where we are now.
2. Concentrate on encouraging our souls.
We will focus on the negative if we don’t make a conscious decision to feed our souls with positive affirmations. Even if we only utter one sentence. Things will get better; this is only temporary. The more we repeat positive affirmations to ourselves the less likely we are to stay downtrodden.
3. Make positive plans for the future.
We have to plan beyond our current situations. This is the key to climbing up and out. Writing out goals and focusing on completing one goal at a time will help us fend off the voices of doubt and discouragement.
Moving forward is the ultimate goal and these steps will help you begin the climbing process that leads to a brighter future.
Pit of Despair
This pit of despair encompassed the soul.
How this fall happened it’s hard to say.
Explosion of emotions may have caused the collapse.
The absence of light prompted all sensibility to disappear.
Hope is completely dashed.
Joyfulness where are you?
Search for the ladder of peace that will start the climb.
Grab onto encouragement that will illuminate the way.
Cognizance of a higher ground will lead to contentment.
I’m proud to call Rhonie my sister. Her daily words of encouragment minister to the soul of all who read. It’s as if she knows exactly what we need to hear when we need to hear it. Surely the world has received a great gift in her.
Rhonie McBerry is a licensed radiation therapist providing care to those battling cancer. Working in this difficult field would cause most to feel sympathy, but Rhonie has taken it a step further, she has become an encourager; an individual who always looks for ways to uplift and inspire her patients.
In 2014, Rhonie encountered sickness in her own body and had to undergo months of testing to determine the cause. She learned to embrace a new normal after being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, which catapulted her into a manifestation of purpose and passion. Instead of succumbing to fear and depression, Mrs. McBerry leaned on her faith, her family, and friends, then she picked up her pen. She uses the power of words to encourage herself, her cancer patients, and others to keep a positive outlook in spite of how life has changed. She believes it is her God-given purpose to bring joy to people who feel they have no hope.
Rhonie knows firsthand how easy it is to fall into a state of depression when experiencing the effects of a chronic illness; therefore, she has become a highly sought-after speaker for churches, libraries, health-related facilities and events, and fundraisers. Her hobbies include reading, photography, liturgical dance ministry, and eating sweets. Rhonie is the mother of two children and one granddaughter and she makes her home in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband of 19 years.