Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tuesday's Top Ten [When Friends Confide in Me]

The desire to fix everything runs deep within me. If there's a problem I immediately conjure up a list of possible solutions. I think, if only I could talk to both sides, maybe they'd see the light. That desire to protect the one's I love from pain and heartache is a curse of the eldest and I'm feeling that heaviness today.

There's one thing I've realized in the course of the last few years as I study God's Word: the desire to want everything right for my friends is not wrong, thinking I can make it right is. By thinking I can fix everything, I am taking away from the work GOD IS DOING in the lives around me. By thinking I can fix everything is minimizing the effectiveness of the Holy Spirit. By thinking I can fix everything glorifies myself instead of glorifying the solution of the Almighty and the work HE DOES.

It's a dangerous position to put myself in and besides the reasons listed above here's what happens when I think I can fix everything: I become angry, defensive, frustrated, and want to immediately lash out on who-so-ever is the cause. Those are not qualities of the Holy Spirit and when I think I can fix everything I begin to rely on my abilities - which are anger, defensiveness, frustration, and speaking out of line - rather than the qualities of the Holy Spirit, which are love, patience, kindness, and self-control. Basically, I need to stay out of it, but if my friend does confide in me I need guidelines.

Especially on days like today when I learn of something that is desperately hurting someone I love. The desire to fix is a daily battle on days like today when I can feel my throat ache and tears well up as I think of the heartache they're enduring for good reason, and I am constantly asking the Holy Spirit to help me in this. Instead of offering "words of -crappy- advice" I do whatever I can to put the glory back on God and the work HE is doing, so that no matter the outcome, HE GETS THE CREDIT.

Here's 10 things I rely on when friends confide in me:

  1. I will pray for you every time the Lord brings you to mind.
  2. You will be in my thoughts and prayers. This goes along with #1 and after saying it ask the Lord to constantly bring this person and this situation to mind, so that you can follow through on that promise.
  3. I will help you in any way I can. This is a statement/promise you're making so that they understand they can rely on you being there when they need you.
  4. What kind of friend do you want me to be right now? Do you just want me to listen? Do you want advice? Is there anything I can do for you (like make a meal, take your kids, or do some laundry)? Would you like me to show you where I go in the Bible when I need to rest in God and find comfort in Him? Numbers 5-9 is what I would give if they answered yes, show me verses that give you comfort.
  5. Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths."
  6. The Psalms are full of songs where the Israelites praised God in good times and in bad. David wrote many where he was pleading with God to hear his cry and others that promise that He is there even in times of heartache, Psalm 46:1-3 is a good example, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved in into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling." We should emulate the words of these Psalmist and use them as a way of trusting and praying and praising, "When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?" (Psalm 56:3-4) The promises given to the Israelites are ours as well, "When I thought, "My foot slips," your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul." (Psalm 94:18-19) He will not forsake His people! Psalm 121 is a perfect example and is my go to, "I lift my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore." Wow. Such promises: My help comes from the Lord. He will not let your foot be moved. He does not slumber. He is your keeper. The Lord will keep you from evil. He knows your going out and your coming in for all eternity. So no matter what this life on this earth brings you, you can rest in God and His promises.
  7. James explains in the beginning of his letter to the twelve tribes in the Dispersion that God gives generously, especially in the midst of trials (James1:2-4). During the time that James wrote this letter Christians were being put to death, kicked out of their homes, families scattered, possessions ransacked, because of their faith in Jesus Christ. If God answered their prayers during extreme heartache, how much more will he answer ours? Knowing this, we should not pray, we should not ask anything of Him, with doubt. We must have faith that God is a man of His Word. He knows the desires of your heart! Therefore, Pray. Do not cease in praying. Pray as you sob. Pray as you question. Pray as you ask for healing. Pray. Pray. Pray. And do not doubt.
  8. God is faithful. God is unchanging. God's love is steadfast. God is sovereign. The qualities of God give us reason to rest in Him.
  9. Endure. Just as Christ endured. The book of Romans offers many of my favorite verses and in the midst of chapter 5 where we are called to have faith alone in Christ alone there's a verse where Paul explains why we must endure, "... we rejoice in our sufferings knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." We endure because the Holy Spirit is at work in our hearts, helping us to persevere, to hold firm to the hope we have in Jesus Christ and that by having faith in Him we can rest assured in our salvation - that we will spend an eternity with Him. That promise, that affirmation of the gospel, gives us hope in tribulations because we know that the things of this earth (the heartache, the tribulations, the sufferings) will DISAPPEAR! 
  10. I am not going to have the right response every time, even after praying that the Holy Spirit give me words. Sometimes it's best to say nothing at all. (Being a person of many words, this one is especially difficult.)

This list is one I need to keep close at hand and near to my heart, because the moment I hear, Can I talk to you? I should immediately begin praying that God's Words are my words, and if I stick to the guidelines suggested in this list, God will do the work in my friends life. God may or may not use me, but if He does, HE SHOULD ALWAYS GETS THE CREDIT.

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