It’s been pretty difficult lately, mainly because of disappointments in things not going the way I planned, and also feeling like I woke up from a one-year coma and everyone else has just moved on while I’m… the same, just a year older.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m absolutely grateful for the year I went abroad and it was truly memorable; but maybe because what I gained are intangible… things, it felt like I didn’t … accomplish much. I mean, it wasn’t as though I went for something meaningful like a mission trip or anything like that. Buttt looking back, I gained memories, experiences, and friendships, among others… plus a certificate for completing my studies, so I should be grateful… right? Sigh. Discontentment will be the death of me.

In the past, having nothing much to do was one of my favourite past times (if you cannot relate, then you, my friend, is a workaholic and you need to stop and smell the roses… or smell your bed), mainly because I know what’s it like having no time to yourself and the effects of a mental and emotional burnout. But lately, having nothing much to do scares me. People assume you are doing nothing all the time, you dread having small talks, and your mind goes into overdrive overthinking things because you… have time on your hands. (Before you judge, I do find things to do as much as I can.)

Waking up and sleeping have been difficult because waking up throws me into the face of disappointment and going to sleep throws me into a deep dark abyss of my thoughts. It’s during these times I’m glad I have God to turn to. I’m glad I have time to read and reflect, and to realise I have to trust God in this season of my life. Because there is literally nothing I can do except to trust.

It’s also during this time that I’m reminded that my identity isn’t defined by my accomplishments (or lack thereof), my career, or my circumstances; but it should be rooted in Christ. It’s easy when it’s head knowledge, but it’s always hard to apply when it comes down to it. You have to consciously look at your situation from a different perspective and really know that God is in control.

What I’ve learned, is that it’s not always about where you were, where you are, or where you will be. But it’s always about who you are and who you will become. Are you someone who exude love and joy despite what you’re going through? Or do you let despair consume you to become despondent and hateful?

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Hope for the Unhappy Christian (an excerpt)

“The Christian’s unhappiness, discontentment, and view of God are directly linked. Discontentment screams, “You deserve better!” and whispers, “God is not giving you what you deserve.” The former screams are blatantly false, but the latter whispers are profoundly true. Satan is the master of mixing lies with truths.

It’s a lie that you deserve better. The statement also assumes that you know what’s best and that God’s gifts aren’t best for you. The lie leads you to believe that you’re wiser than God and interprets his direction for your life as an attack rather than a mercy and gift.

It’s true that God is not giving you what you deserve. We deserve God’s wrath, yet daily we receive new mercies. How can sickness, suffering, and other tragedies be considered mercy? By realizing that every morning we don’t wake up in hell is an example of God’s mercy toward us. Even when we’re feeling our worst, God is showing us more mercy than we deserve. There is no calamity or tragedy that we can face that is worse than the holy wrath of God. At the same time, there is no earthly pleasure that can compare to the glory that is to be revealed. This is how the apostle Paul faced suffering: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18)…

…our dissatisfaction with life will inevitably lead us into a cycle of discontentment, sin, guilt, and depression if left unchecked. Discontentment will eventually lead to sin, sin to guilt, guilt to depression, and depression back to discontentment. This cycle slowly destroys everything we encounter and touch, leaving us joyless and empty. In order to break this deadly cycle, the pursuit of joy is essential. James 1:2–4 complements the words of Burroughs:

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

If we joyfully interpret everything that happens — sickness, death, loss, poverty — as actions of mercy rather than judgement, it will transform the way we live as Christians. We must look to God’s inerrant word to find comfort that he indeed loves us and does good toward us. Scripture says,

  • God is the one who helps; therefore, we have nothing to fear. (Isaiah 41:13)
  • God’s love is displayed and proven when he sent his Son to die for our sins. (1 John 4:10)
  • Nothing can separate us from God’s love — absolutely nothing. (Romans 8:35–39)
  • God loves us with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3)
  • Jesus loves us with the same love that the Father loves him. (John 15:9)

Jesus, God’s only begotten Son, was a man of sorrows (Isaiah 53:3). He was despised and rejected by men, suffered and died for crimes he was innocent of, and soaked up the wrath of God for sins he never committed. God ordained all this. Why? Because God loves us (John 3:16). And since he loves us, we should expect to suffer in this life just as Christ suffered, because “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” (Romans 5:3–5).

-Desiring God, Hope for the Unhappy Christian

 

The Seashells Sermon (an excerpt)

“Three weeks ago, we got word at our church that Ruby Eliason and Laura Edwards had both been killed in Cameroon. Ruby was over eighty. Single all her life, she poured it out for one great thing: to make Jesus Christ known among the unreached, the poor, and the sick. Laura was a widow, a medical doctor, pushing eighty years old, and serving at Ruby’s side in Cameroon.

The brakes give way, over the cliff they go, and they’re gone — killed instantly.

And I asked my people: was that a tragedy? Two lives, driven by one great vision, spent in unheralded service to the perishing poor for the glory of Jesus Christ — two decades after almost all their American counterparts have retired to throw their lives away on trifles in Florida or New Mexico. No. That is not a tragedy. That is a glory.

I tell you what a tragedy is. I’ll read to you from Reader’s Digest what a tragedy is. “Bob and Penny . . . took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their thirty foot trawler, playing softball and collecting shells.”

That’s a tragedy. And people today are spending billions of dollars to persuade you to embrace that tragic dream. And I get forty minutes to plead with you: don’t buy it. With all my heart I plead with you: don’t buy that dream. The American Dream: a nice house, a nice car, a nice job, a nice family, a nice retirement, collecting shells as the last chapter before you stand before the Creator of the universe to give an account of what you did: “Here it is Lord — my shell collection! And I’ve got a nice swing, and look at my boat!”

Don’t waste your life; don’t waste it.”

– John Piper

The Stale Introvert

I know what you’re thinking. “Ugh, not one of those ‘boohoo I’m an introvert, nobody understands me sobs sobs’ kinda post.”

Believe me, I’m sick and tired of it too, eventhough I probably am one. God knows how many other people are sick and tired of me mentioning it as well. Yes, I’m talking about you. #youknowwhoyouare #idontblameyou

“So why on earth are you writing a blogpost about it?” Oh, we’ll get there, if you haven’t stopped reading by now.

You see, I was one of those who will read as many articles about ’27 problems only introverts will understand’ or ‘Signs you’re an INFJ’, and go on to shove the article in the face of a few close people in my life to ‘help them understand me better’. A while later I did one of those tests again and it says I’m an ISTP. Like any sane person, I continued to re-do the quiz in an INFJ mentality as many times as possible to get the outcome I wanted and hang on to the feeble hope that I hadn’t lose my ‘identity’.

But to be honest, I don’t always like being an introvert. I admired people who are able to strike up conversations with strangers effortlessly. I wished, on many occassions, that I would be able to feed on people’s energy and not get tired or obsess over a mere failed conversation. Then again, people will tell you that’s not what being an extrovert is either. There’s also the hipster ‘ambivert’ – equal in proportion of intraversion and extraversion – basically neither here nor there, which, to be fair, is all of us.

Some of my friends will even tell you that I’m clearly an extrovert. I like to laugh it off and let them think that way, because it’s a compliment to me. But my family and close friends will say otherwise. These days I’m even doubting my love language. It used to be both ‘quality time’ and ‘physical touch’, but now (as much as I hate to admit), ‘words of affirmation’ is starting to affect me a lot. But that’s for another blogpost.

My point is, the important thing isn’t who you are, but who God is, and how having that knowledge of Him reflects in your life, regardless of who you are at any given point in time. Because people change all the time. God doesn’t.

So don’t be so hung up on whatever the world tells you you are. Don’t even be hung up on who you think you are. Strive for self-forgetfulness. Strive to be what He wants you to be. Be loving, be joyful, be peaceful, be patient, be kind, be all that is good, be faithful, be gentle, and be self-controlled (Galatians 5:22).