Release and Renew: Prayers for Those with Heartbreaking Jobs

”I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13 NAS1977)

Be deliberate today in your pursuit of the goodness of God. I speak especially to those in careers where you daily see the ugliest side of humanity, or perhaps the most hopeless-appearing situations. Soldiers, law enforcement, social workers, oncology nurses/doctors, ministers, teachers, counselors, and others–at the end of your day you must find a way to disconnect from the despair, lest you become a casualty instead of a catalyst for healing and hope. You can find that in prayer. At the beginning of your day you have to coat yourself in the hope of the Word to shield yourself from what you’re going to encounter. You might say, “why aren’t you suggesting I pray for the people I encounter instead of myself? This feels so selfish. What about their problems?” I’m writing this today to help keep you strong enough to do the hard work you do. You can’t help others if you wind up taken out by despair. It’s time to gear up because we NEED you doing what you do. Please, stay strong! Take care of your spirit!

Our world is sad. It’s bad out there. There’s so much despair and so many wicked activities taking place. There’s so much sickness and tragedy and cruelty. So many children, elderly, weak, innocent who are preyed upon. So many people operating under demonic influence inflicting pain and suffering on themselves and others. So much ADDICTION.

I’ll be honest. I went through my Twitter feed earlier this morning and the bad news was exhausting. I wanted to go back to bed and pull the covers over my head. I honestly thought, “Death’s not such a bad thing…it’ll be a relief to leave this world and go on to heaven!” But then I remembered what Paul said about it being more expedient (needful) that he remain behind to help others instead of going on to be with the Lord. I want heaven. I want to go and be with the Lord and be away from all the madness for all eternity…eventually. But what I really want to do first is effectively hold back the worst of evil by collectively offering up effectual fervent prayer. I want to point others to Jesus and be someone who hammers signposts in the ground of life that show a lost world the direction in which to run to find hope. THE ONLY way I can remain objective is to have God’s Word tattooed on my heart and mind, and to stay close enough to Him to hear His voice. Otherwise I just disappear into the sludge of despair with everyone else who’s given up and is waiting to die.

So for all of you who are so bravely doing the jobs I could not do (or rather, don’t necessarily WANT to do), I just encourage you this morning to cover yourself. Even if you’re already well into your shift, there’s no time like the present to start. Pray with me:

“God, thank You for helping me survive all the situations I encountered yesterday. Your Word says Your mercies are new every morning. Today I receive Your new mercy. Clothe me with salvation, with humility, with strength. Just like the “whole armor of God,” I put on my tactical gear. My head’s covered with salvation. My heart’s covered with righteousness. My tactical belt is truth…I can attach every tool I need to do my job to this truth. My feet are covered with peace. My shield is faith. My defense weaponry is Your Word and Your Spirit! That said, Lord, I’m getting ready to walk into the unknown today. I will encounter messed-up lives. I will meet hurting people. My heart will break over what’s not fair. Use me to make a difference, to be Your light bearer in a dark place. Help me to respond not out of anger, but with great wisdom.

Help me to do my best while I’m on the job and then help me to LET IT GO at the end of the day. Lord, help me not to carry these problems home to my family. I need my family and they need me. Help me to appreciate and be ministered to by the innocence of the home I’ve worked so hard to build and protect.

Keep me safe today, guard me against burnout; help me to strategize with the mind of Christ about how I can use my gifts to bless others and my strengths to help those who are in the place of need. Help me not to lose my sense of compassion nor my sense of duty to minister to the disparaged. I don’t want to be callous or insensitive when someone is needing treated gently. Help me to be just and fair with all people, even those who aren’t just and fair with me. Remind me that I represent YOU and can’t afford to let my words and actions go contrary to Yours. Help me not to think as the world thinks, but as YOU think about situations. Keep me from being jaded. Keep my heart tender even as you keep it from breaking in two at the things which also grieve YOU. In Jesus’ name.”

And at night (or the end of your workday, whenever that is 😉 ):

“Father, thank You for helping me to make it to the conclusion of another day. These burdens I bore all day long, these suffering people I worked with, the situations I can’t necessarily fix with an easy button…these worries and cares all want to come home with me. The memories want to invade my ability to wind down, to hear my spouse and children’s conversations, to keep me from the place of prayer and the much needed place of recharging and sleep.

But just like a set of coveralls, I choose to unzip the activities of the day and I step out of them. What I couldn’t fix today, I will deal with tomorrow, but for now I let it go. I’m not God–You are. I trust You to put things on hold, to keep the people I can’t help 24/7, to send others alongside to help, and to keep this world spinning on its axis for another day. In Jesus’ name I reject the effects of constant exposure to negative forces. I will not cope with frustration and sorrow by engaging in substance abuse or destructive relationships. I will seek out things that keep my heart pure and guileless, I will freely laugh at every possible opportunity, and I will give mindful thanks for the simple blessings You afford me, like a beautiful sunrise or the giggles of a small child.

I boldly declare that the helmet of salvation will keep my mind and protect me from becoming a walking case of PTSD. You are strengthening me, You are renewing my mind, You are restoring my innocence, and You ARE my joy, my strength. I will run to You and not be so “tough.” You’re the One I run to when I’m out of my league. It’s ok for me to be vulnerable in Your presence because You heal me and help me. I plead the blood of Jesus now to wash me clean, to cleanse the portals of my mind from what I need to let go of. Thanks now for blessing my family time, my worship time, my downtime and strengthening me to fight another day. I love You and trust You. Amen”

Repentance: Don’t Hide–HEAL

Don’t let the enemy guilt you out of your #destiny. If you have sinned or otherwise failed or fallen short, repent. Yes, I know there’s seemingly nothing profound in that advice, but it’s still true. I didn’t say resign; I said #repent.

#Repentance isn’t just being sorry for something you’ve done (or in some cases, haven’t done), it’s evaluating where you went wrong and making the necessary corrections to keep it from happening again: a change of heart and action. Maybe you’ve done something or allowed something and it’s wrinkled the fender of your reputation and distanced you from God. Maybe you’re just disappointed in yourself and it’s easier to bail than to humbly start all over. The first thing Adam and Eve did after they sinned was to HIDE. And may I even say, the more we are respected and admired, the harder it feels to get back up when we stumble because the accuser wants our shame to be very public.

Yeah, Satan’s goal is to take us out and damage as many people as he can in the process…but friends, when we’ve taken a faceplant, the world needs to SEE us recover, even if a few folks (and particularly some who are supposed to be on our “side”) hurl a few insult-and-accusation stones as we are picking ourselves up. Sometimes we privately recover, but truthfully, sometimes what we resolve to just do in private enables us to wallow a little longer in the mess–and kept hidden, sometimes we fix it, but sometimes we just choose to stay broken. Don’t stay in that place. It’s a rat’s nest.

There may be shame in failure but there’s no shame in turning to God to fix us when we have failed. Last night before I went to sleep, this verse went through my mind and I just meditated on it as I drifted off: “So now, those who are in Christ Jesus are not judged guilty. Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit that brings life made me free from the law that brings sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2 NCV) The KJV says there’s “therefore now no condemnation.”

Because of our trust in the redemptive power of the cross, we can machete our way through the choking, dense growth of sin’s effect on our lives and emerge back onto the right path intact. Paul realized the possibility of preaching to others but himself becoming a castaway–so he held himself accountable. So should we.

It’s just where we are. Sharing the good news is relatively easy. Being the “living epistle read of every man” part, not so much. The best thing to do is to keep ourselves holy, on guard, prayed-up, free from bondages. It’s a lot easier to maintain than to break down and repair. But if you are reading this from the cave where you went to hide after your embarrassing fall, please know there is HOPE for you. Sure, there’ll be a few who would remind you of your inadequacy, but there is a whole host of witnesses crying out just beyond your earshot, “Get up! Try! Finish! Keep going! You’re almost home!” There’s a Father checking out the window, pacing in the roadway, wanting to put a ring on your stinky, stained hand and restore you with full privilege instead of demoting you from sonship to servitude.

I remember once when I was still in school, one of my schoolmates wound up getting badly burned when he threw gasoline on a bonfire. The kid was ashamed/afraid to tell his parents because it was a foolish act of disobedience, messing with fire and flammables; and because he hid the terrible burn under his clothing without getting help, the burn got badly infected and became a serious, dangerous problem much worse than a parent’s chastisement for disobeying. No doubt the scars are still on that leg, decades later. We hide our burns too, sometimes, don’t we?

Peter had to repent when he fell. Yep, one of “the three amigos” whom Jesus kept privy to His most important missions actually betrayed Him in a most contemptible way when things got too dangerous. But Jesus WANTED him back. He even said to him, “when you’re restored, strengthen the others.” See, your recovery is never just about you. Jesus didn’t choose to just gloss it over and strengthen them Himself in Peter’s absence; He in essence told Peter, “YOU do it.” There’s going to be a visible restoration of the part of you that needs healed, friend, and the people who’ve been let down by your absence are also going to be strengthened…by YOU. It is this action that will bring you full circle and it will keep you accountable in the future because of its humbling quality.

As much as it feels to the contrary, you aren’t expendable. God needs you on that front line. Replacing you is not His ultimate will — redeeming you, however, IS! He saw in ages past where a you-shaped piece of the puzzle needed to go, and He created you to fit exactly right there in the big picture. He doesn’t have a bunch of spare you’s just lying around in case you malfunction! Repentance says you are willing to let Him rebuild you to keep doing what He created you to do. And sometimes, we need rebuilt not only because of our sins, but also even from just being battle-weary, worn-out, and hyperextended. Let Him.

Lay aside what’s holding you back. Phooey on what anyone might say or think, don’t you wallow in condemnation one more day. Your destiny is right where you left it, and Jesus can recalibrate the driving directions from WHEREVER this moment finds you…to make sure you arrive safely. Come home.

Prayer: The Science of Moving Impossible Loads

Lever_(PSF)“Give me a place to stand, and I shall move the Earth with it.” — Archimedes, 3rd Century BC, while discussing the mathematical principles of a lever, and how it can simplify a near-impossible task.

A lever is simply a movable bar that pivots on a fulcrum attached to a fixed point. The lever operates by applying forces at different distances from the fulcrum, or a pivot. The Egyptians are thought to have moved the huge stone obelisks for their monuments by the use of levers.

Did you know that you have a spiritual lever?  It’s called prayer!  Prayer has the ability to move things too heavy to shift in the natural realm.  The Apostle Paul tells us to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests (Eph 6:18).  “All kinds of prayers” is similar to the various placements of the fulcrum (pivoting point) of a lever.  Your prayer is the lever.  You, the willing servant of God, are the fulcrum.  God is the effort, and the enemy is the resistance.

Depending on its pivoting point placement, prayer can accomplish various types of moving that otherwise could not be done.  Think of a crowbar trying to pry something loose that’s stuck.  That’s a lever with a fulcrum in the middle, and the effort and resistance on opposite sides.  Sometimes in prayer, God will put you right in the middle.  As you intercede, you may feel pressure on both sides.

A nutcracker is a lever that breaks a shell off by having resistance in the middle, effort on one side, and the fulcrum on the other side.  God may get on one side of a situation, have you on the other side, and the two of you put the “squeeze” on a stronghold that needs broken off someone’s life.  In times like this, you may not be able to see God because the enemy has your view obstructed, but keep praying.  God can apply whatever pressure is needed on the enemy because He has you positioned to be a stable object to push against!

A pair of tweezers is a lever that has the effort in the middle, and the resistance and the fulcrum on opposite sides.  There are times when God gets in the middle, with you and the evil one on opposite sides.  The grasping motion of the tweezer helps it to pluck up deeply embedded things.  In this alignment, you can see God even when you can’t see the enemy…but that’s good!  God’s in the middle and because of the right placement, He can use your prayer lever to get a grip on what needs pulled out.

Have I lost you yet?  We can narrow it down like this: knowing how to pray the Word accurately can bring alignment on earth with God’s will in heaven. 

Through prayer, you team up with God.  You willingly become a support for His will to be done.  Through prayer, you can pry something loose in the spirit realm.  You can break off strongholds.  You can pluck something painful out of a life, or even pluck some ONE out of a dangerous situation, all through prayer.  If we pray according to God’s Word, God can even use the “resistance” to work to His advantage!

As you go into this day, ask God to make you a willing “fulcrum” to accomplish His will on earth.  You may not always understand the method behind His placement of you in a particular situation, but that’s ok.  Remain fixed.  If you’re obedient, you can stand still and see the salvation of the Lord!

 

Scientific Fact Source:  Wikipedia.com

 

And In the Bad Times, Too

SOMETIMES BEING FAITHFUL WHEN ALL IS NOT WELL IS THE GREATEST TESTIMONY WE CAN GIVE

In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God.” – Job 1:22 NLT

My husband and I just finished reading through the story of Job in the Bible.  I can honestly remember a time when, as a young girl, I would hurriedly turn past that book.  In my mind, I felt that if I didn’t read about dealing with hard times, maybe I wouldn’t have to face them.  How juvenile!  Boy, how wrong I was!  Ready or not, life has a way of getting all in our business.

I know of situations all around me, and have come through a number of them myself, where the outcome of circumstances was quite different from what had been prayed.  It reminds me of that old song, “We’ll understand it better by and by,” because there are some things we’re not going to understand here.

Life is so full of circumstances which are unfair.  It just is.  It has been since the fall of Adam, in which Satan took over the earth’s lease from one man’s (and woman’s) disobedience.  Every bad thing which you’ve ever encountered is a result of sin being given dominion in the earth…not necessarily that you or I did something in particular to deserve the bad, but that sin itself has a place of rule in our atmosphere.  It sets up a chain reaction of sorrow, pain, sickness, loss, and ruin which attacks everyone in its path.  Deserve has nothing to do with it, as often as not.

There have been so many instances when I’ve prayed—and sincerely believed—for a favorable outcome, only for it not to happen as I’d hoped.  Good people have gone on to be with the Lord who, if measured by their faithfulness to God, should have been healed and gone on to live out their days unscathed.  And every time I interceded on their behalf, my mind always went to how the Lord would be glorified if they received their miracle.  My heart counted on seeing people’s faith bolstered when that miracle took place; and in part, my prayers were often motivated by a fear that people would become discouraged and forsake the Lord if an outcome was not as was hoped for.

I can’t fathom how God has such a more thorough view of things than we have.  We’re told in the Scriptures that His ways are higher than ours, and it’s true.  One thing I’m learning as I grow in the Lord is, His answers to our prayers are always based on eternity rather than this one tiny life.  As a matter of fact, if we received a ‘yes’ to every prayer, we humans would make everything about the here and now.  Our affections would be vested in the present, rather than eternity.  Our desires would be totally self-serving.

I’m not saying that everything we ask for is selfish.  Most of the time, we’re asking for good things; needed things.  But just as a child who gets everything it whines for, we too would become spoiled if we got everything we asked for in prayer.  We would serve God just for the loaves and fishes, rather than to know Him intimately.  When Who He is becomes eclipsed by what we can get out of Him, we bypass relationship for quick gratification.  And when good people have only good things happen to them, we begin to forget that it’s God’s grace instead of our works which gives us favor in His sight.

So where’s the balance in it all?  We should always pray with faith in the Word and what it says about our situation; but we must always allow God the sovereignty in how He chooses to answer.  He knows so much more about the future than we can possibly comprehend.  And in truth, sometimes we need to see living examples of people who remain faithful even when the outcome of their prayers isn’t what they asked.  Though it’s not what we enjoy witnessing, we sometimes need to see good people encounter difficulties and face them with courage.  Sometimes we ourselves are those good people who have to walk in wilderness settings.  You can learn a lot more about faith from someone who has to forge through trial and tribulation, than you can from someone who seems to have everything going right and well in his/her life.

If we never have to go through hard times, we are probably not going to be compassionate toward others who struggle.  It’s easy to become sanctimonious when we feel we have an “edge” on other people spiritually.  Why do you think Jesus allowed Himself to experience everything a human can be tempted with?  Aren’t you glad He intercedes for you before the Father, knowing that He has first-hand experience at what you’re facing and feeling?

We also need to remember that when we’re going through terrible things,God’s not doing it to us!  Going back to the truth that sin has ruined Eden for all of us, remember that your enemy—the Devil—is behind anything bad you’re encountering.  So often I hear people misquote the Scriptures, and their explanation of the hard time is that “God won’t PUT ANYTHING on us that we can’t bear.”  That’s not what it says!  It says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not LET you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”  (1 Cor. 10:13 NIVFurthermore, His Word says, “And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else.” (James 1:13 NLT)  It is true, however, that God will test us; but it’s not so that He can see whether we will remain faithful.  He already knows!  He allows us to go through things so that we ourselves can know the depth of our faith.  And like muscles, faith will atrophy if we don’t have to exercise it once in awhile.  Remember, a test from God is designed to strengthen and refine you…a temptation or attack of the enemy is an attempt to destroy you, and at the very least, to destroy your faith.  If something has come about to steal from you, to kill you, or to destroy you or someone you love, it’s not God’s doing!  It’s orchestrated by the one who kills, steals, and destroys.  Jesus’ will is to give you life—and a more abundant one, at that!

As we wait for answers to our many requests today, I pray that we will be willing to allow God to answer our needs in light of eternity.  I pray that we’ll be mature enough to endure with grace those seasons when there is no detour around trouble.  And I pray that, should we have to come through something unthinkably hard, our testimony of remaining faithful to the end will be as effective an example as if our troubles had vanished immediately upon asking.  Whether you realize it, your life and how you live it is an ongoing teaching to others, so we need to be teaching the right lesson!  It’s not all about this life, but eternity!  Those saints who allowed themselves to be martyred for their faith knew this…and not even death could defeat them.  Even now, when we come to the end of this finite human life, death cannot defeat us because Jesus took the keys to death and Hell!

Lord, we want blessing all the time; we just do.  The carnal, selfish part craves getting our own way and it pouts when we don’t get it.  But I pray, help us this day to be faithful in plenty and in famine, in good times and in bad, and in times when the answer isn’t what we asked for.  You are good all the time; may our speech, our attitudes, and our actions point to an eternal versus a temporal hope in You.  Just as You restored Job after a terrible storm in his life, You will take care of us too.  In life and in death, people are watching us, so help us to live right and to die right, perhaps leading someone else to an eternity with You in the process.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

©2012 Lisa Crum