What if…your worst fear actually comes to pass? Then what? Listed in our Heart2Heart Counselor Directory, biblical counselor Suzanne Holland gives real answers to scary questions and provides hope. Suzanne is a premier counselor. Her article appeared first here at BC4Women.org and is used with permission.
“What if it’s cancer? How will we deal with that? I don’t want to leave my husband and children alone!”
“Or what if my car breaks down? I barely have enough money to cover my expenses! How will I get to work?
“And what if the pain gets worse? How will I cope with it? How will I function?”
All of these are legitimate questions asked by believers who are struggling to deal with a circumstance or eventuality that they feel ill-equipped for. There are so many things that can happen in this fallen world we live in. Many of them are pretty frightening.
As I read in Daniel 3 about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, I felt certain that they were frightened of that furnace. Who wouldn’t be? Nebuchadnezzar had erected a gold statue and commanded all people to bow to it. These three young men knew they could not do that.
I can imagine what their conversation was like, as it became clear that their allegiance to the One True God would stir up the wrath of this powerful king. Maybe, they asked one another,
- What if we can’t stand our ground?
- What if we lose our nerve?
- And if we do remain steadfast, how will we endure the furnace?
- Where will we get the courage to finish well?
I don’t know for sure if this conversation or one like it took place. However, I am pretty sure it would if it were me and my friends! I would be afraid and anxious about it for sure, at least in my own strength. But these three young men clearly were not counting on their own strength to see them through. They were depending on their God. When they appeared before the king, they spoke these words:
O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you.
If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty.
But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up. (Daniel 3:16-18)
3 Crucial Convictions in Your “What If”
They express three important convictions in this passage. And we need to keep in mind as we face the “what ifs” of our lives.
1. Remember God Alone Has Ultimate Power
First, they express the fact that the king has no real power over them. In saying, “we don’t need to defend ourselves before you,” they are saying that he is not a threat. They know that the God they serve is far more powerful, and He will be their defender. They let the king know that they have complete confidence in God’s ability to save them out of that fire.
2. Know God Will Deliver You
Second, by fearlessly admitting the possibility that He may not save them in an earthly sense, they are letting the king know that they don’t fear death. Since they worship a God who is the master of eternity, they have a great hope of what lies on the other side of that furnace, should they perish there. In other words, they are telling him that, whether they live or whether they die, their God will deliver them from his hand.
3. God Alone Is Worthy of Worship
Finally, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego make it very clear to the king that nothing he does can ever make them worship any other god. No matter what he threatens, no matter how painful the consequence, they absolutely will not become idolaters.
Answers to Scary Questions
So, what’s the takeaway for us? How can we apply this passage to our what-ifs? Well, I would like to suggest that, instead of saying what-if-this or what-if-that, let’s change it up. Let’s replace “what if” with “even if.”
“Even if it’s cancer, I know that my God can rescue me from it. He can heal me of this cancer, but even if He doesn’t, He will deliver me. We will bring me to heaven, where there will be no more pain or suffering. I am trusting in Him. And I refuse to make restored health an idol. God has cared for my family all this time, and He will continue to do so, with or without me. I refuse to give in to worry.”
“Even if my car breaks down, I will not give into fear or panic. Jesus said that God cares so much for me that He has numbered every hair on my head. It is He who has provided for me up until now. Why should that change? I refuse to give in to fear.”
“Even if the pain gets worse, I will recognize that circumstances will always be changing, but my God never does. He is faithful no matter the severity of my pain or disability. Even if I can’t do the things I’ve always done, He will provide the help that I need. Or, He’ll remove the necessity of the task. I refuse to give in to panic about my pain.”
Think About It
What are the “what-ifs” of your life today, friend?
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Are you fearful or worried about the future? Remember that fear can lead to idolatry if we do not take it captive. Bring those fears to the Lord, remembering His faithfulness and love. Then, proclaim to everyone you know the truth about your great God. Let them see that you will not bow down to the idols of worry and fear about earthly things.
As you go through the fiery trial, let them see Jesus going through it with you, just as King Nebuchadnezzar saw four men walking around in the fire when He had thrown in only three. That same confidence that led them through their fire will lead you through yours.
Resources from Lucy
You may like this article:
Biblical Approach for Healing PTSD
Or this easy-to-download eBook:
Fit for Life: A Biblical Guide to Getting Fit (and Losing Weight)
Need prayer or want a free biblical counseling consultation by phone? Send me a secure message here.
Counseling Hope to Your Heart,
Friend, do you know your TRUE heart’s desire? Knowing and fulfilling your heart’s desire can change the direction of your life–from burned out to rest-filled, from down-in-the-dumps to delightful.
Listen to the story of three of my counselees. Notice how different they are. Yet each is making a difference for God’s kingdom. See if your story is similiar.
- Kim teaches Sunday school to preschoolers, showing them the love of God through simple Bible stories, songs, and Jesus “parties.”
- Dora has a decorative flair. She beautifies her church’s worship center, making it inviting to regular attenders and visitors.
- Tanya cleans the homes of elderly folks in need of a helping hand and conversation.
In this brief article you’ll learn:
- why you want to know your heart’s desire.
- 2 quick steps to discovering your heart’s desire.
Why You Want to Know Your Heart’s Desire
You want to know your heart’s desire because. . .this knowledge empowers and energizes you to make a difference in your own life and in other’s lives. Most important, God wants you to know your heart’s desire to honor him. Does this make sense?
When you know your heart’s desire, you are energized to make a difference, honor God, and be happy.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
Sometimes this verse gets mangled. God doesn’t say he’ll give you anything you desire, though at first glance it may sound that way. Reread the verse part of the verse. God gives you the desires of your heart as you submit to Christ.
2 Quick Steps to Discovering your Heart’s Desire
God made you unique. There’s no one on this planet just like you. You have your own DNA, life experiences, upbringing, talents, and spiritual giftedness (1 Corinthians 12:1-3).
QUICK STEP 1:
What propels you out of bed in the morning (other than an amazing cup of coffee)? Are you keen on empowering single moms? Encouraging war veterans? Designing organizational systems? Taking photographs that tell a story?
It may help to jot answers to these questions:
- If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
- What do other Christians say you’re particularly good at?
- Which of the following people groups tug at your heart? The homeless; women who’ve had abortions; impoverished families; couples in healthy marriages; children with learning disabilities; substance abusers; families of prisoners; the elderly; the ill; women (or teens) in emotional pain; gifted children, other: ___________.
Look over your answers. Do you see a theme? Now write down: I believe my heart’s passion may be _____________.
If you’re not sure, this is OK. As you try out your interests, the Holy Spirit will guide you. Let’s go to quick step 2. It’s truth-telling!
QUICK STEP 2:
Did you know that usually people’s heart’s desire comes from their life experience, especially the difficult ones?
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On a 8 1/2 by 11 paper, turned sideways (also called “landscape”), write My Timeline at the top. Then make 3 long, parallel lines. Divide your current age by 3.
On the lines, you’ll record events (happy and sad and disturbing). The top line is for the first third of your life, the second line for the middle third of your life, and the bottom line for the last third of your life. Got it? Good.
Among the events to record are…
- Birth dates
- Death dates
- HS graduation
- Marriages and divorces
- Moves to new locations
- New jobs, lost jobs
- Other important events
Once you finish your timeline, prayerfully review it and notice what tugs at your heart. Perhaps you faced a home foreclosure and have a heart’s desire to minister to the homeless. Or, maybe you desire to write a book on fear or to teach Crown financial budgeting principles to others.
Maybe you lived in a blended family and have a heart’s desire to help second and third marriages stay intact. Or possibly you were a victim of a crime and your heart’s desire is to become a first responder, teach self-defense classes, or lead a Bible study in prisons.
Next, look over your timeline. Why not pray over what you discovered. Then, reread your answers to the questions in Step 1.
Finally, write a preliminary statement: my TRUE heart desire may be: _____________.
Chances are, over time you’ll refine your statement. Here’s mine.
Isn’t it amazing that God often uses your story to foster hope in others?
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When you live your heart’s desire, you help others, avoid burnout, glorify God, and are truly happy.
Do you have questions? Would you like help making your heart’s desire a reality? Then contact me. It’s beautiful to hope.
Counseling Hearts to Hope!
God declares overeating to be a sin: ‘For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty’ (Proverbs 23:21).
So begins the second chapter of biblical counselor Shannon Kay McCoy’s very helpful mini-book HELP! I’m a Slave to Food.
Then McCoy defines sin. These definitions include–
- whatever is not from faith is sin (Romans 14:23).
- therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin (James 4:17).
- all unrighteousness is sin (1 John 5:17).
- sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4).
These descriptions view sin as the act of the will. Sin is choosing to act in opposition to God’s Word.
Sin of Overeating?
McCoy continues: “Perhaps you don’t believe that overeating is a sin. Many of us have been brainwashed by magazine articles, television talk shows, and reality shows that tell us that food is the problem: you are simply eating the wrong things in the wrong way.”
Often Christians view overeating as a diet problem rather than a sin problem.
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But overeating does n
ot seem serious. We often treat it as one of those ‘little sins’ that are acceptable in the church.
You don’t hear sermons or read books on the sin of overeating, do you? Your focus is more on getting treatment for your problem of overeating than facing up to your personal responsibility of repentance and obedience.
As McCoy pointed out, overeating is failing to do the right thing. It is unrighteousness and lawlessness.
Description of a Food Struggle
A woman McCoy spoke with describes her struggle:
My eating was out of control. I ate solely to satisfy whatever craving I was having at the time. As a result, my health was suffering and I was not honoring God with my life and body He had given me. I was for the first time confronted with the fact that the way that I was eating was sinful. I knew that my eating was ‘not good,’ but I never considered that my eating was sin.
In her mini-book, Shannon transparently identifies with her readers by acknowledging that overeating once dominated her life. Then she shares the life-changing counsel from the Scriptures, which changed her life, beginning with admitting the seriousness of her sin problem.
Overeating Is Not an Addiction
Some overeaters label themselves “food addicts,” believing they are addicted to food. However, addiction is not a biblical term. The world uses this terminology to describe the behavior of someone who is controlled by a substance.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines addiction in this way: “To devote or surrender (oneself) to something habitually or obsessively.” But the danger in labeling overeating as “addiction” is that it undermines the personal conviction of sin. If the problem is not sin, then you will look for solutions in a system of theories, not in the person of Jesus Christ.
Overeating Is Idolatry
The biblical term for “addiction” is “idolatry.” The sin of overeating is idolatry. And idolatry is worship and devotion to creation rather than worship and devotion to the Creator God.
You worship your stomach and appetites by indulging in food. In fact, you desire the created food more than your Creator. The problem is not necessarily the food you consume; it is the worship of your heart. But before you can be set free, you must acknowledge your idol, denounce it, repent, and give your heart and devotion to him. Your greatest hope is in turning from your false gods and surrendering your life to Jesus, who forgives your sins and frees you from the sin of overeating.
God’s Grace Empowers Us to Change
Romans 6:12-14 both exhorts us to repent of the sin of overeating and gives us hope on God’s power to change us:
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
In the remainder of her mini-book, McCoy teaches us how to conquer the sin of overeating by God’s gracious empowerment for disciplined living.
Get HELP! I’m a Slave to Food in print copy and/or Kindle format.
RESOURCE: Looking for a whole-hearted, comprehensive ebook to be Fit for Life. Get it now.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
When you embrace the truth of who God is, your burdens lift. . .even in trials. Dr. Donna Hart, PhD, listed in Heart2Heart Counselor Directory here, shares loving truth. Her article appeared first here on her website and is used with permission.
When our burdens seem too heavy a weight to carry, we can be tempted to believe that God has unjustly piled them on us. The heaviness of the burden may lure us toward unbiblical views leading us to distrust his goodness. Then we may feel depressed.
False belief: I should get what I want
One belief we are prone to have is our right to certain things or relationships. We can mistakenly believe we have a “right” to what we want. We fail to realize the truth that it is a blessing to have. It is not a right.
Then anger often emerges, prompting us to doubt God’s goodness and faithfulness. This path of thought will lead us to presume we know better than God. And we will likely try to do things our way.
Do you ever think God is arbitrarily making you miserable? If so, you may base your thinking on persistent feelings of discomfort, rather than upon God’s words of promise. So it’s is no wonder you’re miserable!
Asaph Questions God’s Character
Asaph questions God’s character in a similar way in Psalm 77:7-9:
Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show His favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld His compassion?
Fortunately, Asaph asks his questions from a place of faith in God. Our questions may be like Asaph’s, but they may not be asked from a position of faith.
An unbiblical interpretation of our lives can lead us down a slippery slope of false beliefs, which cause us to become more deeply saddened, thinking the future holds no hope.
False Belief: This world is all there is
Our hearts can start to think this world is all there is and seek only temporal relief rather than longing for his glory. Second Corinthians 4:17-18 says,
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
When we continually reject the truth of the Word by believing our own thoughts and emotions about our circumstances, we start to feel guilty. We also assume he has rejected us, leaving us with little hope.
Our hearts often cry out as Asaph did, asking if his will ever return. But we must remember that it is not true that he has forgotten to be gracious or that he has withdrawn his love, leaving us victims.
We must rebuke the lies that cause us to think God is standing with a raised hammer just waiting for the opportunity to lower it on our heads.
Asaph foresaw the inevitable judgment on Israel. In his heart he cries to God as he anticipates the coming misery of the Israelites’ suffering in captivity. He voices his fears but continues to appeal to to God’s divine power to change all that is to come.
False Belief: Trials are bad
The truth is, God ordains our trials to teach us to trust him and to grow our faith. In those trials, we must exercise a strenuous faith and give God glory and honor regardless of the circumstances. Be determined to resist self-focused desires of insisting on comfortable lives with easy answers, and convenient timetables.
As we learn to give God the glory and honor him no matter the circumstances, he will help us to. . .
- make discerning decisions with the right perspective
- grow in our faith
- persevere with joy
Let us learn to not gaze long and hard at our own suffering. Rather, may we stay focused on the promises God has set before us.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Empty nest. Some women expectantly watch their adult children take flight and do life on their own. Other mothers fear their children leaving home. Still others must push them out the door. . .or the millennials may stay, like, forever.
In this two-part series on the empty nest, you’ll discover. . .
- Best way to prepare your empty nest, whether your kids are just out of high school or farther down the road.
- How to adjust and love the empty nest, including finding romance as an empty nester, planning retirement, and welcoming grandbabies.
The Empty Nest Book!
Author Michele Howe has written a book for any parent who finds herself in the midst of an empty nest. Preparing, Adjusting, and Loving the Empty Nest tackles the questions moms face, the emotions they encounter, and the changes soon to come. I strongly recommend it and wished I had it when I counseled a 50-something mom I’ll call Mary. See the book on Amazon here.
Mary, whom I counseled by Skype, lived in western United States with her husband and adult son. The son was nearing age 30, had a decent paying job in sales, and hunkered down at home. And he promised to look for an apartment. . .soon. But his empty promise “was just a way to get me off his back,” Mary admitted. “How can I encourage him to face the world, and at the same time, prepare for an empty nest?”
In a friendly, interactive style, Michele shares spiritual wisdom from the likes of seasoned biblical counselor Paul Tripp, take-away action steps, personal stories as well as prayers. Indeed, it is a cross between a devotional and a parenting how-to book.
While an older empty nest-er would find encouragement, hope, and practical ideas in the pages of Preparing, Adjusting, and Loving the Empty Nest, it best suits moms who are entering this season of life.
Preparing for the Empty Nest
GRADUATING HIGH SCHOOL: Opening with readying high schoolers to leave home (whether for college or work), Michele encourages parents and children to talk about making solid choices, expecting stress and excitement, and relying on Jesus Christ.
Take-away action thought:
BUDGETING: Teaching children — and reminding yourself — to handle money with care and prayer pays off as you enter the empty nest years.
PRAYER: Michele shares how she prays for her adult children.
Today is the only day that I have to get on my knees and express my concern for by beloved children. Tomorrow I may be gone. What better way to demonstrate a robust faith in the God who loves to hear from his children that to offer up heartfelt prayers for our kids?
She also suggests keeping a prayer journal, dating your prayers, and recording God’s answers.
LISTENING IN TOUGH TIMES: Learning to be a good listener strengthens your relationship, especially when your adult children come to you with one of life’s challenges. “We need to patiently listen to them speak,” Michele encourages. “Let’s not interrupt. Let’s not allow ourselves to sink into a fearul abyss because our children are teetering there.”
Instead of choosing fear, choose faith.
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- Remind your children that God has been faithful to your family through the years.
- Champion his character into your kids.
- Comfort your children over and over and over, as God leads.
TRUST THE LORD DAILY: In preparing an empty nest, you may feel undone. Does your wavering faith mean God has changed? No!
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Has he distanced himself from you? No, again. Does it mean you can prepare yourself for new times? Yes!
Take-away Action Thought:
When I feel myself pulling my children too close for their own good, I will ask for the strength to loosen my grip and send them off with a smile of my face and a song in my heart.
In part 2, let’s take a peek at adjusting and loving the empty nest. Feel free to send me your questions.
Until then. . .
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,