By: Vanessa Jackson
as posted on http://www.vanessajacksonsblog.com
Sometimes life has unexpected, not so pleasant bumps. I’m not talking about our big life crises, though I do not think these are exempt from what I am about to say. I’m specifically talking about the bumps in the road that have a way of sending us home crying after work, binge eating or heading out for a little mall-therapy. The Bible says is Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” I am constantly quoting this verse because it applies to so much! If I believe this, with every conflict, bump, and tiff, I can trust that it can work out for my betterment.
I’ll never forget the day I was let go from my job at the engineering firm. My children were 2 and 4 years old, I was a single mother and we lived with my parents to make ends meet. It didn’t make any sense to me, it was embarrassing and all seemed to happen so fast, but instead of panicking I chose to be still inside and I trusted that my circumstances were from God.
The Bible says, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalms 46:10) The word still in Hebrews is rapa, meaning “to slacken, let down, or cease.” I had always understood this to simply mean being verbally quiet and while being verbally quiet is a part of it, it doesn’t convey the fullness of the meaning. For God’s people to be “still” means we should look to the Lord for our help (Exodus 14:13). Any time I feel ramped up inside, especially when I am facing an accusation or something I perceive as an injustice, a deep need to fight for myself wells up. I want to put on my boxing gloves and make sure I am defended. I feel panicked and I fear the worst will happen. I care deeply what people think. I want them to know my side and understand my heart. The problem is, when I pounce to defend myself, I often make it worse and not better.
I had a boss once tell me that the best thing I can do is to be quiet and wait. He told me that he waited almost 8 months before sharing his opinion at that job simply so that they would listen when he needed them to. I have never forgotten it. That kind of patience seems insane to me. My mouth has a mind of it’s own and often speaks before my brain engages. I struggle with it every day so I found this inspiring. When we are selective about when and how we speak, people are more likely to listen and take us seriously. The same boss also explained to me that every conflict we have is an opportunity. I remember him rolling up his sleeves and with a big smile on his face saying, “What an opportunity!” (Translation: Vanessa has a mess a clean up!) I hated it when he said it, because it sounded so peppy at a time when I would have preferred to grumble. Over time I came to appreciate the viewpoint though, because provided I saw it as an opportunity, it actually was. Those were the times that enemies became friends, bosses went to you for advice and crises became blessings. Now I share this with people all the time. These two things made a huge impact on how I see and react to conflict. If I can remember this and keep my cool through the really frustrating parts, every conflict is an opportunity to shine.
In Psalms 46, “still” does not mean to just be quiet, but rather it means to stop frantic activity, to let down, and to be quiet within. Stop the fighting in your heart and be still! When I came to know the Lord as my Savior, God said to me, “Obey Me, and I will take care of you!” He wanted me to be still, stop fighting, and let Him be my defender and provider. If I can remember that, then it’s easier to see the root of the problem and pursue peace. Conflicts in life are our opportunity for God’s blessing provisions. This is when the expression, “Bad PR is Good PR” comes to mind the most for me. While the situations didn’t feel good initially, at those moments all eyes were on me and how I reacted could set me apart from the others. As a result of this view, doors have opened and higher levels of respect earned.
Know that I am God
The word Know in this verse means “acknowledge.” If we know who God is:
- omnipotent (Ex 3:13-15; Jer 32:17-32, Job 42:1-6; Psalm 115:1-8; Dan 4:34; Luke 1:34,18; Mark 14:36)
- omniscient (Is 46:9-11, 55:8-9; Job 28:12-28; 1 Cor 2:6-16; Matt 26:21; John 6-7)
- omnipresent (Is 9:6-7, 26:1-9; Jer 10:10-16; Psalm 90:1-6, 93, 102; 2 Pet 3:1-10; Rev 1:4-6)
- omnibenevolent (1 Chr 16:34; Pslam 106:1; Luke 18:18-19)
- eternal (Job 36:26; Psalm 102:12; Hab 1:12; Heb 13:8; Rev 22:13)
- creator (Gen 1:1; Neh 9:6; Psalm 96:5; Rev 4:11)
- perfect (Matt 5:48; Deut 32:4; Pslam 18:30; Rom 12:2)
- will not act in contradiction to His character/does not change (Mal 3:6; Heb 13:7-9; Psalm 119:89)
- cannot do evil (Psalm 25:9; 1 Tim 2:11-13)
- He loves you! (John 3:16, 13:34-35; Rom 5:9, 8:37-39; Pslam 86:15, Gal 2:20; Prov 8:17)
… and we believe it, it is safe to surrender. Psalms 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Simple surrender is the definition of salvation. While mature trust and confidence in Him is grown over time, knowing His character is the first step of that initial trust. I think that’s why Satan works so hard to destroy parent and child relationships, husband and wife relationships, citizen and law/legal system relationships. If we learn it’s safer to distrust, that can easily translate over to how we view our Heavenly Father.
Remember that job experience I started off talking about? As soon as I got home I started looking for another job, got on unemployment and had just enough time to get my resume circulating when my dad had emergency heart surgery and my mom had sinus surgery. Neither were capable of taking care of the kids. I would not have been able to work during that time, but this way unemployment covered the bills and for about two months I was the stay-at-home mom I needed to be. God knew what I needed and He did it in such a way that we were perfectly taken care of.
Furthermore, as soon as my parents were well, I found an amazing job that I loved even more than the one before. The people at that job fed in to me and built me up. I finally had time to slow down and just be a mom, I got a social life, and a gym membership. It was there that I received my ministry and my purpose, I decided to go to seminary and I met my husband. As it turned out, my curse was one of the best blessings ever! Heb 11:6 says, “Anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” I believe wholeheartedly that when I face something hard, or hurtful, that it’s an opportunity to shine, for God to work through me and show off what He can do!
By Vanessa Jackson, MABC, LPC-Intern
Lake Travis Counseling Connection
Supervised by Jan Shope, LPC-S