Tag Archives: questioning God

Don’t Give Up

Never give up; fight the good fight
For God is by your side
It may seem like the darkest night
But dawn will surely rise
Even when God seems afar
Know He’s really near
And stand up tall and pass the test
And trust without a fear.

Seek God for His perfect plan
Let Him lead your way
For though it’s dark; He’s there with you
To comfort and to say
Fear not my child, I’m with you
I have a greater plan
And you will see as you seek me
I am the Great I AM!

Remember Joseph’s brothers
They sold him as a slave
He then was thrown in prison
For being good and brave
But in the trials he prevailed
In spite of circumstance
He kept on moving, full of hope
He waited on God’s plan
In good time God took the evil
That his brother’s planned
And used each awful circumstance to
Prepare him for God’s plan.

So in the darkest hour
You really aren’t alone
And though it seems God’s absent
Praise Him in this storm
Wait upon the Father
To use it all for good
And you’ll shine in the darkness
Of this lost and broken world
Our Savior, God eternal
The King over all men
Our Great Light in the darkness
Beginning and the End
The lover of our poor, lost souls
The One who gave us breath
O wait on Him, with trusting hearts
For He is in control.

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

The Hidden Path

 

I cannot see the future Lord… but clearly I see You.
Right now all outcomes seem unsure; I don’t know what to do.
What if things go terribly wrong and my hopes fall apart;
You’ve never failed me yet O God, so I won’t be alarmed.

My God who reaches down to save when in the waves I sink;
The One who loves me all the time, even when I’m weak.
My hope when fear is all I feel; My eyes when I can’t see.
This God of mercy, truth, and grace, is faithful unlike me.

I want to know what lies ahead; but God wants me to rest,
His spirit washes over me and brings peace in this test,
Even though the path is steep and hidden in the storm;
My Redeemer will not fail; these mountains I will charge!

O Sovereign God so full of grace; Please take my hand today,
Lead me, guide me safely home; walk me though this maze.
I lean on You my Savior King; the one who knows my name,
The one who knows my hidden dreams; Your praise I will proclaim!

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

Are You There God?

i-ask-god-the-question-why

Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

 

Are you there God, listening to my prayer?

Can you see my breaking heart?

Do you care God, that my strength is gone?

My body and mind are numb.

 

Are you there God, listening to my prayer?

Can you see my parents, ravaged with dementia?

Drooling and muttering, not knowing my name.

I no longer exist to them.

 

Are you there God, listening to my prayer?

Can you see my friend lost in mental illness?

Homeless, clueless, mad at the world

Unable to make decisions for his own best interest.

 

Are you there God, listening to my prayer?

Diligently I work, giving my all

While others refuse to contribute

Then take credit for the results as their own.

 

Are you there God, listening to my prayer?

My loved one is addicted and lives in denial

It’s always someone else’s fault

They’ve mastered the art of victimhood.

 

Are you there God, Listening to my prayer?

The world is crazy, out of control.

Good is called evil and evil good.

Those who speak truth are shunned.

Those who speak lies are called leaders.

 

I cry out to God, my heart is breaking.

God, do you hear my prayer?

Are you aware of my loved ones pain?

Please show me that you are there.

 

God answers in His word

Yes, I am here

I am near the brokenhearted and save the crushed in spirit.

I will wipe away every tear from your eye.

 

I am your fortress and high tower

I will wrap my wings for protection around you

My power is made perfect in weakness

I will never leave you nor forsake you

 

I will renew your strength.

You will soar on wings like eagles;

You will run and not grow weary,

You will walk and not be faint.

 

God is our refuge and strength,

An ever-present help in trouble.

Even in darkness my light shines.

Yes, I am with you.

 

Debora Shelford Hobbs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fear Not; He is With You!

Image result for God walking with us in a storm

The going was good, as they crossed Galilee
But as Jesus slept a squall come on the lee
The boat heaved and shook and was taking on water
The men cried in fear and thought they would falter
They wondered why Jesus didn’t care if they drowned
How could He just sleep while a storm raged around?

They finally woke Jesus and said “don’t you care
We’re going to drown in this storm: death is near”
He rose from His bed and said “Where is your faith”
And spoke to the storm and rebuked all the waves
The storm calmed that instant, His men stood amazed
They wondered and pondered His power that day.

That old fishing boat, would never have perished
And though things looked dark, the Lord God was present
But human anxiety, fear, and despair
Blinded their eyes to their Lord who was there
He calmed their storm, to grow them in faith
And to help them fear not, in storms and in waves.

When trouble rages all around and darkness hides your way
It may seem like the Lords asleep, but know that He’s awake
He knew your storm would happen, He knew the wind would rage
He knows just how He’ll bring you through, so rest, believe, and pray
Show Him that you trust Him, you are his chosen child
And praise His name, the King of Kings, He’s our Emmanuel.

Emmanuel: God with us
Matthew 8:24-32

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

God’s Great Symphony

Image result for pictures of a symphony
The flow of God’s timing released in our lives
Requires our trust and to stop taking charge
It puts faith front and center and God on His throne
And trusting God’s timing for He alone knows.

You’ve been praying and praying for that unsaved soul
You’ve been asking the Lord to set free all your goals
Rest and wait; He’s at work, in ways we can’t see
Its God’s perfect rhythm and timing we need.

If what we think is best, is not moving forward
If our hopes and our dreams are lost deep in the forest
Don’t give up, don’t despair, and don’t take control
Let the unforced rhythm, of God’s script, soothe your soul.

As long as we’re breathing, there’s a chance to touch lives
With each human contact we’re God’s hands and His light
Even if our lives seem insignificant and small
We’re notes in God’s rhythm and play a great part.

Each life in this world is wanted by God
The great and the small are equally flawed
He has ordained what each man’s roll will be
It’s the unforced rhythm, of God’s great symphony.

Rest where you are, move forward in faith
Submitting all outcomes; He knows the right pace
He hears all our prayers; holds our tears in His hand
As we wait on His timing He’ll help us to stand.

God’s timing is music, it’s a heavenly chorus
As we wait on our Lord, it is beauty before Him
We praise You O God, the true Great I AM
For only You know the beginning from end.

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

Remembering God’s Greatness

God is real

Over the last year or so, an uncomfortable and difficult question had been circling in Toby’s mind “Was God who they say He is?” This question inevitably led to another question; “did Toby still believe in God?” With life pressing in from all corners and disappointment in fellow Christians growing, Toby needed time to think so he drove to the beach and parked his car in the deserted parking lot. Lost in thought he stared out the rain streaked windshield.

As a child in Sunday school he’d learned about God’s greatness, His creative power; omnipresence. God was the one and only, all-powerful and loving creator. As an adult he had faithfully attended church with his wife and children, but over the years his belief in God had been chipped away by disappointment in humans, in the church, and with the evil they created.

“Who was God really”, he asked himself. If God was real, why did He love mankind? Why would he let imperfect man represent him? Why would he let imperfect man use His name as a surname, Christian, when every one of them was sinful? Toby thought that if he was God, he’d leave humans to destroy themselves with their greed, jealousy, prejudice, abuse and start over with an improved race. More difficult questions came to Toby.  “If God was real why didn’t he strike dead the rapist, pedophile, vicious dictator, and murderer? If He was real why didn’t he punish the religiously abusive minister, teacher, parent?”  Toby’s life was filled with Christians who claimed to be God honoring but lived in contradiction to that claim.

Toby’s mind was so muddled with confusion that it hurt. “God, who are you?” he said in frustration. “Are you really present in this world, seeing all the evil that happens daily?” Toby watched the white caps in silence; his mind seemingly blank for a moment or two.

In the quiet of his mind a Bible verse he learned in Sunday school come back to him. Galatians 6:7-8 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Toby thought about this verse for a few moments; maybe those claiming to honor God but deliberately abusing others do suffer judgment. Judgment accompanied by the natural consequences of their decisions. Toby found comfort in this knowledge. He remembered another verse, Proverbs 16:2, All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord. Toby thought about all the times he’d justified his own bad behavior then considered the many times the motivation of his heart had been unjustly judged by others. God knew the truth in all these situations, this fact was oddly comforting to Toby.

“God, why not stop the abuser before they have the chance to hurt someone?” Toby asked. But he knew the answer; Free Will. What a mystery Free Will was because it allows for sin, but hopes for obedience. Free Will, each person not only has the right to choose to believe in God or not, but actually must decide which way they believe at some point in their lives. Because of Free Will, each day a person decides how to think and behave. God wants our love but gives every person the freedom to choose to not love and believe in him; amazing. Toby’s spirit still felt heavy, he was so disappointed in mankind. Then another Bible verse came to him. 1 Samuel 16:7, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” God looks at the heart and Toby looked mostly at the actions. Can a heart with good intentions hurt others? Toby knew the answer; Yes.

Toby started thinking about the nature of God. While thinking about God he realized that over the last few years he’d spent too much emotional energy and time thinking about how other humans had disappointed him, hurt him, and hurt others. He had focused on sinful man and not on the Holiness of God; this thinking had depressed him and caused him to lose hope. Numbers 23:19 said, God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? What a comfort it was for Toby to meditate on the holiness of God and not the sinfulness of man. “I Choose to believe in you God, please help me understand these things that trouble my soul.”

One more verse came to Toby, Zephaniah 3:17 The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with his love, He will rejoice over you with singing,” “God please quiet my troubled mind with your love; please be with me Lord.” Toby prayed, “Please help me stay focused on you and not on mankind for you are The Holy God and we are imperfect humans in need of your love.”

Debora Shelford Hobbs

Are You There God?

 

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Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

 

Are you there God, listening to my prayer?

Can you see my breaking heart?

Do you care God, that my strength is gone?

My body and mind are numb.

 

Are you there God, listening to my prayer?

Can you see my parents, ravaged with dementia?

Drooling and muttering, not knowing my name.

I no longer exist to them.

 

Are you there God, listening to my prayer?

Can you see my friend lost in mental illness?

Homeless, clueless, mad at the world

Unable to make decisions for his own best interest.

 

Are you there God, listening to my prayer?

Diligently I work, giving my all

While others refuse to contribute

Then take credit for the results as their own.

 

Are you there God, listening to my prayer?

My loved one is addicted and lives in denial

It’s always someone else’s fault

They’ve mastered the art of victimhood.

 

Are you there God, Listening to my prayer?

The world is crazy, out of control.

Good is called evil and evil good.

Those who speak truth are shunned.

Those who speak lies are called leaders.

 

I cry out to God, my heart is breaking.

God, do you hear my prayer?

Are you aware of my loved ones pain?

Please show me that you are there.

 

God answers in His word

Yes, I am here

I am near the brokenhearted and save the crushed in spirit.

I will wipe away every tear from your eye.

 

I am your fortress and high tower

I will wrap my wings for protection around you

My power is made perfect in weakness

I will never leave you nor forsake you

 

I will renew your strength.

You will soar on wings like eagles;

You will run and not grow weary,

You will walk and not be faint.

 

God is our refuge and strength,

An ever-present help in trouble.

Even in darkness my light shines.

Yes, I am with you.  I am Here.

 

Debora Shelford Hobbs

Quiet Before the Lord

           Quiet beford the lord

Over the last six months my emotional strength has been withered down to a nub. During this time most of my significant relationships have been challenged in ways I could have never imagined and I’m tired.  Blindsided would best describe the way I’m feeling right now or maybe like a deer caught in the headlights; one of my husband’s favorite analogies. If someone had asked me to list the ten most likely things to happen in the next six month my list wouldn’t have included any of the current situations.

Just a few days ago I was talking with my sister and she gave me some really good advice, she said; “be quiet before the Lord, you don’t have to carry the burden or be strong all on your own.” Her statement made me question why it’s so hard for me to be quiet before the Lord; it’s such a simple thing to do, right?

She said, be quiet before the Lord … mmm. Attempting to follow her suggestion I sat down to pray and within a few minutes the phone rang. After the call ended I return to praying; then out of the corner of my eye I notice a dust bunny and it starts to nag at me. I get up, quickly take care of the offending object. Quiet before the Lord. I will my mind to be still and then I remember I had forgotten to feed the dogs and I rush into the garage to feed the poor dears.

Quiet before the Lord.

Why is it so hard to be quiet before the Lord? I’ve been searching my heart and mind to answer this question and I believe the reason is I’m in a state of questioning God. I’m questioning why bad things happen to the innocent and whether God actually answers my prayers. I’m wondering if He has abandoned my family and these questions are keeping me from entering into a state of calm or quiet before the Lord.

Quiet before the Lord.

Realizing that to be quiet before the Lord I needed to be honest with myself and God, I told Him I was questioning some difficult issues, but quickly asked him to listen to my prayer even though I was in a terrible state. My spirit calmed when I admitted my struggles to Him. God seemed to be saying “its ok daughter, I understand your questions, life is tough, but I’m God and not hurt by your questions. Tell me your troubles and I will listen. Tell me your struggles and I will comfort you. Tell me about your pain and I will heal you.”

So I told God my troubles. I shared with Him in excruciating detail my troubles and questions. I said, “I’m questioning if you’re there listening to me. I’m wondering why bad things happen to little children. And why good people have terrible things happen to them. And why good families fall apart, or nice kids become drug addicts.”

Continuing, I added, “I find the concept that You created humans deliberately with all of our emotional weaknesses and quirkiness hard to fathom. However, if You created us, You must understand our weaknesses and appreciates our quirkiness.” During this honest prayer I remembered that He gave us the Bible loaded with answers if we take the time to read and contemplate it. And for the hard questions the Bible is silent on, faith and prayer are required. The Bible says if we diligently seek Him we will find Him. Am I diligently seeking Him or am I too consumed with my pain and questions to seek?

After laying all these issues before God I became quiet before the Lord. It wasn’t even hard. My mind slowed down and my thoughts focused on God. I was quiet before the Lord, freed by an honest prayer and sincere seeking. He didn’t send lightning bolts to strike me or give me a heart attack. He eased my pain, answered my questions, and hug me with deep spiritual peace.

Quiet before the Lord.

Yes, I can do that if first I’m willing to approach God with an honest heart that’s seeking truth.

May you rest quiet before the Lord.

 

Debora Shelford Hobbs

 

 

Questioning God About Dementia and Alzheimer’s

Helping Grandmother Walk

A few days ago I took my mother in-law to an appointment with her doctor and found the trip to be more disheartening than I expected. Sporadically, as we drove her fragile and confused voice would break the silence in my car by asking, “Is it morning or night?” I answered, “It’s four in the afternoon, Barb.” During our twenty-minute drive she asked me this same question many times.   Trying to distract her I commented on what a beautiful summer afternoon it was.  She agreed it was beautiful, but wanted to know if we were going home. “No, we’re going to the doctor” I answer, again. “Ok” she says as if hearing this for the first time. My heart breaks.

Glancing over at her I observe a small and fragile figure that is as brittle as her voice. She is just a fragment of the robust women I once knew.  The years have been unkind leaving her shrunken and hunched, a miniature of her old self. She is so small you can barely see her white head over the dashboard. Her skin is parchment paper-thin and covered with bruises from falling or running into walls with her walker. When reminded that she needs to ask for assistance she replies, “I’m so disgusted at myself for falling.” I employ our standard reply, “You need to wait for the helpers to come get you out of bed, or help you to the bathroom.” To this logic she says, “I’m so disgusted with myself.” And the circular conversation continues but we can’t step off because, “what if she remembers, just once.” The merry-go-round keeps spinning and we’re holding on to the rail for all we’re worth.

I know the above snippet of a story is common to my generation. Many of us are dealing with the joys and pains of assisting elderly parents. It’s painful to see their once creative and sharp minds unable to recognize if it’s morning or night. And the sorrow increases when they say things like “my brain in all jumbled up.” They know something is wrong; they know they’re missing a beat. Watching my in-laws progress from being self-sufficient and elderly to having seriously diminished capacity has me questioning God and His designing of the aging process. Why did He design humanity so that at the end of life, no matter how you’ve lived, your last years may be spent digressing from who you were to a shrunken familiar shell housing a fragment of that person.

I wonder if the soul of those suffering with Dementia or Alzheimer’s remains unaltered by these cruel diseases. Is their soul still able to commune with God even though their mind is stuck on memories from a life long ago? Is their soul at peace even though they fearfully ask the same questions over and over again; trying desperately to make sense out of the fog and confusion that now rules their brains?  Or is their soul also in a state of confusion? I find myself frequently wondering, “God, what is the purpose of all this regression and loss?”  I’ve asked God where in the progression of Dementia or Alzheimer’s can His love, kindness, and mercy be found.

Looking for answers I’ve google-searched and found some interesting ideas on the topic. Pastor Bruce Epperly wrote “still God has power in every situation.  God’s intimate love sustains caregivers and loving friends for the long companionship with persons with Alzheimer’s.  God’s inspiration awakens communities of care and invites us to see the divine in ourselves and others even when it is disguised by forgetfulness and incapacity.”  And Billy Graham wrote, “The real issue, you see, isn’t why bad things happen, but how we should react to them. Will we react in anger and bitterness or will we respond in faith and trust? Anger is a dead-end road–it only hurts us and those around us, and doesn’t solve anything. But faith gives us hope–hope for the present and hope for the future.”

It is the writings of these great men that I’m holding on to because they help keep my focus on what is truly helpful for my loved ones.  I can give them grace filled care while guarding my own spirit against bitterness.  I can remain hopeful that God will not leave them even though their minds have left us.

It’s true,  my questions haven’t been answered; they may not be answered until I’m in heaven. However, I’m willing to set them aside so I can use my energy on blessing my loved ones who are suffering.

Debora Shelford Hobbs

Matthew 28:20 Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Romans 8: 39 Not even the highest places or the lowest, or anything else in all creation can do that. Nothing at all can ever separate us from God’s love because of what Christ Jesus our Lord has done.

Isaiah 46:4 Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.