Small selection from my book Sebby – Son of Hope due to be published April 2017
Sin entered the world at the time of Adam and Eve – the time of the Fall. Through suffering we become strong, we gain experience and we learn to cope with what fell into our world. In time, it allows us to help others walking the path that we have already trodden ourselves.
Why does God allow us to suffer?
God did not leave us here to suffer pointlessly. He has a perfect plan to use that suffering to accomplish His purposes. He uses pain and suffering to draw us to Himself so that we will cling to him. Jesus said, ‘In the world you shall have tribulation.’ John 16.33
Suffering, tribulation and challenges are a part of life. It is part of what it means to be human in a fallen world. But because we have God in our lives, Christ is our anchor that holds fast in all our storms. However, if we do not sail into the centre of the storm, how will we know our God is a gracious God? A God of compassion? A God who bears the brunt of our suffering? How do we know that unless we face our trials head-on with zeal and joy? It is only in times of our deepest distress and sorrow that we reach out to Him, when all else has failed. It takes a crisis for us to turn to Him for help. What do we find? God is constant. God never changes from the East to the West. When we reach out to God, He is waiting for us, waiting to comfort us and to uphold us through it all. In this way, He proves His faithfulness to us and ensures we will remain close to him.
The question you have to ask yourself is, will you sail into the eye of the storm or will you skirt around it, when ultimately you can experience true healing from our Lord and Saviour? When my son died, I decided that rather than facing this journey on my own, I would cling onto the only anchor that I had – Christ Jesus. I decided to find the courage to face what was to be one of the most difficult times in my life. But I came through it because I had God by my side every step of the way.
2 Timothy 2.15
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
How to Have Quiet Time
Less than 20% of church goers read the Bible daily (http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2012/september/new-research-less-than-20-of-churchgoers-read-Bible-daily.html).
Before Sebastian-David died, I read the Bible perhaps two or three times per week. Afterwards, I started reading the Bible daily, particularly when I started the second year of my grief journey. I also started doing Bible studies to deal with the negative emotions inside me. I made it a priority in my life. I noticed a clear difference – if I didn’t read the Bible or have my quiet time with God, then the day would go pear-shaped. If I did read the Bible and spend a large chunk of my time walking to work in prayer, I found the day would go better, and I wouldn’t have this fear lurking underneath my skin, simply because I knew Jesus was with me.
I downloaded The NIV 365-Day Devotional Reading Plan. Truthfully, in the beginning I found it a burden to read it daily. But as the days progressed and turned into a month, I found myself seeking to read the Bible more and more and deviating from the plan. I was hungry for God’s word and noticed a significant spiritual growth. With this growth came healing. God was speaking to my broken heart, and slowly binding up my wounds. What a miracle!
The One Year Bible is also an excellent tool, as it solves the problem of what to read each day. For every day of the year there are four readings: Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs. With this Bible you can start any day of the year, and if you have limited time you can choose to read either the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms or Proverbs reading, or choose two. This is brilliant, inspirational, practical, helpful, spiritual, and achievable.
In a notebook, I would like to challenge you to write one Bible verse that speaks to you every day. I mean every day. You will notice that God will speak to you every day if you ask him. The key to hearing God’s voice is being open to hear His spoken word. Do you want to hear God’s voice? Then let Him speak to your heart. Don’t avoid it.
After my son died, I praised and worshiped God a lot. I sang in my toad-like voice and worshipped Him as the tears fell flatly onto the table. You have to have a willingness to learn and a willingness to put away the daily clutter, so get rid of certain habits like binge-watching the latest Netflix series. Admittedly, it is hard to listen to God when there is a beating drum or a raging war within us.
Satan thought that if he took Sebastian-David away from me, my faith would go away. But that is the one thing that remained strong. Undeniably I did have moments when my faith wavered, but because I would spend my first year mainly in solitude and reading the Bible here and there, it stood firm, and God was my anchor. He stayed with me in my darkest moments, and carried me when I couldn’t go on anymore. I now crave this silent time with God.
I cannot stress enough how this simple action can save your life, grow your faith and bless us beyond measure. The God of the universe can speak to a broken wretch like me every day, and encourage and build me up every single day of my life. How amazing! I didn’t think I deserved to be loved by God.
Why would I not have daily quiet time with God? A lot of the time we are just plain lazy. It is a battle between our flesh and our soul. Beware the enemy of your soul lurking behind the walls, trying to lure you from the righteous path. Remember this one simple thing: a daily shot of God’s word is a good antidote for our dominant sinful nature, better than caffeine.
A lot of people take the encouragement freely on offer from God, and prefer to revert to the sins of the flesh, which satisfy us briefly, but ultimately destroys us. I started suffering more from anxiety and panic attacks after my son died. In the beginning I couldn’t cope with the anxiety and panic attacks, but after I started to write encouraging Bible verses daily in my little yellow book, I found that it was God’s purified wisdom that helped me face the pain of panic attacks and the excruciating anxiety. Reading it daily It helped ease the storm within me and cling to the word of God. For me, it is a life-saver, and helps turn a pear-shaped day into a wondrous day. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to write encouraging Bible verses daily, which will be your weapon against the battles and challenges you will certainly face every day.
Prayer and Worship
You can choose to either read the Bible verse during your quiet time with God or have a prayer and worship session with Him. I am not going to tell you how you should do it. Usually you can follow a simple prayer outline called ACTS:
I worship you Lord and bless Your holy name.
Lord, convict me right now of any sin, any wrong attitude, any lack of trust in you.
I thank you Lord for who you are and all the ways you have blessed me, helped me, encouraged me.
Lord, I bring to you the specific needs I have today and I thank you in advance for your provision.
Taken from Brokenheart by Jules Riding
Evidently, my relationship with God isn’t about a simple formula I can follow. But sometimes it is helpful to remind ourselves that we should foremost worship and praise God, and bless his Holy name. Then we should go to Him and ask for forgiveness for our sins. Remember, this is just between you and God, and no-one else. No-one has a right to condemn you or judge you. It is about giving our thanks to God for providing for our needs, and for blessing us and encouraging us through each day. Then we can express our needs to God. I often end the prayer again with adoration for Him. You don’t have to follow this simple formula.
If you feel you can’t pray aloud, another simple tool I found was to write down my prayers with the date, put it in a box, and then on the day they were answered, put the date on that piece of paper and put it in a different box of answered prayers. God hears your prayers. All you need to do is open up to Him, and He will be there for you.
Bible study vs Bible reading
Reading a portion of the Bible is not always cutting it. You may be reading His word but not absorbing anything. It just drains out of you like water from the bathtub. In the middle of my second year, when I was beginning to accept my new life without my son, I found reading the Bible wasn’t enough for me. I needed more to overthrow all the negative emotions. I would spend large chunks of time reading Bible studies to help me gain godly wisdom on how to deal with the negativity ruling my soul. Through these Bible studies I would learn new coping mechanisms to overcome the turbulent emotions wreaking havoc inside me on a daily basis.
I never sat in front of a cross physically, but I spent large chunks of my time in solitude, alone with God and talking to Him, seeking His presence, pouring out my heart to Him, and reading Bible studies to defeat the enemy of the soul.
Do you want to hear God’s voice? Do you want to experience profound healing? Then please, I beg of you to spend some quiet time with God and read Bible studies to help you conquer the negative emotions that fill your mind and soul. Once this becomes a habit you will experience sincere changes, and begin to know peace and joy once more, and able to see the purpose of God’s will in your life. You will know when God is speaking to you and when the enemy of your soul is speaking to you. Replace your misconceptions with truths by reading daily wisdom from God.
Useful Bible Verses
Below are some of the Bible verses that have helped me over the two years since Sebby died. They still encourage me daily and overwhelm me with the sense of knowing that God loves me. God loves me. God loves you. God wants to have our hearts. Let Him in. Allow Him to speak to you.