From Victim to Victorious

From victim to victorious

Everyone has been wounded at one time or another. In the most serious cases, these experiences affect every aspect of our lives – especially personal relationships. Some may end up suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) requiring years or even a lifetime of treatment. How do you cope with your deepest wounds? Should you take medication? Let’s find out more.

Take meds or not?

Today’s mental health sciences have come a long way in the treatment of PTSD, depression, and anxiety. Perhaps the greatest advances have been in the removal of the stigma surrounding these problems. These are true medical issues, and no one should ever feel ashamed about them. Instead it’s important to get help. In some cases, physiological counseling and medications are a necessary part of recovery.

One mistake people make, however, is believing that pills contain some kind of magic power. If you need medication, take it as prescribed, but be realistic about the limitations of science. Never forget that the deepest healing comes from God’s love and mercy. This is where you should place your trust.

Don’t make them weapons

It’s very common for us to weaponize our wounds. We lash out and hurt others and ourselves. Seek to recognize when this happens, and ask God to free you from this behavior. When you stop causing new pain due to past wounds, you can then start the healing process.

One common way we hurt ourselves and others is by shutting out the world. This happens since you’re afraid to get hurt again. Nobody wants to feel pain, that’s for sure. But instead of closing in, let your wounds be the doorway where God enters your heart. This can be scary and complicated, so it might help to have a spiritual guide accompany you.

This process doesn’t mean you shouldn’t protect yourself, but your heart doesn’t have to be imprisoned either. Instead, God will give you a strong heart that can feel, give, and love again.

From victim to victorious

Those who have been wounded deeply are truly victims. You didn’t ask for suffering. Still, sometimes we fall into the trap of labeling ourselves as a victim above everything else. This is exactly how Satan wants you to think – that you are helpless and hopeless. Don’t believe this lie.

Look to Jesus to transform you from victim to victorious. How? Regain your dignity through the healing mercy of God. Your victory rests in saying:

“Yes. I was hurt. I was wounded seriously. But that was not the final chapter in my life. God lifted me up again. He healed me, gave me strength, and now I move forward. God gave me meaning because I know for sure he loves me. He showed me this by forgiving me and giving me his Son. Jesus knows how much I suffered, since he suffered too. But Christ rose up again, and I did too.

I am God’s child. Nothing and nobody can ever, ever take that away from me.”

God’s Economy

The victory doesn’t stop there. You see, in God’s economy, nothing is wasted. The wounded and broken become transformed into agents of healing and grace. Many times, only a person who has suffered can help others who suffer from the same wounds.

As you are healed, you become the hands, voice, and heart of Christ that heals others. Your life transforms into a celebration where angels sing praises about how the love of God gave you your life back again.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

This post is dedicated to my friend Jan and her brother Daniel. God bless you! – Vince

A prayer for the broken
A prayer for when you feel you can’t go on

Image source (modified).

Is there meaning in my suffering?

Is there meaning in my suffering

Even in suffering there is a promise.

If there’s anything universal among humans, it’s suffering. Everybody at some time experiences loss, pain or disappointment. But can anyone really understand your story? Can anyone truly fathom the depths of your pain?

You Are Not Alone

Have you ever said to yourself, “I just want a normal life”? What we’re really saying here is that we want a life without problems or only problems that we can manage. Everybody goes through serious trials at some point. There may be times of relative peace, but eventually hard times appear. If you could trade your life for someone else’s, you would just get another set of problems.

Is God Unfair?

Many people get mad at God due to suffering. Their hurt makes them accuse God for allowing pain and illness to exist. How can he stand by when innocent children die of cancer? How can he permit loved ones to be lost due to carelessness or cruelty?

The Good Side Of Suffering

At the same time, we accept and understand the positive aspects of suffering. Studying to get a degree or working hard to feed a family all require sacrifice. If a person labors all day in the hot sun, they suffer. We know there’s virtue and goodness in their work.

Pick And Choose

In the end, we want to determine the type, timing and severity of our struggle. Taking this idea to its end, we want total control of our lives. Since pain often comes from others, we want to control them too. This desire to control has driven some to commit great atrocities.

If we open our eyes though, we see a vast universe. We realize we’re just a tiny speck in God’s great creation. Would you stop building a house because an ant complains? But sometimes we expect the same authority over how the universe should work.

We have complete freedom to make choices, and much harm comes from bad choices we’ve made. We want the freedom, but we don’t want to pay the price for mistakes. So facing God, we tell him we want him to make our lives perfect.

A Deeper Meaning

If we allow ourselves to look deeper into suffering, we can understand the purpose it serves. For instance, how we suffer helps establish our identity. We feel sad over a person who’s ill or passed away since we’re connected to them. Our reactions reveal something about ourselves which gives us a chance to improve.

We shouldn’t fall into the trap of letting suffering define us, but it plays a central role in our life history. Why do stories about those who overcome great odds inspire us? Because they give us something essential to face tribulations: hope.

Make A Choice

When you suffer, you’re presented with a choice. The world offers us many empty promises. So we run to drugs, pills, alcohol or other things that don’t let us fully process our pain. If we give hope a chance though, it gives birth to something even more profound: faith.

This doesn’t mean that things will turn out exactly how you want. It doesn’t even mean that your suffering will end. But if you choose to seek God despite it all, your faith will dig down deep. And the tree with deep, strong roots stands tall and produces abundant fruit.

Remember, the roots of faith grow beneath the surface in that hidden secret place where you’re alone with God. Only he fully sees and understands how much you suffer. And he revealed this perfectly in his son.

The Way

In his great wisdom, God didn’t create a universe without suffering. Instead he choose to suffer with us. Why? Because the depth of our pain reveals the depth of our love. God gave up his innocent son for all the badness in the world. It’s the fullness of God’s love revealed.

Instead of making the world perfect and sterile, with no feeling, he showed us his miraculous glory. We find meaning in suffering and can even transform sorrow into blessings.

In the most painful circumstances, only those who have faced the same pain can truly help others. A parent that has lost a child might be the only consoling voice for another parent facing the same hurt.

Peace Be With You

Walking the path of suffering with faith creates great peace within you. Jesus gives you his peace that pours out from his wounds. His peace gives you faith like steel and removes all fear. Your roots sink deep, and you won’t be moved, not even by the strongest wind.

This is the same faith that Jesus took to the cross with him. It’s the power of salvation. It’s the Spirit that created the universe. We touch this great power when we access the great love of God.

The Darkest Night

In some cases the pain is unbearable. Situations of abuse, poverty or chronic illness bring you to a point where life might seem meaningless. But if you press forward and look for God, his great promise and love are revealed in a way that makes sense of it all.

Very few have to walk these darkest nights. God provides these special souls an incredible grace and sense of mercy that are the very essence of holiness. These persons often suffer in silence. But God hears them, and they are the chosen few who truly understand what it means when we speak of Christ’s humility. They come to fully know that their identity as a child of God is indestructible.

Trust

When you suffer greatly, you reach your limit. Things are beyond your control. It’s here where God’s Spirit has room to work. It’s here where your character becomes transformed into something more holy, more giving and pure. It’s never easy, but if you trust in God, his glory is certain to shine in your life.

Want to help keep this site online?   Learn about our Patron program and its benefits.

The Blessing Of Truth

The blessing of truth

Follow the path to truth in your life.

“WHAT IS TRUTH?” Pontius Pilate asked when interrogating Jesus before his crucifixion. Truth means, in many ways, being only one person. You are the same in front of all humans as you are in front of God. No more masks, no more acting. You are free to be yourself. How important is this to you?

For many, this idea is actually terrifying. Many of us have lived or live secret lives. Some go to any length to prevent the truth from coming out. But guess what? The truth is already out. Someone, somewhere already knows your truth. It might be only on an intuitive level, but it cannot be hidden. We like to think we’re in control, but it’s all just a fantasy.

Truth Builds Character

Once we begin to let God’s light shine upon us, we see that the phantoms are only in our minds. Then we are given the opportunity to develop something vital to our lives: a strong character.

Here’s a personal example. When I was a young father, it was easy to have authority over my children. When they’re little, you’re a hero and a king to them. But as adolescence appears, your kids begin to see you as a human being. They begin to scrutinize, criticize and compare. This process is incredibly humiliating. My initial reaction to many of these challenges was denial. And when denial didn’t work, I sometimes exploded with anger.

The reason for this is that when I attempted to exercise my authority at home, I had no character. I had no idea what it meant to be a responsible father. I thought I knew, and perhaps I did know a lot with my head. But in my heart there was a confused and frightened little boy trying to raise boys into men. I didn’t want to see the truth.

Sources of Truth

During that time my dedication to seeking God consisted of:

  • Prayer
  • Studying the Bible
  • Being a church member
  • Consulting with a spiritual guide

All of these things brought truth into my life. Initially I had a lot of seriously flawed notions about fatherhood. If it wasn’t for God’s light shining upon my life, that scared little boy would have withdrawn or lashed out even more violently. Instead, God began to form my character. I learned what it meant to be a king, priest and prophet in my home. I learned what it means to be a leader who serves. Jesus showed me how important it is to be a lion and a lamb at the same time, and that many times my instincts were wrong.

It was a difficult and lengthy process, but today the Lord reaps the fruits of his labor. No, I’m not a perfect parent, and the process continues to this very hour. But I do have direction and much more clarity than when I started. This is how God’s truth forms your character. Why does this happen? Because Jesus teaches you how to resist temptation.

And the measure of your character is how you respond to temptation.

Truth Means Discernment 

Temptation always appears to be something we desire or that appears good. When we fully understand this, we can deflect temptation. In the Book of Matthew, chapter 4, Jesus is tempted by Satan. Before Jesus began his public ministry, he went to the desert to fast. After 40 days he was quite hungry. So the devil temped Jesus with something he would like – food. Then he tempted him with power and influence. Couldn’t all these things be used for good? Of course, but it wasn’t God’s way. Recognizing this truth allowed Jesus to resist temptation.

When raising my children, I’m constantly tempted to set limits when I should be flexible, and to give in when I should be firm. My flesh wants the easy way out, and it always appears to me as something reasonable or desirable. In the end it only brings despair upon me. Here’s where the blessing of truth appears.

Truth in Weakness

When we come to grips with our weakness then we can see where temptation will most likely catch us off guard. In God’s economy, that which is weak is made strong. When we see and admit the truth of our weakness, then we can ask God to help us where we really need it. We ask him to take control. This could mean that we have to step aside, or it might mean that we have to stand up and fight.

The concept of truth goes even deeper than just developing a strong character. Truth allows us to construct our lives upon something solid and eternal. In Matthew 7, Jesus said, “[E]veryone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”

The Greatest Truth Of All

We all will face trials in our lives. When things seem to be at their worst, we need a bedrock of truth to rest upon. Jesus also said that “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in Spirit and in truth“ (John 4:24). And here, we arrive at the cornerstone of our faith:

For the Christian, the greatest truth is Christ resurrected.

The rising of Jesus from the dead is the central event that causes the most commotion around our faith. But it’s also our greatest strength.

Truth Transforms You

Any great person can inspire you, but only one can transform you. This is because Jesus is God’s son, and he was raised from the dead by God’s Spirit. This gives us victory over sin and death. It gives us victory over our pettiness of not facing the truth. And when the flood comes and the waters are rising, this truth gives us the courage, hope and strength that we could never muster on our own.

Sometimes, the danger isn’t even a sudden difficult situation. Sometimes just getting up to face each day can be overwhelming. So here is where faith gets put into action. In a short, but very powerful prayer, God can begin to take action and take control. You can simply pray:

Jesus, I trust you.

And based upon the truth of his resurrection, you can rise up and face the giants that try to tell you all is lost. The truth is that a great King won a victory for you upon the cross. He gave his life for you, and you are his child. In this truth, blessings abound and all things are possible.

Order today

This post is an excerpt from Vince’s book, Is Jesus Real? Can Jesus Help Me? Order from Amazon today.

 

 

Letter from Jesus

Jesus wants you to know how much he understands you. He can help you in any situation of anxiety or confusion. Trust in the loving peace that only he can provide.

Helpful Prayers                        Ask for prayer

Letter from Jesus

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

John  14:25-27

Go deeper…

Book cover image of Be with him be like him, a book that teaches you how to pray

Prayer for anxiety reveals the wisdom of the heart

Prayer for Anxiety wisdom of the heart

Cultivate your faith

The world is sometimes a frightening place. In any time or place, there can be stress or worry. Sometimes things might appear to be stable in society, but in your home it’s a battlefield. Or maybe things appear hopeless everywhere you look.

In this article, Prayer for Anxiety explains how the wisdom of the heart allows us to find peace in any situation.

What is wisdom?

Wisdom is a special kind of knowledge or understanding. It often comes from having a lot of life experience. On the other hand, some people are naturally wise even at a young age.

The Bible says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10). This does not mean that God will punish you, but rather that we should respect God like we would a king. When we don’t want to offend someone, we might say we are afraid to offend them. This is a healthy type of fear, and wisdom begins here. It means you seriously take into account the other person.

Wisdom of the heart

The wisdom of the heart is something that comes from a relationship with God. It’s becoming conscious of what your heart already knows. This understanding comes to us from God’s Spirit, and upon this wisdom you can build a strong spiritual life. It will defend you in times of crisis, and it will nourish you when you feel weak.

Psalm 103

This psalm gives us a clear picture of the wisdom of the heart:

Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases…

The psalm starts with what happens once you have received the wisdom of the heart: your soul praises God.

The wisdom of the heart is based on two simple truths: God forgives all your sins, and he heals all your “diseases.” These are concepts we can understand with our heads, but it’s only when we open our hearts to God’s love that the true wisdom comes out.

You are forgiven

The idea that we are forgiven can be hard to understand or accept. This is because it means admitting we were wrong. But again, the wise heart knows when a mistake was made. You might be able to fool your mind, but your heart knows the truth.

One of the greatest truths is that we all need to be forgiven. If we place ourselves or someone else on a pedestal then we deny God’s mercy. There is only one requirement for access to God’s mercy, and that is sin. If there has been no mistake, then there can be no mercy.

God does not force anything on you, but if you ask for his mercy he pours it out in abundance.

You are healed

The healing we are talking about is more spiritual than physical, however, every physical ailment has psychological and spiritual components.

When you understand and accept God’s forgiveness, your soul is healed. And if you doubt whether or not God has forgiven you, just look at the cross of Jesus. Look at his wounds and his blood that was shed for you. This is how God brings you healing.

A healthy soul faces the trials of life with renewed strength. A healthy soul lives with peace and joy. A healthy soul helps others when they suffer. A healthy soul rises up in Jesus Christ’s resurrection and praises God.

Stay wise, stay healthy

A healthy soul knows also knows where to get feeding. The place to get feeding is to return back to where we started – with the wisdom of the heart.

An adaption from Psalm 103 expresses it beautifully:

The Lord redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
He satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Respect God. Know that he loves you and forgives all your sins. Trust that he heals the even the deepest hurt in your heart and soul.

This post was partially inspired by the book El Predicador ante el Espejo by Carlos María Martini.

Image source (modified)

Who does God want me to be?

Who does God want me to be?

Discover your true identity

We all know about the Ten Commandments. Also, Jesus reminds us to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. We should also love our neighbor as we do ourselves. But who does God want you to be?

Your identity

You might wonder sometimes, “Who am I?” or “What does God want me to be?” The answer is much simpler than you might imagine. God wants you to be yourself. But how?

Truth

When you are yourself you are authentic; you are sincere. You don’t have to put on any masks. This can be frightening for some, but the key element is truth. We know right from wrong, and we know when we are trying to hide something. So when you recognize and live in the truth you can be yourself.

The element of truth in Christ is also essential. We often label ourselves to excuse our bad behavior. We say, “I’m just like that. I can’t change.” But truth in Jesus means that you are a “new creation” and that you can change (2 Cor 5:17). You don’t have to allow negativity to define you anymore. Begin to trust that God can change you (more on this later).

Freedom

When Jesus gave his life for us, it freed us from the condemnation and power of sin. In some circles these days it’s not popular to talk about sin. Our environment or past can influence our behavior, but in the end we make the choices in our lives. If we are always putting the blame elsewhere, we risk losing our identity. This is because, in an important way, our weaknesses define who we are. These are also the best areas in our lives where we can improve, or even better, let God improve things.

Sin is self-destruction. The mistakes we make, especially when we know better, lead to spiritual death. But Jesus paid the price for our mistakes – every single one, no matter how shameful. He frees us from all condemnation.

So when you accept the work Jesus did for you – you are free. No, you won’t be perfect, but you are able to resist the things that made you fall before. True freedom is not doing whatever you want, but being free from the things that tie you down. In the past, when self-hurt ruled your life, you could not resist. But now the Holy Spirit gives you the strength to fight back.

A Spirit that guides you

God’s Spirit is the Spirit of truth. For the Christian, the greatest truth of all is Christ’s resurrection. This means all things are possible, and all things can change for the better. Do you struggle with fear? Then ask the Spirit to give you courage. Do you have trouble being patient? Then ask Jesus to bring peace into your heart.

Your true identity is not meant to be fearful, impatient, proud, or depressed. Your true identity is meant to be a child of God. This means all your talents and virtues can be expressed fully and naturally. The chains of sin are broken, and the Spirit of God living inside you sets you free.

Know who you are

You might be thinking, “But didn’t we say our mistakes also define who I am?” That’s exactly right. Because in our weakness it shows how much we need God. In Jesus’ forgiveness it shows how much God loves us. And when we let his Spirit improve us it shows how much Christ is glorified in our lives.

As Paul said, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor 12:10)

So you don’t have to be perfect. Instead, just be yourself. Live in truth; be free, let the Spirit guide you. Be a child of God.

Image source (modified)