Deep calls to deep – The God of your pain!

This week was rough.

It all started last Sunday, when the sermon at church opened up a wound in my heart. As I fought to hold back the tears, the hurt in my heart lead to the tears spilling down my cheeks. In my embarrassment, I timidly wiped the tears off my face, trying not to draw attention to myself. A friend put her arm around me as I fought with everything in me to control the emotion spilling over my heart in the form of tears.

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Hope Deferred…

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This week, millions of Americans will gather around the table, fill their bellies with way too much turkey and pie, then settle into an afternoon of enjoying one anther’s company, watching football and sneaking in a nap. I’ll be headed home to North Carolina the tomorrow and am fully planning on enjoying every moment with my family. As much as I treasure the holiday season, this specific week stings my heart. You see, it was this week almost four years ago that a major event happened in my life that changed my life. I remember every detail as if it were yesterday.

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Raw Thoughts On Forgiveness…

I am choosing not to go into great detail into the events and circumstances surrounding the topic I’m addressing today for two reasons. 1) It would take way too long to explain. 2) Not that I mind sharing, but the details aren’t absolutely necessary to the discussion. (If you care about the details, feel free to ask. I would love to share how the Lord is working specifically. Feel free to e-mail me at chelseacpatterson@gmail.com )

Forgiveness.

To be quite honest, this isn’t a topic that I have given much thought to until this past year. In the past, if someone hurt me, it was usually unintentional or was something that could be resolved quickly and relatively pain free.

There is someone in my life very close to me who has hurt me deeply over the past 12 months. Last night, some words were said that cut me to the core. I had an “ugly cry” (if you aren’t familiar with what that is, ask any girl, she’ll know!) You see, in the moment that the words were spoken, I choose to believe them.

You aren’t worth anything.

You aren’t worth getting to know.

Those words hurt.

I cried.

I entertained the thought that maybe, just maybe those words were correct and accurate.

Maybe I am too much trouble to invest in.

Maybe I am too complex and aren’t worth time.

Maybe…just maybe…

NO CHELSEA!

Snap out of it. I shook with sobs as I poured out my heart to my mom about how much those words hurt.

You see, at that moment, my head could acknowledge that those words were lies, but it was obvious from the tears falling down my cheeks that my heart was choosing to believe them.

Words are my love language, and I am the type of person that takes a lot of things personally. (Sometimes – in this case, it is not a good thing.)

I’m not going to lie. I threw myself a pretty big pity party this morning, complete with waltzing into work with red eyes and a bad attitude. I was polite to my co-workers, but inwardly I was fighting to take the thoughts swirling around me head captive and submit them to Christ.

“It’s just not fair God! I have done literally everything I know to do to show love to this person. Yet they still are hurting me.”

And so I began my day…

Once in my office, I grabbed my Bible and started reading Ephesians, and stumbled upon the following verses:

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away form you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:31-32

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Well…that was convicting.

I came before my Father and expressed how hard it was to choose to forgive.

Darling,

You are acting selfishly. Why would you choose to wallow in self-pity and believe those lies? Don’t you know that I defeated the devil’s control over you and your mind on the Cross? Hand it over to me. Allow me to bring justice to bear. You can choose to dwell on those lies, or you can choose to allow me to stand between you and those hurtful words.

Beloved, as hard as it is, I am making the conscious decision to allow the Lord to teach me forgiveness. This person hasn’t asked for my forgiveness, offered up an apology or uttered the words, “I’m sorry.”

However, I can make the decision not to take offense at the words and hurt thrown my way.

Yes, it hurts, but I can choose by God’s grace not to allow it to destroy me. I can choose to be kind, I can choose to keep my heart soft and tender, and most importantly, I can choose forgiveness, because Christ has modeled perfect forgiveness for me on the cross.

I will be exploring and grasping the depth of Christ’s forgiveness of me and my sins for the rest of my life. Ah, what beauty!

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”

– C.S. Lewis

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Dear One, I do not profess to have it all together, far too often I am before the throne of my Father with tears falling down my cheeks begging for His grace, unending love and mercy and incidence in my life.

But I am choosing to remember that Christ showed me the ultimate forgiveness. He lived a sinless life, was crucified and raised to life. Why? To satisfy the wrath that I was deserving of. To pay the payment on my behalf. To offer me ultimate forgiveness.

I have chosen to accept Him as my Lord and Savior. As I result, I choose to obey His command to forgive as Christ forgave me. It is hard and it hurts, but praise Him that I don’t have to do it alone. I have the Holy Spirit living inside me who is helping me.

I choose to love. I choose to forgive.

Forgive

Suffering – For God’s glory and our good

Suffering is inevitable.

 

Turn on the TV or pick up a newspaper and you will be bombarded with discouraging news. Everyone will experience some kind of trial or suffering in their lifetime. This guarantee of suffering exists for two reasons, first because the world is fallen and infected with sin. Because sin entering the world, suffering exists. The second reason is because as a follower of Christ, we will experience suffering because the call to follow Him is a call to die. Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.” –Matthew 16:24 Why does Christ give this difficult task to His followers?  In his last hours on earth, why did he reiterate the certainty of suffering in a Christian’s life by stating that “In the world you will have tribulation.” (John 16:33) It would be an impossible task if that phrase is all we have recorded in our Bibles, however in the very next breath, Christ gives the ultimate encouragement when he says, “But be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

 

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Dear One, whatever kind of suffering you are experiencing, take heart because you have a Savior who has overcome the world. The One who died for you experienced the ultimate suffering by leaving His heavily throne and stepping into human flesh to ultimately die on your behalf for your sins. Because He has suffered, you have the greatest example of how to suffer well. When Christ suffered death on a cross, His suffering lead to eternal life for the ones who choose to call Him Lord and Savior. 

 

Suffering as a Christian has two purposes – God’s glory and our good.

 

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When we respond to suffering in such a way that shows the unbelieving world that Christ is more glorious and precious to us than our suffering, it shows who and what our true treasure is. By placing our ultimate hope in Christ and not the temporary things that are causing our hearts pain, God receives the glory.

 

“My body is sick with cancer, the paycheck didn’t quite cover everything this month, I have an unsaved family member, that phone call changed everything”  – the list can go on and on. The question begs to be asked, “how can suffering possibly be for my good?”

 

Suffering as a Christian serves several purposes for our ultimate good. First, suffering sanctifies and purifies us like nothing else can. When earthly pleasures, things and people are stripped out of our lives, it is revealing of where we have mistakenly placed our hope. Suffering draws us closer to Christ, because we don’t have the worldly comforts to rely on. Christ desperately longs for us to fix our eyes upon Him, and not the things the world tries to romance our souls with.

 

Beloved, my charge to you is not to waste your suffering. Instead of throwing yourself a pity party (although I have thrown and attended several grand ones for myself), seek the Lord’s voice speaking in your suffering.

 

“Do you trust Me?”

 

How often does the Creator of the universe whisper those words into our souls? Often, our first reaction to suffering is frustration, fear or anxiety. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received is the following:

 

“When you cannot see the hand of God, you can always trust His heart!”

 

When your heart is breaking, and your world is falling apart, when all around you, it seems like there is nothing but death, tragedy and heartache, take heart! Remind yourself that your God, your Father, your Lord has overcome the world! Trust in His character. Remember that God loves His children and that He is ultimately good. Do not forget these truths for they are your lifeblood in times of suffering .

 

Regardless of your present…

 

Circumstances or crisis,

Pressures or pain,

Suffering or sorrow,

Failures or frustrations,

Danger or disease,

Memories or misery,

Temptations or trials,

Problems or persecutions,

Burdens or brokenness…

 

Your situation is temporary compared to eternity!

 

In the closing chapters of the final book of the Bible, God makes a beautiful declaration to His children.

 

“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3)

 

 

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If this present world was all there was and there was no Savior in which to place our hope, we should be pitied, but that is not the case! This world is not our home, we are merely passing through. As you evaluate the current pain in your own life or in the world right now, meditate on these questions:

 

What is the Lord teaching you about Himself?

How can you use your suffering for His glory?

 

Boston

My heart is broken over the events that took place in Boston today.

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Our nation we have paused and gathered together to pray for Boston. The events surrounding the bombing are still unclear, but right now, that doesn’t matter. What matters is we as Christians stepping up and showing the world Christ’s love.

Many people have questions right now and are asking the question, “Why?” Beloved, we have an opportunity to shine Christ’s love to a broken and shattered world. Hearts are ready for Christ. Will you join me in spreading His love? No, we don’t have all the answers as to why suffering occurs, but we can use these tragedies as an opportunity to spread the Gospel?

Remember, one day things will be redeemed and restored!

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“Your joy may be full!”

I sank onto my knees in one of my very favorite place on campus – the prayer chapel.

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Isn’t it gorgeous?!

That place is so dear to my heart because it holds some of my sweetest and most difficult moments with the Lord.

-News that forever changed my life.
-Pleaded with the Lord for unsaved family members.
-Asked the Lord to restore things that were lost.
-To heal me.
-Sat in awe of my Heavenly Father.
-Worshiped with other believers.
-Had strangers pray over me.

Recently, I jogged to the prayer chapel and when I entered the building, I was delighted to find that there was no one else there! (Not that I wasn’t happy no one else was praying, I was happy to have the whole place to myself!) There is a piano in one corner, and I headed over to it, and quietly began playing one of my favorite hymns

“It is well with my soul”

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I sang the words over and over to my Father. As my voice began to quiet, the tears began to fall. That is when I slipped onto my knees in front of a cross that’s placed in the front of the room. I began to pour out my heart to the Lord. Since there was no one else in the room, I prayed out loud. If you’ve never done this (praying in groups doesn’t count!) I strongly suggest it!

My Father heard all of the cares and worries that I don’t want to burden other people with. I told Him what has been making my heart heavy and sad recently.

“O God, I cling with feeble fingers to the ledge of your great grace.” -Piper

Beloved, in the few hours I spent with the Lord on my face before Him, He never promised to take away the difficult circumstances in my life. However He promised to give me joy in Himself.

“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” – John 15:11

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My joy can only be complete in the Lord. Apart from Him, there is no joy. He doesn’t merely give me joy, He is my joy!!

“It would not be fully gracious of Jesus simply to increase my joy to its final limit and then leave me short of his. Christ not only offers himself as the divine object of my joy, but pours his capacity for joy inot me, so that I can enjoy him with the very joy of God.” – Piper

Dear Ones…

Seek the joy that can be found only in the Father! Trust me, absolutely nothing else compares to it.

Will the journey be difficult? You bet!
Will you feel like giving up? Mmhmm!

But…

Will everlasting and deeply satisfying joy with the Father be worth it all? I could write for the rest of my days, and never have enough words to say how worth it Christ is!

Keep pressing on! The Lord has great things planned for your life, it might not look like you think it should, but His promise is this…

Your Joy Will Be Full In Me!

In order that I may gain Christ – my personal experiences with suffering.

The past 48 hours have been pretty difficult….

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Tuesday around midnight I received a text from my Uncle informing me that my grandma was in the ER. I was pretty shaken up, and up half the night. Thankfully she will be okay, but nevertheless, a text in the middle of the night about someone being in the hospital is never easy.

Yesterday, I found out that my financial situation for this semester isn’t working out how I originally thought. To be completely honest, I’m not 100% sure when it’s going to get resolved. My eyes have cried plenty of tears over the past 2 days, but I have not gone into despair. Why??

Because difficult life circumstances point me straight to Christ!!

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Over the past year, the Lord has placed many difficult circumstances in my life, and then said,

“Chelsea, are you going to trust Me?”

I would like to say that my response has always been a resounding “yes”, but that is not the case. Often times, my first reaction is frustration, fear or anxiety. But the Lord is so gentle with me, and has been teaching me how to trust Him. I trust God because…

He is Good

He is in control

He is God

He is on His throne

He will never leave me

He has a greater plan than I can see in this moment

He will never forsake me

He is sovereign

Beloved, my heart is well acquainted with suffering. The past three years have held some monumental trials, but throughout the biggest trials in my life, here are some things that I have learned.

* When I found out from a doctor that my body isn’t “perfect”, and that there will yet be trails in my future concerning my body – The Lord revealed that my ultimate hope cannot be in something physical. One day, He has promised to redeem everything that was lost, and I know that one day, in heaven, my body will be perfect.

* When someone extremely close to me chose to walk out of my life – A relationship with a friend or family member cannot be who I look to for fulfillment. People come and go, and while it is almost devastating when someone you thought would be there forever chooses to leave, the Lord will always remain with me.

* When a family member doesn’t know the Lord as their personal Savior, and has told you that they want absolutely nothing to do with God – This situation gives me reason to trust that the Lord loves this family member more than I could ever imagine, and that I will choose to be diligent in prayer concerning this person and pray fervently for their salvation.

* When money is tight – Things on this earth will never ultimately satisfy, and the same goes with money. The Lord has promised that He will provide everything we need…not everything we want. Through times like these, I have searched my heart and laid everything bare before the Lord concerning what I truly need.

Dear reader, this isn’t meant to be a giant pity party for myself, or to ramble on and on about the trials I’ve faced. We have all had our share of difficult times. I wanted to use this time to encourage you! My life isn’t perfect, but I serve a perfect God!

“This is God’s universal purpose for all Christian suffering – more contentment in God and less satisfaction in the world.” – John Piper

I pray that as your go through this life, through all the good and the bad, that you will fall more and more in love with Jesus! Philippians is one of my favorite books of the Bible, and I found myself there this morning. As I read, I began to weep, because Paul so clearly expressed my hearts desires.

“Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish in order that I may gain Christ.” – Philippians 3:8

Everything you go through in life should be to bring GLORY to GOD, and so that you may gain Christ! What a beautiful truth. Beloved, I assure you that when you press in to the Father’s loving arms and say…

“Lord, I have absolutely no idea how you are going to work, I don’t see how this trial can be redeemed. But nevertheless, I choose to trust You. I choose to declare that knowing you is better than anything this life could ever bring.”

Please know that I am praying for you as you read these words. If there is anything specific I can pray for, don’t hesitate to ask!!

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The healing power of joy….

I’ve written quite a lot about some trials that I’m facing in my life right now. My circumstances are feel difficult, but dear reader they are merely circumstances. Life ebbs and flows, it has its joys and trials. Right now, I feel like I am in the furnace of affliction. Someone very dear to me has betrayed me and walked away from me and my heart aches because of the pain they have caused. But I am clinging to my Jesus, to my family and to the incredible friends the Lord has placed in my life. If I pause for a moment, I realize just how truly blessed I am.

Someone recently said to me, “Chelsea, every time I see you, you are always happy.” I quickly said, “I’m not always happy, but I always strive for joy!” The Lord has placed His joy in my heart, and even though I don’t always feel like smiling or being “happy” I plead with Him that I will never ever lose my joy in life!

I wanted to share a devotion that has been touching my heart a lot recently. I’ve shared out of the book “Come away my beloved” by Frances Roberts before, and that’s where today’s devotion comes from!

 

“You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy!”

John 16:20

Say not within yourself, “Where is God?” for I am within you, yes, even in your heart, and my hand is upon you. You have looked in vain for Me because you have sought to see Me in circumstances and in people and have said, “I cannot find Him.”

O My child, look to Me directly, and rest your heart in Me. Do so with as little distraction as would be easy to do if you were the only human being in the world and therefore would have no one else to look upon and no one else with whom to converse.

Praise Me. This I ask of you in times when it seems indescribably difficult to do so. I ask it of you in love that is stern at this point because I know unequivocally that praise is your only hope for survival.

Distress of coul and grief of heart can only bring on destruction of body. Joy alone is a healer, and you can have it in the darkest hour if you will force your soul to rise to Me in worship and adoration. I have not failed you and you have not failed Me. It is only that you have failed yourself – or the disappointment has come on the human plane, not on the divine. Why should you allow any human experience to alter or affect your divine relationship with your Father?

Bring Me your sorrow, and watch for the sunrise of the resurrection. yes, truly there comes always a resurrection – a morning when hope is reborn and life finds new beginning. Waif for it as tulip bulbs anticipate the spring. The rarest blooms are enhanced by the coldness of winter. The snow plays her part in producing spring’s pageant. But when the blossoms break through, we do not then turn back to thoughts of winter, but instead, we look ahead to the full joys of the coming summer.

So you must do also. Your God is your maker. He is your defender. And He is mighty to save. Yes, He is not only mighty to save from sin, but He is mighty to save from despair, from sorrow, from disappointment, from regret, from remorse, from self-castigation, and from the hot, blinding tears of rebellion against fateful circumstances. He can save you from yourself, and He loves you when you find it hard to love yourself.

Let His peace flow in you like a river, carrying away all the poison of painful memories, and bringing you a fresh, clear stream of pure life and restoring thoughts.

This is not the end. Press on.

 

An honest look at suffering…

I don’t understand God sometimes….

I would be lying if I said that I completely understood Him…

My heart asks the question “why” of the Lord way too often. The Lord hasn’t promised me that He will reveal His purpose and plans to me. But He has promised something far greater….

Beloved, our Father has promised that He always be with us!

That truth makes my heart soar to new heights because I know that no matter what my circumstances may be, I have the Father right beside me. My life has had some pretty crazy trails recently; things have happened that I never imagined would happened. I have wept before the Lord as I’ve bared my soul to Him and I have asked Him the question of “Why is this happening?” The Lord has not given me answers, but I didn’t actually need answers to my questions, I needed the love of my Savior. I needed His presence to sustain me…His love to surround me and His goodness to penetrate every part of my being.

I can’t say that I will ever have answers for what the Lord has chosen to place in my life, but the need for answers diminishes every time I focus my attention upon Christ. When I look at my circumstances, I become depressed and hopeless. The reason is because I am not looking to Christ. There have been times in my life that I have gone through counseling, there have been times in my life where I have been depressed, there have been times in my life where I have struggled with anxiety. Beloved, I am not a perfect person, I have struggled with many things, but I have found the answer to all of life’s problems, and that is….

Jesus!

When my heart’s affection and attention is fixed upon Jesus, my circumstances don’t always necessarily change, but Jesus changes me. He provides His strength to endure the trials, He provides His patience, His love, His grace, His goodness, etc. I don’t have to do anything but cast my cares upon Him. I beg you to see how simple this is, yes you will go through trials and pains, celebrations and joys, but you have the constant love of your Heavenly Father. Press into Him. If you’re going through a difficult time, please know that I have prayed for you, as you are reading these words, that the Lord will reveal Himself to you. No, I can’t promise that everything will turn out okay, but I can promise you, that as a child of the most High King, you will never ever be alone!

Jesus is your hope!!

 

My Rock of Refuge…

My heart has felt just about every emotion possible in the past week. It’s crazy how in one short week, your life can change so much. To be completely honest, I’m struggling….

“When you take a breath and exhale in sobs, fall against the chest of Jesus. He will hold you til you can breathe again.”

-Piper

I don’t know how people go through trails and suffering without Christ. Over the past few days, I have cried out to Him, poured my heart out to Him, screamed to Him, and cling to His words. While my tears have been many this week, my heart has found solace in His word.

“Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come; you have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from you. O God, be not far from me; O my God, make haste to help me! You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me.”

(Excerpts from Psalm 71)

I love the picture of God being a rock of refuge. A rock is constant and a source of strength. The word refuge is defined as “a shelter or protection from distress/a place of safety” It is so comforting to know that while my circumstances may be crazy, unpredictable and challenging, I have a safe place that I can run to…

The arms of my Father!

I know that my Father is present in my trails. He promises never to leave or forsake me. That is truth. I can cling to the fact that He is with me during all of the turmoil, the Lord is my consistent Rock of Refuge.

Lord,

I trust you…

I trust you with my heart. I trust you with my pain. I trust you with my family. I trust you with my future. I trust you when I don’t understand. I trust you because you are trustworthy. I trust you because you are good. I trust you because you are God!