How to pray when you’re going through hard times

4:02 pm Wendy van Eyck 0 Comments

how to pray when you're going through hard times

“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” John 12:27-28 (NIV)

A friend of ours has fought cancer twice. Recently he got a cold and went to the doctor. To cut a long story short they sent him for chest x-ray’s. Those x-rays have shown up a white spot. 

Now for anyone who has had cancer or been a caretaker for someone with cancer you know that phrase strikes pure fear into the heart.

I was away when Xylon heard from his friend and so he texted me to let me know. Ending the message with, “please pray!”

But what do you pray at a time like that? 

How do you pray when your heart is breaking? (<-- Tweet this)

Everything inside of me just wants to pray, “God heal him! Let there be no cancer.” (And I have prayed that every time my friend enters my thoughts.)

This news reminds me of how much I hate death, of how even though I know that in Jesus death is not the end; it is still something that hurts. Death is still something I wish everyone could avoid. 

Death is still something I haven’t discovered how to rejoice in. 

So I stuttered out a prayer and trusted that God would meet my inadequate words with his more than adequate love for our friend. 

I prayed and I believed that God would do his best for them whether that came through healing or through loss.

I wondered how Jesus would pray when his soul was distressed? 

What would Jesus say if he had to pray about something that broke his heart? (<-- Tweet this)

I searched the bible and found this simple prayer that Jesus probably stuttered through in John 12: “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” 

In these few lines Jesus tells us he was heart-sore about the choice between life and death. 

A prayer for when your heart is breakingJesus’ heart was breaking with the choice he had to make, but instead of praying for rescue, he prayed that God would be glorified.

At times like this I am so grateful that God came to earth as man, that he let his holiness beat through a heart like mine. 

I love that Jesus let’s us see it’s okay to lift our broken hearts to God - to tell him what we really want is a way out - and then to somehow find the strength to sigh, “God, do your Best!”

If you're anything like me, this prayer probably won't make your heart ache less, and it doesn’t make the outcome easier, but it just may free your heart from fear. And allow you trust that no matter what happens God is doing his best. 

Ponder: Do you believe that God will always do the best for you? 

Pray: My heart is breaking, I don’t know how to pray. I want to say, God give me a way out. But instead God I’m choosing to trust you. Father, do your best. Amen.


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5 ways to be thankful when life isn’t perfect

5:30 am Wendy van Eyck 0 Comments

Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (MSG)

There are a lot of bible verses about thanking God through hard times. 

However, I know when life isn’t perfect and I read them I often think, ‘That’s easy for you to say but you’re not going through what I am. You wouldn’t be thankful if you were in my situation either!’

1 Thessalonians 5:18 is one of those verses that makes me want to roll my eyes sometimes. 

Be cheerful. NO. MATTER. WHAT. 
Pray. ALL. THE. TIME.
Thank God. NO. MATTER. WHAT. HAPPENS.

Really? Was the person who wrote this even human? 

Once I’ve calmed down I usually see how the three of these things impact on each other. They are a cycle really:

Pray  Thank God  Be cheerful  Pray  Thank God...

I sometimes forget that joy follows gratitude, and that the way to thank God is to pray. (tweet this)

If you’re struggling with being thankful for an imperfect life at the moment here are three tools I’ve used to try and be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens.

I haven’t quite got it. But who has? Hopefully this will help get you into a cycle of praying, thanking and joying (that is most definitely a word). 

1. Toe to head thank you
As a teenager I heard Mike Pilavachi speak at a Soul Survivor event. I can’t remember most of what he said but one thing stuck with me: a prayer of gratitude when you wake up in the morning. I still do this from time-to-time. Basically the idea is that as you wake up in the morning you start at your toes and you thank God for the ability to wiggle them and then you move up naming various body parts and why you are thankful for them until you reach your head. I generally find at the end of this prayer I’m pretty cheerful about the day ahead.

2. Grace
Another way to build gratitude into your life even when you aren’t feeling it is to say grace before your meal. Don’t make this a rote prayer that you learnt at kindergarten. Use each meal as an opportunity to thank God for one good thing in your life. If you’re really drawing a blank, you can always simply thank him that you have food for one meal. 

3. The Ann Voskamp method
A few years ago now, Ann Voskamp wrote a beautiful book about how she learnt to embrace gratitude through hard things. It is called One Thousand Gifts and if by some chance you haven’t read it yet, you should. Without giving too much away the basic premise is find 3 things to be grateful for each day. Ann Voskamp’s lists always read like poetry. I tried my own list for a couple of months while Xylon had chemo and I definitely found myself noticing the small things to be thankful for that I might have otherwise missed. 

4. Sunset thank you 
One of my cousins, Pam, was telling me recently how from the time her children are small she tells them every time they see a sunset that God loves them and just like the sun sets every evening God’s love for them will never change. I thought this was a beautiful idea. It also made me think of the sunset as an opportunity to thank God for being part of the day we just lived. Even if I didn’t feel him there the sunset reminds me that was. 

5. Last thought at night
Something I try and do each night as I fall asleep is thank God for at least one thing that happened that day. This prayer is usually really sleepy but it helps me to fall asleep in good frame of mind and forget all the difficult things that might have happened in the day. 

One important thing to note: I don’t want to burden you down with something that will become hard to do. Following God shouldn’t be about keeping a list of things to do. So if you read through the list below and you think, ‘This sounds like just one more hard thing to make God happy.’ then don’t feel like you have to do it. 

I’m certainly not keeping score. 

And God loves you just the way you are. Right now. Doing you, the way he made you.

Ponder: Do any of these ideas sound doable to you? Do you think they’d help get you into a cycle of cheerfulness-prayer-gratitude?

Prayer: God, sometimes life gets me down and I find it hard to see things to be thankful for. Open my eyes to see the gifts you’ve given me in my life. I’m going to start by thanking you for loving me enough to come to earth and die so we can live together forever. Amen.

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When you need someone to acknowledge it happened (and it hurt!)

5:30 am Wendy van Eyck 0 Comments

Psalm 139:16
 You see all things;
    You saw me growing, changing in my mother’s womb;
Every detail of my life was already written in Your book;
    You established the length of my life before I ever tasted the sweetness of it.
Psalm 139:16 (VOICE)

My friend and I walked into the coffee shop at the same time. “Shall we sit here?” she said, pointing to a long table with a bench.

She ordered a cappuccino and I ordered water. Then my friend asked how my foot is.

And out poured this story. This story of why I didn't get stitches when I should have. How I didn't get stitches because the last time I was sick in December I was told I was dramatic. And I didn't want to be dramatic.

So instead I asked the people around me if they thought I needed stitches.
They thought I didn't. 
And I didn't want to be dramatic so I listened to them. 
I told myself, ‘the body is amazing it can heal itself.’
The cut can’t be as bad as you think. 

Four days later, my foot turned pink, started to swell, and I could no longer bend my toes. I decided it was time to be dramatic.

I told Xylon to drive me to the doctor. Where a very kind physician did not lecture me on being irresponsible or even on the importance of self-care.

He simply lifted the bandage. Asked when it happened and said, “I'd expect it to be more healed by now.” 

Then he felt my pulse and tested my blood pressure to see if the infection was systemic. Content that it wasn’t he prescribed me antibiotics and sent me home. Telling me it should start healing by Sunday. 

On the Monday, I asked to be taken to the doctor again. My foot was getting better but it didn’t seem right to me. I had learnt my lesson. The doctor took one look and prescribed heavier antibiotics.

My friend sat across the table as I told this story and said, “It hurts, hey? It wounds our hearts deeply to be told our pain isn't real, that it doesn't matter?”

I nodded and the wound in my heart throbbed. It throbbed because it was being acknowledged. My pain was being seen.

We spoke about how healing only comes when pain is acknowledged. A wound cannot be treated if the person carrying it acts like it doesn’t exist. 

My friend told me how she went to the doctor and told him she was slightly tired. He ran tests and told her, “I don't even know how you walked in here. You shouldn't have enough energy to do that.”

She spoke about how good (bad?) so many of us are at hiding how much pain we feel. And how that makes others think that we’re okay. And how because everyone thinks we are okay they don’t stop to say, “Wow, that looks sore. You were very brave but let’s get you some help now.” 

Then she told me about her little girl. Adopted shortly after birth she struggles with her presence not being acknowledged. 

The wound my friends' daughter carries isn’t visible, like the cut on my foot, but it is just as real.

My friend went onto tell how their daughters birth-mother never told anyone she was pregnancy. She hid the pregnancy - hid her daughter - shielded her from being known even while the in the womb. This little girl was unseen. Invisible.

And in then there in the coffee shop my friend quoted scripture: 
You see all things;
    You saw me growing, changing in my mother’s womb;
Every detail of my life was already written in Your book;
    You established the length of my life before I ever tasted the sweetness of it.

There was healing in her words, a reminder that the God-who-sees-me knows every detail of my life. (tweet this)

She spoke the words she prays over her daughter but they began to heal my wound of being in pain with no one to take me seriously.

The last few days I’ve cradled that verse in my heart, wrapping it round my heart wound every time I change the dressing on my foot. Reminding myself that it is only when pain is acknowledged that it can be treated and the wound can be healed. 

So I wind the bandage round-and-round and whisper: You see all things…

Ponder: As you read this what heart wound began throb? And say, “I’m real, it happened, it hurt.” What steps can you take to acknowledge the pain? Consider seeing a social worker or psychologist to chat through the pain.

Prayer: You are, the One who sees all things. You saw me growing, changing in my mother’s womb and right now you know the details of my life that causing my heart to throb with pain. God who see me show me how to acknowledge this pain I’m feeling so I can taste the sweetness of the life you’ve given me. Amen. 

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What you need to know when you're having one tough week

10:34 am Wendy van Eyck 0 Comments

For God expressed His love for the world in this way: He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not face everlasting destruction, but will have everlasting life. John 3:16 (VOICE) 

I’ve had one of those weeks.

It’s been a week when I’m not sure where the to-do list starts or what to tackle next.

Seven days of early mornings, long days, and late nights. Deadlines. Meetings. Launches. 

On top of that the email server crashed.
And I got a stomach bug.

This morning as I sat down to write this post I took a deep prayer and said, 
“God, what do I need to hear from you today.”

It’s the first time all week that I’ve taken the time to slow down and listen for God. And to be honest if I didn’t have a blog to go out today this time probably wouldn’t have happened either. 

As I sat still for a moment and I scanned the list of half written blogs I keep. And one caught my attention. 

On the note I had written:

You are loved. 

Jesus Christ is crazy about you. 

He loves you just as you are, not as you should be.

As you are.

Just as you are.

I’ve been so busy that it is easy to lose sight of that.

Maybe it’s hard to remember how much God loves me because it is difficult to understand how crazy his love for me is. 

God sent his son to die for me so I could live with him forever. There is no way I can ever comprehend that kind of love. 

I think my week has been crazy, but God’s love bends itself around my to-do list, invades my hard conversations and somehow swallows my early mornings, long days and late nights.  

It’s weird but God’s love is big enough that he has been present in everything I’ve done. I’ve been so busy that I haven’t noticed how he helped me say the right words or how his love was present when I was tired and felt alone. 

I allowed my schedule to let me lose sight of the fact that God loves me not because of what I do but because of who I am.

I am his. 

Even on my craziest/saddest/hardest days God has never let me out of his sight. 

In fact on those days I think he is close enough to see the freckles on my face. 

What I’m trying to say is no matter what you are going through God loves you. He sees you. And if you look for his love you will find it in the places where you least expect it. Even in the middle of one of those weeks.

God. Loves. You. Don’t lose sight of that.(tweet this)

Ponder: Do you ever lose sight of the fact that God loves you? I’d love you to share in the comments the things that help you remember how much God loves you.

Prayer: Thank you that you love me, God. Help me to rest in your love. Amen. 

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