Author Archives: gthielges

Remembrance and Restoration

The physical pain, the emotional pain, the “letting people know,” the condolences, the what-ifs, the fake smile I put on to match my fake Christmas spirit, and the feeling of being crushed. If you were to ask me what I remember from a few days before Christmas in 1992, these are the vivid recollections I would list for you. 

I also remember finding a sorrowful sense of irony in losing a baby to miscarriage just days before the celebration of Jesus’ birth.

My mind had the following phrases on repeat: God could have prevented it from happening and God could have performed a miracle once it happened.

The question of “God, where were You?” evolved into, “God, why would You…” and then, “God, how dare You…” (and there’s still a part of me that wonders how I was not zapped or struck by lightning immediately after uttering those words to Him…) 

As I wrote in a post a few years ago, My First Pregnancy, My Faithful God, and My Firm Stand“He knew my husband and I were ecstatic about being parents. How dare He take this baby away? Yep, I said those words to the Creator of the Universe. I looked upward, right up to the sky and screamed, “How dare you!” Looking back on that moment and the bitterness I harbored for quite some time afterward, I sometimes think, “Wow, God, it takes a lot of nerve for an almost 22 year-old woman to challenge Your sovereignty. Thank You from the bottom of my heart for being patient with me and lovingly waiting for me to realize there was no one to blame.” I wasted a lot of time being mad at God when I could’ve spent that time being comforted and held by Him instead.”

I am unable to give an eloquent explanation of why it occurred, and equally unable attempt to inspire others with a “Therefore, this is why terribly sad events sometimes happen…” speech wrapped up in some sort of Christmas-time revelation gift with a bow on top. Oh, how I wish I could say that I remember that I allowed God to fill my emptiness to overflowing with His comfort and love. But instead, I remember resting in rage and resentment and not allowing God to console me with His relief and restoration.

I clearly remember a list of painful moments stemming from a miscarriage during the Christmas season years ago, but in Lamentations 3:21, there is mention of “remembering something that fills me with hope.” What is that something? As verse 22 and 23 say, “The LORD’s kindness never fails! If he had not been merciful, we would have been destroyed. The LORD can always be trusted to show mercy each morning.” That something is an unrivaled kindness and mercy that He lovingly pours out upon us. Years have passed, and although there is a comfort and excitement in knowing I will meet that baby in Heaven, I still wish there had been a different outcome – namely one in which I am a mother to 5 thriving children, instead of 4. I believe we can still be Jesus-loving, God-trusting people even if we sometimes wish a couple of parts of our life stories had been written differently. But dwelling on those thoughts instead of asking God to increase our trust in Him causes us to hang on to hurt instead of having the beautiful experience of being healed by Him. His unmatched kindness and mercy will ultimately overshadow painful memories every time.

I eventually made a choice to focus on remembering God’s kindness and mercy instead of loss, and as a result, gained an incomparable hope of a future filled with promise.

ISAIAH 55:11 – GOD’S WORD WILL NOT RETURN VOID

so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11

GOD’S WORD IS A GIFT

I would like for you to imagine telling someone there is a gift waiting for them with their name on it. Imagine telling them this particular gift will renew their perspective, remind them of their priorities, and reveal their purpose. Now, imagine if that person said, “Wow, that gift sounds awesome! How wonderful to have access to that!”…and then they proceed to ignore it? They decide to leave it unopened. Would you be outraged? Shocked? Puzzled, at the very least?

If that gift was offered to you, would you ignore it and allow it to remain wrapped? No way!

But we all do it! We leave one of our most beautiful treasures unopened. Friends, we’ve been given a gift beyond words: a love letter from the Originator of Love. A Holy Book filled with love, lessons, and life. Literally!

Read the rest at Devotableapp.com.

(This is my most recent contribution to Devotableapp.com – I invite you to go to that website and subscribe to the daily emails. You will get an encouraging devotional in your inbox each morning!)                                                                                                                   

 

Oh Holy Night

It’s hard to choose one favorite, but one of my favorite Christmas songs is Oh Holy Night, and I’d like to share it with you.

What a night that was —a King – a Savior – sent to earth to save us all; to make a way for us to spend eternity with Him!

May we all focus on the ultimate gift of Jesus Christ this Christmas season.

Merry Christmas!

youtube link

Just Like Joshua

Parents often repeat commands to their children for emphasis. In the first chapter of Joshua, he was told by God to “Be strong and courageous,” three times. God’s words in these verses seem to be a very matter-of-fact way of informing a willing man that the next steps must be taken, and success would not be a part of the equation if strength and courage were absent. The next steps were to obtain the land promised to the Israelites.

God’s marching orders held no promise that a supernatural feeling of courage would well up inside of Joshua’s soul. Nope. No “peace that passes understanding” feeling would signify it was time for Joshua to move. The words feel or feelings do not make an appearance in this chapter. God did not tell Joshua to feel strong and courageous. God told Joshua to be strong and courageous.

Did God promise His presence? Absolutely! But there was no promise that Joshua would not necessarily be shaking in his sandals as he carried out these sacred steps.

Just like Joshua, we are told many times in the Bible to be courageous. And just like Joshua, God does not tell us to feel courageous. He says, “Be courageous.”

It will not be possible to find in ourselves the confidence in our own ability to carry out our call, but there is something we can have absolute confidence in – God will show up and walk us through it. Step by step. Forward steps. Even backward steps. He will help us get back on track and be right by our side. Yes, we may have some shaking-in-our-boots or sandals moments, but God’s presence is a guarantee.

When we obey God and follow through with something that takes us straight out of our comfort zone, He blesses us. In Luke 11:28, Jesus says, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” The blessing of God is worth the prayer, perseverance, and persistence that hard assignments from Him require.

Courage is often about us doing what God has asked us to do even though we might still feel nervous or fearful. Courage is asking God for strength to do it anyway – even though fear may be whispering (or shouting) in our ear that we are the wrong person, that it is the wrong time, or that we heard the wrong message. Courage is the strength to keep repeating to ourselves until we believe it that, “God is with me.”

If we insist upon waiting to be struck with a feeling of courage before we step out of our comfort zone and onto God’s path, we will wait ourselves right out of an opportunity to do something great.

 

 

 

Waiting Well

Tuesday morning, my prayer ended with me crying out, “God, what am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to start praying for a different result? Am I supposed to ask You to give me a new plea, a new prayer, a new passion? Or am I just supposed to continue to wait?” His answer was a deafening silence.  

Now God does not answer me audibly, so silence is not new. When I “hear” from God, it is a new thought, a new impression upon my spirit, a new sense of direction; accompanied by peace. Those responses are how I have always known that God “answered,” my questions. So when “none of the above,” happened after my heartfelt, hollered, hopeless, “What am I supposed to do…?” inquiry, it hit me like a ton of bricks: If I am not sensing the Holy Spirit’s prodding to pray in a new direction, then I am to keep praying and continue waiting. 

I know how to keep praying; I have done that many a time. I have frequently assumed God thought I was similar to the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15. Jesus’ disciples urged Him to send her away when they became annoyed with her repeated requests.  But I am always encouraged that the story ends with Jesus blessing her because of her faith. 

I wrestle with the waiting. Although I am pretty good at impatient, irritated waiting, waiting well with an uncomplaining, unfazed, unwavering spirit is not a talent of mine.

Waiting well takes a conscious and intentional effort. Psalm 31:24 (ESV) says, “Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!” Maybe part of the courage He expects from me is in returning to Him over and over with the same prayer and believing that He is not getting sick of me or my request. Maybe the other part of that courage is believing that His silence is not avoidance and boldly believing He is working in unseen ways. 

On Tuesday, I chose to wait well. By Wednesday, I experienced some moments of not waiting well. And on Thursday, I felt led to start my day in front of my computer writing about what I had been contemplating. 

I asked God to speak to me about what waiting well truly means. At that very moment, my eyes directly went to a “Verse of the Day” email in my inbox. I opened it, and it “happened” to be Psalm 27:14: “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”

My first thought was, “Wow, God, thank You for an unbelievable direct answer to my prayer!” My second thought was, “Wow, God, if only You could answer this other prayer so quickly and directly.” My third thought was, “It is up to You, isn’t it? I’ll continue working on this blog post and learning how to wait well, and You continue being God. Thank You for showing me that verse when I needed it and teaching me how to wait well.” Between you and me, I spent entirely too much time dwelling on my second thought.

Apparently, God still has some work to do in my heart. Thankfully, doing great works in our hearts is one of His areas of expertise. 

As I continue to wait for God’s response, God will continue to work in my heart, and I will continue to have a choice on how to wait. Waiting well may take more discipline than waiting with impatience, but it will always afford more opportunities to watch our powerful God work in ways that only He can. 

**This was my November contribution for devotableapp.com – Great place for encouragement  and hope!

I Will Praise You Anyway

I would like to share with you a song I wrote this week, “I Will Praise You Anyway,”  When our prayers don’t get answered the way that we hope, we can sometimes be angry, confused, and maybe hurt – OR we can choose to trust that God’s “No,” answer is for a better reason that He knows about because, well, He is God. We can make the choice to praise Him anyway, because He is so worthy!
If I am being honest, I am struggling with some prayers that He has answered with a, “No,” lately and I am still working on not being angry, confused, and a little bit hurt…I’m trying to come around to what I know the truth is…He is really good at being God, and He knows what is best for us! 🙏

Lyrics:
That is not what I pictured. That is not what I prayed for. Your answers have left me confused.
I thought I was praying for Your will. I tried to trust You and be still. But I can’t stop my heart from feeling bruised.
You’re always there to wipe the tears away. And You supply the strength to say: I will praise You anyway.
So when I’m in the desert again, remind me Your faithfulness will never end. And when You answer, “No,” it’s because of Your love.
If I’m only praising You, when You do what I think You should do, You’re not getting the praise that You are worthy of.
You’re always there to wipe the tears away. And You supply the strength to say: I will praise You anyway.
I don’t want You to be a God that I can predict or fully comprehend, but God, if I am being honest I am near the very end of my human understanding of why You’ve allowed some things to happen…
But You are God, and I am not. And when I was young, I was taught that sometimes Your best plans include some pain. I will praise You anyway.
You’re always there to wipe the tears away. And You supply the strength to say: I will praise You anyway. I will praise You anyway.

So Much More

During a recent Sunday School class, we were discussing the nature of God and our identity in relation to Him. A remark that the teacher (who happens to be my husband) made, stuck with me. He said, “God isn’t just a better version of the best version of us.” How true that is.  God is so much more.

Are you ever tempted to humanize God in order to make Him easier to understand? I have been guilty of trying to reduce Him to a human level as I tried to comprehend His ways. However, that is a mistake for a few different reasons. 

1. As a society, we have gradually minimized the very essence of God. We continue to lose the wonder of a wonderful God and the awe of an awesome God. He is beyond compare and beyond description. True wisdom begins once we comprehend that His awe will never be comprehended!  Proverbs 9:10a says, “The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.” Realizing the awe He is worthy of opens our hearts to receive His wisdom, and He gives it eagerly.  James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” 

2. We expect God to think the same way we think. We assume He will solve problems using the same reasoning we do. However, Jeremiah 55:9 says that His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  He sees the past, present, and future of a universe full of people He loves. He is working all things for good for those who love Him, according to Romans 8:28. There are countless moving pieces on this planet, and somehow He keeps perfect track of every single one of them.  All while drawing each of us to Himself. The circumstances of this world are interwoven in a way that only a perfect God could accomplish. Actually, it is a relief that He thinks differently than us. Would you want God to think in the limited, self-centered, inconsistent way that we do?  Neither would I.

3. We run the risk of thinking more highly of ourselves than we should. If we minimize God’s holiness in an attempt to understand Him, we may inadvertently increase our significance to more closely match His. When we start to erase the gap between the amazingness of God and the reality of who we are, a problem arises. Thinking that we are equal to and just as deserving as God is not a minor matter. It is pride. Pride is a sin, and sin has consequences. Remember Satan’s downfall?  

Remembering that God is God and we are not is always valuable. We often attribute human characteristics to God, and we describe His qualities using a human scale. We forget the awe and wonder that is due His name. However, He is more than we realize, more than we give Him credit for, and more than we can ever comprehend. God is so much more.

(This was my September submission to devotableapp.com — check that website out for a daily devotion!)