God’s Help in Paralyzing Times

 

Even though our family didn’t have much money when I was growing up, we kids were able to participate in snow skiing lessons through a school program. We were outfitted with used equipment and ski clothes and wondrously found ourselves riding the bus to the mountains on Saturdays for several weeks of lessons.

I was in second grade and able to participate in the program only because my siblings were deemed old and responsible enough to keep an eye on me. By the time I was in high school, I was a fairly accomplished recreational skier and able to give lessons to my future husband, Brad. As a married couple, we scrimped and saved in order to keep skiing. It was quite glorious.

One of our favorite skiing destinations became Telluride, Colorado. It had a run we’d been eyeballing from our first visit called “The Plunge”. We weren’t sure we’d ever give it a try as it was a monster expert run. In fact, when looking up at it from the town for the first time, I wondered how snow could even stick to its surface.

We weren’t looking for bragging rights or broken limbs. To that end, we were pretty sure we’d forever leave The Plunge alone.

Nonetheless, the day came when we decided we were ready to tackle the monster. We believed we could hack our way down the hair-raising run without doing too much bodily harm or becoming obstacles to the ridiculously phenomenal skiers who deserved not having slightly terrorized goofballs in their way.

The route from the top of the chairlift to The Plunge was well marked with double expert warning signs. Once passing a certain well-marked area, one would be at a point of no return. This means we’d never stood at the top of The Plunge before the day we decided we were ready to give it a go.

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I have to say this. It was far worse than I’d imagined. We were stationed at the top of The Plunge with—I kid you not—the tips of our skis hanging out over thin air. Under the ends of the skis, we could see Telluride, far below; it was as if no terra firma existed between us and the town.

Brad and I looked at each other and I knew my face had to be mirroring the shocked dismay I saw on his. This, I was thinking, had to be the dumbest thing Brad and I ever decided to do.

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You and I can find ourselves on spiritual or emotional plunges because of our own foolishness. We perhaps exercise poor judgement or harden our hearts against what we know is right in a given situation, moving past all the warning signs in front of us before finding ourselves facing the stomach-churning consequences.

We can be plunged into crippling physical or emotional pain because of the things done to us by others.

We can be broken by the knowledge we’ve hurled someone else headlong into a plunge of crises due to our own, selfish actions or inactions. We can’t see a way forward to ever feeling at peace again.

Just living in this world torn by tragedies and loss can bring us to a point where we feel helpless to navigate our way through the overwhelming challenges we find ourselves in. Worse yet, we might observe others who seem to expertly and rhythmically move past us on their own plunges as if they were nothing more than warm-up runs.

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When this happens, we can’t help but wish we were anywhere other than where we find ourselves. We assess any and all resources at our disposal to help us get out of the mess. In reality, however, we need far more than help. We need a miracle.

And maybe—just maybe—we’re wondering whether the God who could have prevented this horror from engulfing us really cares, or if we’ve blown things so badly that He might not extend His hand of mercy and help us in our time of need.

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It might benefit you to know there are people behind the scenes associated with Encouragement That Lasts who’ve each been plunged into paralyzing pain and fear at times. And even though those experiences have left their marks, they’ve also served to convince us more than ever that God is good, faithful, and worthy of our trust.

When your heart is pounding in trepidation on whatever is your plunge, our heart’s desire is for you to know and be sustained by these rock-solid, biblical truths:

You are valuable;

You’re loved by God;

You aren’t alone;

There is a safe way down; and

God is in the business of making beauty from ashes

You are valuable. God created people for relationship with Himself; this includes you (Genesis 1:27; Matthew 10:30-31). You were personally formed by Him in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13). God paid the greatest price imaginable for you to have relationship with Him: the precious blood of His Son, Jesus Christ (I Peter I:18-19). No higher authority or power exists than God (Psalm 95:3, Psalm 96:4-5) and it is God who has flagrantly proclaimed your immense value (I John 4:9-11).

You’re loved by God. You are loved with a pure, holy, and perfect love (Jeremiah 29:11). God loved you before you knew Him or sought to honor Him (Romans 5:8). He allowed His Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer and die for your sins and rise victoriously from the grave in order that you may have a clean, free, and eternal relationship with God through belief in Him (Romans 10:9-10). The child of God cannot be separated from the love of Christ, no matter what trouble or hardship, stark poverty, abuse, danger, or violence he or she may face (Romans 8:35-37). And any person who isn’t a child of God can become one (John 3:16).

You aren’t alone. Although we may feel alone on The Plunge, God tells us in His Word He will never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5). Brad and I might have wished for a wonderfully patient, expert skier with us on The Plunge a few times to coach us on where and how to make our next heart-pounding turns. In our spiritual plunges, Jesus is alongside to help us and He knows the way—intimately (Isaiah 53:3-5; Hebrews 4:14-16). He provides personal, flawless guidance through the Bible and the Holy Spirit (Psalm 119:105, Hebrews 7:25, Romans 8:26-27).

There is a safe way down. No matter the spiritual or emotional paralysis on our plunges, there is a safe way down for the believer in Jesus Christ (Isaiah 41:10, I Corinthians 10:13, Romans 8:28-30). He will not drop us or let us free fall (John 10:28). He tells us in His Word that we will face difficulties (“plunges”) when living in this world (John 16:33, I Peter 4:12-19). But they’re temporary and Jesus is preparing a place in which His followers will live with Him forever (John 14:2-3). Brad and I arrived safely in town after our skiing adventure and that same evening enjoyed a tremendous meal by a cheerful, crackling fireplace. Regardless of the intensity or number of plunges experienced, or the outcome, the child of God will safely arrive in His glorious presence, seated at His table, in joyful worship (Revelation 19:6-9).

God is in the business of making beauty from ashes. Plunges are serious. We pray for their pain to end and God understands that (Philippians 4:6-7). And while some influencers claim our unthinkable plunges aren’t God’s will for our lives, God’s Word tells us straight up that we’re going to have them (2 Timothy 3:1,12). In fact, God unabashedly instructs us to recognize them as a means of purifying us (James 1:2-4), glorifying Him (Luke 21:12-13) and building up eternal rewards (James 1:12). Through the lens of Scripture and evidencing proofs around us, we can see God taking the ashes of human pain and failure and turning them into beauty (Isaiah 61:1-11). Many of this world’s most wonderful written works, songs of worship, ministries, and powerful testimonies are breathtaking gifts God raised from the ashes of shattered dreams.

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Non-biblical “encouragement” is much like thin air under our ski tips. But what you’re reading today is all God-ordained encouragement in which you can trust. You are valuable. You’re loved by God Almighty. The child of God is never alone, and there’s a safe way down from any unthinkable plunges he or she may face. God is in the business of making beauty from ashes and He’s willing and able to do that in your life, just as He has in the lives of others.

Nahum 1:7 states, “The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows those who take refuge in Him.” Taking refuge in God begins with choosing to believe and trust in His Son, Jesus Christ (John 3:16).

We don’t have to understand why we face plunges in order to trust God through them.

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I’ve prayed, “Lord, I’m afraid and hate what is happening. But I love and trust You. Please, show me how to honor You through this.”

* * *

When this becomes the cry of our heart, the miracle of God’s gracious work of deepening our trust and intimacy with Him will occur. And ashes will turn into beauty.

June

June

People Lover. Author. Blogger. Speaker. Forgiven Much & Wild About God. Learn about June's latest book on her website.

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