To This Place
The Lord your God who goes before you will Himself fight on your behalf, just as He did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, just as a man carries his son, in all the way which you have walked until you came to this place.
~ Deuteronomy 1:30-31
To this place. A place of peace and rest and plenty, according to His riches and grace in Christ Jesus (not mine that I've earned, but His I've been given). I've been carried on His Spirit current...sometimes not knowing where I'll be a month or a week out. But when I know that where I am is where He has led me, it reminds me to trust him for the next step forward.
He carries us as a man carries his son. His beloved, cherished, cared for child. Do I deserve to be held in His arms, led by His hand? Not of myself, but that is really beside the point. Always faithful--that's what God is! He is true to himself even when we are not. Not because of who I am, or what I've done, but because of who He is and what He has done! And because I didn't do anything to deserve it, there's not really anything I can do to undeserve it, because it was never about me to begin with.
The gift is given. It is my choice each day to receive it, to live in the gift of grace, his mercies new every morning. This morning. In this place. In each place that He brings me to.
Then fear creeps in, planting lies of uncertainty in my garden of trust. Lies to choke the growing, rob the sunlight meant to nourish, compete for root space under the surface of our minds, our hearts. Lies that say this place has no future, this place has no meaning for the journey, no fruit worth cultivating to share. But the lies are lies, and their poison must be dug out. Not once a in a while, but regularly keeping our vigil against the unruly impostors. Infuse the soil with truth as a protective barrier!
So when I'm home, I trust. When I'm away, I trust. Trusting that this place, too, is a marker on my journey whose destination ultimately lies with Him. My life is hidden with Christ! (Col. 3:3)
If We Do Not Grow Weary
Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. ~ Galatians 6:9
Call it coincidence, but in the first week of the new year, a time that is infamous for vigorously begun and eventually retired resolutions, I've started both voice and piano lessons. Between lessons and practice time, that'll add up to roughly 12 hours of time each week spent sharpening those skills. I'm not starting from scratch on either front, and it's rewarding to already see some measurable progress! I'm hopeful that in a couple of months, I'll have made great strides...if I "do not grow weary."
What does it mean to lose heart? Why is motivation so often elusive?
Well, there's this quality called "discipline." And "diligence." And "perseverance." At the basic level, it's the ability to keep on with the course of action even when the "feels" aren't feeling it. To "for the joy set before us," (see Hebrews chapter 12) endure and push through the pain, soreness, brain overload, discouraging setbacks and mental blocks.
Motivation feeds off satisfaction and enjoyment. These two are sisters and best friends, so where the one is, you will not find the other far away. And while we often set goals to work toward, it is worth investing in our relish of the journey as well as the finish line.
That's why working out to music, and with a friend, helps me not give in to my sore muscles. Why treating each warm up exercise as a little song helps me not tense up from focusing too hard. Why playing a song I already love disguises the tedium of practicing chord progressions.
If it's like that for short-term pursuits, how much more for the long hauls!
Here are some ideas for keeping the mundane energized:
1. Partner up
Companionship is a surefire way to keep a task unboring. Whether unboring means irritating or fun depends on both your attitude and the person/s you are with--but at the very least monotony is held at bay! At best, you will be able to encourage each other and cheer each other on in a healthy, affirming way.
2. Eat soup with a side of chocolate (not that I don't like soup)
Incorporate an old hobby into your project, or combine the activity with another you like. Just be careful to not talk about the combo in the negative way you used to think about the less favorite of the two...or you may find the both of them demoted in your mind.
3. Write with your other hand
Stuck in a rut? Change it up! Dress up to go to the store, or turn kitchen clean up into a musical number. Figure your taxes while listening to a new soundtrack, or bake a foreign dessert to get in the patriotic spirit. Wait--what?!
4. Quit flapping and soar
Stop trying so hard to do it in your own strength. The Holy Spirit is working in us both to will (desire) and to act to fulfill his good purpose for us. We don't have to come up with our own plan. He's already got the perfect role for each of us. Have you asked the Director for his notes on this scene? Catch the right current and flow with it! Don't confuse being busy with being fruitful.
5. Measure twice, cut once
Some things are meant to fall away into oblivion, weights cast off in favor of more worthy treasures. The yardstick is not what pleases us in the moment, but what is pleasing to our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. His pleasure is the foundation of any lasting success, and we find joy by honoring him in the process as well as the product of our efforts.
Those are some things that help me. What helps you keep going when the road is rough? Please comment below! Meanwhile, I think I'll go practice "Edelweiss" on the piano....
Do you hear what I hear?
'Tis the season of frantic shopping and gifting and Christmas partying.
The deceiver schemes to avert our gaze from the Holy. And our God is Holy-Holy-Holy! Is it any wonder that the "holiday season" is often characterized by rush, stress, pressure, and overwhelming taxes imposed on our time? Even the noble causes and good intentions can get in the way if we let them, drowning out the quiet.
Hush! Do you hear it? Are you listening? It's past the rustling wrapping paper, beyond the crunch of two-day shipping for last minute online bargains. Have we forgotten in our giving our connection to the Love-Gift himself?
Imagine yourself a witness to the single most world-changing, dimension-shattering event:
The heavens shiver in delight at the melodies of stars, celebrating the triumph of mercy poured like cleansing myrrh over our ragged attempts to reach pure.
Angels marvel at the great reversal, the Divine spirit conceived into human earth-flesh to rescue broken souls.
Darkness gnashes jagged teeth as hell's worst fear reveals itself in the face of an innocent child. Lonely shepherds from beast-ridden hills become the unlikely heralds of the mind-blowing news. The Messiah, the promised deliverer is here!
Here? Bedded in drooled-on hay, birthed to an exhausted teenage mother in a town far from home? A respectable young carpenter has stepped in as surrogate dad, and comforts his bride in the aftermath of pushing God-flesh into sin-ravaged world. Did they--how could they?!--know the enormity of the salvation this newborn had come to accomplish?
While the people of Bethlehem went about their business. Their busyness. The haggling for food at market and the scolding of wayward children and the lodging of traveling kinsmen and standing in line for Roman registration. Who had time to notice a visit from God?
Step out of the chaos for a moment. Listen for the gentle whisper:
"Be still. Know that I AM God.
I've come to be with you...to be with you.
To be with you.
Be still. Spend time with me.
Get to know my heart for you, and for others.
My dreams for our family reach into all eternity!
Rest in my love--my love that outbid sin so that you could come close to me without shame.
Grow in your knowledge of my extravagant love toward you...in you, through you.
Rejoice! The glad news is still for all the people:
PEACE! Peace between God and man!"
He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name. ~ John 1:10-12
Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:18-21
This is my first post on the fresh face of my blog! I do like the new look. It's also feels more streamlined to have it incorporated into my main website.
Some things, like this one, change by our own choosing. We end chapters in favor of a brighter prospect, and put in the effort necessary to make the transition. Other changes come by the will of another, some for good and some for ill, and we then "recalculate" our route to best get back on track toward our ultimate goal, though perhaps by a different road. Still more change is brought simply by passage of time--this steady ticking of chronological progression that brings us to forks and bridges in our life paths. By one impetus or another, and sometimes combinations of these, change does come.
Change is exhilarating. Change is frustrating. Change is beautifully inevitable. I myself often experience a convoluted reaction, leaving me dancing between a swirl of leaves, their cherished colors fading, and the bare branches of unseen promise.
I learn I must die to live.
Like a hermit crab searching for a new shell because the old no longer fits, or a snake shedding its skin to reveal the new, so I must embrace the vulnerability of leaving behind the past to live Today in the place God has me. I find myself grieving sometimes over a loss, forgetting that "it came to pass", and what is yet in store has its own wonderfulness. It is not wrong to remember, but when the remembering bleeds into a habit of discontent, it is evidence of my focus having turned horribly inward. If the past was hurtful, remember God's grace to move on. If the chapter closing was beautiful, smile because it happened, and trust for more beauty among life's ashes. Because it is there. Oh, it is there!
Do not scorn the unfolding of the fresh rose in favor of fragrant dried petals. Should I not choose to relish the daily discovery of the new gifts God has given? Rejoice in the sure promise of those to come? I want to live in thankfulness for simply being a part of His story.
He is the master of great story, and the end is already foretold. If a chapter ends in suspense or leaves characters (even me!) in a position of difficulty, surely it will be resolved!
We can rest in the knowledge that this next page will draw us ever nearer to the glorious finish line. Will the last chapter leave us hanging? I don't know; but I've heard it on good authority that there is a sequel....
So times change. Circumstances change. We change. And always the old gives way to new, and everything seems different now. Good different? That's partly up to us. Every day there are new choices, and the paths we take lead to the next choices. Don't let what is past keep you from the right choice for Today!
Yes, I am an actress. Yet this is real life. Are these not the roles we "live" for? Complex, heartbreakingly real characters. People who encounter both obstacles and opportunities, sorrow and joy, pain and healing. These show us that there is something, Someone, greater than ourselves or our own personal drama.
I am grateful to be a sketching of His grace.
We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us....We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed....Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4)
Making The Connection
Wise words written by my grandfather on June 5th, 2000.
"To hope is to believe in the possibility, however slim, that things will change. It is to believe that given patience and time one can endure whatever may come before one’s situation improves and that things promised or principles held will eventually prevail.
To hope is to trust in the outcome no matter how costly or difficult the way, to hold on to one’s beliefs in spite of all indications to the contrary. Hope is that state of belief that enables all one’s resources to be focused on an outcome deemed impossible by all human odds whether that outcome is fulfilled in one’s lifetime or beyond.
Hope transcends time and events. Hope is the catalyst that triggers energy you did not know you had, to do what you didn’t know you could, in situations you never knew you’d face. Hope is the connecting rod between faith and fulfillment.
Hope is grounded in the unchanging One who validates our faith in his sovereign will. Hope stands between what we believe and the Eternal God in whom we believe to enable us to love even when there is no earthly reason for us to love."
This God Who Is
Today is a good day. Because I'm with God, and he is with me. Tomorrow will be a good day. Because even if I change and/or circumstances go crazy around me, God is still the same--good. And he won't leave me.
I love this God that loves and buys what this world says is worthless.
He breathes his life into our mess, and creates beauty from ashes.
He sees our confusion, our fallenness from his glorious plan, and reaches out.
He does what we cannot, and the result is grace.
How can we please him? By trusting, believing to the core of our soul that what he did trumps our black hole of debt.
By knowing that he is. And that he is ever and always enough.
I love this God that knows my pain and heals the wounds I am afraid to touch, binds my heart-fractures with his comfort. Bids me rest in his peace as he knits me back together in wholeness.
In quietness I wait. Listening. Hearing. His dear whisper speaks deeper than any voice I've ever known.
And his words are very life to me.
What does he desire of me? This I want to give.
A broken, repentant heart...to cherish his presence...pursue truth and kindness...to love as he loves.
I love this God who sees each life he created as infinitely precious.
Worth living. Worth loving. Worth dying for to save.
Who else gazes on this darkness of rebellion and deceit and decides to send his greatest treasure
to rescue a stray sheep? A stray flock? A stray human race?
And one of those sheep was I.
You drew near when I called on you; you said, "Do not fear!" O Lord, you have pleaded my soul’s cause; you have redeemed my life. ~ Lamentations 3:57-58
For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. ~ 1 Corinthians 6:20
Words Of Truth
Hello again! I worked on another film production last month (Surrender), so haven't kept up the ol' blog as closely as I'd thought I might so far this year.
I just got back from a well-known Christian film festival held in San Antonio, TX, where over 2000 people gathered to appreciate each other's months and years invested in stories they were inspired to bring to life on the screen, and forge or strengthen partnerships and teams for the next project down the road.
This particular festival has a specific and clearly expressed goal of publicly recognizing and honoring films that are excellent, meaningful, and affirming of Biblical values.
Our society has been deluged with a constant stream of media, to the point where many don't even pretend to be discerning in what they feed their minds, their souls on. Art and entertainment have never been neutral. Newscasters and filmmakers (the storytellers of our day) are not so much reflections, but rather shapers of culture around them, not only by the way they present their stories (based on fictional or real events), but more importantly by the sort of stories they choose to spend their finite time on this earth telling.
As the audience, we are also choosing who we will become both by how we ingest stories and simply which stories we take in. Last week at the festival I was greatly encouraged by the stories I saw being told. Stories that I believe will change lives, that will give people hope, and the courage to then participate in giving hope to others.
Two films I had a part in working on were screened: Indescribable and Alone Yet Not Alone. It was my first time seeing either one, which made it even more exciting. The two other films I had a chance to see (between hours upon hours of speaking with various filmmakers and attendees) were Return to the Hiding Place, which won Best Feature, and The Drop Box, a documentary which won two big awards: Sanctity of Life category winner, and the Grand Jubilee Prize for Best of Festival ($101,000).
I saw it at the Thursday showing, and in my opinion The Drop Box was well worthy of the win. (trailer: http://www.dropbox-movie.com/trailer.html) I haven't found it available for purchase anywhere yet, but when it is, I'm going to acquire a copy! If Return to the Hiding Place comes to a theater near you (next month or so?), I recommend it as well. The awards ceremony was fabulous, and the last portion was especially moving. Below is a video that will help give you a taste of it.
“I’d rather tell the plainest truth with $100,000 than the most sophisticated technological lie with $10 million or $100 million.”
The 22-year-old young man who made The Drop Box has a deep vision for producing media that will present Truth. Truth is not popular or politically correct, but it is powerful in the best of ways. We must study, prepare, work and pray to handle the Word of Truth honorably, in humility and reverence toward God, not mens' opinions.
Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
~ 2 Corinthians 4:1-2
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. ~ 2 Timothy 2:15
Stories matter, and they are worth telling well. Speaking of which, I'm actually heading out this week to go help on the script development team for another film. I'd very much appreciate your prayers for clarity, creativity, and wisdom as we work on characters, themes, plot arcs, and all the other strands that weave together to make a coherent and compelling narrative.
For now, I'll leave you with a favorite song:
What is a man to do when he finds himself on the right side of the law,
but on the wrong side of truth?
That is the question framed in Remember, a fascinating new film from father/son team Greg and Dallas Lammiman.
Remember brings us to the year 2050. In the aftermath of economic collapse the State has assumed authority over all spheres of life. Couples are matched to produce their quota of children, which are raised by state professionals from infancy until the point that they, too, enter the workforce. To foster compliance the adult citizenry are prescribed a memory-suppressant drug "to help relieve stress." The new socionomic system is carefully balanced, constantly monitored, and strictly enforced.
Capt. Carl Onoway (Justin Lewis) works for the Child Protection Agency. His job is to locate and prosecute insurgents, especially those who attempt to abduct children from the state facilities. One day Carl's routine is rocked by a strange message insisting that he remember and begin to make a difference. Further messages and encounters persuade him to rethink all he has believed.
Enter a clever twist on dual identity. Continuing to take the drug on weekdays only, he unwittingly uses his classified status at work to feed information to his weekend self, when he secretly works against the state to reunite parents with their children. His days "on the pill" become increasingly frustrating as his efforts to catch the mysterious new criminal continually come up short. Then a new law is passed—a law that puts his own wife and children in imminent danger. With the police-like CPA hot on his double trail, Carl must risk everything to rescue his family before it is too late.
Stories have a way of teaching us what we know in a way we haven't known it before. They also create valuable questions by helping us experience through fictional characters what decisions we might or might not make. If I were Carl, would I have the courage to remember? Would I choose to give up the life I know for the sake of a long-lost truth that society rejects?
In our world today, even with as messed up as some laws are, certain values have remained marvelously (well, mostly) intact. Family is still celebrated. Separating a newborn from it's mother without cause is still horrifying. Witnessing a surprise reunion of a military father with their young child wells sympathetic tears of joy.
In the world of Remember, the antithesis is preached. The God-given instinct to fight for the preservation of family is not tolerated, and living as a family is illegal. Religion is replaced with ideological pillars, the first and chief of which is "No father shall know his child, and no child shall know his father," a quote from none other than--gasp!—Plato of ancient Greece.
The contrast is startling, because in subtle ways our culture is set on a path to this same year 2050. And the responsibility is sobering. Because we intuit that the present is when we must prevent this future.
The filmmakers managed their resources well: filmed on location in Alberta, Canada with a budget of only four thousand dollars, the Lammimans created a feel of about one hundred times that. The visual effects strike a good balance and are neither mind-blowing nor distracting. The harsh lighting fits the target environment. Costumes are simple yet communicate effectively. A few performances tasted off, but the main cast is fairly solid. Unfortunately, multiple scenes suffer from poor (location) sound; the score, however, does an admirable job of supporting the story-arc. The set up lacks bang, but the pacing picks up, and lighter moments bubble into the plot appropriately.
From script to release was just over a year (that's a fast turnaround, in case you're wondering), and I am impressed with the results. Check out the bonus features on the DVD; this team made up for in ingenuity what they lacked in experience. If you have the gumption to make a feature with what most people scrape together for a local music video, remember Remember and forget the naysayers.
Overall, I give this film a thumbs up rating of three out of five stars. As a first feature from a new indie company, this is a brilliant beginning. If you like sci-fi and/or love your family and/or hope to have one someday (does that cover everyone?), I heartily recommend seeing it!
Movie Trailer/Website: http://theremembermovie.com/Remember/home.html
Buy the DVD: http://www.moviemakers.ca/store/#remember-store
Official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RememberMovie?ref=ts&fref=ts
Highly recommended for ages 13+. I suggest that parents preview the movie and use discretion before showing it to younger children. Positive values are highly affirmed. An excellent catalyst for family/group discussion afterward!
More details below . . . . (SPOILER ALERT!!)
Sensuality = None.
Language = None.
Suspense = It's there, but most 10-year-olds I know could handle it. My grandma loved this movie, but was on the edge of her seat almost constantly.
Violence = Low. No blood. Guns shoot laser beams that stun or occasionally kill, police sticks buzz an electric current upon contact, and an injection-like dose of the memory-blocking drug renders people temporarily unconscious.
Drugs = Memory-blocking pills resembling vitamins are taken almost daily; these are commonly referred to as "MemRelief," but occasionally as "[prescription] drugs."
Other = Topics mentioned include pregnancy, birth, sterilization, abortion, eugenics, and withdrawal. Flashback/visions might be disturbing for a younger audience. Also, during one scene, children start screaming (first from surprise, and then mostly because everyone else is); the scene is intended to be more funny than scary, but if your child tends to imitate, please exercise caution. ;)
Feel free to ask questions or comment below.
Happy New Year!
God's Great Gift
Below is a poem I wrote a couple of years back to highlight what the fuss should really all be about. Please feel free to share it! What's the good news for if not to "tell it on the mountain, over the hills, and everywhere"?
God With Us
(c)2010 Rebekah Cook
Today we celebrate an event by Jewish prophets foretold
Anticipated and long-awaited by both the young and old
Today is when we commemorate our divine Savior's birth
And the hour that marked his entrance as a Son of Man on earth
What made this so wondrous and so marvelous an affair
A time so worth remembering for year upon mortal year?
What made this little infant boy attract the rapt attention
Of local shepherds and eastern kings, and not some other men?
His birth announcement was proclaimed by mass angelic song
Accompanied by starlight bursts as heaven joined the throng
They spoke of this natal miracle in majestic harmony
Declaring his identity and royal pedigree:
"The essence of Love incarnate, immortal Truth revealed
The exact representation of the Father, approved and sealed
The Word of God made very man and draped in human flesh
Eternal Lord of all creation, Son of righteousness."
The Light of all the world had come to seek and save the lost
The Source of Life to ransom us—HIS life is what it cost
The blameless, stainless Lamb of God was stained with sin's full cup
As the Prince of Peace paid purchase price for what we'd given up
Emmanuel! God with us! Bask in that most glorious thought
Our Champion came to rescue us, and won the fight He fought
Who could've known? Who would've guessed the baby who came that night
Was the very One to take our mixed-up world and make it right?
This is the news that bears repeating, and begs to be spread well
The Shaper of the universe has come to us to dwell
He lived and died, yet lives today (He conquered death, you know)
To offer all who come to Him redemption's joyful glow
Our Counselor, Teacher, Comforter, Healer—Jesus is his name
The Holy One, the Risen One of everlasting fame
The reason for the season is not merely a story we tell
It's a Person that makes my heart swell with a gladness none can quell!
As we revel in the wonder of Jesus' first coming and eagerly anticipate his return, may we follow in his steps of undaunted faith, contagious joy, and sacrificial love.
Merry Christmas to you and yours!
Painful, Confusing, and Inconvenient
The first snow of the year has fallen, and, so far, has stayed. The brilliant whiteness adds to seasonal cheer and travel hazards. Love it or hate it, winter is here!
Cold, yet cozy. Beautiful, yet dangerous. Fun...and annoying. The beauty may even prickle to the touch.
Metaphor for life?
Most of us have picked a favorite season out of the year, if only to have an answer when asked. Each have their pros and cons, and our selfish psyche picks which ones to remember and wishes away the rest. But as there is a "reason for the season" of Christmas (which approaches with astonishing pace!), there is likewise a purpose for each season we encounter in our lives.
We know that seasons change, but we do not always have the time or the inclination to prepare for them. Sometimes the change seems to come without warning....and not all the seasons are welcome. While there may be the occasional Indian summer of unexpected happy adventures, more often it seems that the interruption is of a sinister nature: accidents, sickness, unemployment, heartbreak, or the death of a loved one. What do you do with that?
Perhaps the most troubling question is: WHY? Why did this happen? (or not happen...) Why did this happen to me? Why did this happen now? Why shouldn't I give up now? Why doesn't it just go away? While those questions may have answers, maybe that's the wrong sort of question for us to be asking at first. Maybe the essence of Why is a distraction, to keep us sitting at the base of the hurdle in our way, analyzing the structure and philosophizing about the placement on the track instead of jumping or climbing over to continue the race.
We mean well, of course. If we know Why, then we know what to do about it, right? We would know how to prevent it from happening again, and eventually have a problem-free life. Right?
Wrong: "...in this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
I have several friends who were/are involved in debate clubs growing up. Something they have learned is that if you let your opponent frame the questions for you, or fall into a default mode, you lose the argument. All right, fine. So what questions could we be asking instead? Well, here are some that I use for target practice when I'm "trouble shooting." :-)
What is the trouble/s? It is said that identifying the problem is the first step to dealing with it. While not imperative for initial action, understanding the issue is certainly necessary to achieve a long-term resolution of it. And have you noticed that troubles like to travel in company? When I'm feeling overwhelmed, it really helps me to write down a list of all the variables trying to stress me out, so that the nebulous mass doesn't keep churning in the back (or front) or my mind. Then I talk the list over with God.
Whom does this affect? Something I have found is that it helps to shift the focus from myself to others. Obviously this is affecting me personally, but while I might feel alone, I'm usually not. Even seemingly isolated troubles often have ripples into other people's lives. What can I do to ease their pain and better understand their burden?
Who am I fighting against? Regardless of who or what I think caused the problem, I need to recognize who the enemy really is: Satan. The devil will use whatever he can to distract me and trick me into putting my energy into warring against anything else. But although the symptoms vary with each case, it's hard to go wrong with targeting him as the ultimate perpetrator.
Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. ~ Ephesians 6:11-12
How has God shown himself strong in the past? I remind myself that God is greater than my trouble/enemy. I read the Bible and find story upon true story of how God has shown his power and grace in strong, effective ways. I search out modern-day testimonies from friends or even strangers that relate to my situation. I review the specific faithfulness and goodness of God in my personal history. When I can't remember certain events well, I try to find someone else who was there that can help me recall it better. It also helps to write down answered prayers in a journal to look back at.
How do I fight? Instead of reacting in fear, doubt, hate, worry, griping, or other such destructive manner, I strive to respond with the opposite. These are some tactics in my arsenal:
How can I glorify God through this? There comes a point when how we respond to hardship contributes to answering the Why. When we submit our lives to the Lord Jesus, God works in our lives to bring good out of even the things that Satan meant to destroy us (Romans 8:28). We can partner in this process by keeping our eyes open for opportunities to give glory to God along the way.
"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." ~ John 9:3
As you may have guessed, this is majorly a distillation of what I am learning from my recent life struggles: nursing my sister when she was suffering from a recurring high fever, dealing with a nasty rash on my own skin, resisting depression after the high of a long film shoot, ongoing car trouble, paying unexpected bills, and being there for friends in a hard place. It's been a hard fall.
But God has brought us through as victors, not victims! God has healed us and we experienced a recovery much faster than normal. I've been receiving unexpected gifts and funds that have covered all the expenses, and now have a wonderfully functional vehicle. And despite my many imperfections and inexperience, he has somehow used me to help others through some rough spots at the same time. I am in awe of what he has done—and is still doing!
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
....All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:7-9, 15-18
Yes, life can be very painful, and often confusing. No, there doesn't seem to be a shortage of inconvenient circumstances cropping up from the infamous land of Nowhere with the unnerving speed of Suddenly.
But who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
"For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:35-39