when you’re desperate to find joy in the midst of pain

http://annvoskamp.com/2017/01/when-youre-desperate-to-find-joy-in-the-midst-of-pain/

Some of the best conversations are with those individuals who are real, relatable and at times raw in their pursuit of a fulfilled relationship with Christ. Kristi Watts, former co-host of The 700 Club and author of Talk Yourself Happy is that person. Who would have thought that behind her smile was a depth of brokenness that few could have imagined yet is the very thing that makes her smile that much more poignant. Her writing gives voice to the believer who has been beaten down personally, professionally and emotionally yet whose hope and happiness can be rediscovered in the WORD! The Word OF God. The Word that IS God… and the WORD that flows from our hearts, thru our mouths, holding onto the promises of God. It’s a grace to welcome Kristi to the farm’s front porch today…

guest post by Kristi Watts

It was January 2004, and my ex-husband had recently walked out for good.

I sat in my driveway completely numb, trying to muster enough strength to get out of the car. It was pitch black outside.

My mother greeted me at the door with my chubby little three-month-old baby in her arms. I reached out to take him and held him tightly, as if I was holding on to a life jacket.

Neither my mother nor I said a word, but the expressions on our faces spoke volumes. I walked into the family room and sat on the couch where my dad was watching an old black-and-white cowboy movie on the television.

“Well?” my mother said softly, as if trying not to disrupt the sorrow gradually filling the room. “How did the meeting go?”

“Okay, I guess. They were sympathetic and understanding,” I mumbled. “They suggested that it may be best for me to step down as a cohost of The 700 Club.” Tears were stinging my eyes as I heard the words fall like bricks out of my mouth.

“With the new baby and the situation with my husband leaving … It’s a lot, and they just want to make sure I’m okay.”

My words trailed off as I looked down at my little baby. I wasn’t clear whether this situation with my job was temporary or permanent, but regardless, it was the final punch that took me down.

I was done.

I was past discouraged.

I was defeated.

I handed the baby over to my dad while I went into my bathroom. I just wanted to be alone. All lights were off except for a dim light peering through the crack from the adjoining room. Although my bathtub was large I sat on one side, knees pressed in to my chest, my body curled up into a ball. I was trying to prevent any more blows from attacking my heart.

My life was in the middle of a storm, and it felt as if everything was hitting all at once.

My husband leaving.

Raising a newborn on my own.

The discovery of empty bank accounts.

And now, the uncertainty of a career I had invested in for years.

One word kept running over and over in my mind. Failure. I told myself that I had failed in my marriage.

Failed in my faith.

Failed in my ministry.

And even failed my son.

“I am a failure,” I said, only loud enough for my ears to hear.

The dialogue within my mind made the room grow darker as the words I held on to gradually sucked away the remaining hope that lingered within my heart.

“I should have prayed more and believed more. My faith should have been stronger. Then maybe my marriage wouldn’t have failed. I get why they removed me from my position in ministry. Who am I to minister to anyone? And my son. I’ve failed him too. I failed to give him the same kind of two-parent, strong Christian home I grew up in. Now, I’m nothing more than a statistic. Another black woman raising her black child on her own.”

Just then, I glanced down at my belly that was still misshapen from having given birth. My body looked foreign.

Stretch marks and saggy skin now covered my usually tight abs and hips. It was all so symbolic.

I couldn’t see the beauty in the story that my body displayed. All I saw was the disfigurement and permanent scars. As I inspected every flaw, all I could say to myself was, “I’m broken. I’m damaged. I’m used goods. Who is ever going to want me now?”

The knock on the bathroom door momentarily jolted me out of my pity party.

It was my mother carrying a warm cup of milk and a small plate of toast. I could see by the glint of her eyes that she had been crying. They had that glassy look from the tears that pooled around them. Sensing that I needed to be alone, she placed the cup and platter at the edge of the tub, kissed me on my cheek, and walked out.

“I love you,” she said as she paused to look at me before closing the door.

“I love you, too, Mom.”

When I crawled into bed that night, I curled up into a fetal position. I felt so miniscule compared to the magnitude of my issues.

I was scared they would break me. My heart was so heavy, I couldn’t pray. I wanted to pray, but I was too distraught to form the words.

Besides, I had convinced myself the circumstances within my life had deemed me a failure in the eyes of God as well. And if that was the case, I doubted God would listen to the prayers of someone like me anyway.

So, I decided to cage my words. I was tired of talking. After all, for months every conversation had begun and ended with the bad going on in my life.

Talking only about the bad forced me to see only the bad. And constantly seeing the bad made me feel, well, bad.

***

Sometimes it seems as if those times in our lives that are filled with one difficult thing after another are just what they look like on the surface: bad. No redeeming qualities.

But the truth is, it’s through our challenges that we gain a deeper insight into the heart, the ways, and the Word of God.

It’s in the secret place—that quiet, gut-honest, one-on-one place where we look God in the eye, pour out our hearts, listen for His whisper, and begin to praise Him again—that we learn dependency on God and gain a greater understanding of how God is trustworthy in every aspect of our lives.

The psalmist put it this way:

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High

Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;

My God, in Him I will trust.” (Psalm 91:1–2 nkjv)

So many things come out of our trials and tribulations.

We learn things about ourselves that we were most likely unaware of, including things we are capable of, driven by, and get tripped up on. All things that God reveals to us so we can go to Him for help.

It’s often in the difficult times that we realize we have nothing without the presence and power of God.

More often than not, what we discover are mind-sets, perspectives, and behavior patterns that have been stumbling blocks, preventing us from obtaining all God’s promises for our lives.

God’s heart is for us to see them and repent of them, so we can become free of them.

When we feel as if life is falling apart and our issues begin to bubble to the surface, God wants to draw our attention back to Him.

Regardless of what sends us into the presence of God, though, it’s important to get into His presence and learn what it is to praise Him in the midst of our pain.

Because in His presence is hope, restoration, and redemption.

 

Kristi Watts is best known for her role as a former co-host on the award-winning television program The 700 Club and for her in-depth interviews of authors, celebrities, and public figures such as former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. She recently launched Kristi Watts Ministries to provide Bible study tools, video blogs, and speaking engagements.

When one’s words focus on faulty perspectives, faith is quickly derailed, but by remembering God’s blessings and verbally claiming His promises, hearts change. Using biblical principles, Talk Yourself Happy: Transform Your Heart By Speaking God’s Promises, illustrates the importance of relying on God to tame our tongues and train our minds, and it exposes the hidden traps that keep Christians from living lives of happiness, empowering readers with the ultimate transformation of their hearts.

[ Our humble thanks to Thomas Nelson Publishers for their partnership in today’s devotion ]


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