Choose this day Whom you will serve.
— Joshua 24:15 ESV
I recently summarized on social media some of the choices I had to make to move forward in the aftermath of the earth shifting beneath my feet. As we end our time together in this Daily Treasure devotional, I’d like to share that post with you now as a means of grace. Those intentional choices or “disciplines” that helped me move forward toward restoration after trauma and crisis. It’s my prayer that my journey will encourage you to continue to choose to follow Jesus, to surrender to His purposes and live in confidence that the God Who Sees, will never forsake you or break the promises of His presence. To summarize, in my experience, it takes both grace and discipline to move forward in the aftermath of trauma and crisis. Restoration is truly a gift from God, but it also requires effort and intention on our part. They are deliberate choices that really make a difference. The following “disciplines” have helped me tremendously as I tried to recover from devastating difficulties in my life:
- Discipline #1: Hope. The discipline of hope involves saying yes to your restoration and actually asking for what you need. It also involves choosing hope as an attitude when it’s far removed from what you’re actually feeling.
- Discipline #2: Trust. It’s always a conscious choice, a true discipline, to remember what you know of God’s character and to hold on to the reality that God sees you. During hard times, it’s even more of a challenge, but it’s the key to experiencing God’s comfort. The Psalms often speak of God as a refuge, a hiding place. But you can’t experience this great gift unless you choose to trust Him.
- Discipline #3: Waiting and watching. This involves listening in stillness, waiting on the Lord, trusting His timing, actively looking for the signs of His presence and His activity. . . . For me, this kind of watchful silence is sometimes the most strenuous discipline of all.
- Discipline #4: Honesty and transparency. In the aftermath of trauma, that could mean shouting at God and telling Him how you feel. It can mean refusing to put on a happy face or . . . insist that everything is alright when it isn’t. There are certainly times when you need to control your feelings for the sake of others. But your restoration absolutely depends on finding a place to confess your honest thoughts and feelings—at very least, in prayer, in a journal, or with a few friends who are close to you.
- Discipline #5: “Controlling the wild horses.” I love the way my friend Emily Davis, who has endured more trauma than most people I know, describes this. She’s referring to that tendency we all have, but trauma victims have more than most, to let our “vain imaginations” run away with us (see Romans 1:21–22 KJV). If we give in just a little to fear and panic and worry, those emotions can quickly take control of our lives. So while we need to be honest with our feelings, we also need to be alert to the ways our thoughts can run away with us and learn to rein in the runaway thoughts.
- Discipline #6: Obedience instead of instinct. Our instincts can serve us well in the early moments of trauma. A “fight or flight” response could actually save our lives in an accident. But as we move from survival toward restoration, our instincts can begin to get in the way of what God wants to do with our lives. Your instinct may be to pull away and withdraw when you need to press in to relationships. . . . Because I am an active, “can do” type of person, I tend to rush in instead of waiting on God’s timing. But I’m learning (slowly!) that obedience sometimes has to trump instinct in this, too. We have to act on the light we’re given, do what we know to do. And all this takes both courage and discipline.
- Discipline #7: Forgiveness. This is perhaps the most difficult of the disciplines … and the most healing. It’s not something you can accomplish all at once or something you can do without God’s help. But the more you move toward forgiveness, the more you free yourself to move forward in your life.
- Discipline #8: Gratitude. This means simply looking for signs of God’s presence in our lives and resolving, by an act of will, to give thanks in all things (see 1 Thess. 5:18). Doing this even when it feels forced or artificial has a way of opening our eyes and shifting our perspective to see what God is doing.
- Discipline #9: Modeling faith and integrity. This absolutely does not mean faking a faith, covering up doubts, or sacrificing our integrity to our witness. But it’s good to realize that the way we live our own restoration can have a powerful impact on other people’s relationships with God. The more honestly and trustingly we can walk, the more integrity we manage, the more we confess our mistakes but accept forgiveness … the more others will be blessed and helped, and the more full our own restoration will be.
When the earth shifts beneath your feet, may you fall more in love with Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who willingly made the intentional choice to take on your sins and mine, to pay the penalty we could not pay, to sacrifice His life for ours, that very One Who rose from the dead, conquering death so that those who love Him will never die, but experience eternity with Him.
Dear Jesus, I love You. May every minute of my life reflect that love, in the good times and when the earth shifts beneath my feet.
Adapted from: The God Who Sees You: Look to Him When You Feel Discouraged, Forgotten, or Invisible by Tammy Maltby; David C. Cook, 2012
— Tammy Maltby, Guest Writer