How do we find joy amid hardship or pain? When we desire for God to rescue, restore, and heal, how do we hold onto hope in the waiting? Is it really possible to give thanks in ALL circumstances?
In this episode, Valerie L. McMahon shares a message of hope and the possibility of being warriors in the battles of our lives. Through Praise and Prayer, it is possible to be UNSTOPPABLE.
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Transcript is autogenerated
LRL Ep 79
[00:00:00] Denisha Workizer: How do we find joy in the midst of hardship or pain? When we desire for God to rescue, restore and heal, how do we hold on to hope in the waiting? And is it really possible to give thanks in all circumstances? Listen to this week's conversation with Valerie as she shares a message of hope and possibility of how we can be warriors in the battles of our lives.
[00:00:27] Denisha Workizer: Through praise and prayer, it is possible for you to be unstoppable, and if you're looking for a community to share life with, would you join us? We host a Facebook group called Living the Reclaimed Life, and we would love to see you there. Now let's dive into today's. Welcome to Living the Reclaim Life podcast.
[00:00:49] Denisha Workizer: I'm Danisha. We're glad you're here for conversations that revive hope, inspire healing, and encourage you to live a vibrant life with Christ. So grab a cup of [00:01:00] coffee as we chat with today's guest. Many of Valerie McMahon from Reclaimed Story, but if she is new to you, I wanna introduce her. Is it okay if I introduce you a little bit,
[00:01:13] Val: Valerie?
[00:01:13] Val: Of course. Hello? Hello .
[00:01:15] Denisha Workizer: Valerie is a wife. She is a mom of four. She is a published author and she is also the ministry and content coordinator for Reclaim Story, which this podcast is a ministry of. And I'm really looking forward to today's conversation, Valerie, because we know that not only have we been through it in our life, but so many people we sit in that time where maybe there's some suffering going on in our life or some pain.
[00:01:41] Denisha Workizer: And as we're waiting on God, how do we find joy in the midst of it? So Valerie, I'm so excited that you're gonna take us into kind of a deep study today. Yeah. Of how do we have joy in the midst of suffering. So
[00:01:54] Val: let's kick it off. Yes. And I wouldn't say I'm an expert, I would say I am [00:02:00] a student
[00:02:01] Val: So we're gonna look at the expert and we're gonna look at the word of God today. So I would encourage you if you are in a place where you can open up your Bible app or open up your paper Bible and join us in this study. But to answer your question, Danisha our key verse that we're gonna be focusing on today comes.
[00:02:20] Val: First Thessalonians, that's a mouthful, right? First Thessalonians, there are two of these books in the Bible and they were actually letters written by the missionary Paul, who was an apostle of Jesus Christ. And he, that's basically a fancy word for he was a minister a servant of Jesus Christ. And his job was after Jesus returned to heaven, was to spread the gospel.
[00:02:43] Val: And so we are gonna be hearing from him. Some of the letters that he wrote, but here's the verse we wanna focus on today. Be joyful. Always. Wow. Just take that in a little bit. . Be joyful. Always. Pray Continually give thanks in all [00:03:00] circumstances for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. And so Danisha, we're gonna look during our time and our conversation today at three ways I believe.
[00:03:12] Val: That makes it possible and gives us hope to be able to endure suffering. Endure that time of waiting while we're waiting for God to answer. And that is first that we have to be receivers, Danisha. Are you a good receiver?
[00:03:26] Denisha Workizer: Not always . I drop the ball all the
[00:03:28] Val: time, boom, boom, boom. If that's a sports reference.
[00:03:31] Val: So much of our Christian life, and I don't know about you, but I have struggled. Sometimes maybe you've heard that word, Performance based Christianity, I was a performer all my life. I was in theater. I was a speaker and so it's easy. These passions and talents and strengths, you have to I don't know, have it seep through, but maybe in not the best way, right?
[00:03:50] Val: To how we approach God. And I think often in the Christian life, we think we got to produce everything ourselves. Like we gotta produce joy, we gotta produce happiness, we gotta produce peace. [00:04:00] If only I can do this and that, then I will have that. But we're gonna talk about how God designed us to be receivers.
[00:04:09] Val: Doers. We had another podcast where we talked about we are human beings, not human doings. So really the first thing we're gonna talk about is what does it look like to receive the gift of joy from the Holy Spirit? Danisha? It's a gift. We don't have to, We can't. We can't produce it on our own.
[00:04:28] Val: When was there a time that you felt that it was hard to have joy, but then it just came outta nowhere? And you knew without a doubt it was from God.
[00:04:38] Denisha Workizer: The first thing that comes to my mind is remembering when my kids were little like babies. And. Not sleeping for days at a time.
[00:04:47] Denisha Workizer: And to be honest, I started beating myself up. Like my kids are little. Everybody's telling me I need to enjoy this time. I need to embrace it and love it. And I was sometimes crying in my [00:05:00] closet because I hadn't slept in two days. And so I remember that being a time where I kept telling myself, I should be joyful right now, but I don't feel joy.
[00:05:09] Denisha Workizer: I feel very tired, and I have no idea what I'm. And so I remember that there were moments in that when I can really say that God brought that joy. When I may have been exhausted, but I was snuggling a sleeping baby on a couch and going, Okay, I'm loving this moment. Yeah. I think there's sometimes we put pressure on ourselves of how we should feel when we can say, it's just hard yet.
[00:05:29] Denisha Workizer: Yeah. There was still joy. But I remember specific moments when my heart was so full, sitting on the couch with a sleeping baby or watching them discover something new like their toes are rolling over, or those little things where you're like, Okay, this is amazing. And I really felt like those moments were gifts from God, even when things were a little chaotic
[00:05:49] Val: and you were.
[00:05:50] Val: You were being still, you were just simply being a mom and God allowed you to receive that. So if we look at our [00:06:00] passage today and what we're gonna be studying in God's Word and first Thessalonian so Paul would do these missionary trips to these places and there weren't believers there.
[00:06:10] Val: And so he went to a place called Nikka. And he preached the gospel well. And these were Jews. So these were people in the Jewish culture. They had not accepted that Jesus was the Messiah. So Paul preached the gospel to them. As we know, even in our modern day, there were some that received it, and then there were some that weren't.
[00:06:30] Val: The. People that weren't, became very hostile toward the people that had received Jesus and were persecuting them. And you know we have that right and are still in our world today. But this is what is so powerful and I wanna read you this first. And it comes from first Ians one, six. And I would encourage you after this podcast to read these two letters.
[00:06:51] Val: They are so amazing and encouraging, but he says this, You became imitators of us and of the Lord. For you, welcome the [00:07:00] message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And this is the crux of what we're talking about today. They were enduring so much and yet they still received the gospel.
[00:07:15] Val: They accepted Jesus and they continued to live for him even though they were, I. Danisha it says, And Paul continues to say that, there was just, continual persecution, if you look at some background to what was going on at the time. There were mobs, like mobs just following them around and just, trying to discourage them.
[00:07:36] Val: And yet their faith only grew in the midst of the suffering. And I was thinking, Right here it says that we, that they receive joy by the power of the Holy Spirit. And that's, I think one of the first things I want you all to grasp hold of, just like Danisha shared her story, is that you just need to receive.
[00:07:58] Val: And if you're not a good receiver, , [00:08:00] pray that God will make you that because God has it. He already has it available. He has so much joy that he wants to give you and you just need to. But this is what's interesting, Danisha, as as you follow along, and for Sessons it says that they turned from their idols.
[00:08:17] Val: They turned from what they were depending on other than God to the one true living God. And it made me think as I was studying this, how. When we are struggling, right? When we have a crisis, when we have something going on, what do we wanna do? We wanna fix it, right? We just wanna end it. We want it, we think that, like you said, like you felt guilty, like there was something you needed to do, right?
[00:08:40] Val: It's okay, I have to do this. I have to do, I have to do something. I feel out of control. And so sometimes we over control things, and this is a question I have for you. Why is it so tempting to turn to other things other than God when we're struggling? Why is it so tempting, Dan? For me,
[00:08:59] Denisha Workizer: it's control.[00:09:00]
[00:09:00] Denisha Workizer: It's because I think I can do something about it, and so I try to do it my own strength instead of leaning into the Lord.
[00:09:06] Val: Yeah. Yeah. And like you'd mentioned about being tired sometimes we're just so tired. We just want the suffering to end. We just want the pain to end. And I'm not minimizing that at all.
[00:09:16] Val: I had a period of about nine years and even still have some struggles with some dizziness. I was. Dizzy for nine years. It's like nobody had an answer. And I'm just like, I'm just so tired. I just wanna take matters in my own hands. I don't wanna wait any longer. And like you said, and I think there's some other reasons, sometimes we're just impatient, right?
[00:09:35] Val: We're just like, we're tired, we're impatient, we wanna control. Maybe we're just doubting God, where are you? And we just want the suffering to end. But this is what I want you guys to think about is what if God. Has a purpose for our suffering. Ugh. That is just so hard sometimes to think about But as Paul was encouraging the church, he said, You have become imitators of us and of [00:10:00] the Lord in the midst of your suffering.
[00:10:01] Val: And this is what I think is key Danisha. We become witnesses. We become storytellers of who God is and what he has done in the midst of our suffering. That's the purpose of suffering is that we can help others know true peace. We can help others know true joy because we are saying, God, you got it.
[00:10:23] Val: I don't Got it. I'm trusting you. And so we can become storytellers, witnesses of who God is in our suffering. And I've experienced that. I think I've shared on this podcast before that my brother, my only sibling committed suicide over 20 years ago. And that was the, I would say, the hardest thing that I had ever experienced up until that point.
[00:10:44] Val: I was 21 when it happened. In the midst of my grief, which there's time for healing and grief, I thought, Okay, what am I gonna do with this? But there has been person, after person I've been able to encourage and have been encouraged by, because I went through.
[00:10:59] Val: [00:11:00] That suffering. And I'm sure you've experienced that too. That's why we have reclaimed story, right? Janeisha, but
[00:11:06] Denisha Workizer: Exactly. And we see so often that our victory can be a victory for other people. Yes. Or others victories, can be a victory for us. So there is definitely, there's God doesn't cause our pain, but there is purpose in our
[00:11:19] Val: pain.
[00:11:19] Val: Yes. And that kind of brings us, back to that imagery of waiting, right? Being in this waiting room and we're like, Okay, God, how long is this gonna take? And so in addition to just being in a posture of receiving, to receive that gift of joy from God, knowing that he sees you in your suffering the next thing is we have to pray.
[00:11:39] Val: Danisha. We have to pray as long as it takes. And you I think another thing in our culture, right? We often say, Oh, one and done . It's I don't know. That's a phrase I've heard people talk about the children. Yep. One and done. But you know what? That does not. Apply to prayers, . It can, God can do anything.
[00:11:55] Val: God is a miracle worker. Sometimes you say a prayer and there's instant healing, there's [00:12:00] instant answers, Amen to that. But if you look at scripture, if you look in the Bible over and over again, there are more verses encouraging us. To pray persistently to hold on. In fact, there is a parable right about the persistent widow of, the widow just going to the judge and pleading her case, and he's Okay, I'll give you what you want because you were so persistent and not that God gives us everything we want.
[00:12:25] Val: He gives us what we need. I think that is one of the hardest things, but that's what our verse goes back to, right? Be joyful. Always pray continually. And I gotta tell you guys, there's. Two. This is how you know when you can stop praying. You wanna know the answer. Yes. Here we go. You stop praying till you have an answer or till Jesus comes back.
[00:12:48] Val: God's so encouraging Valerie , but I'm just telling you what scripture says, I was just so convicted about them. Wow, we pray until we have an answer. It may not be the. We were hoping for, [00:13:00] right? Sometimes the answer's no, but scripture tells us. The Bible tells us we pray until Jesus comes back.
[00:13:07] Val: And you may see this on some of our social media throughout the month, but. I'm gonna just read a couple verses. Colossians four, two. Be persistent in prayer and keep alert as you pray, giving thanks to God. Ephesians six 18. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Romans 8 26 and the Holy Spirit helps us.
[00:13:28] Val: That's again, that receiving posture. We don't have to know what to pray. The Holy Spirit intercedes for us. Philippians four, six. Do not be anxious about anything. Everything by prayer and petition. You guys petition means you continue and continue to ask. Another a couple other verses.
[00:13:44] Val: Colossians four, two. Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Ephesians six 18. Pray at all times in the Spirit. And we're gonna hear a blog later this month that kind of talks about that, you hear about, She's a prayer warrior and I'm [00:14:00] not . Oh, I have thought that so many times.
[00:14:02] Val: Yes. Have you? Yeah. And that's what we're trying to encourage our audience is that we are all, we can all be prayer warriors, so watch out for that blog coming out. It's so encouraging that we. All have the potential. We all have the ability. God has gifted us the ability to continue to pray. So I know that may not be the look answer you're looking for, but that is the second part of our verse.
[00:14:25] Val: Pray continually. We are really, we are asked by the Lord to not give up. Just right when the disciple said, How many times do we have to forgive somebody that keeps hurting us or keeps offending us and Jesus is? You forgive them every time they offend you. The same with our prayers and even, I think I, I've seen a quote Danisha, a post that, that even your tears.
[00:14:50] Val: Are prayers, right? You may not even be able to utter another word, but your tears are prayers So I don't know, what do you think Danisha? What do you think about praying? As long as it [00:15:00] takes ? At
[00:15:00] Denisha Workizer: first I'm thinking, Oh man, until Jesus comes back or I have an answer, I'm still praying for things that I was, began praying for years ago.
[00:15:08] Denisha Workizer: Wow. Yeah, and I think one of the things is that posture of receiving, like you said, of receiving the. From the Lord, but it's also in surrender. Yes. As I think about praying, there's times I've prayed out of begging, to be honest. . . And that really wasn't a place of faith for me in those moments.
[00:15:26] Denisha Workizer: It was a place of Lord please. Yeah. And he hears those prayers too. Oh yeah. . But I, I. As I'm thinking about that, I'm thinking it's the places where I've surrendered it in prayer. When I find peace, yes, where I can really leave it to God and go, Okay, I'm not gonna try to pick this back up.
[00:15:41] Denisha Workizer: I'm gonna go as you lead me and step into the things you're asking me to do, but I'm gonna leave this at your feet and surrender. And that is really where I have found peace and that praying
[00:15:50] Val: continually. Yeah. And that's just perfect because I was gonna share about that as that like we talked about before, like when we're faced with a problem, a [00:16:00] battle, a hardship we wanna fix it.
[00:16:02] Val: We feel like sometimes we have to do something or maybe we feel guilty. Oh, okay, I caused this problem so I gotta fix it. But you just said exactly. One of my favorite verses in Exodus 1414, it says it. God will fight our battles. We need only to be still. And what is that? What does that mean?
[00:16:23] Val: That stillness is what you just said, Esia. It's surrender that we are called you guys. We are called to be still surrender and pray. Honestly, I think that's, When we are able to really pray like those verses I just read with devotion with a humble heart is only in surrender. And again that just that verse, Exodus 1414, that God fights our battles again, that just confirms that we are receivers.
[00:16:52] Val: That we are receivers of the victory that God has already won. And again, Psalm 46 10, be [00:17:00] still and know that he is God. I've been challenged by that verse recently because I'm a, okay, I gotta take care of this. I cause this problem, I gotta take care of it, or something's not right in the home.
[00:17:11] Val: My marriage, family, whatever. And I was challenged by that. It's what does that really. To know that God is God and that is surrender. To know he's in control. To know he's got it. To know he's sovereign. That just means that he's, he sees what we don't see and his plans and purposes are not going to fail.
[00:17:31] Val: But to know that he sees in our suffering Danisha and he longs to strengthen. An intimacy with him in relationship with him. Our contentment, our joy and our faith all come from him. So I'm so glad you said that because that really helps us to have that posture of that continual persistent prayer as knowing that we just have to be still and God fights our battles.
[00:17:56] Val: And so that kind of goes into our last part of that verse, right? Be [00:18:00] joyful, always. Pray continually give thanks in all circumstances. How Danisha, how do we look for the good when the going is tough and the going is rough? How have you experienced that? How have you been able to see the good in the bad?
[00:18:18] Denisha Workizer: I know sometimes for me, I have even had to ask, God, give me your eyes to see. And sometimes it's something simple. A lot of times for me it's E, this sounds silly, but it's even in nature. , like something may so hard that all I can see is that my, I'm staring at the problem, right? Yeah. And then got all, call my attention over to a tree or flowers
[00:18:40] Val: or, But you love trees.
[00:18:41] Val: I love trees.
[00:18:41] Denisha Workizer: You guys . And I'll find joy in that, or I'll look at that and think, Okay, that's beautiful. And I've done, this sounds so silly saying it out loud, but in my head I've even been like, All right, Lord, this stinks right now. But that tree is really pretty. Like even something as simple as that of finding [00:19:00] something that brings me joy or peace, even when things are really hard, and that's a very simple thing.
[00:19:05] Denisha Workizer: But that's something to celebrate, whether it be nature, whether it be, something that's going on in your family, something that encourages you. I think all of those are ways that we can celebrate when things are hard.
[00:19:16] Val: Yeah. And I. I just just some of the study I've done on gratitude, I've even written about it.
[00:19:21] Val: I love the passage in Philippians, which some of you have heard. Philippians four 13. It's been quoted so many times. I think even in sports communities, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, which I. I, I've studied the Bible quite a bit and I've learned from some very wise teachers that you gotta read the context.
[00:19:40] Val: So if you look before those verses it gives you the context of why that verse is so important. And what Danisha, what Paul is talking about is he's talking about contentment. And I have learned, and I've continued to learn, God continues to teach me that g. Being thankful, finding the good flows out of [00:20:00] contentment.
[00:20:00] Val: And again we may. Be tempted to put on ourselves, Okay, I just gotta be content, I gotta be content, I gotta be content. But again, how can we receive that from the Lord? How can we receive the gift of contentment? And that's what Paul say, is that whether I am hungry or well fed, whether I am living paycheck to paycheck or have an abundance, whether things are going great or not going great, is that I can be content.
[00:20:24] Val: I can do these things through Christ. Here's the receiving part who strengthens me. We receive the strength from Christ first, and then we're able to be content. And I think that's where gratitude flows. So I wanna challenge, I wanna ask, is that how, and I'm speaking to myself, I'm preaching to myself here.
[00:20:44] Val: How content are you? What do you find yourself complaining about the most? From day to day, we're in the month often, November is the month of, we people do these challenges of being thankful every day, which are great challenges. But ask yourself if you're a person [00:21:00]who struggles with complaining and I'm raising my hand, you can't see it, but Danisha can see it, I'm raising my hand.
[00:21:05] Val: If you're a person who struggles with contentment, ask yourself how, what are you complaining about day, from day to day that may be a red flag or a signal to you. That you are not trusting God in a certain area, that maybe God is not enough, that who he is and what he's provided is not enough and that lie, we talked about lies two months ago.
[00:21:26] Val: That lie of not enough, that's what leads to discontentment. , and then that leads to complaining, which leads to grumbling. Just again I love, again, back to our first THESSALONIAN study here. If you read through the whole book of First Thessalonians and I just gotta tell you why this verse means so much to me.
[00:21:44] Val: I was in college and struggling okay, what's God's will for my life? What am I supposed to do? And I sat down with my pastor at the time and he read me this first an. He read me this verse, Be joyful. Always pray, continually, give thanks for this is God's will. And he's [00:22:00]Valerie, God's will is.
[00:22:01] Val: Mysterious, As you may think, we first look to God's word and that's where we first learn his will. And if you look through the whole letter of first Cecil, you'll see over and over again. Do good, not evil. Encourage others, lift each others up. Like all these things that God wants us to do, it's his will.
[00:22:19] Val: But this is what I love. In verse 5 24, it says this. Here's this receiving part again, the one who called you is faithful and he will do it, Danisha. He will do it. And so I want you guys to take this away today. If you are doers, if you've been doer, doers, like me more performance space, and you are going through a struggle and.
[00:22:43] Val: And you're just like, Okay, how do I get outta this? What do I do? I'm tired. Put yourself in a posture of receiving and just know that when you are still, when you are still and surrendered, that's when God works. And all we have to do is trust. We trust. [00:23:00] God provides . We're still, God works. God gives we receive, and then how we give back is we respond, right?
[00:23:10] Val: We respond with the joy we've been given. And this is what I think about Danisha, is that we cannot pour out what we're not filled up with. Amen. So we can't choose joy, We can't be at peace. We can't pray continually unless we first. The gifts that God wants to give us so we can have those things.
[00:23:31] Val: So I wanna leave you guys with this last thought here. We are able to have joy in the midst of suffering. Peace in the midst of problems and gratitude in the midst of things not going our way because God gives us what we need when we need it, and how we. We need only to be still and receive. So I wanna close friends with a a [00:24:00] post that a friend of our ministry shared on Facebook.
[00:24:03] Val: She's a beautiful writer. Her name's Brianna, whether it be, and I want, if you are in a place where you can just close your eyes and. Listen to these beautiful words of somebody who's been in the thick of of a battle for a long time, and yet she is one of the most joyful peaceful people that I know.
[00:24:25] Val: But I want you just sit back. If you're not driving , close your eyes and just listen to her words. Joy. The dictionary defines it as the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying. The Apostle James tells us to consider it pure joy. My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, have you ever thought about how backwards that is?
[00:24:55] Val: Let's put these together. Take great delight and suffer. [00:25:00] Stop and read that again. Take great delight and suffering. People often ask me how I can endure suffering and pain with a joyful heart and a genuine smile. I'm here to tell you that taking delight and suffering is one of the hardest things I've ever had to do, and I have to make that deliberate.
[00:25:21] Val: Every single day, but I don't have to do it alone. When I ask God continually, when I ask, God continually reminds me that he is with me. He is the exceptionally good source of joy. And when I choose to remember that he's what he's done for me on the internal scale of salvation and on the small scale with earthly blessing.
[00:25:47] Val: I am able to experience real joy this week. I suffered greatly. The pain associated with my IV infusion was pretty brutal. It triggers a migraine that hurts so much. I can't see [00:26:00] every joint swells and every muscle cramps for at least 48 hours after I finish, and I do the treatment every other Thursday.
[00:26:09] Val: So yesterday morning I'd had enough. I started weeping. I kept asking, God, how much longer will I have to do this? Will I always hurt this much? I don't think I can fight through the pain anymore. Then I heard a quiet voice in my heart. You may suffer even more, but I'm here. I'll be strong. So you don't have to be I'll endure when you can't, and I promise you're suffer.
[00:26:36] Val: Has a purpose. James one came to mind. Again, consider it true joy when you face troubles. Why? Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance and let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not. Lacking anything, James one, three through four. In other [00:27:00] words, when we choose joy in response to suffering, we grow up spiritually.
[00:27:05] Val: Ultimately, we become more like Jesus. That's what I want more than anything else. I want my response to a suffering to bring him glory. I want enduring the pain with a joy filled attitude and a genuine smile to point people to Jesus. My pain has a purpose. Today. I will choose.
[00:27:35] Denisha Workizer: We pray those words were an encouragement to you today that Brianna's words would give you hope and help you through your journey as well.
[00:27:44] Denisha Workizer: Valerie, thank you so much for the teaching today, and we look forward to seeing you same time, same place next week. Thanks for listening. I pray you found hope in today's conversation and maybe even feel a little [00:28:00] less alone in your story. Stay connected with us on Facebook and Instagram at Reclaimed Story.
[00:28:06] Denisha Workizer: Wanna learn more about living a reclaimed life and how you can be a part of our growing community of reclaimers? Check out our website at reclaimed story dot. All of those links and more will be in the show notes. And if you enjoy this inspirational podcast, be sure to subscribe, rate and review. Not only will you be the first one to know when new content comes out, but it is also a huge help in helping us reach more people to live the reclaimed life.