When you hear the phrase, "God is __________," what comes to mind for you? We all have different answers, but how do we know what is true? Too often, we view God from our limited perspective. But it doesn't have to be that way. Throughout January, let's discover how to fill that space with the truth. As we look at four aspects of God's character, together, we will learn that God is merciful, trustworthy, loving, and good.
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[00:00:00] Denisha: When you hear the phrase God is blank, what comes to mind for you? We all have different answers, but how do we know what is true? Too often we view God from our limited perspective. But it doesn't have to be that way. Throughout the month of January, let's discover how to fill that space with truth. As we look at four aspects of God's character, together we will learn that God is merciful, trustworthy, loving, and good.
[00:00:31] Denisha: Let's dive into today's episode with Valerie mc. Welcome to Living the Reclaim Life podcast. 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 coffee as we chat with today's guest. So as we start today's episode, I have to tell you that Valerie and I are sitting here in our offices and we are a little giddy.
[00:00:59] Denisha: What ? [00:01:00] Just a little. Just a little. Today, maybe it's the beginning of January.
[00:01:03] Valerie: We haven't seen each other for three weeks. That's true. Our two weeks, I don't know, three weeks. That's true. Time warp. Alright,
[00:01:09] Denisha: and here we have a really good topic, I think. Yeah. And it's somewhat heavy, but guys, we're gonna have fun with it because Yes.
[00:01:16] Denisha It's also very hopeful. Yes. As we mentioned in the introduction, what comes to mind when you hear the phrase God is, Valerie, sometimes we have experiences with God or Christians or church sometimes that doesn't necessarily. Represent God, the way he represents himself and his word.
[00:01:38]Denisha: Today we're gonna discover who he really is. And friends, we just want you to know he is real. He is present, and he is ready to meet you wherever you are in your story. So Valerie, we know you and I work with a lot of women. , and we see a lot of hurt. And so this week we're talking about who is God [00:02:00] when.
[00:02:00] Denisha hopeless and hurting. Yeah. And I know we started off funny because we can laugh through this because we have been hurt, hopeless, and hurting Yes. Through different times in our lives, and yet God has always been so faithful to meet us there. Yeah. So how do we
[00:02:16] Valerie: get there? And I think, like you said we live in a broken world, so it's inevitable.
[00:02:21] Valerie: We're gonna, we're going to experience pain, we're going to experience hurt, and we're going to experience suffering. . I think what happens is, . Often, we are in life, right? Things are happening that are out of our control. We're hurt, we're disappointed, we're experiencing pain and suffering. And what happens is we tend to look at God through the lens of those circumstances.
[00:02:44] Valerie: And when we look at God through the lens of our circumstances, then our view gets skewed. We don't really. Always focus on the true nature of God. In fact, Danisha, when you said, who is God? God is blank. I think the phrase I [00:03:00] hear probably more than any other phrase is God is good, right? But all the time, , and it's true, God is good all the time, but what happens when life isn't good?
[00:03:12] Valerie: Then we start to doubt, and like I said, we often view and judge God's character through the lens of our circumstances. Like for example, if our circumstances are bad, then we start to doubt God must not really be good all the time. If we have a need that's just going unmet, or we have a prayer that we've been praying forever and it's just unanswered, we say, God must really not care about.
[00:03:38] Valerie: If I feel like I'm doing everything God has asked me to do, I'm following his word I'm just doing everything that I think I'm supposed to be doing as a good Christian, but life is still not the way I expected it to be. Then I might think. , God can't be trusted. So I think this conversation today, Danisha, I think what we're gonna start to [00:04:00] unravel, unpack is that we have to start viewing our circumstances through the lens of who God is.
[00:04:07] Valerie: Not the other way around. How have you experienced that in your life? .
[00:04:13] Denisha: I know at times I have felt like God is distant. Depending on my circumstances or depending on how long I've been holding something in prayer, there are times I have felt like he is distant and I've learned not to trust my emotions.
[00:04:27] Denisha Like it feels this way. It feels like God is. And I have to take myself back too. No, God is ever present in my time of need. , he is with me. And so I think that the distant thing is something when you know God is, there's times I'll be like, he is good cuz everything is rocking and going well in my life.
[00:04:45] Denisha Yeah. And then there's times when I think he's distant and. . It's interesting as we work with different women, the perceptions of who God is. For some, he's this, big, big man sitting on a, large chair with a [00:05:00] lightning rod in his hand, ready to strike people, for other people he has gold stars.
[00:05:05] Denisha In his hand, and as you do good he'll give you gold stars and neither one of those are true. Yeah. We serve a God who loves us, who is merciful, who is full of grace. Like we, we have so much that is offered to us, but there's so many different perspectives out there on who God
[00:05:23] Valerie: is. . And here's the thing.
[00:05:25] Valerie: Even from my own life, I. I have known God pretty much all my life. I grew up in a Christian home and I really didn't experience much hardship. Really not, I had everything I felt I needed. We had the normal stuff like a grandparent dying or that kind of thing, some sadness like that.
[00:05:44] Valerie: But it wasn't until my brother, which I've shared on this podcast died by suicide. That, that was probably the. Really traumatic, painful event that happened in my life. And, we went through the process of healing and [00:06:00] grief. And it wasn't till 20 years later, it was when we were honoring him and, the anniversary of his death 20 years later that all of a sudden I started questioning.
[00:06:10] Valerie: who I thought God was 20 years later, 20 years later. Even though I had this foundation of who I knew God was, I was like, it was probably unhealed hurt, unhealed pain, unhealed grief, and all of a sudden I thought, God. . If you are protector, then why didn't you protect my brother? You know why? And he had protected my brother in many ways, but it's like all of a sudden my view of God, I was questioning who God was through the lens of my pain and I worked through that.
[00:06:43] Valerie: I worked through that with a counselor through God, and I began to see, That God is good. And I began, we're gonna talk about God's mercy, and I began to see really God's mercy allowed my brother. I know this is, big and we're not making this whole podcast about the, [00:07:00]about this, but my, his mercy allowed my brother.
[00:07:03] Valerie: His choice, his mercy allowed my brother to be free from his pain. His mercy allowed my brother to still go home and be with him. That I'll be reunite, reunited with him someday. And so I think it's hard. It's hard to imagine. Why things happen in this life and to reconcile that with a good God. But this is what I think we tend to blame, and I'm gonna I'm putting myself in this category, so this is not a judgment on anybody, but I think just humanity in general, I think we tend to blame God for what we've messed up for the choices, right?
[00:07:41] Valerie: We don't wanna take responsibility for the fact. Sin is on us, right? When sin enter entered the world, humanity messed up. And we see Danisha. If you start in Genesis one, if you just go back and read Genesis one, we know that's creation, but. , [00:08:00] everything from the beginning of time was good.
[00:08:03] Valerie: We tend to sometimes view God from Genesis three, right? We've talked about this of when the fall when humanity messed up, when sin entered the world. But everything in Genesis one is God made it and God spoke it and it was good. And God made humans and they were very good.
[00:08:21] Valerie: And then if you go all the way to Revelation, we know that. There will be good again, a perfect. World in eternity, in heaven, God will make all things new. So if we keep our present life, our broken present, not always so good life. If we overlay who God is, that he is good from the beginning to the end, over our circumstances, we can start to just really trust that his character is unchanging.
[00:08:52] Valerie: And so I. I think we have to look at scripture and I'm gonna read Ephesians two, one through [00:09:00] five. And I think, like I said, just take a moment and listen to these verses as I read it, and then we're gonna dive in a little deeper of how we can trust. An merciful God when we're hurting. It says, as for you, you were dead in your sins in which you used to live.
[00:09:17] Valerie: When you follow the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom, of the air, the spirit who is now at work and those who are disobedient, all of us. Also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts like the rest. We were by nature deserving of wrath, which that's just a big word me.
[00:09:38] Valerie: Big word meaning we really are. Sins deserved death eternity, separated from God. That's what our sins deserved. But because. Of his great love for us, God who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our sins. It is by grace. You have been [00:10:00] saved. And that's Danisha Wright.
[00:10:02] Valerie: That's what we're focusing on as we have this conversation. God is merciful. We deserved death and it was through Jesus' death on the cross that we were given life and we're not minimizing what anyone is going through, right? We're not minimizing pain. Her God. God cries and his heart breaks with us, but when we look at what we deserved, And how we have not received that at all, that's what we can clinging to when we're hurting, when we're suffering, when we don't see an end to our pain, knowing that God is merciful, this is who he is and this is what we can depend on when we are hurting.
[00:10:46] Denisha And I love what you read in Ephesians where it says, but God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much. I love that because that rich in mercy is actually a present tense word. . And so what that [00:11:00] means is that God lives in a continual state of unending mercy. Yes. We know the passage. It says his mercy.
[00:11:06] Denisha His mercy is new. Mourning. Yeah. It's a continual state of unending. If we had a bad day, if we did something, we're not proud of. If we're in a hopeless situation at the moment, we can have hope. Knowing that God gives us a continual state of unending mercy and mercy is when you don't get what you do
[00:11:27] Valerie: deserve.
[00:11:28] Valerie: Yeah. I like how you mentioned even at the beginning talking about God's grace and sometimes. I think you have some definitions for that, right? Tanisha? The Mercy, mercy and Grace. Why don't you tell us the difference between that? So
[00:11:40] Denisha Grace is when you get what you don't deserve. Yes.
[00:11:45] Denisha: Mercy is when you don't get what you do
[00:11:48] Valerie: deserve. Yeah. Like the wages of our sin. The penalty of our sin was death, separation from God. But because of God's mercy, we didn't get And when you accept the [00:12:00]gift of salvation from Jesus, you will have. A life to look forward to that is free from pain, free from suffering, free from any sadness.
[00:12:11] Valerie: And that's what is our hope. And I think, like you mentioned before, Danisha, I think many of us can. Probably can relate to this, but depending on what kind of earthly father you had or what kind of experience you had, growing up with people who were supposed to take care of you, supposed to love you unconditionally, we can often view God through that lens, right?
[00:12:35] Valerie: So maybe you think of God as Danisha mentioned from her story as this distant unattached father that, maybe you never knew your father, and so we can. Put those, , put those characteristics on God saying, okay, he's distant, he's uncaring. I can't touch him, feel him, see him. How am I supposed to trust this, celestial being that I haven't seen.
[00:12:58] Valerie: But [00:13:00] often it's because we have incomplete information. It's because we haven't experienced who God truly is and what his word says about him. And I think. Like you said, his unending mercy. That is the hope we hold onto when we are hurting. And, growing up as a Christian. A lot like Grace.
[00:13:18] Valerie: I I always heard Mercy and Grace used when it came to salvation and I know we're talking about mercy today, but of my testimony with that, with Grace too, is that okay? Yeah. Grace is what saves us. Grace is essential for salvation, but it wasn't until. Later in my life, like with my testimony about my brother, that when I started experiencing some troubles and struggles in my marriage, that even though I had hurt my husband, he extended grace.
[00:13:48] Valerie: He didn't have to, but he extended grace. He forgave me. And that's when I really experienced for the first time, like almost like grace with flesh, if that [00:14:00] makes sense. And I think with Mercy too, we often see, okay, mercy, yeah, God didn't give us what we deserved but that mercy, like Danisha, I can think of seasons of my life.
[00:14:11] Valerie: And I have shared a little bit, I think on this podcast about my years when I was struggling with health issues where I literally felt like, is this gonna be the rest of my life? I don't even feel like getting up in the morning. I don't even I was feeling hopeless. And I think about God's mercy in the situation that, again, his mercy is important.
[00:14:30] Valerie: we want to grasp hold of that kind of. Theological deep understanding that yeah, if it wasn't for God's mercy, we would literally be in hell . And you might think gosh, my life is hell. But here's the thing, that's where I think the mercy takes on flesh, is that because of God's unending mercy he gives us Exactly.
[00:14:53] Valerie: I get emotional about this. He gives us exactly what we need. Every single day, [00:15:00] like maybe you just need to open your eyes and take a breath and know that, wow, I lived another day. I am feeling hopeless, but God gave me life another day. That is mercy. I step out and I'm thinking. Get in my shower and thinking, oh, the kids are gonna fight again today,
[00:15:19] Valerie: But then you go in the other room and they're laughing and playing well together. That is mercy. You, I don't know. You have a dream or a goal that you've been praying about and you. Finally get that phone call or you get that opportunity like that is mercy. You know what I'm saying?
[00:15:36] Valerie: Danisha, can you think of an example of that, of just what it looks like for Mercy to have you know, that daily presence in your life? .
[00:15:44] Denisha: I was thinking about a story. I'm gonna turn this back over to you because I was thinking of a story that you told me Yeah. About a time when you did not get what you deserved, and I believe you were pulling out of the church parking lot.
[00:15:57] Denisha I know.
[00:15:58] Valerie: Tell us a little bit about that, [00:16:00] Valerie. There's been many times that I did get what I deserved, and she's talking about being pulled over by a police officer. Lord, bless them. Yes I've gotten a couple tickets for speeding my life. Fully take on that responsibility. But I was pulling out of church not long ago and I was turning left and I.
[00:16:21] Valerie: Pull, pulled into the street and all of a sudden I see cop lights behind me, and I immediately thought what's, I didn't do anything wrong. I wasn't speeding. I look immediately at my speedometer and I'm like, I, know, and this is like a 40 mile, per hour zone. So I'm like, I'm always careful.
[00:16:38] Valerie: I'm like okay. Breathe. I didn't do anything wrong. I should be okay. Maybe I have a taillight out or something like that. I, Pulled down my window. The guy comes, he goes, Hey, how are you doing, ma'am? I'm like, great. I said yeah. I said, what was I, what was I doing?
[00:16:50] Valerie: He goes I wanted you to know that you turned into the far lane. Instead of the lane closest to the median. And I was like, oh. And I [00:17:00] immediately thought, Dania, is that wrong? ? I think I went home later, asked my 16 year old newly driver. I said, is that wrong ? But he's he goes, Hey, I'll just, I'm giving you a warning.
[00:17:07] Valerie: This is not a ticket. I'm giving you a warning. Just, just be aware of that next time. And as soon as he left, I'm like, who? You know that sigh of relief. I'm. . Okay. And we were just talking about this, that is Mercy, right? He hands me this thing that looks like a ticket, but he said, no, this is just a warning.
[00:17:26] Valerie: I'm j he gently corrected me and said, yeah, you're not supposed to turn in that lane. You're free to go. And yeah, a funny story, but it's like, That was mercy. And you know what? I remember like driving away and almost having to repent of pride, right? Because I'm like, I didn't do anything.
[00:17:42] Valerie: I didn't do anything wrong, but I did do something wrong. But he gave me mercy. He didn't give me what I deserved. And we do things wrong every day, right? And that's what forgiveness, that's what the blood of Jesus is. Is that mercy covering as saying? I know you [00:18:00]God's like I know you're gonna mess up.
[00:18:01] Valerie: I know you're gonna do it. And that's what my Mercy's for. Just to take this a step further, right? We've been talking about who God is and his mercy, but how are we making room for mercy for other people? We work, right? We work with women who are hurting and they come to us and.
[00:18:22] Valerie: Some of their hurt has been compounded by people not extending mercy to them and right. If people are not experiencing mercy from other believers, from people in their life, how are they going to know merciful God? And I think that is just a huge part. Of understanding God's true nature. And yes, we're not perfect.
[00:18:45] Valerie: I, there's been many times I have been judgmental, I have been critical. I have not displayed the image of Christ that I am made in. But when we just, if we focus on making room for mercy, and there's two parts to that. There's receiving it. [00:19:00] And giving it. We have to make room for mercy in our own life.
[00:19:03] Valerie: Like I said, we have to look at ourselves and say, Hey I messed up and own it. , not be like, Adam, sorry guys, throw you outta bed. Oh, that woman you gave me, gave me the fruit. Not pass the blame, but take ownership and responsibility and say, yes, forgive me Lord, for not extending grace, not extending mercy when I needed to.
[00:19:23] Valerie: But I just, I think if we. Were to just put that, Hey, it's a new year, right? What if we just made that habit every day, say, God, help me make room for mercy to receive it and to give it, and that is gonna go a long way in helping people. Heal from hurt.
[00:19:42] Denisha: So ladies, when your husband leaves his socks on the floor, does not put the toilet
[00:19:48] Valerie: seat down.
[00:19:49] Valerie: Make room for Mercy. I'd be like, I'm gonna make a jingle. Make room for mercy. We need t-shirts. Tanisha. There you go. Make room for Mercy . There you go.
[00:19:58]Denisha: What would mercy look like [00:20:00] in those moments? And I know those are silly, right? Socks on the floor. It's
[00:20:03] Valerie: building blocks, right?
[00:20:04] Valerie: Yes. It's baby steps. Yes.
[00:20:06] Denisha: Maybe not getting up in the middle of the night and hollering at him for leaving the toilet seat up. How can we extend mercy? Yeah. I, in our home we have three teens and so often I'm having to pick my battles, if you will, of what's really important and what's not so important.
[00:20:23] Denisha: And so that is also a display of mercy. When there's things I just let go and I try not to nitpick and just allow them to be who they are in this moment in time. Them where they are. And yeah. So what ways in our lives can we extend Mercy to others?
[00:20:40] Valerie: Yeah. Because we do, I think the more that we make that habit of making room for Mercy , then we're gonna, we're just gonna be overflowing with thankfulness, right?
[00:20:51] Valerie: For, for God's mercy. Just like in math, Matthew says, forgive others and you will be forgiven. I think sometimes we think, okay, I know God's going to [00:21:00] forgive me, but he's yeah, I forgave you. Extend it. That's who I made you to be is a forgiver.
[00:21:07] Valerie: A reconciler, a grace giver, a mercy giver. It's because of what he did for us that then we do for others and Right. And his word says they will know they. The world humanity that is still lost. They will know that you belong to me by how you love, by how you extend mercy, by how you extend grace.
[00:21:29] Valerie: And I know I, like I said I, I just I gave that testimony about my husband when I received his unmerited grace through a time that I really hurt. I experienced a level of God's grace that I had never understood before, and I think how powerful that is that we can be that bridge to help people know God's grace and mercy just by how we treat each other, just by how we extend it in our relationships
[00:21:58] Denisha: when we look at God [00:22:00] as being a merciful.
[00:22:01]Denisha: That helps us. It helps some of the misunderstanding that we might have about the true nature of God. And so I think that's something we can even think about over this next week is what have I misunderstood about God's mercy? Yeah. And just processing that of, what did I. Think his mercy was what, in what ways have I maybe missed or has life's circumstances overshadowed or eclipsed his mercy in my life?
[00:22:28] DenishaYeah, so that's maybe something we can think about as well. There's times in our life when we are going through really hard times, and as we think about, how have I misunderstood mercy? Lamentations three 19 through 23 says, the thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time as I grieve over my loss, yet I still dare to hope when I remember this.
[00:22:55] Denisha The faithful love of the Lord never ends. His mercies [00:23:00] never ceases. Great is his faithfulness. His mercies begin afresh each morning. We don't have to be consum. By those things going on in our lives. Yeah, by the hurt, by the pain, by the suffering, God will not fail us.
[00:23:16] Valerie: Being able to leave you guys with this is that if you need hope.
[00:23:23] Valerie: God has new hope for you every morning. If you need joy, God has fresh joy for you every morning. If you need encouragement, God will enliven your spirit and fill you up anew every morning if you need answers. God will bring them to mind fresh every morning. If you need healing, God is doing that every single day.
[00:23:48] Valerie: If you need peace, if you need forgiveness, whatever you need, you can wake up in knowing that you can start over and that God has exactly what you need for that [00:24:00] day, receive it and then give it.
[00:24:04] Denisha I love that and I love that God can also handle our doubts. he can handle our fears, he can handle our brokenness, our anxiety, our complaints, so we wanna invite you to take it to God.
[00:24:17] Denisha: He is there and his mercies are new. Every morning this week, we hope that your heart will be postured and focused on receiving God's mercy and extending that mercy to others, and we'll see you next week. Thanks for listening. I pray you found hope in today's conversation, and maybe even feel a little less alone in your story.
[00:24:42] Denisha: Stay connected with us on Facebook and Instagram at reclaimed. Wanna learn more about living a reclaimed life and how you can be a part of our growing community of Reclaimers? Check out our email@example.com. All of those links and more will be in the show [00:25:00] notes. And if you enjoy this inspirational podcast, be sure to subscribe, rate and review.
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