Hi! I am Elizabeth Livingston. I love to share about Jesus and His Word to encourage others build their strong faith in Him in the midst of their trials. I believe God's Word has much to say to us more than any other resource. It helps us understand God's will and ways. When we embrace His promises in our lives, we can live a life which reflects His glory. This Blog is my humble contribution into the huge work of God's Kingdom. I pray and believe that you will be blessed and encouraged by reading the words of my heart.
We have a tiny guest in our home. It’s a pretty little fish. Our house owners, an elderly couple, are out of station and asked us to look after their pet fish for a few days.
As I observe this little aquatic creature every day, a thought came into my mind: Even though this fish is created to live in a stream and swim with the vibrant current of fresh water along with other fish, sadly it is bound to stay in this small bowl with a little water for someone else’s happiness. This bowl has become the whole world for it and it is needless to say that this beautiful looking bowl is limiting the fish’s real potential, its very purpose it is created for.
No anticipated results + No pat on my shoulder + No favourable circumstances = I quit
This has been my equation for so long. I have always needed evident results to carry on any work. For me to stay encouraged and not to give up on anything, I always need someone to cheer me up and believe in me so I can trust in myself. Good outcomes keep me motivated to go ahead and the opposite of them makes me give up.
So, on one particular day, when I noticed that I had been getting few views and visitors on my blog posts, I came to the conclusion that I probably should quit writing as there are not many people who are relating with what I want to share. Writing and sharing a blog post has always been a lonely journey for me but at this very moment when I couldn’t see many views on the view bar, I felt I am not making a big difference through my writing. I felt unqualified and uncreative in running a blog.
As I flipped through the pages of my previous years’ diaries and read the many goals and hopes I had for each New Year, I felt I had not been so progressive in achieving them and I had just written them in the excitement of the New Year’s new beginnings. Though I consoled myself for reaching few of the goals to some extent and wanted to celebrate the little victories, deep down I felt I was a failure.
Every year at the start of the New Year, I was so thrilled to write my goals and resolutions on the very first page. But this time, I didn’t feel motivated to write my goals or even hope ahead for many fulfilling days.
Before filling the fresh blank pages of my new diary, before writing any new goals in it for the New Year, I thought I needed to first stop, re-evaluate myself and search deeper for the answers for my depressing thoughts and feelings.
The morning wasn’t like any other morning as things got messed up between Nevin and me. We had a conversation which ended in both of us getting angry and upset with each other to the point that we didn’t have our breakfast in the morning. We had differences of opinions and ideas on a certain matter which resulted in a harsh talk. Both of our words and actions have hurt each other and we knew it. We didn’t talk further but remained silent for the rest of the day.
A Christmas star which we have put in front of our home too wasn’t lit up that day. Both of us weren’t in a mood to let the star shine. The star which illuminated our entrance every evening was hanging there in the dark. It was the only Christmas star in our entire locality but that evening it didn’t give light at all. A few days back, it was the same shining star which made us feel the beginning of the Christmas season as we so excitedly hung it in front of our entrance. But today, the anger and grudges which we held within our hearts prevented us from allowing the star to give us delight. We chose darkness instead of light literally and metaphorically.
I sat in the doctor’s cabin with my daughter Jennie in my arms and an expectation in my heart that the doctor we were meeting may suggest some better treatment plan for her. After all, he was the expert, a well-experienced and renowned Neuro physician in the state. It had taken a lot of effort to reach him and get the appointment which seemed difficult to get initially.
“Jennie Livingston – No. 7” was the call from the hospital staff and I rushed carrying her in my arms, adjusting my mask and holding her previous reports in my hand to see the doctor I was keen to meet.
Today, I am inviting my dear friend Sheetal Thakker to share her story of faith with us. She lives in Banglore, India. She is a wonderful person and a woman with a strong faith in Jesus. She will be sharing with us about her journey of her life’s unexpected storm and her experience as she chose to trust God amidst all the challenges. Welcome Sheetal!
As I was making her sleep around midnight, looking at her innocent face in the dim night light, my heart melted. I felt a sudden heartache and I cried for my daughter as I held her close to me and kissed her on her forehead. I recalled all the struggles and pain she has been through in the last seven years of her life. I felt a deep pain for her remembering about her diagnosis. I thought, I was much stronger emotionally but I was not. The pain seemed still fresh for the situation my child is in.
According to the Swiss-American psychiatrist named Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, there are 5 stages of grief: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
When we go through grief of a certain kind, our first reaction will be denial. We will be shocked and won’t be accepting the realities.
The second stage will be anger. We will feel angry at the situation, at people around us and sometimes at God for allowing the crisis.
The third one is bargaining. Secretly, we may make a deal with God in an attempt to postpone the crisis and the related pain.
The fourth stage is depression. The reality slowly sets in and we often feel sorry for ourselves and wonder why something like this could happen to us. The feeling of depression is often accompanied by the feeling of self-pity and of being a victim.
The fifth stage of dealing with grief is acceptance. We come to terms with the grief and begin to look to the future.
Once we have reached the acceptance stage in dealing with our grief, we move towards resurgence. In this phase we take full control of ourselves, our emotions, and the situation and begin to think about what we can do next to move ahead.
In relation to my daughter’s medical condition, I have been through almost all these stages and I was pretty much sure I was in the resurgence phase, as for quite a long time I could maintain my emotions, keep myself motivated through each day and keep my constant faith in God for her life. But a few days back, I had a relapse and it felt sudden and severe. I couldn’t hold myself anymore in the resurgence phase. I felt shattered.
My heart pained for her to the extreme that all I wanted to scream was; “God, why does my child have to suffer? why does she have to live such a difficult life? What is her fault? It isn’t fair that she is suffering? Why she gets to have such a dependent life and struggle every day?” As I held her close to me, I let my tears flow for her. For a moment, I couldn’t accept the hard realities of her life and I kept crying through the night. It seemed like I had almost gone back to the denial stage – all the way back….
However, in the midst of this sudden surge of grief, as I prayed for her, I remembered Jesus on the cross and the agony He had to go through. Was it fair that God had to send His son to die for my wrongdoings? Nope! It wasn’t fair that Jesus’s innocent blood to be shed for me, it wasn’t fair that He was mocked, stripped off His clothes, whipped, beaten and crucified on the cross ruthlessly. But it’s God’s love for me which caused Him to see the painful sight of His child suffering on the cross. His heart pained just the way my heart pains seeing my child suffer. But this was the way I was going to be accepted, forgiven and loved. God definitely cared for my pain and understood how I felt. This insight into my heart made me surrender to His sovereign plans for Jennie and to know that He loves her more than I do. Though I don’t have all the answers and can see only the half picture but I know the ONE who sees the full picture of her life. I just need to have faith in Him.
I fell asleep and woke up the next day with swollen eyes and a headache but relieved and consoled heart. And I no longer found myself in the denial stage but the resurgence stage again with a renewed hope and His just enough grace on my life for the very day. I am not sure if I will ever be fully in the resurgence stage. I may have the emotional relapse from time to time but this is where I will always need God’s mercy to carry me through. With Him by my side there will be His hope in between all these stages and no matter which stage I slip back to, I will always come back to the resurgence stage and see my pain in the light of His glory!
I pray, you too find His strength and assurance in those most hurting and questioning moments of your lives, experience His deep and abiding hope when you are weak in your burdens and see your pain in the light of His glory. And when you question ” why me Lord, it isn’t fair?” Let God’s mercy carry you through revealing each moment His greatest & painful sacrifice and selfless love for you!
“Weeping may remain for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning”. Psalm 30:5
As a part of my son’s 3rd grade curriculum, he was to learn about the life cycle of a butterfly. So, the other day I was doing a little bit of research on it to teach him in a better way. Even though I knew the four stages of its life cycle, I never had a detailed probe into knowing much about butterflies. And most importantly, to teach him better, I needed to first understand it better 🙂
So, as I searched for some videos and pictures about the different stages of this tiny, beautiful creature, I was mostly fascinated with the 3rd stage of its growth. It’s the pupa which is also called “chrysalis”. Well, we all know that the caterpillar is to remain in the pupa for few days to be transformed into an adult butterfly. But there’s still something else interesting I have found about it.
If you open the chrysalis in the middle of the process, there is just some sticky liquid substance in there and not a caterpillar which is having a cosy nap inside the shell until it gets its wings. In fact, during this stage, the caterpillar’s old body dies and a new body begins to form. The caterpillar has to fall apart completely. And from this liquid state, it starts to put itself together to become the beautiful being it is designed to be.
And another amazing thing is the word “chrysalis”. It is derived from Greek which means “golden” because of the golden threads which surround the green of the chrysalis.
Chrysalis – The tough times of life
You probably have heard in many inspiring messages about this chrysalis stage and how it represents the tough times of our lives which are actually the transformation times for us. But most often, when we actually find ourselves in this phase, all we want is to come out of it, assuming that sufferings aren’t meant for the believers of Christ. Often times, we tend to devalue our chrysalis stage. But in reality, the very sufferings of our Saviour was the only perfect way for us through which we could know God and have a personal relationship with Him. There is a Cross right in the centre of the Gospel we believe in.
Chrysalis is the place of deep transformation
While stuck in the chrysalis stage, we keep on asking God to remove the uncomfortable and ugly looking shell of our hardships and grief from our lives. We want Him to change our circumstances but He wants us to be changed in the process of it.
Because, the deeper work within our souls takes place only being in the Chrysalis.
Our faith is refined being in the Chrysalis.
The most crucial life lessons are learnt being in the Chrysalis.
Our relationship with our Master Creator is deepened being in the Chrysalis.
The inessential parts of our character are shredded being in the Chrysalis.
And just the way the caterpillar is made into a beautiful butterfly being in this uncomfortable, dark and inactive place, you and I are best prepared for the very purpose of our lives being in the Chrysalis.
Do you find yourself stuck in the chrysalis?
I don’t know which metamorphosis stage you are in at present. If you have got your wings, praise God! but if you find yourself stuck in the Chrysalis, the place where you feel nothing is happening, where you see the darkness of your pain and hardships, where you feel like you are falling apart each day and where everything feels so stuck, dead and inactive, I want to encourage you to trust the process, surrender to it, embrace it and wait until the process works its best, re-creating you into everything you are meant to be, giving you the glorious wings of your purpose and reflecting the majesty of your Heavenly Father in and through your life.
And no matter how your chrysalis feels to you, remember it will always be covered with the golden threads of strength, assurance, love and grace of your Master Designer. He will be watching you throughout the process and trusting His ways, His plans and His heart of love in the midst of your chrysalis will be the ultimate way to your metamorphosis.
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5
Recently I came across a beautiful story of a father and a daughter. A dear sister has sent the video to me as an encouragement and it truly touched my heart to the core. It wasn’t just a story to watch and forget but it also spoke an assurance to my heart.
Once, a father and a daughter were driving home in a night and the father let the daughter drive the car. While they were on their way, a bad storm broke out. And the daughter being a new driver, felt a little bit scared.
She looked over at her father. She said, “Daddy,you think I should pull over to the side of the road and the father said, “No, no baby! Just keep on driving” so she kept on driving.
Most new things in his life are very stressful for him but this camp however was not. My 8 years old son, Asher, joined a three days kids’ camp online and seemed really excited about it. To my amazement, he did participate in it very well. There were action songs, games and Bible-based activities which he did with my help and actively involved himself in learning.
Whenever the winners’ names were announced, he waited with hope that his name would be called out too. Each time they announced the winners’ names he would turn to me and ask in excitement, “Mummy, will they choose me?” Consequently, in three of the activities he participated, his name wasn’t in the winners’ list. Seeing his gloomy face for not being chosen, I would assure him that among two hundred participants, they chose only the first 10 or 20 kids, you see the rest of the other kids aren’t winners too. But he was too determined and hopeful to be chosen.