Jesus knew how hard this world was going to be. In His wisdom, He laid the groundwork for us—and we need to lay the groundwork for our kids. Jesus showed us how to suffer and not lose heart, how to view suffering, and how to view God in the middle of the struggle. We can honor Him without denying how difficult this situation really is, and I’m sharing some practical tips for doing that right now. He is listening, He loves you, and He can be trusted.
Today’s Scripture Writing Challenge Verse
- Hebrews 4:14-16
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11100 NE 34th Cir, Vancouver, WA 98682
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Hey everybody, this is Heidi St. John. Welcome to Off the Bench with Heidi St. John. I’m so glad you guys have joined me today. Today’s Friday, May 22, and I’m going to send you guys a little bit of virtual love today. We’re going to enter into a time of prayer and just a little bit of encouragement from the word of God. And then we’re going to tackle some topics that are happening in the world around you. Stick around,. I think you’re going to be encouraged.
So thanks for tuning in today, you guys. How are you doing? I have been… I think I told you, well, if you haven’t been following me on social media you might be the only person in the Western world that’s not following me at the moment, because I’ve been pretty vocal in my opposition to this continued lockdown and what it’s beginning to do to the country. We’re so far along this thing right now that it’s going to take us quite a while to get back at it. And as I’ve been considering what’s happening, how do I respond, what is my responsibility to our children, what’s my responsibility to the people that listen to us online and on the podcast and I was encouraged because we know that suffering is a part of life.
Jesus said in John 16:33, “Here on earth we’re going to have many trials and sorrows.” But then he goes on to say, “Take heart because I have overcome the world.” And we are in a very transitional point I think in the United States. This is happening worldwide, but my focus is clearly here where I live. I live in Washington State and we’ve got a terrible situation happening here with our governor and the continued lockdown. One minute he says we can go to phase two but then he reminds us it could be taken away from us at any time. He said we’ve flattened the curve but now here we are again, this is not about a virus.
And I’ve been saying that for a long time, but then I got to thinking the other day as I was sitting in my library downstairs talking to the Lord, talking out loud. And I got to thinking, “Regardless of what the governor of Washington State does, regardless of the things that are happening around us, God still wants to do something in us.” And I was thinking about the suffering that we are engaged in right now and we’re not very good at it. Seems like we’ll do almost anything to avoid it but Jesus said that suffering was going to be a part of our lives. He didn’t say we were going to struggle once in a while. He said we would have many trials and sorrows, and He knew how hard this world was going to be.
And in His wisdom, this is what I want you guys to hear today so lean in, in His wisdom he laid the groundwork for us and we need to lay the groundwork for our kids. Jesus showed us how to suffer and not lose heart. He gave us a theology of suffering. He taught us how to view God in the middle of the struggle. And as I’ve been thinking on this and pondering it, I was talking to my husband the other day and just telling him I’ve been really struggling with discouragement and I would say borderline, even depression. And a friend of mine said the other day, “Well, you just have to rise above it. You got to fix your eyes on Jesus.” And it sounds really good. The sentiment is a right one. We know that’s a scriptural thing, to fix our eyes on Jesus, He’s the author and the finisher of our faith. But our emotions are real. The struggle is real. The sorrow is real. And I think it’s all right to acknowledge it.
It’s all right to say, “I’m having a hard time today.” And if some of you guys are in that situation, in fact I know that a lot of you listening to this are in that situation right now. I had a great conversation with my friend Dr. Kathy the other day on the phone and I was telling her how I’m struggling because my events keep getting canceled. It’s obviously a massive loss of income for us but it’s also, we’re mourning the loss of our life that we actually really enjoy, going and speaking to people and making these connections. And Kathy rightly said to me, she said, “Heidi, what is it that brings you joy besides the things that you can’t do?” And I was like, “Chocolate.” She said, “Get yourself some chocolate.” She said, “This is probably not the time to go on a big diet or try to change your routine up or try to lose weight or…” She said, “There’s a point in which the survival mode is actually a good mode to be in.”
And I think as Christians a lot of us are in survival mode right now and so I thought today might be a good time to sort of lean in. Normally I have a friend on the show with me on Fridays, but I had friends on Monday and Wednesday, and I thought, “I want you guys to myself for an episode.” So I thought let’s talk about how to view God in the middle of our struggle. And now that we’re in the middle of this unexpected detour, I’m going to hope to offer you a few things to help you take heart and keep your eyes on Jesus.
But I think it’s really important that we don’t dismiss the struggle, that we listen to each other, that we listen to our kids. And it’s all right to say, “I don’t like this.” It’s all right to be sad about it. But we don’t want to stay in that place. And so if that’s you today, I want to encourage you to lean in for the next couple of minutes because we’re going to talk for just a few moments here about what it looks like to honor God in the midst of the struggle without denying that you’re suffering.
And the first thing that I want to encourage you to do is to view worship as a weapon. I’ve talked about this a lot on the road. Prayers For The Battlefield was a book that I wrote a couple of years ago. I wrote that while my nephew was in the intensive care unit after his car accident. And I learned in that time, in that season, those months that our family really spent just going back and forth to the hospital, that worship really is a weapon. And it’s a powerful weapon.
If you’ve ever read the story of the Battle of Jericho, when the Israelites, God said, “Hey, this is going to be your city. I’m going to give you the city of Jericho.” And they were like, “Dude, fortified walls, armies on the other side of it.” They knew that they were going to be in trouble if they tried to just march on the city. And here’s what God told them to do. He sent the worshipers in first. He said, “I want you to march around the city and lift up my name,” to praise Him. And they were praising Him… I’m sure it is in the midst of panic, and if there’s anything that I’m learning from this, well, I’m learning so many things you guys. I think I’m going to write a book about this when we’re all done.
One of the things that I’m learning is that we are very easily frightened. And I’ve said this on my Facebook page and if you haven’t heard me say it I hope it doesn’t hurt your feelings, but I call them the panic pimps. And there are so many people in the media, in the medical community, in our government that are literally pimping panic. And I’ve been telling people, “Stop buying what they’re selling. We are a fearful people.” And yet God says over and over in His Word, “Don’t be afraid. I didn’t give you a spirit of fear.” And I was thinking how must the Israelites have felt as they were getting ready to march around the city of Jericho. Huge walls, I’m sure they were like, “What? How is this going to go down?” But you know what they did, they honored the Lord. They did what God asked them to do and God honored their worship. And we have an opportunity to worship the Lord in the midst of this.
And I know that for me, I was talking to my daughter about this the other day, and she was talking about her struggle with postpartum anxiety and how much it helped her when we turned on the worship music. I mean we turned it up. And so I’m going to encourage you to do that. To view worship of the Lord in this time as a weapon against the adversary, as a way to say “No, no Satan. No weapon formed against us is going to prosper.” For some of you that means that you need to get off the internet for a little while. For some of you it means stop looking into all the theories as to what is going on. Because like I was saying to my husband the other day, people send me literally hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of videos and sometimes they’re crazy theories, sometimes they seem really plausible. But the bottom line is I don’t know what’s going on.
I don’t understand where this is coming from or where it’s going and that feeling of helplessness I think we can start to really, at least this is me. So if this isn’t you just tune me out right now. But I think what happens is, we tend to look inward or at least I do. And I can almost fold in on myself that way. And I find it hard to function because there’s really nothing that I can do. But you know what? God can do anything. And God isn’t sleeping and He’s aware of what’s going on and what does He say? He says He wants us to worship Him regardless of our circumstances. So if you feel overwhelmed by what’s happening around you, if the bills are piling up, if you’ve lost your job, if the transmission just went out on your car at the same time, let’s do this together you guys, let’s crank up the worship music.
The Bible teaches us in Psalm 22, that God literally inhabits the praise of His people. He inhabits our praise. He lives where we praise Him. And so let’s crank up the worship music and honor God with our worship, especially right now. I think it’s honoring to the Lord. And also you guys it’ll lower your blood pressure, just here to tell you right now. I’m going to encourage you to get alone with the Lord and pray and process what’s happening around you. That’s Matthew 14:11. So instead of freaking out, take a time out. Take your requests and your fears before the Lord in prayer. God says that He literally collects our tears in a bottle. We know that God’s heart is for us, His word teaches us that it is. And we also know that He’s here in the midst of our suffering. That He cares about us and he wants us to bring our petitions before Him.
And when I can remember what God thinks about me in the middle of this crisis, it makes me want to get alone with Him and to spend time with him. And so if you’re taking notes, I know some of you guys do, I would write this down, instead of freaking out, take a time out. Take a walk. I took a really long walk last week. I walked for three miles in the rain. It’s been raining a lot here in the Northwest. I put some worship music in my Air Pods. And I just was like, “Lord, talk to me, minister to my spirit.” Get alone with the Lord.
And the last thing is to remember the promises of God. And I want you to start with this one. The Bible says in second Corinthians 12:10, “When we are weak, He is strong.” So if you feel ill-equipped for the challenges that you’re currently facing, take heart. God loves to work in impossible circumstances. This is what happened with the Israelites. Again, going back to the battle of Jericho. Remember, they blew the trumpets and as they marched around that city and they blew the trumpets, what happened? The walls came tumbling down. That’s a miracle. That’s a God thing. God can do miracles. And we need to remember that our children are learning how to face the inevitable challenges that are going to come their way by watching us. And when they see us praising God in the midst of our struggles, and even in the midst of sorrows, what they’re doing is they’re learning what it looks like to praise God in all circumstances.
So don’t be discouraged, you guys. We can encourage each other, right? Take heart. Good things are coming. They’re right around the corner. And in the middle of this, in the middle of the pandemic, in the middle of the struggle that we are facing right now, and even in the midst of what is, I think, an inexplicable situation, in undeniable suffering, God remains the same. The Bible teaches us that He is the same yesterday, today and forever. In Isaiah, we read that the grass is going to wither and the flower will fade, but God’s Word will stand forever. You know what’s in God’s Word men and women? His promises, and his promises hold true.
And so I’m going to encourage you as you’re walking this thing out, turn your worry into worship. Turn your panic into praise, get alone with the Lord to pray and process your circumstances. Remember, instead of freaking out, take a time out. Take your request before the Lord. And then finally remember the promises of God. When we are weak, He is strong. He never leave you. He’ll never forsake you. One of the things I wrote about… If you’ve never read my book, Prayers of the Battlefield, I’ll link back to it in the show notes today, it’s a handbook for war and actually Becoming Momstrong, which I released in 2017, the subtitle of that book is, How to Fight With All That’s in You For Your Family and Your Faith. And you know what? I had no idea this was coming. I don’t think any of us did. But we are in that situation right now to fight, to learn to stand and fight with all that’s in us, for our families and for our faith and I would include for our freedom.
God wants us to be free. And He wants us to be free in our worship of Him. The Bible says that where the spirit of the Lord is there’s freedom. And you guys have been listening to me talk a lot about freedom lately and a lot about what’s happening around us and how it continues to be very, very eyeopening in terms of how quickly our freedoms can be taken away from us. And you guys, our hope has got to be in the Lord. Our hope has got to be in the Lord.
Several of you guys have been asking me, thank you so much for the messages that you’re sending. I read every single one of them, as much as I can. The video I did last week on Facebook, I think is coming up on 4 million views now. And there was a point in which I couldn’t keep up with the comments on it anymore, but I wanted to say, thank you for following me on social media and for engaging on those platforms. I am working right now to… I’m making a very slow, but steady transition away from Facebook. Facebook is doing a lot of censoring and I firmly believe that I could wake up one morning and not have a platform there anymore. And so I’m going to link to AllSocial, which is where I’m starting to just build a platform. I’m really building it from scratch. There’s not a lot over there, but I just want to encourage you. If you don’t have an account over there, it might be a good time to create one and then follow me and I’ll link back to it in the show notes today.
I want to make you aware of a couple of things that are happening in the news. First of all, many of you already heard of the death of one of the lions of the faith. Ravi Zacharias passed away earlier in the week. And I watched the new White House press secretary to President Trump talking about Ravi’s impact on her life, just teared up. I’ll actually link back to that today. Also in the show notes, if you haven’t seen it, you need to.
I took two things away from her interview. One, was my heart is just singing at the fact that this woman of God, this woman who clearly knows the Lord and she knows Him, you can tell the way she talks, that God has put her in the position of being the press secretary for the United States during a time like this. I think she’s 31 or 32 years old. And she was talking about the impact that Ravi had on her and teaching her that she didn’t need to check her brain at the door when she became a Christian that she could engage. And she met him at Oxford and she has an actually pretty incredible story. She’s obviously a very bright young woman.
But I thought, “Look what God is doing in taking Ravi home in such a time as this.” It is a terrible loss for the church because this guy was a lion of the faith, gentle and brilliant and an encouragement to so many. And he’s gone home to be with the Lord now, which honestly, that’s where we’re all headed. None of us knows when exactly the Lord will call us home. But we want our lives to matter. And we want them to count. That little dash between when we arrive in this world and when the Lord takes us home, God said that he wants us to fill it, to fill our days in obedience to Him.
And I want to hear what I’m sure Ravi heard, which is, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” And so you guys will be so encouraged. If you haven’t seen that interview. I think her name’s Kylie. I’m always confused because I hear her name and then I see it spelled and then I’m confused again. But she’s beautiful. She’s the brand new press secretary for President Trump and her reflection on Ravi Zacharias will bless and encourage you. So I’ll link back to that in the show notes today.
In the news, I have noticed also, that the panic pimps are out in full force. I was talking about this the other day on social media, both on Instagram and on Facebook, this idea that Christians now for sure are being targeted by the CDC. And actually, I’ll link back to it also so you guys can see what I’m talking about, but the CDC put out a post talking about how COVID-19 is spread in the church. And so they said it’s spread easily in group gatherings, made a whole graphic about it. It says, just talking about what happened in a small church in Arkansas in early March. Basically just absolutely pushing panic. And I’m just going to encourage you guys again, they’re talking… here, I’ll quote them. They said, “This outbreak highlights the potential for widespread transmission of COVID-19 during in-person faith based events.” Riddle me, this you guys. Why is it that COVID-19 spreads more in a faith based event than it does in Walmart? More at a faith based event than it does at the liquor store or the pot shops or any of the big box stores, Lowe’s, Home Depot that are still open right now, but they have absolutely targeted the church.
And I think we’re going to see more and more of this. And so I’m going to encourage you not to freak out, but just to be in prayer about it. And that’s the last thing I want to talk about today. My friend, Pastor Phil, over at Abundant Life Church in Lee’s Summit, is doing something that they’re calling 7:14. They’re praying every morning at 7:14 in the spirit of Second Chronicles 7:14. “If my people who are called by my name.” So many of you guys have been watching me and I’m going to encourage you to join me. So the verse is, “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” That is the God that we serve.
And so every morning at 7:14, we’ve talked about tag teaming. Somebody does it at 7:14 in the morning and another 7:14 post at night, just so that we are praying without ceasing as a church. And you will see these on my Facebook page every morning, with different prayer points. When I started doing it, so Phil started doing it, maybe, I don’t know, a week or two before I did. I heard about what they were doing over there. And I’m like, “Man, I want to do that, too.” So every morning at 7:14 I’m putting a call to prayer on my page. And if I could do it live, I would, but I’ve got pretty bad internet at my house. So, so far I haven’t been able to manage that live, but I want to encourage you guys to pray with me.
Three prayer points that I put on my page on Wednesday. And I said, the first one is that God’s people would return to God’s Word, in God’s way. The second thing that we would not be ruled by the spirit of fear, but would stand in the knowledge that God has given us power, love and a sound mind as the Bible teaches in 2 Timothy 1:7, and finally that our hearts would not be troubled. Jesus said in John 14:1, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God and trust also in me.” Men and women, God is aware of everything that we’re going through. He is listening. He loves you and He can be trusted.
So I hope that encourages you today. Thank you so much, you guys, for your prayers and for the financial support of this ministry during this incredibly challenging season. We very much appreciate it. And I hope that you are encouraged by the podcast and that you’re sharing it. And I’m going to continue to just bring you encouragement from the Word of God and hopefully continue to talk about what’s happening in the culture. And I want to encourage you also, like I said, on social media, you guys, it’s not wrong to ask questions. It’s not unchristian of you. It’s not ungodly to look around and if you observe that something is not right, it is wise to say so. We have not been given a spirit of timidity. That’s another word that they use in place of fear in 2 Timothy 1:7. “God has not given you a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and a sound mind.” And you can make wise decisions and have discernment because of the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.
I’m going to encourage you just to keep in prayer. Remember those three points that I gave you earlier and then join me in prayer every morning at 7:14. I am obviously Pacific time. Pastor Phil goes live 7:14 Central time and you guys can follow him at Abundant Life, Lee’s Summit. But I’m going to encourage you, join us in prayer and let’s begin to pray for repentance, first of the church. This is not a problem that starts in the White House. It starts here in God’s house and the church is in the middle of a crisis right now, a big spiritual crisis, been building for a really long time. So we’re going to continue to encourage you back to a place of repentance and seeking the Lord and asking for an awakening and a movement of the Holy Spirit to wash over this nation and get us back to where we need to be.
So we love you guys. Thank you so much for listening. Don’t forget, you can leave your questions for me and guest ideas at Mailbox Monday. So you go to heidistjohn.com/mailboxmonday, and we’re reading those and I’ll be back on Monday answering your questions. We love you guys have a great weekend and I’ll see you back here on Monday.
Write to Heidi:
Heidi St. John
c/o Firmly Planted Family
11100 NE 34th Cir, Vancouver, WA 98682
Support this ministry by donating through E-giving. You can also send donations to: 1100 NE34th Cir, Vancouver, WA 98682