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The Greatest Motivator

There is nothing else on this planet that motivates me more than my sufferings.

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There is nothing else on this planet that motivates me more than my sufferings.

Every time I experience the anxiety that plagues me, my immediate reaction is to run! My body tenses up and I can’t breathe. I grasp for my throat only to find my hands are already shaking. My pastor once said, “Stand up to trials and run away from temptation.” My flesh is real good at doing the opposite. If I’m honest, I’d rather not focus on my anxiety. I’d rather numb my mind in front of the television while I eat more junk food.

As much as I hate my anxiety — it keeps me in check. I have to ask myself questions like, “Am I sinning to avoid the truth?” “What am I so afraid of?”

Sometimes the answer doesn’t come right away, and I am left with panic attacks. Other times I realize it’s just my flesh readjusting to new surroundings — like a new husband and a new house. I even have an office now. Sometimes I think I become anxious because I have so much freedom in a whole room to myself.

My anxiety is a point of suffering in my life, and I guess I still struggle with accepting it. Even when everything is going great, I am always afraid that my anxiety is going to come back and shake my confidence once again.

I thought marriage would quiet my anxiety. Nope! I quickly learned in my first few weeks of marriage that God continues to allow my thorn in the flesh. Sometimes I hate that He won’t allow me to get the least bit comfortable, and yet I am joyfully surprised at times to see how God uses what I see as suffering to motivate me into godly action. What a comfort to know I have a perfect example to follow. When I feel lost, hurt, and overwhelmed by my anxiety, I can once again be motivated by the sufferings of Jesus.

The more I study the life of Jesus, I see how He didn’t waver. He did everything the Father asked Him to do — even if it meant suffering. Jesus was tempted in every way as we are and yet He did not sin.

Let that sink in for a moment!

He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By His wounds you are healed.” (1 Peter 2:22-24, NLT).

My sufferings teach me how to grow.

I have learned to embrace these times of quiet fellowship with God. When the panic attacks come I know God is waiting for me. All I need to do is surrender my pride. Easier said than done. The nature of anxiety is to take the focus off God and onto myself. I’m the one who’s suffering. As much as I struggle with the disruptions — I’ve learned to simply humble myself. The more I wrestle with God, the longer it takes for God to teach me these vital truths impertinent to my character.

If I can learn what He is trying to teach me — then He removes my anxiety. Not always, and not right away, but I can trust God to show me what to do.

Some days God uses my panic attacks to call me into action. The more time I spend in prayer the better. I remember to take my thoughts captive to Christ — not myself. Through reading the Word and other devotionals, I am able to stop worrying and let Him take control.

When I finally reach the point of giving everything to God, I can feel the release. My hands stop shaking, my throat stops closing, and I can breath again. I hear the words of the Lord from Exodus 14:14 that say, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

I am thankful how much God has used my anxiety to motivate me into prayer and reading the Word. Some days I feel this is all I do. I feel plagued by my thoughts of worthlessness.

But I know better.

If it weren’t for that deep longing in my heart to allow God to use my anxiety to motivate me into a closer walk with Him, I truly believe I would have missed out on so many spiritual lessons.

When my husband and I first married I would take my anxiety personally. If I could just try harder, God would show me what to do. I furiously searched for the lesson God was trying to teach me.

But there are two of us now.

I love that God has given me a husband, but he has limits too. He works long hours, and when I take the focus off myself and on to serving the needs of Marc my anxiety is transformed. It’s not all about me anymore.

My sufferings are not all about me; they are for my husband and for those God calls me to serve! I’m so glad God uses our greatest fear to motivate us into acts of service. I now use Hebrews 10:24 as my ministry verse because it reminds me of where I’ve come from and where I’m going.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).

Do you know where you’re going? Ask the Lord to give you the strength to be used by Him. Even if that means, like me, He uses your greatest fear as the greatest motivator in your life.

Enter Our Giveaway!

We have three copies of Renee’s book Not Another Dating Book: A Devotional Guide to All Your Relationships to give away. To enter for a chance to win one, leave a comment answering this question:

  • What’s your greatest motivator?

One additional entry can be earned for each of these:

  • Tweet about this contest and Renee’s article. Leave a comment to tell us you did.
  • “Like” this post on Facebook. Leave a comment to tell us you did.
  • “Like” our page on Facebook. Leave a comment to tell us you did.

This contest closes on Friday, March 2nd, 2012, at 12 a.m. Our apologies to our international readers, but it’s only open to those residing in the United States.

Thank you to everyone who entered! We’ve chosen our winners using Random.org’s Integer Generator. Congratulations to Rachel, Lisa G., and janackeh klein.

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Renee Fisher is an adoring wife to Marc and mom to their pit bull named Star. She is a spirited speaker and author of five books, including Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me (Harvest House, 2013). Renee is the founder of DevotionalDiva.com, and loves nothing more than to spur others forward. She is on the Advisory Board for ChristianMingle, creator of Quarter Life Conference, and a Biola University graduate. Renee lives in CA and loves running on sunny days. A Dream Coach, she loves connecting with new people daily. Connect at ReneeFisher.com.

22 Comments
  • Erin

    My greatest motivator is to make my life count even after all of the mistakes I have made.

  • Erin
  • My greatest motivator is pain. I was permanently injured in an auto accident six years ago and sometimes the pain becomes almost claustrophobic. When that happens the only thing I know to do is focus on others, to look beyond myself to keep from suffocating. And the amazing thing is that it works! The pain doesn’t abate, but my ability to cope with it does. God uses the pain to draw me away from me to serve others, not always physically, but often in beautiful oases of prayer. Cause as you said, it’s not all about me. It’s all about God and serving others in His name. Great words today, Renee!

  • Rachel

    I regret that my greatest motivator is often fear. But the good news is that brings me to prayer and focus!

    • Congrats, Rachel! You won a copy of Not Another Dating Book. I’ll be sending you an email.

  • Rachel

    I also liked this page and post!

  • Obviously, as editor, I can’t enter this contest, but I did want to share my thoughts on this article.

    Yesterday I listened to a sermon online from Joe Thorn (we attended the church he pastors when we lived in Illinois) called Praxis: Trials (Pt. 1). It’s on James 1 and in it he talks about how our suffering:

    1. Strengthens our faith
    2. Deepens our relationship with Christ
    3. Makes us mature as we trust in Him

    He went on to say that our trials aren’t meant to test our discipline, but our dependency. Renee, I think you also touch so well on this in your article! Like Joe, you point to how suffering helps us “grow up” spiritually. This is so true. As I’ve experienced panic attacks and anxiety in the last few years, I’ve found myself depending less on my strength and more on Christ’s.

    • Ashleigh,

      That’s awesome. I think all too often we think of it as discipline. If I can just work harder or figure out the reason for my pain then I can move on. But once we realize it’s a dependency issue then we can devote ourselves more to Him and the learning process instead of getting it all perfect!

      • Anna

        @Renee.. I would really like to ask you a question about this article, but don’t want to ask it publicly. Is there a way to do this? Thank you!

  • @Erin – that’s a good one!

    @Cindee – Thank you for sharing your story. Isn’t that crazy how pain brings us to our knees and at the same time sets us free in Christ?

    @Rachel – and the best place to start too!

  • Sarah

    My greatest motivator is my fear of disappointment. I don’t want to disappoint myself, family, friends & more importantly God!

  • Sarah

    I liked this post on Facebook!!

  • Lisa G

    Thank you for the great reminder in Exodus 14:14 that say, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
    This is something I NEED to remember, specifically when dealing with a certain situation in my life.
    That is a great question…what is my greatest motivator? The yearning/desire to carry out God’s will for my life.

    • Congrats, Lisa G.! You won a copy of Not Another Dating Book. I’ll be sending you an email.

  • Lisa G

    I Like you on Facebook!

  • janackeh klein

    my greatest motivator is KNOWING there is a better me waiting around the corner if i put in the work AND allow Jesus to take over!

  • janackeh klein

    i “like” your page on FB

    • Congrats, Janackeh! You won a copy of Not Another Dating Book. I’ll be sending you an email.

  • janackeh klein

    i “liked” this post on FB

  • Shannon

    My greatest motivator is striving to become the person God created me to be, rather than the person the world expects me to be.

  • kayla

    my greatest motivator are people who are negative and people opinions. My haters are my motivators. All i can do is keep on standing tall and walking in the right direction with god.

Articles

When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

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One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Articles

Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.

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“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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Articles

He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.

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Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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Hi, I'm Ashleigh Slater, founder and editor of Ungrind. Here at Ungrind, it’s our goal to churn out biblically-based encouragement for women. We strive to be honest and transparent about our struggles in a way that inspires hope, faith, and perseverance.

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The Greatest Motivator

by Renee Fisher time to read: 4 min
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