Suffering

...now browsing by tag

 
 

October 14

Thursday, October 14th, 2021

I’ve contemplated what to write this morning based on events of the past day.  First, from my Bible reading this morning are three passages:

Give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name; Make His deeds known among the peoples. Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; Tell of all His wonders. Boast in His holy name; May the heart of those who seek the Lord be joyful.” (103:1-3)

“Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For his mercy is everlasting.”(106:1)

“In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence , And His children will have refuge.” (Pr. 14:26)

I needed those verses this morning. Yesterday about 10:00 I got a text from Tami, our daughter, that she needed me to take her to the ER. An episode at school had the school nurse tell the principal, “She needs to get to the ER.” Jo and I found ourselves sitting in the ER with her until 7:00, except for a short reprieve of coming home to grab a bite to eat and to get some of Tami’s stuff. Late last night, about 10:00, Tami texted me saying they said she was having signs of a heart attack and they were doing a heart cath this morning. She has been dealing with parosmia (distorted taste and smell) since March 1, a side effect of COVID. Food smells horrible. All meats smell rotten or like a dead animal and tastes the same. Being around certain smells has her wanting to head to the bathroom (and she teaches Kindergarten kids). We thought, at first, all the symptoms she had might be from that. We will find out some answers today, I hope. Meanwhile, I’m clinging to those 3 verses.

Another request: my good friend, Ryan S (techgeek), who comments on this blog and is my admin, emailed me yesterday that his wife’s sister’s house burnt down yesterday and it appears to be a total loss. I don’t know her name (but God does).

Would you please stop and pray for these two requests? And would you please pray for Ryan and Amanda and for me and Jo? I’m trusting those verses to be true.  Thanks.

October 11

Monday, October 11th, 2021

Our small group has been discussing the topic of suffering. Last night we talked about suffering being fair or not.

We all came to the conclusion that suffering being “fair” should not be in our vocabulary.  It most certainly is not a biblical word. I think (personally) what happens to many of us is we begin to compare our situation with someone else’s and the word “fair” comes out. How many times have I heard, “I don’t understand. I give my life to Jesus, serve Him, and this is what I get”? How many times? Innumerable. We need to ditch the “It’s not fair talk” and get back to “God-talk.” We need to start saying, “What does God want me to learn or to become out of this?”

Here are some one sentence thoughts I gleaned and wrote down from last night’s study:

  • Right in the middle of his suffering, Paul broke out in the doxology. See Romans 11:33-36.
  • In our future and about our future, God owes us no explanation.
  • Society has become a victim-driven society.
  • When you throw a pity party no one wants to come. (I love this one)
  • When we open the door to victimhood, we allow ourselves to be slaves.

And to close this devotion, here is a thought from something I read from John Piper just this morning:

Do not think that because you experience adversity in your little world of experience, the hand of the Lord is shortened. It is not our prosperity or our fame but our holiness that He seeks with all His heart.”  –“Good News of Great Joy”- p. 34

“Father, may I see suffering, not as something unfair or to avoid, but as a tool to help me grow into being more like Jesus.”

October 5

Tuesday, October 5th, 2021

It was 1:00 a.m. I was awake.  I was uncomfortable (I’ll tell you why in a mom). But even in my discomfort a word came to me “out-of-the-blue.” Blessed. It got me thinking (yes, even at that time in the morning).

One of my favorite people (whom I have never met in person) is a woman from Georgia named Martha. She blogs at http://marthaorlando.blogspot.com/2021/10/be-lifted-up.html. She ends every comment on my blog (and others) with “Blessings.”

Our local sheriff, Sam, is a Christ-follower. You ask him how he is doing and he will answer, “I’m blessed.”

My secretary, Diana, has a t-shirt she likes to wear: “Blessed and highly caffeinated.” Since she drinks very little coffee, I suspect it is the “Blessed” she likes.

Jesus used that word “Blessed” 9 times in the Sermon on the Mount. They are called the Beatitudes.

This past Saturday as I was walking from gassing up my truck to the store to get my change and to meet Jo to get something to drink, a car backed into me and knocked me over. My left hand slammed the pavement and immediately was on fire. I now have the black and blue and sore hand to prove it (hence the 1 a.m. discomfort). Of course, they both got out of the car to see how I was and to apologize. As I waiting in line (I think in a little bit of shock), the man came into the store to see if I was okay. I said, “Yes” and he said, “Well, God bless you.”

As I was driving down the interstate a few moments later (and after the reality of what had happened dawned on me…my hand reminded me), I told Jo what he said. I then said, “I wish I had been more with it because I would have said to him, ‘He has. He does. He will.'”  But I didn’t. I didn’t even think of it. And since they are from Rhode Island I doubt I ever will (unless I see them in heaven).

In spite of the pain in life; in spite of the stumbles and falls; in spite of the missteps; in spite of the times of loneliness and feeling of hopelessness and abandonment which sometimes invades our space, we are blessed. 

I know I am.  It just takes me taking my eyes off of me and my circumstances and looking at Jesus to realize I am blessed beyond measure.

So are you. Do you know that?

“Father, help me to see how blessed I really am.”

September 11

Friday, September 10th, 2021

I am posting this a day early.  I will be participating in a 9/11 memorial in my town of Spencer. It will also serve as a memorial to one of our own, Brett Wood, who lost his life in Afghanistan 10 years ago yesterday. Here are my thoughts:

Even writing those words-that date- brings back haunting memories.

Planes hitting two towers. Papers falling. People dying.  Metal crumbling. Layers of smoke and dust and debris in the air and on people and cars. People digging. American flag waving on site, almost like a guardian and inspiration.

“Let’s roll.” Brave passengers. Todd Beamer. Rumors of the plane headed to the White House.  An empty field. Plane crashed. Crisis averted. Lives lost.

Pentagon. The “seat” of military power. A symbol of military might and genius. The hub of decisions. Fiery death. Walls breached.

A nation united against evil. For once. “God Bless America” sung by political rivals. A common enemy. Swift action. Swift reprisal. Manhunt. Finally got him (them).

9/11…Never forget. This is not a matter of forgiveness. This is a matter of remembering the fallen.  As of today, there are just under 3000 innocent lives gone.  Heroes who rushed burning buildings. People who went to work that day not having a clue. Some of them I will see someday. Some, sadly, thought they had more time. And a few consigned to hell where their vestal virgins do not await. Only tongues of fire.

Matthew 26…Never forget. A memorial feast set aside for a Savior to never be forgotten.  Paying the ultimate price. For me. For you.

LEST WE FORGET

“Father, the memories are fresh as flashbacks occur on this 20th anniversary of evil’s destruction. Thank You for Your faithfulness through it all. Giving hope and life to so many. And thank You for the cross. Help me to never forget.”

September 1

Wednesday, September 1st, 2021

Today I read from Psalm 37. It is, by far, my favorite chapter in the Bible. Admittedly, Romans 8 comes in a close 2nd. But, by and large, this is my favorite. There is so much to digest just at the beginning!!

  • Trust in the Lord and do good. (v.3)
  • Delight yourself in the Lord. (v.4)
  • Commit your way to the Lord. (v.5)  This is my personal favorite.
  • Rest in the Lord.  (v.7)

That alone would be enough to say, “Here listen to me!”  That alone would suffice to say, “Here are the nuts and bolts of a relationship with God.”  But a little later David adds another gem:

“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, And he delights in his way.” (v.28)

We may face some limiting circumstances. We may face some which are not so good. We may face some that want to take us down and out. While it is hard to remember when we are going through a difficulty, we need to seek God. We can “go” through it or “grow” through it.

The challenge of every pressure situation is to increase our faith and trust, not to decrease. It it is to grow not diminish.

“Father, as I go through those challenging times may my faith increase. Help me to trust, delight, commit, and rest in You.”

I have so much more to say about making this happen but it would make this devotion too long for one day. So I have chosen to split my writing into two devotions. Tomorrow I would like to show how and why  we need to increase our faith not diminish it by using a very familiar passage. See you there!

August 25

Wednesday, August 25th, 2021

Whenever Jo and I visit our daughter and grandson, we stay in a hotel. Several reasons which I will not go into. The folks at the hotel are fantastic! Sarah, the manager, whom we have gotten to know over the past few years, knows us and treats us well. All I have to do is call her and she reserves a room for us. We usually spend minimal time in our hotel room so the view is not really important to us.  It seems we either get a picture of the front overhang, thereby obscuring everything, or we get a picture of the construction going on with multiple storage units.  Lovely view.

Except for this past time. Our view was of the NNE, which included some car dealerships (almost empty of cars) and the interstate. AND a beautiful, full moon. We could see it as we drove into the hotel but it was obscured by trees and power lines. But we got to our room, opened the curtains, and VOILA! A gorgeous, full moon. No trees. No power lines. Just the moon.

Knowing the sun would be coming up that way next morning, I opened the curtains and rather than see a beautiful sunrise, my vision was blurred.  It wasn’t my glasses since I don’t have to wear them anymore. It was the windows. More succinctly…it was the moisture on the windows. Late night/early morning dew. Soon though, the sun burned it off and I was able to see the sun it all its glory…and clearly.

I’m thinking of the difficulty we all face and the verse from I Corinthians 13: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I also have been fully known.” (v.12) Very often our vision is obscured and our view is disrupted. We don’t see clearly at all. Unobstructed, all is beautiful. But the trees and buildings and fogs of life cause us pain. It is when our mirror is clear that our vision is 20/20 and it is then we know-God is there. He always was. It just took a little less obstruction for us to see clearly.

“Father, help me to see clearly-through all the trees and branches and fog-that You are there.”

August 23

Monday, August 23rd, 2021

This past weekend Jo and I made a quick trip to Ohio on Friday to watch our grandson, Braden, play his first game as a Freshman in high school. We came back Saturday after the game. Driving 4-41/2 hours one way gives one a lot of time to think. Lately, the church family has been hit hard with “stuff.”

  • It started with me getting hit broadside on June 3rd and still working through several ETAs for the necessary part.
  • One of our ladies was heading to Indy for a quilting show and a semi sideswiped her.
  • One of our young men was hit head on. His ankle is broke significantly and may require further surgery.
  • Another had a car pull out in front of him on the way to a wedding. He and his fiance were shook up but the car is toast.
  • One young lady was rear-ended as she was turning into the church lot this past Saturday. She has a concussion and will be very, very sore.
  • One young lady’s 90+ y/o grandmother got COVID and they still don’t know how. She is, at least, able to get up and not lay around.
  • The church secretary’s father had a massive brain bleed on Thursday and was in a coma.  Yesterday afternoon he went to be with Jesus.
  • A 13 y/o has been placed in a center to get help with his anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts.
  • Our youth pastor, Ryan, is slowly watching his father waste away from cancer.

There are more, but you get the picture. As I thought about all of the “stuff” hitting us, I refused to have a pity party. I thought of Daniel and I thought of something I read this past week:

God is still God even when we don’t understand His ways.

The nonbeliever cannot sync with the idea of trials and suffering and a good God.  But the follower of Jesus can. We must choose to worship God and to trust His goodness, sovereignty, and power. We remind the world around us that we are in the hands of the One who controls it all. God is still God; I am still me; and He is still in charge.

And I must also say that I am not leaving out the idea this is a Satanic attack on our church fellowship. Add to the above the masks, the fear people have, the political sides being taken on social media and yeah…I am a firm believer this could very well be a Satanic attack.

“Father, I don’t understand but I’m certainly not going to blame You. You have been, are now, and always will be in charge.”

{Quote from The Daniel Dilemma by Chris Hodges, page 91}

August 16

Monday, August 16th, 2021

Do you know what a perfect storm is? If you watched the movie by that name, it means conditions are perfect for something phenomenal to happen. It that case, conditions were right for converging weather systems to being the storm of all storms and the vessel was caught in it. {Spoiler: it sank}.

Life is sometimes like that. So is reading. Three different sources this morning-no, four if you count my re-read of Psalm 13 from the previous morning-combined to be a perfect storm.

The writer of Our Daily Bread (August 14) wrote about not understanding when God is work or how.

Bob Goff wrote about God’s delays (p.273) which can be merely annoying, and some devastating. They cause us to wonder if God is even there and if He is good.

Another source-a book on HOPE-carries the same message as the others. Even though we cannot see or feel Him, He is always present and will help us through the darkest nights.

Then I re-read what is one of my favorite psalms-Psalm 13. The message of that psalm rings out loud and clear. But…you will have to wait until tomorrow for a fuller explanation. 🙂

All that to say, God made His point this morning. No matter whether He looks like it or not; no matter whether I feel like it or not; no matter how dark it seems; and no matter how dense the cloud cover, God is there. In that I can place my trust.

“Father, whether it appears to be so or not, You are there. Help me to trust You in the dark and in the clouds.”

August 13

Friday, August 13th, 2021

Don’t watch the news! If you do a feeling will come over you. Not a good one either. It is called hopelessness.

IMHO one of the feelings a good number of people experienced in the last 1-2 years has been hopelessness. Lockdowns. Masks. A relentless virus. Lack of personal contact. And more. But one way all this has revealed itself is in illness and even suicide. It has amped up that feeling of hopelessness.

On top of that think of the events of this past summer-the riots, rebelliousness, the angry cries-and think of what is even going on now. The rising inflation. The inflamed rhetoric. The hypocrisy. I could go on and on and it could actually bring you under a blanket that could cover you in despair.

Hope is something we all want AND need. No one feels life is worth living if there seems to be no hope. If we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, it is easy to despair. None of us like to be the recipient of the old saying, “I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. It was the light of an oncoming train.”

During the writing of Psalm 3 (I’m in the process of starting them again), David was in the midst of a coup by his son, Absalom. That had to be a real downer. His own son!  But verse 3 shows us that David knew where to go: “But You, Lord, are a shield around me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head.” He goes on to write about how he cried out to God, then went to sleep, and really slept. Why? How? “For the Lord sustained me.” (v.5)

No follower of Christ is hopeless, nor should we ever feel life is hopeless. I like what someone has said,

“Sorrow looks back, worry looks around, but faith looks up.

“Father, help me not to worry or feel hopeless. Help me to see and know You will sustain me.”

All Scripture is from NASB2020.

August 9

Monday, August 9th, 2021

Okay…slap me with a wet noodle. I didn’t post last Friday. We made a quick trip to Ohio and left Wednesday morning and returned Friday. Rather than throw a devotion together AND try to do it on my phone, I decided not to do anything. But if I was going to post, the following was on my mind.

As followers of Christ we are told to:

Hurt when others hurt.

Cry when others cry.

Laugh when others laugh.

Rejoice when others rejoice.

Love because we are loved.

Show grace because we have been shown grace.

Comfort when others hurt.

The reality is that God often puts us in hard places or takes us through hard moments so that we will be ready when others go through hard moments. When their heart cries out for comfort, we are ready, because our hearts once cried out for comfort.

I think of Mordecai’s words to Esther: “For such a time as this…”  And who knows? All the junk we went through; all the pain we experienced; all the tears; were not wasted just on us. Perhaps it was for us to have a heart that hears and listens and responds to another’s heart cry. Lessons learned were never meant to be kept to ourselves. They are sometimes a path for us to guide a fellow struggler.  Don’t waste the pain or the lessons by keeping them to yourself.

“Father, may I be open to using my pain and heartache to help someone else experiencing that same difficulty.