Suffering, beauty, hope, weakness, weaknesses, disappointment, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Produces: Christ Uses Our Disappointments and Creates Beauty

Disappointments and ugliness we want to be washed away, are often opportunities God uses to create beauty. Our suffering produces a steadfast hope.



…We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character and character produces hope.

Romans 5:3-4, ESV

Disappointments and ugliness we want to be washed away, are often opportunities God uses to create beauty. Our suffering produces a steadfast hope. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #beauty #disappointment #hope #suffering #weakness #weaknesses

Unruly Ground

There has been an unruly area of ground in my backyard. A tree had fallen a few years ago during an ice storm, causing me all kinds of anxiety. And another smaller tree was leaning over ready to topple at any minute.

I had a college student cut up as much as his small chain saw could handle. But, he had to leave behind the fallen trunk of the tree. Every time I cut our grass, I circle the tree and its fallen stump. I mutter and grimace about the day I finally have my nice yard back.

Need for Peace

This past year, I bought some seed to plant. They were wildflowers- pollinators. The kind I love because they encourage bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

In the early morning, I love sitting outside with my coffee and the scriptures to read, think, and pray. I knew these flowers would be just what my yard needed to encourage all of this. A quiet space of restoration and peace.

Need to Dream

I wanted to plant my seeds, but I tend to get overwhelmed when an area is too big. My friend Lisa has been gardening for a long time, so I asked for her input on my yard. I needed some help dreaming. Where did my seed need to go? How could I make it the place I needed to send my thoughts toward God.

I thought I knew the spot, but I was very wrong. Lisa headed for the stump. The one I had brooded and whined over. The one I knew had to go. “Look,” she said, “This is perfect. The stump frames a semi-circle.”

Rich Fertile Ground

She was right, of course. Where the tree had fallen, leaves had covered and nurtured the soil. The ground was soft, easy to dig, and rich. Much richer than the red clay everywhere else. 

However, it still was not an easy spot to work in. There were lots of roots and it needed conditioning. But the very piece of wood I wanted out, was what gave this bed its structure. It grounded the space.

Mind on Truth

I too often see this for myself. The very disappointment, characteristic, or person I want to go, is the very opportunity Christ is using to develop, to sanctify, and to bring beauty from ashes.

I love how God used my friend to point me to the very stump I was despairing, to bring beauty to an area I desperately wanted. I see the body of Christ do this often in my life. They point me to what is true, what is real, what is possible. Christ is showing up in the very areas I want to be removed. He is enough so I do not have to be. I fool myself into thinking I can be. But, even on my best days, I am in need of the One who prepares a way and makes the paths straight.

For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10, ESV
Disappointments, characteristics, and ugliness we want wiped clean, are the very opportunities Christ uses to develop, sanctify, and create beauty. Click To Tweet

His Ways are not Mine

What force in your life are you looking at with disdain? What area of your life do you wish would go away and fly right? Could this be the very place Christ is producing rich soil in you? Look to Him who goes before us. Ask for His help and His wisdom.

Disappointments and ugliness we want to be washed away, are often opportunities God uses to create beauty. Our suffering produces a steadfast hope. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #beauty #disappointment #hope #suffering #weakness #weaknesses

unsplash-logoJacalyn Beales
Silence, God’s character, God’s Word, sorrow, suffering, devotional, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Silent: Knowing God is Working Even in the Silence

There may be times where God appears distant, but we can breathe knowing He stays true to His word. He never leaves us and works even when He seems silent.



Remember that although God may be silent, He is not still.

Dr.Tony Evans

Silent God

Sometimes God is just hard to get. One moment, He is breaking into our lives with His glory and majesty, answering prayer left and right. We are “living the promises!”

YES, GIRL!

Then, the earth seemingly erupts beneath us and chaos ensues. Friends betray us. Illness strikes. Or, like St. John of the Cross, darkness falls across our souls like a damp fog.

The ceiling is made of iron.

The sky is brass.

Morning, afternoon, and evening our hearts cry out to God, but He does not answer. The situation remains unchanged. We may feel like C. S. Lewis after his wife died of cancer.

But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become.

C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

I have felt this level of desperation before; although, I’m not proud to admit it – when our oldest son ‘disowned’ us during a crisis time in his late twenties; when my mother’s mental health was overwhelming me; when my migraines were relentless. I guess that is why it’s easy to become tearful when I hear Andrew Peterson’s song, The Silence of God:

It’s enough to drive a man crazy, it’ll break a man’s faith
It’s enough to make him wonder, if he’s ever been sane
When he’s bleating for comfort from Thy staff and Thy rod
And the Heaven’s only answer is the silence of God

Andrew Peterson, The Silence of God

There may be times where God appears distant, but we can breathe knowing He stays true to His word. He never leaves us and works even when He seems silent. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #scripture #devotional #addiction #silence #GodsCharacter #GodsWord #sorrow #suffering

David

David certainly had moments of desolation, hearing nothing but God’s silence.

My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? Oh my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.

Psalm 22:1-2

When I was younger, I used every Christian ‘trick’ or equation I knew, to no avail. As with David in the Psalms, despite my pleas, promises, prayer, and meditation, God remained silent.

Be not silent, O God of my praise! For wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me, speaking against me with lying tongues. They encircle me with words of hate, and attack me without cause. In return for my love they accuse me, but I give myself to prayer. So they reward me evil for good, and hatred for my love.

Psalm 109:1-5

Like David in the following verses, I stated my case before my Father, and like David, I have experienced silence. We’re not alone.

Abram

In Genesis 12:1-3, Abram was told to leave everything and everyone he knew because God wanted to give him a new land. In addition, God would use him and Sarai to become a great nation.

Years passed. No direct heir…not one. And while God spoke to Abram about other things, He was silent about that – for nearly twenty-five years.

Joseph

Joseph’s coat of many colors is a wonderful children’s Bible story. However, as adults, it’s important to remember that he was sold into slavery, (today we call it human trafficking), and was falsely accused in his owner’s house of sexually abusing the master’s wife. Joseph then sat in prison for two years before the dream he was shone at seventeen came to pass.

Do you wonder if Joseph had some unanswered questions for God during that all time?

Job

I would be remiss not to mention Job. He spends a great deal of time telling of his righteousness, but he grew frustrated and impatient at God’s silence in the face of his suffering.

I cry to you for help and you do not answer me; I stand, and you only look at me.

Job 30:20

If only God would answer!!

Isn’t that how we feel at times? Even if it isn’t the answer we want – please, just ANSWER!

Mary and Martha

I wonder if that is what Mary and Martha were thinking when their friend and Lord did not answer them? When He was told their brother, Lazarus, was very ill and didn’t immediately come to the rescue? Jesus didn’t even send word that He was on His way. In fact, John 11:17 reveals that Lazarus had been dead four days by the time Jesus arrived!

Silent or Not?

Other writers more learned and wiser than me have written about this topic. Many have expounded that this time of silence or darkness exposes our need for discipline, renewal, and/or repentance. No doubt these and more are pieces of the puzzle.

However, looking through the lens of a merciful, loving Father, I’m wondering if there is another aspect; if this silence is real or perceived. My feelings or experiences tell me He is absent, but God’s Word says that He is with me, (examples – Psalm 23:4; Deuteronomy 31:6). He will never leave me or forsake me.

Jesus told us He would not leave us as orphans in John 14:18-20. I love that; regardless of our biological heritage, Jesus will never abandon us.

So, what does this mean? Why the sense of silence or aloneness?

Well…according to Jon Bloom of desiringGod.org:

It is the mourning that will know the joy of comfort (Matthew 5:4). It is the hungry and thirsty that will be satisfied (Matthew 5:6). Longing makes us ask, emptiness makes us seek, silence makes us knock (Luke 11:9).

Keep knocking, Sister. God hasn’t left you…and He never will.

When God seems silent, may we take this time to expose our need for discipline, renewal, or repentance. God's Word tells us He never leaves us, so keep knocking, keep seeking, He's there! Click To Tweet

There may be times where God appears distant, but we can breathe knowing He stays true to His word. He never leaves us and works even when He seems silent. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #scripture #devotional #addiction #silence #GodsCharacter #GodsWord #sorrow #suffering

*All Bible references are from the English Standard Version.
unsplash-logoYurii Khimanin
Grief, anger, infertility, pain, suffering, truth, devotional, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Grief: Learning to Praise God in Times of Acute Pain

Grief is crippling. Often times our physical bodies heal faster than our spirits. In these times we must learn to praise God through the pain.



Have mercy on me, LORD, for I am faint; LORD, heal me, for my bones are in agony.
My soul is in anguish. How long, LORD, how long?
Turn, LORD, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love.
No one remembers you when he is dead. Who praises you from the grave ?
I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.
My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes.
Away from me, all you who do evil, for the LORD has heard my weeping.
The LORD has heard my cry for mercy; the LORD accepts my prayer.

Psalm 6:2-9, NIV

Grief is crippling. Often times our physical bodies heal faster than our spirits. In these times we must learn to praise God through the pain. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #scripture #devotional #grief #anger #infertility #pain

Spiritual and Physical Anguish

The moment after the ultrasound that showed that our supposed “miracle baby” was meant for Heaven rather than earth, my body ached with devastating grief. Sorrow is insidious, seeping in and replicating like a virus or cancer. It hits fast and hard — starting at the chest, knocking the wind out of you, and quickly traveling to every muscle, joint, bone, and nerve.  

The bodily pain mended more quickly than my broken spirit, and that pain comes back now and then: when a friend has a baby, when I see the baby pictures of other people’s children, when I have none of mine, when I think of how my due date is fast approaching every November. It has been in those moments–those breathless, agonizing moments, where my faith has been tested. Would this be the time that I fell to my knees to pray for healing? Or would I shake my fist to rail at my Heavenly Father for His cruelty, His neglect, His silence?

Directing Our Anger

I’d like to tell you that I always ended up on my knees, but I have raised my fist towards God in anger more times than I would like to admit. Luckily for me, God has always been capable of taking the brunt of my anger. Fortunately for me, He has already forgiven my rage and impertinence. Thankfully, He has always guided me back to dedicated prayer and relationship with Him.  

I know God has delivered me. He has saved me because of His undying, steadfast love. He always hears my weeping, my cries for mercy. God patiently listens to my pleas and accepts my prayers. His silence isn’t a sign of neglect. This silence has a purpose which He will reveal to me in His time.

Pain of Grief

I think it is important to remember this Psalm, even in the darkest depths of grief. The Psalmist cries out to God just as any one of us does on any given day. He feels the bodily pain of his grief and the weariness from enduring so much sadness. He wonders how long God will allow him to withstand his anguish.

My soul is in deep anguish. How long, LORD, how long?

Psalm 6:3, NIV

This is a familiar refrain. But the Psalmist remembers that no matter how his body aches, how much his soul anguishes, he is blessed with God’s unfailing love. 

These Feelings are Natural

I think we, especially as women, find shame in lifting our frustration and rage up and directing it at God. We know that we are supposed to find solace in Him, to trust in His plans, His timing, His goodness. But the world presents us with such indefinable suffering that there is no tangible “who” to place our blame upon. God, then, becomes the logical culpability bearer.

This is natural. It’s normal. You are no different than I am in this transgression. Plus, God has proven time and time again to be long-suffering with our misplaced anger and doubt in Him. He hasn’t broken off relationship with us in the past, so why would He in our present or future?

This is the comfort we can seek, this unity in our weakness and assurance that our Father will love us through it all. Sit in that for a moment. But don’t stay comfortable too long, because comfortable people do not change. God tells us time and time again in Scripture, we are to be transformed by our relationship with Him. So, now that we have cast away the shame we feel in misplacing our anger in Him…

Seeking a Different Way

We have to seek a different path. Every time I misplace my anger at my circumstances and place it firmly on His shoulders, I go back to the question my small group leader always asks: “What do I know to be true?”

I know God is good beyond my capability to comprehend. I am assured that He loves me with an unfathomable love. I know that His Word bears evidence of His goodness through generation, upon generation who came before me. I know that His way is always best and that I never regret His way once the conclusion has played out in my life. I am certain that what I do not understand today, I will understand when I am in Heaven.

This knowledge should transform how I react. It should impact how I respond to my suffering. I should look to Job and Joseph and see how they embraced God in the midst of their troubles.

Job praised God. His wife wanted him to curse God and die. I know that feeling. I cannot judge her for having that resentment without living at the height of my own hypocrisy. But I can aspire to be more like Job.

Joseph had been so maligned by his brothers that no one could blame him had he cast his brothers out of Egypt without food. He, however, saw the good God did in the midst of his travails and was able to show genuine forgiveness to his bullies and assailants.

Praising through Pain

It seems counterintuitive. We know bad things happen despite our faith and God’s goodness, but in the midst of our suffering, it does not seem like God deserves our praise. That is exactly when we need to get out of our broken hearts into our heads.

What do we know to be true?

He is always worthy.

He is always good.

We must praise Him always.

In the end, we will endure our burdens much more easily when our eyes are set on Him in adoration. The trust we have in what we know to be true about our Father is a buffer that shields us from the harshest parts of our suffering. It won’t remove the stress and pain altogether, but it will shield us from the worst of it and allow us to see how God works in spite of the pain, because of it, and alongside it.

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Romans 5:3-5, ESV
We endure our burdens when our eyes are set on God in adoration. The trust we have in what we know to be true about our Father is a buffer shielding us from the harshest parts of our suffering. Click To Tweet

Grief is crippling. Often times our physical bodies heal faster than our spirits. In these times we must learn to praise God through the pain. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #scripture #devotional #grief #anger #infertility #pain

unsplash-logoKirill Pershin
compassion, suffering, example, God’s love, Jesus, love others, redeemed, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Suffering With: Compassion’s True Nature Revealed through Jesus

Today’s interpretation of ‘compassion’ doesn’t compare to God’s intended design. The true nature of ‘suffering with others’ was perfectly exemplified through the life and death of Jesus.



When I entered my initial internship for hospital chaplaincy, I believed I was equipped both theologically and emotionally to provide the care my patients would need. After all, I was an adult who had already raised a family, taught the Bible for twenty years, and had experienced, (and had therapy for), several painful life events.

Astonishing – how wrong we can be when we believe we’re so right.

Our interpretation of compassion doesn't compare to God's intended design. 'Suffering with others' was perfectly exemplified in the life and death of Jesus. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #compassion #GodsLove #redeemed #suffering

The World’s Compassion

Chaplaincy internship involved many spiritual books assigned to us, weekly theological reflections, group meetings/assessments with fellow interns, and a weekly one-on-one with our supervisor. It didn’t take long for most of us to ascertain that, while our theological training was imperative and our life experiences significant, how these aspects came together to minister care to a hurting soul was vital.

The word compassion is thrown around frequently in our culture. It seems the word is used to pull at our heartstrings and guilt us into performing a service. Or, to give to a cause in which someone, or an entity, believes we should. You know what I mean. I imagine your mailbox is full of the same appeals as mine.

Don’t you have any compassion for these-

  • starving children
  • wounded vets
  • people with cancer
  • lost people
  • dying people in (name the country)

And if you’re a television watcher…well, the visual is worse.

Inadequate Compassion

While I was in chaplaincy, I was seeing a wonderful Christian therapist. At times, I felt overwhelmed and deeply inadequate by the needs I faced each day. My heart, my own compassion, could not handle the onslaught of pain and suffering. I remember the day I expressed this to her, and she told me, “I believe we already have a Savior to handle the world’s pain. We don’t need another one.” Ouch.

But the truth is, like so many other words in our world, compassion has been co-opted to take on a new meaning. Rather than the way, God, our Father used it, or Jesus used it, today it is used more as ‘feeling sorry for.’ With this meaning, we can throw money at the above list, or even a little time, feel warm and fuzzy, then go on our merry way.

However, in the Old Testament, where the Hebrew word is Racham, it is translated to ‘love deeply;’ it is used most often in Isaiah.

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!

Isaiah 30:18, NIV

Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!

Isaiah 49:15, NIV

Can we fathom this love?

Suffering With

The Greek word splanchnizomai, “to be moved as to one’s inwards”, is used most often when referencing Jesus’ compassion.

That one is a bit more difficult to grasp. Imagine your child with a raging fever and your willingness to take his/her place just to ease the pain and suffering.

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Matthew 9:35-36, NIV

When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

Matthew 14:14, NIV

As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’ Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, ‘Young man, I say to you, arise.’

Luke 7:12-14, ESV

‘Pain-Avoiders’

Henri Nouwen describes it well in a book he co-wrote with two others.

The word compassion is derived from the Latin words pati and cum, which together mean “to suffer with.” Compassion means to go where it hurts, to enter into places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion into the condition of being human.

It is not surprising that compassion, understood as suffering with, often evokes in us a deep resistance and even protest…It is important for us to acknowledge this resistance and to recognize that suffering is not something we desire or to which we are attracted. On the contrary, it is something we want to avoid at all cost. Therefore, compassion is not among our most natural responses. We are pain-avoiders…

Henri Nouwen, et al, Compassion, A Reflection on the Christian Life  

Full Immersion

Dear friends, sisters, is it not much easier to remain at a safe distance from sufferers than to be in “full immersion” with them? Wouldn’t we rather tweet: “I’ll pray for you!” with an added heart emoji than go sit in silence with a depressed friend?

Let’s be painfully honest – it takes little effort to say, “Let me know if you need anything,” but to take the initiative to keep her kids one day a week? Seriously?

I find it much more challenging to experience the powerlessness of someone in grinding poverty than to go to my intellect and tell her about job opportunities. I prefer to inform her of the stage of grief she is in than to weep and mourn with a sister who is mourning.

Because truly? While the practical answers are necessary, they are not what Jesus meant by compassion.

Jesus’ Example

There was a time when I was very good at doling out useless offers and banal, spiritual phrases. Then cancer hit my family, (my dad, Gary,) and chronic illness, (me, mom.) Gary and I began hearing those words and good intentions coming our way. It didn’t take too many instances for God to reveal to me how insincere I had been.

When I had cancer three years ago, the same thing occurred with people I believed were close to me. While the experience was hurtful and disappointing, it helped me realize anew how little we understand suffering with each other. Even in the Body of Christ.

God, in Christ, loved us to such a degree that He stepped down to earth to redeem us. He was tempted and suffered in every way as we do, (Hebrews 4:15; Isaiah 53:5-6). Jesus is our supreme example of compassion, suffering with. He will enable us to do the same with others if we will ask.

Let me warn you…it hurts.

…but the rewards are eternal.

Jesus is our supreme example of what compassion looks like: He stepped down to earth as a human, suffered as we do, then died and rose again to redeem us all. Click To Tweet

Our interpretation of compassion doesn't compare to God's intended design. 'Suffering with others' was perfectly exemplified in the life and death of Jesus. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #compassion #GodsLove #redeemed #suffering

unsplash-logoAnnie Spratt
Heaven, home, travelers, faith, pain, suffering, hope, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Travelers: Resting in the Truth, This World is not Our Home

Whether we move around or stay in one place, feeling at home can be difficult. As Christians, we are travelers passing through this perishable world, trying to reach our true home.



I am a traveler and an exile. This is not my home, but I can still live in the confidence that my Father is good and just.

Whether we move around or stay in one place, we are travelers passing through this perishable world to reach our true home...Jesus. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #home #heaven #earth #faith #travelers #hope

Where is My Home?

This year I will celebrate a milestone. It is the longest time my husband and I have lived in any one location. 8 years and as I think about what it means to have a home and to be a part of a place, I keep coming back to the time I spent in 1 Peter. The exiles, sojourners, and the travelers he wrote to knew what it was like to be in a country that did not want them. Where the political climate felt unnerving at best, and unsafe at its worst.

I have lived away from home in the sense that my husband and I have lived in a few states- Georgia, Kentucky, Indiana, South Carolina. So, I learned really quickly to make a home wherever he was and wherever my children slept. I was often “not from around here” and learning the systems spoken and unspoken has taken some time to understand. Some I never did pick up on.

This is not My Home

I am not just a traveler in the earthly sense, though. I am a heavenly traveler too. This is earth not my home and Peter reminds us of this truth over and over again in 1 Peter.

Since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;

1 Peter 1:23

Why do we forget? Why do I make this earth and all that it has to offer so valuable? I think Jesus knew our flesh would be tempted to depend on what we could see, touch and contain. He reminded His disciples…

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

John 16:33

I Forget

Jesus knew we would face temptations and trials. He knew our frame –that we were dust and frail and prone to give up and give in. But, He still called us…

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

1 Peter 2:9

He Reminds Me

Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

1 Peter 2:10

No matter where I lay my head, I am His and I have an eternal home in heaven. As I have gotten older, I long for heaven more. I grow weary of seeing people I love suffer through illness and fear. I see sadness and overwhelming grief. But, I have also seen God’s hand move in ways I would have never dreamed was possible, in spite of me and my unbelief. How can we find hope in the midst of such uncertainty? I think we trust in the example that our Savior gave us…

When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.

1 Peter 2:23b

While We are Travelers, We Can Trust Him

Jesus had every right to demand better treatment. He was God. He had every reason to want obedience and worship. But, He knew that He had a good Father that He would trust with His very life. And so do I. When my life is not making sense, I can lean into Him. I can trust that He sees the whole picture and knows me and knows best.

This is not blind faith. It is faith informed by His word. What do you need help releasing that is really just perishable, won’t last, can’t satisfy? He bore our sins so we could die to sin and live to righteousness. Jesus is our home.

No matter where we lay our heads, we are His and have an eternal home in heaven. What do you need help releasing that is really just perishable? He bore our sins so we could die to sin and live to righteousness. Jesus is our home. Click To Tweet

Whether we move around or stay in one place, we are travelers passing through this perishable world to reach our true home...Jesus. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #home #heaven #earth #faith #travelers #hope

All scripture references come from the English Standard Version.
unsplash-logoGabrielle Rocha Rios
hope, pain, perseverance, restored, suffering, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Gain: Understanding God through Our Pain and Suffering

God does not promise an easy life. We will see pain and suffering, but we will gain a better understanding of Him through those seasons.



I have always avoided the book of Job. To be honest, I was somewhat afraid of it. It just didn’t feel like the God I believed in. I had this irrational belief that if I ever came to terms with a God that would test Job in this way, maybe, just maybe, He would test me in a similar way.

God does not promise an easy life. We will see pain and suffering, but we will gain a better understanding of Him through those seasons. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #hope #pain #suffering #perseverance

Gain Understanding through Job

So, when Lisa Harper’s Bible study on Job was announced as the next one our women’s group would be doing, I struggled with whether or not to sign up. Deep down a part of me knew what I was really signing up for.

The next week as I was perusing through the library, something drew me to Harold Kushner’s The Book of Job: When Bad Things Happened to a Good Person. For the next couple of weeks, it sat on my nightstand unopened, taunting me. It felt like some kind of sign that God wanted me to understand Job, really understand Job. So against my better judgment, I signed up for the Bible study and forced myself to actually go.

The Story of Job

For those of you who are not familiar with Job or those who have also hidden from it, the first chapter introduces you to a man named Job who seems to have everything–great wealth, land, family, friends–but most importantly, he is considered blameless and upright by God. Wow! It sounds like his life is pretty much perfect, and that is where Satan steps in.

He tries to convince God that the only reason that Job is righteous and loves the Lord is because God has protected him and given him everything his heart desired. If all those things were to go away, so would Job’s love for the Lord. But God knows better. Not only does Job have faith in God, but God has faith in Job.

So Satan strips away all of Job’s comforts: he loses his cattle, his servants, even his own children. In chapter two, we learn that Job is also afflicted with a disease that brings constant pain and suffering.

The story continues with Job trying to make some kind of sense of his senseless suffering. He talks to his friends, who instead of empathizing with him, try to persuade him that he must be to blame for this sudden turn of events. Job eventually comes face-to-face with God and receives the answers in which he desires. And in chapter 42, Job’s health and wealth are not only restored but doubled.

Making It Through

See, I think that most of us are living a story much like Job, although maybe not quite to the same extreme.

And if we could, we would take a time machine from one end to the other and miss the mess in the middle. But for all of you mathematicians out there, what is the difference between 42 and 2? That’s right, 40. If you took that time machine, you would miss the “40”.

Trials to Transformation

40 in the Bible has always been symbolic of a period of testing that leads to transformation.

Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 1:3-4, NIV
  • When it rained for 40 days and 40 nights, Noah learned that he could trust God to help him weather any storm.
  • The Israelites wandered through the desert for 40 years to prepare them for the Promised Land.
  • Jesus was tempted by the devil for 40 days in the wilderness before his ministry began to give him the strength he would need to overcome him.

It is through these trials of life that God prepares us. That He transforms us.

We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,  and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,  and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Romans 5:3-5, ESV

During those 40 messy, middle chapters of Job’s life, his eyes were opened in a way that would not be possible without his suffering.

Redemption Over Retribution

Those 40 middle chapters of Job dismiss the Jewish belief of divine retribution; the long-held belief that suffering is caused by sin, while prosperity and peace come to those whom God is pleased with.

Bad things DO happen to good people. People get sick, lose their job, get divorced… every day, and sometimes through no fault of their own. Job was blameless before God and still endured terrible hardship. Yet, through it all, he remained faithful to God.

Empathy Over Sympathy

The story of Job is not only an example of how we should handle our own suffering but that of those around us as well. God does not want us to be like Job’s friends and blame others for their problems. Or to look down on them in judgment.

God wants us to look past people’s misgivings and show them empathy and love. He wants us to show others the grace that He has shown us. It is not our job to ask how they got into that situation, but instead, we need to ask ourselves how can we lead them back to the One who can redeem all situations.

Relationship Over Religion

God’s praise of Job and reproof of his so-called friends, shows that God wants honest communication with us–relationship over religion. Job’s friends said what they thought God wanted to hear; their words were only for show.

Job, on the other hand, hid nothing from God. One minute, Job seems confident that God will hear his pleas, and in the next, he seems to have lost all hope in God’s willingness to listen and rectify his situation.

Sound familiar? God wants us to persist in asking, questioning, and sharing our thoughts and emotions with Him. In His time, He will respond with the answer that is best for us.

Eternal Over Temporal

God is forging a new deeper, relationship with Job. Job tells God, “I heard about you from others; now I have seen you with my own eyes.” (Job 42:5). There is nothing as powerful as the life-altering experience of being in the presence of God. There is no time that we are closer to God than when we are walking through those dark hallways of life; closed off from all the “should be’s” and the “might-have-been’s”.

But here’s the thing about hallways, they lead to a better destination. And during those dark times, we are reminded of what truly is important. All those little things we have been fretting over, just don’t seem to matter anymore. We start to see things a little more clearly, a little more like God. We start to focus on the eternal, instead of the temporal.

I suggest to you that it is because God loves us that he gives us the gift of suffering. Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world. You see, we are like blocks of stone out of which the Sculptor carves the forms of men. The blows of the chisel, which hurt us so much are what make us perfect.

C.S. Lewis
During dark times, we have hope. All those little things we’ve been fretting don’t seem to matter anymore and we start seeing things a little more like God. We focus on the eternal instead of the temporal. Click To Tweet

Gain Over Loss

I wish I could say that I did the Job Bible study, nothing bad happened to me, and I was blessed beyond measure, but that’s not the truth of it. We cannot get to the promised land without first making our way through the wilderness.

The full story sounds a little more like this: I did the Bible study, some bad things happened to me, yet God never left me and I was blessed beyond measure. However, I don’t believe that my health issues occurred because I finally read and understood the message of Job. I think that God gave me the message of Job when I needed it most to help me gain an understanding of my suffering.

So what I really learned from Job is that sometimes instead of asking WHY, “Why is this happening to me?”, I need to be asking WHAT, “What does God want me to gain from this?”

And I can promise you, the gain will always be greater than the loss.

God does not promise an easy life. We will see pain and suffering, but we will gain a better understanding of Him through those seasons. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #hope #pain #suffering #perseverance

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Suffering: God is Sufficient Amidst Our Worldly Pain

God promised pain and trials in our lives, but He holds the victory over our suffering. It may not be easy, but we can allow Jesus to hold us amidst hurt.



This morning a precious friend came to mind. I pray for her and her family often because, from my vantage point, her life burdens are heavy, painful, and very hard to bear.

God promised pain and trials in our lives, but He holds victory over our suffering. It may not be easy, but we can allow Jesus to hold us amidst hurt. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #hurt #suffering #pain #comfort #trials

Trading Suffering…

I remember the first time my heart knit with hers. We lived in the same state then and attended the same church. Our worship leader was leading the congregation in a lively, spirited song called, “Trading My Sorrows.” The words to the song were discordant with the upbeat rhythms…at least for where my life was at the time, and incidentally, what my friend was experiencing in her life, too.

Standing silently next to each other in the choir while everyone around us loudly sang, “Yes, Lord, yes, Lord…,” she muttered, “I’m not singing that! I can’t sing that right now!” I murmured back, “Me neither. It’s too close to home right now.” I’m not sure I ever sang that song, again.

How Do We Sing?

My friend had a very ill baby. My father was dying of cancer and my husband had recently been diagnosed with cancer. It was a difficult season of life.

Neither of us knew the long years of sorrow and suffering that lay ahead of us. If we had, the weight of it might have broken us both right there in the choir loft. But God graciously hid our earthly eyes from that vision and walked us one step at a time into the future. At times, He held us.

How do we, as the song states, ‘trade our sorrows, sickness, pain, for the joy of the Lord’? How does one sing and dance about these things when in the midst of them?

Trust He is Sufficient

I’m not convinced that we are called to sing and dance, but trusting in Him is key…

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing, I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10, NKJV

Suffering is Normal

Pastor and writer Tim Keller wrote a book called, Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering, in 2013. One Amazon reviewer had this to say: “Americans seem to suffer more due to the fact that they are even suffering – than because of the suffering in and of itself. Keller wisely shows that suffering is a normal part of living in a fallen world.”

It does seem to be an affront to us when we suffer – as though we should all be given a ‘pass’ on suffering because we are living in the 21st Century! Or because it’s not on the schedule, or because we are Christians, or, as Joni Erikson Tada said:

We are infected by our culture of comfort and convenience, and would rather erase suffering out of the biblical dictionary. We want a God who supports our plans, who is our “accomplice”; someone to whom we can relate as long as he is doing what we want. If he does something else, we “unfriend” him.

Joni Erikson Tada

Finding God

But He doesn’t always do what we want, does He? Daily, our lives are touched with suffering and death, if not personally, then vicariously. Keller wrote:

As I took up life as a minister, I tried to understand why so many people resisted and rejected God. I soon realized that perhaps the main reason was affliction and suffering. How could a good God, a just God, a loving God, allow such misery, depravity, pain, and anguish? Doubts in the mind can grow along with pain in the heart…

But at the same time, I learned that just as many people find God through affliction and suffering. They find that adversity moves them toward God rather than away. Troubled times awaken them out of their haunted sleep of spiritual self-­sufficiency into a serious search for the divine…It is an exaggeration to say that no one finds God unless suffering comes into their lives—­but it is not a big one. When pain and suffering come upon us, we finally see not only that we are not in control of our lives but that we never were.

Tim Keller, Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering

Biblical Suffering

A careful search of the Bible will find, beginning in Genesis, two of the main themes are suffering and adversity. And as Keller noted, the Psalms are filled with cries of pain. Full of questions concerning injustice and why God allows suffering.

Vindicate me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation; Oh, deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man! For You are the God of my strength; Why do You cast me off? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

Psalm 43:1-2, NKJV
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Awake! Why do You sleep, O Lord? Arise! Do not cast us off forever. Why do You hide Your face, and forget our affliction and oppression?

Psalm 44:23-24, NKJV

How have we missed this? Or have we simply denied it? Exodus, Job, Ecclesiastes, Jeremiah, Habakkuk, Hebrews, I Peter- all these and more, my sisters, address suffering, adversity and sorrow. Our Lord, Jesus Christ was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, (Isaiah 53:3).

Upsidedown

Recently, Pope Francis took the authority to change some wording in the Lord’s prayer considered offensive to this world’s senses, opting for a more sensitive approach. We too often choose our finite ideas, which are continually distorted by sin and culture, requiring what John Piper calls a hermeneutical headstand. As Piper stated in his blog post: “We must continually refine them, [our ideas] by what the Bible teaches.”

Right side up, we would say, ‘The Bible teaches that God does such and such. Therefore, we should seek to discover the wisdom and goodness of why he would act that way.’ But standing on our heads, we would say, ‘We already know what is wise and good before the Bible tells us. So, if this text tells us God acts contrary to what we know, we will conclude that the text can’t mean that, or it’s mistaken.’

Daring progressive Christians say the text is mistaken; less daring progressives claim to hold fast to biblical authority while changing the meaning to fit their prior view of God. In either case, authority has shifted from heaven to earth.

John Piper

Jesus Holds the Final Word

Oh, precious one, if you are suffering, I hurt with you. More importantly, Jesus holds you and comforts you if you will allow Him.

After all, doesn’t He have the final word on suffering?

In our suffering, Jesus holds and comforts us if we will allow Him. He holds the final word over our pain! Click To Tweet

God promised pain and trials in our lives, but He holds victory over our suffering. It may not be easy, but we can allow Jesus to hold us amidst hurt. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #hurt #suffering #pain #comfort #trials

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Exchange: A Wonder-Full Trade of Beauty for Ashes

God calls us amidst our sorrow, pain, and despair. He invites us to exchange this life’s suffering, with His beautiful gift of freedom.



Excerpts From: Zimrah Dream Singer by Susan Valles

In the spring of my fourteenth year, Master Jesse came back from a long voyage at sea. I had not seen him since the leaves were falling from the trees the previous year. He strode into the courtyard still wearing his head covering held in place by two blue cords and a warm smile on his neatly bearded face. His linen robe was long and light in color against the heat of the sun with three small buttons at his high collar. Covering all, he wore a handsome mantle of a rich, dark blue. I noticed a small package enclosed in one of his long-fingered hands.

“Master Jesse! You’ve returned.” I stood in Nina’s herb garden, brushed soil from my hands and knees, and received his kiss on both my cheeks.

“Look at you! Little Zimrah, not so little anymore.” He pulled back to hold me at arm’s length, so he could look at me. “You’ve grown tall, and more beautiful than ever. You’re probably taller than other girls your age, by a head at least!”

God calls us amidst our sorrow, pain, and despair. He invites us to exchange this life's suffering, with His beautiful gift of freedom. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #suffering #freedom #blessings #pain

Beautiful

I smiled but discounted the compliment. Beautiful? Me? I was too tall, too dark, and my eyes too strangely grey to be deemed beautiful. Instead, I considered the dusting of grey in his beard and gazed into his deep brown eyes. The skin wrinkled around them when he smiled back at me. I saw tenderness there, but also the old sadness that still lingered.

Perhaps he saw something of the loneliness in my eyes or the fear that tormented my nights and clouded my days, causing my dread of the inevitable setting sun. Perhaps what he saw had sparked the compliment. There was no beauty in me. 

He held out the package and I opened it, discovering a lovely, ivory comb carved in the shape of a butterfly.

“Thank you, my lord,” I whispered with emotion threatening to overwhelm me. I held back tears, not wanting to cry in front of my master and possibly have to explain what the matter was. How could I tell him how much this small token of love and consideration meant to me in contrast to all the fear?”

That is why the Scriptures say, “When he ascended to the heights, he led a crowd of captives and gave gifts to his people.”

Slavery

Although my book is about a slave girl living in Judea at the time of Jesus, the battle portrayed within its pages is just as real today. Fear is a horrible, relentless slave master with no compassion or mercy. Like Zimrah, my younger years were plagued with slavery to a presence I couldn’t describe or shake. Fear. It followed me everywhere I went and whispered lies from the shadows whenever I was alone, which was often. 

Unlike Zimrah, who grew up in one, protected house, I lived in 13 houses, in four different states. I never stayed anywhere long enough to make any real friends and became as familiar with loneliness as I was to the inside of a moving van.

Now, (on the other side of years of healing prayer) I know that my parents were amazing, and like Master Jesse, gave me gifts and called me beautiful. But at the time, I couldn’t receive the truth enough to outweigh all the whispered lies in the darkness.

My parents…gifts from my heavenly Father. They gave me an upbringing in the word of God, and my dad…what he gave me was priceless…

Sparkle of Light

“I walked back through the sunbeams into the courtyard—the sunlight doing much to dispel the atmosphere of sadness that lingered—and crossed the shade of the almond blossoms. Their sweet aroma made me think of pressing oil with Nina when the fruits ripened in the summer. I walked into the cool entryway and then turned left into the library.

I loved this room. It was saturated with the memories of Silas sitting at the heavy cypress table with his scrolls, brushes and ink, teaching me Greek, Hebrew or Phoenician letters and their meanings. I ran my fingers on the familiar lines on the low table, imagining as I did when I was younger, little faces of animals or mythical woodland creatures in the scattered circles of darker wood made by the grain. Across the room, in one of the shelves built into the plastered wall, I pulled out Master Jesse’s ledger, right where I left it half a year ago. As I crossed the room to return it to him, something to my right caught my eye. It was a little sparkle of light coming from the adjacent storage chamber.

I hardly ever ventured into this chamber anymore. I had no reason except curiosity when I was much younger. It was full of Master Jesse’s family things, trunks full of old scrolls and maps of ancient boundary lines…But now by some trick of the sun coming in the windows at just the right angle, the bronze fittings on an old trunk resting on the back wall were highlighted. It drew my eye and awakened my curiosity.

Treasure

I knelt on the tattered and dusty carpet on the floor, which might have been brightly striped once, but was now so darkened with age that the original pattern was unrecognizable. I placed the ledger beside me and touched the bronze fitting that had caught my eye. I half expected it to burn my fingers as if it were truly hot from a fire. Blowing dust from the top of the ancient oak and undoing the clasp, I opened the cover.

It was full of what one might expect—musty smelling cloaks and folded cloth, but under a few layers of heavy fabric was something else. It was a case made of a dark wood that looked older than the trunk, though much better preserved. 

My curiosity flared. What could be in it? The carving on top of the wooden case was an outdoor scene, a meadow surrounded by lush trees on the side of a hill. I ran my fingers over the smoothness and marveled at the quality of the workmanship. The case was so beautiful in itself. I could not imagine what kind of treasure it contained. I placed it gently on my lap, so I could close the lid of the trunk and use it for a table. Moving up to my knees, I put the case on the lid and opened it. What I found would change my life forever.”

Exchange

What Zimrah found in the case was a lyre, an ancient instrument like Kind David played.  What my father gave me was based on that ancient musical device—the guitar. He taught me how to play and how to worship, and like King David, he taught me the power of singing the word of God. It is that word and learning to accept the love of the God who spoke it, that sets me free from slavery to fear. His words are true.

Because you are precious to Me. You are honored, and I love you. Do not be afraid for I am with you. 

Isaiah 43:4-5

In the midst of my fear, He is calling. In the midst my loneliness, He is singing, “Daughter Mine, fair and fine, light in the morning sun. Come to me, sing to Me, before the day is done.” 

He is calling me to a wonderful exchange: freedom for slavery, beauty for ashes, joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair.

What joy to hear His call every day and respond, “Thank you, My Lord.”

In the midst of fear, God is calling. He is calling us to a wonderful exchange: freedom for slavery, beauty for ashes, joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair! Click To Tweet

God calls us amidst our sorrow, pain, and despair. He invites us to exchange this life's suffering, with His beautiful gift of freedom. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #suffering #freedom #blessings #pain


If you would have asked me when I was eight what I wanted to do, I would have said, “Write.” God had a lot of other wonderful things planned for me first. Daughter, wife, mother of four, songwriter, worshipper. He knew they would all be used to tell a story of victory.

Zimrah Chronicles are an allegory for that story. I am constantly learning how to live the adventure Jesus spoke before I was born, to live from heaven to earth, and to bring as many with me as possible.

If you would like to connect with Susan more you can follow her on Instagram, Facebook, her lovely Podcast, or on her website

Yoni Kozminsi

faith, perception, prayer, suffering, trust, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Assurance: When Having Faith Doesn’t Change Our Circumstances

Having big faith doesn’t always mean our circumstances change. We can have assurance in the promises of the Lord, even we do not see His plans. 



Just have faith…

Over time the phrase almost became offensive. Like the squealing of dull brakes. You knew it was coming, but the way each word came grinding upon your heart –every. single. time.– seemed as if you had been caught off guard.

It was a kind sentiment: faith changes things. Indeed, it does.

But, what happens when my faith is strong and my prayers are bold, but my painful circumstance remains unchanged? What happens when my belief is BIG, but it never comes to fruition?

Having big faith doesn't always mean our circumstances change. We can have assurance in the promises of the Lord, even we do not see His plans. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #faith #prayer #trust #suffering

Collision

I never really thought much about the topic, until it began colliding with my life. For me, this pertained to my baby. I had watched her suffer unimaginable pain, seizure after seizure. I had watched her endure testing, blood draws, and EEGS. I had watched the way in which her little body was wrecked each time a seizure took its course.

I had watched her countless times being rushed into an ambulance. I had watched as the life flight helicopter took off with my little person in tow. I had watched her stop breathing, the way in which the physicians grew panicked, though they tried their best not to. I had watched as a machine kept her alive. And, I had watched her little face for hours while seizures overtook her body. All the while I begged God to make it stop.

Just Have It…

When this all started, I would have uttered the same words… faith, just have faith.

And I did have faith, in fact, I still do.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Hebrews 11:1, NIV

After my child’s first seizure, I believed God would take this away from her. FAITH.

And after her doctors listed the horrendous potential diagnosis, I believed God would not allow it. FAITH.

And every moment of each seizure, I believed that at any time my God could make it stop. FAITH.

Yet, here we are.

True Faith

Some would say my faith isn’t great enough. In fact, some HAVE said this. –In case you’re wondering, that’s never helpful or appropriate for a grieving heart.– Anywaaaaaaayyys…

I tend to disagree. My concept of faith has changed. Through this journey, I have learned that true faith is having faith in the waiting. True faith is having faith when the circumstance remains unchanged. True faith is remaining sure that He can, even when He does not. And, somehow making peace with that.

Yes, true faith DOES change things, though perhaps the circumstance is not what’s changing.

True faith changes hearts.

True faith changes perspectives.

True faith changes my once shallow perception.

It’s somehow being OK with God when He doesn’t fix all my problems in this life. Though I may never understand why He doesn’t, I hold tight to His promise that one day it will ALL be better.

True faith does change things, though perhaps the circumstance is not what’s changing. True faith changes hearts, perspectives, and perceptions. It’s somehow being OK with God when He doesn’t fix all our problems in this life. Click To Tweet

Unchanging Assurance

Today, maybe your circumstance hasn’t changed, despite your desperate pleas. Perhaps your relationship hasn’t changed despite your faithful prayers. Or the healing hasn’t come despite your unwavering belief.

My friend, you are one with true faith. Cling to it all the more tightly, trusting that He has made a way, though we do not yet see it.

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

Isaiah 43:19, NIV

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I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20, ESV

Have you ever experienced a time when God did not change your circumstance? Although the circumstance was unchanged, what positive changes came from that? 

Having big faith doesn't always mean our circumstances change. We can have assurance in the promises of the Lord, even we do not see His plans. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #faith #prayer #trust #suffering


Sarah Lango is a momma of 3, wife, writer, speaker, Jesus follower, and coffee lover from small-town Missouri. She is the founder of Gracefilled Growth, where she writes about her faith, marriage, motherhood journey, and her new experience of being a “sick kids” mom.

Her passion is to inspire others to live authentic lives, learning together, and embracing the grace that God so lovingly offers. You can read more of Sarah’s writing at www.gracefilledgrowth.com or follow her on Facebook and Pinterest

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Resting: Experience God’s Gentle Shelter During Brutal Seasons

Some seasons of life can be extremely brutal. We can feel exposed and vulnerable. But we can draw near to God, resting in the shelter only He can offer.  



My son Evan and I have spent the past 90 days in Philly after his transplant. We had finally been given the green light to return home. I had every vision of how this return home was going to go, but nothing prepared me for how hard, emotionally and physically, this would be.

The holidays were in full swing. I was surrounded by expectations. My own, my children, my own… did I say my own?! Rather than home feeling like a safe place, it felt too open, too germy, too exposed. I know I asked for prayer before we left and while we were there, but now that we are home asking for prayer seems too personal and too raw.

Some seasons of life can be extremely brutal. We can feel exposed and vulnerable. But we can draw near to God, resting in the shelter only He can offer. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

Elijah

My thoughts were drawn to Elijah, the prophet. I love his heart and the kind way God treats him throughout his journey. One particular event has always stood out to me…

Elijah prays for there to be no rain in the kingdom of Israel. It has not rained for 3 years. The lack of rain is in direct defiance to the king and queen ruling at that time. But the time for no rain is coming to an end. God is going to use Elijah to bring rain back to the dry ground and reveal His power to his people.

Elijah gathers 450 of Baal’s prophets. Two bulls were offered as a sacrifice. Whoever’s sacrifice that was accepted will show who the one true God is. This story is amazing all by itself. However, the story I am interested happens after this test. Elijah calls down fire from heaven. His sacrifice is burned completely, and Jezebel, the queen, calls for Elijah’s very life. It’s amazing and dramatic and all the feels. But Elijah is utter toast when this event is over.

Then he was afraid and he arose and ran for his life […] and he asked that he might die, saying ‘It is enough O Lord take away my life,’

1 Kings 19:3-4, ESV

Depleted

Go back and read that verse again. Elijah, the prophet, the one who called down fire from heaven, wants to die. He had nothing left. Depleted. Worn out. God sends an angel and what happens next gives me every confidence that God is more than I could ever imagine.

The angel gives Elijah food and drink twice and gives him rest. Not very exciting news. It can feel pretty anti-climactic. But how God treats Elijah after a hard battle, speaks volumes to me as another weary traveler. I cannot say I have fought 450 prophets, but I do know what it is like to be weary down to the end of my very soul.

Rather than eat, sleep, and recharge, I wrestle with all of those. I want action or a plan, but I do not want to rest. There are a million excuses for not resting. I say, “But if I don’t…” or “Without this, the consequences could be devastating.” Yet Elijah did exactly that. He took to resting as he prepared to meet with God.

Brutal to Resting

I am in a season that I would not wish on anyone. It has been brutal and it is far from over. We will be watching my son for signs of rejection for at least the next 6 months. We will see a doctor every 2 weeks and multiple other specialists over the next coming months. My nature is to do. And yet God, in His gentleness, calls me to be still. After one of Elijah’s greatest victories, he felt the most helpless and alone. I can relate to this.

I, even I only, am left […]

1 Kings 19:14

In the middle of all the suffering Elijah was experiencing, God shows himself in a low whisper. How do I live in the midst of my suffering? I could continue to fight and work and do. But I can also rest. I can fight to rest. Crazy thought, isn’t it? That resting would be a fight. My guess is rest doesn’t come naturally to any of us.

Come to me and I will give you rest—all of you who work so hard beneath a heavy yoke. Wear my yoke—for it fits perfectly—and let me teach you; for I am gentle and humble, and you shall find rest for your souls; for I give you only light burdens.

Matthew 11:28, TLB

What about you? I don’t know where you are or what you are dealing with. But I do know this: He is offering us rest. I will admit, I am not even sure what that looks like, but I want to know. That has to be a start.

Elijah experienced major suffering but God draws near in a low whisper. How do we live in the midst of suffering? We find rest in the gentle shelter of God. Click To Tweet

Some seasons of life can be extremely brutal. We can feel exposed and vulnerable. But we can draw near to God, resting in the shelter only He can offer. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional
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