Meditations on Suffering

God is “a very present help in trouble.” But He permits trouble to pursue us, as though He were indifferent to its overwhelming pressure, that we may be brought to the end of ourselves, and led to discover the treasure of darkness, the unmeasurable gains of tribulation. We may be sure that He who permits the suffering is with us in it. It may be that we shall see Him only when the trial is passing, but we must dare to believe that He never leaves the crucible. Our eyes are holden, and we cannot behold Him whom our soul loveth. It is dark–the bandages blind us so that we cannot see the form of our High Priest; but He is there, deeply touched. Let us not rely on feeling, but on faith in His unswerving fidelity; and though we see Him not, let us talk to Him. Directly we begin to speak to Jesus, as being literally present, though His presence is veiled, there comes an answering voice which shows that He is in the shadow, keeping watch upon His own. Your Father is as near when you journey through the dark tunnel as when under the open heaven! –Daily Devotional Commentary

I love devotional writings from the old Saints. This is from Streams in The Deserts a devotional that complies its contents from other devotionals, sermons, poems, and hymns. I have bolded what I want to journal about.

God allows things in my life that will bring me to end of myself so I can stop being reliant on myself. I’m been thinking so much about suffering lately. So much! God has been gracious leading me to wonderful writings and teachings about it all. I’ve been listening to a lot of Elisabeth Elliot’s teaching lately. I like her frankness and how her teachings bend me to be surrendered and submitted to God’s will for my life.

I’ve also been meditating on Psalm 131 and reading a lot of commentaries on this particular psalm. The psalm is about David comparing himself to an infant who is either weaned from his mother’s milk or who has just been fed. It’s about quietly trusting God. I have been an infant before God but usually a wailing infant. Full of questions and with my fists balled up. This infant, however, is calm and quiet. This is how David describes his soul, as a baby quiet and satisfied with its mother’s care. He also talks about how he isn’t arrogant nor does he try to understand the things of God. I can’t help but think about the account Jesus put a child in the midst of Himself and His bickering disciples(Matt 18:1; Mark 9:34). They were arguing about who was to be the greatest in the kingdom of God. Jesus said that anyone who would make himself as the child in Jesus’s hands would be the greatest in heaven.

God allows the suffering, and He never leaves us in it by ourselves. I think about the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace. God permitted this predicament and sent someone or Himself from heaven to be in the furnace with them.

“Let us not rely on feelings but on faith”- The devotional writer (Dr. Lawrence Richards) writes that although we can’t see God in our trials doesn’t mean He isn’t there.

No one wants to suffer, but no child of God suffers alone. God has graced me for this journey into suffering. He’s discerned my thoughts from afar and answered my lingering questions. I’ve been through the ‘why’s’ and I’m now at a place of, ‘okay’ and growing a peace about it.

I had been fearful about the future knowing suffering was involved in it. But, I lay down those fears and eat the slice of bread given to me by God and let tomorrow’s troubles not worry or discourage me today.

Lastly, Saints let us not believe in a Gospel that doesn’t include our crosses and suffering. There is only one true Gospel of Jesus Christ of course. But there are many man-made ideologies about a God who either wants you to have every earthly reward (prosperity gospel). And, when we lack Bible reading and comprehension we tend to make our own god. The only way we can ever hope to know the one, true living God is to read His word. We can believe in a god of our own making or believe in the God of the Bible.

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Singleness and Seeking

There was an intense period in my life where marriage became an idol in my heart. I was new-er in the faith, and I was slapped in the face with a desire for marriage. I had never experienced anything like it before I got saved. I wasn’t hardly aware that it became an idol, but it became an excuse for my discontentment. I couldn’t go on social media without pouting. It was a serious issue. And, to add insult to injury I wasn’t guarding my heart. I would see a man and think ‘Lord, is this, my husband?’ It was exhausting, thankfully God showed me the idol I’d made of marriage.

This began the process of realizing that a man and a ring could not fix any of my heart issues. God revealed to me that this exceeded far past marriage, I wanted love and approval. And, that was a heart issue, one that only He could fix. I soon realized how silly it all was, here it is I have Love, and yet it wasn’t enough. I have God’s approval, and yet it wasn’t enough. I wanted something “tangible”, something that could be applauded by the world I live in. God also had me informed by godly couples who were transparent about the fact that marriage is hard. Those butterflies in your stomach and that new love feeling eventually blows over. One couple even called marriage, ‘the cross’. Eek. That marriage shows us our selfishness, and for it to work we must die to ourselves.

I realized I had some very unrealistic expectations about marriage. I’m sure that is the reason why most marriages fail today. I believe we as women we expect men to be our Prince Charming. God had to reveal to me that what my Savior did on the cross for me, would always be unmatched. That only Jesus saves and satisfies. And, the expectations that I expected from a man (made from dust), were not realistic.

And, recently the Holy Spirit had whispered to me, “pray for your husband”. And, I was in shock. By God’s grace, I had removed marriage from God’s throne, and I was sure that praying for some man I didn’t know would lead me to right back where I was. The first few times I prayed for him, I could not call him ‘my husband’. It just seemed weird. I prayed that God would keep my mind and heart occupied before He sent me my husband. I was afraid of going back to that place of pouting and sulking.

And, because God is faithful I hadn’t experienced those feelings yet again. Until tonight, and it came out of nowhere. Well, Satan had been planting seeds today (as always) and I think I wasn’t capturing those thoughts as quickly as I should have. So, later on, while I’m trying to read my Bible. A picture enters my mind of a woman I follow on social media who had very recently gotten engaged. And, boy did Satan taunt me with it. The tears came out of nowhere. I thought my prayers were making me miss the future husband I haven’t even met. I even thought God was stirring me up to love and miss this man I hadn’t yet met. I’m not even sure what I believe.

But, I know that what I need is for God to continue conforming me to the image of His Son. I know I need to find my identity and worth in Christ, alone. I know I ain’t ready to be nobody’s wife, yet. I know I need to keep my eyes on Jesus and be present in my life. I need to continue to pray for my husband and our future marriage. It will be hard, but it will honor God. I also need to trust in God’s wisdom and know His timing is perfect.

So, I just wanted to encourage you that God is faithful. And, we need to stay in the Potter’s hands so He can make us all He intended us to be.

Prayer: Lord, I pray that we would seek the fountain of living waters. I pray that we would seek you with all of our hearts and might. I pray that when we feel lonely, we’ll sit at your feet God. When we want to belong, we’ll think about our adoption as your children. I pray that we will always seek you first God. I pray that we won’t count on anyone but You to make us feel valid. Lord, may we cling to you, and may you hold uphold us with a willing spirit. God, let your love and acceptance be enough. I pray that we would speak your Words to our seeking hearts. Lord, we know only You can make us whole. There is no one but Jesus who saves. We thank you for His blood today. We say this prayer in Jesus name, Amen.

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The Mercy of God

I purchased a journaling Bible. Ever since I purchased my big ESV and KJV study Bibles, I have loved jotting little notes in my Bible. Yesterday, I played The Sims 4 video game for far longer than I ever expected to. And, because of that I felt condemnation and was upset at my little self-control. So, I prayed that I would practice self-discipline. Starting with reading the book of Jeremiah. Yes, all 52 chapters. See, I’ve never been able to stick to reading plans or even daily devotionals because of my lack of discipline. I also, decided I wasn’t going to resent the discipline that study and prayer call for. I was offended because I thought “God is too good and wonderful for me not to enjoy these things.” God’s goodness has not much to do with these in the sense that I have my flesh and Satan sucking the fun and joy out of both. I thought that thinking that prayer, fellowship, devotions, and worship required discipline, was legalism. And, yet if we approach these things thinking, “this is why God loves or is good to me”. That is legalism. I’m just realizing I have the opposition that attempts to get in the way of me truly enjoying my God. And, I have to put these things to the side and set strict discipline concerning them.

Can’t stop thinking about the mercy of God. Despite all of their abundant disobedience God still called them, ‘my people’. Also, thinking about how prone we all are to seek and that we don’t have the desire to rely on God. Here, God is the fountain of living waters(Jer 2:13), and they dug out cisterns that can’t hold on to the water they’ve filled them with. The love of the God that saved and preserved them in the wilderness; was not enough for them. They chased after the unreciprocated love of foreigners or idols. It’s insane that we seek, even when we’ve found all that we need.

There was a time when I’d laugh and shake my head at the Israelites. I couldn’t understand when they had God so near, why did they seek idols. They had, after all, seen all the mighty acts and wonders of God. It wasn’t until later, and with more maturity that I understand, I am them. I seek for all things outside the realm of God. God has brought me to see the errors of my ways, by seeing how fickle the love and acceptance of others are. But, that’s when I’ve appreciated God’s unchanging hand. And, how no matter what I’ve done or how I’ve sinned He will always love me. That is not a pardon to do the unthinkable, but to think on that fact and be amazed by the mercy of God.

He is so merciful and so long-suffering with His people. It must be His holiness and His love that we have and could never earn, that makes us whimper to foreigners who we have to put forth an effort to love us. Is the unmerited, everlasting love of God so obscene that we’d rather work for phony, and temporal love? Do we get frustrated trusting in Him? Is waiting on God so unbearable? And, then why do we finally turn to Him in the midst of our greatest need? Why, do we tell Him to, “arise and save us”, when we’ve clearly have forgotten His saving power? Why do we try to run from Him, Jonah? Why do we have a hard time putting all of our trust in Him? Why don’t we rely on Him, but formulate back up plans of action?

I’m constantly reminded God is not like man that He’s created, no. Plenty of times in Scriptures I’ve thought ‘I would’ve given up on them, Lord.” I would’ve told Hosea, “you’ve been through enough with that wife of yours.” But, God’s mercy endureth forever(Ps.138:8). God is always willing to forgive the confessions of our sins. Always.

Not only is God eternal, but so is His very character.

I praise God for Him loving us, His former enemies(Rom. 5:10). I thank God for being so stable and unchanging. I praise Him for the mercy I simply don’t deserve. I didn’t deserve Christ’s death on my cross. I don’t deserve His immaculate Holy Spirit. I’m just thanking God for salvation, and His mercy that chose me. We would love to think it was because of our ‘cuteness’, attributes, or even the misfortunes in our past. But, no it was His mercy(Titus 3:5). And, it was His ability to love people who truly hated Him(Rom. 1:30.

I’m just blown away by God.

Prayer: Lord, make us a people who are led by your Spirit, and not by our flesh. Lord, you’ve already given us a Spirit of self-control. So, we are not hopeless or helpless. We can put down that extra cookie, turn off our favorite TV show and pick up your Word. We can put to death every sin that besets us. God may we be a people constantly after your own heart. Lord, may we never turn again to broken cisterns. And may we never create back up plans, but rely on You. May we be a people that count everything as a loss and see Christ as far more worthy. God, help us to be the men and women we know we can be. I say this prayer in Jesus name, Amen.

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Why God Sends Us Afflictions

***I’ve been busy writing something pretty special, so just to keep my blog updated with content I’m going to share some of my personal journal entries. I hope you enjoy.***

Lately, I’ve found myself getting frustrated with Scriptures. Yesterday, I posted on social media how the Bible is a treasure. While sitting here today the Holy Spirit. reminded me of that saying. The thing is I know there are innumerable treasures to be found in Scriptures, often I just don’t want to dig. Sigh. I’ve been mostly reading the NT epistles and the book of Psalm. I find there is treasure above ground with this books/sections. Ugh. I can’t be a lazy Bible reader. I was reading the Book of Job, Elihu statements about God. A lot of the gospel in that. A lot of God’s redeeming power toward the Saints.

He delivers the afflicted by their affliction and opens their ear by adversity Job 36:16

God uses what we would rather not experience, to save us. I can’t help but think about the affliction God so sovereignly planned for me. Eczema. I couldn’t explain away these splotches, or no cream could save me. I used to be so itchy I couldn’t sleep at night. I remember I had joined a Reddit board of eczema-sufferers and poured through a lot of posts. I was seeking a remedy. Well, one day a young lady posted she’d been meditating on healing Bible verses. And, while I wasn’t interested in the Bible, out of desperation I was like ‘sign me up.’ Then, I found how people believed unrepressed anger could manifest itself in various diseases, including eczema. And, I was ANGRY. I was angry at God for allowing my Mom to die. I had stuff pent up on the inside of me that happened when I was in Elementary school. I always thought it’s better to keep it inside than to be confrontational about anything. I thought I was BETTER than those who ranted and raved. I thought anger was ugly and I wanted to avoid it COMPLETELY.

Most of those people recommended therapy and all sorts of new age things. I’m not saying therapy isn’t helpful, it is. But, as a Christian, I now know that He is the remedy. He remedied my skin that felt like it was on fire. He remedied repressed anger, that I didn’t have enough time, money or skills to deal with or compartmentalize. My spirit was like a stuffed closet, full of mostly anger. All the advice I saw online was for me to attempt to pull stuff out, and put it in neater. Only God could have rid me of repressed anger.

So, I know God will use the most difficult times in our lives to open our eyes, draw us near and to save us. No one likes suffering, but it’s the best remedy. We need to be saved from the pit, we need to draw near to God and we need for God to open our eyes. And, I hope not to speak as if suffering is behind me. We will leave it behind us for good when we enter heaven’s gates.