Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Suffering bites... or does it?

Today I'm thinking a lot about suffering.

It started with the phone call that woke me up. Someone I love dearly was suffering. Financial struggles were the beginning but those often lead to relationship struggles and fear and suffering. We prayed before I got off the phone and I conveniently pointed her to yesterday's blog post on Philippians 4:8. I love how God steps in and provides the tools and resources for those still half asleep.  :)

After I had my coffee and my head was clearing I prayed for a young friend who was having her uterus removed today. No doubt some suffering there.

Then I thought back to my own suffering. And my husband's.

I flipped to the concordance in my bible and started to search though scripture on suffering. And there are many. In light of Philippians 4:8 and looking to the good and praiseworthy things let's focus on the scriptures that talk of the benefits of suffering. Wait, what?! Benefits?

Yep, you know the old saying that God can use evil for good? It's still true.
  • Suffering destroys counterfeit faith - Job 1:9
  • Suffering drives us back tot he basics of faith, Job 3:11
  • Suffering cannot destroy life's purpose, Job 3:23-26
  • Suffering tests our values, Job 14:22
  • How you react to suffering reflects what you believe, Job 21:22, Philippians 1:12-14, Job 32:2
  • Suffering demonstrates our loyalty to God, Psalm 44:9-22
  • Suffering will end one day, 1 Corinthians 15:50-53, Revelation 7:17
  • Suffering brings rewards, Mark 8:32,33
  • There are benefits of suffering, Philippians 1:29
  • Suffering may be a sign of effective living, 1 Thessalonians 3:1-3
  • Sin loses its power when we suffer, 1 Peter 4:1,2
Don't get me wrong, I'm not a fan of suffering. It's not fun and it's really tough to experience gracefully. But, His grace really is sufficient for us and is made perfect in weakness.

Please join me in prayer for those suffering. Prayers that God will be glorified and will provide His grace and peace through their struggles.

Luke 21:36
 Be always on the watch, 
and pray that you may be able to escape 
all that is about to happen, 
and that you may be able to stand 
before the Son of Man.”

**if you are suffering and would like others praying for you please feel free to ask in the Comments section**


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Rescue Ops

Have I told you that my husband is not only my personal hero but he actually saves others too?  He works for a rescue team that evacuates people from natural disasters, swift water and hurricanes.  He's also a firefighter, arson investigator, paramedic and a peace officer.  All around rescue hero.  (And yes, that is him hanging from the helicopter.)

July marks one year from the rescue operation to remove me from the pit.  I won't call it an anniversary.  Hell, I don't even want to remember it.  But I will look at the past 12 months and praise the Lord who saved me and my husband who allowed the Lord to use him in the most painful way.

As I look back over all that has happened over the year I can't help but want to share the parts that might actually be helpful to someone else.  I had no idea that I was on the brink of destruction and maybe you're there but don't know it.

Hindsight is 20/20.  Of course it is.  It's a cliche but it's true. 

I can look back and see exact moments when I turned from God and point exactly to the scripture I was disobeying and show the outcome of my disobedience.  Ah, hindsight.

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brothers and sisters,
whatever is true, 
whatever is noble, 
whatever is right, 
whatever is pure, 
whatever is lovely, 
whatever is admirable
—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—
think about such things. 

This was my favorite verse of scripture for years.  I'm a bit of an optimist (when I'm not clinically depressed ;)) and have always felt that if you look at what is true and right and pure you can avoid heartache.  I didn't do this, however, I chose to look to prayers that weren't answered rather than what is true.  I chose to question the goodness of God.  And I started to believe the whispers of the Evil One.

God doesn't always (in fact almost never) works in ways that we can understand or would prefer. 

Isaiah 55:8
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
   neither are your ways my ways,”
            declares the LORD. 

Friends, we need the full armor of God to protect us from the Evil One and to keep our spirits and our minds focused on the Lord at all times. 

Ephesians 6:10-18
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.   
Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, 
but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world 
and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, 
you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.   
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, 
with the breastplate of righteousness in place,  
and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.   
In addition to all this, 
take up the shield of faith, 
with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  
Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, 
which is the word of God.
  And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. 
With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

My only hope in writing these truths and scriptures on this blog is that they will glorify God and help someone else.  Use the tools He has given you.  I'm praying for you today!