Category Archives: suffering

tempest and calm

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I know, perhaps as well as anyone, what depression means, and what it is to feel myself sinking lower and lower. Yet at the worst, when I reach the lowest depths, I have an inward peace which no pain or depression can in the least disturb. Trusting in Jesus Christ my Savior, there is still a blessed quietness in the deep caverns of my soul, though upon the surface, a rough tempest may be raging, and there may be little apparent calm. (Spurgeon)

It is important for us to make a distinction between the spiritual fruit of joy and the cultural concept of happiness. A Christian can have joy in his heart while there is still spiritual depression in his head. The joy that we have sustains us through these dark nights and is not quenched by spiritual depression. The joy of the Christian is one that survives all downturns in life. RC Sproul

Fits of depression come over the most of us. Usually cheerful as we may be, we must at intervals be cast down. The strong are not always vigorous, the wise not always ready, the brave not always courageous, and the joyous not always happy.  (Spurgeon)

for Charissa…

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“Pray for me please, I’m sick” were the words that I read
From my friend whom the doctors declared nearly dead.
Painful tests, piling bills,
Shrinking clothes, countless pills,
How she longed for the day when this nightmare would end

She prayed to her Master for healing from pain;
She prayed for new health like the spring flow’rs that came.
New blossoms, new buds,
New petals, new love,
But for her, just new trials… that seemed always the same.

Her faith sometimes faltered but she found it grew deep
As she trusted that God her pathways would keep,
Pressing forward in faith,
Though in pain every day,
Firm and rooted she was, though at night she would weep.

“My God, you’ve forsaken me? Or at least so it feels
As I struggle to swallow and eat daily meals.
You provide the birds bread;
Can you feed me instead?”
Her heart cried to her Master; overflowed with appeals.

In the silence between sobs, she heard a reply:
“My grace is sufficient, sweet daughter, don’t cry,
Lean hard, press fast,
The night soon is past.
I’ve promised you blessings, and I will not deny.”

“The blessings might take a strange form to you though,
Through trials, through pain and through testings you’ll know
That I’m good.  Do not fear
For my presence is near.
You can rest in my arms though the raging winds blow.”

Though no sudden improvements, she found a sweet rest
As her Jesus, her Savior, held her firm through this test.
She wiped away tears,
And resigned all her fears,
As she learned that the will of her Father was best.

Her friends watched in amazement at the joy that she found,
For no longer was her gaze just down at the ground.
Through the dark stormy night,
God became her delight,
And through her life, God’s glory did greatly abound.

please pray for my friend Charissa.  For updates on her health, follow her blog “Darkness into Light”.  Thanks.

refined, not consumed

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The Lord has been pleased to put me in the fire; but, blessed be His name—I am not burnt! Oh, that I may be brought out refined, and that the outcome may be to the praise of His grace and power! The Lord drew near in the day of distress, and gave me some degree of peaceful resignation to His will. Yet my evil heart of impatience and unbelief displayed itself, and I have the greatest reason to lie ashamed in the dust, and cry “Unclean, unclean!” But truly God is good; He considers my frame; He remembers that I am but dust. He delights in mercy—and therefore I am not consumed.

Our faithful God will surely make our strength equal to our day! It will not be long before He will wipe away all tears from our eyes. Therefore let us not fear—whatever sufferings may be yet appointed for us—they shall work together for our good! They are but light and momentary, in comparison of that exceeding and eternal weight of glory to which we are drawing nearer every hour!

The day is coming when all the Lord’s people who are scattered abroad, who praise Him in different ages and different languages, shall be collected together, and stand with one heart, consent, and voice before the throne! Oh, the glorious assembly! How white are their robes! How resplendent their crowns! How melodious their harps! Every hour the chorus is augmented by the accession of fresh voices! Before long we hope to join them! Then shall we remember the way by which the Lord led us through this dark wilderness world; and shall see that all our afflictions, our heaviest afflictions, were tender mercies—no less than our most pleasing comforts. What we shall then see, it is now our privilege and duty to believe.

“I will bring this third through the fire and make them pure, just as gold and silver are refined and purified by fire!” Zechariah 13:9

exerpt from a letter by John Newton

thoughts on suffering

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Despair does not lie in being weary of suffering but in being weary of joy.  G. K. Chesterton

 When ours are interrupted, his are not. His plans are proceeding exactly as scheduled, moving us always (including those minutes or hours or years which seem most useless or wasted or unendurable) “toward the goal of true maturity” (Rom 12:2).   E. Elliott

When you and I hurt deeply, what we really need is not an explanation from God but a revelation of God. We need to see how great God is; we need to recover our lost perspective on life., Things get out of proportion when we are suffering, and it takes a vision of something bigger than ourselves to get life’s dimensions adjusted again.  W. Wiersbe 

The “Why?” becomes unimportant when we believe that God can and will redeem the pain for our good and his glory…. When I put the sovereignty of God beside his unfailing love, my heart can rest.  Verdell Davis

 

Where does your security lie? Is God your refuge, your hiding place, your stronghold, your shepherd, your counselor, your friend, your redeemer, your saviour, your guide? If He is, you don’t need to search any further for security.  E. Elliott

 

In a way I wish I could take to heaven my old, tattered Everest and Jennings wheelchair. I would point to the empty seat and say, “Lord, for decades I was paralyzed in this chair. But it showed me how paralyzed You must have felt to be nailed to Your Cross. My limitations taught me something about the limitations You endured when You laid aside your robes of state and put on the indignity of human flesh.” At that point, with my strong and glorified body, I might sit in it, rub the armrests with my hands, look up at Jesus, and add, “The weaker I felt in this chair, the harder I leaned on You. And the harder I leaned, the more I discovered how strong You are. Thank you, Jesus for learning obedience in your suffering…You gave me grace to learn obedience in mine.” Joni Eareckson Tada

 So many times we say that we can’t serve God because we aren’t whatever is needed. We’re not talented enough or smart enough or whatever. But if you are in covenant with Jesus Christ, He is responsible for covering your weaknesses, for being your strength. He will give you His abilities for your disabilities!  Kay Arthur

 

Joy is not the absence of suffering. It is the presence of God. Robert Schuller

 The fact that disabled people hang in there does something for Christians. It’s not about being an inspiration for others, it more than that…. it’s a mystery. God somehow strengthens others by their faithfulness. They may feel like a burden to others, but God thinks the opposite. He thinks its necessary for others to take care of the disabled… they do more for one’s spiritual well being than can be imagined. What’s more is that it’s all being credited to the disabled person’s account, per Phillipians 1:25-26.  Joni Eareckson Tada

 

 Let your mind be renewed by this: God cannot lie.  God is love…. “The steadfast love of the Lord endures forever.”  Do you know why the Bible tells us things like that?  its because we’re tempted to think that it hasn’t endured… that it doesn’t reach me in 2009 in this situation.  So God keeps speaking to us and telling us “no! it does!  it endures forever. It lasts forever.  It is for you…  God gave up His own Son to death to save you from sin.  And He points to that to show you how deeply he cares for you. 

 

He asks you to measure His faithfulness and His love by the cross.  If He would do that for me, how much more will he meet me when I’m growing weary in my sickness, when I’m wishing I had that relationship, when I don’t know what tomorrow holds.  How much more is God going to care for me.  God’s Word tells us that His arm is not too short to save.  He is able to meet us in any circumstance… Look back on your life.  Not ONE of God’s promises has failed.  That doesn’t mean you haven’t faced disappointment.  But look back.  All of God’s promises to be with you and to be faithful… not one has failed.  Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart. Not a partial trust. 

 

SO here’s the idea I want you to think about … this kind of leaning (lean not on your own understanding) leaves us vulnerable.  If this thing I’m leaning on were to go away I would fall flat on my face.  And that leaves me off balance…  this is a little scary. I’m trusting in something else.  Leaning on the Lord leaves us off balance and we don’t like to feel off balance.  A lot of us spend our entire Christian lives running away from the feeling of being off balance.  That feeling of being vulnerable… of being held up by God…  this is exactly where God created us to live…and that is exactly where we are the most secure than we’ve ever been.”  Exceprt by Joshua Harris from sermon at CovLife on 8/9/09: Total Trust.

how to suffer

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“If Christ calls me to suffer, he will strengthen me to suffer in such a way that God is glorified.”  J. Burroughs.

 

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  All the works of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness.  In faithfulness you have afflicted me… that Christ may be glorified in my body, whether by life or by death. We are pressed on every side but not crushed, persecuted but not forsaken, cast down but not destroyed.  For I am convinced that nothing can separate me from the Love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  I am poor and needy—yet the Lord thinks upon me!  He only is my Rock, my Fortress.  I shall not be shaken.

  Sing for joy, O heavens! Rejoice, O earth! Burst into song, O mountains! For the Lord has comforted his people and will have compassion on them in their sorrow.  They will be radiant because of the many gifts the Lord has given them—the good crops of wheat, wine, and oil, and the healthy flocks and herds. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs, where pools of blessing collect after the rains!  Their life will be like a watered garden, and all their sorrows will be gone. 

I will never leave you or forsake you.  I will not leave you as orphans.  I, even I, am the one who comforts you.  Cast all your cares upon Me, for I care for you.  I will provide for your needs according to my riches and glory. 

 

“Beloved, it is well. It is good to be afflicted. Our days of suffering here we call days of darkness; hereafter they will seem our brightest and fairest. In eternity we shall praise Jehovah, most of all for our sorrows and tears. So blessed shall they then seem to us, that we shall wonder how we could ever have wept and sighed.” (Horatius Bonar)

question and answer

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The Question:

I’m only a man. Who am I
That I should approach your throne?
What hope is there that you will listen
to me, God of power unknown?

I have a case to bring before you
Of my many sorrows and woes
There’s much that my mortal mind can’t comprehend
your works and ways I don’t know.

How I long for days of old 
When your Spirit lightened my way.
When darkness seemed not dark to me
Your presence drove all shadows away.

I remember the time when blessing you gave and
Your friendship, it guarded my thoughts
I had many companions, honor and fame;
Whatever I wanted, I bought.

My path was not rough, smooth as butter it seemed;
Profits and joy did abound.
I lived as a king, gave help to the poor;
For righteousness I was renown.

But yet you’ve afflicted; I don’t understand
why you’ve chosen this test for me.
I’ve followed your ways, Lord, and done what you’ve asked.
Not given my ways to deceit.

Search me, now, my Sovereign, consider my ways.
And see if what I speak is right.
If you find me guilty then judge me as such
Rise up then in all of your might.

 

 The Answer:

Now listen to me and dress like I man
If you are as that which you say.
Its my turn to question. As if you would know
The answers or my power could sway.

You bring only counsel from your mind and thoughts
But knowledge you have not just yet.
Stand. Give me the answers to what I now ask.
Its what I demand and will get.

Where were you on that day when your world was made?
Were you there as I measured and set
Each planet in orbit? The foundation for earth?
I knew not it was a duet!

Do stars sing your glory? Do waves know your voice?
Does morning arise at your call?
Have you ever walked in the depths of the sea?
Did you form the sun as a ball?

Tell me if you know where the darkness comes from
Or the storehouses of rain and hail?
Can you manage storms with your voice alone?
The stars… can you count them at all?

When young ones cry to Almighty for help
Do you answer? You mortal man?
Do you shut the jaw of the lion so strong
To protect the innocent lamb?

The horses great might was not given by you.
The eagle won’t soar on command.
The ox or the ostrich don’t beckon your call
You, whose days are merely a span!

So who are you that you find fault with me?
The God who controls all I made.
Who argues against me and stands on that day?
Answer me, if you find a way.

 

 The Response:

Behold, now in silence I shut up my mouth.
I have spoken.  And that I abhor.
I’ll give you no answer. I have none you see.
I proceed with this trial no more.

 

The Challenge:

No, dress like a man. Stand now in this trial.
You accuse me: You’ll stand till the end.
You put me as wrong? Condemn my decrees?
Let’s see what witness you send.

Is your arm as God’s?  Your voice as the thunder?
Can you judge the wicked and proud?
Can you grant that your hand will save you from death?
If so, Then I’ll listen to what you allow.

I made the behemoth, the first of creation
With powerful strength as a tree.
The turbulent waters do not frighten Him.
Can you rope him? Will he follow you free?

Or Leviathan? Can you fish him out from the sea?
And play with him as with a bird?
Can you tame him? Make him as a pet for your girls?
Will he speak to you with soft words?

You dare not!  In your weakness, as mortal you know that
Even the thought is absurd.
You would not go fishing with hopes him to catch,
For you fear him, as worms fear a bird.

 

The Confession:

Behold I now know that you are my God.
Though I’d heard of you, this now I see.
Your ways are not thwarted, your purposes fast.
My complaint cannot change your decree.

 I’ve uttered in foolishness, that which I don’t know.
I despise now this trial I brought.
I repent of my pride, I despise who I am – as you’ve shown me
And now I’ve been taught.

Have mercy on me. In my weakness I bow
Before you, the Creator of all
As a creature.  Abase. In dust and ashes.
Aware of my stature so small.

 

The Conclusion:

Stand, o man, created and called
by me in my power alone.
I know of your weakness and that you can’t know
All the wonders of which you’ve been shown.

I don’t judge for your weakness but forgive as you bow
Humbly now, hiding your face.
Stand in my presence, welcome and loved
And I will restore to your place.

The glory you once knew on days long ago
You’ll receive again on this earth.
In your trial you were faithful. Through it you endured.
And trusting, my name didn’t curse.

I’ll bless you and give you much more than you know,
Inheritance so great you will have.
Then soon, trial is over and with Me you’ll be.
Blessed eternally. Rest. Peace. At last.

 

 © Emily Schankweiler 2009