Category Archives: weakness

joy in Your presence

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In your presence, Lord, there is joy.
Am I far from your presence?
Am I missing your glory when I focus on my pain?
I am weak.  You are great.
Have I forgotten what is truly important?
Why do I not feel the joy that once proved so precious to me?

If you can be glorified through my weakness, will I be content with it?
If you become bigger though my pain, will I give you thanks?
Can I live in gratitude despite exhaustion? Or frustration? Or confusion?
When it’s a sacrifice, will I still choose to praise You?

How long, Lord can I go on like this waiting for your voice?
Help me to listen. Help me to see it.
Help me not to focus on a conclusion as my answer, help me to focus on You.

For You are my answer.  You are my hope.
In Your presence I find my joy.
You drew me out of my pit.  If you’ve done that, why do I doubt?
Why does my heart cry out in anguish and fear?

You’ve proven your faithfulness time and again
Why is my soul downcast yet again?
I look to You. My feet are on You, my Rock.
My ways are secure.  Though hidden in darkness for now.

I will rest.  I will hope.  I will have joy.

thy way not mine, o Lord

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Thy way, not mine, O Lord,
However dark it be;
Lead me by Thine own hand,
Choose out the path for me.

Smooth let it be or rough,
It will be still the best;
Winding or straight, it leads
Right onward to Thy rest.

I dare not choose my lot;
I would not, if I might;
Choose Thou for me, my God,
So I shall walk aright.

Take Thou my cup, and it
With joy or sorrow fill,
As best to Thee may seem;
Choose Thou my good and ill.

Choose Thou for me my friends,
My sickness or my health;
Choose Thou my cares for me
My poverty or wealth.

The kingdom that I seek
Is Thine: so let the way
That leads to it be Thine,
Else I must surely stray.

Not mine, not mine the choice
In things or great or small;
Be Thou my Guide, my Strength
My Wisdom, and my All.

Horatius Bonar

my hope

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Here I am again
In this raging sea
On my knees again
Deep calls to deep
I feel I’m drowning
My arms are
Just too tired to swim
I feel like I’m sinking
On my knees again
In the roar of Your waterfall
In the storm of You
May You find me holding on
May You find me true

Chorus:
And I put my hope
And I put my trust
And I put myself in You
In You, Lord [2x]

Here I am again
In need of you
Broken, Beaten
Needing You
In the roar of Your waterfall
In the wonderful storm of You
May You find me holding on
May You find me true

(Chorus)

Bridge:
Wash me clean
Set me free
Hold me close
And cover me

(Chorus x4)

Here I am
Here I am…

David Crowder Band

God has promised sustaining grace

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God has promised to sustain us by his grace.

He has promised us the sustaining grace of forgiveness, so that we can stand before him unafraid. He has promised the sustaining grace of enablement, giving us the strength to do what he calls us to do. He has promised us the sustaining grace of protection, delivering us from evil. He has promised us the sustaining grace of wisdom, protecting us from our own foolishness. He has promised us the sustaining grace of perseverance, keeping us until the final enemy has been defeated. He has promised the sustaining grace of eternity, giving us the hope of a day when the struggle will be over.

Whiter than Snow: Meditations on Sin and Mercy by Paul David Tripp

learning to walk with a limp

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There is something strangely beautiful and wondrous about scars. If you’ve ever studied the body’s healing process, you can’t help but marvel at the mystery of it all. Scars are reminders of a hurt that took place, but scars are also reminders of healing that followed. God could have easily designed it so that wounds would heal leaving absolutely no trace of the pain, but the more you read the Bible, the more you realize that God doesn’t work that way. God is pretty big on creating “mile markers” along the pathways of life…

It’s a shame, really, that our modern society doesn’t have any similar practice of leaving visible markers along our paths to serve as reminders of an encounter with God. But we do have scars — spiritual scars that each has a story to tell of a time when God touched us and left His mark on us. And the truth is, no one in history has ever had a genuine encounter with the God of heaven and walked away unchanged… unmarked… un-scarred.

Sometimes the scars God leaves on us come from a wound in our heart that He healed with a gentle touch. Other times the scars are more severe, and cause us to walk with a limp for the rest of our lives, because God — as our loving Shepherd — had to break our leg in order to keep us from wandering away from the flock. I have both…

No one encounters God and walks away unchanged… and Jacob was certainly no exception. During that strange wrestling match, God put His mark on Jacob — scarred him, if you will. God touched Jacob’s hip and caused him to walk with a limp. At the conclusion of that story, the Bible says that Jacob had seen God face to face and lived, and then it says, “The sun rose above Jacob, and he was limping because of his hip.”

Wow, what an amazing scene! Jacob, the deceiver, goes into an encounter with God — arrogant, cocky, walking just fine on his own two feet… and he comes out with a new name, a new purpose, and a limp that will serve as a reminder to him every day for the rest of his life. I imagine there were many mornings from then on that Jacob got out of bed and started to walk across the room, and when he took that first step and felt his hip give way… his mind went back to that life-changing meeting with God… and he remembered!

Don’t underestimate the power of scars. Don’t underestimate the importance of learning to walk with a limp. They are blessings in disguise. The fact is that no one — not a single one of us — will ever truly understand what it means to walk with God and see our lives make an impact for Him until we have learned to walk with a limp. It’s proof, you see — proof that we’ve been with God, that we’ve wrestled with Him, and that we have not walked away unchanged. Every time you see one of your scars… every time you are reminded of your limp… take a moment to remember. Number yourself among the blessed ones who carry the marks of God, and rejoice in knowing that those scars are proof that He knows you by name, and that He has come close enough to touch you.

read the entire post at Phil Pike’s blog: The Journey.

trusting God

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Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make  straight your paths.  Proverbs 3:5-6

This past Sunday, I attended Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg Md.  I was there for the Worship God 09 conference, and my friends and I decided to stay through the weekend and drive back after church.  Its funny how God’s sovereignty works… 

The conference was very challenging physically for me.  Due to the noise and busyness of the week, I had many migraines and other health issues.  I was grateful to be able to attend at all, though there were many sessions I was either resting on a couch in the lobby, or sitting on the floor in the back.  I really enjoyed the songwriting seminars and learned many helpful tips to incorporate into my writing…

Well, on Sunday, Josh Harris got up to preach.  Their church is currently working through a series on Proverbs and the topic this week was about trusting God.  His passage was Proverbs 3:5-6.  He talked about what it means to trust God, what it means to lean on Him and what it means to acknowledge Him. 

i think it is the only time in my life that I cried through an entire sermon.  God revealed so many areas in my life where I fail to trust Him.  I fail to trust that He is good, that He loves me, and that He has my best in mind.  Instead I often trust my own understanding… “this doesn’t make sense… God must not love me… or He must have forgotten about me…” 

He mentioned that leaning on God does not mean simply resting like you would against a podium but when the podium is taken away you’re still able to stand just fine.  Instead its a full dependence of “God, if you are not there to catch me, I will fall flat on my face.  Help.”  I spend much of my life trying to avoid this feeling, but this is where I was created to live… in utter dependence on God’s grace and strength and provision. 

There are so many unknowns in my life right now…  What’s going on with my health?  Will I be “stuck” in Greenville forever?  Where am I supposed to live?  Will I ever get married?  have kids?  be financially sound?  oh, so many unknowns…

How grateful I am for Josh Harris and this past Sunday.  I am grateful for the comfort that comes from being reminded that my God has not forgotten me… He is not angry at me or withholding goodness.  His steadfast love and faithfulness have followed me all the days of my life.  He has led me through valleys.  He has led me through paths of rejoicing.  And He has promised not to leave… even now, in confusion…

through many dangers, toils, and snares

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lately it seems i’ve been connected with and talked in detail to many other folks who suffer with severe, chronic physical pain.  this has had a two-fold effect on my soul.  first, it has encouraged me.   its helpful at times like this, when just getting out of bed is a challenge, to be reminded that I’m not alone.  i’m not the only one with undiagnosed issues and with the fears, pains and sorrow that accompanies these pains.  the thoughts and fears swarming my mind are not unique to me. 

I really do find much comfort in knowing this, for one thing that chronic pain does is make you feel isolated.  Its easy to think that no one understands my pain.  No one understands what I’m going through, etc…  How grateful I am to God for the reminder that these thoughts simply are not true.  He has placed me in a body where there are many others who not only understand, but who pray for me as I pray for them… who encourage me in my weakness and who point me to Jesus. 

My friends are much like the friends of the paralyzed man in the New Testament.  He couldn’t walk to Jesus, so they carried him.  My friends have carried me lately through car rides when I was too weak or dizzy to drive, through meals when I have been too tired to cook and through prayers when all I  seemed to have the energy to do was cry.  Thank you.

But on the other hand, the more i talk with other folks who suffer with chronic pain, the more my heart breaks.  I hate to see the rampant effects of sin.  I hate to see the sorrow and trials and fears that are simply part of day to day life.  the more i see suffering here, the more i long for the day when my Jesus will come back to judge evil and wipe all tears away… not just my countless tears, but the tears of my sweet friends as well… the tears of Jess C, Charissa, Jenn S, Missy, Wendy, Jess B, Sarah and so many others. 

And then to add on to the physical pain, I could list so many who have suffered in other awful ways as well…miscarriages, death, abuse, persecution, broken hearts, divided families… this world is a violent place.  But we have the promise that Jesus will wipe all tears away … what sweet hope and comfort I find in those words.

oh come Lord Jesus.  Come and rescue your Bride from this fallen world of suffering and shame.  Come in mercy to give eternal hope to your children who eagerly await their inheritance.  Come and rescue those like Gao Zhisheng who are imprisoned and beaten for your sake.  Come and give comfort to the fatherless, hope to the barren, comfort the widow with your presence, and come and give trust and peace to those like me who often live in fear of the unknown (or in regret and shame to the past).

but until that day, I will hold on to you.  Until the day you answer that prayer (could it please be today?), I will continue to cling with my feeble fingers to the ledge of your great grace.  I will hold fast to the One who will never let me go.  I will follow the example of the one who suffered in my place.  Give me grace to not grow weary as I seek to follow you.  Keep my eyes riveted on your grace when my sins begin to overwhelm me.  Grant hope … as you’ve promised is the result for enduring trials with a steadfast heart.

Oh God, my heart is steadfast on you.  You are the only hope for my life.  I am looking to you to satisfy, not to what makes sense to me.  Please, won’t you give my weary heart some hope?  You have consistently shown me hope and you have faithfully given me comfort and steadfast love.  Be faithful to once again answer my prayer.  Let my weariness find rest in you.  And care for my friends… remind them also of your unending love and care.

promises

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Psalm 28:7-8: “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. The LORD is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.”

1 Peter 4:12,13:  “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation.”

Romans 5:3-4:  “And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance: and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope.”

1 Peter 1:7-8: “These [all kinds of trials] have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.”

Psalm 119:49-50: “Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope. My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.”

Romans 15:4: “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

Psalm 32:7: “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.”

Psalms 57: 1-2: “Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills his purpose for me.”

Hebrews 10:23: “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”

James 1:17: “Every good things bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights, with who there is no variation, or shifting shadow.”

Psalms 68:19: “Blessed by the Lord, who daily bears our burden. The God who is our salvation.”

Philippians 4: 6-7: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your heats and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Psalms 31:7: “I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.”

John 16:22-23: “Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.”

fear not

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My child, do not be afraid. Every day of your life was ordered before you were even born. I was faithful then, to call you to me before you desired me, before you knew me, before you lived for me. I loved you first. There is no need now for you to be afraid in this storm.

What is the worst that could happen to you? Death? I am the God who is faithful to old age, even to death. A lack of answers of clarity? I am the God who knows all. No answer is hidden from me. Darkness? No direction visible to you? I am the God who leads the blind along unknown paths. Loneliness? I am the God who will never leave you. Pain beyond your ability to handle? I am the God who gives strength to the youth who are weak and faint. I am He who provides grace to the weary and help to the tired.

What is it you fear that I in my power am unable to provide? You could bring care after care to me until you have no more and still every care will find a balm in my healing and help. Every need is provided in me. I love you.

Do not doubt my care because my hand is pruning. Do not doubt my love as you feel the winter’s cold wind blow. You are precious to me and I will protect and care for you through every storm. Rejoice, sweet chosen, adopted and dearly loved child of mine, for through this trial and pain, you are seeing the benefit of years of plenty. Now, when it seems there is no fruit on your tree, you are learning that your roots do indeed go deep and this faith I called you to only a few short years ago, that faith is real. It is being tested even now and it is standing firm. Be encouraged, my child, I am producing growth. This trial is bringing endurance and the more you see my hand at work through the unknown, you will grow in faith and hope.

My Son, Jesus, who died to bring you to me, is praying for you right now. He is standing here saying “Father, forgive her weakness, forgive her lack of faith. Be satisfied in her struggle. Look to my payment and be satisfied.” And you know, child, I am fully and completely satisfied with that payment on your behalf.

So come to me, in your weakness, nakedness and need, confident in my affection and care for you. Even now, when you don’t know what to say, my Spirit is also praying for you. He is interceeding on your behalf, interpreting your tears and pain and carrying your woes before my throne of grace. So, child, cry. Cry out to me.

I loved David and I loved to see his dependence on my power as expressed so often through his tears. Cry, even when there seem to be no words. The Spirit of God is carrying those cries directly to me. They are not lost. I am listening and my arm has never been too short to save. Be confident, in the midst of this trial, of my unchanging faithful love to you.

The steadfast love I showed to your fathers, the guidance to Abraham, the protection to David, the redemption for Jonah, the transformation for Rahab, the love that did not forsake Naomi, that provided for Ruth, and that blessed Hannah…sweet child, I am that same God. And I offer those same things to you. I would delight and joy in you coming to me in hope and faith, not cowering in fear. Judgment is paid. Freedom is yours. Live there. Rejoice there. I will never forsake.

But when you feel forsaken, remember my promises. When you feel tempted beyond your strength to endure, remember I will empower you to stand firm against every attack of the evil one. Even Satan is under my control; there is no need to fear his attacks.

Rest. Rest in the storms, for I hold you safe. I never slumber and darkness does not blind me, as it does you. Don’t you see? I want you to be free, not bound by fear. This trial is producing sweet freedom as you are learning of my sovereign care and provision. Like I said to the shepherds the day I sent my son “do not fear.”. Like I told the disciples the day my Son left them and returned to Me… “do not fear.”

And now you join their ranks…the ranks of the weak and helpless of this world whom I have chosen and loved. “Do not fear.” “This trial was given to you as a gift from a hand of love. Though you do not understand the purpose of the gift you do know the hand. You have seen my care and love proved time and time again to you.

And now, sweet child though you do not understand why, take this gift of pain, suffering and confusion and accept it as a good thing given by a Father who loves you. At this time in your life, what you desire is not a good gift. That is why I have chosen this. Won’t you rest in my arms? I can see tomorrow.

This “mistake” will make sense one day. And even if I never choose to show you the reason why, don’t forget I am using this to bring glory to myself and draw others to see my power displayed in you! Is that not enough? My power at work in you? That is why I don’t wnat you to fear. I know what will come tomorrow. And it is good. Rest. Rejoice. Lean on me. I will never ever let you go.”

er visit

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So I spent about 4 hours tonight in the er…being poked, prodded and tested. I went in with severe pain in the right side of my abdomen. I left 4 hours later with the same pain, despite 2 morphene shots. Once again, I heard those gut-wrenching words “we don’t know what’s wrong with you…can’t explain why you are in pain. But here’s a prescription for narcotic pain meds…”. That’s the point where I stop listening. I’ve heard all this before. I’ve heard this at just about every doctors visit I’ve been to for the past two years. I don’t understand why God is choosing to allow me to suffer and yet giving neither me nor the doctors the wisdom to know what to do. It is so frustrating. I am so weak and yet at the same time so angry. I’m 28…is this what I have to look forward to the rest of my life? Why won’t God answer the thousands of prayers that have been prayed for healing of my body? Why do we have to keep going through this? And in the middle of all this God just calmly says “look to me. I am faithful.”. Honestly right now that doesn’t seem enough. I don’t want faithful. I want answers. And yet at the same time I know like Job, I cannot demand from this all-powerful God. He does as he pleases. He does not have to explain his ways to me. But then I come back to the Psalms “do the dead rise up to praise you, God? Where is the faithfulness you showed to our fathers? Has it ceased?”. And yet I know those spats hold no bearing. Of course his faithfulness continues. I know it in the fact that I’ve been given the right to call Him my Father. Its been shown through every breath He’s given me…even the ones where it hurts to breathe. How much more did Paul understand of this Jesus than do I. He rejoiced in the prison. I bring my feeble and weak complaints to an almighty God who has the power to strike me dead. Yet he doesn’t. Even that is mercy. Do I want healing for this body? Absolutely! I’m tired of living life in pain day after day just doing what you can to get by. But then what I wrote this morning comes back into mind…bless the Lord. My soul that is so prone to despair, bless His holy name. Sigh. Exhausted and weary, I pray for grace to fall asleep resting there…