Tag Archives: suffering

Deut 21; Psalms 108,109; Isaiah 48; Rev 18

“She bought great quantities of gold, silver, jewels, and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk, and scarlet cloth; things made of fragrant thyine wood, ivory goods, and objects made of expensive wood; and bronze, iron, and marble.  She also bought cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, olive oil, fine flur, wheat, cattle, sheep, horses, wagons, and bodies-that is, human slaves.  “The fancy things you loved so much are gone,” they cry.  “All your luxuries and splendor are gone forever, never to be yours again.” Revelation 18:12-14 NLT

Reading through this list of luxuries, I think about the wise men giving the frankincense and myrrh to Jesus.  I look into my own heart.  How is it like Babylon? What am I grasping onto for myself?  Am I looking to others for what they can do for me? Or am I genuinely loving them like Jesus?

“This is what the Lord says-your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow.  Oh, that you had listened to my commands! Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea.  Your descendants would have been like the sands along the seashore-too many to count!” Isaiah 48:17-19 NLT

What am I looking to for fulfillment? I don’t want to miss out on spiritual blessings, because I am so consumed with the things of this world.  And hold on to them so tightly that it becomes an idol…forgetting that it is all His anyway.

“My heart is confident in you, O God; no wonder I can sing your praises with all my heart! Wake up, lyre and harp! I will wake the dawn with my song.  I will thank you, Lord, among all the people.  I will sing your praises among the nations.  For your unfailing love is higher than the heavens.  Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.  Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens.  May your glory shine over all the earth.  Now rescue your beloved people.  Answer and save us by your power.  Oh, please help us against our enemies, for all human help is useless.  With God’s help we will do mighty things, for he will trample down our foes.” Psalms 108:1-13 NLT

Dear Father, I want to have a grateful heart.  Thank you for all the ways you have provided for me.  I desire to be a good steward of your gifts.  Give me eyes to see your beauty all around me.  Help me to have an eternal perspective.  You get the glory. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

 

 

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Filed under Deuteronomy, Isaiah, Psalms, Revelation, Uncategorized

Numbers 12,13; Psalms 49; Isaiah 2; Hebrews 10

But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. “Let us go up at once and take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!”  But the other  men who had explored the land with him disagreed. “We can’t go up against them, they are stronger than we are !” Numbers 13:30-31 NLT 

Caleb was standing up for what he believed.  His trust was rooted in God alone.  This is convicting for me…when I think about times that I’ve let comparison and self-doubt rob me of my purpose. And cloud my vision.  Just like the Israelites, I’ve made decisions based on my limited perspective. And not on the promises of God’s word.

“Why should I fear when trouble comes, when enemies surround me? They trust in their wealth and boast of great riches…But as for me, God will redeem my life.  He will snatch me from the power of the grave.  So don’t be dimayed when the wicked grow rich and their homes become ever more splendid.  For when they die, they take nothing with them.  Their wealth will not follow them into the grave.  In this life they consider themselves fortunate and are applauded for their success.” Psalms 49:5, 15-18 NLT

Am I investing in eternity?

“Israel is full of silver and gold; there is no end to its treasures.  Their land is full of warhorses; there is no end to its chariots.  Their land is full of idols; the people worship things they have made with their own hands.  So now they will be humbled, and all will be brought low-do not forgive them.  Idols will completely disappear. On that day of judgement they will abandon the gold and silver idols they made for themselves to worship.”  Isaiah 2:7-20  NLT

Anything I put before God is an idol.  What am I letting control me? What am I relying on, instead of God?

“Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terribble suffering.  Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule and beaten, and sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things.  So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord.  Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will.  Then you will receive all that he has promised.  “For in just in a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay.  And my righteous ones will live by faith.” Hebrews 10:32-38 NLT

In my bible study group we were grappling with the question, “Why do we have to suffer?” Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to go through hard trials.  Even though, I know that God will use them to increase my faith…to bring me closer to Him…to strengthen my prayer life…to help someone else.  In the middle of my pain, I can get frustrated and weary.  When I start to lose hope, I have to remember God’s promises. And I am thankful for others who can lead me back to Him. 

Dear Father, Thank you for loving me despite my fear, doubts and questions.  For always meeting me where I am.  For being a Good Father.  Help me to surrender my idols to you.  Thank you for suffering for me on the cross, so that I can have the hope of heaven. I love you.  Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Job 31-34

“Therefore, hear me, you men of understanding; far be it from God that he should do wickedness, and from the Almighty that he should do wrong.  For according to the work of man he will repay him, and according to his ways he will make it befall him.  Of a truth, God will not do wickedly, and the Almighty will not pervert justice.  Who gave him charge over the earth, and who laid on him the whole world?” Job 34:1-13 ESV

I find myself feeling hopeful for Job, that Elihu will speak truth into him. Some of what he says is true. God’s ways and plans ARE higher than ours.  But, he is still misleading when he is implying that there is a hidden sin.  I find myself getting mad at Job’s friends for accusing him of this.  And for Elihu for sounding so spiritual in his speech. But than I have to examine my own heart.  How many times have I silently judged someone the same way?  Without knowing the whole story? I am reminded of John 9:1-3 “This happened not because his parents sinned.  But to bring God glory.”

Hear my speech, O Job, and listen to my words.  Behold, I open my mouth; the tongue in my mouth speaks.  My words declare the uprightness of my heart, and what my lips know they speak sincerely.  The Spirit of God has made me, and the Almighty gives me life.  “Behold, in this you are not right.  I will answer you, for God is greater than man.  Why do you contend against him, saying, ‘He will answer none of man’s words’? For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it.He has redeemed my soul from going down into the pit, and my life shall look upon the light.”Behold, God does all these things, twice, three times, with a man, to bring back his soul from the pit, that he may be lighted with the light of life.  Pay attention, O Job, listen to me; be silent, and I will speak.” Job 33:1-7;28-30 ESV

Elihu did encourage Job to look at his suffering in a different way.  That God is working out a greater purpose than he can see now.  I am thankful that I have friends who do the same.  They tell me that the battle is developing His character in me.  That the onslaughts of the enemy are because of my closeness to God, not how far away I am from him.  That God wants to make me stronger through it.  Job needed friends like these.  Wise, Godly friends to cheer him on.  I pray that I can be that kind of friend.

Dear Father,  Give me wisdom and discernment to know if a well meaning opinion is from you. I pray that I would listen to your voice the loudest to guide me.  Thank you for people that you have put in my life who have lead me according to your word.  Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Filed under 66 Books, Job

Zech. 5-7; John 7; Ps. 126

Psalm 126 (NIV)

1 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,

we were like those who dreamed.

2 Our mouths were filled with laughter,

our tongues with songs of joy.

Then it was said among the nations,

“The Lord has done great things for them.”

3 The Lord has done great things for us,

and we are filled with joy.

 

4 Restore our fortunes, Lord,

like streams in the Negev.

5 Those who sow with tears

will reap with songs of joy.

6 Those who go out weeping,

carrying seed to sow,

will return with songs of joy,

carrying sheaves with them.

 

What a beautiful passage! This song was a long time coming. The exiles were finally returning from captivity and they were overjoyed at God’s deliverance.

But they weren’t always this joyful. In fact, while the psalm begins with rejoicing, the last half reminds us of what it took to get there: sorrow. There were tears and weeping. There was strife. There was pain.

But that suffering was not the end of their story! And it’s not the end of ours, either.

Though we walk through valleys, they are simply the way we must take to reach the mountain top. One day we will reach that victory. One day we will experience that deliverance. One day we will experience that joy.

In the midst of sorrow, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and fearful. But in this passage I’m reminded that God never ends a story in pain. He only uses the pain to bring greater healing, greater joy, and an exceedingly great reward.

Those who sow in tears WILL reap with songs of joy.

Those who go out weeping, WILL return with songs of joy.

It’s not an “if.”

It is a promise.

It is coming.

It’s on its way.

And all will see how Great God is when He delivers us from our sorrow and pain!

I once heard it said that the only thing harder than waiting on God is wishing you had.

Instead of focusing on the pain and suffering, I will choose to focus on the promise of deliverance and joy. I choose to live in hope. I choose to live in faith. Deliverance is coming. It may not look like I expect, or come when I expect, but it IS coming and it WILL be good.

Eventually, we will each receive the promise and be able to join in with the others who’ve gone before us in saying, “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy!”

 

Father, thank You for the incredible encouragement You offer through Your word. Thank You for Your promise that You will not leave things undone. Thank You for working good out of bad, and for trading tears for songs of joy. Help me to wait for Your deliverance so that some day soon I can stand and proclaim Your power in my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

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Filed under Old Testament, Psalms

Jeremiah 50-52; Hebrews 5

There’s so much rich truth for encouragement in Hebrews, and in this chapter.

But there is one short verse that stands out me today.

Hebrews 5:8 (NIV)

“Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered”

Jesus was undeniably the Son of God.

And yet, He still had to learn obedience.

He still had to learn submission,

He still had to choose to yield His will to His Father’s.

And how did He learn this submission?

Through suffering.

In the midst of His suffering, He choose submission, and that’s when He was made obedient, and therefore, according to verse 9, perfect.

It’s easy to submit to God when His will matches my own.

It’s easy to submit to God when it does not cost me. When it’s easy, pleasurable, and comfortable.

But that’s not where my faith is proven.

My faith, like Jesus’s, is only proved genuine when I choose submission when it costs me – ultimately, it’s proven through my obedience in the midst of suffering,

In the midst of affliction, my flesh cries out and demands obedience. It’s easy to submit to myself in those moments. It’s easy to turn to food, to entertainment, to distraction. It’s easy to turn to self-defense, to anger, and to resentment.

How I respond to suffering reveals what’s truly in my heart, for better or for worse.

When life is easy, I speak easily and freely of the joy of obedience. But when God brings friction into my life, I must make a choice. I can either obey my flesh, or I can learn obedience through submission to God by doing the right thing at the right time, regardless of how I feel.

Thankfully, I’m not alone in this struggle.

Jesus Himself struggled.

And He overcame.

And now He is my high priest, ready to help me, to strengthen me, to comfort me, and to equip me to overcome as He, Himself, did.

What I have discovered is that when I chose obedience to myself in my suffering, things get worse. But when I choose obedience to God, things get better. And not necessarily circumstantially, but internally, as my attitude improves, peace floods my soul, and my actions honor God.

And the greatest thing of all is that when I choose obedience in suffering, I experience a greater, deeper, and richer relationship with God, as I learn how to depend on His strength and not my own.

 

Father, thank You for your patience with me. Thank You for caring enough about me to let me suffer for the sake of my spiritual growth. Thank You for not leaving me alone in the midst of my suffering. Thank You for the comfort of knowing that Jesus, also, suffered, and He is ready and waiting to help me in my trials. Help me to see my afflictions through Your eyes. Help me to prove my faith genuine by submitting to Your will over and above my own. In Jesus name, Amen.

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