Tag Archives: suffering

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.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Hebrews, New Testament

Isaiah 36-37; Ephesians 6; Psalm 76

If there’s one thing Christians have in common, it is suffering. Trials are part of God’s plan for our lives because through resistance, pain, and turmoil, our faith is proven strong and He is proven faithful. Much as I wish there were another way, real growth only comes through those times of testing.

The account of Sennacherib coming against Hezekiah and the nation of Judah in Isaiah 36-37 has a lot to teach me about how to handle persecution, suffering, and trials.

First, Hezekiah recognized that this was a spiritual fight, not a physical fight.

Isaiah 36:13-15 NIV
Then the commander stood and called out in Hebrew, “Hear the words of the great king, the king of Assyria! This is what the king says: Do not let Hezekiah deceive you. He cannot deliver you! Do not let Hezekiah persuade you to trust in the Lord when he says, ‘The Lord will surely deliver us; this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’

This encounter was not about one king fighting another – it was a spiritual battle, and it was about God. In my own life I often fail to recognize God at work in my circumstances, instead chalking things up to not getting enough sleep, a day of bad traffic, someone else’s ignorance, or even dismissing things with the mindset of, “that’s just how it is.” But what if God wants to use everyday difficulties to grow me and to teach me how represent Him in every painful or frustrating circumstance? Even more, what if He wants to use my daily frustrations to defend His own power and glory through my responses?

Next, Hezekiah understood the importance of not engaging the enemy in conversation.

Isaiah 36:21 NIV
But the people remained silent and said nothing in reply, because the king had commanded, “Do not answer him.”

Oh. My. Goodness. Do you have any idea how hard that is? When someone attacks me, I am overwhelmed with a desire to defend myself and put them in their place. But that urge is far greater when the person attacked is someone I love and respect. Yet, when their beloved King was disparaged, the people remained silent.

Oddly enough, silence is one of our greatest tools in a trial. My gut reaction is the complete opposite – it’s to defend, accuse, cry, fuss, and demand. But when I begin to engage the enemy in conversation, I quickly find myself on a slippery slope to justifying compromise. At best, I end up overwhelmed and discouraged; at worst, I throw caution to the wind and engage in sinful behavior to deal with the pain.

Finally, Hezekiah sought God’s direction.

Isaiah 37:1, 15 NIV
When King Hezekiah heard this, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and went into the temple of the Lord. And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord

Rather than engaging the enemy in conversation, Hezekiah engaged God in conversation. This chapter records a beautiful plea from Hezekiah, where He reminds God of His power and His promises and asks Him to defend His name and intercede for Judah.

Sometimes I take the “keep silent” part a little too far, and I don’t go to the Lord with my struggles. In doing so, I miss out on what God is doing in the situation because I’m not seeking His direction, and I also cut myself off from my only source of hope, as He is the only one who has the power to deliver me from what I’m going through. Therefore I have to make a conscious effort to engage God in conversation, reminding Him of His promises and asking Him to intervene in my life.

Isaiah 37:35 NIV
“I will defend this city and save it, for my sake and for the sake of David my servant!”

God gave Hezekiah and the people of Judah a great victory.

I want that victory, too.

So whether I’m just “having a day,” or I’m going through a months-long trial, I will choose to see what God is doing in my situation and look for what I can learn through it. I will choose to take my thoughts captive and refuse to entertain and engage the temptations that come to me. And most importantly, I will pray and plea with the Lord for His direction and deliverance.

Father, forgive me for losing sight of you in the messiness of life. Help me to see you in the things I go through, and help me to represent you well. Help me to keep my mouth shut with the enemy and my mouth open with you. Help me to seek Your glory and help me trust You for deliverance. Thank you for how you’ve delivered me before. Thank you for being loving and faithful in all you do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

2 Comments

Filed under Isaiah, Old Testament

1 Kings 2; 1 Chronicles 29; 2 Corinthians 11; Psalm 95

It is the end of David’s life, and he gives final instructions to Solomon. He advises him on future, and he reminds him of betrayals of the past. David started as a hard-working shepherd in the fields. He died a king.

26 So David son of Jesse reigned over all Israel. 27 He reigned over Israel for forty years, seven of them in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem. 28 He died at a ripe old age, having enjoyed long life, wealth, and honor. Then his son Solomon ruled in his place (1 Chronicles 29:26-28, NLT).

Solomon had a kingdom to rule. His reign would not be without testing. First Kings 2 includes details of some of Solomon’s challenges, and how he established his rule.

Paul was Saul before his encounter with Christ. A man who once persecuted followers of Jesus, now devotes his life to truth–whatever the cost. While this passage speaks of Paul’s hardships, it is a boast of God’s faithfulness in Paul’s weakness.

I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. 24 Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. 26 I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. 27 I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm (2 Corinthians 11:23-27, NLT).

I pay attention to these stories. I note the challenges, the hardship, the betrayal, the legacy. But central to it all, all these stories and struggles, is the Lord.

Come, let us worship and bow down.
    Let us kneel before the Lord our maker,
    for he is our God.
We are the people he watches over,
    the flock under his care (Psalm 95:6-7, NLT).

Lord, I am grateful for truth. It is worth protecting and preserving and honoring.

Courtney (66books365)

Leave a comment

Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan

1 Samuel 1-3; Galatians 3; Psalms 66

 “Why are you crying, Hannah?” Elkanah would ask.  “Why aren’t you eating? Why be downhearted just because you have no children? You have me-isn’t that better than having ten sons?”  “Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord.  And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you.  He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.  When Elekanah slept with Hannah, the Lord remembered her plea, and in due time she gave birth to a son.  She named him Samuel, for she said, “I asked the Lord for him.  I am the very woman who stood here several years ago praying to the Lord.  I asked the Lord to give me this boy, and he has granted my request.  Now I am giving him to the Lord, and he will belong to the Lord his whole life.” And they worshiped the Lord there.” 1 Samuel 1-2 NLT

It is refreshing to see Hannah’s vulnerability.  In her faithfulness, she was still human.  She struggled and shed tears.  She cried out to the Lord and he answered her prayer.  He rewarded her faithfulness.  He gave back to her in abundance.

“Before they returned home, Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife and say, “May the Lord give you other children to take the place of this one she gave to the Lord.” And the Lord blessed Hannah, and she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters.  Meanwhile, Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.” 1 Samuel 2:20&21 NLT

What am I holding onto that God is asking me to give to him? What is my Samuel?  Sometimes it is a daily surrendering to him.  He knows I can’t do it alone, so he gave me his Spirit.

“You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ.  How foolish can you be? After starting new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? Have you experienced so much for nothing? Surely it was not in vain, was it?” In the same way, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God.” Galatians 3:6&7 NLT

Dear Father, Thank you for Father for your presence.  That you promise to always be with me.  Forgive me when I doubt.  Thank you for your faithfulness in my life.  Thank you for your patience and unfailing love towards me.  Help me to live in a posture of surrender to you.

“If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.  But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer.  Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me.” Psalms 66:18-20 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under 1 Samuel, Galatians, Psalms, Uncategorized

Joshua 5-6; Mark 5; Psalm 69

Where do I turn when life begins to overwhelm me? I know where I ought to turn. But when I read of David’s suffering, and of his subsequent desperation to find God in the midst of his pain, and his determination to trust God to deliver him, I am convicted that I do not turn to the Lord nearly as often as I should, and rarely to the degree and with the desperation and determination that David did. And he faced far worse than I do.

David responded to suffering by seeking God. He wore himself out with his prayer and crying out to the Lord. In contrast, I often give up when I get tired. I let myself get distracted. I put off praying for the sake of discussing my problems with others. And as a result, I find myself more distressed than ever.

I need to be more like David:

  • David was honest with God. David laid it out plain for God to know what was happening to Him, why it was happening, and how it made him feel. I should not be afraid to tell God when I’m overwhelmed, discouraged, or afraid. God loves me; He wants to listen to me and to help me.

                  “Save me, O God!

                      For the waters have come up to my neck.

                  I sink in deep mire,

                      where there is no foothold;

                  I have come into deep waters,

                      and the flood sweeps over me.

                  I am weary with my crying out;

                      my throat is parched.

                  My eyes grow dim

                      with waiting for my God.”

                  -Psalm 69:1-4 (ESV)

  • David asked for deliverance. He did more than just vent about his problems; he asked for relief. I need to actually ask God for deliverance, not just vent and “hope for the best.” God is moved to action by our requests. I need to show my trust by asking Him to act on my behalf –
    He loves me and that’s exactly what He wants to do!

                  “But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord.

                      At an acceptable time, O God,

                      in the abundance of your steadfast love

                      answer me in your saving faithfulness.

                  Deliver me

                      from sinking in the mire;

                  let me be delivered from my enemies

                      and from the deep waters.

                  Let not the flood sweep over me,

                      or the deep swallow me up,

                      or the pit close its mouth over me.

                   Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good;

                      according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.

                  -Psalm 69:13-16 (ESV)

  • David praised God. In praising God, he was reminding himself of why he could trust God. While David began his prayer by talking about his suffering, He ended his prayer by focusing on God’s power. I need to spend more time praising God for who He is and what He’s done. Focusing on God’s power will help me to find peace that God can handle what I’ve just laid at His feet.

                  I will praise the name of God with a song;

                      I will magnify him with thanksgiving.

                  This will please the Lord more than an ox

                      or a bull with horns and hoofs.

                  When the humble see it they will be glad;

                      you who seek God, let your hearts revive.

                  For the Lord hears the needy

                      and does not despise his own people who are prisoners.

                  -Psalm 69:30-33 (ESV)

Father, forgive me for fixating on my problems and turning to myself and others instead of you. Help me to trust you, to remember your love for me. Remind me of how you’ve delivered me before, and give me faith to turn to you when I’m overwhelmed. Thank you for your goodness and patience towards me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Leave a comment

Filed under Old Testament, Psalms

Job 12-14; Psalm 100; Revelation 13

“But true wisdom and power are found in God; counsel and understanding are his.” Job 12:13 NLT

Job’s friends were trying to make sense of his suffering.  Even though Job himself, didn’t understand, he pointed them to the one who he knew did.  He knew where true wisdom could be found.

“O God, grant me these two things, and then I will be able to face you.  Remove your heavy hand from me, and don’t terrify me with your awesome presence.  Now summon me, and I will answer! Or let me speak to you, and you reply.  Tell me, what have I done wrong? Show me my rebellion and my sin.  Why do you turn away from me? Why do you treat me your enemy?” Job 13:20-24 NLT

There have been times in my life when my faith has been stretched and I wonder what God is doing.  I can relate to Job, when I think that God’s silence means that I have done something wrong.  But, I’m learning to lean in and trust in the waiting.

“Even a tree has more hope! If it is cut down, it will sprout again and grow new branches.  Though its roots have grown old in the earth and its stump decays, at the scent of water it will bud and sprout again like a new seedling.  “But when people die, their strength is gone.  They breathe their last, and then where are they? As water evaporates from a lake and a river disappears in drought, people are laid to rest and do not rise again.  Until the heavens are no more, they will not wake up nor be roused from their sleep.  “I wish you would hide me in the grave and forget me there until your anger has passed.  But mark your calendar to think of me again!  Can the dead live again? If so, this would give me hope through all my years of struggle, and I would eagerly await the release of death.  You would call and I would answer, and you would yearn for me, your handiwork.  For then you would guard my steps, instead of watching for my sins.  My sins would be sealed in a pouch, and you would cover my guilt.”  Job 14:7-17 NLT

I am thankful that I don’t struggle without hope.  Even when things seem dark, I know that light is coming.  Jesus is near. I grapple with Job’s questions and vulnerability.  He didn’t have the knowledge of Jesus like I do. Yet, he still pressed in, when it would have been easier to fall away.

Help me to remember Lord, in times of silence, you are teaching me to depend on you.  Thank you for friends who point me to you.  Thank you for your word and your promises.  Help me to praise you in the midst of suffering. Amen.

“Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness.  Come before him, singing with joy.   Acknowledge that the Lord is God!  He made us, and we are his.  We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.  Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise.  Give thanks to him and praise his name.  For the Lord is good.  His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.” Psalm 100 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Job, Psalms, Revelation, Uncategorized

Genesis 41&42; Mark 16

37 This proposal pleased Pharaoh and all his servants. 38 And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?” 39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. 40 You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you.” (Genesis 42:37-40) ESV

We recall all the things that Joseph experience. He was betrayed by his brothers, then by his owner’s wife and then by a fellow jail mate. He spent years (for some of us not that long [he was 30 here]) but still years marking time at least or worst suffering along the way with no hope or deliverance in sight. Then comes this great picture of him standing before Pharaoh and interpreting a dream that will deliver millions of people. And Pharaoh’s observation? Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God? In the midst of suffering and hopelessness there was no leaving the God he loved. He was full of the Holy Spirit to the point that even Pharaoh saw it.

How many times do we let the circumstances we face, the disappointments in life, trial and sickness pull us away from God. We focus on us and not on the God who can deliver and want a growing relationship with us. In the midst of all these trials Joseph grew closer to God. How bout if today we welcome those negative events and circumstances into our lives as a way of pushing us closer and growing our relationship with the Holy Spirit? What difference will that make? Let’s see!

Father God help me today to look at the negative things that come my way as a means to growing my relationship with You and Your Holy Spirit. Grow me in you today God! I pray these things in Jesus Name, Amen!

1 Comment

Filed under 66 Books, Genesis, Mark, New Testament, Old Testament, Uncategorized