Thank You God for My Suffering.

Joyce Meyer

I was watching Joyce Meyer this morning, and she spoke about going through trials, pain and suffering and how these things equip us for the future. They equip us with experience that we can then use to help other people. She said we usually don’t realize this until we are older and can look back on our lives.

Joyce used the example of Joseph’s life, which if you read it in Genesis Chapters 37-50, will explain why “But Joseph replied, “Do not be afraid. Am I in the place of God? As for you, what you intended against me for evil, God intended for good, in order to accomplish a day like this—to preserve the lives of many people.”

Just the other day, my sister said to me, “When you used to come to Nevada to visit me, it surprised me how my bad temper didn’t upset you. When I raged about something, most people didn’t like it and would get upset, but you would just sit there working on your crossword puzzle.”

I said to her, “I realized a few years ago, that the years of having my husband lose his temper had taught me not to take anger personally. I read a book that explained bad-tempered people are not actually mad at you; they are angry about something else, usually their childhood.”

Living with my husband and praying about my own temper, has been good for me. I didn’t think so at the time, in fact, I hated it, but God used that so I could learn to let people go and not be upset about what they say and do. I haven’t learned this perfectly, but most of the time when someone is mad at me or at something else, I feel at peace about it.

My husband rarely loses his temper now. We have both learned how useless it is to be angry at people. When he does slip and flip-out, we pause and then start laughing. This is what can happen when you follow Jesus through your life. We are both in our late sixties and both of us have learned through suffering and praying. It is God alone who changes us as we ask him.

My sister and I are very close, even though we live miles apart. Through email, Messenger and phone calls, we share our happiness, sorrows and how God is working in our lives. She has helped me so much in so many ways. She says I have helped her. This deep, Christian friendship is what I have needed. I can tell her anything and know I will be understood; she can do the same with me. I pray all you who read this will have a friend like that.

The other thing I have learned through suffering is compassion. I believe if a person goes through life with everything going their way, they will probably be proud and selfish. How can we understand the suffering of others if we never go through it ourselves?

I read a millionaire say, “Anyone can do what I have done and be rich.” I suppose he says that because he has never had a family member who is not as smart as him. He doesn’t realize that intelligence makes a huge difference in how successful we will be in this world. His parents probably sent him to a wonderful university where he learned what he needed to learn.

There are those who suffer mental illness. People like me, who have no confidence and are terrified to work with other people. People like me who freeze and are speechless and so afraid to make a mistake on a job they can’t function. People like me, who were horribly abused as a child.

I can now say to God, “Thank you for all my suffering.” I never thought I would ever, ever say that, but I can see the beauty that can come from it. I would rather be who I am, with all my weakness, than proud in my own strength. I can say with David, “The Lord is my strength,” because I know how true that is.

Don't be Like A Mule.

“Photo: Guilhem Vellut / CC-BY”
Wall of Forgiveness. Aftermath of the Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/o_0/5850662652/

Psalm 32 (In my own words.)

How blessed we are to know God has forgiven, and will always forgive, our sins and mistakes! They are covered by the blood of Jesus. He puts truth in our minds.

When I didn’t confess my sin, your hand was heavy upon my mind. I felt weak and sorrowful. But when I told you my sin, you forgave me and my guilty feelings were gone!

Because of this, may all pray to you while there is still time. You will become their hiding place. You will protect them and surround them with songs of freedom!

The Lord God says, “I will teach you the way you should go. I will counsel you with my loving eyes on you. Don’t be like a mule or a horse, which have no understanding. They must be controlled by bit and bridle, or they will not come to you.

The evil man has a lot of trouble in his life. But God’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him. So, rejoice in the Lord and be glad you children of the Great I Am. Sing, all you who have God in their hearts!

We Must Drink Our Cup.

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“The LORD is my inheritance and my cup; you support my lot.”   Psalm 16:5

When I read this, I wondered what inheritance and cup might mean in a spiritual sense. After looking up some Bible commentaries on Bible Hub, I could see how significant and wonderful these words are.

An inheritance is of course, what you receive from your father or mother when they die. The Bible tells us God himself is our inheritance. Through the death of Jesus, we can become one with the trinity. As Jesus said, “I in you and you in me.”    

“The LORD is my portion (inheritance),” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in Him.”   Lamentations 3:24

As for the cup, it is an important image strewn throughout the Bible. Jesus used it when talking about his coming death.

Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”   John 18:11

This expresses both the feelings which struggled in the Lord’s breast during the Agony in the garden—aversion to the cup viewed in itself, but, in the light of the Father’s will, perfect preparedness to drink it.   Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

A cup is also a symbol of the lives of the wicked.

For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup with foaming wine, well mixed, and he pours out from it, and all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs.   Psalm 75:8

The reader will observe, that this expression, the portion of their cup, is a proverbial phrase in Scripture: God’s gifts and dispensations, whether pleasing or painful, consolatory or afflictive, especially the latter, being ordinarily expressed by a cup, poured out and given men to drink.   Benson Commentary

Jesus used the cup to represent the lives of the cruel priests of his time.

“Now then,” said the Lord, “you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.   Matthew 23:26

The cup is, “…a synonym for “condition in life.”   Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers

“The condition in life.” In other words, what happens when we are alive on earth; what illnesses we will contract, what family we are born in, how we look, our genetics, our strengths and weaknesses. Our “lot in life” so to speak.

How many of us hate our “cup?” How many hate what happened to us in our childhood when we were weak and vulnerable? How many hate their jobs, their spouses or their struggles? How many resent the “cup?”

I started hating my life when I was in my mid-forties. I felt cursed, foolish, a joke, embarrassed by my mental illness and unloved by everyone. I was angry at God for my life; angry he let terrible things happen to me and others; angry at what I saw as his injustice. I was terrified what the future held for me.

I have written before how God, “drew me out of the mire and muck;” how he has filled my life with happiness, so I won’t repeat that here. What I want to tell you is how fast I can descend back into my old way of thinking and not trusting God about my “cup.”

I got up one morning this week, and as I stood in front of the microwave to heat my coffee, I couldn’t remember how to work it. I stared at the buttons and drew a blank. It finally came back to me and I heated the coffee, but now I was frightened. I’m 69, so I know it is possible for me to have dementia or alzhiemer’s disease.

To me, I would rather die than have those two things happen to me. My sister and I have talked about this subject and we agreed how horrible it would be and how we don’t want people taking care of us, even family members. My sister said she would kill herself. Stupidly, I said the same thing, knowing God wouldn’t like it.

I talked with God that morning, pleading with him not to let me get that way. (My old style of praying.) Instead of leaving it with him, I began to think of ways to handle this, none of them good. I knew what I should do. Accept whatever came into my life. It took awhile. Then I told God I would accept anything that happened in the future. If it happened, then fine. Maybe he could use me even in that mental condition. Trust is the real issue. Do I trust God? I want to, and I pray I will for the rest of my life on this crazy planet. There is a good reason Jesus told us not to worry about tomorrow.

Here are some more verses on the “cup” we are to drink. We have Jesus as our example on accepting the cup of our life.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.   Psalm 23:5

I will lift the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD.  Psalm 116:13

We're Caught in A Trap.

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“My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he can release my foot from the snare.” Psalm 25:15

When I read this today, I thought of a wolf or fox caught in a trap. It is such a sad image. But of course, David was writing about sin and the death it causes.

We all get trapped by sin; we are born having sinful and selfish desires that will get us into trouble. We need the Lord to free us from that. We cannot do it by ourselves.

I remembered when Jesus said to his friends, “Without me, you can do nothing.” John 15:5 Until we reach that conclusion, we are tilting at windmills. Only God has the strength needed to free us from our sinful nature. That is why David said, so many times, “The Lord is my strength.”

This doesn’t mean we will be perfectly good here in this world. As James says, “Indeed, we all make many mistakes.” James 3:2 And John says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:8,9

Psalm 25 is so beautiful. I wrote it out in my own words this morning. I’ll share it here with you.

I want to put my trust in you, Lord. May Satan not triumph over me. I know that the one who hopes in you will not be ashamed. But utter shame will be the lot of the wicked.

Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth, for you are my God and Savior. I hope in you all day long.

Don’t forget your love and mercy, but do forget the sins of my youth and all my rebellious ways. Remember me according to your great love, for you are good.

Yes, you are good and wise; that is why you can teach us the right way to go. All your ways are loving and faithful. Forgive my sin, though it is great.

Who are those who fear the Lord? God will teach them; they will inherit their own land in heaven. God confides in those who fear him. He makes a contract with them. My eyes are always on the Lord, for only he can release my feet from a trap.

Come to me, dear Lord, for I am lonely and afflicted. Please relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from mental pain. Guard my life and rescue me, for I take refuge in you. My hope, Lord, is in you alone.

We Dine with Him.


FOTO:Fortepan — ID 26316

“I love the Lord because he has heard my voice…”  Psalm 116:1

This verse has been important for me. These words have brought me joy, peace and trust. They have touched me in ways I deeply need.

If you feel no one hears your voice, if you feel ignored, and if you feel unknown by all people on earth, you are wrong. God hears your voice and knows you like no other. When you feel depressed, and you know that when you share those sad feelings with others, it upsets them; know that it doesn’t upset God. He has broad shoulders and he can take it.

He doesn’t only take it, he feels it, welcomes it and enters into those feelings. “Come to me, all who are tired and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 

In Isaiah, Jesus is called a, “wonderful counselor.” I can attest to that, after I learned to bring my troubles to him instead of family members. If I was angry at someone, I ranted about it to God. If I was sad, I shared my sorrow. If I was happy, I thanked him over and over. If I felt in despair, sometimes all I could say was, “God, help me.” Through this time with God, I have found him to be the strong shoulder I needed to lean on.

 “Look, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice, I will come in to him and we will dine together.”  Revelation 3:20

Dining together is an intimate occasion. There is usually communication of a personal nature. Notice we have an invitation to hear his voice also. We listen to each other.

And how has God spoken to me? In different ways. A Bible verse might come into my mind. A story of a person in the Bible might flash into my mind to help me see I wasn’t alone in having troubles. And sometimes, I hear words in my mind that encourage and strengthen me. Usually, they are words I would never have thought on my own, so I know it is him. Sometimes, I feel his loving presence.

It is a tremendous thing to realize you carry the Triune God in your spirit. The Father. The Son. The Holy Spirit. They live inside you, if you ask them to come in. They know how much you need them and are happy to join with you in walking this life. “The Lord delights (takes pleasure) in his people.”  Psalm 149:4

I Don’t Know What Title to Give this Post.

In my last post, I quoted from a book by Eugene H. Peterson. I usually quote from books and authors that have helped me. I know that when I read posts like that, I sometimes buy the book. But now I feel I should not have encouraged anyone to buy one of his books.

After reading good things about Pastor Peterson and his translation of the Bible called, “The Message,” I bought three paperbacks written by him. I started reading two of them, but was put off by his attitude towards non-Christians. He wrote of them, not in terms of love and pity, but with unkind judgement.

I did not finish those two books, but started “Life at It’s Best.” I thought I might have judged him too harshly myself and decided to give him another try. I did like the opening chapters, as I said previously, but when I came to chapter 14, I came upon that same unloving attitude.

He tells a story of his life when he was in the hospital to have surgery on his nose. The surgery was over and he lay in bed in pain. A new patient entered the room who was to have a tonsillectomy. He was in his early twenties, nice looking and friendly. I will now quote from the book leaving some sentences out for brevity:

“He came over to me, put out his hand and said, ‘Hi, my name is Kelly. What happened to you?’ I was in no mood for friendly conversation, did not return the handshake, grunted my name and said that I had had my nose broken. He got the message that I did not want o talk, pulled the curtain between our beds and let me alone…

Later in the evening the young man asked Peterson, “Well, what do you do?” Peterson writes, “I’m a pastor.” ‘Oh,’ he said and turned away; I was no longer an interesting subject.

In the morning he woke me, ‘Peterson, Peterson wake up.’ I groggily came awake and asked what he wanted. ‘I want you to pray for me; I’m scared.’ And so, before he was taken to surgery, I went to his bedside and prayed for him.

When he was brought back a couple of hours later, a nurse came and said, ‘Kelly, I am going to give you an injection that should take care of any pain you might have.’

In twenty minutes or so he began to groan, ‘I hurt. I can’t stand it. I’m going to die.’

I rang for the nurse and when she came said, ‘Nurse, I don’t think that shot did any good; why don’t you give him another one.’ She didn’t acknowledge my credentials for making such a suggestion, told me curtly that she would oversee the medical care of the patient, turned on her heel and left. Meanwhile, Kelly continued to vent his agony.

…he began to hallucinate, and having lost touch with reality began to shout, ‘Peterson, pray for me, can’t you see I’m dying? Peterson, pray for me.’ His shouts brought nurses, doctors and orderlies running…’”

His story ends there but it is how he would not shake hands with the young man and be interested in him that bothered me at the very beginning. You may say, “Well, he was in pain.” Yes, but Jesus was in pain on the cross and he spoke with love and mercy to the man hanging beside him. He saw there a man he loved and was dying to save.

Peterson next makes a conclusion about the young man in the story. He seems to wash his hands of him. I will quote what he wrote here:

“The parabolic force of the incident is this; when the man was scared, he wanted me to pray for him, and when the man was crazy, he wanted me to pray for him. But in between, during the hours of normalcy, he didn’t want anything to do with a pastor. What Kelly betrayed in extremis is all many people know of religion; a religion to help them with their fears, but which is forgotten when the fears are taken care of; a religion made of moments of craziness but which is remote and shadowy in the clear light of the sun and in their routines of every day. The most religious places in the world …are not churches but battlefields and mental hospitals…”

Peterson goes on to say how much better Christians are:

“Nevertheless, we Christians don’t go to either place to nurture our faith. We don’t deliberately put ourselves in places of fearful danger to evoke heartfelt prayer and we don’t put ourselves in psychiatric wards so we can be around those who clearly see visions.”

He goes on to say Christians have stability etc. Really? All Christians? Well, stability would be lovely to have, but I’ve met many Christians who are not stable and I am mentally ill so stability in my feelings is not normal for me. I have to pray and work hard on having stability.

Also, yes people pray when they are in danger. God uses that all the time. For the first time in their lives, some people may face death; and it makes them stop and think about eternity and God. That is a wonderful thing, a blessing from God! He will gladly take us just as we are, in that very moment when we are frightened. The criminal who died with Jesus probably had heard all about him and what he taught. He saw how Jesus treated the soldiers who crucified him. He saw how he took care of his mother. He heard the shouts of people who hated Jesus and said, “He said he is the Son of God.” So, he turned and looked on Jesus and said, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus promised him he would be with him in Paradise.

Jesus looks on those who are lost with the greatest pity and love. God does everything he can to save them. We should look on each person in the world as a person with a spirit and soul that Jesus longs to save.

As I said, I don’t know what title to give this post. I’m sorry I sort of recommended Peterson and his books. I rarely agree completely with every Christian book I read; but I’ve never felt like I had to apologize for encouraging people to read something. I do this time; I’m sorry.

Endurance in Suffering, Loneliness and Boredom.

Photo by Andy Armstrong.

I was reading, “Life at its Best,” by Eugene H. Peterson. He is the man who wrote the translation of the Bible called, “The Message.” Chapter 12 is entitled, “Hope,” and is about persevering in the Christian life. I found it to be helpful and full of encouragement.

I have written before how the Lord said to me, “You lack endurance.” This was at a time when I thought my life was empty, lonely and useless. God told me what I needed was endurance. I said, “Endurance! Who cares about endurance? Just get me out of here.” By that, I meant this world. But he said, “I could do that. But what if I told you that you would be helping people if you stayed?” I reluctantly said, “Well, alright.”

At the time, I had no idea how much my mother, daughters and grandchildren would need me in the future. God has shown me again and again how I could help them and I’ve very grateful to him for not taking me to heaven, as I had asked.

I started reading about endurance and tried to learn it and asked God to give it to me. My life became wonderful, peaceful and hopeful. He showed me that he is enough to fill my life. I didn’t need anyone or anything else.

I thought I would share a bit of what I read this morning with all of you. I don’t always agree with everything Peterson writes, but he is just a man and I don’t expect to agree with every Christian. So, here are some excerpts from chapter 12:

“Perseverance means we keep going. We do not quit when we find we are not yet mature and there is still a long journey ahead of us.” 

“Endurance is not a desperate hanging on but a traveling from strength to strength.”

“God sticks to his relationships. He establishes a relationship and stays with it. The central reality for Christians is the personal, unalterable, persevering commitment that God makes to us. Perseverance is not the result of our determination; it is the result of God’s faithfulness to us.”

“Christian discipleship is a process of paying more and more attention to God’s righteousness and less and less attention to our own, finding the meaning of our lives not by probing our moods and motives and morals, but by believing in God’s will and purposes; making a map of faithfulness of God, not charting the rise and fall of our enthusiasms. It is out of such a reality that we acquire perseverance.”

“That is what the writer of the New Testament letter to the Hebrew Christians did when writing about the people of the Old Testament. God stuck by them through thick and thin in such a way they were able to persevere. All made their share of mistakes, sins and rebellion, but God stuck with them so consistently and surely that they learned how to stick with God.”

“Out of the litany comes the call: ‘Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.'”