Your Suffering Is Over

Child in medicine maskThere is a lot of suffering going on around me. There are those who are battling cancer or watching someone they love dearly, battle the disease. There are those whom a car accident took a loved one. There are those who are in chronic pain all day, every day. There are those who’ve been betrayed by someone they love and they are suffering from the loss of relationship. Suffering comes in all shapes and sizes and is no respecter of persons. Suffering comes to the wealthiest and to the poorest. To suffer is to feel pain or distress. That is a broad definition.

There is an event of suffering that happened in Jesus’ ministry. He was going along the road with his entourage (aka his disciple and other followers) as well as a large crowd that had gathered to hear Him teach. He learned of a synagogue leader who’s 12-year old daughter was sick. He was headed to the leader’s house to heal the little girl. Check this out…

25 A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. 26 She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. 27 She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. 28 For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition.

30 Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?”

31 His disciples said to him, “Look at this crowd pressing around you. How can you ask, ‘Who touched me?’”

32 But he kept on looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell to her knees in front of him and told him what she had done. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.” (Mark 5:25-34 NLT)

This woman’s life changed dramatically that day. She had tried everything and was desperate enough to believe that if she could just touch Jesus robe, she could be healed – and she was healed. I love this story because it again shows the heart of Jesus. He cared about the least noticed people and he cared about the leaders. He came to give a different perspective on suffering. The woman’s suffering had not been temporary. She had been suffering for years. I have been through seasons of suffering, buy nothing compared to this. After being healed by the touch of His robe, Jesus wanted to know “who touched him”. He was on His way to heal a little girl and this older woman was healed along the way. Jesus words to this lady about her faith was profound. The then left here with four words that were big: “Your suffering is over”. This is not a fluke or a temporary fix –  your suffering is over. Those four words gave her such hope and peace. When Jesus comes on the scene, He always bring hope along. This woman’s faith allowed her to realize that hope.

I want my faith to keep growing, especially in the face of suffering. I want to know the Lord is such a way, that He can be honored in the middle of my struggle. This life here is not “the endgame”, it’s a prerequisite to “the endgame” which is eternal life – the big prize! This is what He promises. He never promised that I wouldn’t suffer in this world, but He did promise His Presence in the midst of suffering. When Jesus comes on the scene, my suffering looks way different.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Test Trials

 

Child in medicine maskTest trials are also known as “Clinical Trials” and these are implemented when trying to find a specific drug or medical protocol that will attack a certain disease or illness. These are tests of sorts and often, they are “last ditch efforts” to help fight certain types of disease.

The book of James comes out of the gate with some crazy ideas regarding trials of life and suffering. This is a different kind of test. Check this out…

Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.

12 Blessed is the one who endures trials, because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:2-4,12 CSB)

I’ve been through a few trials and suffering in my life and I did not think they were great joy. I will submit that the trials and sufferings built somethings inside of me that weren’t there before. I admit that I was pretty “ticked off” at God because of the trials and suffering, but then when I settled down, I realized that He would not leave. He would walk with me through the trial and He always has a different perspective on my trials from where He “sits”. It is very easy to lose perspective during a trial.

I believe that God has taught me things during trials and suffering that I couldn’t have learned any other way. I learned a lot about me and what I was “made of”. I also learned a lot about the faithfulness of The Lord. He is so patient and understanding while I’m reeling and frustrated. He holds me when I’m hurt and angry. He sits with me when I can’t even talk. I have a different perspective completely on all of life. I want Him with me as I celebrate the joy of life and I know He will be with me when I’m in a trial time or suffering time. He helps me make lemonade out of lemons. He helps me navigate through the dark ally of trial and struggle.

In the middle of one particular trial this song blessed me. “Let Me Feel You Shine” by David Crowder Band.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Suffering Can Build Strength

Child in medicine maskThere are times of suffering in my life that I thought was about to destroy me. I’ve not experienced a life-threatening illness, but one my kids has. I’ve not had a life-threatening injury and been air-lifted to a trauma center, one of my kids has. I have also had some personal suffering that has rocked the foundations of my world. I have been speechless and silent before the Lord. I have screamed at Him for help. I have screamed at Him in anger. He has NEVER wasted my times of suffering. He has NEVER left me when I was in the middle of suffering. I’m sure I’ve left Him a few times, but quickly realized the stupidity of that. I don’t always understand suffering, but I trust Him. I don’t understand why He doesn’t prevent it in the first place. I don’t understand why He doesn’t “swoop in” and save the day. During my suffering, He’s taught me to trust His heart even when I can’t see His hand at work.

Paul was a passionate follower of Jesus, a teacher & preacher. He started churches and served them and poured his heart and soul into them. They still didn’t seem to get it. He made his case again to them about his journey with the Lord through suffering. He wasn’t going to quit and he made that clear. He had suffered much but he wasn’t about to quit. Check this out….

24 Five times I received the forty lashes minus one from the Jews. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked. I have spent a night and a day in the open sea. 26 On frequent journeys, I faced dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own people, dangers from Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea, and dangers among false brothers; 27 toil and hardship, many sleepless nights, hunger and thirst, often without food, cold, and without clothing. 28 Not to mention other things, there is the daily pressure on me: my concern for all the churches. (2 Corinthians 11:24-28 CSB)

Suffering can make you bitter or better – it’s up to the sufferer.

Suffering can give you new perspective.

Suffering can give you purpose.

Suffering can help save.

Out of my pain came my purpose…His Purpose for me. My purpose on this earth is to live to honor God and make Him known. I can’t stand during suffering without His strength. I remember another verse by Paul….

13 I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13 CSB)

….and another:

28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 CSB)

This topic brought to my mind a song I heard years ago after suffering from a job loss….

His Strength Is Perfect by Steven Curtis Chapman

His strength is perfect when our strength is gone
He’ll carry us when we can’t carry on
Raised in His power, the weak become strong
His strength is perfect, His strength is perfect

___________________

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Desperate Place

 

Abstract Silhouette PrayingI’m a bit familiar with desperate places. These are places when it seems like the whole world is crashing down upon me. It can be something insignificant to others, but super important to me. Desperate places are where suffering often resides. When I hear that someone is going through a divorce, I’m confident that one or both of the parties involved are either in a desperate place now or they will be later for sure. Desperate places often call for desperate measures. When I’ve found myself in desperate places, I need a radical shift in my thinking to be able to navigate out of that place.

Job was definitely in a desperate place. His life was ruined from his desperate place perspective. He is crying out to God in desperation and despair. He lost his possessions. He lost his family. He lost his health. As he cries out to God, I can feel his emotions and they are raw for sure. Check this out…

15 You will call and I will answer you;

    you will long for the creature your hands have made.

16 Surely then you will count my steps

    but not keep track of my sin.

17 My offenses will be sealed up in a bag;

    you will cover over my sin. (Job 14:15-17 NIV)

Job is actually practicing some self-talk. I don’t see a dialogue between him and God. He appears to be more monologue – by he’s also pushing back on some of the counsel of his friends. I think he is also trying to come up with creative ways to survive this ordeal or for it to be over.

I was introduced a couple of days ago to a new song that we will be singing at church called: “Here With Me” by Tim Hughes. I’ve been learning the song and the words of the chorus are stuck in my head. Job needed to hear the words of this song.

When darkness deepens

The path unsure

The sun is hidden by the storms

I look to heaven

And cry to Thee

Oh God be here with me

 

In every breath

Every joy and tear

Every passing hour

Let me know You’re near

In life, in death

For eternity

Oh God be here with me

 

When faith is shaken

When fears surround

My feet will stand on solid ground

In every season

My song will be

Oh God be here with me

 

In every breath

Every joy and tear

Every passing hour

Let me know You’re near

In life, in death

For eternity

Oh God be here with me

 

And in that moment

We’re face to face

I will not need these eyes of faith

Forever after, God I will see

That You’ve always been with me

You’ve always been with me

That is a promise worth remembering when I’m in a desperate place.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Why Suffering?

Why MeThere are a lot of things that I don’t understand about life here on earth. I have a pretty extensive list of questions that I want to ask the Lord when I see Him. As I continue to study His Word and get to know His Heart, I’ve received what I believe are some answers to some of my questions. I’ve often asked why do children have to suffer from a sickness or disease? Why do kids get killed in car accidents and the drunk driver live? I know that the presence of evil in our world is real. I know that disease and distress is here. I just hate to see someone of any age suffer and struggle with pain.

Job’s life changed radically and quickly. He went from having it all to having nothing at all. Everything was taken from him in a test allowed by the Lord because of His faithfulness to the Lord. He lost his family, all his livestock, his buildings, and not his health. He didn’t curse God, however he did curse the day he was born. Check this out…

16 Or why was I not hidden away in the ground like a stillborn child,

    like an infant who never saw the light of day?

17 There the wicked cease from turmoil,

    and there the weary are at rest.

18 Captives also enjoy their ease;

    they no longer hear the slave driver’s shout.

19 The small and the great are there,

    and the slaves are freed from their owners.

23 Why is life given to a man

    whose way is hidden,

    whom God has hedged in?

24 For sighing has become my daily food;

    my groans pour out like water.

25 What I feared has come upon me;

    what I dreaded has happened to me.

26 I have no peace, no quietness;

    I have no rest, but only turmoil.’ (Job 3:16-19; 23-26 NIV)

I don’t think I’ve ever suffered so profoundly that I wanted to die. I have seen that level of suffering up close though. From a pure human perspective, I understand why some people want assisted suicide. It’s even called “assisted dying” in parts of our culture. This topic is closely related to Euthanasia – the act of intentionally ending a life to relieve pain and suffering. I struggle with this when it comes to a dog or cat and I can’t imagine working through this with another human being. I guess my view of life and the Creator of life really changes my view.

I don’t pretend to understand the depth of suffering and pain, but I do know that God is fully of mercy and love. I do believe that sometimes the suffering and pain of another person is not about them, it’s about the people around them. I’ve watched people grow emotionally and spiritually while walking with another through the struggle of pain and suffering. I know that there are times that death is a friend, but I still believe that the Lord is the only One qualified to make that call.

I still believe that God teaches us truth about Himself and sometimes about ourselves through suffering and these truths often can’t be learned any other way.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Broken

broken potteryI do remember what it feels like to be beat down and broken because of events that happen that are completely beyond my control. I have felt absolutely helpless to fix or repair the damage done. I have come to accept that there are accidents and events that happen that I have absolutely zero control over. I sometimes wish that I could see those events on the horizon but that’s not exactly how it works. I’ve had my heart broken into millions of pieces, or so it seems. The Lord is able to restore my broken heart for sure.

I started reading the book of Job this morning and in the background, he was a proud and grateful man for his family and all that the Lord had blessed him with. The Lord had complete confidence in Job that He allowed Satan to test him with suffering. He had four messengers come him, one right after the other with waves of bad news. The first three messengers told of the loss of his livestock and possessions. The fourth messengers told of the loss of his children. That was the point when Job was broken down. I wasn’t really expecting Job’s response though. Check this out…

20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said:

‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb,

    and naked I shall depart.

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;

    may the name of the Lord be praised.’

22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. (Job 1:20-22 NIV)

There are times when my brokenness feels like I’m totally destroyed. In the midst of my pain and suffering, I can’t see what life could look like getting beyond this pain. I think it’s like being in the fog, when it’s so thick and dense that I can’t see through it. When the fog clears, I can then see clearly. I see brokenness and suffering like this fog – the Lord provides the directions through the fog if I will just trust Him.

Job’s response of worship is powerful and shows incredible discipline and trust in the Lord. I suspect that worship was a part of his everyday life as it should be in my life. Job is about to “go to school” and learn more about God through this suffering and loss. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; I believe God teaches us things about Himself through suffering that I’m not sure we could learn any other way. I want my daily journey with the Lord to build worship and trust into the structure of my life – into my DNA. I want my life to be totally dependent upon the Lord. I know that my faith needs to grow and the Lord helps me with that too. Brokenness is beautiful when the Lord is in charge of rebuilding.

Pressing On!

Dwayne