Patience & Suffering

Woman suffering from stress grimacing in painI am not known for patience, but I’m learning more every day. I am not filled with road rage, but I do get frustrated when others can’t seem to figure out how to drive their truck or car like the rest of us! (LOL) Patience is a very important character trait. It’s included as a fruit of The Spirit. (Galatians 5:22) I like being around patient people, it’s not nearly as easy to be patient as it appears. Our culture leans hard toward instant gratification instead of delayed gratification. We like things now and we don’t like to wait. The older I get the more aware of this epidemic of impatience. I was reminded of patience this morning, especially when things are not going as planned and suffering comes on the scene. Check this out…

Therefore, brothers and sisters, be patient until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth and is patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, because the Lord’s coming is near.

10 Brothers and sisters, take the prophets who spoke in the Lord’s name as an example of suffering and patience. 11 See, we count as blessed those who have endured. You have heard of Job’s endurance and have seen the outcome that the Lord brought about—the Lord is compassionate and merciful. (James 5:7-8,10-11 CSB)

People who have endured suffering are more thankful than those who haven’t. Suffering is hard and painful. It’s a struggle to suffer and I need others with me in the struggle. Those who have suffered are humble in spirit.  I would not wish suffering upon anyone, but I pray that those during suffering learn that leaning into the Lord is the best path through it. I also know that when I’ve endured suffering, I’m stronger and closer to the Lord than ever before. If I don’t trust the Lord in my suffering, I’ll become bitter instead of better. Suffering, Patience & Endurance build rock solid character on multiple levels. I’ve learned more about myself during these struggles. The Lord has built some character qualities in me during suffering and hard time that I’m not sure could have been built any other way.

I don’t pray for patience, but I really try to practice it. I pray for strength for today. I pray for the Lord to give me strength to endure hardship and hard times. I approach Him with a thankful heart for all that He has brought me through because remember my history of struggle and suffering gives a healthy perspective on today’s struggle. Someone quipped that “life is hard by the yard and a cinch by the inch”. I want to live my life out walking with the Lord through everything – the good, easy or the hard & hectic. His Presence in my heart gives me great strength and confidence to face whatever life throws at me. Life is not always easy, but He is certainly ALWAYS with me.

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

Recall – Remind – Rekindle

Memo with Paper Clip - rememberWhen I think back about my life and my journey of faith, it must include my grandmother, Gladys Greer (aka Mammie). She was a dear lady who loved the Lord and I can still remember her big Bible near her chair in the living room of her house. She studied it often. She had a Bible that was falling apart, but her life wasn’t’ because her deep faith gave purpose and helped her navigate any situation in life. She passed her faith on to my Mom and then to me. I have quite a heritage of faith. I find myself praying for my kids that they will know the Lord. I want them to see the Lord in my life.

The Apostle Paul was writing a second letter to his young protégé Timothy. I can feel the emotional connection between the two. He is connecting Timothy’s journey today with his journey of faith in the past. Check this out…

I recall your sincere faith that first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and now, I am convinced, is in you also.

Therefore, I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment. (2 Timothy 1:5-7 CSB)

I love the encouragement from Paul. I can take that into my heart and my life today. I need to recall my journey. I need to be reminded of all that the Lord has done in my life. I must daily rekindle the Holy Spirit that is in me. I can be strong and bold as I face challenges in life because I recall, I’m reminded and I’m rekindling the fire that is in me.

I also love the last line of this passage – it’s almost a “because” passage. I can recall, remind and rekindle BECAUSE the Lord has given me “a spirit of power, love and sound judgement”. I’m brimming with confidence because of His Power in me. This perspective shapes and remakes my perspective on everything in my life. I can face any challenge in my life, because the Creator lives in me and lives through me.

I think it’s healthy to revisit my journey often and realize that I’m standing on the shoulders of faith of my grandmother and my parents. I’m also standing on the shoulders of Paul, Timothy, Peter, James and John to name a few. I want to recall, be reminded and rekindle the Spirit of God in my life.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Special Training

Smiling sport child boy showing hand biceps muscles strengthSeveral years ago, I used to work out regularly.  I would take my lunch hour and go to Sportsplex and lift weights, working out the different muscle groups, mostly in my upper body. I participated in a Boot Camp that was a high energy, cardio work out. I told someone the other day, as I gestured toward my upper body, that this is what happens when you quit working out. Muscle will deteriorate and fat will take over when workouts cease. Unfortunately, I can be the poster child for this season of my life.

Recently, my wife and I downloaded FitnessPal onto our smart phone. This is a “calorie counter” & fitness tracker app. The first step in diet and exercise is to discover what I’m doing. I’m trying to keep track of everything I put into my mouth. I’m also tracking my physical activity. Who knew that table tennis and jet ski riding could burn calories! I remember a friend of mine used to say that he was never going to take up jogging, because he never saw a runner with a smile on their face! He also used to say that being in great physical shape is overrated because you can still get hit by a truck and die.

I came across a passage this morning where Paul was speaking to the significance of a different type of workout regimen. Check this out…

But have nothing to do with pointless and silly myths. Rather, train yourself in godliness. For the training of the body has limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance. 10 For this reason we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. (1 Timothy 4:7-10 CSB)

I have been training in godliness for quite some time now. I’m not sure when I started this blogging/journaling of my journey in God’s Word, but it has made a HUGE difference in my life and in my perspective. I have felt the Lord speak into my life in powerful ways just by simply setting aside time each morning for my spiritual training/workout. I want to keep my eye on eternal life while I live out the abundant life here on earth. I don’t want to be so “heaven bound” that I’m no “earthly good” to anyone. I want to keep growing in my faith as I train in His Word daily and make application to my life.

I’m working at adding a physical element to my spiritual workout – a prayer walk. I walk a good bit throughout the day (thanks FitnessPal), but I want to be more intentional about walking with the Lord and seeking His Wisdom throughout the day.

All My Hope Is In Jesus  – Crowder

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

Know It All

I really try to not come across as a “Know It All” on any subject. I believe that I can learn from just about everyone. I learn from some people to not hang around them after one conversation. But I’ve also learned that I can learn a lot from others who are much younger and less experienced that me. I’ve said before that I want to be a life-long learner. I don’t ever want my pride to keep me from learning.

I do want to keep learning the Word of God as it builds my confidence in the Lord. The Word of God gives perspective to my life and my daily decisions. I want to keep learning about the Lord’s heart and His plans for me.

Paul writes to the church at Corinth about eating food that has been sacrificed to idols. I remember when a man in the church I was tithed off his gambling winnings to give to the student ministry that I was leading. I first thought that this was not money I should use. The minister I worked with said: “The devil has had that money long enough!” I think some of these type subjects will land on the side of opinion. There is some great truth tucked inside this discussion. Check this out…

1 Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “we all have knowledge.” Knowledge puffs up, but love builds upIf anyone thinks he knows anything, he does not yet know it as he ought to know it. But if anyone loves God, he is known by him.

About eating food sacrificed to idols, then, we know that “an idol is nothing in the world,” and that “there is no God but one.” For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth—as there are many “gods” and many “lords”— yet for us there is one God, the Father. All things are from him, and we exist for him. And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ. All things are through him, and we exist through him. (1 Corinthians 8:1-6 CSB)

I really want to increase my capacity to love and serve others. I’m learning in my day job to serve people’s needs and my needs get taken care of. I’ve learned to have humility always because the Lord loves a humble heart. After all I’m nothing without Him in my heart.

Today I will keep learning from others.

Today I will keep growing with others.

Today I will keep serving others.

Today I will keep loving others.

It’s all because of Jesus that I can learn, grow, serve or love. I’m continuing to let Him direct my path and my decisions every day. I don’t know everything, but I know the Lord and anything else I know pales in comparison to knowing Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne