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

The Rock

 

stone isolated white background natural rock granite solid bouldWhen I think of the word rock, I think of something solid. A rock is hard to break. A rock makes a great foundation – we manufacture a rock like substance called concrete. The Lord refers to the Rock often as our faith foundation. There is a song that says: “On Christ, the Solid Rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand”. I have also been known to trip over a rock. If the rock is big enough I can stand on it or go around it.

Paul makes it clear that even those that are not of Jewish decent have access to the foundation of Jesus Christ which produces in us righteousness. Check this out…

30 What should we say then? Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained righteousness—namely the righteousness that comes from faith. 31 But Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not achieved the righteousness of the law. 32 Why is that? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. 33 As it is written,

Look, I am putting a stone in Zion to stumble over
and a rock to trip over,
and the one who believes on him
will not be put to shame. (Romans 9:30-33 CSB)

I am putting my faith in Creator God. I believe He created the earth, the universe in all its expanse and intricate detail. He is the One in Whom I trust to lead me through whatever I face in this life. My journey here for what feels like a short span prepares me for eternity which is unmeasurable time.

I love David’s prayer – seeking God as a refuge. Check this out…

Be a rock of refuge for me, where I can always go. Give the command to save me, for you are my rock and fortress. (Psalm 71:3 CSB)

I stand on the Rock Eternal because He gives me strength.

I stand on the Rock Eternal because He picks me up when I stumble.

I stand on the Rock Eternal because He saved me.

I stand on the Rock Eternal because He loves me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Mercy, Refuge & Rescue

 

God's mercy at the CrossI can remember in my life in the not-so-distant past when I felt like I could not stand under the strain of suffering. I remember having a job one day and the next it was gone. I remember clearly the devastation of divorce nearly 25 years ago. I remember the news of my son having cancer. I remember the call from the ENT telling me that they are air-lifting my son to Atlanta because of injuries he incurred when he fell from a tree.  I could go on and on about suffering and struggle in my life, but those are in my top 5. I have learned that my strength to stand comes from kneeling down before the Lord in surrender and worship. I believe that King David felt the same way. He was hiding in a cave and penned a great psalm/prayer of mercy, refuge & rescue. Check this out…

I cry aloud to the Lord;
    I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.
I pour out before him my complaint;
    before him I tell my trouble.

When my spirit grows faint within me,
    it is you who watch over my way.
In the path where I walk
    people have hidden a snare for me.
Look and see, there is no one at my right hand;
    no one is concerned for me.
I have no refuge;
    no one cares for my life.

I cry to you, Lord;
    I say, ‘You are my refuge,
    my portion in the land of the living.’

Listen to my cry,
    for I am in desperate need;
rescue me from those who pursue me,
    for they are too strong for me.
Set me free from my prison,
    that I may praise your name.
Then the righteous will gather about me
    because of your goodness to me. (Psalm 142:1-7 NIV)

I can do nothing without the Lord. I can’t possibly navigate through the ups and downs of life without Him. The longer I walk with Him daily, the more convinced of this I am. His Presence and His Strength are beyond measuring. He helps me understand the struggle. He helps me through. I believe in His mercy. I believe He is my refuge – I can ALWAYS lean into Him. I can always count on Him for rescue. The way He supplies mercy, refuge and rescue does not always come when I command or ask – His timing and His plan is always spot on – even when I don’t understand.  I look back at the big struggles in my life and see how the Lord made good out of bad situations. His plan is way bigger than my plan. He’s used my struggles to teach me and build me for sure.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Home In My Heart

 

Young man suffering pain on his chest, isolated on whiteI’ve heard it said that “home is where the heart is”. This speaks to where I live. Wherever my family and I live is now home. I grew up calling Kentucky home as that is where I lived nearly 18 years of my early life. I’ve since lived in Tennessee and Georgia. In fact, I’ve lived in Georgia over 30 years of my life. I still call Kentucky home when I’m asking about family “back home”. Georgia is now my home and has been for a long time.

As I read in Psalm this morning about God making His home in Zion, I was reminded that He now makes my heart and the hearts of His people His home. Check this out…

13 For the Lord has chosen Zion,
    he has desired it for his dwelling, saying,
14 ‘This is my resting place for ever and ever;
    here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it.
15 I will bless her with abundant provisions;
    her poor I will satisfy with food.
16 I will clothe her priests with salvation,
    and her faithful people shall ever sing for joy.

17 ‘Here I will make a horn grow for David
    and set up a lamp for my anointed one.
18 I will clothe his enemies with shame,
    but his head shall be adorned with a radiant crown.’ (Psalm 132:13-18 NIV)

When Jesus came and conquered sin and death, He left us with the very Spirit of God to dwell in our hearts. There are churches being built where people gather to worship, but the Lord no longer dwells in temples made with hands, He dwells in our heart. I like how Paul describes it. Check this out…

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22 NIV)

I can live out my life in confidence that the Lord has made His home inside my heart. He directs me. He leads me. He settles my heart. His Presence in me gives me Power to combat temptation and sin that creeps in. He gives me strength that seems impossible and peace that is hard for others to understand. My heart is not His home – His dwelling place.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Code Is Clear

 

Clicking a redeem button, 3d renderI have walked with the Lord for a long time. I was introduced to the Lord at a very young age and I grew up living off the faith of my parents and grandparents. It wasn’t until I was a freshman in college that I owned my faith. I remember the night that I believed in God for myself. I didn’t make a public display, but the Lord moved in my heart and I still remember it like it was yesterday or last week. I pray that my kids own their faith. I pray that God speaks to them.

I read one of the “Psalms of Accents” this morning that was a bit confusing. It was obvious the writer was feeling frustrated from the oppression that had been upon Israel. I did find a nugget that spoke into my heart. Check this out…

But the Lord is righteous;
    he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked.’ (Psalm 129:4 NIV)

I have been picked on and put down by some strong personalities. I confess that I’ve struggled to care about those who hate me. It feels like the wicked and hateful people are dictating how I feel and where I go from here. The Lord directs my path. He will help me experience freedom from the people who wish to harm me. He will protect me from them. He will expose them. The Lord rescues and restores my heart all the time – often daily. He knows me like no one else. He knows when I hurt and when I’m down. He takes my fear and worry off my shoulders and carries it on His shoulders.

When I’m in the middle of struggle and frustration, I must remember that The Lord is ALWAYS strong and righteous. He is mighty to save. He never forgets about me. He releases me from the clutches of the careless and He restores my heart and soul.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Help Is On The Way!

Brave Courage Overcoming Fear Bravery Vs AfraidI remember a time when I was in college (before cell phones) and I was making a 4-hour drive home across Jellico Mountain on I-75 in Tennessee. The car overheated and I had to pull over on the side of the interstate. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do next.  I remember praying for the Lord to send some help. He did! It came through another student from the same college traveling the same highway – he saw us and stopped to help. We bought some antifreeze and put in back in the radiator and we took the car to a mechanic to patch things up to get me home. I was very thankful for the help. I have never forgotten that moment because I was not sure what I would do or could do to get out of that situation. I need help often and I’ve learned to ask for help and try to be prepared for lots of variables in many situations. The Lord will show up and help. He sends me help and He’s never far away. Check this out…

21 But you, Sovereign Lord,
    help me for your name’s sake;
    out of the goodness of your love, deliver me.
22 For I am poor and needy,
    and my heart is wounded within me.
23 I fade away like an evening shadow;
    I am shaken off like a locust.
24 Many knees give way from fasting;
    my body is thin and gaunt.
25 I am an object of scorn to my accusers;
    when they see me, they shake their heads.

30 With my mouth I will greatly extol the Lord;
    in the great throng of worshipers I will praise him.
31 For he stands at the right hand of the needy,
    to save their lives from those who would condemn them. (Psalm 109:21-25, 30-31 NIV)

The Lord is always available and willing to help. He doesn’t always provide the help I think I need. He goes with what He sees as my need. I am continually learning to be obedient and humble before Him. I do not have it all together. I am a broken person whom He has put back together and I trust Him and I want to live for Him.  As I study the Word and I see just how the Lord gave help to David and protected him from his accusers, I find hope in that. I want His help dealing with people who want to harm me or threaten me. I want to be strong and consistent in my decisions and choices to live my life in a way that brings honor to Him. His help for the struggles I face is always nearby and on the way!

Pressing On!

Dwayne