Comfort in Affliction

Hello friends! I originally thought I would be back blogging full-time by now but health issues continue to plague me. I ask for your patience and your prayers as I share two or three short posts—like this one—each week until I feel able to devote more time to my blog. The Lord continues to be my All in All as I cling more tightly to Him.

Remember your word to your servant,
    in which you have made me HOPE.
This is my comfort in my affliction,
    that your promise gives me life.

—Psalm 119:49-50, ESV

Worrywart or #Worry Not

Worrywart or Worry Not

By Patricia Knight

As recorded in the Old Testament, Abraham and Sarah lived in the advanced civilization in Ur of the Chaldeans when God asked them to leave their comfortable home, family, and friends to follow Him. They unhesitatingly obeyed God and traveled to an unknown land for an unspecified period of time, giving up all things familiar for an obscure future.

The couple worshipped God faithfully and He blessed them with wealth, expansive land holdings, and burgeoning animal herds. God himself was Abraham’s greatest treasure. God promised him further greatness, but Abraham questioned what God could possibly give him of value since he had no heir to inherit his estate. What Abraham and Sarah desired most was a son, but Sarah had remained barren all of her life.  God then promised the couple an heir and descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and sand on the seashore.

Years passed without the promised child. Both Abraham and Sarah were aging. Abraham was 85 years old; Sarah, 75. Were they worried? Though the Bible doesn’t specify such a reaction, we can assume both fear and worry were involved. Wondering if God had forgotten His covenant to them, they decided to take matters into their own hands. Abraham fathered a son, Ishmael, with their maidservant, Hagar. For the purpose of producing a male heir, such an arrangement was acceptable in their society, but Abraham and Sarah had blatantly disobeyed God’s law. The Lord’s characteristics of purity and holiness made it impossible for Him to renege on His promises. It was important they learned that their God was unequivocally faithful.

When Abraham was one hundred years old, angels visited, promising him that Sarah would give birth to their own son within a year. It had been fifteen years since the initial promise, sufficient time to worry about how, when, or if God’s promise would come to fruition. When God’s prophecy was concluded, all details were fulfilled exactly as He promised. Because the couple had irresponsibly implemented their own plan by ignoring God’s covenant, animosity arouse between the two sons, Isaac and Ismael, extending to all future generations of their descendants, the Israelites and the Arabs.

Worry is mental distress or agitation usually resulting from a pending or an anticipated situation. One pundit explains: “Worry is useless. If you worry that a bad thing is going to happen, and then it does, you’ve been through it twice” (Anon). Who wants double trouble?  Most of us practice discipline in areas affecting our health, and yet we implement worry, a health wrecking ball. Worry compromises our spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being, displacing the peace of God.

Worship and worry are mutually exclusive; they repel like similar poles of a magnet. Worry is a spiritual handicap that casts doubt on the sincerity of our Christian faith. If we profess to trust our loving God, who plans every aspect of our lives, and we worry about how the features of every day are going to develop, what does that communicate about our commitment to our Lord? As Jesus taught His disciples, “‘You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule’” (Matthew 5:3, Msg.). Why do we always wait until we are desperate to call upon God?

Worrying reveals selfishness of character, a need to have one’s own way. When we allocate our time to fretting about circumstances over which we have no control, we waste precious moments that could be spent in prayer and Bible study, both drawing us closer to God.

The Apostle Paul understood the human tendency to spiral downward as we focus on worry during stress, grief, or emergencies. He advised, “‘Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life’” (Philippians 4:6-7, Msg.). Paul urges us to concentrate our minds on things with eternal value and release our worry through prayer, leading us into deeper spiritual territory where God transform us with power and grace.

Anxiety is created from the incapacity to deal with worrisome details. If we feel we must continually ruminate an issue, God provides the productive alternative: 

“Cast all your cares upon him {the Lord}, for he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

The ideal remedy involves admitting our sin of disobedience, asking forgiveness, and giving God preeminence in all areas of our lives. Jesus asks, “‘Can your worries add a single moment to your life?’” (Matthew 6:27, NLT).

Worry stalls the growth and development of our personal relationship with God. Jesus advises that we not worry about what we eat, drink, or wear. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the kingdom of God above all else; and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:32-33, NLT). We have all of God’s promises before us in his Word. Like Abraham and Sarah, do we catch ourselves worrying about God’s timeline and jump ahead of His plans for our lives?

Jesus is the Prince of Peace, who gives wholeness and well-being to those who trust in Him. Peace is the tranquility of spirit believers experience when they commit their troubles to God in prayer and worry about them no longer. Jesus is engaged in the business of transforming insecure lives of worry to the enduring stability of peace. He cultivates peace in individual lives. Depend upon Jesus always and in all ways! Forsake fickle, frail worry for Jesus’ promise of peace!

Are you at “Wits’ End Corner”?

From Streams in the Desert devotional.

Are you standing at “Wits’ End Corner,”
Christian, with troubled brow?
Are you thinking of what is before you,
And all you are bearing now?
Does all the world seem against you,
And you in the battle alone?
Remember—at “Wits’ End Corner”
Is just where God’s power is shown.

Are you standing at “Wits’ End Corner,”
Blinded with wearying pain,
Feeling you cannot endure it,
You cannot bear the strain,
Bruised through the constant suffering,
Dizzy, and dazed, and numb?
Remember—at “Wits’ End Corner”
Is where Jesus loves to come.

Are you standing at “Wits’ End Corner”?
Your work before you spread,
All lying begun, unfinished,
And pressing on heart and head,
Longing for strength to do it,
Stretching out trembling hands?
Remember—at “Wits’ End Corner”
The Burden-Bearer stands.

Are you standing at “Wits’ End Corner”?
Then you’re just in the very spot
To learn the wondrous resources
Of Him who fails you not: 
No doubt to a brighter pathway
Your footsteps will soon be moved,
But only at “Wits’ End Corner”
Is the “God who is able” proved.
-Antoinette Wilson

Sunday Praise and Worship: Everlasting God

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Some days feel like a week to me, especially lately. I am currently struggling with daily migraines again because the medication that seemed to work so well last year started causing migraines instead of stopping them. After doing some research, I found out that the pills have lactose as one of the inactive ingredients, and dairy is one of my worst food allergies. Another frustration sets in.

Beloved, have you ever been in a similar place? You know what I mean. Just when you think you’ve finally conquered something dreadful in your life, it reappears with a vengeance.

The song “Everlasting God” by Lincoln Brewster is a good reminder that our Everlasting God gives us the strength we need to get us through such trying times. As I said to someone recently, I sometimes wonder why I must miss so many fun things. But, having said that, I know without a doubt that God is sovereign and good ALL the time so I need to constantly seek His strength and peace, no matter what is going on in my life.

Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable.
He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might He increases power.
Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.

—Isaiah 40:28-31

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Abundant #Joy

This is an excellent post by Sarah Walton of Set Apart: Hope on the Road Less Traveled.

Abundant Joy is Found
in the Presence of Christ,
not in the Absence of Pain

“Oh Lord, for years I have prayed for answers, healing, and understanding in this suffering you have allowed. Yet they have seemed not to come. Many have prayed to you on our behalf, as we have sought wisdom from the doctors you provided, and have longed for redemption of what’s been lost. By your grace, we have persevered through trial after trial, trusting  that you would uphold us and bring forth good from all our pain.

Yet, many answers we have hoped for haven’t come in the ways we desire. The world’s solutions to our pain have left us discouraged, confused, and fighting hopelessness, while the trials, burdens, questions, and uncertainties remain the same. 

I have longed for, cried, and pleaded for you to bring us out from under the pain and heaviness of these trials into a place of abundance. I have asked you to lift these crushing burdens, and carry us through the pounding waves and the raging fire that threatens  to consume our hope, testimony, and lives. 

However, in my desire for answers, I have missed something wonderful. You have answered our prayers – though different than I expected. You have been near, intimately working deep within our hearts as we have laid down our hopes and desires of this world. While you have chosen not to remove the heartache and overwhelming circumstances from our lives, you have done something greater. You have brought us into a place of abundance. For while I have been waiting for this place of abundance to come in the form of relief, you have instead brought it in the midst of the very trials I desired to be freed from. 

This place of abundance has been found in the presence of Christ, not in the absence of pain. 

Read the rest here.

The Gift of Illness

This excellent article about a difficult subject is from the True Woman Blog at Revive Our Hearts.

The Gift of Illness

 

I’m not in a wheelchair. I’m not on chemo. I’ve ended up in the hospital only two times, for brief outpatient visits. To see me, you’d assume I’m the picture of perfect health. But underneath this strong exterior lies deep weakness.

I’ve been given the gift of chronic illness. And while I would love to reject such a gift, it has been my invitation into a thousand moments of grace—to feel where I was once numb, see where I was once blind, hear where I was once deaf. It’s been my merciful undoing and my gracious remaking.

You see, in my own strength, pain-free and healthy, I am Pride and Self-sufficiency and The Greatest People Pleaser. But here, in the throes of weakness, I am forced into postures of humility and dependency upon God. This brokenness has surfaced every cranky, weary, impatient, mean, insecure, fearful, shortsighted aspect of my character. So I cry out to Him.

And I find Him.

Read the rest here.

Purposes of Christ in Suffering

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Purposes of Christ in Suffering

By Dr. Joel R. Beeks

Christ intends to use suffering in the lives of His people to sanctify them and to prepare them for eternal glory.  Recognize how sanctified affliction is used to glorify God.  First of all, sanctified affliction humbles you (Deut. 8:2), teaches you what sin is (Zech. 12:10), and causes you to seek God (Hosea 5:15). Affliction vacuums away the fuel that feeds your pride.

Secondly, sanctified affliction serves to keep you in Christ’s communion, closely by His side, to conform you to Him, making you partakers of His suffering and image, righteousness and holiness (Heb. 12:10-11).

Thirdly, sanctified affliction serves to wean you from the world and to cause you to work by faith.  Perhaps affliction bites you so deeply because you are too little at home with the Word and ways of God and too much at home with the world.  In prosperity you often talk of living by other-worldly faith, but in adversity you live your talk.  Discover the truth of Robert Leighton’s words, ‘Affliction is the diamond dust that heaven polishes its jewels with.’

Recognize also that the end of all of His affliction, and ours, is eternal glory.  Think more of your coming crown and your eternal communion with God’s Triune saints and angles. ‘He that rides to be crowned, ‘John Trapp wrote, ‘will not think much of a rainy day.’

Consider Christ: His afflictions, power, presence, perseverance, prayers, goals, and end. Seek grace to live Christianly today through and in your afflictions and you shall soon discover with the apostle, ‘For me to live is Christ and to die is gain’ (Phil. 1:21).