Tag Archives: pain

January 5; What Is Your Answer?

Job 1-3

Job was the George Bailey of the ancient world. He was “the richest man in town.” Sure, he had wealth. But he was also rich in family, friends, prestige, reputation. He had it all.

And he lost it all.

The book of Job has many lessons for us concerning suffering. Who hasn’t wished at some time or another, that they’d never been born? Life is hard. Loss is painful. And sometimes things happen that we’re convinced we just don’t deserve. Job will have a lot to say about that in the next few days.

But I don’t think suffering is the main theme in this book. If you look at chapter 1, Satan is suggesting that people only worship God when they are blessed by Him; only when the bills are paid, and they get a good report from the doctor. Satan is still suggesting that.

And sadly, we often equate health and wealth with God’s blessings yet today.

Not that God doesn’t sometimes bless us with those things, but I think the main theme in the book of Job is worship. The issue at hand is, “Is God worthy of worshiping even when times are hard and we feel abandoned by Him? Or, is God only worth worshiping on good days?”

You probably know Job’s reaction to the news that his livestock and slaves were gone, and all his children were dead. He heard of one disaster after another, then another, and another. It was too much. He fell to the ground and said these words:

Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised. (1:21, emphasis mine)

In the first throws of unimaginable grief, Job praised the Lord. And we will find that…

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

I think the main theme of Job is the question, “Is God worth it?” And that’s the question I’d encourage you to answer for yourself today. Does God deserve your worship regardless of your situation or your feelings? Does He deserve your worship when you aren’t getting the answers you think you need? Do you use worship as a bargaining tool to get what you want?

Friend, the truth of the matter is, God deserves our worship for the simple fact that HE IS.

Job won’t be happy about his situation. Job will ask some hard question of God. Job probably didn’t “feel” like worshiping God in the midst of his pain. But in all this Job will not sin, he will not turn His back on God or deny God. Job will worship God despite his circumstances.

And so should we. Because God is worth it. Do you believe that?

What is your answer?

December 4 – Momentary, Light Affliction

2 Corinthians 1-4

Paul talked a lot about the sufferings he was enduring. He used words like affliction, excessive burden to the extent he wanted to die, a peril of death, anguish of the heart, and in 4:7-10 he said:

… we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

Verse 11 says he was constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake. Then in verse 17 he said:

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.

Momentary? Light? He just got done listing a bunch of affliction that doesn’t sound momentary or light to me. How could he say that?

I think it’s perspective. And it’s a perspective I’d like to adopt.

Everything that happens in our lives happens for one reason only. That is to point us and everyone around us to Jesus. From an irritating hangnail, to this cold I’ve been fighting, to my sister’s cancer, and the tragic death of her son, everything that happens is an opportunity to reveal my Savior to myself, and to people I come in contact with.

That’s why I think Paul could describe his life as having momentary and light affliction. He wasn’t focusing on the pain. His only focus was on Jesus. He didn’t let the circumstances sideline him. He kept on sharing the Gospel.

We all go through hard times, personal pain and difficulties. Life is hard. But Paul’s example tells me that the worst this life can throw at me won’t last forever. And if Satan thinks he can use my suffering to cause me to doubt God, or to be angry at Him, or to steal my joy, he’s wrong.

Don’t miss what Paul said at the end of verse 17. The hardships we go through in this life are producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.

A weight of glory. That’s what’s ahead for those of us who keep our eyes on Jesus.

Dear God, I pray for those who are going through valleys today. I pray for those who are looking at the toughest battle of their lives, or who despair of life itself. God, may we look to Jesus. May we trust Him to be exactly what we need, to give us exactly what it takes to get through. Help us to keep our eyes facing forward instead of inward. Give us Paul’s perspective, that what we face, as hard as it is, as painful as it is, can produce something more wonderful than we can imagine. Thank You for being exactly what we need in the darkest hours of our lives. May Jesus be glorified.

Job’s Hell On Earth

I am reading the book of Job this week as part of my year long plan. I’ve read Job several times, so as I read his words of anguish, I know his turmoil is temporary. Job’s hell on earth will not last forever.

Job is tormented by his thoughts, his memories, his questions, the “what-ifs”. He can find no comfort; not physically and not in his soul. His groans come from deep inside of him.

If you’ve been with me on this blogging journey for very long, you know that in 2012 we lost my 22 year old nephew in an auto accident. I have experienced death repeated times as we’ve buried grandparents, aunts and uncles, parents. But I had never experienced the level of grief that paralyzed me when I got the horrible news of Geoffrey’s death.

I remember sitting in silence in my parent’s family room. My sisters, their families, my dad. Tears flowed freely, but there were no words that could express what we were going through. There were, however, occasional groans.

I can still hear the sound of Geoff’s parents as that mournful sound escaped from their hearts. Our sister, Kathy, Geoff’s aunt, would groan in such a way you never thought could come from a human. I remember hearing a sorrowful groan, then realizing the sound had come from me. I finally understood the definition of “lament”.

That kind of grief cannot be described. It’s too painful, too personal. The sound of that kind of pain comes involuntarily. It’s like the whistle of a teapot. It just comes on its own as a result of the boiling turmoil deep inside. It’s the sound of true anguish.

Dear One, that’s a portrait of hell. Hell is not a giant bonfire. It is the absence of God, the absence of light, of love, of comfort, of peace, of joy. It’s living inside that teapot where thoughts and memories, the “what-ifs” torment. Forever. Where the only sound heard is that of painful, personal groaning.

Job’s anguish was temporary. Even though I still grieve the loss of my dear nephew, the intensity isn’t the same today as it was on June 24, 2012. But here is what God would say to us today: without  accepting the grace God offers to us sinners through the blood of his Son Jesus, eternity will be living with that grief, that agony, that helplessness FOREVER. No relief, no lessening of the pain, no hope that things will ever get better. And if I think my grief was hard to bear, if Job’s grief was devastating, the grief of those in hell, separated from God will be so much more intense.

I can’t imagine living an eternity of June 24, 2012. And hell will be so much more painful than even that day was.

Hell is nothing to joke about, nothing to take lightly. It’s personal, and painful, and devastating, and ugly, and separated from everything good with no chance of reprieve. The good news is, you can avoid that end.

Jesus died so you and I don’t have to ever experience hell. But you need to meet him on his terms. You need to confess your sins and accept his forgiveness. I promise you, he will be faithful to forgive you, to cleanse you, to live inside of you, and one day, to welcome you into his heavenly home where you will joyfully live…

Forever.

Dear God, Hell is scary. And not the sci-fi kind of scary. It’s real. It’s personal. It’s devastating. Thank you for Jesus, for his willingness to die so that I don’t have to spend one second in that awful place. Life on earth is hard enough, is sad enough. I’d much rather spend eternity in Your presence. I pray for each one who reads these words today. I pray that hearts will be drawn to you, that sins will be confessed, that Your grace will be accepted by anyone who doesn’t already know You. May each of us come to You on Your terms, then look forward to seeing You the day you call us home.

September 2

Daniel 4:1-37, 7:1-28; 2 Kings 25:27-30; Jeremiah 52:31-34

Nebuchadnezzar lost his mind. Literally. He found himself living in the wilds like an animal. He was a king who had it all according to the world’s standards. But all that didn’t prevent him from suffering.

Later, after the king regained his sanity and his throne he wrote a letter to the people about his experience. And do you know what he said about those dark days? Daniel 4:2&3 says:

It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed FOR me. How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation.”

Do you believe that even your darkest hours, your hardest challenges, your toughest circumstances are opportunities for God to do something FOR you? I have shared that in 2012 we lost two very dear men in our family. It’s been almost a year since my dad went to live with the Lord. At 87 and in poor health he was ready to go and that helped us to let him go a little easier. But the hole he left in our family is still there and I miss him.

But I’ve also shared that we lost my 22 year old nephew in an auto accident. One minute he was with us, loving us, making us laugh. The next he was gone. His death has been and continues to be a source of great sadness for me and my family.

There have been many dark days since that June Sunday. And in many ways Geoff’s loss is still fresh. Can I honestly say that it’s a pleasure to tell you about it? Can I look at our situation and share what God has done FOR us through this?

I’m getting there.

I have seen God’s hand obviously working in our lives this past year. I’ve seen my sister, a grieving mother, reach out to help others in Jesus’ name. We have praised God for the privilege of knowing Geoff for 22 amazing years and look forward to seeing him again one day because he knew the Lord as his Savior. That confidence helps us get out of bed every day.

I’ve learned things about myself this past year. I’ve learned my faith is as strong as I had hoped it would be. I’ve learned that God is true to his Word and provides strength when we have none of our own. I know first hand that, although it takes time, joy returns to those who mourn and it’s ok.

Now I can honestly say that as grateful as I am for the lessons I’ve learned through Dad and Geoff’s deaths, I wish I could have learned them and still held on to those two. I wish Geoff would walk through that door and tell me I passed the test so we could get back to life. I mean, Nebuchadnezzar got his kingdom back, didn’t he?

I don’t know what valley you are going through. And I don’t know the extent of your pain. But I know mine. And I can tell you that God is able to carry you through the worst situations because he’s carrying me through mine. 

I may not be quite at the point where I can say it’s a pleasure to tell you about Geoff. But I can say without hesitation that it is a pleasure to tell you about my Savior, my source of strength, my joy. It’s Jesus. Simply put. It’s Jesus.

Nebuchadnezzar reminds us that God’s kingdom is eternal, his dominion endures. This life is so short compared to eternity. My prayer for you is that, if you are going through a difficult situation you won’t waste time blaming God or being angry at him because things aren’t fair. My prayer is that you will trust him. That you will allow him to do something FOR you in the midst of the pain. 

He will, you know. Draw close to God and he promises to draw close to you. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.