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Original sin — why we suffer

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God my Creator brings me comfort through His creation!

Took my coveted walk through the fall woods this week. So much beauty on a trail created a few hundred years ago! Osage orange trees line the walk to the Wye River. Early settlers used this trail to buy and sell goods ferried to and from Baltimore and Annapolis. Now it is a barely used, oft forgotten by-way only enjoyed by nature lovers.

The short trail was long and painful for my loved one.

These days are full of pain and sorrow for both of us — a year out from the cancer diagnosis. Nothing will ever be the same for us in this life. Cancer surgery was brutal.  We will likely not grow old together.

 Yet creation and the Creator cheer us on. Mad chaos did not reign for millions of years. We’re not creatures of time and chance. And God didn’t create this pain, suffering, and death.

The doctrine of creation, original sin, and the fall of man gives us hope. WHY?

Just as surely as God proclaimed judgments of pain, suffering, and death on those who ruined His beautiful, perfect creation —  so surely He promised redemption and mercy!

As caregivers for the chronically ill, we see pain and suffering almost every single day.

If you live with it, you feel its reality like the twisting of a knife!  Knowing suffering is a temporary curse for those who love God heals those wounds.

If you believe and have this  amazing faith that you are part of some cosmic accident, then there is no hope in your future.

Nothing really matters.

Suffering is all the more brutal when you believe that you should just eat, drink, and be merry — you’re gonna die anyways. The Grim Reaper gets us all. True!

That old serpent the Devil would have you believe that this is all there is to life. He fools millions into eternal Death.

He’s hungry for the souls of men. He’s fat with the slaughter and destruction and death all around us.

Just as God served up justice on the ruination of His beauty and good work in the Garden, so He is faithfully redeeming His fallen creatures who call upon Him.

“Truly, truly I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has eternal life and shall not come into condemnation, but has passed from death into life. Truly the hour IS COMING and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live…

Do not marvel at this.

For the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come out — those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” John 5:24-29  

The cycles of the seasons remind me that death and rebirth — new life in Christ, is the grand drama of His triumph over Satan and original sin. “It is not death to die, to leave this weary world…”

Our sin is no match for His abundant pardon and grace!

Praying His grace will triumph in your life and mine this week on our journey Home.

 

Joy unspeakable at the journey’s end…

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Your suffering isn’t all about you…

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Dear sister, I’m about to bleed with you all over this page,

so hang on and hear me out.

Books upon books have been devoted to the “whys” of suffering.

Why another blog post on this topic?

 Well, I’ve had a tiny little ray of understanding, a bit of sunshine in the darkness.

I’ve felt like I have been shut up in a dark closet lately.

 I’ve wondered if death was just around the corner for my loved one. Is it time?

You haven’t seen me post for a few weeks.

I’ve given until I have nothing more to offer.

 No more spoons to pick up (if you understand the “spoonie” lingo among the chronically ill).

Nothing to give you. Just hanging on to Jesus.

Endless sleepless nights I remind myself, I’m God’s girl.

I’m His beloved in Christ Jesus.

He’s promised me His love never changes for me. I’m banking on that.

How is it that David and then Jesus Himself

could come to a place of such suffering in their lives

 that all they could do is cry out brokenly and wretchedly,

 “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Why are you so far from hearing my cries?”

 

Have you ever walked through such flaming, scorching times?

I only glimpsed the edges of this suffering during four years

of watching my sis-in-love with stage 4 breast cancer.

 I wasn’t there every week.

What I did see frequently on her “care team” was enough

 to break my heart repeatedly.

I watched the downward spiral of my brother’s health and exhaustion

 and wondered how much more both the cancer patient and the caregiver could take!

It’s my turn in the flames.

I’m watching my loved one suffer excruciatingly both physically and mentally.

 After so many years of physical suffering, the mental battles are equally intense.

 I’m on the frontlines. I’m the primary caregiver and breadwinner.

 Can’t quit. Can’t stop. Can’t resign.

 

There are things you see with burning clarity

 when you are walking through the flames, if you are His beloved.

 If you look with the tear-filled eyes of trust, you see.

God is God. I am not. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.

Words from The Lord’s prayer — timeless and true as the eternal Savior

 that spoke them.

He is LORD. Do I really believe that? Then yes. Yes! He’s got a plan from eternity that is right on track. Satan’s going down.

 God will triumph! I’m just a speck of dust in that eternal plan.

Somehow, we do matter in this plan!

“Are you not of more value than many sparrows?”

“The very hairs of your head are all numbered.”
(Mine are falling out rapidly…easier to count!”)

“All things work together for good to those that love God.”

MY life may be the only “Jesus” that some of those around me see. 

How I walk with the broken matters.

I’m Christ’s ambassador to my family and friends.

Do you any doubt after the events of this last month that this is a cruel, hateful world

 that’s turned its back on God? So many terrible things in the news!

 The depths of evil are too dark for us without God’s love.

“Let your LIGHT so shine before men, that they may SEE your good deeds and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

UGLY truth.

 Divorce and abandonment rates among the chronically ill

 and those with cancer is extremely high.

I’ve seen and heard of it with my own two eyes numerous times now.

 Folks who abandon their family at their time of greatest need —

 what kind of love is that?

My daughter needs to see Jesus’s hands and feet lived out in my life.

 

Our mission as parents is to show the mighty acts of God to THIS generation. How?

True lovers of Jesus, 

true children of the Heavenly Father

 don’t abandon the broken,

 the “useless” of society. Jesus did not.

In fact, hurting people are highlighted in the Gospels.

The lepers, the blind, the lame, the sick all came to Jesus in droves.

He came to show us the Father.

He cast out a Legion of demons from a man so extremely broken that he lived alone

 with dead bodies, tormented and naked.

 

Do we think this is a distant fairy tale?

 

Sometimes I think I’ve been guilty of this distancing myself from

what Jesus actually did while here on earth!

This man living naked in the tombs clearly was not sane!

His insanity was due to demon possession.

 (NOT my take on mental illness — that’s a whole different post).

The point is — Jesus became ceremonially unclean 

to even reach out to this man living among dead bodies! 

He did what most good, religious folk of his day would not do —

 and reached out in healing power to this outcast man.

What about serious genetic defects? Why this suffering? 

Many chronic auto-immune diseases have their roots in genetic defects.

So much sorrow in the gene pool! Why?

Jesus spoke truth with power when his own disciples asked, 

“Who sinned, Jesus? This blind man or his parents that he was born this way?”

Broken words like poisonous arrows from a prideful heart,

 similar to words spoken even today to families who are experiencing health issues.

 

Suffering bodies, suffering minds, suffering hearts — Jesus answers the accusers.

He answers the Accuser of our souls, too.

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned.

 But it happened

 so that the works of God might be displayed in him!” John 9:3

What  floods of relief must have washed over this blind man overhearing this!

 How many years had he begged blindly by the side of the road and wondered, WHY?

How many times has your chronically-ill family member, your disabled friend,

your mentally-ill loved one wondered, Why? What am I worth?

 Why am I still living?

Jesus was not saying that this man or his parents were not sinners —

that they had never sinned!

He was saying that this blind beggar could display the works of God in his life

through the power of Jesus!

For the blind beggar, that meant healing here and now.

He met Jesus the King over genetics!

I’m filled with gratitude 

that Jesus knows our sufferings perfectly. 

He’s in the flames with us.

He will help us do the will of the Father.

 

 

I’m grateful to know our sufferings, your loved one’s sufferings,

if committed to Christ,

have purpose and meaning.

His purposes are always good. Hang on! Hang in there with me!

Am I cursed by God because of chronic illness?

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I know my headline looks like click-bait. But have you ever felt “cursed” by more than your share of trouble in this life? Too many griefs and sorrows?

I was very saddened to hear of the death of Nabeel Qureshi this weekend due to malignant stomach cancer. He was a mighty warrior for the faith. He was young, too. Too young to die of cancer…

Within a few hours of his death my friend Penny also passed from cancer — lung cancer in her fifties.

In her case, cancer struck her husband six years earlier and claimed his life the year before my sis died of cancer. So much sorrow in one family, yet so much reason for hope! I’ll come back and explain this. Bear with me.

Sadly, the so-called “religion of peace” was adamantly posting on his FB wall that Nabeel was cursed because he converted to Christianity.

Was his suffering and death truly the result of God’s curse?

My friend Penny’s death? My sis-in-love?

What about the chronic, painful illnesses of those we love?

Let’s get downright honest:

What about Down’s babies?

What about Trisomy babies?

What about intersex babies?

How about anyone born with any sort of disability or chromosomal abnormality? The so-called “freaks of nature”?

I’m going to walk on some thin ice here.

Some of these conditions we never, ever talk about in our nice Christian circles. Certain conditions are more socially acceptable than others.

Adopting children with disabilities has gotten more good PR in the church lately. I’m very happy about this. After all, HOW PRO-LIFE are we if we ignore the least of these among us?

Almost all of those listed will encounter chronic illness.

Someone out there is giving care to all of these precious souls, I hope. Unless you’re conveniently executing them all like Iceland does? Sigh. Off topic. Yes, and no.

Cursed by God with disability or not? What do you think?

I’m getting ready to plunge through that thin ice now!

I want to be very clear. I’ve spent the last dozen years of my life deeply pondering personal suffering. I’m still not the expert!  Many others have been schooled much more deeply in suffering.

I’ve poured over the Bible and Christian books.

Recently I told one of my elders that I had considered myself a reasonably compassionate person before all of this pile of trouble happened to us. Now I feel like I’ve gotten the rude awakening from God. Girl, you’ve got a lot more to learn! BAM!

Charles Haddon Spurgeon once wrote that Christians ought to be known as the kindest, gentlest, and most gracious of people.

Now Spurgeon was also known to be bold and clear with the truth, no mistaking it. However, he was known for his deep love for people.

He also suffered great physical pain that kept him out of his pulpit for months at a time. Was he cursed?

Here’s where I plunge through the ice completely! My answer? Yes and NO!

If you read the Bible and believe it, then part of this is no surprise. We were all cursed by Adam’s fall. The curse brought sin, death, and suffering upon the whole human race.

Read the first several chapters of Genesis if you have never done so! It’s a must-read if you are struggling to understand the Christian faith!

Satan was the crafty mastermind of this terrible event. When my daughter wailed why, why, WHY does my aunt have to die, I pointed the finger where it belonged. Satan started it. Man fell for it.

Please, child of mine, remember that God is good, Satan is bad, and don’t get the two mixed up. Please, please, don’t fall for Satan’s lies.

In the perfect environment, man freely chose evil. Why? Now that’s the real question. The whole creation is still groaning, waiting to be released from this curse. Romans 8:20-23

It’s a terrible and present reality.

Dear caregiver, you feel its wretched grip when you see those you love suffer.

Wait, what about the “not cursed” part? This is my favorite part. This hope gets me out of bed every morning. First, a refresher on the bad news, but keep reading to the end, please. That is where the GOOD news is parked.

“For all who rely on the works of the law are under the curse. For it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the Book of the Law, to do them.”

The Apostle Paul will explain also in Romans that if you want to go to heaven based on your good deeds, you cannot sin even once! 

“Now it is evident that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, for ‘the just shall live by faith’.

But the law is not of faith, for, ‘the man who does them shall live by them’.

Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by being made a curse for us — as it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’ — Galatians 3:10-13

 The good news is this: Jesus, fully God and fully man, bore our sin curse in His body on the cross. That means for believers in Jesus our present sufferings are temporary.

He told His disciples, “I have told you these things (long, loving sermon from John 13-16) so that in Me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.”

Whatever else I do not “get” about suffering, I know this. My sin curse was laid on Jesus.

Pain and suffering are inescapable. None make it through this life unscathed.

Jesus didn’t sugar-coat this. He told His followers the truth.

He also assured them (and us) of His presence. In the floods, in the flames, in the valley of death’s shadow, He is there.

His rod protects is and His staff comforts and guides us.

In the end, I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. No curse can ever harm us there! I’ll never grieve again. No more goodbyes, no more suffering.  Never, ever, ever again!

 

 

 

 

 

 

When no one understands your troubles, dear caregiver, God does!

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Does explaining a complex health situation to friends and family ever feel exhausting, frustrating, and seemingly futile to you?

I’ve seen quite a few posts on social media where this is attempted. Sharing needs publicly sometimes is a wonderful thing. Outpourings of love and sympathy truly do uplift the one suffering. Social media can be used as an avenue to share Christian love and community.

What if even one fact gets twisted or blown out of proportion?

Many of us do not want to live our lives like we are on reality TV.

Truth. When we received the initial diagnosis (first of four autoimmune disease diagnoses) of rheumatoid arthritis, half of our friends and family couldn’t even get that straight. They forgot. Not only that, some shared misinformation with others, church family included.

What they remembered was the blanket of “fibromyalgia”. Some medical gurus report that this is a label doctors throw at chronic pain when they can’t find the underlying cause.  NOT truth. That should be another post for another day.

Some of the gossip that circled was that my husband was lazy. A wimp who couldn’t fight through the pain for his family and hold down a job. Any kind of job. Even working at McDonalds would be better than not working at all.

The truth was, they didn’t have all the facts needed to make this judgement, righteous though it seemed.

What they didn’t get was the gut issues that were also a huge issue. McDonalds or any job involving food smells and lengthy time on the feet was an impossible solution.

With so many details to explain that we just started saying, “It’s complicated”. It was and is too hard to explain. The health issues have not simplified. They have become increasingly complex.

Indeed, the human body is complicated and complex.

There is nothing simple, nothing “cut-and-dried” about it.

Truthfully, as the primary caregiver, I have struggled at times with my own levels of compassion and understanding for this complex individual that even I cannot fully understand!

I’m the only one, however, who has the both the tree and the forest view. Even the doctors have not seen and walked in my husband’s daily shoes.

I’m the closest family member who has seen the long-term unfolding of these health issues as well as the close-up daily impact of these problems. Of all people on the earth, I need to be the most compassionate and understanding.

When friends have complained to me about their selfish or foolish “normal” husbands,  I’ve wanted to say, “Don’t you get it? You are so blessed. You have someone who at least pays the bills and tries to take care of you, however imperfectly.”

However, I was wrong. Her tears matter to Jesus, too!

Caring about the problems any Christian sister faces with her marriage are just as real and important as the problems I face. The huge differences in our situations should not hold back our mutual love and concern.

Caring deeply for one another in Christ’s love is a two-way street.

It’s a life-giving road that God requires His true disciples to walk down. There is no escaping the repeated commands of Christ to love one another. Tender compassion for one another is a sign — a mark of a true believer. NO matter if we don’t and can’t completely understand another’s situation, we should always err on the side of grace.

You cannot give this type of compassion if you’ve never seen or received it.

I have a close family member who seems almost utterly incapable of giving or receiving gracious love. It’s caused a great deal of family trauma. Even though this person “preaches” the gospel, it’s hard to judge if they’ve ever fully grasped the good news for themselves.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us,

in that while we were yet sinners,

Christ died for us. ” Romans 5:8

Understanding that God loves us perfectly in Christ through no goodness or deserving of our own and accepting this holy sin sacrifice in our place is the first step toward loving others. We cannot truly love without His love.

Where do you turn when you feel utterly without human love and understanding?

When you feel alone and afraid — whom do you run to?

I’ve had this experience lately. If I try to explain our complex health situation, I leave out some important fact or detail. Misunderstanding follows. I try to detangle that. It may or may not work. I can see how the Salem Witch Trials were started.

I’ve met a few others with extremely complex health scenarios lately. None of their doctors can figure everything out, though it seems they are trying hard. Friends and loved ones are struggling to understand.

It’s gut-wrenching. It’s frightening. It feels so crazy and lonely! No one wants to walk this road. Yet, somehow, we are called to walk in community together. How?

Remember the LORD Your Maker! The One who made and fashioned you understands you completely.

“You know me completely.

My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in secret,

and intricately put together in the lowest parts of the earth.

Your eyes saw me unformed,

yet in Your book all my days were written,

before any of them came into being.” Psalm 139: 14-16

This includes your loved one whose body is totally out of whack! He or she is seen, known, and cared for by their Maker.

If we don’t believe this, how pro-life are we?

The fall of man and the curse of sin is the first explanation that we can reach for when we just cannot understand what is going on!

” We know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now. Not only that, but we also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan within ourselves while eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.” Romans 8:22-23

It makes sense. This world is not evolving to greater goodness and wholeness. In fact, the brokenness becomes more clear and evident each day we wake up and turn on the news.

Walk the halls of any hospital for days, like I did this past week, and you will see incredible human brokenness on every hand. We try to buff and polish it. We try to hide the pain and suffering, just like we do with death in our culture.

Death and suffering can only be hidden for so long. These enemies are reality. They are ugly.

I heard a top oncologist who has practiced for many years at the renowned John Hopkins Hospital speak at a cancer fundraiser a few short years ago. He blatantly said that our treatments for many types of cancer are still dismally ineffective. There is still so much even the best doctors do not understand about treating their patients.

This is also true of many, many chronic health conditions and genetic defects.

There is One whose understanding and compassion cannot fail.

His redemptive plan is right on track. His kingdom will come, His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

This I call to mind, and therefore I have hopeIt is of the LORD'S meriesthat we aer not consumed;His compassions do not fail.They are new every morning;great is Your faithfulness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How to scoop the p**p from your mind

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Psalm 40 trashed me this week. I almost had to pull off the road and just let the waves of sorrow and hope roll past.

“I waited patiently for the LORD, and He turned to me, and heard my cry.

He brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set me feet on a rock, and established my steps…”

I’m waiting for you, LORD, and you haven’t forgotten me in this horrible pit. It stinks down here.

I think it prepared me for a conversation with my daughter. She was angry and hurt.  She added to the morning snarkiness. It was a lovely drive to church. Hmmm….

People in pain are sometimes a pain to be around. I’m not going to lie to ya. Very few of us are “heroic” all the time, right?

It actually takes a lot more grace to be kind and selfless when you’re chronically ill. Family always sees the “poopy” side of each other any day. Add pain and chronic illness. It’s a recipe for lots of poopy days.

So I took a long walk with my daughter to help us scoop out some poop.

First scoop: God is good. Satan is bad. Don’t get the two mixed up! 

Then I read about the tragic death of a 17 year old on her way to a missions trip. The “blame God game” was alive and well in the comments section. Venom dripped out of so many tongues that I clicked off pretty quickly.

Second scoop: God owes us a happy life full of wine and roses! NOT!

Instead, remember what He has given us. We are forever in His debt. His love and forgiveness through His own beloved Son! His mercies and forgiveness are beyond measure to those who believe. This life’s pain is a temporary drop in the bucket compared to eternal life.

It’s unbearably excruciating at times. It feels like it will last forever. But the pain is so temporary. Paul calls it “light affliction”!

Third scoop: God has forgotten about me down in this miserable pit of my current circumstance! 

No, He listens to you, just like he listened to David. He thinks of us with thoughts at cannot be numbered.

“O, Lord, my God, You have done many wonderful works, and your thoughts toward us cannot be compared; if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.”

Almighty Creator God thinks about me. How can that be?

Dear caregiving wife, if you’re at all like me, it’s easy to let our minds fill up with poop! It’s up to us to keep shoveling it out and to spend time with others who will uplift us in prayer, promises, and praise! Sometimes we need to hand our kid a shovel and gently help them scoop, too. 

This link below is my loving shovel for you. I was so blessed by this article.

http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/six-words-to-say-through-tears 

What helps you keep from being sucked under in that miry pit? Hand me a shovel, too, please! 

Not forsaken…

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It’s been a “community of the broken” week for me.

In fact, I’ve seen two of my clients this week sick and uncertain as to their futures. One is awaiting surgery to clear carotid artery.

Another older lady is ill in the hospital with no family in town to help out. She’s facing possible rehab.

Then my husband has told me every single day how bad the pain levels are. He’s  barely left the bed.

Finally, another friend shared her heart. Her husband is in a very dark place right now. Tragic loss hit their family almost two years ago. He is not a believer.

 How much sadness, pain, and hurt can one heart bear? Mine just plain aches.  Oh, Jesus, Wonderful Counselor, help! Oh, Spirit, be my Comforter! Father of mercies, send Your mercies.

Today I sat in a very small church group. Less than thirty of us learned about a community of 4 million that occupy a shanty town in east Africa.

Real people live there. Poverty, violence, and disease are rampant.

Forgotten by major relief organizations,

unloved by the evangelical community around them,

unaided by their government–

they are seemingly without hope in this life.

Yet http//:DiscipleSupport.org brings Jesus to these forgotten sufferers every single week. You need to look them up. Give if you can. Pray.

If I had not been crushed by my share of heartache, my ears would not have been connected with my heart. God knows. I believe I will pray for these forgotten ones for the rest of my earthly days.

I was also reminded of each of you lovely, behind-the-scenes caregivers. You pour out your energies daily. Your struggles with overload, financial strain, and watching someone you love suffer are often invisible to others. 

Christian caregiver, you are not invisible to God!

You bring Jesus’ love and light to your family when the day seems darkest.

Loving one another is loving Him.

After loving God with all your heart, soul, and mind, this is the second greatest command! 

Matthew 25

39When did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?’

40And the King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’

Hell is being forever forgotten. Forsaken. Cut off forever from God’s mercy.

41Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

Dark lonely days right now? In Christ you are never forsaken.

 “Let your manner of life be without covetousness, being satisfied with the present; for He Himself has said: “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

One faith-stretching step at a time…

One step at a time

I frequently get asked by folks, “How do you handle all of this?”

This, referring to serious chronic illness, child-rearing, and working full-time.

While I’m not always “handling” things the way I should, I do know THIS is a marathon. It’s not a sprint. We’re almost fourteen years into this chronic illness journey.

Today my husband candidly informed me that he was lying in bed contemplating whether cutting off his legs or smashing them with a sledgehammer would be less painful. Truth, ladies, just bein’ real.

Pain meds aren’t working. We’re in a snarled mess with our insurance. Someone keyed in his birthdate wrong in January.

Everything that has to be reauthorized, including his anti-inflammatory biologic drugs, has been on hold for the past few weeks. No cancer treatments for three weeks, either. I’m biting back sarcastic words as I write this.

It’s a full-time job just trying to get the insurance company to get its act together. Who has time for that? These are soul-trying days.

I’ve been praying. A Lord’s Day series on the Holy Spirit has been just the ticket. What I need right now is more ability to “handle things”.

Like yesterday when my daughter  angrily yelled, “Honk the horn, Mom!” She had just seen a driver dangerously cut me off. I muttered something about an idiot, and then apologized.

“How can you say that, Mom?” she asked. “They were being idiots.”

Well, yes, but I need to be kind. To do this, I need a power outside of myself. I’m NOT big enough, strong enough by myself.

So this morning in my brain fog and through my tears I prayed. I asked for the Holy Spirit to be my Teacher and Guide through the preached Word today. I’m definitely reaching out to all three persons of the Holy Trinity in a new way.

Hello, sermon! Can anyone quote Phillipians 3:1 for me without looking it up?

I really had to smile when I saw the text. It was like God was pointing His finger directly at me. In intense, amazing love, of course. REJOICE!

I will be even more candid, ladies.  I love this senior saint who fills the pulpit temporarily. But sometimes his sermons are as scattered and his voice as dry as breadcrumbs tossed to the birds. NOT TODAY!

He did forget to mention what I find so dear about this book of Phillipians. Paul was writing from prison. He was writing about rejoicing. He was cut off from family and friends, suffering cold and hunger, and he was talking about rejoicing!

So today. Today, I was able to come home heart full to the brim with truth to digest. Then I cooked a healthy meal for us to digest.

Thankfully, the hubby was able to limp downstairs and join us. Next, I tried to rest my body, but ended up crawling into bed next to him, taking his hand and talking to him. So much encouragement needed!

What would our compassionate Lord do? He would remind us of WHO He is.  We talked. Remember when?

In spite of the load of troubles we’ve experienced, God has watched over us and provided for us. He has shown us the Light of His love in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Both of us heard the truth of God’s Word in some form as we were growing up — myself with Christian parents, him with a Christian aunt. That’s a huge mercy!

With a hugely stressful childhood and a body with serious issues NO one would ever choose, my husband’s past is not pretty. Mine has some ugly streaks, too. That’s what sin and selfishness does. Like the curse on the fairy-tale Beast, original sin haunts us all.

Our present isn’t very pretty, either. I gave you a brief snippet and left out a lot of details for sure. However, there’s grace evident in our lives. Love that covers a multitude of sins. Forgiveness. Mercy. Provisions.

Facing what we do, it would be only human to completely “lose it”.

In fact, we’ve come close at times. Dangled over the precipice of sanity. Pain pushes the envelope.

Does my life really matter? Only Jesus’s love makes it matter! Chosen of God, accepted in the Beloved, redeemed!

The evidence is there: faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

While we’re wrestling with pain and serious physical anomalies, faith keeps hope alive. The struggle builds those faith muscles.

In fact, today our conversation turned to the past. My husband admitted if he had known twenty years ago he would have to face what he is facing today, his faith might have been shipwrecked.

My mini-miracle of the day is that we spent time together rejoicing in how God’s carried us.

On a pain-filled day when my husband couldn’t go to church, that’s real. That’s the work of the Spirit. Ask, and you shall receive.

We talked about our fears for the future, too. I’m reminded of a wonderful little quote from the late Elizabeth Elliot, missionary wife of the martyrd Jim Elliot and author of many encouraging books.  She had three husbands die, if I am remembering correctly.  On the topic of handling grief and hard things she was carried forward by this among many truths.

“Do the next thing.”

There it is. One faith step at a time, you reach for your next duty.

Ask for strength. The same Spirit that enabled Jesus to triumph in the forty day wilderness temptation dwells in every believer.

We can even rejoice, knowing that Jesus suffered the same temptations and trials. He was faithful. Only through His Spirit can we be faithful, too. I’m ashamed to say I’ve reached for the sword of the Spirit far too little. Lesson learned, I humbly hope and pray.

How about you? Do you remember to ask for the Spirit’s help in your unique problems? Do you find ways to rejoice? Let’s ask together this week, okay?