Well, it happened! I lost today’s post. It was on Word Press, and then it wasn’t.
I really wanted to share this encouraging post by Scott Sauls. I read it three times this week.
I hope the link works and this is a blessing for you.
Let me know if you can open the link, okay? I really hope this encourages you despite my snafu.
My daughter has always asked a thousand questions.
She is at that age now where she hones in on adult conversations and, like a tween detective, wants to know more details. Typical of a parent-child relationship, right?
So it stands to reason that we ask questions of God about life. About our life. After all we are His children by adoption, His creation.
He has written about His plan, His love, His will, and His ways for us to know many of the answers to many of our questions in His book, the Bible.
There are still many mysteries of infinity that our finite minds won’t grasp.
But there are always some answers you and I get that we don’t like. Like my daughter, I can hear the answer and go off in an angry huff. Foot stomp added for emphasis!
Like the question I asked this week echoed by a Christian friend in her very difficult challenges — WHY? Why does one person, one family get such a heap of chronic suffering? When does it just end?
Do you hear the familiar theme through the ages? Why? Why suffering?
Christ himself speaks to this issue, “In the world you will have tribulations; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33. Notice the lack of a “why” explanation.
Jesus Christ does not ignore the suffering. He confronted it purposefully. In fact, he led a life of compassion, healing, caring for the sick and needy.
There are basic reasons that suffering exists and that our world is in a huge mess. Satan is to blame. The sin of man brought unfathomable ruin.
The sin-curse exists in every corner of the globe. There is no culture untouched. No life is untainted. Romans 3 leaves no question about that fact.
Christ came to relieve our ultimate suffering, the soul suffering due to our ugly sins. The hate, selfishness, envy, pride, bitterness, slander, theft, and the list goes on…
I have thought about His wounds a lot lately. Why would He would so love the world and leave His place of perfection to suffer?
Why would He be willing to feel pain, sickness, sorrow? Why would He talk with the “scum” and touch the untouchables?
NO other god in the history of the world would do such a thing.
By His stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53. That is the ultimate healing. He freely offers it at the price of His own life laid down for guilty sinners.
We crave earthly healing. Earthly relief. I know I do, at least.
And we are instructed to pray for it. “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Prayed with a heart that kneels before an almighty God, this is one of the most powerful statements of faith and longing.
We also groan, like creation, waiting for the ultimate redemption from our suffering.
Does this mean those that suffer the most have sinned the most?
One of those pressing questions, again. The Book of Job informs us otherwise. In fact, those that insisted Job’s suffering was due to his sin were soundly rebuked by God himself.
But we never get a full answer to WHY the suffering. Instead, God reminds Job (and through him, all of us) of His mighty power and wisdom. His infinity. Our finiteness.
We are reminded that as all have sinned, those who believe receive grace — free, undeserved favor from God.
Why don’t we question this, too? Why me? Why have I been so blessed to know and believe Your love and grace to me?
This was the whisper in my ear this week when I was thinking, Enough already! God sent a friend who also was overwhelmed by suffering. Sometimes that human voice that says, I know how you feel, is really the voice of God to our ears.
My headline today makes me swallow back the tears again.
It’s what I said more than once to my sweet sis who went to heaven this summer.
Her fight is over. She went out in faith and love. My fight and yours — well, that is very much ongoing.
The fight theme is very much a thread that runs from the beginning to the end of the Bible. But I despise war! I hate a family feud. Raised voices and angry tones make me sick inside. I’m not even fond of cutting jokes and sarcasm just to be sarcastic.
“That old serpent, the Devil” doesn’t give us much choice. He walks around on a search and destroy mission. I could feel his slimey breath this week. The horror of a yet another diagnosis. Answers we didn’t want. A doctor who delivered the news in such a callous, crass, self-serving way that I called her the “b” word. Something I have never called another human being.
You know when Satan is seeking to destroy your faith. He uses people — those who are His willing instruments. Yes, like Hitler’s cronies, or those who fund and work for Planned Parenthood, those instruments seek to convince you that their way is the ONLY and BEST option. Whatever the abominable system calls for is right. It must be. Some group of wealthy doctors, philosophers, and politicians says so.
GOD calls us to fight for our covenant marriages, for our children, for whatever is true and lovely and right! Like a friend of mine who found out she is carrying a Down’s baby — NO! NO way, your other “option” is not even an option! I don’t want to fall prey to Satan’s mind games.
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
RESIST him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” I Peter 5:8-9
We have to keep our weary heads in the game, dear sisters. Be sober, clearheaded, truth-filled thinking. Be vigilant, always watching our backs with our weapons handy. Gotta keep those dukes up.
I felt so tired and alone, trying to be strong for both of us with the forked tongue of the Serpent right there in front of me. My husband was feeling so weak, and sick, and tired of being sick and tired.
What’s a body to do? We prayed. We cried a lot. We’re not done doing either.
I can’t. I can’t do this alone. Neither can you.
“God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you in due time.
Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” I Peter 5:5-7
Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, will not leave us to fight alone.
Jesus, who bore our griefs and carried our sorrows, understands the deepest agony of our earthly sorrows.
Jesus, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, is interceding for us in glory.
Jesus, that great shepherd of His sheep, is preparing a place of greatest peace and beauty for us when this earthly fight is done.
Keep fighting on your knees, dear one. Keep your dukes up.
Sometimes the well just runs dry. Like me missing my last posting goal, which is every Lord’s Day.
I have not yet learned how to automate this encouragement mission. You and I are down in the trenches together. We have a set of unique challenges as caregiving wives.
I really want to be there for you. I want us to bear our burdens together.
So, I was refilling my own well last weekend.
When you are constantly pouring out, you realize you need to be refilled or else. Emotions take charge. You grow frazzled with those you love. Worse, you either run on auto-pilot, living life without meaning, or you get zonked. Too. Weary. To. Take. One. More. Step.
No! I did not have time or money for some super wonderful Bible conference.
I did not get away to some wonderful, restful ladies retreat. I did not get a spa treatment. But, I did take spend time with special people.
1.) Talk with a dear friend in person if at all possible.
Seriously! You need to cry on someone else’s shoulder sometimes. Our husbands can be extremely needy or distant, depending on their current health and mental struggles. We need community and friendship!
A VERY wise elderly Christian friend of mine told me you only get a few true-blue trusted friends in a lifetime. As sisters in Christ, we ought to have more than a few.
But even Christians gossip.
Don’t give us the benefit of the doubt.
And they surely don’t “get” our husband situation.
I don’t say this to be mean or bitter. Truth hurts, though. It is seriously hard to find a true Christian friend you can trust with your secrets and not feel judged, in the wrong sense of that word.
Maybe it is because you have to find a friend mature enough to handle suffering. A lady who is wise and discreet is a treasure.
Add warm and caring to that…Someone who will not hold you at arm’s length because all is not perfect in your life. I hope I can be that kind of friend. We all need that friend! Do you have one or a few?
2.) Soak your soul in the WORD. I listened to sermons and Scripture music. His Word is a lamp that lights up the dark.
This should have been number one on the list. We need God’s Word like plants need water. Although I visited another church, I still spent His day in His house.
It was so worth it! The dark places come to light under the light of the Word. There healing begins. God’s truth tells us what’s wrong, what’s right, and how to make what is wrong right. To stay healthy, gotta keep growing!
3.) Count your blessings. It sounds trite. It is so true. You get joy from drawing water out of the well of salvation.
I could be living in darkness without Jesus.
How does anyone handle chronic illness, loss of a loved one, severe financial strain, and caregiving joyfully without the hope of new life in Christ?
His redeeming love is my greatest blessing! “If anyone be in Christ, he (or she) is a new creation.”
My soul sings when I take time to meditate on His love, power, and goodness.
If you are in a dry and dark place, reach for His Word, His love, and the love of His people.
Picture me on my hands and knees scrubbing toilets. Confession — I’ve scrubbed more than a dozen this week!
Yes, this is part of how I make my living, scrubbing other’s toilets. I have a dream to make the written word my living one of these days. To part ways with the survival mode I’ve been in for so long.
Yet Jesus himself took up a scrub rag and a basin of water. He washed the dirty, dusty feet of his disciples — all twelve of them. No one else had signed up for the job. Such humility He calls all his true disciples to live out.
Somehow this toilet scrubbing is also making a path through grief for me. I can help my brother keep a sense of normal tidiness. His wife loved a clean house, even with two littles constantly creating messes. Doing this one small thing brings her nearer to me. (I can just hear her saying tongue-in-cheek, Wow! I’m so flattered that my toilets remind you of ME! I know, sis. My bad.)
If you’re a fan of Elisabeth Elliot (wife of martyred Jim Elliott, missionary), then you know she buried three husbands. She was well acquainted with grief.
“Do the next thing.” This was her motto. Meeting the routine needs helps you survive life on the ash heap of grief. Surely Job and his friends at least ate together.
The meals my friends have brought to me have made life bearable this week. My brother’s church, family, and friends are feeding him. In turn, we are able to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving with life.
Grief is a regular part of caregiving. My husband mourns the loss of function. I miss the adventurous person I married, now barely able to leave the house unless well-fortified with extra pain meds. A routine list of the “next things” to do helps us cut through the fog of pain. When we have had help with the challenging tasks, the encouragement is tangible.
Food, a small list of tasks to accomplish, the company of friends, and help checking off the list — these are a few ways to truly encourage your chronically ill friend.
Like Jesus taught, the dirty feet always need washing, but it takes eyes of humility to see and meet those needs. Dear caregiving sister, I pray you will have help on your journey today.
photo credit: Danielkordan.com
At least we got to say goodbye. The final goodbye some do not get. So hard. So sweet in the sense of, I’ll see you again, dear lover of Jesus….Dear sister-in-love, loving wife to my brother, joyful momma to my niece and nephew.
Like Job now, we sit in our dust heaps and seek healing for our wounds. So very small and such broken people we are! And, once again, nothing has changed since Job’s millennia. A few offer real comfort.
Others pass by or avoid our ash heap and say nothing. A common problem faced by those with chronic illness — lonely on their ash heaps, or worse, fending off word-arrows of accusations. Who really wants to visit the cancer wards? Or the sickbed?
The words leap off the pages of Job like they were written only yesterday.
“He alone has spread out the heavens and marches on the waves of the sea. HE made all the stars — the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the southern sky. He does great things too marvelous to understand. He performs countless miracles…if He snatches someone in death, who can stop Him? Who dares to ask, What are you doing?” Job 9:8-10, 12
When you know someone you love is dying, the whole world comes alive in vibrant technicolor. You can almost taste the moments.
The sunset on July 26 was beyond amazing here. I could see the edges of His majesty, and almost peer through the clouds to ask, Please don’t let her suffer anymore. Please take her home. She cannot even communicate to us anymore if she needs more pain meds.
Some days your chronically ill friend or spouse may say these words. Please just take me home, God. Life hangs by threads of pain. And we dare to ask, What are you doing?
Such a question God never answers. He speaks to Job on his ash heap. He tells him to look up. To look around. To recall the day of creation.
Some answers are so vast that our finite minds cannot hold the infinite realities.
Like a pebble tossed into a vast, still lake, my sister’s life touched hundreds of people with the ripples of her life, breast cancer journey, and faithful death trusting His plan. Your life matters! Who knows how your story may inspire and encourage another?
We cannot possibly understand how our light ( but very painful and terrible in the moment) afflictions are working an eternal weight of glory, only for those who are lovers of Jesus, God’s only beloved Son. Fellow ash-heap sitters, sit, mourn, and share my comfort. Look at that sky and wonder!