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!
Now, more than ever, I am looking forward to the Day when time is no longer. One day is with the LORD as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
My sis-in-love battled stage 4 breast cancer for over four years with faith, hope, and love. Her presence in this life was a joy to all who knew her. People streamed into Hopkins at an exhausting pace to see her one more time during her last five days of life. At 33 she leaves behind her husband and two children aged 7 and under.
I’ ve been a double caregiver for these years. It is truly more blessed to give than to receive. I will share more later, but I wanted to let you know, dear sisters, that you are not forgotten. More enCOURAGEment to come. Please pray for our hearts to learn wisdom from our sorrow. To be more like Jesus — that is what Jess would want for those she left behind.
Last week I introduced you to Mimosa. Would you like to hear more of her courage? Faith? Hope?
Why listen to such a dreary tale of woe from a century ago? Well, the Apostle Paul speaks of the saints being encouraged by the faith and love of other saints. Mimosa only heard a few minutes of Bible truth in her entire life. She could not read. She had no Christian friends in her village. So it was a huge step when Mimosa left two of her sons to be encouraged and educated at Dohnavur Christian Fellowship.
Upon arriving home, she was so disgraced in the sight of her village that her husband, worthless as he was, also ignored her. Gathering her courage and her two youngest sons, she decided to return and live at Dohnavur. Why? She was so hungry for God’s Word! She wanted to learn to read it for herself.
Mimosa had an amazing, Christlike heart of love to win her husband. She once again went home to him.
Did he deserve it? Nope. Do any of us deserve His love? Be inspired. Be encouraged. You can love your husband like Christ through His power.
Many years went by, and Mimosa’s husband and four sons all came to faith. Yes! Joy unspeakable and worth all of the pain and suffering…
Who can you encourage and inspire along the way? You and I might feel like nobodies in God’s kingdom. Like Mimosa, we may suffer alone in the hidden places. A hundred years later, someone stumbling along in pain and heartache may be encouraged to keep following Christ by your story and mine.
I, for one, can’t wait to someday meet ladies like Mimosa and Amy, her faithful praying friend. Let’s make the rest of our stories — our “blink and you miss it” lives — worth the read.
Mimosa — the name of a lovely flowering tree — also is the name of a lady of courage. Let me tell you her true story.
Mimosa and I became friends through the pages of a book written by Amy Carmichael in the 1920’s. I’ll have to introduce you to Amy properly on another day. Both lived in India a hundred years ago.
Right now as I write this, there are other ladies living in refugee camps. Life is sparse. A hundred years ago and now? Faith has cost them all they own.
The gospel, the Good News! All Mimosa had was a few moments introduction to God as the living, loving God of all gods, the one Who made her and all things. She was visiting the Dohnavur Fellowship where her sister Star lived. Then her Hindu father snatched her away, refusing her pleas to hear more.
Though the “stick danced” for Mimosa, a little flame of understanding lit her heart. She firmly refused to smear ashes on her forehead for Siva, the family’s god of choice. She had a heart of love for the loving Father God she knew almost nothing about.
Fast forward to an arranged marriage, an unscrupulous family member who weaseled her dowry away from her, and a husband whose caste did not encourage him to work. Three babies later and no money, Mimosa toiled in the fields to keep food on the table. She prayed regularly in her little pantry, spreading out her sari to God.
With no Bible, no church, and no Christian fellowship, Mimosa clung to the few things she had learned about God as a child. Her neighbors and her family mocked her faith. But the worst was still to come.
Her husband was bit by a poisonous snake and went blind and mad. She had no one to watch her babies while she worked in the fields, and then her infant son became very ill. While her husband was bedridden and her little son lay dying, her roof caved in during monsoon rains, and she had to find temporary shelter for her family.
“I am not offended with you,” Mimosa told God. Her infant son had died. The village blamed her for his death as she refused to buy a charm for his healing. More cruel mocking in her hour of pain…
Her husband regained his sight and sanity but had no urge to better his family. Often he lived with relatives leaving Mimosa to fend for herself. Mimosa bore two more sons.The main trouble was keeping the rice and curried vegetables on the table. One night she prayed for food and it seemed no answer was coming. She did not want to dishonor God in her unbelieving village by asking for help.
A knock at the door around midnight — there stood the one kind relative she had. She lit the lamp, for he had been unable to sleep until he brought over rice and curried vegetables. Mimosa and her boys feasted at midnight.
No Bible studies, no pat on the back, no words of encouragement. She could not read nor write. Her sister Star did not know how to reach her.
And then her oldest boy smeared Siva’s ashes on his forehead so that he might work at a Hindu shop.
Her heart broke. She wanted her boys to know the one true God. Yet how could she teach them?
At Dohnavur her sister Star was praying for Mimosa. Never giving up hope of seeing her and her boys.
Once again Mimosa remembered Dohnavur, prayed, sold her last dowry items, and set out to make sure her sons had the chance to really learn about God. The village was in an uproar. She would be breaking caste. Her husband and the relatives he lived with opposed her. Yet she still set out with her boys on foot. Three days later they arrived.
Spreading out her sari to God and not smearing ashes to Siva on her forehead finally brought Mimosa and her sons to a place of truth, comfort, and safety. One word from God’s Word had been a lamp to her feet all those years.
Sisters, keep praying in hope. Whatever hardships you are facing, hope in God’s love and Word.