3 Kinds of Suffering

August 25, 2021 (Post #62)

(From Journal #9:  April 2, 2007)

I listened to a sermon today that, quite frankly, didn’t fully align with my spirit.  It was about suffering.  Lord, none of us will ever truly understand how much You suffered for our sins, and I cannot begin to express my gratefulness for what You did on the Cross.  Any suffering we experience in this world is not worthy to be measured.

Yet, I’m conflicted about some parts of the message.  I think there’s a difference between suffering for the glory and purposes of the Kingdom vs. suffering at the hands of the enemy or from our own bad choices.  Some people assume everything that happens to us must be Your will.  You are sovereign and in Your sovereignty, You gave us free will.  Honestly, Lord, this seems like a “cop-out” for not accepting responsibility for the consequences of our sin and bad decisions, or for not using the authority Jesus has given to His children to stand against the enemy.  This seems to make it easy to just blame You for everything, which doesn’t require much faith, fight or personal accountability.  This is how I see the “categories” of suffering and if I’m wrong, please help me to discern the error of my thinking.

Kingdom Suffering:  You told us that in this world we will have trials, tribulation and persecution.  We live in a fallen world full of evil and the people of God are a target.  Christians all over the world are persecuted, even to death.  Just by living out our faith and standing for Jesus, suffering does happen.  It doesn’t mean we did anything wrong.  We glorify You by how we walk through adversity standing on Your Word. 

Matthew 5:10-11:  “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.

John 15:20   “…..If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you…”

2 Timothy 3:12:  Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

Demonic Suffering:  You tell us in John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy” the people of God and we can suffer terribly if we are not aware of his attacks and fight against him.  He attacks us with fear, sickness, anxiety, deception, and danger. This is why You tell us to put on the Armor of God, be alert, and to stand against this kind of suffering.  You are always there to help us, but You told us to resist, stand, and fight.  I don’t think You “gave” me cancer.  Sickness is part of this fallen world. With every stripe You bore, You healed us. I didn’t knowingly do anything that could cause non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.  It’s the enemy whose plan is to kill us.  But You take the things the enemy means for harm and use it for good.  As I fight this disease, my prayer is that I glorify You in the battle, and that I’m a good witness of Your healing, grace, mercy, and faithfulness.

1 Peter 5:8:  Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Ephesians 6::11-12:  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

James 4:7:  Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

People-Induced Suffering:  So much suffering in this world is a direct consequence of sin and bad choices, either made by ourselves, or from others whose decisions impact our lives in devastating ways.  People have addictions and bad habits that cause physical and emotional suffering.  People make sinful decisions that not only destroy their lives but cause suffering to their family and loved ones as well.  It is never Your will for us to sin and make bad choices!  You are merciful and willing to offer forgiveness if we repent, but that doesn’t always mean the consequences go away.  But You are there to walk us through if we seek You with all our heart.  

Galatians 6:7-8:  Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.

James 1:5:  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

Deuteronomy 30:19:  This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live…

1 John 1:9:  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

A Work in Progress

October 24, 2020   (Post #53)

(From Journal #6:  July 25, 2006)

I saw the cardiologist about the heart monitor and results are normal!  Praise You for the good report!  

I had a humbling experience while at the hospital.   While in the waiting room an elderly gentleman on crutches came in.  He seemed very distressed and was muttering to himself.  I looked at him a couple of times and smiled.  I heard him utter “Jesus” and I knew he was praying.  I began to feel I should go and offer to pray with him, but I didn’t want to embarrass him (or was it me?) in front of the people in the room.  I really wanted privacy and hoping for more people to leave.

Before that could happen, an attendant with a wheelchair came for him.  I followed him to the elevator because I couldn’t let him leave without telling him that my spirit felt I was to pray for him.  He said for me do it and I trust that You gave me the right words to pray.  So, I wound up praying in the middle of the hallway, in front of the elevator, in front of many more people than who were in the waiting room…

That precious man needed a touch of love and I pray he felt Your love through me.  Help me to grow in my discernment about others and to know when and how to be encouraging as Your Spirit leads me.  Lord, forgive me for not praying with him immediately when I felt the Holy Spirit leading me.  But You did show me that I can be bold enough to pray whenever, wherever, and with whomever You tell me.

This is still hard for me, just like with recently approaching my neighbor Libby.  I did send her a card letting her know how much I enjoyed our time and that I’m praying for her.  Thank You for the privilege of being Your servant to others.  I am definitely a work in progress.

Luke 6:46:  “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do the things which I say?”

Psalm 40:8:  I desire to do Your will, my God; Your law is within my heart.

James 5:16:  …and pray for one another, that you may be healed.  The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

John 13:34-35:  “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Make the First Move

October 9, 2020  (Post #52)

(From Journal #6:  June 12, 2006)

Lord, I have so much to thank You for!  My recent CT scan was so good!  The lymph nodes have shrunk to 1/2 the size, my lungs are clear, and no other suspicious places showing!  And, I saw a cardiologist who did a new kind of test on me that shows if there is any soft or hard plaque in my arteries and it was perfect!  So even with high cholesterol numbers, my arteries are clear.  He’s having me wear a monitor for 30 days.  If there’s anything to be discovered, shine Your light on it, Lord.

For several days, I’ve had a thought “pop into my head” that I’m to ask the next door neighbor Libby to go to the Home Show with me.  The woman isn’t that friendly and barely speaks to me, but a week or so ago she caught me outside and did chat a bit; she even asked about my art.  Anyway, I’ve felt the Holy Spirit speaking to me to ask her to do something.  Lord, You know how much I hate doing these things… that’s why You’re after me, huh?  

I confess that I didn’t want to go, but I called her, hoping she’d say no.  But she didn’t.  The only available day of the Home Show for her was Sunday and I didn’t want to spend my Sunday afternoon with her.  I told her I’d call her after church to see if she was still up for it, and she said she’d still like to go.  Well, You sure taught me a lesson.

We made some small talk and I finally asked if she had kids or grandkids.  She began to tell me how she hasn’t spoken to her daughter in 4 years!  She was telling me this as we were leaving the Home Show and I felt You telling me to go to Sonic and keep talking.  I discovered why You had me do this.  We sat in the car with our drinks and she began to open up about her life, her husband’s health, etc.  She’s scared and lonely.  I told her YOU had me call her and that You love her a lot.

I’ve been painfully aware of how these mission trips to far off places aren’t for me. I’ve always admired those willing to go to dangerous places to share the Gospel.  Yet all You did was ask me to go next door and I whined and complained, after church!  It wasn’t China or Africa – it was next door.  Forgive me for my selfish attitude and poor witness. I pray the seed planted in Libby will be watered with Your love and Word.  I trust You will show me how and what to do concerning her in the future.  I am humbled to be used to reach out to her.

There’s an Order to the Armor

April 19, 2020   (Post #36)

(From Journal #3:  October 31, 2005)

As Christians, we so often talk about “putting on the armor of God” but You showed me that the armor has an order to it.  First, there must be truth.  Then we need righteousness, which cannot exist without truth.  And our feet cannot support truth or righteousness without the readiness that only comes from the gospel of peace.  If truth, righteousness and peace aren’t in place, I cannot effectively raise the shield of faith or wield the sword of the Spirit.

I’ve been trying to use my sword and shield without having the foundation of my armor in peace.  Without my belt of truth, I don’t even see the true enemy.  Without righteousness, I cannot operate in obedience and love.  Without my feet ready to stand firm on the gospel of peace, I will only have strife, fear and unbelief.  How could I possibly have a sword that is sharp and effective without faith, or a shield of faith without my body armor?

The belt, breastplate and shoes are body armor.  The shield and the sword are weapons of war.  The helmet of salvation protects our minds as we boldly stand in the authority of Jesus and on His Word.  I must be sure to “cover” and protect my body with truth, righteousness, and peace before I take my weapons into battle.

Ephesians 6:10-18: Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—

The Gift that Hurts

April 5, 2020  (Post #34)

(From Journal #3:  September 19, 2005)

I recently bought a very pretty necklace with matching earrings.  While they were costume jewelry, they were very nice and expensive and I couldn’t wait to wear them. So, I wore them to church and had several compliments.  But when a wonderful woman named Kay complimented the jewelry, I heard in my spirit, “Give them to her.”  My immediate reaction was, “Excuse me?  I just bought them!  Surely, I misunderstood You?”  

All week, that thought of “Give them to her” kept popping into my head, so I knew it was the Holy Spirit convicting me.  So, yesterday I wrapped them up and took them to church and gave them to her.  I confess my selfishness that I really liked them and wanted to keep them.  But I am so glad I obeyed You.  Because at the moment I did give them to her, I felt my heart change.  I was glad and really wanted her to have them.  I pray they bless her and bring her joy.

Thank You for blessing me by showing me how to give something I really wanted to keep.  I’m good at giving things I no longer need or want – but giving something new that I wanted to keep stretched me.  You’ve shown me that “painless” giving from abundance, or giving something not really valuable to me is different from sacrificial giving. Both can be a blessing to the receiver.  But if we learn to truly give from the heart, especially when it hurts, we’ll be blessed and never have a “heart” problem giving from abundance.  It may have been a test, Lord?  I think I passed!?!  

The full moon has been incredible the past two nights; Your light shines always.  Thank You so much for shining on me and working on my selfish heart.

Luke 21:1-4:  As Jesus looked up, He saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” He said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

1 Chronicles 21:24:  Then King David said to Ornan, “No, but I will surely buy it for the full price, for I will not take what is yours for the LORD, nor offer burnt offerings with that which costs me nothing.”

Genesis 4:2-5:  …Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering He did not look with favor…