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.

Wrestling the Serpent!

March 3, 2021   (Post #60)

(From Journal #8:  February 27, 2007)

I had a dream last night that in turn called to my remembrance an encounter I had with a snake years ago that is a testament to this dream…

In the dream, it seemed as if John and I were in a hotel room, and someone else was there, but I don’t know/remember who. (I’m thinking a guardian angel?)  Someone was trying to break into the room to kill us!  They had tried to kill us before and I remembered how we’d been kept safe and I was explaining it to this person and told them You would protect us, but we had to fight back and “armor up” but I knew we’d be okay, and we were! “Victory before the battle…”

My encounter with a snake was after I’d just seen the movie “The Passion of the Christ” which was released in 2004.  This happened even before I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma.  The spiritual significance of this encounter has revealed itself many times.  Snakes never announce themselves; they sneak in.  We have to be on watch and deal with them when they expose themselves.

I let the dogs out in the morning and went outside with them.  I was in my PJs and barefoot.  We had a koi pond and I went to check the skimmer.  As I had my hand in the water, I saw from my peripheral vision a snake head in the pond!  One of my bassets was drinking from the pond!  I was afraid the snake would strike my dog.  I jumped up and got long snippers that would reach and clip plants in the pond. I reached and managed to get the snake’s head in those clippers.  IMMEDIATELY, that snake came out of the water and wrapped itself around the shaft of that tool!  Freaked me out.  I was afraid to drop the tool for fear it would strike me or the dogs.

I realized I had to fight.  I began to squeeze those clippers as hard as I could on that serpent’s neck.  The problem was, I had a bad case of tennis elbow.  At that time, it was hard and painful for me to even squeeze a dish cloth. But as painful as it was, I knew I couldn’t let the serpent get away.  I thought of the movie and how Jesus ultimately crushed the serpent.  So I began to pray and kept squeezing that snake that fought me hard.  The Lord gave me strength to keep fighting.  After about 20 minutes or so, the snake finally quit fighting me; I’d killed him.  When I finally let him out of the clippers, I measured him and he was 31 inches long!  To me, that was huge.  This wasn’t just a victory against a natural snake in my pond.  This was a spiritual victory against an enemy that would come to attack my health and other areas of my life over and over.  I must always be on guard, confident that You are my protector.

Genesis 3:1:  Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made….

Psalm 91:13:  You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

2 Corinthians 2:11:   …lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.

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 6:10-11:  Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 

Revelation 20:2:  He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.

Pursue the Enemy

July 26, 2020    (Post #45)

(From Journal #4:  March 4, 2006)

This morning while reading the Bible, I saw something in Psalm 18 I hadn’t seen before:  Psalm 18:37-39:  I pursued my enemies and overtook them; I did not turn back till they were destroyed.  I crushed them so that they could not rise; they fell beneath my feet.  You armed me with strength for battle…

This so spoke to me about the recent decision I had to make about whether or not to do another round of immunotherapy for non-Hodgkins lymphoma as the doctor suggested.  He also said that because NHL is “chronic” some doctors treat initially to “suppress” the cancer and then “wait and watch.” I remember what immediately sprang up from my heart and out of my mouth:  “I’m not interested in managing cancer.  I’m getting rid of it.”  

Oh Lord, this scripture confirms to me that I am rightly pursuing my enemy cancer and I won’t stop until it’s destroyed.  I refuse to accept that the enemy somehow has “permission” to stay and attack my body under the guise of “chronic.”  The enemy is crushed and beneath my feet because it’s beneath YOUR feet and I know who I am in You!  Your Holy Spirit living inside me provides the strength and power to fight this enemy to its destruction.  

Romans 6:20:  And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

Ephesians 1:22-23:  And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

Planting in Faith

May 3, 2020  (Post #38)

(From Journal #3:  December 7, 2005)

So much happened over the past week.  While in Atlanta visiting Pam, the strange pain that’s been off/on in my right side began to hurt about 10:00 p.m. and it didn’t ease at all.  By 2:30 a.m. it had become excruciating.  I’d been praying for hours and wisdom told me to wake Pam and go to the hospital.  Appendicitis kept coming to my mind.  The ER doctor feared appendicitis too because I had an elevated white blood count, and he would not release me without a CT scan.  He said the scan didn’t give a clear view of the appendix but he felt it was okay.  Thank You, Jesus!  I’d told him about being diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma and he saw one of the lymph nodes as 2×2.5 cm?  I believe that’s even more shrinkage from my last scan!

It was about 8:00 a.m. when we got back to Pam’s and just a few minutes after, I got a call from a friend in Texas.  She said she woke up around 4:00 a.m. with me on her heart and she’d been praying for me that morning and wanted to know if I was okay?  I was in the ER at that time waiting for the CT scan!  I know You woke her to pray for me and against the attack on my body!  Bless her for her faithfulness to pray and intercede for me.  I am so grateful Lord!  

I was glad to get back home finally but fatigued and a little overwhelmed from the pain and ER experience.  As an act of faith on healing, Saturday I worked outside in the yard most of the day.  I dug up off-shoots of crepe myrtles and replanted them where I want them to grow.  I planted mums and 5 flats of pansies. I could not have done this without Your strength. 

There was something very healing about planting and expecting these things to live, grow and thrive, especially the crepe myrtles.  It’s like planting little sprouts of faith expecting them to grow deep roots and grow tall, strong, and beautiful.  I worked like a healed, energetic, pain-free, focused person and it felt like I was making a statement to the enemy that he is defeated!  Thank You for being my healer!

Luke 8:15: But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

1 Corinthians 3:7:  So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.

Ephesians 6:18:  And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Romans 8:26:  In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.


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—