How to Find Joy in Our Circumstances

Sometimes God needs to teach us certain things several times. I wrote something very similar to this in 2011, but the message still holds true for me today. I know Whose I am and the value He sees in me, but apparently, I need to keep relearning this. Every time I try to do more than I know I can handle, I’ve compromised my health—again. Praise God that He doesn’t give up on me! I decided to share this today in hopes that God will use it in your lives too.

Genuine, authentic faith must be definite and free of doubt. Not simply general in character; not a mere belief in the being, goodness, and power of God, but a faith which believes that the things which “he saith, shall come to pass.” 
—E. M. Bounds¹

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But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks.
Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?”
In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
—Job 2:10

Don’t you wonder how Job could say this after everything he went through? Does it make you shake your head and think, “yeah, right”? How could Job even think to say this after everything—and I do mean everything—was taken away from him?

Job had it all: a loving family, great wealth, a thriving business and good health. He was loved and respected by his family and the community because he was a very gentle and loving man. He indeed had it all … until suddenly it is all taken away and he is left helpless and hopeless.

Oh, did I say hopeless? Hardly.

Like many of you, I live with daily chronic pain. Among the several illnesses I endure, my most persistent “thorn in the flesh” was daily migraines. I say was because I do not get them every day because they are finally under better control from some special treatments I have been having. Although I can still tell I’m having a migraine because of blurry vision and sometimes nausea, I do not have the head pain most of the time.

Over the last 19 years I have tried many migraine medications and treatments, as well as for Fibromyalgia (FMS) and Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). Either they did not work at all for me, or the side effects were horrendous.

So many times over the years I have felt as if I was sliding through what I called wasted days—when all I was capable of doing was sleeping, resting, eating and some light household chores. I have spent lots of time praying and asking God why these things were happening to me and if they would ever end. I thought my days were wasted because I wasn’t doing anything that I deemed valuable, but in reality, God was doing a work in me that I finally understand… and hopefully will remember.

Before this time of pain and frustration, I understood how to be joyful in spite of my circumstances. However, I finally understand that God has shown me how to be joyful and thankful because of those same circumstances. In effect, God increased my faith by allowing me to travel through those tough times in order to bring me to the realization that not all bad things are bad!

God allows circumstances and situations in our lives that are sometimes very difficult to navigate, and all He wants us to do is trust that He knows what is best for us. It is all about having faith in spite of not seeing or knowing the why of it. When we cannot understand the meaning behind our suffering, we immediately want to tell God how angry and frustrated we are. I know, because I’ve been there.

Now faith is the confidence in what we hope for,
and assurance about what we do not see.
—Hebrews 11:1

Faith essentially does not make sense to our human way of thinking. I guess that’s why it’s called faith— “a belief that is not based on proof,” according to the dictionary definition.

When we pray in faith, we are saying in effect that we believe God knows what is best for us—in spite of what our circumstances appear to be and that we ultimately acknowledge what we know to be true: God knows all and we do not!

In spite of that, we want to breeze through life without experiencing any kind of pain or disappointment. We think that “if only” this or that wasn’t happening in our lives, everything would be so much easier or better. If only we had more money or more time or better health or a larger home or a different job… and the list goes on. What if the circumstances in our lives—good or bad—are there to make us stronger? What if—bear with me here—we try to change our outlook so that the “bad stuff” doesn’t seem so bad after all?

Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to. —George Seaton

Beloved, if life on earth was one big picnic would we ever yearn for heaven? Would we truly be able to appreciate Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross?

Oh, and our friend Job? In spite of all the horrible things that happened to him, “Job did not sin with his lips.” Obviously, Job was not happy that he had lost so much and did not like what God was allowing in his life, but he trusted God even as he was going through that terrible time. Oh, that we could all be as Job and exhibit such trust in our Creator!

All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen. —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Life here on earth is meant to grow our faith, to show us how to live joyfully and victoriously because of our circumstances, not merely in spite of them. How about if we try to keep foremost in our minds that what we are going through is for our good and God’s glory? That kind of attitude will cause us to remember that we are not alone in our misery and enable us to praise Him for always being with us.

I will sing to the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.
—Psalm 104:33


¹ The Necessity of Prayer by E. M. Bounds

Abundant #Joy

This is an excellent post by Sarah Walton of Set Apart: Hope on the Road Less Traveled.

Abundant Joy is Found
in the Presence of Christ,
not in the Absence of Pain

“Oh Lord, for years I have prayed for answers, healing, and understanding in this suffering you have allowed. Yet they have seemed not to come. Many have prayed to you on our behalf, as we have sought wisdom from the doctors you provided, and have longed for redemption of what’s been lost. By your grace, we have persevered through trial after trial, trusting  that you would uphold us and bring forth good from all our pain.

Yet, many answers we have hoped for haven’t come in the ways we desire. The world’s solutions to our pain have left us discouraged, confused, and fighting hopelessness, while the trials, burdens, questions, and uncertainties remain the same. 

I have longed for, cried, and pleaded for you to bring us out from under the pain and heaviness of these trials into a place of abundance. I have asked you to lift these crushing burdens, and carry us through the pounding waves and the raging fire that threatens  to consume our hope, testimony, and lives. 

However, in my desire for answers, I have missed something wonderful. You have answered our prayers – though different than I expected. You have been near, intimately working deep within our hearts as we have laid down our hopes and desires of this world. While you have chosen not to remove the heartache and overwhelming circumstances from our lives, you have done something greater. You have brought us into a place of abundance. For while I have been waiting for this place of abundance to come in the form of relief, you have instead brought it in the midst of the very trials I desired to be freed from. 

This place of abundance has been found in the presence of Christ, not in the absence of pain. 

Read the rest here.

Sharing the Gospel in Spite of Personal Difficulties (CMI Reblog)

First published at Cataclysm Missions International (CMI) on March 26, 2016  

By Anna Popescu

Please visit CMI to see how you can become part of a team
to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with the world!

Sharing the Gospel in Spite of Personal Difficulties

SharingTheGospelDifficulties

Awhile back, I read an article titled “Telephone Difficulties with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.”1 As a person who lives with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, this article helped me understand why I often have trouble with telephone and even one-on-one personal communication.

When you’re on the phone, you don’t get any of the non-verbal cues that come with face-to-face conversation. Communication experts agree that most of communication is non-verbal, and when you remove all those verbal cues, your brain has to work harder to comprehend what’s being said. Our foggy brains may not be able to muster the level of focus.¹

This also holds for me many times during personal conversations with people. I will either completely blank out when trying to pull a specific word out of my brain or I start talking about something completely different than I intended, hoping it will help me remember what I was going to say.

I have learned to lean heavily on my computer, tablet and phone to keep in touch with people. I do much better if I can type out what I want to communicate because it gives me the time to correctly compose what I want to say—oh, do I ever love my delete and backspace keys!

I can quietly sit and wait for the intended word or phrase to come to me, without feeling the stress of frantically trying to drag it out of my memory. Typing also allows me to look up synonyms of the word I’m trying to come up with, which leads me to the word in question or to another, better word.

I love to share the Gospel message with people, but I am often homebound with several chronic illnesses. Another big plus of interacting socially online means I can take better care of myself by doing it only when I’m feeling up to it.

Social interaction takes energy. I didn’t understand that when I was healthy, but now I know it all too well. On low-energy days, I really try to avoid the phone.¹

These difficulties when trying to communicate personally can also be a part of several other chronic illnesses. Dealing with chronic pain severely depletes energy, and that means we need to make the most of the bits of time when we’re not sleeping or resting.

Most of my days are now “low-energy days,” so I heavily rely on my personal electronics to make contact with people all over the world. Using various forms of social media, I am able to reach out to those who so badly need to hear about the saving mercy and grace of Jesus Christ.

Even if you do not have the limitations of illness, you can still opt to reach out to the world through your electronic devices. If that works better for you, your lifestyle and preferences, go for it! What matters most is spreading the Gospel message, not how you do it. God uses everything; He wastes nothing.

¹ Telephone Difficulties with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

 

Suffering According to God’s Will

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Suffering According to God’s Will

by Joni Eareckson Tada


“So then, those who suffer according to God’s will
should commit themselves to their faithful Creator
and continue to do good.” 

—1 Peter 4:19

All suffering is within God’s sovereign will. There is not a sparrow that falls without His knowledge or a soul lost for eternity without His tearful purpose being accomplished. In the midst of the expanse of the sovereign will of God is one kind of suffering initiated by us that God not only allows but rewards.

There are many ways to suffer in this world, where things happen to us. But the kind of suffering referred to by Peter is suffering we experience by choice, through obedience. Such obedience may result in mockery, beatings, discrimination, trials, and temptations. It’s the price one pays for having our bodies in the world and our spirits in the kingdom. Like being on a rack, we can’t escape the torture.

My wheelchair is a suffering that came from the sovereign purpose of the glory of God. And since that time twenty-five years ago, I’ve also suffered things that have come upon my spirit as a result of being in the kingdom. I have chosen to flee temptation, to drag my body from church to hospital, to endure the scorn of those who don’t know God. And I have suffered as a result. Such is the will of God for my life.

The common suffering He comforts. The godly suffering He rewards. Exchange neither for anything. We can “entrust our souls to a faithful Creator.”

Lord, grant me strength to endure the common sufferings of life and the willful sufferings of Your kingdom. In all these, may Your presence sustain me and Your glory be made known.

Taken from Diamonds in the Dust.  Copyright © 1993 by Joni Eareckson Tada.  Used by permission.  Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530

 

Still Here!

Blog-Break

I put myself on a blog break last month, which you can read about here, but I think I tried to come back too soon and too strong. Our summer monsoon season has started, and for me that means constant migraines—yes, I mean 24/7 quite literally. So for about another month, I’ll continue to lay low to conserve energy for other things, but you’ll still hear from me here once or twice a week as my energy allows.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people,
and he will dwell with them.
They will be his people,
and God himself will be with them and be their God.
 
‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain,
for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said,
“I am making everything new!”
Then he said, “Write this down,
for these words are trustworthy and true.”
—Rev 21:3-5

 

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Day by Day Renewal

Saturday

On this Sweet Saturday, please remember that although we may lose heart during very trying circumstances, God does not lose heart with us. He is always ready to enfold us in His everlasting arms and remind us that through the pain we are being renewed day by day.

Day by Day Renewal

2Cor4-16-18


“Coffee Break: Recharge Your Brain”
read an Internet headline and could I ever relate to that! I am definitely a coffee drinker and very thankful that its pick-me-up properties help ease me into my day. I awaken foggy brained most days, but after an hour or two of java sipping, I feel better able to face whatever the day holds.

JustPourTheCoffeeAfter reading that headline, it occurred to me that if coffee can boost our energy levels, how much more could we be recharged by diving into the Word of God?

In this particular Scripture passage Paul is urging us to not dwell on our present circumstances and trials, but rather to focus on God’s grace in our lives.

I am always impressed by how often Paul—who continually praised God in the midst of the many trials, persecutions and imprisonments he endured—encourages us to look outwardly to God rather than inwardly focusing on our daily concerns.

What an example Paul is! He never lost heart over his dire circumstances and in fact urged his followers to use these situations to draw closer to God in order to be spiritually and emotionally renewed. Paul’s close relationship with the Lord gave him the confidence to rely on the Holy Spirit’s strength when things were toughest for him.

Beloved, we can do the same thing! During those times when we feel we positively cannot go on, let’s not let fatigue or pain keep us from drawing closer to God and renewing ourselves with His refreshing spiritual nourishment.
…..

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Oh, the pain…

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This Mishmash Monday is brought to you by the pain I live with every day. There are several things I’m going through this week that will make it difficult for me to work on my blog regularly for the next couple of weeks, so I’m scheduling several inspirational image posts to remind you how much you are loved by Jesus Christ, the One who loves us so much He died for our sins.

Even though I endure pain on a daily basis, I always look to my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, for “the peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). And I absolutely “consider it all joy…when [I] encounter various trials” (James 1:2).

How is this even possible? Because I know where my true joy lies: in the knowledge that one day I will no longer be in any kind of pain as I enjoy life in my new heavenly home.

So, here’s my mishmash of images that describe (in a way) how I feel on any given day.

CycleOfChronicPain

My term for de-conditioning is “payback”

Fibromyalgia

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This is how I should look because of how I normally feel

This is how I should look because of how I normally feel

Migraine head

Migraine head

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If you have trouble viewing the Casting Crowns video above, here are the lyrics to the song, “Praise You in This Storm”:


I was sure by now
God You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say “Amen”, and it’s still raining

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
“I’m with you”
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

[Chorus:]
And I’ll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when
I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to you
And you raised me up again
My strength is almost gone
How can I carry on
If I can’t find You

But as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
“I’m with you”
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

[Chorus]

I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth

AnnaSmile