Counting on Mercy in Suffering

Sharing today from from UnlockingTheBible.org.

Counting on Mercy in Suffering

By Lianna Davis

From the pits of grief and suffering, the human heart and soul can yearn to know the cause of earthly pain. Did a particular sin bring this suffering upon me, or did I need discipline?

Tender answers might pour into the soul from Scripture—Job was a noble man who suffered and grieved (Job 1:8). And the man born blind in John’s gospel was not provided by Jesus with a personal sin corresponding to his pain (John 9:2-3). We cannot always draw straight lines between cause and effect for our individual suffering (Isaiah 55:9). In How Long, O Lord?: Reflections on Suffering and Evil, D. A. Carson writes,

It is the uncertainty of reading what is going on that sometimes breeds pain. Is the particular blow I am facing God’s way of telling me to change something? Or is it a form of discipline designed to toughen me or soften me to make me more useful? Or is it part of the heritage of all sons and daughters of Adam who live this side of the parousia, unrelated to discipline but part of God’s mysterious providence in a fallen world? But must we always decide? If a little self-examination shows us how to improve, we ought to improve. But there are times when all that the Christian can responsibly do is to trust his heavenly Father in the midst of the darkness and pain. (Carson 66)

“Must we always decide?” We can heed Carson to welcome needed growth in obedience that “a little self-examination” uncovers. Yet, he also warns that our inability to understand the full purposes of God behind our suffering can cause us sorrow on top of sorrow.

Draw Near to the Merciful Savior

While we sit in the mysteries of God’s providence, there is a promise we can be certain of. It’s a theme Carson repeats throughout his book: “From the biblical perspective, it is because of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed” (Carson 44).

As I grow to have a higher and higher view of God being God—creating and owning me, being pure and dwelling in unapproachable light, and deserving of my unwavering devotion and holy fear, I am increasingly unable to view any of my sins as insignificant or any of my fleshly contributions as meaningful. This principle Carson writes of has been crucial for me, especially in the seat of suffering.

Read the rest here.

Press On Toward the Goal #presson {Reblog}

But whatever things were gain to me,
those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
More than that, I count all things to be loss
in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord,
for whom I have suffered the loss of all things,
and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,and may be found in Him,
not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law,
but that which is through faith in Christ,
the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,
that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection
and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;
in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect,
but I press on 
so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.
Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet;
but one thing I do:
forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,
I press on
toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude;
and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you;
however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.
—Philippians 3:7-16

I have never been what could be called graceful. I regularly walk too close to doorknobs and bruise my arms. I turn my ankle on real or imagined pot holes when I walk. I trip over things that are not there. When I first saw that the meaning of the name Anna is gracious, I was appalled because I thought it said graceful.

I remember a time when I made the special cherry vanilla creamsicles that both Rick and I love. I poured the mixture carefully into the molds, then wiped away the tiny drops that spilled onto the mold. Just that fast, the mold tipped over. I watched in frustration as the thick concoction oozed over the counter, dripped down the front of the cabinet and onto the floor. A big sigh escaped me as I pulled out paper towels to clean up my mess. Will I ever overcome my clumsiness?

We start every day with another chance to get it right. Some days we do; others we don’t. No matter what happens, though, we should be thankful for the next chance and the next, and on and on. Realize that this side of heaven we’ll probably never get things exactly right but we have the assurance of knowing that one day we will attain the prize that Paul talks about here:

the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Paul is talking about the day when we will be called home to Jesus. Wow, what a time that will be!

Beloved, are things not going right in your corner of the world? Are you struggling with the things of this life and becoming frustrated too? Do you feel as if there is no end in sight?

Press on … just press on. Keep on keeping on.

We who have the HOPE of knowing we’ll be spending eternity with Jesus need to remember that life here on earth will never be easy. I read somewhere once that if we had an easy time of it on earth, would we ever yearn for heaven?

In case you have never asked Jesus into your heart to be your personal Savior and Lord, please visit my A…B…C page to read more about how easy it is to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Or, write to me at faithlhj777 at gmail dot com. I would love to answer any questions you have and help you in your Christian walk.

I love this song because if often runs through my mind, even though it’s been awhile since I first heard it. “Press On” is a great song by Building 429 and is based on Philippians 3:12:14. The lyrics really speak to the stresses and complications of living and how we can all press on to complete whatever mission God has for us in this life. 

If for any reason you cannot view this video, please click here for the lyrics.

Overwhelmed yet Protected

For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness,
but one of power, love, and sound judgment.
—1 Timothy 1:7

I didn’t realize until yesterday that almost two months have passed since I last posted here. Where has the time gone? Well, here is my update.

On the heels of some difficult health struggles last winter, I found out that my cataracts were finally at the point that I needed to have the dreaded surgery. I have known for probably 7 years that I have developed cataracts, but that they were slow-growing. So I never really gave it much thought … until last year when I started noticing how much more difficult it was to see most things from a distance, including the blurry faces on TV. I was also having trouble reading even my large print Bible, which made me thankful for my tablet because I could reset the size of the font.

I don’t know how other people react to cataract surgery but I was extremely unhappy and scared. I’ve worn eyeglasses since I was 11 or 12 years old and never considered contacts because I hate to have anyone, even me, messing around with my eyes. So the thought of having to undergo surgery on my eyes made me freak out. Last December when my ophthalmologist told me it was time for cataract surgery, I immediately burst into tears. I’m sure my doctor has seen this kind of reaction from many of his patients, so he just listened, nodded, and gave me time to compose myself before I left.

As I prayed about it that night, 1 Timothy 1:7 jumped into my mind: “For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.” That made me ask myself: if I am a child of God, why am I so fearful of this surgery? I decided to start praying right then for God’s spirit of power over my fear:

“Heavenly Father, You know how fearful and anxious I am about the cataract surgery. I ask You to fill me instead with Your power, strength, and peace about it, such that I can look forward to it with joy and great anticipation, knowing that I will be able to see so much better afterward. And I thank You right now for what I know You will do in my life through this situation to bring glory to Your Name.”

I didn’t only ask God to get me through the surgery and recovery. I also asked Him to change my extreme fear to joyful anticipation and I thanked Him ahead of time for what I knew He would do for and in me through this situation. I have trusted Him through many tense situations in my life and He has never let me down. Therefore, I also trusted Him implicitly this time, no matter what happened.

I prayed in this manner for several weeks, when one day I suddenly realized that I was no longer afraid of the upcoming surgery. That’s when I started smiling while I was praying, because I knew the Lord had already so magnificently answered my prayers!

The surgery itself did not take longer than about 15 minutes. It took longer for prep and recovery room time than it did for the actual surgery. I was given an anesthetic to sedate me but not put me completely to sleep, but I don’t remember drifting off to sleep or waking up again, or anything about the surgeries. One minute I was still talking to the anesthesiologist; the next I was sitting up in a wheelchair next to Rick, talking to the nurse who was handing me a cup of water. In all, Rick and I were away from home only about 4 hours.

My eyes are healing very well and I am so excited to be able to clearly see things at a distance. I am using and will continue to need reading glasses, but I am thrilled with how bright and true colors look now. However, the way my body feels is another story. My dear friend and fellow writer, Pat Knight, also had cataract surgery at almost the same time that I did. Since we email each other so often, we knew that we would both be needing cataract surgery this year, but we never discussed the dates. We couldn’t believe it when our surgery dates almost coincided. We both think this was God’s way of allowing us to encourage each other while recovering from the surgeries.

Pat told me recently that one word she would use to describe the surgeries and recovery weeks is overwhelmed. One of the definitions of overwhelm at Dictionary.com describes it as: to load, heap, treat, or address with an overpowering excessive amount of anything. Exactly!

The longer I live with Fibromyalgia (FMS) and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), the more my body is badly affected by such things. I have been overwhelmed with constant body pain, plus I also had an awful GI (Gastrointestinal) reaction to one of the necessary eye drops. The surgery for each eye consisted of these appointments:

  • Pre-op
  • Surgery
  • 1-day post-op
  • 1-week post-op
  • 4-week post-op

Five (5) appointments for each eye! For someone who does not go out very often, and then usually only when necessary, all of these appointments have taken their toll. On top of that, I had to discontinue the medication I was taking for my migraines because of the nasty side effects, so my 24/7 migraines are back.

All in all, my entire body continues to feel like it was assaulted. Talk about overwhelming!

But… in the brokenness there is another, better kind of being overwhelmed: the good news that God magnificently answers prayer! Since He longs for us to trust Him rather than have a spirit of fear, He turned my anxiety and fright about this surgery into excitement and anticipation. He lavished me with His grace as He walked closely with me before and through each surgery.

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you,
for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities,
that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
—2 Corinthians 12:9

It is fair to say that my heart and mind almost daily utter these words now: thank You, Lord Jesus, my All in All…


Beloved, it will be a few more weeks until I am ready to fully be back to work on my blog, but I may reblog some old posts as I am able to. Thank you for sticking with me during all of this. You are all too precious to me!

The Road I Would Never Choose – Learning To Follow Wherever God Leads

This is an excellent article about a difficult subject from one of my favorite sites—Sarah Walton’s Set Apart.

THE ROAD I WOULD
NEVER CHOOSE —
LEARNING TO FOLLOW
WHEREVER GOD LEADS

By Sarah Walton

At some point in life, many of us find ourselves on a path that we would have never chosen. Once on that path, we are always faced with a choice. We can frantically search for a way out, or embrace the path God has chosen for us.

I have been on one of those undesirable paths for many years, with all its unexpected curves, unlit stretches, and life-changing directions. Even as I write this, I sit in an IV treatment room with a handful of others whom I would never have met had our lives not crossed on the weary road of chronic illness.

All of us in this room, though we have little else in common, share a similar desire to gain healing, as medications and nutrients are pumped into our bodies each day for several weeks. Though our stories and hopes are very different, we all long for something greater.

PAIN PAVED WITH PROMISE

Although the lives of these fellow sufferers run parallel to mine in our battle with chronic illness, at the same time, we are on completely separate paths that lead to different destinations. While both roads are filled with pain and uncertainty, by God’s grace, my own path is paved with promises of a glorious future beyond what I can see. Even more, my Savior is with me, guiding me and offering eternal treasures along the way.

Nevertheless, in the midst of hard trials, it can be hard to see beyond the pain and trust God’s purposes when all we see is darkness ahead. Therefore, as Christians, when we find ourselves on a road we would never have chosen, we need to remember these truths.

1. GOD HAS CHOSEN THIS FOR YOUR GOOD.

If you are following Christ, while it may not be a path you would’ve chosen, you can trust that he has chosen it for you (1 Corinthians 7:17). Left to ourselves, we would all choose a path of comfort and prosperity because our hearts are rebellious and our vision is short-term. If not for his grace, we would pursue only what our flesh desires, even at the cost of eternal life.

Read the rest here.


Last year I read Sarah Walton’s and Kristen Wetherell’s book Hope When it Hurts, and it has deeply impacted me. As someone who also lives with chronic illnesses, I so appreciated what they wrote from a Biblical perspective. I don’t think there is one page in this book that does not have my comments and/or underlines on it. The information about Hope When it Hurts and how you can purchase it is below.

hurts_medium.62ycfe4p32lgurjshoegogequhxiqninTo read more on the hope we have in suffering, you can purchase “Hope When It Hurts – 30 Biblical Reflections to Help You Grasp God’s Purpose in Your Suffering” authored by Sarah Walton and Kristen Wetherell here or here.

Press On Toward the Goal #presson

But whatever things were gain to me,
those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
More than that, I count all things to be loss
in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord,
for whom I have suffered the loss of all things,
and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,and may be found in Him,
not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law,
but that which is through faith in Christ,
the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,
that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection
and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;
in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect,
but I press on 
so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.
Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet;
but one thing I do:
forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,
I press on
toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude;
and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you;
however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.
—Philippians 3:7-16

I have never been what could be called graceful. I regularly walk too close to doorknobs and bruise my arms. I turn my ankle on real or imagined pot holes when I walk. I trip over things that are not there. When I first saw that the meaning of the name Anna is gracious, I was appalled because I thought it said graceful.

I remember a time when I made the special cherry vanilla creamsicles that both Rick and I love. I poured the mixture carefully into the molds, then wiped away the tiny drops that spilled onto the mold. Just that fast, the mold tipped over. I watched in frustration as the thick concoction oozed over the counter, dripped down the front of the cabinet and onto the floor. A big sigh escaped me as I pulled out paper towels to clean up my mess. Will I ever overcome my clumsiness?

We start every day with another chance to get it right. Some days we do; others we don’t. No matter what happens, though, we should be thankful for the next chance and the next, and on and on. Realize that this side of heaven we’ll probably never get things exactly right but we have the assurance of knowing that one day we will attain the prize that Paul talks about here:

the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Paul is talking about the day when we will be called home to Jesus. Wow, what a time that will be!

Beloved, are things not going right in your corner of the world? Are you struggling with the things of this life and becoming frustrated too? Do you feel as if there is no end in sight?

Press on … just press on. Keep on keeping on.

We who have the HOPE of knowing we’ll be spending eternity with Jesus need to remember that life here on earth will never be easy. I read somewhere once that if we had an easy time of it on earth, would we ever yearn for heaven?

In case you have never asked Jesus into your heart to be your personal Savior and Lord, please visit my A…B…C page to read more about how easy it is to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Or, write to me at faithlhj777 at gmail dot com. I would love to answer any questions you have and help you in your Christian walk.

I love this song because if often runs through my mind, even though it’s been awhile since I first heard it. “Press On” is a great song by Building 429 and is based on Philippians 3:12:14. The lyrics really speak to the stresses and complications of living and how we can all press on to complete whatever mission God has for us in this life. 

If for any reason you cannot view this video, please click here for the lyrics.

Marriage for Worse, for Poorer, and in Sickness

This is an excellent article from UnlockingTheBible.org.

Marriage for Worse, for Poorer,
and in Sickness

By Sarah Walton

I remember the moment I stood before my groom and recited my wedding vows. I certainly didn’t expect life to be perfect, but I assumed my marriage would be filled with more of “better” than “worse.”

With stars in my eyes, and blissfully unaware of what the future would hold, I confidently vowed, “I take you, Jeff, to be my lawful husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, for as long as we both shall live.”

That was almost 13 years ago.

Trials Can Test Your Marriage Vows

Little did I know those thirteen years would hold chronic illness, financial loss, special needs, suffering children, marital strain, and overwhelming stress. I never imagined that I’d experience so much of the “worse, poorer, and in sickness” part of our vows.

I’m grateful as I reflect on the unexpected trials that have tested our marriage. In God’s goodness, the “worse” parts of our marriage have ushered in a deeper, Christ-centered experience of the “better.” This hasn’t come without the pain of loss and failure; yet Christ has used it to mature us in him, change our character, and increase our love for each other.

This, of course, is only possible with and through Christ. While God can certainly change the heart of a non-believing spouse and use the pain of unbelief to draw both spouses to himself, the following truths reflect a husband and wife who’ve put their faith in Christ and desire to follow him. If you’re married to an unbelieving spouse, I pray God will use the trials to draw them to a saving faith in Christ.

Read the rest here.

8 Ways God Works Suffering for Our Good

This is an excellent article from Challies.com, published a couple of months ago but something I needed to read right now.

8 Ways God Works Suffering
for Our Good

By Tim Challies

It is a conviction meant to quiet our minds and encourage our hearts: In some way God has a hand in our suffering. Whatever circumstances we experience can no more arise without the hand of God than a saw can cut without the hand of the carpenter. Job in his suffering did not say, “The Lord gave and the devil took away,” but, “The Lord gave and the Lord took away.” Suffering never comes our way apart from the purpose and providence of God and for that reason, suffering is always significant, never meaningless. Here are some ways that God brings good from our suffering.

Suffering is our preacher and teacher. It was Luther who said that he could never properly understand some of the Psalms until he endured suffering. A sick bed often teaches more than a sermon, and suffering first teaches us about our sin and sinfulness. Suffering also teaches us about ourselves, for in times of health and prosperity all seems to be well and we are both humble and grateful, but in suffering we come to see the ingratitude and rebellion of our hearts. We can best see the ugly face of sin and the reality of spiritual childishness in the mirror of suffering.

Read the rest here.