Faith links me to Holy God and clothes me with the power of Jehovah.
─Charles H. Spurgeon
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and do not lean on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He will make your paths straight.
Over the years, the Lord has given me several life verses. This Proverbs passage was the first one and is probably dearest to my heart because it was one of the reasons Rick and I started talking online. He and I both cited this passage in our profiles because we both love this verse. And here we are, over
18 years 20 years later, still relying on the verse that brought us together!
This is simply a random thought I had the other day when someone mentioned how difficult it often is to wait on God’s timing.
There are times when we wait and pray about something
for what seems like forever,
but since God is perfect,
that means His plans are perfect ─
which means the waiting time is part of
His perfect plan for us.
This is part of His refining and pruning process
to bring us closer to Him and His will for us.
2016 was the year of JOY for me. 2017 has been all about HOPE. Today’s post is about how JOY ties in so closely with HOPE.
What is true JOY? Charles Spurgeon describes it this way:
“The JOY OF HOPE—who shall measure it? Those who are strangers to it are certainly strangers to the SWEETEST MATTER in spiritual life. With the exception of present communion with Christ, the JOY of a believer in this present state must be mainly the JOY OF HOPE.
“It does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him just as He is (OUR HOPE),” (1 John 3:2) We thank God that we shall be satisfied when we wake up (from the sleep of death) in the likeness of Jesus! This ANTICIPATION (HOPE) of Heaven makes (the hurt of) earth become endurable! And the sorrows of time lose their weight when we think of the “far more exceeding and eternal weight of Glory (Our future HOPE). (2 Corinthians 4:17)”
Recently I’ve been contemplating the phrase Quality of Life. Here are some of the definitions of Quality of Life, also referred to as QOL:
Wikipedia: is the general well-being of individuals and societies. QOL has a wide range of contexts, including the fields of international development, healthcare, politics and employment. Quality of life should not be confused with the concept of standard of living, which is based primarily on income. Instead, standard indicators of the quality of life include not only wealth and employment but also the built environment, physical and mental health, education, recreation and leisure time, and social belonging.
The Free Dictionary: Noun, quality of life- your personal satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) with the cultural or intellectual conditions under which you live (as distinct from material comfort); “the new art museum is expected to improve the quality of life” gratification, satisfaction – state of being gratified or satisfied; “dull repetitious work gives no gratification”; “to my immense gratification he arrived on time” [Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.]
Medicinet.com: The patient’s ability to enjoy normal life activities. Quality of life is an important consideration in medical care. Some medical treatments can seriously impair quality of life without providing appreciable benefit, whereas others greatly enhance quality of life.
BusinessDictionary.com: Daily living enhanced by wholesome food and clean air and water, enjoyment of unfettered open spaces and bodies of water, conservation of wildlife and natural resources, security from crime, and protection from radiation and toxic substances. It may also be used as a measure of the energy and power a person is endowed with that enable him or her to enjoy life and prevail over life’s challenges irrespective of the handicaps he or she may have.
As you can see, there are differing opinions on what quality of life actually means. Some people use it as a measurement of how happy and fulfilled a person is. Others think of it as a way to gauge how someone can enjoy life in spite of physical handicaps or limitations. And many others consider it to be an indication of how much people have overcome in order to enjoy their life no matter what obstacles they face.
Where is God in all of this?
“The world is filled with people trying to adjust to the pain, trying to deal with life without total collapse, break down, burn out, hopelessness, fear, apathy or just giving up. And all of that really is a matter of learning how to endure. And that’s our key word this morning because the passage in front of us gives us the secrets to endurance…the secrets to endurance. How can we endure the pain of life? The profound difficulty of life? The great disappointments, broken dreams, broken bodies, broken homes, broken lives, broken relationships? How can we handle all of that? How can we face life like the Apostle Paul did who said back in verse 8 of this chapter, “We are afflicted in every way but not crushed, perplexed but not despairing, persecuted but not forsaken, struck down but not destroyed”? How can we live like that? How can we be so triumphant?” —John MacArthur, GraceToYou.org
So, how can we think more like Paul? Is it possible to be afflicted and still triumphant? I have shared with you before that I live with several chronic pain illnesses. Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and chronic migraine plague me every single day. Some days are worse than others, but I can honestly count on one hand the number of pain-free days I have had in the last 15 years and still have fingers left over. And yet I still have more JOY than I ever thought possible.
To me, the HOPE of JOY = the JOY of HOPE.
I do not think we can have one without the other because each produces the other. For example, I can have the HOPE of JOY because . . .
I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth and after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes— I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!
—Job 19:25-27, NIV
And I can also have the JOY of HOPE because of this . . .
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. May the God of HOPE fill you with all JOY and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit.
—Romans 15:5-6, 13, NIV
Beloved, don’t you see? It doesn’t matter what is happening in our lives as long as we continue to hang our HOPE on our Savior. That thought alone produces so much JOY that it is impossible to stay down or depressed about our circumstances for long.
Yes, JOY is a choice that we make every single day. If we have invited Jesus Christ into our hearts as our Savior and Lord, then we have the certain HOPE of everlasting life in heaven with Him. And if we have that certain HOPE, how can we be anything but JOYFUL, no matter what our circumstances?
My Redeemer lives!
If for any reason you cannot view the video, read the lyrics here.
[Emphasis on the words HOPE and JOY are mine]
9 If you make the Lord your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,
10 no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home.
11 For he will order his angels
to protect you wherever you go.
12 They will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!
14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
and give them my salvation.”
—Psalm 91:9-16, NLT
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:
- 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!
It’s time for me to take another blog break. It’s been a very tough winter in which I’ve been fighting bronchitis, sinus issues, 24/7 migraines again, and now I’m in a CFS/ME flare that leaves me feeling wrung out as soon as I get out of bed in the morning. I sleep from 10-12 hours a night, yet that never seems to be enough. Plus, I will be having cataract surgery on both eyes this month and next, and I think that’s a recipe for the perfect pain storm. It seems odd for someone who rests and sleeps so often to say that I need more rest, but that’s my life these days.
One of my favorite Scripture passages is Psalm 23. I’ve seen various versions of the chart below, so I thought I’d include it here in case you haven’t seen it before.
Psalm 23: Phrase by Phrase Meaning
|The LORD is my shepherd||RELATIONSHIP|
|I shall not want||SUPPLY|
|He makes me to lie down in green pastures||REST|
|He leads me beside the still waters||REFRESHMENT|
|He restores my soul||HEALING|
|He leads me in the paths of righteousness||GUIDANCE|
|For His name’s sake||PURPOSE|
|Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death||TESTING|
|I will fear no evil||PROTECTION|
|For You are with me||FAITHFULNESS|
|Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me||DISCIPLINE|
|You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies||HOPE|
|You anoint my head with oil||CONSECRATION|
|My cup runs over||ABUNDANCE|
|Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life||BLESSING|
|And I will dwell in the house of the LORD||SECURITY|
I will be back sometime in May with a renewed sense of PEACE, HOPE, and JOY. I appreciate your prayers and will be praying for you too.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I am utterly weary as are so many other people in today’s world. Please grant us Your perfect peace, whose minds are stayed on You, because we trust in You forever. For in You, oh Lord, is everlasting strength (Isaiah 26:3-4).