A Painful Victory

Who Suffers From Affliction?

Everyone does.  We all experience trial and affliction no matter who we are or how lost we are.  Everyone hurts.  Often we see the ungodly man or woman in suffering:  Some became fools through their rebellious ways and suffered affliction because of their iniquities.” Ps. 107:17

However, it really isn’t as easy to understand the sufferings of the believers.  We can try to explain it but we still end up with questions:  “Many are the afflictions of the righteous,  but the LORD delivers him out of them all.”  Ps. 34:19. 

I guess there is some comfort in knowing that other believers are also being tested and that it is part of God’s plan.

What Are Some Godly Examples of Testing?

  • Job– “see thou mine affliction;” Job 10:15
  • Moses– “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.”  Hebrews 11:25
  • David– “I am afflicted very much;  revive me, O LORD, according to Your word.”  Ps. 119:107
  • The Prophets– “My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience.”   James 5:10
  • Jesus Christ– He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth”  Isa. 53:10
  • Paul– “For out of much affliction and anguish of heart” I wrote to you, with many tears. “ 2 Cor. 2:4

But it is not enough to know the ‘realness’ of your affliction.  We insist on knowing why.  Why am I suffering in this way?  Moses, probably the stellar personality in the Old Testament asked, “So Moses said to the LORD, “Why have You afflicted Your servant? And why have I not found favor in Your sight, that You have laid the burden of all these people on me?”  Ex. 11:11

Afflictions Are For Our Good

Psalm 119:75 says, “I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are right, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.”

Why would David thank God in afflicting him? I think that David was able to see through the affliction.  He then could realize that the intentions and purposes of God were good and edifying to him.  He saw the divine purpose in God’s hands.  He chose to trust that.

This pain is working out for our good

The Bible is quite clear on this subject.  “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory”  2 Cor. 4:17.  Exceeding and eternal!  Words that need to impress us with their weight.  Our afflictions are not our focus, it’s what they produce must be our focus.

We are explicitly told this, And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose”,  Romans 8:28.

Kyrie Elesion, (Lord, have mercy)

Bryan

Not Better Off Dead

A few weeks ago in response to a poetics prompt to write about a first time for something, I thought of something that I have only done once, and am thankful I’ve never had happen again. But there are people who have had this happen so many times they maybe can’t even remember the first time.

My prayers are with them, my hope that they recognize the lie that suicide is the answer to pain and suffering and that our loved ones would be better off if we were dead.

Not Better Off Dead

Clearly I recall the first time
the thought entered my mind
They’d be better off if I was dead

I immediately knew it was wrong
but still a method to my madness
began to form in the recesses of
my deeply troubled mind

I could picture the bottle of pills
designed to make me better
but could just as easily
be my demise

Then they’d be free, I’d be free

The Psalmist wrote
The angel of the LORD encamps around
those who fear him, and he delivers them

That first time His angel
was encamped around me

He delivered me from that first thought
made me know it was wrong
ensured it was the last time
that thought ever entered my mind

Now we are free and together
because the Lord let me know
I was not better off dead

*

Linda’s Blog.

I write candid memoir and fearless poetry and delve into hard issues others tend to avoid. I want you to know God’s redemption and healing are just a story away.

God Keeps Your Tears in a Bottle

I have cried many tears in my life.

If you have never cried, you can stop reading right now. But if you have shed tears for yourself or for others, or if like me you have shed some without even knowing why or where they came from, take heart. God knows the tears you have shed. Psalm 56:8 says so. Here are several translations of that wonderful verse:

Record my lament;
       list my tears on your scroll —
       are they not in your record? (NIV)

You have taken account of my wanderings;
         Put my tears in Your bottle
         Are they not in Your book? (NASB)

You keep track of all my sorrows.
      You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
      You have recorded each one in your book. (NLT)

Write down my poem of sadness.
      List my tears on your scroll.
      Aren’t you making a record of them? (NIRV)

I love the image of God keeping all my tears in a bottle. I can envision shelves filled with bottles in Heaven, each with a name on it, and an accompanying scroll documenting every tear and lament. Or maybe it is just one huge bottle with all of our tears mingled together.

Today tears are being shed in dark rooms where children are being held as sex slaves, in Africa as people remain homeless and without food and water, in the United States as many remain jobless, in hospitals and on the streets where the mentally ill are forgotten, in homes around the world where people are spiritually lost and have no hope.

We live in a fallen world.

Tragedies happen and humans are not always kind to one another. And so tears are shed. It is hard to fathom God collecting every single one, but He does. He notices and He records each tear and each lament.

The more I think about it, I like the idea that God has mingled all our tears together. The Psalm does refer to God’s “bottle” in the singular. And if He has collected every tear in that bottle, then mingled with our own are the tears of Jesus. In John 11, the apostle records this event: “Jesus wept.” John 11:35.

In this passage, Jesus weeps when He learns of the death of Lazarus.

When they see Him weeping, the people say “See how he loved him!” John 11:36. But I don’t think Jesus was weeping because Lazarus was dead – He knew He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. Rather, I think He wept because of the compassion He felt for humanity as we weep over our own tragedies and losses. It is us that He loved so much that it brought Him to tears.

So if you weep today, remember that God is collecting your tears in His bottle, and mixing them with the tears of our dear Savior. Not only that, but God will deliver you from the final trial that lead to tears by redeeming your soul.

For you, O LORD, have delivered 
   my soul from death,
   my eyes from tears,
   my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the LORD
   in the land of the living.

Psalm 116:8-9 (NIV).

Linda’s blog is at http://lindakruschke.wordpress.com/ Please check out all she has to say.  Linda tells me that it is absolutely guaranteed to bless, or your money back!

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Losing Everything

My own studies have immersed me in the awful book of Job. This man lost everything–there is much we can learn from him. But it may be a definite challenge to plow through these “dark” issues. But we need to do this, sooner or later.

First of all, Job is a mysterious book. There’s no reference to the Temple or the Temple services. No connection with other biblical writings or persons. Most students believe that the book of Job is the first one written in the Old Testament.

It’s not Jewish, but it’s not pagan either. In a real sense, it speaks about suffering and pain. Job lost everything. The book tries to explain what brokenbelievers face every day. We all struggle. We all will experience suffering and loss.

Job connects us with those with illnesses–mental or physical.

We are people who must try to navigate through dark things. Most will never really understand this, but we are those who must face adversity and conflict. Like Job we ask why. We may even end up accusing God of attacking us.

We have to sort things out and believe me, it’s never easy. As we try we’ll often ask “why me?” We often accuse God. But I’m thoroughly convinced that the Almighty isn’t fazed by our questions and we should never think we’re wrong when we so challenge his goodness. He’s big enough to handle these.

In Job we’ll hear God speak to us through “the whirlwind.”

I want to encourage you (the reader) to find place in your heart for this book. Job isn’t easy to read–but I’ve gained a lot by reading it in the Message translation, but any other modern Bible works.

We’ll realize all of our questions will probably not be answered, but that’s okay. The problem of our suffering will most likely remain. There are no pat answers. I’m sorry.

“Anyone who has suffered knows that there is no such thing as “getting a grip on oneself” or “pulling oneself up by the bootstraps. The only bootstrap in the Christian life is the Cross, sometimes laying hold of the cross can be comforting, but other times it is like picking up a snake.””

“Job knew this firsthand. From him we learn that there are no easy answers to suffering. That the mark of true faith is not happiness, but rather, having one’s deepest passions be engaged by the enormity of God. And through Job we learn the secret of the gospel: that “mercy is the permission to be human.” The Lord never gave Job an explanation for all he had been through. His only answer was Himself. But as Job discovered, that was enough.”

Mike Mason

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