Monday, April 28, 2008

Monday Morning Thoughts on Suffering

Though I feel better this morning than I have in the four and a half weeks since my surgery, I am reminded of what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:16,

Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

Despite our physical condition, we are strengthened by new mercies every morning. We are encouraged by God’s love. We are empowered by His Spirit. Though we may lack physical strength, we can focus on our identity in Christ and the resources He gives.

This morning I read Psalms 3 and 4. This pair of psalms has been referred to as a morning psalm and an evening psalm.

In these psalms, we find David lamenting his circumstances – he is fleeing from his own son Absalom. But while he runs away from danger, David does not run away from God. He runs to God. When troubles arise, where do we go? To friends? To assorted diversions? Do we hide inside ourselves? We should run to God.

Charles Spurgeon wrote,

There is no place to which you can be banished where God is not near, and there is no time of day or night when His throne is inaccessible. The caves have heard the best prayers. Some of God’s people shine best in the darkness.

In the midst of his difficult circumstances David reminds himself who God is. God is his Shield. God is the One who sustains Him. God is His salvation. Focusing on God magnifies Him and diminishes the weight of our circumstances.

David reminds himself who God is and that he belongs to God. He has been set apart to God and for God. When we belong to God, we have nothing to fear.

He examines his own heart. He worships God. And He ministers to others! In the midst of His own troubles, we find David (in Psalm 4) encouraging others to put their trust in the Lord. God can use our circumstances, and particularly our responses, to bring glory to Himself. Here we see God’s grace at work, enabling David to do what would be impossible on His own. God continues to use ordinary men and women to do extraordinary things in the lives of others.

And David rests. Even though his soul is troubled, he finds rest in the Lord. In the midst of suffering, we can find peace, comfort, and rest in God. No matter what circumstances may arise during the day, we can sleep well each night, knowing that God is in control and that He is at work.

I found this quote from Alan Redpath a few years ago, and think that it is appropriate in any consideration of our suffering:

There is nothing—no circumstance, no trouble, no testing—that can ever touch me until, first of all, it has gone past God and past Christ, right through to me. If it has come that far, it has come with a great purpose, which I may not understand at the moment, but as I refuse to become panicky, as I lift up my eyes to him and accept it as coming from the throne of God for some great purpose of blessing to my own heart, no sorrow will ever disturb me, … for I shall rest in the joy of what my Lord is.


Chris said...

JMichael I just wanted to let you know that I was thinking of you and that I prayed for you today. I am inspired by your journal entries, you are an inspiration to all who read them. God is using you through all of this.

Maddie said...

I loved the last quote. I never thought too much about God using what is happening to me for helping others. Yet today I found myself going over my experience to the ladies at the maternal health and family living clinic. Msybe this will be invaluable information for them to use to encourage young or old ladies to get their regular check-ups. Who knows except God? Yet at that time, I knew I was suppose to be there, talking with them.

I have been researching my medical records to see what happened. What I found is that God had nbee nsending me for help, but somehow nothing came of it until the problem was big. Hmmm. Really, I realozed also that there was no blame-me, doctors, nurse practioners. It was just something that happened. This has been heartbreak and a relief at the same time. I am grateful that there is no one in particular to blame (information forgotten to be released to me), yet I still felt guilty that I was not more persistent at the time for more tests.

Sometimes it is heard to let go of feeling completely responsible. Sometimes you really do just need to forgive yourself and ask God for help and forgiveness and to relieve the soul of self-guilt. Sometimes you just have to leave it all in God's hands and pay attention to where he leads you.

I am still praying for bodily healing. I can't help but ask for it. I want to be here to raise my young son. Yet, I feel a bit more comforted that God has been watching out for me, trying t oget me help early. Now I am trusting that maybe his plan is to heal me, but it is a bit harder now. Maybe not. However, I understand now tat it is only through God that healing will happen.

Wierd things happen to people. Cancer comes even to those of us who eat well, exercise, live in a loving relationship/marriage, have faith, do good works and help others. Healing also happens to those when you least expect it.

SO, I am just doing my best to trust God, live fully today, love the people around me and who I am in contact with.

I hope you are able to live fully today, love your family, smile with your wife, live well, enjoy your potato salad and converstaion with your boys.

Timothy Covenant Marriage Seminars said...

Nice blog! I remember a blog about covenant marriage seminars with a similar discussion. What a coincidence.