Tag Archives: suffering

My Allergy Will Be Gone!

My daughter Katie is allergic to a list of things, and although the list is not a long one, it does include bacon, so she does deserve our pity.

On the other hand, our young and uber-talented pianist at church, Olivia, has list of allergies longer than the strings on a Steinway concert grand! Seriously! Let’s just put it this way: just listening to the song “99 Balloons” could kill her.

But for me, I’m allergic to nothing… well, almost nothing. I’m not allergic to any foods, liquids, or chemicals; I don’t reach for an EpiPen whenever I see a bee; nor do I provide a list of medicines that could kill me should I visit a doctor.

I am, however, allergic to one thing… PAIN. The following are symptoms I experience when I receive a dose of pain, each one varying based on the length or intensity of exposure:

  • Immediate onset of watery eyes, the accumulating result being streams of salty fluid running down my face.
  • Widening of the eyes.
  • Convulsions of the hand and fingers, usually in conjunction with flailing arms and connecting concussions with inanimate objects.
  • Mental delusions, temporary insanity, and near-death experiences.
  • Random bouts of temporary-onset Tourette Syndrome.

Some people say “pain is weakness leaving your body.” To those people, I say, “Go eat a worm.”

Unfortunately, barring being put into a coma – and that’s no guarantee – I will have to suffer with my pain allergy until the day I die. There is no known cure on this earth, only items meant to temporarily mask or lessen the effects of the allergic reaction.

But someday… one day… I will have a new body! No more pain allergies for me!

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. – Rev 21:4 KJV

No allergy shots in Heaven!

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Hurting

Guest Post by: Dorissa Vanover


“I’ve lost my song,” my mother-in-law told me, as her tender heart broke into a million pieces.Today, I understand exactly what she meant.

Sometimes the pain seems relentlessly intense and hopelessly never-ending. During those times, the singer can’t sing, the writer can’t write and the artist can’t paint.

Each of us is born with a unique gift or ability, given to us by our Creator, so that we can fully express ourselves. Using the gift is a way of expressing our love and thanks to our Heavenly Father, a way to encourage others we meet along the way, and a way of joyfully immersing ourselves in our passion. We make time, knowing that we affirm ourselves and our God-given abilities as we express ourselves.

And then…unexpectedly, because we are imperfect humans living in a fallen world, we encounter heartbreak so overwhelming, it immobilizes us. We may be able to awaken each morning, get dressed and make it through our day; we may even remember to thank God for the blessings we know are still all around us. Truth is, though, we feel hopelessness inside. While we may be able to continue to function, we are not able to thrive.

Finally, knowing our spirits will break if we don’t get help, we fall to our knees beseeching our Father for the comfort only he can give. We quietly absorb the grace and mercy of being in his presence. His love surrounds us and our burden is lifted. We are renewed.

Once again, the singer sings, the writer writes, and the artist paints. It seems amazing, but the time spent away from the gift seems only to enhance the song, the words, or the painting. Yes, our Father created each of us with a wonderfully unique gift and gives us a time and place to use the gift. The greatest gift he gave each of us, though, is the freedom to have a relationship with him. He alone can replace our brokenness with joy and thanksgiving.

There may be several periods during a lifetime when the hurt seems greater than the hope. We know, though, because we belong to him, he is our hope, and there is nothing greater than him!

 

 

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Filed under Guest Posts, Life Lessons, Struggles and Trials

What We Can Do When It Hurts

UPDATE: The following post was NOT emailed to me by Donald N. Norris, but Dave Peever. Thankfully, this is the only mistake I have made today 😉

So, please check out Dave’s blog, Live 4 Him. I’m sure you will be blessed there, also.  


Guest Post by: Dave Peever

I Have Nothing to Offer

It hurts and it should. It may be my hurt or it may be someone else’s hurt that I observe, but it hurts, and it should. Still, we try to avoid it or at least address it as quickly as possible and move on. Logic does not play into it or at least cannot be used to lessen the impact. The passage of time may help but when everything seems to be going by so slow, the future is not even in the mix of thought and emotion. We wish it never happened, we hope we can somehow forget, but we know that it’s not going away. Like a rotten tooth that needs to be pulled or a wound that must be reopened and cleaned, it must be dealt with or the long-term issues will far outweigh the short term pain. It hurts and it should.

You’re a pastor, you should know what to say, how to bring comfort, how to rise above the pain.

I often wonder how people see me and others who have been called to pastoral ministry. When we are in the pulpit we are in control or at least appear that way. We tackle the tough issues head-on with Bible verses pre-selected and marked, script written and rehearsed. Everyone’s attention (we hope) is focused on us with little else competing for space in people’s thought process. We are in charge with little question about who is there to give out the answers to life’s problems. Before I go further, there are many times I haven’t felt in control in the pulpit, but by its very nature preaching creates the appearance of having it all together. Then comes the hospital visit, the funeral preparation family meeting, the pregnant unwed mother discussion, the abused wife’s plea for help or the drug or porn addiction revelation and people expect that same sermon preaching confidence. It is as if there are magic words that will make it all better and somehow the pastor is supposed to have them all stored up in his brain, ready to use at the appropriate time.

God’s word is full of comfort but God’s design does not allow us to avoid pain.

Biblical words of comfort are not the recipe for griefless living. To love someone is to invite pain into your life no matter how much they love you back. At some point something will happen that will hurt you. It isn’t always between the people in the relationship, but it is always felt by the people in the relationship. If we truly love the other person, their pain becomes our pain even if we are not directly affected. The only way to live life pain free is to ignore the Bible and never love anyone.

By calling and vocation, a pastor is placed in the middle of pain. By calling and obedience, a pastor experiences pain just like anyone who loves as Christ loves. Pastors may have a responsibility to the congregation defined in their job description but all Christ followers have an obligation to love and therefore are exposed to pain. The comfort we have and the comfort we offer is not found in the removal of hurt, pain and grief because we know the right words to say but instead it is found in the sharing of life as it happens.

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12:15 (NIV)

You may say that you have nothing to offer because you are not a pastor, but the truth is, even though I am a pastor, we both have the same thing to offer.

I hate hospital visits as much as the next guy. I want to avoid the tears of a grieving family just like most people do. If I could miss funerals, including my own, I would. To seek out pain, physical or emotional, is not the sign of a stable person, to enjoy the depths of despair is not normal behavior. I understand that people want a pastor to be with them in their time of need and I accept that as part of my job. I may not like feeling that I can’t make the pain go away, that I am not in control and have nothing to offer, but I accept that just being there brings a level of comfort.

What I have to offer is the same as you. We all need to live out Romans 12:15 because we all, if we love like Jesus, have something to offer. Love has a cost, a price to pay. Sometimes we get to rejoice together other times we share pain but all the time we need to be there for each other. God does not leave or abandon those He loves but stays with us in part through the people He surrounds us with in our time of need. Be there for others, you can’t fix it, you can’t make it go away, that’s not the way God designed us, but you can share in the pain, help carry the burden, you have something to offer.

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Filed under blogging, Guest Posts, ministry

And the Verdict Is…

 But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. – Job 23:10

Our Example

Whenever things get bad, who is it that we think of? We think of old Job, the man who endured the worst the Devil had to offer, yet without losing his faith in God.

Job lost everything he owned, plus his children, and even ended up sitting in a pile of ash while he scraped boils with broken pieces of pottery. Even his wife, probably out of a combination of desperate pity and blame, said, “Curse God, and die” (Job 2:9).

But what made it worse was Job’s friends! Yes, his own friends, trying to help, assumed everything he was enduring was a judgment from God, because surely Job must have done something terribly wrong, right? Why else would God be doing all this to him?

Nevertheless, Job was faithful; he never cursed God. As a matter of fact, Job said, “Though he (God) slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13:15). What an example to follow!

The First One

But what most people tend to miss is this: Job didn’t have a Job-like example to follow. No, Job was the first of his kind.

When Job said “when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold,” he wasn’t talking from experience, or from the learned lessons of others. If you’ll look back to the first chapter, Satan had never done all this “sifting” before. So, Job had no precedent on which to base his assumption that the circumstances he endured would produce a 24-Karat ending.

All Job really had going was his faith in a good and faithful God. Actually, he had no idea that what he was enduring was a trial by fire. A careful study of the context of Job 23:10 will show that all Job wanted was an audience with God – the God who couldn’t be found – so that he could plead his innocence. “If I could ever get the chance,” thought Job, “I’d argue my case, He would try me, and I’d be proven innocent – I’d come forth as gold.”

God Is Working

goldBut God was working on Job, only Job didn’t know it! Even though he couldn’t find God (Job 23:3-4), Job was in the cradle of God’s hand. The trial was removing all traces of dross, refining Job, and he was well on the way to becoming “pure gold.”

So, consider Job, the one who never gave up or blamed God, even when his world was collapsing.  It may not seem like it, but the furnace you’re enduring right now could be nothing more than the Refiner’s fire.

Like Job, God “knows your way” – He knows all about you. So remain faithful, remain hopeful, and rest assured that one day you will come forth as gold.

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” – James 1:2-4 NLT

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Faith

In Every Thing…

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Give Thanks

With regards to thanks, you have to give it for it to exist; being thankful is not the same thing as giving thanks. You can be thankful in your heart all day long, but you can easily offend someone by not saying “Thank you” at the appropriate time.

Thanks can be given in many different ways, but the fact is that it must be expressed in some way, not just felt. Say it with words, express it with a card, show it with a gift, or something. The whole concept of “giving” means it leaves you and goes somewhere else.

Every Thing

Note that it’s “every thing,” not everything. It may seem like an insignificant point, but it’s every little thing in particular – every situation, every circumstance, every joy, every pain – not an all-encompassing kind of thing we’re talking about.

You see, it’s easy for us to express a generic “Thank you, Lord, for everything,” but it’s much harder to be specific, especially when things are not going so great. Getting specific with our giving of thanks takes time, points out where we are not so grateful, and forces us to take stock of what we really have.

“In” 

We can focus on being thankful FOR every thing another time, but for now pay attention to that one little word “in.” It’s a simple preposition, nothing more. All it does is point out where you are. And it is “in” every thing that we are told to give thanks.

Are you going through a time of confusion? Give thanks to God for the wisdom and guidance He promises to those who ask!

Are you in pain? No, you don’t have to be thankful for the pain, per se, but certainly give thanks while you are IN pain. Thank God for His mercy and grace. Praise the Lord for His promise to never leave you or forsake you. Thank God for Jesus coming to this earth to suffer so that you could have a High Priest who knows how you feel. Thank Him for the reminder that one day there will be no more pain!

Are in a scary situation? Praise God and thank Jesus for being in your boat! Just think, you could be out on life’s troubled sea all alone, tossed by the waves, but you’re not! If the Master of the wind is the Captain of your vessel, you may get battered by the tempest, but you’ll never sink!  Give thanks for being able to witness the Voice of God speak peace IN your storm.

Remember, giving thanks IN every thing is the will of God IN Christ concerning YOU! Be obedient; give some thanks.

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Filed under Faith, Thanksgiving, worship

Don’t Waste Your Tears

Tearful Verses

If you ever want to a word study through Scripture that will break your heart, do a word study on tears. Just a quick glance will reveal painful examples such as the following:

  • My friends scorn me: [but] mine eye poureth out [tears] unto God. – Job 16:20
  • I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears. – Psalm 6:6
  • Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! – Jeremiah 9:1
  • And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. – Mark 9:24
  • Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. – Acts 20:31

But just as there are heartbreaking verses, so are there ones that offer hope for the hurting, hope for the ones who cry.

  • Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: [are they] not in thy book? – Psalm 56:8
  • For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, [and] my feet from falling. – Psalm 116:8
  • They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. – Psalm 126:5
  • And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. – Revelation 21:4

Don’t Waste Them

This evening I met with a young couple for pre-marital counseling. During the two hours that we sat and talked, I took the opportunity to share with them some some painful experiences from my past. I thought it would be helpful for them to hear from someone who knew what consequences felt like, what it was like to shed tears.

wedding picture fourYou see, even though my wife and I have been married for over 20 years, we have had our share of pain; we’ve shed our bottles full of tears. And precisely because of those times, I was able to look into that young couple’s eyes and say with all authority, “Do it God’s way! It’s worth it!”

King David knew what it was like to experience God’s chastisement, but he also knew something good would come from it. He said, “weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). Part of that joy, I believe, is when we see the fruit of yielding ourselves to the Father and seeing Him use our tears to water the seeds of wisdom we sow into others.

Tears are inevitable; everyone will shed them. The tragedy is when no lesson is learned, God is not trusted, and what could have been turned into joy sours the pillow of hopelessness.

Without God, tears are spilt; with God, no tear is wasted.

 

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, God, Life Lessons, ministry

Suicide? Let’s Talk.

“God moment.” 

This morning, before I started working on a post which I had originally intended to write, I did the usual glance-over of posts on blogs I follow. (By the way, when you’re away from the computer for a few days, it’s amazing how many blog posts can be written by other people!) That’s when I came across a post on Conform to Christ, “What does the Bible say about Suicide?

Once I read the above post, I could not help but to lend some kind of response. The article did a decent job of presenting a biblical perspective on the subject, but I felt it needed some additional perspective. So, I wrote my comment, submitted it, then planned to get back to writing a post on my own blog. That’s when I re-read my comment, thought about it, and felt the overwhelming need to re-share my comment here.

I feel this is a “God moment.” Somebody needs to read this.

My Perspective

I am very well acquainted with the issue of suicide – very well acquainted. As a matter of fact, I have had a long history of dealing with the temptation, nearly following through [with a 12 gauge] back in my teen years. Now, even as a pastor, the thoughts still come, they still haunt. Unfortunately, once a person has crossed a certain line, things are never the same.

Nevertheless, I know that I am still here for multiple reasons, the most important of which is the glory of God. But even though I know “the words,” … suicidal thoughts can attack when I least expect them, and especially when I do. But I have come to understand that suicide is a LIE: it will not, it cannot, fulfill its promises. No matter the circumstances, suicide will not accomplish its goals. At most it may get others’ attention, but it robs one of the opportunity to see the problem fixed…to see what God could have done.

For the most part, I believe suicide is an attempt by the hurting to get others to notice, to empathize. But what Satan enjoys doing is blinding us to two very important facts:

  1. We are NOT alone in our pain.
  2. God NEVER wastes a tear.

The One who literally laid His life down so that we could live walks with us, just like Daniel’s friends in the Babylonian furnace. And no matter the pain, no matter the situation, no matter the shame, there is someone else out there who needs us to shoulder up to them and say, “I understand.”

 Seek Help

Coming from someone who has walked down the suicidal road for 30+ years, never try to deal with this on your own. Fight the temptation to put a wall between yourself and others. If you are struggling, God already has someone prepared to be a shoulder to lean on. Seek help!

You may even be a Christian and find yourself thinking, “How does Jesus understand what I’m going through? He never sinned!” I used to think that, too! And if not for my dad knocking on my bedroom door to see how I was doing, I might have pulled the trigger on that shotgun…all because I though God didn’t understand.

But here’s the thing: Jesus not only bore your sin on the cross, He bore your shame, too! As a matter of fact, the Bible even says that He who knew no sin, “became sin” for us (2 Corinthians 5:21)! In other words, if guilt is behind what you feel right now, and you think nobody could understand or has walked in your shoes – Jesus understands!

Your sin is what He took to the cross, and it was the shame of THAT sin He felt as He hung there – instead of you! …FOR you!

If you are feeling suicidal, talk to somebody about it. Find a good, Christian counselor who isn’t legalistic and judgmental, but understands God’s grace and mercy. In other words, if you are feeling suicidal, I’m sure there’s someone available who’s not only sympathetic, but knows the “Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3).

Your life is priceless because of Who was paid for it; don’t throw it away.

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Filed under Christian Living, Life/Death, self-worth, Struggles and Trials