God’s Mercy Amidst Suffering

Mother & Child

Mother & Child (Photo credit: Andy Magee)

 

Today, I advocated for my daughter. I educated. I informed. I explained. I defended. I took her to get medical attention, during which I did more explaining and educating and ended up getting exactly the care she needed at the right time. Most of all, I was her voice, because no one believes a 12 year old child who is missing so much classroom time because of these issues. No one but Mama. And by the grace and sovereignty of God, He saw fit to allow me to have this same illness so that I could know what she is going through-so that I could understand. I could believe her. I could be her place of refuge when no one else would believe her. And, He knew that without me suffering from this disorder myself, I, too, would be one of those saying “This can’t be real. She must not want to go to school. She must be exaggerating or just avoiding class.” Oh, thank God He saw fit to allow me to suffer with this so that I could understand, know, FEEL, what she feels, and be her voice, not the 12 year old voice that no one hears but the Mama voice that speaks loud and dares anyone to doubt her. Thank you, God, for allowing your mercies to be seen amidst suffering. For it is through your mercies that we feel your love and embrace even in the midst of trials and suffering and pain.

 

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

 

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Citrus Magic is right!

Citrus aurantiifolia: Fruits and foliage.

Citrus aurantiifolia: Fruits and foliage. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Time for another great product review!! I have been using this magical stuff called “Citrus Magic” because it smells wonderful, and it is a natural alternative to “Lysol” and other harsh sprays. Well, it doesn’t really disinfect like Lysol, but it also eliminates smells instead of covering them up. And Lysol irritates my asthmatic family. Seriously, it smells like you just cut open a fresh orange and squirted it all over the room, only you didn’t and there’s no sticky mess!! All Moms should know about this product. The BEST air freshener I have used-ever. It is made from essential oils and does not use aerosols. Win-win!! Try it, seriously.

 

http://citrusmagic.beaumontproducts.com/

 

Roadblocks and Obstacles

Frustration

Frustration (Photo credit: music2work2)

Disappointment? Frustration? Even anger? What do we do when we hit roadblocks on the way to where we want to go? Often times, these “roadblocks” come in the form of people, people who will not do what we want them to do in order for us to get where we want to go. The natural tendency is to become frustrated with them. “Why won’t they just do what I am asking them to do so I can get on with this plan?”

However, God has been showing me something very cool about these obstacles over the last few years. And, that is to embrace the obstacles and to understand that: 1) Those obstacles are simply “bumper guards” to keep us on the track He has set before us (much like the bumper guards that they put out for children when they go bowling). 2) God will use the obstacles in His big plan for us, one way or the other-may not be the original plan we had but He will use it for our good. 3) There is no obstacle He cannot remove, move, or use to get us to our destination.

So, in looking at obstacles that way, I understand that my momentary frustration with an obstacle, be it a person or a thing, is just that-momentary. It does not last long because I know that He will get me to where He wants me to be in His timing and the obstacle can become a stepping stone.

You see, I believe that there is nothing we can do to escape or mess up His plan for our lives. We can always take a detour through our own poor choices, but ultimately His plan for our lives will be carried out.

It is this truth that makes the frustrating moments and days not-so-frustrating and even exciting as I think about…”Hmm, wonder what He’s up to now. There really must be more to this plan than I initially thought. God is definitely up to something.”

 

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11

 

So on days like today I just remind myself-its all part of the journey. This person blocking my way is not the problem. The problem is the problem and this person is simply not a part of the solution. 

Pain, Fatigue, Guilt, and Hope

Hope

Hope (Photo credit: bitzcelt)

Every day I hurt. Every day, I am tired. Not like the good kind of tired where you have worked hard all day and you feel satisfied and fulfilled from a job well done. No, this is the kind of tired where you sometimes have to stop and sit down while you wait for the elevator. This is the kind of tired where you sit down on the couch to have a snack and realize you forgot your drink and think, “Dear Lord, how bad do I want that drink? It’s all the way over there..”

My new “normal” has become pain, fatigue, and guilt. Why the guilt? Guilt because I can no longer be the mom and wife, friend, daughter, sister, etc, I used to be. I cannot run around the yard and throw the football with the kids because I hurt, and the activity will make it worse. Guilt because it takes all I have to “give” at work all day, and I “give through the pain and fatigue and well, by the time I get home, I have little to nothing left. Guilt because I take medicine just to feel some kind of normal, and I don’t really “believe” in medicine. I mean, what kind of a hypocrite am I? Guilt because church attendance has become another chore (which doesn’t get done), something that my body just cannot get on board with because, uh, you guessed it by now, pain and fatigue.

The new question has become, “Is this what my life is going to be like?” And, “Is this not just a little flare? Is this it? And, how much worse is it going to get?” Another doctor visit, more tests, and more, “Here try this medicine.” Another medicine I have “failed” at because the side effects debilitated me more than the pain itself and didn’t fix the pain, anyway. Another wish to cry out to the doctor, “Do you have ANY idea how much this hurts? Every day? All day?” And, no I don’t want those other pills, the ones that have all the atrocious side effects (like lymphoma, for example).

And, then, the realization sets in…they cannot help me. I am on my own. The doctors can’t fix this. Silence…Where is my hope? I need hope…And then, “ I lift up my eyes to the hills–where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2.  I pray, I cry out to God and ask for wisdom. I claim His promises for me. He promises not to withhold His wisdom from us when we ask. In fact, He says he will graciously give it to us.

And, I recall learning about a wonderful Integrative Medicine doc…I have hope restored, not just in the doc, but in the God who reminded me to go in that direction. Despite the pain that is still there, burning, throbbing, reminding me of its tenacity and power, I have hope. Hope in a God who is bigger and more powerful than my pain. Hope in a doctor who is carrying her God-given purpose on this earth. Hope for His plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans for a hope and a future. Hope that says, “He never would allow anything to come upon me that He did not plan to use for my good and His glory.” I WILL trust in Him! I WILL press through the pain! I WILL believe that on the other side of this, there will be beauty. There is beauty in the suffering, for it is through the suffering that we come to know Him better, love others better, and know that Christ’s power rests in us to do ALL things through Christ who strengthens us.

So, though I am not cured instantly, not set free from my affliction, strangely, I have a little more peace knowing that He gave me HOPE. He has not forgotten me. He sees every tear that is shed and He has saved them in a bottle (Psalm 56:8).

My new normal is not normal, but then, nothing is here in this fallen world. This is not our ultimate destination. But, thank God, we have the hope of the life that is to come, and we have His loving hand to hold as we journey through this world as well as opportunities to love others who are suffering as well. There is purpose in the pain. I WILL push through it to the purpose, even if I do not learn of it until I cross to the other side. He will not let it be wasted. I have hope!

The Abraham Test

English: Abraham embraces his son Isaac after ...

English: Abraham embraces his son Isaac after receiving him back from God (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

So, why would God ask you to do something that would require incredible sacrifice from your family in order to carry it out? So, you lay it all on the line, go in with faith that requires reckless abandon, and pursue, pursue, pursue. Yet, roadblocks form, and as it turns out, you are unable to carry out what you were certain God was leading you to do. Why would God ask you to do such a difficult thing, only to have you fail before you even get there? Well, he asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham brokenheartedly obeyed, made the preparations. He must have been so confused, thinking this did not make any sense-this child was his promise from God…Then, he got there and God released him from the mission just as he raised the knife. So, what was the point of the whole mission? I never understood that story or even made much attempt to, until recently. But now, I think I have a beginning of a sense of what God was doing.

 

He was breaking Abraham’s heart, making sure that the very gifts that He had given Abraham were not becoming idols in his life. He was also exercising Abraham’s faith muscles as well as his obedience muscles. God never intended for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. God did not change his mind and have mercy on Isaac and Abraham at the last minute. I believe that God planned all along to retract his command for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. I also believe He knew Abraham’s heart, and He knew that Abraham would be heartbroken over the command but would obey out of his bigger love for God. He knew that Abraham would pass the test. God never gives us a test where we are set up to fail. He gives us tests where we are set up to grow. So, for those times when we are “led” to do something and it fails, sometimes we may very well have totally flubbed up hearing what He wants us to do, missed the mark, screwed up to put it crudely. Or, we may have made some other error along the way.

 

Or, perhaps, He never intended for the plan to succeed in the first place. Perhaps the “success” is in the obedience, not in the end result that we envisioned. The “success’ is in the “willingness” to set out on the journey, not on reaching the destination. And, on a side note, in other cases, where He does intend for us to reach the destination but perhaps we do not make it there due to, say, some “error” we make along the way, do we really think that we are big enough to overcome the will and plans of God? After all, as they say, Abraham was “too old,” Joseph was abused, Moses stuttered, David was an adulterer, and Elijah was suicidal. The list goes on. I mean, really, can we honestly believe that we can escape the will of God just by one mistake, or two or even three? “Where can I go from your Spirit?
 Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” Psalm 139:7-10.

 

So, it is pretty freeing to think that God will not allow us to miss His will for our lives or to mess up so badly that His purpose for our lives is overridden by our humanness. So, when we pursue an avenue that we are “led” to pursue, and it does not “work out” we can rest in knowing that perhaps the test was in the obedience. Or, perhaps we were mistaken in taking that path, but the obedience in pursuing a path we believed was of Him is still honored, and He will set us on the right path. His mercies really never end. Deep breath. Soak in the grace, mercy, and freedom to fail, and His love that is so deep and so wide that we literally cannot flee from it. 

Prisoner of my Purpose

Prisoner of my Purpose

Ever feel like a prisoner of your own purpose? When a purpose is God-appointed, it will follow you even when you wish it would go away. It will hunt you down like a dog when you try to run away … Continue reading