Endurance Can Speak Volumes About Faith

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My stomach didn’t feel right. It wasn’t long afterwards that something I caught or ate fully manifested itself. The worst of it gradually subsided over the next four days. However, new symptoms appeared. I was very hungry. I was tired of being lethargic. I longed for the motivation to accomplish something on my to-do list. I was bored of daytime television. Plain and simple, I was grumpy!

I knew this detour of sickness would be short-lived and minor in the big picture of my life. Why is it so hard to endure when I am in the midst of troubling circumstances? Why do I struggle to gracefully handle a couple of bad days?

I want to be one that rises to the occasion and follows the examples shared in the Bible of how to endure suffering. Jesus knew the depths of suffering, punctuated by separation from His Father, yet never sinned. Once Paul had a personal encounter with Jesus, his life became very messy with opportunities seized to glorify God. Endurance can speak volumes about one’s faith.

Maybe you are like me and still learning how to endure joyfully. God uses our circumstances to remind us that He will never leave us nor forsake us. May the experiences we would rather avoid draw us closer to God’s heart.

The following principles have helped me to strive for endurance with patience and joy.

1) Embrace Suffering:

Or perhaps more aptly described: give into it. There are times when we are to put everything else on hold and focus on the suffering in order to rest and heal.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

2) Make the Most of Suffering

Suffering is oftentimes the best platform to share our faith. People are paying attention to your life and want to know the reason for your hope.

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and  respect. (1 Peter 3:15)

3) Pace Yourself

Rely on God’s grace for your good and remove your expectations. We are to desire more of God’s agenda and less of ours.

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39)

4) Reach Out to Others

Ask for prayers. We can’t endure in our own strength as life is too hard. Victory comes through our prayers and the prayers of others.

As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. (Exodus 17:11-12)

5) Keep Praising God

Worship fixes our eyes on Him, softens our hearts to receive, and causes joy to well up from deep inside.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

6) Trust God

We don’t have to figure it all out to endure. Rather, we trust that God has it all figured out and is using our circumstances for His good.

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. (Genesis 50:20)

 

 

 

The Evolution Of Prayer

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I have noticed the evolution in my prayer life. It starts with a problem: an emotional hurt, a troubling physical symptom, or fear of the unknown. My first reaction in prayer is to wish the trouble away. “God, please remove this from my life.” Or in other words, I don’t want to deal with this.

When the trouble doesn’t go away, I pray for God to make it a non-issue. “God, please make it not a big deal in my life.” I ask God to take the trouble and make it simply an annoyance. My hope is that it becomes something I can ignore most of the time or even forget temporarily.

When the trouble becomes a big deal in my life, I ask God to use it for my good. “Lord, open my eyes to see the lessons that you have for me.” When I have to deal with an issue, the process in conjunction with the Holy Spirit’s guidance more clearly defines my faith and refines my witness. Growth and maturity result as an answer to prayer.

I like to think that I am a fast learner. I can pick out specific lessons for trials in my life. The real problem is that I forget to apply the lessons and inevitably slide backwards. That’s when I pray, “God, may you use this for your glory!” Finally, I have reached the point where my prayers are not about me!

I desire God’s glory to be reflected through the circumstances of my life. God’s glory becomes personal as His peace settles over my mind and my heart. Oftentimes, the reason for the prayer remains the same, but I am changed. My problems feel smaller and my God feels closer as I exalt Him. God’s answer to my prayers was the evolution of power and intimacy in my relationship with Him: which is exactly what God desired for me and what I needed from Him all along!

Romans 8:28-29

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

2 Corinthians 4:16-17

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

 

 

 

The Highest Compliment

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As a late bloomer in regards to writing, I am grateful for the encouragement to keep writing. Guest-blogging for a fellow writer is always a high honor, but not the highest compliment. Being asked by a friend, the editor of a quarterly magazine for a local newspaper, to submit an article is confirmation of my abilities. Seeing my name in print is still not the highest compliment. Retirees, needing a write-up on their volunteer activity, asked me to compose it. Their thank you was a gift card. Even being paid for my writing was not the highest compliment.

The highest compliment was my card propped up on a bedside table. I did not personally know this person who was a cancer patient in hospice. As part of the ministry Cancer Hope, I send cards with a message of Christ’s love. (Read my previous post on Cancer Hope.) I don’t remember what I wrote, but I know that the words were inspired by the Holy Spirit and prayed over before being mailed. After the woman died, I heard from a family member (in the ministry) that my card was near their loved one in her final days.

The highest compliment was that God chose me to write His words of comfort and to share His love. Evidence of the highest compliment was a simple homemade card that will be our special connection for all of eternity in heaven. Hearing God, being a vessel for God and touching lives will always be the highest compliment in my book.

2 Corinthians 4:7

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

Psalm 126:5

Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.