Tag Archives: encouragement

Suffering is Not Magic and Mountaintops

 Scripture is clear, that God uses times of trouble and pain in our lives to sanctify us- making us more like Jesus. As Romans 5:3-4 says “we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” But sometimes that truth gets presented as if suffering is a magic pill you swallow, making you grow at rapid fire speed.

It is also clear that suffering can cause us to rely on God more wholly, and draw closer to Him. As one of my favorite psalms says: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18).” People often experience that God’s presence seems nearer to them, and their fellowship with Him is sweetened, during times of great pain. But is that always the case? Do sufferers live on a perpetual mountaintop experience of closeness to God?

It’s not a super hard question really. I mean, have you ever had a stomach flu? Or even a bad head cold? Did you feel super close to God all day, every day, while you walked through that? When your head was hung over the toilet, were you amazed with the godly attitude that just seemed to rush over you the more you vomited? Probably not, right?

Because suffering is still suffering, and it feels like suffering. It doesn’t often feel like magic and mountaintops.

I’m sharing this because I’ve wrestled with it. Christians, myself included, talk a lot about the deep things they have learned through suffering, but sometimes our talk might leave people with a sanitized view, like suffering draws a tidy straight line towards Jesus and holiness, and those who walk the path are always glowing. During the most challenging year of my life, when I felt anything but glowing, my number one question was: Why doesn’t it feel like God is bringing anything good out of this? Continue reading

O Love That Will Not Let Me Go: A Hymn For The Weary and Discouraged

One of the reasons I love this hymn, written in 1882 by George Matthison, is for its rich poetic content. If you like, here is the story surrounding the hymn. The lyrics deserve to be read slowly, and you will find Chris Rice’s version of the song below.

“O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.”

A verse that comes to my mind is Psalm 119:25 “My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word.” The composer is a weary soul, a flickering torch, in pain, in rain, laying down in the dust, feeling as though this life’s glory is dead. But he knows what he needs. And he knows that what he needs will not be found within himself. He knows there is another source. Continue reading

Just Me and My 2 Year Old

I love my 2 year old to pieces. We laugh, dance, tickle, sing, and read together every single day. We take slow walks, picking up rocks and sticks, sitting on logs and calling them boats, petting puppies and finding a world full of treasure in a puddle (you know like nut shells and dead leaves, that kind of thing). We also have melt downs- or near melt downs- every single day. That’s one of the parts of parenting I could do without. Continue reading

Jesus My Saviour, My Friend, My Coming King

Who has loved me more than Jesus, when He bore my sin away?  As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed my transgressions from me.  Oh what a Saviour!  Mighty Redeemer is He!  He took my shame and bore God’s wrath to set this captive free.

And now what friend do I have like Jesus, who at sun down watches over my sleep?  He keeps account of my tossings; He puts my tears in His bottle, are they not all written down?  Who knows my frame like the Lord does?  He remembers that I am but dust.  He does not keep His anger forever, or treat me as my sins deserve.  What rest I have in Jesus!  He who keeps me in the palm of His hand will never leave me or forsake me.  If I am faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.

I love You so my Jesus, who hears my every prayer, who treats me with compassion, who covers me with care.  Even in the darkness His word is a lamp unto my feet and I know that He is working out His perfect will for me.

Who gives hope for the future like Jesus?  The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.  The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue.  Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, but blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.

Jesus Christ, my friend and Lord, I know that He is coming swiftly.  Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay.  He who has overcome death is coming, He who destroys the power of sin is coming, and He who has loved me from the foundations of the world- He is coming. 

Psalm 73:4 “You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.”