Three Things to Do When the Pain Won’t Quit

Romans 12:12

Three Things to Do When the Pain Won’t Quit

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12 (NIV)

I once wrote about the rough edges of a smooth life. I remember a chaotic and exhausted feeling from fighting a never-ending bout of nerve pain. I had to make an active choice to be joyful because choosing to be joyful while enduring serious pain is not a natural tendency for any of us. It was not easy to do. It required a lot of perseverance and clinging to hope. Not just the hope that this would end “right now!” but a deeper hope that all of this painful mess was designed for a greater good.

The more I focused on finding joy outside of myself and focusing on the presence of God, hope became a vibrant reality. This new-found hope is strengthening my patience to endure a little longer. One day at time…just a little longer, to be patient with this interruption in life named affliction.

So two of the things to do when the pain won’t stop is to be joyful in hope and patient in affliction. The third is to be faithful in prayer.

I’m not joyful and I’m not patient unless I am faithful in prayer. I don’t want to settle for mere relief when God is offering all of himself. It’s because of this relentless discomfort that I am praying more. Not just praying for myself but for family, friends, for people I haven’t met yet, for the city I live in, for the church where I worship and serve, and for the community of relationships I have across the world serving in Haiti, Togo, Mexico, the Ukraine, Thailand, the Philippines, Belarus, Indonesia, Uganda…I know there are more. This is becoming a worship experience during the very early hours of morning when the sky is still dark and everyone else is sleeping.

Three things to do…and all three are gifts from God, comforting us in our heart-of-hearts, giving us much more than better circumstances.

Be joyful in hope
Be patient in affliction
Be faithful in prayer

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A Staggering Promise

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A Staggering Promise |40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 23

Reflections on Romans 1 – 8

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28 (ESV)

There is a promise written above. It is staggering in size and should fill a searching heart with answers and real hope. Read it again and let it sink deep into your mind. There are two words that jump off the page when I consider this promise. Two words: all things.

All things mean all things. All things mean the good, the bad, the horrible, the wonderful, the tragic, the beautiful, the painful, and everything else.

The infinitely wise, infinitely powerful God pledges to make everything beneficial to his people. [1] From where we stand, we can’t see whether it’s something good or bad. All we can see is that God’s sovereign and He is always good, working all things for good. [2]

Once you walk through the door of love into the massive, unshakable structure of Romans 8:28 everything changes. The crashing and burning and just plain running out of gas may be what is needed for your roots of faith to dig deeper into this promise. There comes into your life stability and depth and freedom. You simply can’t be blown over any more. The confidence that a sovereign God governs for your good all the pain and all the pleasure that you will ever experience is an absolutely incomparable refuge and security and hope and power in your life. [3]

Whatever You may do, I will thank You.
I am ready for all; I accept all.
Let only Your will be done in me…
And I’ll ask for nothing else, my Lord.
~Charles de Foucauld

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[1] John Piper  [2] Ann Voskamp  [3]  Adapted from personal journal notes of a sermon by John Piper. Also, the comment, “crashing and burning and just plain running out of gas” is a quote I recall from reading the book, Stitches by Anne Lamott

About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge

More Blessed to Give

Blessed to Give 3

More Blessed to Give

40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 21

Reflections on Acts 18 – 23

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again.   Acts 20: 35 – 38

Here he is, telling his friends goodbye and reminding them to remember how Jesus lived his life…a life of giving the ultimate sacrifice for others. For you see, this man, Paul, especially knows what’s it like to receive a gift. He is a living testimony of how much the King of Kings gave to him. He was rescued while traveling on a road towards  murder and mayhem. He was already blind in darkness before the righteous blinding of God’s redeeming grace slayed his soul to its knees. He didn’t ask for this grace…he didn’t know that he needed to be rescued. He would not have chosen to see the way of Christ on his own, he would not have asked for the gift of grace on his own…so God chose him to receive it. And now because he has experienced the reality of being rescued with pure glorious light that broke into his darkness, he is truly free to give and give and give some more.

Don’t you see? It’s because we have received much that we are able to give much!

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About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge

The Reality of a GodQuake

Rejoiced with his household 2

The Reality of a GodQuake

40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 20

Reflections on Acts 12 – 17

And when they had inflicted many blows upon [Paul and Silas], they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. Acts 16: 23 – 26

Our agenda apart from God is to have a very safe, tidy little life. God says, “Sacrifice your individual needs for me and my glory!” When God comes into our life, things give way to his glory. Instead of you fitting God into your agenda, he becomes your agenda. He radically changes your priorities.  The reality of God supersedes the most frightening, dark and difficult situation to a place of singing and worshipping him.

When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. Acts 16: 27

Every single person who has met God knows of a time when God went from being a concept into being a reality. There’s always an earthquake when God comes down in the Bible because God’s glory is ultimate. God’s reality shakes everything.

But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Acts 16: 28 – 31

When you get into the presence of the real God, things that you believe very deeply will change, because He’s more glorious than you. God will rearrange everything in your life, as he did in the jailer’s life, to reveal his glory to you. Like the jailer, we cannot deny the reality of a God quake when he moves in our hearts and calls us into his grace.

And they (Paul and Silas) spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he (the jailer) took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God. Acts 16: 32 – 34

The gift is being rescued from a shattered and splintered life into a life of overwhelming peace and joy…the reality of a Godquake.

My personal journal notes from a podcast by Tim Keller, The Gospel and Your Self, was used for this post.

About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge
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Share Good News

Good News to Share copy

Share Good News

40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 19

Reflections on Acts 7 – 11

So Philip ran to [the Ethiopian] and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?”  Acts 8:30, 31,and 35

“Do you understand what you are reading?” No, I do not always understand. I’m thankful for the wisdom of others to teach me and guide me with understanding of timeless truths.  For years, my husband and I have been “joined at the hip” with a group of friends in a Life Group…where we live life together, work through our messes together, and explore the Word of God together. We take turns meeting in each other’s home. We laugh a lot, we eat a lot, and sometimes we need to cry on each other’s shoulder.  It’s a beautiful thing to have friends share good news, the gospel grace, each time we meet. The good news they share flows from them quite naturally and refreshingly so.

I recently read an interesting comment by Trevin Wax about the distinction between “sink Christians” and “faucet Christians.” Sink Christians, he says, view salvation as something to soak up. It fills the sink and they soak in the benefits (heaven, peace, Jesus, etc.). Faucet Christians see salvation as something that comes to them in order to flow out through them to the rest of the world as a blessing to others, as a pipe carries water from its source to a parched land. I like that!

I like to think of the ones investing in my life as “faucet Christians”…pouring on the grace with patience, having a casual conversation to explain the scriptures, much like Philip did with the new friend he met on a dusty desert road.

…Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.
“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter
and like a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he opens not his mouth.
In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken away from the earth.”
Acts 8: 32 – 35

Good things happen when God is involved in our casual conversations…

“And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the [Ethiopian] said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the [Ethiopian], and he baptized him. Acts 8: 36 – 38 

We have much to talk about. Much to rejoice about! The season of Lent is not all sweetness and light, and the story we will remember in a couple of weeks is full of violence and cruelty. But in the midst of it all, there is the undercurrent of beauty and the triumph of Hope in the distance. And this is what we celebrate! [1]

Share good news!

“…and [the Ethiopian] went on his way rejoicing.” Acts 8:39

[1] A quote from my friend, Amy Frank | The Celebration Project | Beauty and Ashes 

Good News to Share 1

About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge
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A Promise for You and Your Children

Isla and John Day 1

A Promise for You and Your Children

40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 18
Reflections on Acts 1 – 6

For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself. Acts 2:39

As a parent and grandparent, I never want my children and grandchildren to ever doubt a promise I make to them. When I make a promise, I have given my word…I am determined to keep that promise. I want the ones I love most to trust me, to take me at my word, to never doubt that I will do what I say. Granted, I am careful with what I promise because it hurts so bad whenever a promise is broken. Sadly, I’ve broken a few promises even with trying to be so very careful. I’ve disappointed the ones that I love the most.

On this personal journey with 40 Gifts of Lent, I am  discovering and unwrapping a new gift…delivered daily, from the pages of the life-giving Word. The amazing gift is God always keeps his promise. God brings glory to himself by forever keeping his promise. He will never disappoint. The Word he gives is the only true word we can truly trust, without a doubt.

In the beginning, a promise was made to us. A promise was made by the Covenant maker to us…the humanity of covenant breakers. Clearly, he has spoken commands and warnings for us to heed. If we would simply stop, look, and listen (profound words my 3 year old granddaughter says we must do) to his Word of promise, we would love our neighbor, we would be fruitful in our work and ministry, we would we wise with our finances, we would be giving to people in need, we would be more compassionate…

The gift God hands to us is a changed life, by believing his promise of sending his son to rescue us from all of our history of breaking promises and all of our future failures of speaking shallow lifeless words we can’t keep…”I promise, I will not do this again!”

The amazing beautiful gift of God’s forever promise is for me and my children and my grandchildren and beyond!

Stop, look and listen…he is calling you. He is calling you that are far away from him.

A promise for you and your children

A promise for you and your children

Isla and Me

For the promise is for you and your children

About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge
 
 

The Source of Joy

Joy and Delight 2

The Source of Joy

40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 17
Reflections on John 15 – end

“I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing…I have told you these things, that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy and gladness may be of full measure and complete and overflowing.”  John 15: 5 and 11 (Amplified) 

The only way that we can maintain and even increase joy in our lives is to abide in Christ. If we are cut off from Him, we cannot expect to be joyful. It is only under the nourishing hand and tender care of our Lord that we can count it all joy.

It is not surprising that many Christians who spend little time with Christ experience little joy. This is not as it should be. Jesus tells us that only by remaining in Him will we find joy: “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” We can know joy in this life, but it can only come from abiding in Jesus Christ.

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Adapted from, “The Source of Joy” | www.ligonier.org

About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge