“I Will Rise”

(Job 23: 13-14, The Message) “But he is singular and sovereign. Who can argue with him?  He does what he wants, when he wants to.  He’ll complete in detail what he’s decided about me, and whatever else he determines to do.”


I hear ya, Job. 

A few years back, this was where I seemed to be lingering.  I was going through a very tough period in my life.  I had lost one of my grandfathers to Alzheimer’s Disease, one of my grandmothers was placed in a nursing home due to the same condition, my other grandmother passed away after 3 years of suffering the aftereffects of a severe stroke, and my dad was also diagnosed with early onset, rapidly progressing Alzheimer’s…as well as another type of dementia.  This all took place in a matter of months.  My inner strength was already faltering due to miscarriages and negative reports from my doctor about the condition of my reproductive system, so when the bad news just continued to pour in, I pumped the brakes and literally said to God, “What in the world??”  I was in every kind of pain…physical, emotional, spiritual and mental.  I spent a lot of time crying…just spells of hard sobs that came from a deep place of anguish…and when the crying finally ceased, I fell numb.  One day I looked at my husband and I said, “I have stopped asking God for anything.  He just does what He wants, so why even ask anymore?”  I meant it too.  I hadn’t stopped believing, or praying even…I still spoke to God regularly.  In my hurt and sorrow I would sing, “Peace, peace, wonderful peace.  Coming down from the Father above.  Sweep over my spirit, forever I pray, in fathomless billows of love.”  I would tell God how much I hurt, and I wasn’t mad…just broken and defeated.  I was absolutely in a Job-like place. 

We are human, so we get into funks like that.  We want answers and resolutions.  We get very involved in the flesh and as a result our requests become centered around our own desires and ideas of what we think is best.  Our understanding is very limited and small in comparison to God’s omniscience, so it’s extremely difficult for us to see the master plan beyond what we are experiencing.  We are blind in many ways, and instead of trusting our guide, we instead try to feel our way around.  Then we get angry or upset when we bump into things and get hurt!  So what do we do then?  We just stand there in the safest spot we can find, still and useless…and pouty. 

Well I got tired of being the useless and pouty believer, just taking up space and fulfilling obligations.  I had to trust my guide, because standing still was making me crazy!  I thought I knew what was best and I was wrong…it was time to accept that.  In my human brain I thought things like, “How can Alzheimer’s be in God’s plan for someone’s life?”  Yet in my spirit, the Lord began to whisper His truths, the truths of His word, and it was brining me back to life.

8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.

    “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.

9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,

    so my ways are higher than your ways

    and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. 

(Isaiah 55: 8-9, The Message)

The truth is, we do not always know what He is doing through these things that happen…you know, the things we just don’t understand.  However, as hard as it is at times to walk in faith, there is peace when we trust Him.  Romans 15: 13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  We are not promised understanding; we are entitled to nothing.  Our faith is a work in progress, but it begins with trust.  Without that, our faith is dead.  In these days, which are likely the last, we are being watched by the world.  Our actions, reactions, and all of the words we speak in faith are being observed.  Let us be ever mindful that what we say we believe is what we must live

(Hebrews 12: 1-4) 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. 3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. 4 After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.


Prayer:  Heavenly Father, when I hurt, help me to remember that You have suffered the greatest anguish.  Help me to trust You, always, so that I live a life of joy and peace…reflecting Your strength and love to the world.  Amen.

“Even When It Hurts”

(Job 5: 17-18)  17 “But consider the joy of those corrected by God!  Do not despise the discipline of the Almighty when you sin.  18 For though he wounds, he also bandages.  He strikes, but his hands also heal.


Years ago, one of my cousins was in a terrible mountain-biking accident when he was a young(er) man.  He was awfully disfigured and underwent numerous surgeries in order to regain a normal appearance…meaning — an appearance that wouldn’t cause people to wince and/or ask questions everywhere he went.  The doctors called it reconstructive surgery.  Throughout the process of these procedures, which took years to complete, my cousin had to endure a lot of pain both physically and emotionally.  The surgeries were painful.  He had bone removed from his skull and placed into his gums, so that he could have dental implants to replace the teeth he’d lost.  He had skin grafts and pins, and everything else that goes into reconstructing a crushed face.  I am sure there came a point for him when just the thought of going to the doctor was enough to send him into hiding, but he had to continue on through the pain to get the desired results…reconstruction.  He had to trust the surgeon completely.  He had to remember that the surgeon’s intention was not to harm him, but to make him whole again.  Sure, the surgeon’s hands wounded him, so to speak, but over those cuts and sutures were gently and carefully placed bandages. 

Our lives sometimes bring us into places where we are wounded beyond recognition.  Our choices lead us into situations, though at times out of our control, that disfigure our spirits…and we have to be lifted into safety and undergo some tough reconstruction.  We have to trust God in that pain.  We have to understand that His hands sometimes have to wound us in order to correct us.  Like the locked jaw that has to be broken, then wired shut for a time, before it is mended and corrected.  It’s not fun, and it hurts, but we have to trust that the process is worth the outcome. 

10 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. 11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.  (Hebrews 12: 10-11)

When I was little, I was the kid that needed some (okay…a LOT of) spankings and discipline.  I constantly had to be reminded (because of my impulsiveness, impatience and quick temper) that I was making poor choices.  My parents had to, at times, strike me (usually on the butt), but were always quick with a loving hug and healing words of grace and encouragement.  Well, I’m 37 years old and I still need those reminders…only now they almost exclusively come from my Heavenly Father.  He sometimes has to lovingly reach down and (figuratively so) slap some sense into me!  And I desperately need those reminders.  Maybe it comes in the form of embarrassment, or internal conviction…sometimes it’s having hurt feelings…or causing them.  However it may come to pass, I recognize my Father’s discipline for what it is, and though I don’t enjoy it (not by any means), I am able to reflect back on it and be thankful that He loves me enough to help me learn from and correct my mistakes. 


Prayer:  Heavenly Father, I thank you for your eye of concern that is always fixed on little ole me.  Help me to love the process, even when it hurts.  Amen.

I Thought You Were My Friend!

20 My companion stretched out his hand against his friends; he violated his covenant. 21 His speech was smooth as butter, yet war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords. 22 Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

Likely, each of us has experienced the pain of a relationship break up. It happens in a variety of ways. Sometimes, we just gradually grow apart. For instance, I have fond memories of high school and college friends that I am no longer close with because of geographic separation. The same is true with colleagues I once worked with. Friendships grew out of opportunities to collaborate on common goals and projects. But, once the season of teamwork was complete, new assignments made it difficult to remain close.

As a child, I remember taking family vacations to Alabama to visit grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins. We cousins always made the most of our opportunities to share new ways to play games, laugh at new jokes together, and terrorize the neighborhood. But, time moved on and we became adults with our own families and responsibilities to attend to.

Psalm 55 tells a different story. The Psalmist reflects upon a relationship gone sour; a friend had become an enemy. This was not a gradual growing apart. This was a case of hurt feelings and purposeful retaliation coming from someone who had been an equal, a companion, and familiar friend.

David writes, “For it is not an enemy who taunts me— then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me—then I could hide from him. 13 But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. 14 We used to take sweet counsel together; within God’s house we walked in the throng.”

While in seminary, I took a class on conflict resolution. I learned that the deepest wounds are often inflicted by the individuals closest to us.

As a pastor, I’ve talked with many people who spent their childhood being verbally, physically, and sexually assaulted by parents. This evil brand of abuse can stay with a person for many years, exacting waves of depression that seem impossible to overcome.

Spouses typically fall into this category. I truly believe that one of the reasons God hates divorce as much as He does is because of the deep scars it leaves behind. It can be especially devastating when someone you have shared the intimate details of your life with decides to leave. Some never recover from these wounds.

Is there hope? I believe there is! It is found in the one relationship that can heal the hurts of life. David knew that! He counsels us to, “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” Did you catch that? He will sustain you! That’s good news.

I want you to be encouraged today. I realize that you may be experiencing the pain that comes from a broken relationship. But, remember, God loves you! He won’t leave you comfortless. He’ll always be beside you. As the old song says…

What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear
And what a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer

Oh, what peace we often forfeit
Oh, what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged
Take it to the Lord in prayer

Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness
Take it to the Lord in prayer

PRAYER: Father, thank you for being my friend. Earthly relationships can be unfriendly, unkind, and fleeting. Help me to never be like that. I would rather be like You; faithful, kind, loving, and trustworthy. I’m committed to that! Amen.