When the hurt runs deep

Kay Arthur has written a book entitled “When the Hurt Runs Deep”. She speaks of the many stories garnered via social media when she requested people to share their hurts. Some of the stories shared in the book, she knew from firsthand accounts and involvement. One was of a murder-suicide involving a minister of the gospel; Mrs. Arthur spoke at this funeral. Another involved a parent child abuse situation in which Kay set a woman on the road to healing by expressing her anger at what had taken place in her life. She hints at her own deep hurt involving an adult son who does not accept her life style. The stories all spoke of an intense sense of betrayal and a soul deep wound.

Kay starts the book with the story of Joseph from Genesis. She encourages readers to read the story even if they are familiar with it. Joseph knew great hurt. Job too experienced hurt and betrayal as well from his “brotherhood”. People in the Bible who God used greatly, He allowed to suffer intensely.

One observance I have made is that the deepest hurts come from our own inner circle. No one can wound us as our own family and that includes the members of our church family. The betrayal is never greater than when those who should support and love us do the unthinkable. Joseph lived this when his own brothers sold him into slavery. Job lived through his God fearing brethren assuming his sin guilt was the culprit of the horrible turn of events in his life.

There is something to observe in the lives of those God allows intense hurt to touch. God uses the hurt. Joseph was the man who heard God’s warning and prepared the eastern world for famine. Job showed and still shows what part Satan plays in the destruction in our lives. Job also set an example of praying for those who wrongfully accused him.

Often the church does not respond to such pain well. Some choose to use the Word of God as a hammer to pound the wounded with Scripture detailing how they should think and act. Others want to avoid associating with those who hurt because they do not know how to help. Some teach that if you are suffering you have sinned to lead you to this pain compounding the bewilderment and agony.

If you are hurting, know that Christ too suffered betrayal. His family (the Jewish people) had Him crucified. His inner circle denied Him. He knew it all would occur and came to suffer it still. The end result was too important.

If you are in the midst of the deep hurt, these words will not penetrate. I realize you have to be on the other side of the lowest point for this reasoning to spur you on. I also know that one hurt doesn’t prevent you from suffering more. It may be that you find yourself enduring one painful episode and then another or one compounding upon another. The result is that suffering produces Christ likeness. It is awful to think to become like Christ one must suffer, but the New Testament attests to this premise from Matthew to Revelation.

“For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,” (1 Peter 2:20-21) See the words “called for this purpose”. Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 3:3 about afflictions, “we have been destined for this”.

Your pain does not show that you are unfavored by God or that you have sinned (though you could be suffering justly for sin). It confirms to you that you are His child. Jesus said Himself, “in this world you will have tribulation”.

The true hope lies in His return. The same Paul tells us,”This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire,” 2 Thessalonians 1:5-7

Peter and Paul both wrote to churches suffering affliction. Their goal was to encourage the believers their situation was to be expected, but the sufferings’ end was glory in Christ’s return. I feel the burden to encourage those I know who are suffering. Some are suffering from health issues, some have broken families and others have had personal assaults. Know in your suffering you can shine for Jesus; He is aware, and there is a judgment day. Know too, you are NEVER alone. Encourage yourself in the Lord, read the Word!

Burning within me,

JOY!

Someone to lift up my head

I have been waiting on God for what seems like so long now. I know it’s been awhile, but I cannot pinpoint a date when I actually started. It wears you thin, waiting that is. Whether you are waiting in a doctor’s office or waiting to hear from a loved one or waiting for God to answer a prayer. The time seems amplified.

Last night I lay down discouraged. I couldn’t read the fiction that usually helps lull me to sleep. I picked up my older Bible, a large letter edition of the International Inductive Study Bible. It was my first inductive study Bible. I turned to Psalms where after having marked all the references to God with a purple triangle I had listed what I learned about God in the margins. One of the first pages listed a phrase which gave me pause. Beside the 3rd Psalm I had written the words “Lifts my head”. The actual verse states: “But you are shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.” I imagined God placing his hand under my lowered chin and lifting my face to look into His. The imagery and thought were enough to bring peace and hope. What wonderful words the Father has for us. They are timely words. They are life-giving words.

For those who are struggling or waiting, I want to print more of this comforting Psalm for you.

“But you are a shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head. To the Lord I cry aloud, and he answers me from His holy hill. I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.” Psalm 3:3-5

I pray these words are used by God to “lift up your head”.

Burning within me,

JOY!

Someone needs a blessing

Pastors over the years have encouraged me to speak blessings over my children. I’ve noticed the epistle writers of the New Testament speak blessings in their greetings and salutations. I have come across what I consider a most special blessing in the book of Psalms. As I read it again I thought, what a gift this would be to receive!

Psalm 20

1May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble!

May the name of the God of Jacob set you securely on high!

2 May He send you help from the sanctuary

And support you from Zion!

3 May He remember all your meal offerings

And find your burnt offering acceptable! Selah.

4 May He grant you your heart’s desire

And fulfill all your counsel!

5 We will sing for joy over your victory,

And in the name of our God we will set up our banners.

May the Lord fulfill all your petitions.

6 Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed;

He will answer him from His holy heaven

With the saving strength of His right hand.

7 Some boast in chariots and some in horses,

But we will boast in the name of the Lord, our God.

8 They have bowed down and fallen,

But we have risen and stood upright.

9 Save, O Lord;

May the King answer us in the day we call.

 

If you know someone today who needs uplifting, Psalm 20 is a good start to your words.

Burning within me,

JOY!

P.S. Please feel welcome to pray this for me!  If you would like it prayed for you, share the link with a praying friend.

Glancing versus gazing

Sarah Young writes, “Gaze at God; Glance at problems – this is the secret to living victoriously. This is hard work, because it is not only unnatural but also countercultural.”

As I thought of the many struggling loved ones I know whom I cannot help other than to pray, I remembered these words. I was focused on the problem: medical issues, family issues, spiritual issues, financial issues. I realized I was gazing at problems and not the Problem Solver. In so doing I was trapped in despair and pity. God sent His son to deliver us from such. “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2 He overcame the enemy of our souls and sat down because the job was done. 2 Corinthians 4:18 states, “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.” Which led me to: as we focus on our Father and not on our problems, we realize there is hope. Ah, there is the enemy of despair: hope.  “For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.” Romans 8:24-25  Adrian Rogers says our hope is certainty with anticipation.

Do you know the story of Pandora’s Box? After the curious one let’s all of the evils into the world by opening the forbidden box, the last thing to exit the box is hope. Yes, in this world we have tribulation, trouble and at times desperation. As a friend reminded me tonight we are not of this world, and therefore we will never fit in here. However, we have hope. It is in a merciful Savior and a loving Creator. Spend the majority of your time gazing at the One who gives us hope and just glance at those problems. Problems are a part of the “seen” and “temporary”. Praise God!

One of my departed sisters reminded me often, “Magnify God and shrink the devil.”

Burning within me,

JOY!

The misquote is better

Mark Twain was known for taking sayings and making them uniquely him. For example, he took the proverb, “Familiarity breeds contempt”, and added a couple of words. It then stated, “Familiarity breeds contempt, and children.” I was checking the author of a quote I heard while listening to Adrian Rogers preach. The author of the words “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation” is Thoreau. However, one adaptation of that quote “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them” is not his. I personally gained more from the “misquote”.

I don’t want to go to my grave with the song still in me. I want to live life in a way that let’s my song of praise for the One who designed me and planned my life be heard. I know it requires risk when I am not a risk taker. It requires me to be vulnerable when I am a security craving creature. It requires I follow the beat of the drum God sounds for me instead of the beat of the drum the world pounds loudly in my ears. As Amy Simpson stated today in her blog, it requires I be in my seat not another’s.

Since I was so inspired today, I wanted to inspire you. Don’t quietly pass through life and die with your dream still inside your heart. God planned each of us for His purpose. Find yours, and do it with great joy. If you see me, smile widely and encourage me to be living mine because I see the joy on your face as you live yours.

Burning within me,

JOY!

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14


For the women

My pastor made an interesting statement this morning. “The feminist movement started by men abusing their wives.” He then reemphasized Paul’s words that a man should love his wife as Christ loves the church. As for Christ, “He let a woman in Samaria interrupt His rest, a woman in adultery interrupt his sermon, a woman with a disease interrupt his plans, and one with remorse interrupt his meal.” – Max Lucado

So dear women if you are looking for someone who doesn’t care what teams are playing on ESPN, how long your story, or how much your shape has changed, I know where you can always go. Jesus doesn’t mind the interruption, and He will love you no matter what in life changes. Sometimes, we just need to be reminded: you are never alone. There is One who cherishes you.

Burning within me,

JOY!

The LORD also will be a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble; And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, for You, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You. Psalm 9:9-10

“I will never desert you, nor will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5b

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

My best outfit

I sat at the ball field and noticed the outfit of one of the dads speaking to the team’s coach. He had on dress shorts and a polo shirt. I wondered if he knew there was a paint stain on his britches, or if he was a painter, or if that was the best he had, which led down a rabbit trail of thoughts. I started mentally going through my closet for my best outfit. I settled on the red dress I bought for my niece’s wedding when the Spirit whispered. That’s not your best outfit. Immediately, my robe of righteousness came to mind. I didn’t buy the robe. It was a precious, most expensive gift. In comparison, everything else I own is rags. If you don’t have one, may I tell you how to get one all your own? You don’t have anything to rival it.

This gift came from Christ Jesus. When He went to the cross, He took upon Himself the sin of the world, the whole world, me included. (John 1:29) He put on my rags. (Isaiah 64:6) In exchange for my faith in Him, He placed upon me His robe of righteousness.

As the Lord brought this picture to mind He gave me an illustration of faith. If I promised you a doughnut for breakfast tomorrow at 8:00 a.m., if you had faith in me, you would knock on my door at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow expecting a doughnut. Our faith in Christ is like that. We expect in the day we stand before the judgment seat of God to be able to wear Christ’s robe of righteousness. Knowing we cannot be right with God because of sin, we believe that Jesus has paid that debt in our place. When the time comes, we will escape death and eternal punishment for our trust of His ability to do this for us by what he did on the cross.

If you have not yet made arrangements to wear that robe, I pray you do today. You may not have tomorrow. He may come or you may go, but you can make sure whatever happens – you are wearing the right thing.

Burning within me,

JOY!

I will rejoice greatly in the Lord, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Isaiah 61:10

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, Romans 5:1

For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. Galatians 5:5

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; Ephesians 2:8

Deafened by the world

“Do not be deafened by the noise of the world or that of your own thinking. Instead, be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Sit quietly in His Presence, letting His thoughts reprogram your thinking.” Sarah Young, “Jesus Calling”

Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

The Avenger

If you have suffered abuse, you have an avenger.

1 Thessalonians 4:3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you.

So if no one has believed you or you have not received justice, rest assured there is one who knows and will bring justice for your pain and suffering.

Burning within me,

JOY!

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