Where is God in our suffering?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Today's post comes from Anita at Scattering the Stones

'And when they suffered, God suffered too;

And the messenger of His presence acted to save them.

Out of enduring love, compassion, and concern,

God Himself rescued them.

Through all those years long ago,

God picked them up and carried them through.'

Isaiah 63:9 (The Voice)

Today, are you tempted to wear a mask to hide your true feelings?

Is it a happy mask? You know the one, where your smile is stapled onto your face, and if you dare move your lips, the sheer weight of the sadness, pain, hopelessness, fear or the guilt you feel in your heart, will end up causing your face to plummet to the ground. If Jesus was to stand before you and look into your eyes, would He see an expression of joy that matched up with your carefully applied smile, or would they tell another story?

Being real with one another 


In a world that encourages us to hide our true feelings, no matter where we are in our relationship with God, sometimes the truth we know in our hearts is affected by how we are feeling. Where we are travellers making our way along the journey set before us, there are many mountains we must climb and valleys to walk through. Sometimes that path can feel like it is littered with potholes of every size. 

Life isn't easy! If it was easy we wouldn't have seen the tears shed by our Saviour, as God came in the form of man, to demonstrate His great love for us.   

'My eyes are swollen with weeping, and I am but a shadow of my former self.'

Job 17:7 NLT
 Pain is real, suffering is real, you only have to turn the news on the TV or pick up a newspaper, let alone talk to our friends and neigbours to know that many are suffering. I read a powerful post by Beth Moore the other day called - Big Sisters and Little Sisters, this post received almost 1,000 comments! Talking about real life issues, the daily battles that are affecting each of us; the battle in the spiritual realm being felt in daily life. 

One of the enemies fiery arrows and great lies, is to make us feel that we are alone, through whatever we are going through. We often can't see how there may be thousands of others, struggling with similar issues that we do. Sometimes we just don't understand how anyone, including God, can truly know the true extent of how we feel, or worry about how other's will see us.   

'My heart is troubled and restless. Days of suffering torment me.'

Job 30:27 NLT

 When we are tired and our hearts are heavy from the burden of troubles, physical or mental pain, the very act of suffering tears at our heart, tormenting our minds and bodies. With the weight often becoming unbearable; hope often feeling very far away, wondering if we will get through it all. But there is great hope, we need to listen to the voice of our Saviour whispering to us, 'give Me your burdens' (Ps 55:22).
In the middle of the battle, it may feel like God has turned His head in the opposite direction, as though He has closed His ears to our pain; with our prayers seemingly left unanswered. We may be persecuted and struck down, but we will never be abandoned by our God (2 Cor 4:9) . We only have to read the book of Psalms to catch a glimpse of the process of suffering right through to songs of praise of God's glory, in the middle of the writer's darkest hour and the revelation of God's grace.

'I am suffering and in pain. Rescue me, O God, by your saving power.'

Psalm 69:29 NLT
If there has ever been a time that we need to be real with one another, to lift one another up in love as God intended, to our LORD who listens to the cries of our hearts, it is now!

We need one another; Jesus knew this, and demonstrated how real love should be.

Instead of judging and criticising one another, praise for our Saviour needs to be on our lips, reflecting Jesus to one another, as the Holy Spirit prompts us from within.

Nothing can separate us from the love of God (Rom 8:31-39)


When the enemy likes to whisper into our brokeness that we are alone, that no one cares, that we can't get through this fiery trial, we need to speak out the words of truth to one another, that God will never leave us (Heb 13.5).

When we feel despair, not knowing where to turn, we need the body of Christ to shelter, encourage and mourn with us in our sorrow, for we have been adopted into God's family (Eph 1:5) 

When we feel overwhelmed (Ps 55:1-2) our first call should be to the King of Kings. He who has recorded every day of our life (Ps 139:16) and every tear shed (Ps 56:8) in His book. 

When we look to God for help though times of pain we are reminded to read the stories of the prophets in God's word, for strength and encouragement, of how God helped them in their struggles (Jas 5:10).   

In our suffering, God suffers too


The powerful, life changing ministry of Jesus, speaks right into the heart of darkness; that tries to overwhelm us, to press us down and imprison us. Our Saviours light is there, for the enemy's darkness will not be able to extinguish the true light! (Jn 1:5) 

When Jesus was suffering greatly with the knowledge that a friend was about to betray Him, handing Him over to his death, Jesus taught the disciples to love one another (Jn 13:34-35). As Jesus waited in the garden of Gethsemane, asking the disciples to watch and pray with Him (Matt 26.41), He felt alone in His time of need, abandonded by His friends, as their flesh was weak. As Jesus cried out to His Father, He wept, asking for the cup of suffering to be removed for Him, but also wanted the will of God to be completed (Mk 14:36). 

Unless we take off that mask, risk being vulnerable with each other, and reach out to our Christian sisters and brothers, they won't know our need. We are many parts of one body, let us be the Church that God intended without walls, and reach out to those who are in need, providing encouragement and support.   

'So in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.'

Romans 12:5 NIV

In our weakness, there is great opportunity to be strong, as we depend on the One who knows our hearts, and everything we go through.   

Power of prayer


Prayer is such an amazing gift! The more I spend time in prayer, the more I fall in love with it. Not only are we able to share our concerns, tears, pain, with our Creator, but it also draws us closer to Him as we present the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ to God. As we come together at the throne of grace.

Let us be real with one another. Let us pray for one another, and join together in prayer with our shields latched on to one another, keeping our eyes focused on the Author and Perfecter of our Faith (Heb 12:2).   

'He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.

When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.'

2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT

Let's pray


Father we come together on our knees for one another,
please help us to be aware of one another's needs. 
May we be aware of the prompting of the Holy Spirit, to pray for one another. 
We praise you for all that you bless us with; we thank you for your mercy, and gift of grace. 
For the sisters and brothers who are suffering, we ask for your love to surround them. 
Where they feel alone, and don't know where to turn, may they know your comfort. 
Where they are in great pain, may they feel your arms wrapped around them and know your healing touch. 
Please raise us up to be your church to one another, to shine brightly for you in the darkness.
In our weakness, may we know your strength. 
We pray for each sister or brother who leaves a prayer need here today, we thank you for each one of them. We join with them, we stand with them in their pain, and present their requests to you as the body of Christ. 
Thank you Lord that you hear our prayers, we pray a blessing on each person who reads this devotion. 
May Your kingdom come, Your will be done. 
In Your name, 

Today I invite you to share a need or if you are not comfortable with that - just your name, as God knows your needs.

Let's be on our knees for one another, and seek the face of our God together.   

Anita x

Image © Nita Joy Designs

I want to be a lemon drizzle cake

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Today's post comes from Salina at Heart Reflected

Have you ever found a recipe that you knew before making it, was going to be good?

I made the most delicious lemon cake last week; in fact it was so good I made it twice. The best part about the cake wasn't that it came from the United Kingdom; it was the lemon sugar glaze found on top and inside. When added to the top of the cake, the glaze drizzles down the sides and settles around the bottom in a magnificent sugar puddle. In order to get the glaze inside the cake though, you have to poke lots of holes on the surface and wait for the glaze to slowly seep in.

To properly enjoy a piece of cake this good, you must take your time and eat each bite as though it might be your last. Therefore, as I slowly savored each and every morsel, I was better able to appreciate the flavor of the cake, and how the sugar glaze mixed so deliciously with it. Before long, I was close to finishing the final bite. As I sat there contemplating a little bit of everything, I came to the measured realization that I wanted to live my life exactly like the lemon drizzle cake I was eating

May my life always be an open vessel for God

I want everything about myself to be an open vessel for God. I want Him to have daily access to my every thought, dream, and fear. I want to be so saturated with His Spirit that if you cut me open you would see that He had seeped into every single pore. 

'Show me the right path, O LORD; point out the road for me to follow.'

Psalm 25:4  NLT

As I walk along life's path, I plan to look ahead and see Him leading the way.  No matter what barrier might stand before me, I will step aside and allow Him to take care of it in His time, in His way.

So today Lord, I'm asking to see and feel You like never before; let me see Your glory shining down and surrounding me from head to foot.  As Your touch reaches out to embrace my soul, I lay my heart open before You. I want to experience it beating for You, as though it was the very first time.

'Honor the LORD for the glory of his name. Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.'

Psalm 29: 2 NLT

I want for no other, for Your splendor envelopes me and refuses to let go. I sense Your love and presence everywhere around me, the way the wind rustles the leaves on the trees, the way the clouds blend so seamlessly into the brilliant blue of the sky, and how my heart still skips a beat when my husband puts His arms around me to give me a hug.

I'm in awe of the grace You so freely and without reservation grant to me. If given a choice, I would choose You over and over again. I would follow You to the ends of the earth and step off knowing that no matter how far I fell, or how scary it might be, You will always be there to catch me.

'The Lord lives! Praise to my Rock! May the God of my salvation be exalted!'

Psalm 18:46 NLT

How could I ever deny You praise, for You alone are worthy, not only of my praise, but of my total allegiance. How could I ever turn my back on You and walk away, for Your hand is the one I cling to when everything else seems to be so far out of reach.  How could I ever forget to thank You, for You are the giver of great gifts, the One who sustains me.

You have been there through every tear, all my pain, and every circumstance that's ever befallen me. You are the Way, the Truth, and my Life; no other god will ever come before You, no other god will ever receive Your praise. 

Father, I'm pledging my entire life to You; I don't want to hold anything back. You've given me all without ever asking for anything from me, so today I want to return my all to You. Thank You for the gift of love, for the gift of salvation, and for the gift of eternal life.

I love You,


Lemon drizzle cake recipe

photo credit - Salina Thomas Gibson

Roots That Run Deep

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Today's post comes from Dawn at The Most Perfect Gift

I love sitting on the swing on my front porch in the cool of the summer morning. There is something about the early morning that brings hope and peace to my soul. Perhaps its the promise of a new day, the starting over and God's mercy for another chance to get right what I didn't the day before. 

Many times my boys will come out and ask me what am I doing? I say, "I'm praying or talking to God." 

It is in these times where I feel God's love so much I just want to cry. His love and faithfulness is beyond my understanding and all I can do is praise and thank Him. He is my portion and my cup runneth over. 

This morning as I was sitting in my favorite place, a group of boys from the high school track team ran past my house. One by one I wondered, do you know Jesus? I asked God to bless each and every one of these boys and prayed that they know Him. I wondered where are their roots and how deep do they go? My thoughts turned to my own boys. Will their roots run deep so they can stay strong in the Lord all the days of their lives? 
I was reminded of a message a guest speaker spoke at my church a few weeks ago. Her message was on exactly just that. We must have strong roots that run deep so when trials come we may bend, but we will not break. We need to be so rooted in Him and His Word that we are able to walk through the storm with Jesus Christ and declare victory when we get to the other side. 

"Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude." Colossians 2:6-7 NASB

Many times I have thought I wish I had tunnel vision and all I could see was Jesus. This way nothing in this world could distract me from keeping my eyes fixed on Him.

I love the words from the hymn, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His Glory and Grace.”

As Christ followers we need to feed ourselves daily with His word and encourage and build each other up. As the body of Christ let’s not be weak, but strong with roots that run deep.  Are you with me?

Heavenly Father,
We come before You today, Lord with praise and thanksgiving in our hearts for who You are. Help us to keep our eyes fixed on You and not on the things of this world. You are our hope, our salvation and our shield. Renew our spirits, Lord that we may be obedient in reading Your word and getting closer to You so that our roots are deeply planted. Help us to stand strong during the storms of our lives that we may glorify You.
In Jesus' Name,

God Desires Your Heart ©

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Today's post comes from Starla at Keepin It Real

When I read the bible, it really comes alive and speaks to my heart.  Even the Old Testament (which I used to think was very boring) until I started reading during alone time with God.  I try to spend quiet time with God in the mornings.  I begin with prayer, thanking God for waking me up.  Then I pray for my family and friends and I finally pray for myself.  I ask God to open my eyes and ears to reveal what He wants me to learn.

I was recently reading Matthew chapter 9 and verse 13 jumped out at me:

"But go and learn what this means:  "I desire compassion, and not sacrifice, for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

I continued to the next verse but I wasn't able to go any further.  I felt God telling me to GO back to verse 13 and DO exactly as it says.  (Ok, I hear you Lord)

The beginning of verse 13 says "But go (don't wait) and learn (don't ignore) what this means.  

Jesus was talking to the Pharisees who were questioning why He was dining with tax collectors and sinners.   Matthew was a tax collector and tax collectors made their money by taxing people for everything they could think of and were often pretty wealthy.  For tax collectors greed was the name of the game.

Sounds like the IRS to me.   Boy do I have some personal stories to tell about them.......

I desire compassion (sympathy for others distress and the desire to alleviate it), and not sacrifice (precious offering),
Hosea 6:6...For I delight (take pleasure) in loyalty (faith) rather than sacrifice, And in knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
Mark 2:17.....it is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick, I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.
Luke 5:31,32....it is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
1 Timothy 1:15...Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners

Psalm 50:8  I do not reprove (convict) you for your sacrifices, And your burnt offerings are continually before me NASB study note.....God does not reprove them for failing to bring their offerings (v8) but for bringing them with the motive of trying to make the God who owns everything dependent on their generosity.

He elaborates more in the following verses from Psalms 50
10....for every beast of the forest is mine 11.....And everything that moves in the field is mine  12 If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine and ALL it contains. (I love that part.  I feel Him saying, "No need for dead animals, PLEASE") 14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving.....  (Just say THANK YOU!!  And mean it of course)

My best summation of these verses is that God desires your heart more than anything else.  That is the only thing you can truly give to Him.  Everything else already belongs to Him.  Be loyal and understand His will for your life.  God takes pleasure in your loyalty and knowledge of Him.  Your gratefulness and thankfulness is very precious to Him.  God is more eager to bless us than we are to receive His blessings.

Obey God's will and put it into action by learning, seeking, reproving, defending and pleading.
Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Reprove the ruthless,
Defend the orphan,
Plead for the widow.
Isaiah 1:11

Have you given Him your heart?  I mean have you truly given your heart to God? 

From my heart and spirit to yours, ©

Starla Danielle Espinoza

Scripture from the New American Standard Bible (NASB)