MAKE YOUR FACE SHINE UPON YOUR SERVANT

HOW WE LONG IN TIMES OF SUFFERING

FOR THE LORD TO MAKE HIS FACE TO SHINE UPON US


BUT THERE IS MORE THAN ONE WAY HE CAN DO THIS.

ONE IS THAT HE STOPS THE STORM,

REMOVES THE SUFFERING

AND INDEED, SOMETIMES HE DOES EXACTLY THAT!

HE STOPPED THE WAVES AND MADE THE SUN TO SHINE

UPON HIS FRIGHTENED DISCIPLES

ON THE SEA OF GALILEE

REMBRANDT'S CHRIST ON THE SEA OF GALILEE

But there is a real danger in thinking that is the only way His face can shine upon us. Last week, in response to the first part of this two part study, Renee wrote:

I am SO looking forward to these next two weeks of this Bible Study. When I read the first paragraph above, I breathed a great big sigh of relief! Within the last few days, I read something from an acquaintance that just didn’t sit right. She had lost something, claimed (commanded) in prayer that it be found because her “whole life” depended on it, and then had “proof” of God’s love/answered prayer when she found it.

This feels so different…Jesus is my refuge, and I’m safe in Him…but I also see how Jesus has been my refining fire, in that He has refined me through difficult circumstances by making me more patient and accepting.

I so appreciated Renee’s testimony, for I think we do harm when we assume that God’s love can only be demonstrated by removing suffering. His purpose for us, as Joni Eareckson Tada has said, “is not to make us healthy, wealthy, or even happy, though it pleases Him to do so — but holy.” We can be so earthly minded, forgetting all eternity is ahead of us, and that He is transforming us into radiant children.

He is our Refuge, but He is also our Refiner. Whether the storm was of our own making or not, we must trust Him in it and not demand He remove it. For who are we to command God Almighty? We can ask, but then we must trust. If He does not remove the storm (and Philip Yancey, in his book on Prayer, says He seldom does), we can still sense His presence, His love, and His face shining upon us. He understands our pain, for He is the Man of Sorrows. He went all the way to the cross for us, so that we might be forgiven — but also, that we might trust Him in the midst of sorrow. This gospel truth can sustain us in suffering and in temptation.

Even if He does not remove your suffering, He “sees your affliction” and will “preserve the faithful.”(Psalm 31:7 and 23) Even if, as with Job (and with Jesus), the religious people condemn you, and you become “a reproach” and those on the street “flee from you” (Psalm 31:11) God reaches down to you from the cross, His face shines upon you, Your times are in His hands (Psalm 31:15) and He has a plan to one day make all things right. Be strong, and let your heart take courage! (Psalm 31:24)

Renee found the source for this. Chris Koelle's Good Samaritan

 

Indeed, let your heart take courage in this gospel truth! This brings me to the movie, “Courageous.” (You may have wondered how I was going to get there! I did too! But it does fit, and we will look at how it does later in the week.)

Sunday/Monday: Icebreakers

1. What comment do you have on the opening?

2. Share a time when God did not remove suffering, and yet you still sensed His face shining upon you.

Monday-Wednesday: Psalm 31:9-34

Last week we looked at the opening of this Psalm, and of God’s promises to be a Refuge in our time of suffering, and to one day set our feet in a broad place.

We will begin this week with verses 9-13, in which, behind the psalmist, you can see Jesus. David Powlison, in the message we listened to last week, told of the suffering of one of his clients, whom he called “Sarah.” God was not removing her suffering, but in Psalm 31, when she saw Jesus behind the Psalmist, Powlison said it a little “nitelight” to her in the midst of her darkness.

3. Read Psalm 31:9-13. In what verses can you see The Man of Sorrows behind the psalmist?

4. What does it mean to you that Jesus understands your loneliness, your being misunderstood, your being forgotten?

What I want you to see is that the gospel is hidden in this psalm. Because the death of Jesus can be faintly seen, it gives the psalmist strength — he knows he is loved, so he can trust, he can go on.  If his suffering is not removed, if his friends blame him, as did Job’s friends, he still can trust His God.

5. What two statements of faith does the psalmist make in Psalm 31:14-15a?

6. What does the psalmist request in verse 16? What do you think this means?

7. What request does he make concerning the wicked in verses 17-18?

8. Find a word picture of God as your refuge that is meaningful to you in verses 19-22.

9. How does the psalmist exhort his brothers in verses 23-24?

Thursday: Counseling and Counseling One Another

Optional: Listen to the rest of David Powlison’s message: Link

If the above overwhelms you — watch this short clip of Nancy Guthrie interviewing Paulsen. (I suggest you listen to it anyhow — it’s great!)

 

10. Why is it important to address sin as well as the body and a person’s past when attempting to help yourself or those to whom you are close overcome sin?

Friday: Reviewing the Movie Courageous

This movie is from the makers of Flywheel, Facing the Giants and Fireproof.  This is Sherwood’s fourth, and each movie has gotten better. Yet each, in my view, has embraced some erroneous theology. The first three seemed to equate faithfulness to God with always producing health and success, whether it was getting wealthy, as in Flywheel, overcoming infertility and winning the game, as in Facing the Giants, or saving the marriage, as in Fireproof. Yet we know that some of God’s most faithful servants have not experienced those kind of results on this earth. I didn’t see this theology nearly as much in Courageous, though I did see it. And there is much that is wonderful in the movie. I sensed, for example, Meg’s enthusiasm, and I know many of you will have deservedly positive comments about the film.

Some will be upset that I am criticizing this film, for there is no doubt it is enormously more edifying that most of the movies out there.  I do believe there is much that is positive in providing models of godly fathers, and I also know that two hours is not enough time to say everything that needs to be said. Having said that, I see a flaw in this story that I see in the evangelical world at large.

It seems we often think of the gospel as the way to get into the Kingdom rather than as the way to overcome sin in our lives. So often the formula seems to be, “Trust Jesus to become a Christian and then work really really hard to live like one.” In this movie, the men made many vows before God to be better fathers. That’s one approach — and not without merit, for promises, especially when they are made seriously before God and witnesses, can be an incentive to persist when times are tough. But we are so weak, that I wonder if a multitude of vows like that can only be kept in a movie script. I know I have made promises to God in the past to try to strengthen myself to do what I know I should do, but I have failed, and then I not only have failed, but I have sinned doubly in not keeping my promise to God. I am so weak in myself.

So, what would be the approach of gospel transformation? Take the father who had turned down his son’s request to run with him and had been spending evenings in front of the television. It is painful to give up what you want to do and do what you think the Lord wants you to do. The approach of guilt over being a bad father is what might be expounded from a pulpit — but what if, instead, you took this approach, with these questions, and these answers through the Gospel.

  • Can I do this in my own strength? No. I am so weak and sinful Christ had to die for me.
  • How do I know, as I experience the pain of saying no to what I want to do, that Christ will be here for me? I can know, for He loved me enough to go to the cross for me.
  • I will have to go through suffering, but can I trust that this light momentary affliction will produce an eternal weight of glory? Yes, as it did for Christ, it will for me.

I realize this would be challenging to present in a movie — and I doubt I could do better, but I have seen it done in the movies made based on the lives of real people who did live dramatically different lives: Eric Liddell, Bonhoeffer, or Corrie ten Boom. In each case, they overcame what they might have wanted to do by looking at the cross. The gospel enabled them to endure pain, and to do what was right, even when the cost was enormously high. They didn’t make a lot of promises to God — they looked to the cross. That is gospel transformation. Without this emphasis, there is a real danger in Christianity just seeming like morality. In fact Keller had said that when you present Christianity to most people, they think you are inviting them into “morality,” and I think this film would lead an unbeliever to equate Christianity with morality.

But please feel free to disagree and share your thoughts in love.

 

11. If you watched the movie, what did you like? Didn’t like?

 

12. What do you think is the difference between morality and gospel transformation?

 

Saturday:

12. What’s your take-a-way?

Next week we begin the most beautiful and holy season of the year — and I pray you will be with us! The Lord has led me, and I’m excited for this holy time.

COMMENTS (317) Post a New Comment ↓

1. What comment do you have on the opening?

All of it stuck out but I can’t copy and paste it all. ;-) So, I picked this: “He is our Refuge, but He is also our Refiner. Whether the storm was of our own making or not, we must trust Him in it and not demand He remove it. For who are we to command God Almighty? We can ask, but then we must trust.”…… That is so important-He is my refuge but also my refiner. I think it is easy to forget the refining part-for that is the most painful, but as you said Jesus is also our refuge and he is the man of sorrows and can identify with our pain which gives me comfort as I go through the refining process.

2. Share a time when God did not remove suffering, and yet you still sensed His face shining upon you.

I am thinking of sharing something, but not sure I want to share it here yet. :-)

2. Share a time when God did not remove suffering, and yet you still sensed His face shining upon you.

( I will share. I am uncomfortable sharing about my husband and I due to respecting him, but I wanted to give God the glory-so I will.)

I think it is in my relationship with my husband-how his working hours have put a continuous strain on us, yet God is using it to refine us. My husband made me aware of an issue yesterday morning. It started out rough, but my husband is so honest and perceptive with me. At first I winced when he brought it up, and in the past I know I would have totally been crushed thinking, me? But because God has made me aware of the truth about my wicked heart, I listened. In the past I would have said, “I give up-I can’t be the perfect wife or mom so I am going to just quit this or that and run to the fridge, curl up on my bed and just comfort myself. I guess I am just a failure”. ;-)

God has been showing me some things in my heart that aren’t loving toward my husband even before my husband mentioned it. I just answered God saying, “O.k., O.k. I will get to it later”. I am task oriented with my children, my calendar and everything else in my life and can easily put my tasks above my husband and forget him, and he loves me so! So after I wrestled a bit, I asked God to show me-lay bare this wicked heart, and he did. So I repented to God and to my husband, and it changed the whole atmosphere as we worked through it together.

The funny thing was my husband wasn’t blaming me, he was saying it was his jobs that were causing me to forget because we didn’t have time together, but I knew it was me. I felt God’s face shining on me in that I was at that fork where I could have curled around it and not trusted Him, but praise God for that step in trusting him. He is going to use this to refine me, I know it. It will be painful though, but I think Powlison’s encouragement of the disconnect really helps-I live in one world In Christ. Jesus wants our marriage to be a beautiful reflection of the trinity. So I am like Eustice now-yet like John-pressed against Him in the midst.

I have been blessed with a husband who deeply loves me and loves Jesus. I am the one who can forget and I was reminded of how God felt when Israel forgot Him-marriage is SUCH a reflection of our relationship with God.

So, we made a commitment to one another to hold Friday evenings as sacred and we are going to have a date away from the boys for an hour or two and start by reading the Psalms together while we are there. I am hoping eventually we will read Kellers new book on marriage. Can’t wait!

    And i forgot to mention what scripture I applied as God showed me my heart. God brought to mind Hosea 2 and I had a wonderful word picture in my mind. I have to get everyone ready for church so I will stop here. :-)

      Reply

      Thank you Rebecca for being so open about your marriage, it helps me also to recognize how I get so busy I forget my husband.

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    Wow. You continue to be such a life giving testimony to all of us, Rebecca. Sweet picture of marriage too, and what it is meant also to do — to be a refuge and a refiner!

    THank you for sharing Rebecca. I keep finding myself holding my husband in contempt and continually confessing it. He is doing so much in this situation with our new child yet his work and other commitments keeps him away more than I like and I feel all alone in this and am tired, etc. So when he is here and wants to take just a little time to relax I get angry. I am seeing this too but I am encouraged now to confess it yet again to him and see if we can do the same, have a set night maybe after the kids are in bed that we know is ours to protect and grow together where we need too. Thank you for your example lady!

      Oh Angela, I do that too! So thankful for God’s grace and the red flags he puts in our hearts! :-)

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    Thank you for sharing with us Rebecca–so appreciate your transparency, how He shines through

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Thanks to all of you for your prayers for Minnesota. He met us!

Pray as I plan our Lenten studies and as I head to prison next week.

Love to each of you

    Yeah praise HIM! Praying still

    Dee, SO glad to hear this!! You will have to tell when you have time! We will pray for Lenten as well.

    Reply

    Praying for you, Dee:)

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    I don’t know how you do it, girl, but you are amazing on the internet. Thank you. I’ve put in the right credits. Really is a wonderful piece.

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      I had heard of a program that searches for similar images & thought I’d try it. So, step 1 was to search for that. I found it on a number of blogs, but it wasn’t attributed to anyone. One one blog, I found a link to another website (which no longer exists). I eventually realized that the person who provided the link to the site which had been taken down IS the artist himself. When I had his name, it became a little easier. Bottom line is that I’m a snoop :)

        Bottom line is that you are a gift to me in helping me get things credited and finding wonderful resources — to us all!

      Reply

      Wow — thanks for finding/sharing this Dawn. The quotations from John Piper helped me understand the parable more clearly.

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1. What comment do you have on the opening

I like what you said about psalm 3:7 Dee:

Even if He does not remove your suffering, He “sees your affliction” and will “preserve the faithful.” I think of when my best friends mom died last year i was suffering and i was wondering where he was in all of this. But he did see my affliction and gave me comfort and brought me through.

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    Yes He did, Meg.

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      Was this an example of suffering? after i posted it I didnt think it was.. she died very suddenly so i guess i could say he was with me and showed his face upon me during my grief.

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    Yes Meg, cause he loves you soooooo much:)

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2. Share a time when God did not remove suffering, and yet you still sensed His face shining upon you.

I believe i already answered this above :)

1. What comment do you have on the opening? This from Renee really stood out. “This feels so different…Jesus is my refuge, and I’m safe in Him…but I also see how Jesus has been my refining fire, in that He has refined me through difficult circumstances by making me more patient and accepting.” Also I really liked that painting without the reference. We can be so Pharisee and I was thinking that could be relevant to us even today when people who should stand with us in suffering turn their backs on us.

2. Share a time when God did not remove suffering, and yet you still sensed His face shining upon you. OH so many examples yet times where He did remove it as well. However, now I have one hormonal girl who is extra sensitive and struggling with this who adjustment period and selfishness, One with the special needs of aspergers/autism, and one who is a handful, never given direction all his life and he is 3. God is allowing all of this to happen. It is not a mistake in anyway and it is making us more like Him. He is not removing the hard things but meeting us in them. In the meantime I feel the refiners fire clearly. I feel like I am in a big cauldron boiling and the dross keeps coming off and surfacing as God gently scoops it away. I love He loves me enough to refine me and not let me stay the same, however it is extremely painful but I want holiness, I want to see Him. I want to share in His sufferings and resurrection. A quote from church today was great and a good test of my heart. “True compassion is when you are the one who bears the burden and pays the price.” ~j. Budziszewski I see how Jesus did this for us and now I see how I am doing the same walking in His steps though not perfectly but in the process of entering into the world of the afflicted orphans. James 1:27 was the sermon at church and it was a healing balm for our whole family. So I trust Him as He meets me in this place and feel His pleasure yet it does not make it any less painful. Cross bearing is painful, yet His pleasure is in it.

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    Yes, you do have challenges! But you are bearing it well and yes, His pleasure is in it.

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    Only through God, are you even able to do all you do, with an illness too, Angela. You amaze me!

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I was shocked in the beginning of this weeks study, how anyone could command that God to do anything! I must have missed one that, Renee!

Share a time when God did not remove suffering, and yet you still sensed His face shining upon you.

I think you already know my answer! Mary Kay and all the family suffered for almost 2 years..and we did too, but I never quit praising God the whole time, because he always has a purpose for our suffering…we may not know what it is, but we must just trust God that he knows what’s best and we will be blessed. I watched Dennis go through all the grieving steps while his wife was dying. He was angry, blaming himself, not thinking he deserved to be happy or even eat, because she couldn’t. He was a broken man and I feel God had to do that or he may have never turned to God. I have a good feeling now for Dennis and his relationship with God. He puts us through the fire to refine us and I am thankful that he does, no matter how hard it is. I sense his face shinging upon me now.

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    Joyce, being able to witness here your faithfulness throughout that trial truly blessed me.

    Reply

    Joyce that is wonderful about Dennis turning toward God! Thanks for sharing that. What an answer to prayer!

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1. What comment do you have on the opening?

The following stood out to me and comforts me:

“Even if He does not remove your suffering, He ‘sees your affliction’ and will ‘preserve the faithful.'(Psalm 31:7 and 23)”

Good for speaking truth to my soul!

2. Share a time when God did not remove suffering, and yet you still sensed His face shining upon you.

I can think of a few times that stand out to me… what they all had in common was that it was clear that God was not going to remove the suffering immediately — and I didn’t try (or quit trying) to run away from or avoid the pain. Each of the situations HURT LIKE CRAZY and God was faithful through the pain. I was completely exhausted in each of these situations; He gave me strength. In these situations, the pain was raw — but felt clean and right (not sure if that makes sense, but it was different from times that I’ve tried unsuccessfully to avoid pain).

    Reply

    this does make sense Renee–there is a difference with the pain we endure knowing He is at our side, than the painful struggle we experience we when try “unsuccessfully to avoid pain”.

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3. Read Psalm 31:9-13. In what verses can you see The Man of Sorrows behind the psalmist? well i may be wrong here bu i can see the man of sorrows in all 5 verses!

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1 & 2. What comment do you have on the opening?

I so appreciated Renee’s testimony and also what Dee posted from Yancy. I think I’ve shared plenty of my struggles for now (!), but I do so agree that most often He does not take away the circumstance, but rather uses it for His glory. He has never failed to meet me in the darkest points of my life—big or small. So often, the storm remains, but it is me He changes—my eyes see differently and even what I first asked Him to remove I can see what He did was so much better. Other times I don’t understand—but I trust that I do not need to know the why—I have to remember Who He is, and trust in His character. I think it was in the Mystery of Marriage that talked about marriage being a refining process—my husband and I have talked about that a lot. It’s a miracle to look back and not want our path to have been different, simply because of the pure gold fruit we have seen come out of our struggle. But He uses all of it—friendship struggles, health fears, raising kids, if we allow Him, to expose where we are weak—expose that functional trust—and bring us to our knees, humbly looking up at Him—and then we feel it, His face shine upon us as warms as the sun. And even is the circumstance remains, we are strengthened by the Power we receive from Him, and our faith is renewed, we cling to hope, and again we trust. We may walk back into the same storm but we are not the same—our perspective has been enlarged, and our old request for relief are replaced by One Thing “One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.” Psalm 27:4

    Reply

    Was it Mike Mason’s The Mystery of Marriage? I love that book! You are such clear voice here Elizabeth.

      Reply

      yes, I love that book. It was an eye-opener! I did get Keller’s too after we watched the video, but haven’t gotten to it yet ;0

        His recent message on marriage amazing too. Different from other approaches.

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1. What comment do you have on the opening?

I think one of the concepts that really drew me to stay with this blog site is that you have a concept of suffering that so many people, even Christians, simply do not understand. “We do harm when we assume that God’s love can only be demonstrated by removing suffering. His purpose for us, as Joni Eareckson Tada has said, ‘is not to make us healthy, wealthy, or even happy, though it pleases Him to do so — but holy.'” I have also been a reader of Philip Yancey for years and he deals with suffering in a similar way.

I have been trying to figure out for a long time why God has not removed suffering in my life if he loves me. When I try to talk to many people about this over the years, I have just gotten puzzled faces. I believe many people have actually left the Christian faith because they could not reconcile the view that once we are Christians we will be happy all the time, with the reality of their actual lives.

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    I think you are right, Diane, and we need more voices for the truth. I don’t know this erroneous theology developed because if you look at all the great men of Scripture, they suffered! Show me one who didn’t!

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    Diane–I read this and thought–that’s IT, THAT is (one of the MANY) things I am so drawn to in Dee–her concept of suffering is real, honest, Gospel-centered. And you’re right, sadly it isn’t the most popular view we see out there…but it is the very Truth of the Gospel that redeems such suffering. So thankful you are here, Diane.

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    So true, Diane…praying for you!

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3. Read Psalm 31:9-13. In what verses can you see The Man of Sorrows behind the psalmist?

Wow. I LOVE how Dee has opened my eyes to the psalms. I hate to admit it but I think I took the psalms for granted before—seeing songs/poetry…but now I see the depth is so much more than I grasped before. I love this exercise—there is so much, but these popped out to me first:
v.9b “my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also.” –I imagine Him carrying the Cross

V.11: “Because of all my adversaries I have become a reproach, especially to my neighbors, and an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me.”–I think of those who rejected Him, including Judas’ betrayal and Peter’s denial.

v. 12 “I have been forgotten like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel.”—His blood poured out for our sin.

v.14 “But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!”-His cry to the Lord, submitting to the Father’s Will.

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3. Read Psalm 31:9-13. In what verses can you see The Man of Sorrows behind the psalmist?

Hmm… just finished this question and it disappeared?? So, here’s the condensed version.

I wouldn’t have seen Jesus here if we hadn’t been asked the question. Vs 9-10 remind me of Jesus’ grief in the garden. He was affected physically to the point that He sweat drops of blood. The middle section reminds me of Jesus’ betrayal by his friends and by religious people. Peter’s denial seems especially applicable, because He had a close relationship with Jesus. Then, “They conspire against me and plot to take my life” (v 13) is exactly what happened to Jesus.

4. What does it mean to you that Jesus understands your loneliness, your being misunderstood, your being forgotten?
-it means I can trust Him NO MATTER WHAT. I can lean into Him, rest in Him, cry on His shoulder and know that He understands and hasn’t forgotten me.
-Jesus did pray “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.” So I think it’s okay that we ask that the suffering be removed. But he also said, “Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Because Jesus’ did not avoid suffering, it seems heretical to blame believers’ sufferings (e.g., not being healed) on “lack of faith.” (I imagine this still happens).

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    Wow, that was great, Renee.

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5. What two statements of faith does the psalmist make in Psalm 31:14-15a?

-“You are my God.”
-“My times are in your hands”

Plus, a 3rd one at the beginning of v. 14 “I trust in you, LORD”

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4. What does it mean to you that Jesus understands your loneliness, your being misunderstood, your being forgotten?

I can know this intellectually, but until I really believe it in my heart—for me personally, then it can’t overpower my own feelings. This is a bit embarrassing,because this all true (!) Last night in bed I had one of those (probably hormone-induced) moments where I just completely lost it emotionally—bawling my eyes out—at the realization my son in growing up (starting K in the fall). I was spewing all this to my husband, admitting I was too attached, but this little one gives me such joy. I said at the core of my pain was feeling like some other lady (his teacher) would be spending so much time with him, and wouldn’t even appreciate who he is—would she cast him as a wild boy and miss his sweet tender spirit—would she appreciate the gift I’m loaning her ?! My very patient and wise husband was quiet and then said—wow, imagine how God felt, sending Jesus—knowing for sure we wouldn’t appreciate Him. That quieted my tears! But also shifted my perspective—there is nothing He does not understand, fully experience, and feel with me—on such a grander scale. And that great feeling I get when another human being “gets it”, is on the same page as me…He ALWAYS is. And He does not just empathize, He has the power to give me HOPE in the midst.

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    Elizabeth, that was powerful! I feel that way when I think of Kendra living without us someday. I get all upset and stressed and have to keep giving it over and over to the Lord. I have to remind myself that God created her and he loves her way more than we could ever imagine, so he will take care of her.

    Now your husband has given me a whole new perspective; “wow, imagine how God felt, sending Jesus—knowing for sure we wouldn’t appreciate Him.”

    Tell your husband thank you. God sent his only son, knowing we would not appreciate him and also knowing he would be tortured and killed. I can at least give Kendra back to him,(in my heart) knowing he will take care of her and she won’t have to go through what Jesus did.

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    Elizabeth, this is beautiful. Jon is wonderful! Love how it blessed Joyce too — for I know this is a great concern for her.

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    Oh Elizabeth, I’m sorry you had that “moment.” It is hard sometimes. I remember when my kids were little I wanted to homeschool them to protect them, and I did for awhile. It’s nice to see how much you enjoy your child and appreciate him for who he is :) I also remember being exhausted when they were young and needing a break. I used to go to church just to sit for one hour and rest while they were in the nursery! I thanked God for that one hour!

    Please know that as a teacher of some spirited students, I tell myself that each one is loved by someone and I need to be patient :) I also pray for my students sometimes as I grade their papers. I know you will hurt initially, but it is good for him and you to have some time away. They learn how to solve problems and ask for help from trusting adults other than their parents. And, always, as you have said before, God will be there with him and you to guide; the most important thing of all :)

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Whoops, forgot to check the ‘notify me via email’ button.

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Sunday-Monday Icebreaker

1. What comment do you have on the opening? – This was all so good, it is especially helpful to know that even though we may not get our way, God will be there thru the storms we may face. If we are facing something major or something small and we don’t understand how we our going to get out of the situation, we know we can turn to our heavenly Father who will either take us out of the storm or make us stronger as we go thru it with Him by our side.

2. Share a time when God did not remove suffering, and yet you still sensed His face shining upon you. – for me the time that God did not remove the suffering was each time my life hit a bump in the road. Some bumps were small and the suffering was removed, others took a good chunk of my life and the suffering lasted as ling as my trial did. I do know that each time God heard my cries and was there in His timing to help me thru. I just need to always remember that even though God may not remove the suffering when I cry out to him, I need to try and look for the good in each trial I’m facing and know that I’m in it for a reason, some due to my own fault and others because I have something to learn and that God is making me a stronger person and child of God.

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    Oh Yes, Julie, so true.

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3. Read Psalm 31:9-13. In what verses can you see The Man of Sorrows behind the psalmist?

Well, to me he just seems to be complaining and whining. I don’t see Jesus behind the complaining. he is asking for mercy, to end the suffering .

4. What does it mean to you that Jesus understands your loneliness, your being misunderstood, your being forgotten?

When you know that He loves you, it is enough; or it should be. It’s kind of like the mopping floors at mcdonalds again. If that was all I was worth, am I acceptable to Him? Right now, my children are nearly grown, and don’t need me as much. My husband is self consumed with work and doesn’t need me much. My mom has my brother and doesn’t need me much. I wonder how useful I really am in this world these days? It gets back to why I am here on earth; does my life count? If I am His, then it does.

I don’t see the death of Jesus hidden in these few passages of the Psalm. I have trouble reading between the lines. I just see it as the psalmist lamenting.

What I want you to see is that the gospel is hidden in this psalm. Because the death of Jesus can be faintly seen, it gives the psalmist strength — he knows he is loved, so he can trust, he can go on.  If his suffering is not removed, if his friends blame him, as did Job’s friends, he still can trust His God.

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    Elizabeth’s answers above might help you, Laura-daneer. I think sometimes we can embraee the Deity of Christ and miss the humanity. How hard it must have been to do what He did at the cross.

    And yes, your life counts! Enough for Him to die for you. And you are a rich blessing to us.

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    Laura, you are loved and needed, I know you are..especially by God.

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    Laura-dancer–you spoke truth here “does my life count? If I am His, then it does”. Meeting your family’s needs is just one of the many ways He uses you–but He also uses you here on this blog—and there may be “silent readers” who read your words and He uses it to minister to them in a way no one else can. Yes, you are His beautiful, redeemed daughter–with unique blessings to give. Like the Keller we heard on growth, we don’t always see the ways He is using us, but He is always at work in our lives.Praying for you~

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    Laura they are right your life matters a great deal to others and especially to God. You took care of those in need when they needed it and God gave you the opportunity to be able to do it, but now it’s your turn to relax and be taken care of by God. Just absorbs his love that he has for you, and his open arms waiting to embrace you and follow his lead on what you should do next.

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    Laura, what you have shared here reminds me of some things I learned this week in the later chapters of 1 Corinthians. Paul was teaching them about spiritual gifts. One of the things that I understood is that no part of the body is unimportant. Each member is uniquely gifted by the Holy Spirit and if they are missing the body suffers. You are no less important in the body than Billy Graham or any other high profile Christian. Not to mention how very important you are to us.

    It may be that God has quieted your life right now so that you have time to study His word and grow closer to Him. I often think that He desires our closeness more than service.

      Reply

      I went back and read the verses again, but with a perspective of Jesus on the cross. It makes sense now. However, when I first read it I didn’t have that perspective. That’s why I get frustrated reading sometimes. I didn’t know I should read it from Jesus’ perspective! I thought it was just the psalmist! I feel stupid :)

      I think you are right Anne, I am in a time for contemplation and learning. I guess I need to be equipped to have discussions like the one I had had last night with my older son (see below post).

      Thanks everyone for being so kind :)

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    Hi!
    I can identify with how you are feeling about purpose at this time of life.
    My children are all grown.
    Two are married, one has 2 children and a very full life that doesn’t incorporate me. The other married daughter is fully emersed in her career.
    My only son moved to Boston to attend college 6 years ago and never returned home. Boston is his “home”.
    The youngest daughter is in college and traveling every summer to “experience life”.
    I was a stay at home mom for 30 years.
    My husband filed for divorce 4 months ago.
    I live alone, I eat alone, I sleep alone, I do everything ALONE!
    It is not a pretty picture. I feel like I have been put in solitary confinement by God.
    It is a very dark place.
    Corrie Ten Boon has always been an inspiration to me.
    She lived in a cell with ants. She witnessed horror at the hands of Hitler with her very own family.
    I need her faith, her trust, her long suffering.
    Praying that God will make beauty out of ashes with my life.
    I feel like I am hitting a brick wall as I continue to ask God to show me how to use my time wisely during this desert experience.
    Thank you for a wonderful study and open and honest hearts and communication on this blog.

3. Read Psalm 31:9-13. In what verses can you see The Man of Sorrows behind the psalmist? yes. v, 11 I imagine Jesus in His greatest time of need an all fled to leave Him alone when things got hardest. v, 12 He was a broken vessel for us. v 13 Many plotted to take His life I am sure there were many whispers. People did want Him dead.

4. What does it mean to you that Jesus understands your loneliness, your being misunderstood, your being forgotten? I means so much because when no one else can understand a thing, He does. He understands everybit in fact He took it all on Him when He died on the cross. He experienced it personally in His sinless life then took it on the cross as well.

What I want you to see is that the gospel is hidden in this psalm. Because the death of Jesus can be faintly seen, it gives the psalmist strength — he knows he is loved, so he can trust, he can go on. If his suffering is not removed, if his friends blame him, as did Job’s friends, he still can trust His God.

5. What two statements of faith does the psalmist make in Psalm 31:14-15a? I trust in you, You are my God.

6. What does the psalmist request in verse 16? What do you think this means? Well if it is foreshadowing Jesus it could mean He knew God’s face had to turn from HIm for a time. He also could be asking as a Psalmist to have God’s face shine on Him since all others do not. He is assured in God’s love.

7. What request does he make concerning the wicked in verses 17-18?let the wicked be put to shame. Let them slip silently into Sheol. Let lying lips be mute

8. Find a word picture of God as your refuge that is meaningful to you in verses 19-22. You store them in your shelter…It is like something I heard Jan Silvious say, I can imagine I am in a strong castle, refuge, shelter. There is a moat and draw bridge. I just pull my draw bridge up and no one can get in. I can still be alone with my Father in that shelter even when all around me are rude or talking bad things against me. I don’t have to let them in. This is a good picture to me.

9. How does the psalmist exhort his brothers in verses 23-24? love the Lord, He preserves the faithful, God pays back the prideful abundantly, Be strong let your heart take courage, wait for the LORD

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    I’ve often thought of Jan’s illustration too, Angela — especially when dealing with what the proverbs calls a true fool. No reasoning. Just pull the drawbridge up!

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4. What does it mean to you that Jesus understands your loneliness, your being misunderstood, your being forgotten? It means alot to me because he went through the same thing! So he understands

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5. What two statements of faith does the psalmist make in Psalm 31:14-15a? But I trust in you Lord; my times are in your hands

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6. What does the psalmist request in verse 16? What do you think this means? Let your face shine upon you servant. I think it means that when we ask we are asking for the lord to show his face upon us! We are servants of the Lord!

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1. What comment do you have on the opening? It is so true how we long for God to end our suffering. It reminds me of how when I was a child I would hear, your parents spank you because they love you. I always thought that’s not true, I only hit people I don’t like or am mad at. Now I see how it can be possible. When God says that he has a purpose for my suffering, I have to believe it and trust Him.

2. Share a time when God did not remove suffering, and yet you still sensed His face shining upon you.
This past year has been the worst of my life. God brought me to this study at the perfect time. I know that His face is shining on me even when (maybe, especially when) I fail to do what is right.

3. Read Psalm 31:9-13. In what verses can you see The Man of Sorrows behind the psalmist?

Wow, I see Jesus in all of this:

V9. I see Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.

V10-13. I see Him on the way to the Cross, and on the Cross. He was despised by men, ridiculed, shamed, humiliated. Judas betrayed Him, and Peter denied Him. God didn’t remove His suffering.

4. What does it mean to you that Jesus understands your loneliness, your being misunderstood, your being forgotten.

Jesus had to endure not only his friends forgetting Him, and on top of that humiliation, shame and ridicule, he also had to endure God turning His face away from Him-talk about loneliness!

This comforts me so to know He was willing to go through this for me knowing ahead of time what lie ahead, because He loves me and doesn’t want me to walk through suffering alone. God won’t turn His face from me when I am suffering because Jesus took that on for me.

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Hello Ladies, I am going to try again to participate here. I keep being convicted that I need to be transformed by the renewing of my mind, and I find focusing on my own to be too challenging right now. I feel stuck and scattered in my thinking, I feel I am a disappointment to people who expect to see me being trained by my suffering, I feel far removed from people and worse from God. I am not sure if I love God enough, or if I have been called according to his purposes
I hesitate to share all that has been going on for fear that it sounds like I am inventing tales of woe to garner pity. Those who remember me might recall that Brian is the last child still at home. 20 years ago my husband had an affair, Brian is my husband’s son, born the same week as our youngest son Daniel, who was assaulted and died in the summer of 2010.
Brian came to live with us full time when he was in sixth grade. His mother had mental health and drug abuse issues, she passed away this past summer.
Brian has had 2 suicide attempts since December. He is 19, and had a 15 year old girlfriend who also attempted suicide. He was not permitted to see her but went 1 ½ away to where she was staying, she snuck out to meet him & they were caught in the act in his car by a police officer. He now has criminal charges hanging over his head. He has mental health issues that we feel overwhelmed by. He had a severe reaction to one of his meds that took us to the emergency room last week, it was so scary. We (my husband Bill and I) vacillate between feeling concern and pity, and frustration and fear, even anger.
I have stuffed my grief about Daniel, and now with this on top of that I feel like darkness has descended on my mind. I have recurring dreams of being rejected. I am on the verge of menopause, it is hard to know what to attribute my emotions to. I feel utterly handicapped in the area of allowing others to support me, I can’t seem to speak my pain.
I am sorry to go on so, but it seem futile to begin here pretending I am fine.

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    Chris — we ARE SO GLAD TO HAVE YOU BACK.

    I am grieved to hear about Brian — for you, for him, for your family. I certainly can understand your vacillating emotions.

    I know this group will pray.

    Lord, I thank You so much for bring Chris back to this sisterhood. I know You weep for her, for Brian. You see the darkness that Chris feels. How that emergency room visit must have brought back all those memories with Daniel. How she has stuffed her grief about Daniel. Father, I pray she will sense Your presence in the dark. Help her here to know what she can do. May we be Your love to her.
    In Jesus Name

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    Oh Chris–yes, we are SO thankful to have you back here. I know the Lord has kept you on all our hearts. I join Dee in this prayer for you and we will continue to lift you up. It is times like these that make it hardest on someone like me to not be able to be there in person, to offer a hug and prayer–but I do pray you will feel His love for you through us here.

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      Dear Chris, I had not forgotten all you have been put through with the loss of your precious son and all your problems with Brian. Jesus feels your pain…keep focused on him..simply trust and thank him in advance for the good that will come out of it. “I know the plans I have for you, and they are good.” His light shines on every situation you will face, Chris. I’m praying for you.

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    Oh dear Chris, so glad to have you back! We will cover you in prayer.

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    Chris I’m so sorry for all that you are facing right now in your life, the burden is heavy, but remember to give it all to the Lord as he will carry it for you. I will be praying for you and your family and all the great ladies in this study.

    Oh Chris! So GLAD to have you back. I have been praying for you-really it is the Lord bringing you to mind-He cares so deeply for you. Oh I SO SO can see how you can be struggling. We are here for you sister-we are here. If I could hug you I would-I can’t so I will be faithful to pray.

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    Chris, I am a little at loss for words but my first and main thought is gratitude to you for sharing your burden with us. We love you and your family. We will pray. The Lord is with you in this valley and so are we.

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      Thank you Anne!

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    Chris, oh how I have thought of you over the past year; I know we have all prayed for you and even recently I wondered online if anyone knew how you were doing. I’m SO glad you have come to this place, to be with all of us, to pray and feel each others pain, to know you and we are not alone. God has given us Dee and each other. Blessings your way dear Chris.

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      Laura thank you, it does warm my heart to know that so many of you have remembered me.

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1. What comment do you have on the opening?
I wish like Renee, I could feel Jesus is my refuge. I feel raw and weak.

2. Share a time when God did not remove suffering, and yet you still sensed His face shining upon you.
This is awfully hard.

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    I am so sorry Chris that u r hurting and having a hard time with the questions I will pray for u and just take it slow!

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    Dear, dear Chris. You have been on my mind and I have been praying for you a lot, especially last week. So glad to see that you’re back!
    I pretty much pretend that everything is fine, too. I figure no one really cares anyway what I’m going through and I don’t want to seem like I’m looking for attention or pity. It is only here (and occasionally with my friend) that I feel free enough to say what I’m really thinking and struggling with. If people are bored with what I say they can just scroll to the next comment and I’ll be none the wiser, at least I won’t see them “walking away”.

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      Dawn, I would never do that, because I truly care for each one of my sister’s here and I really do pray for you. Don’t be afaid to write down all your pain and sorrow here…I have in the past and it helps me alot, to just do that and then we all can pray for you.

        Joyce–you are such a gift!

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      Dawn, you are deeply loved here, please remember that.

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    Hi Chris. I don’t know if you remember me. I only started on here in September. I just want to say my heart goes out to you and I will pray for you. Sometimes suffering is just so hard to understand. Just know that God loves you and you have a safe place here.

    I was just listening to a song that I keep going back to when I feel deeply discouraged. “O Love that will not let me go”, perhaps it will be an encouragement to you too.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fchS9fwIznw

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3. Read Psalm 31:9-13. In what verses can you see The Man of Sorrows behind the psalmist?
Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also.
For my life is spent with sorrow,
I have become a reproach,
I have been forgotten like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel.
For I hear the whispering of many, as they plot to take my life.
4. What does it mean to you that Jesus understands your loneliness, your being misunderstood, your being forgotten?
I guess I fear that I am so stubborn or stupid or prideful, that I am too thick to learn what I ought to from my trials, and that is why they seem to go on.
I fear that my whatever it takes kind of praying has reaped more pain than I imagined, I feel like my own deficiencies have lead me here, that Christ was perfect, so I have a hard time connecting my suffering to his

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    I echo was Joyce said, Chris — so glad to have you back for us! Your questions make us think.

    So here we go: Do you mean that because Christ was perfect that He may not have felt the same pain, because He knew it wasn’t because of His deficiencies?

    I understand that in part, for I know much of my grief had to do with regret — but on the other hand, you know how connected we are with our children, as you were with Daniel, and how their pain is our pain. And He bore all our pain. So perhaps His pain is for different reasons, but I think it was much more intense — and also allow Him to empathize and weep with our pain. And, because He sees us as clean, we must see ourselves that way, or we are minimizing what He did pay, and trying to pay ourselves. Does this make sense? Would love your thoughts.

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      I can identify with Chris in many ways.
      Knowing truth and experiencing truth to the point where it changes you are two different things.

      Perhaps Chris (and myself) have trouble with Truth going from head to heart.

      I am a literal thinker so I wonder if that gets in the way. BUT……. God even knows that about me so I get so frustrated with myself as to why I seem so stuck.

      Wheels spinning, trials abounding, what is wrong with me?

      Lord help!

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Dear Chris and Dawn, don’t let the evil one creep in and steal your thoughts and prayers away.
God will never reject you, even if you were to reject him. It says in a daily devotions book of mine….”You can turn to him at any point and crawl out of the mire of discouragement. Trust him by relying on his empowering presence.”
He wants us to rely and trust in him every second of the day. “Trust in me absolutely, and I will make straight your paths.”

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    Thanks for this reminder Joyce :)

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1. What comment do you have on the opening?
“He went all the way to the cross for us, so that we might be forgiven — but also, that we might trust Him in the midst of sorrow. This gospel truth can sustain us in suffering and in temptation.”

The dam finally broke last week after 3 1/2 months of headaches and no good sleep. I talked with my husband about how difficult life has been and he and I came up with a plan. I am going to take a sleep aid for a week to see if I can get that under control and the headaches seem to be only once or twice a week now as opposed to every day/night. He thinks I am struggling with comfort b/c I am so sleep deprived. I know someone is praying for me since last week’s post. Thank you, I feel like a different person already today after one good night’s rest.

2. Share a time when God did not remove suffering, and yet you still sensed His face shining upon you.
God has not removed the suffering completely with headaches but I have gotten over being angry that He could but doesn’t choose to. I can feel His love through them now. I am also learning to avoid some of the sinusitis pain by running a vaporizer and using a neti pot. I feel these are practical helps from God and I trust Him even when I don’t understand.

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    Love the wisdom your husband gave you–I am a BIG believer in getting good sleep (unfortunately it’s a struggle for me)–a good night rest makes such a difference. Continuing the prayers~

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    Kim, you have a very wise husband. Praying for ALL the headaches to stop.

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    Kim, it is true, no matter what is going on you need to sleep. I am a big proponent after getting pneumonia a few years back. I decided nothing was so important that I should run myself down and get so sick over it. I have lots of trouble sleeping; I have to force myself to go to bed at night because there is always something to do. Right now my house is a wreck, lessons aren’t planned the way I feel they should be, my daughter left at 9 last night and I’m not sure she came home, etc. But, I was in bed at 11. That is early for me :) I haven’t been sick much at all in the past 3-4 years and I’m convinced it is because I get more sleep.

    My husband has had terrible headaches and sinus issues this year too. I think it is that we have had a very mild winter this year (only 1 snow storm!). Be has had to take a lot of medicine.

    I am sorry for your pain and will pray.

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    Praying for your sleep, Kim. I know He gives His beloved rest and I pray that for you.

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    Kim, I went to a neurologist specializing in memory disorders because of problems I was having with thinking and memory. Part of his diagnosis was that I was not sleeping enough. He was right. My understanding is that it is safe to take Benadryl every night and that is what I do. I take it early so I won’t have trouble getting up in the morning. It has worked for me. Another benefit is that I don’t have to take other allergy medicine except for a little in the spring.

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      Anne, thank you and I so agree! Benadryl is what I am taking b/c it relieves my allergies somewhat as well as helps me sleep much better. The doctor would have given me a script for a sleep aid but I chose to go this route instead since it has helped me in the past. I have tried melatonin but is only helps a little. I prefer healthy alternatives.

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    Thank you everyone. I am a new woman after two good nights of good sleep!

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      I’m happy you are sleeping better, Kim!

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      Hurrah and thank you Lord! He led you — nice confirmation from Anne!

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      Yea! I love to sleep now :)

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5. What two statements of faith does the psalmist make in Psalm 31:14-15a?

“But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hand;” –there is total submission here, kneeling before Him and laying down his own will.

6. What does the psalmist request in verse 16? What do you think this means?

“Make your face shine on your servant; save me in your steadfast love!”—I think David is asking for the blessing of God’s presence and His love, he knows that this is enough to save him, even in his circumstances.

7. What request does he make concerning the wicked in verses 17-18?

That they would be put to shame—that their wicked schemes would prove futile and bring them nothing good.

8. Find a word picture of God as your refuge that is meaningful to you in verses 19-22.

“In the cover of your presence you hide them from the plots of men; you store them in your shelter”. I can’t help but think of the picture Joyce gave us of the mamma bird. When she first shared it last year, I put it on my desktop. I was always struck by the littler one on the left—with her eyes shut. True trust allows me to close my eyes and trust in the Wings that protect me.
9. How does the psalmist exhort his brothers in verses 23-24?
David gives us a call to ACTION—to be strong and courageous, not passive, not sitting in our own thoughts, and to not give up hope. I must actively pursue loving the Lord—to displace my self from my thoughts, and embrace Him, be filled up with love for Him, for Who He is, and die to myself. I must not give in to my fearful thoughts, but take courage, have hope, and trust in His return for me.

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3. Read Psalm 31:9-13. In what verses can you see The Man of Sorrows behind the psalmist? – I see Jesus crying out in all the verses. It’s like he’s retelling His story of the last days of His life.

4. What does it mean to you that Jesus understands your loneliness, your being misunderstood, your being forgotten? – Jesus paid it all for us, for all of us who to others were worth nothing but to God, we were His son’s life just so we could maybe see the love that they have for us. He was left alone when he asked his disciples to pray, they feel asleep and he was there to do it all on his own because they were too tired, just like we are sometimes to tired to read the word and learn more about Jesus and to grow in our relationship with Him because we are too busy or too tired. He was misunderstood because they didn’t believe in him just like when we are trying to explain the good He does, people don’t believe unless they can see something good being done. He has seen every pain and suffering that we have gone thru but he has seen it millions of times worth because He died for us when we are still alive and being cared for by Him.

What I want you to see is that the gospel is hidden in this psalm. Because the death of Jesus can be faintly seen, it gives the psalmist strength — he knows he is loved, so he can trust, he can go on.  If his suffering is not removed, if his friends blame him, as did Job’s friends, he still can trust His God.

5. What two statements of faith does the psalmist make in Psalm 31:14-15a? He trusts in His Lord and has placed His life, His future in His Lords hands

6. What does the psalmist request in verse 16? What do you think this means? – Warm me, your servant, with a smile; save me because you love me. (Psalm 31:16 MSG). To me this gives Him hope, to know that he is smiling back at him let’s him know that God has not forgotten him and he loves him so much that he will be their to the end.

7. What request does he make concerning the wicked in verses 17-18? – to not embarrass him by not showing up, but to embarrass and Stan up the wicked ones and let them fade away to hell because of what they did to Jesus.

8. Find a word picture of God as your refuge that is meaningful to you in verses 19-22. This reminds me of the beanstalk in Jack and the Beanstalk where we have our own godly beanstalk that will allow only those who worship Jesus access to him by climbing our way to safety and when those wicked people try to climb after us he cuts them off and let’s them fall to the enemies grasp.

9. How does the psalmist exhort his brothers in verses 23-24? He reminds us that God loves us and even though the road may be rocky, stand strong, have faith, trust the Lord and DON’T GIVE UP!

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    It’s like Jesus is retelling the story of the last days of his life.

    Yes.

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    Julie — I love your first comment — “Jesus retelling the story of the last days of his life.”

    The beanstalk picture — very creative!

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5. What two statements of faith does the psalmist make in Psalm 31:14-15a?

He says he will trust in Him. He recognizes that God can protect him and asks that he does.

6. What does the psalmist request in verse 16? What do you think this means?

He asks for mercy. He wants to be saved. He needs help from the Lord.

7. What request does he make concerning the wicked in verses 17-18?

He wants them to be silenced. He says they need to stop their lying.

8. Find a word picture of God as your refuge that is meaningful to you in verses 19-22.

I suppose the Lord “storing up good things and bestowing them on those who fear the Lord.” I can just see God with lots of presents around Him, as if it were Christmas morning and many people sitting at His feet waiting to be given a gift. Of course these wouldn’t be the traditional gifts, but these are gifts of mercy and grace. So a gift for me might be the gift of love, or acceptance.

9. How does the psalmist exhort his brothers in verses 23-24?

He says to love the Lord because He will be faithful to you always. He encourages them to be strong because Gid will bless you when you remember Him.

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    Stupid autocorrect – should say “God”

5. What two statements of faith does the psalmist make in Psalm 31:14-15a?
He says he trusts in God, and that God is his God-My times are in his hands. I am thinking of the contrast to those who trust in idols-which he stated above-He is yielding and submitting to God rather than an idol-perhaps desiring his friends approval putting his life in his friends hands instead he places it in God’s. He may see that other men put their trust in themselves, or in how they should run their life or think life should be run. rather than putting as more ultimate the the ways of man he is submitting to God.

6. What does the psalmist request in verse 16? What do you think this means?

“Make your face shine on your servant; save me in your steadfast love!” I think God will preserve and bless those who yield to Him as ultimate in their life. Who hide in the shelter of his wings-who long for his presence above others. By ‘bless’ I don’t mean with material things or relieving them of their circumstances necessarily, rather I think it means spiritually and in the future. It is beautiful how the Psalm explains it later on.. I think… ;-)

7. What request does he make concerning the wicked in verses 17-18?

He is asking that he not be put to shame because he cried out to God, but the wicked did not cry out to Him so let them be put to shame.

I could be WAY off here, but again I am contrasting his friends or those who are after him vs. him. I was thinking he is asking God to let them lie in the death their idol worship brings, but he didn’t cling to his idol, rather he clung to God so he is asking God, and rightly so to preserve him, and allow them to fall in their ways.

8. Find a word picture of God as your refuge that is meaningful to you in verses 19-22.

I always go to water pictures for some reason! :-) I am thinking of the Lighthouse picture. The hurricane and the waves are the arrows thrown at me from the world-beckoning me to cling to it’s gods of approval, lust, pride, control, greed-to dive into the waves, but instead I cling to the Lord who has built this lighthouse around me-I see the light in the lighthouse as His word-He is my fortress and He preserves me, and gives me still waters inside amidst the storm. He saves me from certain death brought on by the waves.

9. How does the psalmist exhort his brothers in verses 23-24?

He exhorts his brothers to love the Lord and that God would preserve them and that when you do love Him and take refuge in Him and put your hope in Him rather than the world he will preserve you-he exhorts them to be confident in this truth!

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2&4 As you all know my marriage has never been easy, through in Pauls Diabeties, a son with ADHD 2 special needs adoptions and the waves never really ever stop. I have found that keeping my eyes on HIM DURING the storm has been the only way that I can cope. everytime i take my eyes off HIM and HIS love for me i start to sink, and I have sunk MANY times into the waves of self pity and lost hope. I truely believe that hope defered makes the heart sick and some days the only place to find that hope is in the eyes of Jesus.

Paul is finding healing and we have peace in our marriage for the first time in 20 years, it feels so weird to be in the boat and having the waves calm that Im not sure how to respond, Im so grateful but also dont want to lose the closeness I have had with Jesus because of all the hard times….crazy I know, i don’t want suffering back, but i need to find a new normal in my relationship with Jesus, one that is not always hanging on for dear life:) I think when you live on the edge for so long its really hard not to live every day waiting for something bad to happen, I know this is not what HE wants from me but Im not sure how de-program myself.

I feel guilty writing that, my heart breaks for all of you who are experiencing more pain and trials then I have ever seen, I do not pretend to have seen sorrow like yours….I will not know how I would respond to such loss until it happens. I am praying for you, Joyce, Chris, Laura, Dee, Dawn I am so sorry for your sorrow and loss. I pray that some how some way Jesus will be able to speak to your heart and let you know how very much HE loves you and comfort you as a baby in Her mothers arms.

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    Thank you Cyndi, I am glad for you that things have improved in you marriage. Our marriage is vastly improved over what it once was.I am so grateful for the changes in my husband. I have relaxed somewhat, though I sometimes still have those old anxeties rear their heads.

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    It’s wonderful to hear the waves are calm. I laughed when you said, “I don’t know how to respond!”

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      i know it sounds funny but i wonder if its like someone who comes home from war and are so used to being on their guard all the time and cant figure out how to let themselves relax…

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Dear Dee thank you so much for the warm welcome and your insightful prayer. I had a wave of shame come over me at first after sharing my burden here, but for the rest of the day yesterday I really felt much lighter than I have for some time.

Thank you Meg for being the first to encourage me

Dawn, last week was a supremely difficult time for me, I didn’t even want to speak. It made tears well up when I saw your comment that you prayed especially then. I wonder sometimes if my seeming inability to share my wounds stems from pride or approval, I don’t want to burden someone else with my stuff, it’s like there is too much of it. I don’t want that person to walk away wishing I hadn’t laid all of that on them and have them thinking that I am a wreck, and me feeling like I was vulnerable and they didn’t understand me. Have you felt that way too?

Diane, I do remember you and have continued to visit the blog without posting. You have real depth and I am glad that you found your way here. Thank you for your prayers and for the song.

Elizabeth, thank you for your welcome and that you continued to pray. It occurred to me that I feel more loved by that than I would by an in person hug!

Joyce, you are so precious, the care you take in reading and reading between the lines of everyone’s posts and then lifting us up is amazing, you are a role model of what it means to love one another, thank you for the encouragement.

Kim thank you for the welcome back and your prayers, I hope your headaches improve, have you considered food sensitivies?

Thank you Julie, it is nice to ‘meet’ you. Julie was the name I would have given to a daughter had I been given one, but I was blessed with boys.

Rebecca thank you for your kindness to me, I do feel moved to know that so many of you remeber me and think to pray for me. it is the most encourageing thing I have pondered for some time.

THANK YOU EVERYONE!

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    Thank you. I have many allergies food and otherwise in fact there is no number on the charts for how allergic I am. This is my biggest contributor to headaches.
    I am so glad you feel welcomed back, actually we have never forgotten you or stopped praying. Love you!

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      Kim, I am also a very allergic headache sufferer! When I was 3 years old they tested me for 40 allergies and 38 of them were positive.

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    Wow — thanks, Chris.

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    Thank you Chris, your very sweet, but I am the one being blessed here! I missed you while you were gone, Chris…hang in here and we will all get through the hard times together…with God’s help! (and Dee’s)

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    Yes Chris, I do feel that way most of the time. In about 3 weeks it will be the first anniversary of my niece’s death (also my sister’s and my nephew’s birthday). I know that most people have assumed that I’m “over it” and I have moved on especially my coworkers and church family. But the truth is she was my daughter and I still struggle daily with the fact that she is really not coming back. She was a very loved and favored member of our family. I know that my parents, her parents (my sister and her husband), her sister and my other sister are all still in grief, but no one talks about it much. I would have thought that by now I would be used to the idea, but I’m not.

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      Praying for you, Dawn

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      I think I know how you feel. I only recently started to process that it is all real. I seem okay on the surface, but I am still so raw inside.
      The brokeness of this world has flooded in on me and I will never be the same. I can imagine that someday the changes will be useful in making me more like Christ, but I don’t see it yet.

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5. What two statements of faith does the psalmist make in Psalm 31:14-15a?
I trust in you, O LORD; “You are my God.”
; My times are in your hand;

6. What does the psalmist request in verse 16? What do you think this means?
Make your face shine upon me, save me.
Perhaps that if he felt Gods presence and sense his favor, he would not feel as though he were dying.

7. What request does he make concerning the wicked in verses 17-18?
let the wicked be put to shame; let them go silently to Sheol, Let the lying lips be mute

8. Find a word picture of God as your refuge that is meaningful to you in verses 19-22.
verse:21 Blessed be the LORD, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me when I was in a besieged city.
It struck me that David is saying that God showed love to him “while I was in a besieged city” He could be saying instead ‘ I am besieged in this city, God has abandoned me’ I imagine that David was looking for his blessings in spite of his troubles and still able to see Gods hand on his life though things were desperate.
He didn’t persist in feeling he was ‘cut off from Gods sight’

9. How does the psalmist exhort his brothers in verses 23-24?
Love the LORD,
Be strong, and let your heart take courage

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7. What request does he make concerning the wicked in verses 17-18? Let the wicked be put to shame; Let their lying lips be silenced for with pride and contempt they speak arrogantly against the rightous.

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Ladies

Can you pray for me today and tommorrow please? My best friends mom died a year ago tommorrow.. BUt i am sad today because it was a tuesday that she died.. I dont think of the date as much as the day.. Please pray that the Lord would comfort me thank u!

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    I will be lifting you Meg in prayer.

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    Oh Meg, I will lift you up in prayer. I remember when my 34 yr old daughter, Kyla, had a close friend and her mom died of cancer in their home and how awful it was for Kyla to go through that pain with her friend, as she loved that mom, that died so much too. She was so young, like you, and so hurt by it. Sometimes I wonder if God starts us out with losing a pet and then a friend or friend’s mom or something like that, to help us learn about suffering. Anyway, just push into Jesus and let him comfort you….praying for you!

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    Meg, This quote has been helpful to me, kinda saying that it is okay to feel so very bad. That the very depth of the pain reminds us of the depth of the love we have for the person we have lost. And helps us be greatful we had them.

    “There is nothing that can replace the absence of someone dear to us, and one should not even attempt to do so. One must simply hold out and endure it. At first that sounds very hard, but at the same time it is also a great comfort. For to the extent the emptiness truly remains unfilled one remains connected to the other person through it. It is wrong to say that God fills the emptiness. God in no way fills it but much more leaves it precisely unfilled and thus helps us preserve — even in pain — the authentic relationship. Further more, the more beautiful and full the remembrances, the more difficult the separation. But gratitude transforms the torment of memory into silent joy. One bears what was lovely in the past not as a thorn but as a precious gift deep within, a hidden treasure of which one can always be certain.”

    — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

    .

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      Thank you for this, Chris. I am posting it on my niece’s facebook wall. It is very helpful, not to get over the pain but to accept the pain for what good it can be.

        I posted it on Daniels too. I to go there and see messages his friends leave, it is a comfort to know they are still thinking of him. So many have messaged me about his being in their dreams. They all say that the dreams make them feel peaceful, one girls dream was really remarkable, she struggles with faith, she used to attend youth group with him but now says she is an agnostic.

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I receive Nancy Guthrie’s newsletter, and today’s had a part from her new book on Jesus in the Psalms–this last paragraph I thought was fitting for us:

Ultimate and lasting satisfaction is not found in the most delicious of human kisses. We find our ultimate and lasting satisfaction not in the best human lover but in divine redeeming love poured out on guilty sinners. The kiss that will satisfy us into eternity is the kiss of God in Jesus Christ, the crucified Lord. This is the kiss that heals and makes whole.

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    Love that Elizabeth!

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I receive Nancy Guthrie’s newsletter, and today’s had a part from her new book on Jesus in the Psalms–this last paragraph I thought was fitting for us:

Ultimate and lasting satisfaction is not found in the most delicious of human kisses. We find our ultimate and lasting satisfaction not in the best human lover but in divine redeeming love poured out on guilty sinners. The kiss that will satisfy us into eternity is the kiss of God in Jesus Christ, the crucified Lord. This is the kiss that heals and makes whole.

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3. Read Psalm 31:9-13. In what verses can you see The Man of Sorrows behind the psalmist?

In 9 He was so grieved He sweat like great drops of blood. In 11 I see Him on the cross. 11 I see He was not accepted among His own people. In 12 the disciples forgot to keep alert and pray when they fell asleep. In 12a the disciples were afraid to be known as His followers for fear of death. In 12 the broken pottery reminds me of His broken heart. In 13 He was slandered, surrounded by terror and His life was taken.

4. What does it mean to you that Jesus understands your loneliness, your being misunderstood, your being forgotten?
It makes my heart hurt for Him and gives me strength that He understands me.

5. What two statements of faith does the psalmist make in Psalm 31:16-22
14 But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, “You are my God. 15 My times are in Your hand.

6. What does the psalmist request in verse 16? What do you think this means?
16 Let your face shine on your servant, save me in your unfailing love. He wants the favor of God. He wants God and nothing else. He knows God’s love is a love that can take through any situation.

7. What request does he make concerning the wicked in verses 17-18?
17 Let me not be put to shame, O LORD, for I call upon You;
Let the wicked be put to shame, let them be silent in [a]Sheol (Hell)

8. Find a word picture of God as your refuge that is meaningful to you in verses 19-22.
19 How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you. God has so much love that He put some in storage! I love this. It is bountiful to me.

9. How does the psalmist exhort his brothers in verses 23-24?
23 Love the LORD, all his faithful people. The LORD preserves those who are true to him, but the proud he pays back in full. 24 Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.

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    what she said:)

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I have been working on #1 & 2 tonight and kind of stuck on them. #1 especially because there is so much good there. I turned off the computer and went to bed thinking about that beautiful Rembrandt. The wave is the focal point and Christ is a small insignificant man in the back of the boat. He who rules the universe, not to mention the wind and the waves, but they were focused on the storm doing all they could do as men to survive the storm. No wonder He calmed the waves. No wonder He allowed the storm! What a testimony for us of what to do in our storms. My comment is that we must focus on Him in the storm, not the waves.

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    Amen!

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    Always love your comments on paintings, Anne.

    Anne, Great observation, as usual. :-) I was thinking about what you said about Him being on the boat-the small one on the boat-the one who rules the universe-wow. That makes me even think of the incarnation and when Keller said the God of the universe made himself a speck for us-he stripped himself of His glory for us so that we would be able to focus on Him in the midst of the storm while He walks with us in our suffering. This also ties into what Chris said too perhaps…hmmmm…

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    Anne, your comments on the Rembrandt painting are wonderful and yet very challenging. We tend to focus on the waves of our storms. The pain of our storms is intense and it tends to overpower everything and everyone else, even Jesus who, though we know intellectually is the ruler of the universe, can calm the waves. So when he does not calm our waves, we wonder why he does not and we begin to doubt and sink. It is one of the hardest things to do — to turn our heads and hearts away from the storm and to look in full trust deep into his eyes. I feel as if Jesus is saying to me as he did to Peter, “Do you love me? The only way the storm will cease to be important is if you are fully focused on Me.”

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      Wow, Anne and you, Diane really can see the whole picture of the meaning, just by looking at a picture

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      Diane, this a great point! If we focus on Him the storm becomes unimportant.

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I’ve engaged Chris in a discussion I want to take down here for her comment and yours — for I think it relates to all of us.

Chris said: “I feel like my own deficiencies have lead me here, that Christ was perfect, so I have a hard time connecting my suffering to his”

I said to her:
I echo what Joyce said, Chris — so glad to have you back for us! Your questions make us think.

So here we go: Do you mean that because Christ was perfect that He may not have felt the same pain, because He knew it wasn’t because of His deficiencies?

I understand that in part, for I know much of my grief had to do with regret — but on the other hand, you know how connected we are with our children, as you were with Daniel, and how their pain is our pain. And He bore all our pain. So perhaps His pain is for different reasons, but I think it was much more intense — and also allows Him to empathize and weep with our pain. And, because He sees us as clean, we must see ourselves that way, or we are minimizing what He did pay, and trying to pay ourselves. Does this make sense? Would love your thoughts and the thoughts of others.

    In response to Chris’ thoughts. I can’t fathom what you are going through, yet at the same time I can understand why you would feel this way. Perhaps Christ must have suffered deeper than we can fathom because He is glorious, yet made himself poor. He gave up His glory to take on flesh, to take on our sin. A depth of suffering we can’t relate to-a Holy God taking on sin? Perhaps though, this enables Him to sincerely weep with us while we are suffering? I don’t know, but this is a great question causing me to think.

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    When I was in college, someone said that God will give you the same trials over and over until you learn what He’s trying to teach you. I’m not sure I believe that, because–while I do not have the wisdom to try to say I know why He allows trials, I do not think they are discipline. I do believe they are to draw us to Him, to refine us, and that is motivated by His love for us. All of us are deficient, all of us need the refining.

    I understand what I think Chris means of relating to Christ–He is perfect, He doesn’t carry the guilt we do in our trial. But I believe that is because the guilt is not of God–we aren’t meant to carry the guilt either. I agree with Dee–that His pain is much more intense,because His empathy for our pain is incomprehensible.
    I’ll stop–I should have prayed more through this, sorry to not offer much, but I have to run!

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      my thoughts on Elizabeth’s comment;

      It does feel like I am missing the lesson that disincline ought to teach me, so many people seem to expect great things from me, I am so stuck and depressed I feel like a disappointment. And I fear more pain if I don’t “get it”.

      I do think the following verses point to our trials… my trials… being disciple. I am afraid I will miss the training that I am supposed to receive.

      I felt after spending so much time here on Job that I was okay with not knowing why about my circumstances, but these new events threw me back down into self loathing & self pity.

      Anne’s comment about focusing on Christ in the trial is certainly what I know to be the answer, but actually doing it sometimes seems next to impossible

      Rev 3:19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.

      Hebrews 12:5-11 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.
      For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
      It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
      If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
      Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?

      For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.
      For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

        I’m so sorry Chris, I should have not said anything, I really apologize–it’s a lesson I seem really slow to learn here. My heart was that I hated for you to feel any guilt about your trials. Please forgive me for not praying before speaking–praying for you continually.

        Oh Elizabeth Please Please please….don’t feel that way!
        I need all of you! I can’t stand to think you might retreat at all.
        I appreciate very much your input, I am not fragile, iron sharpens iron, and I need to hear your thoughts, I have no corner on truth because of pain, I don’t want to feel that you might hesitate to engage me if my thinking is in error. I need you!

        Here I am wanting so to minister to you, Chris and instead you are ministering to me! Oh, if you only knew–after what I had said to you here this morning, I had decided I would not post again until next week–a “fast” in a sense, because I was ashamed by my lack of wisdom. But when you said this “I can’t stand to think you might retreat at all.” –I was convicted of my old pattern of running to hide–what a gift you are, thank you for not letting Satan pull me back into my old ways–praying with you~

        Elizabeth-what a heart you have-you didn’t hide-praise God! (you and Chris put the hammer on Satan!) :-)

        I just read what Diane wrote and I agree with her-what has gone on this morning and today as we encourage one another is just beautiful-the Lord is moving.

        Elizabeth I think you were on to something with your comment about ‘not carrying the guilt’ by the way.
        When I felt like it was okay not to have the answers and that even if the reason for my trials was that they were to refine me (it also occurs to me that I make too much of myself in assuming that everything is about me) I felt that God loves me and whatever He does with me is okay.
        Since all this started with Brian, I have tried to make it my fault, that somehow if I had been more submitted to God and able to love him (Brian) more perfectly that God could have worked through me in a way that would have left him in a better place emotionally & mentally.

        I think I make too much of myself sometimes

        Elizabeth, I do think Chris knows your heart-you truly have the sweetest spirit and love so well. We knew you didn’t mean it in a harsh way that is for sure. :-)

        Chris, I just had a thought bouncing off of what Elizabeth said, that when we go through various trials a result of those trials are that they bring up things in us-sins and yuk..stuff God wants to clean out-to refine us. The suffering is indeed a mystery still, but what comes out of it can be beautiful. Like in James when it says to consider it all joy when we encounter various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance and let endurance have it’s perfect result that you are perfect and complete,lacking in nothing..(Not sure I quoted that right-I did it from memory and my memory is fading.) :-)

        I was thrilled when I read your response to Elizabeth-your heart, Chris-oh my!

        Oh but chris, I’m so thankful you are in the right place-it may take a while for you to go through the process of laying yourself out like a lake to Him, all the way up to putting on Christ again-and then seeing his refining in your life.

        It seems you were healing and beginning to take that step of putting on Christ even in the midst of your grief until this new trial brought you back down again. God understands your struggle and your suffering even if you don’t grasp that he does, and he won’t punish you for it. Seriously, He already took your punishment on the cross as you know, so you are clothed in Him-He looks at you and is ravished by your beauty. That is HARD to accept or embrace-I know-I am like you and find it hard to embrace so I need to remind myself of that daily, but when I do I find I embrace it more and more. But it is reality-I wonder if God wants us to embrace that truth even if we don’t feel it or fully understand ‘how can it be’-but before we can even get to that step we have to let go of whatever else we are holding on to that keeps us from laying out ourselves to him and saying-I give up-I am yours do whatever you will with me and this circumstance-Oh my, do I have to do this a lot! I had to do it yesterday regarding a decision in ministry I had to make. :-)

        Nevertheless, you are here and that is a big first step to being able to open yourself up again to your God who loves you with the deepest love ever and desires to take this-He is aching with you.

        “before we can even get to that step we have to let go of whatever else we are holding on to that keeps us from laying out ourselves to him and saying-I give up-I am yours do whatever you will with me and this circumstance”

        I wish I could see what this is for me. I hope I will see it

        Chris, These quotes are so true as well! Don’t you think He wants us to know Him, and to do so we must have trials? He suffered so much and we can never know that pain, but sometimes our pain is great that it could be comparable. I especially appreciate the verses from Hebrews, because we can all relate to out fathers’ disciplining us, us not liking it, and later realizing it was just what we needed :)

        So, for me it is both what you and elizabeth have said here, we need refining, we need to run to Jesus for it, and yes, sometimes we will have the “discipline” we need to set us straight and “…make our paths right.”

        I think I will try to come back to what I said here, as Laura-dancer just reminded me of it and I am seeing more the flaw in what I said–that the trials are not discipline. I know I should have clarified my thoughts–it’s hard for me to look at what happened to Daniel, or Dee losing Steve, even me losing my Dad–as discipline in the sense that I thought you meant.
        I think this is one of those times it’s hard for me to “speak” through internet.I think maybe in the context I confused your discipline with “punishment” and hated you to feel any blame, as you had mentioned your deficiencies causing your trials to continue–but even that makes more sense to me what you meant now. Sorry for the mud trail ;0

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      Elizabeth,

      This is so true for me! When I have gone through very bad times I have drawn closer to Him for comfort. I believe He wanted me there. (“I do not think they are discipline. I do believe they are to draw us to Him, to refine us, and that is motivated by His love for us. All of us are deficient, all of us need the refining.”

      Thanks!

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    Yes I feel as though I must need my pain to teach me, Christ didn’t deserve his.

    Somehow I have always minimized the idea of Christ loving me personally, I have emphasized in my mind His enduring the pain and the shame He suffered as an act of obedience to the Father. If I think about His actions being out of love I have regarded that love as being for His bride, the church as a whole. I have a hard time personalizing it.
    It seems so arrogant to me, such as in the song ‘Like A Rose” I feel that thinking that Christ ‘thought of ME above all’ seems terribly arrogant, and comparing Christ to a rose (a flower that has such little worth comparatively) seems so wrong to me that I have a hard time singing that song.

    Some time ago the Michael Card song that says” Come make a sacrifice of all your shame” was included in the discussion here I think. I have struggled with what that might mean, how it would look.

    I don’t see myself as clean, and when I try to figure out why, I feel despair. I wonder if pride is at the root of it, but I seem unable to think clearly when I try to go that deep. I used to feel like I could ponder truth and arrive at something, but now I just feel confused, like an old rabbit ear television with rolling lines and snow where you can barely make out the picture so after awhile you give up.

      Chris, I struggled a lot with personalizing it-I too felt arrogant doing so, but over time I started seeing the intimacy passages in Jeremiah, Hosea, Ezekiel, etc.. and as you have read in Job how God dealt with Him personally-It helped me to to bridge that in my mind. Does that make sense? I might not have said it clearly.

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      Chris, I so appreciate the grace you extend to us as we discuss and share thoughts. Hearing your feelings has given me much to think about. I realize that our experiences are opposite right now. Your input helps me to see that I do not see. Theories and formulas can be helpful but sometimes they just do not apply. Sometimes all we have to cling to is Christ, His death, burial and resurrection. How that alone changes everything for us. It is a rock to hide under in the whiteout (your tv picture reminds me of a blizzard).

      Your question about Michael Card’s song is a good one. Does the rest of the song shed any light on his meaning? I wonder if it means simply giving our sin to Him for cleansing, naming it and never taking it back (I mean for past things as with raising our children). For the things that you wish you had done differently with Brian maybe you could write them down and ask the Lord to repair the damage, making it new as only He can do. Then every time you want to take back that responsibility, leave it with Him. Something that has helped me in my relationships it to pray for the Lord to heal and deepen them. He is doing it between Joey and I.

      It is my hope to be helpful and I pray that I may but I have to tell you Chris that I deeply appreciate your honesty about how things make you feel. It really helps me to know the impact of my words because I have been the queen of careless words and I want to lose that.

        Anne, it means so much to me that you have read what I’ve written so thoughtfully.

        I like the blizzard analogy.

        I had read and now reread the lyrics to Come Lift up Your Sorrows, they speak to me, I cry when I read them, but I am no closer to unlocking the Come make a sacrifice of all your shame meaning. It stays with me, I know there is something there I need to process. It is more than feeling guilty about parenting issues, something keeps me from experiencing the feeling of comfort and security in Christ, it isn’t that I doubt my salvation at all, but something keeps me from drawing near to, and resting in Christ.

        I am truly glad for you that things with Joey are going well, is that what you were referencing when you said our experiences are opposite right now?
        I like the idea of praying for the Lord to repair the damage I may have done, and for healing and deepening of our relationship. It is hard to feel really close to him because he continues to try to appear squeaky clean while covering the tracks of his misdeeds. He needs to trust that we are on his side.

        I so appreciate your input, you have never hurt me with your words Anne, I can’t imagine you deserve that title.

        Did you end up switching churchs?

        Chris, I don’t know if you were with us when we studied Song of Solomon on the subject of being in a south wind and a north wind. God brings both into our lives for His purposes that I don’t understand. So what I meant is that we are in different stages. I began a study in Acts last fall and the Lord showed me at the beginning that I would be learning about joy, and He is bringing it from every direction. I think He is teaching me where it comes from. It is my stage right now and how I needed it. Suffering may also come as it has for you. I pray not but His will be done for me. That is a frightening thing to say but I pray to trust Him that much. I want to understand the north wind that you are in so that I can be with you in it.

        I did switch churches and it has been very good for Joey. He is still not really into it but I found one that he will accept. He goes to youth group because I insist but it is tolerable for him. He is extremely sensitive to racism and this church is multicultural to his specifications. In fact a couple of Sundays ago I had the opportunity to introduce him to a man that I work with who is from Africa. Joey was impressed and that went a long way with him. i saw the Lord in the whole encounter.

        It is neat that Joey is so opposed to racism, I am really glad you found a church he is comfortable in, but I am delighted to hear that joy is coming at you from every direction! How wonderful for you! It does give me hope to know it.

        I was not here for that Song of Solomon teaching. I have had quite a lot of the North wind as I look back. I was an unwed mother at 17, our marriage has weathered an affair which yielded a child whom we have raised, I cared for both of my parents as they died, and took in two of my husband’s 1/2 siblings. But none of that compared to this.
        I used to think my faith was so strong. In my Moms in Touch group I prayed that God would have his way with my family. I prayed he would do whatever it took to bring them to him, I prayed for revival in our community and churches. I rarely prayed for his protection for my children as the other moms did, truth be told I felt a bit superior to them. I felt that much of what they asked for in their families they wanted in order to make their own lives easier. I prayed that God would be glorified through mine. Now I feel stunned, humbled, crushed. I see my pride before, and I hate it.

        Some of what I longed for has happened. My husband goes to church every Sunday. He listens to sermons, he has gone on a mission trip. He was a spiritual babe before this, now he is involved in ministry that is resulting in people coming to Christ.

        I on the other hand am a mess, I can’t or won’t even think much about what happened. We went to the grief counselor and I felt really angry while I talked and after we left. We have another appointment On Monday. I know God is still leading me, he pulls me to my feet again and again, but I feel sort of like a zombie, just staggering along. There is a mom in our church who lost her adult son to cancer, and soon thereafter her young grandson drown in a pond. She seems to have stayed in the state I am now. I hope not to feel this way the rest of my life.

        I am sorry that you are feeling thsi way Chris.. I pray for your apppt on monday with the grief counsler and that you would get healing from the Lord. I felt on wednesday how you are feeling now.. I am so very sorry :(

        Thank you Meg

        Chris, It looks like you can see that you can see that good has come from the bad. I’m also looking for this,yet I know that I haven’t come to the place where I can say it is well. I feel like I am betraying my niece somehow by saying that it’s o.k. that she died because someone else now feels closer to God because of it. That was Jesus’ job not her’s.
        Before all of this happened I had read the autobiography of Jonathan Edwards whose very much loved 17 year old daughter died. He recorded in his diary that it pleased God to take his daughter and I thought at the time that I would react the same way. Now I feel like I might as well have been the one to kill her as to say that.
        I know with all of my heart that if given the choice she would not come back because God’s presence is so glorious and she is eternally rejoicing and I will see her again. That compared to eternity, this life of mine, no matter how long is less than a nanosecond of time.

        I think I may have shared this before but I am not sure, just weeks after we came home from the hospital without Daniel we attended a funeral for the mother of a good friend. There is a teacher in our community whose son had died when someone who knew him had purposefully forced his car off the road after a dispute. She had tried to contact me but I was avoiding her as I had always perceived her to be a rigid unyielding sort of person. She and her husband were arriving at the funeral home as we were leaving, we meet on the steps (I couldn’t avoid her) The talk we had was the most helpful I had with anyone. I told her how ashamed I was that I felt no joy about the good things which had come from our tragedy, that I would trade it all in an instant to have him back again. Her face was so kind and tender as she said “you wouldn’t want to bring him back here again, not now that he has seen the Glory of the Father, would you?” That helped me so much to release feeling like Daniel was missing out on things, I still have to bring the truth to mind regularly.

        There is that moment when I think thoughts of how short life is and that he is in heaven and I will see him there, but in the next second a crushing weight descends, like thinking in that way seeks to sweep the grief and the loss under the carpet. It demands to be dealt with, I can’t sort of ‘make to most of a bad situation’ it is too horrific to be done away with quickly and neatly. I think that is perhaps something you feel as well Dawn?

        I can see good, but I am still emotionally really flat about it, I feel guilty about that. One counselor I saw told me that I judge myself about my emotions and that I shouldn’t. She said emotions are neither good nor bad, they just are, it is our actions we should judge. I am not sure I agree with her, I have judged my emotions my whole life.

        Chris, thank you for sharing this–it is so rich. I too judge myself on my emotions. I love how the Truth of the woman teacher’s words encouraged you–the truth can have power over our emotions–I just seem to need to be reminded of it so often

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    Since coming back to the study last year I have had many eye opening experiences. I realized that I had minimized three key elements: Christ’s birth, death and repentance. Maybe as a way of dealing with it or maybe b/c I had over-heard the story being raised in a Christian home.

    His birth – When I saw as Keller said the God of the universe made himself a speck for us-he stripped himself of His glory (I borrowed this from Rebecca b/c it is an excellent description) to come as a mere human and be born to die. It changed my thinking. The poem from Lucy Shaw changed my perspective too.

    I also minimized His death – I thought b/c He was perfect He could commune directly with his Father and He could think on greater thing’s like creation or ponder the heaven-lies and not suffer as badly. I now see this as a form of escapism. I had to escape many times as a child into an imaginary world growing up so it warped my thinking and helped me not deal with what was really going on.

    Finally just this week while reading a book called “Satan’s dirty little secret” I saw my repentance as skewed. While I did see repentance as turning from sin I didn’t see it as changing my mind about my overeating to the point of seeing it through His eyes. Once I repented of this on Monday the thought of overeating became sickening to me so that sinning against Him in this way is abhorrent to me now. I believe this was why I kept having to strive to not overeat.

    I wrote all of this b/c I related to Chris when she said, “I feel like my own deficiencies have lead me here, that Christ was perfect, so I have a hard time connecting my suffering to his”.

    Sorry this is so long. Thanks for letting me re-visit these wrong thinking patterns. I have repented of them.

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I JUST SENT A NEW TITLE IDEA TO MY PUBLISHER FOR THE STONECUTTER — WOULD LOVE YOUR PRAYERS.

IT’S

THE
STONECUTTER
GOD

SUBTITLE:
Releasing His Children to be Truly Free

What do you women think?

    I Love it! LOVE the subtitle too. Will pray!

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    Perfect title – love it!

    Reply

    Yes, it’s perfect.

    Reply

    Dee, I like it too. What do you think about shortening the subtitle to Releasing His Children to Freedom? Will you have artwork on the cover (you know what I am thinking)?

      Reply

      Or what about: The Stonecutter God:Leading His Children to Freedom

        Dee, I love Anne’s shorter version as well: “The Stonecutter God: Releasing His Children to Freedom.”

        Love the title and subtitle dee!

10. Why is it important to address sin as well as the body and a person’s past when attempting to help yourself or those to whom you are close overcome sin?

I think it is crucial to address the sin because past history can shape us to walk deeper into sin. We were born with a sin nature and our history triggers us to curl around it in many ways-we are naturally bent that way-the old man. There are things we walked in for years, sin wise, as a result of our history. We have habits we don’t even see. So we must address the layers of sin. We can’t change the past, but God can re-shape us as we put off and put on-and He can redeem us-redeem what the locusts have eaten.

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    Love this too, Rebecca! We can’t change our past (and how much time do we waste sighing over our past) – but God can re-shape us and redeem us and restore to us what the locusts have eaten.

      Hi Susan! I was thinking about you hoping you would post!

      In reply to your comment above and post below, you made me think in regard to struggling in the now. I know I have struggled with ‘everlasting’ trials. ;-) Yet, the same truth above applies to our past as it does to our now. God can restore us in the midst even if the circumstances don’t change. As you so rightly said-he doesn’t kick the pieces around when we are broken, he reaches down-sooo good.

This may be a stretch or a rabbit trail, but I think this relates well with our study! I have been reading the book of Ruth and listened to Keller’s sermon twice so far-it is free and it is called, “Ruth, an immigrant’s courage”.

Oh, and I was cleaning my kitchen and SWORE I wouldn’t take notes. ;-) BUT i failed toward the end, when he got into summing up the sermon, here is his summation:

The message of the book of Ruth:

“It doesn’t matter who you are, what you have done, or how marginal you are, or what kind of a failure you have been. The message of the book of Ruth is the message of Grace… The message of the book of Ruth is not-if you trust God he will give you absolutely everything you want. The message is, if you give up your definition of a good life, give up your life to Him and say “God you do with me what you want”. He will give you back your life-it won’t be the same thing-the same definition. It will be better than good, it will be great.”

Naomi was suffering and Ruth was willing to walk into suffering to redeem Naomi. Ruth trusted God as her refuge before she went with Naomi-she was already a believer.

So much more there but what i related to our study is how David in the Psalms in the midst of suffering cried out to God and handed his life over to Him like Jesus, like Ruth, and God redeemed David. God didn’t take away his circumstances, but He preserved and rescued him- David saw the wonders of God’s love in this process of refining and that gave Him such joy in the midst!

    Reply

    This is all so beautiful, Spirit led, Rebecca. I’m taking away this especially–“It doesn’t matter who you are, what you have done, or how marginal you are, or what kind of a failure you have been. The message of the book of Ruth is the message of Grace” and this: “God didn’t take away his circumstances, but He preserved and rescued him- David saw the wonders of God’s love in this process of refining and that gave Him such joy in the midst!”

    OK, so I nearly just re-posted your whole post, but it so moved me!

      Elizabeth, Isn’t Keller a gift? I so love the insight God has given him. I also can’t help but think of how LONG David struggled-yet God said David had a heart after Him-OH GOD IS SO FULL OF GRACE!

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    This is exactly what Francis Chow is saying in his book, “Crazy Love”. This book is not for sissies! Thanks Rebecaa, I like imagining both of us cleaning our kitchens while listening to Keller sermons!

      Kim, You go sister!! Am thinking about listening to another one today. I may have to listen to the Ruth one again-hmmmm…

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    Thanks for “rabbit trailing” for us, Rebecca. This part really speaks to me,”The message is, if you give up your definition of a good life, give up your life to Him and say “God you do with me what you want”. He will give you back your life-it won’t be the same thing-the same definition. It will be better than good, it will be great.””

    I have heard this before but find myself so afraid to give up my definition of the good life and to trust that God has something “better than good … [something] GREAT”.

    Also, I love the imagery of Ruth “willing to walk into suffering to redeem Naomi”. I see some of you women here in this blog doing just that for others. It is such a blessing to watch.

      Reply

      I was going to repost that same paragraph, because it is very good!
      That’s okay…I will repost it again anyway!

      “if you give up your definition of a good life, give up your life to Him and say “God you do with me what you want”. He will give you back your life-it won’t be the same thing-the same definition. It will be better than good, it will be great.”
      Thanks Rebecca, I really like that!

    Reply

    Thanks for sharing this Rebecca – it is really helpful, especially “if you give up your definition of a good life, give up your life to Him….He will give you back your life – it wont be the same thing…it will be better than good, it will be great.”
    Makes me think of The Potter – I am not a potter; I would make the vessel misshapen, deformed…not very useful. That’s what happens when I try to run my own life! I need to put the clay back into His hands!

      Reply

      This is so good! I couldn’t be a potter either. Why should I think I can “fix” myself?

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8. Find a word picture of God as your refuge that is meaningful to you in verses 19-22

In My alarm I said
I am cut off from your sight
yet you heard my cry for mercy
when i called to you for help.

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9. How does the psalmist exhort his brothers in verses 23-24?

The Lord preserves those who are true to him; Be strong and take heart!

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Ladies

I am having a really sad day today.. Please pray for me thanks!

    Reply

    I will pray for you, dear Meg. You may want to do what I had to do yesterday – tell the devil who you are in Christ and take your rightful authority over him. I also said some verses out loud and set my mind on some praise. Love you!

    Meg, I am praying for you now!!

      Reply

      Prayin now for you, Meg

        How was your day, Meg?

        JOyce, THanks for asking I had a very ahrd day yesterday.. It was the anniversary of my best friends death.. My head hurt and my eyes hurt cause I was crying so much!

        Chris S- Thank you for the quote i got it through my e-mail but cant see m to find it on here :)

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