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SURVIVING WHEN YOUR WORST FEAR BECOMES A REALITY (TWO WEEKS)

WHEN YOUR SOUL IS KNIT TO ANOTHER SOUL

A HUSBAND, A CHILD — YOU THINK,

IF ANYTHING WOULD HAPPEN TO HIM OR HER

I COULD NOT SURVIVE

 

THAT’S WHAT JUDAH TOLD JOSEPH WHEN

JOSEPH DEMANDED THEY BRING BENJAMIN.

JUDAH ASKED TO STAY IN HIS PLACE.

“MY FATHER IS KNIT TO BENJAMIN,” HE SAID,

“AND IF ANYTHING HAPPENED TO THIS SON TOO,

MY FATHER WOULD DIE.”

 

THAT’S HOW WE FEEL ABOUT THOSE

TO WHOM WE ARE KNIT

 

YET SOMEHOW, IF IT HAPPENS

WE DO SURVIVE,

THOUGH WE MAY WONDER IF WE WANT TO

AND THEN, HOW WE CAN

 

WE HAVE FELT THE GRIEF OF A MOTHER HERE

A MOTHER WHO LOST HER BELOVED SEVENTEEN YEAR OLD SON

 

DANIEL, THE CHILD OF HER HEART,

WAS ASSAULTED.

A SEVERE BRAIN INJURY.

A MONTH OF ROLLER COASTER HOPES.

AND THEN THEY HAD TO SAY GOOD-BYE.

 

CHRIS HAS BEEN THROUGH THE FURNACE OF SUFFERING

AND THE PICTURE AND VERSES SHE SUBMITTED

GIVES US A GLIMPSE OF HER PAIN

 

YET IT ALSO REMINDS ME OF ANOTHER FURNACE

AND OF A “MAN” WHO WAS IN THE FURNACE WITH

SHADRACH, MESHACH, AND ABENEGO

 

Furnace of Suffering

HOW DO YOU MAKE IT THROUGH THE FURNACE OF PAIN?

 

Chris has said “I do not do grief well.” I so disagree. Do you think grieving well means being a stoic? Denying the pain? No. No. No.

In fact, Chris, though still in the midst of the fire (It has been less than two years) is doing it right — so right I want to take two weeks with this. It is too rich to hurry.

I told her:

  • You are being honest with God. That’s what He asks. He hates pretense.
  • You are not backing away from Him. That’s key — for to back away is to let go of your only lifeline.
  • You are remembering Who He is and His promises.

WHEN MY GREAT FISH SWALLOWED ME

(CHRIS)

Chris and Daniel at Disney -- 12/2009

 

 


When my great fish swallowed me, I wanted my old world back, my world in which my spiritual understanding was enough, My safe world, in our safe community where I am insulated from really awful things, and I was satisfied with earthy things. I desperately glanced about for more immediate relief.

It is painful to tear away the faulty foundations of trust, the weak and insufficient ones, and anchor deeper into the Rock.

The incredible pain that demands to be attended to finds its only answer in the Cross. I don’t know the whys of suffering, but I can see the love of Jesus, the price He paid to make it right, the promise of eternity.

God is bigger to me now than He was then, my pride and confidence in myself is smashed. Being in the furnace has caused me to look more intently into the costly grace that is mine. I did feel abandoned there in the fire, I know though that I was not, He is filled with care and knows just how much I need & can stand.

I trust Him more than before, my eyes are much more fixed on eternity now, my treasures are sure & certain there.

ZACH GRADUATING FROM AIR FORCE BOOT CAMP, DANIEL CHEERING HIM ON (1/09)

Week One (July 1-7)

Sunday/Monday (Ice-breakers)

1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

2. What do you see Chris doing right in the midst of her fiery furnace?

Monday-Friday (This is the week of the 4th of July — and I know many of you will be vacationing — so sermon will wait until next week.) But I want you to contemplate these verses that Chris submitted and answer the questions I pose following them.)

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire —may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,  for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:6-9)

1. What do trials prove according to the above?

2. If you back away from God in the midst of suffering, what does it show?

3. What have your trials revealed about your faith?

4. Has God shown you anything else in the above passage? If so, what?

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-3)

4. Why should we consider it joy when we face trials?

5. Why should we persevere through suffering?

6. How do you see perseverance in Chris? In yourself?

I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering! (Isaiah 48:10)

7. Suffering does not refine everyone — only those who persevere, who, because of genuine faith, do not back away from God. How have you been refined in the furnace of suffering?

Saturday

8. What is your take-a-way and why?

 

Week 2 (July 7-13)

Before we look at how Jonah’s prayer parallels the response Chris has to suffering, I want to give you a glimpse of the videotaping Ben Eisner did a few weeks ago at my Wisconsin home. Though he forgot to press the button he said would make me look young, it is AMAZING. I am overflowing with gratitude that God moved this young talent to help us — never could we have afforded him.

I hope the link will work for you. This is the fruit of your prayers!

Dee Brestin Selects-1

I am also asking you to buy a new Keller sermon on Jonah — one I did not ask you to buy previously. But it has been so helpful to me as a new way to pray — and it parallels what I see in Chris — and how she is surviving. Link

Sunday/Monday Ice-breaker

1. If you were able to see the above video — what do you think?

2. Share one way you “spied” God over the 4th of July week.

Monday-Wednesday Bible Study  Read Jonah 2:1-10

I want to make it clear how Chris and Jonah’s situation are different. Chris suffered, not because of personal sin, but because of sin in the world. Jonah suffered because of personal sin.

But they both responded in a godly way.

3. In the following verses, you will find a new and helpful way to pray.

A. Crying out: Find it in verses 1-2

B. Looking toward “the temple” (Christ) and remembering Who He is: Find it in verses 4-7)

C. Committing yourself to Him in sacrifice and thanksiving (Find it in verse 9)

4. Now you follow these three steps with something you are facing.

Thursday-Friday: Listen to the sermon

This is a Christ statue, reflecting the parallel Jesus made with Jonah -- but I don't know where it is -- if anyone does -- let me know!

 

Link

(If you cannot afford this, Elizabeth’s notes are below. I think you would be very blessed by both listening to Keller and reading Elizabeth’s notes. I asked Elizabeth to do it when she was very busy, her computer had crashed, and it was her birthday. But oblige she did!)

5. What stood out to you from the sermon and why?

Saturday:

6. What’s your take-a-way and why?

Elizabeth’s notes:

Jonah 2:1-10; Your Own Grace

In the belly of the deep, Jonah prays a prayer of faith and grasps the grace of God. The
subject of the prayer is the grace of God.
The phenomenon of the prayer itself is that Jonah is in utter despair, cowering fear,
rebellion and is transformed to a posture of triumph and faith. Jonah is a man literally at
the bottom, deep in his problem.
Example, the movie The Abyss-the terror and alienation of knowing you are dying far
from the place you need to be in order to live.

Jonah represents the spiritual condition of being at the bottom-buried deep. Buried far
away from where we need to be. Jonah was in that position and we see him begin to
rise, defy gravity. “You have brought my life UP out of the pit…my prayer rose to You”
Jonah is rising. How? What enabled him was faith.

How do we have that kind of faith? Faith is not a talent. Faith is being controlled by
the promises of God rather than your own impressions.

Jonah’s faith comes in three stages—he calls, then remembers (gazes, looks, ponders), he
commits (sacrifices).

1. Call
Jonah yells to God. The first step of faith is to say—‘God, are You there?…show
me’. The first step is to seek Him.

Some may say they don’t believe enough to seek Him—but to seek God means
all you have to do is doubt your doubts enough to seek Him. Some say they had
faith but have lost it. Jonah, like Job, calls to God in his distress. Job never stops
praying.

The way back to faith is the same as the first step of faith—call to Him.

2. Remember
Jonah begins to think. He looks to Him, He gazes, ponders God. Verses 4 and 7,
tell us he is looking to the Temple. He is thinking about the Gospel. The Temple
is the concrete picture of how God is going to reconcile us to Himself—it is the
picture of the Gospel. The Temple shows us both the Bad News, and the Good
News.

The Bad News: The Law. In the center of the Temple is the Holy of Holies—with
the Ark of the Covenant, the 10 Commandments, the Law of God.

The Law of God is an outline of God’s character that calls us to build our lives on
the model of His greatness. The Law of God is in the Ark of the Covenant in the
Holy of Holies—this is where God lives. He is saying He will only relate to us
over the Law, only if we live in accordance with the Law.

Example—a conductor before his symphony. He begins to conduct, and one
instrumentalist plays his own thing. What does this do to the relationship between
the musician and conductor? The conductor says, ‘unless you obey the score, we
cannot have a working relationship’. If the artist refuses, the conductor would
have to say, ‘I’m sorry—the nature of music requires you to obey the score for
there to be beauty.’

We must meet over the score to have fellowship. The Bible says the same thing—
God says, to have a relationship with me, you must fulfill the Law, I’m holy, you
must be holy. The musician must repent not for being a musician, but for trying to
be the conductor.

Without obedience there is no beauty. This is the bad news—because we cannot
possibly be perfectly obedient.

The Temple also shows us the Good News. Over the Ark is a golden slab–the
Place of Propitiation, the Mercy Seat. Propitiation is to turn aside the wrath
of someone through a payment. The Temple tells us that God will accept the
fulfillment of the Law through the payment of a substitute. When Jonah looked
to the Temple, he was actually looking, without knowing, to Jesus Christ. Jesus
is the propitiation, the mercy seat, the Good News. For us, to look to the Temple,
means to look to Jesus. Anyone that comes to the Father, trusting what Jesus did,
can talk to God. Jesus covers the sins.

Faith is talking to yourself and faith is thinking. Faith is not automatic. It doesn’t
just turn on when you’re in a dark time. Faith is getting a hold of the truth,
looking at the Gospel, looking at the facts,–and work it in, act on it. Jonah
feels banished from God’s sight, yet, he looks to the Temple. Though he felt
totally abandoned by God—he thinks it out, he works out the faith in spite of his
circumstance and feelings. Jonah is speaking truth to his soul.

Faith is telling the truth to your heart. Doubt is listening to your heart and
everything it says. In a wilderness, our heart may say-‘you brought me here to
die’. But we have a choice—we can talk to our heart or listen to it.

Faith is not just talking to yourself, faith is thinking. Build a truth-centered life.
Faith is looking at all the facts at once.
3. Commit
Jonah says ‘I will sacrifice to You’. Jonah is not out of the deep, but he gives up
everything to God.

Two ways to grow in your faith—to study, and to commit. Faith is an ongoing
process of preaching the Gospel to yourself. Look to the Holy Temple. When life
looks out of control, go to the Father. Don’t act scared, like an orphan, forgetting
He is your Father. Preach the Gospel to yourself and then we can become a

healing community.

Apart from the Gospel you can be ethical or compassionate, but never both. But
if we are constantly preaching the Gospel to ourselves, we will be approachable;
we will be both ethical and compassionate. We will have integrity, patience,
endurance. Preaching the Gospel gets ride of pride and laxity. We will see that our
growth is a gift and we will be a healing community.

Are you singing to your heart, or listening to your heart? Doubt your doubts.
Call when you haven’t been praying. Think out the Gospel. And do not wait for
the dry land. While still in the belly, commit.

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493 comments

  1. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

    First of all I had to hold back the tears. All of it stands out-can’t pick one thing-I tried but I loved all of what Chris said. I am so glad Dee posted pictures of Daniel-love the pictures of him. What a sweet and precious boy, and Chris-you are beautiful.

    I am sure none of us can imagine Chris’ loss. I like what Dee said about how we would feel if someone we were closely knitted to died. I would feel like I wouldn’t want to live-I know I would. I would want to die. Then we see Chris’ example which reminds me of Dee in “The God of All Comfort”. Even though Chris had all the feelings we would have going through that, she has been honest with God about it. She doesn’t back away from Him and remembers Him and His promises. To me, this is the crux of our faith-Chris truly is ‘a woman of faith’.

    What Chris said about her pride and self sufficiency being smashed and God being bigger to her now is sticking with me. I am thinking of that picture of the huge mountain Dee posted a while back.

    God has blessed us all tremendously with Chris.

    1. Thank you Rebecca, I am a woman of Faith only because He keeps calling to me, He never lets me go.

  2. I read and will have to really think of what stood out it was all good and will come back to this. Can feel the hurt that Chris and her family went thru and I’m sure are still going thru. Will be lifting all up in prayer.

  3. This is the first picture of Daniel that I have seen. Oh, my. I makes the terrible tragedy so real. Oh, Chris, my heart goes out to you. You have gone through and are going through such pain. Yet you continue to cling to Jesus. What a wonderful witness you are to me.

    1. Thank you Diane,
      I am so glad you have come, you add so much here.

  4. I just want to say “Happy Canada Day!” to you all, especially to any Canadians who are our silent sisters on this blog. I hope you have a great weekend with friends and family, or just relaxing. Canada is a great country, though we need to turn more to the Lord who has blessed us so much.

    1. Happy Canada Day to you, Diane. Oh what I wouldn’t give to see your great country! It is everything that we treasure so much here in the USA, but have so little of it, compared to your country; like our mountains and wifelife and fish and river’s and streams and green valley’s and snowpeaks and all that is undiscovered. Have a great day!

      1. Thanks for all the sweet Canada Day wishes, everyone. We really didn’t do anything special. (I gardened and cooked and tried to stay cool.)My husband had to work, but we are taking the day off today and spending time together. We’ll see what we end up doing.

        I didn’t realize you lived so close to Canada, Dawn MS. It’s great that you use Canadian coins with your US ones. We do that here too!

        Love the pin idea, elizabeth. I should try to get one.

        My step-mother is American and she is very patriotic. When I lived in India as a child, I attended an American boarding school there, where I learned the American national anthem, the Pledge of Allegiance and all that stuff. I even dressed up as the Statue of Liberty for one Halloween.:) I almost felt like an American. I definitely have a soft spot for Americans. I have met many wonderful Americans and now you all are included in that list!

        Hugs!

        1. I am glad to know you have a day of downtime with your husband.
          Love the thought of the Statue of Liberty costume!

        2. Diane, we’ve traveled to Canada 3 different ways now, over the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit, over the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron and over the Sault Ste. Marie Bridge that runs from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.
          Always enjoy ourselves except the one time before we were married and when my husband found out that I’d never been to Canada he decided to take me there. Since he was in the US Army, it was 1 in the morning and we had no set destination (just looking around) we got thoroughly searched at the border and sent back to the States. I got kicked out of Canada before I even got to step foot in it! It was still fun and we have a story to tell the grandkids (if we ever get any!)

        3. Yesterday was my daughter’s birthday, too – and she knew it was Canada Day!

        4. That’s great, Susan, I’m glad she knew.

    2. Happy Canada Day Diane, hope you had a great time with family and friends.

    3. Happy Canada Day, Diane!! Living in the Detroit area I get the opportunity to visit your great country frequently. Your coins are mixed with ours and every one except banks and vending machines take them. In fact we had a bit of a shock when we were traveling and found that other states won’t take them! 🙂

    4. oh happy Canada day! we love having you here Diane. My husband’s company has been doing a lot of work in Canada and he came home with a pin for the kids of 2 flags–Canadian next to the US…made me smile & think of you 😉

  5. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
    Oh my goodness—how to put words to my emotions? I read this with my husband reading over my shoulder—he’s heard most of your stories and wanted to read when I mentioned it was about Chris. We both got choked up. So thankful for the pictures of Daniel—his lively nature is so evident.

    I think the reason I am so drawn to both Chris and Dee, is the HOPE they represent. Their lives are a door of hope to me. Yes, I have let my wandering mind indulge in middle-of-the-night fears ‘…what if something happens to my husband while he’s away..or the kids..’. In the past I would go as far to imagine that I would simply not be able to speak, to eat, to move—ever. Surely I would shrivel up and die. And yet I see these godly women before me. I see the way He prepared Dee, and has made in her a “great heart”. I see the way He orchestrated bring Chris to Dee, one who could empathize and truly understand her pain. I see hoe He alone has been their strength, their food, their hope. I am blessed by their surrender to Him amidst such fire.
    Chris, thank you. For being her, for sharing your heart.

    1. Thank you Elizabeth,
      I love that discuss spiritual things so often with your husband, what a rich blessing you have in that.
      Thank you for being here, you have so many times been such an encouragement to me, often when I most needed it.

    2. I concur with you, Elizabeth. The women on this blog have shown me beauty in the way they believe, lift each other, and remain faithful.

      My husband and I see Sarah in different ways. He is “harsher” than I am. He is a Christian, but he is also a “tough” guy. He believes that even though she has mental challenges she will also make choices that aren’t the best for her and “so be it!” I can’t be like that. I am attached to her as the Lord is attached to me. I can’t ever really give Him up…..He has been with me always. I know this to be true. He whispered in my ear when I was 13 years old and my father was dying in front of my eyes. He told me He would always be there for me. No matter what happens He is there and I will lean on Him.

      Thank you ladies for helping to remind me of these things in the midst of our pain.

  6. 2. What do you see Chris doing right in the midst of her fiery furnace?
    We have been reading Paul Miller’s book, A praying Life, and many times Chris’ example has come to mind. As Keller talked about in the Love Beneath the Waves sermon, we have 2 responses when the storms hit. We can say ‘I don’t deserve this’ and grow bitter. Or we can humbly fall to our knees at His feet, trusting He is Lord of all. Chris, like Dee, has given me a real life example of the latter.
    This quote by Paul Miller reminds me of her “To be cynical is to be distant. While offering a false intimacy of being “in the know,” cynicism actually destroys intimacy. It leads to a creeping bitterness that can deaden and even destroy the spirit…A praying life is just the opposite. It engaged evil. It doesn’t take no for an answer. The psalmist was in God’s face, hoping, dreaming, asking. Prayer is feisty.”

    1. I am very intrigued by your quote from Paul Miller’s book, elizabeth. It is true that cynicism destroys intimacy. It causes bitterness and destroys the spirit. But hope in God (“praying life”) means being “in God’s face, hoping, dreaming, asking”. As Chris’s life shows, praying sometimes means asking the tough questions and then opening our eyes, unflinchingly, trustingly, to see the answers.

    2. Agree with Diane and Dee – the Paul Miller quote is fascinating. I never thought before about how becoming cynical could destroy intimacy with God. I love his description of the psalmist “being in God’s face, hoping, dreaming, asking.”

      1. I’m not very far into it, but I am loving his book. The section on cynicism is called “Learning to Trust Again”–it has really opened my eyes to the way I am cynical even in subtle ways, and how destructive it is. His view of prayer, too, takes off all the rules and “formulas”–it really is talking about it as a way of life. I’ve enjoyed it.

    3. After reading this I ordered that book!

    4. “Prayer is feisty!” I love this!

  7. I just wanted to jump on real quick and say hello! How are you all doing!

    1. Miss you Meg, but get to see you on fb with your verses and comments..love them!

    2. Hi, Meg. Love your picture 🙂

    3. Hi Meg! Glad you “popped in” to say hi. Hope all is going well with you!

    4. Hi Meg! Love seeing your sweet smile!

    5. Hello Meg!

      1. Hello Everyone!

        Things are busy but going well.. I just finished up my autism testing so i should know the results by the beginning of August!

        Oh did i tell you ladies that i am going on a missions trip to Alaska?

    6. Hey Meg, Happy 4th of July to you. Stay safe.

  8. Dee, just wanted to let you know that I tried to listen to the “Dee Brestin Selects 1”. I played great for the first two minutes and then went black and jumped to the end with nothing more. Hope you are able to fix it. I LOVED WHAT I SAW of the first part. I am eager to hear more.

      1. It’s beautiful, Dee. The scenery is wonderful. I love it.

      2. Dee so nice to see you in the video and hear you again. Your voice is so calming to me like the scenery in the background. It looks so peaceful and makes me want to go someplace like that to just relax and capture Gods beauty.

    1. It took a long time, but it finally came and was wonderful, Dee. I played it over and over…loved your Godly face and your encouraging words and all the beautiful scenery!

  9. Hi, Meg. Love the hat! 🙂

  10. We are having Internet problems. Down right now. I can read on my phone which I will but is hard to type. Thanks for your prayers. Drive is going very well so far. He should be there around 5.

    1. Praying Anne!

    2. Please let us know how Al is doing when you can, Anne.

    3. been praying Anne! Keep us posted when you can

  11. What stands out to me is everything also, but I was so pleased to see your sweet son’s picture, Daniel and you, Chris and also the picture of your son’s together at the graduation. I can almost picture Daniel, jolking around and being silly and just enjoying life, like so many of our own children do. How heartbreaking to then try to imagine that vibrant, loving soul gone forever to you, untill your great reunion with Jesus and him. I can’t imagine the pain you’ve endured, with your family. But I admire you so much for desperatly seeking God, in your pain and not running from him, but to him. I know God must be your only comfort and hope, in this very painful time. I’m praying for you and your family, Chris. I’m so glad you are a part of us here.

    1. Thank you Joyce, I think a lot about that reunion.

      1. 🙂

  12. The whole opener touches me so much, to sense even a little of what Chris went thru and is continuing to deal with. The pain of having to say good-bye when you aren’t ready to, but know in your heart it’s time. I can’t even imagine that. But seeing how Chris continues to seek out the One and only One who can and will be there for her, her truthfulness to God letting Him know she’s angry and sad, but also realizes she needs Him in all of this. The pain is real and no one knows how long that pain will be there if it ever goes away, but Chris knows in her heart that God will be right beside her in this furnace until the very end. I love the pictures of you and the boys Chris! Thanks Chris and Dee for being so open for us to help us see the healing process.

    1. I am glad you back Julie!

  13. http://youtu.be/BY6VAy9y_iQ
    i wanted to share my new favorite song with you! it is so very powerful!! I think grief brings us to the point that we can see our own sin better, we cant rely on our own strength and that brings us to our knees in a place of humility which opens our hearts to other hurting people around us better.

    1. Oh I love this song Cyndi, I have it marked as my favorite on my Sirius radio.

    2. Cyndi, Thank you for sharing this here and on fb. I love it and the Casting Crowns! I hope to see them perform here this summer at the State Fair!

    3. Thanks Cyndi, how I have appreciated Casting Crowns over the years.

    4. Thanks for introducing me to this song, cyndi. I love it.

  14. My cousin found all the information and photo’s for me about the sculpture of Christ in the ocean, that you posted a picture of this week, Dee. He put it on fb, but I don’t know how to put it here, so just google “Sculpture Christ of the Deep”. It’s so interesting! Check it out! I just loved the picture and had to find out about it! Thank you for posting it Dee!
    It’s the very first one to come up on google under “keyshistory.org”

  15. http://youtu.be/Pziw9vj_Pqs The sculpture has been raised and cleaned and returned to the deep.

    1. VERY COOL!

  16. http://youtu.be/skj8a9sIZj0 Another youtube of it. It just kinda gives me goosebumps when I see it! Jesus is suppose to be on TOP of the water! It truly is beautiful tho!

  17. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

    I like how Scripture describes our love for a husband, a child, that we are “knit together”. Reminds me of Keller’s sermon on Justice, how threads are knit together and interwoven to make a fabric. Our families certainly make-up the fabric of our life.

    I think Chris did a wonderful job with her writing and describing for us the pain she has endured, losing Daniel. Chris, I cannot imagine the kind of loss you have endured. I feel as Rebecca posted above, that I would not want to live if something happened to one of my children; I would want to die too. I know that that’s the place you found yourself, too, yet I am so glad God led you here and that you have held onto Him. I love your honesty in describing how your pride and self confidence was smashed, that you felt abandoned in the fire, that you longed for your old world back.
    I think the three things Dee told you are so true of you!

    The pictures of Daniel…I like that we can see the one of you and Daniel enlarged to really see your faces. The two of you look so much alike, I think. The picture of Daniel and Zach is priceless; Daniel looks so vibrant there with his brother, a beautiful smile. It is hard to imagine your loss. This must have been so hard for you, Chris, to prepare this for us, yet thank you for sharing about Daniel with us.

    2. What do you see Chris doing right in the midst of her fiery furnace?

    She wrote, “Being in the furnace has caused me to look more intently into the costly grace that is mine.” It is so painful, being in the furnace, yet she is gazing intently at the Cross, at the suffering of her Savior. She’s holding onto Him.
    What is so amazing and admirable about this is, it is natural for us to be self-focused and absorbed in our pain, yet she is looking out beyond herself at His suffering for her.
    She doesn’t understand the “why” of what happened, yet she is trusting Him.

    1. That photo of Daniel and me is not a particularly good one of him, but I am so glad I have it now.
      We had a family photo shoot while we were on vacation, we had to be there at 8 am & no one was real happy with me for setting it up. It was not going to well, so I asked the photographer to take some candid shots, the photo of Daniel & me was one of those pictures.

  18. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire —may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:6-9)

    1. What do trials prove according to the above?

    God ordains trials in our lives to bring out things in our heart we need to see and what He molds out of our trials is a stronger faith which brings Him glory.

    2. If you back away from God in the midst of suffering, what does it show?

    I think it shows we have placed our hope in something else rather than Him.

    3. What have your trials revealed about your faith?

    My trials have revealed I need more refining, that my faith can be shallow. My trials have revealed my weakness yet His power in my life and that I need more of Him and less of me. I do think that even though I struggle, it is so so good because with each trial, each storm, and even each time I stumble He does take me higher-little by little bit-even in the times where my stone may regenerate and I have taken a step back, His Grace and Mercy are mine and He comes and rescues me.

    4. Has God shown you anything else in the above passage? If so, what?

    I went ahead and read verses 1-5 and brought that into this passage but I landed on verse 8 and 9. I think God is quickening me here in regard to my hope. I do have my hope fixed on Him and the future, and while I long for it-He is awakening me to live in it now-to be so sure I live in it now. Yet I can so easily focus on my circumstances I tend to grasp onto solutions here on Earth-what can I do to ‘fix this’, but those things are worthless sticks that crumble as my fist grasps too tightly. Like Dee said in that WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL-(AND I CAN’T WAIT UNTIL IT IS DONE 🙂 ) video for “Idol Lies”-that our souls are murky waters, not clear ponds. When I focus on my hope in Him as I walk through trials, my faith is refined-it doesn’t perish like the worthless stick, but only results in praise and honor and glory to Him. I picture a huge, majestic mountain growing as opposed to crumbling sticks. God wants me to live in the future today-does that make sense?

    This is where God is meeting me at now-to be so sure of the future that it spills out into my “today”. I have had a rough two days with God bringing some heart issues to the surface through a few circumstances-one being with my attitude toward my husband the other with serving at church and connecting that way-it doesn’t seem to be working out yet-I so so want to, but the timing isn’t right-long story. I stumbled but I didn’t back away from God at all-and glory be to HIM! I think this is where He is moving in my life today.

    1. It makes sense to me Rebecca, apart from Him we can do nothing!

  19. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
    The realness of raw suffering portrayed. We don’t need to hide it or deny it. God understands and is there with us.

    2. What do you see Chris doing right in the midst of her fiery furnace? I see her remembering this truth and it is truly encouraging. I just want to hug your neck Chris! I am so sorry for your loss.

    I have been pondering what my favorite talks were from the Gospel coalition, which will be available free in a week or two so any of us can listen! I highly recommend it. I loved the deep discussions from Keller and Piper but strong, intelligent women were there too that I had not heard of before but now love. A lady from Australia with the last name salt. It was a talk about God’s sovereignty and Paul given a thorn. Good stuff. It was not a typical women’s conference, we were deep in the word together and I loved it so much. So worth going. So worth listening too, still processing all I learned. I did get to hear Nancy Guthrie speak too about loss too.

    1. It is so great that you got to attend the Gospel Coalition women’s conference, Angela. I read some of the LiveBlog written versions of some of the talks online given at the Conferencea. I was really taken by some of them such as John Piper’s “The Search for Joy” and Nancy Leigh DeMoss “Another Mountain”. I would really like to listen to many of them online when they are available. If you know when they are available, let me know.

      The website to the LiveBlog versions is:

      http://www.tarabarthel.com/blog/gospel-coalition-liveblogs/

  20. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire —may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:6-9)

    1. What do trials prove according to the above? your faith

    2. If you back away from God in the midst of suffering, what does it show? lack of faith

    3. What have your trials revealed about your faith? both but as they happen more and more I am able to press into HIM knowing it is temporary and He is in control He is all good and loving so if it comes it is for His glory and my own good.

    4. Has God shown you anything else in the above passage? If so, what? I just love the end result of faith is the salvation of our souls, maybe part of working out our salvation with fear and trembling. Yet God works in our hearts. He is so amazing!

  21. 1. What do trials prove according to the above?
    Trials prove the genuineness, the strength, of our faith. I love this verse—it reminds me of what Dee has taught me—God does not waste our suffering. He uses it, for His glory.

    2. If you back away from God in the midst of suffering, what does it show?
    A lack of trust in Him. It shows that I think I know better—or I don’t really trust His goodness. It shows I have forgotten Who He is, and His promises.

    3. What have your trials revealed about your faith?
    My trials have revealed the limits of my faith, and have shaken me to a place of removing the boundary lines of my comfort zone. I want to follow Him with all my heart, and yet there are places I pray and ask Him to not have to take me. There are some trials I do not want…but because of my faith, I can ask Him to protect me from that. I can trust that He will only take me where He must to have my heart fully resting on Him. I can trust His motive. I can trust no matter what I must go through, it is “we” and not me–He will never leave me.

    4. Has God shown you anything else in the above passage? If so, what?
    Verse 9 “you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy”. It is reminding me that I can have this inexpressible joy NOW, in the trial, before I see Him face to face. I think sometimes in the worst moments, I just think about Heaven—that that is when I will have that kind of joy. But that kind of joy is for today!

  22. 1-4 I think our trials tell whether we are clay or wax in the fathers hand. the fire and heat of the furnace can either cause us to harden our hearts and become bitter or it can soften us and make us more pliable in our Lord’s hands.
    I find myself being both at different kinds of trials. When I feel like I have made a mistake or done something wrong I tend to harden up out of pride. But when the trial comes because others are hurting I tend to feel God molding me into a more compasionate person…..unless its my husband, then I tend to be a jurk. I had a small victory of humility last night, but it was one of the far and few between. Wish I know why I “have” to be better then him!!!
    I feel very unqualified to even enter the discussion of suffering. I have not really suffered in a way most of the woman on this blog have! I look forward to learning from you all.

  23. I was really anxious about doing this, I don’t like having the spotlight on me, not even a little bit. I was asked to speak at church one time, and though I felt what I had prepared to share was good and worthwhile, I was terrified to speak. I remember on the way to church that day thinking, well it is too late now to end up in the hospital somehow as I had hoped I would so that I would not have to speak.

    So I guess for me this is a way of coming out of the cleft of rock where I would rather stay hidden, a baby step.

    What I want to say about my trial is that any strength or hope you see in me comes from Christ, on my own I am all kinds of cynical, prideful, lazy, insecure, & hopeless.

    I am banking my life on the faith that God is trustworthy, heaven is real the tomb is empty and this life is short. I have dug deeper into these truths because of pain than I ever would have otherwise.
    I am weak but He is strong, you can trust Him too, even when you don’t understand.

    1. this goes in my ‘quotes from Chris’ file: “I am banking my life on the faith that God is trustworthy, heaven is real the tomb is empty and this life is short.”

      1. again you encorage me : )

  24. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why? The pictures first, they give a face to the name and really drive home how tragic this is. The statement that Chris made about not doing grief well. It is how I feel, too.

    2. What do you see Chris doing right in the midst of her fiery furnace? She recognizes when she is turning to idols rather than God and she doesn’t give up even when she wants to.

  25. Anne Meredith–just been missing you here, hope all is well and you can check in soon!

  26. To be honest when I read the verses above I start to get angry and depressed, knowing that before this great trial it was easy to read these words and think that I am standing solidly on them, but now I realize that it was all head knowledge and not in my heart and I’m failing miserably.

    1. Chris this “I was really anxious about doing this, I don’t like having the spotlight on me, not even a little bit. I was asked to speak at church one time, and though I felt what I had prepared to share was good and worthwhile, I was terrified to speak. I remember on the way to church that day thinking, well it is too late now to end up in the hospital somehow as I had hoped I would so that I would not have to speak.” made me laugh out loud. It sounds exactly like me 🙂

      1. Love to you Dawn, I think sometimes it is only when we know we are failing miserably in our own strength that we surrender to grace

      2. I agree with Dawn, Chris. Your ‘really anxious’ paragraph sounds so much like me. Well, actually, the whole post sounds like me. ‘on my own I am all kinds of cynical, prideful, lazy, insecure, & hopeless.
        I am banking my life on the faith that God is trustworthy, heaven is real the tomb is empty and this life is short.’ Good stuff! Without God, what would be the use.

    2. Dawn, I’ve been praying for you since I read this earlier. I’m so sorry for the weariness you’re feeling right now. I read this quote from Martin Luther, I hope it may encourage:”So when the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: “I admit that I deserve death and hell, what of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God, and where He is there I shall be also!”

      much love to you Dawn, so thankful you are here. I so appreciate your raw, honest heart, such evidence of genuine faith.

      1. Such wonderfully encouraging ladies here! Thank you!!

    3. Dawn,
      Hang in there. I think through our studies here, you are getting these truths from your head to your heart. It takes time. When my nephew died, I went to God, but realized I didn’t know God like I thought I did. I was really struggling and grasping for something to hold onto. Transferring what we know in our heads to our hearts and living it – it’s a lifelong learning.

  27. I love this from A Spurgeon sermon on James 1:2-4:
    “It is by our faith that we are saved, justified, and brought near to God, and therefore it is no marvel that it is attacked…A certain measure of sunlight is wanted to bring out the real flavour of fruits, and when a fruit has felt its measure of burning sun it develops a lusciousness which we all delight in. So is it in men and women: a certain amount of trouble appears to be needful to create a certain sugar of graciousness in them, so that they may contain the rich, ripe juice of a gracious character.”

    I think what is so helpful this week as I study these passages–is that we have here real-life examples, in Dee, Chris, Joyce, Susan, Angela, Rebecca–really ALL of us have experienced trials, and I can look to each of you and see how the “burning sun” has indeed lent a character of mature graciousness. And that gives me encouragement that these words He gives us in James have been proven true, and I can hold on to them in trust.

  28. 4. Why should we consider it joy when we face trials?

    Because the trial isn’t the end, but more of a beginning. God tells us that the trial isn’t for nothing. He tells us that He is putting it to good use, there is a purpose. That alone helps me. But He goes on to tell us that the end result is that we will be complete, lacking nothing. So we can go into knowing there is a plan, and that in the end, we will be without need or want.

    I remember signing up for a back pack trip in high school. It sounded awful. I was the athletic type, grew up camping with my family, but this was 10 days in a co-ed (young life) group with fellow classmates, 30 lb backpack, no showers, no makeup, one change of clothes. But, I knew several older friends who had gone and I witnessed their maturity when they returned. So I did it. I went in knowing I would whine inside every step of the hike but I wanted the end result bad enough to do it. And I’m glad I did. There have been a lot of times since that I’ve used that example to remind me to not let fear stop me when something looks bleak but has a promise of fruit.

    It’s harder in “real-life” because while I could have said no to the trip, we don’t get to say no to our trials. But I guess what I am focusing on is that there is a promise that the end result will be good. In my humanness I think—‘but will it be worth it?’, and the answer doesn’t matter because for one, I can’t opt out, and 2, by the time the trial has passed, I will be changed. And what I view as “worth it” will be different then. If He tells me it will be used for His purpose and glory, then truly nothing is worth more than that. I know it in my head, but only by experience can I believe it in my heart. And that’s the faith part—however small my baby steps, trusting one day at a time.
    Sorry—totally rambled on this one 😉

  29. Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-3)

    4. Why should we consider it joy when we face trials? it eventually will make us mature and complete not lacking anything.

    5. Why should we persevere through suffering? To be mature and complete lacking nothing

    6. How do you see perseverance in Chris? In yourself? He did not yell at or hurt anyone when he was on the cross or even at His unfair trial. He knew nothing could happen to Him unless it was permitted by the Father.

    I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering! (Isaiah 48:10)

    7. Suffering does not refine everyone — only those who persevere, who, because of genuine faith, do not back away from God. How have you been refined in the furnace of suffering? Wow, so many ways but each hard thing or trial I see less of me and more of HIM.

  30. 1. What do trials prove according to the above? – they prove that are faith in Jesus Christ is genuine, that we praise Him, glorify Him and honor Him from our heart even though we have never seen Him we still love Him.

    2. If you back away from God in the midst of suffering, what does it show? – To me it shows that I trust in myself to fix my problem, that I am taking Jesus’ position, sitting at the right hand of God thinking that I can handle the issues causing my suffering. When I know deep down I will probably just make it worse and linger longer.

    3. What have your trials revealed about your faith? – When my trials first come upon me I throw myself a pity party and whine and complain to God not thinking that the trial is for my own good in some way that may be revealed at the end, or possible much later down the road, if at all but than I talk myself out of being in charge and cry out to Jesus for help. I guess at first I am mad that the trial has come and wonder why God has put yet another trial upon me. I than get weary in my tantrum and give it over to God. I guess I finally surrender, throw up the white flag, and tell the Lord to take it over, to handle it and to fix in the way He sees fit.

    4. Has God shown you anything else in the above passage? If so, what? – I see in these verses a Victory! An overcoming of all trials when I rely on the Only One that can make it happen.

  31. What do you see Chris doing right in the midst of her fiery furnace?
    I see her looking to Jesus. I love this….”I can see the love of Jesus, the price He paid to make it right, the promise of eternity.”

    I love this too…”I trust Him more than before, my eyes are much more fixed on eternity now, my treasures are sure & certain there.”

    If you back away from God in the midst of suffering, what does it show? This…

    “For to back away is to let go of your only lifeline.”

    What have your trials revealed about your faith?

    My trials have revealed that I need Jesus more than ever then. He is my ONLY HOPE.

  32. 4. Why should we consider it joy when we face trials?

    I think of Rachael’s video when she said her trials are her friends. “Joy” and “Trials” seem to oppose one another-but that is Christianity-that is our faith, everything is upside down. Trials give us the opportunity to die to ourselves and find Him. Trials give us the opportunity to give ourselves to God in obedience-they are the hammer God uses to chisel the stone in our heart. Trials can make us vulnerable before God. They can make our hearts soft and pliable. If we don’t back away from God but go to Him over and over we will grow in perseverance and out of that comes intimacy with God and we mature. I think of Elizabeth’s butterfly picture.

  33. 5. Why should we persevere through suffering?
    So that we can be made like Christ–mature and lacking nothing. If we give up, we forfeit the grace He has promised.

    6. How do you see perseverance in Chris? In yourself?
    Chris’ life puts flesh on perseverance to me. She has had true trials, several of them. And yet she remains, holding firmly to the faith she professes. When I think back over the time she has been on the blog, because of her transparent vulnerability, we’ve witnessed her steady growth. She struggles. She weeps. She asks God why. But she stays. She reads the Word, she prays. She shares her heart with us, with Him. And so she grows. And encourages us all.

  34. BIBLE STUDY

    1. What do trials prove according to the above?

    This is a weighty passage; I needed help understanding it all and I looked up the New Living Translation:

    So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many
    trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is
    being tested as fire tests and purifies gold-though your faith is far more precious
    than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring
    you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the
    whole world.

    Trials prove that my faith is genuine, the real thing.

    2. If you back away from God in the midst of suffering, what does it show?

    We talked about backing away from God when we studied The God of All Comfort. Backing away from Him shows we are questioning His goodness, His love; we’re not really sure that He is “for us”. We may be angry with God, wanting to know why He allowed this trial, so we withdraw. Dee said above if we back away, we let go of our only lifeline. I picture one of those rock climbers on a steep, sheer cliff, letting go of the rope-you will fall hard.
    But a true child of God will come back. We also looked at Psalm 88, written by Heman, and how he felt like the darkness was his closest friend, but he kept talking to God.

    I think this verse is saying, though, that the one who falls away and does not come back; his or her trials proved that their faith was not genuine.

    3. What have your trials revealed about your faith?

    Oh, they have revealed a lot of spiritual immaturity, unfortunately; that I have much growing up to do. That I can react like my children did when small (and sometimes still do)
    to my Heavenly Father – angry, pouting, demanding to know why, “You don’t really love me…”. I have learned so much since coming here, through Dee’s example of her faith through suffering, from Joyce, Chris, in fact, everyone here has something in their life that is a trial of some kind. My trials certainly have revealed the weak spots in my foundation; how I try to fix things myself, or turn to idols for comfort, or too easily feel like giving up.

    4. Has God shown you anything else in the above passage? If so, what?

    “There IS wonderful joy ahead”. That’s hope. It also says “even though you HAVE TO endure many trials for a little while”. Jesus told us that in this world, we will have trouble. It doesn’t appear that trials are something you can opt out of. My trials are a testing of fire that will give me assurance that my faith is real. They are giving me true beauty.
    Verse 8 gives one way of defining what faith is – that I love and trust a Person whom I have never seen.

    1. Susan, this is so true about you “They are giving me true beauty”–we all witness that in you here.

  35. We are heading to the airport to pick up our Zach, he will be with us for 3 weeks! I am so happy to have this time with him.

    If you would could I ask you to pray that we would have substantial spiritual discussion while he is home. He has gone to church just once that I know of while he has been in North Dakota these past 3 years.

    1. Lord, thank You for this time Chris and Bill will share with Zach.We ask that You would work in his heart, prepare the soil to hear Your Truth. We pray that You would give Chris wisdom in discussions–her timing, her words. We pray that You would speak through her Lord to Zach’s heart. We ask protection over this time Lord an ask You to use it for Your purpose and glory. In Your Name we pray~

    2. Glad you have this time with Zach and will pray for you to have many opportunities to ask him questions and get a conversation going about spiritual things – who knows, maybe he’s also just waiting to talk to you!

    3. Of Course Chris Praying!!!

    4. Oh how nice and will be praying that Zach’s heart softens to the words spoken about the Lord. Have a fun time!

  36. Hello everyone! I’m a few days behind because of a busy week – yesterday was my husband’s bday…but didn’t want to let being behind stop me from getting on.

    Loved seeing the bigger photo of Chris and Daniel, brought tears to my eyes. Yes, I agree with Aunt Dee, you have grieved so well and never turned your back on Jesus. What strength you have Chris.

    And I watched the short video, which also made me cry, I love that place so much. So glad I get to be there this summer, what a gift from God. Can’t wait to see more Aunt Dee! And you look beautiful.

    Off for another busy day of taking my boys swimming and to a movie with friends. I did get to see my brother last week and it was so good to be with him. We had a two hour lunch to celebrate his bday, which is this week. He is in a hard place of adjustment and needs all the prayer he can get.

    Love to you guys!

  37. Dee, I really enjoyed your video! It was soothing to my soul. I love the water because there is such a calmness to it, and I love the state of Wisconsin! As a matter of fact I was invited to attend a barbecue the singles of our church are having the 4th of July in Burlington which is next door to Lake Geneva.
    Last week I decided to seek counseling for my depression and asked my Pastor for prayer. He wants to see me before I schedule another appointment.
    He says he does Pneuthetic/Creation Therapy based counseling.
    Is anyone familiar with this? I know some of my problem with depression is deep rooted and some is probably biological because of my age.

    I am touched by Cindy’s strength and how she is able through faith to reach out to others hurting. I have an aunt who lost her youngest son in a car accident and have the lasting scars this does to a Mother’s heart!
    Bless you Cindy!

    1. Laura Marie, I would urge you to research this concept (which is spelled nouthetic counseling) I had never heard of it so I googled it. Of course there is a lot of pros and cons. I personally would not do in depth counseling with my pastor. If you want to seek this type of counseling I would recommend going to someone outside of your church. Counseling gets pretty messy sometimes 🙂 I’m glad that you’re going. I just found someone that I am comfortable with.

    2. Laura Marie,

      I will pray for you to have wisdom about the type of counseling you should get. I’m not familiar with the one you mentioned. I am glad that you are getting help and I will pray for you to find just the right counselor that you can connect with and will point you also to Christ. I think you are taking an important first step.

  38. I like how you have 2 #4 questions so we think that we aren’t doing as much, the exercise people use this trick, too 😉
    1. What do trials prove according to the above? The genuineness of your faith.

    2. If you back away from God in the midst of suffering, what does it show? That your faith is either not there or not strong

    3. What have your trials revealed about your faith? Weak weak weak. Very humbling and disappointing to find that my faith is so much less than I thought.

    4. Has God shown you anything else in the above passage? If so, what?
    “…you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy…” This joy still seems so elusive. I know that joy is not happiness, but what is it exactly? If it means peace, hope, contentment or something similar then why aren’t those words used? If it means the absence of despair or fear then why aren’t those words used? Jesus must have been filled with this joy, but we know that he had times of grief and suffering. Is it a sometimes thing like all feelings or is it a permanent thing like salvation that once you have it you can’t lose it even if you don’t “feel” it? It definitely surpasses all of my understanding!!

    1. Dawn, that is a great question. Joy is so hard to define. It bubbles up from deep within, many times in spite of outward circumstances, I have experienced that. I think it is most like hope because of what awaits us in Christ. Also it is a response to His great love for us. Still. I can’t really pin it down. It was the main theme of Acts. I am going back to look at my notes to see if I can clarify from them.

  39. Internet is finally back 🙂 Al made it to Brooklyn in 10 hours. Exactly the time it took his grandfather back in the day. He had a very good drive but no help to unload. He and his 90 lb girlfriend carried it all up 5 flights! Twice he has told me they will be hiring movers next time which is in a month. I talked to him today and he sounded good. He’s so excited. We, on the other hand were in mourning Sunday. None of us could eat, even Joey. We are better now and even gaining some of his excitement. I think it is so neat that he is in Brooklyn where his grandfather grew up. God has such a wonderful way of tying things together.
    Working on catching up now. Thanks for praying for us.

    1. Dear Anne, I know what you mean when you are just left heartbroken and empty when he left. It usually takes me three days to get back to normal after my daughter, Kyla leaves home after a visit, (usually she only gets home once a year and I don’t tell her how much it affects me:-(
      I’ve found that it never gets easier either, even after 16 years….I miss her everyday. I’m tearing up now! How do we not idolize our kids…please help!! It is a daily struggle!! I’m ashamed of myself…admitting my weakness in this area!!

        1. Dee it is wonderful! Thanks for that reminder. And I wanted to tell you that you looked lovely in the film. Your quiet and gentle way was beautiful and I could see no bruises!

          Joyce, I also decided not to tell him how we were feeling. Before he left I told him how much we have enjoyed having him here. I think that was enough. I don’t want any strings of need on our part to hold him back. I want him to fly. I am so encouraged to see spiritual awakening in him.

      1. I struggle too, Joyce. I’m feeling the ache about my son leaving for college, out of state, in about 6 weeks. I wonder how I’ll be able to stand it when he’s not home, I’ll miss him so much!

    2. Anne,
      Our son Joe was living in Brooklyn last year, I understand both your anxiety and the exictment involved.
      I bought Joe’s fiance pepper spray and a siren to carry with her when walking their dogs, I was so concerned for their saftey, Joe being a chef was coming home very late at night.
      Bill and I went to one of Redeemers services when we visted, it was not one at which Tim Keller brought the message on the day we visited, but we were blessed to be there none the less.
      I will pray that Al will be drawn there!

      1. Thanks Chris! It would be great if he would go there and I did mention it to him.
        There are so many pastors on staff there, I think it would be hard to catch a service in which Keller is speaking.

  40. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

    I can’t read this without crying. Chris, you are an amazing woman to me. Thank you for being a role model as a mother and Christian.

    2. What do you see Chris doing right in the midst of her fiery furnace?

    Chris is in total surrender to God. I want to be that way. I have great faith but I struggle when I can’t explain the awful situations I find myself in with my daughter.

    Chris has ho

    1. Sorry, in the airport and must have slipped with my finger……

    2. How is Sarah doing, Laura? Been praying!

  41. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

    I can’t read this without crying. Chris, you are an amazing woman to me. Thank you for being a role model as a mother and Christian.

    2. What do you see Chris doing right in the midst of her fiery furnace?

    Chris is in total surrender to God. I want to be that way. I have great faith but I struggle when I can’t explain the awful situations I find myself in with my daughter.

    Chris has hope. She has trust and is obeying as God asks us to.

      1. Thank you for thinking of us. I believe God will prevail. I will find the movie and watch, is it just called Helen Keller?

  42. 1. What do trials prove according to the above?

    Trials test the genuiness of your faith.

    2. If you back away from God in the midst of suffering, what does it show?

    You are questioning His method of teaching. He has a plan which is divine. Who are we to question?

  43. 1. Chris’ pain is what stands out to me. For me personally, I can’t imagine anything more painful. I don’t know if I should even relate the pain I see. Would it make the pain worse or be a sort of balm? I don’t know. Chris, I admire you deeply. You have been refined and come forth as gold in this crucible.

    2. What I see Chris doing right is that she trusted God. In the midst of pain that had to be attended to, as she put it so well, she trusted His goodness. Sometimes that is all we have to hold on to.

  44. 1. Trials prove that our faith is genuine. Our response to them can be a barometer for us but I don’t think in quite the way we might think. Chris thought that she did not grieve well perhaps because she was so broken, but Dee you make an excellent point when you say that she in fact does and has grieved well. She has not stifled her pain to give people the response that they want to see. She has been honest with God and I can see that He has met her. I think He loves for us to cry out to Him with whatever we are feeling. He will listen and calm our souls.

    2. If you back away from God in the midst of suffering, what does it show? Oh, I think it shows that I do not trust Him!

    3. What have your trials revealed about your faith? Well, I have not been tempted to turn away from Him, at least not since I was 18. I learned a valuable lesson then~there is nowhere else to go! I am like Peter in that so I will say that it is good. I struggle still with trust (though not near as much as I used to) but it shows up in worry rather than in turning away. I don’t know how I could ever turn away. I just couldn’t make it without the Lord. My trials have been of a different nature but pretty intense at times. I think they have caused me to rely on the Lord more. They taught me to talk to Him about my pain and feelings. I found Him to be there for me and to care about me. My faith has grown as a result.

    4. Has God shown you anything else in the above passage? If so, what? It stands out to me that faith is more valuable than gold and that when it is tried it will result in praise, glory and honor when Christ returns. Last year in BSF I remember learning that some of that praise glory and honor will be for us when He is revealed. I was a little surprised to hear that.

    4. We should consider trials joy because the testing of our faith produces perseverance which leads to maturity. I like how it says that in maturity we are complete, lacking nothing. I think it is incompleteness and lack that leads me into idolatry.

    5. Why should we persevere through suffering? Suffering, as Rachael said, is His gift to us. It brings us closer to God, makes us more like Christ and strengthens our faith. I have been thinking about Dawn’s question about joy. Every time I try to define it I end up rambling. But what is remarkable to me is that the early church suffered so, yet extreme joy was theirs, especially Paul.

    6. How do you see perseverance in Chris? I remember when Chris first came on the blog, she was having trouble focusing and did not think that she would be able to work. Now she is productive and working a very busy job. That may not have a lot to do with this question but it did come to mind. Going to that support group when it stirred up such painful feelings and then sticking with it to the end is the greatest kind of perseverance in my mind. All of the many times she opened up so honestly to us is another way I see it. I know that some of my remarks must have hurt because I just did not understand, but she has always been gracious. Then coming back to the blog after being away showed perseverance. I am so glad you did Chris. You have been a great blessing to me.

    I think I see my own perseverance in continuing toward Christ. I get tired and distracted many times but I love Him and I know there is no one else for me so I keep moving toward Him. More and more I see how desperately I need Him and it makes me so thankful for the gospel.

    1. Anne,
      I love all of your thoughtful answers. You have such a sensitive spirit, and a tender one. I’m glad Al made it safely to Brooklyn, too!
      I like how you said your trials taught you to talk to the Lord about your pain and feelings, and how He has cared for you.

    2. And I’m so thankful for you too, Anne. When your gone from here for awhile, sometimes…I feel like I’ve lost a special friend
      🙂

      .

    3. All of you are such a large portion of my blessing from the Lord! And I was just thinking how much of that blessing is the opportunity to pray for each other and see God’s amazing answers.

  45. We went to one of Kim’s firework’s trailor’s today and hoped I’d get to see her pretty smiling face, but she wasn’t there (hope she was resting as it was in the worst heat of the day). But I did get to see her son there working. I’m so thankful they only have one more long day and evening left! Praying for you Kim and family!!

  46. Just want to say “Happy 4th of July” to all my American friends. Have a good one!

    Praying for you, Kim. You must be exhausted.

    Have any of you been affected by the massive power outages that has affected the US with powerful thunderstorms caused by this massive heat wave? We keep hearing about it up here but not so much specifically which states are affected, just Washington, DC and Maryland. Power crews from Canada have gone down to help.

        1. I figured it was 100 Huntley St. as soon as you mentioned it. That is so exciting! That’s a wonderful nationwide Christian program. Let me know when you will be on. I’ll try to watch it and get all my friends to watch it as well. I don’t think I have the channel it is on anymore, but I will try to find a way to see it.

        2. Dee-that’s so exciting–will be praying! And poor Sally to have been without power with baby Claire! I’m sure she handled it much better than I would have–that would have jolted me a bit!

        3. Sept. 10th. That’s great. Will pray for sure.

          And I too am glad Sally and baby didn’t have to go without power too long. You need so much water, etc. when you have a baby.

        4. September 10 is Daniels birthday

  47. 5. I think I answered this in #4.

    6. How do you see perseverance in Chris? In yourself?

    In Chris I see a woman who hasn’t backed away from God at all. She is honest, and has no pretenses before God. I remember when she first came on and was struggling with some very real struggles, but over and over kept going to Him..She is still going to Him, remembering His goodness, His word and He is spilling out of her onto others. It is beautiful.

    7. Suffering does not refine everyone — only those who persevere, who, because of genuine faith, do not back away from God. How have you been refined in the furnace of suffering?

    I haven’t had a huge Earthquake of suffering but my little Hurricanes came after I got married, and they seem to keep coming. 🙂 Our family storm as of late is how the economy has and is impacting my husband’s second job. We have lost a considerable amount of income and it is dwindling still. We have considered maybe selling our home next Spring and moving back to Missouri-as it is less costly to live there, but homes aren’t selling in our neighborhood. Just not sure where God is leading yet. We have had so many storms and through them He is refining me. Mostly, like Chris said, he is stripping away my self sufficiency, and my pride and I find myself clinging to Him more and more and seeing His beauty.

      1. Dee, me too-would love to come back! Praying and will see how God leads in the decisions we are making. I admit I hate moving and dread painting the inside of this house getting it ready to sell, but when the boys go back to school I will be able to do that. 🙂

        1. Praying for you and your family, Rebecca…I’m so sorry.

    1. oh Rebecca, I’m continuing to pray for Patrick’s job situation–so sorry. I know first hand the struggle, the insecurity that brings to both of you.

      1. Me too Rebecca especially about the house selling.

        1. Really Anne? wow..so you all are going through this too. The gas prices hovering around $3.50 for so long is a huge factor for us-they used to be under $2.00 a gal. That along with the business he works for making bad decisions which has further lowered our income. Yet God is sovereign and in control-He doesn’t inflict but ordains so instead of looking at my circumstance what is helping me is to speak truth to my soul and to ask for wisdom as we make decisions.

        2. No, what I mean is that I am praying for you and especially that your house will sell if it is God’s plan to move you. I have gotten over the desire to move. My husband was very adamant that we should not and I have accepted it as God’s will. That is when things came together with the paint and the carpet and all. Our neighborhood is awfully scary sometimes. It was better when Al was here because the house and driveway was always full but I am trying to be very intentional about trusting the Lord. It still looks like a lot of people are here because his car is still here

        3. Anne, Thanks so much! It is great that you have accepted God’s will in your life in regard to moving. Last night we decided to stay for now-we will see how things go from here until next Spring. He is off work this week from his main job and he has been spending some time looking into other work to replace his second job.

        4. Good. Then that is how I will pray.

      2. Elizabeth, Thanks so much! Oh yes, my concern is mostly for the boys-relocation, provision, etc..I can live anywhere and go without it seems-it is good I am not a girly girl after all! 🙂 I see God’s hand in that!

    2. So sorry you are struggling with your finances. It seems the economy has deeply affected so many people. Will be praying as you seek the Lord in making decisions regarding a possible move. Could your husband get a job easily in Missouri?

      1. Thanks Diane! 🙂 It would be nice to be able to transfer but he isn’t able to. We talked some more last night and I think we are staying here for now. Thanks so much for praying!

        1. Hope you are relieved now that the decision has been made. I’ll keep praying as you try to “slim down” your spending and look to God to provide what you need. We too are going through an evaluation process with finances. There doesn’t seem to be enough money to cover the expenses, so I know a little bit of what you are going through as God strips away our self-sufficiency.

        2. Diane, Yes we are relieved. We have been slimming down our budget but our food budget seems to be growing..My boys are going through Milk and snacks like crazy now. Yes, so true-God is stripping our self sufficiency away.

  48. 7. Suffering does not refine everyone — only those who persevere, who, because of genuine faith, do not back away from God. How have you been refined in the furnace of suffering?

    God’s refinement process in me is ongoing. But I see it as a change in my vision. I view things a little differently than I did before. Instead of thinking I can figure out the best solution, I see my helplessness, my utter dependence on Him. I know that in order to go on each day, whatever the circumstances, with any amount of joy—I must trust His ways over mine. I can see struggles with children differently too. Rather than their fights being an annoyance that disrupts my plan for a peace-filled day, I can see them as opportunities to see my child’s hearts a little clearer. An opportunity to point them towards the Gospel. There is less a sense in me that things must be neat and perfect and go according to my plan. There is a loosening of my grip, and a growing trust in Who He is

      1. Dee you are right on with the comparison here with Rachael as you were last week..I almost said it last week that Rachael reminds me of Elizabeth in so many ways-the depth, the pursuit of God and the play dough heart.

    1. I especially love your last two sentences Elizabeth!

    2. Wonderful sharing, elizabeth. Letting go of your plan – with your physical pain, with your children, with your natural tendency to want to control — this is all such a good witness! It inspires us all.

    3. Love this in you, Elizabeth….” There is a loosening of my grip, and a growing trust in Who He is.”

  49. 4. Why should we consider it joy when we face trials?

    Because we are becoming complete through these trials. We need to have all the experiences God wants us to so we understand the whole picture, as does He.

    5. Why should we persevere through suffering?

    It is helping us to test our faith. It’s so easy to just give up. I have felt that way this week with my daughter. I have felt “betrayed” by God. I want to give up. My daughter has chosen to leave us. I don’t know who she is with, how she is eating or sleeping, why she is doing what she is doing. She lies. I didn’t raise that person. She has temporarily been taken from me. However, I can’t see what God is doing. THAT is the frustrating part. He is somehow working on her (amd most likely me too) to mold her. I think this is where people give up. When they have done every thing in their earthly power and nothing seems to work. It always backfires. That’s when I know it’s time to stop and let God take charge. It is hard, I am sad. We should preservere because He is all we have. He will not let us down. He loves us no matter what. I have to trust that she is safe.

    6. How do you see perseverance in Chris? In yourself?

    He is with us always. He doesn’t give up on us. Those who don’t believe, don’t have anything to grasp onto in these times. We have Him. He knows every hair on our heads. He has made perfection although we, as humans, don’t understand that. Our brains can get us into trouble. He knew this from the beginning. That’s why He sent Christ. So ww would have an earthly perspective and know that when we don’t understand the events on earth, to look above for Him. He has it all in the Bible. We must know Him to be whole. The only way to understand this higher place is to read His words.

    1. Excellent answers Laura-dancer. I will continue to hold you up in prayer.

    2. Laura,
      I am so sorry for your pain as a mother.
      It must be hard for God to watch us as we ‘lean on our own understanding’ but he does let us do just that, so that we will make mistakes which lead to surrender and allowing Him to be supreme in our lives.
      Maybe this time your daughter spends following her own path will lead to a place where she will surrender and want Gods best for her life.
      Perhaps you can try to pray her into His hands every day & then trust Him.

    3. Oh, Laura dancer, this must be so hard. I will pray for you as well as Sarah. Trusting God with our children is one of the hardest things, especially when we know they are making choices that will hurt themselves. Remember God loves Sarah so much and he is there to guide her whether she knows it or not. We are never “out of His care.”

    4. Laura–I love how you keep holding on to the Truth, even though I know the circumstances make it so hard. I love what you said in #6 “He is with us always. He doesn’t give up on us…We have Him”.

      I love too Diane’s wisdom above–about trusting God with our children. We are all here praying for you and Sarah. He has you both.

    5. Laura, I am praying for this situation too. I like what Chris said about praying her into God’s hands every day. God can do a lot with her right now. I think prayer will be your main work for her now. One thing I try to do always is turn my worry into prayer. Another thing is to begin thanking Him for what He is doing, even though you can’t see it, be assured He is at work.

    6. Laura, love this last paragraph….so very true!!

    7. Laura,
      I can hear your pain in your words, I’m so sorry. No, you didn’t raise your daughter to be this way, and it’s hard when you are lied to. I will pray for you and Sarah, and that God will be ever pursuing her. Chris’ sentiment is beautiful – praying your daughter into God’s hands every day.

    8. Laura Dancer, I replied but the server didn’t respond and I lost my comment. I wanted to let you know I hate that you are in pain right now. This must be so hard letting her go, but I see you speaking truth to your soul-you are not backing away from him. We will hold you up.

      Lord thank you for how you are meeting Laura in the middle of her pain. Thank you for your unyielding pursuit and love of Laura and we ask that you would continue to come to her and comfort her. Thank you that you can identify with Laura and that you are grieving with her. We cry out to you for mercy on behalf of Laura’s daughter. Protect her, come to her and convict her heart-show her your love for her and woo her to you.

      1. Amen to Rebecca’s prayer for Laura dancer.