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“Herod the Tetrarch, who had been rebuked by him [John the Baptist] because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and because of all the evil things that Herod had done, added to them all by shutting up John in prison.” (Luke 3:19-20)

An even more horrible fate awaits John, for the daughter of Herodias will dance, Herod will promise her half his Kingdom, and her mother will have her ask instead for the head of John on a platter. Understandably, John is confused. Was Jesus not sent to deliver His children from evil? So he sends word to Jesus:

Are you the one who was to come, or should we look for another?

(Matthew 11:3)

After all the exciting evidences, now it seems like God is sleeping.

This is the mood of Psalm 44.

OXYGEN Volume 09

I have often said that the “psalms are bi-polar,” meaning there are great highs and great lows, for that is how life is.

The psalms are bi-polar
The psalms are bi-polar

In this psalm we have both, back to back, beginning with a high, and ending with a low. And God allows us to be honest, to “end with a low,” because that is how we are really feeling. Each of us have had times when it felt like God did not come to our rescue. And sometimes, on earth, HIS BEST die terrible deaths. When Jesus answered John in prison, He pointed to the evidences that He was indeed the Messiah. He doesn’t deliver us from this present age, but oh, He does deliver us. We have something the psalmist and John the Baptist did not have that helps us realize that Jesus came for every generation — not just one. And that one day, this earthly suffering will seem so small.


 I remember a few weeks ago a few of you wrote that your sacrifice of weeping is to be content where you are in hard circumstances right now AND NOT TRY TO ESCAPE. I thought that was beautiful, and I think Psalm 44 will minister to you. You can be honest with God, and He will find a way to give you comfort and hope, despite the difficulties you are living right now. And remember:



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

2. Is there an area where you are looking for rescue, but God seems silent?


Here is Psalm 44 sung in Hebrew, but with English sub-titles. It will prepare you for this study. (Please copy and paste in your browser. I found this too late to get tech help!)


3. Read Psalm 44:1-8 and describe the mood and the thankfulness for past rescues.

4. Share one way God has rescued you in the recent past.

5. Read Psalm 44:9-16 and describe the mood and the phrases that point to a lack of rescue.

6. How can you see Jesus in the above passage?

7. Read Psalm 44:17-22 and describe why this lack of rescue is particularly confusing.

8. Read Psalm 44:23-26. What phrases of lament strike you and why?




10. Having listened to this sermon, how might you pray this psalm in your circumstances right now — or how might you pray it for the persecuted Christians?



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

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  1. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    The opening statement, WHEN GOD DOESN’T COME TO OUR RESCUE (PSALM 44) was a bit sobering to read. Yet, as Dee has taught us, sometimes His rescue may not look like the rescue we envisioned. I also love the painting of Mary and Elizabeth, because I am sure that Mary was in a lot of inner turmoil since the angel’s visit and as she travelled to visit her cousin. I love the expression of light-hearted delight on Mary’s face and the joy on Elizabeth’s face…you can almost hear the laughter!
    Then, “I remember a few weeks ago a few of you wrote that your sacrifice of weeping is to be content where you are in hard circumstances right now AND NOT TRY TO ESCAPE…You can be honest with God and He will find a way to give you comfort and hope, despite the difficulties you are living right now.” This so reminds me of where I am reading now in Hinds Feet in High Places. Much Afraid began her journey to the High Places with two hand-picked (by God) companions, Sorrow and Suffering. At the first sight of them, she shrank back from them, not wanting to hold their hands. As she journeys along with them, she begins to lean into their strength and support, willingly holding their hands and allowing them to help her. When they wait out a storm in a little cottage, she actually begins to find that she enjoys their company, and begins to learn things about them that she never knew, like they can sing beautiful songs.
    My first reaction to trials and pain is usually that I want to find a way to escape it; I don’t like how it makes me feel. I can deny there is a problem, or find someone to blame and be mad at, or sink into playing the role of the helpless victim. But there is a different way, just like Much Afraid learns. Sorrow and Suffering can indeed be sweet companions if we will only not be afraid to take their hands and press into them, and finding the joy, as Keller said, in the midst of the sorrow. I’m certainly not saying I have attained this perfectly (or even imperfectly) but I believe it is the right way. For whatever reason, the Lord may choose as our companions Sorrow and Suffering, but they are not sent as enemies or just bad friends to hang out with; He has a purpose for them and they can draw us closer to Him.

    1. Susan, your reference to Hinds Feet in High Places again whets my appetite to read this book…I know it has been mentioned previously on the blog and I have contemplated…I think I need to order it today…:)  Sorrow and suffering…how I cringe, yet I know the blessings obtained in hard times and blessings seen in hindsight from these difficult times.
      I’m sorry for your past week’s difficulties and pray for resolution.  Take care, Susan…you are in my thoughts and prayers.

      1. ordered…:) $1.99 kindle version on Amazon.

    2. I love that book Susan and Sorry and Suffering both get name changes at the end, which you’ll love!! (but I won’t disclose them cause don’t want to ruin it for your. =)  Just like Much Afraid gets her name changed.

      1. Mary…I promise I won’t peek at the end…now I’m curious but I’ll wait!

        1. =)

    3. Oh, I love that reference to ‘Hinds Feet on High Places’.  I began reading it again several months ago, when Dee made reference to it.  I didn’t finish…..but I remember Sorrow and Suffering being her chosen companions.  Somehow, having it happen in an allegory makes it seem so much clearer…..they really are good companions when they draw us to the One who can give us hope and comfort.  I know we all feel weary of their companionship, yet how much they can teach us.  Wow.  

    4. Susan, it reminds me of child birth…..such pain! The “key” for me was to lean in to the pain; embrace it and it didn’t feel as bad as it really was. I know it sounds crazy, but I had three children three different ways and the last (no drugs, no nothing) was the best. Lean.

    5. Susan Loved this post and sharing pieces of the book. My Pastors wife has mentioned that book to me several different times. I still want to get it. 

    1. I was encouraged to read this book by a few here, like Diane, who read it and talked about it!

  2. 2. Is there an area where you are looking for rescue, but God seems silent?
    This is a hard question. I, along with many here, look for the rescue of family members who do not know the Lord…children who have turned away from Him, a husband who is spiritually dead, and others. I think Wanda expressed this well last week. You begin to wonder how God will ever…
    I also long for one or two really, really close friends. I know it is unrealistic to expect to have a deep connection with everyone you meet, but I long for just one or two women friends in a face-to-face relationship with whom I can be real, take off the masks, and they can do the same with me. I guess it would be a rescue from a deep inner feeling of loneliness, of having no one to share at such a deep level with? This level of sharing doesn’t happen in my marriage…that is also a disappointment to me. I often feel my husband is not a safe person to share my deepest feelings with because at times he tramples on my feelings. I also think one of my deepest insecurities is being fully known; I want to be and at the same time I am afraid of it. I know, in my head, that God already fully knows me and still loves me but it’s hard to get that down to my heart. And around other Christian women, I often feel inadequate in that they are much more spiritual than me and doing a much better job at living the Christian life.

    1. Susan – I replied to your post – I saw that it posted and now it is GONE!!  Sigh.  I cannot imagine….but the gist of it was that I don’t see you at all like your last sentence here…..you really perservere in your walk with Christ!  And I WILL be praying for a special friend for you…..maybe I’ll try and reconstruct what I wrote….or wait and see it it “reappears” as some here have had happen!  Sigh.

    2. Susan – I will try again!  I just believe that there are so many, many evidences in your life that you ARE living the Christian life that HE has called you to.  Your story about the birthday party for the leader of your Bible study astounded me – or should I say, your reaction to it?  You entered fully into the joy of the occasion and celebrated the good things that you could see exhibited therein.  That DESPITE feeling somewhat the “odd one out” in the group of women who obviously went way back together….I truly think my reaction – at least a bit – would have been “what about me???  when will MY party day come????”  Not you Susan – you were able to rejoice with those who rejoice (often harder than weeping with those who weep!).  You are faithfully putting one foot in front of the other (thinking of a recent Ann Voskamp piece that Diane shared on the prayer group page) and perservering….with an extremely ill family member – and extended family discord.  With an unbelieving husband.  With young adult unbelieving children.  With a church where you sometimes feel on the periphery.  With the deep ache of lonliness for just one godly friend who will come alongside you and share your sorrows and joys and struggles…..and I will PRAY for such a friend for you, by the way…and for others who have shared…..Jill…BEth…..but in your life I see a faith in Christ that is real and gritty and stellar. 
      We can have a rich and real fellowship here on the blog….but I do believe that Jesus with skin on – face to face – is God’s design for us as well……my friend of some 20 years – shout out once again to Jestina! – is that soul-to-soul friend…..I’m so thankful that she reads this blog and can keep me between the rails if I start to wander……she knows my entire family VERY well and she can drop by and find me weary, wrung out and worn down with life.  She’ll spot in a heartbeat if I’m sounding too pious and too hard on my circumstances (ie/pity party).  God uses her constantly to lift my head and to spur me on!  I did not meet Jestina in church – I met her when my car broke down and she stopped to help!  And my other great friend Mary Lynn….we met at a pay phone…..her husband had parked her car where she couldn’t find it and I had locked the keys in my truck!  She told me that if she could find her car, she’d drive me home to get my second set of keys!  And so it began…..never underestimate the surprises the Lord might have for you right around the corner!  I DO SO PRAY IT MAY BE!!! 
      If you are not too far north in PA you should wander down to MD sometime and feed my horses some carrots!  The welcome mat is out for you!

      1. Jackie Very cool how the Lord orchestrated those friends into your life

    3. Susan I can so echo what you said here. and to add to that I feel much of what I  would want to share would be rejected. but for me perhaps I am not giving my husband more of a chance;I do not know???
      “This level of sharing doesn’t happen in my marriage…that is also a disappointment to me. I often feel my husband is not a safe person to share my deepest feelings with because at times he tramples on my feelings. I also think one of my deepest insecurities is being fully known; I want to be and at the same time I am afraid of it. ”  
      I agree with Jackie I do not see you as the last sentence at all. And join her in that prayer for a special friendl

    4. Susan, I too will keep praying for you to have a special friendship with someone close by.  I wish I was better at remembering and praying through requests every day….but I do have that written down from awhile ago.  And I have prayed it several times.  At times like this, I wish I could just ‘drop by’.  I would love, love to sit and visit with you. It’s such a blessing to meet and get to know women on this blog…..but there is a growing  longing to hear each other’s voices and see each other in a ‘larger than thumbnail’ kind of way.  🙂   Prayers for you, dear Susan.  

      1. Wanda, I also wish you (and everyone here) could drop by for a visit! I have very fond memories of growing up and my mom would get the coffee pot out to make coffee; that told me a friend of hers was coming for a visit. It seemed one or two days a week there was a friend at the kitchen table…or she would take me along to a friend’s home she was going to visit.

    5. Susan, my heart is aching for you…I’m praying for you as I have so much.  But you’ll always  be in my prayers.

      1. Joyce, I keep you in my prayers, too. Please tell me, what is the situation with your back and the new pain medication?

  3. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    My heart aches for John the Baptist…such highs (being Jesus’ forerunner, entrusted to pave the way for Jesus) and such lows (execution for silliness).  My heart hurts for him and I don’t wonder why he might have doubted.  John the Baptist is a poignant example that the believer is not destined to a life of ease; a life of ease  is not promised and is unlikely.  Believers are at war in this world with a force led by the evil one who is entirely opposed to our Lord; that force is real and clearly evident in current (and past) events.  This can be so scary and overwhelming, but then as Dee reminds us, Jesus “doesn’t deliver us from this present age, but oh, He does deliver us.”…we have a whole eternity awaiting us with our Lord and family of believers where love prevails and evil will no longer bear its ugly head, no more disease, suffering, death.  The Lord has triumphed; He has won the ultimate victory.

    1. Amen to every word, Nanci.

    2. Nanci……I think I need to copy, paste and print what you said about John the Baptist and have it ready for the next time I hear believers expecting that nothing bad should happen to God’s people.  Excellent description.  

    3. Yes Nanci:   “The Lord has triumphed; He has won the ultimate victory.”

    4. Love your description of John the Baptist Nanci!

    5. Hi Nancy, so this is what I was kinda getting at also. Was it in Gods original plan for John to die the way he did? Or did the devil infiltrate and have John killed by people who followed after evil??

  4. Susan – I was going to read briefly and comment later….but I can’t leave you final sentence untouched!  I don’t see you that way at all!  Even your story of the birthday party for your Bible study teacher reveals that….despite feeling “on the periphery” of this already bonded group, you were able to rejoice fully in the love shown to your teacher – even though that kind of thing is sorely lacking in your own life.  Many other examples:  caring for extreme health issues alongside family discord, stay well in a difficult marriage to an unbeliever, being there for unbelieving adult children, staying with a local church body where you often feel inadequate and overlooked.  The list goes on and on.  I see a beautiful, deep woman who craves ever more of Christ and is perservering and living the Christian life well indeed!!!
    That said, we all need Jesus with skin on in our daily lives….and I will be daily praying for this kind of kinship for you, Susan…..as well as remembering others here….Jill…Beth….who have expressed the same consternation and sometimes lonliness.  Even though our fellowship here is rich and wondrous in so many ways, I do feel that in the flesh friendships in Christ are critical to walking with Christ .  I love that one of my dearest….shout out again to Jestina!!….reads this blog and can keep me honest if I stray or present a slanted view of my life……I really count on that as she knows my husband, my children , my day to day life very WELL and has for about 20 years now!  I met her by the way, when my car broke down on the interstate and she stopped to help!  Pre-cell phone days.  It may not be that you will meet a special friend in church (though I would hope that would be a GOOD option)…..the Lord may have a wonderful surprise in store for you right around the corner! 

    1. Susan – I apologize for two replies to you that were similar – the one above posted earlier, but immediately disappeared for several hours…..????? by that time I had tried to re-write something similar….eeks! 

      1. Jackie, I just appreciate that you took the time to re-write your post, and I have read them both! I just love how you describe your two friends, Jestina and Mary Lynn, and the way you met each of them…definitely not a coincidence, but planned by God! They each sound like wonderful, faithful, loyal friends, and you are very blessed to have them, as I’m sure they would say of you! I agree, the fellowship right here is so rich and real (I didn’t want to make anyone here feel like “chopped liver”)…I miss you all if I’m unable to be here. But yes, we do so need face-to-face friends…the one who knows us and our families, a friend we could call in the middle of the night if we had to. I guess the part where I said I feel inadequate…I have some bad habits, like complaining, forgetting to pray before meals…I feel that for some Christians it’s so “second nature” to live the Christian life and for me it’s a daily struggle. I can make a decision and go ahead with something, and then hear someone else say how they prayed carefully before they did such and such, and then I think, “that’s what I should have done first…”
        Oh…and I live in Ohio…I do mention PA on here because one of my sons is in college in PA! But I like your invitation to come see your horses! I had a dream last night about horses!

        1. Oh my Susan – Ohio!  Yes, there’s a LOTTA horses between here and there.  Still, the welcome mat is out….meanwhile enjoy those horses down the road!  🙂

    2. Amen to this (and the other!) reply to Susan.   You warned us that both might show up and mysteriously, it did, Jackie.  smile.  I just love that you care so much and didn’t want to leave Susan hanging until the post magically re-appeared, so you wrote another.  Sweet.  I also am impressed that your good friend is silently following the blog and that produces accountability in your writings.   Wow.  I love the story about how you and Jestina met!  (I know 2 friends who met when they had a car accident….actually running into each other on the way to bringing their kids to school one morning)  God DOES move in mysterious ways.

      1. Oh Wanda – the car accident friendship is hilarious!  I’m assuming that it was minor and no injuries!!  The lengths the Lord will go to in order to bring us a friend…..how refreshing!!  The cost of the accident – probably no more than an insurance deductible.  The value of friendship – PRICELESS!  🙂

        1. Jackie:  🙂   it was striking that they bumped into each other.  (okay….puns intended)  Yes,  minor accident and both women have the same first name too.  Immediate bond.  

      2. I had to throw in my story of best friends. 
          Years ago…like 30!….my best friend and I had just attended a ladies luncheon that Dee spoke at…here in Kearney at one of the motels.  We didn’t know each other until that day.My friend had been on her knees the day before praying for a best girlfriend. (I had no friend either)

         Dee had taught my friend in bible study (after writing her 1st book on friendship)…to not be shy, to go up to someone and introduce yourself.  So that next day after the luncheon was almost over…she picked me out of the crowd and went up and introduced herself to me….in a panic! 

        We were in our mid thirties. We were both married to unbelievers and had young children.  She was blond and blue eyes and I was brown hair and brown eyes…just opposites…but were drawn to each other.

        Anyway…we got together and have been best friends for 30 years!! We’ve both been through so much together, I don’t know what I’d have ever done without her in my life. 

        Thank you Dee…once more for one of our greatest gifts…friendship.  (Praying for a friend like mine for you Susan!)

        1. Joyce, what a lovely and encouraging story of friendship…so happy the Lord blessed you and your friend with each other…:)

        2. Joyce – isn’t God amazing?  30 years is doing a LOT of life together!  It blesses my heart to know that you have such a dear one.  And WHAT a connection with Dee in your story too….I’m continually seeing more of how far you two go back and how much she means to you, personally! 

        3. Joyce, what a sweet story of how you met your best friend! I’m sure the Lord directed her right to you out of all those women!

        4. Love how you met your friend, Joyce and that she is and has been such a wonderful companion to you.  Priceless to have those friendships.

        5. Oh Joyce, this is such a sweet and encouraging testimony!  Yes, I so long for another “kindred spirit” type friend and this is a great example of how the Lord brought that about for you.

  5. 1. What stood out to you from the above, and why? The picture of Mary and Elizabeth. Wow. I am struck by the depth of this picture. First the comraderie of women friendship is beautiful but then when you think of their circumstances… They both endure pain of being culturally ridiculed. Elizabeth because she was a barren woman and Mary because she was found with child before marriage. But then the JOY in the promise of God being literally fleshed out through them. They were the only 2 people on earth that could truly understand each other! This is just beautiful and amazing. That God would allow them fellowship to encourage each other and to imagine the conversations of what their Lord was doing. So fun to contemplate, brings tears to my eyes. 

    1. My contemplation of Mary and Elizabeth’s relationship just grew by leaps and bounds, Jill.  Beautifully written.  

  6. One thing:  Hinds Feet on High Places.  Indeed a Christian classic.  I want to very respectfully offer a warning.  The author, Hannah Hurnard, left the orthodox faith in many, many ways in the last years of her life.  She did not believe in a God of wrath.  No hell.  Universalism.  Jesus raised from the dead and like the angels….though “becoming” son of God….as we all are going to be….the list goes on and on and is well documented.  Her Christian contemporaries had to break “fellowship” with her in her later years and could no longer allow her to speak or promote her ideas.  Indeed, they were heresy.  If you read the books she wrote in the 80’s and the last post-humously in 1993. this will all become very clear,  I realize that it is not fun to be a voice of dissent, but, while HInds Feet on High Places may be quite wonderful, please don’t follow the author down the path she chose to take as the years went by.  I just felt I had to say this….maybe many of you are aware, but maybe some are not.  My heart is heavy as I write this.

      1. Dee – thank you for understanding the heart of what I meant to convey.  Hind’s Feet IS a treasure and should not be missed….and the rest….well, it’s too sad for words.  God knows. 

    1. Jackie, I don’t know if it was you or someone else here that posted about this before, but I do remember the warnings. I do hope that at the time she wrote Hinds Feet, she was “spiritually sound”, at least I am gleaning a lot from it and it helps me to even understand The Song of Songs in a deeper way. But yes, due to the veering away in her later years, I would not read other books by her. That is sad.

    2. Thanks for clarifying this, Jackie.  Dee alluded to it once and I had meant to follow through and see what had happened.  Sometimes, when a writer has lost favor in ‘my eyes’ I have cleared out everything I had that was written by them.  (don’t dare mention their names for fear of offending, but there are a few).  But that’s because I no longer agree with their writings as I once did….(not regarding orthodoxy….but more things like practical Christian living, certain doctrines…..or political stands etc.)   But, in this case, I agree, that we can learn much from the allegory even though, sadly, the author went in another direction.  This work, standing alone, still has merit.  Sad to hear how she changed though.  Makes me wonder once again about people who walk away from the faith.  Were they not ‘really’ saved? My gut tells me they were. Another doctrine I find very difficult.  Though I know that is not this week’s subject.  So we don’t have to go down that road.

      1. Wanda – just wanted to submit to you 1 John 2:19….”They went out from us, but they were not of us, for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us.  But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.”   A very sad Scripture….and please, if you have a moment, read it in it’s context.  So many other NT warnings that not all who gather together with us are truly “of us”….after all, heresy bubbles up from WITHIN the church, generally speaking.  I certainly don’t think we should be looking around all the time at the body and trying to “weed out” those we suspect might not be genuine!  Paul does exhort us to “examine yourselves” however….and there have been times I’ve done this with fear and trembling – and tears.  However, when we clearly see those we thought were genuine believers beginning to preach and publish words of heresy – well then, the line in the sand is clear – and has been crossed.  I believe they are revealing 1 John 2:19.  “they were not of us”.  BUT….like Dee’s good example of Cyrus….God can use, well, he used a donkey to speak in the OT too, right???  Oh, so much mystery…..and yet so much we DO know that blesses our lives with Him! 

        1. Great advice, Jackie.  Thanks!

    3. Jackie
      I can sooo appreciate you saying your heart was heavy as you were writing this. I have had a word I have felt heavy to share before as well but you know you must share it. 

      1. Liz –   🙂

  7. 1. What stood out to you from the above, and why? Also I had never realized John’s confusion….this is encouraging to remind me that when things look different than what I think they should I can still lean on God’s promises. But to bring it to Him and ask and learn. 
    My thoughts are also weighty with this, “…your sacrifice of weeping is to be content where you are in hard circumstances right now AND NOT TRY TO ESCAPE.”  This has been a theme in God’s revelations to me in quiet time for awhile. My Utmost for His Highest October 25, “Never make this plea – If only I were somewhere else! All God’s men are ordinary men made extraordinary by the matter He has given them.” Sometimes (a lot of times?) I am deceived that the only “good” option is to escape. That whatever ‘it’ is is an injustice, an undeserved atrocity. God is teaching me that there is another option. As Susan shared about Hinds Feet in High Places, to take the hand of sorrow and suffering, to walk WITH God with assurance that I am here by His calling, His design. To sow my tears. If I escape the sorrow I also escape the joy…..

    1. Yes, Jill.    To sow my tears. If I escape the sorrow I also escape the joy….. ”    
      Reminds me of Isaiah 45:3  “I will give you the treasures of darkness, and hidden wealth of secret places, so that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, Who calls you by your name.  
      Sometimes He helps us find a treasure that can only be found in a dark place.   Sometimes I can identify it by myself, sometimes I need a friend to help me see it.   And sometimes I can be that friend to help another friend see……   We truly do need each other……….

      1. Nila – “Sometimes He helps us find a treasure that can only be found in a dark place.”  Linking that with the Scripture you shared from Isaiah….”SO THAT you may know that it is I….”    Yes, HE is our treasure to be found in a dark place!  How you lifted up my head this morning, my sweet sister.

    2. Jill Powerful thoughts here….
      Sometimes (a lot of times?) I am deceived that the only “good” option is to escape. That whatever ‘it’ is is an injustice, an undeserved atrocity. God is teaching me that there is another option. As Susan shared about Hinds Feet in High Places, to take the hand of sorrow and suffering, to walk WITH God with assurance that I am here by His calling, His design. To sow my tears. If I escape the sorrow I also escape the joy…..

    3. Jill, your thoughts here remind me of Psalm 16:5-6, “Lord, You have assigned me my portion and my cup; You have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me  in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” I guess we could look at this as accepting our circumstances here, but it also says a lot about our future with Him.

  8. 1. What stood out to you from the above, and why?
    2. Is there an area where you are looking for rescue, but God seems silent?
    What stands out? The fact that you, Dee, ALWAYS, know how to touch me right where I am in life! I am feeling a bit like a gerbil right now….running the wheel and not accomplishing anything I need to accomplish. Or, doing it but being so rushed that I do an inadequate job. i say to him, “Lord where are you to help me get through all of this? I gave up activities so I could manage the things I thought You wanted of me right now in this life. I have taken most Sundays off as You want us to do; for our day of rest. I am trying so hard to honor You. Praise dance in the new studio, the new job to help with finances, my regular job which is always a bear….I trusted You to be there every time I asked for help. You were at the beginning and now I feel a bit lost that you have let me go like a mommy eagle lets go of her baby eaglet. i am afraid to fail. Please come help me dear One. I am trying to do Your very important work.”
    Is this the way Jobn felt?

    1. Laura, I don’t know how you manage two jobs, a dance studio, and all of your responsibilities to your family, too…praying for Him to meet you in all of these!

      1. He has “done it again!” Just when I don’t know how I will manage, he steps in and gives me the answer….it’s by his grace Susan; only by His grace! He wants me to believe He will help me and when I am fully in tune with Him, all works out. It isn’t about me at all. Amazing love how can it be? That you my lord would die for me? Thank you Jesus.

        1. Laura – you are SO encouraging!  Your joy in the life He has given you just leaps off the page.  “It isn’t about me at all!”.  Ah, but you ARE a crucial part of His dance! 

        2. Laura,
          Yes ~ Amazing love how can it be?  


    2. Laura He is still there. Not sure if you heard this song but the first time I heard it was at my daughters college graduation and the students did a dance to it. It was BEAUTIFUL! It made me cry and it still does for MANY REASONS. Please take a quiet moment if you can and listen. Be blessed my NH friend:)

    3. Laura…I loved this…it helps me put it all in perspective…hearing it through your tears.  Praying for you sweet sister.

  9. 1.  What stood out?  The whole topic.  I’m so thankful that we  CAN be honest with God about how we are feeling.  Some people in my life recently have put these thoughts in my brain about being careful what I say…not “speaking some curse over myself.”  I don’t want to live in a place of worry over every word I utter to God in prayer.  Yes, I have prayed, “Oh Lord, I just want to be with You soooo badly.” at various times in my life…but was that the same as praying, “Lord, I want to die of cancer?”  NO.  Praise God He is able to discern the cries of our hearts (like the one study we did just recently), “God knows how we speak when we are desperate/in distress.”  I’m glad He is so much bigger than my words, thought, or feelings and He understands my humanness. 
    I also love the imagery you used here, Dee, especially the guy on his knees before the Lord, hands stretched out in front of him.  It has desperate written all over it.  I think we could all relate to that at times in our lives.  
    2.  I can’t say that I feel like He is totally silent right now in any particular area of my life but there are some areas (church, work, even some questions about how to approach things with my cancer) where I desperately desire His clear direction and I’m not getting the answers as fast as I’d like!  I feel such a finite time crunch on everything and I’m in the hands of one Who is infinite, with an eternal perspective.  

    1. Mary – praying for these things in your life(your church, treatment decisions….)…..and I just remembered that you, too , would desire a “heart friend” close by where you live.  So much to pray for one another….’I’m glad He is so much bigger than my words, thought or feelings and He understands my humanness.”  Being back in the Psalms together is a great comfort to so many of us, I think. The Psalmists certainly don’t seem to hold anything back, do they?   🙂

      1. Oh Jackie, thanks so much for your continued prayers.  Yes, when I read that Susan was also desiring a “heart friend” I thought, wow, I can so relate.  If only we all lived in close proximity of each other!  =) 
        I just got more family bad news today, my older brother told my parents and I that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer back in July but kept it to himself till now because of everything we were dealing with due to my cancer.  H will be having surgery the week after Thanksgiving.  He took a while to decide what treatment plan to go with and then he decided to go to a surgeon in Chicago who is (supposedly) “the best in the country for this.”  My brother is only 49, which is very young for prostate cancer and his doc said is most certainly “genetic.”  My on oncologist told me that prostate cancer is the male expression of breast and both are thick on my dad’s side.

        1. Oh Mary,  Keep us posted on your brother’s progress.  Oh….so much.  I hope that his is very treatable.  Prayers.

        2. Oh, Jackie. So sorry to hear about your older brothers prostate cancer. I hope his surgery goes well and the cancer is treatable. Praying.

        3. Mary – no matter how you wrap it, this news of your brother’s is devastating.  OH – how I am praying this morning for your precious parents.  Their hearts have been hit so hard…..wave upon wave.  So much of our recent studies have been leading us, again and again, to look for things eternal in living this transient life here.  I’m praying so much that your parents can see beyond the sorrow to the HOPE for our future.  So thankful that they are believers.  Praying, of course, for your brother as well.  What is his name?  May your whole family see “the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living”  Psalm 27:13. 

        4. Oh Mary, I’m so sorry.  Praying for you, your brother, your parents…

        5. Mary e.–I am so incredibly sorry. Am I remembering right that you have already lost another brother? Praying for all of you

        6. Mary. I will pray Psalm 27 for both you and your brother. That is my Psalm prayer for the Big ugly “C”
          Praying the Lord continue to carry all of you through these trials.

        7. Oh dear me…I’m so sorry Mary, about your brother’s news.  I will certainly keep him in my prayers. 

        8. Mary, just reading this now. I’m so sorry…cancer has struck your family very, very hard. I am sure you and your parents are taking this hard…it is so much to bear. I will be praying for all of you, Mary.

    2.  I feel such a finite time crunch on everything and I’m in the hands of one Who is infinite, with an eternal perspective.  

      Mary, this is so profound.  Not sure I have a response, except that it makes me think.  A lot.  Sometimes, that is what cancer and other dreadful diseases can do for us.  And for you to see, in the midst of it, that God’s perspective is infinite and eternal….there’s a wisdom here that runs so deep.  

    3. Mary,
      Such a good reminder.  Thank you.  Your courage and honesty are life-giving here this morning.
      ‘ “God knows how we speak when we are desperate/in distress.”  I’m glad He is so much bigger than my words, thought, or feelings and He understands my humanness. ‘

    4. I have no words, Mary…I am so sorry for the additional suffering in your family…I will add your brother to my prayer list. 

      1. Thank you Nanci, and everyone for your prayers.  I am very hopeful that his is confined to the prostate but this is still upsetting for all of us, of course.

    5. Dearest Mary…praying for you too sweet sister of mine.  Also for a special friend for you too…right?

      1. YES!  Thank you, Joyce.

  10. 1. What stood out to you from the above, and why?

    Are you the one who was to come, or should we look for another?

    Reading anew and pondering the life of John the Baptist from your words, Dee, and then John’s confusion, brings tears. “Are you the one who was to come…?” John had served the Lord with devotion and fervour. And yet, God let him be imprisoned and ultimately killed. How many of us have wondered the same, when our world caves in? When all light leaves and all we see around us is the darkness. “Where is God? I thought he would bless those who served him?”, we think. Like Job, we doubt and we seem to cry out in vain. 
    I had not read Dee’s blog this morning before church and yet the Lord spoke clearly to me as I listened to the sermon this morning and both message match so perfectly. Our sermon was on the death of Lazarus from John 11. Martha and Mary sent a message to Jesus saying “he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard this still continued his ministry where he was for two more days before leaving to see Lazarus. He did not rush to Lazarus’ side to heal. Then he told his disciples plainly that Lazarus had died, but  “for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe.”  When he arrived, both Martha and then later Mary say to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Most of us know the rest of the story and how Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. 
    What struck me about the story is its parallels to many of our own. Jesus knows our crises, yet he tarries in answering our cries for help. We know Jesus could have prevented the woe that has befallen us or our loved one. Why doesn’t God come to our rescue? Here in Lazarus’ story, Jesus says his reason for delaying is so that we will BELIEVE.  Jesus wants to reveal more of himself to us so that we will KNOW and BELIEVE that he is the Resurrection and the Life (v. 26) and BELIEVE that God sent Jesus (v. 42). He wants to do to us what he did to Lazarus. He wants to “unbind” us from the chains of our unbelief and set us free. (v. 44) 
    Jesus wants our head knowledge of him to become heart knowledge. We say we believe, but our lives reflect our stony hearts. We want God to meet our plans and expectations. We want our loved one healed. We want our paths made smooth. We want our blessings. In effect, we want God for the good things that he gives us, not for him alone!!! Oh, this tears my heart. How selfish I am!! Lord, help me learn set aside my selfish demands for my own way! You be glorified in my life in whatever way you want. Even if I must die, have your own way in my life. Do what you will. 

    1. This is a beautiful post, Diane. I don’t see you as selfish, though…I have “seen” you handle the pain and trials in your family by steadfastly continuing to hold on…you have relinquished what you thought was your ability to control the circumstances and trusted in Him.

    2. Oh Diane, I love your insights here…and oh how very hard it is to truly say, “How selfish I am!! Lord, help me learn set aside my selfish demands for my own way! You be glorified in my life in whatever way you want. Even if I must die, have your own way in my life. Do what you will. ”  I do want His will and at the same time, I so don’t want to die of cancer.   But I also know His heart, His goodness, His unfathomable love for me and I rest in that place and then can say, “Thy will be done.”

      1. Mary E., given what you are going through fighting cancer, I know how personal my words hit. I am sorry if they are caused you emotional pain. I in no way want to add to your struggle. I will continue to pray for you in your fight that God will be glorified and that you will be healed. Those two things are not incompatible and God knows his plans for you and for all of us. 

        1. Diane, you are one of the most precious, sweet people I have never met 😉  In no way, shape, or form did you cause me pain or hurt me.  What you said is just something that I have literally had to put to the test in my life now and the thing that has most blessed me is seeing that God has been gently guiding me to for years now, to get me to the point of being able to say, truly, “Thy will be done.”  I was “much afraid” just a few years ago and now I feel like I’m on some of those “high places” at times, despite my current situation.  Not that I have “arrived” BY ANY MEANS, but just glad He doesn’t leave us where we are, but moves us on…to get to those high places.

        2. Mary E., this is one of those times when I wish I could sit across a table from you and share a hot cup of something [I don’t drink coffee :)] and learn from you. I have SO much to learn from you. God has led you indeed to higher places through what you have suffered. I am still struggling and need the place of rest you have found. You are a light to me. 

        3. Don’t think too highly of me, Diane!!!  I’m just as surprised as anyone at how well I’m doing with all this! =)  And I have my moments of crying jags and doubt.

    3. Such good points and parallels to our trials, Diane.  Thanks for sharing that insight, which really does fit in well with our thinking God is silent.  And Amen to Susan’s thoughts about your steadfastness under trial.  

    4. In effect, we want God for the good things that he gives us, not for him alone!!!
      Thank you Diane, this stood out to me because it ties in so closely with what I’ve been reading in Keller’s book on suffering. He points out that this was Satan’s accusation with regard to Job, that he only worshipped God for the good things he received. In the end, after all the trials and suffering, Job worships God – still not understanding, but content to trust that God knows what he is doing.

    5. “we want God for the good things that he gives us, not for him alone!!! Oh, this tears my heart. How selfish I am!!”
      Oh, Diane, I am right there with you…repenting…

    6. Diane We certainly can be hard on ourselves but then we know ourselves best, well not better than God does:) I see your heart wanting to be all in and all His. I think you give us many solid right on examples of that here. I appreciate you!

    7. Sweet Diane…your anything but selfish.  I’ve learnt so much from your wisdom and gentleness.  Praying for you and all your family.

  11.   1. What stood out to you from the above, and why? 
    1)  SOMETIMES OUR MERCIFUL LORD IS SO HARD TO UNDERSTAND.  This stood out because I was so glad for the reminder that even though he is hard to understand, He is abundantly merciful.  Therefore, I can trust him even though or when I don’t understand.
    2) The pic of Mary and Elizabeth.  It’s so HAPPY!

    3) “I remember a few weeks ago a few of you wrote that your sacrifice of weeping is to be content where you are in hard circumstances right now AND NOT TRY TO ESCAPE.”   This has made such a difference for me.  Since I realized that God may be leading me to remain in a difficult situation, I have been more at peace.  My attempts to “plan an escape” likely were making me more miserable.  What’s even more exciting is that in the midst of other challenging (but not nearly as draining) situations, I have hope.  Before, EVERYTHING seemed either difficult or impossible. Now, because I KNOW that he is with me through “hopeless” situations, I am seeing changes in my behavior in smaller areas.  Those changes are because of God’s grace and the strength He is providing; I still don’t have the stamina to do much based on externally imposed rules — and when I try to force change, I go backwards!  He continues to capture my heart and woo me to himself.
    4) The image with I Cor 2:9.  The colors caught my attention, and then I read the verse 😉   Sometime within the last 24 hours, I decided that the worst feeling for me to have is hopelessness (not sure why that thought even entered my brain).  I Cor 2:9 gives me hope.

  12. 2. Is there an area where you are looking for rescue, but God seems silent?  Umm… YES.  Or at least I was looking for rescue in MANY areas.  The situations around me haven’t changed.  Life still is very very messy.  But I am (slowly) learning that God is rescuing my heart — and that may not mean rescuing me from situations I don’t like.  Just as someone drowning is supposed to relax to make rescue possible instead of thrashing around & fighting rescue, I am relaxing/resting a little more — and He is calming my heart.  That may not have been the type of rescue I would have planned, but HE KNOWS the big picture and HE LOVES ME! 

    1. This is a huge revelation, Renee, “I am (slowly) learning that God is rescuing my heart — and that may not mean rescuing me from situations I don’t like.”  So, so true.  And I love your drowning analogy also! 

    2. Renee, Thank you for this:   But I am (slowly) learning that God is rescuing my heart — and that may not mean rescuing me from situations I don’t like. 

    3. Renee, I can only echo the words of others. Your answer to #2 is GOLD.  I too am (slowly) learning that God is mostly concerned with “rescuing ME [my heart] and that may not mean rescuing me from situations I don’t like.” Your journey through your difficult situations are an inspiration to me. Hang in there, my friend.

    4. Renee – that is perfect!  You said it all so well.  Amen.

    5. Renee A very neat example of a rescue with the drowning and tying that in. That to me is a rescue from ourselves:)
      Just as someone drowning is supposed to relax to make rescue possible instead of thrashing around & fighting rescue, I am relaxing/resting a little more — and He is calming my heart.  That may not have been the type of rescue I would have planned, but HE KNOWS the big picture and HE LOVES ME! 

  13. 1. What stood out to you from the above, and why?      I didn’t have time to open the blog until this afternoon.  By that time, the ‘Sunday blues’ that I’ve written of in the past, had already started to hit me.  And I began talking to my soul.  ‘Soul, we have been here before. Many times. And God was faithful.  Let’s go out in the sunshine of this glorious October afternoon and enjoy the beauty our God has created.”  And it didn’t take any convincing when I asked my husband if he wanted to I go out for walk in the woods.  With the sun on my back and the crunching leaves under my feet, all felt at peace.   And then I got a phone call.  One of the people who ‘drain me’….as I wrote about last week.  I tried to remember some listening skills and tried to be a good friend.  But by the end of the call, my head was spinning again. As she poured out all of her woes, repeatedly, as she has done, so many times before and then began to cry, I no longer wanted to play my role of being the comforter when there is so little I can say anymore.   So, here’s what stands out the most from the above.    “Sometimes, our merciful Lord is so hard to understand.”   Yes.  It is such a mystery sometimes.  I am so glad this sentence includes the descriptor, ‘merciful’ because that is the key here.  Otherwise, I would want to jump ship many times.  I KNOW He is rich in mercy.   We learned last night that a friend (a sweet man from our Bible Fellowship group, whose wife is not a believer, but who remains faithful to His Lord year after year) was diagnosed with esophageal cancer (the same, horrible cancer that took my friend, Steve’s life just two months ago), once again, I see this statement.  “Sometimes, our merciful Lord is so hard to understand.”   
    More talking to my soul is forthcoming.  I am so very thankful for last week’s teaching.

    1. Wanda – I felt like I was there with you and your husband (talk about a 5th wheel!) on that glorious walk through the leaves…..love it!  Also…..do you ever consider not answering your phone?  You do have permission to let the calls go to voice mail!  I do it all the time!  And I sincerely HOPE that my friends do the same!  If it’s “not a good time” – no matter how I define that – I let it go to voice mail….then I can prepare my heart or finish whatever I’m in the middle of…..it just works better for me that way.  Caller ID and voice mail – we’ve gotta let the technology work FOR us, not against us!  🙂  Well, another of my true confessions I guess. 
      Oh – praying for your friend with a very tough diagnosis.  How I pray that those years of walking with Christ will shine through in a way his wife cannot deny.  That God would use every hard moment to woo her heart to Himself.  Oh, the rejoicing for your friend!  It would all be so worth it.  But it is a very hard call on his life …..and so sad that it takes you back to Steve’s very hard struggle. 

      1. Thanks, Jackie, for your prayers for Joe and for your empathy.    Actually, I am notorious for not answering calls.  Especially from this person…(we often text)…which is why I felt I better answer.  I’d seen her at church and had not had a chance to talk with her.  She was busy with others and so was I.  I had hoped to catch her.  I guess it sounded dramatic as though the phone interrupted the walk.  I wouldn’t have answered it then but it rang on the drive home….after our walk in the park.  The situation she is in is endless also.  And I see no answers on the horizon.  I guess it was just one more ‘Merciful Lord, sometimes we just don’t understand’ moment.   I would have loved to have had you on our walk, Jackie.  We could have taken an extra lap or two, just you and I.  Dreaming……  🙂

  14. 2. Is there an area where you are looking for rescue?     Oh yes.  And I’ve probably already stated them too often here.  I’ll let the week’s lesson begin and see what I can narrow down.  I would like to be rescued from at least 3 things that seem to have no answers.  

  15. Oh…..and I almost forgot to mention.  The print out of I Cor. 2:9 stood out because that is the very verse that I very nearly audibly heard the Lord say to me, in a moment of great sorrow, after my dad died 19 years ago.  That is the only time, I have felt His voice so strongly, it was nearly or maybe was?  audible.  It was certainly palpable.  

  16. 1. What stood out to you from the above, and why?
    Oh wow. As I read, and my eyes came to the words of John “Are you the one who was to come, or should we look for another?”(Matthew 11:3), though I know those words–reading them here, in story context, my throat tightened and I felt tears. Though I could relate to John’s emotions. Though I have not doubted God is who He says He is, and I have not doubted Christ–I know I have at times, in my deepest darkest times, doubted His presence, doubted His goodness. And then as I continued to read, I was reminded of our sermon this morning on Psalm 138. Psalm 138:7-8 “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me. The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.” Oh how I must know His promises, His character, so that I cling to it, count on it, in the darkness. He will not forsake me–the work of His hands. He does not sleep. Thank You Lord.

  17. What stands out to me?
    The first picture: John’s portrait shows  suffering. He baptized Jesus and witnessed the Spirit’s presence and then faced a violent end.
    Sometimes the road is lonely and hard despite the promises of God. Knowing that God is at work and that all things work together for good is difficult when life’s blows hit us hard.
    Is there an area where you are looking for rescue, but God seems silent?
    The challenges of aging with diminished vision, hearing and physical pain and weakness is a reality, and yet this does not somehow compare with the agony that others are encountering. I am claiming Psalm 43:5b hope in God; for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

    1. What a good verse, Shirley.  ‘the health of my countenance’….wow.  I needed that.  I’ve been bothered by several sorta ‘little’ health issues lately too….but when they all add up, they can become prominent in my day.  The countenance that displays the Lord in the midst of pain….that is truly amazing to behold.  

    2. Shirley – oh, how the Lord used you to make me smile just now!  “For I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.”   My version did not state it that way, so I had to look up the verse in other versions….and many of the translations DO mention the “health of my countenance”…..which is so perfect as for several weeks now I’ve had an ugly, itchy, painful and distracting rash marring my (less than perfect!!) countenance!  While it is CERTAINLY not the biggest mountain in my life at this time, it IS the straw that broke the camel’s back , so to speak!!  4 Doctors and 4 treatment plans to date have failed to either correctly diagnose/treat whatever is going on……oh, but if GOD is the health of my countenance…..well, then.  That puts it very literally in a different light!  He clearly has lessons for me in this season…..pray I’ll be a good learner!!  I do really like the new dermatologist I saw last week and believe that he wants to walk through this with me and get to the bottom of it.  I’m much appreciative of his caring attitude if nothing else!!  Anyway, your post was picture perfect for my needs this day!

      1. Jackie…that is an amazing verse and to me, you seem so teachable……in this hard time.  I am praying that this new dermatologist will have just the answer for you. That is a hard thing to deal with day after day.  Not to mention doctor after doctor….:(  

    3. Shirley.
      Thank you for posting Psalm 43:5b.   It reminds me of Genesis 4:7:  If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up?  And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door and its desire is for you, but you must master it.
      The “doing well” seems to often begin with telling my soul what is true, despite circumstances or feelings to the contrary.

  18. Renee, your words touched my heart and they are words I have spoken to myself,also, “I am relaxing/resting a little more and He is calming my heart!.”
    I tend to become overwhelmed and want solutions… but what i need is to relax and be calm. Such a good observation of self.

  19.  What stood out to you from the above, and why?  Johns words. Are you the one who is to come or are we to look for another? Just pondering what that moment must have been like for him. a moment I have thought deeply of before. Another thing that stood out to me was the picture of the man on his face one hand down but the other hand stretched like it was wanting to grab hold of someone’s hand. I have been in worship before with my hands stretched high and envisioned the Lord grasping my hand with his. 

  20. 1. What stood out to you from the above, and why?
    The painting of John the Baptist…… I wonder who the artist is/was and what their life experience is/was…… because this painting captures the perplexity and possibly even abandonment that John must have felt.   I do not see anger, but I sense such a loneliness in John,  every time I’ve looked at this today. 
    Also Dee’s words,  And God allows us to be honest, to “end with a low,” because that is how we are really feeling
    I recommend, again, Michael Card’s book, Sacred Sorrow.  He invites believers to recover the lost language of lament.   This little book is a clear call for believers to embrace suffering and offer lament as an act of worship.      I love a large variety of worship music, but I agree with Michael card, that some of our music must express lament, just as the Psalms so often do.   Sometimes our only honest response is out of a lonely, sorrowful place.   

    1. Nila- You have peaked my interest to check out that book. Yes embracing suffering but I want to change that and say embracing God thru suffering. I am not sure if Michael Card wrote the song El Shaddai But it was that song at a youth worship service my friend invited me to that broke me. I was 33 yrs old. 

      1. Liz,
        Thank you for posting this beautiful rendition that features Michael Card and Sara Groves.   Beautiful.    And for sharing another piece of your story.   

      2. Such a lovely worshipful song, El Shaddai, Thanks for posting it.

    2. and Nila…...Sacred Sorrow is still highlighted and starred on my ‘to buy’ list.  It WILL happen!  You have whetted my appetite for this book with such wisdom from it.

  21. Is there an area where you are looking for rescue but God seems silent? Yes but sometimes  I  am wondering if he is speaking to me and I am not listening. Or has provided a rescue and I have not accepted it. The being content in the difficult circumstance really hits home with me. I have wanted to escape, be rescued, but I know in some of these circumstances the staying has caused so much growth in me and a sweetness in my relationship with the Lord I question if I would have had as deeply had I not stayed.  1Corinthians 2:9 is such a powerful reminder. 

    1. Very wise words, Liz.   I wonder too, about all but one of my sorrows……the salvation of my children.  Surely God wants them to return.  In delivering their souls from sin,  I will also be delivered from the pain their defection from faith has brought.   But there are no guarantees and especially none that it will happen in my lifetime.  Yet, I know the Lord wants me to be at peace.  A hard paradox:   Peace and Striving (in prayer) at the same time.

  22. 3. Read Psalm 44:1-8 and describe the mood and the thankfulness for past rescues.
    The writer seems genuinely thankful for God being present in the past in regards to his ancestors being saved from many perilous times. He gives God full glory and honor. 
    4. Share one way God has rescued you in the recent past.
    Being creative “on demand,” is not always easy. Several times in the last week He has given me ideas for dance and school that I could use in my classes. I know it’s Him; he “rescued” me! 
    I have spent the weekend tending to my son who had his wisdom teeth out (He is doing very well – just swollen). I am behind in my work for the college and getting kind of anxious. As I read the material last night, I realized I have a lecture on DVD that I can use that is about an hour long and totally on topic! So happy, and what a help! 
    5. Read Psalm 44:9-16 and describe the mood and the phrases that point to a lack of rescue.
    It seems as if the tone is totally changed; opposite to the original tone of praise and reflection of God’s help. Now God isn’t around; he is not being helped at all. He describes feeling rejection, and wonders why.

  23. 1.  What stood out to you from the above, and why?  Oh, how I love the glimpse at John the Baptist!  The timelessness of the Scriptures stands out to me as you so skillfully link John’s experience with the Psalm we will be looking more deeply into….all through the ages, humans have struggled to understand this merciful God and how He speaks into the stories of our lives.  When the angel spoke to Zechariah about John before his birth he said ”  for he will be great before the Lord……he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God….he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah….” oh my.  And so he did.  But I believe the last spoken words of John that Scripture records are those you quoted from Matt 11:3, Dee…”Are you the one who is to come, or do we look for another?”.  OH – but how POWERFULLY Jesus defends and vindicates the life of John the BAptist!  In Matt 11:8-15, Jesus gives a resounding validation of John’s life and ministry.  Indeed, at one point even stating “among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist.”  Jesus just melts my heart with these words.  Oh, how he loved John…..even as he questioned!  Dee, I also love that you wove in John 3:30 , where John says “He must increase, but I must decrease.”  I remember as a brand new believer being in a women’s Bible study.  One of my fellow students expressed this very verse as her “life verse”.  It was, simply put, a “God moment” for me.  I can remember my heart crying out “me too, me too!!!”.  And so it has been.  So the link to John the Baptist is also very personal to me – through the Holy Spirit, he gave words to my life’s ambition!  🙂

    1. Beautiful……how the Lord melted your heart to see Jesus’ unequaled love for John, in the midst of his doubt.  What a comfort that is for us.

  24. 2. Is there an area where you are looking for rescue but God seems silent?  I’m going to follow in Wanda’s footsteps and say that, basically I’ve shared so much about my family life over the past months that you all pretty much know that there are MANY areas in which I’m praying for rescue – and primarily, with a family of unbelievers, that would be the main one for all! 
    I did, however, want to take just a moment to praise God for recent glimmers of His rescue in my marriage.  For MANY – and I do mean MANY – years my marriage was plummeting and over the past year, I would say was in free fall.  Though my husband Casey remains an unbeliever, I am beyond words amazed at the changes God has begun to bring about in his heart and in our marriage as a result.  He has truly begun to admit to his anger issues and the damage done to our entire family over many years.  He is humble.  He is reaching out to every family member as best he can to try to  build new bridges of trust and communication.  I am literally watching the impossible unfold before my very eyes.  I must add…NO COINCIDENCE that this very study has been an integral part of the process.  Dee, you ever so courageously tackled the study of “Emotional Abuse” back in the summer/early fall.  Long story short, Casey watched the video of Leslie Vernick and Chris Moles and was powerfully impacted.  He asked to read my copy of the book “The Emotionally Destructive Marriage” ….and as he is slowly working his way through it, he frequently has come to me to ask that we try and process together some of what he is reading.  Again, I have to say that “impossible” is happening before my eyes!  Now…we have a LONG way to go and trust is not easily rebuilt after years and years of anger – poisonous anger.  I sometimes question whether sustainable change is even possible without the indwelling Holy Spirit – but that is my wobbly faith rearing it’s ugly head.  When I turn back to HIM – NOT focusing on my marriage, but on Him….peace returns and I can rest in Him.  And so….in the midst of many, many areas of my life that I’m longing to see God rescue…..He has chosen this time and place to begin a work of healing in our family’s life….that undoubtedly could ripple out to “rescue” many of those other areas! 
    I just wanted to share this because I know that many of you are in a very hard place in your marraiges – this came out for sure during the week we studied emotional abuse.  It is real.  It is excruciating.  You start to doubt your sanity or that God can even use your life …..hopelessness is always at the door….knocking, pounding……for many years this was my life…..I cannot say that I did not have His joy and His peace….for He is GOOD and FAITHFUL…and I did.  However, the situation was escalating and becoming overwhelming…..and He came.  He is rescuing.  And it is beautiful.  But EVEN IF THIS CHANGE IS NOT PERMANENT in this life…..I am different.  I feel like I’ve experienced Rev 3:20  “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”  Hopelessness may be knocking at the door of your heart…..but so is Jesus!  He longs to come in and be with us and eat with us…..the sweetest fellowship of all!  🙂

    1. Oh, Jackie, this is exquisitely sweet. It brings tears. What a sweet praise of how God is working in your husband’s life to change him and renew him and your marriage. Perhaps his change of heart is a step along the way to embracing Christ as his Savior and Lord. Oh, I pray it is. But nonetheless, this is a mighty gift from God.

      1. Diane – thanks for your heartfelt rejoicing together with me!  I really just so wanted to encourage us all anew that He IS the God of the “impossible”!  We all so need to remember, eh?

      2. Amen!

    2. Jackie- thank you for sharing your wonderful testimony. What a blessing of all the Lord has done thus far. Bringing Glory to His name and giving hope to others like myself.

    3. SO wonderful to read this post today, Jackie.  The changes you see in Casey and that he is participating with you, watching the video, asking for the book…that is truly an uplift to hear!   It must mean that this is an area where he wants to see change also and it may be just the way God is wooing him to Himself.   The stirring of His Spirit.  How that stirs my spirit to rejoice with you!   
      (PS…..This just reminded me of a thought you expressed last week, on another subject.  You commended Susan for rejoicing with those who rejoice and said that it is often harder than weeping with those who weep.   How true that is for me.  And yet, I haven’t put it into words before.  I easily relate to and empathize with the sorrow.  The rejoicing can bring out the ‘skeptic’ and the ‘stoic’ in me, that doesn’t want to leap before I really look!  Just those words of yours, make me more aware, that I need to do better at both!)

    4. Oh Jackie, I’m praising God with you for this wonderful news!  And hopefully one day soon your husband will have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to bring about permanent change!!!

    5. Jackie, Such WONDERFUL, encouraging news.  What a great reminder that God answers prayers for what seem to be the most difficult situations.  Rejoicing with you!!

    6. Jackie, this is an amazing testimony of rescuing in process! Addressing the issue of emotional abuse is powerful and I will pray for this journey of recovery that has begun. Quietly being supportive and allowing the Holy Spirit to continue to guide you, I have great hope for your marriage. With God’s hand in my life I have made much progress this year in rebuilding my marriage. Studying scriptural teaching on marriage has helped me to be a better helpmate. This is a rescue in me and by my changes I see my husband making changes slowly. Thanks for sharing.

      1. And so glad to hear of the rebuilding that is happening for you to Shirley….yes, that is a rescue and one that affirms God’s presence and providence.  🙂

    7. Jackie, thank you for sharing this update…it is certainly encouraging…nothing is impossible with God…I look forward to more encouraging updates…blessings to you sister!

    8. Jackie, I know you say that Casey is still an unbeliever, but I cannot think that he could be reading this book, taking it to heart, and seeking to make things right with those he has hurt without God working in his heart to soften it…as others have said perhaps this is the first step toward him knowing Jesus. Wow. This is so encouraging!

    9. Jackie, that’s so awesome…so thankful  for God’s little kisses you’ve seen in Casey!

  25. 1. What stood out to you from the above, and why?
    I’ve read this twice..Once yesterday morning and again this morning. Because of the difficult circumstances I am in I was unable to comment. 🙂  This is so timely. What stood out to me was when John said, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we look for another?’ When John felt like God was sleeping.  
    I have felt that way lately.  It seems the decision I had to prayerfully make recently didn’t make sense yet part of it did for I had to let go of teaching Children’s Church so I could help my husband on Sunday mornings get his job done earlier so he can go to church with us and that is huge!

    The hard part is that God is doing a work in the 5th grade class..So many children are inundated with morality based teaching and God was so moving in their hearts-I could sense His love was melting them for Him.  I just wanted my husband to quit this job and come up with another plan but he hasn’t so my plan isn’t God’s plan but I wish it were. :/ This has actually been a week with an opportunity to lament.
    He truly is alive! It is painful to let go though for the enjoyment in teaching is sensing Him move and the humbling privilege He has given me of partaking in that with Him and you never know when He comes- He loves to surprise! I love that about Him! but He is a bullwark never failing..A sureity, my shelter, and my Love in the valley of what doesn’t make sense. My heart is encouraged!

    1. Rebecca – I’m SO glad you did finally step up and share from your heart!  Pure gold, as is so often the case with reading your posts.  Deep waters and always turning back to the attributes of God.  As you have been encouraged, the overflow is touching us!  Joy.  🙂

    2. I know He is going to do something beautiful in all of this, Rebecca!  As you said, “He loves to surprise!”  Graham Cooke once said, “You always know what He’s going to be like, HE never changes…but you never know what He is going to do next…He is unpredictable!” =)

    3. Oh Rebecca….I can so identify with your heart for teaching the children. Especially, when the curriculum is so God centered and the responses you were seeing were evidence of His moving.  Teaching children Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights was my life for over 30 years.  Countless classes, kids and age groups since I was in my upper teens.   And when God called me to resign my position as Children’s Ministry Director (a position I had almost 10 years), I needed to step away and I’ve never been able to put myself back there.  Our church got rid of the Desiring God curriculum (which for the most part, I think is good and very God centered)  and went  to a more ‘teacher friendly’ morality based curriculum and I just don’t feel I can go back there.  So, the last 7 years, I’ve been back in an Adult Fellowship group on Sunday mornings.  That has been good overall, but I am ‘hanging on by a thread’ in my local church.  I hear your longing, because teaching children taught me and grounded me in the Word so much more than the adult classes have.  And teaching has always been a calling for me.   It’s hard when what we see as our calling becomes unavailable because we need to listen to a higher calling.  Or at least a ‘different’ calling for a season.  I so love your words:
      that Jesus is:

      my Love in the valley of what doesn’t make sense.

    4. Rebecca, I’m so sorry for your disappointment…I have no doubt of the impression the Lord made on those children through you.  May your heart continue to be encouraged in this valley of unknowing.

    5. Rebecca- I love your heart for those 5th graders( would love to have more of that)  and for the letting go for the sake of your husband being able to attend church. 
      “A sureity, my shelter, and my Love in the valley of what doesn’t make sense. My heart is encouraged!” Love that

    6. Rebecca, I know giving up the teaching was extremely hard for you…yet I see you first and foremost desiring Him and His will for you in this season…”my Love in the valley of what doesn’t make sense.” I think it a great example of practical love that you are helping your husband so that he can go to church with you.

  26. 3. Read Psalm 44:1-8 and describe the mood and the thankfulness for past rescues.
    The psalmist states his awareness that it was God who brought and will bring victory…all reliance and credit is given to God; without the Lord, there would have been no victories over enemies.
    4. Share one way God has rescued you in the recent past.
    Very recently a work situation arose where “transparency” of a process that I am intricately involved in was being questioned…I felt like my (the subcommittee chair’s, and subcommittee’s) integrity was being challenged.  In the past I would have shrunk under these accusations…I would have been “shook,” it would have really bothered me to my core with a continuous stream of questions swirling in my head of “how could they think this of me?”  The Lord provided me calm, courage, and direction.  Rather than dwell on this issue, I simply provided complete, detailed information of how the process went providing specific text from associated emails that showed proper process and protocol, and was able to largely let it go.  The Lord allowed me a peace in my heart, rather than a continuing concern.  
    5. Read Psalm 44:9-16 and describe the mood and the phrases that point to a lack of rescue.
    The psalmist relates how the Lord has withdrawn from His people; the Lord is allowing them to be taunted, plundered, sold, and slaughtered.  He (the Lord) is not coming to their aid…He is simply watching from the sidelines with no interest in His people’s well being.
    6. How can you see Jesus in the above passage?
    Jesus suffered greatly (e.g.,betrayal and denial by dear ones, His people turning from Him, flogging, crucifixion) and it appeared that God was disinterested and turned His back on Jesus.  Rather than coming to Jesus’ aid, God allowed Jesus to suffer and die a criminal’s death. BUT, we know the greater good that resulted…Jesus’ sacrifice made us right with God, it claimed victory over death…what looked like the absolute worst provided result of the absolute best!
    7. Read Psalm 44:17-22 and describe why this lack of rescue is particularly confusing.
    The lack of rescue is particularly confusing because God’s people have remained faithful to the Lord; they have done everything right.  There hasn’t been rebellion on their (God’s people) part, they have been obedient and reverent to the Lord and His commands, so why is the Lord not providing for them?  Why is the Lord allowing them to suffer?
    8. Read Psalm 44:23-26. What phrases of lament strike you and why?
    v. 23 Wake up, O Lord! Why do you sleep? Get up! 
    v. 26 Rise up! Help us!
    The verses with the exclamation points strike me…the psalmist is appearing so irreverent…wake up, get up, rise up, help us.  The psalmist is assuming that the Lord is asleep at the wheel.  I recall this (asleep at the wheel) from Ann Voskamp’s book, this was her father’s thought of God when Ann’s younger sister was killed…I think of how often this is the thought thought in terms of world happenings (e.g., holocaust, genocide, human trafficking) by many.  This thought is related to doubt…we doubt God’s goodness, we doubt God’s engagement…we doubt God’s provision…we doubt God’s will.  Doubt…that was Satan’s first ploy to Eve and a ploy he continues to use to turn our hearts and minds from our Lord. 

    1. Nanci – your answer to question #4 moved me deeply….as in the past you have shared about leaving a job at a church and the agony and struggle and misunderstanding there of a very sad situation.  It reminds me of the Screwtape Letters and how the enemy really knows time and again how to tap on our areas of vulnerability!  Just like you touched on at the end of your answer to #8.  Ah, but faithful is He who has called us…..and He is growing you ever stronger!!  Amen.  Your story was also a great reminder to me to TAKE SERIOUSLY integrity in the workplace – every moment of our work day!  In working this way, you were equipped to answer the “charges” calmly and rationally and with good documentation.  That does not take away from your trust, ultimately, in the Lord to be your defender!!  It does motivate my heart properly this Monday morning – and being self employed I need that “nudge” frequently!!  It’s NOT enough to just float along on what comes naturally to me….I need to work hard, dig deep and let myself be challenged and grow in the workplace…..for in that I am growing in Christ!!  Thanks for yet another wonderful example of this!

  27. 2. Is there an area where you are looking for rescue, but God seems silent?
    Yes ~
    Jackie, thank you for strongly encouraging words in this regard,  here this morning.

    1. Nila – 🙂 

  28. 4. Share one way God has rescued you in the recent past.
    Two back to back road trips in the past couple days, so lots of time on the road to listen. I had downloaded Ravi Zacharius on my ipod and asked the Lord to redirect my thinking from some painful circumstances – to rescue me from some disparaging thought processes. 
    Ravi told the story of a man back in the days when phone calls were connected by operators.  The man was trying to call his wife, so as he waited, he began to softly recite a verse to an old hymn:
    My knowledge of that life is small,the eye of faith is dim;but ’tis enough that Christ knows all,and I shall be with him
    Unbeknownst to the man, an operator heard him.  
    She said, “Sir, would you please say those words again?”
    He did.   The operator began sobbing.
    “Sir,”  she said, “You will never know what those words meant to me here today.”
    And so, the Lord used those words to infuse hope into my heart as I traveled across the Wyoming prairies this past weekend.   The real hope of heaven often gives perspective beyond our circumstances.
    (here’s a link to the lyrics of entire hymn:   http://www.oremus.org/hymnal/l/l320.html )

  29. 1. What stood out to you from the above, and why?
    That there is hope even in the darkest circumstances. A few weeks ago, in our study on singleness, Keller spoke of Christian singles not missing out – not on intimacy, not on family. While they may not experience that here, we are all anticipating far more in terms of intimacy, of family, of everything in the future than we can possibly experience here.
    That thought has come back to me again and again since then. I have been married and have children, so it doesn’t apply directly, but there are so many other ways that I keep thinking I’ve missed out. But it’s not true. To make an analogy, I may have missed some of the rehearsal, but I’ll be part of the real performance. One day, any suffering will seem minimal. One day, I’ll have everything I thought I’d missed out on, and more.

    1. Kerryn -” I may have missed some of the rehearsal, but I’ll be part of the real performance.”   How very apt!  With you, looking ahead to a better country…..and rejoicing that my day is starting off with your words running through my heart.  Thank you.

  30. 2. Is there an area where you are looking for rescue, but God seems silent?
    Most of this year, I have felt a restlessness regarding my work. I have been in the same role for 10 years, and the industry has changed dramatically in that time. Some of the reasons I was drawn to this role no longer apply, and I have been looking around. I’m not desperate to move from where I am, but I am desperate for God’s peace in what I am doing. I desperately need rescue from the restlessness!
    There is another possibility opening up with regards to work. I’ve previously looked at a few possibilities and either I’ve turned away or been turned away. This one is looking stronger, and I’m wondering if God is opening up this path… I’ve spoken with several godly men who have encouraged me to pursue this path. The church elders are also praying with me.

  31. What stood out – John the Baptist’s question.  Isn’t that just a normal human response?  Perhaps we also need to see the question as a trigger to our own walk with Christ.  If I am to the point of asking the question perhaps my next step should be to remind myself of how I know Christ is real.  Take a walk down “memory lane with Christ.”  Remember the many times He was visible to me.
    From what do I hope to be rescued?  Being a pastor’s wife has also put me in the position of not being able to develop deep friendships inside my normal sphere of friends.  Too many moves, not enough social time (especially when I was working full-time), and the constant reminder that your spouse’s career could be impacted negatively by negative comments to the wrong people.  Consequently, I, too, miss a deep abiding friendship where I can be me all the time.  Since retirement I am trusting God to bring that person along, but I sense that the job of having that friendship is going to be my responsibility to cultivate.  I do not yet know if it will come through the local congregation, through the broader denominational acquaintances, or if I will forever need to see my relationship with God as the answer to the friendship need.   What I do know is that He will provide as I allow Him to work in that area.  If I move to escape the rescue I will just delay my growth process in this area and delay His blessing me with His answer.

    1. Take a walk down “memory lane with Christ.”  Remember the many times He was visible to me.

      So good, Sherryl.  This really does help and has such Biblical affirmation.

    2. Sherryl- The Lord has given me a heart for Pastors wives for the need of good friendship being a part of that. I pray you find that friendship I loved what you wrote here” What I do know is that He will provide as I allow Him to work in that area.  If I move to escape the rescue I will just delay my growth process in this area and delay His blessing me with His answer.”  I feel the same way in many aspects

    3. Oh Sherryl, thank you for opening a window and letting us peek in at the life of a pastor’s wife.  I have long felt like it’s a VERY tough role to fulfill.  Whether local bodies are large or small, I’ve noticed that many times the pastor’s wife is in a strange place….some women want to stick to her like glue just to be “in” with the leadership, while others give her some distance out of (perhaps a misplaced) respect for her position AS the pastor’s wife.  No doubt it can leave you wondering where you fit and how to trust the genuineness of friendships.  I hadn’t thought about that for awhile and I thank you for your thought provoking words.  Our own dear Diane here on the blog comes to mind as a current pastor’s wife….and then I think of my own pastor’s wife……hmmmm.  And Sherryl, you too will go on my list of those here who desire a heart friend……and your continued contentment in Jesus as you keep on keeping on! 

  32. To make an analogy, I may have missed some of the rehearsal, but I’ll be part of the real performance. 

    Kerryn:  This is my ‘thought for the week’ that I’m posting on my bathroom mirror.  My heart stirred when I read it.  There’s something I’ve been wrestling with and wishing I hadn’t ‘missed’ lately and this is such great perspective!

  33. Psalm 44: 1-8:  The History of the relationship is critical to be taught, generation to generation.  You allowed affliction, but then you set them free.  When we share the history of what God has done in our personal life story it should always include what we learned from our encounter with God.  Without sharing the why we needed the experience and what we learned by God’s hand we give a distorted picture of God.  He don’t just interact in a historical context but in a very personal way.  The people needed to see God work in their nation, but every individual needed to see God work in each life personally.  When we share the personal, the lessons of suffering and affliction become stages of learning on the walk of being Christ-like, similar to the way a parent shows a child how to do something.
    From what have I been rescued recently:  In my recent retirement I have been rescued from the grief of leaving a career of 30 years.  Ironically, the vision surgery and recovery came when school started, so I had something else to focus my attention on.  While I do not relish the surgery or recovery for anyone, the process of recovery did provide me with the need to be dependent on Him.  I can honestly say I have not grieved the retirement from my career as so many others do.

  34. 1. What stood out to you from the above, and why?
    Even though I have been aware of all of the components of John the Baptist’s life,  I have never considered the flow of his spiritual journey and life.  As a child he had no doubt heard the stories surrounding his cousin, Jesus’  birth.   He had to have grown up while knowing that Jesus was a bit “special.”   By the time John was preaching and baptizing,   he verbalized that he knew that he was unworthy to unfasten Jesus’ sandals.   When he baptized Jesus,  he heard God’s pronouncement about Jesus being his “beloved Son in whom He was well pleased.”    So it is significant that John felt he had to dispatch a delegation from his prison cell to learn whether Jesus was truly the Messiah.  Evidently his inprisonment was starting to make him question what he had known all along.   I can certainly understand why he would be bewildered that he ended up the way he did, when he had been called to do the important work of preparing the way for Jesus, and now it would seem that God had forgotten John the Baptist in his hour of need.

    2. Is there an area where you are looking for rescue, but God seems silent?
    It is getting to be so difficult to go marching right ahead in planning the August 2015 wedding of  my daughter, Wendy, when her fiance still has not been able to find a job and also has not yet sold his home in West Virginia.   I feel those two things need to happen before they get married.  I’m praying a lot of “Oh God, help us!” prayers these days.    I guess they could get married without those things happening, but it would be a whole lot more pleasant if those items were settled before the wedding.    So far,  I haven’t felt that God has answered my prayers on this matter.   As it is, the two of them are spending money they really can ill-afford to spend, just commuting back and forth from WVA to Ohio to see one another.    If her fiance could get a job here in Ohio and/or sell his home and move here, then they wouldn’t have to be doing all of this traveling.    I assume God has a plan, but I am not understanding it right now.    

  35. Hearing the song in Hebrew really did set the tone.  I liked hearing Hebrew and simultaneously reading English, and recognizing the few Hebrew words I know.  You can hear the difference in dynamics when she sings of Elohim being victorious and in the truth that they did not falsify the covenant and kind of hear the emotions, even without knowing the words.
    3. Read Psalm 44:1-8 and describe the mood and the thankfulness for past rescues.     There’s a ringing confidence and certainty that God’s right arm had brought them to victory and that it was nothing of themselves.  Their trust could not come from what they could accomplish militarily with their bows and swords but only through You and through Your name, did they push back and trample their foes.  This is very clear to the writers of the song, even though they may not have experienced it personally.  They accept wholeheartedly, the words of their forefathers in describing the days of long ago when God led their people in triumph.   

  36. Interesting.  Saturday and Monday at about the same time of day, I triggered the security devise.  After many attempts to altar my words and see if it would go through, it seemed to respond to taking out the quotation marks and changing those phrases to italics.  Doesn’t make any sense to me, but for what it’s worth, it worked twice now!

  37. 2. Is there an area where you are looking for rescue, but God seems silent?
    Yes. I’m thinking of 3 big ones. I had a long detailed response here but it feels too hard to post. Writing all of this is hard. I considered, am still considering, opting out of the blog for a bit. It’s hard to put all this out there when I don’t expect anyone to read or respond, and yet to answer honestly, I must expose—and then it just feels raw. Like cold wind on raw skin. 
    I’m re-reading the question—and something strikes me. “looking for rescue”—in all these areas, I don’t think I’m looking for His rescue—I think I stopped. I resolved it’s just going to be hard, and I have to learn how to accept it, deal with it, press on. But I think what I am looking for is confirmation from Him that says ‘you’re not causing this, and it’s not your fault, and I love you” Oh, that was hard to type. 

    1. Oh, hugs, Elizabeth. Praying God will wrap the warm blanket of His love to protect you from the cold wind on your raw skin. Your tender honesty of speaking of your pain so resonates with my often unspoken pain.

    2. Oh Elizabeth, I wish I had the words to say.  You are such a precious, encouraging woman.  I’m certainly not God, but whatever it is, Elizabeth…it is not your fault!!!  I mean sure, we all mess up and make mistakes and operate in the flesh at time, but God is bigger than even our mistakes.  He is not about blame or accusations (oh, there is someone who specializes in accusing, but it’s not God.)  He is crazy about you.  We tend to look at our circumstances to gage if God is happy with us or mad with us.  He’s never mad with us.  Jesus died on the cross to end that.  He loves you and delights in you and sings over you and sometimes we just have to live for a long time in a place we do not want to but in no way does it mean God is not right there with us.  I’m listening to an audio book right now by Joni Eareckson Tada called A Place of Healing:  Wrestling with the mysteries of suffering, pain, and God’s sovereignty.  Only listened to the first two chapters so far, but wow is it good… and talk about someone who could feel like God has abandoned her.  Paralyzed from the neck down for nearly 48 years now, breast cancer, and now she is dealing with severe, chronic pain 24/7 that is helped by NOTHING.  Okay, I feel like I’m rambling!  Sorry.  Anyway, I do think you put a lot on yourself, Elizabeth (though I really don’t know you that well, so who am I to say?) and it’s okay to slack. 🙂  It’s okay to REST.  Sometimes I feel like I have to lay down and rest even in a place where the pastures don’t look so green (and just trust, that somehow, in God’s economy they are!)  God loves dependence, so just REST.  Lastly, here is a good sermon called Helpless but strong, by Jim Cymbala with Brooklyn Tabernacle Church.  It’s very short, like 20-25 mins.  It really spoke to my heart.


      1. Mary……I know this message was for Elizabeth and you surely ministered to her with it, but oh…..I find so much here too.

        God loves dependence, so just REST.

        Posting this also on my bathroom mirror.  It’s getting crowded there now.  So many great insights from you blog sisters. 🙂

        1. Hey Wanda, I just discovered the messages from that pastor and wow, they are great!  (what I have heard.)  A friend of mine sent that one to me.

    3. Oh Elizabeth…..”that was hard to type”.  But you did.  I’m so very grateful that you did.  Your heart is one of the most tender I’ve known – and I know we don’t “know” one another face to face….but the Holy Spirit is doing a knitting work among this fellowship of sisters.  I always savor your sweet words and I can see that you are a rare kind of encourager – and we have a LOT of encouragers here!  Your words here stopped me cold:  ” I don’t think I’m looking for His rescue-I think I stopped.  I resolved it’s just going to be hard, and I have to learn how to accept it, deal with it, press on.”   From about April 2013 through that summer and even into the early fall….that was me.  I could have written your words.  The faith of some of my dearest friends seemed to literally “carry me” as my own was in tatters….death, disease and dysfunction and destruction were my companions.  Dark, dark days.  But, praise God, NOT the end of the story.  Today, as I even shared here, Rev 3:20 is so real to me…..Jesus with me, eating with me……intimacy.  His story.  LIke John the BAptist…..”he must increase and I must decrease”…..and how lovely that will be…..

    4. Elizabeth, I don’t know what is going on and respect your wishes for privacy…please know that I am praying for you…I pray that the Lord’s peace may envelop you, that you may sense His loving embrace.  I am sorry for your suffering and will pray for resolution or peaceful acceptance, whichever the Lord deems appropriate, of these troublesome issues.  Take care, dear Elizabeth…may the Lord continue to be your rock in this storms that swirl around you.

    5. Elizabeth, I’m so sorry you’re feeling so low right now…perhaps it is due to being recently drained, emotionally. When you say that you are looking for confirmation from Him that you are…loved…I think of so many of your posts where you look deeply at the Cross and His sacrifice and you know how much you are loved, how much He values you. Look no further than the Cross. Yet He gives much more than even the Cross, which is the Ultimate. He prays for you before His Father, and He is with you and will never abandon nor leave you. And remember, the story (of your life and those you love) is not yet written…He is still writing it. He is the Author of your story and the Author of the stories of those around you. Thank you for being brave enough to share…love you.

  38. oh my goodness! I had finally just read Jackie’s post about her husband, and was coming on to say OK, that’s my take-away-it’s just BEAUTIFUL and so ENCOURAGING to me right now–and also Diane’s words–struck my core “Jesus wants our head knowledge of him to become heart knowledge. We say we believe, but our lives reflect our stony hearts. We want God to meet our plans and expectations. ”
    BUT THEN, I see these posts to me from Diane and Mary and the tears are so strong I can hardly type! Just when I was wanting to withdrawal, my sweet sisters lure me back out into the warm fire–OH He is so gracious to me!! Thank You Lord for these friends who are turning my eyes back to You, and being Your voice when You have seemed silent!
    Mary–would you believe I just received in the mail today a booklet on pain from Joni E Tada?! I had heard a radio broadcast a few weeks ago and it so touched me, that when she said to go on line for a free booklet, I actually did–He is so tender towards me. Thank you Diane and Mary for letting Him use you both to touch my heart. Thank you for taking the time when your trials are so great–love to you dear sisters

    1. Elizabeth, Joni’s words are such an encouragement to me! She has suffered so much and her walk with the Lord is so strong and the truths she shares are priceless.
      She has been depressed and yet always sounds joyful! Keep on course, dear one.

    2. Love you too, Elizabeth.  

    3. Elizabeth, I saw your post earlier and have been praying.  Still don’t have adequate words to respond.  I love you!   
      (FYI:  I checked the blog early this morning, again when I got home, after work, and now!  I’ve been overwhelmed by the number of comments & even though I read them, was too tired to respond.  I’m considering only responding to the Bible Study questions for a few days so that I can focus.  I probably read all the comments more times and more closely than usual, but don’t have enough steam left to answer the questions.  And I KNOW that first and foremost, I need to be focusing on Scripture)
      Please don’t withdraw, but do what you need to do so that you are able to continue focus on Him.  Elizabeth, you are such an encouragement to everyone here.  Please use some of that encouragement to keep speaking truth to your own soul.  We WANT YOU HERE, but not SO MUCH that it wears you out!!

  39. 3.Read Psalm 44:1-8 Describe the mood and thankfulness for past rescues.
    Positive mood! He remembers all that God has done in the days of old. “You loved our ancestors and made them flourish!”
    The Psalmist does not trust his bow or sword  but gives God all the credit for victory over the enemies.
    The mood is one of assurance, confidence in God’s strength and presence.
    4. Share one way God has rescued you in the recent past.
    This rescue took place over several years. My relationship with my mother caused me much anxiety as I knew one day I would need to assist her and
    she was very resistant as her dementia slowly progressed. When the call came that her physical condition required hospitalization, I was in turmoil.
    During the months that followed God was my very present helper, guiding me and directing me to do the next thing! I struggled and searched for help and answers. People were able to support  the process. I was able to be with her through many challenging times until she was welcomed home by her Lord, more than 2 years later. The stages of grief were not easy, and my spiritual journey was a day by day dependence on God.

  40. 4. Share one way God has rescued you in the recent past.  I’m sure there are examples with more long term significance, but this one felt like such an immediate ‘rescue’ from the burden of ‘beating myself up’.  I work very part time (this year only 4-7 hours a week!) for 6 weeks in the fall at a small, family run apple orchard.  Because it’s seasonal and so part time, when a mistake is made on the credit card machine, it’s really hard to know how to ‘fix it’.  It never happens enough that one ever gets familiar with the process.  In fact, only twice in 5 seasons have I had an issue, and both times my heart sunk to my toes. When we work during the quiet week days, we’re generally alone in the building.  The owners are on site, and generally accessible by cell phone but this particular day a couple weeks ago,  I could not reach anyone who could help me.  A customer had made a $15.00 purchase and my finger slipped and I keyed in $115.00 and didn’t notice until the transaction had gone through.  It was such a panic.  Fumbling around I couldn’t even lay my eyes on the ‘cheat sheet’ which tells us some tips but even when I did finally find it, the tips weren’t really that helpful.  But here’s were the rescue came.   The sweet lady who made the purchase was the most patient person on the planet.  She leaned on the counter for awhile and tried to give some advice and kept reassuring me that she had been on the other end (my end) and she knew what it felt like.   After awhile, she said, ‘well, I’m just gonna sit down, since I recently had hip surgery…..but you just go ahead and do what you need to do.’  What?  Amazing.  She was completely calm, while my heart was pounding.  On this day (and none other this year when I’ve been working) our ‘caramel apple maker’, who has worked there for years and done retail both there and elsewhere, just happened to be in the kitchen.  She came and did what she thought was best to void the transaction….but at first it actually made it worse! In trying to void the transaction, she ended up subtracting another $115.00.  GASP.  Now this sweet lady who bought $15 dollars worth of apples just had 230.00 deducted from her credit card.   ARGH!  Anyway, after fumbling around, we were finally able to refund her the $230.00.  I was so enormously grateful for the customer’s patience.  And thanked her profusely many times.  I think the whole thing took us close to 40 minutes.  She waited all that time, when all she meant to do was pick up some apples on her way home from work.  Wow, did I feel spared and rescued!  She could have been so rude to me.  My kitchen friend could not have been there.  But, there was a solution and during the panic to find it, the customer’s attitude, kept the scenario calm.  When she left and I thanked her again for her patience and she remarked that ‘God gives us opportunities every day to be patient’.  Wow!   If this had gone differently, I am sure it would have kept me awake all night.  I get so filled with ‘I should have’ and ‘why didn’t I?’ when I get in sticky situations and I can’t turn that off in my brain for hours afterwards.  But I was at peace when I left work that day.  

    1. Wow! What a difference one person filled with God’s spirit can make! And so good that you are able to thank God for her, and for his timing, rather than thinking you are ‘lucky’ to have a patient customer.

  41. Mary…..I couldn’t reply above, but thanks for the sermon link.  I hope to listen!

  42. I missed the first day of comments here and I’m so far behind already!
    I don’t want to miss one word of anyone here!
    So please go back  to read my comment about my best friend…it’s again…a huge Thank You for  you, Dee in my life!

  43. 6. How can you see Jesus in the above passage?
    The rejection of the psalmist is like the rejection Christ felt as He was waiting to be crucified. He was taunted, mocked, and physically abused. He never once left God although He questioned during this time.

  44. 7. Read Psalm 44:17-22 and describe why this lack of rescue is particularly confusing.
    Because God has been in there in the past and now he silent. The Psalmist has been so faithful. I can imagine how that feels to feel all alone.

  45. 8. Read Psalm 44:23-26. What phrases of lament strike you and why? These two:
    “Why do you hide your face and forget our misery and oppression? We are brought down to the dust; our bodies cling to the ground.” (Psalm 44:24-25 NIV)
    I guess these two resonate with me most. The first takes me way back, when my two middle children were being so trying to our family (at the same time no less!). I felt SO abandoned by God. What could I have been doing that would change the circumstances? It took me so long to understand that there was nothing I could do. It was so hard to let go, and give it ALL to Him, and trust that He knew best.

  46. Thank you all for your incredible kindness towards me. I hate to have taken over so much “space” with my own trials–when I know each of us has burdens and many of you much greater than mine. These are not “new” trials for me. Maybe it’s just the timing–coming off of a emotionally-draining weekend (all went OK, but always “darts” to dodge, and that gets exhausting!) And then, I love Dee’s good heart-piercing questions, but I know if I answer honestly, its not always “pretty” 😉
    I love “watching” the conversations here–but maybe for one of the first times in 4 years here–I feel some of what Renee said above about being overwhelmed by comments. I want to engage, but I think the introvert in me gets a little overwhelmed by how far behind I get! I’m not sure how you all manage to keep up so well! 🙂 But I do want to say–I read them, and I pray–I am SO ministered to by each of you with your depth and insight. 
    And last thing–I woke this morning and truly felt He was not silent–His voice spoke through you all who responded to me–that is a beautiful, personal way He DOES speak to us–through the family of believers. And with the pain in my own family of origin, I am more and more thankful for this family, especially this sisterhood here. “On the day I called, You answered me; my strength of soul You increased”. Psalm 138:3

    1. Elizabeth, I have thought about this a lot (The overwhelmingness of the Blog at times) and I think part of it is that is it, by nature, very different from an in-person Bible study.  You would NEVER have time during the course of a 90 minute or so study for everyone to give such detailed answers to every, single question.  I might answer a couple, you might answer a couple, but everyone would not answer all of them in such detail.  Dee, if you are reading this…would there be any way to change things…to adjust them for cyber study?! Maybe even take each of your weeks and cut them in half?  Part A one week and Part B the next, reduce the number of question by half?  I’m not saying it isn’t really great, because it is, just that when you get so many people involved (and I LOVE everyone on here, and WANT to read and respond to all the comments, just can’t!) it does become a lot at times…and like I said, not really how things would happen in an in-person study.

      1. Mary, your answer here is so spot on regarding the difference between the in person and blog kind of Bible Study.  I think I remember far more from the blog because of being able to read everyone’s responses vs. trying to remember them or formulating thoughts in my mind while someone else is speaking…….but it’s true that it takes far more time this way.  It can be 90 min a day vs 90 min a week 🙂  

    2. Thinking about this also, Elizabeth, Dee and Mary.   I am one who is here a lot on the weeks I’m not gone somewhere.  But I spend a great deal of time; maybe 2 hours a day trying to keep up.  I can do this because my work hours away from home are so few.  Honestly, I most often wish I was ‘out in the world’ at more of a real job where I could interact with others; where, everything wasn’t just theoretical but practical.  Various reasons (mostly health issues) haven’t allowed me to pursue finding a job with more hours.  I admire those who work full time (or even a normal part time) and keep up the study.  I’m going to pray for wisdom and clarity for you, Dee, as you ponder these thoughts about the growing participation in this wonderful place. 

      1. You are right Wanda, right now I’m not working and have more time to read all the posts and I so love reading what others write and I definitely benefit from it, but when I was working full time it was out of the question.  I also really admire those who work full time or are full time moms with little ones and still manage to keep up so well.  

  47. 3.  Read Psalm 44:1-8 and describe the mood and thankfulness for past rescues.      I think v. 8 is a perfect summary of all that came before in this chapter  “In God we have boasted continually, and we will give thanks to your name forever.”  Two things are critical and set the stage in v. 1….the people really “heard with our ears” (reminds me of Jesus often saying “let him who has ears to hear, hear”) and their fathers (mothers!) gave God the glory for past seasons of bounty.  Wow.  “You performed, Your own hand, You planted, You set free, Your right hand and Your arm, the light of Your face…..” all of these expressions and more of the LORD ALONE moving in great purpose and power.  v.5 is beautiful for twice it is said that “through You….through Your name we…”  He delights to come to our rescue and He delights to work through our humble hearts and bodies!!  (v. 3C and 5).   
    4.  I pretty much covered the sharing how God has rescued me in recent days in an earlier post about my marriage and the work in progress rescue!

  48. 3. Read Psalm 44:1-8 and describe the mood and the thankfulness for past rescues.
    The psalm opens with a reflective mood, a looking back to the ancient stories told by the fathers, generation after generation. All is a testimony to God’s greatness and His provision for His people in the past. In verse 4, we zoom to the present. This same God who did these mighty things in the past, the psalmist says with confidence, “You are my King and my God.” I see great expectation and trust that God is the same today as He was yesterday, and that He will accomplish the same victories for His people as He did before. I love how the psalmist gives God ALL the credit and He is praised.