Type and press Enter.

New here? See how to Get Started

LENT 2015: HE LOVES, HE WEEPS, HE OVERCOMES (GOSPEL TRANSFORMATION PART II.)

Heavy DownpourWhen sorrow comes

pouring into your life,

and it will, you may not know the reason why,

but you can be sure the reason is not that God doesn’t love you.

Only Christianity has a God who entered into our suffering,

who went all the way to the cross for us, and

who weeps when we weep.

Beginning in John 11, a chapter filled with such sorrow and joy,

Jesus makes a deliberate turn toward the cross,

knowing that raising Lazarus from the dead will surely lead to His own death.

This is such a familiar passage, but I saw new things this time, truths I need to speak to my soul, and I believe you will be so strengthened too.

ON WEEPING AND LOVEJesusNoVineA key difference between religion and the gospel

is shown in how we approach suffering.

Religion The Gospel
When circumstances in my life go wrong, When circumstances in my life go wrong, I struggle,
I am angry at God or myself, since but I know all my punishment fell on Jesus and that
I believe that anyone who is good while God may allow this for my training, he will
deserves a comfortable life. exercise His Fatherly love within my trial.

This understanding is key to a gospel-transformed life and is so beautifully illustrated for us in this chapter. This understanding rescued me and my children when my husband died.

When the enemy crawled up to my window and whispered:

You deserve this Dee, you are such an idiot.

Satan

I was able to slam that window down on his slimy fingers with

the gospel truth, which I knew, but needed to tell my soul again:

“When a Christian suffers, it is never because God is punishing him because Jesus paid for his sin IN FULL at the cross

and it is FINISHED!”

it-is-finished

IN THE STORY WE WILL READ, SUFFERING CAME INTO THE LIFE OF THREE WHOM WE ARE TOLD “JESUS LOVED.”

IT COULDN’T BE STATED MORE CLEARLY:

NOW JESUS LOVED MARTHA AND HER SISTER AND LAZARUS.

(JOHN 11:5)

DO YOU ALSO BELIEVE HE LOVES YOU?

AND DO YOU BELIEVE HE IS IN CONTROL OF EVERYTHING?

A WOMAN I HAVE COME TO GREATLY ADMIRE IS

JENNIFER ROTHCHILD.

AS A TEEN SHE BECAME BLIND.

IT IS HER CONFIDENCE IN THESE TWO THINGS

(GOD’S LOVE AND GOD’S CONTROL)

THAT HAS TRANSFORMED HER INTO THE WOMEN SHE IS.

WATCH THIS AND THEN SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOJ_WL26CnE

 

Sunday Icebreaker

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

2. Think about suffering you are facing or have faced. Do you believe Jesus loves you and never lost control? If you do, why do you believe that? Or you may want to say, “Lord, I believe — but help my unbelief.” That is a prayer He hears.

Monday-Wednesday Bible Study

Prepare your heart with this: 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmtFxnQsl6Q

HE LOVES (WHEN IT SEEMS LIKE HE DOESN’T)

Read slowly John 11:1-16

3. What suffering has come into the lives of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary? And what rock solid truth are we told in verse 5?

In the ESV, we see a startling “so” 

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

4. What does this So, teach you?

5. Why don’t his disciples want him to go to Judea? And why do you think He has set His face like flint to go anyhow?

6. What does Jesus say in verses 9-10?

While Jesus’ words in verses 9 and 10 seem cryptic, David Jeremiah explains that we must walk by a different light source than natural light. What seems to make no sense by human wisdom, makes sense in God’s wisdom.

7. What in your life right now may not make sense, but which you are willing to lay at Jesus feet?

8. What does Jesus tell his disciples in verses 14-15? Comment.

Read John 11:17-27

I-am-the-Resurrection

9. What question does Jesus ask Martha when she comes to Him in her grief? (verses 25-26) And how does she respond?

10. How does this apply to you in any suffering you are facing?

I personally believe that this is when Martha’s control idol cracked. She could not control her brother’s illness. She had to submit to the Lord and she did it before she saw Him raise Lazarus from the dead. By faith, she believed He loved her and that He was in control — for He was the GREAT I AM.

HE WEEPS (WHEN IT SEEMS HE DOESN’T CARE)

JESUS COMFORTING MARY OF BETHANY

11. Read John 11:28-37

A. What do you see in Jesus in verses 33-35?

B. What contrasting responses did those watching have?

C. Which response was walking by natural light, and which by the light of God?

12. How might you thank Him for all things now, by faith, before He overcomes?

HE OVERCOMES (WHEN YOU THINK ALL HOPE IS GONE)

Mary-Martha-001-Copy

13. Read John 11:30-44

A. What evidence can you find that Martha is really going to be astounded?

B. How do you think you would have felt if you witnessed this?

C. Share a time when God astounded you (be brief so we can read!)

D. What pain or illness in yourself or someone you love do you know one day will be overcome?

14. What, according to John 11:57, did this miracle lead to?

Listen to Matthew Smith sing ‘O Lord, Comfort Me” and comment on how Christ’s agony can comfort you. http://matthewsmith.us/videos

Thursday-Friday: Free Tim Keller Sermon “The Furious Love of Jesus”

The Furious Love of Jesus

15. Share your thoughts on the above sermon.

Saturday

16. What is your take-a-way and why? 

Leave a Comment

Comment * If this is your first time here, please comment then fill out your name and email as stated at the bottom. Dee will approve you within 24 hours.

305 comments

  1. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why? Two things. First the slaming the window on the slimy fingers of the Enemy. I became aware this last week that I have been very keen on practicing truth telling in the areas that have been obvious (idols, etc), but that there are lies coming in the side door (window) that I haven’t even really become aware of! I started Abba’s Child and it is what gave me this awareness.

    Second, giving thanks FOR all things not IN SPITE of all things. Oh! How this speaks to my heart. Yes. That trap is a slippery one. But I see Him teaching me this even before today and this is the punch line per say. I am beginning to see…

    2. Think about suffering you are facing or have faced. Do you believe Jesus loves you and never lost control? If you do, why do you believe that? Or you may want to say, “Lord, I believe – but help my unbelief.” That is a prayer He hears.
    I think that I do believe that Jesus loves me and never looses control. Where I struggle is that deep inside me I also believe that I deserve whatever comes, and, I confess, probably still residual image of God that mirrors a disciplinarian more than a lover. So I need to connect the dots between “Jesus loves me” and “It is finished” which I can see Him beginning to do when I sit and seek Him, but during situations and business and other moment-to-moment things that connection can get dropped and I find myself feeling again like a spanked child. Though even as I write and think I suppose there is a bit of not feeling loved within that…
     

  2. I can believe the lie Satan whispers to me and what I am actually told that my marriage struggles are all my fault. I KNOW that is a lie. I like the illustration of slamming the window shut on his slimy fingers.
    1 Thess 5:18 and thanking God FOR all things became so real to me and so powerful years ago reading the book” From Prison to Praise” when our daughter who had Epilepsy was struggling with frequent seizures. I found this book at a yard sale and it was life changing to grab hold of that truth. I can honestly say I even thank God for my unsaved husband and my marriage challenges as it has been thru much of this the Lord is doing a great work in me and I have drawn all the closer to Him. 

    1. I liked that illustration also, Liz!  Keep slamming that window, sister!!! =)

  3. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why? I think the Jennifer Rothchild clip stood out most. When I see someone who I think has it much worse in life than I do (actually, I have had a pretty good life, one trip to Haiti taught me that!) and yet that person is living in a place of peace and joy (in the midst of it all) that is very inspiring to me!
    2. Think about suffering you are facing or have faced. Do you believe Jesus loves you and never lost control? If you do, why do you believe that? Or you may want to say, “Lord, I believe — but help my unbelief.” That is a prayer He hears.  I had a pastor years ago who used to say, “the sooner you can thank God FOR something (not in or through something) the sooner you arrive at His grace in that situation.”  The only thing I might change about that statement now (with a more gospel/grace focus) is that we already have His grace in that situation (I think we have all of His grace, for every situation, all the time) but we do not fully experience it until we can give thanks!  I do believe Jesus loves me and has never lost control in my suffering.  Lately I have been really struggling, first with fatigue and sleepiness and then, when I decided to stop the hot flash medicine (not liking the side effects, it is an antidepressant medicine) insomnia and more hot flashes!  I have had a hard time arriving at a place of experiencing God’s grace recently. But last night, as I lie in bed, I began the thank-You’s =)  “Thank You for this cancer, for however You are using this for good, thank You for the hot flashes, for the pain in my right shoulder, for the snow and cold, etc… thank You for loving me even when I don’t always feel loved…I still know that You do.”  I slept better last night than I had in the past several nights.  It is okay not to be gushing with happiness in every situation when saying “thank You.”  There are times I have said “thank You” to God through sobs.  I just know there is so much I will never understand this side of heaven and I don’t have to figure all of that out because the God who created all there is… loved me enough to enter this world in the flesh and die for me.  In the movie The Hiding Place, Corrie’s sister Betsy is being asked why her “God of love” would allow such horrible suffering to happen to her in this concentration camp.  Betsy says, “If only you could know Him.  When you know Him, you don’t need to know why.”  I understand that now.  I believe He loves me and has never lost control because I know Him (through His Word, through His Holy Spirit indwelling me, through His creation) and, turns out, that is enough. 

    1. Oh Mary e yes yes ” There have been times that I have been thankIng  God thru sobs”  oh how powerful that is!  I have been there

    2. What a beautiful post, Mary…you keep sharing your journey with us and you inspire me! I love the conclusion you have arrived at, that knowing Him is enough.

    3. AMEN I so agree with Dee Mary e you are such an example:) I am also thanking God for the night you had, that time with the Lord and also sleeping better:)

    4. Oh Mary, thank you… so powerful

    5. Mary – I wasn’t prepared to post yet this morning…..but I can’t help but join in with so many others in being so moved by your testimony of God’s faithfulness in the land of the living.  There are so many gems in what you have written…..I especially liked “I think we have all of His grace, for every situation, all of the time.”  “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'”  (2 Cor. 12:9).  To my heart, it was as though you took that powerful Scripture and brought it home!  I’m saving your quote, for it is a keeper for sure!  I love, love, love the Betsy Ten Boom quote as well…..knowing Him….that is everything.  🙂  Oh how my heart aches as I read of your pain and terrible suffering on the path the Lord has led you on through cancer.  When I read of “things hormonal”, my eyes fill with tears……I see that in my dear Jes’ life as well…..the path is rugged and steep.  (Please pray that Jes might KNOW HIM, as you do, dear Mary)
      Just this morning I was further researching details for a possible trip to a mission in Haiti with a friend…..my heart was so stirred by reading your simple words “one trip to Haiti….”.  The Spirit literally danced within my heart to read your words!!  
      I’m so thankful that you have had a few nights of peace and rest.  What a gift from Jesus, who loves you so.  🙂

      1. Praying for your Jess right now, Jackie!  I do think of her often and I long to read one day that she has come to know Him.  I don’t know how anyone goes through what she is going through w/out Him and she is much younger than me… I’m 48.  Truly, sometimes I question if I should post some of what I go through b/c it is really not that bad.  Thus far I have had MINIMAL suffering in my life and I have Him to go through it with me, which takes more than just the edge off. =)  Love you, Jackie.

      2. Also just want to add…I’m reading such a good book right now!!!  Follow Me:  A call to die, A call to live, by David Platt.  He has such a heart and gift for evangelism and he has a way of putting all this smaller stuff (personal suffering) into an eternal perspective!  I’m just half-way through but I’m assuming the second half will not disappoint. =)

        1. Mary – His tenderness just pours through you – I’m basking in that right this moment!  Your prayers for Jes are ever so special to me…..I guess for obvious reasons…..:).  I have read that book by David Platt……ugh, he doesn’t sugarcoat the words of Jesus or try to explain them away!  But it is beautiful truth and you will not be disappointed!  

        2. Mary, thinking about a couple things you wrote… 

          1) What you wrote about going through really hard stuff at a young age: Praying that God would open my eyes to mentor those who are going through tough stuff at young age. (Late teens and 20s just about killed me. Most mentoring-type relationships were related to “making it better” or “doing things differently” rather than recognizing God was in control. The only exception was one unbeliever. The one person who, as a believer, who could have mentored me through the specific issues was my mom, but I wouldn’t let her in).

          2) I’m going to add your book and Jackie’s book recommendation to Bing’s book list on FB.

          Just triggered security and am trying the brilliant work-around that someone (Elizabeth?) posted on FB

        3. Both Mary and Jackie:  Your words have so much meaning to me.  I came here not wanting to cry, but I can feel the tears welling up!   Such powerful examples of His grace you both are.  I am thinking long and hard about what you said, Mary, that we all have his grace for every situation but we don’t experience it fully until we thank Him.  So profound and such a challenge to me at this moment.   (Also, just a side note about Haiti : we had a 20 year old woman come to our fellowship group this morning, to share with us her experiences there and her heart to live there permanently, working in the orphanages.  This young woman lost her mom when she was in her early teens.  I am seeing how the Lord has been so faithful to her through such suffering of her own,  and how he has placed in her heart such a passion to love the Haitian children.)  

    6. Jennifer Rothschild’s testimony above is really powerful. Be thankful for all things. Knowing that she is blind gives her testimony power, but oh, sweet Mary, your testimony here is pure gold. Knowing that you are struggling with cancer yet you are thanking God ‘through sobs”. Wow!

    7. ““the sooner you can thank God FOR something (not in or through something) the sooner you arrive at His grace in that situation.”  The only thing I might change about that statement now (with a more gospel/grace focus) is that we already have His grace in that situation (I think we have all of His grace, for every situation, all the time) but we do not fully experience it until we can give thanks!”
      Mary, this is a keeper…an absolute keeper…and yes, agreed, you are such an inspiration to all of your blog sisters.
       

    8. Mary e.  I really resonated with the “the sooner you can thank God FOR something (not in or through something) the sooner you arrive at His grace in that situation.”  I agree with everyone else, pure gold.  Thank you.

  4. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
     
    This is an important truth to hold onto, “When sorrow comes pouring into your life, and it will, you may not know the reason why, but you can be sure the reason is not that God doesn’t love you.” I am all too familiar with the enemy’s lies, too. Lies like “You are so stupid, no one likes you, you deserve ____,”. That is a great metaphor of slamming the window on his slimy fingers, and there is hope in hearing that the truth of God’s love rescued Dee and her children, that it can rescue us/me, too.
     
    I had never heard of Jennifer Rothchild, and she made a good point about how when we say I will be thankful in all things, often we are just resolving to be thankful in spite of whatever is happening. And she points out, that is not thankfulness! Because inside, we are bitter and seething and unhappy, while we grit our teeth and smile and say “Yes, I am thankful in this!” Most of the teaching I’ve heard on this verse is that we do not have to be thankful for all things, but only in all things. I’m still not sure about being thankful for all things? Maybe I haven’t reached that level of trust in the Lord to say that?

  5. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?     This:  “When sorrow comes pouring into your life, and it will, you may not know the reason why, but you can be sure the reason is not that God doesn’t love you.  Only Christianity has a God who entered into our suffering,who went all the way to the cross for us, and who weeps when we weep.”
     
    Reading this prepared my heart — so powerful — and the rest “clicked.”  The gospel soaked in at a deeper level.
     
    2. Think about suffering you are facing or have faced. Do you believe Jesus loves you and never lost control? If you do, why do you believe that?   I thought I believed Jesus never lost control, and I did/do believe that he loves me, as in “Jesus loves me, this I know; for the Bible tells me so.”  I do believe that Jesus loves me because of all he has done for me.

    Never lost control?  Well, I was telling myself that, but I’m not so sure that I connected it with my daily life.  We live in a self-improvement society, and I’ve swallowed much of it — hook, line, and sinker.  Last week, at a meeting about evaluations, we were told “You always should be trying to improve yourself.”  I understand how to reach higher work standards, but just keeping all the balls in the air is wearing me out.  Add to that: “exercise more, eat better, don’t let your house fall apart around you” (even, “do something for Lent” — I posted on that last week, but I forgot to put my name/email in the box & the post disappeared.  I decided that was okay and that I wanted to pray about it more.  And He brought the puzzle pieces together to worship Him & prepare me for this week)
     
    This morning, I saw so clearly that I approach most of life as “look for what you are doing wrong, so that you can fix it and do better.”  Plus, this implied to me that suffering would be reduced and that I must be causing the suffering.  When I don’t have the energy or ability to look for the wrong &/or make it right, I intentionally wear blinders.  Clearly, this is the message of my job — and it has seeped over.

     But I also have received that message in churches, most churches,  i.e., “get with the program”  (prevent death, fix depression, participate in church programs).   One early and clear “church” messages I received from was from a sermon at a Bible camp when I was in high school.  It is engraved in my mind because of the timing, about 6 weeks after my dad died.  This sentence was in the sermon, “When children disobey their parents, it shortens their parents’ lives.”  I heard, “you killed him” — and my life changed to the point that others wondered what was happening.  The next fall, others attributed it to the fact that some of my friends left for college.  Eventually, my pastor asked — and “it” came out.

     I haven’t thought of that for many years, but this morning some of the pieces of the puzzle plopped into place.  I’ve limited my options in the face of suffering, often including death and grief:  “be better, and try to prevent it the next time” OR “stuff it” because I was so far out of control.  So, I’ve been telling myself that Jesus is in control, to rest in Him — but the other messages seemed to be part of my DNA; they weren’t just messages anymore — they were who I was.  I do speak truth to my soul, regularly, and often to others, too, to counteract these messages.  But still…
    Or you may want to say, “Lord, I believe — but help my unbelief.” That is a prayer He hears.  I am praying this.

    1. Renee ~
      So much of what you said here resonated with me.   And all of this self-improvement can be exhausting :\  We try harder, we berate ourselves, we try harder again, we berate ourselves again, we read another book,  we even despair…. before we remember again, that we can’t earn his love…. and we’ve never lost it.      
      Help us, Lord.

    2. Renee, you inspire me: how you are still learning and recognizing that  pain from your past (and long ago past) is shaping your trust today.  Nothing is wasted.  Fruit borne from suffering.  

    3. Renee, I can so relate to growing up with the “I trust that Jesus is in control, but I should…”  to this day, I am more critical of myself in the “I ought to” department.  The Lord is gracious and I to am praying “Lord, I believe – but help my unbelief”.

    4. Renee Your camp experience really struck me. The lasting impact. But the gospel. God created your DNA and He gets it right. I can also relate to being in that  self improvement society. I was in deep. YET the Lord placed a book called the “One Minute Businesswoman’s Devotional” into my hands Thru a spiritual Mom in my life and at the back of that book was a read your Bible thru in a Year reading plan. That was the FIRST time I ever read my Bible. MY LIFE WAS CHANGED So the Lord had a plan. Forever grateful:) 

    5. Renee, Couldn’t help respond to your comment about the messages received in churches.  Many of us have become damaged from just such advice.  Get with the program really is a message from the the Deceiver.  What I have found and try to convey to believers is that the Holy Spirit is very specific with believers about what needs to be changed.  These changes are not born from the guilt response of being piled upon, sin on top of sin, but rather, dealt with one at a time, when the believer has been brought to the point of being ready to respond to the Spirit’s conviction.  For example, AA members will tell you that others can tell an alcoholic that she needs to change, but until the alcoholic is willing to recognize she is an alcoholic, she cannot begin to deal with the alcoholism.  In the same way, God, through the Holy Spirit, speaks very specifically to each of us as to what He desires we change.  That is the only thing a believer needs to focus on at any given time.

  6. Oh Renee – just like Mary, your words were an arrow to my heart this morning……my son Patrick had me listen to a podcast with him a week ago….and then I got the book referenced therein from the library…..”Gratitude and Trust…..Six Affirmations that Will Change Your Life”…..ugh.  It’s kind of like AA for everyone!  🙂  I sometimes read things I’d rather not to stay “in conversation” with my kids….but this one is tough.  I’ve been thinking a whole lot of what you have written about – the whole “fix it” mentality!  Here is what Anne Lamott says about this book:  “this amazing book is about a revolutionary concept – recovery for the non-addict – for those who have longed for a spiritual path, healthy company, and a little light to see by.”  WOW.  That last phrase nearly took my breath away – I just could NOT help but think about our memorization in John, chapter 1.  “A little light to see by…..or ‘In him was life, and the life was the light of men.’ “?  The difference in those two little phrases encompasses the gulf between life and death.  
    At the end of your post I think you came to a critical point:  speaking TRUTH to your soul…..and resting in “I believe, help my unbelief!”.  Thanks so much for a very thought provoking post that I’ll be thinking about today!  🙂

    1. Jackie, Thanks for encouragement.  I posted the book title on Bing’s FB list:)

      1. Renee – oh oh.  When I mentioned the book title, I was NOT recommending it!!  🙂  I wasn’t very clear on that I guess.  SO SORRY.  I was referencing this particular book as something that struck me as so similar to the “self help” type of philosophy that molds our mindsets in the workplace, etc , such as you shared.  It’s a book that clearly leads us in the direction of how much we have inside ourselves to bring about true change……I actually meant to CONTRAST that philosophy with that of Scripture and the words of Jesus!  I re-read just now and think I did not make that clear enough.  I was just picking up with your theme of the dangers of living in our “self improvement society” and what a struggle it can be to see how that relates to God’s TRUTH.  Maybe I’m making it more complicated than it needs to be…..but I just didn’t want to necessarily recommend this particular book!

        1. Jackie, 🙂    I’ll delete it from the FB post!

    2. Jackie:  I can so relate to your contrasting  ‘a little light to see by’  and ‘In Him was the light of life’.   Powerful to see the difference side by side.   And so obvious to see that in so many ways in our culture.   I’m thinking of another specific similar contrast right now.  I think I should save it for another time.  

  7. Renee – I meant your post, just like Mary’s post!  Awkward beginning…..

  8. #6 from last week.  Seeking him during Lent.   I don’t remember the exact question, but I do remember the question number:)  I thought about this for most of the week.  What I settled into at first was listening to music to help me focus on Him (because listening to youtube songs on here has helped prepare my heart and worship him.)
     
    I wrestled with how I approached this because I didn’t want this to be about me, but about him.  And when I tried to look at what was wrong in order to replace those habits with Him, I ended up focusing on myself more than I wanted.  One day I noticed that I didn’t feel well because I had eaten protein bars rather than “real food,” so I thought I could give up fake food and sugar to focus on Him.  I’m trying to be gluten-free with no additional sugar anyway (and some of that no-gluten substitute stuff isn’t exactly healthy; plus, it’s disgusting).  I know I can focus on Him more easily when I feel better.   One thing I really like about Lent is more seafood on sale and more available in restaurants, and thought about eating seafood on Fridays (but that’s not giving up anything to me.  I have to work to get enough protein though). I even wondered — only half jokingly — if I should try to fast for 40 days.  I actually had some anorexia-type thoughts going through my mind again.

    What I eventually decided to do was intentionally focus on Him in worship in the morning and at night — and when I was doing that, He was drawing me to Himself in the middle of the day, too.This week’s intro helped me to see why EVERY other alternative seemed at least a little problematic to me last week.  Listening to music was close to what I wanted to do because He does draw me to Himself through some Christian music — and I got through some bad times earlier in life by wearing out spots in cassette tapes.  But there is something about “self”-discipline that sets off either problem thoughts or alarm bells.  It really is about KNOWING He is in control and surrendering control to Him –and then “whatever behavior” becomes more Spirit-led than self-disciplined.  And then self-disciplined becomes presenting my body to Him as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to Him (thought about Rom 12:1-2 quite a bit last week).

    A couple conversations last week in which God’s hand was so evident:1)  My response to a “how is it?”  question earlier in the week:  “It’s better, but I’m a little discouraged because I’ve kinda resigned myself to the idea that it might never be good or right.”  Then I heard, “well, surrender involves resignation.”  That was/is part of seeing that GOD IS IN CONTROL & I don’t have to fight for truth and justice ALL THE TIME!
     
    2) Later in the week, counselor was talking — about worship, morning and night.  I already was more intentional about worship in the morning part because of Lent focus.  So, after he talked about it, he asked, “What do you think about that?”  It was too much work to speak so I gave him a “thumbs up!”  That also brought clarity to what I want to do for Lent — and after.  But after starting the past couple of days, I realized that an intentional focus on worship mid-day also would be good, at least until more habitually turn to Him again.Something else I realized last week is that after I’ve spent so much time with believers from a distance during the last 5 years, often in writing — blog, FB groups, email, tele-seminars,  it has become difficult to TALK about spiritual things; I am so used to writing/editing.  Kinda weird — but talking with Christians and nonChristians about Christianity is on a completely level playing field.  Never would have guessed that would happen back in the days of all the “how to share your faith-type seminars.”  

    1. Interesting that you brought up the point about ‘talking’ being more difficult when you’ve gotten used to writing.  I have felt the same thing lately.  

  9. Mary, so moved by your post here this morning.   Thank you.
     “the sooner you can thank God FOR something (not in or through something) the sooner you arrive at His grace in that situation.” 
    A friend and I were talking about this very thing early yesterday morning.    She knows a young woman who has infertility problems because of childhood sexual abuse.   So, is it that we actually thank God for the abuse OR is it that we thank Him for the grace that he gives to live forgivingly??  Do we thank Him for the evil or do we thank Him for the grace and mercy surrounding and even inside of the suffering??
     
    Eighteen years ago, my grandmother was murdered.  She was a wonderful Christian woman, 89 years old, living alone.   It was a brutal beating by three teenagers who entered her home to rob her (They got away with her Holy Land artifacts and some food items.   The chief investigating officer had been my grandma’s lawn boy and vowed to find the perpetrators.   A swat team arrested the boys within five days of the crime.)  This was my mom’s mom.   My mom struggled intensely  over all of this.  I witnessed God’s grace in her and I’ve seen how he has kept our hearts tender in the ugliness of all of this.    My mom and dad went to one of the trials of the three young men.   God gave my mom such amazing tenderness toward the mother of one of the perpetrators.   During one of the court recesses, mom approached the mom of the boy being tried and compassionately told her, “I know you are a mother too and how very hard this must be for you.”      My mom is with the Lord now (I believe the heartbreak over her mom’s death, took a toll on her and contributed to physical heart disease.)   I never heard my mama thank God for this horrific crime.     But I did witness her wrestling to forgive.   And I will only ever remember my mom as such a woman of gratitude.   My children were all very young when this happened and  it was so hard on their little hearts.       My grandma’s favorite verse was Romans 8:28 “for we know that ALL things work together for good….”     The enemy of my soul attempts to mock that.   So, I often tell my soul that “nothing is wasted in the hands of my Redeemer.”   
     
    My mama use to refer to the enemy of our soul as “the creep”, for she knew that her battle was against principalities and powers of darkness.  And she knew that Jesus loved her.   And her battle is over.   
     
    Dee, thank you for this blog-place to wrestle through some hard stuff together.
     
     

    1. Oh Nila, such IMPORTANT wrestling.  Your grandmother… oh, so very sad, painful.  Your mom…what a testimony.  Overwhelming to think about

    2. Nila, I don’t really have words for what you shared about your grandma’s murder…a horrific tragedy. Certainly, I do not believe that we are to give thanks for evil, but to thank Him for being with us in the midst, for His grace. There is thankfulness for how God enabled your mother to walk through this, reaching out with compassion to the mother of the perpetrator, His grace that, though she wrestled so hard, protected her from unforgiveness and bitterness. You did, indeed, have a very godly mother.

    3. Oh Nila,  you have once again shown us the reality of that phrase that I have come to love:  ‘Nothing is wasted in the hands of the Redeemer’.   (I just posted that in a comment to Renee before I read your story.)  Oh.  such sorrow.  And such trust in the example of your mom.  

    4. Nila, what happened to your grandmother is incredibly sad and incredibly evil…what a witness your mother provided in her being a woman of gratitude and in her efforts to forgive.  As Laura-d says, continue to “stomp the snake”…so glad that you are not allowing the mocking taunts of the evil one to overtake you…indeed, “nothing is wasted in the hands of my Redeemer.”

    5. Nila  Such a sad story about your grandmother. I cannot even imagine. Your Mom having compassion for the other Mom was such a display of the Lords Grace it had to have an impact it impacts me. and your words here  “My grandma’s favorite verse was Romans 8:28 “for we know that ALL things work together for good….”     The enemy of my soul attempts to mock that.   So, I often tell my soul that “nothing is wasted in the hands of my Redeemer.”     My mama use to refer to the enemy of our soul as “the creep”, for she knew that her battle was against principalities and powers of darkness.  And she knew that Jesus loved her.   And her battle is over”

    6. Nila, you raise a good question…”Do we thank Him for evil?”  I’d say you have the answer… ” “nothing is wasted in the hands of my Redeemer.”     I love that!  Maybe not so much thankful for the evil, for evil’s sake, but for the fact that God will redeem it for our good (and if we cooperate, maybe even use it for good in the lives of others along the way.)

  10. Thinking more about Mary’s post…“It is okay not to be gushing with happiness in every situation when saying “thank You”. It’s not about being stoic, or wearing a plastic smile. I think of how the people of the Bible mourned and grieved when someone they loved died; they mourned for days, weeping, expressing loudly and freely their grief. Death and other trials are sad. When we try to pretend otherwise, we must seem rather unreal to unbelievers.

  11. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
     
    The clip from Jennifer Rothschild—(rough) quotes that gripped me: “but what if you trusted God more than you trust your opinions and your feelings and chose to be thankful…if all you can do is be thankful in all things then you start there but guard yourself against falling in the trap of being thankful in spite of all things,  and once you have walked in the grace to be thankful in all things–I challenge you to be thankful FOR all things”
     
    And then I cannot help but add Mary’s first post to what stood out to me. I had not planned to post today, but as I copied the lesson into Word, I read Mary’s post and tears began immediately. I have a “strange” (?) attraction to those who have suffered much, those who like Mary, have truly been through, are going through, the refining fire. It is what first drew me to Dee’s feet. I learn so much from you. I loved all of this especially: “But last night, as I lie in bed, I began the thank-You’s =)  “Thank You for this cancer, for however You are using this for good, … “If only you could know Him.  When you know Him, you don’t need to know why.”  I understand that now.  I believe He loves me and has never lost control because I know Him (through His Word, through His Holy Spirit indwelling me, through His creation) and, turns out, that is enough.”

    OH gives me tears again just to post it! Thankful for this place where I can learn so much from the journey of other, and be encouraged to press on in my own trials. The beauty before me, what I see Him doing through each of you really, is such a testimony of His undying, pursuing love. 
     
    I am continually, daily more aware of my own brokenness and at the very same time more an more overwhelmed by His love for me, really feeling it, believing it. There is this measure of complete humility I feel for my own sin and yet it is overcome by His love. This meeting of utter humility and beloved-ness, the Cross, the Gospel, it is overwhelming my heart.
     

  12. ok, have to share this too –one of my very very favorites, I hope some of you will listen and be blessed by it: “It is Finshed”–(Red Mountain version)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70D_W8hGBQ4

    1. Elizabeth,
      OH, thank you for posting this song…. I’d never heard it before.

      1. Nila–I’m so glad you enjoyed it! What you shared above about your grandmother’s tragic death, ” I’ve seen how he has kept our hearts tender in the ugliness of all of this”–that tender, softness of heart is so evident in you, thinking too of your own loss of your daughter, and your Mom, and how your heart is so full of compassion, so mold-able, teach-able, shaped by Him.

    2. That is a really beautiful song, Elizabeth.  I’m so glad you posted it!

    3. Elizabeth-thank you for sharing this song..it is  beautiful!

  13.  
    What stood out to you?
    Definitely the video clip, Be thankful in all circumstances.
    yes, and not (in spite of)… This verse is key and yet can be taken in the wrong way.
    My life journey has taught me that God is at work in my life through  so many circumstances.
    I know He loves me and He is in control. My problem is to let go as I get into the fixing
    part which is my downfall.
    The question of suffering I am facing or have faced is important and I have struggled a lot with it.
    Presently I am  not in suffering. My most difficult suffering was my position of caregiver for my Mother as she declined physically and mentally. I was not sure how to handle it and felt overwhelmed. As the time passed and she completed her life, I finally came to terms with it. I always felt God’s love through it all. It just caused much turmoil and uncertainty.
     
    My sister-in-law is seeming to be starting the dementia situation and I feel much compassion for her
    and ask for prayer for her. She lives in Virginia and I am not able to help. May God’s grace surround her, I pray, and give her some peace.
     

    1. Shirley, I will add your sister-in-law to my prayer list…difficult to be so far and feel a certain helplessness in assisting.

    2. Shirley I too will pray. So hard being far away I am sure.

    3. Adding your sister in law to my prayers this week too.  It is a blessing that she has your compassion even though you can’t be close physically.  God will hear your prayers for her.
       

  14. What stands out?    “Only Christianity has a God who has entered into our suffering.”  Again, this concept stands out and I think about the portion from Keller’s book on suffering that I shared last week that our God has wounds.  And that, while that is a stumbling block and abhorrent  to unbelievers to think that God suffered, it is that vulnerability that is precious to us who know Him.    
    Also, this question from Jennifer Rothchild:  “What if you trusted God more than you trust your feelings or opinions?”  (emphasis mine)   It’s the opinions that have gotten me hung up lately.  More below.   
     
    2. Think about suffering you are facing or have faced. Do you believe Jesus loves you and never lost control? If you do, why do you believe that?              Well, as it turns out, I learned over a week ago, of yet another medical ‘condition’ that I was just dx with and for which I need  to take some serious steps to try to reverse.  I was so broadsided by getting this news that I kept it from my husband until last evening.  I’m being vague and have no desire to share specifics, but suffice it to say that I’m adding it to several other long term diagnoses or issues that have arisen in the past few years.  All of which require quite a lot of mental and physical change and/or energy to deal with.   And it came at a time when I’ve been finally making good progress on gaining back some control over a syndrome that has plagued me for years.  I simply had no idea this ‘new’ one was lurking.   It was a terribly disappointing blow to hear the words.  To be clear, none of these frustrating and somewhat limiting issues are life threatening and in light of what many of my friends are going through, it’s a drop in the bucket.  But even so, I am feeling worn down.  Jennifer’s words really did make me think.  My opinion is that this newest ‘thing’ is going to make working on another one of my ‘things’ even more difficult.  My opinion is that I will not be able to find a health professional who will ‘get it’.  And my feelings are that I may as well give up on ever getting relief from what used to be the worst ‘thing’ I was trying to rise above because it just keeps getting overshadowed by more!  So much for my feelings and my opinions.   What if I trusted God MORE than my feelings and opinions?   YES, I believe Jesus loves me and that He has never lost control.   Why?  Well, because it’s what I’ve seen lived out over and over in the lives of people I’ve admired who trusted in Him explicitly.  And He’s shown it to me personally before many times too.  Still, I admit my weakness.  I lamented last evening.  I angrily went through all the ‘what ifs’ and the frustrations of the domino effect of what’s been going on with my body lately.  And all the reasons why, no matter how hard I try, it’s one step forward and two steps back.  But then later when I was alone and quiet, I felt a peace.  And I felt the ‘turn’ in my lament.   ‘Lord I believe.  Help my unbelief.”  
     

    1. Wanda–praying for you now–so sorry for this new burden, health issues can make us feel so very vulnerable and helpless

    2. Wanda, I am so sorry you have been broadsided with more difficult health news piled up on other issues. You are right to lament but I am so glad that God met you as you quieted yourself before him. Reminds me of Psalm 131. Many times we just can’t see what God is doing, but He never leaves our side. Our hope is in Him.
       

      A Song of Ascents. Of David.
       
      O LORD, my heart is not lifted up;
      my eyes are not raised too high;
      I do not occupy myself with things
      too great and too marvelous for me.
      But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
      like a weaned child with its mother;
      like a weaned child is my soul within me.
       
      O Israel, hope in the LORD
      from this time forth and forevermore.
      (Psalm 131 ESV)

    3. Wanda, I echo what Jennifer R. and you and a host of others ask-what if I trusted God more than my feelings and opinions? I should; we should. But everyday seems like a wrestling match. one step forward, two steps back. Yet, we are loved where we are at. Praise God! Praying for you…and for me, too.

    4. Oh dear, Wanda…when life seems to be “one step forward, two steps back,” how overwhelming and draining it can be.  Praying for your discernment in dealing with health issues and for resolution. 

    5. Oh Wanda, I’m so sorry to hear of this new issue.  An accumulation of many health or emotional issues can be every bit as overwhelming as one big issue (if not more so, actually) and I don’t think being thankful means you can’t also be lamenting at the very same time!  (story of my life!)  You know what, Wanda?  Jesus laments right along with us because disease, death, illnesses, etc…were never part of His plan for His precious creation.  All of creation groans in longing for the life that is yet to come.(Romans 8:19, at least I think it could be interpreted that way!)   Lamenting with you, sweet friend…and praying for you.

    6. Wanda You are such an encourager here. I pray the Lord encourage you thru this trial. Lord Wanda Believes Help her with her unbelief

    7. Thank you all so much.  This is such a place of genuine compassion and empathy.  I am so humbled and blessed by your love.  

    8. Wanda,  I am with you, as every time I go to the doctor, he seems to discover another disease I must deal with.  I used that very phrase yesterday in my sermon at a nursing home, leading my audience to remember that even with that, Jesus loves me and has a purpose for me to model Him as I deal with the new disease.  It is difficult to be thankful for another situation that will radically change the regimen of life, but, as I pointed out, if we are truly willing to believe He has our best interests at heart because He is loving us, then, we can rely on Him to lead us through the jungle to the other side and conquer another of Satan’s attacks.

    9. Wanda, I am praying for your health issue. Father, give strength and wisdom for Wanda to cope with one more chronic health issue. May she be guided by a health care provider who is compassionate and a true advisor. And may she trust that You are her refuge through this strggle.
      Thanks, too, for those who are praying for my sister-in-law, Janet. She does need to feel the presence of Jesus, who I believe, is her Savior, as she spirals in the anguish of dementia.

    10. Wanda-how I hate to hear this! Yet I so love to hear in your struggle you are turning to Him-that you lamented and then there was a turn. So encouraging to me to see you living out a Gospel transformed life.

    11. Wanda, I read this the other day and can relate to a certain extent….my husband thinks I am falling apart. I am usually a healthy person, but I have had many doctors appointments for several different medical issues over the past year, and have had to consider how one medicine will effect another, and whether I can take it or not. I am so sorry you are struggling with health. It is frustrating, and yet, as Liz says…”you are such an encourager here…” Thank you sweet sister, for being so in tune with us and helping us understand things that are not clear. I hope I can stand here for you (sitting shiva, since I can’t be with you helping directly), and be an encourager in your situation. Jesus would want us to take care of ourselves, so onward to the next doctors appointment (an MRI for me tomorrow)! Right?!

  15. Wanda – I read your post and felt so heavy hearted for you….illness IS discouraging.  And when it’s when it’s a multitude of different diagnoses to deal with, even more so.  Even if it’s not life threatening, it gets complicated.  Illness is so very TIME CONSUMING.  And now researching how dealing with one may impact dealing with another….?  In just trying to deal with life’s realities in a responsible way, it can seem like obsessing over ourselves!  And yet….if this is what the Lord has placed upon our plate, we simply have to spend the time on the research, the Dr’s, etc.  In an earlier post, you reminded us that “Nothing is wasted in the hands of the Redeemer.”  “I believe, help my unbelief!” is truly living that out.  So thankful that the Lord brought you through the lament into a place of peace last night.  I truly believe that is where you will find yourself again and again….a place of peace and trust in your Redeemer.  🙂  You shared so poignantly.  Thanks Wanda.

  16. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
     
    I suppose what stands out is that we all will suffer for sure. I used to think you got one major bad event hat happened to you in your life; car accident, dad/mom dies when you’re a kid, cancer, etc. I know this to not be the case now. It sometimes seems that some people do really have it worse than others in their suffering, like several incidents that are life changers. It is so hard sometimes to wrestle with the emotions felt when something painful happens to you.
     
    I have heard Janet Rothschild speak before and she wows! me. Amazing story and woman. To be thankful in all situations is difficult. I was thankful I had my husband with me today as he broke down Sarah’s bed and carried it to the truck, I was thankful that he is so talented and smart that he can fix the shower she broke (don’t ask….only my kid; the Tasmanian Devil!). I am thankful to have a winter break from school to have the time to move her stuff home. Thank you Jesus. 
     
    2. Think about suffering you are facing or have faced. Do you believe Jesus loves you and never lost control? If you do, why do you believe that? Or you may want to say, “Lord, I believe — but help my unbelief.” That is a prayer He hears.
     
    I am facing such a suffering with my daughter. My heart hurts badly right now. I do believe God loves me and I am not sure if I believe He is in control. I guess I am the one who should pray, “Dear Lord help my unbelief. Please.”

    1. Laura – I just wanted to encourage you to remember that those words that Dee encouraged us to pray “I believe, help my unbelief” come straight from a father’s heart for his son who was in a desperate situation.  Though I know that prayer has a very broad application for us all, it helps me so often to look back to the source and read the Scriptures.  The story can be found in Mark 9:14-29, and every time I read it I am so moved by the tenderness and compassion of Jesus for this father.  

      1. Thanks Jackie, I will read the scripture. I find this topic hard because I have had many people praying for many years now, and nothing seems to change in Sarah’s life, in fact it has gotten worse. I try to continue to believe that He does care and is in control…in His time. I sing “You’re not Alone” a lot to myself. The thing I have trouble with with the God/Jesus situation is that God chose the fate for Jesus, I have no choice. It is not what I desire for my daughter. It is a horrible, sad situation that is BOOM in my face this weekend and I can’t ignore or pretend it isn’t happening. Maybe God will help in my lifetime and maybe He won’t. I have to trust Him, but it is hard. My mom had a friend in this same situation, and before my mom died, I asked if she would contact her friend so I could talk to her to see how she coped. We never got that chance, and the woman is probably dead now. She had a son who was killed when a car hit him, and her daughter ended up a prostitute with HIV. This woman ended up raising her daughters’ child. The daughter kept running around doing drugs/prostitution and I don’t even know if she is alive today. I don’t get this. I’m not sure that Sarah is not involved in this kind of lifestyle now after being here and cleaning the apartment. There, I said it out loud. Yes, there is suffering. It is AWFUL.

        1. Laura,
           
          I’m aching with you on this.   I’m grateful that you felt safe to share it here with us all.   
          We really do need each other on this journey.

        2. Oh, Laura. My heart aches for you and Sarah. How do we even pray? And your image of being like Job scraping himself with pottery shards – so vivid. Prayers going up for you.

      2. Oh Jackie! Thank you for pointing out the scripture to me…I cried while reading it! I do believe He can help her, and will, in His time. I’m working on patience within myself, and not focusing on specific details of her life right now. No one can help her but Him at this point. She has “crashed and burned.” I will read this scripture when I feel defeated and down. It will help me to remember His goodness and to have faith.

        1. So thankful for that, Laura.  His Word is amazing, isn’t it?  The power to transform our thinking and the courage He gives us to walk another day with Him…..and here in this story we see His HEART of such compassion….”I will read this Scripture……it will help me to remember His goodness and to have faith.”  He is showing you more of Himself even in this hard place.  🙂  I just didn’t know what to say to your anguish in a prior post…..but the Lord spoke to you and that is all that matters.  

    2. Laura, I read this last night and didn’t know what to say…please know that I am praying for both Sarah and you; you are both on my prayer list and will continue to be.  I wish I had some wonderful words that could relieve the pain and difficulty of this situation…you have my prayers, dear sister.

      1. Nanci thank you for your prayers in my horrible situation. I am dumbstruck myself this weekend. it’s probably better this way, because if she shows up I will most likely yell at her, and I know that is not what I should do. I wonder if I will see her transformation in this life, or if I will not know, like Job? I am supposed to be happy either way, but that is hard. I’m at the scratching myself with pottery stage, I think…

        1. It is SO hard for you, Laura.  All of our hearts ache with you but you are the one who must bear it.  And we wish we could share it with you.  So we continue to pray.  Lord, give Laura a hug today, let her feel your embrace as we want to lift her up but can’t be right beside her.  But you are there.  

  17. Sunday Icebreaker
     
     
     
    1.     What stood out to you from the above and why?
     
    Suffering seems to have a way to bring about 2 voices-that of the enemy and of God. I was struck by the picture with a red background with the words “satan the father of  lies”. Like when I have to adjust the volume of music the long lines often go to the right in a straight line which means it is getting louder but then as I click it to the left, the dotted lines mean the volume is getting softer. I thought when I suffer and the loud voice of Satan tells me lies, I need to listen to God’s truth (Jesus loves me, this I know for the Bible tells me so) and Satan’s voice will recede to oblivion.
     
    The red background made me think of Jesus’ blood that “finished” and paid full at the cross the punishment meant for me.
     
    2.     Think about suffering you are facing or have faced. Do you believe Jesus loves you and never lost control? If you do, why do you believe that? Or you may want to say, “Lord, I believe — but help my unbelief.” That is a prayer He hears.
     
    My sufferings look puny to many of the ones shared by you, my sisters. You have blessed my heart as I read your stories and receive comfort when I think of you and my sister, Grace in the Philippines. There is no limit to the grace of God; it is not dependent on the monstrosity of my circumstances or those I love. It seems to be always equal or even beyond what I could imagine. Yet I struggle too with the what ifs? I believe He loves me and have never lost control but doubts come when I do not understand or see. Does faith require understanding and seeing? No, because faith is believing even when I cannot see. Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.
     
     
     

  18. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    The video to be thankful for all things.  I first watched it this morning before church and my thoughts about being thankful about my dad and his passing and was trying to see the thankfulness in that and I think I was able to see it, at least partially.  There I was able to relate to the title this week, He loves, He weeps, He overcomes.  I can see that when it comes to my dad.  Then I went out for lunch with my son and he let me know that he was moving out (he’s 19) but that he was moving in with his girlfriend (she’s 21).  I confess I am having a harder time to see the thankfulness in this.  I had decided to try to reflect grace in this situation, but as I watched the video again this afternoon about the thankfulness not being grudgingly, I wonder about it.  I can be thankful for my son, I can be thankful that his girlfriend is a very nice young woman who truly cares about him, I can be thankful that he cares enough about my feelings to talk to me about it, rather than just doing it.  But I confess I am having a hard time to see how to be thankful that they are going against the best that God has for them (neither are saved).  The only thing I can do is to trust that the Lord will work through this and somehow bring them both to him.  I am having a hard time though.
    2. Think about suffering you are facing or have faced. Do you believe Jesus loves you and never lost control? If you do, why do you believe that? Or you may want to say, “Lord, I believe — but help my unbelief.” That is a prayer He hears.
    Yesterday I think my belief was that Jesus does love me and is in control.  Today it is the latter, Lord I believe…please help my unbelief.   I think that somehow the Lord is in control, don’t know how, just that He is.  I have to believe that, not through gritted teeth, but through tears of sorrow that the Lord has to be in control for there to be any hope of anything.  I don’t know the outcome, I know that there is one.  I do know that the Lord has a plan for my son’s life, I pray for a godly wife for him.  Is this really the way that the Lord plans to go about it?  I just looked again at the title for this week, Christ loves my son (even more than I do), He weeps (with me) for this situation, and He can overcome it (I need to trust in that).   Thinking now more about it, I very much like the title of this week’s study.

    1. Mary – it’s pretty incredible to me to read how you were able to make immediate application of every facet of this week’s study in your own life.  How loving of our Lord to meet you in this timely way with what He knew you would be facing!  MANY of us here have been or are in this exact situation and though our hearts may break, we cling to Jesus!  How grateful I am that you are here, studying together with us.  We need what the Spirit brings to us through your words…..and He will minister to your heart through the Spirit in your sisters here – Jesus with skin on to us all!  

  19. 1.     What stood out to you from the above and why?
    “When sorrow comes pouring into your life … you may not know the reason why, but you can be sure the reason is not that God doesn’t love you.  … who weeps when we weep.”
    We have such a personal Lord; a Lord of love, compassion, mercy…we are never alone in our suffering (or joy).
     
    Regarding 1 Thess 5:18…
    I go back to a few weeks ago when we were discussing Job and the Lord’s control; we discussed how the Lord doesn’t cause evil, but allows it because He is fully in control.  My finite human mind cannot comprehend that the atrocities that take place as being the will of God…that is when I differentiate between my limited capacity of understanding and the Lord’s infinite capacity of creativity, love, provision, etc….who am I to question?… I have difficulty and will likely always have difficulty giving thanks “for” all circumstances (e.g., WWII holocaust, genocides, human trafficking), but I will always give thanks for a God who is good, merciful, loving, etc. and continue to pray that “His will be done. because it is best…Lord, I believe, help me in my unbelief.

    1. Last night after writing this, I read the following in “Abba’s Child,” pg. 157, “This mysterious grace is the active expression of the crucified Christ who has reconciled all things in Himself, transforming even our evil impulses into part of the good.”
      This book has been so enriching, thought provoking… I now have to discern whether to re-read it or read “Ruthless Trust”… I have no doubt that the Lord will direct me appropriately. 

      1. “…..mysterious grace; an active expression of the crucified Christ….”   Even just those words are a lot to think on today.  Thanks, Nanci.  

  20. Read slowly John 11:1-16
    3. What suffering has come into the lives of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary? And what rock solid truth are we told in verse 5? Lazarus has fallen ill. Verse 5 say that Jesus loved all three of them.
     
    4. What does this SO, teach you? That Christ allowed the suffering BECAUSE He loved them, on purpose, it was a choice of His to tary because He loved them.
     
    5. Why don’t his disciples want him to go to Judea? And why do you think He has set His face like flint to go anyhow? His disciples are afraid of Him being killed. He just came from there, escaping murderous plots, why would He go back to risk His life? Christ, however, knows the plan, and has full faith and trust in God’s ability to protect Him till His hour comes. Christ sees life differently. He is going back “…so that you may believe.” And to go to those He loves.
     
    6. What does Jesus say in verses 9-10? Jesus is the Light of the world. Jesus says whoever walks in the light will not stumble, but he who does not walk in the light will stumble. John 8:12 “…I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  I am unsure why He reference 12 hours in a day. Perhaps He is saying that there is ample opportunity to walk in the light (just as you would chose to go out and about during the 12 hours of the day)?  He is responding to the fear of His death, so perhaps He is reference that His time on Earth is not over (John 9:4-5) and so He has time left?

  21. 4.   What does this So, teach you?    This is one of those times when I know that a lifetime will not be enough to plumb the depths of this little word “so”, placed by the Spirit precisely here in this story…..here where it directly follows on the heels of the assurance of Scripture that Jesus’ love for this little family was a very real and precious thing.  Although we know that Jesus loves us all, my ears perk up when the Word tells us that Jesus specifically loves someone…..I’m thinking of John being described as “the disciple Jesus loved”….and even the rich man who walked away from Jesus was described as one who Jesus loved, etc.  It’s not a stretch to say that BECAUSE Jesus loved Mary, Martha and Lazarus, he stayed away and allowed Lazarus to suffer and die.  He allowed Mary and Martha to watch helplessly and to wonder WHY was Jesus not showing up?  Of course, we know from verse 4 that this was all to show the glory of God – and that the Son of God would be glorified through it.  
     
    I remember several years ago when it began to dawn on me that the Bible was a book about GOD.  Not a book for me to run to and find how to “fix” my life and be “happy”!!  Of course, the irony is that there IS great comfort in the Word….but the comfort comes from the glory of God!!  And so, here with Lazarus, Mary and Martha, we see that the story is ALL about the glory of God and his son, Jesus!  Even though, as we see later in the story, our sorrows touch Jesus DEEPLY, the glory of God remains His purpose.  Of course it remains a great mystery – He weeps with us, this is so true.  No one can feel our sorrows like He does.  AND YET….just as the glory of God was his purpose for this little family, so it is for our lives.  It is SUCH a comfort to lean into Him and trust that there is a BIGGER STORY weaving through our lives than simply our heartaches and disappointments!  

    1. Amen to this, Jackie!  Thankyou.
      AND YET….just as the glory of God was his purpose for this little family, so it is for our lives.  It is SUCH a comfort to lean into Him and trust that there is a BIGGER STORY weaving through our lives than simply our heartaches and disappointments!  
       
      When I was a little girl, I vividly remember my grandma doing flannel graph bible stories with us down in her unfinished basement.   The warmth and enthusiasm of her stories overcame the cool of that basement.   The most impressionable thing she taught my little heart was that God could see the beginning and the end at all times…. that He is sovereign.   When I was little I didn’t know how valuable that would be 60 years later.      There is a big tapestry being woven.  I don’t understand all of the dark colors, but sometimes we get a glimpse of the bigger picture and it is magnificent.    
       
       

  22. Thank you, Jackie. “AND YET….just as the glory of God was his purpose for this little family, so it is for our lives.  It is SUCH a comfort to lean into Him and trust that there is a BIGGER STORY weaving through our lives than simply our heartaches and disappointments!” God tarries it seems to us BUT He is never late in His timetable.

  23. Shirley, Wanda, Laura, Praying for these “new” prayer requests
     
    Jackie, LOVE THIS:  “I remember several years ago when it began to dawn on me that the Bible was a book about GOD.  Not a book for me to run to and find how to “fix” my life and be “happy”!!  Of course, the irony is that there IS great comfort in the Word….but the comfort comes from the glory of God!!”  

    Editing now: Love the whole paragraph! Gonna print it out (I don’t print much because I’m already buried in paper 😉 )

    1. Thank you for prayers, Renee!     I also LOVE this same quote of yours, Jackie.  Saving in my ‘things to remember from the blog’ email file 🙂  May need to write it out and post on my bathroom mirror too though!  

    2. Thank you for prayers Renee! So understand “buried in paper!” Is that a teacher thing? I am kind of a hoarder when it comes to my school stuff…

  24. 3. What suffering has come into the lives of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary? And what rock solid truth are we told in verse 5?I don’t automatically read slowly — so had to reread, and I’m smiling as this is starting to soak in.  Lazarus was sick enough that his sisters were concerned and sent for Jesus.  It sounds as if they used Jesus’ love for Lazarus to convey either to Jesus or the messenger the urgency of their request.
     
    4. What does this So, teach you?   First, the word NOW jumps out at me.  The request for Jesus to come was based on the foundation of Jesus’ love.  And Jesus waited until Lazarus was dead??John says, “Now get this people.  Jesus really did love them.” He loved them but didn’t jump at the moment of their request.  He had a bigger plan — and He was in control.
     
     
    SO Jesus had a better plan BECAUSE He loved them.  The foundation of Jesus love is crucial to understanding this.  Jesus had a bigger, better plan because of His love — and then He hinted to the disciples about that plan.In my impatience, I get tunnel vision and lose sight of God’s big purpose, His love and His glory.  This passage is a good example of Romans 8:28ff “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose…”   The story helps me see many of the puzzle pieces in the verses at the end of Romans 8 — how nothing shall separate us from God’s love.

  25. Oh, this is so fun.  I’m starting to connect the dots (not sure if I’m connecting them right??)   
    5. Why don’t his disciples want him to go to Judea?   because the Jews just were trying to stone Jesus.  I also wonder if the disciples were starting to connect the dots.  When Jesus says “strange” things such as “This illness does not lead to death,” they’re probably thinking “Yeah, right; it sounded serious. The guy is probably dead now.”  And when he said, “It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it,” they probably were nervous, partly because they didn’t understand, but because these types of statements tended to get Jesus in more trouble. And of course, because they were associated with Jesus, it could get them in hot water, too. (Note to self: reflect on this more).

    And why do you think He has set His face like flint to go anyhow?    “Two” reasons that are SO entwined that they really are one:  “SO” — because He loved them  AND the Glory of God.   This is WAY beyond my ability to understand or articulate right now (of course, that isn’t stopping me from trying 🙂 ) That whole passage, Jesus’ love for them (us), the illness “not leading to death,” and the purpose of the illness being the glory of God.  This is so amazing: God involves people in His Glory.  His love for us is part of His Glory.  This means that our sufferings become an honor.  That we can be patient in suffering because we know that God will work it for His glory, is working it for His glory, part of which includes preparing us to spend forever with Him. That I can say and mean it “I want to know Christ–yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” 

    And we can have confidence because this is built on the foundational truth of v. 5 — NOW GET THIS:  Jesus loves (fill in your name).  That verse is a reminder is for us, too.  His Glory without His love, from a human perspective, would make him seem egotistical.  But He loved us enough to enter our suffering; we get to taste, what in comparison is only a tiny bit, to honor him, to be prepared to be with Him, and just because we love him.  (ok, sorry, rambling now.  I think I need to write this truth 100 different ways in order to speak this truth to my soul).  No other God like Him.  “Amazing love, how can it be, that thou my God should die for me?”

  26. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
     
    “When a Christian suffers, it is never because God is punishing him because Jesus paid for his sin IN FULL at the cross  and it is FINISHED!” 
     
    Dee said the above words were the ones she needed to speak to her soul.  and those are the words I need to tell my soul when I am attacked by the one with slimy fingers!      
     
    2. Think about suffering you are facing or have faced. Do you believe Jesus loves you and never lost control? If you do, why do you believe that? Or you may want to say, “Lord, I believe — but help my unbelief.” That is a prayer He hears.
     
     If I take the time to think about it, and if I can control my panic,  I will realize that God has loved me all along and has gotten me through several sets of suffering.   I can certainly look back, after the fact, and see the good things that came along with the bad things.   Also I am convinced that God is always in control and never loses control.    However, when I am caught up in the throws of suffering, there is a likelihood that I will panic, and that I will not be able to speak to my soul with confidence.   I can think of a couple of times when I have prayed the prayer “Lord, help my unbelief,”   and that was tha best I could do at the time.    

  27. Read slowly John 11:1-16
    3. What suffering has come into the lives of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary? And what rock solid truth are we told in verse 5?
     
    Lazarus was seriously ill, and his sisters were worried, so they sent word to Jesus.      Verse 5 is reassuring, “Jesus loved Martha, her sister, and Lazarus. ”
     
    In the ESV, we see a startling “so” 

    Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

    4. What does this So, teach you?        

    How much more Mary, Martha, and Lazarus would know that Jesus loved them,  if Lazarus was allowed to die and then Jesus brought him back to life.   That was far more dramatic than if Jesus had hurried right over to Bethany to cure Lazarus before he died.     Also Jesus saw the necessity of demonstrating his control over life and death, so that this would be remembered when Jesus was crucified and then resurrected.    All of that would be to the glory of God!     

    5. Why don’t his disciples want him to go to Judea? And why do you think He has set His face like flint to go anyhow? 

    The disciples were concerned for Jesus’ physical safety, and they knew how strong the opposition was back in Jerusalem.   They felt Jesus would be smart to avoid that area entirely.   I am sure they were somewhat concerned for their own safety as well.    Jesus knew that for God’s plan to work properly, He had to go.

    6. What does Jesus say in verses 9-10?  
     

    Jesus says “Aren’t there twelve hours in the day?  Whoever walks in the day doesn’t stumble because they see the light of the world.   But whoever walks in the night does stumble because the light isn’t in them.”  

     

  28. What stood out from above:  The use of Jennifer Rothschild clip on being thankful.  I, too, used a section of a Jennifer Rothschild book in my sermon on boldly praying and trusting God for His will to be done.  I also used the song, O How He Loves You and Me to prepare myself for my sermon and worship service, singing it as I traveled from my church to the Nursing Home where I led the service and preached.

    1. Sherryl – don’t you LOVE when the Spirit reinforces things in our lives?  SO NEAT!!  His hand of providence in your life, rather than “coincidence”!  I think Dee would call that a “kiss from the King”.  Amen.  

    2. Sherryl,
      I love this.   Wonderful confirmation for you.

  29. Rock solid truth – Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were loved by Jesus.  I also saw that Jesus was secure enough in His relationship with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus (and convinced they were trusting of Him) that He could wait 2 more days before going to see them in their time of need.  So, what was the purpose of SO?  Jesus had a plan and a purpose of Lazarus’ illness and death.  He could not rush the process or the glory of God would not occur.  Even though people in Judea wanted to stone Him, he had a higher priority – bringing glory to God through a pre-determined plan with Lazarus, Mary, and Martha.
    Verses 9 and 10: Walking in the Light = sure steps, while walking at night (the darkness) = stumbling because light is not seen.  Light is also designated at internal, in them, not around them.  Key point.  Anyone with the light can take sure steps.  
    Verses 14 and 15:  Lazarus is dead and Jesus is thankful that He and his disciples were not there.  Why?  So His disciples could see the miracle and believe in the power of God.

  30. 3. What suffering has come into the lives of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary? And what rock solid truth are we told in verse 5? 
    Lazarus is sick and he dies.  The rock solid truth is that Jesus loves each one of them!  
    4. What does this So, teach you?   I think the “so” means that because Jesus loved them He purposefully delayed in coming to them another two days!  So often we think we have figured out exactly what our deepest need is…what will be the very best thing for us and then we discover that the Lord has something of ETERNAL, MONUMENTAL significance at work in the situation, which our finite brains could never have imagined! =)
    5. Why don’t his disciples want him to go to Judea? And why do you think He has set His face like flint to go anyhow?  For the first part of this question…they did not want Him to go because the Jews had just been seeking to kill Him and this would be putting Himself in the public lime-light but I have to add… I LOVE how “doubting Thomas” is so redeemed in this passage when he says, “let us go also that we may die with Him!”  I love that!  He figured, if this is the work Jesus says we need to be about, then even if He is leading us to our deaths…lets GO! (well, I don’t really know what Thomas was thinking but I like to believe it was something along those lines!) I think Jesus was set on going because, again, He already knew the work He was about to do and the eternal reifications of it!  This truly would be a resurrection of a dead person who’d been dead a few days already!  As we find out later, many of the Jews believed because of this miracle.  Jesus knew the huge issue at stake here…the smallness of some of the disciples thinking was not going to stop Him.
    6. What does Jesus say in verses 9-10?  He talks about there being 12 hours in the day and whoever walks in the day does not stumble because he sees the light of this world.  I can’t say that I have much insight into the possible symbolic meaning of what he said so I will be curious to see what others write.

  31. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why? You deserve this, you’re such an idiot!
    That jumped out at me because that thought plagues my mind every time something goes wrong.
     

    1. Dawn,   
      Yes, those thoughts can plague and torment.   
       
      Wonder if you’ve ever seen/watched this song called You are More.  
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwtcwQwgdsA
      Some of the lyrics:
      ……..You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
      You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
      You are more than the problems you create,
      You’ve been remade.
      ……….
      Cause this is not about what you’ve done,
      But what’s been done for you.
      This is not about where you’ve been,
      But where your brokenness brings you to…..
       
       
       

      1. I love this song, Nila!
         

      2. What a great song, Nila!  I was thinking about how something only has value if someone is willing to pay a price for it… and even then, the the value it has is only as great as the prince that someone is willing to pay.  Wow, what a price has been paid for us!  

      3. Thanks, Nila for the song. Everyday I have to be reminded that God loves me despite my messes and mistakes. I am practicing slamming the window on Satan’s slimy fingers when he whispers lies to me.

  32. This stands out to me right now: “When sorrow comes pouring into your life, and it will, you can believe that it isn’t because God doesn’t love you.” But what do I do with the pain in my soul, the butterflies that I can’t control?  I say Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief. And oh! He did!  Butterflies are settling. I can take the next step. Dee thank you for that reminder, that little prayer to pray when I was paralyzed.
     

  33. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why? 
    How the Gospel rescued Dee and her family when Steve passed away-how satan came at them and hissed his ugly words and how Dee slammed the window down on his slimy fingers with the Gospel. Their story made an indelible impact in my life when I first came on Dee’s blog and has lasted!  God was in hot pursuit of me to open my eyes to my idolatry and to rescue me..and the greater part-to show me His wild Love for me. This has been a journey starting 6 years ago here on this blog and His process-wow! Line upon Line precept upon precept..step by Gospel step.. So important, as Dee said she had to remind herself of the Gospel even though she knew itI SO love this Gospel transformation study!
    Secondly, Jennifer Rothschild. Christy was right..she is amazing! Being thankful FOR all things rather than IN all things..LIFE CHANGING! More than merely life changing though..it is “GOSPEL” LIFE CHANGING. 

  34.  
    I read this today in a devotional and thought it fitting, I am silently doing the online study and this really resonates. Especially sometimes a blessing comes in the dark times…it makes us cry out to God. God Bless~staci
     
    We are quick to believe the lie that God is angry with us and will not bless our lives or meet our needs. The truth is that God is willing and waiting to pour out His favor and blessings on a life of faith. Hebrews tells us that faith always honors God and God always honors faith. 
    Without faith no one can please God. Anyone who comes to God must believe that He is real and that He rewards those who truly want to find Him (Hebrews 11:6, NCV). 
    I think part of the problem is that we don’t know how to define “blessing.” A blessing is not always easy, painless, simple, comfortable or expected. A blessing often comes, wrapped in the mystery of darkness.
    I am learning an important truth about blessings. Anything that makes us cry out to God can be counted as a blessing. Why? Because when we are desperate and in pain, when we have no answers and the darkness is closing in, we cry out to God … and He comes through! Not because we have earned His presence or His mercy, but because we cried out to Him with just a tiny seed of faith. 
     

    1. Staci, thanks for sharing this…SO good! It brings to mind Laura Story’s song, “Blessings.”  Things may not appear as blessings, but the reality is that they are blessed gifts…  I ponder “faith”…faith is a gift from the Lord…as the receiving of the Lord’s grace sets us free, acceptance on faith provides freedom in another sense…all gifts from the hand of our Father.

    2. Thank you for this Staci. It helps me this morning.

    3. So good and helpful, Staci. I’m crying out to the Lord this morning.

      ” A blessing is not always easy, painless, simple, comfortable or expected. A blessing often comes, wrapped in the mystery of darkness.
       
      I am learning an important truth about blessings. Anything that makes us cry out to God can be counted as a blessing. Why? Because when we are desperate and in pain, when we have no answers and the darkness is closing in, we cry out to God … and He comes through! Not because we have earned His presence or His mercy, but because we cried out to Him with just a tiny seed of faith. 

  35. 8. What does Jesus tell his disciples in verse 14-15? Comment. “I am glad…so that you may believe.” How often does God put things into our life to show us His love but because we are self-focussed we react without understanding, without trust? I am convinced it is often. The more I see His hand as trustworthy, never-failing, the more I settle into His arms and trust. How often I take back the reins and say, “Oh no, Jesus, we don’t want to go that way!” How I doubt His path for me. But I am seeing it is His path for me, chosen, on purpose. The more I study Him and how He doesn’t change, He is steadfast and loving, the more steady my legs and eyes as I walk the path. He wants me to be close to Him, His desires do not ebb and flow as mine do.

  36. 6. What does Jesus say in verses 9-10?
    I questioned what v.9-10 meant…I found this explanation that provided clarity: (http://biblehub.com/commentaries/john/11-9.htm) “The sense of the allegorical answer is this: “The time appointed to me by God for working is not yet elapsed; as long as it lasts, no one can do anything to me; but when it shall have come to an end, I shall fall into the hands of my enemies, like him who walketh in the night, and who stumbleth, because he is without light.” In this way Jesus sets aside the anxiety of His disciples, on the one hand, by directing their attention to the fact that, as His time is not yet expired, He is safe from the apprehended dangers; and, on the other, by reminding them that He must make use of the time apportioned to Him, before it come to an end.”

    1. Thanks, Nanci for some clarification on this verse.

      1. I think that David Jeremiah’s thought is similar…we are to persevere with trust in the plan that God has for us…to walk paths and act in awareness of our “guiding light.”  Thou much may look odd and/or foolish in a worldly sense (as Jesus going back to Judea did to His disciples), the reality is that “His light” is what keeps us on the right path in relation to God’s good plan. 
        I fully admit that I don’t always understand the “whys”. While the world’s light continues to question and encourages doubt; the Lord’s light encourages me to trust in a God that is good.

  37. Read John 11:17-27
    9. What question does Jesus ask Martha when she comes to Him in her grief? And how does she respond? Martha, in the beginning of the conversation, seems to still want earthly things, still somewhat selfish in her thinking? If you would have been here, I wouldn’t have to be going through this (you could have stopped it, Lord). And there is still hope, you are here now I know you can still do what I want… But when Jesus asks if she believes, Christ tells her the basic truth that He is the resurrection and the life, “Do you believe this?” Then her response in not earthly, it is heavenly – “Yes, Lord; I believe…” She doesn’t not say I believe, now will you raise my brother? She just claims the same truth that He just said. And this quiets her heart? The truth set her free from expectations and the second set of tears (Keller says when you cry without Christ-centeredness you are crying twice – you’re crying for whatever reason you are crying for and then you are crying because you are crying).
     
    10. How does this apply to you in any suffering you are facing? The truth will set me free. The truth will quiet my heart. The truth will orient my eyes away from my idols, expectations, and straining for a ‘good life.’ The truth doesn’t make the first set of tears go away (nor should it, because we grow and learn with those tears) but it definitely quiets the second set of tears… The truth also orients my trust. I pray, but not to manipulate for what I want. I tell God how great is He, not to try and butter Him up, but just to praise Him, I submit to His will, not endlessly beseeching for my will (of course, it is fine to pour out our desires to God and lament to Him, but there is a heart difference in trusting Him versus just wanting what we want).

  38.  
    Read slowly John 11:1-16
     
    1.     What suffering has come into the lives of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary? And what rock solid truth are we told in verse 5?
     
    Their brother became ill. Jesus loves them.
     
    In the ESV, we see a startling “so” 
     
    Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.
     
    2.     What does this So, teach you?
     
    So-the reason why So-because  So- Based on the premise of Jesus’ love, He tarried 2 more days where He was. Application: Jesus waits because His timetable is always RIGHT and according to the purposes of the Father.
     
    3.     Why don’t his disciples want him to go to Judea? And why do you think He has set His face like flint to go anyhow?
     
    He has been threatened there before. Jesus knew His purpose wherever He goes and no amount of threat will keep Him from obeying.
     
    4.     What does Jesus say in verses 9-10?
     
    5.       Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”
    Thank you to Nanci’s answer. I did not quite understand this part.
     
    While Jesus’ words in verses 9 and 10 seem cryptic, David Jeremiah explains that we must walk by a different light source than natural light. What seems to make no sense by human wisdom, makes sense in God’s wisdom.
     
    7. What in your life right now may not make sense, but which you are willing to lay at Jesus feet?
     
    My sister dying of cancer; my daughter’s distance from God
     
    6.     What does Jesus tell his disciples in verses 14-15? Comment.
     
    7.       So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
     
    It is for the disciple’s sake that Jesus was not where Lazarus was when the latter died. Jesus has been doing miracles of healing before this time. (Chapters 4,5,9) Another miracle of healing would not have or may not have surprised the disciples?  But here is a picture of Jesus, though wrapped in time and space because of his humanness, very much once again in control of TIME and SPACE.
     

  39. 3. What suffering has come into the lives of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary? And what rock solid truth are we told in verse 5?
     
    Lazarus was very sick. Jesus loves them.
     
    4. I’m not sure the significance of the word “so,” but I think it is a link from “because…” a cause and effect situation. Because of this, then that occurred?
     
    5. Why don’t his disciples want him to go to Judea? And why do you think He has set His face like flint to go anyhow?
     
    They’re afraid he will be hurt if he goes to Judea. I guess it is all part of the “plan?” It’s what He must do to fulfill God’s will for His life on earth? I’m not really sure why He feels the need to go. Maybe so He can return to Lazarus and perform the miracle so more people know?
     
    6. What does Jesus say in verses 9-10?
     
    He says something about walking in the day and night…. He is the light so in the day people could see the light (Him). Those who walk in the night could not necessarily see the light, I guess, unless they believed in Him? Did He mean that if they were with him everything would be okay? He would take care of them? I get confused; sometimes it seems like Jesus talks in riddles. I’m not very good at riddles.
     

      1. Wow Dee! I never thought of that..He was in danger, all the time! Thanks for that info!

  40. Just had to share this song. First heard it working with our youth group. I actually thought that was going to be the song posted. That song was beautiful too:)
    http://youtu.be/XjgSMNYy2RI
     
     

  41. 7. What in your life right now may not make sense, but which you are willing to lay at Jesus feet?
     
    I am always trying to find “purpose” in things.   Presently, I am saying to the Lord,  “I don’t see the purpose in my daughter and her fiance having such struggles to prepare for their wedding in August.   He still needs to sell his home in WV, and he needs to come to Ohio and find a job.   At this point, neither issue is showing any success, despite his efforts.   I know the Lord can choreograph things in a wondrous way, and so I am having to lay this whole wedding at His feet  (actually I have little choice, as I can do none of this on my own!)  I do that, but then occasionally I seem to have a melt-down.   I guess that is another example of “Lord, help my unbelief!”     
     
     
    8. What does Jesus tell his disciples in verses 14-15? Comment.
     
    Jesus tells them that he is glad that he was not there when Lazarus died, because now they will be able to believe.    I said in an earlier answer that it would not have had the same impact if Jesus had hurried off to prevent Lazarus from dying.   Now Jesus has the opportunity to demonstrate “resurrection” for those looking on.  
    Read John 11:17-27
     
    I want to interject a question of my own here.     How did Mary learn that Jesus was coming so she could run to him?   Also how did Jesus learn of Lazarus’ illness and then subsequent death?    Was there some unnamed person who was running up and down the dirt road in his sandals, keeping everyone posted on what was going on?     Sometimes I just have to ask these things!!   🙂  
     
    9. What question does Jesus ask Martha when she comes to Him in her grief? (verses 25-26) And how does she respond?
     
    He asks her if she believes in Him that whoever believes in Him will never die.    Martha responds that she does believe that He is the Christ, God’s Son, the one who is coming into the world.”

       
    10. How does this apply to you in any suffering you are facing?
     
    I believe Jesus is my Lord and Messiah,  and I know He is capable of anything!     So I need to back off, and let go and let God.     My daughter and her fiance are in their 40s.   I tell them that mother of the bride is supposed to be 50ish not in her 70s!    🙂   I find this all so difficult!   

    I realize that God will see us through and they will get married, but maybe the circumstances won’t be just the way I want to imagine them. I want to see them bursting with joy at the ceremony, and then going to their cute little home with their furnishings all arranged, and with their wedding gifts all put away. It may not be like that!

  42. 1-2
    this is a hard one for me. I just do not believe that God controls our every move, and I beleive that satan is the prince of this world and is at work. I KNOW that Jesus is IN every aspect of my life, never leaving my side, but to say that he wanted my friends baby to die, or he wants us to suffer, which if he has total control over every situation he has let it happen and since he has all power he did not need to let it happen so he must have wanted it to happen….I just can not go there.
     
    I praise God in ALL things but I will not praise HIM for what satan has done. sickness, hate, strife…those are satans handywork and I will not be thankful FOR them,I am not thankful FOR the fall of mankind. I WILL by thankful in them, I will have a grateful heart, I will look at the good in all things and see how what satan wanted for evil, God has turned to good. I am so thankful that Lily is my daughter, I am thankful that God used her arm disability to bring her to us, but I am not thankful that she will never be able to touch her own head, cut up her own vegis ect. Im thankful for what her struggle has taught us and her, Im thankful for HIS grace in the process of dealing with difficulty but I think you need to be very dishonest with your feelings to say you are grateful FOR pain, death, hate. having a grateful heart does not mean that we pretend to be thankful for bad things, it means we chose to have joy and peace and gladness in the middle of sorrow and loss.
     
    I will never thank God for things that satan and the fall have created. BUT I will always do my best to find HIM and HIS joy and peace in the middle of them.

      1. im not sure Dee, I guess I believe that God lets satan have some power here on earth and in that sense he lets bad things happen, by not stopping him in a broad stroke kind of way. But I can not believe that HE tells satan on an individual basis, sure, you can have that one, or sure, you can give him cancer…..I feel like those things are a product of the fallen world that HE lets exist but not a product of HIS will in any way.
         
        I also feel I am not qualified to speak to great suffering, for I have had none in my life. I’m sure I will and I pray that my relationship with Jesus will carry me through the way it has in the little trials that I have endured. 

        1. and by HIS will I mean perfect will…which was lost with the fall.

    1. “having a grateful heart does not mean that we pretend to be thankful for bad things, it means we chose to have joy and peace and gladness in the middle of sorrow and loss”
      I agree, Cyndi…the Lord is looking for us to the authenically grateful, not fake or deceitful in our thanksgiving.  This is not to say that I believe God is not in control…I believe He is completely in control; I simply don’t have the comprehension to work out Him allowing the evil that occurs/occurred in my human mind, but I trust…I trust that God is good and trustworthy and purposeful.

      1. Sorry…can’t correct, so here is a reply to clarify, what I meant is that I cannot work out in my human mind the evil that occurs in this world (e.g., human trafficking, slavery, holocausts, genocides)…it sounded like I was talking about the evil in my mind…:)

  43. Just thinking that much of the suffering I’ve experienced has been self-induced.  When I expect myself or the world around me to free of pain, illness, death; when I expect to be treated fairly; when I expect life to be cause & effect (i.e., that I can control an outcome), a good portion of my suffering is because my expectation wasn’t met.  The good thing about SOME suffering, if I allow myself to acknowledge the pain, is that it puts the rest of life into perspective — and that “happiness” is not a right.  It takes so much energy to “make things right.”  If I waste too much energy “fixing things,” I don’t have energy to do the things I can (the dishes, laundry, and eating right!).
     
    In contrast, when I look to Jesus, know that He loves me, and know that He is in control & his timing is right, my perspective of life changes.  That doesn’t mean that I LIKE evil or pain  or that it doesn’t hurt– or that there is anything right about lies, racism, murder, etc. — but it does mean that I’m safe in the arms of Jesus, and I can quit kicking and screaming.  Pain is a sign that something is wrong; I don’t want to be numb to (all of) it.  Yet, when I am RESTING in the arms of His comfort and sovereignty, I (eventually) relax — and the pain isn’t exaccerbated.  It sure takes me a long time for me to relax and quit kicking him in the face, though.

    My suffering is decreased, NOT because situations have changed — same bad stuff going on & getting worse, but He is changing me.  He woos, I look to Him, and He reassures.  He is healing me, but certainly not in ways or on the timeline I would have chosen.    Yesterday, I talked to someone in a difficult situation that seems to be getting better.  But the promises have been made by someone who constantly changes his/her story.  Jesus isn’t like that. He is completely trustworthy.  I am safe, and looking to Him helps me realize that.  He loves those I am concerned about more than I do, and I won’t help anyone by freaking out or trying to fix them!

    1. OH….Praying now & will continue

    2. A friend on facebook posted this today too.  She knows her through her church.  Praying as I get in my car to drive just now.  

    3. I saw this news of the kidnapping through what Wanda linked on FB. Praying. Having lived in Africa, it brings home to me the danger of these extremists. I can’t imagine what she must be going through right now. Oh, Lord, have mercy! Rescue her, Lord, for the sake of Your holy name! Glorify your name in Your mysterious way! We cannot understand, Lord.

    4. Oh how frightening!    Dear Lord, please intervene and protect Phyllis.  Please grant her your comfort to control her panic, and also wisdom so she may escape harm!    Thank you for your presence everywhere and at all times.  In Jesus name, I pray.   Amen.

    5. Praying, Dee. I am struggling now with the concept of the word “so”. Just being honest here that it is going through my mind. Jesus loves Phyllis so…He allowed her to get kidnapped? Forgive me, Lord if I do not understand. Jesus loves Mary…so He allowed her to have cancer which possibly has spread to her retina? Is it time for me to go back to the laments in the Psalms? Lord, I want to believe. Help my unbelief. Tears for Phyllis and Mary. I am tired today after a long day. Lord, clarify my thoughts-I know you love us.

    6. Oh Dee, this is heartbreaking to me. I am praying.

  44. Praying here too Dee.  Lord we believe help us with our unbelief. Lord help all those who have been kidnapped. Lord we pray you get ahold of those kidnappers hearts. Let those who have been kidnapped know You are there. Use this for Your Glory.

  45. John 11:17-27  my initial response to Dee’s last question in the section – regardless of my situation. I am living because I believe in Jesus who is the resurrection and the life.
    John 11: 28-37  I noticed that Martha and Mary made the same statement to Jesus: Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. Yet, Jesus’ response was very different with Mary.  I wonder why?
    John 11:30-44  The whole experience of Lazarus’ death was designed by God to showcase the power of God and to prove that Jesus was God.  This definitely shows that God uses the suffering of the righteous as teachable moments for those who are observing as well as for teaching the one experiencing the suffering.

  46. i lost my answers to 7&8 in cyberspace. I think it may have been because I copied and pasted the questions directly from the post. They must have needed perfecting

  47. lost again! 
    Upshot was that with the disciples, we are learning that Jesus is Lord of every storm.