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 Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth…

Be still and know that I am God.

(Psalm 46 8 & 10)

Korah and His Followers Swallowed Up Numbers 16:31-33
Korah and His Followers Swallowed Up Numbers 16:31-33

It is one thing to say God allows suffering and brings good out of it, it is quite another to say He brings desolations on the earth. Joni Eareckson Tada stirred a controversy when she said just that in her book, When God Weeps. Suffering is part of God’s plan for His people!

Surprising? Yes. But we who have studied Habakkuk know that He does plan disasters — and that judgment begins with His own.

We don’t understand why He brings suffering, but we who have studied Job remember how God answered Job out of the whirlwind.



God simply pointed to the sunrise, the stars, the seasons…and asked Job to stand against His wisdom, and Job said: “I lay my hand upon my mouth.”

Yet in the midst of sorrow, nothing can separate us from the love of God, and one day, we will understand it all, and, as Teresa of Avila said: “That first kiss from Jesus in heaven will make all our suffering  seem like one night in a bad hotel.”



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

Monday-Wednesday: Bible Study

Listen to this reading of Psalm 46.


2. Ponder Psalm 46 and share anything that quickens you.

3. Read Psalm 46:1-3 and describe the scene and yet, the hope.

4. One day, we will be in a far different place. This is described in verse 4. What do you learn?


5. Read Psalm 46:6-11

A. On the basis of this passage, how would you answer the question: “Does God plan disasters?”

B. Does it give you hope or despair to think God is behind suffering?

Thursday – Friday: 10 minute message from Joni Eareckson Tada


6. Share your notes and comments on the above.


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


Leave a Comment

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  1. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    Oh……..it is the painting of the lighthouse.   When I saw it,  I could hear those deafening, powerful, out-of-control waves crashing up against that lighthouse.   How the storm can capture all of our attention and grip us in fear, both from what we see and what we hear.   And I wondered why the artist placed the man outside the door to the lighthouse, rather than peering through a window from the inside.  Made me reflect on Mike Reeves message from last week –  that sometimes we acknowledge the truth mentally, without experiencing it.   (Standing just outside the lighthouse, rather than inside its full protection.)    Still not sure what to think about this.   Pondering here this morning.   Anybody else have some thoughts on this?  I rarely think of being in a lighthouse.  Usually I think of the aspect of the light in the lighthouse helping me find my way in my storm-tossed boat out at sea.   Much better to be in the lighthouse.
    The painting brought this verse to mind:    Psalm 61:3  For You have been a refuge for me, A tower of strength against the enemy.   
    And indeed He has been and is my refuge.
    Last week I went to my six year old granddaughter Kate’s VBS program.    They started out by singing this song entitled My Lighthouse, complete with actions.   What truth to have a child memorize with music and actions.    I was so moved.      
    A few of the lyrics:
    In my wrestling and in my doubts
    In my failures You won’t walk out
    Your great love will lead me through
    You are the peace in my troubled sea

  2. Yes, Nila,  I agree with you — the lighthouse caught my attention also.    I wasn’t sure about the message.  It appeared to me that, in the next second, that water was going to swish around that lighthouse full circle inundating the man.  However, he was by a door, so perhaps he could duck into shelter and be preserved.   He could have chosen to  safely view the storm from a higher level, as there are windows above him.
    While I am posting,  I just want to mention that I posted notes from last week’s lecture by Mike Reeves, but I posted nearly down to the wire, so very few would have had a chance to see them.   If anyone was unable to listen (it was long – 58+ minutes) and are curious, you can go back and check them out. I seem to have a recurring problem with the audio clips.  By the time I have answered the questions during the week, I am running late; and it is often Saturday before I can get to the audio clip.   I suppose we have it at our disposal all week, and theoretically I could listen ahead of schedule (a little bit at a time); but I know Dee prefers we work through the questions drawing upon our own thoughts first.   I notice fewer and fewer participants are posting notes on the audio portion of the lesson, so I wonder if others are encountering the same problem.    

    1. Deanna, the lecture from Reeves is one of my favorites. I really appreciated your good notes too–you’re a gift!

    2. Deanna, I did read over your detailed notes last week – I think you do such a great and thorough job….perhaps that’s why there aren’t many others who post their notes….I think we’ve come to rely on you!

  3. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    Looking at the picture of the Sons of Koran and reading this psalm in light of their experience. WHY? I can’t imagine seeing my dad, as a temple leader, rebel against God and then see him swallowed up in the earth in his rebellion, knowing he never confessed his rebellion as sin and turned back to God. To continue to live with that hurt-not to mention the shame they may have felt over the actions and words of their father. Imagining all of that and then to write this beautiful hymn about God being their refuge and strength. Oh, how God must have comforted and strengthened them. They saw the earth give way and swallow up their dad, yet they did not need to live in fear. They knew what it was to be still and know God and they for sure knew that God would be exalted among the nation’s and on the earth. This picture give me a more clear visual of the background for this psalm.

    1. How well you identified with the sons of Korah!

  4. 1. What struck me….Dee, I am not sure that I agree that we will be told the reasons behind our suffering any more than Job did.  But I think that it won’t matter to us.  Like Teresa of Avila said, “that first kiss from Jesus in heaven will make all our suffering seem like one night in a bad hotel.”
    2. There is so much here!  But for now, I will pick verse 10 be still and know that I am God.  Stop the anxpiety, the busyness, the distractions, even the boredom.  Put all that down and what?  Know.  Really know, deep down in every fiber of your being that He Is God.  You could camp on that for a lifetime!  He Is God.  there is a God, and He Is It.  God.  Totally other than us, infinite, holy, just, merciful….the only reason we can begin to comprehend Him is that He made us in His image.  We can’t fathom not being.  We long for holiness, justice, and mercy.  He Is God.  Not He will be or He was, but He always, forever, Is.  That’s what He said – “I AM”. He Is God when my life spiraled out of control and when everything was good.  He Is God when I am confused and when I am confident.  hHe Is God when I will be old and when I will die.  He is God.  He and not some other.  He told us that, too.  There is Only One, yet He is Triune.  He, not it.  He Is God.  And due all worship and praise!

    1. You camped on that verse so well!

  5. Oh, yes, I agree what a background to have and to write this Psalm. So glad we are doing a series on Psalms by the sons of Korah as I never had pondered the history of them though I had read and studied the passage of their fathers’ rebellion.
    I have known and heard Joni’s teaching on suffering, as well as being familiar with When God Weeps. Psalm 46 has always been a favorite of mine and I often recite verse 1 when I am in a a difficult spot.
    The picture of the lighthouse and Chris’ tragedy stand out to me. I am thankful for our blog sisters sharing their difficult times and it helps me to put things in perspective. Life is filled with many storms and I know God allows us to go through these storms as He provides a refuge for us. Still we ask, why? It hurts to suffer pain and loss.

  6. 1. What stood our to you from the above and why?
    The mysterious ways of God. That suffering could be part of His plan. It would be a frightening thought, except that I know His character. I know He holds all the power and it is only matched by His love. He is not more powerful than He is loving. So we are safe. His ways are beyond what I can comprehend. I want to make sense of things, find security in the logic. But He wants me to “simply” trust. Even in talking about the presidential election earlier today, I thought how I can be tempted to vote based on some sort of logic–wanting a certain outcome over another…and yet, I have decided I can only vote according to my conscience. I stand before the Lord with my vote. So while it may not make any sense, it proves that I am more concerned with my standing before Him–and that I trust His power over any kind of seemingly sure outcome. I didn’t mean to rabbit trail, and I’m not even a political type! but it’s an example to me of continuing to trust His ways, trust IN CHRIST, no matter what my circumstance looks like. I must choose to trust who He is and that He remains faithful regardless to what I can see. Boy, this felt sloppy, hopefully it made so sense!  

    1. Made sense! would be frightening except we know his character!

    2. “Lizzy – I have not been able to join in this week’s discussion, but reading this entry of yours I feel like I can just say “whatever Lizzy says, me too!!”.  Revelling in the mysterious ways of God….KNOWING that He is forever trustworthy…..”I want to make sense of things, find security in the logic.  But He wants me to ‘simply’ trust.”  It was like bells were going off as I read!  Yes.  Even in your “rabbit trailing” into things political – SO crucial to be reminded that we stand before God with our vote.  Thank you for that!  Precisely where I have found myself….and not very comfortable at all along the process…but oh so GOOD.  Christ alone, no matter the circumstances!  

  7. I’ve pondered on that painting many a time. I always interpret the waves as part of a storm. There is something predictable and familiar about storms–all the while, the current storm you’re experiencing contains enough new variances to go beyond your experience. Will I rest in God’s refuge in this storm, too? A storm of this magnitude might easily test the structure of the lighthouse and weaken its effectiveness. And if I were to only trust in myself or in the building itself, I would not be that individual casually resting on one leg in the threshold. However, if I know the Maker of the lighthouse…. Then, I could rest assured–even though the waves will surely drench me to the skin and even physically shaken me to the core. The depth of trouble described in Psalm 46:1-3 is the foundation-shaking kind. The kind when all you know of yourself and even of God is tested. Yet, God is your refuge and strength–even then.

  8. Even then!

  9. 3. Verses 1-3 Describe the scene and yet the hope.  There is trouble and cause for fear.  The earth is giving way(like swallowing Korah) and the mountains are falling into the heart of the sea.  I’ve seen in other places in the Bible where groups of people are referred to as waters or seas, and mountains like strength.  So – though peoples roar and foam – are in tumult- and strength quakes with that tumult, God is still our true refuge, strength, and help in trouble.  I don’t need to fear despite politics or economics or natural disasters or failing relationships.  God is still God.  It makes me feel stronger just to review this.  Yet it is not me that needs to be stronger, it is me that needs to recognize God’s strength and rest in it.
    4. I’ve thought about this verse a lot.  In keeping with seeing water as people, I see the river as the Church universal, and streams as individuals or smaller bodies of believers.  It doesn’t take the whole church to please God, He is pleased with you and me as we rely on Him. Verse 5 follows right along with this.  God is within the Church and she will not fall.  Jesus said the gates of hell would not prevail against it.  God will help the Church at break of day.  Maybe He means The Day, the Day of the Lord, which is a day of deep darkness and distress.  Yet, again, we need not fear, for God is with us.

  10. 2. Ponder Psalm 46 and share anything that quickens you. 
    I’m first drawn to the mountains moving and the earth shaking; reminds me of the time when the sins of Korah were swallowed up. Also, the theme throughout that God is the protector and will always be there.

    3. Read Psalm 46:1-3 and describe the scene and yet, the hope.
    It would be scary to be in an earthquake where the earth literally splits apart. I have been in hurricanes where the wind is so strong you can barely stand up. The forces in nature are a reminder that we are small and He is not. We pray during those scary times, asking God to help us through. we have hope that He will. I see that hope revealed in these lines.

  11. What stood out: Suffering is part of God’s plan for His people-accompanied with the lighthouse picture.
    I admit, this is scary for whenever Dee posts like this something happens in my life giving me the opportunity to press into Him and let go of whatever is entangling me. 🙂  
    I don’t know..just pondering the lighthouse that while the storm is painful and scary we press into God and cry out..and we trust Him, we can open the door and stand humbly and confidently in Jesus in the midst of a storm, unafraid with our eyes on Him. I also see that our trust in Him through suffering is an opportunity for others to see Him and it is a process.
    Could suffering really be a severe mercy? I say YES. 🙂 Yet It is a mystery for I know God weeps with us-yet He ordains and walks with us through it. The reality that He is bigger and better than anything this world offers-even our own lives. This is SO easy to say..but until we experience suffering and the dark valley days of crying out to Him. It doesn’t come in a neat little ‘how to’ package like we so often do when we talk about suffering. He does the work in our hearts as we press in. Just like He did with Job. 

    1. Rebecca – oh boy, your last paragraph is priceless and packed full!!!  And to every word I add my amen.  I too use the phrase “severe mercy” quite often and I find enormous comfort therein.  For indeed “He is bigger and better than anything this world offers – even our own lives”.  Forget the “how to” packages, there are simply seasons – sometimes seemingly undending! – of mourning and weeping.  And He is there.  I truly do believe that “we are all just walking each other home”….but ultimately and always, it is HIM who walks us HOME….all the way!!  “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” (NLT Psalm 34:18). 

  12. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    Honestly, when I really study that painting of the lighthouse, I find it rather frightening and unsettling, not comforting. I have visited one lighthouse in NC, Cape Lookout. We were able to go inside the lighthouse as it is now a museum, yet still a working lighthouse. But, it is on an island. This lighthouse appears as if it’s out in the middle of the sea, yet as I don’t think lighthouses are built out in the water but on land, this is a really terrible storm like a hurricane that is flooding the land. It makes me think of the word “trapped”. There is no way this man can get out of there as he is completely surrounded by the water. His fate, then, depends entirely upon the stability and strength of that structure. If that lighthouse’s structure is weak or defective in any way, the pounding waves could cause it to crumble and topple. The man in the painting doesn’t appear to be afraid, though, and maybe that’s the point or the message of the artist? Did the artist have in mind so many of the familiar phrases of the psalmists, that God is our Rock, our Refuge, our Strong Tower? For so many, there is no way out of their suffering; there is no deliverance from the hands of evil men or from terminal illness. This has to be pointing, then, to a deeper truth. Tim Keller said in one of his sermons that Jesus “went under the waves of the only storm that can drown us”.

  13. 2. Ponder Psalm 46 and share anything that quickens you.
    I went away from the computer to read and meditate on Psalm 46. Making it very personal, as there is something in my life that I have struggled with for many, many years. I will think that I finally am done with it, and some time may pass before it attacks and assails me once again, and many times, I fall. I am reflecting again on the painting as going along with the words of the psalm. I see two very different water images; one is a roaring, pounding, surging ocean with roaring, foaming waves that will wipe me out and destroy me, and the other is a river and its streams that bring joy. I see this painting now picturing this invisible battle. Satan, the enemy of my soul, is also described as a ROARING lion, bent on devouring, destroying, me. These waves that are pounding this lighthouse are also ROARING. Why is this man so calm-appearing? Perhaps because “God is within her; she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.” So where IS my refuge, my strength, and my help when the enemy roars at me and even my own flesh wants its way which is not God’s way? God is “ever-present” – He has promised never to leave me nor to forsake me. He is right there. He is WITHIN me. Jesus is as a stream of life-giving water who brings joy and peace in the midst of attack. I know that the enemy and every agent of hell is bent on our destruction, on my destruction, and they pound and roar just like those waves, yet the lighthouse, the refuge, stands firm against them.
    And then, “Be still, and know that I am God” just screams to me, “STOP!” Don’t run, don’t hide, don’t dash off to busyness or distraction, just STOP. STOP and look at ME, your God who is clothed with splendor and majesty and who has His sword upon His side (Psalm 45).
    I so needed this today. I had such an utter day of defeat yesterday.

      1. I love this…Why is this man so calm appearing? “God is right there. He is WITHIN me. Jesus is as a stream of life-giving water who brings joy and peace in the midst of attack. “

  14. Yet in the midst of sorrow, nothing can separate us from the love of God, and one day, we will understand it all, and, as Teresa of Avila said: “That first kiss from Jesus in heaven will make all our suffering  seem like one night in a bad hotel.”
    1. What stood our to you from the above and why?
    The bad hotel stood out to me and made me chuckle inside, though not at the time.  During our only visit in Copenhagen with Aunt Vera, age 83, and my husband, Jim, we checked into Hotel Absalom (should have been a red light warning right there.) Jim’s and my long, narrow room faced a large inner court yard.  All night long, a man in a lower lit-up workshop was using loud power tools across the courtyard. We also heard three gunshots outside the room.  We did not sleep very well that night. We found a nice B&B the following day. 

  15. 2. Ponder Psalm 42. what quickens you?
    The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us! He is Sovereign. I will be honored by every nation.
    Yes, I see how the nations rage and kingdoms totter, yet at his voice, the earth melts.
    I am reassured that when all in my life is feeling like disaster, I am safe in his love.
    4. What do  I learn? Verse 4 There is no destruction in the city of our God. There is life-giving water, and assurance that God’s
    help is available, and gladness will fill us as we dwell with Him. Hope fills my spirit, replacing despair.
    I am so thankful for this through these present times of despair.

  16. This is pretty personal but Psalm 46 has been a lifeline to me so recently. I am hoping this will be a comfort to some who read this. “During the day, the LORD orders his steadfast love. At night, he gives me his song.” (Psalm 42:8) God gave me his song by giving me Psalm 46 as my Dad lay dying less than a month ago. 
    Spending time in the hospital as my Dad lay quite sick with strep pneumonia, I felt the need to find a Bible and read. I went down the hall of the small town hospital to where I had seen a bookshelf earlier, and found a Bible – King James Version. I sat in the hospital room reading Psalms when there were quiet breaks. Later, during the middle of the night, when Dad’s laboured breathing remained unchanged, some of the family left to try to get some rest. I stayed alone at Dad’s bedside reading Psalm 46 in the very dim light of the hospital hall. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam …”
    Suddenly I was aware that Dad’s heavy breathing had ceased. My first thought, “He has stopped breathing.” In fact, Dad had not ceased breathing yet, but it had become shallow and his heart rate slow. I rushed to rouse my step-mom who was just down the hall resting and notified the nearby family.  As we waited, I read Psalm 46 out loud. Within a few short minutes, he was gone to be with his Lord.  
    What comfort Psalm 46 is! I have now seen both of my parents pass into the presence of the Lord. In both instances, I have experienced an amazing peace knowing they are with the Lord. Indeed, we do not grieve as those who have no hope. “God is our refuge and our strength”. 

    1. OH DIANE–this so moved my heart. Thank you for sharing this beautiful picture with us, how He met you in your recent, dark hour. and HAPPY BIRTHDAY (again!) 🙂

    2. How beautiful, Diane, and how sad as well. I’m so glad you were able to share the Word of the Lord with your Dad. May the God of All Comfort sustain you and your step-mom and the rest of the family as you lean ever harder upon Him. His Everlasting Arms will not fail you. God bless!

    3. Diane, I can just picture you in my mind, sitting in that dim hospital room. Having worked many years on night shift, I know just what it’s like. I have heard it said time and again that a person’s hearing is the last sense to go. It is beautiful to think that he was hearing the words of this psalm as he passed into the presence of God. Thank you for sharing.

    4. Thanks, Lizzy, Chris Fitch, Dee and Susan for your kind sympathy and words. Especially thanks to Susan for your perspective that “a person’s hearing is the last sense to go. It is beautiful to think that he was hearing the words of this psalm as he passed into the presence of God.” Oh, this is so comforting! I did NOT know this! Thanks so much for this treasure!!! 

    5. Diane, what a wonderful blessing for you to have this Psalm at this specific time.
      God’s spirit surely touched you and you were able to let the family know this change in his condition.
       I am sure that your Dad was touched and brought so peacefully into God’s presence.

    6. Diane – “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”  Psalm 116:15  ESV.  Oh my, your words here show us just a tiny glimpse of that preciousness….from this side of the valley.  Experiencing (though not with specifically Psalm 46) much of what you have written with my mom’s death it really takes me back.  That you have been there for both your mom and dad’s passing from this world to the next is staggering and golden beyond words.  The gift God gave just to you in Psalm 46 and the passing of your dad has infused new vision into this Scripture for me.  Thank you, thank you for taking the time to share.

    7. DIANE:    I haven’t been here all week (and not much all summer) but I decided to scroll through tonight.  I am so glad I was able to read your sweet story about your dad leaving this earth for heaven, while you were reading Psalm 46.  How amazing that this was the Psalm chosen to study this week.  What a sweet reminder of God’s faithfulness that, as you said,  God gave you amazing peace when your parents left.   I felt that too.  It is truly an ‘other worldly’ experience to be with a saint who has passed into the presence of our Lord.  Blessings as you continue to grieve and glean deep truth from your walk with Him. 

  17. 2. Ponder Psalm 46 and share anything that quickens you.
    Years ago, I was in mourning because I saw people who I loved, church-going Christians, fighting each other over stupid stuff.  At that time, I was comforted  by verse 9 – “He makes wars to cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear, He burns the shields with fire.”  In this day and age, when I see neighborhoods at war within my county, and people killing each other over what? A shoe? Drugs? A wallet? A lover? A car? I am comforted again, that the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and my God, will make wars to cease, not only in the Middle East, but in Milwaukee, and to the ends of the earth!
    The other verse that really spoke to me in the past is, “Be still and know that I am God.  I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”  I had mourned the seeming loss of a ministry long ago, but the Lord assured me that He is Sovereign.  He didn’t need me to minister at that moment and in the manner in which I had in the past. He has it under control. God will be glorified, despite my meager efforts. The Lord will triumph gloriously! Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven!  

  18.  Read Psalm 46:1-3 and describe the scene and yet, the hope.
    There is terror all around.  Our world is shattered. What we relied on is no more. Our security has disappeared, almost like the nation’s security on September 11, 2001, or like our personal security when some tragedy strikes. Yet, God is our Security.  He brings about our deliverance from the evil. In Him is power and authority and ultimately, rest. I can call upon Him to wrap His arms tightly around me and bring that lasting peace.  His perfect love will cast out my fear.    

  19. This is one bad night in a hotel roon…. Such a great reminder… My daughter is sick and wont sleep and just screams. I feel like crying with her as she can’t tell me what exactly hurts. Is it her ears, her throat, her head etc… I need to look at the big picture… one day there will be no more pain and this is so brief compared to eternity with Jesus… When your child is suffering don’t you want to fix it for them and fix it quick…but there will be trouble so keep clinging to the truth when doubt creeps in…. I have to tell myself cling to Him.

    1. oh sweet Natalie, praying right now for your little girl. It is so especially hard when they are too tiny to communicate what is going on in their body…I remember those scary times. Praying for quick healing and for peace to cover you both

    2. I’m so sorry this happened Natalie. So hard and frustrating. I hope she is better? I will pray.

    3. Praying for you and your daughter during this difficult time, Natalie.

    4. Natalie, I agree with Lizzy’s prayer! How is your daughter? Oh I can so relate to wanting to fix the pain for our children and quick. 

  20. 4. One day, we will be in a far different place. This is described in verse 4. What do you learn?
    No river runs through Jerusalem. King Hezekiah “made a pool, and a conduit and brought water into the city” (II Kings 20:20) to preserve the waters of the spring of Gihon when the City was threatened by invasion and famine. So, the river is not on this present earth.
    Yet, in Rev. 21:1-3, John writes”And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I, John, saw the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold the tabernacle of God is with men and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them and be their God.” 
    Rev. 22: 1-2 says, “And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.  In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” 
    The Sons of Korah mention the river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. Did they have a vision of this river? Of the New Jerusalem? What a blessing to know with certainty that they could hope in the mercy of the Lord God.
    David too mentions the river in Psalm 36:7-8 “How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings.  They feast on the abundance of your house; You give them drink from your river of delights.
    Could this also refer to John 4:14, when Jesus says “but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 
    Someday we will drink from the river of delights, from the river flowing from the very throne of God.  We will eat of the fruit of those trees. And the leaves of the trees of life growing beside the river will be used for the healing of the nations. How much our nation needs that healing right now.  

    1. That is a wonderful observation, that there is no river there.  I like what you said about Jesus being the river, and pulling in Revelation.

    2. Chris, thank you for sharing all these passages that mention rivers and streams! So amazing that the Word takes a thing like a river, or water, and while it may literally be referring to a body of water, yet there is a much deeper spiritual truth there.

  21. 5. A.  Does God plan disasters?  Yes and no.  He didn’t plan Jobs sufferings, but He did allow them.  He did prepare the great fish to swallow Jonah and the storm that got him into the water so the fish could get at him.  Not every trouble comes straight from the hand of God.  But there is nothing outside of God’s knowledge and control.  For myself, I try not to figure those things out too closely.  Instead, I’d rather focus on how to respond in faith and give God glory in the midst of whatever storm is happening.
    B.  Is it hope or Despair?  There is much hope in seeing God behind it and in control.  His word says He injures but He also heals, He wounds but He also binds up.  He does nothing for the purpose of suffering only.  There is always a higher goal, a way for us to come closer to Him, bringing others with us.

  22. 2. Ponder Psalm 46 and share anything that quickens you.
    That HE is our refuge and strength-an ever present help in trouble..then in verse 7 & 11: The Lord Almighty is with us-the God of Jacob is our fortress.  This is a recurring theme. I sense it is more than seeing Him as just to help us in our calamities..notice the kingdoms did fall-he didn’t fix things..rather I see He is present-with us..there is this beautiful intimacy here. I think the thrust of this is-look at who He is and that should melt us in delight of him taking our eyes off of the calamity that surrounds us. To be enthralled with His lovelieness and in awe of his power in the middle of chaos and calamity-what a sweet place to be with Him-delighting in Him. I So loved last week’s Mike Reeves-enjoying God. I am going to listen again this morning! 🙂 Delighting in Him changes everything, and I mean internally-not externally- and everything about how I see what is going on around me. Those things are little compared to His loveliness. I hope I am not stretching Psalm 46..but this is how I was quickened. 🙂
    I think after listening to Reeves, He melted me..I was encouragingly convicted. 

  23. 3. Read Psalm 46:1-3 and describe the scene and yet, the hope.
    The psalmist describes a time so bad, so horrible, where there would be great fear; he uses word pictures of the earth giving way and the mountains falling into the ocean, and of surging, roaring waters. His hope is in God, who he says is our refuge, our strength, and always ready to help us in times of trouble.
    4. One day, we will be in a far different place. This is described in verse 4. What do you learn?
    There is a very real place that the psalmist calls the city of God, and it is where He lives. Though he doesn’t really describe it in this verse, there is no mention of any kind of disaster taking place in this city. The implication is that because this is where God, the Holy One dwells, everything is as it should be. In contrast to roaring, foaming oceans, there is a river here, and streams, and they bring about gladness.

  24. 4. One day, we will be in a far different place. This is described in verse 4. What do you learn?
    There is is a holy place we will live in one day.
    5. Read Psalm 46:6-11 
    A. On the basis of this passage, how would you answer the question: “Does God plan disasters?”
    I don’t believe God creates chaos in our lives. These verses say that He rescues the people from all the events, not puts them there to suffer. Nations rage and when He speaks, they stop. He makes wars cease. He is the strength.  mMy husband and I have discussed this many times. We think God gave us free will, and that means we can make bad decisions where we are harmed. I also think the evil one prowls around looking for an opening to insert himself. 
    “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
    ‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭5:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬
    The only verse that is confusing in the Psalm, is verse 8. 
    “Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth.”
    ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭46:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬
    I know that at times, in the OT, God has been unhappy with His people; they have not followed His ways. Because He is God, He is able to “clean the slate,” if you will. Think Noah. It is His perogative since He made it all, right? This statement may refer to those times I suppose? But then, God makes beauty out of His own ashes!
    B. Does it give you hope or despair to think God is behind suffering?
    I guess I don’t really believe He is behind the suffering, generally speaking, so I can’t answer this question very well. My faith gives me confidence that God is in control at all times. Earth is an imperfect place because of sin, and He is the “master workman” who creates good things from chaos. He is the artist who we can’t anticipate with His next stroke of the brush. He knows the masterpiece, but we don’t. It is an adventure for us! His creativity is honed as the devil moves in our world, catching us off guard. I guess I just can’t believe He would want us to suffer at His hand. He loves us. He loves me.

      1. I keep thinking about this question; can’t seem to shake it. I do not want to believe He creates bad things for us; He loves us. But yet, as you mention in the opening, He did send out armies in Habbukkuk, right? The Chaldeans. He lifted them up to destroy. But even still, wasn’t He doing it to save His people? Wasn’t He protecting them in the long run? He loves us; me. I wouldn’t plan evil on my own children…I would protect them in their evil if I could. We are made in His image, so He would do this for His children too, right?

        1. Laura, it is such a troubling question and no surprise that it gets a grip on us.  This is a good thing in itself, for our pondering should never drive us crazy, but hopefully drive us into the loving arms of our God!  Verse 8, as you have pointed out, is almost impossible to get around or interpret in a “safe” way!  We then surely have to ponder – as so many are doing so excellently here! – how this troubling verse fits into the whole of the Scriptures.  It cannot be an aberration, it must conform to the teaching of the whole of the Bible.  This leads me to think of a much used verse in the NT that comforts many…..Romans 8:28 says “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose…”  Are all things “good”?  No.  Do all things “work together for good”?  YES!!  And then we read the critical followup in the passage in verse 29 – which explains EXACTLY what God is at work at in our lives!  “For those whom he foreknew he predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”  None of us could possibly have the ability to conform ourselves to the image of Christ….ever!!  HE must do the shaping, the conforming, the pruning, the disciplining…..and it WILL BE painful!  Jesus was oh so clear that we might lose everything dear to us – even our families (Matt 10:34-39) – as a cost of following Him.  But of course we are called to LOVE our families and our brothers and sisters in Christ and the lost world!  Even to the point of laying down our lives for them.  But at the same time Jesus has never promised me “safety”.  He has never promised me that I may not bury a child – or like Job, even all of my children.  In the midst of an incredibly poignant conversation with my daughter last week….after the funeral of our mutual friend who had died of the same cancer my daughter has ….she said to me “Mom, have you ever realized how MANY people you are close to who have lost a child?”.  Yes.  Indeed over the past 5 or 6 years my life has been filled and overflowing with these dear ones.  And of course I knew EXACTLY what she was saying to me, the words beneath the words.  Oh.  God may give us hints to what lies ahead – but we just don’t know.  We trust.  I know that I’m sounding like I’m on a soapbox here…..and like I have it all together – that is simply NOT the case.  I have my nights of fretful sleep and my days of asking God for “another way….any other way…” for MANY things.  But like Mike Reeves was teaching us last week….He just is so inexpressibly lovely…..He keeps drawing our eyes back to Him.  Peace.  

  25. 6. Joni- “we don’t suffer for nothing, and we don’t suffer alone”, and “I choose You, God, over all the rest of this”. These are good reminders of the fact that God does not waste anything, not even our suffering.  He redeems it and makes it holy, something altogether different than what the devil intended.  And Joni is right, it brings God fame and glory.  That is what has happened in her life, and certainly in the death and resurrection of our Lord.
    7. Take away.  I’ve had a giant spoonful of God’s mightiness over suffering.  He has an overwhelming ability to make of it what we cannot, and indeed cannot even fathom until after we see Him do it.  Amazing that what He calls us to do in the midst of pain is both the easiest thing there is, and the hardest to do we will ever find.  And that is to be still and know that He is God.

  26. Oh I love that video of Psalm 46. Absolutely beautiful and her voice is so calming. Going to try to memorize that one this week. When you see her walking around His creation, she looks so small compared to all He has made. Good picture of  the God we sever, a powerful and creative God for sure!

  27. 1. What stood out the most was the devastation that you, Dee must have experienced losing your husband to cancer and then someone by murder. The next thing was the art, and how clearly each piece communicated so much. I really enjoyed how you used art in the “Living in love With Jesus,” study. The next thing that stood out was the question, one that my dear friend and I had discussed last week, it’s amazing how God places the same topic or scriptures together is several different places, a discussion, a study, a sermon, all within a short frame of time. Early in June I opened my Bible and began reading and pondering Psalm 46. It was the page I had opened to, I had no way of knowing He would lead me here to this group and this study at this time.
    2. Originally I wrote a lengthy answer to this question but then decided the phrase,” All of it,” would suffice.
    3..The scene to me is unfathomable, disaster, the hope ,the definition of reality and the truth of who God is and that He is in control, and in command of all things, always.
    4. The Holy place is a real address and it is also within us. When Dottie Rambo wrote the song, “Holy Spirit You Are Welcome in This Place,” she was writing about her very core.
    I mean not to offend anyone; I disagree with, Joni Eareckson Tada’s quote. I don’t think we should for any reason ask or seek less in this life, spiritually speaking, especially with the train wrecks and broken places. Get more of God and accept nothing less, one of the many things He has been teaching me.
    5. A – This is a very loaded question, again one that my dear friend and I were discussing last week. She is very wise in scripture and has a very intimate relationship with God. She says no God does not rain disaster upon someone to teach them something. He will use everything and waste nothing that comes into our lives .Many pastors and Christian writers indicated that yes God does bring harsh suffering upon individuals.  Based on these verses alone I would say,that I am undecided and would have to study scripture further before I can give an honest and educated answer.
    One thing that I noticed in the translation that I have is the disasters were brought upon the earth. Humans, free will, and bad choices create and increase uproar, especially during times of disasters whare nature is concerned. “He makes wars cease,” to me is an opposite of destruction. In the hopeful verses the words, “us and our,” to me seem much more intimate, and personal, than, “the earth.” Disaster on the largest scale brought upon the natural earth, but hope and restoration brought to His people. That’s what I see in these verses. 

  28. 2. Ponder Psalm 46 and share anything that quickens you.
    Psalm 46 begins with “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”  Then, eleven verses later, it ends with “The Lord Almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress.” This psalm was the inspiration for the hymn (which I love), “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.”   When I began loving that hymn, I did not realize that it was inspired by Psalm 46.  The hymn was the background theme for the movie, A Man Called Peter, the biographical film about Peter Marshall   If you don’t remember the movie, don’t berate yourself – it was released in 1955!    Some of you weren’t even born yet!
    3. Read Psalm 46:1-3 and describe the scene and yet, the hope.
    There are some scary things mentioned in these verses:   mountains falling into the sea, waters roaring, and earthquakes.     Yet there is hope because “God is our refuge and strength.”  Any bad situation can be made better when we remember that God is still in charge.   
    4. One day, we will be in a far different place. This is described in verse 4. What do you learn?
    Many great cities had a river running through them, which provided enhanced agriculture and trade.  However, Jerusalem did not have a river running through it, but God was in their midst and sustained the people. I want to think this psalm is not referring to that Jerusalem, but rather to the New Jerusalem referred to in Revelation.   My Bible commentary did not back that up, however.   It said that when the people abandoned God, he no longer protected them, and Jerusalem fell to the Babylonian king. Of course  I’m mindful that scripture can often have two layers.  

  29. 6. On Joni’s writings, “we don’t suffer for nothing, and we don’t suffer alone “. And then later, “say, ‘I choose You, God, over all the rest of this'”. These are good reminders that God does not waste anything, even our suffering.  He redeems it and makes it holy.  He makes it something altogether different from what the devil intended for it to be.  Joni is right, it brings fame and glory to God.
    7. I’ve had a big and marvelous spoonful of thinking about God’s victory over suffering.  He has an overwhelming ability to make of it what we cannot.  Indeed, what we cannot even fathom until we see what He has done.  And what He calls us to do in the midst of pain is both the easiest thing there is to do, and the hardest-to be still, and know that He Is God.  Thank you especially for this week, Dee.

  30. 5. Read Psalm 46:6-11 A. On the basis of this passage, how would you answer the question: “Does God plan disasters?”
    This reminds me of Psalm 115:3 “Our God is in the heavens; He does all that he pleases.”  I might be uncomfortable with the phrase “God plans…” and yet Scripture tells me He orchestrates all things. He is Holy and Just. I will never understand His reasoning fully, but that is faith. If the most holy and just and righteous action is a certain disaster, then God will plan it. But His heart never changes, His motivation, I believe for all He does, is love. Because I cannot understand it, does not make it untrue. 
    B. Does it give you hope or despair to think God is behind suffering?
    It gives me peace. I would despair if I thought another power planned my suffering beyond God’s control. It is a confusing, difficult, beyond-my-comprehension thought, that He is behind suffering, and yet, I know He cannot do anything that is unjust or unholy. 
    I think one thing I am learning is to not expect myself to have peace about the suffering while I am in it. When the storms hit, I so often question ‘why this? Why now? Can’t there be another way?’. But I cannot expect those feelings to pass and THEN have His peace. I accept that most of the time, in the hard stuff, I will not “get” it. But in those times, when my faith is weak and tested and feels small—it is enough. My smallest fragment of faith is still enough, He will carry me. He does not expect more of me than that. When I can catch my breath, I remind myself His faithfulness in the past, something Dee taught me, and I just keep speaking that truth back to my fears over and over. 

      1. Dee-me too. 

    1. Yes. Lizzy! I come back to this again and again in my recent years: if I am to believe that God is most powerful then He could change things but He doesn’t so I have to trust that He IS faithful, just, loving….I have to believe the Bible and His attributes even when I cannot fully understand.

      1. oh Jill, reading your words this morning it just hit me anew that it really IS that simple:  I either trust what I cannot see – God and all He is – OR I true what I can see – the “things” of this life!  Thanks for that clarity!

  31. 6. Share your notes and comments on the above.
    Joni says God helps the needy and such. I wonder….if I’m not hearing from Him when I think I should, means I really don’t need Him even though I think I am needy at that particular moment? Maybe He is giving me the hand????!! LOL!

    1. Ah Laura – sometimes I get very, very foundational in those times.  He gives me every breath I take, for instance!  For every single moment that He gives me breath, He WILL “fulfill his purpose for me…” (Psalm 138:8).  I also find that time and time again He comes to me in unexpected, almost overlooked ways.  Through the back door when I am watching earnestly at the front door!  I imagine Him taking great delight in building our faith in Him in such times!!  

  32. 6. Share your notes and comments on the above.
    My, oh my, isn’t Joni Eareckson Tada just the ultimate?!!    Absolutely amazing!    I must have been hiding under a rock somewhere, as I was not aware that Joni had added breast cancer to her array of diagnoses.   I’m glad to know she is doing well and recovering from the effects of her chemo.     But especially I loved the part where she said that the “little splashes of heaven” are when Jesus meets us in the “little splashes of hell.”    I agree fully. In my life, when there have been the terrible periods (like the death of each of my parents), there have been liberal sprinklings of blessings mixed right in there with the grief and distress.   We see this best in retrospect  — wouldn’t you think after awhile we would come instead to EXPECT it?!

  33. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why? We have seen this lighthouse picture before…it is always worth pondering in the contex of suffering in this world and refuge of our God. A good observation was made that the gentleman is not taking full advantage of the lighthouse, he is not even inside the door…But I wonder are we supposed to this side of heaven? Are we able to this side of heaven? The man in the picture could climb to the tallest level and not be touched by the waves – would he even be aware of the storm? And if a part of the tower does fall it would likely be the tallest point…. But instead his confidence in the refuge is such that he doesn’t have to be in the door. He can be touched by the storm and still be ‘safe’ because of his refuge. He can let the storm wash some of him away and still trust the lighthouse as his standing and foundation. He is not scared, nor does he fully see what is to come behind him but he trusts his refuge. God left us here on this broken cursed earth IN the storm so should we seek to be as safe as possible? Or should we go to the door and be fully aware and in the storm and call to people to come to the Light?

  34. , though the earth give way    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,3 though its waters roar and foam    and the mountains quake with their surging.[c]
    All that is a disaster but all we need to do is be still. He will take care of us, He will protect us no matter what mountain in our life is crumbling down. He is our fortress.
    My Jehovah Witness friend returned today. We discussed the trinity last time and she gave me a pamphlet this time on the trinity. She highlighted so many parts of the pamphlet, and I thought I would speak to each by writing my beliefs next to them and give it back to her when she comes again. She gave me a hug when she left so she feels comfortable with me. Praying the Spirit leads her to the truth. Her name is Cheri. The Lord has made it easy to witness to her. I don’t have to even leave my home. She just shows up at my door! Perfect!

    1. Natalie–so love your heart! Lord, we pray that You would work in Cheri’s heart, open her ears to hear Your truths spoken from Natalie, using Your Word. Thank You for Natalie’s model of obedience. Amen~

      1. Amen.

    2. Natalie, you amaze me in this journey you are on with the Lord and your new JW friend!  I was SO thrilled to think of a friend whose child has been caught up with the JW’s.  I have prayed for her that the Lord would bring solid believers across her path to speak TRUTH into her life in a truly winsome, Christ like way.  And here you are doing just that for SOMEONE’S child!  Gave me chills to read.  Thank you for sharing and for your faithfulness in following Christ into this hard space and place.  

      1. and Natalie, I also felt led to stop and pray for your spiritual protection and for wisdom in this place of great spiritual battle, for sure.  

    3. Praying for Cheri and for YOU Natalie. This so blesses my heart.  Gods Word never returns void. May we all be allowing the Lord to use us to bring light to the darkness of this world.! And truth and love to where some have been lead astray.  Praying for many more Natalie’s to encounter the Cheri’s of this world. An opportunity at your doorstep. 

  35. 3. Read Psalm 46:1-3 and describe the scene and yet, the hope.
    I love this passage because there is no glossing over or candy coating, pain and real tribulation is acknowledged—we are certain to experience it. And yet, God is not up above in a far away place, looking down and waiting for us to come to Him to experience peace in Heaven, one Day. As true as that Day is, He is with us NOW. He is present IN our affliction. He gives us strength, He provides us protection. This passage makes it clear that no matter how frightening the circumstances or how alone we feel—God is telling us that He is not punishing us, and He is right here in it with us! If I meditate on this, let it sink in, it silences the enemy’s whispers that God is angry with me or just doesn’t care. I see the times He has so faithfully been present before, carried me, and even when the “worst possible” did seem to happen—He stayed. He is unshaken. I want to be in the arms of the One who cannot be swayed by the greatest of tsunamis. 

  36. 6. Share your notes and comments on the above.
    I remember getting Joni’s biography in my stocking one year–I think I was 10, and I have loved her ever since. This clip was so rich. I love what she said about God rescuing her in the night, and how she speaks to her soul–reminding herself to trust in God, her Savior, speaking truth against her emotions…
    Then this “never think we suffer for nothing, or suffer alone” I like the picture she painted that we do experience things similar at times to Job, and we are warriors, we must choose the Lord over fear and doubts. Job is a testimony to God’s strength in him. God will give us the courage. Forget what lies behind, strain towards what is ahead. “God permits what He hates to accomplish what He loves–Christ in me, the hope of Glory!”

  37. 3. Read Psalm 46:1-3 and describe the scene and yet, the hope.
    The scene is overwhelming -your world falls apart. It could be war, persecution like our brothers and sisters in the middle east. It could be the death of a loved one or getting that terminal diagnosis, or a life changing diagnosis with your child, or clinical anxiety or depression. It could be the state of our nation as it is right now. This is a deep deep valley where everything literally is falling apart yet there is hope for God doesn’t fall apart-He is faithful and steadfast and He is within those who are His. He is walking the valley with us and is our comfort, our peace and our joy. Even though we feel like a knife is stabbing deep and won’t go away, He is in us, encouraging us-sustaining us with His life giving water. I can’t help but think this whole Psalm is a calling for us to turn from our idols-finding comfort and peace in the things of this world rather than Him-and drawing near to Him..our hearts would rather be with Him than wrap around the things of this Earth for they aren’t worthy. Like the Reeves sermon last week..that we would desire Him above all else for He is lovely.
    4. One day, we will be in a far different place. This is described in verse 4. What do you learn?
    I can’t describe it well- I mean it’s beautiful…to be with Him face to face. There will be no temptation for us to run to our idols for He will have completely melted our hearts with His glory. HE will have removed Baal from our lips. The dim will be removed and won’t see in part but in full. We will see clearly-no suffering,  no pain..we will be glad-we will be home with Him.

    1. Rebecca, love your answer to #3. Yes, the metaphors and word pictures could describe any number of situations – everything that you mention could make us feel like our whole (personal) world is falling apart. Yet, “God doesn’t fall apart”. I also like how you see the entire psalm as calling for us to turn from our idols, which, when we are desperately searching for relief, we can turn to things other than Him to find peace, comfort, or security.

  38. 5. Read Psalm 46:6-11
    A. On the basis of this passage, how would you answer the question: “Does God plan disasters?”
    I see two phrases, one in verse 6, “He lifts His voice, the earth melts”, and one in verse 8, “Come and see the works of the Lord, the desolations He has brought on the earth.”
    I’m not sure if the first is some kind of poetic imagery – the earth melting? I also do not know what the psalmist was thinking of when he refers to “desolations He has brought on the earth”?  I’ve read others’ comments too. Clearly in Habakkuk, it was the Lord who raised up the Chaldeans to discipline His people. It was the Lord who brought about the flood in Noah’s day. However, after the flood, didn’t God promise that He would never again bring something like that about in order to destroy the earth? So, even so far this year, there have been terrible floods in the states of WVA and TX that have claimed lives. Did God bring about that bad weather? What about the tsunami that struck Japan a few years ago? Did God bring that about? Or, is creation fallen too, and we live in a world now that has hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes…..it was never intended to be this way. I remember after 9/11 happened that some well-known Christian leaders publicly said that it was God’s judging our nation that caused that – how did that comfort the families of those who were on those planes and in those towers? There are many examples in the OT of God, in relationship with His people, the Israelites, either giving them victory over their enemies when they were obeying and following Him, or allowing their enemies to defeat them when they were not. Is this how God interacts with His Church today? Then there is the whole issue of sin and man’s free will, which is God-given. How many desolations have been brought about on the earth because of one man’s sinful, evil bent and the free will to choose that path?
    I have more questions than answers. I am not comfortable with any thinker, theologian, or anyone else who says, like some did after 9/11, that they have it all figured out; they know the reason behind the suffering or mass destruction and they, in a way, “speak for God”. We are given some revelation in Scripture, but I do not feel comfortable saying that I know what God is doing or WHY He is doing it, or even if it was God.
    I see more verses in this passage of God bringing an end to war; one day, He will make all wars stop, and there will be no need for weapons of war. The day that He will be exalted above every nation and over all the earth. This seems to speak of when Jesus returns.

  39. B. Does it give you hope or despair to think that God is behind suffering?
    I don’t think it would give me despair because all throughout the Bible, I see God reaching out, bending down, and pursuing, in love, His Beloved. His character assures me that He is not punitive, acts on a whim when out-of-control, or even disciplines unfairly or unjustly. There are passages that assure us that God disciplines those He loves, just as we earthly parents discipline our children, and while I have done that imperfectly, He does it perfectly. The greatest suffering that ever happened was Jesus bearing the sins of the whole world and being separated from His Father. In His suffering lies our hope; Jesus bore the ultimate, worst suffering so that we would never have to suffer that when we put our trust in Him.

  40. 2. Ponder Psalm 46 and share anything that quickens you.
    “ever present” – He is always present, even if not obvious.
    “nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall” – we are experiencing this today.
    “Come and see the works of the Lord, the desolations he has brought on the earth” – He allows us to revisit His power and Sovereignty by giving us visual reminders. “Come and see!” I was chatting with a non-Christian the other day saying I think that God allows tornados just so we can remember how powerful He is….I specifically used “allows” to avoid controversy but sometimes He Himself brings the desolations! And why? (One reason) we find in verse 10, “…know that I am God…”
    3. Read Psalm 46:1-3 and describe the scene and yet, the hope. It describes the end of everything we stand on, literally…. That all would be destroyed God will not be, cannot be, and so we have help in trouble, we have hope.
    4. One day, we will be in a far different place. This is described in verse 4. What do you learn? That God dwells in a holy place with a river that makes it glad….?

  41. Read Psalm 46:6-11
    A. On the basis of this passage, how would you answer the question: “Does God plan disasters?” Most of the translations hold to seeing the desolations that God brought to earth. So this is one verse that supports a “yes.” 
    Two things:  We tend to see things in black and white through the lense of our comfort and selfishness. So we tend to bend toward – God doesn’t make bad things happen, when we do not comprehend the full situation! There is a story about a white stallion (have any of you heard it?). It goes back and forth between the horse was a blessing, the horse was a curse, but in the end we accept what comes from the hand of God and do not question, but trust.
    Second: Hebrews 12:5-11 shows that his discipline is not a “bad” thing, unpleasant, yes, but not bad, indeed He disciplines because He loves us! Just as we discipline and guide our children (who can think us mean while we are doing it!) yet we do it because we love them and care deeply about who they are to become! And it shows a very real possibility that He pans disasters, both on a personal, individual level, and surely at a large group level. Hebrews was written after the cross so it contains truth of the New Covenant, right?
    Hebrews 12:5-11 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
    “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
    It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. 
    God created the father/son relationship so that we might understand our relationship with Him.
    B. Does it give you hope or despair to think God is behind suffering? I fully agree with Lizzy that I would despair if there was a possibility of suffering greater than God’s power…. how much suffering comes through God allowing it and God bringing it I cannot comprehend but I know He is present in all of it, and this is great comfort. I know that He is powerful enough to stop any of it so when He does not I can trust He is behind it, He has purpose in it. He will not waste our tears. So, hope. It gives me hope.

  42. This is the white horse story I spoke of, by Max Lucado.

  43. Jackie–I couldn’t reply to your response to Laura above, but I read it with wet eyes. ” Jesus has never promised me “safety”..He just is so inexpressibly lovely…..He keeps drawing our eyes back to Him”. OH your heart–I so hate your pain, and the many sufferings you face, and your daughter’s painful journey–but what a beautiful picture you are, of His undying mercy, His bringing such beauty out of brokenness and loss. You are such a blessing to us, a very gifted teacher, so thankful for you. 

  44. 7. What is your take-a-way and why?

    Bit of a crazed week, so giving my take away early–and sorry, feel free to skip, it’s a little long & jumbled but on the chance it may encourage, I’m sharing 😉

    I’ve been thinking that the disasters that God allows, or plans even—are only “swallow-able” when I look from a bigger, eternal perspective. I can’t always see His hand in my sufferings, I mean, I don’t always see how He is using it, but sometimes, by His grace, I can see a little—if I concentrate on Who it is who is steering things, remembering His character. So last week I was thrown in a tsunami. My child’s school called about an error on his immunization record—somehow never caught before, but it led me to have to pull out his birth records that I had literally locked away, to prove he’d had his shots at birth. I was blindsided by reports I had not looked at in 9 years, if I ever really did. It brought back the flood of memories—the case worker recommending we not proceed with the adoption based on these new findings—and I realized that while I was aware of a few things, I had blocked out a scary part of my child’s prenatal experience. I’m not sure I ever processed it and I definitely never told anyone.  I’ve spent hours since researching the effects that “should” have been—and I look at my child in awe of God’s hand. His power trumps all the research, all the science, all man’s very limited understanding. And I find such peace in that. And while we have had trials, that I can now see a clearer cause—I haven’t asked “why?” on this one. I see how God has even led me to parent my child in a way that this research before me says could bring healing to the parts damaged in the brain, even though I haven’t been aware of what needed to heal. I see how God has protected against what every medical study I could read told me “should” have happened. When I told our (nurse) Mary E. the details she said “it is nothing short of a miracle that he is not more affected by this”. I’m just quieted by it all. Humbled at God’s choosing, but more than ever I am amazed at His powerful mercy. So wrapping all this together—I do hate what happened to my child, and would have prevented it if I could, but the way it has stretched my faith, challenged me, humbled me—I see His hands. I am choosing to trust He will use it in my child’s life to deepen an already strong child-like faith, and a dependence in us both upon the Lord, that maybe only such a trial could bring. He IS more powerful than all our logic, our research, and as JACKIE said above—He is ALWAYS shaping us into the IMAGE OF CHRIST! That is His main goal. He isn’t trying to hurt us, or make us suffer, that’s why He promises to stay with us IN it, He is shaping us for a greater purpose than this life. It isn’t about our comfort or “best life now”. It is all about becoming like Him, what an AMAZING thought. 

    1. Thank you for sharing this.  I’m sure it was with tears in your eyes, for they are in mine.  In many ways, each of us comes damaged in some way, and as others have said, He is with us in it.  Whether He brings healing, as He is doing for your son, or not.  You are so right- the goal is to conform us to the image of Christ and bring us closer to Himself.

    2. Oh Lizzy,
      I just read this with my heart pounding more and more all along the way.  OH.  Your realness here brought me back to my oldest son’s early days in school….visits to Dr’s and coming home from school meetings and one time just going into a closet and sobbing.  Finally a really good Dr looking me in the eye and smiling and saying “there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with your son.  he just marches to the beat of a different drummer'”.  Oh the angst that I experienced over those words of his that obviously have stayed with me for about 32 years now!  Truly, my son’s “problems” were exceedingly minor so to speak.  Yet they impacted him on every level – particularly for the school years of his life.  But he’s vibrant and joyful and creative and talented.  God just turned the whole thing upside down!!  
      But what you have shared here.  Oh.  This story is astonishing and the way you have seen the Lord in it all, from day 1 til now…..we can only marvel at His greatness, His tenderness, His faithfulness, His attentiveness to your son.  The way He worked through your parenting – no doubt at times you felt you were just muddling along (I am OFTEN “feeling” that way in what He has called me to!)….but He was directing your hands, your feet, your voice, your mothering…..beautifully.  “I’m just quieted by it all.”  The wonder of being still and knowing He is God.  I’m celebrating along with you what He has shown you this week through his school’s glitch!!!  I’m overwhelmed as I think about you sharing from the perspective of a pre-natal life through the early years of your child…..and then thinking about Diane’s oh so precious moments as her father slipped into the arms of Jesus at an old age.  Oh, His tender care for us….from before we had conscious memories….till perhaps we are in a coma or the “sleep” of death.  Thank you so much for sharing – for helping me to rejoice even MORE in Him this morning!!  Love you so much sister.  🙂  

      1. Mary B. and Jackie–thank you for your kindness & compassion–one of those posts where I went to bed thinking ‘OH I shared way too much and wishing I could delete!’–and I still think it may be too much, but I pray that what comes through is His power, His mercy, His hand that is ALWAYS holding us even when the only way to accomplish what He must in us, is the painful road. I know if He could do what He needs to in me, any other way,He would–and even still, He never leaves.  

    3. Oh Lizzy, I can only imagine the flood of emotions you experienced as you read over those birth records….not unlike those waves pictured above. Yet, despite the caseworker’s recommendations that you not adopt, and all the medical research that predicted certain outcomes, both you, and your son, were safely kept in the safety and security of His love, His protection, and His plan, which trumps all the odds. God is certainly not a God of “what ifs”. Even though it was hard initially to see all of that, now you also see His hand in everything.

  45. 7) What is your take-a-way this week and why?
    There is so much in this lesson, it is so deep and rich. I love reading all of your comments. Here is my take a way. We recently had a 14 year old boy in our church die after a 2 year long battle with cancer. One of his statements has stuck with me. He said, “God did not give me cancer, a broken, fallen world did. My goal is to share Christ with whoever I meet so that more may come to know Him personally.” What wisdom for such a young man! He witnessed to every one of his public school teachers and one came to faith in Christ.
    This goes along with Jonni’s words of “making God famous in the midst of your heartache”. I see that is exactly what the sons of Korah did.They made God famous in the Psalms they wrote in spite of the huge heartache of losing their dad is such a catastrophic way. What a legacy they left for us. It has been 13 1/2 years since I battled breast cancer and God truly used that time as a wake up call to shake me out of a complacent faith. I tried as much as was possible to share the goodness of God during that time and in all the years after as I have dealt with many other trials that have come my way. My constant prayer is that God would continue to increase in my life and I would decrease. To be honest, I believe God increasing in my life and me decreasing will be a life long journey….too many times, I don’t want to get out of the way and let God have His way. :o)

    1. Sue, this is a beautiful post. And oh, this 14 year old boy….what faith and determination he had to magnify His Savior in spite of his cancer. And yes, he did what Joni did and what Korah’s sons did, too – make God famous. Now this makes me think about something….when I go through trials, difficulties, or painful things in my life, do I spend more time talking about myself and my troubles, or, after sharing with someone about what is going on, which is okay, do I then talk more about HIM and His character, His goodness? I see how many times I have missed the opportunity to glorify Him because I have my lens, my focus, backwards – it’s turned to me, myself, and I, and my problems, my sorrows, my disappointments, without the “BUT GOD….”

      1. Susan- missed opportunities.  They don’t really come around again….but oh, how they can teach us and change the perspective of our lens in life!!  I love what you have shared here!  Have you ever been taking a photo with your smartphone and accidentally switch over to the selfie mode??  oh my.  In my case it is inevitably shocking – and I can’t get back to photo mode fast enough!!!  You’ve given me such a great visual reminder much like the great old Hymn “Be Thou My Vision”.  Thanks!

        1. “Selfie mode” – now that’s a great word picture! Yes, selfies can be a real shock!

      2. Although I did know know this young man personally, his life has had a huge impact on me and his memorial service is still resonating in my mind and heart a month later. He was interviewed by our church staff throughout his journey and the interviews shown at different servicestyles. He had a depth of faith and insight I have rarely seen even in people with a theological education.
        I love what you said about where your lens is pointed…such a great reminder. I too, so often focus on me, myself and I. It is a daily challenge to keep my focus on the right Person. Thank you for sharing…very helpful for me.

      1. I know…he is remarkable. He is one of those people who even though he has passed out of this life to the next, he still speaks. He said that he almost preferred his bad pain filled days more than his good pain free days b/c he relied more on God on his bad days and thought more of himself on his good days. I so often want to avoid the difficult days, but now I am beginning to embrace them b/c of what Braden said.

    2. Sue – how rich and precious the story of your 14 yr old friend…..he really had it ALL didn’t he?  Susan had responded to your post with some words about the “lens” that we view life through making all the difference….your friend surely viewed his life through the lens of CHRIST!!  To the glory of God.  What an encouragement to our hearts – thank you.  Reminds me of another “Joni clip”….very, very early on when she was paralyzed, her good friend Steve Estes – himself oh so young at the time – shared the words that clicked in her heart and turned her life around…..this is what he said:  “Joni, God permits what He hates to accomplish that which He loves.”  Whoa.  What a birds eye view of the whole of Scripture God gave that young man in that moment.  

      1. Jaackie, I love the Steve Estes quote…so powerful and so true. Thank you for sharing that.

  46. 6. Share your notes and comments on the above.
    Joni is such an inspiration. Period. What really caught my attention was her quoting from Psalm 42, doing just what we learned here to do: talk to your soul! She said that during her battle with cancer, when she was tempted to give in to self-pity or depression, she would say, “Come on, spirit! Stand at attention! Why are you downcast….put your hope in God!” She said that she realized that she was in a spiritual battle, and she couldn’t bear the thought of “smearing God’s reputation”. She wanted to help make Him famous, and that in those nighttime hours, He was found to be just as compassionate, kind, and loving as the Bible tells us He is. She said that we do not suffer for nothing and we do not suffer alone. Again, she emphasized the struggle we have with believing what our emotions are telling us, versus believing and trusting God. We can choose God over fear and doubt, saying to Him, “I choose You, I prefer You, I bow to You.”
    This brings me back to something I learned a few weeks ago when we were studying “the wilderness”. How I see my wilderness depends a lot on how I see God. I know how Joni sees God, what she believes about His character – that He is good, kind, compassionate, loving.

  47. 7. What is your take-away and why?
    My initial reaction to seeing the painting was that my emotions felt fear, anxiety, a feeling of being unsettled. Working through and meditating on this psalm, I see it as a journey from fear to faith. I am also picturing in my mind the painting which Dee has shown us before of the disciples in the boat with Jesus during the fierce storm. The tall mast of the ship makes the shape of a cross, and the dark clouds are threatening and the waves are huge. Fear. Yet, in that boat, there was a river whose streams make glad the city of God….God was within her. Jesus was there. They awakened Him, accusing Him of not caring that they were going to drown. Don’t I do the same, at times, in the midst of a scary circumstance? Lord, where are You? Don’t You care? Don’t You see? Jesus asked them where was their faith? Keller said in a sermon that He meant something like, get out your faith – use it. This psalm is telling me to trust in the midst of turmoil, to stop, to be still, to know that He is God, and He is there. It is combining faith with action. That’s what Joni had to do. She told God that while her emotions were telling her to fear and to doubt, she was going to choose to trust Him and she asked Him to pull her through. Soul-talk, taking your soul in hand. It’s not positive self-talk. It’s remembering who God is and His character.