I prayed. I believed. I trusted. I hoped. And in the end, I was disappointed.
This December, like many before it, God’s response to my prayers is no. No, your son will not be home by Christmas. No, that baby in your womb will not live. No, that marriage will not survive. Dashed hopes and unfulfilled longings are familiar companions to my holiday celebrations. I know I am not alone. For many, this month will be as full of heartache as it is of joy. Deferred hope feels like coal under the tree, a confirmation that God has passed over you to shower His blessings on someone else this Christmas. But disappointment in December may actually be due to God’s kindness.
As [Jesus] passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” John 9:1-2
Suffering produces an insatiable desire to blame. Surely there must be some reason why this poor man must suffer all his life without sight. We hunger and thirst for some impetus for it all.
Why are we so bent on finding fault? Partly because we hope to prevent future suffering by finding the cause. Just like you may avoid spicy food if it once gave you heartburn. Partly because if the sufferer is to blame, we can accept the hardship as a legitimate recompense to sin: “She deserved that,” or “I had it coming.” If someone else is to blame, we at least have someone to take our anger out on.
So how does Jesus answer the disciples inquiry about the cause of the blind man’s life of suffering?
Jesus doesn’t tell us of a world of needless suffering. There is a reason, but it is one that we have had no category for at all: suffering for the sake of the glory of God.
Grief is the recognition that something has been lost forever. It forces us into an awareness that we have no control to change or fix the situation. What is gone is gone and can never be regained, at least not fully. Grief is an emotion we don’t gladle welcome. We keep it at arms length pretending it will go away if we wait long enough. And sometimes it does, but are we really better off for avoiding it?
Faith is not a warm and fuzzy feeling. Rather it is a willful choice to believe in the reliability of God even when that belief is lacking in physical evidence.
It’s easy to believe the promise that God works things for my good when good things have come to fruition; it’s easy to believe that God is near when He feels near. But when my feelings and experiences tell a different story than the Word of God, faith isn’t so fun anymore.
The test of faith comes when my feelings veer off to the left and God’s Word goes to the right. Here I must make a willful choice to place my faith in what I deem most reliable—my feelings or God’s Word.
When I consider the last decade of my life, I see a series of deaths:
Death of my pride through living in the shadow of my husband’s giftedness. Death of my fear of conflict through divorces in my family and among friends. Death of my fear of confrontation through difficult friendships. Death of my desires through multiple miscarriages. Death of my fear of failure through situations where I could not win. Death of my hope in myself through seeing my exposed sin in high-definition focus.
Each season of dying has felt just like that—dying. The choking out of something I have loved, desired, and clung to for hope, peace, and safety. The choking out of things in me, writhing, gasping for breath and praying, “Does it have to be this way? Can’t I follow You and also keep this with me? Does it really need to die?”
In God’s kingdom, pruning is caring. Jesus is the true vine, His Father the vinedresser. Every branch in Jesus that bears fruit, the Father prunes that it may bear more fruit (John 15:1–2).
God’s answer to my question is yes. Yes, it does need to die. It must be pruned. Without pruning, my life will become something even I don’t want—an overgrown, thorny bush with no fruit to offer.
I see in myself the need to flee not just from idle hands, but also an idle mind. As is true of many women, unless I’m sleeping, my mind is quite active. And if I do not give my mind a steady intake of good fuel to burn, I will often be burning whatever fuel I can find. The result? Lots of thoughts about aimless things.
Miscarriage is the membership card to a club you never asked to be in; a union of women sporting badges of infertility, stillbirth, miscarriage, and even abortion. Women who share your emotions, questions, crisis of faith, and isolation, women whose desire to be a parent has been abruptly interrupted by suffering. This post is an effort to encourage those who are grieving and to help friends and family members trying to help.
Self-pity is simply the grief that I have nothing to brag about in myself.
Ever have those days when you feel like a failure at everything? The closer I walk with God, the more my sin, my deep-rooted self-love, comes into high-definition focus. And honestly, I’d really love to be the most put together person in the room, the most spiritual, the most holy, the most fill-in-the-blank woman I know. Why? [Honest confession time] Because I love boasting in myself!
In the last post, I discussed our role as influencers. Now I want to consider where the Bible calls us to have primary influence: the home. Now, if you just rolled your eyes or felt a twinge of fear or anger at the thought of women being called to the home, listen up. Do not let your culture…
How did Valentine’s day become “I-need-someone-to-make-much-of-me day”? The popular idea of love conjures up images of being served and doted on by others. So if you don’t have someone buying you flowers, sending you notes, and telling you you’re awesome on Valentine’s day, it then becomes an excuse to be angry and depressed. Christian, your view of…
If it is evident that you have been idolizing a person in your life and have become emotionally dependent on them, here are some basic steps you can take to move toward freedom:
Prepare for Grief
Cultivate Other Friendships
See a Biblical Counselor
Get to Know God
Two codependent friends may pray together, talk about Jesus a lot, and be extremely supportive of one another. The spiritual nature of the friendship may give a false sense that nothing is wrong. But even if the main topic of conversation is Jesus, codependency is never ok. Here are 17 signs that your friendship is codependent.
This is the story of a friendship gone wrong. Somewhere along the way, Sarah and Kelsey began to look to one another for things only God should give: worth, purpose, belonging, and security. This is the story of a co-dependent friendship infected with idolatry.
Imagine a deadly sickness has plagued our country. There are no outward symptoms, and the longer you were infected, the more convinced you were of your health. Yet one simple test could reveal whether or not you were sick. Would you be tested? The truth is, there is a deadly sickness plaguing our country. It…
“Today we went to Hobby Lobby. My mom got 2 new lamps. It took her 30 MINUTES to choose which ones she wanted! I got a little birdcage for my dollhouse. We went to Marco’s for dinner then to Kroger. They now have a checking counter you can do yourself!” ~Me, 12 years old My…