Tag Archives: Witness

Why Do We Suffer?

Why must we deal with suffering? This is a question we are all familiar with, isn’t it? And people from Christian and non-Christian circles alike have attempted to answer it.

One thing I do understand about suffering, is that it is a result from the Fall. If you look back in Genesis 3, you will see the consequences of sin spelled out and how they affect mankind as well as the earth. And in Romans 8:22-23 “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” We have been waiting since that day to be completely delivered from the sufferings that were caused by that first sin.

Christians sometimes believe they ought to be immune to troubles, but this idea is simply not biblical. To be told “ if you had enough faith” or “you must have done something terrible to deserve this” does not line up with what the Bible tells us. We are told time and time again that we will meet trouble and times of trial or even have to endure periods of intense suffering. And the Scripture does not say if your faith is large enough or if you manage to not sin in a certain way you will be able to avoid it.

G.K. Chesterton wrote “Jesus promised the disciples three things – that they would be completely fearless, absurdly happy and in constant trouble.” In John 16:33, Jesus gave the disciples a promise of suffering – “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Note that surrounding the suffering, Jesus promises His peace and power. We would do well to remember that in our own times of suffering, His peace and power are there surrounding us, protecting us, comforting us through that time.

When I was in high school, I would say that my life was pretty lacking in suffering. All I would qualify at that time at suffering would probably be the loss of my grandmother at age 8, being relocated twice, and having to make new friends due to Dad being called to 2 new churches. Rather insignificant in degree when you compare it to the amount of suffering that other people have had to deal with, so I realize that I have been rather blessed in my life when it comes to the subject. One day after my Dad had a checkup and some blood work, we had some alarming news – the doctor was concerned about the possibility of yes, you guessed it, the “C” word. You can imagine the questions that were going around in my head. “Isn’t Dad too young for cancer? How could this happen? He seems healthy enough… What’s going to happen next? Why now? Why him? What did he do to deserve this?” The doctor scheduled a biopsy, and Dad went for the appointment and then the waiting for the results commenced – and the waiting was even longer then than it is now – it seem like forever! In that period of waiting, I asked those very questions to God. I had been a Christian for several years, and even had learned to be faithful to read my Bible and pray, but never did I pray like I did then. I had a bathroom in my room in our house in Hot Springs, and I remember not wanting Mom and Dad to find me, so I went into that bathroom and prayed like I never did before. I had been on my knees in prayer before, but it was more of a practice instead of a need to be completely humble before Him. I was on my face before Him before I knew it – weeping for understanding, for healing if Dad needed it, for comfort for the days to come. Never had I felt more comfort than I did after that experience – we still had to wait for the results, but no matter what the answers were, I believed God would take care of us. Later on the results revealed no cancer – it was almost as if God gave me the answer before we even had the results.

Fast forward about 10 years later and another doctor informing us that this time he did see evidence of cancer in another part of Dad’s body. Realize that in this 10 years I have been to college and Med Tech school and have more knowledge of the human body and how it works. The question was “How do you want to proceed?” Everyone looked at me… I took a deep breath and in that moment, I flashed to that same peace I had with Dad’s first cancer scare. And although this time we had a definite diagnosis, I believed that God could either heal Dad with His own hand or through modern medicine – however He saw fit, but also that if He chose to take Dad from this earth through this cancer, it would be of a purpose. And the cancer did have a purpose. Dad had surgery and chemotherapy, is still as fit as ever, but now he has a way to minister to those who have or have had cancer, because he has been there. He often will sit with church members who are getting chemo so they don’t have to do it alone. He takes baked bread and cookies to the receptionists and nurses at the clinic who he once saw so often. His trial and his faith through it is an avenue for witnessing for Christ that many of us may never experience.

Another passage that promises that we will face times of suffering is James 1:2-4 ”Count it all joy, my brothers,when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Notice that James doesn’t say “if someday by chance you might possibly run into trouble”. He says “Brothers, you are going to come face to face with trouble, but don’t run from it – look upon it with joy. And here is why – those trials test your faith and show it to be firm in the Lord – mature, complete, with no deficiencies.”

Why are we tested in school? To find out what we have learned or not learned, right? To see what we really understand and what we have just skipped over and not paid attention to? When you perform badly on a test, it will point you back to what you need to review on, especially if it’s a concept on which the material in the future will build. Just think about being tested on some sort of higher math if you didn’t understand basic math or even basic algebra. If the testing of your faith produces some steadfastness or endurance and you don’t do so hot at the tests, then it’s hard for your faith to become fully mature or complete. I guess what I am saying is that we need to learn to face some of our smaller problems or trials with the Lord’s help, because it will build upon our faith and help us in days of harder struggles.

Another thing I understand about suffering – we are not alone when we go through it. Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” and Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.” – These verses are excellent reminders that God is with us.

We also need to remember that Christ is no stranger to suffering Himself. He is the ultimate of empathizers. While He was on this earth, He experienced all the pain and disappointment that you and I experience, yet without sin. He was separated from family and I am sure He was homesick.  He mourned the loss of a close friend.  He experienced rejection from His own countrymen, and was misunderstood by even those closest to Him. He was accused of blaspheming His own Father, mocked, beaten, whipped, and humiliated in every way imaginable. Then He was crucified. While He was on the cross He bore the weight of the world’s sin upon Himself.

We in our suffering often ask the questions “How could this happen?” or “Why me?” or “Why now?”. If you listen to the song I’ve posted, in the bridge it says “Jesus, in Your suffering, You were reaching. You thought of me.” What an incredible thought – that on the cross, instead of dwelling on His pain and suffering, He would have been thinking about what His sacrifice would do for all of mankind– He thought of you and me.



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The Bible – How did we get it and why do we need it?

This week we will be looking at the way that God gave us His Word.  The Bible was authored by approximately 40 human authors, but as the Scripture tells us it really has one Author that breathed the words into the people who gave us the Bible as we know it today.  2 Timothy 3:16a says “All Scripture is breathed out by God”.   The word that Paul used in the Greek is theopneustos or literally God-breathed.  Not just inspiration as some of our English translation poorly represent.  Inspiration conveys the idea that the words of the authors came from themselves, only by some stimulation of some sort by God.  No, the idea that we get from Scripture is that the Word of God came from Himself – the human authors, like Paul, were vessels in which God chose to reveal those words.  He used their individual personalities and situations and geographies to work through them to speak His voice, His teaching, His Word to His people – to the world.

The passage in 2 Timothy also tells us why we need the Word of God.

3:16 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work”.

We often times just wish that we would be given just a simple list of dos and don’ts – A Christian’s Guide to a Perfect Life.  But that is not what the Bible is.  The Word of God is the story of God’s love for us unfolded from Creation, and then ends with what is to come in Revelation.  It tells us of how we as man rejected His love, and then we see throughout the Bible God’s plan of redemption that comes as a babe in Jesus Christ.  His perfect life is an example of how we should strive to live, and then He came to show us how to die and then live again.  Paul’s writings point to Christ over and over, and give us practical ways to live a holy Christian life with Christ as our center.  We can glean wisdom from Proverbs, learn how to pray and praise God from Psalms, we see the prophecies of Christ’s coming from the Prophets, take hold of so many promises of God in the Old Testament, and learn from the lives of all of the different people of all throughout the Bible.  The Word of God is profitable for teaching.

Reproof or rebuke – not something we really like to think about that much, right?  I don’t know about you, but I never really much liked when I got in trouble with my parents or a teacher at school, even when it was something minor like talking too loudly in class or whatever. Your errors are pointed out.  But rebuke when it comes from God?  Sounds a little more severe, doesn’t it?  But Proverbs says otherwise 3:11-12 “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights”.  God disciplines us because He loves us.

I also had a thought about correction when I read this verse.   We have a Husky named Juneau. If you don’t know anything about Huskies – know 2 things – they are extremely smart and extremely headstrong.  At least ours is.  We decided early on we wanted to do some obedience training with Juneau, because we knew that it might be a challenge to train her on our own.  The trainer that we went to introduced us to the concept of a correction collar.  It is chain collar that loops together and cinches around the neck when pulled taut.  Some might call it a “choke” collar, but it doesn’t actually choke unless Juneau pulls against it too hard.  The concept is that when you are giving a correction to the dog, you give a quick snap of the leash – the collar pulls tight around the neck as well as producing a metal on metal sound to catch the dog’s attention.  We even pulled it tight quickly around our own arms to see what it would feel like.  It didn’t hurt, but we did notice the quick snap, and I am sure the sound close to her ears would be a quick reminder that she was not doing what she was supposed to be.  We chose this method because we knew that she being the breed she was, we would need some way to get her attention, especially if there was a situation in which she was in danger.  We may not wear the Word of God around our neck, but we do wear it in our hearts (Ps. 119:11), so that we can avoid sinning.  We can wear it as correction, not as a choking mechanism by not pulling against it at every turn.

We have it for training in righteousness.  We can be headstrong thinking that we have the best recipe for holy living.  But in reality, we have already been given the best instructions, and we have been given the Holy Spirit in order to determine how to carry out those instructions in our daily life to fulfill God’s will for our lives.  God intends for us to grow in righteousness, and that is one reason why He gave us His Word.  So that His headstrong little children would grow closer to Him.

When we are children, we are complete in Him – we get the concept from other passages also, not just this one (Col 2:10-15).  But, knowing that we have the Holy Spirit within us, and the God-breathed Word behind us, does that not give you a new sense of power?  This passage says “equipped for every good work”.  This thought that the righteousness that can only come from God is going to filter down into our lives though the reading of His Word and through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in our lives become the good that God needs us to do on this earth. He is not going to leave us ill-equipped.  He would not leave us to do the things He needs done through our own meager resources.  He is a Great God who does mighty things so that we know that it is He and only He that is accomplishing them.

Just look at our Bible today – a book that was written over a span of 1500 years, over 40 different authors, 66 books, different locations over 3 continents.  We have more copies of manuscripts than books like the Iliad, and in most cases, those manuscripts have rare minor variants that do not affect the doctrine of Scripture or of our Christian faith.  How else would our Bible come together without the intervention of a mighty God?  And now so many of us have multiple copies in our homes or even apps on our phones that we can switch versions at the drop of a hat.  But, just how much do you treasure the Word of God? Do you look forward to reading the Bible?  Do you say like the Psalmist “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (119:103)  Sometimes I think we may take for granted what the Bible is – the very Words of God given to us through people He chose to be His vessels to deliver His message to His people.  Now we can be vessels to continue to deliver the message of the Gospel to the world we live in.

What better way to start but by sharing the Christmas story with someone – have you ever wondered why if one reason we celebrate Christmas is to have an excuse to witness to someone?  The world needs to know that the Baby Jesus was the Gift given by God – because one day He became the Crucified Jesus and 3 days later He became the Risen Jesus.  One day He will be the Returning Jesus.  Are you ready?  Is your family ready?  (Part of our family just got ready, I am so happy for you Mike!! (a.k.a China Mike : ))) Are your friends ready?  Is the cashier at Wal-Mart ready?  I admit that I am just as lacking as the next person, but I am praying that God gives me the boldness to be better…He did say that He would equip us, right?

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Forever Restored

When I was born, I only had one living grandparent – my dad’s mother.  We were able to visit her a few times a year – mostly holidays – and some additional trips to see her.  Unfortunately she passed away when I was eight, so as you can imagine, I don’t remember a whole lot about her.  When Selby and I started dating, he of course introduced me to his family. He had grandparents on both sides of his family and step-grandparents still living.  They all took me in like another granddaughter which has been so very precious to me.  I don’t know if Selby realizes that his grandparents have been in my life longer (16 yrs) than my own.  They hold a very special place in my heart.  A few years back, Mamaw Selby passed away, and I miss her every time I think of Selby’s dad’s side of the family.

This year we lost Mamaw McGee.  She was such a sweet lady with a kind spirit.   She fought cancer for many years, and along with battling other health issues, she finally succumbed and went to meet her Savior.  I never heard her complain, and I never saw her in distress.  I think only those who were very close to her knew when she was in pain because they could see it on her face.  Toward the end, questions on everyone’s minds were “Why does she have to suffer so?” or “Why does God not take her Home now?”.

I cannot attempt to sufficiently answer the question of suffering.  I do know that this body that we live in has been corrupted by sin – 1 Corinthians 15:42-43″…Sown in corruption…Sown in dishonor…sown in weakness”, but at the resurrection from the dead that we will be able to benefit from if we are in Christ we will be “…raised in incorruption…raised in glory…raised in power”  I do know that Mamaw is not suffering now…and that she will one day receive a body that is free of that cancer that plagued her for so many years.

I do believe that we all have a purpose here on earth, and I believe sometimes that purpose can be fulfilled through other people while we are here.  Mamaw McGee was a wonderful Christian wife, mother, church member, etc…  I put it that way not to downplay what she was in each of these roles, but because of the thing that may stick with me for the rest of my life, what may stick with many others, is what transpired toward the end of her life.  Due to an aneurysm and her cancer she was in need of around the clock care and was placed in Catherine’s Place, an assisted living facility in Fayetteville.  This facility is very nice with nurses that seem to care a great deal about the patients living there.  Mamaw wasn’t able to communicate really well and had trouble with the day-to-day things of life.  Burton would go by every day to be with his wife, to check on her and spend time with her.   Kathy (Selby’s mom), Greg, and Brenda (Selby’s uncle and aunt) would go by to check on her, feed her meals to her, and spend time with her.  They were often her advocates when it came to getting the right medicines since she couldn’t communicate for herself.  What I saw was a testament to who she was.  Why in the world would her husband and children take such good care, such loving care, of her unless she had been a good wife and mother?  The fact that she was at Catherine’s Place was an avenue for this family to share the witness and love of Christ as well.  If Mamaw had not been there, then the nurses at the facility would not have seen the love that Burton, Kathy, Greg and Brenda had for her.  They would not have seen the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of this special lady pile in to see her even when it was hard to see her.  It was hard to see her suffer, but I had to believe that somehow God was not through with her yet.  I saw in Kathy what I already knew – she is a loving woman, capable of putting aside her own needs for those she loves.  I saw in Greg what I think I knew, but now I know for sure.  He is a godly man who when confronted with the hard things in life steps up and takes care of his family, but with such a tender touch.  In all of this grounded in me a responsibility for my own parents as they age, and my prayer is that God will give me as much grace as He has given this family.

1 Corithians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

There are many people in my life that I have watched through the years battle sickness or challenges that have been astoundingly unshaken in the midst of their trials.  My Dad had colon cancer – had 18 inches of his colon removed and chemotherapy afterward – and except for the recovery time after his surgery, he never skipped a beat.  At church we have Judy Gray, Debbie White, Larry Morrell, Ginger Garren, and many others that have had some sort of sickness or challenge, but have refused to say “Woe is me!”, but instead say, “God is with me!”  They understand that God sometimes doesn’t lead us around the valley, He holds our hand through it.  These trials not only make our hearts stronger, they make our witness stronger also.  We can be steadfast because our God is – He is unchanging.  We can be immovable because our faith is built on a solid foundation.   Because of these things, we can fill every day with the work of the Lord, so much that it overflows into every aspect of our lives, and it will not be in vain.  I see who Judy, Larry, Kathy, Greg, and my Dad are, and who Mamaw was.  The way they live is a witness to who their Savior is – their labor is not in vain at all – because if I see it, the world sees it also and will wonder how they can be so strong in the face of such adversity.  And that is just another opportunity to tell them the who

I can only pray that if or when I am faced with the trials that these people have faced, I will be able to say to my God that I will walk through anything He leads me through with praise and thanksgiving because I know that He is holding my hand.


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