Fact Check: Called to Suffer

For it has been appointed for you not only to believe but also to suffer.

Philippians 1:29

How often do we hear sermons preached or see books written about this aspect Christianity? Until recently the “normal” Christian life was understood to be filled with suffering and even persecution. Now we expect a quick victory, answered prayer and material blessing.  We are rarely told that while our inheritance is glorious, our lives will be filled with tribulation and suffering.

In Acts 14:22, Paul preaches “strengthening the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith saying, ‘Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.’” Paul knew this, Jim Elliott who died bringing the gospel to the Auca tribe in Ecuador in 1956 realized this, and John Allen Chau, who was killed in November 2018, attempting to share the good news with an unreached people on an island off the coast of India understood this. They did not eschew suffering but accepted it as part of a life lived for God.

Paul later wrote the Thessalonians “We kept telling you in advance that we were going to suffer affliction; and so it came to pass, as you know.”

Even as an earthly parent, I know it is not wise to give my children everything they want or ask for. Indulged children generally do not display strength of character or intrinsic motivation; instead they do what will cause them to look good, feel good or bring tangible reward.

Peter wrote that we should not be surprised when we encounter trials of many kinds because trials test our faith to purify it. There is value to process and time.  For example, you have probably heard while a mushroom may spring up overnight, an oak tree takes fifty years to mature. Spiritually speaking – which would you rather be – an oak or a mushroom?

They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:3

My next blog will be titled, “The Perks of Suffering.”

God’s Business Card

As we were waiting for the bus, Daniel questioned me about the words of a song we were listening to. I clarified that they were singing, “God is the Defender of the Weak.” Then I suggested to him that if God passed out business cards, He would have King of King, Lord of Lords, and Defender of the Weak listed as his titles.

Daniel asked what did I mean? I said how throughout the Bible God is described as the champion of those who are powerless or alone.

*A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish.
*God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong.
*The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
*The Lord is near to all who call on Him, all to call on Him in truth.

*You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in their distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.

Right before Daniel jumped out to get on the bus, he suggested, “Mom you should write a blog about this.” So I did.

• Isaiah 42:3, 1 Corinthians 1:27, Psalm 34:18, Psalm 145:18, Isaiah 25:4

What? A Floating Axe Head?


For nothing will be impossible with God. Luke 1:37

I know I would be upset if I were the man in 2 Kings 6:6-7 who borrowed his friend’s axe and the head fell off straight down to the bottom of the river. As he was trying to figure out how he could explain his carelessness and worried about paying for a new axe head, suddenly the prophet Elisha yelled, “Look there it is floating!” Defying the laws of physics, that is God doing the impossible!

I know this truth is found in the Word of God, so I don’t wonder if God can do the impossible, but if He will do it. I know God has done the impossible over and over, yet is this a verse I am to hold fast to in my current situation?

How do I live when God isn’t doing the impossible?

Or more significantly, why do I think God is more glorified in the healing, the miracles, and the impossible?

As I reviewed the names of God, I did not find God calling Himself, “The God who does the impossible,” yet over and over God reveals Himself as the God who provides, the God who sees, the God who is with us, and the God who saves.

While phrases similar to “Nothing is impossible with God” are found in 3 gospels and Jeremiah 32, the idea of perseverance is found in almost every book of the Bible. Being astonished does not equate to believing. We don’t have to see the impossible or experience the miraculous to take God at his word. Sometimes it takes more faith to believe God is good all the time and God’s ways are perfect, than to receive a “yes” to a prayer in an impossible situation.

Psalm 13:5-6 I will trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing praise to the LORD, for he has been good to me.

Who Moved the Finish Line?


Did that! Got the T-shirt! In 2005, I received the highly coveted 😊 T-shirt for being a finisher of the Honolulu marathon. It was my friend’s Diane’s heart’s desire to complete the marathon for her 60th birthday so we trained each week gradually increasing our endurance to 21 miles. On the day of the race, we completed the 26.2-mile course without too much struggle.

Since anyone who knows me realizes I am not an athlete, my illustrations using athletics will likely fall short. Regarding my recent life circumstances, I will compare to beginning the marathon only to find out somewhere in the middle, the finish line had been extended – the previous miles didn’t count, and I am back at the beginning of the 26.2-mile race.

Allow me to share two examples. The first occurred with a phone call. Mike was calling from Afghanistan with “good news” and “bad news.” The good news was he would come home earlier than expected, in just a month. The bad news was he would deploy to Iraq in 2 months for a 12 tour of duty. I had completed 25% of the first deployment with a positive mindset; however, once the time line changed, that mindset was difficult to re-capture. By God’s grace, we made it, but those months of the second deployment seemed long and hard.

The second time the finish line moved occurred with the birth of Daniel when Ashleigh was 15, Katie was 12 and Patrick was 10. Two years later Josh joined our family. These two boys are precious gifts from God (I told Daniel he is like the bonus material at the end of a video game), but as the first 3 had gotten older, I was anticipating some easier parenting years and the opportunity to explore things that interested me. That was 12 years ago, and I still feel my life mission is primarily caring for children which spurred me to write this blog.

You may have your own examples of when you thought you could predict your circumstance would become easier or end, yet suddenly you are blindsided by the unexpected. Perhaps it is finances or health, but the anticipated end may not come for years or until even Jesus returns to make all things perfect. Life is hard! I desperately need eyes of faith to see the unseen hand of God at work during these times.

I can relate to Florence Chadwick and her failure to complete a long-distance swim which she was physically able to accomplish; however, her vision of the horizon was clouded by fog, so when fatigue overcame her, she gave up just short of her goal. You can read more at https://www.epm.org/resources/2010/Jan/21/florence-chadwick-and-fog/.

As Hebrews Chapter 10 reminds us, we are not those who shrink back but those who have faith to the persevering of the soul…. let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering for He who promised is faithful. God is Faithful!!! Somehow, He will carry you and me when we are too fatigued to keep swimming against the currents of this life. He will bring us safely to the heavenly shore and eternity with Him.

Prisons, Pulpits, and Pearls


Paul wrote to the Philippians that even though he was imprisoned, they should rejoice. Why? The gospel was advancing. Paul’s imprisonment was actually his pulpit to preach the good news, and today we still  read many of his “sermons” preserved in his New Testament letters.

 Our prisons may not be literal, as Paul’s was, but God is more than able to use any “prison” (circumstance, relationship, or physical condition) as His platform for others to hear truth and impart hope. When I first heard this concept several years ago, I thought while that may be true for Paul or our pastor, no one wants to hear about my unexciting life.  Lately, I have seen God use my mundane days as His pulpit to share about the sufficiency of Jesus in everyday life. Admittedly, my experiences parenting Joshua and struggles with depression are minor compared to Paul’s imprisonment for the gospel, yet God has given me the opportunity to honor Him as I share things I have learned from my ordinary life.

 One of my favorite analogies of something lovely coming from the ordinary and mundane is the pearl. When little particles of sand or bacteria enter the shell, a fluid is formed to seal off the irritant, and the pearl grows. If irritants were not introduced into its environment, nothing of value would form. What irritants am I dismissing as obstacles instead of recognizing the Lord may want to use them over time to bring about something beautiful?

The Lord is working His beauty into our lives.  My challenge for you as we enter this new year: Let your “prison” become His platform to bring the good news of Jesus to someone else.