Category Archives: suffering

Nothing Breaks You Like Being in Need

graceIf I had never been in need, I would never feel the compassion that I do now for others who are in need. As a young woman, I was very independent, self-sufficient and emotionally distant. I expected everyone to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps because that’s what I had to do for myself. With no one to guide me since childhood, I’ve learned to navigate through life trying to survive the hell hole in which I grew up. In the back of my mind, though, I knew that if I fall or if anything happened to me, I had no family members who would offer support. I have nothing to fall back on, so I HAVE to be strong.

This produced an arrogance in me that isolated me from others. It wasn’t the type that made me feel like I was better than other people. In my pride I was so self-deceived that I did not see my need for help so I never asked for it, because deep down I did not believe that anyone would want to help me if I was not their family member. This was the type of arrogance that sucked any compassion that could have resided in my heart, because I viewed others as “lazy” and “needy” if they asked for help. Therefore, when my turn came to be in need, I also viewed myself in the same way: needy, lazy and useless.

Anyone who knows me knows I am a hard worker and through the years I learned that when life deals you a bad hand, it doesn’t matter who you are — you have to humble out and reach out!  “No man is an island,” as the English poet John Donne once said. We exist in community, not in isolation. There are those who are naturally compassionate and nurturing, but for people like myself, we have to be broken twice — or multiple times — to get in touch with our sensitive side.

God calls us to be humble toward one another, to clothe ourselves with humility and compassion (Colossians 3:12).

“But those who suffer [God] delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction.” Job 36:15

Without suffering, there’d be no compassion. Suffering does not always produce compassion; in fact it can produce quite the opposite — bitterness — and in my case there was lots of it!  When you stick with God, however, and allow Him to work on your heart through times of affliction, only He can uproot that bitterness and turn you into someone better.

You can probably help someone in need if you have the means and resources, but if you’ve never been in their shoes, an element of humanity might be missing. When we allow ourselves to feel our need for help (i.e., admit feelings of loneliness, shame, guilt, financial straits, etc.), we will appreciate the assistance a lot differently when we do receive it. In turn we’ll be able to help others more effectively because this time, we’d be seeing them with different eyes.

#compassion #LoveLikeJesus #humility #dontbetooproud #prideisolates #nomanisanisland #musingz4life

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The Difference between Desperation and Desire

boiling-waterHave you ever wanted something so badly you could taste it? How badly would your faith be shaken if you didn’t receive it in one, five or twelve years?  In the story of the Bleeding Woman (Luke 8:43-48), we see an example of a woman who was determined to get what she wanted.

Backstory of the Bleeding Woman

 “And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her.”  Luke 8:43

All we know about this woman is that she had been suffering for 12 years before Jesus came to the scene.  If you have a loved one who has been suffering from a terrible illness for which the doctors have not found a cure, or for which certain medications/surgery would not be an option because of comorbid conditions, you know the frustration of hopelessness and despair.  Yet the woman did not give up hope.

Amidst the crowds, Jesus felt her desperation.

The woman didn’t just desire to be healed.  She was desperate to be healed!  When Jesus came, she was so determined to meet him because she knew in her heart of hearts that He was the only one who could heal her.  Nothing was going to stop her – no sardine-packed crowd, no doubt, no hesitation, no one’s opinion – she was adamant about getting through to Jesus for His healing power.  Amidst the crowd that was packed so tightly that no one could breathe, this woman reached out and her faith made Jesus turn His head.

The difference between desire and desperation is determination.

When you’re desperate for something, there’s a sense of urgency that propels you toward your goal.  The crowds who surrounded Jesus wanted to meet Him, so they followed Him wherever He went, but this woman cut through the masses and made Jesus notice her.  They say that the difference between a winner and a loser is one’s character that will carry one through. Why does one achieve his goal while the other one doesn’t? Character.

  Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.  Romans 5:3-5

You achieve character first through suffering, then perseverance, and then you get hope from the character that’s forged within you.

“A sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.” – Proverbs 13:4

Waiting is part of that diligence. But what about faith?

Without faith, people give up, and therefore they allow their character to soften instead of fervently relying on God.  How long will you wait before you receive the desire of your heart?

I cannot even fathom what it’s like to be in the Bleeding Woman’s shoes, but I do know what it’s like to wait for something forever and never receiving it.  Oftentimes I wonder if I should just give up and chalk it up to “It’s not God’s will,” but if the Bleeding Woman caved into that kind of thinking, she would have never gone after Jesus because she would have believed that Jesus never wanted to heal her. 

Twelve years is an awfully long time to wait for something.  You don’t know the future; you can only hope for the best.  I wonder how many times this woman felt like giving up.  Will a miracle ever turn up?  Will the suffering ever stop?  Waiting year after year, waiting in the dark, not knowing the future – that does something to your soul.  In my despair, many times I have “surrendered” my desires to God with a hint of unbelief.

Will you surrender your desire to God with a spirit of resignation, or will you, like the Bleeding Woman, fight with urgency and desperation to get God’s attention?

#nevergiveup #faith #prayer #determination #God #Jesus #character #hope #perseverance #persistence #healing #miracles #fightofthefaith #keepupthegoodfight #musingz4life #dependonGod

Godliness Protects against Stress

wolfNo one has a stress-free life, but having a godly character can be a great buffer against the storms of life.

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

~ Matthew 7:24-25

Godly Training vs. Physical Training

“For physical training is of some value but godliness has value for ALL things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”

~ 1 Tim 4:8

Does this mean that unbelievers don’t have character?  Not at all.  There are many individuals who are refined by great parents or role models who have coached them to success.  They were brought up and molded into capable individuals with much potential to handle high levels of stress; however, while the scriptures acknowledge the value of physical training, it points out that godliness has value for all things, for this life and the life to come. (For the purpose of this article, I am referring to “physical training” as any type of training that does not involve religion.)

What Can We Learn from the 3 Little Pigs?

Once upon a time there were three little pigs. One pig built a house of straw while the second pig built his house with sticks. They built their houses very quickly and then sang and danced all day because they were lazy. The third little pig worked hard all day and built his house with bricks.

Many of our problems are produced by the fruit of our character.  If we’re lazy, we do things quickly, often overlooking important details, forgetting deadlines, putting off things until the last minute, letting someone else do it for us, etc.  We like to take shortcuts, but we end up reaping the consequences of our choices because we were not careful in the first place.

“A man’s own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the Lord.”
~ Proverbs 19:3

If we are diligent, we will take the time to build our house carefully, and we will be patient with the process.

Our house is our life, and we build our house with the choices we make.  Not every choice will be easy (after all, I’m talking about making the right kind of choices that will please God and go against our sinful nature); in the end, if we make it our aim to please God in all that we do, our house will remain standing if it’s built with bricks of righteousness on the foundation of obedience.

Suffering Produces Character

Sometimes I feel like at my age, it’s kind of late to start building character now.  If your life is falling apart and you’re not sure how to put it back together, consider your suffering as an opportunity to produce character in you:

Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

~ Romans 5:1-5

Don’t focus on the problems.  Focus on God who pours His love into your heart.  Don’t suffer in vain.  Make your suffering work for you by responding the right way – putting scriptures into practice.

#character #suffering #hope #patience #perseverance #godliness #godlytraining #stress #musingz4life