Someday It Will Be Worth It

inspiringwallpapers.net-inspiringwallpapers.net__01745_route163_2560x1600 (1)Life is really hard isn’t it?  If you don’t think so, give it a little time.

Paul and Barnabas encouraged the saints to continue in the faith,“saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (AC 14:22).  In 1 Peter 1:6 Peter says believers are “grieved by various trials.” And James tells us: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” (1:2).  And Peter tells us not to be surprised when we suffer:

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. (1 PE 4:12).

I recently said to someone, “Well, the good news is, when this trial is over there will be another one.”

No, I’m not a pessimist. I’m not an Eeyore.  It’s just that I have found God’s word to be true – God takes us through flames and floods, disappointments and disasters. We live in a fallen world.  Our lives are filled with blessings and peppered with pain.  Sometimes heavily peppered.  Unbelievably peppered.  And God works a ton of good in us through our suffering – he produces humility, perseverance, compassion, and Christlike character in us. He makes us depend on him, weans us from the love of this world and makes us long for heaven.

But the best thing God does in our afflictions now lies ahead – they prepare “an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” in heaven (2 CO 4.17). This is how Jesus gives me hope and gets me through. It’s knowing that someday in heaven I’ll be blown away comparing the weight of glory to the “peewee” afflictions I went through. We go through big time pain here.  Some serious sadness, sickness, persecution and hurt. But when we get to heaven we’ll have mountainous rewards. We’ll say, “What in the world is this mountain of glory for?” And the Lord will say, “That’s for the years you were sick.” And we’ll say, “What??? But that was NOTHING compared to THIS! This…this…this mountain of glory makes my suffering look like a grain of sand.”

Someday it will be worth it. Peter tells us:

For it stands in Scripture:
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” 1 PE 2.6

If we believe in Jesus, and continue to trust him, we won’t be “put to shame.” No one in heaven will say, “Well, this is rather disappointing. Is this all I get for what I went through?” The sight of Jesus’ face alone will compensate more than a million times for every pain and heartbreak we go through now.

You won’t be disappointed. Keep believing in Jesus. Keep hoping in him. Keep clinging to him and abiding in him. Don’t give up, no matter how bad the pain gets. You won’t be put to shame. Keep rejoicing and giving thanks in all things. You can’t imagine your reward and the joys that await you.

Share Your Troubles With Others. But Don’t Forget To Do This…

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It’s goodto shareyour troubleswith others. But don’t forget to connect your pain to Jesus. Here’s what I mean:

I would not want anyone in our church to be fearful to talk about sador painful things they are going through. Sometimes we hesitate to share our burdensbecause others can be quick to judge or give advice or tell us we should have more faith. Or we don’t talk about our suffering because we don’t want to burden others or sound like we’re complaining. So when someone sincerely inquires, we should tell them honestly what were going through.

Usually when people say, “Hi, how are you?” theyre not usuallylooking for us togive them an in-depth report. It’s just a greeting and all they are looking for is for us to reply Fine, how are you doing?. But when someone seriously inquires we should tell them. Be honest. If you’re in a lot of pain tell them. If you’re being tempted to fear tell them. Hopefully they will have compassion and genuinely want to bear your burden with you.

But when you talk about your struggles, from time to time connect them to Jesus. In other words bring Jesus into the picture. Try to express some kind of faith or trust in Jesus.

For example you might say, “Thanks for asking. Ive really been hurting ever since the accident. The pain in my neck has been excruciating and nothing seems to help. But I just keep praying and I believe Jesus is for me and working all this for my good.”

Or, “Our son is really doing poorly. He doesnt appear to be saved. Hes gotten into drugs and I am really sad and Im really concerned about him. But I know Jesus loves him even more than I do and I’m just continuing to pray that the Lord will save him.”

I’m not advocating putting on a fake smile and giving a robotic Pollyanna I feel good-I feel great-I feel wonderful kind of happy Christian response that doesnt admit to suffering. Neither am I saying we should mention the Lord every single time someone asks us how were doing. But I think its good to make connections to Jesus and express our faith. Especially so in our private times with the Lord.

Years ago I spent a lot of time counseling an individual who had no problem pouring out complaints and talking about how miserable their life was. And I was sympathetic to this persons afflictions as were many others. The only problem was this individual never seemed to connect their pain or struggles to Jesus. They never mentioned anything about believing that God is good or faithful or that he would use their suffering for his glory. They just constantly complained about their misery and how hard their life was.

Don’t fall off the horse on either side. Don’t try to bear your pain all alone. Share your pain. Especially when someone sincerely inquires. But connect your pain to Jesus from time to time. Join yourfaith in Jesus to your honest report of your suffering. Express both your pain and your trust in Jesus.

What The Arrows Of Affliction Prepare Us For

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“Do you feel marked for sorrow? Are you the target of the arrows of affliction? Are you punished more than others? Do not sorrow. The arrows of affliction are sent by covenant love to prepare you for a special work that will yield great blessing from your Heavenly Father.” CH Spurgeon

Our heavenly Father does a thousand things through the hard times he takes us through. He increasingly shapes us into the likeness of Christ. He creates humble dependence upon him. And in the fires and floods he draws near to comfort us. Hes the Father of mercies and God of all comfort. Many times Ive cried out to him for his comfort, and have found it true that he comforts us in all our affliction. Our sad times and hard times arent wasted. Our Father also prepares us to be vessels of comfort for others.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christs sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. 2 CO 1:3-7

When someone’sbeen through something it makes their sympathy that much more powerful. When someone whos never experienced a hard time like the one Im in offers comfort, I appreciate it, but if someone whos been through a similar experience encourages me itmeans so much more.

When I was 26, my younger brother took his life. Numerous times over the years I’vebeen able to comfort people who lost loved ones because I know how it feels.

My wife has suffered withdepression and anxiety for over 20 years and God has used her to help andstrengthenmany.

Parents who have challenges with their children can sympathize and encourage other parents with kids who aren’t doing well. If we never have any challenges with our kids its easy to become proud and not understand what other parents are going through. We can think that if those other parents just did the right things, their kids would turn out good like ours. But when weve been through the pain and sadness of a rebellious child, were much more sympathetic to other parents and much less likely to judge them.

A police officer friend told me that before a policeman is allowed to use a taser he himself must first be tasered.

When we’veseen Gods faithfulness to us in our afflictions, then we’llbe in a good position to promiseothers that God will be faithful to them in theirs.

And Paul says that when we suffer we’ll be able tocomfort those in ANY affliction even though we dont experience their exact pain, we know what it is to suffer and we know what it is to find God’s comfort in that suffering.

Your pain isnt meaningless. God has a great work ahead for you. The arrows of affliction are sent by covenant love to prepare you for a special work that will yield great blessing from your Heavenly Father.”

Ever Wish You Could Grow Wings And Just Fly Away?

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Ever feel like David and just wish you could fly away?

And I say, Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest;
yes, I would wander far away;
I would lodge in the wilderness PS 55:6-7

There have been times Ive felt like that. Ive wished I could sprout wings and fly far away. Ive wished I could move to some distant town where nobody knew me, change my name, and start a new life. Ive wished I could escape from problems and pain and sadness and dealing with people and hole up in a cabin in the woods somewhere.

But theres really no escaping sadness and pain in this life. There have been times Ive felt like quitting. Felt like giving up my faith in Jesus. But every time I have, Jesus question to Peter and Peters answer comes ringing in my ears:

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, Do you want to go away as well? Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God. John 6:66-69

Where else would I go? Jesus has the words of eternal life. And I have come to know that he is the Messiah, the Savior, the Way the Truth and the Life. Where else am I going to go? Back to the bars? Back to my life of sin? Back to the world – that broken empty well that promises happiness but never delivers? Am I going to go to some other religion? I cant do that. I know the truth. Where else am I going to go? I know that Jesus is my only hope. As much pain as I might be in at the moment, I know that he is my only refuge.

Its easy to have faith when things are going great. Its easy to praise God and be thankful when all is going our way. But to trust and praise him in the midst of affliction brings him so much glory. When we suffer, especially in the midst of tragedy and intense pain, we can feel like doing what Jobs wife suggested: Curse God and die. Or we can respond like Job: Though he slay me, yet will I praise him.

In my forty years as a Christian, Ive seen believers respond to tragedy and tough times both ways. Ive seen some become bitter, lose their faith, and stop following Jesus, saying how could a good God allow this? How could a loving God allow me to go through such pain? God didnt answer my prayers. I believed in him but he didnt come through.

Ive also seen believers go through horrific tragedies and yet despite unimaginable sadness, yet through their tears, still lift their voices to Jesus in praise and declare that Jesus is sovereign, wise, loving and good. What glory they bring to God as they lift their hands in worship, even as tears stream down their cheeks. How they honor the Lord! I cant wait to see the day when Jesus wipes every tear from their eyes and crowns them with glory. And if an angel standing by asks Why didnt you give up on Jesus? Why did you keep praising and trusting him? theyll answer Where else would I have gone? Jesus has the words of eternal life. He is the Holy One of God, my Lord, my King. He was my only hope.

Where else are you going to go?

Jesus is the fountain of life. Every other fountain is an empty well. Every other road is a dead end. Pour out your grief to Jesus. Pour out your complaint to him. Ask him your questions. Ask him why you have to go through what you have to go through. Yet resolve to say, Where else would I go, Jesus? You have the words of eternal life. You are my only hope. Ask Jesus for comfort and peace. Ask him to bear your sadness. And ask him for grace to praise him in the midst of your affliction.

Theres nowhere else to go. So cling to the one whose everlasting arms of love are upholding you. Run to the one who truly knows your pain and longs to comfort you. Run to the one who is your refuge and strength, your very present help in trouble. Run to the one who has the words of eternal life.

7 Benefits Of Going Through Hard Times

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Everything God does in our lives is for our benefit, including suffering. Though they never seem pleasant at the time, hard times produce wonderful benefits in our lives. On Monday I mentioned one benefit – affliction drives us to Gods word. Here are seven more benefits of suffering:

Affliction drives us to God in prayer

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. James 5:13

Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. PS 107:6

When the suns shining and everythings going our way, we dont feel our need for God. But desperate times lead to desperate prayer. When were helpless to change our situation, we cry out to our Savior, who delivers us from our distress.

Affliction humbles us

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 2 CO 12:7

Afflictions remind us of how fragile we are. It keeps us lowly. Reminds us that everything we have is a gift. Pride leads to a fall, but God gives grace to the humble. Affliction positions us to receive grace.

Affliction makes us rely on Christs power

But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 CO 12:9

When we realize how powerless we are, then Jesus can display his might in our lives. When weve exhausted all our own resources Jesus rides in at just the right moment, like the hero in a movie who comes to rescue someone as the train is bearing down on them.

Affliction brings us the comfort of God himself

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction…, 2 Co 1:3

As well meaning as others are, there are times when no human words can comfort. But God himself comforts us when we cry out to him in our pain. The God of ALL COMFORT, the one who knows exactly what our broken hearts need, comforts us in ALL our affliction. The One who fashioned our hearts, who knows our every drop of sadness, knows the exact medicine we need to comfort us.

Affliction gives us compassion for others

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Co 1:3

When someone else has been through the same thing, their words can really comfort us. Though your pain is horrific now, someday God will use you to bring his comfort to someone else who suffers the fury of depression or the agony of a child who rebels like yours.

Affliction produces endurance and patience

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, RO 5:3

The only way to get patience and endurance is by being placed in situations that require it. But it will be worth it in the end, because it is by patiently enduring in faith that well enter heaven.

Affliction reminds us that this world is not our home

For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. HEB 13:14

As many blessings as this world has, its not our home. Affliction weans us from this world, reminds us how transitory it is, and makes us long for heaven, for that day when well see Jesus face to face and he will personally wipe away every tear from our eyes.

Bless the Lord oh my soul and forget none of his benefits. Especially those benefits he bringsus through hard times.

The Thing We Need Most When Life’s Storms Are Raging

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John Newton, the author of Amazing Grace, wrote a letter he called The Benefits of Affliction, in which in which he says one benefit of affliction is that it drives us to Gods word. Or at least it should. When we suffer, there is nothing we need more than Gods word. Nothing has carried me through lifes storms like Gods promises. In Psalm 119:49 the Psalmist says:

Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope.

Whether were weathering a tempest or plodding through a desert we need hope, and nothing gives us hope like Gods Word. He pledges to be with us when we pass through floods and flames. He guarantees hell give us a future and a hope. He promises to comfort and strengthen, to be faithful, and watch over us day and night. He says hell hear our cries, give us peace and all we need. He assures us he never makes a promise he cant keep and hell never change his mind about a promise hes made.

When we suffer we need Gods word to remind us that we have a sympathetic high priest who lives to intercede for us. That we have a friend closer than a brother, whos been through what were going through and knows what its like.

Heres what to do when the wind is howling all around us:

But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;b
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:21-23

In these verses Jeremiah says the key to having hope is to call to mind the truth of Gods Word. To intentionally recall that Gods love and mercies never cease but are new every day. To call to mind Gods great faithfulness. If we never take in Gods truth, we wont have it to call to mind when the storm hits.

There is nothing we need more in affliction than Gods word. We need to remind ourselves of Scriptures bedrock truths that God is sovereign, loving and wise. We need to take ourselves by the collar, and shout to our doubts: Hey self! Nothing is too hard for God. His arm is not too short to save. He is near to the broken hearted. Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. It says so in his Word!

In affliction we must cling to Gods Word, because this is where Satan attacks. Did God really say..? was how he challenged Eve and he uses the same tactic today. He tries to get us to doubt the truth of Scripture. Is God really faithful? Does he really care? You sure he hasnt abandoned you?.The antidote is to take up the shield of faith to extinguish these fiery darts. And where does faith come from? From hearing – and hearing from Gods word.

The best thing we can do to prepare for affliction is to take in, meditate on, and memorize Gods word. And the best thing in the midst of affliction is to do the same. The temptation in tough times is to turn to other things than the Lord for relief. Let your pain drive you to Gods word.

Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.
It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. PS 119.67, 71

I Cant Do Anything For God

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Sometimes believers find themselves in situations where they are powerless to do anything but wait for God. Laid out in a sickbed or stuck in a wheelchair. Completely dependent on others. Ive heard believers say, I feel so weak. I cant really do anything for others. I feel like Im not doing anything for God. If thats you, I hope I can encourage you.

What can we do when God strips away our health, strength or mobility? Over the years Ive known a number of believers who, though they were unable to do much for God because they were sick, really did so much that glorified him. Heres what Ive seen them do, and what I hope I could do by Gods grace should I find myself in their shoes.

Trust God

In the middle of unfathomable weakness and agony Job said, Though he slay me, I will hope in him or I will trust in him. (Job 13:15)

Its easy to trust God when the suns shining and birds are singing, but it really glorifies him when we trust him in the dark valley. When Satan shoots his fiery dart and says, God has abandoned you. God wont be faithful to you it honors God when we say, even if I die, I will continue to hope in him!

Tell others to trust God

A few years ago, a friend of mine was declining with Lou Gehrigs disease. Hed been a jazz musician but now could play no instrument. But he invited all his fellow musicians to stop by and see him before he died, and he shared the gospel with them, even as he had when he was healthy.

Endure

Hope leads to endurance, and endurance glorifies God. In the parable of the sower Jesus said some receive the word with joy, but when things get tough they fall away. Jobs wife said to him, Curse God and die. Give up this pipe dream of a God who loves you. But he said to her,”You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil? (Job 2:10). Though he could do nothing else, Job glorified God by enduring.

Pray

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. (James 5:13)

When we pray in our pain we show we believe God to be a God of love and compassion, a God of power who helps his people. Like hope and endurance, prayer is another expression of trust that glorifies God.

Rejoice

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Php 4:4.

We dont rejoice in the evil of our affliction; we rejoice in the Lord. Rejoice doesnt mean feel happy. It is a conscious decision to praise God despite our feelings. We can rejoice that he saved us and nothing can separate us from his love. We can give thanks that he causes all our pain to produce the character of Christ in us. We can be glad we have an imperishable inheritance and someday Jesus will wipe every tear from our eyes.

Believers who trust God, endure and rejoice in him despite unbelievable pain are true heroes. Maybe you are one of these heroes. You dont feel like one, but I hope you know how much your faith and perseverance pleases God. Youre doing a lot. And I cant wait to see your rewards in heaven.

Wasting Away In OldManville

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What happened?

I feel like I’m about 23 years old mentally. Hopefully I have a little more wisdom than I did at age 23, but I don’t feel “old” in my mind. Then I look in the mirror in the morning. Who is that wrinkled guy gaping back at me? Yep, I’m old. I used to sing “Old man, look at my life” by Neil Young. Now I is one. When I turned 64 this January I sang the Beatles song to my wife, “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64?” She said no.

I try not to act old though. I try not to say “Consarn it!” or “Dagnabit!” too often. I try not to call teenagers “whippersnappers.” I let people know how hip and cool I am by saying things like, “You like that new song by the Mumford Sons?”

God has been kind to me. Overall my health is pretty good. But I’ve got to face it I’m wasting away. I’m not as strong as I used to be. I lifted some heavy bags a few weeks ago and my arm has been sore ever since. I got a stent two years ago and now take blood thinner and blood pressure meds. I’m not ready for my wife to put me into a home yet, though she threatens to do so every once in a while. But the truth is, I’m aging. I’m wasting away.

But it doesn’t depress me. Maybe if I was in constant pain or suffering a debilitating disease I’d be discouraged. And that would be understandable. But simply getting older and weaker doesn’t discourage me. My bald spot is getting bigger. My beard is getting grayer. My skin is getting looser. My muscles are sagging, despite attempting to do push-ups and crunches regularly. But I’m okay with it.

Not long ago someone said to me, “Getting old is hell.” It would be hellish if you thought this life was it. It would be depressing to waste away, lose your strength and abilities. To fear you might fall down and not be able to get up. To be confined to a wheelchair. But believers who suffer in these ways have Christ and hope in him. Those without Christ have no hope. In that case, wasting away is hellish.

Truth is, sooner or later, all of us will waste away. But though believers in Jesus decline physically just like everyone else, we have hope. Paul says in 2 CO 4:16-18:

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Paul doesn’t deny that we age, get sick and go downhill. But he says this doesn’t cause believers to lose heart. Why not? Because “our inner self is being renewed day by day.” Every day God makes us more like Jesus. He transforms us from one degree of glory to another (2 CO 3:18). And our suffering in this life, even the suffering that comes with aging, is but momentary and light compared to the eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison that our afflictions are preparing.

The secret to not losing heart is this – it’s what we look to. If we look to the things of this life – things that are seen – to make us happy or satisfy us – things like our health, our looks, our strength – we will lose heart. Because these things are transient. Passing. Fading. Destined to go away. We can’t keep them. We can’t keep our youth. We can’t keep our looks. So Paul says, “we look not to” these things. Instead, we look to the things that are unseen – eternal things. We look Jesus and our heavenly Father. We meditate on God’s holiness, majesty, goodness, mercy, glory, power, love and faithfulness. We look forward to heaven. When we look to these things we don’t lose heart. We don’t deny that our outer self is wasting away. But we aren’t depressed when it happens either because we have hope.

Yes, I’m wasting away outwardly. But I see Jesus at work in me day by day. So I don’t lose heart. I may lose my hearing but I don’t lose heart. I lose my hair but I don’t lose hope. Praise God for giving us an eternal weight of glory to look forward to.

Consarn it! What’s that sound? Oh, it’s my cell phone. Now where’d I put my trifocals? Oh here they are. Owwww! Stabbed myself in the eye! What happened? My phone quit ringing. Dagnabit! Now I’ll never know who called. Oh well. Now what did I do with those dentures?

*photo by Tom Hussey

Stop Comparing Your Trials

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How many times have you looked at someone elses suffering and thought, How on earth do they keep going? I wouldnt survive a day in that job, or with those disabilities, or with that many kids! Then, after marveling at their endurance, you look at your own life and feel like the most miserable, sniveling excuse for a Christian ever to disgrace the faith.

Okay, perhaps you dont wallow in despair quite that much. But youve probably had that type of internal dialogue. Another persons trials make yours seem like childs play. They have severe physical handicaps; you just have trouble sleeping through the night. Your newborn doesnt want to keep to a sleep schedule, but shes homeschooling six kids and helping her husband run the family business. You struggle to care well for a flock of fifty souls, he pastors a booming congregation, speaks at conferences, writes books, AND coaches his sons baseball team. In short, youre a wimp and he (or she) is Captain Awesome. And the end result is that, on top of your particular trial, you now feel pathetic for even struggling.

Can you relate? To cap off the whole dilemma, the appropriately high value we Christians place on humility makes us think theres something useful, even godly, about this kind of comparison. But heres the problem: comparing your trials to someone elses cuts you off from the comfort God wants to give you in your trial. If God was our schoolmaster instead of our father, if comfort was dispensed on the basis of merit, not grace then yes, we might have reason to think we escape Gods notice until our sufferings pile up to Grade A level. But God isnt like that. To each one of us he can say, I have searched you and known you, (Psalm 139:1). To you these words apply: And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you (1 Peter 5:10).

I know what youre thinking but they really do face more than I do! And yes, thats true and its true for every single person. No matter what we go through, someone out there has faced something thats more difficult, more intense, more challenging. But that doesnt change Gods compassion for you in your trial. The God who reveals himself as boundless in compassion and mercy walks with each one of us in our trials, tailor matching the comfort receive to the need of the moment. Looking at someone elses trials tempts us to look away from God and to act as though, because our trials are so small by comparison, maybe we shouldnt even bother crying out to God for help in our struggle.

So let me make a recommendation: stop comparing your trials. Instead, respond with honesty and humility to God in whatever you are facing. Ask for mercy God waits to pour it out on you, even if youre tempted to feel like a loser for even asking!

Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him (Isaiah 30:18).

Photo by Emilio Labrador

A Good Lesson From A 95-Year Old Warrior

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Theres a French phrase that the American soldiers picked up from the French people in WW II. Its a phrase of a people who had been occupied by foreign armies many times. Its a phrase that acknowledges that stuff breaks, bad things happen, plans go astray, its a hard world. Its a phrase of resignation. The phrase is Cest la guerre (which sounds like say-la-gare). Cest la guerre means literally, Its the war. It is a way of saying we have to accept things as they are because thats just the way life is.

My 95-year old dad, JJ, who landed on the beaches of Normandy 30 days after D-Day, spent a good amount of time in France in the War. He said when a soldier was wounded or they couldnt get supplies, or they had to sleep in muddy trenches, theyd simply shrug their shoulders and say, Cest la guerre. Hey, its the war, what do you expect?

My Dad is in the hospital now. He fell on ice and broke his ankle in 2 places on Dec. 16 last year. At first this tough old soldier refused to let me take him to the ER, saying Its only a slight sprain. When the pain became unbearable he consented to go to a clinic which showed hed fractured his ankle. He endured intense pain for a couple days as they adjusted the levels of his blood thinner before they could operate. They inserted a steel plate and 11 screws. After week in the hospital they transferred him to a skilled care facility where he had to continue to endure much pain and physical discomfort. After a couple weeks there he was finally beginning to improve when two Sundays ago he had a small heart attack and was taken back to the hospital at 4 in the morning.

About 4 days into his second hospital stay his ankle was bleeding out through the bandages and they discovered he has MRCA, a bad infection, in the wound in his ankle. Hes also experienced severe pain in the ankle, and often winces and groans as it shoots up his leg.

Dad doesnt complain. A few times in this ordeal he has sighed and said, Oh boy, and said he wished he could be transported to one of his two homes – either his earthly one or his heavenly one. But he doesnt complain. Yesterday morning when I visited, I said, Dad, Im so sorry you have to go through all this suffering and misery. He smiled slightly and shrugged his shoulders and said, Cest la guerre. The old warrior laying in his bed, connected to tubes, covered with purple bruises from his blood thinner, foot in a boot, wincing in pain. Its the war.

Its the war. Yes. This world is broken. This world has been infected by sin. Powers and principalities in heavenly places wage war against us. All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. We who believe in Jesus have tasted the powers of the age to come, but still experience the pain of this age.

Yet so often were surprised when we suffer. Sometimes we even ask, Why is this happening to me? Why am I suffering? Why do things go wrong? Why dont I have enough money? Why is my teen rebelling? Why am I mistreated at work? Why?

Cest la guerre.

Its the war. We should expect things to happen, to go wrong, to not always get what we want. We should be prepared to suffer. Not in an Eyore I-guess-Im-just-doomed-to-suffer way, but in a this-is-hard-and-sad-and painful-but-I-know-God-is-working-this-for-my-good way. Its the war. We have powerful enemies. We walk through spiritual minefields every day. We have cravings and desires we must put to death. We have to flee temptation.

But we have a Great High Priest interceding for us. We have power of God within us, the Holy Spirit himself. We have powerful weapons – the gospel, prayer, Gods promises. And we have a great hope. Hope that will not disappoint. A hope of glory. An eternal weight of glory awaiting us. No one in heaven will say, This wasnt worth what I went through. Well say, All I endured that seemed so long and heavy was momentary and light compared to this glory! We have a hope of seeing Jesus face and hearing him say, Well done, good and faithful servant.

My dad may be close to hearing those words. I dont know. On one hand I hope Jesus heals him, because I love him and love to be with him. On the other hand, hes been fighting this war a long time, and its far better to be with Jesus.

Its the war. Its a fight. But its a good fight. Keep on fighting. Keep on looking to Jesus. Our Conqueror on his white horse isnt far away.

*Photo- JJ Altrogge in his hospital bed