Couch to 5K with me - she's up to about week 5. See if you can recognise who this is in her portrait:
So that's life. It hasn't been an easy term. But God is good, and holds us in his hands. I am so thankful for the way he cares for us.
The Word of God is like a lion. You don’t have to defend a lion. All you have to do is let the lion loose, and the lion will defend itself. Charles Spurgeon
If my friends are with me in a trial, how much more so is Jesus? When I am grateful that others have not forgotten my sorrow, how much more so has Jesus kept me close to his heart? When others have prayed when I no longer knew how, how much more so has Jesus spoken on my behalf (Romans 8:34)? When others have meet needs and brought food and carried burdens, how much more has Jesus promised to carry those loads I just can’t bear (Matthew 11:27-29)? Deb
There is a temptation in writing a book about suffering to romanticize one's struggles or, worse, to insensitively rank and compare trials, as if victimhood were a matter of one-upmanship.Do you ever feel that? I do.
Far too many people have suffered the sort of tragic reversals that I have been spared, and no one but God knows or understand the full extent of another person's pain.
At the same time, people who haven't experienced major setbacks sometimes feel that their hurts are somehow less legitimate or real.
We each have days that couldn't end quickly enough ... The individual factors may be trifling, but the suffering is all too real. Sure, there's not anything particularly dramatic or glamorous about such everyday misfortune, but that does not invalidate it.
When we resist classifying it as suffering, we embrace the misconception that God is interested only in the more tragic situations of our lives. Yet so often the little things are the big things.
I do not mean to trivialize suffering or suggest that broken fingernails are the same as broken hearts. In fact, the intent here is the opposite: to broaden our understanding of suffering in the hopes of being a bit more honest with God and ourselves. ...
Everyone is suffering in some way, today, right now. ... Mary Karr said ...
The most privileged, comfortable person ... from the best family, has already suffered the torments of the damned ... We are all heartbroken.Religious people in particular have a tough time being honest about their suffering. Occasionally we can even foster an environment of denial ... You might say, "I'm having a bad day, but at least I don't have pancreatic cancer" ... Eventually we'll edit our prayers along these lines ...
The appropriate response to life in this world is grief and pain. In fact, nowhere in the Bible do we find God sanctioning a "suck it up and deal with it" posture toward pain ... Job's unravelling wasn't wrong or sinful; rather, it was emotionally realistic ...
The good news here is that Christianity is in no way a stoic faith. It fundamentally rejects the "stiff upper lip" school of thought ... We live amid devastating brokenness, and the cure for this is nothing less than Jesus dying on the cross for sinners like you and me.
Sean Norris ... describes a life-altering interaction with a professor:
He told us to stop comparing ourselves to others, stop comparing ourselves to people in the third world, to people who are "really suffering." He levelled the playing field and destroyed the categories and false hierarchies I had put myself in. Instead, he told us the truth ... I was pointed back to Jesus Christ and His cross, the one who knows our suffering and chose to suffer in once and for all ...God is not interested in what you think you should be or feel. He is not interested in the narrative you construct for yourself or that others construct for you. He may even use suffering to deconstruct that narrative.
Rather, he is interested in you, the you who suffers, the you who inflicts suffering on others, the you who hides, the you who has bad days (and good ones). And He meets you where you are.
He who has God and everything else has no more than he who has God only. - CS Lewis
God often keeps us waiting. He is not in such a hurry as we are, and it is not his way to give more light on the future than we need for action in the present. - JI Packer Knowing God
We know what kind of life Christ calls us to ... But do we live it? Well, look at the churches. Observe the shortage of ministers and missionaries, especially men; the luxury goods in Christian homes; the fund-raising problems of Christian societies; the readiness of Christians in all walks of life to grumble about their salaries; the lack of concern for the old and lonely ...
We are unlike the Christians of New Testament times. Our approach to life is conventional and static; theirs was not. ... By being exuberant, unconventional and uninhibited in living by the gospel they turned their world upside down, but you could not accuse us twentieth-century Christians of doing anything like that.
Why are we so different? Why, compared with them, do we appear as no more than halfway Christians? Whence comes the nervous, dithery, take-no-risks mood that mars so much of our discipleship? Why are we not free enough from fear and anxiety to allow ourselves to go full stretch in following Christ?
One reason, it seems, is that in our heart of hearts we are afraid of the consequences of going the whole way into the Christian life:
It is these half-conscious fears, this dread of insecurity, rather than any deliberate refusal to face the cost of following Christ, which makes us hold back. We feel that the risks of out-and-out discipleship are too great for us to take ... We are not persuaded of the adequacy of God to provide ...
- We shrink from accepting burdens of responsibility for others because we fear we should not have strength to bear them.
- We shrink from accepting a way of life in which we forfeit material security because we are afraid of being left stranded.
- We shrink from being meek because we are afraid that if we do not stand up for ourselves we shall be trodden down and victimized, and end up among life's casualties and failures.
- We shrink from breaking with social conventions in order to serve Christ because we fear that if we did, the established structure of our life would collapse all around us, leaving us without a footing anywhere.
Let us call a spade a spade. The name of the game we are playing is unbelief, and Paul's 'He will give us all things' stands as an everlasting rebuke to us. ...
One day we shall see that nothing – literally nothing – which could have increased our eternal happiness has been denied us, and that nothing – literally nothing – that could have reduced that happiness has been left with us. What higher assurance do we want than that? ...
Have you been holding back from a risky, costly course to which you know in your heart God has called you? Hold back no longer. Your God is faithful ... You will never need more than he can supply, and what he supplies ... will always be enough.
God's promises are seldom small enough to be even slightly believable. At least, until they happen ...Part of the reason God makes huge, outlandish promises is because he made us to crave huge and outlandish things. ...
God promises to satisfy us with the only thing that can - himself. This leaves no room for small promises. A god who makes promises smaller than the vastness of our ultimate desires would be a small god ... But God's promises fully match our best, highest, and innermost desires. ...
The premise of this book is that the Lord, in his goodness, will rip us to shreds if that's what it takes to replace our idols with lasting joy. He will stop at nothing to fully redeem us. He does this by changing our desires. And that is good.