Have you ever felt pressed in by suffering?

If you are breathing the answer is yes, and most likely you have felt the pressing burden of sufferings that press in at more than one direction at once!

In their book “Suffering and the Sovereignty of God”, John Piper and Justin Taylor walk us through the unbiblical perspectives we often have during times of suffering, and the biblical perspectives that should replace them.

At one point in the book, they present opposite ways in which Satan fools and ensnares people:

“Satan enslaves people in two ways. One way is with the misery and suffering that comes from making us think there is no good God worth trusting. The other way is with pleasure and prosperity, making us think we have all we need so that God is irrelevant.”

As you read this, you may not fully fall into either of these categories. However your thinking may be touched by one or the other in times of difficulty and prosperity. So why not firm up your thinking today.

1.  How has God proven Himself to be trustworthy – no matter what happens?

If you have these reasons clear and in the forefront of your mind, you will be able to more easily brush aside the doubts that Satan will try to slip into your thoughts at some point in the future.

To strengthen myself against having unworthy thoughts about God, I daily preach to myself the greatness, the perfections and the faithfulness of God. Since there is a wealth of items to declare, each day my praise to God is different.

2.  How has your experience with possessions and success revealed to us that earthly benefits are short lived and contain burdens within them?

We should be convinced by now that we desperately need God every day and in every area of life. It is not simple that we need God to come along and give us a boost every now and then – we have a deep need for God to be at the center of all we are and all we do.

To strengthen myself against sliding into attitudes of self-sufficiency, I preach to myself the realities of God as the source of all that is good, and the sustainer of all that is!

I readily admit my limitations, yet try not to be (overly) discouraged by them; because I am human, but my God is beyond measure.

Child of God, even when you are running late to begin the day – you always have time to declare the praises of God!

The One who has blessed you in Christ, and will remain wondrous in all things today.


It was just a sneeze

A simple sneeze

But it is surprising what can be learned through such a small interruption.

A few weeks ago I was about to step onto our elliptical and impress our cat who was stretched out nearby and pretending to be disinterested, when a sneeze drove me to the floor crying out in pain.

Hearing my yells, Debbie rushed in thinking I had fallen off the machine, which would not have been impressive. Between gasps of pain, I explained what happened as she helped ease me into bed where I lay moaning and helpless.

A visit to my chiropractor provided a diagnosis comprised of words I didn’t understand. However, I could grasp his pointing to a wall mounted picture of the human body – I had hurt my lower back.

Thankfully the injury was muscular and not damage to my spinal. But the next ten days were dominated by discomfort and bed rest. I had plenty of responsibilities on my calendar, but these were all quickly brushed aside like someone clearing dishes from a dining room table. In moments all that’s left is a pretty centerpiece and no evidence that this had been a place of lively activity.

However, in God’s grace, this stretch of limited activity provided reflection upon what can be learned by a sneeze.

1. I am weak and vulnerable
I was struck by more than pain, the reality of my weakness was quite apparent. In a moment, my entire body and life were put on hold. We go through our days under the illusion of strength, until an insignificant sneeze literally brings us to our knees.

I need to remember God is the strong one, not me

2. The world continues quite easily without me
Our contribution in life is important, and by grace our roles are fruitfully used by God. However, God is the
necessary factor. The church went along fine in my absence. My responsibilities were either pick up by others or simply omitted – and the world didn’t collapse or come to a standstill.

I need to remember God is necessary, and in grace he uses me

3. There is value in quiet and rest
The temporary limitations that kept me from fulfilling most responsibilities, didn’t keep me from being able to pray, read or contemplate the person and glory of God. These are the most important moments of my day, because God is the purpose of my life. Even when other things are stripped away, I can always be active in the most important things.

I need to remember that keeping God first means first spending time with him

4. Who I am is more important than what I do
Yes, I know what we do is part of who we are – but the character comes first and character is shaped above all by time with our Lord. What if I had fallen off the elliptical and suffered a serious, long term injury. My doing would have dramatically shrunk in scale, but my fruitfulness for God could continue to increase.

I need to remember that God doesn’t need what I can do, but he deeply desires to have my heart

As you rush about trying to get things done, while stuffing your latest meal down and driving too fast to the next place you have to be – pause to consider what is vital, which means Who is vital.