31 Days: Faith in the Face of Suffering

We live in a broken world where people suffer. Some get lost in the suffering and never seem to come out on the other side. Others put on their happy faces and pretend that all is well. Neither of those approaches work long term. So, what is the answer?

In a span of only five years, my family endured miscarriage, a clinical depression diagnosis, cancer, job loss, divorce, and more. I have heard every cliche and had well meaning individuals quote Romans 8:28 to me more times than I can count. The problem was that none of those pats on the back or “I’ll be praying for you” promises told me how to make it through. “Keep the faith,” people say. What does that even mean? faith pin

I am determined to have better answers. I don’t have all of the answers, mind you, but I’m going to give hurting people some promises they can hold onto during painful times. So, I spent months studying the book of Job. Job mourned and worshiped simultaneously. He shook his fist at God and, also, held on to Him for dear life. Like Jacob, he wrestled it out. Then, in the end, his faith was stronger. It may have been a faith that was bruised and battle scarred, but it was proven through the fire.

This 31 days series, Faith in the Face of Suffering, is written for anyone who has ever had the wrong thing said to them in their time of pain. It’s also for anyone who has been the one with the foot in their mouth. It is for anyone who has ever felt alone and begged God to just show Himself. It is for anyone who has ever hurt. I think we can agree that covers pretty much everyone.

I will cover topics such as:

  • Are the truths we speak to others in pain still true for us in our pain? (Taken from Job 4:1-6)
  • How do we not get stuck in the “what next” mentality? (Taken from Job 10:16-17)
  • We must realize that Who is more important than why. (Taken from Job 38:1-41:34)

I hope you’ll join me for the next 31 days as we learn how to walk out this faith thing in the face of suffering. I will add an index of the posts here as they go live!

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Day 1: There was a day

Day 2: The Reality of Heaven

Day 3: Precious Promises

Day 4: Go With What You Know

Days 5 and 6: Psalm 18:39 (Free Printable)

Day 7: When You Just Can’t See Him

Day 8: Wounded, Not Weakened

Day 10: When Your Spirit is Broken

Day 17: How strong does he think I am?

Day 21: Letting Go

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31 day Nester Challenge

You Can Bring Your Lonely Here

I keep bumping into them online – women who are lonely. They are laundry folding, nose wiping, boo boo kissing, grilled cheese making machines. They are single ladies working 9 to 5, sitting in on meetings and swapping jokes around the water cooler. They volunteer at church. They are classroom moms. They are doting grandmothers. They are all ages and in all stages of life  – and they are lonely.toys in the floor

One sweet lady silently slips an email into my inbox asking for prayer. She reaches out to a stranger on the other side of a computer screen. One whispers, late at night, “I have no one who cares.” It is heart wrenching.  I wish we could just sit down over a cup of coffee. I long to look each of them in the eyes and tell them they are not alone. But what can I do? I’m just one woman and a tired one at that. I’m just a mom with toys all over the floor and peanut butter on my keyboard.

Can I tell you something? I care. I’m a hot mess and I do not have all of the answers. I’ve made mistakes. I have been a selfish mom and a bad friend. I am just a woman in desperate need of grace. But, I care. And you are welcome in this place. You can bring your lonely here. I won’t judge your baggage or call you a drama queen.

It doesn’t matter if you have had a chance to shower. We can meet here, in my living room, among the toys and laundry piles. Dora the Explorer is probably going to be playing in the background. You can talk and I’ll listen. Or, you can just sit silently. Maybe, you just need some company. That’s okay, too.

I can not fix your problems. I can not take away your pain. Here is what I can do. I can see you and I can hear you. Suffering has a way of making us feel isolated and alone. We become desperate for someone to look our way.

Turn to me and be gracious to me for I am alone and afflicted. – Psalm 25:16

I promise, He is looking your way – and so am I. Scripture tells us that God sets the lonely in families. Here, in my little corner of the bloggy world, you and I are family. You are not alone.

When Mourning and Worship Collide

skyI still remember how casually my mom mentioned it. She had found a lump in her neck. “It’s nothing,” she kept saying. I left work to take her to the doctor’s office. When she opened the passenger door to my car, I was sobbing while simultaneously scooping fast food wrappers and junk mail out of the seat so she could sit down. If anyone ever judged me by the state of my car or my purse, I would be in serious trouble.

We left that doctor’s appointment thinking that she probably had some sort of infection. We were feeling pretty good about the whole thing. Then, the call came. You know the one. The infection turned out to be lymphoma. With every call or appointment after that, the news got worse. It was stage IV. Then, it was two different kinds of cancer. A kidney would need to be removed. They would have to use the Red Devil – the strongest chemo drug they had at their disposal. We could not even catch our breath between blows.

So it was for Job. We are not told exactly what he was doing when the first messenger arrived. This is probably because there was nothing noteworthy to share. It was just another day. Then, word comes that his oxen and his donkeys have been taken and some servants have been killed. While that messenger is still speaking, another messenger shows up. Fire from heaven has killed all of his sheep and more servants. Before Job can take all of that in, another messenger comes on the scene. The camels are gone and more servants are dead. Then, the final and devastating blow comes. A great wind has struck the home where his children were gathered. The building collapsed and they are all dead.

There are seasons when things just seem to go from bad to worse. You feel like you lost a fight that you did not even know you were fighting. In those moments, when you are paralyzed by the pain, what do you do? What did Job do?

Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. – Job 1:20

He tore his robe and he shaved his head – both were symbols for great mourning in his day. There is no shame in grief. It is not an indication of a weak faith. Whether it is a broken relationship, a financial devastation or a death – it is okay to mourn our losses. We do not have to pretend like all is well with our circumstances.

After tearing his robes and shaving his head, Scripture tells us that Job “fell to the ground and worshiped.” Job did not simply kneel on the ground. He did not sit crisscross applesauce on the floor like a child during story time. Job collapsed under the weight of grief. He fell to the ground as if struck. Sobs stole his breath, his tears watered the dust beneath his feet and he was unable to do anything except fall. Well, anything except fall and worship.

I was at a banquet for work when my dad called to tell me that my mother’s infection was, in fact, an advanced stage of cancer. I remember excusing myself and finding an empty room. I collapsed into a chair and cried. It was the big, ugly cry. I’m sure you know the one. All alone in that room, in between sobs, I just kept saying, “You are still God. You are still God. You. are. still. God.” That is what Job was doing when he fell to the group and worshiped. He was reminding himself that God was still God. It is vital, in the midst of our pain, that we continue to speak truth to ourselves because Satan will be quick to whisper lies. The enemy will try to tell us that God has changed – that he is no longer good or trustworthy. We must arm ourselves with the truth of the God who changes not.

Whatever you are facing today, my friend, be reminded that God is still God.