Friday, January 23, 2009

Suffering

I have spent much of the last days in tears, crying over suffering. Mainly, the suffering in my own life that comes with a horrible chronic illness that just won't go away no matter how hard I pray. But, also for so many others who are suffering. Last night near midnight, I held the hand of a precious lady on the brink of death whose fever was nearing 104. I prayed for God to intervene and bring her fever down as they came to wheel her into the ICU. Praise God, her fever came down but she is still fighting for her life.
I have cried for moms who have blogs filled with the grief of losing a child that absolutely break my heart. I am reminded of a man in a wheelchair at Wal-Mart who I want to hug and talk about heaven with. The orphans in orphanages where no one holds them or sings lullabies to them. The hospitals are FILLED with stories of suffering. The number one prescribed medicine in our country is an anti-depressant because of the millions of people who are sad and hurting. Single moms. Broken marriages. Wars. Addictions. The list of suffering could go on forever it seems.
But, what is troubling me more is the fact that our new President is ushering in evil as fast as possible. His first moves as President have been to change the laws about marriage and abortion.
It is very clear in scripture where God stands on these issues.
Marriage between a man and a woman is an example to the world of Christ's love for His bride, The Church. Who do you think wants that to be destroyed? Why attack marriage? Because there is so much POWER in a Christian marriage as it shouts the truth about Christ's love. I, personally, think that a marriage centered on Christ is the closest thing to heaven on earth. Of course, the enemy doesn't want people to know about something so sacred, so pure, so marvelous. Satan will do whatever he can to destroy it BECAUSE OF ITS POWER.
The protective floodgates holding back sin are being unlocked which means more suffering is coming. Our country has been protected, blessed and prosperous by making it's laws based on God's laws. It is more than frightening to see the speed in the decline of morality. There is a passage that makes me think of where we are as a nation...
“But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and stopped up their ears. They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the Lord Almighty was very angry. ‘When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations, where they were strangers. The land was left so desolate behind them that no one could come or go. This is how they made the pleasant land desolate.’ ” Zech 7:11-14

It is so ironic to me that there are so many parties and celebrations for our new leadership with beautiful gowns and dancing while the cries from the unborn go purposely unheard. And so much talk about HOPE. Don't get me wrong... I am so excited that we have a black President and how he represents healing for so many and I do have much respect for how he has defied the odds and come so far but he is blatantly going against the Word of God and because of that I am fearful for our nation. There are so many warnings in scripture about lawlessness. There is one thing I believe he is going to be true to his word and that is that he will bring 'Change'. But I don't believe it is the 'Change' people are chanting for.

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Anyway, I didn't intend to write about my feelings about our country... just suffering. Suffering is tough. It is inevitably coming in to each of our lives to one degree or another. Where do we turn when our health gives way, our child gets sick or our marriage crumbles? Where do we turn when our country turns its back on God and consequences follow?

Does this mean we throw in the flag of surrender and collapse in defeat or bury our heads in fear? No way. We will always have hope. Not the hope that the world gives... TRUE HOPE.
True hope comes from God. Hope in HIM. He IS our hope. Did you know that we have hope stored up for us in heaven? "...faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven." Col 1:5 I love thinking about that because in crisis situations-- I need some of my 'heaven hope'. I am using some of my heaven hope now as a matter of fact. You see, we can never run out because it is kept for us in heaven. There is never such a thing as a hopeless situation. I also love it when it says, "O prisoners of hope..." in Zecheriah. I love that thought that we are prisoners of hope. There is no way we cannot have hope as children of God. Did you get that? We don't just have hope. As believers, HOPE HAS US. (He has us) So cool.

I embarrassingly wrote about telling God, "I don't want what you want, I WANT WHAT I WANT!". I wish I could say I have moved far, far from that selfish girl on the beach who God graciously deals with in her rants but I still scream the same thing about my current health situation. I know that anything allowed into my life is for my good and my sanctification, preparing me for ministry, allowing me to have more compassion and fruit in my life.. but I still yell when the healing doesn't come... "I WANT WHAT I WANT, not what you want". I am fervently praying that I would have a Christ-like heart and say (and mean with all my heart), "Not my will, but YOURS be done". It is the polar opposite of the natural cry of my heart. I want healing, I want more kids, I want MY DREAMS on MY SCHEDULE. But, as God allows my suffering to continue, I run to Him and He meets me. He gives me "treasures in darkness and riches stored in the secret places" (Is 45:3). He summons me by my name to enter into His presence as He gently removes the dross and the filth and makes me more like His Son. He is faithful in suffering and doing a great work that we cannot see. He doesn't enjoy watching us suffer. He is coming to rescue us from this place of suffering.
And not only is He coming, He is here. Living in each of us who have invited Him into our hearts and to be Lord in our lives. The Bible says He holds us by His right hand. I imagine a Father holding his child as He learns to walk...
"Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me." Psalm 139:10
"For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee." Isaiah 41:13
This post is just a journal of my heart right now. I am really struggling with my health. It has spiraled down in the last week after I was so hopeful I was getting better. "Deferred hope" really does break your heart. "Hope deferred makes the heart sick" Proverbs 13:12
The elders at our Church will be praying over me tomorrow.
"Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord." James 5:14
Pray for a miracle. I am weary and cannot imagine more treatments. I need God to intervene. I know this seems crazy from the outside because I don't look sick. There is no outward evidence of joint pain and headaches except my tears to Tim and my friends. This is still a bad dream to me. I cannot believe I have been through the torment I have and it continues on year after year. I do not like talking about this on the blog but I need your prayers and want you to know that life on the other side of this computer is far from perfect.
Please don't leave me mean comments about abortion and gay marriage anonymously. I would love to talk to anyone about any of these things and show you what scripture says about the issues. God loves you. And, if I can pray for you, please email me. I would love to pray for you.
I am sorry I am sad and not my upbeat self. Life is just heavy these days.
Here is a verse that always encourages me no matter what is happening...
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;"
Isaiah 43:1-3

video

**that weird clip at the end is a VERY OLD video of Reece's first hair cut. I don't know why it always adds the 1 second of an old video on the end. In current life, Tim's arm is still very broken.

24 comments:

Tim Richardson said...

My sweet, sweet, sister Steph. I am always praying for you and your family. Thank you for your raw honesty. God is using you to minister to my heart and the hearts of others. I miss you and hope we can come visit you soon!
Love Amy

Mary T said...

Oh, Steph, this post made me so saddened for your suffering. I know you have been through so much and and I have been celebrating that you have been feeling better lately. I have just prayed for you.

Thank you for sharing all the things you did tonight. We should be aware of what is happening around us and it is time for us to take a stand. I agree with your words and appreciate your posting it and saying it so well.

I'm already missing my Sunday night date with you but every Sunday night at 8 my thoughts and prayers will be with you and our sweet, precious group.

My memory Bible verse this week (Romans 5:1-5) included: "AND HOPE DOES NOT DISAPPOINT US, for God has poured his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."

May your heart be poured full with hope and love, Steph.

Mary T said...

Oh, Steph, this post made me so saddened for your suffering. I know you have been through so much and and I have been celebrating that you have been feeling better lately. I have just prayed for you.

My memory Bible verse this week (Romans 5:1-5) included: "AND HOPE DOES NOT DISAPPOINT US, for God has poured his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."

May your heart be poured full with hope and love, Steph. That is my prayer.

And thank you for sharing all the things you did tonight with this post. We should be aware of what is happening around us and it is time for us to take a stand. I agree with your words and appreciate your posting it and saying it so well.

I'm already missing my Sunday night date with you but every Sunday night at 8 my thoughts . . and a prayer of thanksgiving . . . will be with you and our sweet, precious group.

Always yours,
Mary

Erin said...

Oh Steph, I am so sorry for your suffering. I will be on my knees in prayer for you.

When I was in college, I sat alone in church one Sunday morning during lent and listened to the minister give a sermon on the days between the crucifixion and the resurrection. He invited us to close our eyes and imagine the hopelessness and devastation the disciples must have felt that Friday. The minister said something along the lines of, "If only they had known, Sunday was coming!" And with Sunday, the resurrection, and a new era of healing, of hope and of joy. The minister asked each of us to think of the "thing" that was weighing us down, causing us to suffer, to feel hopeless, and then to remember, "SUNDAY IS COMING." He just kept repeating, "Sunday is coming, Sunday is coming, Sunday is coming." This was a powerful message to me, as I remember it well even though it was ten years ago now. I hope it brings you some comfort tonight. No matter what, your Sunday is coming.

God bless you and heal you Steph.

"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us."

Romans 8:18

Jill said...

Monday is yours my dear friend. I will hold you up as Aaron did to Moses...you too are leading people through the wilderness, and I will lift your arms in prayer. You are being used in a way you will NEVER know. I am sure Moses never ever knew he would have a movie made about him (a few even), and he made mistakes too... I am sending you a new song on your email...be encouraged.

Anonymous said...

Stephanie, I don't think that you know me...we met once several years ago. I started reading your blog when another blog referred to it. I am hooked. I am blessed and encouraged by your love for the Lord. I am sorry for your suffering and I will be praying for you. My husband's secretary has been dealing with the same thing for years and I know how difficult it can be. My heart breaks for you. So many things come to my mind as I read your blog, but one thing in particular, "well done my good and faithful servant..." You are an amazing woman of God and I appreciate you sharing your life thru your blog. You've touched my life in more ways than I can tell you. Thank you for your words and your heart and your LOVE for the Lord that you share so openly. And your video at the end...I can think of few things more precious. What an awesome gift and legacy you are passing to your children. You will be in my prayers.

AJ said...

Oh Steph I am so sorry you are having to walk this road. Please know that we love you and that we are praying for you.

Like Mary said I to am missing our weekly dates. :)

I read this last week and have read it several times since then:

As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses' hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword. Exodus 17:11-13

Your hands are tired my friend. We are here to hold you up and so is God.

Lynné said...

I don't know you Steph - but I am praying for comfort and relief from whatever it is that is making you miserable! After all, we are sisters in Christ! And through your blog, I can tell what a REAL person and a sweet soul you are!

The only thing I ask in return is that you pray for myself and my family as we will be leaving in 3 weeks for a mission trip in Port Maria, Jamaica.

Stephanie said...

Hi Stephanie --
My name is Stephanie as well. You commented on my blog once after I commented on Astrid and Andy's blog. They were in my childbirth class. I do love to read your blog and see what is going on in your life with your boys. I also homeschool 3 kids with one in highschool. I love to read about your first beginnings in homeschooling -- it takes me back to those precious early years!

I want to share a verse with you about your healing. We know that God has the power to heal, but he doesn't always choose to in this age of grace that we are living in. The apostle Paul prayed 3 times for his "thorn in the flesh" to be removed and this was God's answer to him -- II Cor. 12:9: "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

So, while we are not promised healing, we are promised HIS GRACE and that his grace will be sufficient. That is so beautiful and I am praying that you will know His grace during this difficult time!

Conor and Koren said...

Steph, we are praying! Love you so much!

Nicole said...

Oh I was so hoping that your health was improving!! You always look so good in your pictures that I tend to forget you are sick. I will continue to pray for you and hope that this journey ends quickly so that you can enjoy every minute with your beautiful family without pain.

Kristin said...

Stephanie, I am so sorry that you are in such pain. I will be praying for you with all my heart.

In this post you have once again opened my eyes to something I have "missed". I long to be the good, spiritual, servant of God that I see on the other side of the computer. I seem to forget all too often that everyone has their struggles.

As posted in a previous comment from anonymous....
" "well done my good and faithful servant..." You are an amazing woman of God and I appreciate you sharing your life thru your blog. You've touched my life in more ways than I can tell you. Thank you for your words and your heart and your LOVE for the Lord that you share so openly."

You are an inspiration to so many. You have touched so many lives. I will be praying for you whole heartedly.

Jord, Ali, Halle and Belle said...

Steph, I am so so sorry that you are still in pain. You keep such a good outlook on life that those of us who aren't near you and get peaks into your life via blog world forget that you are sick. I am praying for you and hope you feel relief soon. You have the kindest, most selfless soul and I pray that you feel relief from your pain soon. Keep us updated..I am pretty sure you are making the NY trip soon for treatment right? Thought I read that recently...we are praying for you here!

Cassie said...

Will definetly be praying for you and that your health improves. I hate that you are having to suffer so very much....Your writing is such a blessing to me, I enjoy reading. God Bless.

lesliemarie said...

Steph, your friendship is such a blessing to me! I will be praying for you, and that God will heal you! I'm sending you an e-mail, so let me know if you don't get it. :) Love you girl!

Taylor said...

My heart is heavy because of your suffering. I am so sorry. God says, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made PERFECT in weakness." (2 Cor 12:9) I know that you know that, but I'm praying that you will feel peace with His grace. That your moments of suffering are soon a distant memory.

Lynné said...

Thank you, I will continue to pray for you everyday!

Love in Christ!
Lynne'

gillian said...

I love to listen to your sweet boys reciting scripture!!! you're doing an amazing job!!! Praying for you!

Heather said...

Stephanie, I'm so sorry to hear you're in so much pain again. If you need any help with finding a new rheumatologist or ID doc, let me know. StL is not too far from you! I have been to many grand rounds where the topic of Lyme's disease is covered and if there's anything I can do to help, please let me know.

H

Stacy said...

Stephanie -

Though I don't know your specific ailment, I am praying for healing. I am praying for an end to physical pain and torment. Your blog has been such a source of encouragment and knowledge to me.

While reading your blog, I immediately thought of Paul...

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Praying good things for you today...

Jenny said...

Oh no... I had hoped you were on your way to recovery. Be strong Stephanie... I know you are and will be. I'll be thinking good thoughts for you.

Julie said...

Thinking of you today and praying...always.

"Hope is what happens as long as we breathe."

Keep breathing, Steph....just breathe. Wish I could take the pain away (the physical and emotional pain).

Hugs from Indiana!

theclowers4 said...

hey stephanie! your posts are always so amazing and challenging and encouraging and real. thank you, thank you!! have you heard of the proverbs 31 women's ministry? i've thought for so long that you need to write for them!!! it's a daily devotional for women and i just think you would be an amazing addition to the women writers they have now. just a thought! praying for you!!!

Taylor and Robin said...

Stephanie,

I have been reading your blog since the beginning of this school year, and I love it! A fellow teacher at my school knew you when she was at Covenant College and passed on your blog address.

I love your heart for God's truth and how you show it thru your desire to see your children know Him and your posts on issues that hurt His heart, like abortion.

My husband is currently in seminary and was asked to preach at the church he grew up in for "Right to Life" Sunday (which happened yesterday) after his pastor read a paper he wrote on abortion for his ethics class. I wanted to give you the link in case you wanted to listen to it. Go to http://cepc.org/ and then click on "Abortion: God's Eye, Man's Eye, and the Christian Response" under Latest Sermon Message. Unfortunately, he didn't have enough time to flesh out the application (he actually had 8 practical Christian responses: pray, writing congress and so much more), but I think it gives a great biblical view on how abortion affects God and man, and how so many Christians have fallen asleep on this issue.

I am so blessed to hear (read :)) Christians across America uphold God's truth in this area, so thank you for your honesty and not being afraid to talk about this issue on your blog.

By His Grace,
Robin