Sunday, September 29, 2013

Maintaining Our Confidence in God Despite Our Suffering

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded”
(Hebrews 10:35).

People put their confidence in many things, all of which will disappoint them at some point.  God is the only one in whom we can have complete faith and trust.  As believers in Christ we put our confidence in Him, but how easy it is to forget that truth when we are continually faced with pain and suffering.  We may temporarily lose our faith and trust, doubting His ability to bring us through these trials.

In Hebrews 10, the author reminded his readers of their early days in the faith when they withstood their suffering with confidence (verse 23).  The Expositor’s Bible Commentary says, “They had experienced some form of persecution and had come through it triumphantly.  This should teach them that in Christ they had blessings of a kind they could never have had if they had given way to persecution.  There should be no going back on that kind of endurance now”. 

As the years have passed and my health problems have become more debilitating, I have been (and still am) tempted to lose my confidence in God.  How quickly I “throw away” the history of His faithfulness and forget how He has used these sufferings to grow me in my faith.

Reminding myself of the specific ways God has shown Himself faithful encourages me to hold on to that confidence. Verbally declaring my faith and trust in Him is a strong defense against the attacks of Satan. Reading testimonies of other believers who have endured great persecution also motivates me to hold fast to this confidence.

Our pain and sufferings are difficult and at times seem unbearable.  But we can pray for eyes to see the blessings we are receiving through our trials and persevere in our endurance as countless other believers have done and are doing, “holding unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, You have continually proven Yourself worthy of my complete faith and trust.  Let me triumphantly hold on to my endurance and confidence in You, knowing You will not fail, and my reward will be worth the suffering.  Amen.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Surviving the “Staging Area” of Chronic Health Problems

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (I Corinthians 2:9).

Each fall my husband takes some camping/hiking trips.  A few years ago as he was gathering all of his equipment in one room, he called it his staging area.  I had never heard that term before and teased him about it.  Now when we plan to go somewhere, we joke about our staging area.

I recently looked up the definition of a staging area.  It is “a place to gather in preparation on the way to a destination, or a temporary location to stay while awaiting transition to a new field of operations”.  Two words impressed me – preparation and temporary – and I realized that my chronic pain and health problems are a staging area for my eternal life.

Every aspect of this earthly life is preparing me for eternity.  Pain and suffering deepen my personal walk with and faith in God like nothing else can, causing me to rely on Him alone and reminding me that this life is not all there is.

Staging areas can be messy.  Our family room loses its neat appearance during these preparation times and that can’t be helped.  So it is with my earthly body and life.  I want my life to be neat and organized, but pain and illness are messy.  Life doesn’t go as planned, but this is only temporary.  I am on the way to a “new field of operations” – my heavenly home.  Right now God is preparing me for what lies ahead.  There are things He wants to teach me and aspects of Himself that He wants to reveal to me in this staging area of pain.

In many ways I’m ready to move on to my new location, but I pray that I can view this staging area as a valuable tool God is using to prepare me for this glorious new destination, and willingly live with mess until then.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, give me the perseverance and faith to accept this staging area of pain and suffering that You are using for my good, even as I keep my eyes fixed on my eternal destination with You, and all that awaits me there.  Amen.