Possess comfort

Jerusalem - 1

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4

“Years and years of pain, Lord. What must I learn? What do You have for me to do? I thought You had a different plan for me. I thought I was going to make a difference in the world for You. What can I do in this bed of pain?”

Before the Lord healed me of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, I mourned. I mourned over the loss of my health. I mourned that I was dependent on others to help me. I mourned that I did not have enough faith to be healed. I mourned that my sin may have caused my sickness. I mourned that I couldn’t help others who were sick. I mourned that I was not doing great things for God. I saw myself as weak and not able to accomplish anything.

I … I … I … I!

Recognition of the Holy

Isn’t mourning a natural outcome of a person who is poor in spirit, the first Beatitude? When we see God in all His holiness, and we look at ourselves, we cry out like Isaiah, Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” Isaiah 6:5 The comfort comes with our cleansing, our atonement, much like when the seraphim touched Isaiah’s lips with the burning coal to atone for his sins.

Like Isaiah, I recognized that I could do nothing without the cleansing work of Jesus.

Recognition of the Messiah

As Jesus began His final journey to Jerusalem, He mourned because His people did not accept Him as their Messiah.  “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” Matthew 23:37

Jesus had come to the Israelites as their Messiah, and yet, they did not recognize Him as the Messiah. They thought their Messiah was going to set up an earthly kingdom.

“O God, he needs you so much! I’ve prayed for years that he would accept You. I cry out to You. Save him!” This is my cry; this is my mourning for a man I have known for several decades. He is an angry man – angry at God, angry at the world. I mourn for him. I long for him to know the love of God, to see God as He is. Will he accept Jesus as his Savior? I’m trusting God that he will recognize God for who He is.

I am comforted that I am not responsible for this man’s salvation. God is in control.

Recognition of the Eternal

Before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, Jesus stood before the tomb and wept. John 11:35

It’s been 11 months since my Mama stepped into heaven. I told a man about my Mama yesterday, and I was unable to prevent a few tears. Even though I know that my Mama is comforted from all her pain as she enjoys being in the presence of Jesus, I still miss her.

Yet, I’m comforted to know that I will see her again. I’m a child of God. My home is heaven, and eternity is my time.

Recognition of the Joy

Jesus felt the weight of sin. Jesus experienced pain. Jesus bore loss. Jesus mourned.

Isaiah wrote of the coming Messiah, Jesus, that He was “a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.” Isaiah 53:3

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Mark 15:34

Why would the Son of God endure the pain and shame of the cross, the separation from the Father for a time?

“for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 2:2

As followers of Jesus, we have joy set before us, a joy of eternal life with Jesus. He will wipe away every tear. There will be no more pain, no more sorrow. We will bask in comfort that knows no end, comfort beyond our imagination, for our eyes will be completely consumed with the glory of God.

My prayer

Father in heaven, thank You for the blessing of mourning. In it, we learn to surrender our sinful bodies, minds, and spirits to You. In You, we live and move and have our being. In You, we find comfort. Thank You, dear Father, dear Savior, dear Comforter. In Jesus’ name, we pray.

Pray the Scriptures when life hurts … A Review

Pray the Scriptures When Life Hurts by Kevin Johnson

I first heard of “praying the Scriptures” from a man who was comforting a woman in pain with very little hope. He showed her how to pray through Psalm 23. I then practiced praying the Psalms. I had not thought of praying the rest of the Bible, until I read Kevin Johnson’s book, Pray the Scriptures when life hurts: Experience hope and healing through the power of God’s Word.

Johnson walks readers through nine key Scriptures as he teaches the reader to pray the Scriptures to regain hope and healing. Along the path, he pauses to reveal the agony of his depression and the pain of his neurological challenges. Like David in the Psalms, he describes his pain and depression, and then he turns his eyes on the greatness of God, and he finds hope.

I appreciate his candor in sharing his thoughts and his emotions during his suffering. I have experienced similar thoughts and pain.

“Scripture teaches us to offer up not only our agony and questioning but also our surrender … When we allow Scripture to lead us to a breadth of prayers, we begin to be filled with God’s fresh life.”

Johnson begins the book with nightmares and agony and closes with peace and hope.

Scripture heads the brief chapters; reflections follow;  Johnson’s challenges unfold, leading to God’s all-sufficiency and Johnson’s perseverance. The reader is then prompted to read one or two verses and pray using prompts. The reader repeats the process until the entire passage of Scripture is prayed through. The last section of the chapter includes questions to reflect upon, pray about, and discuss with others.

This book is a great tool for a reader to use alone, and it would be an even greater resource in a small group Bible Study.

About the author.
Read Chapter One.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group, for my honest review.

My prayer

Father, thank You for Kevin Johnson’s courage in writing this book. Bless his readers with the knowledge of Your presence in their lives as You lead them by the hand through their pain and suffering. I pray for Kevin Johnson, Father, You know the great and precious promises You have in store for him. Pour them out on him abundantly. Thank You.

From suicidal thoughts to hope and exquisite Love

I’ve been stuck in the miry clay of the perpetual pit of pain and fatigue.

I’ve gnawed and scratched my way up a few feet only to drop back into the mud and cry out to the Lord in anguish.

I felt alone in that pit, not knowing if I could get out, not knowing if I would pull my family into the pit of despair with me.

Those were the times when I cried out to God to take me home–to let me die. But there I was alive and in the pit.

I took pills for the pain, pills to sleep, pills to keep me awake, pills to deal with the side effects of the other pills.

Muddled and dark thinking replaced the encouragement of my family, and I began to think they would be better off without me. Surely God did not want me to be in so much pain; surely He didn’t want me to drag others down. Me … Me … Me.

A ray of light pierced that darkness, and I told my husband, Keith, about the plan, and my doctor changed some of my medications. But it was still a process of hanging onto the lifeline, placing one muddy foot over the other up that wall as Keith and others hoisted me out of the pit of despair.

I have learned that chemicals muddled my thinking, but I have also learned that I also inadvertently chose to remain in that pit longer than I needed to. I had allowed the fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue to define me, and that definition shrouded me in hopelessness, for there is no cure for fibromyalgia at this time. I later learned to define myself as who I was (a child of God, greatly loved by my Heavenly Father and my husband and family) not what disease I happened to have.

I learned to get out of bed even when in pain and sit outside. I learned to bask in the light of the Psalms. I found that David often despaired of his situation and confronted God with his anguish. Most of the time, he ended the psalm in praise.  In one psalm, he even asked himself, “why are you cast down O my soul?” David invented self-talk!

When I turned from my pain and to God and others, I discovered that I was wrapped in love, and living with fibromyalgia pain was possible and could have some depth of meaning and significance.

If you have suicidal thoughts, realize that there is hope, and there is help for you. Take these steps immediately:

  • Tell a loved one.
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255, or 1-800-784-2433.
  • See your doctor immediately. Tell the nurse it is an emergency.
  • Tell God about your struggles and wait on Him as He wraps you in His blanket of love.
  • You have much to be grateful for. Count your blessings.
  • Recount these blessings throughout the day (a form of self-talk).
  • Read the Psalms and meditate on David’s anguish and then his praise.
  • Go to church and get involved.
  • Volunteer. I’ve talked with volunteers who were depressed until they started volunteering.
  • Exercise, one step at a time. It is scientific fact that exercise helps.

My prayer for you

Heavenly Father,  You loved us so much that You sent the Holy Spirit as our Comforter. Wrap these dear readers in the warmth of your love and mercy as You lift them into the light of Your truth and grace. Show them that Your mercies are new every morning. Give them grace, peace, hope, and a double portion of Your exquisite love.