Seasons of Suffering

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While on my prayer walk yesterday, I saw something that made me smile and cry at the same time.  A young woman was jogging with her two dogs.  Not an uncommon sight on the Swamp Rabbit Trail.  But, as the woman passed me, I couldn’t help but notice the contrast between her two dogs.  The canine on her right was as white as snow and stood as high as the woman’s hip.   The dog on her left was a brown chihuahua whose ears barely reached the height of the woman’s socks.  I continued to watch, noticing that the contrast between the two dogs didn’t end with their appearance.

As the woman jogged along, the tall dog on the right moved his legs in a slow, easy stride.  He wasn’t so much running as he was gliding.  The chihuahua, on the other hand, was moving all four legs just as fast and hard as he could and still falling far behind.  I immediately felt sorry for the poor thing, and that’s when the tears threatened to spill out of my eyes.  I realized how much I could relate to that poor little mutt.

Like him, I know how it feels to see those around me effortlessly moving forward while I’m striving with every bit of strength and energy I have and still falling behind.  And I know I’m not alone.  Just this weekend, I spoke with several strong women who are waging war against sickness, disease, and other health issues.  As I conversed with these women and their families, a litany of negative words flowed through the conversations.  Frustrated.  Discouraged.  Helpless.  Hopeless.  Like me, these women long to do more, be more, live more, but their spirits are currently in bondage to a body that can’t keep up.  And so, we watch as others live their lives and try our best not to grow discontent with our current season of life.

As I watched the contrasting dogs and thought of these women (and myself), a passage from the book of Job crossed my mind.  We all know what Job went through.  In a single season of life, he lost his family, his livelihood, and his health.  If anyone had a reason to feel frustrated, discouraged, helpless, and hopeless, it was Job.  But look at what he said in the middle of such heartache:

Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die. But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.
— Job 2:9-10

Shall we receive good and not evil?  It’s a fair question.  Why is it that we, as Christians, expect to get only good things from God?  Or, to put it more accurately, why can we not understand that often the things that seem wrong or evil are actually for our good?  It just doesn’t make sense to our finite brains, but that’s why God gave us His Word.  So we wouldn’t have to lean on our own understanding.  All we have to do is trust that what He has said is true.  

With that in mind, here are some encouraging Scriptures the Lord gave me this morning.  These verses apply to everyone, but I pray they will be a special blessing to all of you who are fighting illness or disease and are growing more discouraged with every passing day.  Let God’s Word assure your heart that He cares for you and that through this season of suffering, He is working all things for your good.  And remember, this too shall pass!

The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace. - Exodus 14:14

Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. - Isaiah 40:28-31

And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed. - Deuteronomy 31:8

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. - Jeremiah 29:11

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:19

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. - Psalm 23:4

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's. - Psalm 103:2-5

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. - Isaiah 41:10

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise. - Jeremiah 17:14

The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all. He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken. Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate. The Lord redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate. - Psalm 34:17-22

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. - Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

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