Art by French Press Mornings, lettering by Alyssa Martin
Three days ago, I started to come down with a cold. And three days ago, I started reading Job as part of my Bible reading plan. I can’t argue God’s perfect timing! As my sore throat progressed into a series of sniffles and then a debilitating headache, the Lord kept reminding me of what I had been reading in Job each morning. As I was tempted to wallow in my pain, I tried to remember Job’s response to his world crashing around him:
“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.’” Job 1:20-21 ESV
Most of us may find it easy to thank God when life is going well or prayers are answered the way we want. But how often do we kneel down and worship God in the midst of suffering? Do we doubt our faith or think we’re being punished? Do we try to point the finger to blame someone or something else? Or we bow down and humbly confess that God is sovereign and in control? Even if we never know the reasons for our suffering, God does have a plan and purpose.
We live in a fallen world and everything is tainted by sin. Jesus promised that we would face suffering (John 16:33), but he also gave us hope in the fact that he has overcome the world. In 2 Corinthians, Paul writes that he pleaded with God regarding a thorn in his flesh. God’s response was that His grace is sufficient and His power is made perfect in weakness.
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 ESV
So what can we be grateful for in the midst of suffering? God’s unchanging character! “For I the LORD do not change” (Malachi 3:6a, ESV). Praise God! He is holy and perfect, untainted by sin. He is love, modeled by the relationship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He is patient and slow to anger, evidenced by His repeated forgiveness for rebellious Israel (which is a picture of us!). He is the creator and sustainer of the universe; nothing could exist or continue to exist without His power. The LORD who controls every molecule in the entire cosmos also knows your every thought, fear and worry. He wants you to lay everything at the foot of the cross and accept that in your weakness, He is strong.
Paul writes, “…for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11b-13 ESV
We may never know why God allows certain hardships in our lives, but we do know that He uses them to strengthen us. In his letter to the Romans, Paul writes, “we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3b-5, ESV). As we face trials, we can be grateful that God is growing us through those experiences and that His strength will sustain us.
And if all of that isn’t enough to stir up thanksgiving in your heart, then find joy in the fact that Jesus has gone ahead of us to prepare a place in heaven for us (John 14:2-3). And He will return and win the war against Satan. There will be an end of sin and suffering; God has promised that to us and we can eagerly anticipate that day! This world and everything in it is temporary. Cling to that which is eternal and root your joy in God!
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ESV
Janine’s Faux Roca
4oz. sliced almonds
2 sticks butter
1 Tablespoon corn syrup
¾ Cup Brown Sugar
12 oz bag of semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line your jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Place a single layer of graham crackers over the entire surface. Evenly sprinkle the sliced almonds over the graham crackers.
Then melt the butter, corn syrup, and brown sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir constantly for 3 minutes. Pour the boiled mixture evenly over the almonds (don’t worry it will spread out and equalize in the oven). Place the pan in the oven for 10 minutes or until bubbly all the way to the middle.
Remove from oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips over the surface and let sit until melted. Spread evenly with a spatula.
About the Author
I am a Christ-loving woman who is continually being stretched by the Lord. I live in small-town Texas and love playing soccer, baking cookies, playing games and hugging trees. I split my time between working towards the conservation of endangered species and training up the next generation of children and youth at my church.
Photo Credit: Alyssa Martin Photo