Thursday, August 7, 2014


2 Peter 1:5-11
“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.”

In my fight with chronic pain and chronic fatigue, I realized that I am fighting to do.  I want to do the things that other people can: clean the house, do the laundry, do the dishes, take care of the yard, move the furniture to clean behind.  In my chronic pain, these are the things that I have chosen to fight for.  Yet, as I consider my life in light of God’s Word (and more specifically, the verses above), I realize that these are not the things that a Christ follower expends all of his or her energy on.  It is my attitude that I should be fighting over.  Am I serving Christ in diligence, seeking His knowledge, holding myself to His standard consistently, striving to be more like Christ and to show His love (verses 5-7)?

These things are not accomplished strictly by doing.  In fact, were I a complete invalid, I could still possess and successfully portray these qualities.  Here’s where grace finally enters in.  I cannot possess these qualities on my own.  It is only Christ’s work in me that allows these qualities to blossom and grow.  Not my own pushing through the pain, nor my determination to do something no matter how much it hurts.

My job is to seek Him.  To seek to know Him, to put it a little differently.  Christ will reveal Himself to me, and will empower me through His grace to do what He has set before me to do.  I often get so caught up in my own agenda.  I reason to myself that as a wife and mother, my first ministry is to my husband and son.  Good so far.  So I need to attend to all of the chores, right?  Well… doing the chores is an obvious way to minister to my husband and son, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I need to do them.  The chores being done is not as important as the attitude that I portray to my family.  If I am allowing the chores to interfere with the ministry of my attitude, then I need to shift my focus.  (Notice I didn’t say don’t do the chores?)

Rather than a physical fight, I should be concentrating on the spiritual fight.  If, ultimately, the physical fight needs to stand aside in light of the spiritual fight, it’s worth it.  Honestly, this type of fight feels far more “relaxing.”  Far more doable.  Because I am not fighting on my own.  Christ extends His grace to me and empowers me with His Spirit and with His Word.  (He can use other things, too, but I would venture to say that these are the funnel through which all of His other tools flow.)

Where is your energy going?  You may not struggle with chronic pain or chronic fatigue, but the lesson is no less true.  Are you allowing the things that you do to crowd in and demand your focus?  Or are you seeking Christ first and how to portray His love in the things that you do?

Friday, August 1, 2014


James 1:2-5a
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God…”

I had a difficult time a little bit ago in my weakness, or trial, or whatever you wish to call it, of chronic pain and fatigue.  I knew that I was weak, my endurance waned, and I fought depression as I looked to God.  I have 2 Corinthians 12:9 posted at my desk to help me through times like that:

“And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”

I found myself unable to recall what God’s power in my weakness looked like.  How exactly did that work?  I needed to remind myself.

So I studied around the verse.  In 2 Corinthians 12:7, Paul mentions “to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh[.]”  He requested of the Lord three times that He remove the thorn (many theories exist as to just what the thorn was), implying that he dealt with it over a period of time.  The implication of time makes me think of the endurance that Paul must have needed in his “weakness.”  When does a person need endurance, if not when they are weak? 

As I pondered endurance and weakness and God’s power with my husband, he  mentioned James.  James seems to be the helping key to understand, as it explains the concept of endurance, which goes hand-in-hand with trials and weakness.  Was my endurance failing?  Was that concept biblical?  Or was there something else at work?  James speaks of endurance stemming from trials, not being crushed by them.

James talks about endurance in trials, but endurance isn’t the first thing on his list.  First comes joy, then knowing, then faith, then endurance.  We are to have joy in our trials - or our weaknesses, insults, distresses, persecutions, or difficulties, as later mentioned in 2 Corinthians 12 - because we know that the testing of our faith produces endurance.  This endurance, in its perfect result, will make you “…perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  

Christ’s purpose, as mentioned in Romans 8:29, is to “…conform [us] to the image of Christ.”  To make us more like Christ, who was perfect.  He is always working toward that purpose (which is combined with bringing Him glory).  This is what God uses our trials for.  James continues on in his book with the knowledge we need in order to have joy in trials, but I want to focus on endurance and what that looks like in weakness.

The word used in James 1:2 for endurance is the greek word hupomone.  There are a few definitions for it, but two in particular stood out to me:  “the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith” and “a patient, steadfast waiting for.”  So endurance holds a deliberate purpose at the same time as patient waiting upon the Lord.  This portrays contentment to me.  To be content in the knowledge that I will wait for God’s purpose to use this trial for victory, and to hold to that deliberate purpose of faith in God and in His purpose to make me more like His Son. 

As I laid crying on the floor and crying out to God, I had lost my hope in God’s victory over - and through - the trial.  All I focused on was the pain, the fatigue, the lack of strength, and no end in sight.  I tried to shift my focus, but it was a difficult uphill battle, as I had already been traveling down that road awhile before the breakdown.  I also didn’t have this concept of endurance, yet.  Perhaps it will help me to catch my thoughts before the breakdown next time.

The verse Psalm 27:14 comes to mind:  “Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord.”  It was my favorite verse for awhile, and I think that I need to return to it with this new definition of endurance in mind.  It’s almost as if to say, “Wait - before you lose hope - wait for the Lord to work in you.  His grace is sufficient for this trial.  Let your heart take courage, because He will have the victory.  Yes, be content, and wait for the Lord.”

I pray that He would bolster my faith, that I would exercise deliberate purpose to seek His knowledge as a high priority.