Can God Forsake Me?

Do you ever feel like God has totally forgotten you and your problems, needs, and deepest desires? I do. Do you ever feel rejected by Him? Maybe you’re holier than I am, but I sometimes make the mistake of taking the actions of people, human beings incapable of the perfect love of our Heavenly Father, and assuming these reactions represent the attitude of God. After a summer of literally 20 rejection letters I sometimes entertain the very destructive and heretical thought that God has forgotten about me. Somehow, even after every proof of His sure and steady love, I doubt His promises. “But Kristin,” you might say, “It’s normal for an author like you to receive so many rejections… it’s part of the deal, isn’t it? Like, aren’t there lists of authors that were rejected over and over again before they finally got their big break?” Yeah, actually. And I do expect constant rejection as an author. But the thing that had me really down, and depressed if I’m being honest, is that the rejections I mentioned earlier were about missions support.

Photo by Alex Jones

You see, my husband and I also happen to be full time missionaries living in a country where it is illegal for us to work. So this summer we traveled all over the U.S. (and even to Canada) to pitch our ministry and our family to other Christians in an effort to raise our monthly support to a level that will pay for our most basic needs in addition to language school, visa fees, and ministry costs. In Christian circles we like to call this process ‘support raising.’

Not Your Job

This summer started out with a class about support raising and in it, a really cool and super knowledgable guy told us a significant truth, “You can only present the opportunity for other people to co-labor in the work you are doing to further God’s kingdom. The important thing to realize in order to guard against bitterness is that you have no control over the outcome. Your job isn’t to convince someone to support you. Do your best and leave God with the rest.” That was such a liberating idea, at first, before the rejection letters, texts, messages, phone calls, and emails piled up. I’m actually not bitter about all the rejection. But at some point in this process, and I can’t say exactly when, I started to align these rejections with God’s feelings about me. That is a very dangerous place to be. Can you relate? I hope not, but understand if you do.

Can God Forsake Me?

So, I did what I usually do when I realize my thoughts have formed into a unbiblical pattern. I made a plan of action to remind my battered spirit what the truth is. Yay for the Bible, right? I had to answer the question, “Is God even able to forsake me?” In light of the following verse we must conclude that the answer to that question is a resounding and final ‘no’ remembering that when God makes a promise He always, always, always keeps it.

“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” -Hebrews 13:5-6

I read ‘My Utmost For His Highest,’ a collection of teachings and writings from Oswald Chambers, every single day. I love the way Chambers talks about this verse:

What line of thinking do my thoughts take? Do I turn to what God says or to my own fears? Am I simply repeating what God says, or am I learning to truly hear Him and then to respond after I have heard what He says? “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’ ” (Hebrews 13:5-6).

“I will never leave you…”— not for any reason; not my sin, selfishness, stubbornness, nor waywardness. Have I really let God say to me that He will never leave me? If I have not truly heard this assurance of God, then let me listen again.

-Excerpt taken from Utmost.org, June 4th Entry ‘The Never-forsaking God’

Hebrews 13:5-6 Break Down

Step 1: Don’t covet. (Coveting is sin, and sin is always a poor choice that leads to other bad decisions.)

Step 2: Be satisfied with what you have. (Okay, yeah this is hard, but necessary.)

Step 3: Embrace and believe in God’s promise never to leave nor forsake you.

Step 4: Remember the Lord is my helper. He will help. (We may not agree that His help is always the best approach at the time, but we need to choose to trust Him. He’s got this.)

Step 5: Don’t fear! (Another difficult choice.)

Step 6: Answer this question, “What can man do to me?” And realize that nothing a man can do to me will have eternal consequences.

Wrong Thinking On My Part

When I decide to let the behaviors and choices of men cancel out the truths that God so strongly emphasizes in His Word, I am making a grave error. I am sinning. I am giving myself over to heretical thinking. Just because man has rejected me does not mean that God will. If brothers and sisters in the faith forsake me, that does not mean that God will. The truth that I need to remember, recite, and allow to reverberate throughout my being is that God has promised NEVER to leave me nor forsake me. As Chambers points out, this is not a conditional promise, “I will never leave nor forsake you as long as…” or “I will never leave nor forsake you if you do these things…” It is not a conditional statement. It is a declarative. Then in verse 6 it gets even better because we see that God is our helper. God! The same One that created the entire universe. The same Father that sent His Son to die on the cross—such a heavy price—so that I could be with Him forever. And this verse ends with this important reminder which I clearly need, “What can man do to me?”

This humbling reminder emphasizes that if God is going to do it, man can’t undo it. Does God want to provide for the needs of my family? Yes, of course! Does God need men to accomplish that provision? No. Would it be nice and validating if people would support our mission and ministry? Yes, but I don’t need that validation as long as I am sure that our family is acting in obedience to God.

All that to say (and yes I realize it is ironic for a writer to use such a phrase) I realize that it’s my wrong thinking that gets me into trouble. Whether or not I feel rejected by people, I know that I will not be rejected by God. Because Jesus.

Sincerely adorned,

Kristin N. Spencer

Not Scared of Refugees – ReBlog

Perhaps the only thing more annoying than political rhetoric is people’s reactions to it. Nobody wants to be seen as friendly to the other side, so any reaction to anything political must be a statement about your loyalty. Take this refugee mess brought on by President Donald Trump’s executive order that bans people from (some) terror-affiliated countries […]

via I’m not scared of refugees, even if some of them turn out to be terrorists — Jason Writes About Stuff

I thought I would share this post, because I can relate, and I know a lot of you can too… Please read it.

I’m not scared, and I also wish people would stop trying to convince me I should be. I’m sure I will get a lot of angry tweets and comments when my new book comes out next month, because the main character decides she isn’t scared of refugees either. But I don’t care anymore.

Praying for you, brave brothers and sisters, as you keep trying to engage hate with the love of Christ.

Sincerely adorned,

Kristin

Why Are You Here – A Christmas Post

christmas-card-2016_sm

This year, Christmas has eluded me like some sort of convoluted puzzle box. I’ve been trying to figure out a way to put this specific season into words; because Jesus. But to be honest, it wasn’t until just now that everything hit me. I’m sitting here, really listening to Christmas music for the first time, thinking of what Jesus did, and what I want to say to you, my friend. The one I love. The person who knows me and sees me live life.

A majority of my friends aren’t believers. They don’t believe Jesus needed to take their sins on Him when He died on the cross because they don’t believe that God is holy and demands holiness. Most don’t believe in God at all. I live in a very Orthodox culture, and while most people will say they believe, they’re struggling to stay positive this holiday season. Hope is missing. Is that you this Christmas? Maybe you’re struggling to find hope. I used to feel the same way.

People ask me this question every single day, “Why are you here?” It isn’t obvious to them. Why would anyone with three kids leave their home country for a different country where things are pretty much falling apart and they can’t communicate well? It makes little sense. And the answer I give is always the same, “We’re here to help.” And I say that sincerely each time. I think many Christians would be disappointed that I don’t at once launch into the gospel message but I don’t, because I care. If I did, one of the two things would happen. The first is that I would lose this new person’s trust forever. The second is that I would lose their trust for an unknowable span of time. So I leave it. I let them watch me. I know they’re watching.

I know you’ve been watching. And I want to tell you that Jesus is the reason I can love you the way I do. Jesus is the reason I can care about you and make you feel like you’re important. You are, but I wouldn’t know or understand that without Jesus. And when Jesus came, I feel like His answer was the same as mine, “I’m here to help.” It didn’t make sense for Him to come, did it? He left perfection for a place that was falling apart. And He couldn’t communicate well. No one understood Him. Really understood. But He came. And in that same spirit of love, He sent me. That’s why I’m here. To tell you about Him. And I’ve been waiting for the perfect moment, and if you’re reading this right now, then I feel like this is it. Jesus can only be one of four things… a lunatic, a liar, a legend, or the Lord. I believe there is overwhelming evidence that the last is the right answer, but if you’re unconvinced and you want to talk about it… let’s talk. I won’t get mad, no matter what you say. I won’t stop loving you, even if you choose not to believe. I just want to talk to you, because I care about you, and Jesus came to save you from your sin. Jesus loves you, and if you were the only person He needed to die for on the cross, He still would have done it. But because I know how powerful the gospel is (infinitely more powerful than any personal testimony I could give you), here is the gospel. For your consideration:

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” -John 1:14

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” -Mark 10:45

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” -Romans 5:8

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” -Romans 6:23

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” -Romans 8:1

“He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” -Romans 8:32

“For He made Him who knew no sin [to be] sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” -2 Corinthians 5:21

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” -2 Corinthians 8:9

“This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” -1 Timothy 1:15

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins.” -1 John 4:10

Merry Christmas.

Sincerely adorned,

Kristin

 

The verses listed in this post were featured in the post linked here:

http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/ten-gospel-verses-to-keep-warm

The Basics: Two Types of Hope

As I grow and mature in my walk with Jesus, I learn new things. Over the last two years I came to the realization that there are two different types of hope. Let’s look at each one in depth.

hope-sincerely-adorned

Hope Born of Desperation

Have you ever been in what seemed to be an impossible situation? Maybe that is where you are now. This theme must be set on repeat in my life. There are usually three things that happen at once to create a horrible stress bubble that only God can fix: we run out of money, we are on the verge of getting kicked out of the country we serve in, and some health crisis surfaces. When all three of these unfortunate events take place concurrently, desperation takes hold of my heart. Over the last seven years, the three difficulties have made their appearance four times. Though they have appeared more frequently as individuals. In my heart, I have grasped on tight to the truths found in God’s word, but there is a certain desperation to that hope. Instead of peace, I find anxiety. Instead of trusting God, I find that I question His motives and abilities. This type of hope is hard won, and lacks the consistency which should be evidence of my faith. These seasons often leave me exhausted and useless. What do I do when this kind of desperation invades my sanity? I remember these verses:

“The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.” -Psalm 34:18

“Many are they who say of me, ‘There is no help for him in God.’ Selah. But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head. I cried to the Lord with my voice, And He heard me from His holy hill. Selah. I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.” -Psalm 3:2-6 

“Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.” -1 Corinthians 16:13

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials.” -1 Peter 1:3-6

“The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy.” -Psalm 147:11

Isn’t it wonderful to hope in the mercy of the Lord? The truth is I don’t deserve to be free from difficulties in life, and the price I should pay for my sins is eternal separation from God. But because of Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected, I can find hope in the fact that God shows me mercy. He doesn’t give me the eternal consequences I deserve.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” -Matthew 5:3

“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed.” -Luke 4:18

Hope Resurrected

When we go through the hope born of desperation, and things don’t come to a tidy conclusion, we often find that our hope has died. Is it possible for a Christian to experience the death of hope? Well, if we are talking about the hope of salvation in Jesus Christ, no… that hope cannot die. But what about other hopes we have? It is very possible that hope regarding specific desires that go unmet will die. Circumstances may be that God has said, “No,” to our intercession. It is natural that hope for that desire or need would die. There is no reason to keep hoping for something that God has clearly said “no” to. But then there are those prayers that don’t have a distinct no, but they also haven’t been answered with a yes. What then? I believe it is possible for those hopes to all but die. Is there a hope that you have that’s buried deep in the recesses of your heart? Has God promised you something that doesn’t seem possible, and still hasn’t come true? What is the point of this type of suffering?

“Through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” -Romans 5:2-5

When you have been through seasons of hopelessness, one of the results is (ironically) hope. When you go through the process mentioned in Romans 5:3-4, it starts with tribulations which produces perseverance, a better personal character, and finally, hope. In my relationship with God, I can see this finish line. No, not all of my tribulations have been solved (not even close!), but instead of the hope of desperation that I tried to grasp with all my might in the past, I have developed a quiet trust in the Lord which produces a confident hope; I now experience hope resurrected. My hopes have become a sanctum I can retreat to when the weight of my impossible circumstances press my spirit to the ground. And even though common sense tells me that what we face now is by far the biggest and scariest reality we have ever faced, I don’t feel desperate. And when the panic of common sense pursues and taunts me with the infinite uncertainties in my life, I choose to retreat to that sanctum, where I can remember all of the times when God provided a solution. In those moments I can face common sense and proclaim, “I have hope, and this time, it brings me peace in the midsts of this dark storm. I will stand, brave and strong, no longer desperate in my attempt to grasp hope as if it was something distant or evasive.”

This is the journey you are on, and if you persevere, you will also level up to a hope that is resurrected where it was once desperate.

Sincerely adorned,

Kristin

Eric Metaxas, You Broke My Heart

Today’s post was born of out of my daily habit of looking at various Christian book blogs, and seeing that Eric Metaxas wrote a review for a book I was interested in. Interest gone, I decided to publicly air my grievances with the way Christian Americans are handling politics at present.

Christians and The Presidential Race

This year’s presidential race can be described in one word: terrifying. As a young girl growing up in Southern California I can remember watching in a school assembly as President Bill Clinton was sworn in for his first term in office as the President of the United States. Rocking frizzy blonde hair and a dental appliance, I never dreamed that one day we would be choosing between a compulsive liar that happens to be sexist and racist, and a hypocrite that used to get men off for sexual abuse and at the very least committed a misdemeanor charge of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material while performing her duties as Secretary of State. If you had a friend of family member that worked for any American Embassy around the world during the Benghazi attack, you witnessed the wave of grief, shock, and terror that tore through those communities.

Say It Ain’t So, Eric

What does this have to do with Eric Metaxas? When other Christian leaders started to give Donald Trump their undeserving support, I became concerned. I talked to friends and family back home about the race to gain some perspective. As an expat, it seems clear to me that voting for someone who uses hate to motivate fear and panic is not a responsible choice for Christians to make. “How could Christians possibly vote for a man with such deplorable character?” became a common question from European friends. The days rolled by on my digital calendar, and I started to see and hear family members support Donald Trump as their candidate. It was like a living nightmare. I don’t know how else to describe it. How can people that exhort others to love as Jesus Christ loved reconcile their beliefs with supporting the human embodiment of selfish ambition? Hashtags like #neverhillary started appearing as more Christian leaders jumped on the Trump Bandwagon. These bandwagoners were men and women I used to respect, like Franklin Graham and David Barton. My writing group was over at my flat for a write-in (Camp NaNoWriMo stuff) when one of them said, “Who is David Barton, and why does it matter that he’s supporting Donald Trump?” My immediate reaction was to choke down the vomit that crept up my throat. Say it ain’t so David Barton! My husband and I have been unsure about him because of a few weird things here and there, but this was too much. I have heard him speak countless times at various churches, and he understands the complex political history of our country and claims to love Jesus Christ. According to Right Wing Watch,

“The listener asked Barton if there is anything that delegates can do to stop the nomination of Trump, to which Barton replied that Christians should simply accept that Trump is ‘God’s guy’ in this election.”

What?! Am I the only one who appalled by this? God’s guy? Really? No, David Barton, I do not simply accept that.

Ironically, this was the banner that greeted me when I went to read about David Barton's recommendation for Christians to vote for Donald Trump as president.
Ironically, this was the banner that greeted me when I went to read about David Barton’s recommendation for Christians to vote for Donald Trump as president. LGBT is the one minority community Trump tries to avoid insulting, though he often fails.

*Insert sorrow filled sigh* As bad as that was, things got worse. Eric Metaxas is was one of my heroes. He is an acclaimed author that has written biographies for human rights frontrunners like abolitionist William Wilberforce and spy against the Nazi’s Dietrich Bonhoeffer. My husband doesn’t like to read. It’s ok, I still love him. But my husband reads Metaxas’s books. He finds them inspirational and full of difficult truths. Eric Metaxas is also Greek American, which inclines me toward him, since many of the important people in my life are Greek. Eric Metaxas is now campaigning hard for Donald Trump, stating in a TheDCFN interview that “Donald Trump is not some great man of virtue, but this much I’ll say for him,” Metaxas told TheDCNF. “I think he loves America and I don’t think he wants to line his own pockets. At this point, that is the kind of virtue that we are talking about.”

According to an article interviewing Donald Trump’s former Ghostwriter, Tony Schwartz, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Donald Trump’s main goal is to line his pockets, and the only person or thing he is capable of loving is Donald Trump.

In his journal, Schwartz wrote, “Trump stands for many of the things I abhor: his willingness to run over people, the gaudy, tacky, gigantic obsessions, the absolute lack of interest in anything beyond power and money.”

“I don’t do it for the money,” Trump declares. “I’ve got enough, much more than I’ll ever need. I do it to do it. Deals are my art form. Other people paint beautifully on canvas or write wonderful poetry. I like making deals, preferably big deals. That’s how I get my kicks.” Schwartz now laughs at this depiction of Trump as a devoted artisan. “Of course he’s in it for the money,” he said. “One of the most deep and basic needs he has is to prove that ‘I’m richer than you.’ ”

Whenever “the thin veneer of Trump’s vanity is challenged,” Schwartz says, he overreacts—not an ideal quality in a head of state.

The other problem is that Trump not only lies, but becomes convinced that his lies are true. In The New Yorker article, Schwartz reveals:

“Lying is second nature to him,” Schwartz said.

And

“More than anyone else I have ever met, Trump has the ability to convince himself that whatever he is saying at any given moment is true, or sort of true, or at least ought to be true.”

Schwartz’s Warning

There are many important points in the mentioned article, and I am inclined to believe Schwartz. He has nothing to gain from speaking against Trump. It is clear that this tell-all is an attempt to appease his aching conscious. Schwartz states his regrets over connecting his life with Trumps in any way, and I wonder how similar American voters will feel after having voted for someone who displays all the symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Christians in the US seemed to willfully ignore the presence of decent human beings during the primaries like attorney and politician Ted Cruz. Libertarian Candidate Governor Gary Johnson seems much more ethical than a vote for Trump, but as I’ve seen over and over people I love and admire are saying things like, “A vote for Johnson is a vote for Hillary Clinton.” This type of thinking goes against the attitude our founding fathers attempted to establish when they created the Republic.

Trump’s Message to America’s Daughters

Just for the sake of irony, I want to mention the fact that American Christian’s were so against Romney for being Mormon, but they accept all of Donald Trump’s anti-human rights rhetoric. Do we really want someone running our country that shames people for their physical appearance? Stop lying and saying that Trump is a good person when ALL of the evidence is to the contrary. Tell me one good thing he has done. If you think I’m being fanatical, click here for a list of seven respected Christian leaders who agree with me including Max Lucado who wrote that

“Trump would not make it through the “decency interview” he requires for those who date his daughters.”

Speaking of daughters, would you feel ok with anyone teaching your daughter that

“It doesn’t really matter what the media writes as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass?”

Or that

“You’re disgusting!”

…if you choose to breastfeed your child? Check out this article for more gems of wisdom Trump wants to instill in our nation’s daughters. And don’t forget about Trump’s public shaming of Ted Cruz for having a “less attractive” wife. That is the kind of man you are choosing to vote for as President.

I encourage you to read “Trump’s Boswell Speaks,” in The New Yorker and form your own opinions.

In Conclusion

To say that my heart is grieved that people teaching this

“And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” -Mark 10:44-45

support someone who says something like this

“The point is, you can never be too greedy.” – Donald Trump

would be an understatement of epic proportions.

Sincerely adorned,

Kristin

SA Book Review: Ante Up by Chautona Havig

ante up cover chautona havig

Category: Contemporary Fiction :: Target Audience: Christians

Ante Up,” the final installment in the Aggie’s Inheritance Series is frustratingly real.

I have been an Aggie fan since I read the first book several years ago, and I was ecstatic when I read that author Chautona Havig was going to write a fourth book for the series.

If I’m being completely honest, I would say that this book is not at all what I expected. I wanted to see Aggie and Luke together, overcoming problems, and living in victory over their past difficulties. I know real life isn’t always like that, and I think that was what the author was trying to portray in this book. Although I found this story heavy and depressing, I don’t think that means you shouldn’t read it. It is well written and deals with difficulties that every family faces at one time or another. Aggie’s struggles broke my heart for her and the rest of the family. Sometimes I just wanted to shake her. But that is how life can be.

We all have seasons of joy, and sometimes we indulge ourselves in dangerous seasons of pity and bitterness. God is always there waiting. I will say that I hope we get another book where we get a version of Aggie that is more familiar, but has also grown through her struggles. There are important story lines for the other characters in the family, especially Vannie, Tavish, Kenzie, and Laird. Plus we get a hint as to what is going on with Tina and William, which I found exciting. Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone that lives in the real world, where God is constantly making us into vessels for His honor.

I received a free copy of this book so that I could write an accurate review based on my personal opinion.

Happy reading and sincerely adorned,

Kristin

Why Suffering Doesn’t Make Sense

Are you suffering? Have you suffered? Things happen in this life that are unfair and wrong. As a Christian community, I feel like most of the time we push past suffering. We don’t want to know the details. We don’t want to share in the suffering. We explain suffering away using two or three well placed Bible verses out of context as painful jabs. I’m not saying you, or me, I’m saying we. I’ve done it. When we follow God, we experience a strong craving for everything to make sense.

why suffering doesnt make sense

Why Suffering Doesn’t Make Sense

The problem is, the world doesn’t make sense. This world is full of sin and pain. It’s full of joy and life and peace and love too, but you can’t ignore the evil things just because the good things exist. I know that many Christians believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ will fall apart when people ask, “If God is so good, why do bad things happen?” if we agree that they are asking a valid question. Instead of glossing over it why don’t give them an honest answer… Bad things happen because sin exists in our world. Sin wasn’t part of God’s plan, and sin has started a powerful wave of consequences that weren’t part of God’s plan. Suffering is one wave of consequence I am referencing. Suffering doesn’t make sense! It doesn’t make sense to non-Christians, and it doesn’t make sense to Christians. We can agree about this, and it doesn’t change our faith. It doesn’t change who Jesus is, or what He did. I was reading this yesterday, and I felt such a kinship with how Dr. Langberg describes suffering in light of Jesus Christ. She doesn’t take the easy way, as so many others do…

“For most of us suffering remains an awful problem and essentially an explainable mystery. In spite of its mysteriousness, we can say several things about suffering:

1. Suffering rarely makes sense. We know that suffering is unreasonable; it is irrational. We work very hard to make sense out of it. We write books and give talks that attempt to make suffering reasonable. Although such attempts can be very helpful to us, I often think that the ability to explain suffering is the clearest indicator of never having suffered. Who can give a rational explanation for why two parents are, for the third time, burying one of their adolescent sons? How can we make sense out of the death of a thirty-year-old mother? Who of us can look the Holocaust full in the face and adequately explain it? It does not make sense. It seems incomprehensible.

2. Suffering rarely seems just. How many times have you encountered suffering in your own life or another’s and thought it was truly fair? We try hard to balance it out. The disciples did too. When they passed a man blind from birth, they asked Jesus, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ (John 9:2). Balance it out for us. Tell us it is fair because of something someone did. Jesus was not very helpful in this regard. He said, ‘No one.’ You can rarely balance it out. There is no balance for the gang rape of an eleven-year-old-girl. There is no justice in the brutal molesting of a child. It is not fair that a boy’s trusted youth director should involve him in sexual activity. There is no fairness in the suffering of an AIDS baby. You cannot make suffering fair.

3. Suffering in and of itself is not good. It is wrong. It was not intended to exist. Death is not good; abuse is not good; violence is not good. Sometimes as Christians we sound as if we think it is good. We sit across from indescribable suffering and glibly pronounce that “all things work together for good to them that love God’ (Rom. 8:28, KJV). Now do not misunderstand. I believe that verse with all of my heart. But it is not a glib verse, and it does not say that suffering is good. It does not say, ‘Don’t worry about what you are enduring; it will all turn out nice in the end.’ It does say that the God we worship is capable of redeeming the deepest agony, the most hideous suffering, the pain beyond words, into something that gives life to others and brings glory to him. But make no mistake, the transfiguring of agony into redemption cost Jesus inestimably. Death does not normally transform into life in this dark world. God’s redemption worked out in the life of one of his children always costs. The beauty of redemption in a life never comes easily. Whenever it does come, we can be certain we have stepped into the realm of the supernatural.” -Dr. Diane Langberg from “Counseling Survivors of Sexual Abuse”

To sum things up, Dr. Langberg says that suffering rarely makes sense, and is rarely fair. She also reminds us that just because God can bring good things out of suffering (which is His nature), doesn’t mean that suffering itself is good.

There are still a million unanswered questions we have about suffering, the main being, “Why does God allow suffering?” But these complex questions need messy, complicated answers.

Let’s pray…

Dear Father, 

Thank You for sending Jesus Christ to redeem our lives. Help us to know that You love us, and that you will never leave nor forsake us. You promise that when troubles come, You are there. Thank You that Jesus joined in our suffering to better understand us. Help us to know suffering was never your plan.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen

Do you have questions about suffering? I don’t have all the answers, but I’ll try my best to answer what you ask. I hope you all have a good week, I’m praying for you.

Sincerely adorned,

Kristin

God Doesn’t Want You To Cut – Part 2

In my first post titled “God Doesn’t Want You To Cut,” I discussed how we all use different coping mechanisms to deal with stress. Sometimes the mechanisms we choose are harmful. I also talk about what the Bible says in regard to self-abuse.

God doesn't want you to cut.

I recently found a very informative quote about cutting (or other self harm such as binging) in Diane Langberg’s book “Counseling Survivors of Sexual Abuse.” I know the book says it’s for people that have been sexually abused, but this quote is for everyone. Trust me.

“I find it very important to educate those clients who self-mutilate about the biochemical changes that accompany post-traumatic stress disorder and what role those biochemical changes play in the survivor’s vulnerability to self-abuse. The endorphins (endogenous morphines) released into the bloodstream at the moment of trauma have a tranquilizing and antidepressant property. The self-mutilation occurs in order to relieve the survivor from unbearably pain internal states, not because the client is “sick” or “weird” or “likes pain.” As clients comet understand this mechanism, they can begin to see the benefit of regular aerobic exercise of some kind because such an activity is also known to release endorphins. The gradual release of endorphins during aerobic activity contributes to a longer lasting sense of well-being and a reduction in stress, elimination the urge to self-abuse.”

So you see, it isn’t that you actually want to harm yourself. It is a temporary reprieve from your intense emotional pain that you are after. Langberg suggests that you take up exercise, which will release those same endorphins, but in a much healthier way. Exercise is also part of your well-being, and an improved well-being will help you take control of your life. Well-being also includes creating healthy sleep patterns and eating healthy foods.

And remember that God wants to give rest to the weary…

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” -Matthew 11:28

May the Lord continue to keep you and bless you on your journey (or as you walk alongside someone else in their journey) to healing.

Sincerely adorned,

Kristin

Aggie’s Inheritance Series – My Favorite Christian Fiction

Aggie's Inheritance Series by Chautona Havig

I don’t normally promote fictional books on this website, but I decided to make an exception for my favorite fiction series, as a fourth book is coming out in several weeks. I adore this series by author Chautona Havig. The main character, Aggie, inherits 8 children after her sister and brother-in-law die in an accident. This faith filled adventure shows that God is constantly with us in our struggles, although He doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we expect Him to. These books have ministered to me in such an intense way. You will laugh, cheer, and cry as Aggie makes progress daily, and the children grieve and realize that their Aunt really does have their best interest at heart. I also love the supporting characters in this book. It definitely takes an army, and Aggie knows and meets plenty of people that are willing to help. Although, some of them cause more complications for Aggie than she can handle. Before the fourth book comes out, I encourage you to catch up on the first three (You can get all three together for Kindle for only $9.97). Here are the links, and descriptions for each.

Ready or Not (Aggie’s Inheritance Book 1)

Fresh out of college, Aggie Milliken thinks she’s prepared for anything life can throw her way. Think again, Aggie!

After the abrupt loss of her sister and brother-in-law, Aggie is stunned to find herself the sole guardian of their eight lively children. If learning basic parenting skills wasn’t complicated enough, she must also battle the children’s half-crazed grandmother, survive a massive remodeling project, and navigate the waters of new friendships-alone.

She has little experience with children and none with housekeeping, and it shows. What she has going for her is grit, a double dose of determination, and the confidence that this is exactly where the Lord wants her to be. With an unlimited P-mail account and enough hymns to keep her spirits bolstered, she tackles one catastrophe after another.

It seems like nothing Aggie does is right, but ready or not, here she comes!

For Keeps (Aggie’s Inheritance Book 2)

Her first six months of “motherhood” included an ant infestation, a major move, house renovation, and lessons in how to be a mom to eight lively children. Now that the house is nearly complete, her children are headed back to school, and she has a few tantrums under her hymn-singing belt, Aggie is certain life will settle down. Poor Aggie… William makes his intentions known, Luke and his mother are always there for her, and between a new kitten, a box full of puppies, and chicken pox, Aggie’s home begins to resemble the local zoo! Her children keep testing the waters, the unrealistic budgets she makes refuse to balance, and she learns that life with children means that nothing stays done and perfect for long. Add Geraldine and her histrionics to the mix and it’s no wonder she’s ready to run away from home. When a surprise letter arrives, everything could turn upside down. Relief is in sight, but can she bring herself to jump to plan B? Has this just been a practice game, or is she playing for keeps? Will her household shrink drastically, or will it expand?

Here We Come (Aggie’s Inheritance Book 3)

In the hubbub of wedding preparations, Christmas celebrations, and a house full of lively children, Aggie is feeling overwhelmed and unappreciated. Add to that two puppies who are growing faster than she can replace chewed shoes and fix dug fences, it seems like things just can’t get any worse. Then, as she should be enjoying the most exciting time of her life, she’s faced with her worst nightmare.

Ante Up (Aggie’s Inheritance Book 4) is coming in just a few short weeks! I can’t wait to read it, and I hope you are just as excited.

Sincerely adorned,

Kristin