Category: Comfort


As I grew up, the plan for my life was to get married, have kids and stay home to raise them.  My Mom did that and so would I.

I dated through high school but I would surely meet THE ONE in college, then I wouldn’t have to finish because, obviously, we would be married right away, have a couple kids, I would stay home, eat bonbons and live happily ever after.

mrs degree

That’s just what girls did and I couldn’t wait.

God changed that plan.  Well, as usual, His plan is always a tad different than our own.

“The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.”   Proverbs 16:9

A dear friend of mine is a wonderfully amazing single woman.  For 35 years she has remained faithful to God’s plans for her life…remaining true to His Biblical standards for a single person; growing in her faith, serving God with her time and abilities, remaining morally pure and finding contentment in her singleness.

She is one of the strongest, Godliest and wisest women I know.  To me, a married mother of four, my friend seems to have it all.  She can do whatever she chooses with her time, has a great job and resources that allow her to travel and give freely… and yet the greatest desire of her heart is to find the man God has planned for her.

Because she, like me and so many other women, know one of the simplest and most basic desires and purpose for mankind.

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply…'”   Genesis 1:27-28

Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.’ For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”   Genesis 2:18, 24

Marriage

But God just hasn’t brought ‘THE ONE’ to her.

A couple years ago a single dad, and his son, moved into the area and began attending our church.  We all became fast friends and even began serving together in ministry.  I swear, a resounding “Hmmmm…re-he-he-ally?!!” could have been heard when some of us realized he was single.   My friend and he got along very well…they seemed a perfect fit and even other people noticed, however nothing seemed to come of it.

“Is he just oblivious?”  Some asked.

“Does he not have similar feelings?”  Questioned others.

None of it made any sense.  It seemed so clear.  Such a great match.

Then we received news that he would be moving back home – states away – and it would be happening immediately.  It literally knocked the wind out of me and I can only imagine what it did to my friend.

We were supposed to meet at my house, our small group women and I, the night he stopped by to tell us the sad news, but schedules changed and the meeting was canceled.  Had the gals and I met…my friend would have surely been here when he stopped.

God protected her heart.

tears

Undoubtedly there were tears and still are, but what seems so sad can also be seen as blessing.

Had something more intimate started between them, this parting would have been infinitely more difficult.  Besides, he is moving back home…back to where he and his son came from…back to where more family is… his parents AND his son’s mother.

Perhaps this is God’s plan of protection for my friend or His plan of reconciliation for a family.  We can’t know the mind of our Creator or the plan He has for our lives but Scripture shows us time and again that God knows our struggles…

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”   Hebrews 4:15-16

And if we boldly go before Him, offering up our heart’s desire, He will hear…

“In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”   Romans 8:26-27
And will fill our hearts…

“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”   John 7:38

But still, it hurts.

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Tristan

“But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. And they said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.’ When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?’ Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, ‘Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.’”   John 20:11-15

After my six year old Tristan read this scripture this morning, his head snapped up, eyes wide open expressing an incredulous stare.  “He’s right in front of her!!”  He exclaimed. He could not believe she didn’t see it was Jesus.

When I was a kid, I grew up knowing that Jesus died on the cross, but it didn’t matter (or I didn’t care) much more than that.  I was taught that as long as I believed in God, knew Jesus died on that cross and was a good person, well…that’s all I needed.

I learned the stories of Adam and Eve at my Grandma’s church and Evolutionary fact at school and both somehow lived cohesively within my mind.  I ignoramusly never questioned the conflict between the two.

Creation surrounded me.  God’s protection covered me.  Jesus stood before me and I couldn’t see Him.

The Bible tells us that we are blind to God’s truths until it is revealed to us:

“in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”   2 Corinthians 4:4

“to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.”   Acts 26:18

This morning God reminded me through a six year old boy that He is always there, always working, always loving, we just need to slow down, pay attention and open our eyes.  He works through so many inconsequential things, we hardly recognize Him.

Don’t be so concerned with the things around you that you miss what’s right in front of you!!

Job tells us how far he has sunk; essentially from above royalty…

“When I went out to the gate of the city… The princes stopped talking And put their hands on their mouths”   Job 29:7, 9

to how he is treated now, the lowest of humankind.

“Fools… were scourged from the land. And now I have become their taunt, I have even become a byword to them. They abhor me and stand aloof from me, And they do not refrain from spitting at my face.”   Job 30:8-10

He begins in chapter 30 and continues in chapter 31, like so many of us, to question God.

Where are you?
Why are you putting me through this?
What have I done?

I get that; the dejection, the loneliness, the agony and despair.  It is so difficult for us to see God’s plan especially in the middle of our struggle.

The other night on Survivor (Season 25 Episode 4), one of the contestants, Russell, displayed Job’s feelings perfectly when his tribe lost the immunity challenge for the fourth straight time.  With each loss, a team member must be voted off and what started out as a tribe of six will be now become, after this loss and tribal council vote, a tribe of two.

Russell loses it.  He smashes a pot ranting and raving;  “Lord I don’t get it!  You gave me another opportunity.  I don’t get what’s happening, Father.  You gotta’ help me understand this.”

He has had it, he’s at point break.  He feels he has done everything God has asked of him; placed his faith in Him, lives his life for Him, does everything to the best of his ability and yet he’s still being punished.

The desperation Russell is feeling echoes Job exactly.  Job lived a blameless life, now he’s human and certainly not perfect, but he has made good choices so why is God punishing him?

“Show me where I have sinned so I can change it,” he says.  “If I did wrong, then punishment is justified,” he admits.  The whole theme of chapter 31 is:

I don’t deserve this!!

I beg to differ.

We are frail, terribly imperfect and sinful creatures, who in every turn naturally choose what’s best for ourselves, and yet God still works through us.

“You owe me nothing, I deserve hell.  You owe me nothing but You’ve given me mercy.”
~Misty Edwards

Are you lifting up desperate pleas?
Are you questioning God and His plan for your life?

We don’t deserve Him or an eternity with Him but He offers it to us anyway.

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

Don’t wait another day.  See for yourself what real love looks like.

 

 

Related posts:
You Deserve Hell -jennypowell.org

Keeping Momentum -HopeRainsGrace Blog

I need a new… [Job 1-2]
with friends like these… [Job 4-25 reflections]
Are Job’s Friends All That Bad? [Job 1-2]
Are you a drama queen? [Job 3]
Shut don’t go up… [Job 7]
The beauty of a collector [Job 9]
You know what happens when you ASS-U-ME [Job 1-9 reflections]
Liar, liar, pants on fire! [Job 11]
Look around! [Job 12-13]
Put up your dukes! [Job 15]
Sticks and stones… [Job 18]
I pity the fool… [Job 20-21]
I am with you always. [Job 23-24]
Show Some Compassion! [Job 25-28]
Woe is me! [Job 29]

Job continues the longest speech in his namesake book of the Bible, found in Job chapters 26-31, with the “if only’s” of Job 29.

You can almost hear Job’s “woe is me” attitude, wishing things back to the way they were and turning all drama queen implying that God is no longer with him.

“Oh that I were as in months gone by, As in the days when God watched over me; When the Almighty was yet with me…”   Job 29:1, 5

He recounts his past blessings; how well he was treated, how wonderful and great he was, how he had everything… respect, honor, children and God.

How often do we do that ourselves?  We remember back to the “good ole’ days” when life was somehow better or easier or simpler, and wish we could go back.  But God doesn’t want us to dwell on the past…

“Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder things of the past.”   Isaiah 43:18

He wants us to learn from it.

 

 

The experiences we have in our lifetime make each of us unique.  Each experience molds us into the person God wants us to be and gives us our voice, our unique story and equips us to help others.  God uses the past to teach us and to better us.

“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”   Romans 15:4

Don’t look back upon your life with regret or wish away where you are now.  Ask God to help you find His plan for you right where you are.  God has given you a story only you can tell and equipped you with the tools you need.  Look around.  Who has God placed in your life right now?  Reach out…

 

 

 

Related posts:
I need a new… [Job 1-2]
with friends like these… [Job 4-25 reflections]
Are Job’s Friends All That Bad? [Job 1-2]
Are you a drama queen? [Job 3]
Shut don’t go up… [Job 7]
The beauty of a collector [Job 9]
You know what happens when you ASS-U-ME [Job 1-9 reflections]
Liar, liar, pants on fire! [Job 11]
Look around! [Job 12-13]
Put up your dukes! [Job 15]
Sticks and stones… [Job 18]
I pity the fool… [Job 20-21]
I am with you always. [Job 23-24]
Show some compassion! [Job 25-28]

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.  And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”   John 1:1-2, 14

Words are powerful.  They have the ability to question, exclaim, describe, uplift, encourage, comfort, or destroy.  I have always loved words and enjoyed using them; writing, singing, studying, talking, you name it, and once I became a Christ follower and started reading scripture…oh my, those words!

Scripture is alive.  It breathes and can affect a person like a sucker punch, hitting directly at the heart.  Words found in the Bible not only uplift, encourage and comfort, but they offer guidance and truth.

I very much enjoy spending time reading God’s Word.  Don’t get me wrong, it can be very confusing and foreign at times but if I continue reading, God always reveals a phrase, a story or a truth that I can grasp… and then Scripture sings.

God opened my eyes to the power of words when I tried to break the habit of saying “Oh my gosh.”  Instead, I made a point to say “Oh my word” but found, as you can read in my post: OMG!, that using the phrase “Oh my word” is almost worse because as scripture tells us, the “WORD” is God…and more specifically, Jesus himself.

The area that I struggle with words most is memorization.  My kids attend AWANA, the youth program at our church, where they are taught to hide God’s word in their hearts. (Psalm 119:11)

Scripture memorization is vital in our Christian walk.  For instance, verses of praise help us appreciate God’s creation.  Verses of encouragement help when we’re feeling depressed, sad, or lonely.  God’s promises equip us to recognize His miracles in our life, get us through challenging times at work, at home or at school, they keep us strong against temptation and prepare us to share our faith with others.

God revealed to me through a friend last night in our small group how effective memorization truly is.  If John 1:1 is true, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. then why would we not memorize?  Psalm 119:11 says “Your word I have treasured in my heart…”

If Jesus truly is the Word, then when we memorize Scripture are we literally placing Jesus and His power into our hearts?

Definitely makes memorizing a little more interesting, doesn’t it??

 

Sydney got braces yesterday…and she wants you to know that they hurt.

A lot.

She’s ten years old and doesn’t have all her adult teeth in yet, so she has what the orthodontist calls “2×4’s”; braces on the front four teeth then bands on her back two molars for the orthodontic headgear.

Ouch.

I had to wear headgear when I went through those crazy-snaggle-tooth-ugly-middle-school years so as I watched them place the bands on her teeth and then eventually how to put the headgear on, oh it brought back memories.

YIKES! …but check out the Atari!! Mmmm-hmm, word.

Yup.  My teeth hurt just watching it!

After we left the orthodontist, I had Syd practice putting the headgear on.  She was struggling greatly with getting the tips placed into the tubes correctly and she became more and more frustrated.  She tried over and over and over again with zero success.

Her muscles stiffened, her grasp became more forceful and her eyes squinted as she tried desperately to make it work.  My stomach twisted in knots just willing her to get it, to no avail.  My heart broke for her knowing that she had to get this, she had to figure it out.

Syd was on the verge of tears when I finally told her to stop.  “Say a quick prayer,” I said. “Ask God to guide your hands.  Ask Him to help you get it in and to calm your nerves.”

She immediately closed her eyes.  I was hoping she would pray aloud but as she leaned back, her face loosened.  Her shoulders fell, her arms relaxed and her hands gently cradled the headgear.  Her face was at peace and beautiful.

After several minutes, her eyes sprung open and she lifted the headgear, placed it into her mouth and slid it right into place.

“Hear, O LORD, and be gracious to me; O LORD, be my helper.”   Psalm 30:10

“And the LORD will continually guide you…”   Isaiah 58:11a

God is amazing.  He works so mightily in our lives and we don’t even recognize it.

If He will work through a little girl struggling with something so insignificant as an orthodontic device, how much more will He do in your life?

“For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.”   Psalm 48:14 (niv)

When the weight of this world knocks you down and you feel like you can’t go on, He will never leave your side.

I love Job and his friends.  They are just so human.

Throughout this entire book, Job has maintained his innocence in deserving the loss and struggles he has endured.  He proclaims the name of God in faith and reverence, remains loyal to Him and a witness to those around him.

Job’s friends continue to stand by him, and although they don’t believe he is innocent, they do continue to try to help him through this…although a sting from a scorpion might be easier to take than the venomous bite of a disapproving and doubting friend.

But what I love about Job is that although throughout the book he maintains his loyalty and declares his confidence in his integrity; in chapters 23 and 24 he waivers.

“Oh, that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his seat! Behold, I go forward, but he is not there, and backward, but I do not perceive him;”   Job 23:3, 8

“Why are not times of judgment kept by the Almighty, and why do those who know him never see his days?”   Job 24:1

Where are you?  He screams.
Why me?  He yells.

Then Job joins his friends in admonishing the wicked, agreeing that God does prevail; almost as if he is reinforcing his claims of innocence and reminding himself that God is always watching and always just…in His timing.

“Yet God prolongs the life of the mighty by his power; they rise up when they despair of life. He gives them security, and they are supported, and his eyes are upon their ways. They are exalted a little while, and then are gone…”   Job 24:22-24

 

How often do we question God?
How often do we focus on ourselves, listen to those around us and decide God has forgotten us…
That He doesn’t care…
That He has left us alone to fend for ourselves while the wicked prosper?

Remember, as Job does, God’s promises passed down among generations…

“It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”   Deuteronomy 31:8

Ladieeeees aaaaand gentlemen!

Welcome to the main event; the Suffering Weight Boxing championships!

In the red corner weighing 142 pounds, previously wealthy land and livestock owner and former father of ten.  The current Suffering Weight Boxing Champion, from right here in the land of Uz, please welcome Joooooooooooob!

His opponent in the blue corner weighting 143 pounds, one of three pitiful friends of Job.  The chief “comforter” from Teman, please welcome Eliphaaaaaaaaz!

Are you ready to rumblllllllllllllle?

Ding.
Ding.
Ding.

Chapter 15.  Round 2.

Eliphaz starts in again with his accusations, echoing the accusations he brought to the ring in chapter 4.  He didn’t bring any new moves or new punches.  He was a friend coming to Job armed with gloves of blame and mistrust.

Job returns the blows of condemnation from Eliphaz with strikes of emotion and anger.  Calling his friends, and rightly so, “worthless physicians” [Job 13:4] and “miserable comforters.” [Job 16:2]

I can relate to Job’s friends.  I am a miserable comforter.

A dear friend of mine has been recently diagnosed with an aggressive, stage 2 possibly stage 3, form of breast cancer.

When I heard of her diagnosis, I froze.

I longed to go to her but failed.  I wanted to support her but collapsed.  I desired to encourage her but gave up.  I ached to be there for her but fell short.  I had no words and couldn’t process the news, so I didn’t.

I didn’t go to her.  I didn’t cry with her.  I didn’t comfort her.

I didn’t.

“Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us… if it is encouraging, let him encourage…”   Romans 12:4-6, 8 (niv)

I, like Job’s friends, just shook my head.

Job’s friends, typical guys, wanted to fix things.  They offered suggestions and accusations when all Job wanted was support, encouragement, a strong shoulder and an open ear.

“But if it were me, I would encourage you. I would try to take away your grief.”   Job 16:5 (nlt)

Sometimes there aren’t words.

I don’t have the words to comfort my friend, because I have never been in her shoes.  I don’t know what she’s going through so I can’t possibly tell her so, but I can sit quietly, wrap her in silence and learn from her.

Sometimes we aren’t supposed to fix things.

I can’t give my friend the medicine she needs or take the pain from her, but I can offer my time, my hugs, my tears, my prayers and my love.

“A friend loves at all times…”   Proverbs 17:17

What kind of friend are you?

 

I’m reading slowly through the book of Job.  I have read the Bible all the way through a couple times now in my life [insert happy dance here]

but I have never done an in-depth study of Job.

I’ve always liked Job.

He puts things into perspective when I think I’m having a bad day.  I mean, the poor guy!  All within six verses, a matter of exactly 27 seconds of reading, announcements that come within a period of what could be only minutes of each other; he loses his livelihood and his family.  [Job 1:14-19]

In chapter two, Job is plagued with “loathsome sores” and the one person who is supposed to stand by his side “in sickness and in health” turns against him.  [Job 2:7-9]

Then there are Job’s friends…
Eliphaz the Temanite
Bildad the Shuhite
Zophar the Naamathite

Now I’m only in chapter six so I have only started reading in-depth the counsel of Job’s friends, more specifically Eliphaz who tries to offer words of help and encouragement by suggesting the reason he thinks Job is suffering.

But from what I’ve read so far, Eliphaz is only doing what we all do for our own friends.  We offer our best guess.  Our assumption of what might be happening.  We try to give our best counsel based on things we have experienced ourselves and what might apply to our friend.

I hear all the time how Job’s friends steer him wrong; they are insensitive and give horrible counsel.  Perhaps there will be much more to learn as I continue my study through Job, but as of right now they seem human to me.  They just seem like good guys coming to comfort and help their friend.

What kind of friend are you?

Please take a few minutes to take my friendship survey!  The results will help me see what qualities we find most important in a good friend and how many of us consider ourselves friend savvy.

Click here to take the survey!

Thank you so much for your help!!

 

“Some people come into our lives and quickly go.  Some stay for awhile and leave footprints on our hearts.  And we are never, ever the same.”  -Anonymous

How are you at being a good friend?

I miss the mark more often than not.

A good friend is patient and kind.  She doesn’t get jealous, snotty or rude.  She lets us go first even when it isn’t our turn and doesn’t get angry when we do.  She is always honest with us, dreams with us and walks the long road with us.  She comes when we struggle, weeps with us and encourages us when we are down.  She lends her ear and her shoulder to help bear our burden and sorrow.  Her love never ends.

So often Job’s friends get a bad wrap, and rightly so; they give him bad advice, question his integrity, and accuse him wrongly.  Like us, our friends are not perfect; we all make bad choices, say the wrong things or jump to conclusions.  [Job 4-25]

But we can learn from Job’s friends in how they respond when they hear of their friend’s suffering;

“Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came… to show him sympathy and comfort him. And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept… And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.”   Job 2:11-13

They came.

They wept.

They sat.

What kind of friend are you?

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…”   1 Corinthians 13:4-8

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