Tag Archives: adversity

The Unapplauded Hero

super-hero-cape-flying-SupermomI met a Hero the other day.

She is twenty five years old.

She’s put aside her own hopes and dreams to care for a chronically ill family member.

She’s had to quit her job because the care needs are so time consuming.

At an age when she should be having fun, dating, building a future, career or a family of her own, she cares full time for someone in need.

She cries when no one is watching.

She wonders what the future holds.

She worries what will happen to her loved one.

She worries what will happen to herself if something happens to her loved one.

She feels guilt for wanting more.

She doubts God at times.

Her faith wavers even as she continues believing.

She is a full time caregiver. Someone desperately needs her. She is there.

She is learning at a young age the hardship and beauty of a laid down life.

If you are a single young man you might want to consider a woman like her.

She won’t have much time to date, but she certainly knows about loyalty, selflessness and love; all the qualities that make a great spouse.

She’s the unapplauded in the background. One who performs the mundane today, tomorrow and the next day.

But mundane is greatness when executed so selflessly.

Those who are faithful in little things will be rewarded with much (Matthew 25:23, Luke 16:10).

She will be honored for her faithfulness.

Man may overlook.

But God sees.

He sees it all.

He sees her.

She is brave.

She is strong.

She is incredible.

And He calls her Beautiful.

My New “I Don’t Get It” Box

box copyI now own a virtual “I Don’t Get It” Box. It was delivered to me over the weekend after a conversation I had with a good friend. She’s had a tough year and great loss.  We talked about  faith, and how it processes us through life circumstances that are more than difficult.

Sometimes stuff happens that doesn’t fit into our neat and tidy theological boxes. We can’t check them off our doctrinal lists. Things happen that we can’t explain and we have no idea which  (thought-I-had-this-all-figured-out-already!) category to file them under.

After this conversation with my friend, I woke up the next morning with a picture in my head. Some people call them visions or awake dreams. Call it whatever you want, but I saw me with a long line of people stretched out endlessly behind me, standing in front of a huge box inscribed with a large glowing font that said,

“I Don’t Get It.”

Everyone in line, including me, had a piece of paper in hand. I had written on the paper, parts of my life I question, things I don’t understand and circumstances I have faced or still face that are confusing and seem to have no answers.

I stepped up to the box and threw my paper in. When it hit the bottom the font on the front of the box changed and began to flash in bright neon over and over again,

“Just TRUST Me. Just TRUST Me. Just TRUST Me. Just TRUST ME….”

I may not ‘get’ many things but I get this message loud and clear. I don’t need to analyze, understand, explain and figure everything out.

I can’t know everything because knowing ALL would make me God. Wasn’t that we could be like God by eating the only off limits fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, the original lie of the serpent?

Man fell for the deception. He believed it. Do we still?

God wants our trust. He wants us to believe Him. It’s all He’s ever wanted. So I lay aside my need to know and simply trust..

Because God,

I believe You are good.

I believe You are love.

I believe You are faithful.

I believe You are merciful.

I believe You desire only the best for me,

Today, no matter what happens, how I feel, whether I understand or not, I throw it all into my “I Don’t Get It” box and…

Just Trust You!

 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman.  “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4-5

 “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9:10

 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. John 14:1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Hands His Hands

We celebrated another wedding anniversary recently and as I dusted off our wedding album to reminisce, I smiled, flipping through the photos.

Until I came to this one on the last page, this close up of our hands showing off our new wedding rings.hands

‘Oh My Gosh!’ I thought, ‘My hands were so pretty and so straight once.’

Six years after that photo was taken I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. A crippling auto immune disease  triggered at the birth of our first son and ten years later, ravaging through me like an eighteen wheeler squashing a bug, following the birth of our second.

As much as I wanted to, I didn’t have time to stay in bed and it really didn’t matter, staying in bed hurt just as much as being up. Painful nights without sleep and miserable exhausting days were measured on a pain scale of bad and horrible, making the bad days seem good.

My family needed me and with two active growing boys to care for, prayer and pills became my constant companion. Pain pills, steroids, low dose cancer drugs and weekly injections all kept me in function mode. My continuous prayers went from begging God for healing to demanding my body stop its destructive storm, and everything in between.

As the disease progressed the cartilage and fluid cushion between joints eroded. Fingers and toes began to drift, tendons shifted and bones fused. Slowly I was forced to give up activities I enjoyed; skating, tennis, playing guitar, clarinet and keyboards, hiking, wearing sexy shoes, doing my nails and many more.

The day I went to have my wedding ring cut in half to remove it from my swollen, misshapen finger was the culmination of how much rheumatoid arthritis had stolen. I cried tears of bitter resignation.

Since then, I have made drastic changes which positively affected my health: our family moved to a warm climate, I renovated my eating habits, began light daily exercise and the practice of stress release through prayer, meditative scripture reading and writing, laughing often, letting go of offense, forgiving, listening to my body, pacing myself instead of pushing, saying ‘No’ when necessary, asking for help when needed and giving myself permission to have fun.

Over the span of several years, I gradually reduced the amount of medications and have been off all drugs for a decade. But until God heals me completely, the joint damage remains.

As I looked at that picture of my normal hands, a stark reminder of what once was, I realized I rarely think of it now. I’ve adjusted, adapted and moved on.

My hands aren’t pretty. I know that. They are crooked and disfigured. But they still function, awkwardly managing to do what needs to be done.

They can still plant a seed or cut a flower in the garden, sew a stray button back on, slice an onion in the kitchen, butter toast, throw a load of laundry in the machine, reach for another person needing prayer, comfort or hugs, type this blog (two fingers at a time) and perform so many necessary tasks.

I’m far from the young girl in that picture now. I can’t go back there nor do I want to. Those days are gone and as the years roll by I am learning to be thankful for what is. Today. Right now.

I am learning to trust God in all things – understood or not, healed or not – big or small.

I’m grateful I still have hands. Crooked as they are, they belong to God.  I will use them to bring help, blessing and hope to others as long as I can. And I will raise them in worship and surrender to Him as long as He gives me breath.

Whether I’m healed on this side of eternity and in spite of the affliction and problems of this life, I choose to proclaim with Job of old:

“As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and that as the last He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God, whom I will see for myself, and whom my own eyes will behold, and not another.” Job 19:25-27

Lessons From A Hurricane Summer

The year 2004 was what I call Florida’s Hurricane Summer. Four hurricanes plagued us in a span of about six weeks.Hurricane Charlie damage 8-04 042

Exactly ten years ago today, Hurricane Charley, the storm that initiated the chaos, ripped through Central Florida. We were living in Kissimmee at the time in an older neighborhood with large lot lines. Our unique property, tucked away in a corner, consisted of two acres, a ranch style three bedroom, two bath main house with a pool and a detached, cozy one bedroom, one bath guest/in-law house out back, several sheds and a separate screen room where our hot tub lived.Hurricane Charlie damage 8-04 014

The property backed up to a conservation area and was surrounded by lush jungle on all sides; thick Florida flora of wild palm trees, palmetto, gigantic oaks and hanging moss. Some people thought it scary and worried about what lived in those woods. Not me. I thought it was beautiful, until Charley. We moved to Florida in 2001 and had never been through a hurricane before, but as I looked out at all those trees, I began to wonder what they could crush if they started falling.

The weather predictors vacillated for days over the path Charley might take, but when we finally knew the storm was coming for us, our family gathered in a tight circle and prayed for protection. Jon disappeared into his room and taped a paint stick perpendicular onto a yard stick forming a cross. He came back out and leaned it against the patio doors, his way of demonstrating God’s watchful eye over us. He then went back in his room and refused to come out. I found him lying stiff as a board on his bed wearing a bicycle helmet, a jacket, and a pair of boots, clutching a flashlight.

We’d had a new roof put on the main house a few months prior and fortunately never lost one shingle, unlike many of our neighbors, but the contractor forgot to nail down the three brand new skylights he installed and they blew off as Charley came barreling through. Rain was pouring into both bathrooms and the breakfast nook and it seemed as if the wind would lift the roof right off the walls.

I ran to the storage closet and found some old plastic shower curtains and a large piece of clear vinyl, while Mike went out in the garage to retrieve his staple gun and an eight foot ladder. Wind was battering the garage door so hard he thought it would blow in. He quickly climbed over potted plants and outdoor furniture we had brought in from outside, to get to his tool chest. As hurricane rookies, we never thought about keeping the tool chest where it could easily be reached.

Our son David, who was fourteen at the time, climbed up into those wide open ceiling holes in the middle of the storm to staple the plastic down. The pool solar panels had come loose and were flopping back and forth on the roof above his head. I held the ladder and prayed like a crazy woman for the panels to not slam through the roof opening and hit my son in the head, while the wind and rain roared around us.Hurricane Charlie damage 8-04 017

By the time the storm passed it was dark outside and the power was down. We decided to wait until morning to go outside and access the damage. Neighbors went door to door with flashlights making sure everyone was alright.  We didn’t sleep much that night or the nights that followed

It was a crazy, difficult time for many here in Central Florida. Our electricity was out for two weeks in the middle of Florida’s hottest summer month.Guest house access blocked & smashed shed

But I learned to be grateful for things we Americans take for granted everyday:

Water that comes from our faucets for bathing, cooking, cleaning, drinking. Without electric, our well pump was off and we had no running water in either house. I discovered how basic water is to human existence and realized I could live without many of the things we consider essential. I never want to be without water again. Every morning when I get in the shower and warm water runs over my sleepy body, I thank God for running water.

Air conditioning in a summer climate that reaches into the mid to high nineties with humidity levels to match. The sheets felt wet when we lay down on them at night. The spices in the cupboard clumped into one large blob in their containers. We never sweat so much in all our born days. We all smelled bad, looked bad and were hot and miserable. I thank God every summer for AC.

Garbage collectors became the most important people in the world. When all the food in the fridge spoils and there’s no trash collector to come haul it away, it’s not pleasant or pretty. Every week when I hear the trash truck stop at the end of our driveway I am grateful for those who do this vital work.

Uninterrupted family time. Without TV, computers, phones or modern distractions we spent time playing table games by candle light, reading, talking and working together. David found Mike’s old guitar in a closet and a hurricane catapulted our son’s love affair with music into overdrive. He now plays, writes and arranges his own songs (listen at daveconnis.com).

Safety of family and friends. Trees went down all around us, but the only structure crushed under a falling tree was one shed. It took months of cutting and clearing to rid our property of broken and fallen trees but my family, friends and neighbors were safe. No one was hurt. I am thankful everyday for the health and safety of those I love.David's tree removal service

Looking back on it ten years later, Hurricane Charley is like the opening line in Charles Dickens’ famous novel, A Tale of Two Cities.

“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”

I hope to never go through a storm like that again but here’s what I know, storms of all kind come and go. No one likes them, but we learn our greatest lessons in the middle of them. If we hang on through the blustering wind and pelting rain, pray and trust God we come out on the other side..

Humbler

Wiser

More thankful

And a little more storm proof than we were before.

Nahum 1:7 (ESV) The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.

Matthew 8:23-27 (ESV) And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.

2 Corinthians 4:17 (ESV) For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison

 

 

More Than You Can Bear – Part 3 – No Where Else To Go

What am I to do when the circumstances of life become more than I can bear; when rising from my bed in the morning is like climbing a mountain and putting one foot in front of the other is exhausting, painful, overwhelming; when questions assault me on every side, my mind becomes a windstorm of thoughts, tears flow like rivers and my heart is broken?43966153

I had to know.

So I asked.

I found a simple, yet most difficult answer.

Trust.

Do I believe in a God who can heal? Absolutely. I’ve seen and experienced healing and know He can and still does.

Do I believe in a God who can miraculously deliver me out of trouble? Definitely. I’ve encountered that in my own life and the lives of others.

Do I have faith for instant miracles? No question. All I need is faith the size of a mustard seed. I sweep dust from my kitchen floor bigger than that.

Do I believe God is sovereign and I won’t always understand His ways?  Yes. So my mission is simply to believe Him, to trust Him.

No matter what.

To trust I am loved. Romans 8:38-39 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

To trust I am never on my own.  Matthew 28:20 I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Hebrews 13:5  “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

To trust in the darkest place. Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

To trust He has a plan for me.  Jeremiah 29:11 I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Philippians 6:6… being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it.

To trust He will bring me through. Isaiah 43:1-3 Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

To trust He knows what I need. John 6:68 “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

I have nowhere else to go. I’ve searched everywhere. No one, nothing, provides the answers I want or need.

It is only Christ who proves strong in my weakness, mighty in my suffering.

 “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” Psalm 103:13-14

Jesus walked where I walk, He felt what I feel. He experienced the wide range of emotions life on Earth brings.

He knows my frame, how I’m put together and what makes me tick.

He knows without Him I’m nothing but a pile of dust.

He lived, died and resurrected to fill the breach between Heaven and Earth. He did all that for me.

When I’m weary, broken, my faith is small and my hope is almost extinguished, Jesus sees and hears.

Compassion overtakes him.

I imagine Him, sitting to the right of the Father, his nail scared hands resting on the arms of the throne room chair.

He leans into God’s ear and pleads my case, reminding His Dad that it’s not easy being here, being human.

He rehearses what it was like to come to Earth and wear the same flesh suit I wear, walking this hard, dusty ground; totally immersed in what it is to be one of us; hungry, tired, thirsty, in pain, rejected, despairing, alone.

He understands I’m having a hard time, struggling under the weight of my affliction, breaking under the heaviness of my pain and pleads with the Father to provide extra mercy, a little more grace, to pour out some additional love from His endless supply; reassuring the hosts of Heaven that I’ll come around.

I’ll be alright.

When it’s all said and done I will come out of the furnace refined like pure gold, shining a little more like the beautiful gem that I was made to be.

This adversity will transform me, “for I know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”Romans 8:28

I’ll say like Joseph, “..you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good.“ Genesis 50:20

I’ll say with Apostle Paul,” But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God.” 2 Corinthians 1:9

In everything.

At all times.

And especially when life is too hard to bear.

In God I will trust.

 

“When there’s no getting over that rainbow, when my smallest of dreams won’t come true I can take all the madness the world has to give, but, I won’t last a day without you.” ~ From the song, ‘I Won’t Last A Day Without You’ by The Carpenters~

2 Corinthians 4:7-10, 17-18But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body…For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”.

  2 Corinthians 12:8-10Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

 

More Than You Can Bear – Part 2 – What Kind of God is He Anyway?

Sisyphean toil (3d isolated characters on white background series)The faulty premise of being told, “God won’t give more than you can bear,” eventually brought me to a place of confusion, guilt and even condemnation.

I didn’t understand why I was crushed, overwhelmed, barely able to breathe? Why wasn’t I stronger, more in control in the midst of my misery and heartache? Where was my faith?

Believing this about God leads to several flawed conclusions:

  • He sits on His throne handing out adversity to those He sees as tough enough to get through it. Does God look down on me and say, “That one there, see her? She’s a tough cookie. Give her the disabled kid and chronic illness. She can handle it.”
  • He randomly tosses out varieties of affliction upon the earth and wherever it lands it lands. Does God have an Affliction Lottery Machine He draws from or a Wheel of Misfortune He spins until my name comes up? Whatever category it lands on is what I get to deal with in life?

I don’t think so.

Who wants to believe in a God like that? That makes Him no different than other gods men have fabricated throughout history.

God’s original intention for man NEVER included suffering. He created us and Earth in perfection. One result of living in a fallen, sin-filled, broken world is hardship and adversity.

He also created man with the ability to choose. Sometimes our adversity is at the hand of others and we become victims of man’s free will; the spouse who leaves, the prodigal child, the friend who betrays or the child who is abused, kidnapped, murdered, the family killed by a drunk driver, the people who are maimed and die by a suicide bomber.

Other times suffering is the result of our fallen and cursed earth; natural disasters such as flood, tornadoes, mudslides, hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, fire, illness, disability and death.

And still other afflictions come from our own decisions; addictions, bad habits and attitudes, faulty thinking, poor diet, lack of exercise, rest, discipline and self control.

When my son was young and recited the classic child disclaimer, “But it’s not fair!” my reply was always, “Sorry kid, I was there the day you arrived. When the midwife put you in my arms, I checked you over from head to toe. I never saw a sticker on your behind that said you were exempt from the unfairness of life.”

There are many in scripture who were overwhelmed by misery and suffering. If it’s true that God won’t give us more than we can bear, He better apologize to these folks.

Job – “Why is life given to a man like me? God hasn’t told me what will happen to me. He has surrounded me with nothing but trouble. I sigh instead of eating food. Groans pour out of me like water.What I was afraid of has come on me. What I worried about has happened to me. I don’t have any peace and quiet. I can’t find any rest. All I have is trouble.” Job 3:23-26

David “Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God.”

Apostle Paul For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, ofthe affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.” 2 Corinthians 1:8

Hebrews Faith Heroes – And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented…they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise…” Hebrews 11:36-39.

Yes, even Jesus –  And he [Jesus] was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but yours be done.’ And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was great drops of blood falling down to the ground” Luke 22:41-44

Existence on Planet Earth is often an exercise in our definitions of unfairness. We all experience cycles of joy and pain, laughter and sorrow, contentment and frustration, peace and unrest. No one is exempt from tasting the full range of circumstances life doles out.

Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation…” John 16:33 and “He [God] makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust,” Matthew 5:45.

So I figured something out. Stuff happens, good and bad.

We all get some and like everyone else, I get my share of each.

Now what to do with it?

If you’re discouraged about all this, don’t be. I’ve saved the good news for last.

Scroll down for part three…’No Where Else to Go.’

 

 

 

 

More Than You Can Bear – Part 1 – The Premise

In 1979 Mike and I had been married four years and had just returned to our home town in upstate New York from Portland, Oregon. We were fresh out of Bible college; our heads were stuffed with theology and our hearts were stuffed with hope. We were ready to turn the world upside down for Christ.

We took the volunteer position of youth pastor at our home church and settled in to see what God had planned for chapter two of our love story.

Little did I know that the next three years were about to test everything I believed or thought I knew. Our first child, Jonathan, was born with Down syndrome, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, Mike was diagnosed with toxic neuropathy, and my Jesus loving dad had a nervous breakdown and landed in the psyche ward.

My well ordered little life suddenly swirled out of control.

I was devastated, crushed, overwhelmed, and angry and questioned, prayed and sobbed, demanding answers.

I reminded God of my “do good” list, how I’d spent my entire life in church, never smoked, did drugs, only drank alcohol once in high school, and was still a ‘good’ girl when I married, then moved all the way across country and back so my husband could go to Bible school.

For some unknown reason, God had piled way more than I could handle on us, and I didn’t know what to do about any of it.

There’s this thing that’s been gnawing at me for years, like a pebble in my shoe on a long walk.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the verse from 1 Corinthians 10:13 quoted to me and others who are over whelmed by suffering, trials, sickness, death and loss beyond their control.

“God won’t give you more than you can bear.” Sisyphean toil (3d isolated characters on white background series)

I’d heard it, believed it and even said it, but something wasn’t adding up. It seemed to me that plenty of people, in the Bible, in history and in my own life faced hardships far greater than is humanly possible to endure.

I decided to study this verse out, instead of just believing what I had always been told, (see my post ‘My Favorite Love Story’: http://aplacecalledspecial.com/2013/08/29/my-favorite-love-story/ for more on that).

What I found was revealing. This passage isn’t talking about suffering and affliction at all, it’s referring to the temptation of sin.

In context, Apostle Paul explains how the Israelites complained in the wilderness, worshiped idols, indulged in revelry, committed sexual immorality and tested God with their grumbling.

According to Brother Paul, their hearts were set on evil and as a result, some of them were killed by snakes and a destroying angel. (1 Corinthians 10:6-10)

He follows that with: These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:11-13.

After this, Paul immediately addresses the subject of idolatry and what is lawful but not necessarily edifying behavior. At no point in this passage is there any reference to trials of affliction or suffering.

The word tempted or temptation used here comes from the same Greek word which means to test, entice, prove, scrutinize, or examine and is used in the following verses to give confirmation of the same meaning.

Matthew 4:1 “then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”

Matthew 6:13 “…and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Luke 22:45-46 “When He [Jesus] rose up from prayer, and had come to His disciples, He found them sleeping from sorrow. Then He said to them, “Why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation.”

Hebrews 4:15 “For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”

James 1:13-15 “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.’’

God does not tempt us to sin, EVER, but when we are tempted He is right there, providing a way out, strengthening us so we don’t give in.

Jesus was the only one on earth who withstood the temptation of sin. By His sacrifice on the cross and by His example, we have everything we need to resist sin and also be forgiven when we succumb to its pull and power.

As Christ followers, our greatest enemies are the world, our own flesh and the devil (Ephesians 2:1-3).

All three seem hell bent (pun intended) on destroying us, so next time you are tempted to sin remember this, say this: “God is not tempting me beyond what I can bear but has provided a way of escape.”

Based on my new understanding of this passage, I had just wiped one of our most used Christian clichés off the radar screen and had to come face to face with God and the problem of suffering.

OK, so now what?

What are we to do when our pain is greater than we can humanly bear and how do we justify that with a loving God?

Scroll down for part two….’What Kind of God is He Anyway?’