No Fight Left

Here is a perfectly poignant song for those of you who may be feeling like you’re in your worst days right now.

Sermon Series – “Treasuring Christ and the Call to Suffering” (Piper)

I just stumbled upon this four-part sermon series by Pastor John Piper. I think I’m going to start working my way through it in the coming weeks, and I thought some of you may want to as well. If you listen, please come back and share any thoughts or words that were meaningful to you in the comments section!

John Piper’s sermon series, “Treasuring Christ and the Call to Suffer” is accessible by clicking these links: part 1part 2,part 3part 4

Enjoy!

The Valley of Vision (aka: This will make you cry)

A little while back I was chatting with my husband’s family on the question of the best book we ever read besides the Bible. Agreeing it was hard to really choose one, we all shared about a book that highly impacted us. My mother-in-law mentioned The Valley of Vision, and others concurred that it was really excellent. I made a mental note to read it sometime. A couple weeks later I was randomly gifted a copy, so I took that as a sign that “sometime” is now.

This morning I started reading it — it’s a book of old Puritan prayers. My husband and I decided to read one a day together before bed. I’m not typically a fan of recited prayers, as Jesus warns against praying the same words over and over like the Pharisees do (see Matthew 6). But I appreciate the poetic nature and sentiment of these very biblical, deep prayers, and the value they add to my own praying.

All that to say, the very first one in the book is the one the title comes from, and it made me tear up immediately. It is so perfect for this trial. I called my husband in for a second reading, and he too got teary. We both expressed an interest in maybe framing it to be reminded of its deep truths, which we have been learning in our trial of infertility.

Here it is (go get the tissues!)…

Lord, High and Holy, Meek and Lowly,

Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.

Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine;

Let me find thy light in my darkness,
thy life in my death,
thy joy in my sorrow,
thy grace in my sin,
thy riches in my poverty,
thy glory in my valley.

valleypic
I found this beautiful drawing someone did using this prayer. Click to see enlarge and visit the artist’s page.

Oh what peace we often forfeit!

O what peace we often forfeit,

O what needless pain we bear,

All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer!

This is a classic hymn with a heavy message of truth. If you don’t already, would begin to cultivate the habit of coming to God before anything else? When you’re grieved, burdened, angry, not sure what to do next, feeling alone, tempted, or depressed. When you’re anxious, worried, afraid, or doubtful. Let your first response be to come to the Lord. Don’t pray a pre-written prayer, don’t try to wax poetic. Just lay your heart out, and ask Him to cover your needs with grace. He can change your mood, your feelings, your weaknesses. We have the great, unique “privilege to carry everything to the Lord in prayer” — don’t waste it!

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

friend

Three Books About Suffering

If you’re looking for a book that will encourage you in your trial, here are three that I am personally considering at the moment. I’ve said before, I’m not personally interested in books about infertility for encouragement, because, to be honest, for me this trial has not really been about the infertility but rather about God’s work in my heart and life. Also, if it’s specifically about infertility, it’ll open the door for obsessing for me. So I’m currently thinking about reading a book focusing on trials in general to teach and encourage me. If you have another recommendation, please share! 


kellerWalking with God Through Pain and Suffering by Tim Keller

My husband and I were super-excited about this brand-new book. We are huge fans of Tim Keller’s writing and preaching, because it is 100% biblical, it’s deep, and it’s relevant and practical every time. We are currently reading it, and I LOVE it! I highly recommend you buy it and start it now. I also suggest possibly skipping the first section and reading the last two sections first (Keller also recommends this in his Intro, as the second and third sections are written to people who are currently walking through trial). I was really thinking of writing a post just about how much I am appreciating this book, but I lumped the recommendation in with these others and will post later on some great quotes from it instead.

Continue reading “Three Books About Suffering”

Book Recommendation – 12 Days of Christmas for the Hurting

xmashruting

{As written on Rachel’s website.} At the very heart of RachelWojo.com is the desire to encourage and inspire; “12 Days of Christmas for the Hurting was born from the desire to encourage those hurting at Christmas. If there was a time of the year that we should be most joyful, it is Christmas! But for many, Christmas is a reminder of better days. Days before an accident…before a diagnosis…before a death in a close-knit family.

There are no words to express the ache I feel for those experiencing sorrow during this time. But the Word of God contains the words- and the power- to heal. Gifts from our True Love- our Heavenly Father- are available each and every day.

My encouragement to you is […] click here to finish reading this post from Rachel Wojo’s website. This post was not written for or by me — I appreciated it, so I shared it with you.

You may also enjoy my post featuring a list Rachel has compiled of Bible studies for women.

Sovereignty + Love = Hope

“Remember this: had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there.”
-Charles Spurgeon

I’ve been thinking about this a lot the last few days. At first it sounds like just a nice thought, but the longer I think about it, the more truth springs from it. I believe this quote hits on probably the biggest difference between the Christian view of God and basically every other view of God.

love
Click the picture to read some verses about God’s love for you.

To fatalistic religions, God is an all-powerful, impersonal being in the sky who makes arbitrary decisions about your life like a game of chess. When things happen, you know He did them, but you don’t know why, and you don’t ask. While it’s true that Christians also believe God is all-powerful and makes the decisions for our life, we have one added factor that I think changes everything: love.

The fact that this all-powerful Maker of the universe genuinely loves you — He cares about you — means that there is a reason behind the shots He calls for your life. And not only that, but they are personally made for you, and will never be too hard for you.hope2

How does this affect your outlook? Let me give an example. Think of the last time you thought, “I could never do that” or, “If that happened, it would be the worst.” Let’s use cancer as a real-life example. “If I were told I had cancer, it would just kill me. I couldn’t do that.” Now let’s say a few years down the line, your fears come true and you are diagnosed with cancer. One of two things are true: 1.) God doesn’t care if you’re afraid of cancer and can’t handle it. You get cancer and that’s the end of the conversation. Or 2.) You were wrong, and God knows you can handle cancer. Christianity teaches #2 would be true. If you know God loves you, it changes everything about those heart-stopping, stomach-dropping moments in your life, as Spurgeon reminds us in the quote above.

hopeNow many people believe this and use this truth to convince themselves of an extreme interpretation of this belief: God loves them more than Himself,  they are the center of everything, they deserve certain things in life, and/or they can only expect to prosper. If you believe that lie, you will be disappointed. But if you stick to the truth, hope will not disappoint.

And that’s what this all comes down to: hope. If you subscribe to the truth that God is sovereign over your life and He loves you, you will always have hope in every situation. Why would you choose to face any situation with any other thinking?

The house on the rock

Matthew 7:24-27 (NIV)

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

I was reading through the teachings of Jesus in the gospel of Matthew the month we started trying to conceive. When I encountered the oldie-but-goodie above, I don’t know why, but something deep inside me was struck with the feeling that we may have difficulty getting pregnant. It came with me realizing, for the first time, that this lesson shows us that both the man (or woman, or family) who built his house on the rock (Christ) and the man who built his house on sand (anything but Christ) faced the storm, but only the man on the rock didn’t fall apart because of the storm.

I’m so sorry if you were ever falsely led to believe that the Christian life is promised only prosperity and escape from trials. On the contrary, as you’ve already seen many times in this blog, we are told we will face a lot of troubles in this life, some because of sin in the world that is ruled by Satan, and many from the Lord to make us holy like Him. There is no promise that everything will go perfectly. You should expect the storm, but if you are prepared with a foundation of Truth, you can expect to come out strong from it, not broken and ruined. Praise God!

This is my prayer in the desert

seasonI can’t believe I haven’t yet thought to post this perfect song for our current struggle. I love how it talks about this time as being in the desert. I usually call it “the valley,” but I actually live in a desert so that imagery is very real to me. I also love that it points trial and despair back to praise and strength in God. May you make these words your heart’s honest anthem today and always: 

All of my life, in every season, You are still God, and I have reason to sing. 

Before listening to the song, just read the lyrics quietly to yourself. What great truths to meditate on. Praise be to God.

VERSE 1:
This is my prayer in the desert,
When all thats within me feels dry;
This is my prayer in my hunger and need,
“My God is the God who provides.”

VERSE 2:
This is my prayer in the fire,
In weakness or trial or pain,
“There is a faith proved
Of more worth than gold
So refine me Lord through the flame.”

CHORUS:
I will bring praise,
I will bring praise,
No weapon formed against me shall remain.
I will rejoice,
I will declare,
“God is my victory and He is here.”

VERSE 3:
This is my prayer in the battle,
When triumph is still on its way,
“I am a conqueror and co-heir with Christ
So firm on His promise I’ll stand.”

BRIDGE:
All of my life
In every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing;
I have a reason to worship.

VERSE 4:
This is my prayer in the harvest,
When favor and providence flow,
“I know I’m filled to be emptied again;
The seed I’ve received I will sow.”