Tag Archives: suffering


I found myself laughing when I shouldn’t have. The comic strip wasn’t all that funny, but my day had been pretty boring up until that point, so the little dog pretending to line up a putt on the famous Augusta golf course just seemed hilarious. Did a dog purchase his golf clubs at a pro shop or a pet shop? What kind of caddy does a dog use? And who would make the tiny green jacket should the canine win?

World_Famous_Golf_ProThe beagle didn’t land his putt, but it didn’t matter. The platitude: Laughter is the Best Medicine swirling in my mind seemed so apropos. As I imagined the answers to my silly questions, I realized often I take myself too seriously.

God’s grace is an amazing thing and very often instead of giving myself grace, I get caught up in a lecture. You know the type: How I’m not good enough. How I didn’t try enough. How I’m just plain not enough. That little dog had so much swagger taking on those at the top of the leader board at the invitation only tournament. Still amused, remembering the missed putt, I was determined to dare to dream big like that modest pooch.

It wasn’t boastfulness. Like most of you, my inner critics don’t whisper; they scream. “You aren’t beautiful. Your creativity is in sore need of help. You’ll never be successful.” But on that day, my laughter was God’s way of telling me, “Dare to put the seriousness aside. Dare to see yourself as Beloved. Dare to be brilliant – just seek Me in everything.”

God can do so much more than me, so I’m working on stopping during the day and giving whatever I am doing over to Him. To stop the work of my hands, bow in prayer and lay it in His hands. Of fighting back those internal critics with the understanding God doesn’t expect me to be perfect, He just wants me.

No one gets out of life unscathed. Maybe you find yourself contending with depression, which keeps yanking you down. Maybe the sense of not being enough holds you in place. Maybe, like me, the shadows of insecurity keep you from rising above your circumstances.

The relentless tug of war can only stop in the midst of the joy found in God; the One who is with us and for us. When it comes to these fights in our lives, we need joy to be our constant companion, so we can dare to live big. We can dare to live by faith. We can dare to live in a world where we don’t have the answers and never will. We can do all this because the battles of life, both internal and external, have already been won through Christ.

What Not To Say

wordsI must raise my hand here. Yes, I suffer from foot in mouth disease! I’ve often said things I regretted – spoken from the center of my brokenness rather than to ease the hurt of another. In the process, my insensitivity opened up another’s wound even further.

Conversely when setbacks enter my life, I want someone who will place soothing balm on my heart. I yearn for someone who will help me meet God in my prayers, mingle their tears with mine, join their heart with mine. I covet hearing about the promise of a Comforter who won’t leave me alone in my suffering. I crave the person who doesn’t tell me how difficult the battle will be, but the person who reminds me that Jesus, sweet loving Jesus, will meet me in the middle of my hardest battle. I long to embrace the truth that no matter how long the uphill journey will be, God is making me strong along the way.

Too often, when someone shares a difficult thing with us, we don’t know what to say. So we speak what may be truth, “He was a lousy husband.” “You’ll never get out of debt.” “Your diagnosis is the beginning of the end.” These are the words that should not be spoken – not at the beginning. Words that convey a hard, difficult truth must be earned by the battle scars of carrying the other’s burden – not at first disclosure.

The chasm between what I want and what I say has caused me to grow. I’ve learned the first thing we humans need to hear is: “I hear you. You have not been abandoned or forgotten. I am right beside you.” And then we need to model how Jesus is working in their life. Where tragedy has just struck, we need to be the reminder that Jesus forfeited heaven to put skin on and join us in our struggles. We need to say what Christ would say,  “I am with you. What’s overwhelming for you is not too difficult for Me.”

So, I’m trying. I’m not always getting it right. But I am learning when words fail in the face of a difficult burden, the very best words are those that remind the person how special they are; that they aren’t in this alone. God is right beside them. He is for them and working on their behalf. And He is even more committed to their victory than they could ever imagine.

Those words will never crush the spirit, rather they encourage standing strong against the burden. Because with God, we will never be defeated.


In frustration, I finally gave up the tossing and turning and reached for the light on the nightstand. Sleep wasn’t coming easy this night. Even though both my mind and body were extremely tired, I couldn’t blissfully float off to sleep. But at least I understood why. A sadness was squeezing me; jangling my bones so profoundly I couldn’t relax.

I’d always struggled with my identity in Christ, so the words from a recent sermon were rattling me. That God sees us as completely accepted, extremely valuable, eternally loved, totally forgiven and fully capable. All I kept seeing were the mistakes, the failures, the times when people said, “You blew it. You’ll never measure up.” The last way God sees us, fully capable, caught in my throat. What about all I’d failed to do? Those times when I couldn’t even keep the promises I made to myself, much less to others. They mocked and wrecked me so much, I quickly turned off the light relieved that darkness once again covered me and my room.

user150164_pic29347_1241431293The shadows of the night momentarily grabbed a hold of me until a car rumbled down the street outside my bedroom. The lights from its headlamps pierced through the darkness of my room. Even with my shutters drawn, light invaded both the night’s inky blackness and the gloom around my soul. And then it hit me – the promise of God: “The Lord will be your everlasting light.”

I love these words from Isaiah because they reminded me no matter how late I was up that night, the light of day was coming. They promised action on the part of our loving God. God is near. He is not absent from this earth. He is working – illuminating our world. God is working life out on our behalf, even when all we see is darkness.

My gloom started to lighten as another thought stuck me. How far I’ve come…how my story includes, yes, many a misstep, but also times when I tasted the sweet thrill of victory. I reflected about how my story changed once I embraced Him. And He is still writing my story. My life in small ways was reflecting back His glory. Yours is also.

In that momentary flash of headlights, God reminded me he is right beside me. The sky will lighten. The sun will warm the earth again. He has the power to overcome darkness when I don’t feel okay. None of us need to stay ensconced in darkness, when God will light our path. He is impacting our lives every day moving us towards a magnificent finale when there will be no darkness, no doubts, no tears.