Monday, March 27, 2017

Alone on a Desert Highway




Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering...
Isaiah 53:4a


It seems the Lord is teaching me much about suffering and trials of late, not only in my own personal experience, which you can read about here, but also insights that are jumping out at me through my Pastor's sermons, my own personal Bible reading time and tragedies that are touching the lives of people I know personally.

To reflect upon suffering and trials seems appropriate during lent, don't you think?  Our Lord suffered in the desert for 40 days, being taunted by the Devil, while going without food...

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.  

And the tempter came and said to him,
 “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”  
But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
    but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

   Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”  Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”  Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”

 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
Matthew 4:1-11


And then came Jesus' ultimate suffering...

Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him
Matthew 26:67

Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking him as they beat him.  They also blindfolded him and kept asking him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” And they said many other things against him, blaspheming him.
Luke 22:63-65

And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified Him,
John 19:17-20


I'm sure you would agree that the typical view of suffering, as noted in the Bible, is that WE share in Christ's sufferings...

But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, 
that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.
1 Peter 4:13

Now if we are children, then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, 
if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory 
Romans 8:17


But something my Pastor preached about recently shed a new light on suffering... 

When Christ was born as a man, HE shared in our flesh and blood, and as such, experienced the same sufferings we do in the physical body whether it be tiredness, hunger, aches, pains, the common cold, stomach aches, etc.  He also suffered emotionally having been mocked, wrongly accused and rejected, as noted in the verses above.  

He also shared in the sufferings of temptation...

For because he himself has suffered when tempted, 
he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Hebrews 2:18

And there it is, the new light, "HE is able!"  Indeed it is Jesus who is sharing in MY suffering.  Jesus walked that road before me.  It is Jesus that says, 

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.
Matthew 11:29

As parents, we try to encourage our children not to make the same mistakes we did as a child.  We are trying to shield them from a world of hurt.  But it isn't always possible to do so...  Sometimes they have to learn on their own or they are hurt outside of our control...

Yet when we get that call that says, "Mom/Dad, I need your help.", our instant response, is always "Of course!  I will help you!"  It is then that we speak to their hearts and share the wisdom that we gained when we walked that road of suffering before them...  And if we haven't experienced that same suffering, we minister to them as only a mother or father can, with unconditional love and encouragement.

When my daughter lived in California, she was traveling back to Camp Pendeleton from Twenty-Nine Palms where she had visited her husband who was out there for a field op.  It was about a two and a half hour drive - a good part of which was through desolate desert areas.  She was driving on a stretch of highway, which speed limit was marked at 70 mph, the speed which she was going, when her brakes failed as traffic swiftly halted.  She plowed into the car in front of her.  By God's grace and mercy she was not killed and thankfully suffered no injuries.  Apparently those Saturn cars were made for impact!  The tow truck driver dropped her off at a fast food restaurant in the middle of the desert where nobody spoke English.  Her husband could not leave the base to come and get her.  She had to wait for a friend to drive out who was two hours away. Can you imagine this momma's heart when she received a tearful phone call from her daughter who was 2000 miles away, one that she could not physically help.  It was heart-wrenching.  I stayed on the phone with her and tried to encourage and comfort her as best I could.  She couldn't talk too long because she needed to preserve her phone's battery.  When I hung up, I did the most powerful thing I could, I PRAYED!!   And the Lord shared in my daughter's suffering, sustaining her until her friend arrived to pick her up.  How fitting, our dear Jesus knew what it was like to be alone in a desert and there my daughter was, feeling very alone in the California desert, with no one who understood English.  Jesus walked that road before my daughter and shared in her suffering.

How much more does our Lord say, when we cry to Him for help, "Of course!  I will help you!"

Or what parent who sees their child suffering with a sickness, doesn't wish that it was them that was sick rather than their child.

During my early motherhood years, I suffered terribly with asthma.  At one point I was on two prophylactic inhalers and one rescue inhaler.  Despite this, I endured several serious asthma attacks that required treatment with theophylline and prednisone, both pretty nasty drugs.  I can remember sitting up in bed doing a nebulizer treatment, gasping for air, only to be in the same boat, just two hours later - two hours sooner than the allotted time between treatments.  There is nothing scarier than not being able to breathe, especially after a treatment!

My asthma finally came under control, but it was now my three year old son who was suffering with asthma.  One episode in particular comes to mind where nothing seemed to open up his lungs for very long.  Even though I had suffered in the same way a few years before, I still would have chosen to trade places with my son, if it were possible, rather than to see him suffer so.

We, as children of God, have Someone who DID trade places with us, suffering the wrath our sins deserved  - our Savior Jesus!

When Christ shared in our flesh and blood, He replaced the Old Testament sacrifice requirements with Himself!!  He REQUIRED the sacrifice and Himself BECAME the sacrifice!!  Such amazing love!!  We now can enter the Holy Veil with complete confidence knowing that He loves us with an everlasting love and will share in our sufferings and provide total consolation...

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 
 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through 
his flesh,  and since we have a great priest over the house of God,  let us draw near 
with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an 
evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
Hebrews 10:19-23

Are any of you suffering?  Be encouraged!  Christ shares in YOUR sufferings!  

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

The Lord never requires of us anything that He hasn't gone through already.

The Lord has suffered in every way that we have, yet we will never suffer to the point that Jesus has...

Consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
Hebrews 12:4

He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed...

But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. 
He was oppressed and He was afflicted...

But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.

Portions from Isaiah 53:3-12


Cast your burdens and sufferings upon the Lord.  Allow HIM to share in YOUR sufferings.  For it is HIM and only HIM who will carry you through...


Hiding in Thee

O safe to the Rock that is higher than I 
My soul in its conflicts and sorrows would fly; so sinful so 
weary – Thine, Thine would I be: Thou blest “Rock of Ages,” 
I’m hiding in Thee. Hiding in Thee, hiding in Thee,
Thou blest “Rock of Ages,” I’m hiding in Thee.

In the calm of the noon tide, in sorrow’s lone hour, 
In times when temptation casts o’er me its power, in the tempests of
life, on its wide heaving sea, Thou blest “Rock of Ages,” 
I’m hiding in Thee. Hiding in Thee, hiding in Thee,
Thou blest “Rock of Ages,” I’m hiding in Thee.

How often in conflict, when pressed by the foe, 
I have fled to my Refuge and breathed out my woe; how often, when
trials like sea billows roll, have I hidden in Thee, 
O Thou Rock of my soul. Hiding in Thee, hiding in Thee,
Thou blest “Rock of Ages,” I’m hiding in Thee.

William O.  Cushing


Please feel free to share testimonies in the comments below of how the Lord has shared in your sufferings so that we all can be encouraged.  :-)

I hope you will join me next week when I will continue what has now turned into a series on trials and suffering where I will talk about God's activity within our suffering.

The following week, I will share about the rewards of suffering.

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18 comments:

  1. Dear friend, I can so relate to your words, being in another bout of suffering myself. The Lord is showing me more and more, as you have so sweetly shared in this post, that He did not promise we would not suffer. Quite the contrary. He said we would have tribulation in this world. And the Bible tells us these trials are appointed to us. Peter even went so far as to say, think it not strange concerning the fiery trials as if some strange thing is happening. But, even with knowing all of this, it is never easy. Sometimes I have a difficult time feeling God when I am so afflicted and/or oppressed, and many times, it is not until later that I really see where He was absolutely there with me all along. I do hope you feel much better soon. I am praying for you and sending you lots of love!

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    1. Hi Cheryl, I'm so sorry to hear that you are experiencing another bout of suffering. I just lifted you up to the God of All Comfort that He will ease your suffering and bringing you healing. I will continue to pray to that end sweet friend.

      Indeed, it is never easy. I can be the same way. I am more focused on my suffering than on sensing my Savior's presence and comfort.

      What a blessing it is that we can look back and always see His work through our sufferings.

      Thank you for sharing so transparently here. And thank you so much for your prayers. I am doing much better. Praise God.

      Sending you love and gratitude dear friend.

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  2. Love your two personal stories of feeling a small sense of God's complete sacrifice - His willingness to take our place completely. We, who aren't perfect, would do so much for our kids. I love that verse that talks about how much more our heavenly Father does for us than we do for our kids. Thanks for a thoughtful post.

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    1. Carol, Thank you for your kind words.

      Me too!

      You are very welcome! :-)

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  3. I enjoyed your post! It's comforting to know Jesus has experienced it all, but so much worse than we can imagine! Knowing He is walking hand in hand with me makes the hard times a little more bearable.
    #InspireMeMondays

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    1. Julie, I'm glad!

      Amen!

      Thanks so much for stopping by. :-)

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  4. What a lovely, truth filled essay. Thank you so much for this - I am terminally ill, and you have given me a boost of hope.

    Semper Fi.

    I'm your neighbour at Inspire Me Monday

    https://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2017/03/your-dying-spouse-289-false-doctrine.html

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    1. Andrew, Thank you for your kind words. You are very welcome!

      I am so sorry to hear that you are terminally ill. Praising God that He has brought you a boost of hope through this post.

      May you feel God's presence and peace in a profound way. And may the God of all Comfort, comfort you.

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  5. This is beautiful. Through our journey with my moms mental illness, I know that God is with me; with us in our suffering. "Weeping may come for the night, but joy comes with the morning."-Psalm 30:5 I'm blessed to be your neighbor at Testimony Tuesday this week.

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    1. Thank you.

      So sorry to hear about your mom, but praising God that you feel the presence of your Heavenly Father.

      Amen!

      It was a blessing to have you visit. :-)

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  6. WE moms know how it hurts when our kids hurt - but i know that's when they get to know their Savior better.

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    1. Sue, Indeed! On both counts!

      Thanks for stopping by. :-)

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  7. Karen - I love the revelation you have - HE is Able! He is able, becasue He endured it too. Thank you for linking up this week at #TuneInThursday Blessings

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    1. Debbie, Thank you so much for stopping by. :-)

      You are very welcome!

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  8. What great words that he shared in our flesh through his birth. He knew that was the only way to understand us and hopefully through Jesus we can understand him. With your story about your daughter, it reminds me of how as a mother, I always felt so bad for his mother, Mary having to watch Jesus and all that he suffered. Even if she totally understood that it had to be, that would have been so hard.

    Enjoyed seeing your visit so I could come visit you. :)

    Peabea@Peabea Scribbles

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    Replies
    1. Pea Bea, I appreciate so much your sharing your thoughts here. There is a song called New Again sung by Brad Paisley and Sarah Evans that tells the story from Mary's perspective. It is a very poignant song.

      Well I'm so glad! :-)

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  9. Karen I love that you share your stories so openly. It helps me to see a bigger picture and know we are not alone. Sometimes our life stuff can seem huge and rare. Jesus knows it all you are right. This helped my heart today!

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    1. Meg, Thank you for your encouraging words.

      And I appreciate so much you sharing your thoughts here.

      Praise God your heart has been helped today! :-)

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Thank you for taking the time to comment.