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Scales of Suffering?

Out of the depths I cry to you, LORD; Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.
Psalm 30:1

Do you think God won’t help you find your keys because it’s not a big enough concern?  There are more important things to Him, such as feeding the poor, defeating the Taliban, hovering over cancer wards, or preparing the world for Jesus’ return, right?  So why would He bother to help find those keys?

Or maybe, when a migraine, cold, fever, or a yucky flu bug brings you down,  do you silently doubt that God will answer your prayer for healing, because, after all, “it’s not cancer”?

If so, welcome to my world!

I constantly gauge my needs, pain, or “suffering” by other’s.  In fact, I even had a hard time writing the word “suffering” because I don’t really think I know what it is—in comparison to rest of the world.  If you’re like me, you may be encouraged by reading this article, No More Minimizing Pain, by Ed Welch of Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF):

“There is no suffering gauge in Scripture, as if being burned at the stake scores a 100, Stage IV cancer is an 85, a broken friendship is a 50 and uncomfortable shoes are a 5.  If there were such a system, a person whose suffering topped out at 80 would have to defer to the one who measures 81.   The one with the less severe suffering would have to suffer in silence. He or she would have no right to seek the comfort of others or God.  To do so would be hogging time that could be better used by more qualified sufferers.  
Dr. Ed Welch, CCEF

I wish I had written this!  But I couldn’t, because I live in the comparison world of meters, gauges, and deference.  I question if my suffering is even on the charts!! Maybe a .003 on the scale of world-wide problems.  Those lost keys, forget about them.  And no hope for my headache as long as a thousands of parents are visiting their children in Pediatric Cancer wards.  But, Dr. Welch goes on to say,

“The danger in establishing a pecking order within suffering is that you feel authorized to call out to the Lord when things are really bad, but you remain isolated and silent if your pain is below the national average.”

So the biggest fault, or sin, of minimizing pain and suffering is that it keeps us from calling on the Lord. And, for me, this attitude creates a dangerously false god, who doesn’t want me to bother Him unless it’s really Bad…somewhere between 75-100.

What a dreadful trap to fall into, even though it appears rather noble.  It reveals my lack of understanding of God’s love and unbounded mercy.

“..when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.”
2 Corinthians 10:12

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The entire article may be found HERE.   Thank you, Dr. Welch!

The Cross – – Herein is Love

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:5,6

From Horatius Bonar, The Cross of the Lord Jesus:

Thus we see in the cross an epitome of the Bible. The whole revelation of God is there. From the cross we “Where sin abounded, grace has superabounded.”  All the love of God is there. The sinner’s condemnation and the sinner’s pardon are there. God’s invitation issues forth from it to the chief of sinners. “Come”; “Look unto me and be ye saved.”

God’s eternal purpose is here unfolded: “the good pleasure of His will.” The fountain opened for sin is there. The rest for the weary is there. The relief for the conscience is here. The refuge for the guilty is there. The balm of Gilead is there. Peace to the troubled is there. There God meets with man, and man meets with God; heaven and earth embrace each other.

HEREIN IS LOVE. It is love that takes in the worst; love that took in the dying thief; love that knows no bounds; love that looks for no qualifications in him who comes, but that he needs it; love which is yearning over the lost, and stretching out its hands to the most rebellious and unholy; love which offers not merely pardon, but the perfection of the Son of God to the sinner, with all which that perfection can claim.

And for more on this love, read C.S Lewis’ gripping poem at Beth Stone Studio (Love’s as warm as tears).

Love exiles fear

“Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.”  I John 4:18 (NLT)

“How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!” Psalm 139:17

“Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”  I Peter 5:7

Perfect Love casts out all Fear!  That’s is the WHOLE reason we don’t need to fear! And a good word for us on Fearless Friday!   As we direct our minds towards His love, our fears will blur. One version of the Bible says, our fears will be Banished!!

What does expelling or banishing fear really mean?  Here’s a few choice words:

deport, discard, dismiss, dispel, drive away, eject, eliminate, eradicate, evict, exclude, exile, extradite, get rid of, isolate, oust, outlaw, remove, rusticate, sequester, shake off, shut out

So perfect love exiles, eliminates, gets rid of…all fear. These words suggest a near-annihilation of something, placing it beyond reach or grasp.  We’re often unwilling to release the strangle-hold we have on our fears, because we still doubt His love.   So, perhaps this excerpt from Spurgeon will give a glimpse into God’s perfect love..for us:

God is always thinking upon us, never turns aside His mind from us, has us always before His eyes…

His thoughts area always tender, loving , wise  prudent, far-reaching and they bring to us countless benefits.

In all our wonderings, the watchful glance of the Eternal Watcher is evermore fixed upon us–we never roam beyond the Shepherd’s eye.  In our sorrows He observes us incessantly, and not a pang escapes Him; in our toils He marks all our weariness, and writes in His book all the struggles of His faithful ones.

The thoughts of the Lord encompass us in all our paths, and penetrate the innermost region of our being.  Not a nerve or tissue, valve or vessel, of our bodily organization is uncared for; all the littles of our little world are thought upon by the great God.

~~~

I really enjoy finding songs that amplify our discussion, and today, this one by Annie Herring and Matthew Ward speak perfectly of perfect love:

Apple of His Eye
Glimpses CD

He’s the one who loves you more than you will ever know
He’s the one who dries the tears you cry.
He has formed your very soul and knows your every need
He will guide you through your darkest night.

Chorus

For you still carry inside you His light that never dies
And you are always before him
The apple of His eye.

He’s the one who holds you close when no one will come near
The one who sees what no one else can see.
He’s the one who keeps your burden light enough to bear
For He will be your strength when you are weak.

Nothing in this world could ever keep His love from you
And He gave His life to see this promise through.

He’s the one who loves you more  than you will ever know
And He has counted every tear you’ve cried.
He will take your tear-stained heart and make it light as snow
And He’ll become your wings so you can fly.

For you still carry inside you His light that never dies
And you are always before Him,
The apple of His eye!

~~~

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are!  I John 3:1

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. I John 4:10

~~~

Dear Father, Help us to focus on your Love today, not our Fear. Help us to release the grasp we have on our fears, worries, cares and anxieties.  Exile, banish our fears far from us, by filling our minds and hearts with the knowledge and awareness of your perfect love…love that hung on a cross in our place.  Love that knows us better than we know ourselves.  Thank you!  In Love’s Name, Jesus, Amen.

~~~

[Note:  I regret that I can’t upload an audio version of this beautiful Annie Herring song presently.]