Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Themes: Christian Persecution in The Middle East, Christian Suffering, Adversity
Volume 7 No. 425 July 14, 2017
 
III. Featured: Christian Suffering, Adversity

What We Can Learn About Suffering in the Story of Joseph, The Patriarch

by Msgr. Charles Pope

One of the greatest (but most painful) of mysteries is that of suffering and evil in the world. I was meditating with my Sunday school parents this past weekend on the Old Testament patriarch Joseph. His story is rich with lessons about family struggles, envy, jealousy, pride, mercy, and forgiveness. But it also has a lot to say about suffering and the way that God can use it to bring blessings.

While there are many layers to Joseph's story, both personal and communal, it is clear that God often allows great injustice and suffering only to produce great glory and healing on account of it. Let's weave the story together with some basic teachings about suffering.

A. Structures of sin bring suffering

The story of Joseph begins with a dysfunctional household. Joseph's father, Jacob, had two wives (Leah and Rachel) and twelve sons with his wives and their maids (Zilpah and Bilhah). Polygamy and adultery are not part of God's plan! To be outside of God's will is always to ask for trouble. Having sons by four different women produces no end of internecine conflicts. Sure enough, Jacob's sons all vie for power and have divided loyalties because they have different mothers.

And in this matter we see that much suffering is ushered in by human sinfulness. When we are outside of God's will we invite trouble. Sadly, the trouble affects not only the sinners, but many others as well.

Thus the sons of Jacob have been born into a mess, and into what moralists describe as the "structures of sin." In these broken situations of structural sin, sin and suffering multiply.

And it is often the children who suffer. Having inherited a mess, the children begin to act badly and disdainfully. Suffering and evil grow rapidly in these settings.

In the world today, it is probably not an exaggeration to say that 80% of our suffering would go away if we all just kept the commandments. But, sadly, we do not repent, either individually or collectively.

And thus the first answer to why there is suffering is sin. Original Sin ended paradise. Individual sin brings dysfunction and a host of social ills. And while this does not explain all suffering (e.g., natural disasters) it does explain a lot of it.

Joseph is about to suffer on account of a structurally sinful situation brought about by Jacob, his wives, and his mistresses, and contributed to by all the members of the household. It's not his fault but he will suffer.

B. Suffering can bring purification and humility

Though Joseph's brothers all fought among themselves, they did agree on one thing: Jacob's youngest son, Joseph, just had to go. Jacob's favorite wife was Rachel, and when she finally bore a son (Joseph) he became Jacob's favorite. Jacob doted on him, praised him, and even gave him a beautiful coat that inflamed his brothers with jealousy. They were also enraged and envious because Joseph had many gifts: he was a natural leader; he was able to interpret dreams. Joseph had the kind of self-esteem that perhaps celebrated his gifts too boldly. Among the dreams that he had (and related) was that he would one day rule over his brothers. This was altogether too much for them. Even Jacob had to rebuke Joseph for speaking in this manner.

Here we see a possible flaw or character defect in Joseph. It is hard to know if Joseph actually crossed the line. After all, his dreams were true. He was a gifted young man and would one day rule over his brothers. Someone once said, "It's not boasting if it's true."

And while this has some validity, it is possible for us to conclude that Joseph was awfully self-assured and may have lacked humility, something that required purification.

Surely, as a young man he had a lot to learn. Suffering has a way of both purifying us and granting us humility and wisdom. If Joseph was going to be a great leader, he, like Moses before him, needed some time in the desert of suffering. And thus we sense that God permitted trials for him in order to prepare him for wise, effective, and compassionate leadership.

And so, too, for us. Trials and sufferings prepare us for greater things and purify us of pride and self-reliance. Woe to the man who has not suffered, who is unbroken. God permits us trials and difficulties in order to help us hone our skills, know our limits, grow in wisdom, and develop compassion and trust.

C. Suffering opens doors

On account of all of this, Joseph's brothers plot to kill him. But, figuring that they can make some money, they instead sell him to the Ishmaelites as a slave. Joseph ends up in Egypt, in the house of the wealthy Potiphar. His natural leadership skills earn him quick promotions and he soon comes to manage Potiphar's extensive household.

It is true that Joseph had a disaster befall him: he was sold into slavery. It is hard to imagine a worse fate. Yet strangely God permitted that in order to open a door. When Joseph was being carted off to Egypt in chains, it would have been hard to convince him that his life was anything but a disaster. Yet God was up to something good.

Within months Joseph is in a good spot, working for a wealthy man as a trusted adviser and manager. As we shall see, more still will be required in order for Joseph to be prepared for his ultimate work.

But at this point in the story, the lesson is clear enough: God permits some sufferings in order to get us to move to the next stage. He closes one door but opens another. There is pain in the closing of the door to the familiar, but there is greater joy beyond in the door He opens.

How about for you? What doors has God closed in your life, only to open something better? At the time a door closes we may suffer and wonder if God cares. But later we see what God was doing, for the new door opens to things far greater.

D. Suffering helps summon courage

In a tragic way, sorrow comes again to Joseph. Potiphar's wife takes a liking to Joseph and tries to seduce him. Joseph refuses her advances out of fear of God and respect for Potiphar. But in her scorn she falsely accuses Joseph of having made advances on her and Joseph is thrown in jail! More misery, more suffering, on account of the sins of others, not his own! Joseph was suffering for doing the right thing!

One of the great virtues that we must all develop is that of courage. In a world steeped in sin it takes great courage to resist the tide.

But courage, like any virtue cannot simply be developed in the abstract. Rather, it must be developed. It must quite often be refined in the crucible of opposition and persecution.

And thus we see how God helps Joseph to develop his courage and trust by permitting this trial. Many centuries later, Jesus would say, In this world you shall have tribulation, but have confidence, I have overcome the world (Jn 16:33). He also said, Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs (Matt 5:10).

As for Joseph, so also for us. If we are going to make it through this sinful world with our soul intact, we are going to need a lot of courage. The Lord often develops courage via the crucible, asking us to trust Him that we will be vindicated, whether in this world or the next.

E. Suffering builds trust

While in prison, Joseph meets two other prisoners from Pharaoh's household: the cup-bearer, and the baker. In prison, they witness Joseph's ability to interpret dreams and observe his natural leadership skills. In accordance with a prophecy given by Joseph, the cup-bearer is restored to Pharaoh's service. He reports Joseph's dream-interpretation skills to Pharaoh, who is having troubling dreams.

God humbles us only to exalt us. As Joseph has learned, God can make a way out of no way. He can do anything but fail, and He writes straight with crooked lines.

In jail Joseph, has his trust in God confirmed. Through his connections in jail, of all places, he will rise to become the prime minister of all Egypt. Having come through the crucible, Joseph is now ready for the main work that God has in store for him.

Consider how God's providence has prepared you for something that you wouldn't have been able to handle at an earlier stage in your life. Surely he prepared you in many ways, but among them was through humility and suffering. Setbacks or failures have a way of teaching us and preparing us for some of the greatest things that we enjoy. In our struggles we learn the essential truth. We come to trust and depend on God, who knows what we need, what is best for us, and how to prepare us for the work He expects from us.

F. Suffering produces wisdom

Joseph is brought to Pharaoh, and not only does he powerfully interpret Pharaoh's dreams, but also presents a 14-year plan that will lead them through a looming crisis. Pharaoh is impressed and appoints Joseph as the equivalent of prime minister of all Egypt.

Joseph is able to interpret Pharaoh's dream. But he doesn't simply interpret what it means, he also sets forth a wise plan. He explains to Pharaoh that the next 14 years will have their ups and downs. And where might Joseph have learned this truth? In the crucible of his own life, of course.

There is great wisdom in grasping that what is seen and experienced in this world is transitory. We do well to listen to the Lord's wisdom, which is eternal.

Centuries later, the Lord related a parable of a wealthy man who had a great harvest and thought he was set forever. Lord called him a fool for thinking this way. Our abundance is not meant to be hoarded for ourselves. Excess food is not to be stored away for ourselves, but rather "stored" in the stomachs of the hungry.

And thus Joseph has been prepared for this moment by God. Joseph is no fool; he has learned God's wisdom and direction. Whatever abundance occurs in the next seven years must be set aside for those who will be hungry in the years that follow.

Joseph's wisdom is no accident, no mere hunch; it has come from the crucible of suffering. Suffering does that. It helps us to become wise, to get our priorities straight. In this case it helps us to understand that our wealth depends on the "commonwealth." We cannot live merely for ourselves; that is foolishness. We are called to live for others.

What wisdom has God taught you through suffering? How has suffering helped you to get your priorities straight? How has it helped you to see the passing quality of life in this world and to set your sights on the world to come and on the judgment that awaits you? On the Day of Judgment will God call you foolish or wise? If you are wise, how did you get there?

G. In our suffering, we learn that our lives are not about us

Joseph predicted seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. Under Joseph's direction, grain was stored in abundance during the years of plenty. So plentiful were the harvests during those years that the stored grain saved Egypt and many neighboring lands saved from famine. In a plot twist, Joseph's brothers come to Egypt seeking food during those lean years. His anxious brothers recognize him and fear for their lives. Joseph reassures them by remarking that though their actions were intended for evil, God intended them for good. Joseph saves the very brothers who wanted to kill him.

In our suffering, we learn that our lives are not about us. Joseph was not purified and prepared for this moment simply for his own sake, but for the sake of others as well (or maybe even more). God has led Joseph, often through terrible suffering, in order to prepare him to help save others.

God did not simply prepare him to be a big cheese. God did not prepare him for glorious leadership for his own sake, but for the sake of others.

One of the lessons that we learn in Joseph's story is that our life is interconnected with that of many other members of the Body of Christ, all of whom are precious and important to God.

God had to put Joseph through a lot in order to prepare him for his role of helping others. We are not called to live only for our own self. God loves us individually, but he also loves others through us. And he loves them enough that sometimes he is willing to make us wait for their sake, or to cause us to suffer in order to groom us to help them. The same is true of them toward us. All of us have benefited from the sacrifices of others and are called to make sacrifices for others.

It is a hard truth that God sometimes asks us to accept suffering for the sake of others, and we are blessed by the sufferings of others who made many sacrifices for the things that we enjoy.

This is the communal dimension of suffering. How has God prepared you, through sufferings today, to be able to help others?

Biblical stories have a wonderful way of teaching truth and of teaching us about our own life. And thus the Patriarch Joseph speaks to us from antiquity, from the pages of God's holy Word. Somehow, I can hear Joseph saying that God can make a way out of no way. Somehow, I can hear him calling us to courage in our sufferings, and to perspective. Somehow, I can hear him singing the words of an old gospel hymn: "God never fails. He abides in me, give me the victory for God never fails!"

Source: Archdiocese of Washington Blog

Stephen: Godliness in Suffering

by Dr. John MacArthur

"But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God" (Acts 7:55).

Because Stephen was so consistently Spirit-filled, it was natural for him to react in a godly way to persecution and death.

The cliché "Garbage in, garbage out" provides a good clue to the essence of the Spirit-filled Christian life. Just as computers respond according to their programming, we respond to what fills our minds. If we allow the Holy Spirit to program our thought patterns, we'll be controlled and renewed by Him and live godly lives. And that's exactly how Stephen consistently and daily lived his life.

The expression "being full" is from a Greek verb (pleroo) that literally means "being kept full." Stephen was continuously filled with the Holy Spirit during his entire Christian life. This previewed Paul's directive in Ephesians 5:18, "but be filled with the Spirit." These words don't mean believers are to have some strange mystical experience, but simply that their lives ought to be fully controlled by God's Spirit.

Stephen gave evidence of his Spirit-filled godliness as He was about to die from stoning. Acts 7:55-56 says he looked to Jesus and let his adversaries and any witnesses know that he saw Christ standing at the right hand of God. Stephen did not focus on his difficult situation but fixed his heart on the Lord, which is what all believers must do: "Keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth" (Col. 3:1-2).

Stephen's spiritual sight was incredible and enabled him to see the risen Christ and be certain of his welcome into Heaven the moment he died. We won't have that kind of vision while we're still on earth, but if we are constantly Spirit-filled like Stephen, we will always see Jesus by faith and realize His complete presence during the most trying times (John 14:26-27; Heb. 13:5-6).

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray that God would direct your mind away from mundane distractions and toward Him throughout this day.

For Further Study

Stephen established a magnificent pattern during his short ministry in Acts 6. Read that chapter, and jot down several positive things you see about how he did things.

Source: Grace to You.org

Five Biblical Ways to Turn Adversity into Advantage

by J.C. Watts

As a lifelong student of achievement and leadership, I've seen five key attributes in the lives of many others for whom hard times or tragedy became not an anchor holding them back but a springboard launching them farther and higher than ever. These attributes are not gifts you're born with. They're not talents or personality traits. They are choices. I repeat, they are choices. You can choose to make these attributes part of who you are and how you live. They are learned responses that can be cultivated in the heart and mind of any person.

1. REJECT BITTERNESS AND SELF-PITY

  • "I can't catch a break."
  • "It's like the whole world has it out for me."
  • "Everything that can go wrong, has gone wrong."
  • "I hate those people, and I'm going to pay them back some day."

Everyone has experienced truly crushing things in his or her life. But God has so much more in store for you beyond the cul-de-sac of self-pity. There is more He wants to do in you and, more importantly, through you.

When you're going through something awful, the pain isn't optional. If it hurts, it hurts. Yet succumbing to the poison of bitterness is a choice. Refusing to drink deeply of that cup is the first step to turning adversity into advancement.

2. TRUST IN GOD'S GOODNESS

The Twenty-Seventh Psalm is an amazing piece of poetry authored by the future king of Israel, David, when everything seemed to be going against him. He was running for his life from the soldiers and bounty hunters of a deranged king. Accused of things he hadn't done, he was pursued like a dog from cave to cave, lonely, homesick, and in daily fear for his life. In this dark season, David penned a beautiful song affirming his trust in God and in his eventual vindication, a song that ends,

I would have despaired unless I had believed that
I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart
take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord.

3. MAINTAIN A HEART OF GRATITUDE

It's a fact of human nature that dwelling on the negative rather than the positive eventually affects the way you view everything in your life, and your gloomy outlook becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. King Solomon wrote, "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he." Positive thinking is more than just a slogan. I've never known teammates to follow a quarterback who gets in the huddle and says, "I don't know if we're good enough to beat these guys." No, they're looking for someone that believes they can win and says, "We can and we will beat these guys."

4. CULTIVATE A SPIRIT OF DETERMINATION

Paul told the Corinthians: "Don't you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step."

It's no accident that Paul's writing is filled with references to athletic contests, for success in sports and success in life both require what the epistle to the Hebrews calls endurance. It's a quality that goes by a variety of names. I tend to call it determination; it's indispensable if you're going to come through a season of trouble, setbacks, or adversity.

5. LAUGH

Charles Schulz once called humor "the ultimate proof of faith." It's true. To laugh when everything is going wrong requires a confidence in something bigger than yourself or your circumstances. The person of faith can laugh when everything is seemingly going wrong because he personally knows a God Who has promised to "work all things together for good."

There they are - five key attributes that helped me not only survive the toughest test of my life thus far, but to actually thrive going forward. And thrive I did, and so can you. There is a better life waiting, but its price is digging deep. Let's get started.

Adapted from Dig Deep, the new book by former college quarterback, U.S. congressman, and pastor J.C. Watts. Used with permission. Dig Deep by J.C. Watts is available now from bookstores everywhere.

Source: Christianity.com Daily Update

Five Steps to Overcome Tragedy

by Janet Perez Eckles

The shock and horror of violence are foreign to most. To others, it's cruelly familiar.

My husband and I waited for the report about our son on September 7, 2002. As I clutched a wrinkled tissue in my sweaty hands, I muttered a string of prayers.

And after what seemed like an eternity, the attending doctor in the emergency room came in. "Are you the parents of Joe Eckles?"

I jumped to my feet, desperate to know his condition. And that's when he shattered my world when he said that my Joe, 19 at the time, had not survived the 23 stab wounds he had received.

Joe had invited Jesus as His Savior two years prior. He attended Bible studies. He was the captain of his football team, and all who knew him loved and followed him because of his magnetic personality. How and why would someone take his life?

After the initial shock, disbelief blurred my senses. And the usual stages of grief followed - anger, confusion, and as sometimes happens, self-pity became the ingredients on my table of sorrow. I was convinced that after such horror, peace would never come back and I'd be destined to live a life empty of joy.

The emptiness tormented me during sleepless nights. Rather than rest, my mind was bursting with questions: How can that happen to those who know, follow and obey the Lord? I asked and begged to understand.

Still, silence followed. And in that silence, God's Word brought His instruction. It spoke to my heart. He gave me a defined directive: To trust Him. But He qualified the kind of trust--with all my heart. He instructed not to rely in my understanding. And He promised He would guard my mind and heart with the peace that goes beyond all understanding through Christ Jesus. (Proverbs 3:5, Phil. 4:7)

Pondering on that verse, I took a deep breath of relief. What sweet freedom swept over me. I didn't have to try to understand, receive answers, but rather lean on Him to keep watch over my broken heart and my dark emotions.

And what followed was the beginning of a new chapter. It began on that day, that glorious day, that decisive moment when I took that bundle of destructive emotions and placed them at the foot of God's Throne.

Then free to receive, I embraced the gentleness of His healing and the power of His grace. The world looked different and my heart smiled again.

All of us have that opportunity. We have that open invitation to face the tragedy, acknowledge the pain, but also to embrace the power of God's healing.

And embracing it means we follow these five steps:

1. Recognize that the world offers no comfort. Only God does.

No human can be close enough to understand our sorrow. And no one can save us when tragedy crushes our spirit. Only God, in His incomprehensible love can be so near that He hears our muted sobs and sees the trickle of our every tear. "The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." (Psalm 34:18)

2. Remember past episodes of His power at work.

In my case, I recalled how He gave me victory when at 32, I faced the giant of my physical blindness. I remembered how God's power at work in me showed me to see the best of life through His eyes. I remember the triumph, I recall the victory. David did too, He remembered the power of God to bring victory, and he was sure He would again: "The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine." (1 Samuel 17:37)

3. Receive God's invitation to seek him.

Even in the dark jungle of fear, we look for Him. In the darkest nights, we seek Him. And in the silence of pain, His whisper reaches like a soft breeze of hope. Renewed, we can repeat the psalmist's words: "I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears." (Psalm 34:4)

4. Recover the faith that often tragedy steals.

We can take the first step to reignite the faith to believe that God will provide the strength we need. We believe that His gentle healing will arrive. And deepening our faith in His divine power, we overcome fear, soar above gloom as His Words echo in our soul over and over again:

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10)

5. Finally, even when the pain digs deeper, the heartache alters our emotions, and anxiety begs healing, we can pause, and rest in Him. And ultimately, rely in His Word that promises to lead us to calm waters and to the green pastures of hope.

"The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul." (Psalm 23:1-3)

Violence may not disappear, tragedy may still abound, and heartache may still visit us. But these five steps promise to help us overcome the effect of tragedy, bring calmness to our heart and put joy back in our days.

About The Author:

Although physically blind, Janet Perez Eckles has been inspiring thousands to see the best of life. She dedicates her life to serving Christ through her work as an international speaker, author and radio host. www.janetperezeckles.com

Source: Christianity.com

How to Trust God through Crushing Disappointment

by Anne Peterson

We were on our way home from a retreat. I got to share my poetry and then offer my poetry pieces for sale. My heart felt full. Not only did people seem to like them, but we made $1,250 in sales! Thank you God.

"Should we stop for something to eat?" I asked my husband, when we had finished loading up the van.

"No, I'm kinda tired," he replied.

"Are you sure? We can go just about anywhere." I said, chuckling.

But it was no use. Both he and my friend Kym, who had come along to help, declined. So I settled down for the hour long drive. Reaching into my purse, I noticed the pouch was not there. My heart started beating faster as I looked around at the boxes in the van. Then I swallowed hard.

"Mike, I don't have the money."
"Please tell me you're kidding," he said.
"I'm not," I almost whispered.

When we got home, we tore open boxes looking for the zipper pouch. And then it hit me. I must have put the pouch down when I went to the restroom, there at the Lincolnshire Hotel.

Quickly dialing their number, I explained my situation.

"We're sorry but no one has turned anything in. We'll call you if they do."

And something hit me in the stomach. It was a familiar feeling--disappointment.

So what do you do when your plans fail and you are left to deal with the hurt?

You need to find someone to share it with. I immediately called the church and asked for prayer. And then what?

Give God your disappointment.

I had prayed in the van, and I prayed once we got home. The hours afterward became one long conversation with God. 1 Peter 5:7 tells us what we need to do with our concerns. We are told to cast them on God.

When my grandson Charlie would come over, he would sometimes lay his Lightning McQueen car down and then forget where it was. That car meant everything to him. And because of my love for Charlie, I would help him find it. For the things that mattered to Charlie mattered to me too.

And it's so true with God. I pray for parking spots, and ask God to give me boldness when I have to do something difficult. No prayer request is too small to our big God. He cares about what we care about. But even knowing that, how could I move on when this disappointment threatened to disrupt my peace?

Then God gave me this poem:

Disappointment

Lord, I'm so discouraged, the plans I had fell through.
I sit with disappointment and don't know what to do.
I had my day all figured out, most everything was planned.

But nothing went the way I thought, and I don't understand.
He answers with compassion, "I know you are in pain.
Just trust in me completely. Your loss will turn to gain."

Trust God when you don't understand.

Read Proverbs 3:5-6. It tells us how we're supposed to wholly trust in God. These verses apply to us all the time. And here was an opportunity for me to put it into practice. Then I remembered my conversation with God earlier that morning.

"Do you trust me?" he asked.
"Yes, Lord, I trust you." I answered. "I don't care how much money we make."

One of our temptations when we're experiencing disappointment is to try and figure things out. But we must fight that. God asks us to lean on him, not on our own understanding. I had been down this road before. And I knew I'd be tempted to blame God, to get angry, and to let resentment grow.

God knew we needed that money. He knew I had even borrowed money for frames and mats.

I tried to lean in on God. I determined to trust him even though I did not understand. I would focus on who God was, not what had just happened. Focus is everything.

Look at who God is.

Read Matthew 14:28-31. When Peter saw Jesus out on the water, he wanted to join him. So Peter stepped out of the boat. He was the only one who tried. And there he was water-walking. What an exhilarating feeling that must have been. And he was doing it well... until Peter took his eyes off the Savior. It was then Peter noticed the wind and saw the waves. No longer was he exercising his faith. Doubts slipped in and he slipped down.

And that's how it is with us.

The phone rang, it was my teenage son from youth group. "Mom, they told me something happened, but they wouldn't tell me what it was. What's going on?"

"Nathan, I made $1,250 and then I lost it."

"Mom, it's only money. God had another reason for you to do it."

In that moment, I was reminded God is bigger than our problems and he is sovereign. Read Romans 8:28. Just because we take a detour, doesn't mean that God doesn't know about it. God can take our detours and make them into something of value. Our detours are not detours to God. But we need to also be honest with God.

Tell God how you feel.

Too often we get the idea we have to hide our feelings from God. As if he would not be able to handle them. But nothing could be further from the truth. When we are lost in our feelings and the waves are covering us, we need to call out to God as Peter did. To call out knowing he cares about us. When Peter called out to God, God didn't scold him for doubting. The Bible says immediately God lifted him out.

We have a tendency to moralize our emotions. To see them as bad or good. But feelings are feelings. And God can handle all of our emotions. After all, he's the one who made them.

Find a reason to praise God.

Praising God would be a stretch. After all, why would I praise him when he could have prevented the whole thing? That was just crazy. But God is worthy of praise no matter what is going on in our lives. I wasn't praising God that I lost the money; I was praising God because of who he was.

I realized, even though I lost the money, people had been touched by my work. Furthermore, I thought about my conversation with God. I realized sometimes I say I'm trusting him when I'm not. But I know I'll have a lot of opportunities to learn how to deal with disappointments.

A Prayer for Disappointment

Dear Lord, Help us to give you our disappointments, to trust you when we don't understand. Help us to focus on who you are and to always tell you how we feel. And Lord, help us to always praise you, no matter what. We pray this in Jesus' precious name, Amen.

About The Author:

Anne Peterson is a poet, speaker and published author of fourteen books. Some of which are: Her memoir, Broken: A Story of Abuse and Survival, three children's books: Emma's Wish, The Crooked House, and Lulu's Lunch. She has also authored the poetry books Droplets, and the series He Whispers. While Anne enjoys being a poet, speaker and published author, her favorite title is still 'Grandma' to her three grandchildren here, and one in heaven. To find out more about Anne you can visit her at: www.annepeterson.com

When a Cure is Not Possible

by Alicia Michelle

I'll never forget the moment the doctor diagnosed my husband with a chronic illness. We knew our lives would be forever changed because this disease - Type 1 Diabetes - had no cure.

My husband's radiant blue eyes filled with tears as he, now strapped to an ICU hospital bed with wires and monitors attached to nearly every part of his strong, young body, absorbed the harsh, sudden reality about his future:

Finger pricks several times a day
Insulin injections every few hours (or the need to wear a pump)
Constant blood sugar highs and lows
Recording (and adjusting insulin levels for) every single thing he put in his mouth
Constant access to medical devices and medicines

And of course there was the biggest adjustment of all (the one that someone with an incurable disease must face each day): Finding peace when you know the side effects and prognosis ahead.

Maybe you can relate to my husband's story because you (or someone you love) also face the daily heartbreaking reality of knowing that a cure is not possible for your condition either.

If so, I want you to know something. Something that no one else but a fellow chronic illness sufferer could say: Hope, joy, and peace are possible… even when there is no cure.

Why Chronic Illness Sufferers Need More than Christian Platitudes

I know that a statement like "hope, joy, and peace is possible" can seem laughable when facing a trial of this magnitude.

Because, as you probably already know too well, life for those with an incurable illness can be physically and emotionally excruciating. Hardly grounds for hope, joy, and peace, right?

There's the physical pain, of course. That's challenging enough.

But, honestly, when you or someone you love deals with an incurable disease, the greatest torment can come from the million-dollar question: Why? Why did God allow this to happen to me?

Perhaps well-intentioned friends and family members have tried to encourage you with James' admonition in James 1:2-8 to "count it all joy" during the trial of incurable illness.

Or maybe other Christians have simply said, "Just cling to God through this."

While both of those statements are solid biblical advice, they can feel like empty and worthless Christian platitudes when you're the one dealing with the harsh realities of chronic illness.

I get it, and friend, I'm not here to offer you more of that.

I want to dive into what it really means to grow spiritually despite chronic illness, especially in those moments when you are at your wits' end and just want it all to stop.

6 Truths to Discover Hope and Purpose When Battling an Incurable Disease

1. Don't be afraid to mourn the losses of incurable disease.

Incurable illness may have stolen specific dreams that you had for yourself or a loved one. That's tragic and heart-wrenching to process, but be honest with yourself about what you've lost.

We must be honest about those emotions and work through them, even if it takes professional counseling.

2. Cry out regularly and often to God about what you're experiencing.

I highly encourage you to spend time alone with God every single day.

Pour your heart out to him as you read verses about finding joy through chronic illness.

Read biblical stories of those who found courage during tough circumstances.

Read stories of others who have had to trust God through this journey (here's an inspiring book).

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And most of all, be authentic with Him! He wants you to come to Him broken so that He can provide you with His supernatural strength.

God is found in the waiting, in the hoping, and in the daily reliance on Him.

3. Don't be afraid to share the daily realities of chronic illness with others.

I know you understand the challenging physical burdens of an incurable disease. And you may get tired of talking about it to other people because, quite frankly, they can be sympathetic, but you think, "What can they really do about it?"

I'd encourage you to find at least two friends in whom you can confide your deepest struggles. You need a place to let out your hurts.

And then, as God provides spiritual growth and blessings as a result of this trial, share about it with others. The world needs more people who have learned how to discover God's beauty from ashes!

4. If you're married, decide to tackle incurable illness together.

Chronic illness in marriage can be especially difficult.

If you're married to someone with an incurable, daily illness like I am, my best advice to you is to do whatever it takes to embrace the disease together. Here are some ideas:

Be there to listen (even for the hundredth time) about the annoyances and pains.

Pray continually that God would work through you to be a beacon of hope and light to your spouse.

Get involved by offering to pick up medicines, giving a back rub for sore muscles, getting up at night when worry and insomnia sets in - whatever your spouse must deal with.

Pray, pray, pray for your spouse to have God's encouragement and strength.

Listen to your spouse's cues for how you can best love them through this.

5. Adopt this mantra: One moment - one pain - at a time.

When we consider a difficult trial like chronic illness, it's so easy to become absorbed by future worries. What will tomorrow bring? What will be our reality six months from now?

But we can't allow our thoughts to live in the future.

Someone once explained to me that "worry is going into the future without God." Such a powerful - and biblically-based - sentiment.

Here's the truth: We don't know what the next five minutes will be like. And Jesus says that it's not our job to be consumed by that (Matthew 6:25-34).

Take each moment and each aspect of this trial one bit at a time.

6. Celebrate today - this very moment - as priceless treasure.

Having a husband with an ongoing illness continually reminds me to savor the little moments of life.

Whether or not we're dealing with incurable illness, we are not promised tomorrow. That's why we must learn to let go of life's little issues and choose to focus on all there is to celebrate!

I promise that there is always, always something to treasure about your current circumstances. Look for it and choose to make it the center of your thoughts.

Write down a list daily of what you can savor. This simple exercise changes my outlook and gives room for God to show me His great love.

I pray that these truths can help you start the journey towards authentic hope, joy, and peace despite dealing with chronic illness! Remember that God will not leave you or forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6); he holds you in the palm of His hand.

Source: Live It Devotional

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