Adversity, Bible, Life's Moments

Adversity Diminished

Jeremiah knew adversity. Oh man, he knew it well. Unfamiliar with his life? You might consider reading two books in the Bible: Jeremiah and Lamentations. Needless to say he had much to say about a hard subject during a hard time.

I have poured his words into my heart. Hurtful words. Sad words. Hard words. Yet words dripping with hope. They are in fact the Lord’s words…and I need them.

I need them for multiple reasons, but mostly because I want joy and laughter to increase and sorrow and tears to decrease. Don’t we all.

Just this morning adversity came knocking again. I’ll spare you the details. No more had it made an attempt to camp out in my soul…when God’s word through Jeremiah flooded my spirit…

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:21-23).

I’ll leave it to you to discover just how miserable Jeremiah had become through no fault of his own. Read Lamentations. It’s short. It won’t take long, but hang on. It’s a difficult journey. Pay very close attention when you get to 3:16-18. Jeremiah could not have been lower. His hope in the Lord was gone. It’s as though he shook his fist toward the sky and shouted, “God I’m through with you!”

The Lord’s word through Jeremiah ringing as a reminder in my mind was the Spirit of God whispering yet again to my spirit, my inner true self. What was true for Jeremiah is true for every believer in Jesus Christ. God’s love never fails. His mercy never ends. His love and mercy are new every day, because he is faithful. He doesn’t change. However, more than that, his presence is always with us. The word of God, tucked away in my heart, cascading like a river of fresh cool water over my troubled thoughts was God’s way of showing in real time that he is here…always, ever, in joy and in sorrow.

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

So keep fronting me, Adversity. Keep stepping in where you do not belong. You will continue to be escorted right out the back door. And that rushing wind you feel and hear pushing you away? It’s name is Pneuma…Spirit… the Holy Spirit…the One who leads and guides and reminds…the One who illuminates our minds with the eternal word of God…the One who testifies with my spirit that I am a child of God.

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Adversity, Bible

A Great Reminder About a Great Man Who Needed a Savior

You won’t be disappointed in an article by Randy Alcorn at Eternal Perspectives Ministry: Charles Spurgeon’s Joy and Fruitfulness in Ministry, Born Out of Suffering and Sorrow. (see link below)

The life of C. H. Spurgeon is both inspirational and sobering. He knew something about adversity…if you want to thrive you need the Lord. I have long appreciated this quote from him: “No stars gleam as brightly as those which glisten in the polar sky. No water tastes so sweet as that which springs amid the desert sand. And no faith is so precious as that which lives and triumphs through adversity. Tested faith brings experience. You would never have believed your own weakness had you not needed to pass through trials. And you would never have known God’s strength had His strength not been needed to carry you through.”

Just follow the link…

http://www.epm.org/blog/2017/May/22/spurgeon-ministry-suffering

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Adversity

Coffee Beans and Adversity

Bitter or Better 2

I recently read a wonderful story. I stumbled upon it at the following web address: http://www.upmoments.com/she-tells-her-grandma-that-shes-just-been-cheated-on/.

You’re gonna like it. It’s sweet. It’s poignant. And it’s truthful…to a point. Well, stick around until the end, you’ll see what I mean.

Here’s the story:

“A young woman went to her grandmother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her – her husband had cheated on her and she was devastated. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as soon as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her grandmother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, ‘Tell me what you see.’

‘Carrots, eggs, and coffee,’ she replied.

Her grandmother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The grandmother then asked the granddaughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.

Finally, the grandmother asked the granddaughter to sip the coffee. The granddaughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The granddaughter then asked, ‘What does it mean, grandmother?’

Her grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

“Which are you?” she asked her granddaughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity? Do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level?

How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?”

See what I mean? It’s a beautiful story…a parable illuminating truth…except for one thing…boil the beans again and again and again, and you no longer have the desired outcome. The analogy fails. Like the coffee beans, a person left to him or herself simply cannot be boiled over and over and over. Pretty soon there’s nothing left to produce the wonderful change described in the story…

unless…

unless the beans are very special…

unless the beans are miraculously renewed over and over and over again. Then the bean–and the person–can keep giving over and over and over again.

Then, in the face of adversity, we can make things better, not bitter. Whether coffee or life there must be something that’s new and fresh. With coffee the requirement is new beans. With us the requirement is new life. This is the miracle of regeneration. Its effects are spectacular.

Here, take a quick look…

“For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,  as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”        2 Corinthians 4:15-18

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Adversity

A Follow Up To One Son’s Post About Forgiveness From My Other Son Upon Hearing His Brother’s Testimony.

From the pen of my son. Daniel. May his words also move you toward forgiveness…

To Mom, we miss you and will always remember you. Thank you for being the kind of woman who taught us the ways of the Lord. You gave to us a chance to live a life not dictated by irrational decisions born of bitterness, desperation, and hopelessness. Matthew couldn’t have put into words how we feel any better. I will always love you and look forward to our reunion in Heaven.

To Andres,

You are seemingly blessed with second chances in life. Today I heard for the first time how my brother intervened on your behalf and gave you yet another chance in life and came to forgive you. Yet one other chance was given to you by a young man who suddenly found himself standing directly behind you at Red Robin one Sunday afternoon several years back. Little to your knowledge, there looming over you, was a man over 6ft tall and weighing 270 lbs, dwarfing you by comparison, watching you act carefree with your companions. Sudden and fierce rage, torrents of righteous anger welled up in this man. His fleshly desires desperately compelled him to reach out in revenge and wrongfully snatch from you what you had taken from his mother: life itself. On that day David, I chose to forgive you and live a life not dictated by bitterness…the kind of life my mother would have wanted for us. So I pray for you, that maybe one day you too will have the chance to walk with the Lord in Heaven and on Earth.

March 14th, Pi day, bad anniversary day… Forgiveness day

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Adversity

To The Man Who Killed My Mother

From the pen of one of my sons. May his heart move you to consider forgiveness as a powerful antidote to adversity.

Acts Of Manliness

She was taken from us on March 14th, 1999.

Pi day. A day of whimsical merriment in the minds of many nerds and a great sales day for many bakeries and pastry shops across the world.

For our family though, it holds a different meaning.

Some days are harder than others, but no single day holds any more hurt or pain than any other, even the anniversary date.

Mom, I miss you.

I wish I had been able to give you one last hug, tell you one last time how much you mean to me, or how much I love you.

You wouldn’t believe how much you have missed in the years since you were taken from us. All three of us are married and you now have three beautiful grandchildren.

The kids will never know how amazing you were, they will never be hugged by you, they’ll never have…

View original post 597 more words

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Adversity

Another Antidote for Adversity: Grace in a V.A. Hospital

So yesterday I had the privilege of taking my 90 year old Dad to the VA Hospital at American Lake near Tacoma, WA. No worries, it was just for his regular visit with Dr. Allen and an annual visit with the lab. It’s what always seems to happen there that keeps me encouraged.

While waiting to see the lab techs, another vet walked in. We both said hi. He asked me, “How you doing?”

“Fine,” I answered. “And how are you,” I asked.

“I am blessed. I woke up this morning. For that I am grateful,” he replied.

He sat down. Some small talk took place. Then he began to share. I won’t give you the details. It would take too long. However, a few points are necessary for what’s coming next. His wife left him (he reported this with no anger or animosity). He lost his home in the settlement (again his attitude was one of “she needs it more than me”). He is currently homeless (but trying to get back on his feet). To say the least, I was moved.

While we continued chatting another vet walked in. He shuffled toward an empty chair to sit, but not before shaking all our hands and asking each of us personally, “And how are you doing?” After taking a seat, he breathed out deeply “Whew.”

The other vet asked, “So how about you? Hanging in there?”

“Trying,” the other said, “but I need another $40.00 by the end of the day for rent or I’m out for good.”

The first fella I was talking with quickly asked, “And are you positive your landlord will be satisfied with the $40.00?”

The other vet answered, “That’s what he told me. I think I can trust him.”

And out came the other vet’s wallet. I watched and observed. He pulled two twenty dollar bills…leaving what looked to be three ones behind. He reached across the small waiting room to offer the money to his fellow warrior. The other’s response? “No, I can’t do that. I know you need it just as much as I do.”

He was met with, “No, I insist. Please, I don’t mean to offend you, but you have a deadline.”

The other received the gift graciously. He then asked, “How do I repay you?”

The response was beautiful, “Pay it forward, brother, pay it forward.”

And then came church. We celebrated. The vet who received the gift quoted scripture. The one who gave responded, “Amen! You know He is good.”

I too said, “Amen.”

There was more testimony. The rejoicing continued.

Finally, a nurse came into the room. She said, “Mr. ______________. Is Mr. ______________ here?”

The vet who had received the gift stood. Without ceremony, he followed the nurse down the hall. The vet who gave the gift went back to filling out paper work. I read a brochure. My Dad sat quietly. A few moments later a lady asked “Mr. Brooks?” We stood up. We followed her to Dad’s exam room.

This seems to be a regular occurance for our trips to the VA Center. Last year, after returning home from a visit with Dad’s docs, I shared the following on Facebook (August 23, 2013):

Today was a lesson in the art of soft-spoken tender warrior-ese. While helping my 89 year old father at the VA Hospital, I was privileged to have a conversation with a highly decorated vet. 82nd Airborne. Ranger. Recondo. Pathfinder. Multiple combat deployments. There was no brag, just simple facts offered only because I asked. His voice was soft and gentle. His disposition indicated no pain or regret. He was well-spoken and equally polite. He had been waiting in line for over two hours and was still waiting when my Dad and I left. Both his words and his attitude said, “It was an honor and a privilege.” He was a man, sir, a man. Yes, his body was broken, mended, broken again, twisted, and mended yet again…at least as much as the Army Medical Core could fix…a six two frame reduced to a shadow of its youth, but a king-size heart bursting and filling the halls, waiting rooms, offices, and exam rooms of a soldier’s sanctuary. Thank you VA Hospital for a college level education in humanity by a professor of life, battle, and grace all in the space of a Friday morning.

I’ve been learning something through these visits. Adversity is usual. It’s common. It’s every day. You might just as well get used to it. It’s either already arrived or it’s on the way. However, that’s only half of what I’ve been seeing through the eyes of wounded warriors. The other half is far more spectacular. It’s one of those surprising antidotes that begins to sooth the pain of adversity. It’s called giving. Grace.

When adversity slaps us around, we sometimes need to go with it. Let the slap propel you. Let it turn you. Let it motivate you to come full circle. And as you come back around have your hand extended, not to receive, but to give. Hear that wounded warrior’s answer, “No, I insist. Please, I don’t mean to offend you, but you have a deadline.” Give yourself away…even if the giving also hurts.

No wonder our Lord Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

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Looking For Some Help Regarding Adversity

So, this time around it’s not my thoughts I want to share. Instead, I want to ask a question and a follow up question. While I have my own tendencies regarding the question, I’m interested in hearing back from pastors and other leaders. Here it is:

When folks facing adversity come to you for help, where in the Bible do you turn?

And how do you help them to apply that passage?

Thanks.

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