Hello everyone! I am so glad that you chose to join me today, on Moments Spent with God! Today, I thought that I would share something very special with you...the first chapter of my book, "Time Alone with God: A Devotional Study for Discovering Renewed Hope in God." This is a 276 page book, with eight sections and many chapters and is one of my favorite books.
When you read "Time Alone with God," you will have your own personal Bible study with God, as you venture from a place of weakness...right up to the time, when we take our final step into heaven. This is a long chapter I'm sharing with you; but I have chosen to do so because I truly feel it will help and encourage you, while walking through your own difficult moments of trial.
If you would be interested in the book...I have it in e-book and paperback format on amazon and the info will be posted below. Enjoy the writing and may God truly bless your day with His loving presence!
Blessings on your day!
It's Always & Only Because of Him...
Chapter One - Suffering
Any type of suffering can allow us to feel as though God has abandoned us. We can feel so alone and drained from the moments we endure, that we find it difficult to see anything good…let alone God.
In my own life, I went through numerous knee surgeries; trying to correct a problem from birth. Even while facing these moments in my life; I began to live with the painful memories of sexual abuse and the loss of many things; including the loss of children. Over time, my life began to feel so overwhelmed, as though my plate of circumstances were overflowing.
As we begin this chapter, I would like to discuss how we can take the word “suffering” and use it as a means of creating a closer relationship with God…a relationship that will allow us to see a glimpse of Gods light, instead of feeling surrounded by the darkness that stems from our problems. Matthew 26:39 says… “Going a little further, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” This verse takes us back to a time, just before Jesus’ death on the cross. We are seeing two sides to this verse, as Jesus is beginning to get a glimpse of the suffering that He will go through before and during the moments of the cross. He is admitting to His Father, in the beginning of this verse, that if it is possible, could this cup or moment of suffering be taken from Him but at the same time; Jesus still longs to do his Father’s will, even if it means living out God’s will through extreme moments of pain and suffering.
After reading this verse, the first question we should ask ourselves, is “why would Jesus abandon us, when He Himself knows and understands the depth of suffering, due to what He experienced in His own life, at the time of the cross?” Jesus’ death was to reveal a heart of understanding, rather than to be lived in vain.
How many times have we asked God to remove a moment of pain or heartache from our own lives but He never did? This is not a means of abandonment; instead, this is a means of God revealing His will for our lives. God understands that these moments will never be easy for us, just as He knew the same, while His Son, Jesus Christ hung on the cross. We need to realize that there may be moments, when God will turn His head, for just one moment of satisfaction; just as He did for His Son on the cross…a time when God allows something great to spring forth, through a time of pain and suffering.
We can begin our relationship with Jesus Christ, through our own moments of pain and heartache, when we allow ourselves to bond with a God who became the complete example of suffering. Instead of thinking that God has abandoned us, why do we not view Him as a God, who is turning His head, for one moment in time; that we may discover the true purpose He has for our lives.
Now that we are beginning to relate with God and the example He has set forth for us to follow, when it comes to moments of suffering; we may be asking ourselves next… “Why hasn’t God completely relieved me of my suffering; especially since He claims to understand the meaning of suffering?” We may understand His reasons for turning His head for one moment of satisfaction; but at the same time; why have these moments of suffering lingered, with no end in sight? Mark 15:31 says… “In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself!” Jesus was in a position, as God’s Son, where He could have saved Himself from the cross; but He chose not to because He knew that His death would save many people from their sins. Jesus was not only able to spare His own life but He could have had others put to death, for attempting to crucify an innocent man. If we are going to see our pain and heartache, as a means of drawing closer to God, instead of feeling abandoned by God, then we need to see these moments that we are going through, in a similar way…to the way that Jesus saw His own moments of suffering.
Jesus saw His moments of suffering, as a means of becoming the complete sacrifice for us, while revealing His great love, to a world that was lost in sin; but He also went through the moments of suffering because His love for us outweighed any moment of pain and suffering that He would have to endure. Are we willing to share in this part of the relationship with Christ? We need to ask ourselves this question… “Are we willing to lay down our own desires, that we may return our love back to Christ, while enduring pain and heartache; that we may allow His perfect will to be accomplished within our own lives?” We need to remind ourselves that our relationship with God, should allow us to share and connect with Him, rather than the world. Could we be viewing our moments of pain and heartache in the wrong way?
We should not desire, for God to relieve us of our pain and heartache, just so we can move on with our lives and do, as we desire. We need to remember, that we gave our lives to God, so He could work in and through us. We may not always want to accept the road that He has given us to travel on; but in the end; we will see the results of His work, just as we have seen the result of His work, through Jesus Christ His Son.
Just as Jesus’ death served a purpose, God may also be allowing our moments of pain and heartache, so he can make Himself known to the world. II Corinthians 12:9 says… “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” The next question we need to ask ourselves is this, ”How are we going to experience the hand of God at work in our lives or how are we going to find the need to depend on God for something in our life, if we are never put to the test?” A relationship needs to be two-sided; otherwise, there can be no relationship at all…right? If we always have everything easy in life, then would we ever have a need for God? Our relationship with God should not only be a relationship, where we only know of Him through His word; but instead, it is about truly knowing Him, as we share in the sufferings of Christ. When we share our lives with Christ, whether it be through the good times or bad; we find that we relate more directly with Him, as we praise Him for the good He has done, while discovering a reason to lean on Him for guidance and strength, through the difficult moments.
We need to remember too, that God can only work His desires through us, when we give Him the room He needs to work. His desires may not always be what we desire but we must remember that we were the ones who gave Him the invitation, to come and live within our hearts. We were the ones who made the choice to say, that He could do anything He desired. It is amazing how the pain and heartache can manipulate us, to the place where we forget our vows to God. We find ourselves so deeply caught within the web of our suffering, that we do not see how God’s desires can bud forth from our moments of pain and heartache. Acts 12:2-11, reads… “He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. (3)When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also, This happened during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. (4) After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover. (5) So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. (6) The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. (7) Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. (8) Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. (9) Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. (10) They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him. (11) Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now, I know without a doubt that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were anticipating.”
One of the things that we lack in our relationship with God is the need to communicate with Him. Just because God has allowed something challenging into our lives, does not mean that He has forsaken us. As Christians, we not only need to share in the sufferings of Christ; but we need to share in a time of communication with God…a time when we can allow God to see the need of our heart.
Through the prayers that were given up for Peter; he soon was reminded of the power that God still held within His mighty hands, as God sent an angel to rescue Him.
If we are going to have a closer relationship with God, while facing these difficult moments in our lives, then we need to also share our feelings with God and continue to lean on Him for His help. Just because God allowed the moments of imprisonment to enter Peter’s life, that did not mean that God had walked away and abandoned Peter. When we are able to experience the mighty hand of God, while going through these challenging moments in our lives; then we will not feel so abandoned by God; but instead, we will know that we are walking with a God that will never fail us.
Are we allowing our view of pain and heartache to control us by the world’s standards or God’s? This is an excellent question to ask ourselves because, when we allow our view of suffering, to control us by the world’s standards, then we will never be able to see or experience a true relationship with God. Instead, we will find ourselves controlled by Satan, until he can convince us that God has completely abandoned us. Romans 8:17 says… “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.” Suffering is not a matter of how much and how long; instead, it is more important to share our life and a true relationship with God, through the suffering…a relationship that will take us into an eternal life with Him. Do we find, that we are more concerned, as to where our moments of pain and heartache are taking us or are we more drawn to the suffering itself?
Why do we as Christians feel that we should have a perfect life, in an imperfect world? One thing we need to reflect on, when it comes to our circumstances and that is that we do not live in a perfect place called Heaven yet. This temporary home is a place where God is preparing us for Heaven and there may be moments in our lives, when we will feel the wind of circumstance surrounding us…that we may be able to discover new growth and a strength that will cause us to move one more step closer to Heaven. Philippians 1:29 says… “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him,” How is God going to know us, when we meet Him for the first time, face to face? Will He know us, just because we accepted Him into our lives? I feel that God will recognize us, by the moments we share with Him now. As we enter Heaven, He may say… “I remember you because we shared in the moments of your pain and heartache and we formed a relationship through the difficult moments you faced in your life.” Another thing God may say is… “You were the one who cried out to Me for help, while we talked about your needs.” Maybe He will even say to us… “You were the one who allowed me to work in your life, so I could repair a flaw, which you could not see at the time.” God does not want to know us only by the word “Christianity;” He wants to know us through the relationship that we form together over time, especially while walking down difficult pathways. This is not a time to run away from God or sit in our “pit of despair,” while contemplating on whether He has abandoned us or not. Instead, this should become a time, when we use our difficult moments to connect with a higher power…a God that can walk with us, until the storm passes by.
We need to understand, that God is not abandoning us; instead, it can often times be the moments of suffering, which may be driving us away from God. The feelings we experience can become moments when Satan uses our weaknesses against us, while trying to convince us that God has truly forsaken us. Revelations 2:9-11 says… “I know your afflictions and your poverty…yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. (10) Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. (11) He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.” First, God is stating that He understands and knows about our moments of pain and heartache and yet at the same time, He still is saying that we are rich. Why is that? Because verse 9 is pointing out to us, that we are rich in Him…not money. These verses are also telling us, that we should not fear the afflictions or circumstances that may come into our lives because even though we may feel imprisoned within our problems; in the end, if we are faithful; we will receive something better in life, which is the crown of life.
We need to understand, that these moments of pain and heartache are either going to help us relate to God or push Him out of our lives. We will find ourselves leaning on God, while facing moments like these or we will find ourselves leaning on the problem or ourselves. Whatever choice we make, this will determine whether we find God in a greater way or if we will make Him distant in our lives. How are we going to learn how to be overcomers or allow God to walk us out of a wilderness of affliction, if we have never experienced any form of suffering? The trials that we go through right now will allow us to become defeated or they will help us to rise above the despair in our lives…to a place where we come to find God, in a much richer way.
Right now, God is preparing us for Heaven, while we are going through the greatest test ever…the test that will either bring us into a closer relationship with God or allow us to become distant from His presence. Are we viewing our moments of affliction through the eyes of God or are we viewing them through a worldly standard? Do we focus on what we are going through, instead of looking at the good that can arise from the moments of pain and heartache? If we could begin to see our moments of affliction through the desires that God has for us, then we would find that we are able to cope with our circumstances, which would allow us to experience a renewed hope in God.
Copyright...Diane K Hiltz Chamberlain
Please do not share or post anywhere on the internet, without my permission.