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Setting a Captive Free

Years passed since the physical, emotion, psychological, and sexual abuse has passed. But the lingering pain, the memories that were buried deep so as to stay sane began to invade and torment my mind. Little flashbacks, a dream here and there would skitter through my mind but I would shove them back and hide them again. Shuck them off like rain drops on my shoulders.

Our emotional states will affect our physical state and one day I went to the doctor for some physical ailment. During his exam he asked me various questions and somehow it slipped out that I didn’t care if I lived. Without further ado, no condemnation, no sermons or “Oh you don’t want to think that” comments, he simply wrote a name and phone number on a prescription pad paper and handed it to me, “You might like to give this man a call” was all he said.

That was the beginning of my years of therapy. He was a secular therapist and looking back I realized that the Lord knew that had I been sent to a Christian counselor I never would have set foot in the office. I was angry at God. Very angry! He said He would save me but He never showed up at my house or on my doorstep to rescue me. That preacher that said God saves us had to be delusional. Nope, not trusting God or anyone else to save this woman!

Gradually as the psychiatrist and I talked the sexual abuse was brought out into the open. I can’t begin to describe the pain I felt as we waded through the horrific details and memories. For several years depression took control, dreams left me screaming and sweating sitting in my bed, suicidal thoughts flickered in and out as easily as a stream flows down hill. A few attempts to end the pain forever were made to no avail. Tranquilizers and anti-anxiety medication was prescribed and helped but God knew what I needed and that was the healing that only He could give.

Many years later, I found myself standing before a pastor, in a church I had never been in, asking the Lord to be my Lord and Savior. I got saved and Baptized that very morning and life has never been the same since. My husband had just died from a long illness and the Lord used his passing and my grief to bring me to where I should have been years earlier.

He knew my anger and He knew every detail of my life and my suffering and He knew my great anger even better than I did. I was still seeing the secular therapist but gradually he could not answer my spiritual questions that seemed to keep popping up. I began seeing a Christian counselor and little by little He walked me through the pain. With a Christian counselor who allowed the Lord to lead me down those dark, scary paths it seemed as though my healing was escalating. There was a difference in my journey this time. I had Christ walking the path with me and that is when the deep healing took place.

I’m not saying it’s easy, far from it! Pain, suffering, memories, regardless of where that pain and suffering began is not an easy path to travail. To wade through the muck and the mire is like walking through cement as it hardens. We get stuck but we tug and we pull until we are free from that one footstep that is holding us back. Then we rise up and take the next step and gradually we can see the end of the pain and suffering as each issue is brought to light and left behind. That doesn’t mean we forget what happened! It means that it no longer controls our emotions, relationships, and lives. We begin to understand why we may be a wall flower or why we have to control everything around us or why anger bursts forth at little provocation. Our attitudes begin to change and our misconceptions and all those false teachings are transformed into truth. Truth, not just what happened but more importantly how God sees us and that He loves us no matter how angry, hurt, or betrayed we were. We learn that He accepts us right where we are! We are not who we were told we are but who God says we are. There’s a big difference!

It took many more years of therapy; talking, remembering, crying, begging for it to be over before the freedom came. Forgiveness of all those horrible things that happened and forgiveness granted to those who did them was all part of that healing process. It was a huge step toward my healing process, and it is a process and it is not easy but with the Lord walking that path with us and whispering His encouragement in our ears and revealing the deep pain we continue the journey.

I have heard several pastors put down secular therapy but I am here to say that not everyone will go to a Christian counselor for whatever reason. And there are, sadly, Christian counselors that are Christians but do not council by the Word of God. Some are condemning, judgmental, and accusing leaving an already shattered victim devastated and turning away from God and all that He is. There is a big difference between someone who is a Christian but their method is by mans knowledge, book-learned therapy, and a Christian counselor who allows the Lord to lead the sessions, hears God’s guidance, and trusts God’s wisdom.

The Lord knows our hearts. He knows who we will trust and who we will not and He knew that in my circumstances that if I didn’t get therapy I would not live to be what He created me to be. He allowed, and may even have used that doctor, to lead me to a therapist where I would get the foundational healing I needed. The abuse was revealed and taken into the light, the issues were confronted in all their grimness, and when God’s timing was right He used my husbands passing and my grief and sense of great loss to bring me to Him. God is good! He knows our hearts, He knows our needs, and through His Son and Holy Spirit He will bring anyone who is suffering to Him for His healing. All we have to do is take that first step and trust. He’ll even teach us how to do that.

“He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted… to proclaim liberty to the captives…That they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:1,3

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Blessings to you.

Easter is Over – Or is it?

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We have all heard that Jesus is love, that He died and arose, stands at the right hand of God, forgives us of our sins, and that through His death and resurrection that we will have His peace and joy everlasting and spend eternity with Him.

That is all true but those of us that have been wounded deeply can struggle with the peace and joy part. Be it a loss of a loved one, a painful divorce, or the loss of our childhood through childhood sexual and physical abuse. When we are going through those painful memories, when we are struggling with the healing process and facing the giants of abuse issues we question, “Where’s all this peace and joy!?” “I’m hurting now and I sure don’t feel any peace about it and I have no joy.”

We live in an evil world. Evil things happen every minute of every day. Our circumstances are not what gives us joy. The circumstances that have brought deep pain can rob us of all peace and joy – if we let it! That’s what the devil wants. He has come to rob us of peace and joy. He has come to steal our faith, and he has come to kill our relationship with Jesus Christ. When we are curled on our beds in the fetal position because depression has left us limp and crying where and how can we feel joy?

Our peace and joy comes from the Lord. Our peace comes in reaching out to Him and knowing He’s there because He said He would never leave us or forsake us. His Holy Spirit lives within us and you can’t get any closer than that! There are times when we just have to refocus! We have to take the time, even if its just a moment, to remind ourselves that Christ is with us. He knows our pain and He is our Healer. We can shut Him out and remain in the fetal position or we can seek Him and get out of that bed of pain.

Our joy is not the kind we feel when we happily dance around the room singing. Happy circumstances can bring that kind of joy. The joy of the Lord is knowing, without a doubt, and total confidence, that He is in control. It’s that deep heart knowledge that even though we are suffering and hurting now that it will not last forever. No more tears, no more sorrow, no more suffering is our future and although we are hurting now we will be set free! That does not mean we have to wait to be in heaven for freedom. We have it now! Yes, tears will flow. Yes, we suffer and go through the pain of overcoming but we have Christ’s promise that we can have His peace and joy while here on this earth.

Our joy and the peace that is beyond all understanding comes from the acceptance that Christ is our hope. He is the only hope we have of ever becoming more than we are now. The pain is temporary. The suffering is temporary. It may not feel like it but if we believe the Word of God then we can look forward to freedom, now and forever more.

Christ died, He arose. The day of His Resurrection is over but we have been resurrected with Him. Easter may be over but our eternity has already begun. Christ still lives and we can live in freedom with the peace and joy that comes by believing in the One who loves us.

If you have not asked Christ into your heart He will hear your simple prayer if prayed. “Jesus, I believe You died and arose for the forgiveness of my sins. Forgive me and come into my heart as my Lord and Savior. In Jesus Name. Amen”

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Blessings to you.

Turning Your Misery into Ministry

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Are you kidding me?! Who wants to hear about the miseries I have suffered through life? The old saying, “Misery loves company” is not always true.

“For as Christ’s sufferings overflow to us, so through Christ does our encouragement also overflow…Our hope for you is firm, for we know that as you share in the sufferings, you also share in the encouragement.” 2Cor.1:5-7

God wants to use, and will use, our misery and suffering to help others. The experiences we go through, both good and bad, can be used by the One who knows our suffering.

For many years I suffered abuse from the hands of others. I went through years of therapy and shouted at God many times, “You could have stopped it!” I didn’t understand that God could not only heal all that deep pain but use it for His glory.

Many have suffered in many different ways in this life. Some have lost a loved one. It was when my husband died that the Lord picked me up and stood me before a pastor asking Him to be my Savior. At first I thought He killed my husband to bring me to my knees. I was angry that He would do that! He understood and with love and compassion the Lord showed me He used that opportunity, my grief and suffering the loss of my loved one, to be able to empathize with others who lost a loved one. He used my experience of grieving to be able to feel their pain, to be able to cry with them, and be able to give comfort. My suffering was not going to be wasted.

Some have lost jobs, gone through a painful divorce, have had addictions, lost a child, had an abortion. Pain abounds in this world and God can use each and every experience for His purposes and His glory. I had never been to a support group for abuse victims. I had not told anyone, except my therapist, about my abuse. Suddenly the Lord said He wanted to use me to help others in their pain from abuse. For fourteen years He used my past suffering, my ability through my painful experiences, to be able to relate to, encourage, and lift others up through their pain and receive the emotional healing that God had given me. He’s still using my past experiences and those things He has taught me for His glory. This blog is one of those ways. I give Him all the praise, honor, and glory. I say, “Here I am Lord, use me.” He has and still is in many different ways. Why? Because I allow Him to!

If we will allow the Lord to use what our life experiences are He will use them in ways we never imagined. He will bring us through the pain of those experiences, teach us how to relate to others, bring hurting people into our path, and through us reach out to them in love, compassion, and understanding.

In my wildest dreams I could never imagine a reason, other than just plain out and out evil, for the hurtful things that happened to me. It’s hard to imagine God has a purpose for allowing our suffering and that He can use it for His glory. We ask so many times, “Why?” “Why did …….happen?” We may never know the reason but if we trust Him He will use it. If we look to Him He will heal our hearts and allow our suffering to help others.

What suffering have you gone through that in your heart you don’t understand how anything so hurtful can be used by God? Sit down, right now, and ask Him how He can use those life experiences. You didn’t suffer for nothing…unless you want to do nothing. Allow Him to use you because your misery can become a ministry.

 

“Find that we know that all things work together for good to them that love God.” Romans 8:28

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Blessings to you.

The Great Sculptor

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As I counsel hurting believers week after week, pain is often the common denominator in their lives. Why does God allow pain and suffering in the life of the believer? In reading, “When God Weeps” by Joni Eareckson Tada, I found several reasons why we go through suffering. I would like to share some of her thoughts with you.

Hebrews 5:7-9 states, “…although He was a Son, He learned obedience from what he suffered and made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him.” This is good news for the suffering soul. The Son of God did not exempt Himself from affliction but lived through it and learned from it. Once the process is complete, He became the source of help for all who obey Him.  Should we suffer? “A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.” (Matt. 10:24-25)

Suffering fashions us into a “holy and blameless” image of Christ. (Eph.1:4) much like a figure sculpted out of marble. An artist in Florence, Italy once asked the great Renaissance sculptor Michaelangelo what he saw when he approached a huge block of marble. “I see a beautiful form trapped inside.” he replied. “and it is simply my responsibility to take my mallet and chisel and chip away until the figure is set free.”

The beautiful form, the visible expression of “Christ in you, the hope of glory” is inside Christians like a possibility, a potential. The idea is there, and God uses affliction like the hammer and chisel, chipping and cutting to reveal His image in you. God chooses as His model His Son, Jesus Christ. “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son.” (Rom. 8:29)

God continues to chisel, chipping more away. “To keep me from becoming conceited…there was given me a thorn in the flesh.” (2Cor.12:7)  God works deeper, carefully fashioning every hidden crevice, even our temperament: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who…made Himself…nothing He humbled Himself and became obedient to death – even death on the cross!” (Phil. 2:5-8)

God uses suffering to purge sin from our lives, strengthen our commitment to Him, force us to depend on grace, bind us together with other believers, produce discernment, foster sensitivity, discipline our minds, spend our time wisely, stretch our hope, cause us to know Christ better, make us long for truth, lead us to repentance of sin, teach us to give thanks in times of sorrow, increase faith, and strengthen character. It’s a beautiful image!

And it’s an image like no other. When Christ is unveiled in me, it’s a unique sculpture. It’s what patience, self-control, endurance, gentleness, kindness, as well as a healthy hatred of sin, looks like on “Joni.” That’s different than the way sensitivity and self-control look on my husband or anyone else. My particular affliction is divinely hand-tailored expressly for me.

Yielding to the chisel is “learning obedience from what we suffer.” Our circumstances don’t change; we change. The “who” of who we are is transformed, like a form unfolding, into His likeness with ever-increasing glory. “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2Cor. 3:16-18)

I cannot afford to focus on the hammer and chisel. I cannot look around me and bemoan what God is chipping away. Turn your focus on Him, trusting that He will never cut or gouge too deeply. God is not a casual or capricious Sculptor. “For I know the plans I have for you, ‘ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jer. 29:11)

James Eubanks – Grace Ministries

Angels by Grace -June 1998

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Blessings to you.