I saw this the other day. Pastor Jim Penner says: ‘I’ve talked with and prayed for many who are dealing with physical issues… disease, diabetes, cancers, struggles with weight, muscular and autoimmune disease. The limitations the human family deals with on a daily basis are endless. Yet Ephesians 2:10 says, “You are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.” God knew exactly what He was doing when He made you. You’re unique in all the world. And that makes you special.’
I would like to look at that verse and take it a step further.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 2:10
Image from Bible Verses to Go
So we are not only God’s workmanship but He has created us to do good works that He prepares or ordained for us beforehand.
Physical limitations, location or lack of money or other resources are not going to keep you from the good works God has designed specifically for each one of us. Joni Eareckson Tada has accomplished much for God’s kingdom and rights of handicapped while a quadriplegic. Amy Beatrice Carmichael was a Protestant Christian missionary in India, who opened an orphanage and founded a mission in Dohnavur. She served in India for 55 years without furlough and wrote many books about the missionary work there. She also was bedridden the last decades of her life due to an injury yet still ran an mission and orphanage, prayed great prayers and wrote many encouraging prayers and devotions. Prisoners like the Apostle Paul or present day imprisoned believers have also been used to do works to further the Gospel. God’s purposes and plans will not be thwarted by our circumstances.
It may be you need to be praying and asking God what He has for you to do in your own unique situation. He may have you step out of your comfort zone or may have you do a series of seemingly small inconsequential things that will further God’s kingdom.
Can you think of somebody you know who due to failed health had great influences on others because of their joy and faith with which they walked it out?
My take away is that we are all beloved handiworks’ of God who has uniquely ordained each of us to accomplish specific God-glorifying works.
Think about ways you have seen God work through you in the past.
Prayerfully consider areas you believe He has for you to work in the future.
Have you let limitations or circumstances keep you from doing what God has called you to do?
Some days begin with my feeling more tired and in greater pain than when I went to bed. Pain has either completely stolen my sleep or made it broken or disrupted. Those are the days I need extra motivation to get up and going. If my schedule allows, and really in need of sleep will take two Benadryl and something for pain and try to sleep. But if, like today, when my closest Colorado friend’s son is getting married, I need to get going regardless of how I feel.
I am an extrovert and love to attend social events but I need to have down days planned on either side of an event. I needed to say no to a fun international potluck/fiesta I was invited to last night because have the wedding today that was much more important I attend. Making those hard decisions, yet encouraging my hubby to attend without me are part of the sacrifices required in my day to day life of chronic illness.
So how do I get going on a morning like today? First of all greet God before I get out of bed. Acknowledge to Him how I feel and my need for His strength to be made perfect in my weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9) I also try to recount at least three things I am thankful for and express my gratitude to the Lord. Practicing gratitude gets my eyes off of me and on to my faithful, sovereign, good and wise God. My physical therapist gave me stretches I do in bed each morning that help. Today with extra pain from storm system that came through last night I am taking a soak in our tub with magnesium flakes in the water. Often while soaking I do some devotions or blog from my phone.
Today I awoke to an encouraging response to a previous blog post and it made me realize once again God has purpose in my pain and illness.
So as soak, I think of friends on here and social media who I have never met me face to face. There is a special bond and camaraderie among those who live with chronic illness and/or pain. We are the ones who grasp this life and truly understand the limitations that come with it. We are the ones who know the faith and grace it takes to count it all joy and live in gratitude regardless of our hard circumstances.
Knowing I have other brothers and sisters in similar situations motivates me to get up and live life with joy relying on God’s strength and grace. I want the world to see though I have health issues and pain that is not who I am.
I am a blessed, chosen before the world began, loved, adopted, redeemed and one that God lavishes on His grace. (Ephesians 1:3-10). I remember I am chosen, holy and beloved. (Colossians 3:12). As His beloved daughter, He has an eternal plan and a purpose for my life.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11
Image from Bible Study Tools
The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. – Psalm 138:8
Image from Verse of the Day
I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. – Psalm 57:2
A few days ago God did something cool. I bought a $3.00 plus $3.00 shipping and handling small needlepoint canvas off EBay. The seller messaged me that she has two others she wants to find a good home for and asked me if I would like to have them. She then said she is sending them to me from Europe for free!!
I do these when I am up with pain for hours in the middle of the night. They are easy to do with little thought and I am able to be praying as I stitch.
The canvases arrived yesterday. The 5″ x 7″ landscape I ordered plus a much larger landscape, three smaller landscapes and a smaller Victorian print. I received a total of six needlepoint canvases with designs printed on them for a total of six dollars!
God is concerned about even the small details in our lives. He is a personal God who knows us so intimately that he knows the exact number of hairs currently on your head.
Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. – Luke 12:7
If God cares about hobbies that help us pass painful nights, I can trust Him to care for me in the bigger areas of life too. Not only did He kindly provide for me, but He also used this provision to build my faith for the bigger and more crucial things in life.
Ponder how has God met you recently in either minuscule or gargantuan ways and express your gratitude to Him and share with others. I would love to read your stories in the comments.
This week in Colorado we experienced a weather phenomenon called a Bomb Cyclone. For me it was mostly a pain bomb.
Here is a description on a bomb cyclone.
And here is a CNN report on it:
I have chronic pain from Mast Cell Activation and a connective tissue disorder called Elhers Danlos. Weather changes greatly impact my pain. I feel pain the day or two before a weather change as well as during it. My husband jokes my pain barometer is more accurate than the weatherman!
Tuesday afternoon it was sunny and 60 degrees and Wednesday morning we were having a blizzard with a record drop in barometric pressure. I had a couple sleepless nights due to the Painsomnia. We were not otherwise that impacted from the weather beyond my husband working from home the day of it, flickering lights and losing half a tall juniper. Other areas had higher winds and more drifting snow that stranded thousands of Coloradans, as well as many across the state losing power.
You can see the snow drifts and our broken bush. Minimal compared to what others dealt with during this storm.
Above is our front storm door plastered with snow even under a large covered porch. All our windows on every side of the house were plaster like this with snow.
The storm moved northeast and really pounded Nebraska causing huge snowdrifts in the western panhandle and horrific flooding in much of the state.
Here is how you can help those in Nebraska impacted by this storm.
We lived in Nebraska for five years and areas we lived in have been impacted. We still have many friends in the area and are praying for their safety and that their homes be out of the flood zones.
I believe in seasons of high pain, shattered dreams or disappointments it is so easy to think of all you want, desire and dream more than our all sufficient, all powerful, faithful, sovereign, good and wise God. So thankful that His grace and forgiveness are limitless and no matter how many times I sin or stray from my first love He is ready to forgive and welcome me back.
My husband and I have just walked through the hardest 6.5 months of lies, false accusations and betrayal by those whom we least expected. It has showed me how much He alone is faithful and sufficient, especially when people are not.
Prior to this, I had 4.5 years of being like the children of Israel pining to go back to Egypt for leeks and onions and forgetting about their hardships and slavery. My “leeks and onions” attitude made me look back too often wishing I was back in Arizona and for the friendships we had there, rather than looking ahead or looking up to God. This hard situation revealed a new side to our life back in Arizona (we left there due to health issues April 2014) and made me press hard into God in my pain, confusion and loss.
God also used this to reveal many things to my husband and I about our own hearts in how we responded to this. I would hate to ever walk through this again, but can see God that used a grievous thing for my eternal good and His glory. Hopefully in weeks, months and years to come will see that more and more.
We all know and quote Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” But the way things work for good and the purpose is described in verse 29:
“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
The good purpose for all things is to conform us to the image of his son not our comfort or personal happiness.
Often conforming to Christ comes while walking through the heat of a refiner’s fire where the dross of sin, wrong motives and self focus are removed bit by bit. In my flesh, I often want God to be my fire extinguisher and put out the fire instead.
Take away the dross from the silver, and the smith has material for a vessel. Proverbs 25:4
The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times. Psalm 12:6
He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD. Malachi 3:3
Reading this a few years ago really helped me to endure the fires of shattered dreams, health struggles and all suffering. Today it was a reminder I once again needed.
“One day we took the children to see a goldsmith refine gold after the ancient manner of the East. He was sitting beside his little charcoal fire. (“He shall sit as a refiner”; the gold- or silversmith never leaves his crucible once it is on the fire.) In the red glow lay a common curved roof tile; another tile covered it like a lid. This was the crucible. In it was the medicine made of salt, tamarind fruit and burnt brick dust, and imbedded in it was the gold. The medicine does its appointed work on the gold, “then the fire eats it,” and the goldsmith lifts the gold out with a pair of tongs, lets it cool, rubs it between his fingers, and if not satisfied puts it back again in fresh medicine. This time he blows the fire hotter than it was before, and each time he puts the gold into the crucible, the heat of the fire is increased; “it could not bear it so hot at first, but it can bear it now; what would have destroyed it then helps it now.” “How do you know when the gold is purified?” we asked him, and he answered, “When I can see my face in it [the liquid gold in the crucible] then it is pure.”
My prayer is I will be conformed more and more to His image rather than fighting to put out the fire.
“When you meet Jesus face-to-face, your hardships will have given you a taste of what He went through to purchase the promise of your resurrection. And your loyalty to Him in your sufferings will give you something concrete to offer in return. For what other proof could you bring of your love if this life left you totally unscarred?” – Joni Eareckson Tada
This week has been one of the hardest in our lives as false accusations and charges made by somebody who had been my husband’s closest friend.
While dealing with the hurt, sense of betrayal and grief God has met us over and over. I am living in the Psalms and a few other passages. Our desire is for truth to prevail and that we leave all vindication and judgement to our righteous, just and capable God.
Below I am sharing the verses and insights God has used to sustain me in this hard week and am confident will continue to sustain me in this ongoing trial.
Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. – 1 Peter 4:19
While going through this trial I need to entrust all to my faithful Creator and continuing serving others and doing good.
3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.
6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.
7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!
8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. – Psalm 37:3-8
As I walk through this I need to trust God and do good be committed to Him and delighting in Him and wait for God to reveal our righteousness.
7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD.
8 He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” – Jeremiah 17:7-8
Even in season of heat and drought of suffering we can bear fruit! We are planted in by the living water of Christ and can drink deeply from Him and His Word.
So God is revealing to me I am to continue in doing good and bearing fruit for Him and His glory.
12 For it is not an enemy who taunts me- then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me- then I could hide from him.
13 But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend.
14 We used to take sweet counsel together; within God’s house we walked in the throng. – Psalm 55:12-14
He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, for many are arrayed against me. – Psalm 55:18
Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. – Psalm 55:22
David understood the sense of betrayal by a close friend as does Christ with one of the twelve betraying Him. God is the one who will be my safety, redeem me and sustain me.
I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places, that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who call you by your name. – Isaiah 45:3
I need to seek for the treasures in the darkness. To see God’s loving comfort, sustaining grace, faithfulness, peace and joy not based on circumstances as some of those treasures of darkness. One treasure is before this hit God has orchestrated for me to be doing a Bible study in Psalms. Another is my husband and I had decided about three weeks ago to postpone listing our home this September and revisit that decision next spring. That would be too much to deal with in the midst of this. Another huge blessing is that usually relational stress will trigger a flare up in my chronic health issues and it has not. Probably the biggest treasure apart from Christ is we are not in this alone but have two other couples in the same boat and we are supporting and encouraging one another with God’s truths and prayers.
I am praying this time will not only lead to truth being revealed but will result in my growing in love and dependence on Christ.
How has God met you when falsely accused? What verses have sustained you?
38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house.
39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.
40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”
41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things,
42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:38-42
Before chronic illnesses slowed me down, my hubby called me the “Energizer Bunny” because I kept going and going and going. I was also very much a Martha go, go, go and do, do, do, the hostess with the mostest, involved in many church activities, walking, going to the gym, swimming, gardening, hosting smaller and all church events at our home that I also made sure were perfectly decorated.
In my Martha state, I was constantly fussing about how everything was done and worrying about the impressions I made on people. I spent time in the Word to prepare for Bible studies I attended to make sure I was more prepared and excelling more than others attending. I was forever concerned about what people thought of me, wanting to make the right impression with my looks, my actions, my words and my abilities. Life was frantic, distracted, fear filled and frenzied much more often than it was peaceful, focused, relaxed and faith filled.
My life suddenly changed in 2009. That November I fell while photographing fall leaves when I stepped into a pothole concealed by colorful autumn leaves. I ended up needing eleven stitches on my split open knee. After one dose of sulfa antibiotics I landed in ER with my first anaphylactic reaction. Next thing I knew I was reacting to all sorts of things I had previously tolerated. Fragrances , chemicals, cleaners, toothpastes and many foods suddenly were no longer tolerated. I began feeling like the girl in the bubble. After shuffling from doctors over the next few years received multiple diagnosis including chronic blood cancer, Mast Cell Activation Syndrome(MVAS) and A connective tissue disorder called Ehler Danlos.
As my symptoms increased and my energy ebbed, I really began seeking God, crying out to Him for answers and to show me how to live in this new normal. It was a really hard season of fading health, numerous unknowns and lack of strength to do all I did before. God met me through time in His Word and in prayer. Many sleepless nights due to insomnia, induced by high doses of steroids, were spent studying His Word and in prayer. I began to desire to truly know God and His character. My dear hubby was faithful to often remind me that God has sovereignly ordained us to be together and that we will walk together as a couple through whatever He sovereignly allowed in our lives, including chronic illness, to glorify our God. In this season, I began learning more and more about God’s character. I began to grasp He was Sovereign, holy, faithful, wise, just and good no matter what my circumstances happened to be. God began to help me memorize scriptures and enabled me to apply them to my life. This really strengthened my walk and grew my love for Him. As I spent more time at His feet, He began transforming me from an ultra Martha to a bit of a Mary. During this time of unknown yet failing health, He revealed to me He is most concerned about my eternal good and my being conformed to the image of His Son.
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. – Romans 8:28-29
God met me in amazing ways through examples in family members and friends as well as in His word and prayer. One friend greatly impacted me fairly early in my chronic illness walk, as she and her hubby sat in our home crying tears of joy at all the many ways God has met them and blessed them as she went through surgery, chemo and radiation for breast cancer. That same spring I read two books that greatly impacted me One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.
Between my friends examples, personal Bible studies and my reading I saw the choice before me. I then purposed in March 2011 and asked God to enable me, regardless of my circumstances, to be a woman of joy and gratitude that ever sits at your feet. I am so grateful for the most part God has answered this request. At the time I did not think of it changing me into more of a Mary, but was one result of that answered prayer.
I am thankful I can trust in His faithfulness and goodness and to know His plans are for my eternal best and realize our earthly life is just a blip in eternity. I honestly believe if God had not slowed me down with various chronic illnesses, I would still be the Energizer Bunny version of a Martha. While lack of energy and symptoms may prevent me from doing many things, most days I can sit at His precious feet, be fed by His Word and pray as the Holy Spirit directs. I am at peace, have joy and gratitude, laugh easily and am so much more relaxed. I am now grateful for any help and even if not done “my way” to accomplish the task as it truly no longer matters. Our marriage is better than ever and we enjoy each other, appreciate each other and love each other more than before. Laughter is frequent and we joke about the plot twists in our life. Now when we have guests over the focus is how to bless them and make them feel our home is a safe, loving haven where before my focus was on how to impress. Sometimes my house is a bit messy and God has even used that to make people feel comfortable and makes me seem more approachable.There are days when I take my eyes off of my precious Savior and put them on me and my circumstances. There are days I must fight for joy and gratitude. I have purposed on those days to think of at least three things I am grateful for and either say them aloud or write them down. That seems to redirect my gaze back to Him, the lover of my soul, the One who sustains me and fills me with His joy, peace and hope.
While I would love to be healed, my prayer is that if God allowed it, I would not forget His using chronic illness to slow me down to transform me into much more of a Mary. The joy, peace, laughter, confidence and freedom from fears I now have from my Lord are of much greater value to me than perfect health. My devotion to my Jesus, my gratitude, my love for the gospel of grace, my compassion for the sufferings of others, love of His Word and prayer have all grown immensely as a result of chronic illness. I can say as the Psalmist said
It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. – Psalm 119:71
I would honestly choose to be a chronically ill Mary any day over going back to my former healthy but fearful frantic Martha state. May His transforming grace continually be at work in all of us!
I have recently taken up needlepoint again and began reflecting on how it looks on the back side versus the front. As I pondered, it brought back to memory the poem The Master Weaver of unknown (and as I was researching today, of conflicting origin) that was made famous by Corrie Ten Boom author of The Hiding Place and other books.
The Master Weaver
My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.
Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.
Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned
He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.
We, while still on this earth see through a glass dimly but will see perfectly when we see Jesus face to face. Our sight is limited by earthly limitations and we cannot fathom the beautiful picture God is creating out of our lives.
A picture without contrast of colors and dark and lights is boring and doesn’t display as well. My dad was an artist and worked in a printing company that did mainly advertising. Colors, contrast and light scale were all very important to get the message across. Yet we often find ourselves complaining as God weaves in the “needful dark threads” of pain, suffering, grief and hard circumstances. I do not know what dark threads God is including in the tapestry of your life, but I firmly believe even when I don’t see or understand the dark ones He is weaving into mine, that He is still faithful, good, wise and sovereign and knows how best to conform me to the image of His Son.
When you only see a small section of the back is even more confusing than looking at the entire back side. Or if you only see the dark areas you lose sight of the bright cheery ones.
And here is entire backside of the needlepoint. You can get an idea of what it will be but cannot fully capture the details. Much like as later in life when we look back and remember all the things God has done in our lives and brought us through.
One of my favorite Bible stories is about David at Ziklag in 1 Samuel 30.
David has just returned from battle with his mighty men to discover an enemy had burned their homes then kidnapped all their women and children. His men are distraught, as I am sure David was also since he had two wives taken. His men were threatening mutiny and talking about stoning David. How did David react?
1 Now when David and his men came to Ziklag on the third day, the Amalekites had made a raid against the Negeb and against Ziklag. They had overcome Ziklag and burned it with fire
2 and taken captive the women and all who were in it, both small and great. They killed no one, but carried them off and went their way.
3 And when David and his men came to the city, they found it burned with fire, and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive.
4 Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept until they had no more strength to weep.
5 David’s two wives also had been taken captive, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel.
6 And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God. – 1 Samuel 30:1-6
David strengthened himself in the Lord his God. Another version says “he encouraged himself in the Lord”. I imagine he was looking back over his life how God has helped him as a shepherd boy deal with lions and bears oh my! Recalling when as a young ruddy cheeked boy he killed the giant Goliath with a stone from his sling with God’s help. Also he may have thought of his many skirmishes with the mad King Saul and the Philistines. His faith was strengthened as He remembered God’s care in previous hard times and he was encouraged to have hope in this present very dark situation. In a way, David examined the tapestry he had seen woven so far by God in his life.
So when hard times come, do we only focus on the current dark thread or do we see the many colored, darks and lights of your life to this point? Do we remember how God has met us in previous dark times?
May you and I, like David, be able to strengthen and encourage ourselves in the LORD. May we remember our Master Weaver is creating a beautiful masterpiece from our lives for His glory.
“in your prayers, above everything else, beware of limiting God, not only through unbelief but also by thinking you know exactly what He can do. Learn to expect the unexpected, beyond all that you ask or think. Each time you intercede through prayer, first be quiet and worship God in His glory. Think of what He can do, how He delights in Christ His Son, and of your place in Him. Then expect great things.”
– Andrew Murray
The other day a friend posted the above Andrew Murray quote on social media and it really stirred me. When stirred, I tend write and search scriptures as I process. So welcome to my disjointed processing.
Lord, do I think and pray like you are a limited God or do I expect You to work in unexpected ways? Do I think I know exactly what you can and should do or operate in unbelief?