The Clean Slate of a New Year

A friend mentioned to me a couple of years ago how we have a whole new year ahead of us that is a clean slate of 365 days. He went on to say it is like a new snow before any footprints have made any paths.

Yesterday, I was pondering this as we had over 8 inches of new snow that fell. Each step I make in the snow permanently changes how it looks. I contemplated how each thing I do, every word I speak and each thought I think has the potential to change the vista in my corner of the world to either improve it or detract from it.

Father God,

Help me to ponder my paths and consider where I will go with my actions, words and thoughts. Enable my paths to be filled with sweet communion with You and falling more in love with You, Lord. May my paths be filled with love for You and love for others, as well as Your perfect peace, joy and gratitude. Lead me in paths that bring honor and glory to You. Please let me not mar my hours and days with the mud of resentment, bitterness, unforgiveness, what-ifs, ingratitude or selfishness. Instead, Lord, enable me to beautify my path by loving, giving, sharing, serving and extending grace to those You place along my journey through 2020.

Lord, I desire to be fully engaged in my relationships, in noticing others and recognizing their needs, by being awestruck by Your glorious creation as I walk through each moment You ordain. Deepen my appreciation of all of Your gifts, even the ones that come in the rocky, steep terrain of suffering or inconveniences of a suddenly changed course. May I fully trust Your purposes and rest in Your faithfulness that Your sovereign path for my life is for my eternal good and Your glory.

In Jesus Name,

Amen.

So as I look at our new snow, I notice where a bird or rabbit have gently, perhaps timidly, left their marks. I also notice the gregarious patterns left by my two dogs bounding joyously through the snow. I again ponder how at times the Lord allows times to gently walk one uncertain step at a time while other times we must boldly bound out enthusiastically and obediently where He leads. I pray God gives me discernment when to proceed slowly or cautiously and when He is calling me to boldly step out of my comfort zone. In reality, anywhere I am walking with God should be in my comfort zone.

I am asking the Lord to give me His ability to walk each step in 2020 with faith and confidence in my faithful, sovereign, good and wise God instead of getting off course with worry, inadequacies or fear.

Today I look with anticipation at the blank slate of 2020 and where the Lord directs my paths.

May you each have a wondrous and Happy New Year!

Blessings,

Deb

Gluten Free Almond Danish Puff Pastry

I always enjoyed the Danish Puff Pastry my mom when I was a girl as well as when I made it myself for many years after I married. Once my health tanked in November 2009, I suddenly developed severe gluten intolerance and many food and chemical sensitivities so I no longer made it.

Last week, I tackled a project that I have put off several years. I went through stacks of saved recipes plus the two binders of recipes I have compiled over 37 years of marriage. I reorganized and culled ones there is no way I can use with my Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and dietary restrictions. I came across the Danish puff pasty recipe and thought what if I try to convert this to gluten free? As I did it, I quickly realized it needed more moisture in the crust and some guar gum (you can sub xanthum gum if not allergic to corn).

It came out of the oven resembling and smelling like the original version. After it saw cooled a bit, I frosted it and topped with sliced toasted almonds. Then the hard part was waiting to try it after dinner. We both thoroughly enjoyed this along with a cup of hot tea. It got two thumbs and all fingers and toes up from my husband.

For mixing the crust in this and my gluten free pie crusts I either use my food processor or a pastry cutter like this.

I inherited my pastry cutter/blender from my mother-in-law, but places like Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond and Target carry these.

Gluten Free Almond Danish Puff Pastry

Preheat oven to 400F

FOR CRUST:

Combine in bowl or food processor:

1 cup gluten free flour blend (mine is at end of post)

1/2 tsp guar gum

1/2 tsp salt

Cut in with pastry cutter or food processor blades until it resembles coarse crumbs:

1/2 cup butter, cold (1 cube) cut into small pieces

Add 1 TBSP at a time and stir with fork or blend with food processor until pie dough consistency.:

3.5 – 5 TBSP cold water (varies with how humid or dry it is).

Gather dough into a ball and divide in half. Use a cookie sheet with parchment paper or silicon mat and pat the two halves into two 3″ x 12″ rectangles. Leave on counter while prep the rest.

FOR TOP LAYER: (This very much like cream puff batter).

Combine in small bowl and then set aside:

1 cup gluten free flour blend

1 tsp guar gum

In a sauce pan bring to boil:

1 cup water

1/2 cup butter (1 cube)

1/4 – 1/2 tsp almond extract

Remove from heat and stir in flour guar gum mixture until forms a ball.

Let pan with mixture sit off the heat for 5 minutes.

Add one at a time to pan, beating well with hand mixer after each addition:

3 eggs

Continue beating until shiny and smooth.

Spread this evenly over the two crusts and put into oven to bake at 400F for 18-20 minutes.

Let cool on baking sheet 5 minutes before moving to wire cooling racks.

Let cool 10-15 minutes then frost and top with 2/3 cup toasted almond slices.

FROSTING:

Combine in bowl and mix until well blended:

2 TBSP butter, softened

1/2 tsp almond extract

4-6 TBSP water

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar.

Variation:

Lemon – Sub almond extract in batter and frosting with lemon extract.

Dairy-free – Try subbing butter with organic palm shortening or Earth Balance nondairy cubed butter substitute. (I have not yet tried this but have done this with other recipes.)

I froze over half of ours and will update later how well they do when thaw and eat them later.

Deb’s Nightshade Free Gluten Free Flour Blend:

In large mixing bowl combine until thoroughly mixed together:

5 cups brown rice flour

3 cups tapioca starch or flour

1 1/2 cups arrowroot powder

I store in an airtight container in my upright freezer. Because of my sensitivities I use all organic ingredients.

Enjoy eating this delicious treats!

Hoping each of you has a wonderful time with family and friends celebrating Christ’s birth.

Merry Christmas!!!

Blessings,

Deb

Pretending to be Normal

My life in recent years has changed greatly due to multiple chronic illnesses taking up residence in my body. My brain and emotions still feel normal even though my body doesn’t always respond.

I was recently asked in early December if I would like to host a dinner party in our home in appreciation of our church Life Group Leaders on January 5th . We were not planning on going out of town over the holidays and figured with hubby’s help could pick at it and be fine with it knowing would have a day or two of recovery afterwards.

The week before Christmas I looked at flight schedules to where our daughter and her family live and found a killer deal leaving Christmas Eve night. Only $82 for both of our round trips with taxes and everything. My hubby was the one preaching the sermon Sunday morning on Christmas Eve day, so leaving earlier not an option. We talked to our daughter and son-in-love and decided to go for it. Hubby could only stay until the 28the with work and church commitments but I booked my return flight for the morning of January 3.

The week before our trip I was doing a mad scramble trying to pack and get the a table runner and other decor made for the Dinner party. I made lists, meal plans and instructions for hubby to take Christmas tree down etc before I arrived home.

I had a wonderful ten days with my daughter’s family and so enjoyed the time with our four grandchildren between the ages of 6 months and 7 years old. Not sure if it was the lower elevation or joy of being with everybody but physically felt much better while I was there.

I arrived home mid morning on January 3 and life was a blur of trying to stuff reaction symptoms with meds, pushing through pain, cleaning, decorating and cooking. The other pastors and wives took care of prepping the prime rib and dessert which helped immensely. All was done with time to spare so we were able to relax for a few minutes before guests arrived. I popped some extra B-12 sublingual to give me energy and thoroughly enjoyed our evening. God blessed our goal of making the Life Group Leaders feeling blessed, refreshed and appreciated.

I slept or rested all day Saturday and went to church service Sunday morning and a reception that evening. Sunday night, as we returned home, I slammed into the proverbial wall and have been pretty much down for the count all this week. I am having pain, Mast cell reactions, and fighting a bug.

Several years ago I could have and did host many events in my home frequently without any impact. We were part of a church plant that met in a community center and later a school on Sundays so since we had a larger home and no kids at home, we hosted all church events as well as ladies bible studies, life group as well as frequent swim parties and BBQs. I thrived on it and loved every second of it.

When chronic illness struck I began having to count the cost on activities. I still love folks in our home and for the most part have smaller groups over and keep things very low key and simple. I think the masking of my pain by being on a pain medication since early November enabled me to feel better and I easily deceived myself into thinking I could once again do it all, like I was normal. And it was fun to pretend until it all came crashing down.

As I rest up this week, I am reminding myself, what I have shared on here before, to count the cost and decide on things based on eternal benefits and impacting others for Christ. I am also remembering my precious friend JoAnn, who passed away three months ago, always reminding me about not running out of spoons. I need another friend like her who understood limitations from her personal experience and was so fun, caring and full of faith to remind me. If you do not understand what that means read the Spoon Theory.

https://butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/

Would I do it again? Yes. But ask me again next week. 😉

I will include a few shots of the table runner I sewed and from my pretense of being normal. <><

hope all of you are all doing well and counting the cost of all you do in view of what matters in eternity.

Blessings,

Deb

Count it all Joy

Count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds. James 1:2 ESV

I am once again doing another Bible Study through Love God Greatly. They will be doing the book of James beginning Monday January 15. I got a jump start on it today and was studying James 1:2.

https://lovegodgreatly.com

After writing down the verse and my observations I began a word study. The first word I looked at was “joy”. As I went onto Bible Hub and looked at the Strong’s Concordance tab for joy this is what I saw

I think what really struck me is that joy in the midst of trials is not giggly happiness but the awareness of God’s grace and favor in the midst of it. How has he met me? As I recount the many graces He has bestowed on me, gratitude and joy well up inside in spite of the circumstances.

Remembering these things listed below and so many other ways He has shown His grace and favor upon me, cause true joy to well up in my soul and builds my faith. May they enable you to have the joy of recognizing His grace and favor upon you even in the darkest and hardest times.

– He gives me peace that passes understanding.

– He has promised to always be with me.

– He strengthens my soul.

– He has sovereignly ordained my days for His purposes to work out my eternal good and bring Him glory.

– He will help, strengthen and uphold me.

Blessings,

Deb

The Choice

Sometimes God makes His path so clear, even when the path goes through rough terrains we would rather not travel. God was so kind to give me a vivid illustration of the results of the choices before me when I was in the midst of being diagnosed with chronic illnesses.

two-paths

My health began tanking in 2009 which began a course of visiting numerous doctors and undergoing various tests to discover answers while my symptoms continued to worsen. In March of 2011, I went to yet another doctor who finally diagnosed me with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), high histamine and blood test results that were indicative of some type of blood cancer. On March 30, I was told that my blood test results were way off the charts for a third time and that I would need to be seen by an oncologist who was also a hematologist. Being a former RN who does online research, I was fairly certain I knew that my diagnosis was going to be between “Big C”, an acute blood cancer that may mean only months to live or “Little C”, a chronic blood cancer that likely would not shorten my life expectancy but change how I lived it. We lived in the limbo of not knowing which from March 30 to June 7, 2011.

The vivid illustration God used about the choice I needed to make in response to how I faced whichever diagnosis, came about through a timely visit of our dear friends Earl and Nancy. Earl and Nancy spent two weeks in our home late March/early April 2011 and arrived days before my March 30th appointment. In fact they were waiting in the car with my husband as we swung by for my appointment on our way out of town to visit the Grand Canyon and Sedona, Arizona.

Nancy had her last radiation treatment days before flying down to visit us in Arizona where we lived at the time. In the months before their visit,  she had a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation for her second bout of breast cancer. Earl and Nancy sat in our family room recounting all the many ways God had blessed them and met them in the midst of Nancy’s cancer battle while Nancy cried tears of joy and gratitude.

In the same time frame, somebody we knew well, received the news that their spouse had dementia. This response was exactly opposite of Nancy’s. Instead they had responses of anger, bitterness and declaring their life was over and nothing good would ever happen again.

God provided a clear and obvious illustration of the choice set before me in how I would respond to the looming diagnosis possibilities. I could choose the better way, that realizes God’s sovereign hand and respond in faith with joy and gratitude regardless of what the future bought. Or I could choose to be bitter, resentful, angry and ungrateful.

After hearing the news at my doctor’s that my blood results would require follow-up with a hematologist/oncologist, we drove up with our friends to Grand Canyon. That evening we went to the vista point that was supposed to be the best at sunset. The colors were glorious and ever-changing. Standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon watching this amazing sunset I made my choice.

I poured my heart out to God silently as the skies and canyons blazed with a kaleidoscope of colors:

“Oh God, I have no idea what this diagnosis will be. Please, Lord, enable me, whether a few months or a few decades, to be fully present and soak up this gorgeous scenery. Give me the vision and heart to engage and appreciate all of life around me for all of my days. Oh God, one thing I ask, regardless whether it is BIG C or little c, please, please, let me be known as a woman of joy, gratitude and faith. Regardless of how I feel physically, Lord, let me be like Nancy who cried tears of gratitude and joy for all at You did through her cancer. Enable me to have Your joy and contentment and keep me from bitterness, anger, complaining or ingratitude. Remind me of these examples You have so clearly shown me and this choice whenever I am tempted to complain or be resentful. Let my life be a reflection of joy and my testimony be that of a woman who found joy and gratitude in whatever You have sovereignly ordained.”

My choice was confirmed when I first heard  with the song  Blessings by Laura Story and the story behind it on the radio a couple of weeks after my prayer at the Grand Canyon. The words of that song so resonated with me and that song still makes me cry. You can read the story behind the song here.

Later in April 2011, a friend told me about Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts and I immediately bought it. In her book, Ann shares how she overcame tremendous fears and hurts by practicing counting gifts as she would journal things for which she was thankful. This book also confirmed my choice.  Ann Voskamp has continued to encourage me with her blog A Holy Experience and  more recent books.

My pastor asked me in early May 2011 if I would consider leading a ladies Bible Study for two months over the summer using the book Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. By this point my hubby and I are almost finding it comical how many ways God was conveying and confirming my choice to ask God to make me a woman of joy and gratitude. I began leading this study in my home with about 15 women the second week of June as I began my first week of chemotherapy. It felt like a combo of early pregnancy, the flu and being hit by a truck the first three weeks on my daily oral chemotherapy until my body adapted to the chemo. Somehow God enabled me to be able to sit in my comfy chair in my family room and facilitate the group those first difficult three weeks. Other women lovingly served me by helping  with set up, snacks and clean up. God used those eight weeks of the study to further impact me as well as impact other women who attended.

I have lived out this choice much like a helpless baby bird who is unable to fend for itself. I was/am dependent on my Heavenly Father to tend me, feed me and strengthen me to walk in my choice. Oh there have been days where I pridefully challenged my Father’s wisdom by trying to convince God I would be more useful and serve Him better with full health. There have been times where self pity and complaining have been where I wanted to dwell. But my God has been so faithful to quickly remind me of the example I saw in Nancy and my choice. I repent and turn again to Him in dependence to enable me to seek Him and the joy that comes from seeing life from eternity’s perspective. When I try to live in joy in my own strength I fail miserably. When I am like Mary in the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42 and spend precious time in His presence I am once again empowered by His Holy Spirit to rest in His sovereignty and faithfulness and see many things to rejoice and be grateful for in my life.

one thing necessary

I am so grateful for the lesson and choice God put before me early in my chronic illness journey. I have seen many benefits of my illness and how looking for ways to be grateful has helped me to recognize many I would have otherwise missed. I pray I will continue to remain and grow in my dependence on God for my source of strength, faith and joy.

count-it-all-joy

Embracing My Consistently Inconsistent Life

Chronic illness visited me and stayed after a fall in November 2009 that required ten stitches on my knee. When I went to my doctor two days later to have it checked, she started me on a different and stronger antibiotic due to inflammation and concern of a bone infection. After a single dose I end up in ER with a severe anaphalaxis reaction to sulfa antibiotic.

After that I began having more and more issues and was suddenly having allergic reactions to numerous things. The next year and a half was filled with multiple doctors and tests, being put on high dose steroids and numerous antihistamines. My health was not improving, I felt miserable and was not finding any answers. Finally, I went to yet another new doctor in the spring of 2011 and was diagnosed with MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity) and a rare chronic blood cancer from a gene mutation that causes me to have high blood histamine which contributes to my MCS.

Prior to November 2009, I was up at the crack of dawn and usually to bed after midnight. I was constantly on the go, busy with projects, working out at the gym, swimming, gardening, church activities and social life. My husband and a couple close friends called me the “Energizer Bunny” because I kept going and going. Suddenly my batteries were out of juice and my body was not functioning.

One of the areas I struggled with most was making plans and then often having to cancel when the time came, due to my health issues. I felt guilt for letting others down, disappointment in not being able to do whatever it was, frustration with myself and resentment toward my illness. As I sought ways to deal with this frustration I began telling myself and others that I am consistently inconsistent due to my health.

STEPS TO EMBRACE BEING CONSISTENTLY INCONSISTENT:

1. View chronic illness as part of God’s sovereign plan for my life

My husband was a great help as he would frequently remind me of God’s sovereignty over my chronic illness and that it was God’s plan for both of our lives for our ultimate good and His glory.  Digging into God’s Word  and learning about God’s character and how He uses trials to refine and mature us helped immensely.

2. Recognize my limits and adjust expectations and schedules accordingly.(This step may need refined frequently with the ebb and flow of symptoms.)

This took me a good couple years of pushing until I hit a wall and then laid up for days or weeks afterwards before I learned. We began to see patterns and realized after exposures to fragrances and chemicals exposures being out and about on the weekend and going to church I was wiped out and needed Monday to be a crash day. Now I schedule Mondays as rest days where I sleep as late as my body requires and recoup. I often will need to sleep in late another morning in the week usually Thursdays or Fridays. I also learned I need buffer days between scheduled events as the exposures often will knock me down a day or so. For me, on a real busy day, where  I am cleaning house or prepping for a company dinner I need to take time every hour or so to just sit/rest a few minutes. By doing that, I find I do not wear out as quickly. Figure out the unique limitations for your chronic illness and how best to adjust your expectations and schedules.

3. Realize I have no reason to feel guilt or shame if too sick and need to cancel.

This was hard for me as I tend to be a “people pleaser” and struggle with fear of man. I now tell people as we make plans, I will be there if at all possible but due to my health issues I am consistently inconsistent. If I cancel last minute, it is not you or my finding something better to do, but that I am truly too sick.

4. Decide to choose the better over the good.

Because I am limited by exposures to fragrances, cleaners and other chemicals, I want to make my time when away from home to count for eternity. For me this means doing things to relate with people and serve others. To accomplish this, I must limit my times of exposures doing other things. I do much of my shopping online and at a couple local health food stores I can go to without reactions. My husband is always willing to pick things up for me which is a huge blessing. If I have to have a day of appointments and errands, I try to schedule it all in one day so only have one time of recovery. I am finally getting past my pride and wearing my carbon filtered mask into most stores. If an event is planned for Saturday, it will usually mean I will be down for the count and unable to attend church on Sunday. I then need to evaluate which will have the most impact on eternity and the people we love.

5. Ask God for new ministries that flex with good and bad days.

God has crossed my paths with several people with chronic illnesses in my own church, through blogs and in Facebook groups. God has given me opportunities to pray for these folks, send encouraging messages or texts or call them. And I am blessed by theirs. I also am part of our church prayer ministry and get prayer requests as they are shared via email.

We host a fragrance free life group in our home that my husband leads every week. Occasionally I am too wiped or ill to attend and stay upstairs or we have someone else host. We also enjoy to host some meals for friends as my health allows or take meals to new moms or when somebody moves into a new home. I don’t do it every time and schedule it on a day with buffers around it and have my husband deliver it to prevent exposures. Right now I am in a worse season of reactions so have not hosted or attended anything in over two weeks and that is okay.

I am currently taking a Biblical counseling course that is a home study but later on will involve observing counseling then being observed by a counseling pastor as I counsel. I have had many delays on getting this began let alone being done, so once again realize the timing is in God’s hands and it’s okay to be consistently inconsistent.

Michael and Margaret Robble are a couple in our church who have written a book on how God has met them through over 25 years of chronic illness. Their book is called “Always Sick, Always Loved.” I highly recommend this book! They are now in the process of writing a second book.

We met Texans, Michael  and Christy Hardy, through the Robbles. This sweet couple minister through a website and blog to encourage the chronically ill called Chronic Encouragement. We were blessed by them and their encouragement while staying in our home when they were visiting in the area. Michael has MCS like I do and also has difficulties staying in hotels. http://chronicencouragement.com/

6. Find mutual support.

God has blessed me with some wonderful godly friends in my church here in Colorado and in Arizona that have walked the road of chronic illness many more years than me, as well as others who are newbies on the journey. Between these local friends and others online, we are able to understand with empathy and compassion and encourage one another and point each other to godly truth. It has also been helpful in finding medical help and resources.

7. I am not my illness.

I am, above all else, a child of God. I am also a wife, mother, Nana, sister, daughter and friend that happens to have a chronic illness. While it may make challenges and life unpredictable, I am not my disease. I seek how best to fulfill each of my roles around and in spite of my illness. God has allowed my illness to transform me more fully into the image of His Son. He still has the same desires to see me grow in grace and bear spiritual fruit of love, joy, peace…

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

I would love to hear from others and how you have learned to deal with living a consistently inconsistent life with chronic illness.

Love & Prayers,

Deb

Finding Purpose in Suffering – Part 1

This blog post is my biggest take away from the women’s conference I attended in Colorado Springs last weekend where Nancy Guthrie was the speaker. I only was able to attend Saturday and each of those sessions were grounded in the Word of God and both convicted and encouraged. The last session “Trusting God with Our Hardest Question” was the one that most impacted me.

Nancy shared how our hardest question while in the midst of suffering is why? Why me? Why did this happen? What caused it? What purpose is there in it? She went on to talk about causes of suffering but what really gripped my attention was when she began talking about what is the purpose of my suffering. I am compiling from my notes from the conference, experiences and thoughts since the conference a list of twelve purposes in suffering. Today I will share the first six and the rest will be covered in my next post.

TWELVE PURPOSES IN SUFFERING

1. To Put God’s Glory on Display (John 9:3)

John 9 Jesus heals the blind beggar

1As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud 7and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.

People immediately were assuming this man’s blindness was because of his or his parents sins but Jesus corrects that and says it is so that the works of God might be displayed. So often, we too, want to find somebody to blame or a cause and effect when that is not the case but instead is a way for God’s glory to be on display in our lives.

This makes me want to pray and ask God to display His works in my life whether that is healing from my chronic illness or His spirit enabling me to be filled with joy and peace in the midst of it.

2.To Make Me More Fruitful (John 15:2)

John 15:1-2

1“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

When you prune plants in your garden you do not do it to hurt the plants but to make them be more fruitful. We saw a firsthand illustration of this a few years ago while living in Arizona. We had decided to grow grapes after seeing them in our next door neighbors yard.. After the first year, the vines had spread a huge amount. We got our booklet from the county extension on how to prune our grapes and we followed the instructions. When we had finished, over three fourths of the vines were pruned away. Our grapes looked hacked up and terrible until spring came. That year they grew and put on so many grapes we were overwhelmed with a huge abundance of grapes at harvest and had many to share with others.It  made me want to stop praying for God to stop the painful pruning, but to instead, ask that it result in eternal fruit for the Lord.

3. To Shape Me into Christ’s Likeness (Romans 8:29)

We often hear the verse 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.” It will all work out for good without thinking that the good it is referring to is in the following verse. “29For 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.”

God is using all things to work together to make us look more like Jesus, often in the crucible of difficulty.

4. To Equip Me to Comfort Others (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthinas 1:3-4.

If we want our suffering to be wasted just keep it to ourselves. Instead, we should allow the broken places of our life to be used to minister to others. Another brother or sister who has walked through what you are now walking through whether it is death of a loved one, infertility, loss of a job, chronic illness etc. can offer comfort better than anyone else. They know from experience what you are going through and can share how God met them in the midst of it.

5. To Cause Me to Depend on God More Fully (2 Corinthians 1:8-9)

8For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.

Suffering makes us less self-reliant and more reliant and dependent on God. Suffering makes us unable to rescue ourselves or change the circumstances which cause us to call out in dependence upon Him.

6. To Make the Life of Jesus More Evident (2 Corinthians 4:10-11)

7But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 2 Corinthians 4:7-11

So our weaknesses and sufferings are a canvas on which Jesus stands out and is made more evident.

Purposes 7 through 12 will be shared in my next blog post. Praying that allows time for you to consider these purposes and ponder how God is working them in your lives.

Blessings,

Deb

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