Showing posts with label Understanding Sufferings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Understanding Sufferings. Show all posts

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Comprehending Loss - coping with tragedies

Dear Friends,

Let us continue to pray for the people in Sichuan China that many may find God's comfort and grace to be upon them as they seek to rebuild their lives. China has the most severe earthquake in Beichuan, Sichuan province on 12 May 2008 in which it is estimated over 70,000 people have already died and many are still buried. The people need lots of prayers and support in this time of overwhelming loss and sufferings. Thank God for many people who are extending their prayers, love and kindness in many wonderful ways.

Let us also continue to pray for the people in Myanmar that many may find God's comfort and grace to be upon them too as they seek to rebuild their lives and homes too. Myanmar was hit by Cyclone Nargis on 2 May 2008 in which it is estimated that up to 134,000 people might have died. They too need lots of prayers and support to rebuild their homes and lives. May God shower His mercies upon them.

Let us also pray for others in other part of the world who are suffering through other natural disasters. And pray for our other families or friends who are suffering in one way or another.

In particular, please pray for the Chapman's family on the loss of their little daughter, Maria. Maria (age 5), the youngest of three daughters adopted from China by Steven and Mary Beth Chapman, was tragically killed in an accident at their home on Wednesday afternoon. It is hard to grasp the immensity of their pain in the loss of this little girl. It is a great consolation to know that God is in control and because of Jesus, through faith in Him the family will see Maria again in glory one day.

My friend, Tracy, wrote a very encouraging post "Comprehending Loss" as she shared of this tragedy of the death of little Maria Chapman and a book she read on dealing with tragedy.

Do read Tracy's encouraging post "Comprehending Loss" and check on Maria's memorial website where there is a very touching video of little Maria with Steven. There were over 16,000 people who had offered words of prayer, love and support to the Chapmans in the condolences. May God continue to comfort this family as they look to Him.

We are persuaded that nothing shall ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Not even death.
Romans 8:35,37-39

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Cultivating Nearness to God in coping with difficulties in life

When we go through difficult times in our life sometimes we wonder why we have to go through them and can any good come out of it.

I live a very checkered life. My life is filled with ups and downs. I love the Lord because He has saved me from my sins and He is my God and Saviour. But even then, my life is not exempted from difficulties, sickness, failures, disappointments, stress, etc etc. I experience them just like everyone else.

As you know, these few weeks have been very challenging for me. I am still learning to manage my bipolar mood swing. I am learning to cope with stressful situations at work and other areas of my life. I have many ups and downs recently.

I often will pray and ask God to help me understand what He is teaching me through them and how best I can grow through these difficult experiences.

I also desire to glorify God through my experiences by doing that which is right in His sight and according to His Words.

Mr John J Murray in his little booklet "Behind a Frowning Providence" which I am still reading, said:
Far more important than any explanation for our suffering is nearness to God in our experience. This is the only way to get things into perspective.
One of the ways that God is helping me to cope with my difficult struggles with bipolar disorder, stress and other difficulties in these recent days, is cultivating a nearness to Himself.

I found that when I bring my difficulties and afflictions to God in prayers and seek to understand His will in them, God draws me nearer to Himself as I sense His presence with me and the good that He is working out of them.

In my weakness, I have experienced His strength, strengthening me and keeping me.

When I feel that I just can't take it anymore, and I go to God in prayers, I found that He in His faithfulness will either work a way out for me or sustains me in very marvelous ways.

Sometimes I can see Him developing certain graces in my life :

Through painful experiences, I see God making me a more tender and compassionate person.

Through very trying and prolonged trials, I found that God is teaching me to be more patient.

Through painful struggles with severe and prolonged depression, our Lord is teaching me to understand a little of His great love when He suffered so much and gave His life for me and how He felt forsaken by His Heavenly Father while He was on the cross.

Through difficult relationships in my life, God taught me the value of forgiveness.

In time of failure and disappointment, God taught me to let go and trust in Him.

Sometimes I see how He is using my experiences to help other people. When others see the way God is strengthening me or delivering me, they are encouraged and strengthened in their walk with Him.

Sometimes God deepens my friendship with family and friends when they share my burden, pray and encourage me.

I am thankful to God for drawing me nearer to Himself and for working many good out of my experiences. Though at times these experiences can be very difficult and painful, but God has been the strength of my heart whenever my flesh or my heart fails.

I thank God for the way He is strengthening my friendship with you and my other friends as you share my burden, pray and encourage me. Thank God for all of you!

Take care. May you have a blessed day!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

It Matters to Me about You

Today, I found this encouraging poem that reminded me afresh that God cares for me. No matter what I go through in this life, He is with me. The difficulties, trials or afflictions that pained me at times, are actually working together for my good in God's wonderful providence.

God is doing a deeper work in my soul to make me what He wants me to be. God is conforming me more and more to the image of Christ. The process is painful but necessary. This is the only way I can bear fruit for Christ.

This reminder helps me to see my difficulties and afflictions due to bipolar or depression, panic attacks, stress and other difficulties, from a different angle and to value what God is doing in me through them. It helps me to face every tomorrow with God's strength and grace.

I know God loves me and He is with me. God has His purposes in all that I am going through and He will accomplished His purposes in and through me. I am a weak vessel and an instrument in the hands of a mighty God.

I humbly submit to His will and pray that I may learn to glorify Him even in the furnace of affliction because He has promised never to leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5).

If you are going through a very difficult and painful time now or suffering in some ways, I hope this poem and the reminder that God cares for you will bring some comfort and uplift your heart to Him Who loved us and gave His Son for us for nothing shall ever separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39)


My child, I know thy sorrows,
Thine every grief I share;
I know how thou art tested,
And, what is more - I care.

Think not I am indifferent
To what affecteth thee;
Thy weal and woe are matters
Of deep concern to Me.

But, child, I have a purpose
In all that I allow;
I ask thee then to trust Me,
Though all seems dark just now.

How often thou hast asked Me
To purge away thy dross!
But this refining process
Involves for thee - a cross.

There is no other pathway
If thou would'st really be
Conformed unto the image
Of Him Who died for thee.

Thou can'st not be like Jesus
Till self is crucified;
And as a daily process
The cross must be applied.

Just as the skillful gard'ner
Applies the pruning knife,
E'en so, I too would sever
The worthless from thy life.

I have but one sole object -
That thou should'st fruitful be!
And is it not thy longing
That I much fruit should see?

Then shrink not from the training
I needs must give to thee;
I know just how to make thee
What I would have thee be.

Remember that I love thee!
Think not I am unkind,
When trials come to prove thee,
And joy seems left behind.

'Tis but a little longer
Until I come again;
What now seems so mysterious
Will all be then made plain.

Take courage then; and fear not!
Press forward to the prize,
A crown of life awaits thee,
Glory before thee lies!

- Alice C. Lefroy
Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings,
and not one of them is forgotten before God?
But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Fear not therefore; ye are of more value than many sparrows.
(Luke 12:6,7)

This photo is taken by my brother-in-Christ, CW Fong. Thank God for his kindness to share this lovely picture with us.

Thank you for stopping by.

What do you think of this poem? Do you also see God's works in your life through your trials, pains and sufferings? Can you find comfort in God's love even through your difficulties or sufferings?

Take care. Have a blessed day!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Behind the Frowning Providence: Part 1 There are Dark Providences

I was re-reading portion of a small but very encouraging booklet entitled "Behind a Frowning Providence" by Mr John J Murray a retired minister and thought I will share some encouraging portions with you over the next few posts.

For you and I who suffer great pains and misery due to our depression or bipolar or other infirmities, it is sometimes hard to reconcile our understanding of what a blessed Christian life should be like with the sufferings that we have to go through or that of our loved ones. It is sometimes difficult to understand why a loving God will allow His children to go through such pains and sufferings. Other Christians may accuse us of a lack of faith and trust in God. We sometimes wonder whether we are truly a Christian and if we are, why are we going through so much troubles and pains and sufferings.

The truth is our sufferings or pains does not contradict what the Scriptures tell us of who God is, the fallen nature we have inherited through Adam's sins in the garden of Eden, what our Lord Jesus Christ has done on the cross to redeem us from, and the rich and blessed life we have in Christ when we trusted in Him as our Saviour despite the pains, suffering or dark providences we are going through even after we have become a Christian. These are paradoxes.

How can we justify the ways of God with us? As hard as it may be for us to understand some of these things, a careful study of Scriptures and understanding of the wonderful work of God in providence will unfold a new light in our darkness and a new perspective in our checkered life.

Mr Murray noted that one of the best known hymns is William Cowper's "God moves is a mysterious way, His wonder to perform". Cowper was subject to melancholy (depression) and knew more about the darker side of Christian experience than the brighter. It was out of heart-felt experience that he composed his hymn and presented in it so many precious gems of truth such as the oft-quoted lines,

Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

What is meant by a "frowning providence"? Is this something that we are to expect in the Christian life? If so, how do we cope with it?

Mr Murray said when adversity comes into our lives we tend to react in one of two ways. We may say that it happens beyond God's control and God has no power to stop it; or we may say it is an evidence of God's anger against us. Either way we are guilty of casting aspersions on the character of our Father and consequently of perverting our attitude of Him.

Thomas Boston, a minister who went through severe trials in his ministry and domestic life, due to a mentally-ill wife said:

"A just (right) view of afflicting incidents is altogether necessary to a Christian deportment (demeanor) under them. That view is to be obtained only by faith, not by sense; for it is the light of the Word alone that represents them justly, discerning in them the work of God, and consequently designs becoming the Divine perfections."

The Christian, although he is justified, remains a sinner in the midst of a fallen world. He is subject to "all the ills that flesh is heir to" (my note: I think this includes clinical depression, bipolar, asthma, diabetes, other sicknesses, disappointments, etc etc and death). Some of the consequences of his past sins affect his life. He is the subject of the discipline of His Heavenly Father. Satan concentrates his attack on him. His sufferings are compounded because he is a Christian. "In the world", our Lord warns His disciples, "you will have tribulation." (John 16:33)

The Bible leaves us with no doubt that suffering is a normal part of the true Christian life. Hebrews chapter 11 portrays the suffering witnesses of the Old Testament. The New Testament presents us with our great Example (our Lord Jesus Christ) who was "made perfect through sufferings" (Hebrews 2:10), and also with the many followers who "became partakers" in His sufferings (1 Peter 4:13). The whole emphasis in the teaching of the early church was on "rejoicing in the midst of sufferings." It is "through much tribulation" that we enter the kingdom (Acts 14:22).

Sadly, this understanding of the possibilities of Christian sufferings is far removed from the outlook that prevails in large parts of the Church today. The impression is given that the purpose of the Christian life is enjoyment. Everything that stands in the way of that is to be eliminated. People are looking for a problem-free Christianity. The health, wealth and success gospel is having a field today. Purveyors of such a gospel look the part. Unfortunately, the hollowness of such views became apparent when suffering, sorrow or disappointment comes. Then it becomes clear that we need a faith that is grounded in God's Word.

Over the next few posts I hope to share with you excerpts from Mr Murray's messages on Behind the Frowning Providences under the following headings:

2. God's Work in us through Depression, Bipolar and other Disabilities or Sufferings (God's Designs in Dark Providences)

3. Our Comfort in Dark Providences.

Personally, for me, understanding that all things are under God's controls including my depressions and bipolar, and that God is working my pains and sufferings for His glory, my good and that of His people, brings me great comfort. My bipolar, depression or any other sufferings or trials, are not an end in themselves. God can certainly heal and deliver me. But if He doesn't do it, He has good purposes in them. I may not fully understand or see things as clearly as He does. But understanding a little better why He allows Frowning Providences in my life, enable me to look beyond my pains and sufferings to the higher purposes that God has allowed them in my life. Then these become means to eternal spiritual benefits for me and other fellow Christians.

Understanding that my depression or manic are due to bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness) and it is a medical condition that can be treated brings comfort and prevents unnecessary guilts. Others who do not understand may accuse me of lack of faith in God or my being weak or emotional. But I know that God in His sovereignty has allowed me to have this medical condition for my eternal good. Through this condition, I have been brought to a closer walk with God and I have been able to serve God by comforting others who are suffering.

God's love and His Words give me great strength and comfort as I travel this checkered road to the celestial city with many ups and downs due to depression, bipolar and other challenges. God has never promised me a life without thorns or difficulties but He has promised me unchanging love (Jeremiah 31:3), sufficient grace (2 Corinthians 12:9) and eternal life (John 3:16). He promised that He is working all things for my good even when I don't understand it (Romans 8:28). I have found God to be faithful and I can look back at how He has and is working all things for my good and for His glory. These brings me great consolations and give me courage to face each day.

If you are a Christian and you are suffering from depression now, and you are not able to feel God's presence with you nor find comfort from God's Words, do know that it is because of the chemical imbalance in your brain that is causing you not to be able to think or feel aright. Clinical depression and bipolar depression are medical condition that needs to be treated with medical and other helps. Once the chemical imbalance in your brain is restored, you will be able to enjoy God's presence with you and find comfort from His Words again. I highly recommend 6 very encouraging sermons by Dr David P Murray on "Depression and the Christian" as it will help to dispel some of the myths regarding depression and the Christian and give you a more biblical view on your current sufferings due to depression. Especially, it will prevent the dangerous and damaging misunderstanding which often leads people, especially Christians, to view medication as a rejection of God and His grace, rather than a provision of God and His grace. I hope you will seek medical and other appropriate help, so that you can be more functional and able to enjoy God, His Words, your family, your church, work, etc etc.

God's love and sovereignty is a Christian's greatest comfort admist the ups and downs through all the changing scenes of life. We may not always understand why God allows us to go through certain things, but we have no doubt at all of His love and care upon us. He Who gave His Son to die on the cross for us, will do so much more to keep us.

Thanks for stopping by. Do drop me a note, if you can, to let me know how the above excerpts has helped you. Or how has God's Words bring comfort to you in your sufferings? How has the knowledge, that God loves you and He is sovereign, strengthen you in your darkest moments?

Hope you have a blessed day!

God moves in a mysterious way
by William Cowper

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.