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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Rose-breasted grosbeak (photo by Doris High)
Rose-breasted grosbeak (see note below message)
Photo by Doris High

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Note: Due to a microphone problem we are unable to podcast today.

"Enduring Pain for the Present"

"For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning" (Psalm 30:5). "See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction..." (Isaiah 48:10). "...For a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith...may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed" (I Peter 6,7).

Val visit (Photo by Brenda Harry)
Stephen reminded me this morning that it was five years ago today that I broke my ankle with the help of my loyal canine companion, Roxie, as she darted in front of me during my evening walk. Very remorseful and concerned about me she stayed at my bedside during my entire recuperation before and after surgery.

It was a huge learning curve for me as I had never been hindered from standing or walking over my lifespan. Driving was out as well! Some of you have been there or are presently and will identify with similar challenges.

I look back over that experience and pray that in some way I glorified God. It was a time of spiritual growth for me. I still recall very special times of worship as I lay in bed recovering, often watching "The Homecoming Friends" on DVD as they sang many Christian songs I learned as a child, others as a young believer, and still others in recent years, most of them focused on heaven. "I was caught up in the spirit" as I envisioned the beauty of heaven unmarred by sin.

The words, "I'm kind of homesick for a country to which I've never been before" from the song Sweet Beulah Land was a perfect description of what I felt. From my four month healing and recovery I learned that any pain or suffering on this side is but a blink in the time span of eternity. Or as Paul writes, "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18).

I'm thoroughly enjoying the book, "If God Is Good" by Randy Alcorn and he writes: "The life to come flows out of this one; hence the believer's present sufferings comprise only a tiny part of our total life experience, which will continue forever." We can be victorious daily if we keep that perspective during times of trouble and sorrow on this side.

Otherwise we might feel cheated in this life and question God or worse yet,  blame Him for our difficulties. Once again I want to quote Alcorn:

"When we feel upset with God and tempted to blame Him, we should look at the outstretched arms of Jesus and focus on His wounds, not ours. When we lock our eyes on our cancer, arthritis, fibromyalgia, diabetes, disability, [or any other life challenge] self-pity and bitterness can creep in. When we spend our days rehearsing the tragic death of a loved one, we will interpret all life through the darkness of our suffering. How much better when we focus upon Jesus!"

It's very comforting to know that if we "consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, we will not grow weary and lose heart" (Hebrews 12:2-3). Once again, in the midst of our suffering, we must focus on Jesus' life and His overcomings to enable us to experience our own overcomings.

We face opposition in one way or another everyday of our lives. Faithful readers of Daily Encouragement will quickly recognize that we often hit on the theme of suffering, pain or loss since we're exposed to this regularly through our ministry. In fact I stopped writing this message to take a phone call from a woman who let me know about her sister, an employee from one of the companies where we serve as chaplains, is in the hospital in serious condition. I will be making contact with her today.

Stay faithful.  God's promises are faithful and true.  Certainly you may suffer grief in all kinds of trials as others who have gone before you and done so. May you also declare with the Psalmist, that weeping may come for a season,  but joy will come in the morning! 

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, just as there are seasons throughout the calendar year there are seasons throughout our lives; many of them invigorating and celebratory, others wearying and dreaded. Yet it is both joyous times and dreaded occasions that shape us into Your image so that we bear the likeness of Your Son, Jesus Christ who endured great hardship. We are to fix our eyes on Him, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross despising its shame knowing that without full obedience He could not offer full redemption for our sins. Help us not to become weary in carrying out the tasks required of us or the physical challenges common to these perishable bodies.  May we not interpret all of life in the "darkness of our suffering" but in the brightness of Your resurrected Son. In the "furnace of affliction" may we be found faithful in Your refining process. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Further note from Brooksyne:  I find the Scripture text, "Weeping may endure for a night" interesting in light of Rev. 21:25 where John, describing heaven, writes "for there will be no night there."   I consider those of you who may find there are particular problems in your life where weeping has lasted far more than a single night or a temporary time period, but rather weeping seems to be lasting a lifetime.  You're still waiting for the night to pass and morning to arrive when joy takes the place of weeping.  Perhaps we need to put a lot more thought, prayer, and Scripture memorization into the spiritual disciplines that fix our hope on our eternal future where we are assured that "there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain" (Rev. 21:1-4).  And there will be no more night because the glory of God gives it light (Rev. 21:23.) We remain steadfast in prayer for those critical issues we deal with. But our hope will never be diminished when we look with anticipation for the New Jerusalem that promises to bring the unending sunlight of God's eternal joy.

Note from Reader from Wisconsin:
Doug and I were sitting out on the patio a couple of days ago in beautiful weather... and heard a bird call I didn't remember hearing before.  It was SO loud, Doug said we should just look up in the woods for a bird that was 4-5 feet tall!!  I finally spotted it and it was a rose-breasted grosbeak.  Do you get those where you live?  I love the baby bird photo in your Daily Encouragement today.

Stephen's note: Yesterday we purchased a new computer for our ministry; a Windows 8 edition so we are having some adjusting to the new system, including issues with the microphone we use for the podcast.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Blessed Be The Name  of The Lord"  Video  Matt Redman

"Sweet Beulah Land"  Video  Jason Crabb

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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