Faithful Obedience by Lydia Bowman

I love how God, in His Providence, brings people together. A couple of years ago my family had the opportunity to host Lydia and her family for a few days in our home in Mexico City. Their visit was a true gift for us; we enjoyed sharing good meals and wonderful conversations with them. Since then, Lydia and I  have become really good friends, and God has blessed us with all this magical technology to make our friendship grow so that we are able to talk about our favorite thing in the world: The Word of God!

I am happy to have Lydia Bowman on the blog today to share with us a very important thing about how to live in faithful obedience to God. I am sure you will find her words encouraging.

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Faithful Obedience: A Silent Work
by Lydia Bowman

Often in life, faithful obedience is a silent work, hidden from human eyes. It’s an everyday living for Jesus. It’s a heart enraptured with the beauty of the Lord and a mind captive to the truth of God’s Word. Occasionally, you get those public opportunities to say to the king, “I will not bow the knee to that statue,” but usually, we are called to obey in our hearts and minds and in smaller, every day, not so public moments. I have found this truth to be more evident to me in the last seven years since being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called Crohn’s. At the beginning, when I was first really sick, we had many thoughtful cards, offers of help, and even meals for our young family of six. But let’s be real. Nobody actually wants to keep talking about digestive issues or stomach ulcers or those “poop subjects.” Even the close friends and family who still remember to ask how I’m feeling or if my Crohn’s is flaring up, are not there day in and day out. And that is okay. Many people are loving and supportive of me, but they aren’t called to walk this path. I am. Even my dear, godly husband sometimes just looks at me bewildered, trying to understand but not able to enter in. At times, I am called to walk this path without any earthly companions. The biggest struggle during those seasons is guarding my mind. Being faithfully obedient in this life God has called me to means daily taking my thoughts under control by the power of Christ through the truth of His Word.

One spring a couple of years ago, my health was particularly low. I had been battling a Crohn’s flare, and then I got strep throat that turned into an abscessed tonsil. If you’ve never had an abscessed tonsil, it makes you not even want to swallow your own saliva because that feels like swallowing glass. I’ve had four unmedicated childbirths with back labor, and I told my husband that this hurt worse than all of those. I lay in my bed unable to function or do any normal motherly duties. I was having a bit of a pity party for myself. I had my phone next to my bed, and I clicked on my audio Bible to continue playing the next chapter in the Bible plan I had been listening to. It started to play Matthew 6. The words jumped out at me, not once but twice in that chapter. “Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before you ask Him”; “Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.” Two thoughts came rushing to my mind. First, that I wasn’t alone. My Father knew what was going on. This thought, not new to me, had been reiterated in Scriptures I had read and sung for years, but that day, this reminder was like a life line to my weary soul. And then secondly, and even more strongly, the words “Your Father knoweth you have need of all these things” took on a new meaning. My Father knew I needed this abscessed tonsil. My Father knew I needed Crohn’s. He was faithful and good to give me these things. He, in His all-wise and all-loving ways, has given me what was needed to purify me, to make me a “vessel for the finer.” These good gifts, yes good, God put in my life to tear from me any confidence in self and to teach me to lean solely on the Rock who alone can support and comfort me. I do not need the sympathy of friends; I need Christ. Other helpers, however good they are, will fail because they are human. Christ will not fail. The Puritan Isaac Ambrose wrote, “Only Christ is the whole of man’s happiness, the Sun to enlighten him, the Physician to heal him, the Wall of fire to defend him, the Friend to comfort him, the Pearl to enrich him, the Ark to support him, the Rock to sustain him under the heaviest pressures.” That day God graciously enabled me through the systematic reading of His Word to bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” Only a fresh sight of my kind God was sufficient to enable me to be faithful to Him with my thoughts.

Faithful obedience doesn’t always look like something on the outside. Sometimes it is in the quiet, inward moments of the dark nights of sorrow or loss or pain when we must obey God by battling for our minds. We cannot, dear sisters, in those times when we might feel discouraged or alone, sit down and have a cup of tea with sinful thoughts like “God doesn’t love me” or “He doesn’t care.” We must inwardly stand up and walk away from unworthy thoughts of our God. We must remember that He is good, only good. He is just, always. He is unfailingly faithful. We must fight the good fight of and for faith. We must trust His Word and recount His promises, asking the Lord for help in obeying Him with our thoughts. His grace and strength alone can enable any of us to gain victory over fearful, unloving, or selfish thoughts. Instead of bowing the knee to the idol of pity or the idol of self-indulgence or the idol of unbelief, preach truth to yourself, this truth: the Father knows. He knows you have need of ALL these things.

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You can read the introduction to this series here, where you will also find the index to this series.

Faithful Obedience by Meredith Wilson

Every time I cross paths with my friend Meredith she is always smiling and always ready to say a word of encouragement to those around her. You will always find her whenever help was needed and always saying the words a trusted friend will always say, “I will be praying.”

I am grateful to have Meredith Wilson share with us today a word of encouragement on how Faithful Obedience looks like in the empty nester years.

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Faithful Obedience in the Empty Nester years
by Meredith Wilson

I came to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ at the age of nineteen. While the early years were rocky, the Lord is faithful and he has placed me on solid ground. I am grandmother now, with four grown children. Three of them are married, and in September my eighth grandchild will arrive.

It has been delightful to watch my children grow up, and a blessing to have them as friends and best company now. My single daughter is such a friend and I love to hang out with her. Her life is busy and I try to keep up with all that is going on. I try to be a faithful friend to her and to my other children, praying for them in their new roles as husbands, wives, mothers, and fathers and praying for their spouses as well.

When my eldest daughter was married, they lived nearby for a year. Then she and her husband and my first grandchild moved to Britain. Flying to the United Kingdom was not in our budget, so I immediately began work cleaning houses and later worked for a small book company. This has allowed me to travel to see them. I have actually been to England sixteen times in the last ten years. I’ve been able to help with the births of each of my grandchildren. What a blessing. My second daughter has lived in Canada for the last five years. I have been there for the births of her children too.

While I would choose being closer to my daughters, this is the Lord’s will for them and I must align my will with his. I need to be content and not grumble. And the Lord has truly blessed this. I love being a grandmother. I feel very close to all the grandkids. We FaceTime or talk all the time. I try to be involved in my daughters lives so that it is as if they have never left town.

There was a period of time where it looked like my daughter’s family in Britain would be coming to live in Idaho. I was so excited, could this be possible? While I prayed it would happen, and in my heart was hoping to never have to fly again to England, I also knew it was an opportunity to trust God and praise him even if the answer was no. I remember telling my daughter that no matter the outcome, we needed to be content and thankful. We will have all eternity with our children and grandchildren. What a mercy! It’s important to have this long view of God’s story.

I think it’s also important to pray for my grandchildren as they grow up. I have several verses in my bible that I pray for each of them. Our heavenly father loves our grandchildren more than we do, and it is a privilege to lift them up to his throne.

One of the blessings of the empty nester years is the opportunity to re-evaluate your relationship with your husband. Am I still thinking about how to please him in our home? Am I cooking his favorite meals? What does he like to do on his days off? Am I joining him? Is he still my best friend? I have always appreciated my husband’s friendship. Make the most of this time.

Now that I am no longer working, I have spent time in prayer asking the Lord how he wants to use me. It has made me realize that there are certain things I wish I’d cultivated when I was younger. But I can’t go back, so I have been asking God how I can serve him. I love to be busy but I want to be fruitful. I am reminded of Psalm 90:17, “Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us and establish the work of our hands upon us, yes, the work of our hands establish thou it.”

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Find the introduction and the index to this series here.

Faithful Obedience by Lindsey Tollefson

When a woman loves to pray, sing, and mediate the Psalms -and then encourages others to do the same, you know you want to become her friend. Thank you, Lindsey, for being a woman of the Word, what a gift it is for the church to have women like you!

And thank you for writing today for our continued series on Faithful Obedience.

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Faithful Obedience: Fear and Gratitude
By Lindsey Tollefson

Obedience requires a command. We cannot obey unless there is something to be obeyed. I often give me children a list of what I want them to do with their time. Giving them something to obey is a kind way of helping them stay out of trouble. We have a kind Father in Heaven who has given us clear instructions about how we should be spending our time, how we should be thinking, and how we should be living. One of the most frequent commands in Scripture is “Do not be afraid.” The phrase “Fear not” is found 365 times in the Bible. Our faithful obedience to God means that we do not give in to fear. We do not fear the future, we are not afraid of how the past has affected us, we are not afraid of what God is asking us to do in the present.

It sounds so simple, but I think we all know that eradicating fear is not as simple as telling ourselves not to be afraid. In Psalm 118:6, the author writes “The Lord is for me, I will not fear. What can man do to me?” He goes on to remember all the ways that God has rescued him. In verse 21 he says, “I shall give thanks to you, for you have answered me, and You have become my salvation.” He is not afraid because he rests in the protection of God, and He rests because he is thankful. Gratitude is the great antidote to fear. In order to obey the command to “fear not” we must offer gratitude for everything.

A couple of months ago I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. This did not come as a surprise to me, as I’d been feeling half alive for a few years. But having the diagnoses brought about a new opportunity for fear, and therefore a new opportunity for me to faithfully obey. I found myself being tempted to fear my future. Would I be able to be the kind of mother that I want to be? Would I be able to be a helpful wife who brings blessing to my husband? Would I be able to serve my church and show hospitality? Would any of the treatment plans we put into place be effective or would I continue to get worse? In the midst of my uncertainty, I knew one command that I needed to obey: “do not be afraid.” If I was going to obey without fear, I needed to give thanks for the disease every single day. On the days when God pours out a gracious amount of energy, I give thanks. On the days when I am struggling to walk up the stairs, I give thanks. On the days that I am frustrated with how little I am able to accomplish, I give thanks. I give thanks for my illness.

Whatever circumstance you are in, faithful obedience to God means that you resist fear. It means that you use thanksgiving to crowd out your fears. If you are home with a bunch of small, needy children, do not be afraid that you won’t have enough energy. Do not be afraid that you are missing out on things the culture tells us are more important than children. Give thanks for the children and the fatigue. If you are praying that God would give you children, do not be afraid of the possible future without them. Give thanks for the barrenness. If you are working at a job you don’t love and earning a paycheck that barely sustains you, do not be afraid that you are wasting your time. Give thanks for the job. If you are struggling with relationships in your life, do not be afraid of what the future holds. Give thanks for those people.

God always takes our obedience and turns it into blessing for us. As soon as I started giving thanks for my sickness, I began to see all the ways that God was transforming our life through it. I began to see that there were weeds that could not have been uprooted any other way. I began to see that my health struggles are the goodness and mercy of God chasing me down wherever I go. When you take off the glasses of fear and put on the glasses of gratitude, everything comes into clear perspective. This is faithful obedience. Switch glasses and start seeing how your troubles are bringing glory.

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You can find the introduction and index to this series here.

Faithful Obedience by Nancy Wilson

Nancy has been a faithful friend to me. She continually points me to Christ, to His Word, and always away from myself! Isn’t it true that we need more friends like that? Thank you, dear sister for your prayers, your friendship, and all the many cups of tea you have served me! 

I trust that you will be blessed by her encouragement today in our series on Faithful Obedience.

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Faithful Obedience
by Nancy Wilson

“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14)

From my experience, and I imagine from yours as well, God seems to like His people to wait. We wait for deliverance from all kinds of afflictions: healing from sickness and disease, financial provision for our bills, or direction and guidance when we are confused or lost. A single woman waits for a husband. A married woman waits to get pregnant. An expectant mother waits for delivery. Those who grieve wait for comfort. The soldier waits for his homecoming. We wait for so many things: the outcome of a job application, an offer on a house, a letter in the mail, a deal to come through, the plants to grow, the child to speak, the weather to change, the surgery to end, the repair to be finished, the team to score, the house to be built, our apology to be accepted, the line to move, the light to change, the test to be over, the dinner to be served, the ride to arrive, the waiting to be over. Much of our lives are characterized by this waiting. We even have a name for it: the waiting game. And we have places for it: waiting rooms. Waiting is a universal human condition, so it seems we should learn to be good at this. But it is hard to wait, and we are not good at it.

God’s kind of waiting is not like the worldly variety of impatient waiting during an inconvenient delay (think airports). It’s not a game, but a difficult, character-building, spiritual exercise. If we are truly waiting on the Lord, we are are not looking at the clock or the calendar, and we are not tapping our foot. We are looking to Him (perhaps desperately) to supply us with the patience, courage, and strength we need to endure the waiting. We pray for the outcome that we desire, but we also pray (just as fervently) for strength to wait on the Lord with patience.

Notice the repetition in the psalm quoted above. “Wait, I say, on the Lord.” It bears repeating. We are to wait on the Lord and for the Lord. We are to wait and watch with readiness, alert and hopeful that God will soon act. But we cannot do this at all unless our waiting is with our eyes on the Lord. We cannot look at the circumstances without growing hopeless. We cannot look at the calendar without getting distracted. We cannot run out all the scenarios in our minds without getting worried. The right kind of fruitful waiting comes only when we look to the Lord with faith, counting on Him to supply patience, courage, and strength while we wait. We are waiting on the Lord, not just on the outcome or the verdict. That is an important difference. But how do we get there? How do we wait on the Lord?

First, when you are in a season of waiting, remind yourself (often) that God has perfectly ordained the timing. He has given this situation to you (on purpose) so you can steward it as an opportunity to look to Him with expectation. Rather than focusing on the possible outcomes, we are to focus on our Father in heaven and wait patiently for Him to act. We are to draw near to Him, we are to be content in Him, and we are to wait some more.
While we wait, we are to stick to our duties. We do the next thing, and we do it with joy. We work hard to keep our mind full of gratitude and thanksgiving, and that means singing with joy in our hearts to the Lord. This is what it means to abide in Him, and this is how we continue to watch and pray with courage.

This kind of waiting is obviously not a natural human ability, but God is able to provide all the strength we need to do this. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). The context of this verse is about contentment. Waiting patiently is certainly an example of practicing contentment. Contentment says, “I am satisfied with His time table. I am pleased with how He is writing my story. I am content to wait on the Lord. He does all things well.”

“They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31). If we wait with our own feeble strength, we will soon collapse. But if we wait on the Lord, He gives us fresh supplies of strength, and this gives us hope, encouragement, and endurance. Wait on the Lord. This kind of waiting is faithful obedience.

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You can find the introduction and index to this series here.

Nancy Wilson has written some wonderful books that I highly recommend. You can find them here. Mu favorite ones might be Learning Contentment and The Fruit of Her Hands.

An Important Distinction

Screen Shot 2019-06-03 at 12.43.19 PM Here is a very simple, but important distinction that might change your life.

Thinking about something without ceasing is NOT the same thing as praying about something without ceasing.

Thinking about *it* will make you anxious, but praying about *it* is what God wants us to do and will lead us to a place of peace and hope.

In 1 Peter we read,

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”

When we worry about something and think about it all day we are not humbling ourselves before God. Humbling ourselves before the mighty hand of God involves casting all our anxieties before Him knowing and trusting that He cares for us.  And this is humbling because it means that we must recognize that we can’t do anything about that thing that is causing us all this worry; and so we cast our fears, anxieties, worries before our God who is indeed able to do far more abundantly than we can imagine or think (Eph. 3:20-21).

We can pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17) by turning every anxious thought, every worry into a prayer to God.

Let’s learn to turn our worries into prayers, remembering that our Heavenly Father loves to hear the prayers of His children.

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky Pliego

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PC Priscilla Du Preez

Faithful Obedience by Hannah Grieser

Hannah is a precious friend of mine, and having her share with us in this series of Faithful Obedience is a gift. I enjoy her conversations because they are always rich, thoughtful, and fun -always infused with the Scripture and the sure hope we share in Christ. Hannah has walked through some deep valleys and in all of them she has seen how in the hardest times , when the clouds we most dread  are heavy on us, we can always see God’s kindness leading us all the way through.

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Coveting Cancer and Taking Pride in Pain
by Hannah Grieser

When my oldest son, Jonah, was diagnosed with cancer at age 10, the blow to our family’s predictable way of life was sudden and severe. We ended up having to divide our family between two different cities for months, trying to figure out what to do about school, about money, about transportation, about housing, and about our sanity. With one forceful gust, our tidy little map for the road ahead blew out the window and sent us speeding toward the Great Unknown through back roads and precarious switchbacks, sometimes plunging us up to our axels in despond.

But as hard as those new struggles hit us, new blessings came at us just as hard. Overnight, we went from living an utterly unremarkable existence to standing at the center of a swirl of attention from concerned family members, kind friends, and generous strangers. People I’d never met started following our story on social media. My blog traffic spiked. Boxes of gifts arrived from churches on the other side of the country. Opportunities arose for us to meet famous people and travel to exotic places. And everywhere I went, acquaintances would stop to find out how we were doing, ask how they could pray for us, and tell me what an encouragement we were to them as we were walking through this trial in faith.

And this second list is where some truly unexpected temptations arose.

Obvious and not-so-obvious temptations

The trial was very real, it’s true, and all the goodness and grace we experienced throughout that time were very, very real, too. But the temptations that accompanied both experiences were real as well, and some of the temptations were not the most self-evident.

In a sudden crisis with an uncertain outcome, fear and worry are all-too-natural temptations. They certainly were for me, and I—and many others—have spent a great deal of time and ink on the topic, urging people to lay aside their fears and to find their joy and rest in God as they endure various trials. The Bible is full of such admonitions, and so these are things that need to be both said and read. But as yet, I have said and read much less about the more subtle temptations that can sneak in during times like these—the temptations to envy and pride. The Bible has more than a few words to say about these sins, too, so we must not forget them just because we have entered a period of suffering.

I’m sure the temptation to envy does make some sense because enduring a trial clearly means not enjoying the easy, painless lives that our friends seem to be living. Suffering can mean comparing our plight with others and resenting the chapter we are in. Why me? Why not the other guy? What did they do that I didn’t? And envy can gradually take hold when we turn our focus on those who appear to have a better lot in life. Envy is always an ugly and destructive sin, but these are not the objects of envy I’m most concerned with here.

Trial Envy

The envy I want to highlight is the envy directed not at those who are better off but at those whose stories appear to be worse than our own. Yes. You read that right.

On the face of it, this may sound crazy. (And it is. Sin is always a kind of madness.) But here’s the thing: if you’ve suddenly gained a kind of small-time notoriety, a freshly minted identity, and a heroic new status as She Who Has Suffered Well, then oh, how it can sting when somebody else suddenly comes along who threatens to topple that hard-earned title.

Here she comes (How dare she?)—with her bigger, newer, sexier trial and (Oh-ho! Well, lah-dee-dah!) a godlier, wiser, more long-suffering response to it all. When we’ve gotten comfortable with the attention, the pity, the respect, and the perks that can come from a period of suffering, we really do need to take care that we don’t start to find our identity and sense of worth in those experiences, or things may get ugly the minute something or somebody threatens to take them away.

There are women (and I’m afraid it very often is the women) the world over who must constantly and forever imagine themselves in the role of the martyr. They cannot bear to allow that anyone else has suffered more or could deserve more pity. In The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis paints an awful picture of self-centered and destructive grief when he introduces a bereaved mother who has turned a family tragedy into a form of tyranny to which all others must submit. She has destroyed lives by forming her entire identity around the pain of her loss. And in The Four Loves, Lewis also gives us Mrs. Fidget who makes sure that everyone sees how she suffers, working “her fingers to the bone” for her family—and thus drives them all away.

But suffering should not grant a free pass for selfishness, and grief should never be a weapon to hijack the joy of those around us. God has told us to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Th 5:18). God has told us to look to Him for our peace and to supply all our needs (Mat 6:25-33). And the risen Christ told Peter, even as He prophesied Peter’s martyrdom, not to concern himself with how the other disciple was to suffer or not: “What is that to you? You follow me” (John 21:22). This is a good admonition to all of us as we face the prospect of suffering: follow Christ. Fix your eyes on Him.

So when the next person comes along with her own trials, believe that the grace of God is big enough to fill both your needs. Do not take her story as an invitation to complain more and worry louder, lest the world forget you. God does not require our melodrama or Mrs. Bennett pity parties (“Nobody can tell what I suffer!”) in order to remember our needs. The one time that God tells us to outdo one another, it is in showing honor (Rom 12:10)—not in griping about our troubles and trying to steal the honor of others away.

One-upmanship as old as dirt

Unfortunately, this is often easier said than done. We humans have a tendency as old as Cain to want to out-do the other guy, to turn the spotlights that shine on others back onto our own sorry selves—and in ever escalating ways: “If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold” (Gen 4:24). All of us are born with glory hunger, but in our fallen state, we would rather not pursue it the way that Christ commands: through humility and service and a cross (Mk 9:35). Instead, we settle for cheap substitute glories or attempt to steal the real thing from others. And, in the grip of envy, when we cannot steal glory, we attempt to destroy it—sometimes very subtly.

Some of my friends living down south have joked that they can never mention cold weather without some northerner suddenly appearing to inform them that “until you’ve spent January on the windward side of the Canadian Rockies, you don’t know the first thing about cold!” It reminds me of that old comedy bit about grandparents boasting, to their whining grandkids, that when they were young, they had to walk to school—barefoot!—through the snow!—uphill!—both ways!

“Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen. Nobody knows my sorrow.” Sounds about right. As egocentric sinners, we really do hate it when our Story of Great Suffering—our conversational trump card—gets beat by the other guy’s Tale of Unparalleled Woe. We hates it, we does.

And we hate it because it strikes us where it most hurts—our pride. It’s amazing how the human heart can turn just about anything into a reason to puff ourselves up and to feed our arrogance, all the while deceiving even ourselves about what we’re doing. Am I really “just asking for prayer”? Or am I using my “prayer request” as an excuse to publicly complain about my situation and to draw everyone’s attention and pity back on me, basking in the accolades for what a suffering saint I’ve been?

I’ll tell you what. I’ve asked for prayer from both motivations, and both can look very much the same from the outside. God didn’t give me X-ray vision to see into the hearts of others, so this is not a call to presume the worst the next time your suffering friend shares a prayer request. Not at all. This is a call for those of us who are facing trials to examine our own motives. Consider the possibility that you’re deceiving even yourself about what you’re doing when you “ask for prayer.”

Pop quiz

A good self-test is this: Does it annoy you—even just a little bit—when somebody else announces that they are now facing a trial that very much resembles your own? Or one that is more socially acceptable than your own? Or more acute and attention-grabbing than, say, your own slow, chronic struggle? Are you bitter because the people with cancer get all the perks, while people dealing with Lyme disease or slander or abandonment are forgotten? Are you upset by women who talk openly about and receive pity for their miscarriages while nobody knows how you’ve quietly endured your own? Does all the fuss over that crippling car accident really bug you because nobody seems to care about the years and years of steady decline that are crippling you?

Does the outpouring of attention and care toward other people’s suffering and not your own bother you? Anger you? Frustrate you? Keep you awake at night? Then very likely, the word for what you’re dealing with is envy. Envy, impure and simple.

Custom-made trials

But here’s the truth of the matter: God has tailor-made your suffering just for you. Your devastating diagnosis that everybody on the internet knows about was made for you. Your silent struggle is the test that God hand-wrote just for you. Your lonely hours in bed with that chronic affliction are a trial that God put into your story for His own glory and your good. Death of loved ones, false accusations, debilitating illness, quiet grief, and public pain are given to each of us in turn because God knows each of us by name. He knows what we need. He knows how to refine us and prune us, even if we may not always understand what good will come from it as we feel ourselves melting or as we watch precious branches fall to the ground.

Sisters, some of us need stitches, and some of us need open heart surgery. But whichever lot is ours, it is ours because the Great Physician knows our exact diagnosis, body and soul, and intends, in the end, to make us whole—to make us perfect, just as He is perfect.

He has promised to be with us in our suffering—not in the suffering of that guy over there. He has promised to equip us to bear up under our trials—not under the trials we wish we had or under the trials we worry we might one day have. We are to concern ourselves with being faithful where God has placed us, not imagining how we would be faithful if only we were where He has placed somebody else.

Even we may not understand our own hearts in these things, but God does see the heart, so ask Him to root out any self-deception, pride, or envy that may have crept in during your season of affliction—however long and however severe it’s been. If we have been called by God, then all things—even my trials and your trials and the trials of the believers around us—truly are working together for good. Let us live as though we believe it. And when we’re tempted to both envy and downplay the trials of others, let us turn again to Jesus and remember His words: “What is that to you? You follow me.”

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You can find the index to the series here.