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Suffering

Please Don’t Kill Our Heroes

Please Don’t Kill Our Heroes

Maybe you’ve clued in to the growing debate over assisted suicide, a debate about whether to allow patients the legal option to end their life. I predict we will hear more and more that assisted suicide is compassionate, that quality of life trumps sanctity of life every time. We say we want to end suffering . . . but at what cost?

A couple years ago a beautiful, young woman started a global conversation about “death with dignity” when she ended her life after she was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer. I want to make sure her voice—and ultimately her choice to take her life—is not the only voice and choice you’re hearing about.

Would you allow me to introduce you to a few of my heroes who know what it is to suffer, to cling to God in trust, and to lead a purposeful, fulfilling life?

Meet Joni, A Quadriplegic

Joni Eareckson Tada became a quadriplegic at seventeen, during an unfortunate diving accident. As if that weren’t enough, she continually feels crippling pain and is a breast cancer survivor. Instead of wanting to end her life, though, she has led one of the most beautiful, surrendered, servant-hearted lives I have ever seen.

She has become an advocate for the disabled around the world—among other things—providing wheelchairs for those who otherwise would be confined to their beds.

Time and time again at the True Woman Conferences, Joni has spoken life into my soul. She has shared how God redeems our suffering, how our suffering is anything but insignificant, and how and why we should forgive those who have hurt us. She has also pointed to a deeper kind of healing and freedom than the healing and freedom of physical pain.

Just this month I emailed Joni about a work project. In her response, she included this personal update:

I’m always fascinated at the way God works in our lives. I’ve been in bed for the last five days healing a stubborn pressure sore, but oh, what a rich time of communion with Jesus! Hopefully, by tomorrow, I may be able to sit up. Prayers are always appreciated!

Now that is the kind of woman I long to become.

Meet Katie, A Chronic Neurological Lyme Patient

If it is sickness that brings me closer to Jesus, then it is a gift, and I am so thankful for it.

Katie Laitkep is a sweet, new friend. After ten years of pain and no answers, she was finally diagnosed with chronic neurological Lyme disease in 2010 and has been undergoing treatment ever since. In spite of symptoms continuing daily, she teaches hospitalized children and others unable to attend school in a traditional setting. She is a beautiful writer who blogs about the Lord’s perfect faithfulness in chronic pain.

“I will always long for health,” she says, “but if it is sickness that brings me closer to Jesus, then it is a gift, and I am so thankful for it.”

Meet Ian, A Survivor Left with a Brain Injury

I do not know Ian and Larissa personally, but their story has brought tears of wonder to my eyes. Ian and Larissa met at college in 2005 where they fell in love. In September of 2006, on his way to work to earn money for an engagement ring, Ian was involved in an accident that left him with a brain injury.

Four years later, they did marry, even though Ian could barely talk and couldn’t walk. After that came a book deal and lots of opportunities to share Jesus with the world. Watch their story here, and marvel at their selfless love for one another.

Meet Katherine, A Brain Stem Stroke Survivor

I’ve never met Jay and Katherine in person, but their story speaks volumes to me. Katherine, a former model and new mother, survived a massive brain stem stroke that nearly took her life. She spent forty days on life support, two years in brain rehab, and was left with a severely disabled body.

Watch any of her videos, though, and you will see that she is full of life and laughter. Her husband stayed with her through it all. They have two sons, and they’ve written a book together. And—in what she calls “upside-down kingdom irony”—Katherine just landed her biggest modeling job to date. Does that sound like a life lacking . . . quality?

Our Heroes and Our Teachers

All these “broken,” suffering people have pointed me—the supposed “healthy” and the “whole”—to the ultimate freedom and joy offered by Christ.

Please do not believe the lie that these people would be better off to end their suffering early and die. They are fulfilling God’s purposes, bringing great glory to Him, just as this blind man did:

And his [Jesus’] disciples asked him,“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:2–3).

These are our heroes. These are our teachers. We need them. Please do not take them from us.

Please Don’t Kill Our Heroes was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

Six Truths to Remember When a Christian Leader Sins

Six Truths to Remember When a Christian Leader Sins

When a Christian leader sins, you’ll want to unfollow them on Instagram and burn their books and reject every truth they ever taught you but apparently didn’t live themselves. Your stomach will hurt, your head will ache, and you’ll feel like throwing up. While your emotions are churning, here are six truths to remember that will serve as salve for your soul.

Six Truths to Remember When a Christian Leader Sins

  1. Only God is good. Jesus said it Himself in Mark 10:18: “No one is good except God alone.” Boy, we forget this all the time, don’t we? We set men and women up on pedestals and follow them rather than following the God to whom they’re pointing. Always remember that anything good you see in a Christian leader—if it truly is good—is only a result of Jesus Christ making His home in them.
  2. Truth is still truth, whether they lived it or not. Romans 1:18 doesn’t say man’s unrighteousness disproves the truth—He says it suppresses the truth. This is why God’s wrath is revealed from heaven, because He takes the truth very seriously! Truth is still truth—even if it’s hard to distinguish it through the lie of their life. It’s also entirely possible that they twisted the truth. Open your Bible, and search out truth for yourself. Don’t just do this when a leader fails but anytime a leader teaches or writes or preaches (Acts 17:11).
  3. “But for the grace of God, there go I.” Be careful if you think you’re above ever stooping to that level. We’re warned in 1 Corinthians 10, “Let anyone who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man” (vv. 12–13). You will probably be tempted in a similar way someday. When that happens, God promises He’ll provide a way of escape (v. 13)—it’ll be up to you to take it. When that happens, run far, far away as fast as your little legs will take you. Don’t linger and dream about what it might be like to toy with sin just a little.
  4. God still loves them. Their sin hasn’t “chilled” God’s love for them. Remember, He died for them while they were still His enemies (Rom. 5:10)! The fact that their sin was discovered by others is actually God’s mercy. Romans 2:4 tells us that God’s kindness is meant to lead us to repentance. If they don’t repent and trust in Christ’s righteousness on their behalf, you can be sure they’ll experience God’s wrath in the future (Rom. 2:5). But for now, He waits patiently, kindly, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9).
  5. Repentance is a process. If you’re like me, you’ll expect that leader to repent immediately. To confess their sin and bring it out into the light and turn from it back to the Lord. That’s certainly God’s desire, too! But this won’t always happen right away.When King David (a man who genuinely loved God) had sex with another man’s wife and then had that man murdered in order to cover up his sin, it was at least nine months before he acknowledged, “I have sinned against the LORD” (2 Sam. 12:13). Pray that God would give the leader you looked up to godly sorrow leading to repentance (2 Cor. 7:10).
  6. Not everyone who claims to be a Christ-follower actually is one. First John 2:19 tells us that only the person who finishes well was actually ever saved: “If they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” Not that believers never stumble (remember King David!). But if they really are Christ-followers, you will see them repent and return to their original faith in Christ’s righteousness on their behalf.

If you’ve ever had a Christian leader sin big time, what other truths have you clung to? If it hasn’t happened to you yet, is there someone you need to take off your pedestal? Remember, no one but God is ultimately good.

And don’t forget to pray for that Christian leader in your life. A great prayer is found at the end of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:13: “Lead [them] not into temptation, but deliver [them] from evil.” Which Christian leader can you commit to praying for regularly?

This post was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com as “6 Truths to Remember When a Christian Leader Messes Up Royally.”

Hives, the ER, and the Shield of Faith

I wielded the shield of faith a lot this past month, as I felt shot at from every side. A big part of the “attack” had to do with my health, including a visit to the emergency room, a terrible full-body rash (I’d share a picture, but then you’d never visit this blog again), and terrifying insomnia (how is my body supposed to heal if I can’t sleep, I anxiously wondered as I tossed and turned night after night).

Satan really will use whatever circumstances he can to discourage and defeat us—even our health. A man named Job knows that even better than I do. It all started when Satan asked God for permission to attack Job’s health, swearing that Job would curse God if his health was compromised. But instead Job worshiped God.

In physical misery but tangible faith Job said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15). And for the record, God didn’t kill Job; just the opposite. Read the end of Job’s story here.

There were times this past month I felt like Job and wondered if I would survive.

Turns out the armor of God isn’t just an interesting concept to toss around on the blog; it’s intensely personal and necessary for normal, everyday life. Ephesians 6:16 urges us:

In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.

Taking up the shield of faith is a fancy, colorful way to say trust God.

For me it started with a choice to thank God for the hives, the trip to the emergency room, and the itchiness, even when I didn’t like or understand it. Lifting the shield of faith meant thanking Him—and believing—that this was His best for me. This was how I would learn to trust Him more, to depend on Him more, to experience His peace.

It meant thinking about His names as I lay in bed and asking Him to be that to me:

  • My Wonderful Counselor when I didn’t know which doctors to believe and which medical advice to take.
  • My Mighty God who is able to heal me.
  • My Everlasting Father who delights in me and protects me.
  • My Prince of Peace who can give peace even in the most frightening situations.

As I’d take medication or eat, I’d remind God that He’s my Healer (Ex. 15:26). I’d acknowledge that my trust was not ultimately in this medicine or food; I needed Him to heal me.

Five weeks later, I’m happy to report that my rash has now almost completely disappeared, and I’m sleeping some every night. And while Satan wanted to take me out through this difficult ordeal, God has used it to rescue me in ways I never dreamed possible. I could fill pages with how He has used it for good (well, I already have in my journal), and I may share some of that with you in the future.

For now, though, I want to encourage you in your own difficult circumstances to lift up the shield of faith. Lean into God; rest your full weight on Him. This will protect you from the temptation to doubt His goodness, listen to Satan’s lies, and walk away from the One who has your back, who has your very best in mind.

God is for you. He is with you in the darkest, blackest night. Lift up your shield of faith, and lean into Him with a heart full of trust. He will not fail you. I promise. (Well actually, He promises.)

Hives, the ER, and the Shield of Faith” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.