Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world (John 16:33; NLT).
Yesterday morning I learned something that was completely new to me. I had begun a migraine the evening before, so I knew I needed to have a day of complete rest to help it pass.This rest-day happened to coincide with the day a friend’s husband was due to have major surgery.
Suddenly I saw the migraine as a blessing in disguise, because it created the time, space and opportunity I needed to pray for them both throughout the day. Immediately after this, I grasped that many other illnesses and adverse circumstances could also be used in the same way.
It may be that seeing our own sickness as an opportunity for intercession is linked to our willingness to embrace suffering, and to thank God for it. There is much I don’t yet understand about this subject, but I hope to learn more.
For now, I glimpse that this approach to illness could become a helpful, meaningful way of sharing Christ’s suffering, and of serving others. Perhaps it could even be described as a “vocation”.
Together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering (Romans 8:17; NLT).
So, as a prisoner in the Lord, I beg you to walk in a manner worthy of the vocation to which you have been called: with all humility and meekness, with patience, supporting one another in charity (Ephesians 4:1-2; CPDV).
God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them (Romans 8:28; NLT).
He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10; NKJV).
Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies (2 Corinthians 4:10; NLT).
I want your will to be done, not mine (Luke 22:42; NLT).
In all their suffering he also suffered, and he personally rescued them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them. He lifted them up and carried them through all the years (Isaiah 63:9; NLT).
Context: This prayer came to me last Monday, after a very bad weekend as my covid began:
The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:21; CSB).
No matter what you send today,
May I respond like Jesus.
No matter what you take away,
Don’t let me fail, or sin.
No matter how you test my love,
May I respond with patience, Yielding to your will, Lord God,
With tears and prayers, like Him.
I want your will to be done, not mine (Matthew 26:39; NLT).
He became anguished and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death” (Matthew 26:27-8; NLT).
The LORD your God is testing you to see if you truly love him with all your heart and soul (Deuteronomy 13:3; NLT).
Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised (Hebrews 10:36; NLT).
Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal (Job: 5:17-18; NIV).
He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood (Luke 22:44; NLT).
Pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17; NIV).
My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9; NLT).
Despite everything, I managed to make this Fiat Rosary yesterday:
However, when I used it with my zoom community group in the evening, I discovered that the colours shown by the pattern I’ve been given are in a different order from that shown in the community’s prayer book. So, I’ve written to the Sister who knows more about these rosaries than anyone else, in the hope that she can clarify the situation. I’ll let you know if there is any news about this. Meanwhile, each rosary I make, then take to pieces again, is a great learning experience, so there are plenty of positives to celebrate.
A few days ago I found it very hard to pray when I woke up, which is unusual for me. However, to my surprise, some insight still arrived. This what I saw:
Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs (Matthew 6:32; NLT).
Whenever I turn to you and ask for your help, Lord, I find that you already know what I need, and you’re already offering it. You’re pouring out love all the time, waiting patiently, and longing for me to accept your assistance:
When I ask you to forgive me, you’re already offering forgiveness
When I ask you to heal me, you’re already offering healing
When ask you to strengthen me, you’re already offering strength
When I ask you to help me pray, you’re already helping me to pray
When I ask you to hear my prayers, you’re already listening to them
When I ask you to comfort me, you’re already offering me your comfort
All I need to do is to accept with gratitude what you are already offering.
Lord, you anticipate my every need. May I continually turn to you with total confidence, knowing you will help me in all circumstances. Thank you for being so great, so good and so kind.
In Jesus’ name,
I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve receivedit, it will be yours (Mark 11:24; NLT).
The Lord God helps me (Isaiah 50:7; RSV).
The Lord who made you and helps you says: Do not be afraid, O Jacob, my servant, O dear Israel, my chosen one. For I will pour out water to quench your thirst and to irrigate your parched fields (Isaiah 44:3; NLT).
The Lord mustwaitforyouto come to him so he can show you his love and compassion (Isaiah 30:18; NLT).
Your Father knows exactly what you need before you ask him (Matthew 6:8; NLT).
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done (Philippians 4:6; NLT).
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him (1 John 5:14-15; NIV).
Context: This blog arrived yesterday morning, whilst I was exchanging messages with a friend. It simply formed in my mind as I began to respond. By the time I had put it into words, I realised I needed to hold on to what I had written, so I copied and pasted it into my spiritual diary. Here is the result:
You, Lord, are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light (2 Samuel 22:29; NLT).
Lord, you are light, and you live in the darkness of my unconscious mind (see reference #1).
Constantly present there, you move mysteriously in the depths, patiently revealing, insight by insight, all that is hidden within me, especially all that needs healing (2).
As long as I keep on searching, waiting, looking, listening, learning, changing and growing, you keep on revealing more and more, slowly bringing everything about me into the light (3).
Through this life-long process, you are healing all the physical, mental and emotional damage caused by my abusive childhood (4).
Thank you so much for everything you show me, Lord, for all your love, help, and healing.
I offer this prayer through your dear Son’s name.
1. God is light (1 John 1:5; NLT).
Clouds and thick darkness surround him (Psalm 97:2; NIV).
He shrouded himself in darkness (2 Samuel 22:12; NLT).
2. We are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people” (2 Corinthians 6:16; NLT).
You cannot understand the activity ofGod, who does all things (Ecclesiastes 11:5; NLT).
He knows the secrets of every heart (Psalm 44:21; NLT).
He reveals deep and mysterious things and knows what lies hidden in darkness (Daniel 2:22; NLT).
3. Moses approached the thick darkness where God was (Exodus 20:21; NLT).
Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened (Luke 11:9-10; NLT).
4. I am the Lord who heals you (Exodus 15:26; NLT).
I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness – secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name (Isaiah 45:3; NLT).
Context: Today’s poem came to me this morning. For once, I had lots of time to pray and to enjoy God’s presence, so I was relived to have a day off, with no writing. However, just as I was getting out of bed, the following arrived in a flash. It was easy to catch hold of, but much harder to write!
Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life” (John 8:12; NLT).
I live in darkness lit by Christ,
And walk here, guided by his steps.
I serve here, aided by his strength,
And weep here, solaced by his kiss.
I feast in darkness on his bread,
And share his water, meat and wine.
I rest here, settled by his peace,
And sleep here, cradled by his bliss.
I wake in darkness at his call, And pray here, kindled by his fire.
I learn here, nurtured by his truth,
And thirst, like him, for God above.
Thus, I spend my life in darkness,
Hid with Christ, my Risen Lord,
And, dwelling here in paradise,
I sing in darkness, lit by love.
Each day the LORD pours his unfailing love upon me,
and through each night I sing his songs,
praying to God who gives me life.
(Psalm 42:8; NLT).
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me (Psalm 23:4; KJV).
Your life is hid with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3; KJV).
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever (Psalm 23:6; NIV).
You have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, livingword of God (1 Peter 1:23; NLT).
Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43; NIV).
We come into this world with nothing, and we leave with nothing. Along the way, we experience many joys, trials and sorrows. God gives us everything we have, but he also takes things away from us. Thus, he tests us to see how we freely respond. This process reveals whether or not we love him with all our mind, heart, soul and strength.
No one is exempt from being tested by suffering, including Christ. This is why he is able to suffer with us, whilst helping us to find and follow his way of love through every experience. Jesus’ life and death clearly demonstrate that God brings good out of even the most terrible suffering, and the same can also be true for us.
When others suffer, we pray that they will be strengthened, helped, and healed. Additionally, we can ask God to bring good from what they are undergoing, both for the sufferer, and for others.
However, when we ourselves must suffer, Jesus invites us to shoulder our cross and follow him. This means we have a choice about how to respond to our situation.
3. Responses to suffering
A. We may respond to suffering with resentment, anger, bitterness or despair, blaming God for the troubles he has sent us. If suffering makes it impossible for us to maintain our previous understanding of God, we are likely to become disillusioned, rejecting him, and perhaps even losing our faith altogether. Yet such inner struggles can be healed, because God endlessly waits for us to turn to him, longing to help us reach a deeper understanding of him, and of our suffering.
B. Alternatively, we can respond to suffering by learning to face, accept and even welcome it, seeing it as a way of sharing in the redemptive suffering of Christ. By adopting this approach, we can focus on asking God to help us embrace what we must undergo, for it is useless to fight against his will. As above, we can also pray that God will bring good from our suffering, especially for others. Such an attitude might take many years to develop, but we have our whole lifetime to work on it, until our last breath.
4. Entrusted with suffering
Suffering is not imposed on us without purpose. Rather we are entrusted with a level of suffering that is commensurate to the strength of our faith. Like Jesus, our task is to face it in such as way as to be an example, an encouragement and an inspiration to others. This is how God brings good from it, often in very unexpected ways.
5. Suffering as an opportunity
Suffering can therefore be understood as an opportunity for personal and spiritual growth, a form of service, a privilege, a blessing, an honour and a glory. Such an approach gives rise to a much more positive attitude than seeing it as a random or unfair event, a judgement, or a punishment. We can thank God for it, doing our very best to endure and manage our suffering with patience and love. This approach brings peace of mind, for we can be confident that our approach to suffering will help others, and even ourselves. In this way, suffering is transformed and made meaningful, becoming easier live with, and to bear.
Whatever trials and sorrows we face, we can turn to God and ask for his help. Summoning all our courage, we can choose to trust in him, whilst being as joyful, prayerful, thankful and loving as possible. When we have faith that God will support and teach us through all we experience, we can be assured that our suffering will, in time, bear fruit.
God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering (Genesis 41:52; NIV).
Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will leave this life. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:21; CSB).
The dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7; NIV).
Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows (John 16:33; NLT).
The Lord your God is testing you to see if you truly love him with all your heart and soul (Deuteronomy 13:3; NLT).
Whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free (James 2:12; NLT).
He did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all (Romans 8:32; NLT).
Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested (Hebrews 2:18; NLT).
I am the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6; NLT).
In all their suffering he also suffered (Isaiah 63:9; NLT).
Jesus suffered and died outside the city gates to make his people holy by means of his own blood (Hebrews 13:12; NLT).
In all things God works for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28; NIV).
I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them (1 Timothy 2:1; NLT).
If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me (Matthew 16:24; NLT).
3. Responses to suffering
A. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help? (Psalm 22:1; NLT).
The Lord longs to be gracious to you (Isaiah 30:18; NIV).
The Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion (Isaiah 30:18; NLT).
B. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble? (Job 2:10; NIV).
If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine (Matthew 26:39; NLT).
It is useless for you to fight against my will (Acts 26:14; NLT).
You are hurting yourself by kicking against the goads (Acts 26:14; NET).
It’s foolish to fight against me! (Acts 26:14; CEV).
If we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering (Romans 8:17; NLT).
Submit to God and be at peace with him (Job 22:21; NIV).
God teaches people through suffering and uses distress to open their eyes (Job 36:15; GNT).
Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last (Luke 23:46; NLT).
4. Entrusted with suffering
From the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked (Luke 12:48; NIV).
Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps his promise, and he will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, he will give you the strength to endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13; GNT).
God chose you to suffer as you follow in the footsteps of Christ, who set an example by suffering for you (1 Peter 2:21; CEV).
5. Suffering as an opportunity
God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation (James 1:12; NLT).
Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory (2 Timothy 2:10; NIV).
He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more (John 15:2; NLT).
We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope (Romans 5:3-4; NIV).
Trust in God (John 14;1; NLT).
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; NLT).
Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ (Ephesians 5:2; NLT).
Hear my prayer, O Lord, and let my cry come unto thee. (Psalm 102:1; KJV).
1. Hear my heartfelt prayer, Lord God:
End our greed and hatred.
Take away our minds of stone,
And make our thinking like your own:
Loving; joyous; full of peace – Help us, I implore you.
2. Hear my earnest prayer, Lord God:
Turn us from all evil.
Take away our hearts of stone,
And make our passions like your own:
Patient; kindly; generous – Till everyone adores you.
3. Hear my urgent prayer, Lord God:
Forgive our sins; have mercy.
Take away our souls of stone,
And give us spirits like your own:
Faithful; gentle; self-controlled – Then all will bow before you.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-3; NRSV).
Bow down and worship the Lord (Ezekiel 46:3; NLT).
1. The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. Do all these evildoers know nothing? They devour my people as though eating bread; they never call on the Lord (Psalm 14:2-4; NIV).
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5; NKJV).
All of you should be of one mind. Sympathise with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it (1 Peter 3:8-9; NLT).
2. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it (Psalm 34:14; NIV).
I will give you a new heart … I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26; NIV).
I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever (Jeremiah 32:39; NLT).
Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things (1 Chronicles 29:11; NLT).
3. Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously (Isaiah 55:7; NLT).
I will …put a new spirit in you (Ezekiel 36:26; NIV).
We have all been baptised into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13. NLT).
The Lord – who is the Spirit – makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image (2 Corinthians 3:18; NLT).