Scripture Passages that Guided Me Through a Time of Suffering, 1-2018
Finding out that a bypass rather than a stint was needed ranks among the more shocking moments in my life. I’d already been on the table for some time during the catheterization so I was beginning to comfort myself that this should be over (not just this procedure but this valley through which I’d been traveling) very soon. Later, back in the recovery area when Lori and I were receiving the official recommendation, the doctor asked us each individually if we were okay. Since neither of us had expressed much emotion as she explained the need for a bypass, I think she was concerned that we might not be processing the gravity of what she was telling us. But she was wrong. It was hitting us both very powerfully but we both felt powerless to change what our Lord and God had allowed coming into our lives. Was it what we wanted? No. Did we hope for an easier fix? Yes. Were we angry with God? No. We were simply trusting ourselves to Him that created us and redeemed us.
Don’t take this the wrong way. I am not saying that I have not struggled with the Lord about this. Neither am I saying that we were not afraid, confused, discouraged, and feeling pretty weak in faith. Immediately, my fear was that I panic and not trust God. How can we face such trials? Through this three month journey, our Savior has repeatedly called me to His Word for comfort and understanding. As I've prayed about how to share with you all about these events, it occurred to me that the Scripture passages that the Spirit used to guide me through one of my greatest trials to date might also be used by Christ to minister to you in your time of need. There are many reading this that have already suffered greater affliction than what I just described. I am humbled at the faithfulness of some of God’s people. This is both my testimony and a word of comfort for those in need of a Word from the Lord.
Below is a list of Scripture passages that the Holy Spirit used to comfort, guide, calm, strengthen, and most importantly keep my heart stayed upon the Triune God. For sake of space, I’ll ask that you open your Bible so that you may read these passages for yourself.
Psalm 119:50: My heart and mind were given mercy to look to Scripture for comfort. Many do not look to Scripture as their guide and source for knowing God and His truth but David writes that God’s Word is not only his source for comfort but for life. I confess that reading Scripture has been a tremendous grace that helped me through this journey.
“The Bible cannot be known in its excellence, nor its truths relished in their sweetness, nor its promises duly appreciated and enjoyed — until, by adversity, all other consolation is lost, and all other hopes destroyed. But then, when we carry it with us into the fiery furnace of affliction, like the aromatic plant, which must be burnt before the precious perfume is felt — it emits a refreshing fragrance, and is relished in proportion as our sufferings are great.” Excerpt From: Buchanan, James. “Comfort in Affliction.”
Psalm 97:1: John Piper has reportedly said, “Weep deeply over the life you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Then wash your face. Trust God and embrace the life you have.” On one occasion the prospect of being a 47-year-old heart patient brought on grief that resonated perfectly with what Piper is saying in the above quote. But there is great peace and gladness in trusting ourselves to our Sovereign God. This Psalm calls on all to bow with joy before such a wise and loving King. Trusting His rulership and His covenant love for me gave me the peace to know that all things came to me, flowing from His sovereign love for me.
Psalm 13: This passage ministered to me in some of the darkest moments when I cried out to God about the difficulty of what He had ordained for me. In this Psalm our faith finds a believing avenue to engage the Almighty with our fears and faintings under His Fatherly discipline, always returning to tranquil trust in Him alone.
Philippians 1:18-26: The great clarity that this passage brings to our lives is exhibited first in the life of the author, the Apostle Paul. Paul’s life was in danger and yet He desired the glory and will of Christ and that the gospel goes forth more than his own life or comfort. Such Christ-centered thinking should be present in us all in every situation. In this passage, I found much perspective about how God desires me to live and think about Christ, eternal life, the present life, my wife and family and the church while walking through the dark halls of suffering.
Philippians 4:13: During the surgery preparation and later in ICU and hospital recovery this passage flooded my mind repeatedly bringing faith, peace, calm, and strength. At first, I was almost ashamed to quote this verse to myself during this time thinking that it was somehow a misuse of Paul’s meaning. The more I meditated on it (depended upon it to continue), the more I realized that though in the context Paul is talking about, - abounding or being abased He can be content in Christ -, it is not misreading it to understand that Paul is simply saying Christ is his provider. Paul was teaching the Philippian believers that contentment was not to be found in things or comfort but in Jesus Christ as our Savior. For me to look to Christ in my time of affliction and plead for His grace and glory to be accomplished in me was no stretch.
Isaiah 54:12: To remember that God promises that He will not remove His covenant from us is one of the greatest comforts we have. This great passage rings loud with our God’s faithfulness to love us in covenant through Jesus Christ His Son. Because of this, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ, not even death!
Two other avenues of tremendous encouragement have been Comfort In Affliction, by James Buchanan and our Behold Your God, Daily Devotional Study Book, by John Snider. James Buchanan’s thoughts concerning Scripture and affliction should shape the way we view "Bible Study" forever. "The Bible lays a solid ground for our comfort when it assures us that all things are under the government of God. He superintends the affairs of this world, both as the provident parent and as the moral governor of his creatures. The Bible declares that God created them and that whatever beings he deigned to create, he does not disdain to care for. It assures us that no being is so great as to be exempt from his control — and none so little as to be beneath his regard. And, in like manner, that his eye is directed to every event which may befall any one of his creatures — with no event being either so momentous or so insignificant, as to be beyond his management or unworthy of his notice. The sparrow which falls to the earth is not less an object of his regard than the seraph that stands before his throne"
Excerpt From: Buchanan, James. “Comfort in Affliction.” Monergism Books, 0101-01-01T00:00:00+00:00. iBooks.
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