A Word About Suffering

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Suffering is an interesting thing. We all try to avoid it like the plague, and when it comes along for a season in our lives, we wish so badly for that season to be over with. It’s interesting though, that the bible tells us repeatedly to expect suffering in this world. Not only that, but it says to “rejoice in our sufferings”!

  • Romans 5:3-5 ~ More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
  • James 1: 2-4 ~Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
  • 1 Peter 4: 12-13 ~Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

Now, anyone who has truly gone through a season of suffering knows that “rejoicing” in suffering is probably the last thing we think about doing when we are hurting. However, if we look at the many different bible verses on suffering, it becomes clear that God doesn’t mean that we should be happy about the pain itself, but more so about the fact that times of suffering have a purpose, and that they can become something of such beauty and glorification of our amazing Father.

Whether it be to strengthen our relationship with Him, increase our dependence on Him, to mold us to become more Christ like, or something entirely different, suffering can have a positive outcome and work for our good, which is exactly what God wants for us. I don’t know about you, but yeah, I see that as a reason to “rejoice” when I am suffering – I know that it is a precursor to something amazing that will bring glory to God and work towards my good.

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If I’m being honest, when I first got sick about 5 years ago, I was confused, hurt, and very very angry…and this was on top of the suffering I was going through physically and mentally due to being sick! I didn’t understand why God would let this happen to me – I wasn’t a bad person (I mean sure, I have my flaws, but what ragamuffin doesn’t?), and I thought His promise was to work all things for my good…how could this be good?

Thankfully, I had about 3-4 years of intense suffering to really work through my thoughts on the subject. Yeah, you read that right, I said thankfully – even though I was so angry at first, now I am so grateful for all I’ve been through (even the flare-ups that I still get from time to time) and how close it has brought me to Papa. It’s one of my biggest blessings in this life, and I couldn’t have gotten that blessing without going through the trials I went through. I believe that it all comes down to this – He loves us way too much to let us be anything less than the best we can be.

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Let me ask you a question. Imagine you are a parent (or if you are one, just imagine real life 🙂 ), and you go to the doctor for your child’s checkup. The doctor tells you that there is a new medical procedure that will allow your child to be the best that they can possibly be. If they don’t have the procedure, their life will be okay and they will be fine, but they won’t reach their full potential, and they will miss out on so many wonderful opportunities that they could have if they have the procedure. Basically without the procedure, they will have a mediocre okay life, but with the procedure, their life will be beyond amazing and the best it can possibly be. There is no way the procedure can fail if you choose to have it done for your child. However, these are the conditions.

  • Your child will have to go through a period of great suffering.
  • You will have complete control over the entire period of suffering and you will be able to make sure it doesn’t become too much for them to bare, but they have to go through it for the procedure to work.
  • You will be there the entire time and will be overseeing the whole procedure knowing the outcome is the best possible thing for them. However, your child won’t be able to see you while they are suffering, and there will be times that the child feels as though you’ve abandoned them even though you are right there with them making sure they are safe and loved so dearly.

What do you choose? Procedure or no procedure? You know the procedure will allow them to live their best life possible. You know the suffering of your child is temporary, and you know you are always able to intervene to make sure it never destroys them or becomes too much for them. You know the outcome, and you know that the procedure is 100% effective.  However, yes, your child would have to suffer in order for this procedure to work!

Personally, I would choose the procedure. I would want the best possible life for my child. It would be extremely hard and painful to watch my child suffer and it would kill me if they thought I had abandoned them even though I hadn’t (I’m sure this is how it is for Papa when any of His children are suffering), but I would know that my child is safe in my hands, the suffering will end, and when it does end, my child will be in a much better place than if they hadn’t gone through it.

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This little analogy is what I’ve come up with while going through my own period of suffering as to why God allows suffering to happen. He wants what’s best for us, He already knows the outcome, and He will be with us, holding us and keeping us safe, all the way through the time of suffering.  In looking at it this way, I also tend to welcome and accept periods of suffering more easily now, and I can do as He says and “rejoice” in suffering. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t like the actual suffering part (as a matter of fact, I downright despise it), but I know I’m in good Hands that will never fail me, I know the suffering will end, and I know that when it does end I will be in such a better place! That is reason enough for me to rejoice and be glad in my suffering. God is good!

You’ve probably heard of the cliché saying that God won’t give you more than you can handle…yeah, I call bologna on that one! You will be given things that are so much more than you can handle…downright “impossible to handle” things! Nowhere in the bible does it say that you won’t, but don’t worry guys – He will handle it for you – that’s His word. That’s His promise.

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Whatever it is you may be going through at the moment, please know that you are held, that He won’t allow it to destroy you or become too much for you to bear. You couldn’t be in better hands, and He will be with you continuously till this season has passed. He loves you more than it is possible to fathom, and He already has a plan in place for you to come out of this period of struggle better than you went in.

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No one on this side of heaven is safe from suffering. We all go through times of pain and despair of all kinds, but my friends, I have great news – there is always the possibility of beauty from suffering, and this is God’s promise. He doesn’t promise that we won’t have suffering…quite the opposite actually – He is very specific in that we will have suffering in this world, but take heart! He has overcome the world!

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WORSHIP WEDNESDAY – 10 bible verses about worship

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A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine told me about the following worship video

It’s an amazing video and so easy to get wrapped up in and just enjoy some time with Papa, worshipping and adoring Him.  Every second of every day His beauty is all around us, ensconcing us in His warmth, grace and love.  Naturally, we want to thank Him, and one of the best ways to do that is through worship.

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God LOVES it when we worship Him, and what’s so great about that is that worship can take away our worries and sufferings.  When we immerse ourselves in Him and His greatness, it takes our minds away from our worries and concentrates on the One who will strengthen us and help us (Isaiah 41:10).  Give thanks to Him even in the bad times, because there is beauty waiting around every corner, and He will restore you (1 Peter 5:10)!

10 BIBLE VERSES ON WORSHIP

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1.)  Psalms 29:2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.
2.) John 4:21-24 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

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3.) James 4:8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you…
4.) Revelation 4:11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

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5.) Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship.
6.) Hebrews 12:28-29 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence, and awe, for our God is “a consuming fire”.

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7.) Psalms 99:5 Exalt the LORD our God; worship at his footstool! Holy is he!
8.) Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

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9.) Hebrews 5:7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.
10.) Psalms 59:16 But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress.

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Have a fantastic Wednesday, and be sure to thank the One who makes your life possible!  God bless you! 🙂

SELFLESS SATURDAY: 10 BIBLE VERSES ABOUT SELFLESSNESS

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I’m calling today Selfless Saturday…

There I was in the parking lot of the center where I went for hyperbaric oxygen sessions when I had a full on attack of every single terrible symptom that I had had since I first became ill.  I bent over sobbing as my muscles jerked involuntarily and I shook uncontrollably.  Tremors wracked through my body, as my muscles spasmed causing body wide cramping to the extreme of my skin getting deep dimples where the cramping of the muscle pulled it in.  My nerves spun out of control as I felt what can only be described as acid running through my veins in surges while my body twitched.  My face was twitching and was contorted with pain as I cried.  I couldn’t see.  My vision was distorted by movement and bright flashing lights.  I began to drool because I couldn’t swallow.  I couldn’t wipe my tears – the facial pain and pressure was too much for that.  Pain shot all through my body as various parts of my body went numb.  My heart raced.  I couldn’t hear anything due to the deafening ringing and extreme pain in both my ears. Somehow both frigid cold chills and unbearable heat ran through my body at the same time as I was sweating and shivering all at once.  I dry heaved though I brought nothing up.

My husband tried to console me, but I was in too much pain for him to touch me, so he cried with me (I fiercely love this man!).  It was then that I felt like I floated outside of my body and was hovering there looking down at myself, but it didn’t look like me.  At that point in my illness, I had lost 10lbs that I didn’t have to lose and looked rail thin…I had lost about a third of my hair as well.  My hair was unbrushed as it was too painful to brush it, and I wore no make up because even that light application caused too much pain.  I had skin rashes on various parts of my body that itched uncontrollably along with welts and scrapes from scratching myself bloody  in hopes to relieve the itch.  There I was staring down at this “stranger” that was in so much obvious pain, and all I could think was “Somebody needs to help her…SOMEBODY HAS GOT TO HELP HER!!!”

This was about 6 months into my illness, and that was about two and a half years ago.  I can gladly say that though it’s been an extremely long journey, I am almost recovered now and am slowly moving on and putting it all behind me.  However, I remember that moment like it was yesterday – it was terrifying.  In that moment and thereafter, I made a decision that when I was well enough, if someone needed my help, no questions asked – I would help.  And for that matter, since I know it’s not always easy to ask for help, I would always be on the lookout for anyone that might need it.

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After this, on the days that I was able to get out of bed, I made it a priority to do something good for someone else.  On the days that I couldn’t get out of bed, I made it a priority to pray for others. It made me feel useful, but I never imagined it would help to heal me.  Yet this is exactly what happened.  The more I did for others and the more I took the focus off myself, the better I felt.  I quickly learned that when we take time to step outside of ourselves and reach out to help others, it helps us to deal with our own troubles much more easily and effectively.

I learned a selfless way of living from this experience.  I can’t thank God enough for this perspective.  Perhaps this was a lesson I needed to learn, and it was a hard one for sure, but to be in a position where you can’t help yourself, and you truly need help from others opens your eyes and gives you the gift of empathy ten fold!  Here is one of my favorite Brennan Manning quotes.

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Of course, I had read this well before I ever got sick, yet now, I understand it so much better.  Of course, I would have rather just been given this understanding instead of having to go through suffering, but Papa knows best, and I’m thankful for the lesson.

Okay, so here I’ve rambled on and on…my point?  Selflessness.  It’s SO incredibly important!  We are all in this world together, and I believe we are all here to help each other along in this journey we call life!  Our loving God certainly makes it very clear in His word that He wants it this way.

So, on this selfless Saturday, I am going to leave you with some of my go to bible verses when it comes to being selfless.  Do something for someone else today.  Do something to make someone smile.  You don’t have to move a mountain, it doesn’t have to be a huge act – it just has to be an act.  Take action, give a little bit of yourself to make someone else’s life better.  I promise you that the reward will be bigger than you can imagine.

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BIBLE VERSES ON SELFLESSNESS

1.) (my absolute favorite!) Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. ~Philippians 2:3-4

2.) But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. ~Luke 6:35

3.) Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. ~Proverbs 3:27

4.) Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed. ~Proverbs 19:17

5.) For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” ~Galatians 5:14

6.) And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ ~Matthew 25:40

7.) Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. ~Philippians 2:5-8

8.) Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you. ~Deuteronomy 16:17

9.) He who is generous will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor. ~Proverbs 22:9

10.) Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. ~Deuteronomy 15:10

If you are looking for a cause to donate to or get involved with, here are a couple that are near and dear to my heart.

1.) Apollo’s skin: My husband and I are running a 5K in a week to help raise money for a friend of mine’s son named Apollo who was born with Ichthyosis, a rare skin disorder, and was also diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, Autism, and Encopresis (lack of bowel control).  You can read more about Apollo here.  If you would like to donate to this cause, you can do so at his GoFundMe page.

2.) More-Self-Less: A friend of mine is the founder of this organization.  He started it up in 2010, and it has only grown since then.  Annually, they hold a “I Dream Beautiful Christmas Celebration” that provides gifts for children that would otherwise go without, but it doesn’t do just that.  This celebration provides an opportunity for families to spend quality time together and bond. Here is an excerpt from their website: “We focus on the person who is doing the deeds, rather than just the recipient. Our intent is to provide HEALING through an avenue of sharing & experiencing the blessing of fulfillment that is received through selfless acts as well as offering much needed encouragement to others. Together we can accomplish this through the systematic coordination of events, dynamic leadership, and the removal of common obstacles that present themselves with acts of kindness/volunteerism as it stands today.”  To learn more about More-Self-Less or to make a donation towards their I Dream beautiful celebration, go here.

These are just a couple of opportunities, but there are opportunities to step outside of ourselves and help others everywhere.  Bring a neighbor some cookies.  Help someone carry their groceries to their car at the grocery store.  You would be surprised how much of an impact little selfless acts like this can have on someone!  Something as simple as a smile and a kind word can completely change a person’s day.  The most important thing is to take action!  Have a great selfless Saturday and God bless you! ❤

FEARLESS FRIDAY – 20 BIBLE VERSES FOR ANXIETY, WORRY, AND STRESS.

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I saw this pin on Pinterest, and I love it!  There have been MANY times in my life when worry and fear has wormed it’s way into my head.  I know Papa doesn’t want this for us.  He wants what is best for us.  He wants us to ensconce ourselves in His love, grace, and mercy, knowing that He is always there and that He is working everything for our good.  He does not want us to live in fear, but wants for us to cast our anxieties on Him and trust Him to take care of us (because He will!).

I’ve decided to dub today “Fearless Friday”, and in celebration of this day, I am going to post 20 of my favorite bible verses that I read and pray over again and again when I feel overwhelmed, stressed, or worried about anything.  Scripture is our biggest weapon against anxieties – take head of God’s promises.  Allow them to crush your fears, and replace that feeling of being overwhelmed with feeling His peace and love all around and within you.

20 BIBLE VERSES FOR ANXIETY OR STRESS

1. “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you.I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” ~John 14:27

2. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~Philippians 4:6-8

3. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” ~2 Timothy 1:7

4. “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” ~Psalm 56:3

5. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” ~Deuteronomy 31:6

6. “The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strong- hold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” ~Psalm 27:1

7. “I sought the Lord and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.” ~Psalm 34:4

8. “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” ~Isaiah 43:1-3

9. “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace.In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” ~John 16:33

10. “As for me, I look to theLORD for help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me.” ~Micah 7:7

11. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear…” ~Psalm 46:1-2

12. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” ~Joshua 1:9

13. “With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. Say to those with fearful hearts, ‘’Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.’” ~Isaiah 35:3-4

14. “This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I trust Him.” ~Psalm 91:2

15. “I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ~Romans 8:38-39

16. “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” 2 ~Corinthians 4:17-18

17. “I am counting on the LORD; yes, I am counting on Him. I have put my hope in His word.” ~Psalm 130:5

18. “The LORD gives strength to His people; the LORD blesses His people with peace.” ~Psalm 29:11

19. “You are my hiding place;You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” ~Psalm 32:7

20. “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” ~1 Peter 5:7

He is with us ALWAYS!  There is no need to fear!  Happy Friday, friends!  God bless you! ❤

JOEL 2:25

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Then I will make up to you for the years That the swarming locust has eaten, The creeping locust, the stripping locust and the gnawing locust, My great army which I sent among you. ~Joel 2:25

I’ve always liked this verse.  Probably because I’ve always thought of it as it is described in the pin above: “God can restore what is broken and change it into something amazing.”  I’ve seen God’s work in action over the past few years while healing from botulism and the associated dysautonomia.

On October 2, 2011, I became very sick with a denatured version of botulism.   It was awful.  I was basically in the hospital for the first month and then bed ridden for about 4 months after that.  At that point, my nerves had been badly damaged, and I had every symptom you could possible think of: headaches (tension and migraine), body pain, a feeling of acid running through my body and veins, practically zero cognitive function (at one point, I couldn’t even think well enough to make a grocery list), brain fog, confusion, anxiety, depression, racing heart when going from sitting to standing, severe insomnia, difficulty breathing, ear pain, ear ringing, sinus pain, teeth pain, mouth ulcers, skin rashes, extreme food sensitivities, extreme weight loss (I got down to a measly 95 lbs and I’m 5’6″!), muscle twitches, involuntary muscle movement, shaking, numbness in different areas of my body, vision disturbances, facial twitches, trouble with digestion and extreme stomach pain, dry mouth, trouble swallowing….oh my gosh, I had well over 100 different symptoms.  I could have died in the first 60 days, but God had other plans for me.

After I could finally get out of bed on my own, I still was in bad shape.    It was difficult for me to do anything.  The neck and head pain was constant and debilitating.  It took about 9 months for my nerves to finally start to heal and regenerate.  You would think this is a good thing, and it is, but as nerves heal, they cause just as much, if not more, pain and disruption as they do when they are being damaged.  The feelings I had in my body weren’t like anything I can describe, and in all honesty, suicide was on my mind due to the depression that was caused by my autonomic nervous system being so out of whack.  I didn’t feel like I could take anymore and was tempted to give up.

At about 13 months, the nerves really started to kick back in…the problem is that when the nerves regenerate they don’t know what to do at first and they freak out about EVERYTHING!  The sensitivities went into overdrive.  I had to eat the same thing everyday for about 8  months (steamed broccoli, boiled chicken, eggs, spinach, cucumbers, baby springs, and a bit of olive oil…no herbs, no salt, no anything!  I had no appetite at all because I was so sick, so it was hard to choke anything down anyway)  I had a hard time using anything on my body like lotion, essential oils, different soaps, etc.  Dysautonomia takes a good 2-5 years to resolve according to my doctors – BUT resolve it will!!!  God is good!

I am now almost three years out from when I originally got sick, and I am running again.  I am taking classes towards going for my PhD in Mathematics.  I am eating a BIG VARIETY of foods.  I am laughing, loving, and I am enjoying life.  I have hope, and I know that Papa is going to heal me 100% completely!  To go from not even being able to take a few steps without collapsing in exhaustion and pain to doing all of these things is nothing short of a miracle — I am blessed!  I still have symptoms, but they are getting fewer and farther between and much  milder.  Looking back at how far I’ve come, it is amazing.  It is extraordinary the beauty that God is capable of making out of our trials and suffering.

Through all of this, I leaned solely on God for recovery – no meds, no procedures, just GOD.  I couldn’t have taken any meds even if I’d wanted to because of my sensitivities – I’m sure He was responsible for that, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.  This whole experience taught me to trust Him completely and to rely solely on Him and not on my own understanding.  I couldn’t have survived the whole ordeal if I had tried to do it on my own.  It’s only through His grace and love that I am doing so much better.

So, why am I talking about all of this?  The moral to this story is simply this: No matter what you are going through – a physical ailment, emotional turmoil, anxiety, depression, loss, etc. – NO MATTER WHAT, HEALING IS POSSIBLE.  Not only is it possible, it is promised! Some of the verses that I would repeat over and over again in my head when I was laying in bed wondering if I would ever get better were:

  • Do not fear for I am with you.  Do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you.  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ~Isaiah 41:10
  • And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. ~1 Peter 5:10
  • And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. ~Matthew 10:1
  • “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up” ~Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

There were many more, but these ones really helped me.

I am living proof that there is nothing that God can’t turn around and make beautiful.  Have faith, keep your eyes locked on Him, and know that He will supply you with all the strength you need to get through whatever is set in front of you.  Know that it is okay to cry and grieve — He’s there with you catching your tears.  Know that it is okay to have whatever feelings you have – He understands completely and is right by your side, ALWAYS.  There is nothing beyond His reach…talk to Him, sit with Him, cling to Him, and know that He LOVES you and will make beauty from your suffering.  TRUST HIM!  God bless you! ❤