The Thorn

The Thorn
by Martha Snell Nicholson

I stood a mendicant of God before His royal throne
And begged him for one priceless gift, which I could call my own.
I took the gift from out His hand, but as I would depart
I cried, “But Lord this is a thorn and it has pierced my heart.
This is a strange, a hurtful gift, which Thou hast given me.”
He said, “My child, I give good gifts and gave My best to thee.”
I took it home and though at first the cruel thorn hurt sore,
As long years passed I learned at last to love it more and more.
I learned He never gives a thorn without this added grace,
He takes the thorn to pin aside the veil which hides His face.

The God of Peace With Me

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, 
because he trusts in You.
Isaiah 26:3

Chronic illness is hard. It’s isolating and draining. At times, my circumstances overwhelm me, and I cry… a lot. I recently remembered this post and printed it out again to keep my focus on the truth. It helps the tears to slow. I’m reposting it now with the hope that it will help someone else as well.

A pdf version of the original post is provided at the end of the post for anyone desiring a printed version.

Dwelling on these truths when I am discouraged or distressed may feel mechanical at first. However, the Holy Spirit uses them to remind me that God knows what He is doing, loves me, and is trustworthy. I can rest as a weaned child does with his mother (Psalm 131) because the God of peace is with me.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:8-9

pdf version of this post (12 pt. font): Dwell on What is True

pdf version of this post (16 pt. font): Dwell on What is True (Large Print)

When the Questions Stop

After years of insomnia, I’ve recently experienced periods of comparatively good sleep. However, sometimes my system gets upset, the battle for sleep returns, and I’m scared like a child whose nightmares return. 

I look at the clock and groan when I see it’s 10 pm, and I’ve only slept for an hour. “Why am I awake already? Is it going to be one of those nights again?”

“What happened? Why did I suddenly stop sleeping again? What is wrong with my body now, and how can I fix it?” After trying to resolve this for such a long time, I’m at a loss for answers… and frustrated… and crying. 

“How am I going to make it through the day? Will my body be able to heal from illness without any sleep? Why does this keep happening?” The questions continue to come, but they remain unanswered.  

Then, a still, small voice whispers… Psalm 131.

The memorized words combine with my own as I slowly work to apply them to myself. 

“O Lord, my heart is proudly thinking I deserve to have answers to my questions, and my eyes haughtily see the sleep I feel I deserve.”

“I’m involving myself in the great matter of how to heal my body, but the solution is too difficult for me.”

“Please help me to compose and quiet my soul so that I may rest in your arms like a child does in the lap of her loving parent.”

“Oh my soul, trust in the Lord in this sleepless moment and forever.”

As my questions stop, I notice my body relaxing and resting. Although I’m not asleep, I am peaceful because God has everything under His wise and loving control. 

The Fight of Faith

My Dear Fellow Suffering Saint,

I hope you have had some blessings to bring small joys to your days. Perhaps, a ray of sun shone through your window in a way that gave your eyes beautiful colors to see. Or, maybe, you have recently been touched by the warm hand of a loved one, so that the physical and emotional pleasure of this sensation outweighed the harder parts of what you are experiencing. Isn’t it wonderful that we aren’t without blessings in some form? 

I have been reading biographies of Christians with the hope of being encouraged in my own walk in the valley of chronic illness. While this endeavor has been fruitful in many ways, I have found that the comments expressed by some biographers have tempted me to be discouraged. 

The description of the lives of Christians who have suffered extended illnesses usually includes high praise for the many accomplishments they have managed while suffering. It is wonderful that the subjects of these biographies were able to accomplish much for worthy causes. However, where does this focus on earthly accomplishments leave people like you and me? 

I know you are unable to leave your bed; my biggest accomplishment yesterday was to put my own socks on. How do we not become discouraged when the world screams at us to “be more by doing more” – remember the Enjoli woman😏?

We have to remember that the authors of biographies are not the Author of Scripture. While biographies are helpful in some ways, Jesus is “… the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Here is where we must focus our eyes (Heb. 12:2). This is where our hearts and minds must dwell (Phil. 4:8-9).

Our goal is to finish our race in this life while fighting the fight of faith (1 Tim. 6:12, 2 Tim. 4:7). John Piper states it very well when he says:

The fight is a fight of faith. It’s not a fight to get out of bed; it’s a fight to rest in God. It’s not a fight to keep all the powers of youth, but to trust in the power of God. The race is run against doubt in God’s goodness and love for us. It’s a fight to stay satisfied in God despite the broken hips and lost sight and failed memory and inexplicable fatigue.

So, please be encouraged. The hard work we do preaching to ourselves through all the pain and fatigue and loss is what is pleasing to God whether anyone ever writes our biographies or not. 

Love,
Kim

Thanks to the Lord

It is Thanksgiving 2020 today. Many may feel there is little reason to be grateful considering the many difficulties we have experienced this year. However, the difficulties actually serve to magnify how abundantly grateful we should be.

This earthly world is only temporary. For those who accept the gift of salvation through the atoning work of Jesus on the cross, there is a world to come that is void of pain and strife and sin and tears. Eyes turned on this magnificent blessing will be washed with joy and peace, causing the things of this earth to become dim. These eyes will shine with gratitude for God’s everlasting mercy.

Praise the Lord!
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
For His mercy is everlasting.

Psalm 106:1

Sorrowful, Yet Rejoicing

I love to laugh; there is something about it that just feels good. Smiling is also a pleasant sensation, especially when an unexpected delight grabs my attention. These “feel good” times are still part of my life, but they come far less frequently than in the past, which distresses some who know me. It seems they think I have little joy. The thing to note is this…

It is true that my face does not smile as much as it used to; I am not sure the smiling muscles work when my head hurts, my brain is foggy, and my energy is null. However, my soul is smiling; it is praising God for my salvation.

(Learning to Be Content)

In this way, I am “sorrowful, yet rejoicing” as Paul was (2 Cor. 6:10). He had experienced many trials (2 Cor. 6:4-9), but knew that his salvation was his source of joy. Peter knew this as well:

…who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials…

(1 Peter 1:5-6, bold font mine) 

Jesus had joy while He suffered on the cross because He knew the joy of heaven was coming (Heb. 12:2). Although this joy comforted Him, my guess is that He did not have a smile on His face while nails were pierced through His hands and feet and His lungs were collapsing. 

My suffering has caused me to turn my eyes on Jesus, “the author and perfecter of faith” (Heb. 12:2). He is not only my example for how to rejoice, but also my Savior. I rejoice in the God of my salvation with a smile in my soul.

Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold
And there be no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will exult in the LORD,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
(Habakkuk 3:17-18)

Made for Another World

The mother rabbit stared at me, blades of grass extending from both sides of her mouth, as she waited to place the final covering over the nest she had recently made for her newborns. Confident that it was safe to proceed, she gently worked to secure her babies into the bed of her own fur. My heart soared as I watched this tender act of love.

Read More »

In All Things

I recently posted the following message on my FaceBook page: ** Coronavirus Alert ** Romans 8:28 is still in the Bible. My reason for doing so is the same as for this post. My impression is that many Christians are misled on what is important in our current situation with the coronavirus.Read More »

Be Safe

As I prepared to end the phone call, the salesperson said, “Be safe.” I thought this was odd since I hadn’t heard this phrase used in impersonal conversations. However, it is now common to my daily life, including the plethora of emails I receive each day that close with “Be safe.” I find myself wondering what each person is actually suggesting I do to be safe.Read More »