Joni’s Interview on PBS

The PBS program Religion & Ethics Newsweekly aired an interview with Joni Eareckson Tada last Friday that serves as a great reminder of how we can pray for her during this incredibly difficult time in her life. Although Joni continues to evidence tremendous faith in God’s goodness and sovereignty, she also speaks very candidly about how challenging this battle against breast cancer has been. The following is an excerpt from Joni’s interview with Kim Lawton:

LAWTON: Tada is open about her struggles. Just getting out of bed in the morning is a two-hour ordeal. A series of friends come in and help get her ready for the day.

EARECKSON TADA: And there are many days, honestly, when I can hear my girlfriends come into the front door, and they’re running water for coffee in the kitchen. I know they’re going to be in my bedroom in a few minutes with a happy hello, and I just don’t have the strength to welcome them, and so while they’re still in the kitchen I’m praying oh, God, I have no strength for this day, but you do.

LAWTON: Tada talks often about the reality of suffering—a difficult message in what she calls America’s culture of comfort.

EARECKSON TADA: We want to erase suffering out of the dictionary. We want to eradicate it, avoid it, give it ibuprofen, institutionalize is, divorce it, surgically exorcise it, do anything but live with it.

LAWTON: Even after all these years in the wheelchair, she says some fellow evangelicals still tell her if she had more faith God would heal her.

EARECKSON TADA: But sometimes healing doesn’t come, and you’ve got to live with it, and when you do you really do learn who you are. God uses suffering. He lobs it like a hand grenade and blows to smithereens these notions we have about our self and who we think we are. Blows it to smithereens until we are left raw, naked, and we have to let suffering do its work.

LAWTON: These days it seems like there is a lot of that work. After breast cancer surgery, Tada is undergoing chemotherapy, which has siphoned off much of her trademark vitality.

EARECKSON TADA: It is very hard to go on. I mean privately I’ve wondered, gee, Lord, is this cancer my ticket to heaven? Because I sure am tired of sitting in a wheelchair, and my body is aching, and I’m so weary. Could this be my ticket to heaven?

LAWTON: Her motivation for persevering, she says, is all the people she’s able to help.

EARECKSON TADA: I need a reason to get up in the morning, and my big reason is to help other families like mine, other people with disabilities, other special needs moms and dads, to encourage them and strengthen them, to help them want to face life head on.

LAWTON: She says she won’t allow herself to spiral into doubt and despair.

EARECKSON TADA: I’m not going to go there. I’m not going to go there. I went down that dark, grim path when I was a teenager and first broke my neck and wanted my girlfriends to bring in razors to slit my wrists or their mother’s sleeping pills or whatever. I’m not going to go down that path again. It’s too horrible…

LAWTON: I asked her a question she’s been asked over and over again: How can you just keep believing in a God that would let all that happen?

EARECKSON TADA: I pray a lot, and I sing a lot. I sing because I have to sing. There’s something good about talking to yourself, reminding yourself of things you believed in the light but you’re so quick to doubt in the darkness. And I’ve seen too much of the light to not choose the Lord.

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You can watch the video interview with Joni HERE.

Please continue to pray for Joni and consider encouraging her with a comment on her blog. She speaks often of how blessed she has been by reading the comments posted at Joni’s Corner.

Photo: Joni and Friends

Update from Joni and Ken

Please pray for Joni today. She posted this update on her blog yesterday:

Early tomorrow morning Ken and I will head to the clinic for my third round of chemo (my friend Careen who is here for the week will be joining us). And when the nurse starts the infusion, Psalm 31:14-15 will be on my lips, “I trust in you O Lord; I say: ‘You are my God. My times are in your hands.’” My time battling this cancer is in His hands – I can’t think of a safer place to be! Sure, I get nervous and have questions (like, how much assault can my quadriplegic body take?), but as Julie Ackerman wrote, “Jesus knew that we would have questions. To prepare us for them, He urged us to abide in His love (John 15:9). Even when God’s ways are inexplicable, His love is reliable. So we remain doggedly devoted to Him.” And that, I am!  

Joni’s husband, Ken, joined her recently to share some encouraging thoughts in this video update:

Visit Joni’s blog HERE.

Update on Baby Bowen

Sarah Hammitt holding Bowen

Matt and Sarah Hammitt’s little boy, Bowen, has been making good progress over the last few days. The doctors closed his chest last Friday, he was taken off the ventilator on Sunday, and his parents were allowed to hold him yesterday, which was much earlier than they expected after his surgery. Bowen is still struggling to breathe on his own and is currently on oxygen. Please keep praying for the healing of his heart, clear breathing, and strength for his family. 

Check Bowen’s Heart for more updates.

Related Post: Pray for Bowen’s Heart

Hear the Story of Your Life!

Matthew West was in town for a free concert last night, and yippee for me, I got to go see it. I’ve been a fan of his music for several years now, but this was the first chance I had to hear him in person, and I must say, his live performance did not disappoint. On October 5th, Matthew will release a new album, The Story of Your Life, which is unlike any of his previous work. Here, he explains the inspiration behind this unique project… 

The new songs are personal and powerful. Matthew sings about several difficult topics including abortion, divorce, dysfunctional families, sexual abuse, and cancer among others. Although his lyrics convey the raw pain of suffering, Matthew also highlights God’s redemptive purposes for the trials that shape our life stories. Through repeated messages of hope, forgiveness, and victory in Christ, Matthew makes it clear that there will be a purpose for every pain. I can’t help but think that this album is going to resonate with many listeners.

My friend, Amy, and I before the concert

Meeting Mr. Matthew West

The Story of Your Life includes a beautiful tribute to adoption entitled “One Less.” I absolutely love this song and the message behind it! Matthew explains the story in the video below (I had to cut the song off due to my little camera’s inability to handle loud noise, but you can hear the entire song in Matthew’s interview on K-LOVE Radio HERE.)

I highly recommend catching Matthew in concert during this incredible tour. Check his tour schedule HERE.

Temporary Blindness, Eternal Vision

“…this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

2 Corinthians 4:17-18

Do your soul a favor this weekend–skip a sitcom and watch this instead! In a message given at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, Jennifer Rothschild shared her testimony and explained how her experience with blindess has taught her to see through the eyes of faith:

Though fear is real, your faith is real. Though fear is powerful, your faith is more powerful. And that which you esteem highly in your life is that which will dominate you. May we never esteem our fear more highly than our faith. But by the grace of God, we can humbly with meekness kneel before God. And when our knees kneel before God, our faith must bow to His sovereignty and power. And therefore, we walk by faith and not by sight.

Visit WomensMinistry.net.

Photo: Ziadin Givan

Pray for Bowen’s Heart

A couple months back, I posted a video of Matt Hammitt, lead singer of the band Sanctus Real, and his wife, Sarah, explaining the story behind Matt’s popular song, “Lead Me.” At the time the video was filmed, Matt and Sarah were expecting their third child, a little boy named Bowen. As they looked forward to the birth of their first son, the Hammitts did so both with joy and great concern. Sarah explains:

Early this year we found out we were pregnant with our third child. After two girls, we were so excited to find out we were having a boy. Unfortunately, on April 12th an ultrasound revealed that he had an underdeveloped heart. Within one week he was diagnosed with a serious and rare congenital heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS). We believe that our boy was knit perfectly together in my womb (Psalm 139:13) and that God intended him to be this way with a specific purpose in mind. We are at peace with whatever happens because we know that our God is in control. That is why we named our son Bowen Matthew. Bowen means small, victorious one. Matthew, besides being his father’s name, means God’s gift. We don’t know why God chose to give Bowen a small heart, but we believe that he and his heart are a gift. In the end we will understand what big plans God, in His love and faithfulness, has in mind. 

Bowen was born on September 9th and underwent heart surgery on the 13th without complication. During the night following his surgery, Bowen’s fragile heart stopped beating, and Matt and Sarah watched tearfully as the doctors and nurses rushed to save his life. By God’s grace, their efforts were successful, and Bowen was placed on life support until Wednesday. Although Bowen’s test results were very good yesterday, he still has a long way to go and is in great need of prayer. Please join with the Hammitt family in asking the Lord to heal little Bowen and strengthen them all during this difficult time.

Matt wrote a song about his family’s experience with Bowen called “Holding You.” You can listen to the song HERE

Visit Bowen’s Heart for more updates on Bowen’s progress.

Photos: Matt and Sarah Hammitt

Christ, Cancer, & Contentment

“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

2 Corinthians 12:10 

In a recent interview for Time magazine, Joni Eareckson Tada tackled the question for the ages: “Why does God allow suffering?” The following is an excerpt from that article:

Joni:
…In the Christian faith, God really puts suffering front and center. He doesn’t get squeamish about it. But our human inclination is to turn the other way, to assume that this person must have a bad track record with God. We just don’t want to embrace the God who can be found in the midst of pain. We’d rather listen to Jesus preach sweet sermons about lilies.
 
So why doesn’t God always heal people when they ask?
There is this verse in Matthew 18 where Jesus is delighted to heal people who come to him. But he says, if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. Now right there, it shows that Jesus has a different priority, and that is our spiritual healing. If I had been granted a miraculous physical healing back when I was 17, I know I wouldn’t be in a ministry serving other people with disabilities around the world.

So when you work with people in great pain, do you encourage them to let go of the desire to be healed?
We can certainly ask to be healed. Even I ask for healing regarding this pain, regarding this cancer. Anyone who takes the Bible seriously agrees that God hates suffering. Jesus spent most of his time relieving it. But when being healed becomes the only goal — “I’m not letting go until I get what I want” — it’s a problem. There comes a point at which if you don’t start living, your whole life is spent jumping from one healing crusade to the next. And I believe I have been healed — just not in the way that others expect.

A lot of people would look at you and find that hard to believe.
I know. But I’m happy. And on that level, I have been healed. People who have been healed in the way I think I have been healed, we don’t care about wealth, success, comfort. Having that peace makes up for any amount of walking that I have missed. One problem I have with faith-healing is that it tends to be focused only on the physical aspect of healing. But Jesus always backed away when people came to him only to get their physical needs met. My goodness, he was ready to have you lop off your hand! His real interest was in healing the soul.
 
Read the entire article HERE.
 
In the following video, Joni provides us with an update on her treatment and shares one of the lessons that cancer has taught her, “We are 100% certain to pass through great distress in this life, but our Savior is 100% certain to be with us, and to bless us in our trials, and to sanctify us through each and every one of our hardships.”
 
 
Visit Joni and Friends HERE.

Photo: Joni Eareckson Tada

Finding Hope for the Journey Home

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me…”

Psalm 23:4

In a recent biblical counseling assignment, I was asked to read Jay Adam’s booklet How to Handle Trouble and then write a letter providing advice to a woman suffering from terminal cancer. Perhaps my counsel to her from God’s Word will provide comfort for someone else who needs it…

“As I read your letter telling me of your recent diagnosis and the doctor’s belief that there was no longer any hope of recovery, I was deeply saddened to think of the tremendous grief that you and your family members must be feeling. I would imagine you feel as though your world has been turned upside down by this unexpected news, and I want you to know that I am grieving with you and praying for you. You wrote to ask me for help to make it through this time of suffering, and by God’s grace, I will do my best to provide you with reassurance from His precious Word. He has not left you alone in this battle; He is your refuge and strength, your ever present help in time of trouble, and therefore, you have no need to fear (Ps. 46:1). Even though the doctors can no longer provide you with hope, I want to encourage you to turn your eyes to the God of all hope as we ask Him to “fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13).

Suffering is the common experience of all human beings, whether saved or unsaved, righteous or unrighteous. Although your present suffering will bring with it much pain and sadness, as a believer in Jesus Christ you will also experience a level of joy and peace in the midst of your suffering that the unbeliever can never know. For the one apart from Christ, suffering is meaningless. He can never know, nor hope to know the reasons behind his suffering. But for you, a child of God, there is hope and comfort in knowing that God will not allow your suffering to go to waste. Romans 8:28-29 provides a foundation upon which you can securely stand during this difficult time, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” In this passage, God has revealed a comforting truth about His sovereignty over suffering—every pain has a part in His plan.

The first and most important truth for you to remember in this trying time is that God is at work in your pain. Believing this truth will be an act of faith on your part, since it will often be difficult to see how God’s hand could be at work when you are experiencing such grief and pain. That is when you must believe by faith that what God’s Word declares to be true is true for you regardless of what your feelings tell you to believe. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Cry out to God for the strength to interpret your circumstances through your faith, instead of evaluating your faith based upon your circumstances. Look to the examples of Joseph and Job in the Old Testament. Neither man’s circumstances gave him any logical reason to believe God was still at work in his life, yet each clung to his trust in the character of God. After losing his livestock, servants, children, and his own health, Job remained confident in the faithfulness of the Lord, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another!” (Job 19:25-27). Even though Job had no earthly reason to believe God was at work in his suffering, he continued to view his life through the eyes of faith.

The second important truth for you to remember is that God will not fail to produce good from your suffering. God’s sovereignty alone would be of little comfort if we had no assurance that He was also good, but the Scriptures provide us with multiple assurances that our God is both completely sovereign and perfectly good. When you struggle with feeling that God is no longer good to you, remember Nahum 1:7, “The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.” As you seek His strength, you will probably be allowed glimpses of the good plans that He is fulfilling through your battle with cancer. These glimpses will come through your growth in Christlikeness as your faith is tested and tried and comes forth as gold (1 Pet. 1:7), or perhaps through opportunities you have to share the gospel with doctors, nurses, friends, and family members who ask you to explain the reason for the hope that is in you (1 Pet. 3:15), or through the joyous experience of seeing another come to faith in Christ after observing His power at work in your life.

God’s goodness may be seen in many forms here on this earth, but it will only be fully displayed once we pass from this life into His presence. Paul, who experienced far greater suffering in his life than most Christians will ever know, found tremendous comfort in the knowledge that every bit of earthly pain he felt would be vastly outweighed by eternal joy, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:16-18). Knowing that Paul had experienced persecution, slander, beatings, imprisonment, abandonment, and shipwrecks during his ministry, it is almost shocking to hear him describe his suffering as being “light and momentary,” yet because of his confidence in God’s goodness, Paul knew this description was accurate. Ask God to help you view your future through the same eternal perspective that enabled Paul to say, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). We often refer to a person’s death as the loss of life, yet for the Christian who knows that to be “absent from the body” is to be “present with the Lord,” death is not the loss of life, but the gaining of eternal life.

Although your battle with cancer brings with it many causes for sorrow, it will also offer you countless opportunities to bring glory to God in your remaining days. Not one of us is promised tomorrow, but we often live as though our tomorrows are guaranteed. Your diagnosis has brought you face to face with the fleeting nature of your earthly existence and has freed you from the illusion that your time on earth is unlimited. I want to encourage you to follow our Lord’s example as He faced His darkest moments on earth, yet continued to pray “not my will, but yours be done.” Christ’s greatest desire was to glorify His Father through His life and death, and our desire should be the same (2 Cor. 5:9). As you seek His strength in your weakness, you will discover that His grace is sufficient for your every need (2 Cor. 12:9).”

Praying for you and looking forward to that day when our faith will be sight,

Melissa

Related Post: When Weeping Isn’t Enough

Photo: Martin Boose

When Weeping Isn’t Enough

“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted…”

Psalm 34:18

Knowing how to properly comfort another during a time of grief and loss is one of the great challenges of the Christian life. On many occasions as we follow the Scriptural instruction to weep with those who weep, we’ll find that our tears and our presence are the only expressions of comfort necessary. Yet there are also times when mourners need more than a comforting presence alone, they need words of truth and hope around which they can wrap their hurting hearts. Perhaps you or someone you know are in that place of mourning. If so, I hope God will use the following letter to minister grace to you in your time of need.

In a recent biblical counseling assignment, I was asked to read the book From Grief to Glory and then write a two-page letter to parents who had written to request counsel after suffering the loss of their 4 year-old daughter to cancer. This is what I wrote…

It was with a mixture of sadness and joy that I read your letter. I felt sadness first, because my heart is grieved to hear of the suffering and indescribable pain which the two of you experienced as you cared for your precious daughter throughout her long illness and which you are now experiencing as you mourn your tremendous loss. Yet in spite of the great sadness, I also felt joy in reading your letter as I saw that though your pain is excruciating, you have not allowed it to overwhelm you. You are holding fast to your faith and reaching out for the help that you need to endure this trial. That is a true miracle for which we can praise God.

In response to your request for counsel that will strengthen and help you during your time of mourning, I am sending you this letter. Before I attempt to share advice that I pray you will find helpful, I want to clarify that on my own I would be utterly powerless to say one word that would give you comfort. I have not been where you have been, nor felt the pain that you feel every moment of every day. If all I had to rely on was my personal experience and knowledge, I would have nothing to offer you. But thankfully, God has given us His Word which is sufficient to guide us through every trial that the human soul could ever face. It is from the rich treasure of the Scriptures that I have drawn the counsel which I share with you today. Because I believe God’s Word contains everything that we need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3), I know that it is there that you will find all the help and hope that your hurting hearts so desperately need.

You are in a deep state of grief right now, and that is right and proper in the wake of such a loss as yours. God gave you your little girl as a treasure to love and cherish, and you did that well during her brief time here on earth. Children are one of God’s greatest earthly gifts, and as such, they provide us with unique experiences of joy that cannot be found outside of parenthood. With your daughter’s departure from this world, you have lost not only the joys that you had grown accustomed to experiencing in her presence, but also all of the joys that you had expected to enjoy throughout your future together. The mourning of these losses is a proper response from loving parents. Your grieving process will take time, probably a very long time, but God will provide you with the grace you need to come to a place of healing. Keep your hearts fixed on that hope. “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Ps. 30:5). 

Even though your grieving is great, I want to remind you that as believers, you are not grieving in the same way as those who don’t know Christ. Because you know Him and the power of His resurrection, you can grieve the loss of your daughter with hope. She is not lost to you forever, but has only fallen asleep in Jesus. Our great hope as Christians is that just as Christ was raised from the dead, so we too will one day experience the resurrection of our earthly bodies when He returns (1 Thess. 4:13-18). Because of Christ’s resurrection, we can look forward to the resurrection of our loved ones with confidence and say with the writers of Scripture, “O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:55). Although the pain of your daughter being unable to return to you is weighty, your load will be made slightly lighter as you look forward to the day when you will be free to go to her and spend eternity together in the presence of our Savior (2 Sam. 12:22-23).

You may feel isolated and lonely as you realize that friends and family members are failing to comprehend your grief. In their attempt to comfort you, people will likely say things that actually bring you more pain. In these moments, remember that though they may do a poor job of it, your loved ones do want to help and encourage you. Remembering this fact will help you to be patient in the midst of others’ awkward attempts to provide comfort. In those times when it seems that every human being you know is incapable of empathizing with your pain, run to your Savior for help, knowing that He understands your experience perfectly. The book of Isaiah tells us that when God’s people experienced affliction, He, too, felt the pain of that affliction (Is. 63:9). As you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, remember that you are not walking alone. Your Shepherd is guiding you safely through the darkness. Stay close to His side as you share your heart with Him in prayer, “Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us” (Ps. 62:8), and as you find guidance in the Scriptures, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps. 119:105). The burden of your loss is too great for you to carry alone, and God never intended for you to do so. “Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken” (Ps. 55:22).

Perhaps the greatest question plaguing your mind in the wake of your tragic loss is “Why?” It is not wrong for you to ask this question as long as you are willing to leave the timing of the answer in the Lord’s hands. As much as we in our humanness are prone to believe that our grief would be greatly relieved if we only knew the reason for our pain, God knows that our need to know Him is far greater than our need to know the answer to any question. At the end of Job’s epic experience of suffering, God didn’t console him by pulling back the veil separating the physical realm from the spiritual to reveal Satan’s assault against him. He reminded Job instead of the incomprehensible greatness of His power and wisdom. Although God may allow you to catch glimpses of the reason behind your suffering, He will only fully reveal the answers when you too depart this world to enter His presence. Until then, console your hearts with the knowledge that God in His wisdom has a plan, and that even when we can’t see it, that plan is good. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Is. 55:9).

Romans 8:28-29 is so familiar to us that we often ignore the tremendous comfort God has provided for us in those two verses, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” As His children, God loves you far more than you could ever imagine. He will not allow your suffering to go to waste, but will use every last bit of pain you’ve endured to accomplish His good and glorious purposes in your lives. Through this experience, you will become more like Jesus Christ, you will know God in ways you never could have otherwise, and you will bring Him more glory on this earth. Cling to Him as you seek His strength to walk by faith and not by sight until you reach that glorious day when, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).

Praying that the God of all comfort will strengthen you with His amazing grace,

Melissa

 

Related Post: God’s Love for the Little Ones

Photo: Nino Satria

Saved from Suicide

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  

Jeremiah 29:11 

Everyone else seemed to be able to handle the burdens, the struggles of life, better than I could. All I wanted was to be happy. To have the perfect life I always thought I had when I was a kid. But my arms had grown tired from trying to hold my fantasy world together…In the past year I’d started smoking, drinking, and partying with my friends on the weekends, futilely trying to escape the pain. 

I looked down at the railroad tracks and remembered a time I’d realized the power of a train. A train would kill anyone in an instant. No one could survive that. If I ever wanted to take my life, if ever…that’s the way I’d do it…   

If I ever want my life to end…this would be my chance…

These were the hopeless and oppressive thoughts plaguing the mind of 17 year-old Kristen Jane Anderson as she wandered alone through a park contemplating her own suicide. Left reeling after a series of tragic events, Kristen began listening to deceptive voices which whispered of the relief awaiting her in death. Yet even in this, her loneliest and darkest of moments, Kristen would later discover God’s presence was nearer than she could ever have imagined.

Recently on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Kristen shared the incredible story of how God miraculously spared her life and gave her hope and purpose through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Although I wouldn’t ordinarily direct you to Oprah’s program, I believe that as you hear Kristen’s testimony you’ll find new reasons to marvel at the mighty and loving God we serve.

Kristen’s message to those contemplating suicide: 

I know how you feel. Life is harder and more painful than you ever thought it could be. You’re not sure if it’s worth it, but I’m telling you there is so much to live for—more than you have ever experienced or imagined. Somehow, I hope my story will show that to you.     

Please don’t give up. You are not alone. There is a God who made you, and he’s not as far away as you may think. He is always near. Wherever you go, whatever you do, he will be with you. He loves you, and he wants to comfort you, heal the hurt in your heart, and carry you through this life. Let him in.     

God has an amazing plan for your life, even if you don’t have a plan for yourself. He has hope for you, even if you don’t have hope for yourself. He loves you immensely, even when you don’t love yourself. And he sees beauty in you, even when all you see is a mess.     

Suicide is never the answer. There is too much to live for. Keep fighting. Please don’t give up. Reach out for help. You won’t regret it. Your heart can be filled with hope, just like mine and so many others have been.    

Love, Kristen   

Learn more about Kristen’s amazing story in her book Life, in Spite of Me

Check out Kristen’s outreach to those struggling with depression and despair: Reaching You Ministries

Related Post: Clinging to the God of All Comfort

Photo: Simona Dumitru

Excerpts taken from Chapter One of Life, in Spite of Me

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God’s Love for the Little Ones

“Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them. 
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
         How vast is the sum of them!”

Psalm 139:16-17

Few trials in life can compare to the earth-shaking tragedy of losing a child. In the agony of their loss, grieving parents often wonder, “Will I ever see my baby again?” In this video produced by Grace to You, Pastor John MacArthur points parents to the Scriptures for hope and comfort regarding God’s eternal care for their precious little ones.

In an article on the eternal destiny of babies and young children that have passed away, Dr. MacArthur provides further helpful instruction from God’s Word: 

Second Samuel 12:23 is one of the passages often quoted to imply that babies go to heaven. Though the verse doesn’t explicitly say that, David clearly does expect to one day be reunited with his departed child. Since we know David is a believer whose destiny was heaven, we can infer that his hope of reunion means he expected his child to be in heaven. Thus, 2 Samuel 12:23 suggests strong evidence for a heavenly destiny of the unborn and children who die young.

If this were all we had to support our position, it would be admittedly less than stalwart. However, there are other evidences that point us to the same conclusion. First, the Bible clearly teaches that God cares deeply for children. Passages like Matthew 18:1-6 and 19:13-15 affirm the Lord’s love for them. Those verses don’t state that children go to heaven, but they do show God’s heart toward children. He created and cares for children, and beyond that, He always accomplishes His perfect will in every circumstance.

The psalmist reminds us that God is “full of compassion and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth” (Ps. 86:15). He is the God who became flesh that He might carry our sins away by His death on the cross (2 Cor. 5:21). He is the God who will comfort Christians in heaven, for “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death; nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain” (Rev. 21:4). We can be assured that God will do what is right and loving because He is the standard of rightness and love. Those considerations alone seem to be evidence enough of God’s particular, electing love shown to the unborn and those who die young.

However, another point may be helpful in answering this question. While infants and children have neither sensed their personal sin and need for salvation nor placed their faith in Christ, Scripture teaches that condemnation is based on the clear rejection of God’s revelation–whether general or specific–not simple ignorance of it (Luke 10:16; John 12:48; 1 Thess. 4:8).

Learn more about the comfort offered to grieving parents in the Scriptures by reading Dr. MacArthur’s book Safe in the Arms of God.

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Comforted to Comfort

 “Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.”

1 Peter 4:19

Yesterday, Matt and Lauren Chandler appeared on James Robison’s TV show, Life Today, to share the story of what God has done in their lives through Matt’s battle with brain cancer. Even though my heart aches for the Chandlers, I can’t help but be amazed at how God’s grace has been manifested in their response to this painful trial. Instead of becoming wrapped up in their own sorrows, they have continued to find ways to minister to others as they share the hope they have found in Jesus Christ. As I watched this interview, 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 came to my mind: 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.

Here’s a clip of the interview:

Watch the entire program here: LifeToday Video

Related Posts:

Dropping the Weight of Worry

Grace Sufficient in Suffering

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