Today on the broadcast, Dennis Rainey finds encouragement by opening the pages of Scripture to Psalm 34.
Today on the broadcast, Dennis Rainey finds encouragement by opening the pages of Scripture to Psalm 34.
Bob: There is a divine purpose in our lives for suffering. God wants to make us more and more into the image of Christ. Here is Dennis Rainey.
Dennis: God wants to create holy scars. I believe it's the message of Scriptures. Amy Carmichael wrote, "No wound, no scar. Yet, as the Master, so shall the servant be." And although my scars may not be in my hands or in my wise or my feet as my Savior's were; there may be some hidden scars of my heart and in your heart that if you let Him take those wounds and heal, they can become holy scars.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, July 13th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Are there some holy scars in your life that God wants to make into trophies of grace?
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition. The reality of suffering is something that all of us experience. I remember, early in our marriage, one night when Mary Ann and I were out walking, and we had a pretty good run for a number of years, you know? Life had been going pretty good – jobs, promotions, money, kids, cars – I mean, it was all kind of working out, and I thought, "It doesn't go on like this forever." You don't meet anybody who says, 'You know what? I've kind of skated through life without any bumps in the road.' And, sure enough, there were some just around the corner from me after I had that thought. I think we've got to realize that bumps in the road happen to everybody.
Dennis: Yes. Already, this week, we shared a message that I delivered to our staff team here in Little Rock just about some of the things Barbara and I were learning as we were going through one of those – things weren't going quite as well for us, Bob …
Bob: … some bumps in the road …
Dennis: … as they were for you and your bride. But I gave a message on nine lessons we had learned about suffering, and we've already shared four of them. Let me just quickly share with you what those four are – the pain of suffering pierces every heart; secondly, God's timing and our timing seldom have the same calendar, though I wish they did, but they don't; number three, the issue is faith and obedience – in other words, who are you going to trust; and, number four, although we will always try to understand why, no one will ever grasp all that God is up to and God is doing. What we are left to do is we are left to embrace the knowledge of who he is, and that's why the Scriptures are so important to point us to the truth about who God is – that He really can be trusted in the midst of times that don't make a lot of sense.
Bob: We've got part 2 of your message all queued up and ready to go, as you provide us with five additional thoughts on suffering that you and Barbara have experienced as you've bumped along the road here over the last few years. Let's listen together – here is our host, Dennis Rainey, talking about weathering some of life's storms.
Dennis: The words of A. W. Tozer are chilling but, I believe, are true. He said, "It is doubtful that God can use a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply." "It is doubtful that God can use a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply." The fifth thing that we've learned is that trouble was never meant to be faced alone. Trouble was never meant to be faced alone. Psalm 1 is a great Psalm. Psalm 1 gives us some important marching orders as we go through a valley. Psalm 1, verse 1 through 3, and then verse 6 – "Blessed is the man who walks not on the counsel of the ungodly nor stands in the path of sinners nor sits in the seat of the scornful but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in this law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf shall not wither and, whatever he does, he shall prosper." Verse 6 – "For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish."
The Hebrew word here for the wicked – "Walking not in the way of the wicked." It's an interesting term. You think of someone who is wicked as someone who is maybe often, maybe, in the porn industry or they're in organized crime or they're making a living through some deceitful means. The Hebrew word for "wicked" literally means to "live by one's own standards" – self-imposed standards by man. And so what the psalmist is saying, when you go through suffering, when you go through difficulty, turn not to those who live by their own standards. Instead, turn to those who walk in faith; who know their God; and who can point you in that same direction.
But the enemy, the enemy either wants you to turn to the wicked for your advice, or he wants you to be isolated and not tell anyone what you're going through because of the shame of what you're facing. The strength is in the one who surrounds himself, herself, with the godly.
A sixth way to handle suffering – humility and integrity are non-negotiables in the midst of any trial. Humility and integrity are non-negotiables in the midst of any trial. Consider the life of Joseph – if there is one giant message that comes to us from his life after he had been sold into slavery by his brothers, after Potiphar's wife lies about him and gets him thrown into jail, and he's rotting in jail having lived a life that was near perfection, can you imagine what it would have been like to have seen these things repeatedly occurred against you so unjustly? And yet he says in Genesis, chapter 50, verse 20 – "What men intended for evil God has used for good to redeem you." How could he make that statement? Because he learned the wisdom of responding to a crisis with humility. Letting God be God and he was who he was supposed to – trusting Him who judges righteously and, with integrity, he didn't cave in. Humility and integrity are measured by how we respond to criticism, to a crisis, and to a trial.
When your spouse criticizes you, when your spouse corrects you, are you defensive or do you listen? You say, "Now, wait a second, Dennis, we're talking about the big stuff, you know, imprisoned. Let's not go to my house." Are you teachable? As a single person, when someone corrects you, are you defensive? You see, those little tests could be preparation for a larger test that's just around the corner for you. Humility and integrity are non-negotiables in the midst of any trial.
Number seven – forgive those who wound you. Forgive those who wound you. Jesus was asked how many times shall we forgive? Seven times 70 – forgive those who spitefully use you. In your extended family, those who have never liked you – keep loving them and forgive them. Forgiveness is not optional; it is a command of Scripture. And there will be those, trust me, in your life who will hurt you repeatedly. They will create a wound in your heart that you could swear, as long as you live, it would never heal. Maybe it will be a deceitful wife, perhaps adultery, but the issue is we must forgive because we have been forgiven. Forgive those who wound you. If you do not forgive, the suffering you are going through will be doubled, because then you'll be carrying the burden of resentment in addition to the weight of suffering.
Number eight – God wants to create holy scars. God wants to create holy scars. The concept of holy scars comes from a good friend of mine, Dan Jarrell, pastor of a church in Anchorage, Alaska. I believe it's the message of Scriptures. God wants to create holy scars in your life and mine. Amy Carmichael wrote – "No wound? No scar. Yet, as the Master so shall the servant be. Can he have followed far who has no wound, no scar?" Was our Savior wounded? Was He scarred? The Bible makes a point of it. The nail prints in His hands are holy scars. It purchased our redemption. And although my scars may not be in my hands or in my side or in my feet as my Savior's were, there may be some hidden scars of my heart and in your heart, that if you let Him take those wounds and heal them, they can become holy scars – holy scars.
Ted Engstrom describes a number of men and women who have these kinds of scars. Cripple a man, and you have Sir Walter Scott; lock him in a prison cell, and you have John Bunyan; bury him in the snows of Valley Forge, and you have George Washington; raise him in abject poverty, and you have Abraham Lincoln; strike him down with infantile paralysis, and he becomes Franklin Delano Roosevelt; burn him so severely in a schoolhouse fire that doctors say he'll never walk again, and you have Glen Cunningham who set the world record in 1934 by running a mile in four minutes and six seconds; have him or born black in a society filled with racial discrimination, and you have Booker T. Washington, Harriet Tubman, Marian Andersen, George Washington Carver, or a Martin Luther King; call him a slow learner, retarded, write him off as un-educatable, and you have Albert Einstein. And we could add our own modern-day saints to that list of Corrie Ten Boom and Alexander Solzhenitsyn, whose classroom was their prison; Dietrich Bonhoeffer or maybe a wheelchair for Joni Erickson Tada. God wants to create holy scars.
Spurgeon reminds us "The Lord gets His best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction." The Lord gets His best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction. In the battle near the front lines could it be He is making you even more battle worthy if you let Him? Can He turn your wound into a holy scar?
Number nine – it's about knowing God and glorifying Him, and I purposely saved this for last. Never forget it's about knowing God and glorifying Him. Psalm 119, verse 67 – Psalm 119, verse 67, 71, and 75 – "Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your Word." Verse 71 – "It is good for me that I have been afflicted that I may learn Your statutes," and verse 75 – "I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right and that, in faithfulness, You have afflicted me. Let, I pray, Your merciful kindness be for my comfort according to Your Word to Your servant." Turn back one book to the Book of Job, the last chapter of Job – the great summary to Job's life. Most of you have read this, but it is worth repeating – Job 42, verses 1 through 6. Remember, this is at the end of Job's life. This summarized his suffering – "Then Job answered the Lord and said, 'I know that You can do everything and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.' You ask, 'Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?' Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand. Listen, please, and let me speak."
Listen to what Job said – "I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear but now" – but now – but now – "my eye sees you. Therefore, I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes." What did Job say? Before I saw God, but now I've really seen Him, I've been impacted by Him. Adversity is God's university and His showcase. God was choosing you to go through what you've gone through or what you are going through or what you will go through to take you to school and to declare who He is. You may never know who is watching.
Elton Trueblood made this statement – he said, "At the profoundest depths in life, men talk not about God but with Him." At those profound moments, we don't speak about God. That's what Job was saying. We talk with God. We know Him intimately because we're acquainted.
So what about you? What is your response to suffering? What would God have you to do in response to where he has you? Because I don't want you to forget God is near, God hears, and God delivers. He has a plan. I want you to just take a moment right now, and I just want you to just pause – I want you to just ask God for a very simple request. Just say, "God, I know You're near; I know You hear; I know you deliver. What is my application in my life right now?" Out of these nine principles, maybe it's something that the Spirit of God said to you that I didn't even say. It was another verse you read – what is His application for you right now? Would you settle that with Him right now?
"O taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him. O fear the Lord you, His saints, there is no wont to those who fear Him. The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears are open" – "His ears are open to their cry. The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart and saves such as had a contrite spirit."
Bob: Well, those are great reminders from God's Word. We've been listening together to part 2 of a message that you shared with our staff recently, Dennis, on things to remember as we walk through suffering, and it's good for us to be reminded of what is true when we're right in the middle of circumstances that are dragging us down.
Dennis: Yes, God does take us to school in the midst of the trials. Adversity is God's university. I love what Elton Trueblood says, "At the profoundest depths in life, men talk not about God but with Him." When you're on the plateau, and things are going well, as you described earlier, how easy it is to forget Him. But when life is reduced, and we're pressed hard against Him, and the pain seems, at points, unbearable, how it presses us against almighty God. And you have to believe that God looks down at us and says, "You know what? You sheep just don't quite get it," and many times I don't. And it takes that pain to press me back against it. But, Bob, there's where the real treasures in the relationship are learned. That's where the depth of the relationship grows. And if you'll be obedient, you'll mature. And the next time around you face suffering, you'll recognize some of the fingerprints of God, and you'll see His heart, and you won't question nearly as much as you are left to believe.
Bob: You and Barbara put together a devotional guide for couples a few years ago – 30 daily devotionals called "Weathering Life's Storms Together." The design of the devotional is to point a couple to God and to one another in the midst of a period of suffering, and we've got it in our FamilyLife Resource Center. If you'd like to get a copy, you can call us at 1-800-FLTODAY or go online at FamilyLife.com. Maybe you know someone that you'd like to send it to – a husband and wife who may be going through a valley that you are aware of. Again, the title of the devotional is "Weathering Life's Storms Together," by Dennis and Barbara Rainey.
We also have a book that I know you've recommended to a number of people over the years – Philip Yancey's classic book, "Where is God When it Hurts?" And if our listeners are interested in getting both books, we're going to make available, at no additional cost, either the CD or the cassette of the message we've been featuring this week on FamilyLife Today.
Go to our website for details on how you can receive any or all of these resources. Our website is FamilyLife.com. We also have all nine points listed on our website. You can download the PDF file and print it out and tack it up on the refrigerator door to remind yourself of what is true in the midst of suffering. Again, our website is FamilyLife.com, and if you'd like to order resources, you can also call That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY.
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Well, tomorrow we're going to talk about your church and about the adults who attend your church who aren't married. Is church a place where singles feel comfortable, welcome, a part of all that's going on? We're going to talk about that tomorrow. If you know folks who are single, invite them to tune in and be with us, and I hope you can join us as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.
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