Tag Archives: suffering

Leaning In

big flower

If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.  1 Corinthians 15:19

I love looking at pictures of my mother before she got sick. In those photographs she is how I remember her, happy and surrounded by family. If I had known how much I would miss that part of her life, perhaps I would have paid more attention, taken less for granted. Somehow, these images on paper console me. Bittersweet, yes, but a comfort nonetheless, and some days I need the comfort.

My siblings and I were privileged to be with Mom the last few hours of her life. In waiting, we experienced the most unlikely pairing of impatience and dread. It was hard to watch her suffer, hence the impatience. It was tough knowing she would soon leave this world, hence the dread. This would be the moment we most feared and the moment we’d been waiting for, the moment we would always remember and the moment we would long to forget. A perplexing contradiction of emotions where reality bit hard and we bled pure helplessness.

In a romanticized version of death, the dying patient appears at rest. In her final moments she is able to utter her last words and squeeze her loved one’s hand. In that account, people weep softly and say that dying is just a natural part of life, that one must accept it as such. But I found death to be painful and heart-rending and devastatingly unnatural. Death has claws and fangs and knows no finesse. The scars will not soon heal. Watching your mother die hurts.

I have questions. Mom could not articulate, but she was able to cry out. What was she trying to say? Was she thirsty? In pain? Did she know we were there? (I do think she did know, by the way.) Some questions, I don’t dare ask others because I know they don’t have the answers either. Why burden them with that? Some mysteries are best left for God to unravel, or not, as He sees fit.

There are also certain memories of those last hours that will remain unspoken. It’s as if to do so would somehow cheapen the recollection, devalue the treasure. I will keep them to myself, take them out now and then and examine the facets, scrutinize the details, and relive the most distressing and beautiful hours of my life.

To an outsider, there was nothing about Mom that would have been attractive that night. But we were not outsiders. We had years of history with her. We were her babies. She had labored with us and loved us and kept us safe. She was our mother, our teacher, our confidant and friend. She had agonized with us in our struggles and celebrated with us in our joys. Our being there was inextricably tethered to a specific context and saturated through and through with what our time on this earth together had allowed, a lifetime of memories bound up in the unbreakable bands of maternal love. No, we were not repulsed.

We leaned in.

We drew close to her because we loved her. We tried the best we could to give comfort. (Oh, how she had so often comforted us!) But, One leaned in closer than all the rest. One leaned in because He loved her more and better than all the rest. Jesus was with us that night, as real and as sure as the room we were standing in. Jesus leaned in with a blood-secured love for one of His own and first-hand experience in what it meant for Mom to suffer. His wounds spoke to her wounds, and He leaned in with the power and urgency of a Savior able to save. In dying, Mom let loose of my hand and was plucked away from death to life by sacred Hands that will never let her go.

Death is ugly and raw, but faith implores me to plant my feet and stand. I know that my Redeemer lives. Someday, all sickness and death will be banished forever. The misery and suffering we face on this side of Heaven are temporary, momentary and light compared to what awaits us in Glory. Part of that lightening is that Mom will be there waiting for us.

“And I’ll be waiting on the far side banks of Jordan…
And when I see you coming, I will rise up with a shout,
And come running through the shallow waters reaching for your hand!” *

I miss you terribly, Mom. But, someday I will lean in to where you are and join you in singing praises to our King.

…He will wipe every tear from our eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.  Revelation 21:4

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel

* Far Side Banks of Jordan, by Terry Smith

The Glorious Benefits of Trials

Sermon Notes-Brad Lay (our missionary to Albania)
November 4, 2012-Cornerstone Fellowship Bible Church

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith–more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire–may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.         1 Peter 1:6-9

4 Wonderful Benefits of Trials in the Lives of Believers

1. Focus on final salvation. (v. 5-6)
-Anticipating the coming of Christ.
-We try to make the “now” comfortable.
-In the midst of trials, we long for heaven, our final salvation.
-Trials provide the dark background against which our faith shines.

2. Genuine, God-glorifying faith. (v. 7)
-The purpose of trials: “so that the tested genuineness of your faith…”
-Testing proves our faith is real.

3. A walk full of love, faith, and joy. (v. 8)
-This is not a command or exhortation, but Peter is telling them what they are doing.
-Peter is reminding them of the reality and result of new birth-you love Jesus whom you have not seen.

4. Progressive and final salvation. (v. 9)
-Yes, they are already saved and justified.
-But the final result of that kind of faith is salvation.
-Our faith is tested and becomes stronger, taking us all the way to the finish line.

Note from Terrie: My notes here fail to do Brad’s sermon justice. It was an encouraging word from the Lord. I would recommend that you listen to the sermon when it is posted on the church website. I was blessed, and I’m sure you would be, too!

By His Grace and for the Gospel,

Immortal Words

Job restored to prosperity

Image via Wikipedia

…His memory perishes from the earth…(Job 18:17a)

With this declaration, Bildad rebukes Job in the midst of his suffering. But, Bildad’s prognosis is proved false by the very book of Job itself. God preserves Job’s story in Scripture.

Chapter 19 depicts Job in agony. He grapples with the apparent meaninglessness of his plight and implicates God as being responsible for his predicament. He is perplexed and frustrated by the response of his friends. However, in what is perhaps Job’s darkest hour, his lamentation culminates in an amazing blaze of glorious truth:

“Oh, that my words were written! Oh, that they were inscribed in a book! Oh, that with an iron pen and lead they were engraved in the rock forever! For I know that my Redeemer lives…” (Job 19:23-25a).

Job’s appeal is graciously granted. His discourse is engraved, as it were, secured forever in the very Word of God. While Job’s words are an encouragement to this believer for this moment, they also bear fruit for all eternity. This Gospel certainty is made manifest, inscribed in the Rock that is Christ, forever! With Job, my heart thrills to this truth, for I know that my Redeemer lives! 

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


How Justified Ones Suffer

Sermon Notes/September 26, 2010
Cornerstone Fellowship Bible Church/Pastor Milton Vincent 


Therefore, since we have  been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 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.   -Romans 5:1-8

1.  Keep exulting in your Justification during your tribulations (v. 1-3).
–  Tribulations: struggles, pressure, afflictions which distress the soul (Rom. 2:9; I Cor. 7:28; I Thess. 3:7)
–  We continue to exult in our Justification even in the midst of hardship.
–  Don’t let trials kill the joy you have in your Justification.
–  Paul was well acquainted with suffering. (Acts 9:16)
–  Paul describes his suffering. (2 Cor. 11:23-28)

2. Be exulting in the tribulations themselves, knowing that God is doing good to you through them (v. 3-5).
–  The Gospel is more than just a tiny piece of good news that fits into all of our trials.
–  There is a golden coin in the mouth of every trial.
–  Your Heavenly Father forces your trials to do good to you. He subjugates our trials to us and forces them to pay tribute to us.
–  God does not necessarily answer us immediately. God uses trials to give us something – endurance.  Notice that in verse 3, endurance is the first character quality mentioned. Endurance first, then the rest of the qualities.
–  In this life, we can even get what we hope for and be disappointed, but our hope in Glory will not disappoint!

“I have learned to kiss the wave that strikes me against the Rock of Ages.”  -Spurgeon

3.  Go to the cross and contemplate that Christ suffered, too.
–  Paul goes to the cross. Christ suffers to the ultimate extent all the way to the point of death. There is no pain we feel that He did not feel at the cross. We never suffer alone.

4.  At the cross, contemplate the suffering that Christ absorbed so you would not have to (v. 6).
–  So that we, the ungodly, would not have to suffer God’s wrath
–  There is suffering we don’t have to experience because He experienced it.
–  Christ spared us from what we deserve.
–  Be thankful for what God is NOT giving you (wrath). But then, be thankful and appreciate what He DOES give us…overflowing blessings in Christ.

5.  Wonder at your unworthiness of so great a love and so great a rescue (v. 6 & 7)!
–  Why me? Be amazed at what God has done for me, a sinner!




Standing Firm in Suffering

Sermon notes – Pastor Karlos Limtiaco – Cornerstone Fellowship Bible Church, August 1, 2010

For more information or to download sermons, please visit Cornerstone Fellowship Bible Church website at www.cornerstonebible.org.

A note from Terrie: These are my notes taken during our church service on Sunday mornings. I will do my best to represent each sermon faithfully and post by Friday evening. Please keep in mind that these notes are just that, notes, and are a condensed version of the sermon. My prayer is that not only will these posts help me to think about God’s Word and how to apply it to my life, but that each post will encourage others to do the same.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.  I Peter 4:12-13


1. Suffering does not mean that you are not loved (v. 12, “Beloved”).
Peter uses the word, “Beloved”. Peter’s love for the readers is rooted in God’s love. In the midst of suffering, know that God loves you.

2. Suffering is not abnormal (v.12, “do not be surprised”).
Trials should not catch us by surprise. The Bible is full of examples of people who go through suffering. In Genesis, Cain kills Abel. God allows Job, a righteous man, to suffer trials at the hand of Satan. In Hebrews 11 we read about Moses who endured ill-treatment. Paul himself goes through suffering and persecution. Jesus suffered persecution and those who follow Him will, too (I Peter 2:21-25).

3. Suffering can be difficult (v. 12, “fiery ordeal”). 
Suffering is painful. A fiery ordeal is designed to be a test. Part of what God wants to do is reveal to us the condition of our hearts. Trials often accomplish that. God also wants to show us who He is through testing us. There are many people in other parts of the world who are suffering for the Gospel.

4. Suffering serves a purpose in life (v. 12, “which comes upon you for your testing”).
God’s purpose is to purify us through testing. It is for our sanctification.

5. Suffering is never by chance (v. 12, “as though some strange thing were happening to you”).
All trials are filtered through and come by way of the loving hand of God. God is absolutely Sovereign over the suffering we must face. All trials are ultimately for His Glory and for our good (Romans 8:28).

When I put the Sovereignty of God beside His unfailing love, my heart can be at rest.  -Verdell Davis

6. Suffering is limited in scope (v. 13, “but to the degree”).
Our suffering is only to a point. No one will ever suffer as much as Christ did on the cross. He was separated from the Father so that we would not have to be. God will not allow you to be tempted more than you are able (I Cor. 10:13).

7. Suffering is a privilege (v. 13, “you share the sufferings of Christ”).
We share in fellowship with Christ in the midst of our suffering. It has been granted for us to suffer for His sake (Philippians 1:29). Suffering identifies us with the cross and we can rejoice in that.

8. Suffering is to be viewed in the light of the crucifixion of Christ (v.13, “the sufferings of Christ”).
The temptation for us is to focus on ourselves rather than the cross. Focus on the cross and so identify with Christ.

9. Suffering can and should be accompanied by rejoicing (v.13, “keep on rejoicing”).
Keep on rejoicing even in our trials. It is a command given on the other side of the cross. (See I Peter 1:6.)

10. Suffering is to be viewed in the light of the return of Christ (v.13, “at the revelation of His glory”).
Rest assured, Christ will return. Allow this to encourage you through trials and troubles.

11. Suffering provides an opportunity for increased rejoicing when Christ does return (v. 13, “so that…you may rejoice with exultation”).
The trials of this life will sweeten the day when we see Him face to face!

This is the true Grace of God, our trials, the Gospel, standing in the midst of trials. Don’t run from suffering, but STAND FIRM IN IT! (See I Peter 5:12.)

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