Intentional Pain

Many of you know that 2 weeks ago I underwent my last breast cancer radiation treatment. Unfortunately, I recently had to return to my oncologist due to the excessive pain and burning of my skin.

The condition of my skin was worsening. I was told that it would get worse but in my mind, there was no way it should be this bad.

The oncologist said that yes my skin was worse than what most radiation patients experience but for my particular situation the condition of my skin was normal. He said that he intentionally wanted my skin to burn this bad and that I may be suffering now but I’d be thanking him later.

The statement my oncologist made really got me thinking about intentional suffering resulting in a better tomorrow for ourselves or for others. In particular, how God allows suffering for a greater purpose.

Noah endured over 100 years of hard work, ridicule, and opposition to build an ark that God told him to build in order to save himself, his family, and the animals from being destroyed in the flood [Genesis 6-8].

Through Noah’s intended suffering, God saved the human race and the animals and we are here today to read about Noah’s faith and be encouraged by it.

Joseph was hated by his brothers. They sold him as a slave and he was taken to Egypt. While there, he was falsely accused of rape and spent many years in prison. Later he found favor in the eyes of Pharaoh and was placed in charge of all of Egypt; saving the world from starvation [Genesis 37-41].

In Genesis 50:20 Joseph says to his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

Ruth, a Moabite, married into a Jewish family. Her father-in-law died, her brother-in-law died, and her own husband died. She had a choice to make. Go back to her Moabite family or go with her mother-in-law, Naomi, to a foreign country to start over.

Ruth chose to stay with Naomi. In a foreign land, she worked hard gleaning grain so she and Naomi could eat. That’s when she met Boaz. They ended up getting married and having a son named Obed; the grandfather of David [Ruth 1-4].

God intentionally allowed Ruth’s suffering so that through her David would be born. We are still learning many lessons from the life and faith of both Ruth and David. Not to mention, Jesus is in their genealogy [Matthew 1:1-17].

Jesus was born to die. He left His place in heaven, came to earth, and was born of a virgin. He lived a life of obedience to His Heavenly Father. His life and death were a sacrifice for all of us. Because of His sacrificial death on the cross, we have forgiveness of sins and eternal life [Colossians 1:13-14].

Jesus rose from the dead, defeating death, hell, and the grave. Through Him, believers, also have victory over death, hell, and the grave [1 Corinthians 15:54-57, Revelation 1:18].

Oh, that’s not all, Jesus then ascended to the Father where He sits at His right hand forever living to make intercession for us [Romans 8:34].

And not only that, He sent His Holy Spirit to dwell within every believer; filling them with the Spirit of the Lord, wisdom, understanding, counsel, power, knowledge, and the fear of God [Isaiah 11:2].

God intentionally allowed Jesus to suffer for the benefit of the whole world.

Isaiah 53:10 But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands.

What pain are you currently going through? Maybe, like Noah, you are being ridiculed for your faith. Maybe people think you are foolish as you obey God and walk in His ways day after day.

Maybe, like Joseph, you are hated or have been betrayed by those closest to you. Maybe your own family. Maybe you’ve been wrongly accused of something and are being punished for something you didn’t do.

Maybe, like Ruth, you have lost a spouse and with them your provision or hope for starting your own family. Maybe you’ve had to move to a strange place with strange people and strange customs. Maybe you have to work a back-breaking job every day to feed yourself and a loved one.

Have you considered that God has intentionally allowed your suffering for a greater purpose?

What do Noah, Joseph, Ruth, and Jesus have in common? They all obeyed God and trusted Him and His plan. And that’s what we have to do.

We have to resist self-pity and stay focused on God and His word. We have to keep moving forward and never give up hope for a better tomorrow.

Romans 8:18, 28 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

~Patrice Maguire

Prayer for salvation: Dear God, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Journey/Week 7

As I wait for the radiation oncologist to contact me, letting me know what my next steps are, I’ve been reading a book about breast cancer. The book goes into detail about everything concerning breast cancer: types, procedures, treatment options, treatment side effects, etc.

The more I read the book the more I don’t like my cancer treatment options. There are no win-win options. Some of the long term side effects/collateral damage are disconcerting. It’s discouraging, to say the least.

I feel like a child being dragged along kicking and screaming to a place I don’t want to go. That’s how my week has been. It’s been a real struggle! As I told my husband while sitting at the kitchen table crying, “I don’t want to do it! I don’t want cancer treatment!”

When we get discouraged we sometimes want to quit or run away. I can’t even tell you how many times I have considered literally running away from this whole situation. Just get in my jeep and drive and drive. But what would that get me? Where would it get me? I’d be no better off than I am right now. As a matter of fact, I’d be worse off.

Jonah ran away. God had given him an assignment. God told him to go to a place he didn’t like to preach to people he didn’t like. To Jonah, the assignment was undesirable and unwanted. When he ran away he experienced nothing but trouble. But God didn’t let Jonah off that easy. God continued to pursue him until Jonah hit rock bottom.

Sometimes rock bottom looks like the inside of the belly of a whale. Can you imagine the smell? Rebellion stinks!

Jonah prayed and the Lord rescued him. Then told him to go back and complete his assignment. Jonah, learning his lesson, obeyed the Lord, went to where God had told him to go and did what God had told him to do. As a result, many people repented and were rescued from destruction. Unfortunately, Jonah’s attitude never improved. He obeyed reluctantly! [Jonah 1-4]

I don’t believe the Lord has given me breast cancer, but I do believe He has allowed it. Therefore, it is His will and part of His plan for a greater purpose.

Isaiah 53:10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer, and though the Lord makes His life an offering for sin, He will see His offspring and prolong His days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in His hand.

God’s will is to use my health crisis for His glory and for the good of others including myself. For my good by using it to change me and to draw me into a deeper relationship with Him. For the good of others by using me to share my experiences with those that need encouragement and hope as they go through a crisis.

I don’t want to be like Jonah; running away from God and the assignment He has given me. I don’t want to have a bad attitude going into cancer treatment.

Who knows how God can use this undesirable, unwanted situation? Maybe there is someone in the cancer treatment center who needs hope and encouragement. Maybe that someone is me. Who knows? God knows! He has a plan! It’s not my job to understand. It’s my job to trust and obey.

I don’t want to reluctantly obey, I want to go into treatment with a good attitude expecting to see God move in amazing ways; changing me and those around me. And by God’s grace, I’ll be able to do just that.

I want to respond to my assignment the way Jesus did.

Luke 22:42 “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”

Hebrews 12:2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer, and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

As a result of Jesus’ obedience, our sins are forgiven and eternal life is available to all who accept His gift.

What unwanted, undesirable situation are you facing today? Job relocation? Cancer treatment? Dialysis? Jury duty? Being kind to a grumpy neighbor? Diet change? Exercise? Disconnecting yourself from negative friends? It could be anything, seemingly large or small. If it’s an assignment from God, it’s important.

God is wanting to change our perspective on the assignment He has given us. He wants us to see it through His eyes; from His perspective. Imagine the amazing things God could do in us and through us if we just decide to trust and obey Him.

Will you willingly accept your God-given assignment today? Will you accept it with a good attitude, expecting to see God work in amazing ways in you and through you?

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.

~Patrice Maguire

Prayer for salvation: Dear God, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a Test! This is Only a Test!

Tax season! Ugh! Need I say more? Well, I’ll say just a little more.

Recently, I had taken all of our required tax documents to the local tax professionals to have our income taxes calculated and prepared. I went in hopeful and optimistic but I left confused and, I must admit, more than a little upset.

Outwardly I maintained self-control but inwardly I wanted to cry. As a matter of fact, I did cry a little when I got back into my automobile. When I contacted my husband to let him know the results, he was very disappointed as well.

You see, my husband and I had finally managed to build our savings back up after buying a house with 15 acres a year ago. We were hoping to be able to start some needed home repairs and improvement projects soon.

Well, with the results of the income tax calculations we found that we owed all of the money we had saved. Imagine our shock and disappointment.

I spent the rest of the day feeling a little sick to my stomach and letdown. My husband was angry and depressed.

I had a decision to make. Was I going to allow the loss of our savings to determine my joy?  Was I going to be bitter and angry at the government? Was I going to put my trust in money or in God? After much prayer and with a lot of help from the Holy Spirit, I chose to put my trust in God.

Hebrews 4:16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

The tax incident happened on a Thursday. Friday morning I made the decision that I was not going to allow the loss of money to determine my behavior or my joy.

Money is not my God! God is my God! He is able to provide me with more money if I need it. He is my source and my provider. He meets all my needs!

Because I moved my focus from money to God, I went from being angry about losing all of our savings to being thankful that we had the money to pay our taxes.

2 Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

As soon as I made the decision to trust God, to keep my eyes focused on Him, and to be thankful instead of resentful, my joy returned.

Psalm 107:22 Let them sacrifice thank offerings and tell of His works with songs of joy.

That Saturday, my husband and I went to the tax professional to ask a lot of questions and to sign papers. While there, mistakes were discovered and we ended up owing about a tenth of what was originally projected.

Wow! Talk about rejoicing! My husband and I were so relieved.

I was reminded of an incident in the bible where God asked Abraham to offer his son Isaac to Him as a sacrifice. Abraham must have been confused by God’s request but He willingly agreed to do what God had asked him to do. As Abraham was just about to kill Isaac on the altar of sacrifice, God intervened and said, “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” [Genesis 22:1-19]

It was a test! God was testing Abraham’s heart. God wanted to know that He was Abraham’s number one. Abraham passed the test!

That’s when I realized that the whole tax mishap was a test. God was testing my heart. God wanted to know if my trust was in Him or in money? He wanted to know if I would willingly offer my savings on the altar of sacrifice? He wanted to know if I would still trust Him if He took away what He had given me? God wanted to know if He was my number one.

What is God asking you to be willing to sacrifice to show your love and devotion to Him? Time, money, food, entertainment, friends? It may not be something negative. God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son; the son that God had promised him and had given him. Are you willing to sacrifice your ministry, gifts, and talents; things that God has given you?

God wants to be your number one. Is He your number one?

~Patrice Maguire

Dear God, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

 

Titanic

Believe it or not, I’d never watched the movie “Titanic” from start to finish. I’d seen bits and pieces here and there but never the whole movie.

I’m not a fan of movies that I know will end unhappily. I like happy endings.

On Valentine’s Day, I decided to do something about that. I watched “Titanic;” well half of it. I watched the other half the next night.

As I was watching, I took note of the statements that were used to describe the Titanic; ship of dreams, unsinkable, unchallengeable supremacy, stability in strength and size, and solid as a rock.

The passengers of the Titanic had put their faith and trust in the hopes that those descriptions were trustworthy. They had put their faith and trust in a man-made ship, the people who had made the ship, and the captain of the ship; all things and people that are fallible.

While on the ship, the people went about their lives without a care in the world; certain that they would reach their planned destination. Then they ran into trouble and suddenly they were left confused, afraid, angry, disappointed, and hopeless. Most of them were destroyed.

We all put our faith in something!

What do you put your faith and trust in? Do you put your faith in politicians? Your education? Your career? Marriage or a spouse? Your children and their future? Money? The Stockmarket? The government? Doctors? Yourself? The list could go on and on.

There was a time that I had placed my faith in the fact that if I raised my children properly, they would never go astray. I was putting my faith in my abilities as a parent.

There have been times when I’ve put my trust in people to meet my emotional needs and to keep me happy. I have even put my faith in myself and the ability to protect myself and to meet my own needs.

In every one of those instances, I ran into trouble and was left feeling confused, afraid, angry, disappointed, and hopeless. Without God’s intervention, my life could have been destroyed.

Through trial and error, I’ve come to realize that putting my faith and trust in God and Him alone ultimately never ends in disappointment or devastation. Sure, I don’t always understand what God is up to, where He’s taking me or why He’s taking so long, but it is comforting to know that He knows what He’s up to.

God’s way is always the best way and His timing is perfect. He is a sovereign God!

Deuteronomy 32:4 He is the Rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He.

Life is a voyage-a journey. We can always trust God to get us to our final destination in His way and on His time schedule. We will have plenty of obstacles along the way but as long as we abide in Him we are ultimately safe from destruction.

Proverbs 18:10 The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.

God is unsinkable and unmovable! His supremacy is unchallengeable! He is stable! His size and strength are unmatched! He is our Rock and sure foundation!

Isaiah 26:4 Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord Himself, is the Rock eternal.

Now that is something to put your faith and trust in!

~Patrice Maguire

Dear God, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

 

 

Camp Fear or Camp Faith

Last week I received a photo from my son who is in the military. He had taken a photo of a windshield with multiple cracks in it.

The cracked windshield belongs to the C-130 that my son was traveling in from Nashville to MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina. The damage took place during the flight. Nothing hit the windshield; it simply broke.

I’m no expert on broken windshields mid-flight but I know enough to understand that it is potentially dangerous. I once read about a co-pilot who was nearly sucked from the cockpit when the plane’s windshield suddenly shattered (cbsnews.com).

I’m a follower of Christ who is also a mom. I have normal mom reactions to things that involve my children. I am human after all. In this situation, the first reaction that wanted to dominate my mind and emotions was fear.

I had a decision to make at that very moment. Was I going to pitch my tent at Camp Fear or at Camp Faith?

I’ve been to the miserable Camp Fear many times. It’s very easy to find. I’m pretty sure everyone has been to it at least once. It’s an extremely popular hangout. There is actually one around every turn. Unfortunately the longer you stay there the harder it is to leave. It’s an immensely comfortable place.

There is never a shortage of fellow like-minded campers who discourage you from leaving so you can stay to keep them company. You can sign up for daily activities which include doubt, anxiety, pessimism, and gloom. At Camp Fear, the tears flow like whine and there are many pity parties to attend.

The other choice of camps, that were available to me that day, is Camp Faith. I’ve been frequenting this camp more often than Camp Fear lately. It’s not as easy to find as the alternative choice but it can be found if you ask the right people. You’ll know who they are when you see them. They are the ones with smiles on their faces and positive words coming out of their mouths. There is also a map (the Bible) that gives directions leading straight to Camp Faith.

I much prefer this camp over the other option. Once there, you never want to leave. The other attendants of this camp are always so encouraging, cheerful, and friendly. This camp also offers daily activities including trust, peace, joy, and optimism. There aren’t as many people at this camp as Camp Fear. However, this camp is much more enjoyable. There is plenty of laughter and tranquility to be experienced. And victory celebrations are a frequent occurrence.

Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

How do you react to unsettling situations that could have potentially resulted in a disaster? Do you choose to allow fear to overtake you and your thoughts to take you to a place of would’ve could’ve should’ve? Or do you choose to trust God and thank Him for the positive outcome?

Fear is a result of a lack of trust in God. You can’t trust someone you don’t know. To get to know God you have to spend time with Him. You have to talk to Him (pray), read about Him, and study Him by reading and studying the Bible; God’s word.

Once you know God and His character, you will trust Him more and fear will disappear. Once you come to know that He is in control of all things, you will see fear as pointless. Once you come to know how much God loves you and cares for you, your fears will dissipate.

Once you experience Camp Faith, you will never go back to Camp Fear. Switch camps today! You’ll never regret it!

~Patrice Maguire

Prayer for salvation: Dear God, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

 

Forgetting What is Behind

For the past couple of months, we have had a lot of deer flies and horse flies on our property and around our house. Before that, our dog Autumn thoroughly enjoyed running around at the back of our fifteen acres. We would take her back there and she would run around and explore; smelling everything and just enjoying being free and enjoying life in general. When the flies arrived on the scene that all ended. She was even afraid to just go outside.

The flies are pretty much gone now. There may be a stray one here and there but nothing like it had been. However, Autumn is not convinced. Thankfully, she isn’t afraid to go outside anymore. It took her a while to trust that the flies were gone. But she still won’t go beyond the fence on her own.

Recently my husband wanted to prove to her that the flies were no longer at the back of the property either. He opened the gate and coaxed her beyond the fence. She reluctantly followed him. He kept encouraging her to go a little further and a little further. The whole while she would continually stop and look back at the house. They got more than halfway through the backyard and she had gone as far as she could go. She stopped, turned around and ran back home. She anxiously sat at the back door waiting for it to open to safety.

My husband wasn’t going to give up that easily so he put the leash on her and took her back out there. This time taking her all the way to the back of the fifteen mostly wooded acres. She was frightened the entire time and constantly wanted to go back to the house. My husband was certain she would begin to understand that the flies were gone and that she could go back to enjoying life and running free again. Unfortunately, she was never convinced. She was so happy to be back home once it was all over.

Isn’t that just like us? We want to hold on to what’s comfortable and safe even though it may be keeping us from something better. It’s just easier. God is calling us out of our comfort zones and out of our fears. He’s encouraging us to leave our disappointments, our discouragements, and our hurts behind. He’s saying “I have so much more for you. I have a life of peace, joy, and freedom for you. All you have to do is trust Me. I will be with you.”

Philippians 3:13-14  Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. 

~Patrice Maguire