Amazing Grace in a Punkerish Place

by Patti Richter

My friend Cindi, in the words of Dr. Seuss, has been in a “terribly prickly place.”

Cindi undergoes intermittent treatments for an incurable cancer. Her husband, during Cindi’s recent round of chemotherapy, suffered an unexpected health crisis of his own and spent a week in the hospital recovering from surgery. At home alone that week, Cindi received the sad news of her father’s death; she had to make the difficult decision to miss his out-of-state funeral. Despite all of this, Cindi maintains a hopeful attitude and a genuine smile.

Dr. Seuss offers a bright perspective on tough circumstances through light-hearted verse:

It’s a troublesome world. All the people who’re in it are troubled with troubles almost every minute, however, “Duckie! Don’t Grumble! Don’t stew! Some critters are… much more unlucky than you!”  (From Dr. Seuss’ book, Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?)

Some critters, however, will serve a term—whether long or short—as one of those “much more unlucky” ones. Consider, for example: those who opened a new restaurant, store, or fitness center in early 2020; Nigerian students kidnapped for ransom or worse intentions; the majority of citizens of North Korea.

A man named Job became famous for his suffering. Though considered blameless by God and man, Job lost his children, his wealth, and, finally, his health. At first, Job responded in humility and faith, saying, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” But as his health deteriorated, Job “cursed the day of his birth” (Job 1:21; 3:1 ESV).

We can’t always look on the bright side, especially from within a deep pit. Sometimes we’ll need more than bootstraps to pull ourselves up. In desperation, we may be tempted to either give up hope or else look for rescue in the wrong place.

Righteous Job began to lose hope in God. His anxiety and anger were quelled only after he experienced God in his midst—speaking to him! And though Job received no explanation for the purpose of his suffering, he gained sufficient peace through God’s awesome presence.

A king named Asa once sought help in the wrong place. Though he mostly “did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 14:2 ESV), he wrongly sought Syria’s protection by paying silver and gold. A prophet warned Asa, “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him” (16:2, 9 ESV).

Most of us are cannot claim to be as blameless as Job or mostly good like Asa. We don’t deserve the favor of God’s watchful care. Yet, through faith in Christ Jesus, we are made acceptable to the Father as “members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:18-19 ESV); and we have “obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand” (Romans 5:2 ESV). 

We need not fear being “left all alone in some punkerish place like a rusty tin coat hanger hanging in space.” (Again from Suess’ Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?)

Suffering saints and martyrs testify of the unfailing grace of God through the One who died, rose again, and says, “Behold I am with you always” (Matthew 28:28 ESV). If, like my friend Cindi, we believe God raised Jesus from the grave, we know he will also raise us.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:14 16 ESV.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at BlueRibbonNews.com with more than four hundred published articles.

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Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: Are you in a “punkerish place”?

Crisis

by Cynthia Simmons @CynthiaLSimmons

…Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him. Job 13:15 NIV

The change came suddenly. One Saturday morning, my husband, Ray, and I sat on the couch chatting. In a second, an odd expression crossed his face, and I wondered what upset him. I watched in horror as his limbs jerked and twitched. Plus, he didn’t respond when I called his name. Seizure. Seconds passed as I argued with my inner RN, refusing to believe what I saw. My husband was healthy–except he’d had a temperature and headache. Our doctor diagnosed the flu, which didn’t cause convulsions.

Ray’s body teetered, and he came close to sliding off the sofa. I pried myself away to summon my oldest son for help. The two of us eased my husband onto the carpet. Once I had Ray on his side surrounded by pillows, I reached my doctor who said to call an ambulance. Soon flashing lights and sirens filled the air, and neither of those brought calm. I longed for the EMTs to rush my husband to the hospital and unearth the problem. Instead, the techs pelted me with questions over and over. Gradually, Ray woke up both angry and uncooperative, not normal behavior for my sweet husband. His condition worried me.

Once in the emergency room, doctors diagnosed encephalitis, an infection of the brain. The specialist who managed his case found the exact virus right away and prescribed the appropriate drug. She said we were fortunate to find the cause so quickly. However, I kept watching Ray’s level of consciousness and his confusion, and I knew his condition was serious. At one point, I cried after the stress of the day, but the night nurse fussed at me. She said my tears could delay his recovery, so I sucked in my feelings and acted braver than I felt.

The next day, a neurologist dropped in and fired questions at my husband. Ray couldn’t wake up enough to understand and gave garbled replies. After listening to my husband’s failed communication, the doctor took me out in the hall and divulged grim news.  Apparently, my husband never had the flu, which meant the infection had more time to damage his brain. This doctor predicted months of physical therapy to reteach him motor and language skills. His prognosis overwhelmed me. Later, I discovered the other doctors held back their predictions to avoid oppressing me.

Looking back, I’m so grateful I had read Edith Schaeffer’s work. She had written about her husband’s ministry and final illness in her book, Tapestry. She stressed we would all experience hardships in life and our response to pain mattered, since the spirit world would observe us.

Consider Job. Satan believed he would turn against God if he lost his family, so God allowed testing. Can you imagine all the angels watching? I’m sure demons stayed nearby too. Job mourned by shaving his head and tearing his clothes after losing his children. However, job responded with: “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21 NKJV). When Satan then took his health, Job still didn’t blame God. He was determined to trust God no matter what: “…Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (Job 13:15 NIV).

Job’s story, along with insight into the spiritual realm, gave me incredible strength as I cared for my husband in those dark days. Since I had just started writing, I suspected this was battle raging in the unseen world to keep me from being effective. I struggled with exhaustion, worry, and fear as my husband inched toward a new normal, but I never accused God of hurting me. I was determined to walk through it all knowing the Lord walked with me. He would use it all in time for His glory.

When life suddenly changes, remember Job. Stay close to God while you grieve.

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Crisis – encouragement when life is hard from @CynthiaLSimmons on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Cynthia-Simmons-5About the author: Former home school mother of five, Cynthia has a special spot in her heart for young moms and loves to encourage all women to pursue God. She hosts Heart of the Matter Radio, and writes inspirational fiction and non-fiction.  Find her at www.clsimmons.com.

Join the conversation: Have you had a crisis in your life that challenged your faith in God?