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Faith & Suffering

“For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in Him but also suffer for His sake…”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭1:29‬

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33 Weeks

33 Weeks

How am I feeling?

The last few days I’ve been really struggling with acid reflux/heartburn. After a particularly bad bout, I swore off the following last night: chocolate, Cheetos, popcorn, and salsa. (And yes, this means I ate all of those things last night… in what I thought were very tiny quantities though!) How long did my resolve last for? Until this morning when I popped some M&M’s haha. But definitely going to keep my late night snacking to a minimum after last night’s misery. Also, online research suggests eating very small acid-free meals and not drinking liquids with meals will help the discomfort.

Kenny pointed out to me too that I’ve been carrying small, and our Lamaze teacher said that’s often worse because that means the baby is squished back into you and your organs are impacted even more. Given that Baby Yee is averaged sized according to the OBGYN, this definitely seems like a possibility.

In terms of other woes, I know it’s TMI, but I also have a mild yeast infection. Yay. Haha. Supposedly they’re very common during pregnancy due to hormone changes?

Sleep-wise I’ve actually been doing better! I’ve been sleeping through the night more regularly and not waking up as much.

Baby Yee continues to be active. Last night when I was sitting up quite late due to my acid reflux troubles, I was getting sleepy and slouched over to the side. Baby promptly kicked me with such aggression that it forced me into an upright position. It was as if she was saying, “hey man, you’re squishing me in here!”

Cravings-wise, I’ve noticed my cravings have morphed again. My new chocolate obsession is anything caramel-y, mostly Twix. Also after months and months of eating 5-6 Cuties a day (and I would’ve eaten more if 6+ didn’t give me gastro problems!), I’ve dropped the tangerine fixation and have been really into unsweetened apple sauce. Still really into fries too, but trying very hard to resist.

Other Updates

Thanks so much to Deb Han for throwing my family/Lifesong friends shower this weekend!! Had such a wonderful time with family and especially catching up with old Lifesong friends. I was reminded too of how good God was in using the Lifesong community to heal me back when I was really struggling (more on suffering/trials in the next section). As I’ve said many times, on the outside, attending Lifesong after college seemed to make very little sense, but God absolutely did use that redemptive community to simply love and heal me. So very, very grateful to Him.

Also, had the pleasure of hosting Miss Steph this weekend! Like fools, we stayed up until 2am? 3am? Friday night trying to relive our college days, and I think I’m STILL paying for it haha.

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At Flame Broiler. This is the happiest I saw her all weekend.

What is God saying?

So as I mentioned in my last post, I had an especially hard time spending time with God last week. This week, it wasn’t as difficult, though Kenny and I did notice what seemed to be an increase in warfare around last night’s BSF, which was centered on the topic of suffering.

Suffering. Thankfully in this season, the worst I’ve had to “suffer” would be my symptoms of pregnancy, but as we reflected this past week on suffering, it was, well, informative? Interesting? Not sure how to describe it.

Last Wednesday, I really did not want to do my devo, but I kind of just resolved to do it and started the week’s BSF lesson on suffering. Amazingly, as God would have it, the things I reflected on that night came up the very next day as I met up with one of our youth kids. At the end of the night, both she and I marveled at how similar our lives were and how so many of the things I had gone through were paralleled in her life. I’m convinced that this is why God had me reflect on times of suffering the night before. In His sovereignty, He was helping me prepare to share with her. And I’m sure I could have shared with her even without the preparation, but I think because I had spent time considering the past the night before, I was better equipped to empathize and give her wise counsel.

Even now, years later and in a “good” season of life, it still is hard to look back at times of struggle and trial. Let’s face it. No one likes suffering, but it is a byproduct of a fallen world.

Every person who lives on this earth will eventually experience some type of suffering. Yes, some seem to have it worse than others, but there is not a single person who will not be touched at some point in their life by trials.

As Gina shared in lecture last night, how we react in times of trial reveals our hearts and what our relationship with God is like. If we are fully honest, there is not a person who would not cry out against God and question when suffering is thrust in our face. But it’s where we go from there that matters. Will we reject God? Will we press into Him? Will we still choose to trust Him even amidst pain?

As I shared with my young friend last Thursday, I’ve responded to pain in my life in different ways. Sometimes I did turn to God. Sometimes I turned to sin. Sometimes I chose to cry out to God and pray. Other times, I chose to masochistically dwell and stay in pain. I’ve tried stuffing pain, as Gina also covered yesterday. Stuffing it all down and pretending it’s not there.

Essentially, there are times when I handled trials well, allowing them the draw me closer into Jesus, and times when I did not handle them well, allowing them to pull me further away.

Looking back, I see two things:

1) I never regret the times that I turned to Jesus. Reflecting to just after senior year (and of course I didn’t handle that season perfectly), I am so grateful that I did turn to Jesus. I remember telling Him, “now what!? You’ve taken almost everything I care about away! What more could You take?” And yet, by His grace, though again I did waver at times, I tried my best to remain in Him.

2) There is grace. TREMENDOUS grace. Even in the times when I did not turn to Jesus and instead turned away from Him or even very blatantly turned to sin, I can see that there was/is so much grace for me.

A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out. In faithfulness He will bring forth justice.

Isaiah 42:3

We can always turn back to Him. God is so full of love and grace and mercy for us. He is that father of the prodigal son, just pacing and looking and waiting for us to turn back to Him.

Even when we do let the worries and cares of this world or the heartaches and sufferings carry us away, God is still filled with love and grace. He understands. He knows. He empathizes with us. He realizes it is difficult when we endure hardship and don’t know why He would allow such pain.

Not only that, but 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 5:3-5

Suffering ultimately produces hope.

What is the hope in suffering? The hope is that one day we will no longer suffer. God is so concerned with our suffering and with our pain, that He sent His Son to walk among us, to be the “man of sorrows,” to suffer so that our suffering would have an end, and we can one day live in a reality that is free of pain.

The hope of suffering is that it also allows us to press into God through our pain in ways I don’t think we can any other way. Looking back on the little I have suffered, I realize that I wouldn’t trade those times of heartache and pain for anything.

Suffering allowed me to know God better, to see His all-sufficiency. Suffering refined me and rid me of relationship idolatry which was poisoning my relationships/me. Suffering filled me with a hatred for and vigilance over sexual sin. And though I’m still a work in progress in that area, I’ve experienced more and more freedom because of it. Suffering has helped me know Jesus better, understand Him more, and know the peace He promises even when it makes no sense. And suffering has helped me grow in how I love, understand, and empathize with others.

There is tremendous hope in suffering. And though at least in this season, I have not had to suffer much, my hope is that when suffering does touch me again, by God’s grace I will be able to suffer well and use it to press further into Him.

 

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God does not answer Job’s questions. It’s as though God starts off His message to the world by explaining that there are painful realities in life we cannot and will never understand. Instead, He appears to Job in a whirlwind and asks Job if he knows who stops the waves on the shores or stores the snow in Wichita every winter. He asks Job who manages the constellations that reel through the night sky.

And that is essentially all God says to Job. God doesn’t explain pain philosophically or even all its benefits. God says to Job, Job, I know what I am doing, and this whole thing isn’t about you.

Job responds, even before his health and wealth are restored by saying, “All of this is too wonderful for me.” Job found contentment and even joy, outside the context of comfort, health, or stability. He understood the story was not about him, and he cared more about the story than he did himself.

Donald Miller (A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, 197)
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…but we also rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.

Romans 5:3-5