pain

Father Sees and Understands Your Struggle!

Can any comfort be found as we face unthinkable circumstances we never dreamed we would face? How do we survive the pain and sorrow of a world that we were never designed to live in? In this video, Frank invites us into the truth that we are not alone and that there is One who understands our grief and pain and will walk with us through it.

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Only Goodness and Mercy Have Followed Me

As David looks over his life, he sees that "only" goodness and mercy have followed him.

As David looks over his life, he sees that "only" goodness and mercy have followed him.

Psalm 23.

Everyone knows this beloved psalm. He leads me through the valley of the shadow of death. He is my shepherd.

Interesting insight: Remember, David wrote this as an old man. As he reflects on his life and the faithfulness of God to him, he closes the psalm with these words--- "surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life."

Why did I highlight the word "surely"?

Because it can also be translated "only". As David looks over his life, he sees that "only" goodness and mercy have followed him. What does that mean? That even the pain and sorrow and tears have led to and been overwhelmed by the goodness and mercy of God.

Wow. I think of Rev 7:17 and 21:4 - He shall wipe away every tear and THERE SHALL BE NO MORE PAIN.

May this be the reality for all his saints who journey through this valley of the shadow of death, which is life in a fallen world.

May you see the goodness and mercy in your life so fully that you no longer see the pain and sorrow....

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In response to the Sutherland Springs, Texas mass shooting.

In today's post, I'm tackling a very difficult and painful topic. I'm responding to the mass shooting that happened at a Sunday morning church service in Texas this past weekend in which 26 people were killed - ages 17 months to 77 years.

This is one of the lengthiest posts I've ever written - but it is necessary, in order to address this in the fullest possible manner.

- Frank


Oh my goodness, ANOTHER MASS SHOOTING! And this time it was a church! WHY? That is the haunting question – why is this happening?

Immediately upon the voice leaving the lips with that haunting question, there are those who will herald loudly that it is God’s discipline or judgment on America! They cry out that God has removed His protective hand from a nation that has turned its back on Him. Oh, my friends, why does God always get the blame when something bad happens?

The Scriptures are full of declarations of how good and loving God is, in both the Old and the New Testaments, so why the rush to pin all the bad things on a good, good God?

On the other side of the equation are those who are so quick to defend the reputation of God that they herald just as loudly that God had nothing to do with it, it is just the result of living in a fallen world that is replete with evil and sinful men. We need to remember that God has in his great love, not created robots. He created men with a free choice, and given men the right to exercise that choice, and some men, under the influence of the enemy and their own sinful natures, make very bad choices to hurt other people.

Let’s add some more to this supposition. Could we not also add that this rise in crime and evil is the fruit of a society and culture that abandoned God in the 1960’s? In that decade of “liberation” – we not only removed prayer from schools, we also removed the teaching of Christian ethics and even the concept of the existence of God. Evolution became the standard teaching, wherein man has simply evolved to become the supreme animal, and so he is simply doing today as he has been taught. He is nothing more than a primal animal that has evolved to the top of the food chain, but without a moral compass he is free to do whatever his sinful heart desires to do, and he is choosing to be very, very wicked.

My friends, we need to be biblically honest when confronted with these horrible realities of life. God is good, yes He is. He is so absolutely good, that there is no evil that dwells in Him at all, so says the book of James and God cannot lie (Titus 1:2).

So let’s get this straight from the beginning, He did NOT cause these recent mass shootings! These horrors were the fruit of the choice of sinful men with evil as their source. On the other hand, let’s remember that God is also omnipotent, so powerful that nothing is impossible with God! This confronts us with a harsh reality:

Though God had NOTHING to do with causing these wicked men from exercising their evil choices, He could certainly have intervened and stopped them in an instant, should He have chosen to do so.

We need to remember this biblical fact and stop trying to defend the reputation of God in these matters, because the truth is God does not even defend His own reputation. Have you ever read Exodus 4:4? There God tells us that He makes the deaf and the dumb, and does not even clarify why He would do such thing! How can that be?

As a parent of two children with special needs, I have repeatedly asked "How can a good God do such a thing and even admit that He does it?" 

Please note my friend, that even in the context of heralding that reality, God offers no explanation at all as to why He would say and do that! And how about Job, poor old Job. Remember all the calamities that God allowed into His life? And in the book of Job, it is made clear that God did indeed allow all those things to happen from the hand of the enemy unleashed on Job.

Yet, when Job finally questioned God, all God did was ask His own questions of Job… “Were you there when I hung the stars in the sky and named them? Were you there when I hung the earth in a balance?” Job, overcome by the sheer greatness of God as revealed in these questions, repented of his questioning of God. He can only muster up what really is the only answer we really have to such questions as to why such evil things happen…. Job says, “I used to say I knew you, but now my eyes really see!” I believe Job is saying, “God, I knew you were big before, but now I am beginning to see how really BIG you are!”

And therein lies our answer to why these horrible, horrible realities of life are occurring. We know that it is men exercising their free will to choose to do evil, and we also know that God is allowing such men to exercise their free will.

So why is He allowing this to occur? WE DO NOT KNOW! God is sooooooooooo VERY BIG AND WISE AND GOOD that we in our puny minds are unable to harmonize all that we see with our eyes, with all that we know about God as revealed in the Bible and in the cross of Jesus.

This is where faith comes in. Faith is defined in Hebrews as the “substance of things not yet seen.” We believe, but we do not see. Hmmmmmm….. and what is it that we believe? We believe as we have been told in the Scriptures that God is good, and God is loving, and God is all powerful. We also believe that God has a plan of summing up all things in Jesus (Eph. 1:8-10) and in doing so one day He will restore all the years that the locusts have eaten, and one day He will wipe away all the tears, and one day He will bring beauty out of the ashes, and turn our mourning into joy, and in that day there will be no more pain, and in that day there will be no more tears…

… and in that day there will only be the experience of peace, rest, joy, love, and we will bask in the glory of God. II Cor 4 tells us that His glory is so going to “oppress us” that it is going to be an eternal weight placed upon us that will be so incredible that the sufferings of this world are not even going to be worthy to be compared to the glory that is revealed – and here is the amazing thing – that glory will be revealed IN US! We are going to radiate in our own lives, in our own person, the glory of the Person of God Himself!The God who refuses to allow anyone or anything to compete with His glory, is going to freely share His glory with His kids.

So why is this happening? I don’t know, I am too small to understand how such tragedy can be used by God to accomplish such good. I do know that God and only God could ever pull that off.

So I, bewildered, and perplexed, place my hand in His and
trust Him Who is so much bigger and better than I am.

Please, please, however, do not hear me being “theological” here, or flippant in any way.

Little kids have died and parents now have empty arms.
Parents have died, and little kids have been robbed of their mommies and daddies.
Some have been robbed of their kind and gentle-hearted grandparents!

Wickedness has devastated so many lives; pain reigns and tears flow! So where is God in all this? That is the question I heard on the morning news as a news commentator asked a pastor that very question, “Where is God?” I won’t go into the pastor’s answer. He did well, but in my own heart of hearts, I would have answered differently.

If someone had asked me, “So where is God when things like this happen?” I would have answered very simply, “He is in the same place He was when His own Son got slaughtered by wicked men exercising their free choice to do evil, and His Father's heart was grieving then just like it is grieving right now. Wicked men have exercised their free choice to do evil once again, and His heart is weeping just like our heart is weeping, for we as believers share His same heart!

Well then, why doesn’t He just send the Lord Jesus back right now and put an end to this madness. Oh please hear my heart, I pray that virtually every day, just as the early church prayed. Maranatha, come quickly Lord Jesus! But do you realize, if he came today and did put an end to this world as we know it, so many, so very many people of unbelief would die in their sins and spend an eternity separated from God.

One morning, not long ago, I was praying that Jesus would return soon, and the Lord spoke to my heart and said, “Son, that is a very selfish prayer.” If you know me at all, you will not be surprised by my answer, as I asked the Lord, “Sir, and your point is?” I heard nothing more that morning, I surmise that our Father shook His head as if to say, “What am I going to do with that one?”

I have always been, and I suppose I always will be a “why child” and not settle for overly simplistic Christian jargon or trite cliché. I hope you won’t either.

This is not the time for Christian cliché and jargon.
It is not even a time for contemplation.
 It is a time for action. It is a time, not for “why” but for WHAT!

What are we to do in light of what and who we know about Who God is and longs to be to us! And what are we to do with the horror and degradation and loss that our eyes see on the evening news? II Cor. 1 is the passage that issues forth our marching orders for times such as this! It tells us that we who have been comforted with the comfort with which only God can comfort, are to comfort others!

Oh dear beloved ones of God, do you hear it??

Ours is not to try and figure out what cannot be discerned, ours is to march into the battlefront and unleash the love and care of God into the destruction that the enemy has wrought upon humanity.

Ours is to hold on tight and hug those who mourn, ours is to weep with those who weep, ours is to not try and fix people but just extend the look in the eye and express very little words on our lips.

We cannot fix people who endure such tragedy, so why do we try with such trite stupid phrases like, “It will get better!” or “They are in a better place!”

Don’t you realize that in that moment a mom or dad does not want their child in a better place, they want them in their arms? How insensitive can we be? No, ours is to be quiet, to be available, to love, and if we must speak, if we simply must speak – let it be simple and powerful. “I love you, and I am praying for you!” That is all, and that is enough! In the moment of great anguish, people do not need theology, they need love and comfort and we can be the ones to do that. We can be the ones who offer God the Comforter with skin on…. As we unleash the Spirit of God Who dwells within us unto others to simply love and comfort.

In these very dark days, the world desperately needs to see the light of God, and we are as Jesus said, the light of the world because He, the true light, lives within us to be expressed by us.

As Jesus said, let our good works so shine before men, that the world will have to admit that God is alive because they can see Him in us.

As the Apostle Paul put it in II Cor. 4, “As  the death comes upon us daily from the outside in, the resurrection life can be unleashed by us from the inside out, to overcome the death so that world seeing the death and resurrection lived out in the present tense, will be forced to join the heavenly choir and admit that there is a God!” (My paraphrase). Therefore, we do not quit (II Cor 4:16)

I leave you with the words of Francis of Assissi, “Preach Christ always, and sometimes use words.”

The world has heard our words, it is so dark now they need to see the light of our works – and specifically the works of love and comfort!

 

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It's Not Just Sin, It's The Aftermath

This is what grieves God's heart. You do know that man was NEVER supposed to be concerned with doing right or now doing wrong.

This is what grieves God's heart. You do know that man was NEVER supposed to be concerned with doing right or now doing wrong.

When Adam ate from the tree, he sinned. No buts about it, he sinned. He "missed the mark" and this has been the proclamation of the church ever since. HE SINNED!

Though that is true, I do not believe that is the supreme issue when it comes to our Father's heart! May I illustrate. I also play the role of father, a role given to me from God Himself. When my children sin, when they miss the mark, that bothers me as a father. Of course, it does! They sinned. They missed the mark.

But hear me please, that thought is not what dominates my heart. My heart is consumed with a much greater thought --- and that is not so much that they did wrong, but that they are going to have to suffer some ominous consequences because they did wrong. That is what grieves me... I NEVER want my children to experience what they were never designed to experience. Does that make sense?

Let's run with this then. When Adam sinned, of course that grieved the heart of God. But what grieved the heart of God even more, is what man would have to experience because he did wrong.

Now man is going to experience death.
Now man is going to experience loss.
Now he is going to experience fear, grief, sorrow, anxiety,
guilt, shame, isolation, independence, and on and on we could go.

All of these are going to occur because man was now divorced from God and now married to the law. A system of performing right and avoiding wrong in an effort to make himself "like God".   And all in an attempt to be "right" independent of God. Now man is going to experience guilt and shame when he does wrong, and he is going to experience pride when he does right.

This is what grieves God's heart. You do know that man was NEVER supposed to be concerned with doing right or now doing wrong. That mindset, that economy, only came into the experience of man because Adam sinned by eating from that tree of right and wrong. Before this event, (this sin) man had no idea of what right and wrong, good and evil were.

All he knew was God, and that was enough.

Sadly, ever since that fateful day, this has been the struggle of man. Not trusting that God is enough. Always laboring instead to do right and not do wrong in a feeble attempt to make himself "ok" independent of God. 

Do you see why the sin of Adam (and any sin of man) grieves the heart of God so? It is not just that man has chosen wrong that sorrows God, but the fact that man is going to now experience the consequence of other than God. As a Father, He wants so much for us as His children. He does not want us pursuing the "doing" of right and the "avoiding" of wrong. That economy is an economy that only came into our experience as a consequence of Adam's sin. 

He wants us to experience Him as the only One Who can make us right,
and express right, through us as we trust Him by faith.

That is why throughout the New Testament He heralds loudly how He rescued us from the law through the Person and Work of Christ so that we could once again be married to God!

What a Father we have. His great concern is not just that we have sinned, but that we have to experience consequences from that sin. And know this, His concern is so great that it led Him to send His Son, not only so that He could remove our sin, but also remove the consequences of sin. He delivered us from the code of ethics, the system of right and wrong, THE LAW so that we could be restored to Him. 

WOW INDEED!

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Those Who Are Crushed In Spirit He Makes Whole

Though others may not be able to come to our aid, God is able and promises to do so.

Though others may not be able to come to our aid, God is able and promises to do so.

Psalm 34:18 is one of my favorite verses in all the Bible, for obvious reasons. I personally believe that every believer ought to have this verse as one of their favorites.

It says, “The Lord is near to the broken-hearted,
and saves (makes whole) those who are crushed in spirit.”

I trust you now know why I say it is one of my favorites “for obvious reasons.” We all live in a world that we were never designed to live in. We were designed to live in a garden paradise called Eden, and if you had not noticed it yet --- “THIS IS NOT IT!” The result is that we all experience things that we were never designed to experience like sorrow, and rejection, and betrayal, and loneliness, and pain. These things can literally crush our spirit. They can leave us in desperate need of someone to “come near” to us and begin the “WORK” of making us whole again.

One of the problems in finding such a one though is that the others who might be able and desirous of coming to our aid are also dealing with their own struggles from living in this fallen world. Very often they are unable to do so because of all that this fallen world has placed on their own plate. This can leave us “feeling” terribly alone and promote a serious spirit of hopelessness deep in our soul. That is the great glory of this verse from Psalm 34:18.

Though others may not be able to come to our aid, God is able and promises to do so.

I am reminded of the words of Asaph in Psalm 73, when he realized this great truth about God he declared, “Who do I have in heaven but you oh God? And who do I have on earth, but you oh God.”

Though we may “feel” alone and desperate and think that nobody cares, that is not the truth. God is near! And not only is He near, He is actively working to unleash all that He is to all that we need in the moment of faith as we trust Him.

If you are broken-hearted today and crushed in Spirit, I pray that you will cry out to Him Who is near to you, and that your experience will be as David’s was in Psalm 23, that He will restore your soul!

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Sin is Insanity!

Please know that you will NEVER be able to understand, figure out, or find an answer for "why" someone does something that hurts you or you do something that hurts yourself.   Sin is INSANE!

Please know that you will NEVER be able to understand, figure out, or find an answer for "why" someone does something that hurts you or you do something that hurts yourself.  Sin is INSANE!

Someone recently asked me to define "sin"... EASY!
The Greek word is "hamartia" and it means "to miss the mark"...

But that is not how I define it. As I have worked with people now for many years, and of course have lived many years, the best definition I have ever come up with is "INSANITY".  

Sin is "INSANITY".

We as a people know those sinful things are not right, not good for us, not helpful to the ones we love, disrespecting to our Father Who loves us, and yet we still do them!!! INSANITY!

Please know that you will NEVER be able to understand, figure out, or find an answer for "why" someone does something that hurts you or you do something that hurts yourself.  Sin is INSANE!

And please know and praise God that He continues to love insane people...LIKE ME!

 

Triumph Through Tears

...we can be found in tears over a great loss, while at the same time experiencing triumph in those tears because God is meeting us in that moment with all that He is!

...we can be found in tears over a great loss, while at the same time experiencing triumph in those tears because God is meeting us in that moment with all that He is!

David was NOT bipolar, nor was he schizophrenic! I share that because a lot of people sincerely believe he was. He can be found in one Psalm living in awe, wonder, and joy at the love and care of God, and then in the very next Psalm claiming that God had deserted him and heralding that he longs to die! This diametrically opposed behavior continues throughout the Psalms, but I would hesitate greatly to say he was bipolar.

No, I believe he was the “total man” – after all, he was the man after God’s own heart.

Allow me to explain. There are two kinds of life given in the New Testament. There is "biaos", from which we get "biography". It is a word used for "life as man lives it!" I would define it as experiencing and expressing the life of man with the resources of man. Then, there is "zoe", meaning "life as God lives it", Life lived out of the resources of God.

My personal conviction is that David lived genuinely in both those lives and very often did so at the same time, just as we often do! The "biaos" life, though it can be good, can also be very hurtful, and full of loss and suffering because of the existence of sin and the enemy.

On the other hand, there is "Zoe" life made available to us at the moment of faith, where we can experience life as God lives it while at the same time experience life as man lives it in a fallen world.

In other words, we can be found in tears over a great loss, while at the same time experiencing triumph in those tears because God is meeting us in that moment with all that He is!

Oh, and by the way, David is not alone. The charge could also go against Paul, who was in such trouble that he despaired of life in II Cor 1, yet he could also say to the Philippians, "rejoice always, and again I say rejoice!"

And please don’t forget our Jesus, Who was experiencing such trouble he sweated blood in the garden, while at the same time experiencing the Father’s will and approval of Who He was and where He was going.

The world needs such real men, who do not offer plastic façades that everything is ALWAYS going great. The world needs men who will be honest about their pain, and their genuine experience of resurrection power.

I would describe the true Christian Life as the experience and
expression of the agony, and the ecstasy, simultaneously being lived out.

Dealing With Pain

It hurts to hurt! We were not designed to hurt! When we hurt, we want to stop hurting! There is NOTHING wrong with that at all. The great Apostle Paul hurt often. In II Cor 1, he hurt so bad he says that he was despairing of life! Did you hear that? He wanted to die! It is sad that people miss this passage and the honesty that we should all have in the body of Christ to share our struggles.

It is sad that the body of Christ all too often does not allow us to struggle. I wonder how many in the modern church would have hushed Paul and told him he was not offering a “positive confession” or that he was being a bad example of faith to others. I love his honesty.

He declared another time in II Cor 12 that he had a thorn in the flesh, and it hurt so bad he begged God to take it away. Again, an honest testimony. Obviously, Paul did not believe in “triumphalism” – the belief that we are able to live above our circumstances. That is something God never promised. Even the Lord Jesus Himself, was in such torment in the garden of Eden, that he was sweating blood and begging the Father that there might be another way available to Him besides the way of the cross. 

The key is that neither of their desperate situations ended in despair. In Jesus life, the Father strengthened Him as He resolved to live according to the Father’s will. Paul in II Cor 1 remembered the resurrection life and power of Jesus, that life rose up within him to empower him through the experience of death that had come upon him. And in II Cor 12, God’s power showed up in Paul’s weakness enabling him to endure the thorn in his life. Did you see the common ground in each of these issues? They did not experience “triumphalism” – living “above” their circumstances.

Rather, they experienced God in and through the midst of their experiences. They encountered death and life at the same time! They experienced sorrow and joy at the same time! They experienced weakness and strength at the same time! This is the reality that only we as believers can experience. We are the only ones on the planet who can weep sorrowful and joy filled tears at the same time and here is what I want you to take away. 

This opportunity to suffer in faith, is only provided for us in this life. Years from now, in eternity future, we may have the desire to love our heavenly Father and come to Him and tell Him, “Oh Father. I love you so much I am willing to suffer for you!” That is a noble declaration on our parts, but do you realize the folly of that desire? He will say to us in return, “Oh my child. Thank you for your heart. But that opportunity was already provided for you during your life on earth. You can never, ever have the opportunity to suffer for me again for all eternity!”

The Bible says there is a crown reserved for those who suffer in faith. I must admit, I do not understand what that really means, but I do realize that I only have one shot at “earning” that crown, and then that opportunity will be gone forever. That reality has changed my perspective on the wounds that come in to my life in this world. I still don’t want to hurt! It hurts to hurt! But, those hurts provide me with an opportunity to trust God in a way that is beyond the scope of normal faith – and the opportunity to do so is a fleeting one, only available “in the moment!”

Hmmmmmmmm….

Deep Roots

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No matter how hard we try to isolate and insulate ourselves from people and from the fallen world we live in, it is impossible to avoid the “storms of life” that frequently come our way. Jesus said, “The rain falls on the just and on the unjust.” So does all the trauma and loss and grief and sorrow and unmet expectations and disappointments and frustrations and…

So how are we to make it through what the Psalmist calls “the valley of the shadow of death.” Keep in mind, this is NOT talking about making it through the experience of our physical death, but from making it through the experience of death in a fallen world as we live. Well, Hurricane Katrina provides a very powerful statement of how. The people of Grace Life Fellowship did a lot of relief work in the cities of New Orleans and Baton Rouge, and also the Mississippi Gulf Coast which was hit extremely hard by that massive hurricane.

It was an eye opening experience to venture to the Gulf, and view the land stripped bare on the shore. Homes were gone! Cars were gone! Even the concrete foundations for many of those homes were gone! It was like someone swept a mighty hand across the shoreline, such as one would use their hand to sweep everything off a table. 

Curiously, one thing remained… the Live Oak trees, with their large and deep root structure, had withstood the storm. Therein lies our answer. Remember what Paul said? We are to be deeply rooted in Christ… that is what will enable us to withstand the storms that seek to strip our lives bare and tear us down. Jesus can give us the power of His own life, to enable us to stand in the midst of those mighty storms of life in a fallen world. I can't help but think of the old hymn writer who cried out, "Hallelujah, What a Savior!"

Cake and Icing

There are two main Greek words used in the Bible for life. One is the word “baios” from which we get biography. It refers to life as man lives it. The other word is “zoe” which refers to life as God lives it! The dynamic of what the Bible teaches is that we have the potential to experience both of those at the same time, which is something the unbeliever cannot do.

An unbeliever has “baios” life bestowed upon him by God, and he lives his life in this world. When we place our faith in Jesus, and He takes up residence within us, we now have the opportunity to experience and express the “zoe life” – life as God lives it, at the same time we experience “baios” life, as we ourselves as man live it. Amazing!

I want to illustrate it this way. “Zoe” life is like having cake. Cake is a wonderful thing to have. It is sweet and wonderful. Cake can often come with icing, and cake and icing are really what I want to have most in this life. Icing is when “baios” life, is going very well. Icing is when the kids are happy and obedient, and my spouse is happy and content, and there is money in the bank, and I am feeling really good. That is cake and icing, and I really love icing with my cake.

The problem, is that “baios” life, life in this fallen world, is all too often not a very good thing. Very often my kids are in trouble, and I am at odds with my spouse, and there are bills piling up, and there is no icing for me. BUT HERE IS THE KEY! I still have my cake, and will always have my cake. No one and no circumstance can ever take away my cake. I may prefer to have icing, and it may hurt to not have the icing, but I HAVE MY CAKE! I have my “Zoe” life to enjoy even in the darkest days that I experience in a fallen world.

Let me put it another way. There may be tears of sorrow and grief cascading down my cheeks (no icing, fallen world baios life), but at the very same time because God lives in me, I experience peace, joy, and rest (cake; Zoe life). Praise God for this wonderful mystery, now revealed, Christ in us, our hope of glory! (Col. 1)

How Much Will God Give You?

There are many phrases that are often quoted in church, but not in the Bible: 

"Cleanliness, is next to godliness." That is a good one, cleanliness is important, but it has nothing to do with godliness. NOT IN THE BIBLE!

"God helps those who help themselves." A good call for a work ethic, but again NOT IN THE BIBLE!

"God will never give you more than YOU can handle." Sounds good, but again NOT IN THE BIBLE!

There is a verse in the Corinthian letters, that God will not allow you to be "tempted" beyond what "you" are able because "HE" will provide a way out... but that is talking about temptation, not the traumas of living in a fallen world (though the enemy can use those physical traumas to tempt us)...

The truth is that God will allow more than you can handle in this world in terms of physical trouble. In II Cor 1, Paul says that so much trouble had come into his life, that he was despairing of life. Can you imagine what would happen in our modern church with its health and wealth doctrines if Paul shared that in a testimony meeting? He would probably be rushed off the stage.

Paul had so much trauma in his life that he despaired of life, until he recognized, affirmed, and experienced in the present moment that God was allowing the experience of death in this fallen world to lead Paul to God, so that in faith Paul would experience at that very same moment the resurrection power of God!

Just to make sure we understand this, Paul repeated it again in II Cor. 4. Every day he said, he experiences death in this fallen world, that he might also experience the power of the resurrection life of Jesus that overwhelms his experience of death.

And again in II Cor. 12, Paul said it a third time, that God is on an agenda of making us weak (bringing to us more than we in our own strength can handle). Why would God do such a thing? So that when we look to Him in faith, we will find ----- NOT that our strength is sufficient, but that His is.

The truth is that God will allow into our lives MORE THAN WE CAN HANDLE, to expose to us our true state of utter and desperate weakness apart from Him. In this manifestation and revelation of our weakness, we are offered the provision of His strength.... and by faith we find Him to be God to us in ways that we never would have known before.

Knowing this profound promise of strength, and incredible experience of God, Paul then said, "bring on the afflictions"!!!

Can I paraphrase this dear man?

Though these "trauma times" in life may be more than I can handle, they are not more than God can handle, and through them, I come to know and experience God and the power of His very own glorious, resurrection LIFE in ways I never knew before...."