4 Modern Christian Women & Their Take on Modesty

Sunday, May 22, 2022


Recently, a Christian man posted his thoughts about sexual purity and modesty on Twitter. This thread was not well received and led to many people responding with their own--often disapproving--comments on the issue. I have been a firm believer for a number of years that it is possible to encourage and promote modesty in a grace-filled way. Though it is true that some Christian circles have instructed on modesty in a legalistic and unbiblical way, it is also true that our calling to dress for the glory of God is undiminished. If you have ever been in a Christian community that urged modesty in ways that were not ultimately edifying, know that Christian leaders do fail us sometimes--it absolutely can happen--Christian leaders may not always represent or speak of the truths of Scripture well. When Christian communities may leave us with less than helpful teaching on modesty, this in no way dismisses the calling Scripture has given us, but rather urges to be better students of His Word--remembering that true freedom is found in being a servant of Christ and in being set free from the power of sin. Freedom is not doing whatever we want or dressing however we may feel like. Rather, freedom is living wholly for Jesus Christ, offering up every department of our lives in total abandonment to Him. 

Where in Scripture can we study the issue of modesty? A few good places to start include: 1 Timothy 2:9, 1 Peter 3:3, Proverbs 31:25. 

After hearing so much backlash from Christians--who profess to believe the Bible--on the Tweet encouraging modesty, I have researched to gather some perspectives on modesty (from Mandy and Nancy) and have asked a two dear friends (Heather and Abby) to share their perspective with us on the relevance of modesty to today's Christian women. May their perspectives edify you, cause you to study this issue in light of Scripture more than clinging to whims of culture, uplift you, and remind you that you are not alone as you seek to dress to point to Jesus rather than exalt yourself amidst a society that has lost its ability to value dignified and honorable dressing. 

1. Mandy Saeler, Managing Editor and Writer at Set Apart Girl

"While it is true that you cannot control the thoughts in a guy’s mind, you can control whether or not your wardrobe is a catalyst to impurity and lust. You can be a champion of purity by simply obeying Scripture, dressing discretely (see 1 Timothy 2.9-10), and allowing the beautiful and reverent Spirit of Christ to shine forth in every area of your life (Mat. 5.16). The calling to purity, honor, and modesty in the way that we dress cannot be argued away – it’s simply a matter of laying aside selfish excuses and choosing the fear of the Lord. Our lives and bodies are not our own, for we have been bought with a price (1 Cor. 6.19-20). We are called to in like manner that Christ did – bearing humility of mind, obedience, and servanthood (Phil. 2.5-8). We are to consider the good of others (including their purity) of higher esteem than our own opinions, desires, or convenience (Phil. 2.3-4). If you are struggling to discern the appropriateness of your wardrobe, take a step back and ponder eternity for a moment. We must understand the weight of Jesus’ words when He said that it would be better for a millstone to be tied our around our neck and be cast into the sea than to cause another to stumble into sin (see Luke 17.2). We will be held accountable for the choices that we make – even in regards to our wardrobe. On that final day will Jesus be able to commend you, saying, Well done, my good and faithful servant?" [1]


2. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, Host of Revive Our Hearts & Bestselling Author of "Lies Women Believe"

 "Have been pondering the recent exchange re modesty. Some seem to be suggesting that: (a) what women wear, pics they post, etc., are inconsequential; (b) this is entirely the responsibility of men; and (c) to say otherwise is to objectify/sexualize/shame women. This subject warrants a more thorough, nuanced treatment than is possible on Twitter. But here are some biblical moorings I believe are important/helpful in the discussion: Modesty involves more than clothing, but not less. Modesty has application to both men and women. “The LORD God made clothing from skins for the man and his wife, and he clothed them” (Gen 3:21). This was an expression of grace for fallen, shamed sinners—both male and female. Beginning in Genesis 3, nakedness/uncovering nakedness is used in Scripture as a metaphor for sexual relations, shame, and disgrace. E.g., Lev 18:6-18; Isa 47:3; Rev 3:18. Clothing is one we way identify who we are and the intent of our hearts. “A woman came out to meet him dressed like a prostitute, having a hidden agenda…” (Prov 7:10). Clothing that is appropriate in one context may be inappropriate in another. E.g., What is good/holy/appropriate in the bedroom, between a husband/wife, may be impure/sinful/inappropriate in a different setting. 

"This is not a one-sided issue, as some would have us believe. Men and women are both sinners and we both sin against one another. Scripture condemns men who prey on vulnerable women, as well as women who seduce simple/foolish men. Both violate the law of love and the sanctity of life. Both represent an abuse of power. And both need to be warned and held accountable. When it comes to clothing, other pertinent biblical values include visual beauty, preserving male/female distinctions, not flaunting wealth or shaming those who have less, building up others rather than promoting ourselves, elevating the eternal over the temporal, etc. Speaking as a woman to women (leaving it to others to speak to the men among us): Let us aspire to honor Christ and showcase His loveliness and love in everything we do. Our clothing matters, as do our words, our behavior, our attitudes, and the motives of our hearts. Let us seek to bless and edify the men around us as our brothers and not to defraud them. This is the law of love. Sadly, words such as chastity and modesty have fallen on hard times among many believers. The consequences for both men and women have been costly and devastating. I pray for us all to recover the beauty, magnificence, and power of these timeless qualities that flow out of and reflect the gospel we profess. Everything that we as believers (male/female, married/single) do in this life is intended to point to a future, promised marriage— a celebration of our Savior’s righteousness and His redeeming love and grace: “The marriage of the Lamb has come, and his bride has prepared herself. She was given fine line to wear, bright and pure. For the fine linen represents the righteous acts of the saints” (Rev 19:7-8)" [2]. 


3. Heather Cofer, Author of "Expectant" & Contributing Writer at Set Apart Girl

"I posted some thoughts on this a while back, but I’ve been seeing some statements made in regard to the recent viral tweet on modesty that have gotten me thinking. But first a note: I know this is a sensitive topic—many have been in circles where the subject of modesty has been twisted and abused, and many women have been hurt deeply because of it. We should walk with utmost compassion and care toward those who have been wronged, and those who have manipulated God’s Word for their own devices should never be justified. I want to make that clear before I share my thoughts.

"I’ve noticed many women saying that when men entreat women to dress modestly they are necessarily implying it is a woman’s fault when a man lusts. That’s simply not true. Although it may happen in some cases, I know very few Christian men who would absolve themselves or others of their responsibility before God not to lust regardless of what a woman is wearing; I read/hear men calling other men to this quite regularly. However, just as there is clear instruction for a man not to lust, there is also clear instruction for a woman to dress modestly. The two are distinct instructions and stand alone from one another. So if I’m dressed appropriately and a man lusts after me he alone is responsible for it. If I’m not dressed appropriately and this tempts a man to lust after me it’s still his responsibility not to act on that temptation. But I then am responsible before God for not obeying the instruction to dress modestly, and therefore not acting in love toward the men around me. Men are to obey with their eyes. Women are to obey with their clothes. First motivated by love for God, then motivated by love for those around us. And, Christ-following men and women alike need to be humble enough to receive exhortation to obey what God’s Word says."

4. Abby Houston, Instagram Manager at Wholehearted Quiet Time

"I wonder what comes to mind when you think of modesty:

Does your nose crinkle up in disgust?

Are you uncomfortable?

Do you immediately think of long, denim skirts and no personality?

Or maybe, you have quiet the opposite reaction:

Maybe you grow proud, thinking you’ve mastered the art of modesty.

Maybe you walk a little straighter, looking down on others who don’t dress just as you do.

Maybe you scoff at others who don’t have such “godly” standards as you do. 

"But dear sister, if your mind goes either route, let me lovingly remind you that you should probably ask the Lord to evaluate your heart (and let me assure you, I’ve been in both camps and have had to ask the Lord to search my heart, as well). Because, friend, the Lord looks at the heart. Does the Lord care about what we wear? Absolutely. But I have to wonder, does modesty mean something more than just what we wear? Could it have more to do with our hearts than our closets? In first Peter 3, we are told that our adorning should not be external, but rather, our adorning should be “the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.” Did you catch that? In God’s sight, the beauty of the heart — a gentle and quiet spirit — is precious. And the word used for “gentle” is also transliterated as “humble.” 

"You see, dear Christian, we could wear denim from head to toe, and yet still be immodest by puffing ourselves up with pride and acting as the Pharisees did by looking down at others with what they wear. God wants our hearts to be humble before Him, for He “opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6) And as our hearts are more and more conformed to His image, the more our actions will follow. We won’t want to call attention to ourselves, but rather, properly reflect His creativity and beauty in what we wear, while also taking into consideration not causing our brother to stumble. Our actions flow directly from our heart. So, dear Christian, address the heart. And ask the Lord to dress it in humility, for that is the example that He left for us: God, in the flesh, lived perfectly, as a servant, and humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:1-11). And now, He’s highly exalted and risen, seated at the right hand of God the Father, and now offers salvation to all that call upon His name and trust in Him alone for salvation. If we’ve been given this as the example to follow, our perfect Savior perfectly displaying humility of heart, so should we follow. Modesty begins in the heart and trickles down into our actions. May we seek the Lord and His Spirit to transform us, for He alone can change the heart of pride to a modest, meek, and humble, truly beautiful heart." 

--
Note: you may find these resources helpful: "God's High Calling for Women" by John MacArthur, "Responding to Immodest Pressure" by the Set Apart Girl Team, "Beth Moore on Modesty and Creepy Righteous Dudes" by G3 Ministries, "The Evolution of the Swimsuit" by Jessica Rey, "The Lost Art of True Beauty" by Leslie Ludy, "Answering the Guy Questions" by Leslie Ludy, "What Guys Think About Modesty" by CJ Mahaney.
1. The Set Apart Girl Team. “Responding to Immodest Pressure.” Set Apart Girl, 31 July 2014, https://setapartgirl.com/responding-immodest-pressure/. 
2. Wolgemuth, Nancy DeMoss. Twitter, 13 Feb. 2022, https://twitter.com/NancyDeMoss/status/1492909113940058115. 

Justice for the Five: Addressing the Breaking News About Possible Infanticide in D.C.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

 It's hard to put into words what this week has done to my heart.

On Friday, I found myself driving to play practice with an abnormal level of adrenaline pumping through my veins. I felt driven 10/10 to do something after becoming aware of a horrific situation that recently occurred. As we rehearsed lines for the production--telling the story of Amy Carmichael and her passionate rescue of children out of human trafficking--each line made me more concerned for the people I knew were in danger. "Amy, you cannot rescue children like that! We could be prosecuted!" "I have never been afraid to fight. [...] It is a good thing to do the impossible."

Still feeling abnormal and trying to comprehend the barbarism I had seen, I took a seat in the hospital cafeteria today for my lunch break and grabbed my Bible--somehow I opened right to the book of Esther. I flipped to the passage that immediately came to mind: "Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, 'Do not think to yourself that in the king's palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for some a time as this?'" (Esther 4:13-14, emphasis added).

What is my strange problem this week??? It's really not exclusive to the last few days.

Something barbaric is happening every single day.

I have been completely unable to live normally ever since becoming aware of it. 

At age thirteen, I first saw an abortion procedure online and because of that my life direction became drastically altered.

Knowing the purposeful dismemberment, poisoning and starvation of living children was happening all the time around me left my heart devastated and wordless.

That child I originally saw being dismembered when I was thirteen years old was probably around 15-18 weeks gestation. 

This week, breaking news was released that five preborn children were found near the trash outside Washington Surgi-Clinic by a DC local pro-life activist. These children were huge and were indeed viable--one baby is thought to have been 32 weeks gestation, another was 28 weeks, and another yet 26 weeks. I have looked at the graphic images of their poor, broken bodies several times since their release on Friday. I have seen images of micropreemies born at 21 and 22 weeks. They often look frail, thin and breakable. The babies who were recently aborted at the stages of 26-32 weeks look like they had been growing strong, healthy and large until their development was brought to a purposeful end. They were no micropreemies, but children who were, at one point, well nourished and well beyond the point of viability.

In the words of former abortionist Dr. Kathi Aultman who assessed the bodies of these babies: 

"[He] looks like he should have been in the nursery" [1]. 

These precious children were not in a nursery basinet, but in a biohazard container.

One of these children has her eye open and her skull cut open. This child was termed "Baby Girl #1." I can hardly fathom that Baby Girl #1--with her curious little mind that wanted to look around and see the world for herself--never viewed the arms of love or a mother's embrace, but only the gruesome abortionist's bloody tools. Her first sight outside of normal developmental life in the womb was of instruments that would soon cause her total demise and cut her curious little mind straight out of her head.

Then there was "Baby Boy #1" who was completely intact and possibly killed via an induction method. When you look at his little--yet big--body, all you see is a beautiful infant who was abandoned rather than loved. No part of his body had been dismembered; only his skin showed signs of breakdown--to the point that when assessed by several physicians, it was unclear to them exactly what method of abortion was used to kill him. Could he have been born alive then left to die? The abortionist who killed him--Cesare Santangelo--has stated on video that he is willing to leave infants to die who are born alive after he attempts to destroy them in the womb. "It's all in how vigorously you do things to help a fetus survive at this point [...] We would not help it" [2].

Cesare Santangelo, I will have you know something. Every time you end the life of an embryo or fetus in your abortion clinic, the child is not an "it." He or she is a valuable human person who is precious. Look at the hands of these five beautiful children whose development you caused to come to a stop. Peer closely at their hands--perfect little fingers that want to wrap safely around the hand of their mother, with developed fingernails protecting their fully formed nail beds. Such intricate detail on even their tiny limbs, meanwhile you have told their mothers they are not fully human but merely clumps of cells. These children have left your clinic to tell the world their heart-rending story. The world will see the infants you caused to die and maybe even those you saw born alive--those whom you perhaps watched have a rise and fall of their chest wall--clearly exhibiting respiratory effort and need for medical care so that they may live beyond this moment they "accidentally survived" your brutal acts against them. 

This killing must be stopped.

Every single day in America, 2,363 babies are aborted. 

Today we know part of the story of five of those lives who were despised and forgotten by this world.

Our war for these children, as the pro-life movement, is being waged forcefully. Despite the horrific toll of 63.5 million babies being killed since 1973 when Roe v. Wade was decided, we are a movement that has been achieving victories for the children. We have arrived to the year we will find out if alas the decision of death--Roe v. Wade--will be overturned by the case Dobbs v. Jackson. We feel the grief and overwhelming horror at times when we know more thoroughly what is happening to our preborn brothers and sisters--such as this week as we plead for justice for the five babies found in D.C. Yet when we find ourselves sadly in the ashes, mourning the loss of these beautiful people who could not defend themselves, we will rise again with increased vigor. We will stand up with ferocity and undaunted bravery and we will confront again the evil darkness that plagues our world. We will not stay silent and we will not be complacent. Seeing their suffering will not turn us away; rather knowing their pain more fully, we will also pursue justice for their cause more adamantly.

Amy Carmichael herself often felt the pain and challenge of fighting against horrors done to children. She called the children she sought to save her "Lotus buds." 

"All souls are His, all flowers. An alien power has possessed them, counted them his for so many generations, that we have almost acquiesced in the shameful confiscation. But neither souls nor flowers are his who did not make them. They were never truly his. They belong to the Lord of all the earth, the Creator, the Redeemer. The little Lotus buds are His--His and not another's. The children of the temples of South India are His--His and not another's. So now we go forth with the Owner Himself to claim His own possession. There is hope in the thought, and confidence and the purest inspiration. And, stirred to the very depths, as we are and must be many a time when we see the tender Lotus buds gathered by a hand that has no right to them, and crushed underfoot; bewildered and sore troubled, as the heart cannot help being sometimes, when the mystery of the apparent victory of evil over good is overwhelming: even so there will be always a hush, a rest, a repose of spirit, as we stand by the Lotus-pools of life and seek in His Name to gather His flowers" [3].

Let us seek in God's name to gather His flowers as we rise from the ashes of grief this week.

We see their needs, their pain, their wounds, and their brokenness and we resolutely refuse to run away from the fight. 

I am so grateful these children's bodies escaped the abortion clinic and trash heap so that we could see their suffering and be reminded that what is done 2,363 times every day to children must be fought and brought to a full stop.

Perhaps we were indeed born for such a time as this...born and not dismembered that we may fight for those who are dehumanized, denied any human rights and degraded by our modern society. 

Let us resolve afresh to see the unborn child as eternally worth our efforts on their behalf, and let us--with Amy--grasp the reality of our cause's horrors, and yet take action in the name of Jesus for those who go down to death nameless.

--

1. Dorman, Sam. “Aborted Babies Discovered in DC May Indicate Infanticide after Attempted Abortions.” Live Action News, 1 Apr. 2022, https://www.liveaction.org/news/infant-bodies-infanticide-attempted-abortions/. 

2. Live Action Films. “Inhuman: Undercover in America's Late-Term Abortion Industry - Washington, D.C.” YouTube, 28 Apr. 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxOWyumLufA&t=24s. 

3. Carmichael, Amy, and Penn. Lotus Buds. Morgan and Scott, 1910. p.7

Real Love, Beyond Modern Dating

Sunday, February 13, 2022


I recently read an article full of horrible dating advice online. It was written by a guy who thought his ability to date three women at once, chase impurity, and behave coldly in relationships were particularly remarkable skills. I was severely unimpressed. It was an important reminder of how knowing Christ must not only change some aspects of how we live, but every area of our lives is God's for the keeping once we become believers--including our love lives. 

"Does your religion have much to do with your life or are you a practical atheist?" (Mark Denver) [1]. 

It's a symptom of being distant from God and of conforming to the world when we exhibit a self-centric view of dating and marriage. If you were to embrace the low mode of living the guy from the dating article has, you would be so enraptured in meaninglessness and emptiness that you could deceive yourself into believing the lifeless expeditions of worldly love could satisfy your soul. But if you belong to Jesus Christ, you know each department of your life is for bringing God glory, not merely to make you happy. It's freeing to change the priority of our lives to ensuring that Jesus has the first place. 

"And He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and firstborn from among the dead, so that in all things He may have the preeminence" (Col. 1:8). 

Ladies, sometimes it's good to be reminded there are men out there like that--looking to have about 5 girlfriends at once and who disregard the importance of purity (and men too should beware of women who embrace ungodly views of relationships [see Prov. 7]). Let us discern and contrast a godless man like that with a man who has a genuine and thriving walk with God; a guy who has a real relationship the Lord will be ever-increasingly marked by the fruit of the Spirit: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law" (Gal. 5:22). And what is love? "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). This Valentine's Day, resolve afresh to look to the One who is Love Himself to guide all your beliefs on what love is truly meant to be. Do not allow the degraded norms of our perverse society to cause you to drop your standards. Men who only see you as a physical body or as an emotional high for their own benefit care nothing for your soul and exude red flags. A relationship with a guy like that would be lackadaisical in comparison with the epic love story in which we are already enraptured. Marriage is a picture of a grander reality--the heroic love of Jesus Christ for His bride. God is illustrating a beautiful heavenly reality via human relationships:

"Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, His body, and is Himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of His body. 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband" (Ephesians 5:22-33, emphasis added).


Our modern culture of mediocrity and one-night stands has nothing on the grandeur of the love of Jesus Christ for His bride. The Lover of My Soul was so intent about His pursuit of me--and ultimately of the pursuit of His glory--that He was willing to die to save me for eternity. I don't know of a man on the entire planet who could ever begin to scrape the surface of the stunning redemption Christ worked on my behalf. Earthly relationships cannot ultimately satisfy our souls. We will always long for the God who made us; in response--if we do not turn our hearts to seek God--we chase other things we believe will fulfill us. And if it's today's dating scene you're chasing, chances are you've come back with some fresh grief, scars, and disillusionment. I know in my own life I have had painful situations with guys that have left me feeling dreary, bleak and rejected. Somehow God can take our most painful woes of lost love and use it to contrast the stunning faithfulness of His eternally unfailing love for us. When you go through disheartening experiences in relationships, let it remind you of the utter emptiness of this world and the fullness and depth of Jesus Christ. That does not mean we don't desire marriage, but rather that we know that longing first and foremost exists to turn us to the Creator of our souls, who describes Himself this way in the book of Isaiah: 

"Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. For your Maker is your Husband, the Lord of Hosts is His name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, and the God of the whole earth He is called. For the Lord has called you like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit, like a wife of youth when she is cast off, says your God. For a brief moment I deserted you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In overflowing anger for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,' says the Lord your Redeemer" (Isaiah 54:4-8, emphasis added). 

A society of empty dating creates Instagram posts full of apparent happiness and good times, yet leaves the soul feeling empty and bankrupt. Meanwhile the culture rumors that knowing God makes one's life dull, but we who love and know Him can be found with genuine peace, continuously discovering the truth that: "In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore" (Ps. 16:11b). 

God's love for us is real. He is El Roi--He Sees Me (see Gen. 16:1-16). He is Jehovah Jireh--the Lord will Provide (see Gen. 22:14). He is Ishi--My Husband (Hosea 2:16). He is Jehovah Shammah--the Lord is There (Ezekiel 48:35). We have a faithful Father who watches over us, provides for us, is always present and declares Himself as the husband of our souls. He is a faithful Lover who is never approaches us with coldness, wrong motives, or earthly selfishness. He is forever Faithful and True:

"Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems, and He has a name written that no one knows but Himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which He is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords" (Revelation 19:11-16).

This is the Man pursuing you. He is the only One who deserves the first place in your life. To know we have such a pure, strong Father refreshes our perspective of earthly love--by His grace we will hold biblical standards for our relationships even in a society so direly lost. The One who is Faithful and True is the Husband of my soul, therefore, this Valentine's Day in a season of singledom, I have lasting rest for my soul. I am pursued, loved, wanted and provided for--I have what I need and I did not find it in some dating fling of the day, but in our perfectly pure and steadfastly kind King of the World. 

----
1. Denver, Mark. “A Time For Seeking.” Capitol Hill Baptist Church, 16 Jan. 2022, https://www.capitolhillbaptist.org/sermon/a-time-for-seeking/.

My 2363 Speech: Why Fighting for Life is More Important Now than Ever

Thursday, January 6, 2022


Hello friend! For the past two months, I have been busy traveling the US on an internship with a brand new non-profit pro-life group. One of my duties during this season has been to speak at anti-abortion vigils. I had the honor of presenting a speech for the cause of the preborn in Washington, D.C., Jackson, MS, and Manhattan, NY. Today I am excited to share that speech with you! Please note this was presented in 2021 and therefore the dates mentioned in this post reflect that. May your heart be moved afresh over the babies' dire plight.

We are at a pivotal moment in the history of America. For many of us who are present here, we are young enough to have never lived in a country free from the violence of abortion. Leading up to the year 1973, pro-abortion activists dehumanized the preborn with euphemisms, inflated abortion statistics, blatantly lied about the reality of fetal and embryonic development, and ultimately proposed that no child in the womb should ever have any human rights—and in response the Supreme Court of the United States failed to defend the tiniest and most vulnerable people group among us, allowing protections for babies to fall and for a new regime of death to ensue.

“Safe, Legal and Rare” roared the pro-abortion activists. Yet their chants ended in infants being forcefully dismembered and thrown into clinic trash heaps; treated as worthless, rejected medical waste, rather than seen as they actually are—valuable human beings from the moment of fertilization. Their beautiful lives began at conception, but our court made the radical move to take away safety for children until they have been born, effectively discriminating against every human person experiencing the germinal, embryonic and fetal stages of human development. What stops this same court from removing the human rights of the neonate, toddler, elementary schooler, adolescent and adult? For only our size, level of development, environment and degree of dependency alter—our humanity never fluctuates with the changes of our development across the human lifespan.

Many women who underwent what they were told would be a safe procedure have been harmed physically and mentally with scarring complications like uterine perforation, infertility, hemorrhage, depression, anxiety, and PTSD, even leading to the identification of a newly observed mental health disorder, Post-Abortion Syndrome—so much for safe.

Pro-abortion mobs rioted for legal abortion—they did not want the intentional harming of children to be a practice society rejects, but rather celebrates openly—the adamant work of abortion supporters may have legalized abortion, but when we look beyond deceptive marketing strategies and hollow euphemisms, we discover what this has truly done is destroy 62,000,000 babies, harm 62,000,000 mothers, and wound 62,000,000 fathers—so much for rare.

Our society is red with blood from all the killing that has occurred since 1973. But in 2021, we fight for our world to change. In 1973, abortion was celebrated and praised, but in 2021 abortion is rightfully mourned and grieved. In 1973, abortion was legalized, but in 2021 we fight for abortion to be illegal once again.

2,363 babies died today in abortion. New little children who will never enjoy safety, but whose hearts have been purposefully caused to beat their last.

The time is of essence in our fight for the preborn, for our Supreme Court is ready to reexamine Roe v. Wade. It is time to see the success of Dobbs v. Jackson, and the overturning of Roe v. Wade. In 1973 came a decree that counted the lives of you and me as valueless until born. But in 2021, we defy abortion—out of love for our unborn neighbors—and proper recognition of their plight.

Will you join us on our quest to grant human rights once again to the smallest people of our society? We must raise our voices now. We must stand up now. And we must dismantle death now—in the name of the 2,363 babies signed up to die tomorrow and every subsequent day that the law of death stands in America. It is time for Roe v. Wade to be overturned.

Reflections on Twenty-One: Disciplined by a Faithful Father

Saturday, August 14, 2021

It would be a challenge to accurately sum up all the events of this surprising year of my existence. New opportunities arose that felt simply wondrous, while there were also trials that brought grief. "Each strand of sorrow has a place within this tapestry of grace" [1]. Do you ever have moments where you pause to thank the Lord for the finiteness of your mind? I am grateful He is omniscient and I am not. Because this trip around the sun held challenges I would not have wished to walk through, I find myself praising for how He in no way warned me about the unexpected uncertainties to come. 

It was in year twenty that COVID first hit and my adventures of bedside nursing assistant care changed from the norm. But, thankfully, the coronavirus saved its most challenging trials--as far as my inpatient experiences go--for this year. 🙃 Before, I would have a COVID patient here and there and most of my experiences were very interesting, full of learning and curiosity to discover more about the new disease process. Then things got a bit heavier as our unit nearly maxed capacity with almost all COVID patients for an entire month in the winter. 

After watching a documentary on missionaries who fought Ebola, I had always romanticized pandemic health care--wouldn't it be amazing to be on the cutting edge of science and epidemiology, bearing the light of Christ to many people nearing death? How heroic I thought such missionaries to be...entering into the chaos and bringing a healing touch. Thus, I was enthusiastic about being a CNA in a pandemic. Let's rescue the COVID patients of the world, shall we?! The thrill did not subside until I reached a point of being unable to keep up with patient care, due to an extremely high census, and I began to see death, after death, after death. This was not what I had pictured..... Aren't we supposed to be saving the world together? A particular challenge of fighting new diseases is that there is very little information off which to base care, so health care providers have effectively been blazing new trails in the treatment of the coronavirus. So, tragically, while the cure for critically ill COVID patients remained unclear, we watched a number of patients gradually reach demise, with a few recoveries here and there. 

I will note that these experiences did not cause me to conclude that our world should be eternally locked down and masked. There are so many individual takes on how our world should have responded to COVID; there were both mistakes made and effective strides taken to fight for patients' lives. It is a bit of a challenge to work in health care during these times in the world in part because people begin to assume how I must feel about all things related to certain buzzwords like vaccines, masks, shutdowns, herd immunity and the like. As is usual for me, I did not necessarily follow the crowd in my reactions, but I deeply desired to expose the light of Christ to patients nearing death through the darkest days of COVID. I will be forever grateful for each coronavirus patient I had the honor of caring for with a remarkable team. 

If we as health care staff believe our hearts were broken over the losses of our challenging fall and winter, let us also remember that God's heart went out to our every suffering COVID patient. We have a genuinely caring God (Is. 54:8b) who indwells the life of every believer. Therefore, every Christian health care staff member never once entered a COVID patient room alone. No, Christ--who is Himself the Great Physician--entered with us. He was present when we saw slow but certain declines of health; he was present when we rushed to put on PPE for a code; He was present as our hearts ached over units that at times felt more like morgues than places of healing. 

Though it is true that some health care staff in the world burned out of this field through the challenges that abounded, others of us concluded more deeply than ever that this is where God desires for us to be--at the bedside, covered in PPE and our patient's bodily fluids, standing with vulnerable people in their most devastating or most joyful of moments. 

Aside from new frontiers of health care experience, God was also leading me through moments of testing--did I really count Him my all? Would I truly give my everything up in surrender to His purposes for my life when things became painful, uncertain and did not go as I planned? God did not allow these to be mere theological questions in my head, but real experiences of year twenty-one. It's incredible how misguided my heart can be and how tragically blind I sometimes am to my own weaknesses. Oswald Chambers once spoke these simple, convicting words: "His is the future, not mine" [2]. I can mentally know the reality that Jesus holds my entire past, present and future in His mighty hands, and yet live out my day-to-day practical experiences as though it's fine for me to go my own way without consulting His wisdom. Thankfully, He is a gracious Father who confronts the places in our lives where we know the truth in our minds, but have not so well applied it to our lives, through His grace. 

My heart chewed on personal hopes, whims and wishes in contrast with what I was convicted I must do. Reading through a book on prayer, God graciously led me to pause and examine my life: "It's not pray this much, surrender this much, and you get [the answer to prayer you desire]. Nope. God doesn't work that way. He answers prayer with what's going to glorify Him the most" [3]. We have a God who prioritizes His glory above our comfort, ease, dreams and desires. This is not because He does not care about our needs and desires. He is our faithful protector and ever provides for us perfectly, after all. In the book of Isaiah, God proclaims powerful words that help us more fully grasp how incredibly vast and omnipotent He is:

"'You are my witnesses,' declares the Lord, 'and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am He. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior. I declared and saved and proclaimed, when there was no strange god among you; you are my witnesses,' declares the Lord, 'and I am God. Also henceforth I am He; there is none who can deliver from my hand; I work, and who can turn it back?'" (43:10-13). 

In a self-obsessed society, it does us some good to bow our hearts before the reality that we serve a God who is so far above us. We do not fully grasp how worthy He is of our full surrender; our lives did not come to be so that we could go after our own dreams, but so that, through His enabling grace, we might walk out His eternal purposes for our lives. Elisabeth Elliot says it boldly: "Real satisfaction and joy come in response to acceptance of the will of God and nowhere else" [4]. Betty Scott Stam was a woman who would be tested on this exact reality. Prefacing the words Elisabeth Elliot would later echo in her book, Betty once prayed: 

"Lord, I give up all my own plans and purposes, all my own desires and hopes, and accept Thy will for my life. I give myself, my life, my all utterly to Thee to be Thine forever. Fill me and seal me with Thy Holy Spirit. Use me as Thou wilt, send me where Thou wilt, work out Thy whole will in my life at any cost, now and forever" [5].

She fully gave her life over to God's purposes. And God's plan for this young missionary and her husband was for them to share the Gospel in communist China, where they would both be martyred before reaching age thirty

I bet young martyrdom is not on your bucket list.

But sometimes obediently carrying out God's purposes for our lives means going uncomfortable places.

Are we willing to give up all our own plans, purposes, desires and hopes to the God of glory?

The young martyr may not have known the cost of her surrender would be so high, but she had a devoted soul that counted no cost too high for the One who had paid for her salvation with His blood: "When we consecrate ourselves to God, we think we are making a great sacrifice, and doing lots for Him, when really we are only letting go some little, bitsie trinkets we have been grabbing, and when our hands are empty, He fills them full of His treasures" [6].

When we honestly assess the state of American Christianity, there is such a grave bout of the disease of self-obsession. We want our dreams and we want to think we're spiritual for pursuing them rather than praying "Thy will be done" (Matt. 6:10). We want relaxing, comfort-inducing experiences that feel refreshing, not self-expenditure for God's purposes. We want to live by the wisdom of the world and conclude that we are yet strong Christians, glorifying God as we speak profanities and live idly just like the lost. 

Does your heart long for more? Mine does.

I'd happily be unpopular if that is a ramification of believing wholeheartedly that the entirety of this one short life is not meant to be lived by my own objectives, but radically given over to Christ for the building up of His kingdom rather than my own.

Tim Shenton gives us a peek into the cost of historical Christianity and the stark realities we often do not believe to be "necessary requirements" to live the Christian life, when in fact we must all be this devoted to Christ. To belong to Jesus means not merely to follow Him when it is easy, but on the hardest days, having full loyalty to the King of kings.

"The Gospel is the same in every generation and our faith in the unshakeable and immutable truth of Christ should be as strong now as it has ever been [...] How many of us believe Jesus Christ deeply enough to be ready to die for Him if the hour called for it. Could we take off our dancing shoes and put away our lives of merriment to take that long and lonely walk to the scaffold or be willing to lay our head on the guillotine block? [...] How deeply and firmly do I believe in Christ? Am I so embedded in Him that nothing and no one will be able to uproot me? Is Jesus Christ so important to me that if [...] I was threatened with imprisonment or death, I would be ready to take those steps down to the dungeon and to hold out my hands to the chains of my enemies? [...] There is no one but Jesus Christ who is worth following and dying for. He is the Lord of heaven and earth, waiting with open arms to welcome His saints into eternal glory, just as He waited for Stephen, the first New Testament martyr" [7].

Do we want to be haphazard Christians who reflect the world, or intentional disciples being transformed more fully into His likeness? 

"Obviously there are two kinds of greatness recognized in the Scriptures: an absolute, uncreated greatness belonging to God alone, and a relative and finite greatness achieved by or bestowed upon certain friends of God and sons of faith who by obedience and self-denial sought to become as much like God as possible" (A.W. Tozer) [8]. 

Discussions of surrender are not new to my life since God deeply pressed my heart with the cost of following Jesus the days leading up to when I gave my life fully to Him in childhood. I knew it would be difficult and joyful to live for Him. Yet, year twenty-one contained moments that did not reflect an abiding trust in the One whose ways are always higher than mine (Is. 55:9). Amy Carmichael once warned: "We cannot allow ourselves to become entangled and still believe we will have spiritual power" [9]. But even having hand-written this quote into my journal years ago, I was not so well living out its reality. 

In the depths of COVID, I struggled to push back the weight of discouragement, quickly believing my feelings rather than consulting how to apply His truth to my circumstances. In seasons of exhaustion, we need an unwavering focus upon our God who never fails. "Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil" (Proverbs 4:25-27). Perhaps knowing this reality, I yet lived as though our locked down world would be a dark and ugly place from there on out. I was not so very hopeful, but at times writhed with pain, as I wrote about here

What a gracious God we have. By January, I would be walking through particular circumstances God had set up to confront my weary soul. 

For months I had planned to photograph the March for Life at the end of January for one of my favorite pro-life organizations, Protect Life Michigan, but sadly the trip was canceled. Eventually, I connected with another pro-life organization and agreed to capture the March for Life for them instead. One night, only days prior to the event, I stepped into the hospital parking lot as I arrived for an upcoming shift, glancing at my phone as I closed the car door, only to discover a text telling me I was now called off for capturing the March for Life for this organization as well. The March for Life's staff had decided, for the first time since Roe v. Wade, there would be no national March for Life. I grappled with this reality; how could we tell the world that just because there was a pandemic and unrest we would then cut down on our efforts to stop something with a death toll far higher than COVID deaths and local fatalities combined? But I was not in charge and it was now my job to move on.

Days later, an email popped up in my inbox. Would I still come to photograph a different pro-life event at a nearby location? 

Fast forward six days, and I was sitting in my local airport, having arrived many hours prior to the flight due to familial schedule conflicts. Here I was, much too early and not a soul in sight that I knew. What to do with this free time?....God had gone before me. 

I opened up my Bible with the intent of having a half hour of reading and prayer, with a plan to quickly move on to developmental psychology homework afterward. Instead, the book of Galatians utterly stopped me in my tracks. So much for speeding through a passage. There was too much beauty and truth before me to do so. 

A brief look at the first few chapters and some cross-references caused me to pause; am I living in step with the truth of the Gospel (2:14)? Am I living a life reflective of the truth that I have been redeemed by Jesus Christ who became a curse for me, that I might be set free (3:13)? Am I redeeming the time, knowing that the days are evil (Col. 4:5-6, Eph. 5:15-21)? I was convicted that I had been living based on the goodness or roughness of my circumstances, rather than disciplining myself to walk out each day in light of the Gospel. Ever had one of those seasons you just deeply need to be disciplined by God? I am so grateful He does not ever abandon me despite my weaknesses and sin. He is a faithful Father who uses everything--including fluctuating circumstances--to land me in an airport long before departure as to get me alone with Him. Like a parent pulls their fit-throwing toddler aside for a discussion about the needs of their heart, so God ever-graciously arranged a moment for me to be called out and called higher in following Him.

In all honesty, rather than being an example of excellence like Betty Scott Stam in my life priorities of year twenty-one, I much more so reflected a fit-throwing toddler in the depths of my heart, needing my Heavenly Father's correction. I do not deserve His patience, but when He graciously disciplines us, we have a joyful opportunity to grow closer to this Savior of ours who has such amazing grace that He yet saves and sanctifies a wretch like me. 

Hoping to not have years like twenty-one again any time soon, but if it produced opportunities to know Jesus more deeply and be corrected by His loving instruction, it was utterly worth it all. 

"The soul's deepest thirst is for God Himself, who has made us so that we can never be satisfied without Him" (F.F. Bruce). 

--

[1] The Perfect Wisdom of Our God by Kieth and Kristyn Getty
[2] McCasland, Dave. Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God: The Life Story of the Author of My Utmost for His Highest. Discovery House, 1998. p.55.
[3] Gunn, Robin Jones, and Tricia Goyer. Praying for Your Future Husband: Preparing Your Heart for His. Multnomah, 2011. p. 171.
[4] Elliot, Elisabeth. Let Me Be a Woman: Notes to My Daughter on the Meaning of Womanhood. Tyndale House Publishers, 2004. Forward.
[5] Ibid
[6] DeMoss Wolgemuth, Nancy. “Betty Scott Stam: A Life of Surrender.” Revive Our Hearts, 21 Apr. 2016, www.reviveourhearts.com/blog/betty-scott-stam-life-surrender/.
[7] Shenton, Tim. John Rogers--Sealed with Blood: The Story of the First Protestant Martyr of Mary Tudor's Reign. Day One Publications, 2007. pp. 7-8.
[8] Tozer, A. W., and Gerald B. Smith. Evenings with Tozer: Daily Devotional Readings. Moody Publishers, 2015. October 7.
[9] Carmichael, Amy, and David Hazard. I Come Quietly to Meet You: An Intimate Journey in God's Presence: Devotional Readings. Bethany House, 2005. p. 46.

Belonging for the Nonconformist

Sunday, April 18, 2021


I recently found myself freshly in awe over the book of Galatians during a trip to Virginia in January. While seated in my quaint little hotel room, I returned to the small book that had already blessed me so greatly only hours prior in the airport. This passage stopped me in my tracks:

"I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father!' So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God" (Galatians 4:1-7). 

The word for "Slave" in Greek is "Doulos" which gives the idea of someone who is a bond-slave with no rights of their own. In this passage, doulos is used in the most dignified way, describing a Christian who has voluntarily submitted themself to Jesus' authority over their life [1]. Son is the word "Huios" which signifies a person who shares the same nature as their father [2]; in Christ, this starts when a person surrenders their life to Jesus Christ--becoming a Christian. Huios also points to the importance of a similarity of likeness between the father and the child. Help's says it well:

"5207 huios - Properly, a son (by birth or by adoption); (figuratively) anyone sharing the same nature as their father. For the believer, becoming a son of God begins with being reborn (adopted) by the heavenly father - through Christ (the work of the eternal Son) [...] Hyios ("Son") emphasizes likeness of the believer to the heavenly Father, i.e. resembling His character more and more by living in faith ("God's inwrought persuasions") [...] Hyios ("Son") highlights the (legal) right to the Father's inheritance, i.e. as the believer lives in conformity with the Father's nature (purpose)" [3].

Our sonship as believers--being the children of God--began with being adopted by God when He worked in our hearts, causing us to confess our sins and believe in our hearts that Jesus is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead on the third day (Rom. 10:9, 1 Jn. 1:9, 4:15). This reality of salvation and belonging was initiated by God.

A.W. Tozer, in his powerful book "The Pursuit of God," has a remarkable insight thereon:

"Christian theology teaches the doctrine of prevenient grace, which briefly stated means this, that before a man can seek God, God must first have sought the man. Before a single man can think a right thought of God, there must have been a work of enlightenment done within him; imperfect it may be, but a true work nonetheless, and the secret cause of all desiring and seeking and praying which may follow. We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit. 'No man can come to me,' said our Lord, 'except the Father which hath sent me draw him,' and it is by this very prevenient drawing that God takes from us every vestige of credit for the act of coming. The impulse to pursue God originates with God, but the outworking of that impulse is our following hard after Him; and all the time we are pursuing Him we are already in His hand: 'Thy right hand upholdeth me.' In this divine 'upholding' and human 'following' there is no contradiction. All is of God, for as von Hugel teaches, God is always previous. In practice, however, (that is, where God's previous working meets man's present response) man must pursue God. On our part there must be positive reciprocation if this secret drawing of God is to eventuate in identifiable experience of the Divine. In the warm language of personal feeling this is stated in the Forty-second Psalm: 'As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?' This is deep calling unto deep, and the longing heart will understand it" [4]. 

We have a God who has gone before us, working in our hearts and drawing us to Himself. We have been specifically pursued and sought out by our Maker; part of this beautiful sonship is sanctification--becoming more like Jesus, through His work in our lives. As Tozer states, there is a vital aspect of response in our own hearts toward God. We must actively pursue our loving Savior. When the book of Galatians (4:7) describes us as Sons--no longer slaves--and heirs though God, we know walking out this faith leads to conformity. In our broken society, many of us as Christians have become used to leading lives of nonconformity to the world. This is vital, as we are called to: "Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 5:16b), and "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Rom. 12:2b). But there is one place in my life where conformity is absolutely necessary. Conforming to the image of Christ.


I want my life to be described as Help's Word-studies had put it:

"Conformity with the Father's nature" [5].

Dear fellow nonconformist, I want you to know there is a place to set down that counter-cultural living. I want you to know there is a place you belong. In an evil world, a counter-cultural lifestyle and actions are often necessary, but there is a place--with our hearts bowed before our faithful God--that the culture is right and virtuous. In quiet communion with my God, the culture there is right, because it is owned by a just God who is always Right and True. There is a place you can "walk into" that you may set aside the dread--normally feeling the discomfort of being amongst people who delight in ungodliness, thus you will have to walk against the current--not here. In the presence of God, I belong. I am at home. I am safe to conform to Him, for He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We may exit the doors of our home and enter into a society that does not reflect Him--being salt and light, through His grace, every place we walk amongst men--yet we may also be deeply comforted in the truth that there is a haven of safety for us. I have a God in heaven and He is reigning!

God created you to be conformed--not to this culture, the world at large, the peers around you, or to the pervading thoughts of the day--but to Jesus Christ. 

How freeing it is to know that in a world with so many polluting influences that often pull us away from God, we can come before Him in quiet devotion and be conformed in a wonderful way that will lead to greater closeness with Him and a more accurate representation of Jesus being made in and through our daily living. 

Tozer warns us, though, that if we are not seeking out time with our God, we should not expect to become like Him:

"The man who would know God must give time to Him! He must count no time wasted, which is spent in the cultivation of His acquaintance. He must give himself to meditation and prayer hours on end. So did the saints of old, the glorious company of the apostles, the godly fellowship of the prophets and the believing members of the holy Church in all generations. And so must we if we would follow in their train! May not the inadequacy of much of our spiritual experience be traced back to our habit of skipping through the corridors of the Kingdom like little children through the marketplace, chattering about everything but pausing to learn the true value of nothing?" [6]

We have the Holy Spirit crying in our hearts: "Abba! Father!" (Gal. 4:6), and we have been brought near to our worthy Savior who no longer counts us slaves, but sons--heirs though God. I have a belonging with Jesus Christ that far surpasses any acceptance I could experience amongst people. How many of your friends would stick around if you rebelled against them, broke every one of their laws, and murdered their son on a cross? All our friends of earth would be nowhere to be found. They would cut us out of their lives in the name of self-preservation and self-protection. Not so with our God. When we deserved eternal condemnation in hell, God made a way for us to be redeemed. Prior to the time in history in which Jesus died, God's eternal redemptive purposes were at work--the Lamb of God was slain before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). 

The same Savior who intervened for your eternity is pursuing your heart today. Will you respond to His pursuit by seeking Him above all else, or will you miss out on the one relationship that most matters in light of eternity?

"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 [...] For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person--though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die--but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:1-2, 6-7).

--

[1] Help's Word-studies. “Strong's Greek: 1401. Δοῦλος (DOULOS) -- a Slave.” Bible Hub, biblehub.com/greek/1401.htm. 
[2] Help's Word-studies. “Strong's Greek: 5207. Υἱός (Huios) -- a Son.” Bible Hub, biblehub.com/greek/5207.htm.
[3] Ibid
[4] Tozer, A.W. The Pursuit of God, Good Press, 2019. ch. I. 
[5] Help's Word-studies. “Strong's Greek: 5207. Υἱός (Huios) -- a Son.” Bible Hub, biblehub.com/greek/5207.htm.
[6] Tozer, A.W. “Tozer Devotional: Give Time To God.” The Alliance, 2 Dec. 2019, www.cmalliance.org/devotions/tozer?id=178. 

Through the Painful Path: Trusting Christ When All Seems Bleak

Monday, January 4, 2021

What words would you use to describe your experiences in 2020? Have you had moments of challenge, difficulty and pain? I have yet to meet one person whose life was not in someway changed by the pandemic, national unrest or political happenings last year included. No one gets to check off all the boxes on their to-do list this trip around the sun. 

With so much uncertainty can also come the aches and pains of a hurting soul. Everyone has been at least somewhat more isolated than normal. When away from those we love, there is less accountability on how we are actually doing. 

Some people share, "Well, it's been crazy, but this was actually the best year of my life!" 

I don't know about you, but I can't quite resonate.

2020 was possibly the most painful year of my life. It has pushed me much harder than I thought I could endure. It has overworked me and taken community away many a time. It has set me back on academic goals. It has been the time of fickle friendships. Yet, we can be confidently assured that not one pressure or pain of our lives exists outside the sovereign hand of our faithful God. 

We look at the unexpected events and feel a wave of grief. Yet, somehow, our mighty God is able to bring redemption and accomplish His purposes through all that appears to us to be bleakly uncertain. We have no way of knowing what our tomorrows will contain, but we may simply abide and rest knowing the One who sent Christ to rescue our souls for all eternity is also in control of this challenging moment of history.

Wouldn't it be lovely if there was a simple solution to the pain of this year? I wish I could offer you words here that I felt could free us from the depths of the ache many of us are feeling now, but I am not sure what would give such a freedom. I must come back to the central truth that sometimes God is most glorified in my suffering. We would like to imagine that God is most exalted in our happiness, but sometimes it is by walking with Christ through the fire that I may fulfill His will for me this day. These present events may seem like a dark storm cloud settled over us, not soon to move on. We do not know what will unfold with the virus, shut downs, or the future of our nation as a new administration takes power. Our confidence will tremble and not find security if we set it in these temporal things. But I have a powerful God in heaven and He is reigning! No matter what I am seeing now, there is a bright future ahead because no matter what unfolds in my earthly years--if it's much more suffering--I know that someday I will enter heaven and be with Christ forevermore. That is one place we may be certain pain will be no more.

"And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.' And He who was seated on the throne said, 'Behold, I am making all things new.' Also He said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.' And He said to me, 'It is done! I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death" (Revelation 21:3-8).


The only reason we are not named with those who will suffer for all eternity is because of the power of the Gospel, mightily setting us free from sin and making Christ the Lord of our lives. Not only did Jesus care for you on the day He set you free and made you His own, but now, through the monotonous, repetitive, sometimes heavy moments of our every day life, He cares and He is here. My Father is not far off! He is not some distant dream, but the very hope of my soul through every further thing--good and bad--that will happen to me. I have a confidence that I take with me when I walk through the fire; this present challenge cannot surprise my God. He has seen my aches and hurts through already, and sees fit in His perfect will for me to cause this day to be as it is--one of easy rejoicing, or a time that we will yet bless the name of the Lord from the dust and ashes. 

Do you find yourself easily rejoicing or dwelling in the ashes, my friend? If you feel you've been transported out into the middle of a desert, now walking through the wilderness, will you worship Him there? When you want nothing more than for the pain to relent, will you yet bless the name of the Lord? The One who is fully able to give or take anything away has provided us with challenges. Will you walk this dusty path with a faithless moan, or in the exhausted depths of your soul, will you give Him all of the little you may have, knowing your Father is worthy, present and good even when your circumstances are wearying, long, and bad?

My wildernesses of my life are graciously ordained by the God who providentially directs my life. He is an Author who may be trusted. He has already shown us the ending in His Word; we don't know all the details of how our years will unfold, but we know that at the end, if Christ is our Lord, we will indeed have our every tear wiped away. We may not feel strong or refreshed now--perhaps such things seem far off--but there will be a day all our earthly trials come to an end. And when we give a report of our lives to God, may we reflect on weary and broken seasons and see that they were offered up to Him. May the places in our journey we most feel tempted to doubt and give up instead become places we pursue our Christ harder--knowing even when all we are feeling is pain, He is yet as present with us as ever. 

Pain is a gift because it causes me to realize all in this world is empty apart from Christ. Earthly things don't fulfill us. Friends betray and gossip. Life doesn't go as planned. Our hearts ache. And it is right there that we find the world fails and Christ never does. 

"Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). 

"You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment, like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end" (Hebrews 1:10-12).

"For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him [Jesus]. That is why it is through Him that we utter our Amen to God for His glory. And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put His seal on us and given us His Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee" (2 Corinthians 1:20-22). 

I have a powerful God, and it is because of His strength--and not my own--that I will purpose to offer up my most painful life chapters to the One who absolutely can be glorified in my suffering. If we are to ache and hurt according to His will, may we do it with joy in our hearts; the joy that is sourced in Christ and may never be taken away by this mysterious world and its unprecedented events. There is hope not because of material things, my own successes, or current life happenings, but because Hope is a person who has suffered in my place, having died for my sin: Jesus Christ.

"Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good" (1 Peter 4:19).

"Thus says the Lord: 'Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit" (Jeremiah 17: 5-8).