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When “Adulting” Includes Suffering

Preparing for adulthood includes learning how to manage money, being responsible with technology, finding a right-fit career, considering what to look for in a future spouse, etc. But sometimes, what can be overlooked is planning for the trials of life.

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

It’s important to know what the Bible says about suffering, such as:

  • Acceptance of the fallen state of the world leads to a realistic, healthy perspective. (Rom. 5:12-21; Eph. 6:12-13; 1 Pet. 4:12)
  • Joy and fullness of life in Christ includes hardships and suffering. (Col. 1:24-29)
  • Suffering is a prompt to pray. (James 5:13)
  • There are great blessings in suffering. (1 Pet. 3:14)
  • The Bible provides the strategies needed to endure suffering. (Ps. 40:11b)
  • Suffering does not make God less than perfectly good. (Rom. 2:4)
  • God is in control of suffering at the same time as feeling everything we feel. (Ps. 97:1; Mt. 25:42-45)
  • He modeled how to do suffering. (Lk 23:46)
  • Responding well to suffering brings God glory and takes Christians to glory. (1 Pet 4: 16; Rom. 8:17-18)
  • You can achieve a special status in suffering, and can gain others’ attention for Christ through it. (Phil. 1:27-29)
  • Going through trials lifts you out of earthly focus and back to an eternal view. (2 Tim. 1:8-12)
  • Being well-prepared for suffering is not the same as being cynical, anxious, or dreading the future. (Prov. 31:25)

Having a personal relationship with Jesus is a game-changer when it comes to suffering.

  • Seeing Him at work in tough times leads to a grateful spirit. (Ps. 34)
  • Suffering is an opportunity to be comforted by the Divine Comforter. (2 Cor. 1:3-7)
  • The Lord allows hard times to produce rewardingpersonal character transformation. (Rom. 5:3-4)
  • He uses physical woes to expose crucial spiritual needs. (Mt. 9:2)
  • Suffering reveals the need for faith in God. (Is. 41:10)
  • What Jesus did on the cross becomes more precious in the face of evil. (Heb. 2:9)
  • He gives you precisely what you need to tolerate the suffering you’ve been given. (Heb 4:16)
  • Hard times create a beneficial dependency on the Lord. (2 Cor. 11:16-12:10)
  • Sharing in Christ’s suffering can make you more like Him. (Phil. 3:10-11)
  • Suffering can bond you to Jesus Christ in a deep, sacred way. (Phil. 3:7-8)

Suffering is a time for community to rally around those who are hurting:

  • Joining with others through suffering keeps you from feeling alone. (1 Pet. 5:9)
  • There is no greater hero to look up to than someone who is suffering and clinging to Christ in faith. (James 5:10-11)
  • Suffering is an opportunity to show and receive love and comfort from special people in your life. (2. Cor. 1:3-4)
  • Your suffering can be united to Christ’s sufferings for your benefit and for the sake of the Body of Christ. (Col. 1:24)
  • Prayers in times of suffering remind you how much you are loved, and Jesus is always found in prayer teams. (Mt. 18:20)
  • Through hardship, relationships can become more authentic. (Ruth 2:11)
  • Suffering often occurs in seasons. Sometimes you’re on the receiving end of support and sometimes you’re on the giving end. (1 Pet. 1:6; Eph. 4:2)
  • Doing life in a Christian community gives you the opportunity to be held up by brothers and sisters in Christ when you struggle, to know deep satisfaction of pointing others to Christ when they suffer, and to grow in Christ together. (Jn. 13:35)

“We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed – always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” (2 Cor. 4:8-10)

Looking for a Meaningful Getaway?

You love the ocean breeze, mountain air, woodsy scents, or lake-house reprieve. There’s nothing like drawing close to the Lord through nature and allowing it to restore a weary spirit.

But what about nourishment for the mind? Have you considered taking an excursion that would give your mind a chance to grow closer to the Lord through new knowledge?

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

1. In one trip, you can visit Creation Museum and Ark Encounter, both located outside the Cincinnati, Ohio area. These attractions are more relevant than ever as schools and textbooks continue to omit God from creation and history. Touring these unique facilities will give you a refresher course in God’s design of the world and equip you with talking points when communicating with others.

2. In another vacation, you can visit the new Museum of the Bible which is opening in Washington, DC on November 17 of this year. It’s being touted as one of the most technologically advanced museums of the world while having some of the oldest Biblical artifacts anywhere. The goal of this massive, multi-media experience is to present the Bible in its entirety in a manner that lets Scripture speak for itself. Plan to visit soon and be a part of what God is going to do when His Word is honored and displayed for minds to absorb, and then is used to declare and worship Him.

I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (Heb. 8:10)

Finding Grace in the Face of Dementia

It’s a book about dementia…written by a Christian doctor…and intended for you if you think you could one day be caring for someone with dementia or if you fear the possibility of one day having dementia.

Through stories from his medical practice and from a Biblical worldview, Dr. Dunlop provides the knowledge you need to be calm and full of faith as you contemplate and possibly one day face this topic.

Topics include:

  • Recognizing symptoms and responding well in the early stages
  • Being sensitive with diagnosis (it’s important to be handled on a case-by-case basis)
  • Honoring those who are afflicted
  • Seeing God’s purposes in dementia
  • Honoring God through dementia
  • Being called to be a caregiver and caregiving options
  • Learning to care for and love well those with dementia
  • Planning wisely and respectfully for the way that dementia progresses
  • Protecting those with dementia and their families
  • Managing end-of-life requests
  • Sustaining a relationship with the Lord while living with dementia
  • The role of the church and dementia
  • The spiritual growth opportunities that come with dementia
  • Acknowledging your emotions about possibly dealing with dementia

 Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

1. Create and foster an atmosphere in your family that highly regards the elderly and moves in close to anyone experiencing dementia.

2. Check out John Dunlop’s several books on later seasons of life. It’s refreshing to read books about physical health written by an MD who is so devoted to Christ.

3. Especially consider the relationship you have with Jesus now compared to what you hope it will look like in your older years. Investing now is wise.

“They shall still bear fruit in old age.” (Ps. 92:14)

Do-Overs for College Students

Sometimes the freshman year of college doesn’t turn out so great. Occasionally it happens that two or three of the other years aren’t the best either. College students and their parents are finding the Gospel reaching them in new ways during these tough experiences, and Christian counseling can be especially effective with this population because these unhappy college students are so ready for change and growth.

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

 Parents

1) As hard as you try, it’s nearly impossible to fathom today’s college atmosphere. If your college-aged son or daughter doesn’t seem to be thriving, encourage counseling, but keep in mind that campus-based counselors may have an agenda that differs from your values. There are other great options in this day and age. After working with a number of college students who were in Atlanta this summer, I’ve found that for those who leave for college, FaceTime works great!

2) It’s not a bad thing that your college-aged young adult is going through a hard season and/or needing counseling. The best thing you can do is wait as patiently as possible. And in some cases, that may include waiting as quietly as possible, too. The maturity this journey will produce will be worth any sacrifices you make during this time.

Friends

If someone you care about is in college and sinking fast, let them know there are advocates who want to see them succeed. Even if they blew it for a year or two, they can have a fresh start. Those I’m working with are: learning new ways to cope with anxiety, exploring healthier friendships, securing a strong identity, setting productive goals, pursuing emotional maturity, defining better lifestyles, and discovering what the Lord is teaching them through their hardships.

Beloved Current College Students (you know who you are!) –

It’s such a privilege and delight to work with you! I’m praying for this school year and can’t wait to hear about all the ways the Lord is going to move in your life this semester and beyond. I want to come visit each and every one of you and continue to encourage you! Remember – you are released from what held you captive in the past and you are learning to walk in the new way of the Spirit! (Rom. 7:6)

Prospective College Students

I would love to work with you! And we can start in person. I can meet one-on-one with you in my office, or come to your campus. Or you may think it would be helpful if I come speak to your small group or your campus Bible study. We can customize a plan that works according to your circumstances. Whatever you think is best!  You do not have to walk as the rest of (college students) walk…being alienated from the life of God…because of the blindness of their heart…who have given themselves over to lewdness…but you can walk worthy of the calling to which you were called. (Eph. 4:17, 18, 1)

 

Wait! Don’t Toss Those Eclipse Glasses!

The black-out feature of your eclipse glasses may have been designed to protect you from the sun’s radiation, but did you notice how the world around you was shut out when you put them on? There’s a gift in disguise there.

It’s very hard to get away with your Lord (Song of Solomon 2:10) when you’re constantly being interrupted, over-stimulated, and distracted.

And it’s hard to settle down and concentrate on what Jesus has to say to you in His Word when so much is competing for your attention. (Ps. 119:1)

 So, sometimes the most appealing options for rest seem to be movie binges or Facebook feeds. But that kind of “rest” only provides a temporary escape.

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

You might want to keep a pair of those eclipse glasses close by and use them to prepare your mind and body to enter into a time of rest. Jesus commanded His disciples to go to a deserted place to rest (Mk. 6:31). Your eclipse glasses can help with that.

When things get hectic around you, like Paul and his team when their bodies had no rest and they were troubled on every side, prepare to be comforted by God (2 Cor. 7:5). You can put the glasses on for a few minutes, enjoy the break for your eyes, relax your breathing, and release any tension in your body. Notice your body slow down it’s tempo. But don’t keep them on long enough to fall asleep!

Remove your glasses and pick up your bible. Now that you’ve paused your environment, body, and mind, you can take in the right nourishment He has to give you, and benefit from some peace and joy. Using your eclipse glasses to temporarily block out your surroundings is a fresh and creative way to be diligent and enter His rest (Heb. 4:11).

How Many Apologies Does It Take?

So you’ve messed up and apologized. You only owe one apology per offense, right? Not necessarily. Yes, the person you wronged is commanded to be quick to forgive you, but some cases can be better resolved after multiple apologies. Likewise, several layers of apologies may be helpful to restore intimacy.

As a Christian, you are not condemned. So, if you’re feeling unsettled even after you’ve apologized, you’ll want to proceed prayerfully to know if the Lord is prompting a next-level apology…or to see if this idea is actually coming out of wrong reasons such as people-pleasing, co-dependency issues, false guilt, etc.

If someone is coming to your mind right now and you’re wondering if you need to apologize again (or maybe even apologize when you’re the one who is owed an apology), the following exercise can help guide you.

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

*Is the Lord speaking to your situation through these apologetic scenarios?

“So, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Mt. 5:23-24). There’s room here for the possibility that the one at the altar could extend a previous apology, yet it lack enough depth or sincerity for the brother to release the grievance.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone…if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you…” (Mt. 18:15, 16). There’s room here for the possibility that a brother might only offer a half-apology and not agree when being asked for a more complete apology.

“…you were grieved into repenting…” (2 Cor. 7:9). There’s room here for the possibility that as they grieved, the repentant ones became increasingly sorry, maybe even apologizing once more. There’s also room here for the possibility that during the grieving period the offended can be struggling to forgive; but once a fresh apology is delivered, forgiveness comes easier.

 *Does this basic truth resonate?

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). There’s room here for the possibility that an apology you previously gave – before you knew Christ – doesn’t feel sorrowful enough to you now, and you want to do it again.

*Do any of these foundational commands apply?

“You shall love the Lord God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength (Mk. 12:30). There’s room here for the possibility that the more of you that loves God, the more you’re able to hear Him telling you to do a better job apologizing.

 “…be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Rom. 12:2). There’s room here for the possibility that with a renewed mind, you think differently about the situation and can apologize with a clearer perspective now.

 “…continue to work out your own salvation…” (Phil. 2:12). There’s room here for the possibility that the more you live out your salvation, the more regretful you’ll feel about your sin towards another, leading you to a more deep and sincere level of apology.

*Still not sure?

“Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will exalt you…Carry out this act of grace…for the glory of the Lord…” (Jas. 4:10; 2 Cor. 8:19). There’s room here for the possibility that if you’re being led to offer someone another apology – and it’s coming from a humble place in your heart – then God is being glorified by you!