Dwell in Me

Seeking God in the Every Day

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What Can Separate Us?

I will place enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will crush your head and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)

I’m going to try not to get too theologically deep with this one, but I have been thinking about this verse quite a bit lately. In context, this is part of the curse on the serpent following the first sin. The crafty serpent convinces Eve to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. In the process he displays all of his evil wiles and powers of deception. Eve eats the fruit and passes it along to her husband, who appears to have been standing passively by and waiting for her to make a decision. He follows along (first peer pressure?) and before you know it, God’s good and perfect creation falls to sin.

For satan, this seems like a battle won. In the war of God vs. lucifer, it looks like God: 0, lucifer: 1. He has deceived God’s image-bearers, leading to the first death and to the end of innocence.

All three persons are found guilty before God: Adam for eating the fruit he knew he shouldn’t have eaten, Eve for doing the same and, really, for choosing to listen to satan over God, and the serpent, the “craftiest” of all of the beasts, for pushing them to sin. All three will be penalized. Adam will henceforth have to work to draw forth sustenance from the ground. Eve will suffer pain in childbearing. And the serpent? He will crawl on his belly in the dirt. Oh, and one more thing: God “will place enmity between you [the serpent] and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will crush your head and you will strike his heel.”

Most people understand this verse not just as a general statement about the relationship between people and snakes. It is called the protoevangelium, or “first gospel,” and refers to God’s plan of redemption for man. And satan fails to realize that he has just set himself up for ultimate destruction.

From the beginning, satan has worked to try to separate people from God. And from the beginning, God has had a plan to redeem us from our sins. The ultimate offspring from the woman is Jesus. While the serpent will attempt to strike a blow at him, the injuries satan can cause are minor compared to the final destruction God has promised the devil.

I find I’m moved by the idea that God would allow satan even a minor jab at Jesus. And I think the injury satan ultimately inflicts is in Jesus’ death on the cross. But this is not really the fatal blow it appears to be, for Jesus rises again, triumphant in the defeat of all sin (of death). But satan? His doom is coming. He has already lost, though maybe he doesn’t see it yet.

And when I think about how this applies to my life, I wonder if things like infertility, uncertainty, difficult circumstances and challenges, and all of the things that seem like the worst.thing.ever are the equivalent of satan striking at our heels. He hasn’t given up, though his mission has proven futile.

What has happened in my life when satan gets his jabs in? Infertility has undeniably strengthened my relationship with God. Uncertain circumstances have provided me the opportunity to see how God is working in my life. Challenges with doctors, insurance plans, and unexpected bills have given me chances to turn to God, laying my burdens in his hands and learning to trust that he will take care of these things.

Does it sting? Sometimes it hurts more than I can believe or express.

Is the pain lasting? Will it defeat me? I know that it isn’t. I know that it can’t.

Could these jabs from satan draw me away from my Father? Nope.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

Satan loses, my friends. In fact, he’s lost already. Nothing can separate me–not infertility, not heartache, not loss–from the love of God. Praise the Lord!



Sharing in His Sufferings

“But whatever gain I had I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith–that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3: 7-11

So I’ve been meditating some on what it means to take joy in suffering lately. I guess that came up in my last post and then hit me again as I was doing my Bible study in Philippians 3 this week. The verses that really caught me are 3:10-11, though I provide 7-11 for some extra context here. Paul has just finished talking about why he was about the most qualified person for salvation that ever could be–by worldly, Jewish standards anyway. He has perfect lineage, “a Hebrew among Hebrews.” As a Pharisee, he knows the law forward and backward. He had great zeal for his beliefs–which he credits as the motivation behind his persecution of Christians before meeting the Lord on the way to Damascus. He is as righteous and by the book as any man could have been before Christ. But he says, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”

None of those credentials is worth anything to him in light of Christ. And none of those things could have saved him.

There are things I rely on in daily life all the time when I should rely on Christ. And things I feel so heartbroken that I am missing. But I was reminded recently that while “children are a blessing from God,” they are not the ultimate blessing. That is salvation.

That doesn’t change the fact that infertility means pain and difficulty and suffering for so many of us, myself included. I haven’t really suffered in this life outside of this, and I have found it difficult to become accustomed to it. I don’t like suffering. I don’t want it. I want nothing to do with it.

But then, that puts me a bit out of line, doesn’t it?

Paul talks about sharing in the sufferings of Christ not just as a worthwhile thing, but as something he desires. Wow.

This verse (verse 10) really hits home when considering how to have joy in our sufferings. We can rejoice in our difficult circumstances because in some small way our challenges allow us to take part, albeit to a lesser degree, in the sufferings of Christ. I believe this is so even when the things we suffer are not outwardly related to our faith or profession thereof. That is, even when our sufferings are not brought about by persecution.

In this sense, I should rejoice in infertility, even if all I could ever gain from it is that I will have shared in some small part in the sufferings of Christ.

I need to remember that to attain resurrection from the dead is worth it at any cost. Even the cost of my ability to bear children. That is so difficult for me to wrap my mind around. But if that is not true, what do I believe?

I think if I had read what I am writing here a few months ago I would have thought two things. First, that this writer is a bit off balance (which, let’s face it, is a completely valid concern even now), and second, that this writer has no concept of what I am going through and clearly cannot understand my pain.

But God is working on me. He is changing my heart and changing my perspective. If you think this is crazy, I don’t blame you. But this. This is what I am thinking. And this is true: My pain is worth rejoicing over if it means I am getting closer to Christ and growing more Christ like. 

And in that way, infertility is a discipline, making me better than I could make myself. And God, who knows all things, is growing me and doing what is best for me, as he has promised to do. Even when I don’t understand it.

I don’t have to enjoy it.

“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11

But I do need to rejoice in what suffering really means for me. The building of a Christ-like character within me. And that’s an investment in eternity.

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Believing–Trying to, Anyway

This morning, this struck me in my reading:

From then on, Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead. … Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:21, 24)

It really is crazy to think that Jesus specifically told the disciples to take up their cross and follow him well before he was crucified. How much plainer could he have spoken?

Jesus knew the moment he began his ministry that he was taking up a cross and that he would bear that cross to completion.

And he told his disciples that he would be killed and that he would rise again three days later.

He told them this at least three times. (See Matthew 17:22-23 and Matthew 20:17-19.)

But after he was crucified, the disciples are nowhere to be found. When they first receive the news that Jesus has risen from the dead, they don’t believe the women who tell them, “because their words seemed to them like nonsense.” (Luke 24:11)

I look at this and wonder at how the disciples could have had so little faith. It is clear they did not believe what he had told them.

But why do I think I’d have done any better?

I’m dealing with infertility. And it hurts. It hurts so badly. And I cannot confess to you the number of times I have thought about my situation and found it hard to believe that God could be using this for my good, for anyone’s good.

But I’ll try to have faith.

Eventually, the disciples saw Jesus face-to-face again. And then they believed. Even the most skeptical of all of them believed.  I can only hope God will have patience for me as he did for them.