One was some wise words from my mom, with my own emphases:
"As I studied the Bible lesson I am teaching tonight about Cain and Abel [Gen 4], I realized that Abel too did everything in obedience and love for God, yet he was given hardship that led to death. Yet Cain lived on. But really Cain suffered the most: on earth he wandered and had no peace. Abel was spared the pain on earth and is rejoicing and praising God forever!"
That addressed my feeling of getting the short end of the stick-- as if my obedience is supposed to get me what I want, when God is offering me way better: HIMSELF!
Another was from a close friend, who identified with my struggles, reminded me of what I will one day become, & what I am called to now. This meant a lot because this friend has been a Grace-filled example of someone who continues to persevere in faith through many and varied trials:
"Your latest blog entry really spoke to me. So many Christians probably feel the same way you do, but are too afraid to express their inner bitterness/anger/hurt. I can't even begin to tell you how many times I have found myself smiling and asserting that I'm "just peachy" when someone asks how I'm doing, even as I want to scowl and lament over my own woundedness. [...] As a toddler in the faith, I am actually encouraged by your sufferings. Too often Christianity is presented as the solution to all our problems, and if Christ alone can't help you, then surely prayer mixed with a good book will! [...] I know that I am blessed in so many ways and I do feel a real joy in my heart, but it is nonetheless sullied by this lingering sadness. Jesus, I knew I had to accept you, but do I really have to BECOME you?
Your sharing your struggle speaks volumes more about the Gospel of Grace than your usual upbeat entries. It is obvious even in this time of suffering that you DO have faith, even if it is not a "perfect" faith. [...] It's good to be reminded that you too feel the full spectrum of human emotion.
I believe that your doubts, although painful, will bear much fruit. They already have in me! Even when everything seems bleak, take comfort in knowing that God can still make beautiful music through you, battered instrument though you may be...and one day, He will heal all those dents and dings and you will shine like the sun!"
Thank you to all who have been praying for me. Thank you too all of you who have called or emailed or hugged me or verbally encouraged me. I love you and need you all. The Lord is near in all of you!