Dear Ones,
Hope you are having a good weekend. This morning I cleaned our apartment and made Beef Stroganoff  and took a friend here to the Dollar Store. Another mild day and lovely for a walk. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
How many of us accept suffering as a gift? Really a gift? I’m sure we don’t seek suffering but when it comes our way, do we embrace what it has to teach us or do we quickly try to escape. Most of us would say we like comfort and we are being manipulated today by our love for pleasure and fear of discomfort. It is one of the enemies lies to promise us a life without suffering or any kind of discomfort. Jesus never said that His followers would not suffer and says in Matt. 5:11-12a (ESV), “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad for our reward is great in heaven.” God can teach us many things through times of suffering if we are open to its lessons. In Rod Dreher’s book, he said that Jesus doesn’t want admirers but followers. Admirers play it safe and don’t want to make sacrifices but followers want to be like Him and willing to pay the cost, no matter what. It is almost hard to read the accounts of those who have paid the ultimate price. When we think of life under communism, people sent to prison were never returned, children were taken away from parents because of their faith, others endured terrible torture.  Maria Wittner is a national hero for fighting the Soviets when they invaded Hungary. She was a teenager and was arrested and sentenced to death row. Every day there were hangings and miraculously God spared her life. She tells us that if our soul is free there is nothing they can do to us. In the end those who are afraid end up worse than the courageous. Our suffering can have purpose even if we are not aware at the time. It can deepen our love for God and for others, teach us patience and kindness, and help us sense true meaning in life. Suffering refines us and also helps us join with others who have grief, for we understand and know that God is enough.  But we must refuse hatred and leave vengeance up to the Lord. We will live most freely when we bear suffering and pain for Jesus, and do not run from it but accept it as God’s severe mercy. Let us live in truth no matter what the cost.
Challenge for today: Embrace suffering as a friend and as a gift that has things to teach you.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy