Susan Jane King

Thriving with Jesus in life's ongoing challenges

When Things Go from Bad to Worse

Financialdifficulties[1]

When we first met Sam, we had no idea how much he would teach us about living out your faith when things seem to go from bad to worse.

My husband David started taking guitar lessons from Sam many years ago. Sam plays guitar professionally. He is a gifted guitarist and guitar teacher. Through their mutual love of music, Sam and David forged a close friendship. As David worked on playing Christian songs, he and Sam would talk about the words of the songs. The Lord began working on Sam’s heart through those lyrics, and he eventually came to know Jesus as his Lord, Savior, and Friend.

Sam was a diabetic. Three years ago, due to complications from his diabetes, he nearly lost his leg and his life. He spent months in recovery, fighting to walk again and regain his mobility. After that health crisis, his kidneys were damaged, so he has to have dialysis for 9 hours every day. He is on the waiting list to receive a kidney transplant.

All of those challenges seem like a lot for any man . . . but there’s more. Two weeks ago, Sam fell, breaking his pelvic bone and crushing the top of his femur. He now finds himself in a nursing home for at least 3 months of recovery. I called Sam the other day, wanting to know how he was doing, and hoping to maybe encourage him a little. By the end of our conversation, he was the one encouraging me! Here is what I learned from talking with Sam, that when things seem to go from bad to worse:

Remember Who God Is

Throughout our conversation, Sam kept speaking of the goodness of God and how He had blessed him in the midst of his challenges. He told me stories of how the Lord had provided for him and made Himself known to him. He literally laughed in delight as he shared about his friend Jesus. I could tell that the joy of the Lord was truly Sam’s strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

When the prophet Habakkuk was told that life for the Israelites was going to go from bad to worse, he did the same thing. He remembered his God and professed that He is Elohim (my Creator and Sustainer), Yahweh (the Eternal God), and my Rock (foundation and refuge) (Habakkuk 1:12). He allowed the truths about God to be the greatest reality in his life, and they overarched all of his circumstances.

Choose to Trust the Lord

Sam told me, “The Lord has me here (in the nursing home) right now, so I am going to serve Him here.” Sam knows his God, so he trusts Him with his circumstances. “The reason I can keep going is because the Lord is right by my side the whole time,” Sam said. He believes Psalm 46:1, NASB, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

Job trusted God, too. When he seemed to lose everything from an earthly perspective, he said, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him” (Job 13:15, NASB). That word hope, in Hebrew yachal, means “to wait, be patient, and trust.” Like Sam, Job knew the Lord . . . and he chose to trust Him, to wait and allow the Lord to work out what He was doing.

Every challenge is an opportunity to choose to put our faith in God. Faith is a choice. We grow stronger in our faith when we exercise the muscles of our faith.

Stay Devoted to the Lord

“I’m witnessing to everyone here (at the nursing home) about Jesus. I’m telling them my story, and I’m playing my guitar for them. I am telling people how real He is and what He can do,” Sam said. I could tell that Sam was finding joy and purpose right where the Lord had him. He has chosen to stay devoted to the Lord, wherever the Lord has him. “The Lord still has me here, and I am loving life with Him every day,” Sam said.

We uncover precious blessings when we choose to run to the Lord in difficult times . . . instead of running away from Him.

Ask my friend Sam. He will tell you all about it.

Question: Who has been a witness to you about living out their faith in a “bad to worse” situation? Comment at the link below.

Visit Susan’s website: susanjaneking.com

Susan Jane King

Leave a comment »

Appreciating One Another’s Gifts

DSC_1892

Sarah (left) and Emily (right) with their sister Katie at the baby shower

My daughters Emily and Sarah recently hosted a baby shower for their sister Katie. I watched in awe as our home was transformed into bright, welcoming place with beautiful decorations and delightful food.

Emily and Sarah are gifted in the ability to organize spaces and make them attractive. They know how to plan and host gatherings too. They can paint, create crafts, and draw beautifully.

DSC_1852

I look at them and think, “Are they really my daughters?” The good Lord did not gift me in any of those areas; in fact, I struggle when I attempt to do any of those things.

For years, I would compare myself to others, wishing to be more like them, or maybe Martha Stewart! I would allow myself to feel “less than” others who had gifts that I didn’t.

DSC_1835

Then, one day, I ran across a scripture that gave me an entirely different perspective about the matter:  “The Spirit works all these things [these gifts], distributing to each person individually just as He wills” (1 Corinthians 12:11, NASB). In other words,

DSC_1870

God gifts us

The Lord decides the gifts each of us will receive, and He gives them to us. In His wisdom, sovereignty, and love, He chooses. We are told in Ephesians 2:10 that each of us is His “workmanship,” a work of art, masterfully crafted by His loving hands. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” (Psalm 139:14, NASB). Because He is God, He knows best, and He gives accordingly.

DSC_1844

God has His own special purposes for our gifts

Our gifts are given to us, but they are not about us. They are meant to display different aspects of who Jesus is to the world. Our gifts are meant to help others know and be drawn, not to the gift, but to the Giver of all gifts. For example, I learn from watching my daughters that the Lord is creative and artistic . . . as well as caring and devoted.

DSC_1846

We should embrace our gifts and use them as He leads us

If we try to be someone other than whom the Lord created us to be, then the world misses out on experiencing the traits of Jesus that have been woven into our lives. We should “walk in” the gifts God has given us, using them to magnify the Lord (Ephesians 2:10). We should allow ourselves to freely be whom God made us to be, trusting that the Lord will lead us in using His gifts for His purposes.

DSC_1861

My first grandchild is due in just 4 weeks. I can’t wait to discover what gifts the Lord has placed in this little boy!

Question: How has the Lord led you to share your gifts with others? Comment at the link below.

Visit Susan’s website: susanjaneking.com

Susan Jane King

4 Comments »

Handling Disappointment

DSC_0014

Patrick on deck at the Pfeiffer University pool

A few days ago, the athletic director at my son’s college called Patrick and the other members of the varsity swim team together and told them the university had decided to stop having a swim team. In one fell swoop, hopes and dreams were slashed; great sorrow and disappointment took their place.

Disappointment can overtake us at any point in our lives. How do we handle it? Jesus gives us a great example from His experience in the Garden of Gethsemane:

Tell God how you feel

When Jesus knew He faced the impending terror and pain of the cross, He didn’t deny His feelings. He told His Father that He wished things were different. He expressed how He felt and what He wanted. We are told He was “very distressed and troubled” (Mark 14:33, NASB). He even said, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death” (Mark 14:34, NASB). He told His Father, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for Thee; remove this cup [of suffering] from Me” (Mark 14:36).

We are told to pour out our hearts before God (Psalm 62:8). We must take all of our disappointments to Him. He knows how we feel, and He always welcomes us with open arms. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1, NASB).

Ask others to pray for you

During his Garden experience, Jesus took aside his closest friends Peter, James, and John, and He confided in them and asked for their help. “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me” (Matthew 26:38, NASB). He was asking them to pray on His (and their) behalf. He told them to “keep watching and praying” (Matthew 26:41, NASB).

My son Patrick posted on Facebook shortly after the swim team announcement, “I would like to ask that you lift up my team in your prayers through this tough time that we’re facing.” I know many people are praying for the members of the Pfeiffer University Men’s and Women’s Swim Teams. Prayer keeps us connected to God, and to one another. God hears our prayers, and He moves in and through them (James 5:16). As Rev. Charles Stanley has said, “Fight all your battles on your knees and you win every time.”

Choose to trust God

Jesus’ struggle was so great that “His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground” (Luke 22:44, NASB). Yet, in the end, He gave His situation—and His life—over to His Father . . . because Jesus trusted Him.

Three times Jesus said, “not my will, but Thine be done” (Luke 22:42, NASB). He knew that His Father loved Him, that His Father loved mankind, and that His Father’s will was “good, acceptable, and perfect” (Romans 12:2, NASB). He knew that His Father was both wise and loving, that He saw the total picture and had the perfect plan. That’s why, “while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed” (1 Peter 2:23-24, NASB).

Something beautiful came from Jesus’ time of suffering, disappointment, and sorrow. He was honest about His feelings. He invited others to come alongside Him to help Him be faithful, and He allowed His Father to work out His perfect plans through the pain. May we follow His example and seek to do the same.

Question: How can we pray for you regarding your disappointments? Comment at the link below.

Visit Susan’s website: susanjaneking.com

Susan Jane King

2 Comments »

Life out of Death

Baby Deal

My friend’s daughter-in-law went for her routine prenatal exam . . . and there was no heartbeat. After praying for, celebrating, and naming their little boy, this young couple—and all of us who loved them—were confronted with a new and very different outcome than planned.

Yet, in the days that followed, I watched as that family chose over and over again to trust God, to praise Him, to commit their child to His keeping, and to embrace hope. I watched the church surround them with love and compassion, and I witnessed firsthand the peace that surpasses all understanding.

The young mother wrote on Facebook after she delivered her son:

“I’m sitting here in the quiet and stillness of this hospital room and am reflecting on God’s goodness and His sustaining grace. I am so overwhelmed! He has not only given us a peace, but allowed us to finally meet our sweet, precious baby boy. I am so grateful for every prayer that was lifted on our behalf. With your love and support from all over, and I mean ALL over this world, we wouldn’t be able to fathom smiling, much less singing His praises. But God! He has given us a perfect and WHOLE son! We prayed so long for this child, our sweet Hutch. To be able to meet him, to see his beautiful body, and to get to held him. How amazing is it to know that this isn’t the end. He and his other 2 siblings are playing together in heaven, and are just waiting on us. How glorious!

I am so thankful to have family and friends that are the real deal. They don’t just say they are praying for you, but they pray over us, they read scripture to you when you are in labor, they photograph precious memories, they sing praise songs with us in our hospital room and hallway. They fill up 2 waiting rooms and sit with us for 12 hours. Our medical team we were given, some brand new faces, some old family friends, have loved on us and prayed with us. How can I keep from singing Your name?

Although Hutch’s time with us was but an instant, he is loved by so, so many. He has impacted our lives in so many ways, and filled our hearts with so much joy! How beautiful the Father’s love is for us!

And to think, the first thing he saw when his little eyes opened was the face of Jesus.”

 

We just celebrated Easter this past Sunday. This young mother has taken the Easter message to heart. Yes, she grieves in her loss, but she knows that Jesus’ death and resurrection ensures:

Death is not the end

Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins, and God the Father raised Him from the dead because Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient to bring us back into right standing with God (Romans 4:25). When we believe and receive what Jesus did for us, we enter into a restored relationship with God (Romans 5:1), and we receive life, not death (John 10:10). Jesus rose from the dead, and death has no hold on Him (Romans 6:9). Since we are in Christ, death doesn’t have a hold over us either (Romans 6:5).

We have life in Jesus

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:25-26 NASB). He says, “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:40, NASB).

Jesus is alive, and those who belong to Him will live with Him for all eternity (John 14:1-3).

We have hope in the midst of our sorrow

Death has a sting. It hurts (1 Corinthians 15:55). But death has been swallowed up in the victory accomplished for us through Jesus’ sacrifice (1 Corinthians 15:54, 56-57). We have hope in our grief: “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 4:14, NASB). That’s what we can confidently expect (the Biblical definition of hope).

I am very grateful for this young couple, their family, and their church, who are living out their hope in front of the world. It’s the best Easter sermon I have ever experienced.

Question: Have you entered into the resurrection hope found in Jesus? Share your story with us using the Comment link below.

Visit Susan’s website: susanjaneking.com

Susan Jane King

2 Comments »

Becoming More Aware and Accepting of Autism

EPSON scanner image   191KingDSC_7990

Patrick and his sisters.

 

How did my daughters learn to be more aware and accepting of the challenges their brother faced with his autism? Since today, April 2, is World Autism Awareness and Acceptance Day, I would like to post the chapter from my book, “Optimism for Autism,” which shows how that happened. May all of us seek to be more aware and accepting of those whose lives are touched by autism and other challenges.

 

Chapter 6: Walking in Patrick’s Shoes

“Be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.”

—1 Peter 3:8, NIV

 

My heart went out to my daughters.  They were young and needed attention, too.  They didn’t understand about Patrick’s autism.  My saying, “His brain works differently than yours,” wasn’t cutting it with them.  Praise God for the TEACCH Center!

“Bring in the girls, and we will explain to them about Patrick’s autism,” Sue said. (Sue McCarter was one of the specialists who helped Patrick at TEACCH.)

So, one crisp autumn afternoon, I loaded up the three girls and Patrick into our family van and headed to the TEACCH Center.  Oh Lord, please help them understand their brother.  Help them appreciate him for who he is, I prayed.

I didn’t want them growing up to resent Patrick or the time I had to spend with him to help him.  I knew God gave us Patrick for special reasons, many of which were still unfolding.  I wanted them to learn to trust God in the midst of everything, which I was still learning to do.

“Why don’t you stay out here in the lobby with Patrick while we take the girls back and talk with them?” Sue said.

“Okay,” I said.  “Have fun girls!” I hoped the positive tone of my voice would wash over them and take hold.

 

In an hour or so, Katie came bounding back into the room, her auburn hair flowing behind her like the jet stream of an airplane. I could tell her flight pattern was in direct line with her brother, who was standing on the other side of the room, his eyes trained on the multiple colors and patterns found in a painting on the lobby wall. My autism alert system immediately went into effect.

I struggled to intercept Katie before she initiated a major meltdown. Emily and Sarah were trailing along behind Katie. Their pace was much slower and contemplative, their eyes full of wonder.  I instinctively knew I would not reach Katie before she bombarded her brother with a barrage of unexpected sensory input. I braced myself for the chain reaction. Suddenly, Katie jerked herself to a halt. Her brother, aware of his sister’s presence, steadily turned his gaze toward her.

“May I give you a hug?” Katie asked.

I caught my breath.

She had never asked for permission before.

Patrick slowly nodded, and Katie gently put her arms around him and squeezed. Emily and Sarah had reached them by now, and they, too, asked for permission to embrace their brother. Patrick agreed, and I watched a miracle unfold before my eyes as my four children held on to each other and freely gave and received one another’s love. Patrick had prepared his nervous system for that encounter because he knew it was coming.

A new light had dawned for my daughters. They knew Patrick lived sequestered away in a fortified city with the name of Autism, but now, someone had shown them how to gain access to Patrick’s world. And they had enthusiastically entered the gates and had found their brother inside.

Thank You, Lord, for allowing my children to find one another. Help them to continue to grow strong and close. Lead them to cherish and defend each other because You have made each one of them unique and special, I prayed.

 

I gathered up my brood and headed out the door. On the way home, my daughters chattered about their experiences at the TEACCH Center.

“First, they took us into this big room,” Katie said. “Then a lady walked in and started talking to us. Only we did not understand what she was saying. She kept making sounds, and we could tell that she wanted us to do something. But we did not know what she wanted.”

“Yeah, she sounded like, ‘hyuk, grumm, dawt,’” Emily said.

Sarah giggled.

“Miss Sue told us afterward that she was speaking German!” Katie said.

“She told us Patrick hears words like that,” Emily said.  “He hears the sounds but doesn’t always know what they mean.”

I watched Emily’s face soften as she spoke about her brother’s struggles.

“Tell Mom about the gloves!” Sarah piped in, proud that she was part of the discovery team.

“Well,” Emily said.  “They took us into another room with tables, and there were pennies all over the tables.  They had us put on these big, wooly gloves, and then they told us to pick up the pennies.”

“We couldn’t do it,” Sarah said.

“Have you ever tried to pick up pennies when you had gloves on?” asked Katie, not wanting to be left out of the conversation.

“I don’t think I ever have,” I said, grinning inwardly.

“Well, it’s really hard!” Katie said.

“Why did they make you do that?” I asked.

“They said that’s what Patrick feels like when he has to do things with his fingers,” Katie said.  “They said it’s really hard for him when he has to do stuff like button his buttons, write with a pencil, tie his shoes, and cut with scissors.  He can’t get his fingers to do the things he wants them to do.”

A swell of gratitude was building inside of me.

Thank You, Lord, for using the wonderful people at the TEACCH Center to help my daughters better understand their brother, I prayed.

“Ice cream and spinach!  Ice cream and spinach!” Sarah announced.

“What about ice cream and spinach?” I asked.

“They helped us understand why Patrick freaks out about certain types of food,” Emily said.  “They said his tastes are all messed up.  Like, he might eat some ice cream, and it would taste like spinach.”

“Yuck!” said Sarah, wrinkling up her little button nose and turning her mouth into a grimace.

“Wow!” I said.  “That’s awful.”

“Yeah, and guess what else?” Katie said.  “He hears sounds really loudly.  They took us into one room and played this music soooo loudly, and then they told us that Patrick hears sounds that loudly.”

“We had to cover our ears,” Sarah said, demonstrating with her own hands.

“I bet that’s why he goes crazy when we go running around the house making all kinds of noises,” Emily said.

“I feel bad for Patrick because so many things are hard for him,” Katie said.

“Me, too,” Emily said.

“Me, three,” said Sarah, quickly joining in.

“Things that are really easy for us are a struggle for him,” said Katie, growing unusually still and silent.

For once, I was grateful for the long drive back to China Grove.  It was giving us precious time to reflect on the treasure of discoveries uncovered at the TEACCH Center.

“Yes, many things are difficult for Patrick,” I said. “But God promises that He causes all things to work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.  So that means He can take even Patrick’s autism and use it for good . . . for Patrick, for each of us, for others.  And I think it’s teaching all of us to trust Him and to rely on Him, which is a very good thing.”

The three girls grew silent as they pondered my words.  Patrick continued to doze in his car seat, the rhythm of the road creating a gentle nodding of his head.

What had I learned that day?

A little understanding goes a long way.

How many times had I made a snap judgment about someone based on their outward behavior?  How many times had I reacted in frustration or anger, or defined someone as “good” or “bad” without making any attempt to understand what was happening in their life?

Lord, help me to see people as You see them, I prayed as the odometer continued to click the miles toward home.

 

Patrick’s Perspective:

I love my sisters. They mean a lot to me. After that day at the TEACCH Center, they started to understand what I was going through. I feel like they love me and care about me. I am grateful to have such caring sisters.

God taught me that He supplies all my needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19, NASB). God knew I would need lots of support, so He gave me a wonderful family to help me along the way. My dad taught me a lot about being strong and brave, being a man who honors God, and never giving up. He tells me I am his hero. But really, he is mine. He even challenged me to hike Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the continental United States, and we did it—together. (See Chapter 12.) Along the way, I learned to face my fears and be strong, like a man.

And my mom has taught me a lot about God’s Word, and she prays with me and reminds me to go to God with all my problems and challenges. She has helped me a lot over the years taking me to therapies, working with teachers, and helping me to be organized, too. And my sisters Katie, Emily, and Sarah and brother-in-law Curt (Katie’s husband), and all my relatives, they accept me for who I am, and they love and encourage me all the time. They have been a huge blessing to me.

 

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT:

Are you dealing with someone you do not understand?

What could you do to understand them better?

Would you ask the Lord to help you see people as He sees them?

HAPPY AUTISM AWARENESS AND ACCEPTANCE DAY!

Visit Susan’s website: susanjaneking.com

Susan Jane King

4 Comments »