Sunday, August 30, 2009

Some Things That I Have Been Thinking About

Philippians 3:6-7 – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Psalms 34:18a – “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted…”

Matthew 11:28-30 – "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Matthew 5:4 – “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

1 Peter 5:6-7 – “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Psalm – 121:2 –
“My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth. “

These are some of the verses that I have been thinking about a lot these days. Many of them are verses that various ones of you have offered through your comments or emails. Thank you. I have been familiar with all of these verses/truths for some time, but I have been seeing and experiencing them in a new light for the last month. I would never wish what Kathryn and I are going through on our worst enemies. Hopefully, in my finest moments, I would not wish trials of any kind on anyone. At the same time, I wish for everyone to experience the peace, nearness, rest, comfort, care, and help of the Lord the way that we have in these days. It is amazing, humbling, ingratiating, and life-changing.

Interestingly, in most of these verses there is a clear step that we need to take to receive what the Lord offers us. He does not force Himself on us. At the same time, all that he asks His grace will provide.

If offered the “peace that passes understanding” (see Philippians 3:6-7 above), we’d all take it in a heartbeat. But what is required of us to receive this peace, demands more than we might initially think. We need to pray to God about the things that make us anxious, AND do it with gratefulness (“thanksgiving”). It’s been that “with thanksgiving” part that has been especially challenging for me recently. Many, many times my heart has been anxious. Many, many, many times we have prayed and petitioned God. But I’ve had to discipline myself to thank Him for His goodness all around me (and once I get started, I realize that this is not a short list). Before long, I find that I feel peaceful; a God who has so richly poured out his blessings on my life is a God who I want to trust. Of course, all of this is not a formula, but a relationship based on grace, and the struggle is constant because God does not promise to answer our prayers and petitions the way we ask Him to. But then, the alternative is to be anxious about things that are outside of our control…which is exhausting and entirely unproductive. So we pray and give thanks. The peace we have felt through much of this season is inexplicable apart from God.

I have similar thoughts about nearly all of the verses above, but I’ll summarize my thoughts by saying that what God offers us through His Son, Jesus, is life and peace and rest and care and help and more. He invites us to come to Him and find these things there. Not on our terms, but on His terms. Not bartering, but humbly asking. Not because He owes it to us, but because He is generous. Not because we deserve it, but because He is merciful and gracious. Not because we know what we need, but because He knows what we need.

In this season of desperation, heartbreak and helplessness for Kathryn and I, this has been easier to do than in “normal” life because we have never had even the illusion of control over our circumstances. But that seems to be what trials do – they strip us of the illusion that we can control the outcomes of life. Kathryn and I have noted that every conversation with every parent in the CICU (regardless of their previous religious persuasion or beliefs about God) includes talk of prayer: “We’ll be praying Samuel,” “Your son is in our prayers,” etc. That, too, is why God seems so present in trials – we are most apt to call to Him for help and to come to Him on His terms when we are out of options ourselves.

For Kathryn and I our hope and prayer for all who read this blog is not that you would have hardships. Those will come whether we want them to or not. Our hope and prayer is that you would be able to experience the goodness and grace and love of God as we have, that you would come to God on His terms and experience the peace and rest and comfort that we have in His Son, Jesus. In Jesus’s own words: "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).


  1. What amazing insight for someone who is going through such a difficult time! You are exactly right in saying everyone will go through hardships in their own time and they are all different in their own way but no less painful! I am grateful to be reminded of this through you guys even though I wish I could take it all away! It keeps me grounded and reminded of the many blessings we have and the many times in the past that we have had to surrender what we thought was ours and what we thought was in our control to HIM, the ONE who is ultimately in control! I will continue to pray for you guys and Samuel but will also pray for those who through this blog will discover the love and grace of our amazing God!
    Beth and David

  2. My heart has turned to 2 Corinthians 4 for several days now as I have read the blog. I find myself in the same place at the computer, leaning over and grabbing my Bible, reading it again and again, then setting it aside. I can't help but go back to the passage b/c my only comfort and hope in my own trials is that Christ's light would shine out of darkness...for myself and for many. That He would be seen for who He is and treasured above all else...for myself and for many. That I could somehow say and believe with every part of me that: "this light momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison"... It never seems like a "light" momentary affliction - and I have not been given a "Little Mystery" to continually offer up to God. I say this b/c I truly believe that great work is being done for the glory of God in that CICU daily as you and K are lights in the midst of darkness. We continue to pray that sweet Samuel will be made whole and that your day-to-day lives are sustained by His grace and intimate love for you. I'm just in awe of how brokenness continues to be God's best means of rescue. May many - MAY ALL - on your floor rejoice with the Apinis family in our great and gracious God and may they truly see "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."

    2 Corinthians 4:7-18
    Psalm 116

    Love you.

  3. Kathryn and Bryan, Your Aunt Colleen shared with me your blogspot and I have been praying for you. What a strong faith you display and are living out in such trying circumstances. My prayer of course is complete healing for Samuel and for you to continue to experience the joy, comfort and sustaining strength of our precious Lord. God delights in you and loves you so dearly. Thank you for sharing your hearts. I can't imagine going through what you are experiencing but know if/when hardships come, God's grace will abound.

    I have three sons myself; Caleb Joel, Benjamin and Samuel so when I look at my sons, I readily think of you and pray.

    You are loved, Beth Sechler

  4. Well said, Bry. I think it is when that illusion of control is stripped away from us that we truly seek what God has to offer--not just temporary comfort or distraction. I thought of you two when I heard this mornings sermon and thought I would pass along these verses:

    Phil 4:19-20, 23. "And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen... The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit."

    It brings me comfort to know that our God, the great Healer, desires to care for you out of his bountiful abundance and that He will withhold no good thing from you.

    Lots of love, Ki

  5. Born 25 days early, yet right on time that he would know the earthly care of CICU doctors and the compassion of CICU nurses. Born 25 days early yet right on time to know the touch and nurture and unconditional love of his earthly parents. Born 25 days early, yet right on time to be loved and have his "room" decorated by his big brothers. Born 25 days early yet right on time to have a prayer baton passed by those who would never meet him. Born 25 days early yet right on time to live fully and to impact his world for the glory of his Father, his Savior, and his Comforter.

    In Hebrew Samuel means "I asked the Lord for him." When Hannah presented her young Samuel at the temple she said, "So, now I give him wholly to the Lord to live with Him forever.

  6. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I can only hope Emily and I would respond to tragedy the way you and Kathryn have. Your testimony of faith is amazing! I know this doesn't matter to you, but it seems that every time I come back to check on little Samuel, your "Followers" have increased. Thank you for being a light!

    Grace and peace.

  7. I have been following Samuel's story closely over the past several days. I was hopeful that I would be able to posts words of wisdom or quote scripture that in some way would be of solace to your family. Yet, in all my attempts to read your posts without being teary eyed - I am the one who has been ministered to. Thank you for your strength and devotion to our Savior. I have to tell you something that my 4 year old nephew said to my sister-in-law about the passing of her grandfather. Rachel was trying to have a very poignant conversation with Austin the night of her grandfather's passing and explained as best she could that Papaw had gone to heaven to be with Jesus. Austin could tell that Rachel was deeply saddend because she was crying. He looked at her with deep sincerety and said "If Papaw is with Jesus am I suppose to be sad?"

    God has a special plan for your family. Far beyond what you may be able to see at this time. What a blessing you have been to so many people whom you will never know. Your family makes me think of a favorite Casting Crowns song "I Will Praise You in this Storm." So often, especially as parents, it is hard to remember that God gives and he takes away.

    I am deeply burdened for your family and pray for you always, yet I have faith that with this struggle you will all become stronger witnesses for Him. I love you.

    You sister in Christ,


  8. precious Apinis family. Words escape me. I stand in awe of the peace and grace that God gives at such a time as this. Bryan,if I could be so bold to remember what your precious dad said to me at the passing into glory of your sweet mom. He said "Nancy..I would never wish this time of extreme sorrow on anyone,but, you won't believe the incredible feeling of Gods peace and His grace that He so generously gives as He stands with us in our pain." Our God is an amazing God. You have honored Him in this story of your son Samuel. Please know that Phil and

    I are praying with so many across the states,and will continue.

    Psalms 125:2 "As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the LORD is round about his people from henceforth even forever"
    Nancy(Southwick) Anderson