Read Friday's post and you'll know I've been fighting for joy the past several days. Funny how God delivers timely medicine to His faltering children...
I wrote Bull! on a frustrating Wednesday evening. Thursday afternoon, I was reading over my Sunday school lesson for the preschool class at church. Here are a few excerpts from the "Heart Preparation" section of the lesson (our topic Sunday was Joshua and Jericho):
"Then the Lord said to Joshua, 'See, I have delivered Jericho...'" (Joshua 6:2) The New Geneva Study Bible commenting on this phrase states that it is "A striking paradox, since all that had been 'seen' according to verse one was Jericho's shut gates. The promise of God creates possibilities not inherent in the present situation. A similar contrast between present circumstances and what God promises is found often in the Bible, as in the present experience of believers."
The Teacher's guide goes on to ask: "How do you respond when there is a big difference between your present circumstances and what God has promised? Do you trust in God's Word, or do you get overwhelmed by what you see?....Ask for God's grace to hope in his unfailing love in the middle of your present circumstances or problems."
Friday, I came across this in my daily reading: "Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heavens. You who have done great things, O God, who is like you? You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again.....I will sing praises to you..." (Psalm 71:19-20)
Then Saturday, I read the following quote from Dan Allendar, on the blog of a friend whose precious little baby is still in the hospital (going on two weeks now), struggling to recover from a devestating virus. Meredith posted:
"As odd or nearly impossible as it may seem, we are to welcome our times of trouble as we would greet a friend who has been gone a long time. We are to greet trials with joy (James1:2) and to rejoice when suffering comes (Romans 5:3). Why? Because suffering sets into motion our will to find meaning; it compels us to honestly assess the facts of our lives and begin to order truth into a framework that has personal meaning to us. We cannot have a sense of purpose or a deep understanding of what we're created for unless we encounter the kind of pain that compels us to rise above the daily domain and recollect who we are. Pain enables us to discover ourselves."~The Healing Path, Dan Allender
Then on Sunday morning, I read this from Susan Hunt's book, True Woman: "To reduce blessing to external, temporal gain is to misunderstand and minimize the eternal plan and purpose of God for His people. Blessing (barak) involves redemption from the curse of death to an eternal, covenant relatinship with the living God. Blessing ('ashar) involves our unwavering trust in and response to this truth. The two together provide a kingdom mentality, a transcendent reality that brings magnificence to the seemingly mundane, and glory to the seemingly gory."
Hunt then includes an excerpt from a letter Elizabeth Prentiss (author of the hymn More Love to Thee) wrote to a mother who had recently lost a child. Prentiss wrote: "Faith is His, unbelief ours. No process of reasoning can soothe a mother's empty, aching heart, or bring Christ into it to fill up all that great waste room. But faith can. And faith is His gift....My intellect is of no use to me when my heart is breaking. I must get down on my knees and own that I am less than nothing, seek God, not joy; consent to suffer, not cry for relief. And how transcendently good He is when He brings me down to that low place and there shows me that that self-renouncing, self-despairing spot is just the one where He will stoop to meet me!"
This particular chapter in Susan Hunt's book begins with the testimony of a young woman who was raped and who conceived a child as a result of this tragedy. As she puts it, "Nothing was ever again the same." She goes on to describe her faith journey through this difficult time. Towards the end of her story, she writes, "Sometimes God's purpose in shattering the peace in our lives is to remind us that He has a purpose for everything. Consequently, my confidence in His sovereignty may at times be nudged, but it will never be shaken. Though I may anguish over future trials, I will not have to search for the antidote to my sorrow, for I have laid my faith on the foundation of God's undeniable goodness." She concludes her story, "'Don't ask God for patience; you might get your prayers answered' goes the popular warning. I say, 'Don't pray for a life of convenience; you might get it - and wouldn't that be too bad?'"
To seek God, not joy. To consent to suffer, not cry for relief. To abandon a desire for a life of convenience. I am so thankful God has placed wise older sisters in my life to speak timely words of truth and wisdom. I pray for a teachable heart.
3 weeks ago