Posts Tagged ‘trials’

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Yet, I will praise Him

June 12, 2011

Habakkuk 3:17-19

Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines.
Though the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock would be cut off from the fold
And there be no cattle in the stalls,

YET (emphasis mine) I will exult in the Lord,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
The Lord is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet
And makes me walk on my high places.

This basically sums up the first year of motherhood for me. Yes… there have been thousands of joys every day and I love watching Kavin grow. I would not exchange the divine privilege of being home with him with anything in the world, YET… it has not been easy. From his possible death the first month of life, to transitioning to full-time motherhood… there have been many days I didn’t know if I could do it.

However, it has been in my weakness that Christ REALLY has made me stronger.  He has taken my broken, crippled feet… and given me hinds feet.  Although I am still in process, I am amazed at how far His grace has brought me in just one year’s time.

I also look around at the trials I see going on: famines, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, disease… and I too can see in these that followers of Christ or not, we ALL go through trials of various kinds.

It seems to me that we, as the church at large, do not talk about the Christian life as one of toilsome perseverance as we pitch a rose-colored Gospel to would-be followers of Christ, but following Christ does not keep us exempt from hard times. From the pages of Scripture in the verses of Habakkuk, I can see it all clearly…

Life sucks sometimes, yet even in all the mud and mire, the Lord is our strength… and THROUGH it all (not around it all) He will make our legs like hinds feet so when calamity strikes again, we will be able to rise above it and leap from the mountain top of joy, to the mountaintop of promise.

I imagine myself writing poetry like the passage in Habakkuk. As I look at current world events, my poem may look something like this:

Though the economy may fail
And children die from starvation
Though houses wash away
And marriages dissolve
Though countries rage war over greed
And the poor remain in need

YET… I will exult in the Lord,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation
The Lord is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet
And makes me walk on my high places.

Jesus promises us trouble… and victory. There is no victory without adversity.  The Gospel is summed up in this… that He DIED (adversity) and ROSE (victory) from the dead!  So too will we in Christ Jesus.

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Objects in the Mirror are Closer than they Appear

June 6, 2011

Objects in the Mirror are Closer than they Appear

I drove home from church and glanced in the rear view mirror to see if Kavin fell asleep in the car seat.  The warning “objects in the mirror are closer than they appear” popped in my head.  Something so routine prompted a reflection.

When Kavin struggled for life the days after his birth, doctors would not tell us how long he would stay in the hospital; or when we would know if he would survive; if his lung would ever develop; if he had brain damage from the lack of oxygen.  So many questions and no answers.

A month is not a long time in the scheme of things, but when every moment, every breath is weighed with the unknowns of life, of time, of hope… not knowing how long the trial will last makes the longevity of it seem more perilous.

Yet, had I known from the beginning that he would be there a month, maybe I would have missed seeing God as clearly as I did… because I wouldn’t have needed Him as desperately.  The thing is, we never know how long a trial will last.  We don’t know what life is like on the other side of a hard season.  Is it a small wasteland or years of wandering through the wilderness?  Will we die in the wilderness or enter the promise land?

I am reminded, however, that the God who created the world and my very life, sees all that is ahead and is with me now.  He knows the boundaries of the various trials we travel through and sustains us in the moment.

I also see now that in the moment of peril, I quickly enter into jittery impatience, wanting to push through to get the hard part over with.  In that determination, I sometimes throw a proverbial temper tantrum and then laugh at myself when I realize that the closure of the difficult time was closer than it appeared.

Instead of an object, my imagination thinks:  seasons in the mirror are closer than they appear.  Life is in seasons.  Some are treacherous, some relaxing, but one thing we can be sure of, one season leads to the next.  As the Apostle Paul wrote, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”  (Ephesians 5:15-17, NIV) Let us not get so caught up in the difficulty, that we miss making the most of the moment.  There is always something we can do to shine our light to others… even when we sit in a dark cave ourselves.

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Suffering and Pain leads us to Life

July 24, 2010

In the quiet moments of my soul my thoughts reflect upon the suffering so bountiful in this world.  I still question in absolute trust why the Lord allows such pain and sorrow.  My spirit quivers at the thought that the Lord is restraining the boundaries of sin and death.  I thank the Lord for His grace in my life.  If He did not restrain evil, I would be consumed.

This week He brings to mind some truths from scripture and the world that begin to help me understand the way of the universe in this season of life and death comingling.

First He instructs me from Christ’s own sufferings.  His death was necessary to bring about redemption.  Suffering proceeded victory. The pain lasted a day, but joy came three days later.

Then I think of creation itself.  In this imperfect world, affected by the fall of man in the garden, pain and/or death precede new life.  Seeds must die to bear a new crop; mothers must experience pangs to birth new life; the darkness of night leads the way to the light of day.

Another example comes from Jesus’ teachings to His disciples.  He uses the cycle of death and life in nature to illustrate what must happen in our own bodies to experience eternal life that He offers. John 12:24-25 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.

Paul also uses death and life to teach us about Christian living.  Romans 8:13 “for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

From these thoughts I ascertain that physical death comes before spiritual life.  I am to put to death the deeds of the sinful flesh to live by the Holy Spirit.  I also see that I must die to myself in order to live for Christ.  The battle to destroy sin and death comes before the victory dance.  Tribulations and trials are here and will continue to come before Christ’s return in glory (Mark 13).  Sorrow lasts for the night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5).  Praise the Lord that we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:37)!

I simmer in with these thoughts as I watch Kavin nap in his pack ‘n play.  I almost forget the pain of childbirth as I watch the glory of this little life dreaming away.  Yet, I do not forget the suffering of his time in the hospital.  I do not forget the pain I felt in my heart not being able to hold him, watching him squirm in discomfort from the needles and tubes.  I do not forget petitioning the Lord on my knees in the bathroom at the Ronald MacDonald house late into the night, “Lord, please spare the son of Your handmaiden!”  I do not forget the Lord telling me to “offer Kavin to Me.  Lay him on the alter of sacrifice.”  I still do not understand why.  Why the Lord allowed our family to experience such pain. But I know that through the pain, through dying to my unbelief and clinging to Christ, through sacrificing my understanding to trust in Him… God brought about new life.  New life in Kavin’s physical body, yes, but even further, a new depth of spiritual life in me as I walked through the valley of the shadow of death.  His rod and His staff comforted me.

Suffering leads to life, to fruitfulness, to new birth.  I don’t understand why, but I just know it does.  I wish there were another way, but Jesus even Himself asked the Lord, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39)  May we all be strengthened to endure the evil of this present age, knowing that we look forward to His blessed hope.

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Diamonds in the Rough

March 16, 2010

I have been avoiding writing posts.  Not because I don’t like to write.  I am a writer at heart and writing is what I do.  I just don’t really like what I have to say right now.  I would love to report that my heart is all a flutter at the wonder of this new season; that I can’t wait until the little guy comes.  Yes.  There are parts of me that feel that way.  Then there are other parts.  Other parts that don’t like change and new seasons, especially when this current season is painted with many joys and blessings.  My dreams come true, or so it seems.

As I seek the Lord, He reminds me, once again, that in order to enter into the plans He has prepared for me, I must let go of the plans I have prepared for myself.  “But they are good plans!” I retort.  “Yes, but my plans are the best.” He tenderly replies.

Yesterday I confined my mind into a rut; a rough, dark, yucky rut; and I stewed in this rut all day.  Until I saw the diamonds.

A few months before Jason and I started dating, I ended a relationship with a man that I planned to marry (here we go again with my plans).  OH MY!  What turmoil I experienced as God clearly showed me the guy was not in His plan. Knowing that marriage is definitely something that needs to be appointed by Jesus, I literally said “no” to a beautiful diamond ring.  My dream starred me in the face and God said, “no”.

About a month after that “no”, I traveled to Europe.  I visited family and a few missionaries in Austria, then ventured off on my own with the Lover of My Soul to one of the most romantic places on earth: Venice, Italy.  One afternoon I took a water taxi from a small island off the coast back to Saint Mark’s Square.  As the sun set on the ocean water, light glistened off the surface like millions of diamonds.  God’s still small voice said, “You surrendered one diamond for Me.  I have all the diamonds in the world for you to enjoy.”

Fast forward six years.  I now am married to the man of my dreams who is worth more than a million diamonds to me.  The Lord has shown me more of His goodness and allowed me to see Him move in places on the earth I never imagined I would see.  Yes.  His promise is true.  He has given me all the diamonds in the world.

So, as I stewed in my rough spot yesterday, once again gripping onto the past, afraid to let go to walk into the plans God has prepared, Jason invited me to go to Balboa Park, a beautiful public park with rolling green hills and a calming lake.  I enjoyed walking along the path at the water’s edge and clearing my mind; just talking to the Lord like a crazy person (seriously, who talks to “themselves” in public).  At the end of my walk, I sat on a bench overlooking the water.  The sun started setting… and there they were.  Millions of diamonds shimmering right in front of me.

“Remember the diamonds,” I heard the Spirit speak in my heart.  “You may be letting go of a few, but I have all the diamonds in the world for you to enjoy.”

Every time God asks me to surrender something precious in my sight, He faithfully replaces it with peace, joy, and blessings that I would not even know to ask for. Yet, like a little child, I often throw a temper tantrum before I allow myself to surrender to Him in trust.  Yet, I know… He is the creator and provider of all the diamonds life will bring.

So, when people ask me, “how are you doing?  Aren’t you so excited?”  I smile and nod a simple, “yes.”  Even though it is hard to say goodbye to yesterday, the promises of tomorrow bring sparkling hope.