This month of studying the comforting power of prayer has once again called me to self-examination. Do I fully rely on the Lord to keep His promises when persecution or trials come my way or do I make myself physically ill in worry over things I cannot control? Do I pray daily and directionally as a matter of routine (to click on “completed”) or am I passionately interested in talking to Him? Maybe most importantly, am I putting my own efforts behind the things for which I am asking or am I putting my own ideas and effort first and then praying, just in case my ingenuity doesn’t work? In other words, am I just praying to “cover all the bases”?
I have dear sisters who are suffering through persecution from those in the body (similarly to Nehemiah when his own countrymen in Jerusalem tried to stop the wall-building). I have sisters who are grieving the loss, both physically and spiritually, of adult children. I talked with a sister yesterday who is on her way to file for divorce after the painful discovery that her husband is living in adultery. I spoke with a young friend earlier in the week who is standing, almost alone, for righteousness on a college campus where there are lots of others who should know truth and should be coming to her aid. I spoke with a mom who is fighting for the mental and spiritual health of her young and innocent daughter against the missiles of the devil in our world. These things are just at the top of a long list of unimaginably painful paths.
Let me say this with great affirmation. I do not always get it right. But one thing I have learned in the past couple of years is this: My current estimation of how earnestly God is working to aid my cause or the cause of truth/righteousness is not accurate. There is just no way the human mind can, in a time of trial, comprehend the providence that is occurring in events that are hurting His people. There will be days in your life when you will cry out in anguish to Him and then, as you go through another heart-wrenching saga or a day of unexpected and sad plot twists, you are tempted to think He did not hear you at all and that, indeed, He is not listening.
And then there will be another day: A day when you see, and you do so rather clearly, that God had to bring you through excruciation (each hard thing had to transpire) to bring you to a point of victory, vindication or rejoicing. He had to bring you through decisions that you could not control–decisions that, at the time, seemed defeating and cruel; that, in fact, those agonizing decisions, events and persecutions that you loathed, were the very ones that ended up working together to be the deliverance from the situation, the enemy, the fiery trial that was the curse in your life. As many have said, “God does not always save you from the fire. Sometimes He saves you through it.” It is the very hard thing–the thing that is a test of your very endurance– that is required to bring about the end result that is productive and, yes, comforting.
It’s important to remember that:
- The spot of comfort may not even occur till heaven. (That’s hard to think about on time’s side. But one day, all people will “get” the rapidity with which all struggles find their final cold, hard, stop and transfer, in a defining moment, to eternal bliss or eternal damnation. This life is just a breath.)
- It’s impossible to recognize the good in the pain when you are in the hottest part of the flame. Faith does not consist of being able to understand or figure out. It’s trusting till you do, even if that time is not on this side of the great Judgment Day!
- The day when you DO finally see that every ridiculously hard thing was required by His providence for the ultimate victory and rest for His own, brings a measure of comfort you would never have experienced without the hard things.
I am not a wise woman. But I am blown away every day by the amazing wisdom in the Word. I can do anything for this short lifetime. May He keep giving me the good things, easy and hard, soothing and painful, heart-rending and heart-mending, until He takes me home. When you’re through the fire–whenever that is– the warmth of the very flame that tested you feels so very good!
Psalm 37! Just take the time to go and read it. He says it so much better than I could even begin to say it!