2000-08-10 - Storms of Life
Originally Published 1996-09-12
Proverbs 10:25 When the whirlwind passes, the wicked is no more, but the righteous has and everlasting foundation.
Job said that "man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward". It can seem like there is just no way out of our current situation. Friends, like Job's friends, can give us the litany of possibilities: we have a hidden sin in our lives, we are being punished for the sins of our fathers, we are out of the will of God, we lack faith, and the list goes on and on. A few of these have no basis in scripture, others are so rarely the case, and all of them are condemning and destructive to the one who is suffering.
God gave us Job as a perfect reaction to trials and troubles saying "Even if He slays me, yet will I trust Him." Oh how I long for that kind of faith and trust in my every day life, let alone in my day of trouble. But one thing seems very sure. We can and will have times and seasons of tribulation in our lives. "When the whirlwind comes..." It seems to have little to do with the depth or maturity of our faith. It has been said that the Christian Army is the only one that shoots its own wounded. It has the sad ring of truth to it. Let's move ourselves away from this practice and show the love and compassion that Jesus explained would show the world that we are His disciples.
John 16:33 [Jesus speaking] These things I have spoken to you that in Me, you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.
There is a simple old chorus "Be still and know that I am God." I have been through things that I would not wish on my worst enemy (of course, I am supposed to love my enemies). Jesus always seems to bring me a special song or verse to help me stay peaceful. Not that I always take advantage, but He has the condition of my heart in mind. If I can stay still and at peace, not struggling without need against a situation, He will lead me through.
When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, "It is well, it is well with my soul."
More and more I see trials as God working in my life. He is showing me my old, depraved heart. Teaching me dependence on Him in more and more things. Someday I will, under His teaching and grace, let go of all things and trust Him alone. He has shown Himself to be utterly trustworthy, overcoming the power of the enemy, death, Hell and sin itself. It is only my foolishness that clings to anything else.
There is an image that was explained to me once, a while ago now. It is a picture of Jesus as a surgeon and me as the patient. My job is to be still and lay quietly on the operating table, so that He can do the work in me that He knows is needed for my good. What doctor in his right mind would be chasing a patient down the hall with his scalpel shouting "Hold still!" What an absurd picture indeed.
The same wise soul explained to me that more saints are born in the valleys than are from the mountain tops. The peace and savor of a mountain top experience with God is something I hope we all cherish. They are times of rest and refreshing we all need. But, in the crucible of adversity, we learn more about ourselves and how much Jesus Christ really cares for us. When we can finally not go on in our own strength, He picks us up and carries us through. He never leaves us, never berates us, never says "I told you so." (at least not without love), never fails us in all those times. Even though He knows our hearts better than anyone, He accepts us and continues to do the work He promises to complete in us. All this so He can present us to the Father without spot or blemish. We are the joy that was set before Him for which He endured the cross.
Lord Jesus, You have been a friend that sticks closer than a brother in all things. Help us see those times as times of grown and maturing in the life we live in You, rather than times we would just as soon forget. Once we have lived a trial, we can help others through. By Your matchless grace, we are carefully being conformed to Your image. Thank you for the sufficient grace You provide to us. Amen.
Grace & Peace,