Thursday, October 25, 2012


Why, when faced with the trials of this life, do some people turn to the Lord to find refuge while others walk away, shaking their fist at God?

For those of us who are believers, who have trusted in Jesus to save us from our sins, why do we respond so differently to suffering?  Why do some, in the midst of great grief and pain, see and trust God's goodness more than ever before, finding that when everything else is stripped away, Jesus is more than enough, while others see only what has been taken away and doubt God's goodness?

Why do some people implicitly trust that God will work all things for their good, believing that even in the hardest of times, God is working to make them more like Himself, while others respond angrily to the Lord, questioning how He could ever allow such things to happen if He truly loves His children?

Why do some people look a their suffering from an eternal perspective, seeing today's trials as a light and momentary affliction in comparison to the eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison that awaits us in heaven, while others see their suffering as a never-ending abyss and wish they could just curse God and die?

For those of us who are saved, why does God grow some of our roots deep as we flourish and flower through the deep suffering we walk through, while others of us seem to shrivel up as soon as the tempest comes?

If two people seemingly love the Lord with all their hearts before they are faced with a trial, how is it that in the midst of walking through a seemingly never-ending onslaught of trials, one of them can find themselves safely resting in the arms of the Lord, protected from the arrows of the enemy, strengthened moment by moment, sustained by God's grace, more aware of God's love than ever before, and longing for that day when they will see Jesus face to face, while the other can reach a point of doubting their salvation, no longer believing that God is good, and standing in accusation of God?

At one time in my life, I might have said that the person who trusts God in the midst of trials is more godly than the one who doubts everything they ever believed. They are bearing the fruit of roots that have grown down deep and are now reaching the water far below ground even as famine has come over the land.  But is it necessarily true that those who question God and find Him to be no refuge for them in the midst of the storm are experiencing the result of shallow and weak roots?  Can we just assume that those who crumble under the weight of their suffering are reaping the consequences of building their lives on a foundation that was not sure?  Can those who walk through trials by faith, with hope and without doubting, truly say, in their pride, that we as humans have the ability to dictate how we walk through these things, and that those who walk through trials on sure footing have done so because of their own ability to cling to the promises of God and believe them?

While it is true that some who stand in accusation of God may find that they never truly were saved (they never did trust in the saving grace of Jesus), perhaps others are not just reaping the consequences of a faulty foundation.  Just as Satan demanded to sift Job and Peter like wheat, so I am sure that he has made similar requests for others.  In 1 Peter 5, we are reminded to be watchful and sober-minded, for our adversary, the devil, is prowling around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to destroy.  Why the Lord protects some of His children from sifting while allowing others to be sifted to the point of being nearly destroyed is something we may never understand.  But we do know that after we have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called us to His eternal glory, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish us.

One day, those who walk through trials full of faith and joy in the Lord will join those who were seemingly crushed by their burdens and left questioning everything they had ever believed about God.  The God of all grace will draw each and every one of us to Him, and He will restore all that the enemy, the sufferings of this life, and our own sin have taken from us.  He will confirm us as His dearly beloved children. He will strengthen our weary hands and feet. And He will finally and ultimately establish us on the rock.

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Beautiful Day

Yesterday we enjoyed a beautiful autumn day, complete with sunshine and warm weather. As Zach quickly learned, with that also came responsibilities!

Daddy and Zach were tasked with a massive job yesterday...raking and bagging up 22 bags of leaves!  And our trees are only half-way through shedding their leaves.  In a couple of weeks my boys will be blessed with the opportunity of doing it all over again.

Upon awakening from their naps, Wesley and Liam joined them outside and enjoyed the fruits of their labor.

Liam loved exploring the sticks and leaves.  Of course, we also spent half of our time digging leaves out of his mouth.  Why is it that leaves are so delicious to a child who refuses to eat food?

I assumed Liam would not be a fan of the the poky leaf pile.  Boy was I wrong.  He was right in his element, giggling with delight.

Then he was off to investigate the rest of the yard.

My boys humored me by posing for pictures.  Wesley was not thrilled with the leaf experience, but he joined his brothers for the pictures.  I'm still looking forward to the day when all three boys look at the camera and smile at the same time!

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Hidden Word

With having a baby comes fogginess of mind.  I don't know if it's nursing mama hormones or adjusting to the chaos and busyness of a new baby in the house, but during the first year of my children's lives, my mind is always a blur.  I am unable to concentrate, recall very little of what I read, and notice that much of what is said to me goes in one ear and out the other.  Wesley was the exception to this rule.  In His kindness, the Lord gave me a clear mind during Wesley's infancy, allowing me to cling to His truth, meditate on His promises, and manage the busy lifestyle that came from having hundreds of doctor's appointments and therapy sessions.

With Liam's birth, the old familiar fogginess returned.  In fact, earlier this summer I was discouraged at how much I was struggling to recall what I read in the Bible each morning.  In general, I felt dull toward the things of God.

As I look back though, God was at work even in the midst of the fog.  While I seemed unable to meditate on God's word at the time, the Scripture I diligently worked to memorize each morning was being hidden away in my heart and preparing me for future storms.  The patterns of consistently reading God's word, praying, and memorizing verses, even when the endeavors seemed fruitless and discouraging, were building for me a sure foundation to stand on when the waters came crashing in.

The moment that the storm hit, the fog was immediately washed away.  My mind could again see and think clearly, and one of the first things I saw was how the Lord, since the beginning of this year, has been preparing me and growing my roots deep into Scripture, for such a time as this.

Suddenly, all of the verses I memorized have become promises to cling to and words of comfort to my soul.

In Psalm 103, I am reminded that the Lord's steadfast love toward me is as high as the heavens are above the earth, and that just as a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear Him.  I cling to promise that He will redeem my life from the pit and crown me with steadfast love and mercy.

In Psalm 16:11, I rejoice that no matter how severe the trial we are walking through, God has made known to me the path of life.  Whatever else I may face, I can know that in His presence there is fullness of joy.

Philippians 4:11-13 teaches me that contentment in the midst of trials is not something that comes naturally.  It is not easy to stop fighting the current and trust that God will sustain me. This is something that must be learned.  And it comes through Christ, who gives me strength. As David Mathis said,
Jesus is big enough to sustain us when we’re low. He’s strong enough to hold us when we’re at our weakest. We can do all things — not just the things we want most to do, but even (and especially) the things we want least to do — through Jesus who strengthens us.   
So when you’re at your highest, turn to Jesus in gratitude and for the strength to take the next step. And when you’re at your lowest, turn to Jesus in faith that he’ll provide for you the strength to keep going.  
It’s true — in Jesus we really can do all things — especially, be content in him in the midst of life’s most difficult, painful, and tragic circumstances. Leaning always on the Savior is learning the secret for everything.
1 Peter 5:6-11 is confirmation that we have an adversary who is seeking to devour us.  I am encouraged to resist the devil and stand firm in my faith, with the promise that after I have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish me.  Oh what a beautiful promise this is!  One day, the God of all grace will restore me.  And I won't just one day realize that God has used other means to bring restoration.  No, God himself will come and restore me.  He will strengthen my weary soul and establish me on solid ground.

And oh, the beautiful promises of Psalm 91.  When I call to the Lord, He will answer me!  He will be with me in trouble!  And what joy fills my heart that He will show me His salvation.

In Isaiah 53:4-6, I am stunned by the reality that Jesus Himself bore my griefs and carried my sorrows.  Oh what a heavy load for Him to bear.  And He was wounded and crushed for my sins.  He received the punishment that brought me peace.  Now, because Jesus bore my griefs, carried my sorrows, and was crushed for my sin, I know the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.

As I reflect on these verses and how the Lord has used them to carry me through the past month and a half, I can say with confidence that 1 Corinthians 10:13 is true.  God is faithful, and He has not allowed these trials to tempt me beyond what I am able to bear.  But with these trials and temptations, He has provided me the way of escape, that I have been able to stand up under it.  The way of escape has been running to Him and clinging to the promises from His word that He hid in my heart to prepare me for this time.  The burden is still there.  The trials are still real.  But now, by the grace of God, these trials have not crushed me.  God is daily lifting me up so that I can stand up under the weight of the trials we are walking through.