Originally posted July 2010. Edited April 2, 2014
For those who’ve read some recent posts, you’ve been reading how the Lord has been leading us through some trials. This is a continuation of sorts, but what God showed me the morning of July 3rd, 2010 has me in complete awe and wonder and His mercy & grace in our lives.
Years ago, I felt our lives as Christians were just too easy. I know that the Bible says:
Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12
I kept feeling that I must be a failure as a Christian because we weren’t under persecution. We had gone through a hefty bout 13 years ago with attacks on our family and me personally, and an occasional upheaval through the years. They just seemed like nothing compared to what I saw other Christians going through. Don’t get me wrong! I really DO NOT relish going through persecution, but I felt that the Lord must think my faith is so weak, that I couldn’t handle much. These were feelings I was putting on myself. It was not the Lord’s doing.
What I was failing to see is that the Bible doesn’t say we will have persecution ALL the time, just that we will. I was also failing to see that, as the Potter, He was molding and shaping me/our family into what He wants for us in His timing, not ours.
“If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” 2 Timothy 2:21
“But now, O Lord , thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.” Isaiah 64:8
As I go over our current trials, and yes, I will call them persecution as we are being attacked for Christ’s sake, I can see back through the years all the things I thought were so little, yet each and every one was meant to mold and shape us/me into Christians that could handle what we are going through now.
I’ll use an example from my husband’s (dh) work to try and get the point across. There have been many individuals at his work who have tried to cause him trouble over the years, but one by one, he has watched as they’ve come and gone, yet he is still there. One man in particular was so difficult to work with and untrustworthy that no one wanted to work with him. He took particular relish in attacking my husbad, yet my dh never went after him. Well, as I’ve heard many times, when a person’s testimony is good, fling all the mud you want, but it won’t stick! And it didnt’! God removed that man in His timing, not my dh’s. As dh and I discussed this and the mud-slinging on our family happening in another area of our lives, something dawned on me and I expressed it to him: “If you had not gone through all the attacks by “so and so” over the years, would you be able to handle what is happening now?” He said, “Probably not.”
That is when I truly began to see the bigger picture. God had been faithfully shaping and molding us through small but frequent, and bigger but less frequent trials throughout our entire lives. I just wasn’t seeing it! I could relay other instances, but I want God to get the glory here! He did it! Not us! God gave the grace! God gave the mercy & care to see us through so that He would get the deserved glory!
And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. Colossians 1:18
What a wondrous God we serve! He counted us worthy to suffer for Him, and He has NEVER left us alone, and He has left us precious reminders for whe our hearts are lying to us and blinding us to His great purpose for our lives.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord , thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” Jeremiah 29:11
“Help me, O LORD my God: O save me according to thy mercy:
27 That they may know that this is thy hand; that thou, LORD, hast done it.” Psalm 109:26
“A psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” Psalm 23
What can I do but speak or sing of His mercy & grace!
I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 89:1
Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. Philippians 2:16
But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 1 Peter 4:13
Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. Revelation 4:11
Doing God’s will may not always feel the best, but it is always the right thing to do.
Our family has felt this more this last 8 months or so more than at any other time. Although we know we are following God’s will, the consequences are that people our family cares about are getting hurt, and that tears us apart.
I started this devotional a few days ago, but the pain of having hurt others was still too fresh to focus. As I read it now, I am reminded of David, one of the greatest kings of Israel. He had been following God’s will in destroying some of Israel’s enemies, only to come back to his city and find it ransacked and the women & children taken captive. Needless to say, the people who had followed him were not too please:
And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God. 1 Samuel 30:6
Regardless of we must do as Christians to stay in God’s will, someone may get hurt. Of course it’s going to hurt us and can even be “distressing”, but David’s solution is certainly the right one: “…David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.”
When our focus remains on the Lord, the hurt of hurting others may still be there, but we can be encouraged as we know God is working out His plans, not ours:
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” Philippians 1:6
My life verse still remains Hebrews 12:2
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Heb: 12:2
This may seem like an odd title, but it is definitely something I’ve seen that was happening in my own life. It helps me to write things out so I can see the full impact of my actions/inactions and either continue in the right or stop the wrong. I hope that my story can be a help to others so this doesn’t happen to them.
As we’ve gone through some pretty hefty trials this last year, there were times when I was so overwhelmed and all I could think about was what we were going through. God was not in the forefront, the center or anywhere He should have been in my thoughts. I was headed down a path that would end up with me being so wrapped up in the hurt, the betrayal, the actual things going on around me, that I lost sight of The One who allowed all these trials to come upon me to strenghten me. Oh yes, I could quote verses about God being in control, and that all would be okay, but I was focusing on that rather than focusing on my Lord!
Remembering that anything that takes the preeminence in my heart other than God is an idol, I realized the trials/hurt, etc. had become the center – hence and idol – SIN.
The truth is, it doesn’t matter if the trials ever end or they get bigger and bigger. That’s not where my focus needs to be. All I am MUST be focused on the Lord, not what He is doing, whether He brings trials or easier times.
My Bible tells me many things about what position/priority God MUST have in my life, and I’ll quote some of them further, but it can all be summed up in very short passages as relayed in three of the Gospels:
“Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40
“And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” Mark 12:28-33
It is also recounted in Luke 10:25-37, but in this instance, the Lord emphasizes the fact that we sin because we cannot love the Lord in this way, but it should still be our goal. Whenever I make it my goal to “to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength”, my heart is at peace. Come what may, good or bad, I’m not flustered, angry, upset, distraught, etc.
Here’s a brief account of this last week. It was interesting to say the least.
Sunday am: Asked to take in a friend from out of town who’s wife has been medivacced to local hospital for “flesh eating disease”. Didn’t know at this point if she was going to make it.
Sunday pm: 10 minutes escorting our friend to our home after church, our 9 year old border colie dies
Monday am: deal with disposal of beloved pet
Monday afternoon to 1am: rush husband to doc then hospital fearing heart attack. No heart attack but suspect angina attack – symptoms identical and still kicks the stuffing out of him
Tuesday afternoon: take husband to naturopath, confirm angina attack and that it was SEVERE. Narrowly avoid heart attack.
Wednesday afternoon: find one of our cats outside and he’s barely able to move. Think he was in a cat fight.
Thursday am: realized cat had been runover by car, not catfight. Losing another pet this week was not a preferred option. Rush to vet. After some treatment, he’s going to be okay.
Also throughout the week, dealing with personal attacks on our family. Our friend in the hospital is still touch ‘n’ go, but she’ll be in hospital here at least 3 more weeks.
While going through this all, I was truly amazed at the peace God gave when I struggled to focus on Him. Then the following came to mind:
1. Alpha and Omega:
My thoughts should always begin and end with Him.
“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8 Also Revelation 1:11, Rev. 21:6, Rev 22:13
He should have the preeminence (first place) in all things, and that includes my trials.
“And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” Colossians 1:18
3. Focus: He should always be the focus. My “spiritual” eyes must be always looking to Him:
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Hebrews 12:2-3
Remembering these three things have been a huge help in placing the Lord first, versus letting the trials be my focus and become sin.
The following verse has also been in the forefront this week as I sought grace to go through whatever the Lord would have for me:
Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16
He wants us to come to Him, not shy away when trials come, and let us not forget our purpose:
Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. Revelation 4:11
I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations. Psalms 89:1
Romans 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
It amazes me how much we can put ourselves through simply because we don’t take our cares to the Lord. Our lives have always been pretty typical, having one disturbing major issue happening at a time, but it seems like this time around it has been 4-5 at the same time. I can honestly say that the last 6-7 months have been the hardest trials I have gone through in my entire Christian life with some things being personal and some affecting our entire family. At times I felt overwhelmed and it seemed I barely had a grasp of the hem of the Lord’s garment, yet, there was still a peace that kept me going as I knew the Lord was going to see us through, again. When I took our cares to the Lord, that peace was the strongest, and of course when I focused on the issues, that peace seemed so dim, but it was always there.
Taking all our cares to the Lord is exactly what He expects us to do!
1 Peter 5:7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
It truly is a blessing to be able to write down what I learn from the Scriptures and the lessons learned from what God brings into our lives. Several years ago, I did a full blown lesson on “Depression”, and God used it not only to calm my troubles heart, but to be an encouragement to others as well. If any of our trials help anyone to go on for Christ, the I count those trials a privilege.
2 Corinthians 1:4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
Yet God has also given us an even greater comfort that to me makes any and all trials worthwhile.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
Our Lord is coming back one day! All our trials will be over and we will see the one who redeemed us from our sin! What greater comfort is there?
1 Peter 1:18-19 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
I couldn’t find a vocal rendition of this hymn that I liked, but at least I can post the words and music. The music player is at the bottom of the lyrics.
When We See Christ
1) Oft times the day seems long, our trials hard to bear,
We’re tempted to complain, to murmur and despair;
But Christ will soon appear to catch His Bride away,
All tears forever over in God’s eternal day.
It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,
Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ;
One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase,
So bravely run the race till we see Christ.
2) Sometimes the sky looks dark with not a ray of light,
We’re tossed and driven on , no human help in sight;
But there is one in heav’n who knows our deepest care,
Let Jesus solve your problem – just go to Him in pray’r.
3) Life’s day will soon be o’er, all storms forever past,
We’ll cross the great divide, to glory, safe at last;
We’ll share the joys of heav’n – a harp, a home, a crown,
The tempter will be banished, we’ll lay our burden down.
Heâs my life, He’s my all;
Without Him I would fall.
Every day, every hour;
Jesus keeps me by His power.
Through the assurance of His Word.
I know all His promises are true.
By faith, I stand upon them,
And my God makes all things new.
Though my trials like raging storms blow,
Help to endure is always present from above.
Not a sigh nor a loss in my life here below.
Could ever dim the glory of my Saviour’s love.
Though clouds of sorrow seem to hide
His presence in the night,
There’s not a moment in my life
When His guiding hand is not in sight.
All for His glory He will perform,
What He has promised in me, to conform.
He who hath begun a good work in me,
Will perform it until my Saviour I shall see.
Then one day I will cross over,
When He opens that final door,
And He transforms this corruptible
To His perfect likeness forever more.
When I stand to give account,
âWill I come forth as gold?â? will be my test,
No more will I fight this robe of flesh
As in my Saviour I take my rest.
And with the saints in glory,
I stand with Him for eternal days.
O for a thousand tongues to sing
My Great Redeemer’s praise!
June 13, 2003
This poem, and others, are featured
in a poetry booklet put together
by Jerry Bouey.