Reliant

I’ve been super tired lately, even more than usual.  The kind of fatigue where you find yourself staring because anything else involves too much energy.  It’s been a good time to reflect on heaven, the new body I have to look forward to, and most of all to the peace of being in the Lord’s presence.

One of most difficult symptoms I deal with is shortness of breath.  There’s really nothing like the feeling of not having enough air.  This certainly keeps me very reliant on the Lord for peace and perspective.  Keith’s sermon today was such a great reminder that I already have everything I need.  Health is not a need.  Breath is really not even a need.  The Gospel is all I truly need.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

No valley is too deep

No valley is too deep for Christ’s light to illumine.  Keith and I’s summer speaks to this.  In early July, I miscarried our 2nd child.  Nothing can prepare you for the pain that comes along with a loss of a child.  I felt so paralyzed and confused.  So many hopes crushed.  So much joy that turns into pain, and yet, the Lord has taken our hands and walked slowly.  He’s counted our tears (Psalm 56:7) and replaced them with joy and peace.  He’s sustained my life, even when my body seemed like it was shutting down.

The following months have been some of the most difficult of my life.  The emotional healing is coming slowly as I have had very little physical energy to spend processing and healing.  When I feel weak and overwhelmed, it’s good to think about how far I’ve come.  At my worst I couldn’t even lift my head without blacking out.  My body went into shock and I needed a blood transfusion.  It’s been many many weeks of slowly building back and sometimes feeling like I was sitting on the “sidelines” of life.  The reality though is that these weren’t the sidelines.  This was God’s calling for me this summer.  He has a plan for my life, a good plan, and this was part of it.  He is showing me, once again, that living in a place of complete dependence on Him, is a blessed place to be.  His word has sustained my soul and granted light and peace when things felt out of control.  Through blackouts, sorrow, weakness, confusion, anxiety attacks, daily migraines, insomnia, grief, shortness of breath, and fear, the Lord has showed me His faithfulness and given me a firm place to stand.

Psalm 91 has been my daily, some times hourly, meditation.  This verse in particular has comforted me continuously in my battle.  Psalm 91:4  “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge”  Every night, I laid down with the vision of His feathers covering me.  What comfort in such a time of need!

As I slowly begin the ascent out of this valley I’ve been able to more clearly reflect.  To more clearly see how and where His light was illuminating the path and giving glimmers of hope in the darkness.  Here is my song, Psalm 40:1-3

  I waited patiently for the LORD;
   he turned to me and heard my cry.
  He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
   out of the mud and mire;
  he set my feet on a rock
   and gave me a firm place to stand.
  He put a new song in my mouth,
   a hymn of praise to our God.”

Adversity and Vigorous Trust

I recently finished the book by Nancy Guthrie Be Still My Soul, a collection of readings about God’s purposes in suffering.  In it I was struck by a quote by Jerry Bridges that has really resonated with me.  Adversity has recently sought to overwhelm me.  It’s been difficult and trust has been exactly this – “a vigorous act of the soul.”  It’s been vital for me to keep in mind that I can’t just sit around and find myself trusting the Lord.  I need to actively, vigorously attach myself to the promises of God in order to persevere.  His word is so sweet and is my lifeline – especially in times that feel bleak.

“Trust is not a passive state of mind. It is a vigorous act of the soul by which we choose to lay hold on the promises of God and cling to them despite the adversity that at times seeks to overwhelm us.”

Psalm 19:7-10  ” The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.  The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.  The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.  The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.”

Living in dependence upon Him – A blessed place

Often times in this life the Lord uses difficult situations and trials to keep us dependent on Himself.  In my own life my battle with chronic illness has kept me depending on Him for strength and grace for each day.  I was reminded of the ways the Lord uses this for His glory as I read a section in the contentment book this week.

“Perhaps God see’s it better for you to live in a continual dependence on Him, and not to know what your condition will be on the morrow, than for you to have a more settled condition in terms of the comforts of the creature.  Do but remember what we spoke of before, that Christ does not teach you to pray, ‘Lord give me enough to serve me for two or three years,’ but ‘This day our daily bread.’  This is to teach us that we must live upon God in a dependent condition every day for daily bread.”

Burrough’s then uses Israel as an example of those in a dependent, yet blessed, condition as the Lord chose to settle them in the land of Canaan (in contrast to Egypt) where they would be completely reliant on God for water.  He writes “the land of Canaan depended on God for the watering of it with showers from Heaven, but Egypt had a constant way of watering the country, that did not so much depend on Heaven for water, but upon the river Nile, which at some certain time overflowed the country.  Knowing that the watering of there country depended upon the river and not upon Heaven, they grew more proud.” Canaan never knew for sure when they would have water and lived in dependence upon God for there lives.

Why does God view this state of dependence as a better state?  Because His people are to live by faith and to rely on Him for everything.  When we live in dependence upon God our souls are actually in a better place than when we rely on ourselves.  Sometimes it’s hard to see times of weakness and trial as “blessed states” but when we truly evaluate our souls we will find this to be true.  What trial is keeping you dependent, yet blessed?

Psalm 25:8-9  “Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.  He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.”

Psalm 147:6  The LORD sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground.”

Clinging to the Unchangeable One

I was recently reminded while reading “Morning Thoughts” by Octavius Winslow of the immutability of God’s promises.  As my due date approaches and with it numerous changes, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and fearful of what the future holds.  What consolation I find in my heavenly Father who isn’t subject to change.  It’s so comforting to cling to the one who’s love and faithfulness go on no matter what.  Here’s how Octavius puts it:

“Mutability marks everything outside of God.  Look into the church, into the world, into our families, into ourselves; what innumerable changes do we see on every hand!  A week, one short day, what alterations does it produce!  Yet, in the midst of it all, how good it is to repose calmly on the unchangeableness, the faithfulness of God; to know that no alterations of time, no earthly changes, affect His faithfulness to His people; and more than this: no changes in them, no unfaithfulness of theirs, causes the slightest change in God.”

James 1:16-18 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.”

“Strength From Another”

I’ve been reading Jeremiah Burroughs‘ book “The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment” and have definitely found it to be a jewel!  I was recently reminded of one of the awesome privileges of the Christian life as he talked about how Christians are given strength from outside of themselves for every circumstance/trial.  Here’s part of the quote that encouraged me and reminded me of the source of my strength.

“But a Christian finds satisfaction in every circumstance by getting strength from another, by going out of himself to Jesus Christ, by his faith acting upon Christ, and bringing the strength of Jesus Christ into his own soul, he is thereby enabled to bear whatever God lays on him, by the strength that he finds from Jesus Christ.”

Isaiah 12:2  “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.”

Isaiah 40: 28-29 “Do you not know?  Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”

Contentment in Tragedy?

Because we live in a fallen world we will inevitably face difficult circumstances. Sometimes we may even face unimaginable tragedies. During such times contentment will look very different from the contentment we are called to in day to day life.

In the midst of hardship and deep loss contentment doesn’t say “thank you Lord for this trial” rather it says something like “Lord, I know you’re in control and that you have a plan and part of that plan involves my good.” Contentment in tragedy is rooted in ruthless trust – trust in Jesus Christ who loves us, desires our best, and who has promised to return and take us to heaven.

Psalm 9:9-10 “The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.”

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”