Divine Love placed you where you are

One of my favorite quotes by Charles Spurgeon is one I think of weekly, sometimes daily. It’s easy to forget in the midst of trials and suffering that we are exactly where the Lord would have us to be. He is doing a good work, even when it doesn’t look or feel that way. His loving hand prunes us, allowing us to bear fruit.  This quote has become engrained in me, it’s a part of the way I process and think about my circumstances.  After sharing it with a friend yesterday I was reminded that I should post it here.

“Remember this, had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there.” ~Charles Spurgeon

The context of this quote, one of Spurgeon’s “Evening” devotionals, is just as rich, reassuring and comforting to the hurting and feeble soul.

“Believer, if your inheritance be a lowly one you should be satisfied with your earthly portion; for you may rest assured that it is the fittest for you. Unerring wisdom ordained your lot, and selected for you the safest and best condition. A ship of large tonnage is to be brought up the river; now, in one part of the stream there is a sandbank; should some one ask, “Why does the captain steer through the deep part of the channel and deviate so much from a straight line?” His answer would be, “Because I should not get my vessel into harbour at all if I did not keep to the deep channel.” So, it may be, you would run aground and suffer shipwreck, if your divine Captain did not steer you into the depths of affliction where waves of trouble follow each other in quick succession. Some plants die if they have too much sunshine. It may be that you are planted where you get but little, you are put there by the loving Husbandman, because only in that situation will you bring forth fruit unto perfection. Remember this, had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there. You are placed by God in the most suitable circumstances, and if you had the choosing of your lot, you would soon cry, “Lord, choose my inheritance for me, for by my self-will I am pierced through with many sorrows.” Be content with such things as you have, since the Lord has ordered all things for your good. Take up your own daily cross; it is the burden best suited for your shoulder, and will prove most effective to make you perfect in every good word and work to the glory of God. Down busy self, and proud impatience, it is not for you to choose, but for the Lord of Love!

‘Trials must and will befall-
But with humble faith to see
Love inscribed upon them all;
This is happiness to me.'”

Gripped by fear or dwelling in His house?

As my due date approaches, I’ve found myself in a constant battle of putting off sin.  I’ve allowed myself at times to be gripped by fear, and it hasn’t been pretty.  The months following Lillian’s birth were some of the hardest I’ve ever experienced.  My body felt as if it was shutting down and it was really scary.  My emotions were all over the place and I found myself often feeling a sense of despair.  Here I was with this precious gift from God, my little girl, and in a sense felt like the early weeks/months were a whirlwind of pure survival.  I realize every mom experiences “survival mode” and emotions that don’t make sense, but this was so intense that I often have to run to the Lord with the thoughts and feelings that accompanied this time of great trial.

As I approach another delivery, the battle has begun.  Will I trust the Lord and His plan for me?  Will I trust that even the most difficult of days are for my good?  In a sense I feel badly that I even have this battle.  After losing a precious child to a miscarriage last summer it seems almost ridiculous to be approaching this season with anything but joy and thanksgiving – yet, the reality that my body may not respond well is so real and feels so near.

I’ve been trying to prep my heart and mind for this season.  Listing out verses of truth to fight the lies that will try to creep in and arming myself with songs to make my meditation.  One thing that’s come out of these efforts, as of late, is the realization that the answer to fear and anxiety is immediately turning to God in prayer.  It seems so simple, yet I so often dwell on my fears first, not bow in prayer.  Phil. 4:6 has been ringing in my heart, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Will you pray for me that I will trust my loving, faithful God and quickly turn to Him in everything?  Over the next few weeks/months I’d love to hear (through comments or personal emails) verses/songs of comfort, courage, truth, peace that will help draw my heart and mind to where they are called to be, humbly bowing before my Savior in complete trust.

Psalm 27

“1 The Lord is my light and my salvation —
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?

When the wicked advance against me
    to devourme,
it is my enemies and my foes
    who will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me,
    my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
    even then I will be confident.

One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble
    he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
    and set me high upon a rock.

Then my head will be exalted
    above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
    I will sing and make music to the Lord.

Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
    be merciful to me and answer me.
My heart says of you, “Seek his face! ”
    Your face, Lord, I will seek.
Do not hide your face from me,
    do not turn your servant away in anger;
    you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
    God my Savior.
10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
    the Lord will receive me.
11 Teach me your way, Lord;
    lead me in a straight path
    because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
    for false witnesses rise up against me,
    spouting malicious accusations.

13 I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.”

 

An encouraging song

I’ve been enjoying this song lately.  Simple, honest, full of Truth.  Listen Here

JJ Heller – “Your Hands”

I have unanswered prayers
I have trouble I wish wasn’t there
And I have asked a thousand ways
That you would take my pain away
You would take my pain away

I am trying to understand
How to walk this weary land
Make straight the paths that crooked lie
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine

When my world is shaking, heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave your hands

When you walked upon the earth
You healed the broken, lost and hurt
I know you hate to see me cry
One day you will set all things right
Yeah, one day you will set all things right

When my world is shaking, heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave your hands

Your hands that shaped the world
Are holding me
They hold me still
Your hands that shaped the world
Are holding me
They hold me still

When my world is shaking, heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave you
When my world is shaking, heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave
I never leave your hands

Hindered, or not?

Tonight as I re-read a chapter and poem by Amy Carmichael, I began to think.  My reality is that my illness prevents me from doing so many things on this earth.  Things I used to love to do (run, snow ski, hike…) and things I’d love to try or adventures I’d love to go on with our family.  Although these realities are difficult, and often bring about a sinful battle for contentment, I’m thankful that my weakness doesn’t impair the ability to fulfill my calling (my sin surely does, but that’s for another blog post!).  My single purpose and goal in life is to bring my Savior glory.  What a relief!!  In God’s kingdom, the one that truly matters, my frailty isn’t a hindrance to living the life that I’m called to live.

A bruised reed shall He not break: the poorest shepherd boy on our South Indian hills is careful to choose, for the making of his flute, a reed that is straight and fine and quite unbruised.  But our Heavenly Shepherd often takes the broken and the bruised, and of such He makes His flutes.  But life, like His book, is full of parables of tenderness; and one of these has often come into this room of late.  For he whose name means God’s Peace has brought his autoharp to play to me, and has first tuned it while I expectantly waited for the music which I knew would follow the tuning. 

    Is music to come from our harp?  Music of prayer, of praise, of consolation?  The strings are relaxed, or perhaps too tensely stretched.  Illness can cause either condition.  But we have a Tuner.

Tune Thou my harp;
There is not, Lord, could never be,
The skill in me.

Tune Thou my harp,
That it may play Thy melody,
Thy harmony.

Tune Thou my harp;
O Spirit, breathe Thy thought through me,
As pleaseth Thee.”  ~Amy Carmichael, “Rose from Briar

2 Cor. 12:9  “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

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.”

Kristen’s Testimony – “A Deeper Need”

One way I have seen the grace of the Lord poured out on me while facing trials is by surrounding me with faithful followers of Christ who have been examples of perseverance in hardship. My friend, Kristen, is one of these sweet friends. The Lord allowed us to meet through the POTS website (dinet.org) that I am a part of and the Lord has used her emails, blogs, and prayers to greatly encourage me and to draw me closer to Himself. Kristen has suffered greatly and continues to persevere and hold to the precious promises of Scripture. I recently asked her to share her testimony to post here because I knew you would be greatly encouraged/challenged by her testimony, as I have been.

A Deeper Need

       “A question was asked at my Bible study tonight: When do you experience the most spiritual growth? Without pause, I piped up, “During hard times.”
I wish it wasn’t the case. When I am not in a trial, the last thing I want is to enter into one. When I’m currently enduring difficulty, it is very frustrating to think about growth when I just want relief.
But the truth is, God expresses his love for us by putting his followers in the furnace.
If you had asked me years ago whether I would like to endure a domino-like train of hardship, sending the carefully ordered tiles of my life flying into a pile of chaos, I would have adamantly declined. To think God would take me at 17 and not stop the trials even by age 30, I would have questioned how that shows love. Sometimes we can’t see God’s purposes from our frail vantage point, but we can be sure that his Word is true.
When I was 17, my family discovered that we had long-hidden water damage in the walls of our home. This water intrusion allowed toxic forms of mold to grow, and the toxins affected my health severely. By my senior year of high school, I could barely get out of bed. On the days I could struggle in to school, I sat in a foggy haze of disorientation. Something was wrong, but no one knew what it was. My pediatrician failed to take my symptoms seriously.
Thanks to my mother’s research and persistence, we obtained professional mold testing which revealed high levels of toxins and bacteria in our air, making the house completely uninhabitable. To make things worse, all of our possessions were contaminated as well, and almost everything had to be discarded.
The incredible material loss from this disaster was nothing compared to the emotional and physical impact of chronic illness which followed. I became acutely sensitive to chemicals in my environment that wouldn’t bother the average person. It was to the point where I had to leave my office job and abandon my first college after a semester of intense reactions to the pesticides used around campus.
These back-to-back losses put me in the position of commuting 50 minutes each way to an engineering school near home and facing the obstacles of completing a major when I could only tolerate being in a handful of classroom buildings. Being the weird girl was my new norm, and I had to work twice as hard to attend study sessions, plan my limited time on campus wisely, obtain some lectures via videotape, and work on assignments alone when others worked in groups or with a TA. When I finally graduated with my degree a year later than the rest of my class, I was already on my way to finishing graduate work and looked forward to a promising career.
It was then that my life began to fall apart even more. I started having more concerning physical symptoms that I tried to ignore, but when I passed out at church one morning, I never bounced back. I was diagnosed with POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) along with PDH (Postural Diastolic Hypotension). The cause was unknown, but I felt I had never fully recovered from the damage done by mold and pesticide exposures. A flu virus and stress had pushed my fragile body too far, and now I faced a long road to recovery.
I was not quick to embrace my new vulnerable position of waiting on God. I could no longer work, but I still tried, dragging myself in and feeling lightheaded and ill while I sat in meetings. When I finally passed out at work and was taken out on a gurney, it finally occurred to me that I was not going to be able to overcome this setback with sheer willpower and medication.
I sat at home with the wind knocked out of my sails. I had just turned 24. I couldn’t work. I couldn’t go to school. I had no guarantees about my prognosis, and I could barely get off the couch to go to the bathroom. It was soon after that when my family was suddenly victimized by a group of my grandfather’s caregivers who had been working for us. They stole from my grandparents and eventually from us too. Due to poor police response, this turned into long-term harassment and stalking.
I thought at the time that God would let up, but more obstacles and problems kept coming my way. My grandma had a stroke and developed severe dementia, requiring our full-time care here at home. My father’s anger issues escalated, causing my mother and me great pain and heartache. I wanted to get back to my focus of working, earning money, my career, and eventually marriage and having children. But when I realized that my dreams had been derailed, I had a choice to make. I could accept both good and hardship from God’s hand, or I could become bitter and conclude that a good God would not allow so much pain and loss to happen to his child for so long.
I struggled with the incongruity of God saying he loved me, yet not acting to relieve my intense pain. Trial upon trial drew out over multiple years, but my prayers for deliverance remained unanswered. I finally read a book by Larry Crabb called Shattered Dreams. Initially, I felt skeptical of the thesis – which is that God allows our dreams to shatter so that we can see that He is our ultimate dream.
However, the more I read of the book, the more I began to see that it was true in my own life. The whole time that I had been suffering, a longing was forming in me – for truth to prevail, for compassion from others, for a sense of justice, to see mercy extended to the hurting, and for healing to take place. I found myself gravitating toward people who had also suffered but who had courage and joy. I suddenly realized that my trials had created in me a strong appetite for the very characteristics of Jesus himself! It was a turning point in my life to find my shallow, earthly desires stripped away in order to lay bare my aching, penetrating need for Christ. I was a sinner who had been broken, and I found my Lord sitting by the well offering me the living water of forgiveness and love, rather than the dirty well water of earthly ease I had been convinced I needed for so long.
As I continue in my trials undelivered, I give thanks that God loved me enough to help me discover that my longings for success, approval, and pleasant earthly circumstances were symptoms of a deeper cry – a bigger wound – one that demands Christ and will never heal unless He is my focus and my first love. If you are in a trial – praying to God and still undelivered – take heart that you are a not alone. God is good all the time, and even in our most painful hours, we can count on Christ to carry us until that glorious day when all wrongs will be made right, when we will finally be with Him, the true and ultimate satisfaction of our souls.”
“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while, 
’He who is coming will come and will not delay.'”  Hebrews 10:35-37