“I Will Rise”

(Job 23: 13-14, The Message) “But he is singular and sovereign. Who can argue with him?  He does what he wants, when he wants to.  He’ll complete in detail what he’s decided about me, and whatever else he determines to do.”


I hear ya, Job. 

A few years back, this was where I seemed to be lingering.  I was going through a very tough period in my life.  I had lost one of my grandfathers to Alzheimer’s Disease, one of my grandmothers was placed in a nursing home due to the same condition, my other grandmother passed away after 3 years of suffering the aftereffects of a severe stroke, and my dad was also diagnosed with early onset, rapidly progressing Alzheimer’s…as well as another type of dementia.  This all took place in a matter of months.  My inner strength was already faltering due to miscarriages and negative reports from my doctor about the condition of my reproductive system, so when the bad news just continued to pour in, I pumped the brakes and literally said to God, “What in the world??”  I was in every kind of pain…physical, emotional, spiritual and mental.  I spent a lot of time crying…just spells of hard sobs that came from a deep place of anguish…and when the crying finally ceased, I fell numb.  One day I looked at my husband and I said, “I have stopped asking God for anything.  He just does what He wants, so why even ask anymore?”  I meant it too.  I hadn’t stopped believing, or praying even…I still spoke to God regularly.  In my hurt and sorrow I would sing, “Peace, peace, wonderful peace.  Coming down from the Father above.  Sweep over my spirit, forever I pray, in fathomless billows of love.”  I would tell God how much I hurt, and I wasn’t mad…just broken and defeated.  I was absolutely in a Job-like place. 

We are human, so we get into funks like that.  We want answers and resolutions.  We get very involved in the flesh and as a result our requests become centered around our own desires and ideas of what we think is best.  Our understanding is very limited and small in comparison to God’s omniscience, so it’s extremely difficult for us to see the master plan beyond what we are experiencing.  We are blind in many ways, and instead of trusting our guide, we instead try to feel our way around.  Then we get angry or upset when we bump into things and get hurt!  So what do we do then?  We just stand there in the safest spot we can find, still and useless…and pouty. 

Well I got tired of being the useless and pouty believer, just taking up space and fulfilling obligations.  I had to trust my guide, because standing still was making me crazy!  I thought I knew what was best and I was wrong…it was time to accept that.  In my human brain I thought things like, “How can Alzheimer’s be in God’s plan for someone’s life?”  Yet in my spirit, the Lord began to whisper His truths, the truths of His word, and it was brining me back to life.

8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.

    “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.

9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,

    so my ways are higher than your ways

    and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. 

(Isaiah 55: 8-9, The Message)

The truth is, we do not always know what He is doing through these things that happen…you know, the things we just don’t understand.  However, as hard as it is at times to walk in faith, there is peace when we trust Him.  Romans 15: 13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  We are not promised understanding; we are entitled to nothing.  Our faith is a work in progress, but it begins with trust.  Without that, our faith is dead.  In these days, which are likely the last, we are being watched by the world.  Our actions, reactions, and all of the words we speak in faith are being observed.  Let us be ever mindful that what we say we believe is what we must live

(Hebrews 12: 1-4) 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. 3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. 4 After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.


Prayer:  Heavenly Father, when I hurt, help me to remember that You have suffered the greatest anguish.  Help me to trust You, always, so that I live a life of joy and peace…reflecting Your strength and love to the world.  Amen.

Perfected Through Suffering

 

(Hebrews 2:10) “in bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.”


Can we accept the fact that Jesus, the God-man, needed suffering to be perfected? He was a man as though he were not God–and was filled with the Spirit without any measure or limit set on that filling. He was completely filled with the Spirit. He was also God as though He were not a man!

All I can say is this, if our Lord Jesus Christ needed to suffer before He could be all that God the Father envisioned for Him, how much more should we–frail children of dust, and sinful (Jeremiah 17:9)–expect to suffer before God can trust us with the full extent of the anointing?

David also had to suffer for the sake of perfection. Saul served as an agent that produced hardship in his life for several years–even after David had been anointed to take Saul’s place as king. King Saul’s hatred of David was probably the best thing that ever happened to David, because it refined his anointing!

God raised up David to be Israel’s greatest king, but he also required him up to receive spiritual refinement that would make him a true man of God. David was a man’s man! It would be hard to say whether God raised up David for Goliath or God raised up Goliath for David! David slew bears and lions with his bare hands! But, what made him great was when he became God’s man–a man after God’s own heart.

Even Paul said, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.” (1 Corinthians 13:11)

Perfection is a process! We do not get the necessary refinement by merely praying for more of the Holy Spirit. Jesus had all the Holy Spirit available–the Spirit without limit (John 3:34). Yet, “although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered.” (Hebrews 2:10)

Perfection that comes through suffering actually produces opportunity to encourage others. “For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Hebrews 10:18)


PRAYER: “that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed unto his death; 11 if by any means I may attain unto the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect: but I press on, if so be that I may lay hold on that for which also I was laid hold on by Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I could not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, 14 I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:10-14)