I have not written here for months! It is not that I haven’t had anything to say. I just haven’t had the energy to put it down on paper. I really ought to make more of an effort because no matter if anyone ever reads what I write, it is cathartic for me to do it.
I have been thinking a lot about suffering lately. There are many ways we can suffer in life. The death of someone you love, losing a job, dealing with a severe illness, depression, etc. And then there are problems with your adopted kid who is not attaching to you. Yeah, that’s the one I am suffering with. It stinks.
I read this blog post recently that made me think about some things. The title was “Has God Left You in the Fire?” It resonated with me because I do feel like I have been left in the fire – several times – in my life. I feel like I am in the fire right now. It is not fun. In the blog post (which you should take the time to read – it is very good) he asks the question, “Christian, do you ever feel like God has left you in the fire too long?” Well, yes I do. Is that a correct assumption on my part? This really got me to pondering.
I have been asked to speak at a Mother/Daughter brunch at a local church and was told to use my testimony – how God has worked in my life – as my topic. The theme of the brunch is “Gifts from God”. I have been working on that talk for about a month. As you go back through events in your life it helps you to gain perspective. I also realized that at specific times in my life when I was in the midst of a trial my perspective was not very good. All I could focus on was what was going on around me.
Isaiah 43:2-3: When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Do I believe that verse? If I am perfectly honest, sometimes. But not always. Why is that? Is God with me sometimes and not with me at other times? No – His presence is the same. Perhaps it is how I understand what this verse means? Does this verse say that I will never go through trials? No. It specifically states that I will – “When you pass through the waters”.
The verse states that, “when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you”. And yet, we often feel that we have been burned. Some of our trials leave scars. We can more readily believe the part that says, “and the flame shall not consume you” because this seems to talk about ultimate destruction and as a believer I know that even though my body may die, my soul is safe.
The conclusion I came to is perspective. When we are in the midst of a dark valley – a trial – we do not see things very clearly. We are overwhelmed with the emotions or pain we are dealing with. Randy Alcorn wrote a Facebook status recently about how we look at situations and how God sees them. It said:
“Ever been to a football game at half time when the band forms words or pictures in the middle of the field? They look great from up in the stands. But have you ever thought about what they look like from the sidelines? Pointless, confusing, apparently meaningless. We see life from the sidelines. God sees it from the stands. As we gain perspective, we leave the sidelines and start working our way up.”
That is how I think we see our trials when we are in the midst of them – pointless, confusing, apparently meaningless. When, however, we can look back after the fog has cleared and our emotions are not clouding our thinking we see how God worked and all that He provided and after awhile we even see good that the Lord worked in us or others through that trial.
I need some perspective. I need to remember that although things look very confusing and painful right now, they will not always be this way. I need to remind myself of all that God has done for me and reassure myself that He is the same God today as He was seven years ago and I can trust Him.
I am not saying this is easy. I am sure that it will be a daily, if not minute by minute, task for me to remind myself of the truth that I know about Who God is. I am tired and worn out though. I feel as though I have no answers – no understanding of how to walk forward. Trust and obey. Take one step and ask God which step I should take next. That is all I can do.
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”