It has been a somber past few nights for me. Standing on the cliff on a chasm depth I cannot see. My health has been here and there, despite my prayer of prayers that maybe “this time” is it, and then life gets better.
What about when it doesn’t? When you know God could fix it, yet heaven is silent? When – despite your very best – your “best” isn’t enough? When you’re sure you can’t possibly face one more thing, and then the phone rings, or the knock comes, or the tears fall?
God wants us to rejoice in all things, yet how do we rejoice in times like this?
How did Paul? After all, he was one nod of the head from the guard away from his last breath. Locked up in chains in a dingy prison. He recounted his resume too, and it’s a long one. Paul was flogged multiple times, shipwrecked, robbed, thrown in prison, ridiculed, been cold, homeless, hungry, and – well, admit it – likely miserable! He of all people had every reason to be.
Dear one, he wasn’t. He actually was joyful, because his suffering was to him the least he could give, to Who gave him His everything. Jesus. Paul wasn’t fixed on this world, because it’s temporary. He knew Who he trusted, and Who gave His life so Paul could live.
The story behind the song, “It Is Well With My Soul” is stunning. I’ll not spoil it with details- but I will say, it is a must-read (This is your cue to go read it, then come back here). The writer had gone through an unspeakable tragedy, and in the middle of his pain, he penned that hymn. His eyes though filled with tears and pain, saw past the cares of this life, and how his story would end. How your story will end if you have trusted in Jesus. The road to your happily ever after is paved with hurts, betrayal, disappointment, rejection, and much more you could add. If that ending that’s only in your dreams at the moment is absolutely a certainty- being with God forever and ever and free of all the brokenness in this world, is what you’re facing- and faced- worth It? Would keeping your eyes on that – though not your situation- change your heart, even your strength to get through it, or somehow find a smile amidst those tears? I’ve thought a lot about that in 2017, as this has been one of my most painful years yet. And friend, I feel that I can say “yes” – it’s worth it.
We don’t always understand this side of heaven why we face the things we do. Or why God allows things to happen that we would rather Him not. But you can know, confidently, that God uses all things for your good, He gives beauty for ashes, joy for mourning, and He loves you so, so much. You can trust that He keeps all your tears in His bottle, and wastes not a single one. And you can trust Him. Let Him lead you. He’ll never take you where He does not go. And you can say too, with Paul, that it is well.
Purposeful Pause: Will you invite God into your pain and let Him comfort you?
Worshipful Praise: It Is Well by Bethel
Prayer: Dear God, Forgive me for not inviting You into my pain. I can’t take one breath without You. Thank You that You are always with me. Give me Your sweet peace as only You can, and teach my anxious heart how to trust You more, and find joy in You in all things.
Digging Deeper: 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17; 2 Corinthians 11:1 – 12:10; Philippians 4:4-9; Psalm 56:8; Isaiah 61:3; Psalm chapters 91, 119, and 139; Psalm 73:25-26