Tuesday, March 22

facing the storm

i've taken a morning "off", so to speak. "Off from what?" you ask? I have a to-do list a mile long for personal, work, and HM tasks that need to be accomplished. But last night I sat on my bathroom floor for an hour, praying and thinking about my current roles and how to keep them all afloat. (I did not reach a solution, in case you were wondering.) But i did doodle all over my washing machine as i processed.

I've been wrestling with the unyielding truth that this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for my life. Multiple scripture passages have confirmed that this is not a fluke, an accident, or a blip on the radar. This is the will of God, working itself out in my life.*

"For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ, you should not only believe in Him but also suffer for His sake," Philippians 1:29

"It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him." John 9:3

"That I may know Him [Christ] and the power of His resurrection, and may share in His sufferings." Philippians 3:10

"Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief... out of the anguish of his soul he will see and be satisfied..." Isaiah 53:10,11

"For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too." 2 Corinthians 1:5

"Now my soul is troubled. And what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name." John 12:27-28

"Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?" John 18:11

"In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? 'My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives. It is for discipline that you have to endure." Hebrews 12:4-7

"A servant is not greater than his master." John 15:20

If Jesus had troubles, I will too. If he experienced hardship and grief, I will as well. If he endured trials of various kinds, I will endure them as well. But how shall I endure? Will my attitude be as perfect as His? Will I set my face as flint, marching into the midst of the chaos, contending with those who make war against my soul? Will I fight the good fight, unwavering in my devotion? Will I completely trust that God will come to my aid, that He will be my shield, and He will enable me to stand on the heights above my enemies?

You know, I've always had a difficult time with the passage in James about "consider everything pure joy." It creates a mental image of a struggling christian, pasting on a cheesy smile right after their car just died on them, saying "i'm choosing joy..." through gritted teeth. I've always rejected that type of religion. If it sucks, i'm just going to be honest about it sucking. And i've never understood how to consider the most horrible things in my life as joy.

But, as the Holy Spirit has a tendency to do, He keeps bringing me back to the idea of persevering with joy; not gritting my teeth and bearing it. So I pulled out my Expositor's and discovered very encouraging truth:

"James explains that trials are reason for rejoicing because of the wholesome effects they produce. The word 'trials' describes things that put a person to the test. They may be difficulties from without, or they may be inner moral tests. The outward trial, rather than being a reason for unhappiness, can be a ground for 'pure joy'. The expression is pasan charan, which speaks of full and complete joy.  The reason that trials are to be considered grounds for joy is that they are capable of developing 'perseverance'. They put the believer's faith to the test, and this experience produces the desired result. The question answered by the testing of faith is whether or not faith will persevere. If it is genuine faith, testing serves to develop its persistence. Hypomonen is translated 'patience' in KJV, but it is a much more active and forceful word. It speaks of tenacity and stick-to-it-iveness... it is not the patience that passively endures; instead, it is the quality that enables a man to stand on his feet facing the storm."

In James 1:4 it says, "And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." So apparently I can put a halt to the development of steadfastness. I can add stumbling blocks and theological hurdles, causing me to pause in my perseverance and question the race I'm running.

Every person experiences difficulty from without and moral struggles within. And for the Christian, the difficulties brings you to a crossroad. What will the death of my daughter prove about my life? What will it reveal about my character? Do I continue to press forward, believing with all hope that my God is faithful? Am I willing to plumb the depths, allowing the purifying work of the Holy Spirit to go in to my broken places, rooting out lies and planting truth?

Expositor's goes on to elaborate on James' instruction to ask God for wisdom, because wisdom is required to understand "the nature and purpose of trials and knowing how to meet them victoriously. Such wisdom is available to the one who will 'ask God' for it, not once, but repeatedly. The promise is that 'it will be given to him.' There is nothing in God that keeps him from giving. It is his practice to give 'generously' and 'without finding fault'. he does not scold his children for asking nor berate them for their deficiency." (italics mine.)

Thank you Lord, for your faithfulness even when I am faithless. Thank you for taking Gwen, keeping her safe, in the presence of joy and pleasures forevermore. Thank you for promising wisdom, and giving me the ability to meet this victoriously. Thank you for already winning the battle, contending for me, being our great Burden Carrier. Let me have eyes that see more of you, God. You're the only thing that makes sense. O Lord I believe; help me in my unbelief.

"When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" 
Luke 18:8

*I do not believe that God causes sin or evil in any way. But He does determine the day of each person's death, He holds the keys of life and eternity, and He brings everything to fruition in it's own time; the Bible is clear on those facts. How that fleshes out is a mystery, one debated for centuries. But I know that God is true, and I'm operating on that basis.


  1. This was really good and really important for me to read today. I always look forward to your posts, and this one was awesome. Praise God for the good work He is doing. Thank you for sharing your heart so openly.

  2. I appreciate so much your willingness to handle both the fullness of life and of scripture. You let sorrow be what it is and God be who he is; you don't compromise the realness or the thick complexity of either. You encourage me tremendously in my faith, and I rejoice that this is a place where people might encounter our true, living, holy, mysterious, and loving God.