This is going to be a long series because it will combine Biblical lessons that our family and very dear friends have studied and the circumstances that precipitated those studies. Periodically, therefore, I will share some of these experiences to demonstrate the reality of our studies. Since this is a lengthy blog, you might want to break it up into 2-3 parts during the week.
The first is a dialogue between a precious friend and myself. Her child has a tragic, chronic, life-threatening, terribly painful disease. The entire family are devoted Christians who have had their faith tested repeatedly under the most trying circumstances. Yet, they hold onto their Savior with everything in them just as surely as He holds onto them. “Peggy’s” son was in the hospital yet again as she wrote this, obviously from the depths of her heart:
( First email from “Peggy” ):
There tends to be a lot of doubts and self blame when we don’t see results.
Keeping in mind that it’s not depending on us but God; not our time but God’s timing. And it has a process, hence we need to be patient and keep praying. Confident that God will answer according to His will because He is faithful.
In my desperate need for God to manifest and glorify Himself in my son’s life, I find myself not knowing how to pray, for I have prayed many prayers. I find myself not knowing how to be joyful and not finding delight in anything. I am just holding on to God for only He can answer me and fill me with peace and joy. Some days it’s hard to breathe when I see my son in so much pain and he tells me that he is so tired. What is a mother to say? “Hang in there and continue trusting God” and my son answers me “God does answer, (but) He does not hear my prayers anymore”. Once again I can’t breathe. I know it’s God that sustains us and I know He loves us very deeply. My prayer is no longer in words but tears. I don’t know how to pray anymore Barbara (End of Peggy’s first email)
It is so hard to know what to pray when you see someone you love who is in pain and in pain for so long, isn’t it? I watch my 21 yr. old grandson who hasn’t even been able to graduate high school because of his chronic Lyme disease. I’m tempted so often to ask “How long, Lord, how much longer?” But lately I’ve been thinking a great deal along this line of dealing with a crossroad. Say I’m at a crossroad and I have to choose which road to go down. One road – and so often it seems the easier road – will lead me to doubt, anger, fear and despair. However, at least that way I can just let all my emotions loose. The other road seems harder but I know I have to choose it. That harder road is the one of trusting Him even when I don’t understand, the road of absolute surrender to His will. Yet, inside me, down deep inside me, I know that road will give me peace. The biggest thing I know is that He will be with me on that road. I have to choose it. I’ve encountered these crossroads too often in the past not to know the correct road to choose. In the beginning of my walk with the Lord I chose the “easy” road of doubt and fear. But after a while when I became so miserable, I ran back into His arms and found peace in surrendering to His will.
We just discovered that my husband needs open heart surgery – quite drastic open heart surgery. A part of me just wishes the Lord would just make all this disappear. But He won’t. He has this road He wants us to walk – and I get to choose which way I will do it. So, I choose the one that He will walk with me, the one of Surrender, the one that will, ultimately, lead me to peace. Yey, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me. My good Shepherd will lead me safely down this road – and He alone knows where it leads. Wherever it leads, I have a Companion. (End of my e-mail to her)
“Peggy’s” final reply to me :
That is so true. I too choose the hard road knowing that our God will be with me. I fear to walk without the Lord. I have recognized long ago my desperate need for Him. So the hard road it will be for me. I will pray for all your family too.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom (Psalms 111:10)
(End of Peggy’s last email)
(My next dear friend is the mother of two pre-teen girls. They were the innocent, repeated victims of a sexual predator. Fortunately, both these girls have a deep relationship with the Lord Jesus as does the rest of their family. My friend recently wrote me that she was praying for my daughter-in-law and grandson who have been suffering from chronic Lyme disease for four years. This is the e-mail she sent. It is an interesting example of one who has gone through a trial praying compassionately for others who are going through trials which is why I wanted to include it. Compassion is one of the fruits of enduring trials with a surrendered heart. I found it interesting how she, too, referenced James 1 because it has appeared so often throughout this series).
God is able. He always has been and He always will be able to do the impossible. Then you’ll know He’s God. I will continue praying for both of them.
I have been led to consider praying for joy for my family. I think joy is found in trials. God says so.
I am standing on this promise:
James 1:2-5 (the little brother of Jesus – pretty important position to be in)
Consider it PURE joy , my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
When I was studying trials, I realized that joy was in so many verses with the trials. James didn’t just consider it a good thing to face trials. He considered it PURE JOY. It’s being able to see things through God’s eyes so you can bear the trial. I typed in verse 5 because so many times when I feel like I can not make it through the trial, God gives me insight into why something is happening. That helps me bear the trial with wisdom realizing God must have thought something of me to include me in His plan.
If He doesn’t give you insight into the situation at first, wait, He is maturing you until you are ready for the wisdom He will give you. You are going from point A to point B and the only way to get there is to follow His path in His timing.
He really does think much of Ang and JP to give them this trial. The goal is to be able to see it through God’s eyes. That’s wisdom.
I love you,
Stand strong in Christ and in His word (end of e-mail)
The following testimony is mine. It, too, references James 1.
Let’s go back to James 1: 2 – 4 but this time I am going to use the Lindsell Study Bible because it includes a word I especially identify with:
Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete.
Squirm, like in coward, complainer, like in I really don’t want to face this and I really hope it just goes away. That’s me. Therefore, if I’m supposed to count it all joy when I face trials of any kind, the Lord and I both know Who is going to have to get me through them. Squirming to me is the opposite of resting in the love and goodness of the Lord. It is a denial of what the Lord wants for my life here and now.
An example: For two years I was on daily pain killers because of pain in the 6-8 range. In May 2009 I had emergency surgery because I had what the doctors called a “twisted colon, a kink in my colon.” For those two years the doctors couldn’t diagnose the problem because my colon would kink and unkink (it sounds funny, but it didn’t feel funny). They removed one foot of my colon and I discovered that the Lord had literally intervened in my life since most people die from this ailment. My oldest and dearest friend asked the Lord for what He wanted her to pray during this time and was led to Psalm 30: 2 – 3: “ Oh Lord my God, I pleaded with you, and you gave me my health again. You brought me back from the brink of the grave, from death itself, and here I am alive!” The doctors operated before my colon burst and I went into sepsis. I was in the hospital nine days. Yet, during the entire time I was so aware that the Lord had “tucked me under His wing.” On the eighth day, however, all I wanted to do was go home for Mother’s Day that Sunday. Unfortunately, there were signs that was not going to happen. My son-in-law called and had a word for me. He said: you may not be where you want to be, but you’re where God wants you to be. Oh, oh. That Friday night I knew the Lord and I needed a really big heart-to-heart talk. He led me to James1: 2 – 5. Before my husband, John, went home that night, he felt that he was to read some verses to me. Of course, they were James 1: 2 – 5. I had my Lindsell Bible in my room. The words “ don’t try to squirm” leaped off the page and I knew I had to surrender. While I knew that’s what had to be done, and I wanted to do it, I also knew in my own strength there wasn’t any way in the world that I could. So I asked the Lord to do the work within me. He’s so faithful. He’s done things like that so often in my life where it’s all been Him. The next morning the doctor came in and told me we had a problem: my blood tests showed that I had an infection. The idea of being home for Mother’s Day was rapidly disappearing but – PTL!! – I didn’t squirm! If the Lord wanted me in the hospital for Mother’s Day, that’s where I was supposed to be. I had peace. Isn’t the Lord wonderful! The doctor said he was going to try to give me an antibiotic IV and do a test in the early afternoon to see if the infection was gone. My entire family had come to see me that Saturday afternoon and I hadn’t even told my husband there was a possibility I might go home. They simply knew I had an infection. All of them were there when my doctor came in with a big smile on his face to announce that everything was fine and I got to shout Happy Mother’s Day to everyone. They were thrilled. But I was more than thrilled – He had done it – He’d made sure I hadn’t kept on squirming but had surrendered to His will!
Postscript: Eight months after surgery I still had the pain. The doctors had no explanation for that since they were convinced the surgery would have removed it. However, one Sunday something startling happened. I had come to the point where I was ready to totally surrender to the Lord. I went quietly up to the altar and even stood apart from everyone else there. I simply prayed if this was how the Lord wanted me to continue my life that, like Paul, He would give me the grace sufficient to do so. I went back to my seat feeling at peace. Nothing had happened; I had simply totally surrendered. Two days later on Tuesday it all of a sudden hit me that I was not in pain; I had gone two days without pain. I waited until Thursday and then I told my husband – I had no pain. That weekend I told my family. I have been without any pain at all in that area since that Sunday that I surrendered to the Lord. That was years ago. Do I understand why the Lord “scripted” all this like He did? No. Yet I do know that He is the Lord Who does all things well, Who loves me, and is the One I can trust no matter what.
NEXT WEEK; THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE and 2CORINTHIANS 4
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