Late Wednesday evening found us drinking hot chocolate, talking lively as somehow, stories and history of our past started bubbling out of each of our children. These stories focussed on a number of times when our family has been injured by other Christians or greatly criticized unjustly by others. It is painful at times to see the results of hurts through the eyes of my children when I know that they have been deeply wounded in our own journey towards the Lord.
From the beginning of scripture, we see that evil and tests are around every corner. Cain killed Abel out of jealousy. There are Ahabs; Jezebels; wicked and selfish kings, including Saul who was after David to kill him; giants in the land, Hamans who want to kill all the jews; Judas's and Job's friends who misunderstand; Pharisees--God's leaders--who become the murders of the righteous.
I did not know or understand this when I first started out in ministry. I was shocked by how very cruel people could be--poisonous in some cases. There have been trials in our lives that I will probably never write about, because I believe loyal love is an important standard in my life and there are those I am not willing to expose. Yet, the battles our family has been through are numerous and quite difficult.
And, in a few cases, the wounds are still fresh enough on our children's hearts, that I can still see they have been deeply hurt. "No wonder I have been tempted to wonder if God loves us or to doubt in people's ability to be faithful. If you look at our lives, it is amazing that we have even kept beileving God, with all that He has put us through!"
Yet, these have been the stories of our lives. It is in the midst of trial that our children really see what is is like to trust God. They will have battles if they intend to live godly lives. They learn how to live godly lives by hearing our words as well are watching our faith.
There are so many other ways to experience deep pain and sadness. There are wars, illnesses, lack of money, wickedness seemingly going unhindered, no community, loneliness, heartache.
Yet, above and beyond all, there is God.
I love Psalm 22, the prophetic psalm that was on Jesus's lips when he died.
"My God, my god, why have you forsaken me?"--this to the jews was the title of the Psalm as they knew the first lines to define what psalms were being addressed. And so Jesus had this as a comfort in his heart as he heard it all the years, because the first line did define for him the temptation he had at the cross. Verse 2 says, "I cry by day, but you do not answer, And by night, but I have not rest,
but then the next verse says it all, "Yet, thou art holy, Oh thou who art enthroned on the praises of Israel, in thee our fathers trusted. They trusted and you delivered them. To you they cried out, and were delivered; In you they trusted and were not disappointed."
This is our hope--we call out to God. We call out to Him who is our Father and longs for us to come to Him. He is faithful. He is holy. He is deeply involved in our lives.
There are those battles that go on in our heart, when no one else can see--Is God really good? Does He really care? Can I really trust Him? Is He ever going to answer our prayer? Can He forgive me, again?
And then we are tempted to take things into our own hands--whatever that might be. Why do I know this? Because I have lived in this place many times.
Even now, our family is in a crisis. Yet, always we have a choice. Will we trust God. Will we celebrate His reality? Will we believe in the darkness even when we cannot see any way out?
Fatih is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. We believe, not in what is around us or what we can see. We believe in what we cannot see--God, His promises, His faithfulness, His ways which are different and above our ways--this is what His Word tells us. Will we listen to Satan's voice, the accusations that God does not see us? that God does not care? That God cannot help us this time?
Faith--This is the only way to please God. To trust Him. Without faith, it is impossible to please Him, we read in Hebrews. Faith is brightest when we live in the darkest hours--the most impossible time to believe.
It is why I began this blog, I take joy! Through all the difficulties of our lives, I did not want to be overcome by the darkness, I did not want to be a victim. I made a decision: I will take joy, I will choose light, I will live in forgiveness.
I choose to believe in His goodness and not look at the dark. I choose to celebrate life because I am redeemed and Paul tells me in Romans 8 that nothing can separate me from God's love. I choose to be gracious because God has been gracious to me.
God allows us these trials that we may live boldy before others to show that we are not those who shrink back, but those who believe.
But God also cares deeply for us--He was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. He understands your wounds. He cares deeply that you are feeling pressure, hurt, sadness or harm. He deeply loves you. But we must open the eyes of our heart and look for that love and wait for His strength and answers.
It is why I wrote Dancing with my Father. God, my father, is in charge. He knows what He is doing. He knows what He is building into our lives when we do not understand what is going on. I will hold His hand, I will praise His name, I will wait for His timing, because He will be faithful.
Though we are all tempted to trust in man or money or despair in our lives, may God be our hope today. May we bring Him deep pleasure as He sees us praising Him, loving Him, hoping in Him, so that when He has brought forth justice in our lives and answered our longings and prayers, we will have had the privilege of living a story which will indeed show His reality and His faithfulness to be true.
Hold on and worship all you precious ones who are living in the midst of great difficulties. He cares for you. He is with you. He loves you. May you and may I and my family always rest in Him.
We will be like Jesus in the prophetic psalm 22: 22 and following:
I will tell of Thy name to my brethren, In the midst of the assembly, I will praise Him, and stand in awe of Him, ..., For He has not despised nor abhored the affliction of the afflicted. Neither has he hidden His face from him; When when he cried to Him for help, he heard.
I am praying for so many of you today who are hurting. May you know His love, generosity, grace and peace and may you feel His abiding love. Grace and peace.