Monday, July 11, 2011

Through fire and water...

Bless our God, O peoples;
let the sound of his praise be heard.
who has kept our soul among the living
and has not let our feet slip.
For you, O God have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried.
You brought us into the net;
you laid a crushing burden on our backs;
you let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.
~ Psalm 66:8-12

The Psalmist makes it clear that it is the LORD who afflicted them and brought them through trials. Some people refuse to accept that about God, from the revelation of the Scriptures. But it cannot be ignored. Pain and trials do come and, when they do, we must have right theology. If the Cross isn't our center and if God isn't the complete Sovereign ruler, how easy it is to fall in the day of adversity. Our Father is not mean or abusive. But His refining work is heavy and hard at times. Yet, He remains forever...our Emmanuel, God with us. He will always bring us out to a place of abundance.

"It is utterly crucial that in our darkness we affirm the wise, strong hand of God to hold us, even when we have no strength to hold him."
John Piper

I don't know if I can say that I have suffered much in my life, though in my own trials I have felt the darkness; however, I have been among those who have and continue to suffer hard. Intensely hard. Waiting for the darkness to lift for others can be just as painful. You wrestle with wanting to understand and to make sense of it all even for them. But the most humbling part is that the LORD does not allow us to fully understand why. And this is why suffering is often a sensitive subject for many in relation to the love of God. Some refuse Him because "how could He have allowed this and this to happen...?" But, we miss the point entirely when we try to reason with the sovereignty of God and the pain and sufferings of mankind. The minute we start trying to reconcile those two things in our feeble understanding, we miss the glory of the Gospel and the power of the Cross for this grieving world. The only thing we're called to comprehend and search the depth of is His love...perhaps because that is the only thing that is eternal. The only thing which we were made to intimately know.

I have been thinking of 1 John 4:16, which in one translation says, "We have come to understand and trust the love which God hath in us." We can never fully understand that love, but we can begin to understand it even here and now, and as we understand we trust. This means that we trust all that the love of God does; all He gives and does not give, all He says and all He does not say; To it all we say, by His most loving enabling -I trust.
~ Amy Carmichael

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. ~ Romans 8:18

We can and will know some of this glory here on earth through the fulfillment of His promises and the indwelling of His Spirit...

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living!
~ Psalm 27:13

Excerpts from Amy Carmichael's Candle In the Dark that have touched and moved me deeply this past month.

More and more I feel that love is the golden secret of life. The very air of heaven is love, for God is love and love never fails. So go on loving not only the loveless but the unlovable, the difficult, the perplexing, the disappointing - unto the end.

All around us is the great, dark, unloving world. How very few care for our Savior; even those who are called by His name sometimes offer Him a very cold kind of affection. He said on the cross, I thirst, and even now His love is athirst for love. Form the habit of using everything that speaks of His presence to remind you of Him, and as you are so reminded, lift up your heart in loving adoration. "Lord, I love Thee; I who am dust of Thy dust, I love Thee; I worship Thee; I adore Thee."If only you do this, then of one thing I am sure. You will not only love one another so tenderly that unkindness will be impossible, but every man, woman, and child who comes to you will feel some touch of His kindness. Love will flow round everyone and far beyond - who can tell how far? And best of all, there will be refreshment for Him as of a drink of cool water on a hot day.

And like Mephibosheth, we wait...we wait. Because Christ is all we have, and He is our Greatest Good. I pray to come to know His love more fully through the fire and water.


MsMills said...

He will do it!

Cathy said...

Thanks for posting this, it was encouraging. I've read a little about Amy Carmichael, but I didn't know she had written a book. She was an amazing woman.

Nolan said...

I love the way Romans 7 and 8 address sufferings of the flesh, but the hope we have in Christ.
James 1:13 and John 16:33 are great promises through trials too.

Erika said...

Thanks for the comments, friends. :)