I am continually amazed...

at the awesomeness of God. Even in the darkest of times, even in the worst of trials. Or maybe...especially in those times. Perhaps those are the times when we stop and see what is there in front of us all the time.

This weekend has been one of those spiritual and emotional rollercoaster times. Just when we thought things were calming down, life was going to get back to normal, and we could begin to breathe again...we were slammed with another wave of a storm we thought was past. My first reaction...unbelievably....was incredible peace. A firm assurance that no matter what happens from here, God is answering a prayer that has been a continual burden this past week. My second reaction...much more believable...was cold, stark fear. The two have warred...hour by hour and sometimes minute by minute...all weekend long. Complete peace that God is about to once again show an amazing new view of His incredible glory one minute...fighting symptoms of a panic attack the next. I spent a good part of one day completely unable to even talk on the phone...even to my closest friends (which anyone who knows me well knows is an absolute *first*!!)

It shouldn't amaze me, but it still does...how with all the billions of people on the earth (and even the hundred-however-many at church), God in His sovereignty and love places just the words and music that I need in my path at these times.

As fear was waging an all-out war against peace the other night, I pulled out The Beautiful Ache, by Leigh McLeroy, and re-read the words I blogged about here. I began to think of the songs that He has put in my mind all week (especially this one). He began to remind me of Scripture promises He has shown to be true time and time again. He sent friends who knowingly and unknowingly encouraged and comforted and distracted me...whether it was showing up with an armload of goodies (and supper!), sending a card that arrived at just the right time, or providing an opportunity for some much-needed family fun.

I didn't want to go to church this morning. I told Billy yesterday that if it weren't for the fact that I had to fill in for Kathy today while she is on vacation, I would have stayed home in bed (especially after being awake until almost 3 a.m.!) But as usual on the days that it is hardest to get there, God blessed me the most.

Our choir special this morning was "How Can I Keep From Singing?" As we sang these words...

There is an endless song, echoes in my soul,
and I hear the music ring.
And tho' the storms may come, I am holding on,
and to the rock I cling.

God reminded me that He has been our Rock through all the storms of the past few years, and He has shown Himself mightier than any storm that has come. And He has always...ALWAYS...given a song in the storm.

I missed the beginning of the sermon due to nursery issues, and started not to even get my notebook out to take notes. By the time I'd heard one sentence, I was pulling out my notebook and frantically digging a pen out of my purse.

I have to preface this by saying that Bro. Kent has been at Oak Cliff now for just over 3 years, and almost that entire time, he has been preaching verse-by-verse through the book of John on Sunday mornings. And...we are only to chapter 16. :-) I am a definite believer in expository preaching, but I think had anyone told me 3 years ago that it would take us 3 years to cover 16 chapters I would have been a bit scared. :-)

But not only have I gotten a great deal out of the individual sermons Bro. Kent has preached from the book of John each week, the overall process has given me a whole new sense of awe for the sovereignty of God and the power of His Word. I memorized Hebrews 4:12 as a child (For the Word of God is living and active, and sharper than any double-edged sword...), but this time in the book of John has made that come alive to me. No matter what is going on in my life from week to week, God meets my need and encourages and convicts and corrects from Bro. Kent's teaching from that week's passage.

This week was no exception.

From my notes (I think this was John 16:29-33...since I missed the beginning I'm not totally sure):

God didn't promise that we would have no trials. He promised peace in the midst of them, because we have a very big, omnipotent God. This is not a that comes through a denial of our circumstances, but a *real* and *living* peace.

Faith must include believing in the Word of Jesus. They (disciples) were affirming/taking Him at His word. They didn't necessarily understand it all...just believed it because He said it. Their faith involved belief that Jesus Christ is All-Sufficient.

We need to understand that our faith has some very real limitations. They had no clue...no idea...what was coming. They thought they could handle anything! Jesus checks them..."So, you think you believe? Don't be so sure of yourself and so confident. You won't be able to stand up in your own strength." Our confidence does not rest in our own strength, but in the Father...just as Jesus's did on the cross. There is coming a trial that will shake you to your very foundations. Your faith...on your own...is not able to stand up under it. It will be completely shaken.

God brings peace *in the midst of* tribulation. He *assures* us that there *will* be trials and suffering, but along with that, He assures us of *peace* through *His strength* in it. He has overcome the world!

He will give courage. Courage does NOT mean we will not be afraid. It means we will look beyond our present crisis to something better on the other side...Hope. It is hope and trust in Him in the midst of the fear.

Our peace comes because we know that He is sovereign...He is in control of *everything*. There is NOTHING that can come into our lives that has not passed through His hands. And we are to count it all joy. We can face the storms with a sense of confidence and peace *even in our anguish*. Romans 8:28

Peace and Joy go hand in hand. When we are going through a trial and we do *not* have peace, we have taken our eyes off Jesus.

I should have prefaced that with an apology, as those are my rough notes almost exactly as I hurriedly scribbled them as I tried to keep up this morning. :) Hopefully, the meaning comes through.

I realized this morning that that is exactly where we are now. We have gone through a number of storms in our lives...especially in the past few years. When we faced possibly losing Ammah Grace...and then the very real probability of brain damage...and then when my dad's health spiraled downhill later that year and he passed away right before Christmas...I thought we had been through the worst we could possibly go through. And they were hard...horribly hard. I felt fear like I had never felt before during those 6 awful weeks with Ammah Grace. I felt anguish like I had never felt before at being separated from my husband and other children during much of that time. I experienced grief and depression like I had never experienced before during my dad's last illness and death, and in the eighteen months afterward. But through it all, I very rarely even questioned God...I had bad days (lots), I struggled (tremendously), but there was no deep, shaking crisis of faith. We prayed like we had never prayed before, we clung to His promises and lived the truth of His Word as never before, and we saw Him work in ways we could never have imagined.

I realized this morning, that coming out of all of that, I really felt like my faith was strong and secure. We had gone through the fire, and we had come out singed but whole, and with much purification and growth having taken place. But as Bro. Kent said this morning, we had no idea what was about to hit us. We had no idea that we hadn't seen *anything* yet. I had no idea that my faith...which had always just innocently trusted that God was going to take care of everying and everything was going to be fine...was about to be shaken to its very core. I had no idea that for the first time in my life, I was going to question the very goodness and love of God, and the very truth of His Word.

The last two years have been, as I've said often, the hardest I could ever have imagined, in many ways. I have asked questions I never thought I would ask, and I have had doubts I would have scoffed at before. There have been days when I literally could not open my Bible without getting sick at my stomach. There have been times when I have been completely unable to pray...and frankly, I didn't want to and didn't care. But thankfully, because of His goodness and love, those times were overwhelmed by times when I saw His glory as never before. Times when I experienced His love in ways I had never experienced it before. Times when His Word was more precious than it had ever been.

As we stand on the brink of what may become another hurricane-force storm, I am so thankful to have been reminded of these things this morning:

Now I will lift my eyes in the darkest night,
for I know my Savior lives.
And I will walk with You, knowing You'll see me through,
and sing the songs You give.
How can I keep from singing your praise?
How can I ever say enough?
How amazing is your love.
How can I keep from shouting your name?
I know I am loved by the King,
and it makes my heart want to sing.
~from "How Can I Keep From Singing?",
by Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, and Ed Cash

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart!
I have overcome the world. "
~John 16:33

ETA: I have tried and tried to correct the spacing on this post. After the first centered quote, I canNOT get Blogger to double-space between paragraphs no matter what I do. It looks fine until I hit publish, and then it moves it all. Grrrrr! I'll try again to fix it later...for now, time to get ready for church again. :) In the meantime, I am sorry for the reading difficulty!

1 comment:

Joyful Days said...

I read this yesterday and was searching for the right words to leave in the comments. But I can't think of any. I am so sorry that you are having this trial. Just know that you are in my prayers. I admire the way you keep returning to the goodness of the LORD.

Continue to lean on Him,