"If we don't know the truth, the enemy can easily keep you and me afraid and in bondage." Initially, I said in response to Micca's thoughts of betrayal, that I didn't feel betrayed by God. Yet to be honest, I have at different times. I don't feel betrayed at this phase but rather wonder why God's not working in my circumstance or more accurately, why I can't see any evidence of His work.
I love deeply the story of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Mary and Martha, much like you and me, were focused on their needs from their perspective. I can't imagine--scratch that--I can imagine (and know) how it feels to be "abandon" by a best friend(s) at the point in time needed most. Yet, we can see in retrospect that Jesus didn't abandon them. He wasn't passive or nonchalant about Lazarus' illness. Rather, it was that Jesus wanted to raise a dead man instead of heal a sick man.
I've reflected on this story numerous times in relation to my own life the last 22 months. I can imagine the glory of Jesus raising a dead marriage instead of simply healing a broken marriage. I cling to the belief and hope that God can and will do this just as He resurrected a dead brother for two sisters.
Jesus was asking Mary and Martha to believe. One of His goals was to transform their unbelief to belief. Help me overcome my unbelief. Mark 9:24 To ask such means we are asking to no longer have unbelief. We are asking for belief. We are asking for faith. We are asking for our faith to be increased.
Pain. Fear of pain. Urg. "It's an ache that you long to bypass for the rest of your life. Yet, you live in constant worry that it's lurking just around the corner everywhere you go and in everything you do." Bypass. Lurking. Have I ever asked God "Where are You? Where were You? Don't You care about me?" Have I asked? Oh brother, have I.
The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17 The first sentence, I buy. Yes, He is with me and is mighty to save. But, takes great delight in me? Rejoices over me with singing? Me specifically, Paula? I have to believe it because it's God's Word and I believe everything in it. However, do I understand it, feel it, really know it? No. Those words are very hard for me to imagine or fathom. I can grasp His love for mankind and everyone in general but for God to specifically and intently feel this depth of love and delight in me? Love, yes. Delight?
But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is in this day, to save many people alive. Genesis 50:20
"When [we] can let down those walls of fears and trust others again--especially God--we'll find healing and restoration just as Joseph did. Instead, we often want to cling to the belief that denial protects us from the pain and fear that comes with rejection, but the reality is that it only allows our wounds and fears to fester and grow." Read that again. First, denial does not protect us from pain. Believing that is false and only causes more pain and trouble. Second, denial is like gasoline to the fire...the flames only grow bigger, hotter, and out of control. I don't believe that is what any of us want--wounds and fears growing but that is what we choose when we refuse to acknowledge and keep denying.
"He may allow me to go through these things. It's not to cause me undue pain or fear, but rather it's to accomplish spiritual growth." Allow. Not cause. Undue pain. Accomplish. Growth. "Sometimes what God allows shakes us to the core, but He never intends to terrify us." Shaken to the core? Yes, I have been. Terrified? At one time seemingly. "In the end we'll find it's worth every heartache." Like finding the pot at the end of the rainbow, surely we will see our pot full of worth for all the pain. To give credit where credit is due (God), yes, I must acknowledge a lot of good has come from my long journey of heartache but I still desire to see the 'ultimate' in good. Yes, if I had to choose, I'd choose what He's done in me during this trial over the fulfillment of my heart's desire. Did I really say that? Do I really meant that? If not, I genuinely want to. I'd have to because of the growth and changes in me and my relationship with Christ.
The story of Micca's neighbor, Kathy, who is diabetic and was bitten by a brown recluse spider, is incredible. The combination of the bite and her diabetes caused significant loss of sight.
Can you imagine her anger and bitterness? To lose so much of her sight over a wasteless chance of a rare bite seems so senseless. I can imagine her questions. Why me? Why God? Where's God's protection and love? Yet to her amazement, her husband was the exact opposite of her. He was supportive, full of faith and reassurance. What's so amazing about that? Well her husband had fallen away from God and had not been attending church. He was faithful to drive Kathy to church every week but not attending with her. Until, one day he did and not only that, he rededicated his life to Jesus. So does Kathy now see the point? the purpose? Does she see why she was chosen? Yes because her loss and pain was her husband's gain--a renewed spiritual life with God. Fifteen years she worshipped alone. For 15 years! Then, one "coincidental" bite led to a joyous reunion--worship of her First Love with her first love. I did Kathy's words. My suffering is nothing--n.o.t.h.i.n.g.--compared to Christ's suffering for my salvation.
Kathy felt she saw what God was up to but many times it is very hard to see His hand and His handy work. For me, it seems almost impossible many times. Yet, I can make speculations of what He might be doing and why, or rather the good it will bring. I keep coming back to the sufferings of Christ. If He suffered and we are to be like Him, then must we not also suffer? One of my daily email devotionals has been going through a series on suffering and I find it very poignant this chapter came at the climax of that devotional."The only way to see worth in our pain is to realize it has purpose." Even if we don't know or see that purpose, we must know it does have a purpose. Suffering does transform us and gives us a ministry of compassion to help and understand others in like situations. I must remind myself that God is faithful and He does use every situation. So, we are not suffering in vain but rather for the greater good, of either ourselves or another.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3
The Hebrew word for 'know' is yada. The Yada Yada Sisterhood comes to mind. "It is the deep emotional experience and bonding between two people, when one is truly able to feel the emotions of the other." Reading this I immediately thought of the bond between two females. It seems there is no other bond much like it...very unique in it's own way. The bond can be even more powerful when one or both females do not have a husband. Though I have been blessed with a few deep relationships, I still feel as though I long for another to feel exactly how I do, to know what my heart feels in the depths of it and in the quietest of places. I long for the yada of another to know my exact pain and heartache. Yet, that is not possible fully in another human.
Jesus is familiar with suffering. Even though He was never married/divorced nor experienced what I have, He knows my heart and my mind better than anyone, even myself. So He does know exactly how it feels to be me in my exact situation; He knows how my heart felt in the depths of love; He knows how my heart and another bonded so deeply in love; He knows how my heart feels absent of that; He knows. So my greatest Yada is with Him but He has blessed me with other yadas too.
"I can't tell you how many times I struggled with trusting God again after Porter's death. I mean, He's God. He could have saved Porter. At the time, I couldn't see past my fears. Therefore, I couldn't see God, let alone trust Him."
Jesus told Martha that she would SEE the glory of God IF she believed. Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God? John 11:40
"If you and I will choose faith over fear, we will see the glory of God turn our worries into life and blessings." Can you imagine if each worry was transformed into a blessing? How many blessings would you have? The more worries we have, the more blessings we will receive WHEN we choose faith and allow God to turn those worries into blessings. Count your worries. Choose faith. Watch and then count your blessings.
Micca shared how she saw a very familiar and well-known verse in a very new light. John 3:16. We all know it. Yet her revelation was profound. "If God can trust you and me, then we can certainly trust Him. To think that God entrusted His Son to a broken, fallen, mixed-up world shouts one thing: Your parents may not be faithful; your spouse may not be faithful; your children, your friend, your boss, or even you may not be entirely faithful--but your God is always faithful! If placing His Son in the hands of a scared teenage girl isn't trust, I don't know what is. But choosing to stand on this truth is a step toward fearless living." How profound. Yes, He is God and He knew He could trust Mary because He is God. Yet, the act of trusting a mere mortal, a young human life with His Almighty Son...that does speak volumes. It speaks trust. It speaks love.
I chuckled over the beginning of this: "He doesn't ask me to develop a case of amnesia in which all memory of how others have hurt me is erased. He simply asks me to let Him open the wound and drain it of its poison." I chuckled over the amnesia yet in reality I do believe He does ask us to forget. We've always heard forgiveness is not forgetting. Yet, what is forgiveness? It means to act as though the offense never happened. So, no we don't mentally and physically forget but yes our actions are to reflect a level of forgetting...we are to act and behave and love toward the offender as though the offense never happened to us.
Open the wound and drain it of its poison. That is profound. Hurt, bitterness, unforgiveness, anger, resentment...they are poison in our wounds. If we let those things sit in our hearts and lives, they will consume us and kill us just like poison. I love this imagery of a wound and God draining the poison out of it. He drains the poison so the purpose can overtake and blossom.
After 1900+ words, I think I should abruptly stop, let your minds rest and soak up His goodness spewed from my feeble lips (fingers).
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