No Flowers Wear So Lovely…

“The trial of your faith.”
1 Peter 1:7

by Charles Spurgeon

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Faith untried may be true faith, but it is sure to be little faith, and it is likely to remain dwarfish so long as it is without trials. Faith never prospers so well as when all things are against her: tempests are her trainers, and lightnings are her illuminators. When a calm reigns on the sea, spread the sails as you will, the ship moves not to its harbour; for on a slumbering ocean the keel sleeps too. Let the winds rush howling forth, and let the waters lift up themselves, then, though the vessel may rock, and her deck may be washed with waves, and her mast may creak under the pressure of the full and swelling sail, it is then that she makes headway towards her desired haven. No flowers wear so lovely a blue as those which grow at the foot of the frozen glacier; no stars gleam so brightly as those which glisten in the polar sky; no water tastes so sweet as that which springs amid the desert sand; and no faith is so precious as that which lives and triumphs in adversity. Tried faith brings experience. You could not have believed your own weakness had you not been compelled to pass through the rivers; and you would never have known God’s strength had you not been supported amid the water-floods. Faith increases in solidity, assurance, and intensity, the more it is exercised with tribulation. Faith is precious, and its trial is precious too.

Let not this, however, discourage those who are young in faith. You will have trials enough without seeking them: the full portion will be measured out to you in due season. Meanwhile, if you cannot yet claim the result of long experience, thank God for what grace you have; praise him for that degree of holy confidence whereunto you have attained: walk according to that rule, and you shall yet have more and more of the blessing of God, till your faith shall remove mountains and conquer impossibilities.

I am thankful to a dear friend for sending this and for Charles Spurgeon who through these words, helped pull me out of a miry pit of despair.  I marvel that God gave these words to Charles over 100 years ago knowing that they would one day be used to help rescue me.

Over the past several days I found myself way beyond the end of myself.  I was in the depths of grief, sorrow, and exhaustion.  Tempted by anger and frustration.  I was overwhelmed by discouragement and felt I was being consumed with a lack of hope for the temporal future.  I cried out to the Lord with the only words I could muster up…”Help me, Lord!”  “Help me, Lord!”  “Help me, Lord!”  I felt that I could not bear the current disappointments.  Let alone all of the one’s that were behind me and potentially in front of me.  I felt shattered.  Broken.  Bruised.  I didn’t know what to ask God for, but…”Help!”  My heart was growing cool and I despised the feeling.  “Help!”  I got myself home, kissed my babies, and put myself to bed.  The morning brought the same sadness.  My sweet hubby listened, consoled, encouraged, wiped the tears, and reminded me of God’s warm love and care for us always but especially in the last 7 months.  I had been blinded and was only able to see the difficulties and disappointments.  The next hours I spent with my Father, asking for a renewed strength, a new vision, fresh hope, and a softened heart.  I told Him I would not quit, I did not want to leave the post for which He had called me too, but I needed HIM to enable me.  “Help!”

That Sunday our pastor (and dear friend) started a series on suffering that was like balm to my weary and aching soul.

2 Corinthians 4:6-12

6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

Just two day’s before the message I had felt as if I was hanging on by a “thread.”  The thought of the mere “thread” was frightening.  The deep waters of sorrow felt like they were beginning to fill my mouth and I was only able to gasp for air from time to time.  The air, in His mercy, was Truth- His truth.  In my fragility and weakness my loving Father kept taking my mind to the cross.  Every thought of despair was instantly counteracted with visions of what Jesus Christ did for me, the suffering He had endured for my sake- I know not suffering as He does!  I found that a part of me wanted to go under water so as not to have to fight for each breath any longer.  But the visions of the life I have in Him were too bright to ever completely give way to the despair.  Then in pastor’s sermon (as if hand delivered from heaven) he referred to the feeling in the midst of suffering as hanging on by a “thread.”  Exactly how I had worded my own estate.  He reminded me that though it may feel like one tiny wimpy little “thread.”  That thread has greater tinsel strength than over 400 tons…it will tether us, He will not cut it!!!  Instantly the flood of warmth and love from my Lord Jesus washed over me as I was reminded that He was never going to let me go, the despair took me to a depth I have never known, but I was still in the palm of His loving hands.  He allowed me to go and feel those depths for a purpose, for a strengthening of faith, for more passionate love for Him, and for a deepening of trust in Him.  He allowed me to see over the edge of that cliff to remind me of how wonderful it is in His green pastures.  He is not going to let me fall of that cliff.  In that I knew that I could lose everything, and He would be enough.

Pressed but not crushed

Perplexed but not in despair

Persecuted but not abandoned

Struck down but not destroyed

Philippians 3:8-10  What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 1I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,

One of the greatest evidences of God’s love to those that love him is, to send them afflictions, with grace to bear them. ~ John Wesley

Romans 8:38-39. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
“I am afraid that all the grace that I have got of my comfortable and easy times and happy hours, might almost lie on a penny. But the good that I have received from my sorrows, and pains, and griefs, is altogether incalculable … Affliction is the best bit of furniture in my house.”  ~ Charles Spurgeon

 

Psalm139:1-12  O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
7 Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9 If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.

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Psalm 143   Lord, hear my prayer,
listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and righteousness
come to my relief.
2 Do not bring your servant into judgment,
for no one living is righteous before you.
3 The enemy pursues me,
he crushes me to the ground;
he makes me dwell in the darkness
like those long dead.
4 So my spirit grows faint within me;
my heart within me is dismayed.
5 I remember the days of long ago;
I meditate on all your works
and consider what your hands have done.
6 I spread out my hands to you;
I thirst for you like a parched land.[a]
7 Answer me quickly, Lord;
my spirit fails.
Do not hide your face from me
or I will be like those who go down to the pit.
8 Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life.
9 Rescue me from my enemies, Lord,
for I hide myself in you.
10 Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
lead me on level ground.
11 For your name’s sake, Lord, preserve my life;
in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble.
12 In your unfailing love, silence my enemies;
destroy all my foes,
for I am your servant.

 

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