When Dwayne asked me to marry him, he said "I want you to come on this wild adventure with me. I don't know what's in store, but I want us to do it together." And I said "Yes."
I said "Yes" to uncertainty.
I said "Yes" to "in sickness and in health."
I said "Yes" to "for richer or poorer."
I said "YES."
And I said yes to Jesus. I put no terms on that. He gave me life when I deserve death. I deserve hell: eternal separation from Him and all things that are good and lovely. He made a way for me to enter the Holy Place through Jesus and nothing I can do in this life will ever make me worthy of that sacrifice. All God asks of me is that I be willing to be made like His Son (since I have been made an equal heir with Christ), giving all of me, letting Him purify me and cleanse me, even unto death. I know that sounds crazy to many, but again, anything good I get in this life and in the one to come, is FAR better than I deserve because of my sinful ways. If I spent the rest of my life in misery but with Christ in my life, I would STILL be getting better than I deserve.
Why? Why do we trust in the face of adversity? The way I see it is that He is my hope. There is no hope aside from Him or apart from Him. None of the stuff we have been through makes any sense outside the lens of Christ. Suffering becomes bearable when it has a purpose. If you know that removing a splinter will hurt in the short term, but bring relief from pain in the long term: it's worth it. If you search bible.cc for the word "suffering," it is mentioned 218 times and most of those times are in reference to the Believer's suffering. Our suffering produces faith. Perseverance. Trust. Holiness. We are being made like Jesus. The Holy One. The Redeemer. Our Beloved.
I think why I'm writing this is two fold:
1) I wholly desire for Christ to be glorified in the middle of our trials. We aren't always going to respond perfectly, but I pray that somehow even in our wrestling with those things, that others are spurned into Him.
2) There are people in our lives who know bits and pieces of our situation, and, though perhaps they've had the best of intentions, have spoken death to our souls by judging our circumstances. For many people, our trials are due to a lack of faith or a lack of work on our part. Sadly, even members of the Body of Christ tend to judge others based on their circumstances without knowing the situation fully. If a family is struggling financially, it must be because they are recklessly spending. If the husband can't seem to get a job or stay at one job for years and years, it must be because he is incompetent, lazy, and doesn't care for his family. If a mom chooses to homeschool her children, despite financial hardship, it must just be because she is lazy and selfish, not that she is following the calling on her life, or trying to protect her children from a failing public school system.
All of this is changing me. Making me more humble. Making me look at my brothers and sisters around me and instead of making assumptions about their lifestyle or their thought process, wanting to get to know the real them. It makes me want to give like crazy. I know that if the Lord ever does see fit to bless us with an abundance, that that will flow through us like water to the leaves on the tree.
Being completely honest, all of this is making me long for the Acts 2 church where everyone sold their possessions and gave to others as they had need. We have been part of this in many ways in the past, both in giving and receiving, but I'm longing to see the whole Body participate. I know the joy in both the giver and receiver would be a beautiful thing. This was God's design. For the Body to care for the Body. I long for Christ's return when there will be no needs among us. I'm longing for goodness in this desert.
Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
2Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. (Isaiah 55)
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths,a you are there.
9If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast. (Psalm 139)
Not only so, but wec also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Romans 5)
I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
14Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27)