There were seasons of the sometimes-struggle: things in the Grand Scheme that shouldn’t have carried the weight they did. It didn’t surprise me when hate came from unbelievers. But it did when unkindness came from a believing friend. That one took me a surprisingly long time to get over. During that time, it was the closest I had ever felt to Jesus. Oh, Lord, who loves even the outcasts.
8 For the Sovereign Lord,
who brings back the outcasts of Israel, says:
I will bring others, too,
besides my people Israel.” (Isaiah 56:8, NLT)
Another difficult season presented itself, and perseverance seemed impossible. I almost quit. In a snowy winter, being back in the woods, I was delightfully home-bound to hibernate and process and pray.
2 Moses summoned all the Israelites and said to them, “You have seen with your own eyes everything the Lord did in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to his whole country— 3 all the great tests of strength, the miraculous signs, and the amazing wonders. 4 But to this day the Lord has not given you minds that understand, nor eyes that see, nor ears that hear! 5 For forty years I led you through the wilderness, yet your clothes and sandals did not wear out. 6 You ate no bread and drank no wine or other alcoholic drink, but he provided for you so you would know that he is the Lord your God. (Deuteronomy 29:2-6, NLT)
I prayed a lot that winter. Friends prayed for me and over me. I saw the battlefield. I learned that prayer is not a last defense. When God moved, I was stunned and speechless. I wondered why it surprised me so, when he is sovereign in everything.
This year I planned for balance and simplicity. My one word, restore. But winter brought loss after loss. A mother-in-law. A father. A sister’s (ongoing) health crisis. The loss of a friend. A niece. This heart, pummeled.
These months have felt like a persistent storm.
49 Remember your promise to me;
it is my only hope.
50 Your promise revives me;
it comforts me in all my troubles. (Psalm 119:49-50, NLT)
In this world, there will be trouble. There will be things that wound, that don’t seem right (because they aren’t!), that are brutal and senseless. There will be things that haunt and shame. The wounding doesn’t have to defeat me like it once did.
71 My suffering was good for me,
for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees.
72 Your instructions are more valuable to me
than millions in gold and silver. (Psalm 119:71-72)
When the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness where he would be tempted by Satan, Jesus responded to the enemy with clarity, “No, the scriptures say …”
I will still cry over losses. I will still wrestle with wounding. But God’s Spirit is inside of me. His Word strengthens and instructs me. Without him, the truth and trustworthiness of him, how would I hope?
Father God, because of who you are, your sovereignty and mighty power, I don’t need to rely on my own shaky hopes–I can stand confidently on your word. Your instructions are more valuable to me than millions in gold and silver.