Tears to Joy

Tears to Joy: May 2012

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Don't Get Burned

I’ve been thinking a lot about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Just when they though their suffering was at its peak, they were thrown into a fiery furnish but to their astonishment, they were not burned. What kept them from being burned? The Lord’s presence. What kept them from frantically losing their mind and endless worries? The Lord’s presence.

Recently, I feel as though I’ve been tossed into the refiner’s fire myself. There are days when I feel at the end of my rope. The Holy Spirit brings the words of Isaiah, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine…When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you.” The only thing that keeps me from getting burned during these toasty times is the presence of the Lord.

At times the flames surround us, and we fear complete and total devastation. In these times, I tend to worry and think of every possible scenario. I begin planning out my next moves, based on all the possibilities. I am reminded of the past which at times threatens to strangle me. And then, gently the Spirit nudges me with these words, “Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new…I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43).

The Sovereignty of God is what gives me hope for tomorrow – hope that today’s hurts are not in vain. They are preparations for the future. So, if you are going through your own time of suffering, draw near to God. Allow His presence to comfort you and give you peace so that you will not get burned. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego could have grumbled against the Lord for allowing such persecution when they were doing all they could to obey and follow God. They didn’t. They trusted in Him regardless of the outcome.  “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire…but even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up,”

Will you trust God regardless of the outcome?  Will I?


Monday, May 14, 2012

Learning to Trust (and not fear) in the Storms

Fear. We’ve all experienced it. Fear can be crippling. It can paralyze us. Fear can also be good; fear keeps children from touching a hot stove. Fear keeps us from jumping into the lion’s den. So how do we keep a healthy fear from turning into a consuming fear? Several years ago, I was struck by lightening. It was a terrifying, death-defying experience. For months afterwards, I would cower in fear when thunderstorms came our way. It took time for me to overcome this fear. Why is it some fears are easy to overcome, while others threaten to strangle us?

This year has been one of the hardest of my life, for reasons I won’t write about on my blog. Perhaps the most difficult part has been (and is) fear of the unknown. We make plans and have our lives mapped out. Then life happens. Circumstances rivet our world, causing us either to trust in spite of the fear or to surrender to its grip. 

I wish I could say that I’ve always chosen to trust, but sadly, I can be quite the worry wart. I worry about things that are out of my control. I know that each day has enough troubles of its own, but it’s so easy to contemplate all the possible consequences that tomorrow might bring. The Bible encourages us to take every thought captive – man, that is sooooo hard!

I am reading a book by Ruth Graham called Fear not tomorrow, for God is Already There. I’m learning to trust – for it seems the opposite of fear. Mrs. Graham writes, “I realized that I had been putting God in a box. If I just did the right things, said the right things, gave Him the time, then He would show up. But I saw that my trust in God could not rest on any experience I may or may not have. My trust, my belief in God, had to rest on the fact that He was with me, whether I felt Him or not” (p. 42-43).  Faith is trusting God when we don’t see evidence of His presence. I don’t know why God allows what He allows, but I know He is in control, even when things seem to be spinning out of control. He is our Peace.

Graham goes on to say, “It is when we are undone, messy, and vulnerable that God does his deep, comforting work in us” (p. 60). He’s doing a lot of chiseling on me, but I know He has the final work of art in sight with each cut.