In recent years, it has become exceedingly clear that God is teaching me to trust Him. Within the space of a few months, two of our boys had acute medical issues that could have been catastrophic—in the long run, it turned out that neither issue was that serious, but the symptoms were terrifying. In both cases, it took a few days to pin down the severity, and Philippians 4:6-7 was chiseled onto my heart in such a fearsome way that it has transformed my understanding of “worry” forever after.
I love it when I can look back and see how days of suffering are indeed transformed into endurance, character, and hope (Romans 5:3-5). It is a great testimony of the sureness of God to be able to see how horrible moments are indeed for our joy, and, in retrospect, to appreciate the experiences that were so unendurable at the time.
So, when new trials arise, I can whisper God’s truths to myself, and know experientially that they are true. I can whisper, God works all things for good, and I can remember the times it was true. I can whisper, rejoice in suffering, because I have seen how suffering has been worthwhile. I can whisper, be anxious for nothing, because I can still feel the restfulness of bringing my worries to His throne.
However. God never stops teaching me, for which I am very thankful… and also appalled at my own ability to continue to fall short and need more instruction!
The past week has been jam-packed full of stress.
Nothing has actually gone utterly wrong, but there were many moments—maybe as many as ten—when we were waiting on test results, waiting to hear back from some doctor, waiting to see what was going to be done, waiting to see if labor was going to happen (I had a baby a couple of days ago, an event I totally failed to anticipate even as recently as this time last week). So much waiting. So much uncertainty.
I am really, really bad at uncertainty. I often feel like I’d rather know the bad news than wait to hear the good!
I told Seth after the last of it (at least as far as I know, ha!) came to a conclusion yesterday that it feels like God is deliberately keeping me on the edge of my seat. More particularly, like He is teaching me how to live and trust Him not just to hold us through the worst of times, but in the minute-by-minute uncertainty of daily life. Do I trust Him to be good? Do I trust His planning? Can I hold myself and my “needs” for everything to be perfectly sketched out and just—wait?
I didn’t respond perfectly. There were too many nights in the past week when I couldn’t sleep, and many hours of desperate internet research and trying as best as I could to control all the situations that unfolded. But God kept bringing Himself to my mind and reminding me (often via my much calmer husband!) that I needed to trust Him, that I needed to quiet my spirit and rest in His goodness and sovereignty. In short, I failed. But even here just a couple of days out, and, oh, what I have learned through this experience! How good God is to continue to lead us through these situations and teach us to stand up under them! I have been learning much more vividly the meaning of 1 Corinthians 10:13:
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.
This is a dear truth. So many times in the past week I felt the desperate war within myself between resting in God and giving into the strong pull of despair, frustration, anxiety, and even anger. So often it was almost a conscious choice: am I going to give in to my wretched desire to be really upset about this situation, or to be really fearful, or… am I just going to let it go and be still (Psalm 46:10)? Anyone who was within earshot of me this week knows how often I chose to be a wretch! But even in the middle of my frustration and desperation, I could still feel the battle raging and know all the promises of Scripture—that He would be faithful. I knew that my fear and frustration were founded in the mire of my sinful heart, not in reality.
God promises us in Hebrews 12:10-11 that He disciplines us “for our benefit, so that we can share His holiness. No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Then this little bit, that is so helpful:
Therefore strengthen your tired hands and weakened knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed instead. (v 12-13)
I love this. There is something lame in me. Well, there are many things lame in me, but what I’ve particularly learned this week was lame is that I do a pretty terrible job of trusting God when my plans are going all awry. And this past week has served as a marathon to show me my lameness and give me ample opportunity to repent of it and change my ways—to be healed rather than dislocated by the circumstances God brought my way.
We serve such a good God, that He is not content merely to redeem us and rescue us from the consequences of our sin, but that He also sanctifies us and purifies us and even, sometimes, lets us see how He is using circumstances for our betterment. Rejoice in suffering.