Sunday, January 6, 2013

Encouragement from Lamentations

I do love the start to a new year. There is something so attractive to me about starting a new thing. Maybe it is the fact there is so much hope and possibility that accompany a new year. To be honest, I was more than ready to see 2012 go on its merry way. It was without question the most difficult year of my life so far, as the Lord allowed some tests and trials to come our way that pretty much knocked me off my feet. The year 2012 brought some of the toughest things we have ever had to endure, and there were a lot of times when I found myself calling out to God, "Do you see this? I know you see this. Why are you allowing this to happen?"

Sometimes He ended the trial right then and there, but more often than not, He allowed whatever was going on to continue. Some of it still is. For me, that begs the questions, "Why?" If God is sovereign over everything and is also only good, then why does He allow us to suffer? I think it is a valid question. And I believe that He has been using the events of this past year to show me the answer. You see, I do believe that God is always good. And I do believe that He works all things together for the good of His children and for His glory. And I am learning, in a very personal way, that sometimes that work involves painful things for His children, for me. God is our heavenly Father, and as our Father, He is looking out for our best interest, the same way my dad was always doing what was ultimately best for me while I was growing up (even when I did not like it). Our parents sometimes do things that think are unfair, and we get upset about it. But our parents made the choices they did so that we would be better as a result. I believe it is the same with God.

He has allowed Adam and me to endure some incredibly difficult things since January of 2012, but I do know that He has a purpose in it, and that His purpose absolutely involves what is best for us. The Lord has the long view; He can see way down the road and knows what lies ahead for us. We do not. I only know what is happening right now, how I feel right now, what I want right now. And my "right now" response to all of those things might not be what is best for me in the long run. In fact, that is most likely the case. So I trust my Heavenly Father, knowing that He will be faithful to me no matter what. Even when that faithfulness does not look the way I want it to. I know that I can trust Him to carry me through. Some of that I have seen already. God has been so gracious to me in that He has used this time to bring me closer to Him instead of allowing me to become so embittered by the fact that life has been difficult that I turn away from Him. That is such a gift from God.

So why am I writing all of this? I want to encourage you and remind myself that God is with us in trials. More than that, He is sovereign over our trials. And He promises to carry us through difficulties and provide what we need when we need it. I think we are almost never equipped to deal with what God calls us to do, but I know that He comes to us and fills us with His strength and power and ability, and these things allow us to endure the trials that come our way. We can lean on Him. In fact, that is what He wants. One day, when I can get my head around it, I am going to share what happened during 2012 that shocked my system and drew me closer to the Lord. But suffice it to say, that He whittled me down until I had nowhere to turn but to Him. I could no longer do anything but hang on to the promises in His Word. Everything else had failed me, but He remained.

And so I am hoping that 2013 brings us much joy as we come through these trials. I am praying that Adam and I will continue to get to know God in ways that we could not under any other circumstances. I pray that we will have our child sitting right between us on our bed as I write to you on this date next year.

I want to leave you with some Bible verses from an unlikely place for encouragement. We are doing a read through the Bible in a year plan in our house, and I am currently in Lamentations, a book whose title sounds anything but encouraging. Still, the Lord brought chapter three my way this week, and I want to pass it along to you. Know that the Lord is right there with you, loving you, sending you His compassion and longing for you to cling to Him as you wait for His work to be made complete in your life.

"Yet this I call to mind, and therefor I have hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. I say to myself, 'The Lord is my portion; therefore, I will wait for Him.' The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord." Lamentations 3:21-26


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