Thursday, July 27, 2017

In Sickness and in Health

"There is no greater mercy that I know of on earth than good health except it be sickness; and that has often been a greater mercy to me than health.... It is a good thing to be without trouble; but it 
is a better thing to have trouble, and know how to get grace enough to bear it." Chalres Spurgeon

Often in our prayers we pray for things to be easier, lighter, less complicated. And when things are that way, it's easy to get complacent simply because if we aren't in need or going through something unpleasant, we aren't nearly as dependent on God for our next step.

More times than I can count, but not nearly as high as should be, I have prayed that God would not give me anything that would decrease my need of Him. And in the past couple of weeks, I have seen that come full circle.

Step 1. An unforeseen opporutnity that will would be a win-win for all involved.

Step 2. An unexpected (and unpleasant) circumstance that made step 1 a necessity.

Now when things like this happen we are faced with a choice. We can either see God's ability to meet our need through an unlikely source or we can be frustrated that the source is needed. And if we are frustrated that the source is needed, we have to ask ourselves what was motivating about it in the first place. My assumption, is that if we are honest, it will come down to a desire to have more freedom, greater control, and increased independence which not so ironically goes against the prayer mentioned above.

Spurgeon's quote this moring reminds me that as much as I appreciate the times when things don't feel like they are spinning out of control, the truth is, the chaos is where the growth happens because it requires a choice to be made: fight or flight. Fight to stay rooted in the truth and knowledge of who God is or flight from His presence because of irritatation with His methods.

Psalm 107:23-32 depicts this dilemma beautifully.

Some went out on the sea in ships;
they were merchants on the mighty waters.
They saw the works of the Lord,
his wonderful deeds in the deep.
For he spoke and stirred up a tempest
that lifted high the waves.
They mounted up to the heavens and 
went down to the depths;
an in their peril their courage melted away.
They reeled and staggered like drunkards;
they were at the wit's end.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he brought them out of their distress.
He stilled the storm to a whisper;
the waves of the sea were hushed.
They were glad when it grew calm,
and he guided them to their desired haven.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people
and praise him in the council of the elders.

Whenever we choose to set out on the waters, we know the risks and decide they are worth taking. And when the storm blows up out of nowhere, it's easy to see that God is in control - until it lasts longer than our comfort levels allow which melts our courage faster than butter in a microwave on high. But as Spurgeon reminds us, it's only in our sickness that we turn for comfort. And that comfort never leaves, never runs out, and never expires. In our cries of desperation, honesty, and gut wrenching pain, the storm calms to a whisper because peace comes out of nowhere to hush the waves and guide us back home to His arms. 

As much as we'd like to be able to predict what's around the corner that we can't see, our success rate is going to be about as accurate as the weather man that sends everyone out to the store predicting 10 inches of snow. And while we might respond to a perceived threat without need, any true threat has to deal with the Creator of the universe that it must answer to anyway.

Wherever we are, we can have confidence in His unfailing love and wonderful deeds. We can always see His goodness clearly when we come to the other side and recognize the growth of our faith and increased trust. Whatever we face today, we must remember that we never have to face it alone. Not only is God fighting for us, but the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives inside us, giving us the power we need to persevere in full assurance that it's for our good and God's glory. Let's board our vessels today, see the heights of the heavens and the depths of the sea, and praise Him for all He reveals to our hearts, minds, and souls.

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