Even in the Suffering

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“You’re already doing it now. Will I have the confidence to believe You?”

Those were the words that reverberated in my heart as I woke up, my eyes barely open enough to make out the vague shape of my journal and reach for my flashlight.

It’s been a while, I know. But I had this dream— and I just had to share…

STORIES FROM DREAMLAND

“I lay down and slept; I awoke for the Lord sustains me…” –David, Psalm 3:5

I recently dreamt that I was watching a sermon by pastor I know of. He was relating some difficult, very difficult times he and his wife were facing to the church in a message geared to encourage them in the trials they were facing. I remember seeing him on stage assume his trademark stance, the one he makes just before he’s going to make a very important point. He said, “…and you think that’s bad?” It gets worse—” Then he shared how their very dear friend got terminally sick and died. We were all shocked at the final blow in their story, drawing breath out of empathy upon hearing the turn of events and grappling with the despair they must have felt from the endless tumult of waves on their life’s shore.

But, as we would learn, somehow…

somehow

that final blow was the turning point in their story.

Because just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse…

it did.

But there was more to the story…

It wasn’t over yet.

REFLECTIONS IN THE DARK

In this dream of mine, the next thing I remember is that I got up and walked over to a nearby window. I began writing on the screen of the sliding glass door the following:

“You’re already doing it now. Will I have the confidence to believe You?”

And with that, I woke up, enveloped by the darkness of an early morning just before dawn.

Mmm…

Dawn.

“It’s always darkest before the dawn,” goes the saying.

The timing seemed anything but coincidental.

Like the period at the end of a very finely turned sentence….

Only the very best Author I know could create such an effect.

A SWIM IN DEEPER WATERS

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials…” –James, James 1:2+

“Your grace abounds in deepest waters…”Hillsong United, “Oceans”

In my dream, this pastor was sharing from his family’s experience of God’s faithfulness in bringing them through very deep waters. It was a personal tale— not an example of the deep trials others were facing, not another retelling from the history of the saints in 1 Kings or elsewhere in Scripture, but a chapter handwritten by God with his own life as the pen. To put it more directly, it’s like he needed to experience the fiery trials himself to personally tell God’s story of faithfulness in a way that would clearly proclaim Him to those who did not know Him and deeply encourage and strengthen the hearts of those staring down disheartening trials of their own.

As I listened to his story, something within me clicked and filled in the rest of the blanks. As this family from my dream weathered the life-threatening storm, God was already at work on the sun that would come breaking through to reveal the harvest yet to be seen.

A NEW HOPE

“…’For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, “My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure”; calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of My purpose from a far country. Truly, I have spoken ; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it.'” –The Lord, Isaiah 46:9b-11 (emphasis mine)

“I would have despaired unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord.” –David, Psalm 27:13-14

God is not waiting for your trial to be over before He makes ready His plans, and He certainly isn’t letting the enemy have his unfettered way with you. When all these faith-crushing, “wind-knocking-out-of-you,” despair-filling trials and often puzzling events occur in our lives, God is already working out all of the good that will come through it all.

God is using His instruments — yes, using this trial — to produce in your life all that will bring hope, life, merriment, celebration, joy — harvest. In other words, while He turns Satan loose to crush you (Luke 22:31-34; Job 1:9-12; 1 Peter 4:12-19; James 1:12-18; 1 Peter 5:6-11), God is already preparing the feast for the wine He is producing with you (to borrow from an Oswald Chamber’s analogy). It’s like the very trials we face are evidence that God is at work producing a great, yet-to-be-revealed harvest through you and for you.

In the midst of every difficulty and strain, our God’s Ever-Watchful, Gracious, Loving Eyes have not moved one millimeter off of you. His Kind, Good, and Sovereign Hand has not left you any more than He left His Son to perish and remain in the grave (as Charles Spurgeon reminded me lately). Resurrection was always the plan, and it was always in the works even when death was imminent.

And, knowing God, resurrection is His plan for you too.

Although I can’t say what “resurrection” looks like in your situation, you can trust our Wise Heavenly Father, the One Who gives every good and perfect gift to each one of His sons and daughters.

So, take heart, friend.

No matter what things look like right now…

New life is on its way.

‘TIL THE END OF YOUR STORY

“Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert… The people whom I formed for Myself will declare My praise.” –The Lord, Isaiah 43:19 & 21

Our Almighty, Sovereign, Personal, Exceedingly Wise, Good, and Compassionate God is writing His story of faithfulness through your very life.

So even in the suffering…

God is at work in your story.

Just like He worked in Ruth and Naomi. (Ruth 1-4)

And Joseph. (Genesis 37; 39-47:28)

And Abraham. (Genesis 11:27-21:8)

And Job. (Job 1-3; 29-40)

And His own Son, Jesus. (Mark 14-16)

And so many more of our fellow travelers on this road of faith in Christ.

The wedding supper is coming, and God is making you ready.

Will you wait for it?

Will you trust Him? Remain faithful right here? In this uncomfortable, awkward, unwanted, often unbearable, confusing place where you’re at and would rather not be?

Will you let Him have His way? So He can love you through this? Reveal Himself to you in new ways? And give you His strength for each difficult step of the way?

I pray you will. Because just like Job, we will declare,

“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear;
but now my eye sees You…” –Job, Job 42:5 (emphasis mine)

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