Tag Archives: sovereignty

Joy in Trials

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4 (ESV) 

 

 I find so much comfort in this verse. Earlier this week I took a brake from my normal devotions to just take a look at the great promises that the Bible has about suffering, giving thanks and praise to God through everything, and the like. I found such encouragement from the words of the Bible, it is my very strength. As I write this I am pressing on through my current trial of pain in my joints. But I am reminded to count it ALL joy, not just a little bit of joy, not just taking it for what it is or just accepting it. No, it goes far beyond that. It’s taking joy in the fact that the trials God puts in our lives are merely tools for our holiness.

 The tough things are only momentary, even though everyone can tell you they don’t seem that way at the time. They seem hard. We ask God with raised fists, “Are you a fool? I can serve you better with this, I thought it was a gift that was good!” When we should be having the spirit of the author of Laminations, who when faced with the destruction of his beloved city, the death of his people as well as their rebellion, and his own health in a sorry state along with other horrible things, yet he rejoiced in the Lord! He uttered the words, “Therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.””(Lamentations 3:21b-24)

 I am in amazement over what God has already done with the trial of my joint pain. He is teaching me so much through it and I have this deep, deep peace that I am not sure I have ever experienced before. Though my body is falling apart right now my soul is being gently comforted and clothed by the grace and mercy of my King! It’s just wonderful! The joy that you receive when you let go of those trials is so much better than having the trials go away. I am not specifically praying for healing anymore, I am praying that God will do HIS will, not mine and that my will shall be conformed to His perfect one.

 I know that God is using this for my good, to conform me to His holiness, and to make me lacking in nothing. I can’t say too much how great this is. This is true joy, knowing that God is faithful even when it doesn’t look that way, truly knowing that “in faithfulness He afflicted me”. (Psalms 119:75) Words don’t even begin to describe this, I believe that’s because the language of joy is a foreign tongue that is learned as instructed and it’s truly belonging to heaven. Perfect, complete joy will only be found when we are in the wonderful arms of our Savior. He is good and He is faithful!

“Morning by morning I wake up to find
the power and comfort of God’s hand in mine.
Season by season I watch him amazed, in
awe of the mystery of his perfect ways

All I have need of his hand will provide.
He’s always been faithful to me

I can’t remember a trial or a pain he did
not recycle to bring me gain. I can’t
remember one single regret in serving
God only and trusting his hand”

(Sara Groves, He’s Always Been Faithful)

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Lessons From Life: My Everything

 “Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
   you hold my right hand.
 You guide me with your counsel,
   and afterward you will receive me to glory.
  Whom have I in heaven but you?
   And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
  My flesh and my heart may fail,
   but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

 For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;
   you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
But for me it is good to be near God;
   I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,
   that I may tell of all your works.” (Psalms 73: 23-28 )

 These verses have been ones that God has been putting on my heart lately so heavily that they are not ignorable. He keeps asking me the question, “Olivia, am I the strength of your heart? Am I your portion forever? Am I your all?” I wince as I respond to Him, “Lord, I love you, you know I do.” He gently yet sternly asks again, “How much do you love me?” I wince again. “God, I’ve given you my life, what more do you want?” He is persistent. “Are you willing to give me those little parts of your heart that you’ve kept back? Those places in your life that you want to hold on to?” I start to panic… He knows about those things?! “God, what do you mean? I’ve given you my dreams, I’ve given you my heart and life.” He shakes His head. “Not all of your dreams. Not all of your heart and life. There are still those things that you want to be in control of. Give them to me. I wont let you down.” We continue on. Me in my hesitation to surrender these parts of me and Him in His gentle and yet strong pursuit of me and my everything. Until finally I came to my breaking point.

 A few nights ago God got through. I’ve been having some daily joint pain in my hands and fingers that has been concerning me because it’s been going on for about three weeks. The things that seem to make it worse are typing (though only sometimes) and playing piano and violin (again this is only sometimes) which really worried me. The use of my hands and fingers are pretty much my life. I’ve always said that I could never live without my hands. The very idea that the pain in my hands could be an actual reason for concern (and not just my wild imagination) scared me. The thought of not being able to use my hands as easily as I would like made me scared. God gently yet firmly kept telling me to surrender it to Him. I complained, I protested, I objected, but in the end I had no choice but to let go. I had to put my hands into God’s hands.

 Earlier this week He had me weeping over the above passage. In more areas than just my hands, He has been showing me that I need to surrender, that HE needs to be my everything. He needs to be my strength, my beauty, my portion, my all, my desire, my life, my everything. I have been begging God for months to show me that. To let my heart truly know the words of this Psalmist and be able to sing the words of “Enough” by Chris Tomlin or Barlowgirl’s song based on Psalms 73 and know that I mean them with my entire being. Though in my brain I might of realized it would mean me coming to a breaking point first, it really didn’t set in until it was happening.

 In the last two weeks God has just been blasting me with the message of faith, surrender, and His wondrous sovereignty everywhere. From a theological note in my study Bible, to the Jerry Bridges video we watched for Sunday school, it’s been everywhere. God has really been trying to get His point across… that just shows you how thick sculled I am most of the time. I am so glad He finally got through to me. Wrestling with God isn’t enjoyable, and you don’t win, so it’s time to wave the white flag. I will leave my ramblings over what God is showing to me with the words of the song “Let Go” by Barlowgirl. These words mirror my heart so perfectly that it almost scares me.

Yeah I trust in You
I remember times You led me
This time it’s bigger now
And I’m afraid You’ll let me down
But how can I be certain?
Will You prove Yourself again?

‘Cause I’m about to let go
And live what I believe
I can’t do a thing now
But trust that You’ll catch me
When I let go
When I let go

What is this doubt in me
Convincing me to fear the unknown
When all along You’ve shown
Your plans are better than my own
And I know I won’t make it
If I do this all alone

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Filed under Christianity, Everyday Life, Faith, Jesus, Music, Passion, Psalms