Monday, June 26, 2006

"Consider It Great Joy"

My goal this morning is to write this post in a way that displays joy in the midst of frustration, thankfulness in the midst of loss, confidence in the midst of confusion and faith in the midst of disappointment.

When James said, "Consider it great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials," he said a mouthful! We've all been through our share of trials and difficulties. We've all quoted James 1:2-4 while enduring those trials. And, chances are, we've all had the same reaction: Through clenched teeth and a forced smile we say, "I consider this joy." Right. And more often than not, we don't even believe ourselves. So how can I possibly be joyful in the midst of frustration and thankful when I lose things or people that I love? How can I be confident when I'm confused? And how can I have faith when everyone and everything seems to disappoint so often? From a biographical standpoint, how can Samuel Rutherford be forcibly removed from his parish, sent over 100 miles away, receive few letters from his people, be kept from preaching the gospel, and yet say, "I would not exchange the joy of my bonds and imprisonment for Christ with all the joy of this dirty and foul-skinned world; I am filled with Christ’s love"?

Carrie and I have experienced some very difficult circumstances over the past several weeks. At least, from our perspective they are very difficult. We have yet to close on our new home. The closing has been pushed back at least half a dozen times, if not more. We have had ministry disappointments, discouragments and challenges on a very big scale. And now for the last 2 weeks, Carrie has been suffering from very severe vertigo. Yet it is my goal to demostrate through this post and through our response to these situations that God is our God. We will not idolize comfort, people or things.

The House.
We are planning to close tomorrow (Tuesday) on the house. I find myself complaining too often about the bumps in the road to home ownership. How silly! God has provided us with an amazing opportunity to own this home. It's more home than we ever imagined we could have in a first home, and it's located wonderfully for our needs. We have been seeking above all else the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and here he provides us with "all these things" and we complain about the process of receiving them?! We most certainly can rejoice even in this trial. However, we do ask you to pray for us. Pray that we would close this week. Pray that we would rejoice no matter when we close. Pray that our faith would be strengthened and we would mature.

The Ministry.
I'm told that disappointments and discouragement are a normal part of ministry life. Hmmm. Can I be a plumber instead? Just kidding. I was reminded yesterday as I was listening to John Piper's biography of John Newton that God didn't bring me to where I am spiritually overnight. It's taken 26 years for me to get this far--wherever "this far" is. I cannot expect the people I minister to to be mature and complete in three years. I still struggle and get discouraged when people do bad things and when people don't believe right things. I'm learning that God is doing 1,000 things in their lives as well as in mine. I do not want to short-circuit the growing process by having the hurt taken away. God is still good...all the time.

Carrie's Health.
Please pray for Carrie. As of this morning (Monday), she has been experiencing severe vertigo for about 2 weeks now. I rushed her to the ER on the 13th. We went to the doctor at the end of that week. We now have an apointment with a specialist this afternoon. Janelle has been a huge help! She has come over and taken care of Daniel late at night and at a moment's notice. Thanks, Janelle! We love you and Bob! Carrie's sister, Charla, is here now helping out. She leaves today. People from the church have been bringing meals over. We are so grateful for all the help.

I must conclude by saying that God is God. God is wise. God loves his children very deeply. We do not doubt any of those things, even when we are confused, discouraged and tested. We ask for your prayers that we will glorify the great name of our great and worthy Savior as he continues to mold us into his image. May he always freely carve away at our lives until we look increasingly like Jesus!

“I would fain learn not to idolize comfort, sense, joy, and sweet felt presence. All these are but creatures and nothing but the kingly robe, the gold ring, and the bracelets of the Bridegroom. The Bridegroom himself is better than all the ornaments that are about him.” (Rutherford, 1637)

“It is your part now to believe, and suffer, and hope, and wait on: for I protest in the presence of that all-discerning eye who knoweth what I write and what I think, that I would not want the sweet experience of the consolations of God for all the bitterness of affliction; nay, whether God come to his children with a rod or a crown, if he come himself with it, it is well. Welcome, welcome Jesus, what way soever thou come, if we can get a sight of thee. And sure I am, it is better to be sick, providing Christ come to the bed-side, and draw aside the curtains, and say ‘Courage, I am thy salvation,’ than to enjoy health, being lusty and strong, and never to be visited of God.” (Rutherford, 1630)

2 comments:

dan said...

Just wanted you to know that I am praying for you and your family. I check your blog now and then. May you know his presence today, and the depth of the gospel. It is for us!!! dan ebert
http://drdanebert.wordpress.com/

LMLogan said...

wow...you have been busy!! God surely is working in your lives and I'm sure the outcome will be marvelous - none the less, the molding and carving away at worldly ideas and wants is painful - either emotionally or physically!
I'm praying for you guys as you become OWNERS!! of a house, grow in ministry (aren't growing pains just that - PAINS!!), and for Carrie as she recovers from vertigo! She's had a hard few months and I know getting back to "normal" seems far away. Please give her my love and pass along that she's in my prayers - along w/ Daniel - I'm sure she misses the special moments w/ him as she rests up!!
GOD IS GOOD!! and even through this hard time - I know THAT will not waver in your mind - just know that through every valley there does come a hill or maybe even a mountain!!
ok enough "preaching" :)
we love you guys - I'll pass this on to scott!!