I waited patiently for the Lord. – Psalm 40:1 (NKJV)
Waiting patiently for the Lord seems to be a total failure at times. You are compelled by the Lord to stand still. You remember your calling; you are called to do great things for Him, and initially you are busy with so many things. Yes, trials, tribulations, afflictions and suffering – all are present, but none of that matters, because you are doing great work for the Lord, and then suddenly there is an enforced inaction.
Initially, you are not even sure if it is the will of God. As you attempt to do few things, all of them end up as failures and in disappointment. Slowly, as you see the hand of the Lord behind your standing still, initially there is a joy as you realize it is God Who is asking you to stand still, and there you are, standing still, like the sun over Gibeon, and the moon over the valley of Aijalon (Joshua 10:12-13).
Then you realize though your sun and moon are standing still, the earth is still rotating, and everyone’s life keeps going. They come to you often, complain about the various things happening in their life, but at least things are happening in their life. Though they are struggling, and are afflicted in every side, at least they are moving forward. For you, though, there has been no movement forward for so long. You are there, waiting patiently for the Lord.
And, you already know that, it is thousand times harder to stand still for the Lord, than being active in the work of the Lord amid the day-to-day’s troubles. It may look like a failure as the life moves on for others, but dear friend, this is one of the truest tests of your faith. To stand still, waiting for the Lord, without losing hope and losing your heart, to give up the work and honor to others, to be quiet, rejoicing in the promises of the Lord requires greater faith, especially when those busy multitude go ahead and go away. But you are chosen, by God, to stand still and see His salvation.
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. – John 11:5-6 (NKJV)
As the narration shifts to the sufferings that the family of Martha, Mary and Lazarus, and the ordeal they had to suffer, the Bible tells that Jesus loved them. Yes, dear friend, all these pain, sufferings and afflictions that you are undergoing, is not because the Lord has ceased loving you, but because Jesus loves you.
At the very heart of all Lord’s dealing with you, is His loving heart; the very foundation of our Lord leading you through this valley of death is His loving hand. Eternal God is your Refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms. (Deuteronomy 33:27)
The situations may be as dark as they can be; the reasons for the delay in the Lord’s deliverance may be mysterious to you; but dare to believe in the unmerited, infinite, immutable love that God has for you, that He showered on you on the Cross when His only Son was crucified for your sake.
Human love tries its best to avoid pain, especially to those who we love the most. That’s why the sisters informed Jesus that “he, whom You love, is sick” (John 11:3). From their understanding of how love works, they were very sure that Jesus would do everything to heal Lazarus and prevent them from any pain. Yet the Bible tells us, “Jesus loved Martha, her sister and Lazarus. So… He stayed two more days.”
So… how much import is there in this one little word. So… Jesus delayed not because He did not love them, but because He loved them. So, He delayed. It is His divine love that kept Him from sending His Word and heal Lazarus at once. It is His immutable love for them that kept Him from rushing to their home, take hold of Lazarus and healing him. Dear friend, as the Lord delays His deliverance, when everyone is telling you that the Lord has forsaken you, that He does not love you anymore… remember this. “Jesus loves you. So, He delays.”
Why does He delay? Because He knows that this situation will not lead to your death; this will not be the end of your life; but this path is allowed in your life for the glory of God; that the Son of God will be glorified through you (John 11:4). You will become a living testimony to the love of God. Many will see what great things that the Lord has done for you, and they will accept Him as their Savior – because of you. Yes, the Lord loves you. So….
Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? – Job 2:10 (JPS)
As I wrote yesterday in my blog, I was pleasantly surprised by the blessing that the Lord gave me. But something else happened, that disquieted me. After the phone call, we were about to start our morning prayers, and clearly I and my wife were very nervous. How would the day be? Would I be able to travel for a whole day? How about eating out? We were very nervous and even thought of asking our cousin to postpone the trip. Then as we started to pray, something happened.
Suddenly the Spirit of the LORD moved us to realize our errors. Say, if the LORD has given a severe affliction yesterday, like I had to endure last year, what would have we done? We would have accepted it as a lesson that the Lord is teaching us, that He would give enough grace and strength to go through the trial, we would have praised Him for considering us worthy to stand such a trial and we would have thanked Him for the lesson He taught us using the trial. Yes, we would have accepted the evil from the hand of God, because we know His loving hand is behind the rod that chastens us.
But the moment a blessing comes our way, something good comes our way, we are wary of so many things that could go wrong. Our attitude is so tuned out, that till we started praying and the Holy Spirit made us realize, we did not understand that this good, this blessing is also from the same loving hand of our Father. That He may choose this very blessing to teach a valuable lesson to us. That He would give enough grace and strength to go through the day. That if I praised Him for the affliction, then I must praise Him more than ever for this blessing; thank Him that He considered this poor man’s prayer and is showing me a favor that I do not deserve; that even in this blessing, the good Teacher has a way to teach His lessons.
Yes, the Lord rules over everything – both good and bad; whatever reaches you, who is under His mighty arm, reaches you only because God our Father allows it; whatever we receive, an affliction or a blessing, it is only because our Lord and Redeemer Jesus Christ has given us enough grace to sustain, to endure without falling.
So, for the last one year, the Lord taught me that He is the Ruler over everything and whatever He allows in my life is aimed at my sanctification and edification; but my mind has taken it only for the afflictions and trials. Yesterday the LORD corrected my learning. God our Lord is the Ruler of EVERYTHING. And, if we humble ourselves, we can always learn from our blessings as well as from our afflictions. True devotion is not only accepting evil from God, like Job did; but also accepting the two-fold blessing in an equanimous manner, just like Job did. Amen.
“Affliction does not come from the dust–nor does trouble sprout from the ground. For man is born unto trouble–as surely as sparks fly upward.” Job 5:6-7
Affliction does not come of itself; it does not spring up from the dust of the earth, nor grow naturally from the ground, as plants do; nor has chance anything whatever to do with it. As common as it is–affliction does not come without a cause, or without being sent on purpose by God.
Yet affliction does fall to the lot of all. No one, however prosperous, is without sorrow and trial. Sooner or later: “Man is born unto trouble–as surely as sparks fly upward.” As surely as sparks go up from anything burning, or from iron beaten on the anvil–so surely does trouble in some shape befall every man who is born into the world.
Whence does it come? God sends it–or at least allows it to come. But it is not saying too much, to say that He sends it.
When Adam fell and sin and death entered into the world–then trouble came too. This was God’s appointment. He said to Adam, “Because you have listened unto the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you–cursed is the ground for your sake; in sorrow shall you eat of it all the days of your life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to you; in the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, until you return unto the ground; for out of it were you taken–for dust you are, and unto dust shall you return.”
And not only is trouble in general appointed to man by God–but each man’s particular trouble is of God’s appointment as well. Your troubles and mine do not come forth of the dust or spring out of the ground. They do not arise by chance or accident. God sends them! Sickness and sorrow are ordained for us by Him–each sickness and each sorrow as it comes. We do not see the hand that sends them, but a hand there is–the hand of God, the hand of a loving Father!
Job’s troubles were many and great–yet let him not despair. Everything was in God’s hand. All that happened was ordered by Him–all was subject to His control. “At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave–and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”” Job 1:20-21
To all who truly know God–it is a most comforting thought that their affliction comes from Him. It seems to take away the strangeness and the bitterness of it. When once they can realize His hand, then in all their sorrowful thoughts about their afflictions–they think about God too, and this comforts them. It is no longer mere trouble–but trouble which God has sent. If He has sent it–then it is wisely and kindly sent. Is there not a hidden blessing in it? Then the heart goes in search of the blessing and begins to ask why the trouble was sent, what it was meant to do, and how far it has done what it was sent for. And this is the very way to find the blessing.
Besides, when the sufferer thus sees the hand of God in trouble–he reasons that God will never let the trouble be too great. If He sends it–He will not send it too sharply, nor too heavily. There is no chance about it. All is measured and dealt out by an omnipotent hand of wisdom and love! The affliction, therefore, cannot become too sore. When the right point has been reached, when the fit time has come–then He who sent it will say, “Hitherto shall you come, but no further!”
– from Francis Bourdillon’s “Man is Born to Trouble!”
To have a sympathizing God we must have a suffering Saviour, and there is no true fellow-feeling with another save in the heart of him who has been afflicted like him.
We cannot do good to others save at a cost to ourselves, and our afflictions are the price we pay for our ability to sympathize. He who would be a helper, must first be a sufferer. He who would be a saviour must somewhere and somehow have been upon a cross; and we cannot have the highest happiness of life in succouring others without tasting the cup which Jesus drank, and submitting to the baptism wherewith He was baptized.
The most comforting of David’s psalms were pressed out by suffering; and if Paul had not had his thorn in the flesh we had missed much of that tenderness which quivers in so many of his letters.
The present circumstance, which presses so hard against you (if surrendered to Christ), is the best shaped tool in the Father’s hand to chisel you for eternity. Trust Him, then. Do not push away the instrument lest you lose its work.
“Strange and difficult indeed
We may find it,
But the blessing that we need
Is behind it.”
The school of suffering graduates rare scholars.
Few days back, I had to endure some severe pain in my body. No medication, no pain killer, nothing worked. I was in tears because of the intensity of the pain. My entire family did not know how to deal with the situation. Though some suggested that I should be admitted to the hospital right away, I was in no condition to travel.
In such a severe pain, I wanted to divert my mind and opened my email, and there was this email I receive daily from gracegems.org, with the title, “HE cannot love you more – and He will not love you less.” As soon as I saw the heading, to be honest, my mind thought that it is going to be a devotional, where it says, God loves you so much and He would deliver you from this affliction… apparently, my mind has become so tuned to this century Christian teaching. But it was a devotional from Spurgeon and it was exactly opposite to what I thought… and it brought tears into my eyes… tears of joy and tears of love. And I surrendered myself, with all the pain and affliction, to the love of God and soon, the pain became tolerable. This is the devotional.
He cannot love you more–and He will not love you less! – Charles Spurgeon
“Having loved His own who were in the world–He loved them to the very end!” – John 13:1
Christian, God’s love to you is always the same. He cannot love you more–and He will not love you less!
Never, when afflictions multiply, when terrors frighten you or when your distresses abound–does God’s love falter or flag. Let the rod fall ever so heavily upon you–the hand that moves, like the heart that prompts the stroke, is full of love! Judge not the Lord by feeble sense–but trust Him for His grace. Whether He brings you down into the depths of misery, or lifts you up into the seventh Heaven of delight–His faithful love never varies or fluctuates–it is everlasting in its continuity!
“His faithful love endures forever!” – Psalm 136:1
“I have loved you, My people, with an everlasting love!” – Jeremiah 31:3
“The faithful love of the Lord never ends!” – Lamentations 3:22