I was listening today to a song by Laura Story, called "Blessings," and stuck anew at the paradox but the truth of blessing in pain. I lived those thousand sleepless nights she sings about. I suggest you listen to this song before we begin.
The words to the chorus are …
'Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops,
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near?
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?
How many of us would sign up for pain? Would we be first in line to receive a blessing that come through the crucible of suffering? Does the fact a sovereign God who both gives and takes away fill us with anger or fear? How do we process this words Job so eloquently said in Job 2:10 "Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?"
To be honest, I had a list of do and don'ts for God. If I remained a faithful servant, then I expected certain things. I expected, health, wealth, and prosperity in my marriage, my work, my children. Besides, I had suffered enough in my childhood to fill my lifetime quota ... or so I thought.
Then along came a God I could not wrap my brain around. He allowed my life to be stripped bare. I felt naked before Him and the world. My marriage crumbled on the heap pile of infidelity. My children both left the Lord and lived a life outside His principals. My possessions melted like a ball of wax in the heat of fire, the house in town, the house on the lake, the boat, the seadoo, the motorcycle, etc.—gone. My two prayer partners betrayed my confidence and spilled the news about the infidelity to the world. There was nothing left. Pride, possessions, purity in my marriage—GONE! Emotionally I was a wreck, physically no stronger than a newborn kitten, and spiritually a mess. I was angry at God.
My prayers went something like this … "God I became your child at fourteen, I never looked back. I served you and brought my children up in the Lord alone, even when my husband left you out of his life. I asked for bread and what, You give me a stone? What kind of God are you?
In my sorrow the Sovereign LORD Yahweh entered. Not the LORD I had fabricated in my feeble understanding of health, wealth and prosperity, but the LORD of everything and every circumstance. The LORD of Job, the LORD of Habakkuk 3: 17-19
"Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls—I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD (Yahweh) God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer's feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills."
The LORD God (Yahweh) in this passage is tied to the term Adonai, which means "Lord my strength." And that's who showed up.
When I felt I could not go on, when I wanted to die, as I bled out … Then and only then was I ready to receive the most valuable gift I have ever been given.
- I learned that the promises of God are true. He will never leave. He will never forsake. He will never betray. Yes, He may allow the fire, but He will never allow His children to be destroyed. Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble." John 16:33 But what comes out of the flames is a steadfastness in faith for which there are no words. If we choose to press into God, not against Him, a profound, powerful knowledge is given and like Job said in Job 42:3 you too will say … "I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know."
I can say with all my heart that my suffering has purpose. I have great empathy for those who have been betrayed, for the broken-hearted, for the wayward son or daughter. I have words to speak from experience that resonate with those in pain. But most of all, I have what you can have. I have no fear. I know now what I did not previously know. There is nothing Satan can buffet my world with and win. For nothing will separate us from the love of God and we are more than conquerors through Him (the Lord of our Strength) who loves us. (Rom. 8:37-38)
This week call out to the Sovereign LORD—the Lord of your strength. He will come. For the trials of this life are truly your mercies in disguise.