Apparently God is doing something new with me.
I’ve been going through a season. For about a year. About exactly a year ago I went into the hospital. I’m ok. I have an annoying thing now called menorrhagia that puts me down occasionally if I don’t watch what I eat. Its humiliating and painful and gross. I’ve had series of insanities. My mom had a heart attack. A beloved colleague I depended on died which put my business in chaos. I got the flu on Christmas Day and spent it miserable and sick.
But good things too. The good things have been internal. Learning to hear my Lord chief among them. I’ve always been jealous of those who can hear Him easily. He seems to have been teaching me so I can do it too.
He said to count it all joy when I go through various myriad trials. I didnt know He meant that they all hit at once. But they have. Crushing financial pressures that tempt me to forsake Him or despair falling with no hope of release. They leave me breathless and my response must be. Must be. Thy will be done. Its God who lifts up and God who brings down. And I find myself understanding that like so many my prejudices are laid bare. I have believed financial blessing equated with Gods approval. He doesn’t feel that way at all.
But the worst bit is this idea that the more I pray the worse it gets. It keeps getting worse. The bible teachers talk about walking in victory. I’m not. So there must be something wrong. I followed their steps. Why isn’t it working?????
How easily I fall into the fallacy in James. Giving honor in my heart to myself when I’m doing well with money. I’m not doing it to others but I do it to myself. It’s the same.
You cannot serve God and serve mammon.
So it keeps getting worse and what am I to do with that? Praying for a year and it keeps getting worse. I have His promises. I believe. Then I discover my bookkeeper failed to file my taxes properly and my retainer clients leave. I double down on the promises and my server errors multiply. The data center makes mistakes.
I make payment arrangements and fulfill them until the last one, and a client doesn’t pay. It was for nothing.
Now I lose. No more recourse. And even the beans and rice are gone. And I don’t want maturity. I want to be a hobbit. I want elevensies and second breakfast.
It’s all very well to say though you slay me yet will I trust you. But do I mean it?
You know who else it kept getting worse for? The widow of Zarepath. Famine. Dont forget she’s lost her husband. She gets this weird foreigner roommate and a magic jug of oil. Her son dies. For Joseph. Hatred, slavery, prison. For Lazarus. He died, leaving two sisters. For John the Baptist.
Some were delivered, some were not. That’s the thing about it. Our Lord is not a tame lion. He very well may let us go into the Hebrews list of saints who failed outwardly in hope. But they hoped. The change of circumstances wasn’t the victory. The victory was the hope, faith, love. Easy to read those three words, practicing them is hard.
Do I want rescue or do I want Him? Really?
What did it take for Elijah to see the boy die and raise him? The death came.
I’m not saying this to complain. I’m saying it because its reality. So much teaching about your best life now fails to say that the best life may well be in outward circumstances of hardship. Painful physically. Lonely. It can keep getting worse.
But here’s what He whispers.
Last years theme was glory. He told me when it started. And this year’s is joy. It might not mean anything close to my idea of rescue.
The widow’s son was raised. Joseph became a prince. Lazarus came forth. I know. I know. John the Baptist was martyred. But i know he has a crown. And Christ himself said John was the best of us. What would you give for that?
Is His presence enough?
Last night Rod and I watched a documentary on George MacDonald, Tolkien and Lewis. When it was done I told him where I got the idea for the Song. In my book Sorrowfish, the Song is magic. But it’s that “sense of autumn” Lewis writes of. It’s the longing in you and the ache for Him.
I felt it at Land between the Lakes with school friends watching a sunset. I was 11. I felt it singing the doxology in a stone church. I knew angels filled the nave and we were singing a round of praise with them. I was 12. I felt it in the Catskills working at a camp with inner city youth. I was 16. One morning singing there, I knew He heard and smiled. I felt it listening to Ode to Joy. I felt it holding my grandson.
My hope is not in book sales or new projects or the lottery. Though my mother turn away, yet I trust Him. My hope is in Him. Though He take all my stuff yet I trust Him. Though He remove my reputation yet I trust Him. Though it keeps getting worse yet I trust Him. Though I go through labor pains again and again. Yet I trust Him. This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it. Joy is being in the vine. It’s why God’s answer to Job was Himself. It’s why John said, Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
Glory be to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be. World without end. Amen.
This isn’t me becoming resigned. I want and will fight for deliverance. This is me saying no to despair. Saying amen. And if it all goes wrong I’ll ask for a resurrection and try to raise the dead. The story of Elijah raising that boy is the story of hope. He could have just buried him. That’s what most would do.
Faith that doesnt defy mathematics isn’t faith at all. If it keeps getting worse there’s a reason. I may never see it. But I know the final chapter. Its enough.
Hast Thou No Scar
by Amy Carmichael
Hast thou no scar?
No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?
I hear thee sung as mighty in the land,
I hear them hail thy bright ascendant star,
Hast thou no scar?
Hast thou no wound?
Yet, I was wounded by the archers, spent.
Leaned me against the tree to die, and rent
By ravening beasts that compassed me, I swooned:
Hast thou no wound?
No wound? No scar?
Yet as the Master shall the servant be,
And pierced are the feet that follow Me;
But thine are whole. Can he have followed far
Who has no wound nor scar?