9/11: SHAKEN AND STIRRED TOWARD HEAVEN

God's Call: To Rebuild or Reset?

God’s Call: To Rebuild or Reset?

“…set your hearts on things above on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”  (Colossians 3:1-2)

A crazy thought passed through my mind one evening years ago while on a beautiful Caribbean cruise with my whole family.  It was a moment in time with no hardship, no illness, no worries….marriages and families flowing together like the waves upon the sea.  I brushed away thoughts of heaven and thought, ‘how could it be better than this?’

“But the ship struck a sandbar and ran aground…the stern was broken to pieces by the pounding of the surf.” (Acts 27)

The surprise of tragedy, betrayal and loss serve to shake and crush such crazy thoughts. Grief and anguish can depress and embitter or divinely redirect our hearts and thinking heavenward, and with great gain.  Yet, enemy attacks, storms and shipwrecks are tools in the hand of Sovereign God, changing the course of men – as they reset their hearts, their minds and their final destination.

Why is it important – utterly crucial – to long for heaven?

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  (Matthew 6:21)

Love for, even friendship with, this world does not dilute our relationship with the Lord – it plants seeds of contempt toward Him.  “Friendship with the world is hatred toward God.” (James 4:4)  Loosening our grip on the things of this world…even our health, beauty, and possessions, often prepares us for a greater measure of the Lord Himself.

While a comfortable and benign temperature in the physical realm, lukewarm is a deadly state for those chosen by the Lord (Rev 3:16).  To spare us this ‘sickening’ condition, the Lord often stokes the embers in our life, creating a fire in which He will appear.  When He burns away the dross of worldliness and our grip upon the temporal, our eyes can better focus on heavenly realms.  Beloved Apostle John was a vessel of honor for God’s glory,

“I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.  On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit….” (Rev 1:9)

Separated from the world in a barren place of loneliness and suffering, John was given astounding revelations of Jesus Christ, the last days and the coming Kingdom of God.  We  marvel at theses scriptures yet lose sight of the man used by God to deliver them – frail and elderly, at least 90 years old, stripped away from every worldly comfort.  Crushed in a place of great deprivation and suffering, heaven was magnified before him.  John’s longing for his Savior’s return became a singular focus personified in the ending verses of Holy Scripture, “Come, Lord Jesus”.

Is this yearning within you and meToday, the Lord’s return seems very inconvenient, even disruptive to our plans; we would rather He return after a pending project, after an upcoming wedding, or following the big vacation.  However pious and upright, most Christians do not want the Lord to really interfere with their lives. For the sake of our eternal life and His honor, ‘fiery trials’ often set our agendas and lukewarm lives aflame.  Death, anguish, betrayal and loss rout out futile confidence in the things and people of this world.

A dreadful emptiness often overshadows unbelievers when foundations are suddenly shaken.  For the believer in Christ however, there is a living hope.  We may be knocked down, but not knocked out.  The Holy Spirit revives us to fight once again, each round testifying of God’s faithfulness.  It is the mauled sheep who cling to the Good Shepherd and with Him find healing, restoration, – green pastures, quiet waters, and paths of righteousness promised in Psalm 23.   From the “valley of the shadow of death” comes the renewed focus on eternity as we anticipate “the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23)

Jesus said,

“In My Father’s house are many rooms….I am going there to prepare a place for you”.    (John 14:2)

Whether translated as ‘rooms’, ‘dwelling places’, or ‘mansions’ the Lord promises His followers a prepared place in His Kingdom.   We cling to this belief in death, but does this anticipation order our priorities and reshape our thinking on earth?  Are we ‘storing our treasures in heaven’, towards the things of eternal value?

The Lord may use a fiery furnace to burn off stumbling blocks of sin and compromise, raising our temperature well above lukewarm.  Thrashing waves upon our sailing ship often change our focus and our course.  Yet, whether through daily seeking and renewal through God’s Word or through the pressing and shaking of trials, it is incumbent upon God’s people to divest from this ‘condemned’ world and align ourselves with the purposes of God. God is not calling us to put our hopes in this fallen world any more than we would invest in a foreclosed bank.

In the ‘last days’ let us join Abraham and other heroes of the faith as they set their hearts and minds,

“…looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God…. for a better country – a heavenly one.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”  (Hebrews 11)

And prepared a city for us.

“Come, Lord Jesus”

No Happy Birthday….

Paul with his family

Today is Paul’s birthday but he is not here.  Too soon after this photo was taken he died, having endured a cruel and fatal disease.  His life seemed perfect in every way.  Wife, parents, children too young to understand, siblings and friends were all crushed by God upon the death of my only brother and best friend.

I am so grateful for his life though.  He didn’t leave this world like a snuffed wick but with a legacy of faith and courage.  His testimony and encouraging words live on in the many hearts he touched through his letters….

“…although I may have cancer, there are MANY reasons to praise God.  I can start by thanking Him for the most wonderful parents…”

“I have complete faith in God to help me weather storms when they come.”

“There is no better source of comfort than you will find in Christ’s Word.”

“I have read several times that all of Heaven rejoices when a man’s soul is saved, and hell trembles…Submit to God, repent, and God will not forsake you.”

“I know full well that my life is in the Hands of the Lord.  He has the keys to the car, and I am going along for His ride…”

We don’t need a birth date to remember Paul.

I often think of the Lord’s birth, the greatest ever upon this earth, and yet He purposefully kept it obscure and unknown throughout the ages.  We marvel at Christ’s life, are humbled by His atoning death for our sins, and in reconciling with God, rejoice at the promise of eternal life in His Kingdom.

Some birthdays are celebrated, some stand as landmarks of lives already passed.  Today I remember my beautiful brother and celebrate his life in Christ, knowing that we will reunite in God’s Kingdom.  In John 11:25, Jesus said:

“I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die.  Do you believe this?”

No Happy Birthday….Happy Forevermore.      

CUTTING OFF OUR OWN HEAD

There can be no doubt or dispute that the demise of our brethren under the sword of persecution is brutal and grievous.    Only the Holy Spirit’s power can enable one to endure, with courage, such unimaginable demise.  While some may have lived as nominal Christians, the edge of the sword radically defines their faith and eternal destiny.  Jihadists publicize these devilish deeds to evoke fear and dread, yet testimonies reveal that a living faith is coming forth through the fire.

We however in the west, ‘west of Jerusalem’ that is, are thus far not facing execution but nonetheless have defining moments to declare Christ and be His testimony to the world.   One might imagine that, within this window of relative freedom, Christians might rise up and stand against the consuming tidal wave that looms over our lands.

The tidal wave is not sin, we are already living in that endless flow.  The coming tsunami is the looming judgment of God.  Compromise and complacency expose our unbelief in this prophetic truth, a gross negligence since our call is to proclaim Christ’s return as “Righteous Judge”.

How have we, as the church, become so irrelevant and powerless?  The professed Body of Christ no longer stands apart from the world with open arms to the broken and confused.  No longer pillars of truth, upholding God’s unchangeable standards, we want to ‘belong to’, ‘fit in’, and ‘prosper’ – we certainly don’t want to ‘die’.

To fit anywhere within the world’s lofty standards requires disavowing the righteousness of God – the very standard by which we will be judged.

“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.”  (Prov 14:34)

Few voices are left to even speak of God’s righteousness, when nearly every page of Holy Scripture declares God as righteous – upholding, defending and proclaiming righteousness.   “The Lord loves righteousness…” and “…will judge the world with righteousness” are inescapable truths throughout scripture.

As the professed Body of Christ increasingly merges into worldly standards, we are detaching from our “Commanding Officer”, Jesus the “Righteous One”.  To our own spiritual demise, we are cutting off our own Head, the only true source of power, discernment, and promise.   Accolades and popularity, even prosperity replaces intimacy with the Lord.  Do we realize our own ideas and efforts are worthless?   “Apart from Me you can do nothing” declared the Lord, nothing of eternal value.

The defining line between the world’s lofty standards and the Body of Christ is the righteousness of God.  It is the measure by which the Holy Spirit convicts man of sin and upholds the Cross for forgiveness and eternal life.  Yet, it is a central stumbling block for the professed believer in this world – a truth against which many will align with the world.   The spirit of this world holds great contention against the righteousness of God – changing God’s standards, redefining sin and the ‘wages of sin’.  Ultimately diminished is the expression of God’s great love, the high price He paid to redeem us from sin and cover us with this righteousness.

What is the ‘Great Apostasy’ if not the cutting off of Christ, our Head?  Are we not now in this great apostasy, “refusing to love the truth and so be saved”?  Have we not willingly received a ‘powerful delusion’, the same lie birthed through Satan in the beginning:  you can sin and get away with it – in fact, it is not sin at all!

Coming out from under Christ’s authority and preeminence has great and lamentable consequences.  Apart from Him, His protection and promises to deliver and defend sadly fade, as will His presence in our midst, through the storms and wilderness, and His living word spoken like salve to our heart.   Yet, as we near the precipice of perilous times, He continues to call His sheep back to follow.

lighthouse_wave

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and they are safe.” (Prov 18:10)

Self sufficiency brought fleshly confidence to the western church, dethroning the authority and preeminence of Christ.  Contorting, even dismissing, the Word of God to redefine sin makes the Lord more palatable and acceptable to the world… ‘palatable to the world’ but nauseating to the Lord.  Like the Laodicean church, we are increasingly becoming a headless church, standing in the danger of misrepresenting God.

In His mercy, the Lord will awaken His church, revive His Body, with divine calling, powerful shaking, painful discipline – even orchestrated crisis.  He will have a testimony on this earth through true believers.  Our desperate cry for His presence and promises will define our faith and strengthen allegiance to His Word and His authority over our lives.

bold-as-a-lion-armando-heredia

The Lord Himself will empower us to stand and represent Him.  Endowed with His wisdom and discernment, we will have a word for this generation and add to His Kingdom.  Walking in His shadow, our short lives in this world will count for eternity.

“Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous;

The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!  The Lord’s right hand is lifted high!”

(Ps 118:15)

DOES GOD CRUSH OUR ENEMIES?

God crushes our enemies but we are called to love them.  How can this be?

Loving our enemies is a deep spiritual exercise in our steadfast belief in God’s sovereignty.   When God Unleashes the Giants describes the omnipotence of God as He configures the tribulations, suffering, and even the enemies that will oppress and test us.  When we walk in the shadow of our Master, there are no arbitrary storms neither are there unforeseen enemies.  The Lord orders our steps and measures each trial, limiting the power of any foe over our lives.  Our enemies, even those that would cause martyrdom, are at the Lord’s disposal.   Luke chapter 6 and Matthew 5 expound the familiar yet difficult call of Christ to “love your enemies”.  Yet, within the whole counsel of God there are two separate intertwining powerful truths:

We are commanded to love our enemies and God promises to avenge them:

 “ Do not avenge yourselves, dear friends, but give place to God’s wrath, for it is written,   “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.  Rather, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing this you will be heaping burning coals on his head.”  (Romans 12:19,20)

Firstly, we must resolve never to take what belongs to God, repenting from even vengeful thoughts and plans of revenge. Such are hatched from the flesh and demonically inspired.  Entertaining retribution is a normal and natural great temptation that will separate us from the purposes of God in that very situation.

Secondly, the mandate to love our enemies is impossible to fulfill – necessarily drawing us to the bosom of our Lord.  This is not a fleshly exercise of fluffy love, it is representing the mercy of God to those who have offended us and Him.  God’s love is never arbitrary or random, it is full of wisdom and light.  His guidance must overshadow all our overtures toward the offender so His purposes, not Satan’s, will come to fruition, “…heaping burning coals upon his head.”

Within the fiery trial, in the heat of the battle, our confidence must totally lie in the faithfulness of God’s revealed power and character.  We often think, because it so appears, that the Lord has softened His stand on betrayal and backstabbing, seemingly excusing deep wounds – even martyrdom.  No.

He is rolling up His sleeves.  The burning coals are His merciful warning call.

Our greatest challenge - getting the fire started

                                                        Our greatest challenge – getting the fire started

Heads aflame.  What are these burning coals?

When we show love to our enemies, we are standing between them and God’s vengeance as His call to shame, His appeal to repent with godly sorrow.  Burning coals of guilt, shame, and remorse – inflamed by the Holy Spirit – can be painful and relentless.  If the Lord ‘grants them repentance’ they will enter into a full knowledge of their guilt and sin’s depravity.  Only Living Waters  extinguish burning coals.

Following his powerful sermon to religious leaders, powers of darkness answered violently upon Stephen, condemning him to death.  This imitator of Christ, so wrapped in the Holy Spirit, pleaded for his killers as the stones crushed his flesh.

Then he fell to his knees and cried with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!”  When he said this, he died.  (Acts 7:60)

Was Stephen pleading, “Lord, pretend you didn’t see this!”  or “Lord, let them get away with murder!”?  Out of mercy he cried out for their reconciliation, for the Lord to grant repentance and, in doing so, absolve their guilt.  The very next verse, “And Saul was there…” bears witness to the answer of Stephen’s powerful prayer, later piercing the heart of at least one offender, heaping many burning coals upon his head.  The shame and conviction from desecrating Christ’s Body underpinned Paul’s salvation and launched him into abandonment to the Lord’s service.

Forgiving our enemies does not erase the consequences of their act, “God cannot be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows.” Forgiving criminal and other acts does not preclude punishment but releases offenders from the personal debt to victims.  Many of the forgiven are ‘free’ behind bars, entering into the presence of God and His purposes.

Of His believers Jesus declares, “You are the light of the world”, in a world increasingly wicked and dark.  We have a personal Savior so intimate that He calls us His Body.  Our enemies are His enemies and, when we relinquish our will and determine to walk blameless before Him, the Lord gains glory in the battle – His Kingdom advances. 

“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”  A “consuming fire” is our God.  He is able to burn in the hearts of our offenders now, push them back or eliminate them.  Can we meditate upon the Lord’s power to recompense, even eternal judgment, and not pity the unrepentant?

“Surely God will crush the heads of his enemies, the hairy crown of those who go on in their sins.”  (Psalm 68:21)

Syrian Christians slain. "I will repay" declares God.

Syrian Christians slain. “I will repay” declares God.

“He takes personally every act of dishonor as well as every act of kindness done to His disciples.” (Safely Home, Randy Alcorn, excerpt)

ANTICIPATING FREEDOM

And one thing more:  Prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers.”   Philemon 1:22

paul_in_prison

While admittedly an “old man” and prisoner in Rome (~59-61 AD) Paul wrote to Philemon, a wealthy believer in the city of Colossae, a brief letter through which come timeless truths.  Paul commends Philemon’s love and encouragement to other saints, his ministry of refreshment, and notably from this, Paul moves into his central purpose for writing – his accolades and advocacy for Philemon’s fugitive slave Onesimus.

The unwritten truths of this epistle are as significant as Paul’s actual message.  ‘Old man Paul’, writing from chains, never waivers from his faithful service to the Lord – extoling, encourageing, and instructing as from a pulpit.  Assured of God’s sovereignty, Paul knew that neither his freedom nor his chains were determined by Roman decree and power.   Hence he could request, with full expectation, that his Christian brother Philemon prepare a guest room for him.  Anticipating freedom, Paul plans lodging with his wealthy friend, over 900 miles away.

Isn’t faith rooted in anticipation?  What are we anticipating about God in times of darkness, oppression and trial?  Could we, while seeking relief and freedom from some oppression – while in our own chains – reach out to others in service to God?   Are we standing on the anticipation of freedom, the certainty of God’s deliverance?

Christians are the only ones with the right to sing their victory song while still in the battle.  That is the essence of faith in a sovereign and worthy God.  We can sing the victory song before the Red sea parts, before our answer comes.  We are authorized and justified to walk towards those fearful waters before knowing God’s plan.  Pastor David Wilkerson expounded these truths in his message, ‘Right Song, Wrong Side’, 11/15/09, declaring, “Anybody can praise the Lord when the victory comes…anyone can dance when their prayers are answered”.  But how do we live in this anticipated freedom, the deep conviction that God will deliver?

None of us are currently chained by Roman soldiers – but our trials and battles may seem just as binding and oppressive.   The painful entanglement of sin, the hounding of false guilt, fear and anxiety, or spiritual and emotional harassment begin to chain our hearts and mind.  When the devil magnifies loneliness, failure and loss – you are descending into that cell.  

And yet, while there, how can we call out and say, “Prepare a room for me, I’m coming out”?

Paul wrote in I Corinthians 10:13: “And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.   But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”   “A way out” when we are tempted?  Aren’t we looking for “a way out” from darkness, “a way out” of oppressive trial and tribulation?!

But the temptation, even idolatry, is right there, in the place between the chains and freedom.   It is there where we are tempted to lose faith, tempted to complain, endlessly ruminate and ultimately slander God.  We are tempted to idolatry when we see the trial as bigger than God.

The Apostle Paul believed the Word written through him in I Corinthians 10:13.  Without a ‘writ of habeas corpus’ he fully believed in the Lord’s power to free him.  Not chained to discouragement, fear, or unbelief,  Paul was free to trust God and hear from Him while in the place of bondage.  From intimacy with the Lord he could say with authority, “Prepare a guest room for me”…I’m coming home.

The enemy will hone into our secret fears, personal failures and overwhelming trials and magnify them with supernatural craft.  There is great temptation to agree with what we see…there’s no way out!  This is a disaster! I’ll never make it, I can’t even get out of bed!  The Lord Himself is the “way out” and our place, as part of His Body, is to step out and turn toward Him.   Pharaoh would have laughed if the Israelites sang before the Red Sea, sandwiched between the water and the world’s most powerful army.  But that is the faith that most pleases God: Praising Him before He moves, worshipping Him before the victory.

If we have succumbed to despair, even accused and slandered the Lord, now is the time to reconcile and repent.  The Lord can put us in ‘prison’ to expose our hearts and humble us to be of greater use in His Kingdom.  Therein is the challenge of faith, the call to claim the sovereignty of God:  Decide to believe a victorious Psalm, praise Him and worship Him even when your heart seems the heaviest.   Sing Exodus chapter 15 before the sea parts, before your deliverance comes, taking that spiritual step toward Him…reaching out to the hand that holds the key to every chain.

"In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and He answered by setting me free." Psalm 118:5

“In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and He answered by setting me free.” Psalm 118:5

 

“…Yet Not One Was Healed Except Naaman the Syrian”

naaman-healedFor most, it is not hard to believe that God can heal our sicknesses and pain. That the creator can reach into our fragile and temporal bodies and cleanse us of all illness is a foundational tenet of all religions, a power ascribed, with hope, to all gods. Jesus Christ, however, is the only God who became flesh, dwelt among us, and displayed His sovereign divinity – walking in the supernatural, touching the lives of those around Him. Healing the sick, miraculously feeding thousands, even reviving the dead characterized the power of God. Upon His ascension, Christ’s followers, endowed with the Holy Spirit, proclaimed the glory and presence of God as they walked in the same supernatural power. More than healing, they experienced the sustaining power of God through violent persecution, rejection, and martyrdom …supernatural endurance.

Those who walk with the Lord inevitably see the living Holy Spirit move in their own lives as God makes His presence known – giving life to His Word and delivering them from the futility of sin. But the onslaught of cancers and medical calamities brings a desperate cry from believers and unbelievers alike for healing, a miraculous intervention of God. Some wonder, has God lost His power to heal? Has His power – or even worse, His love for us – diminished? Why do our cries, our pleas, even our begging for healing seem unanswered? Understanding, in part, maybe found through another question. Is the power of God going forth elsewhere? Why there and not here?

A glimpse into the world of missions finds the outpouring of God upon the people in places such as India. Entrenched in the spiritual darkness of millions of gods and power of witchcraft, many- who never heard the name of Jesus- find the truth and light of Christ as He heals incurable diseases, cancers, and afflictions. Families and entire villages enter into a living faith in Christ through His supernatural touch upon their lives. Their devotion to ‘millions of gods’ becomes a worship of one true Savior. Step into their world, the world of converted Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, and see a body of believers who will live for Christ and speak His truth at great cost- rejection, persecution, even their own lives.

Humility brings forth living truth. While the Lord owes us no explanation nor are we deserving of His beneficence, there stands in His Word truths upon which our faith can take root and grow. “No” is an answer that will reveal the state of our heart and gauge our faith, provoking us to forge ahead in pride or humble us before God.

“And there were many in Israel with leprosy, yet not one was healed – only Naaman the Syrian.” (Luke 4:27)

Referring to the historical account in II Kings 5 where God, in sovereign power and deliberate appointment, passed by His own people, the Israelites, and supernaturally healed and delivered a foreigner. Christ delivered this scathing rebuke to those before Him in the synagogue, posing an ominous crossroad of faith to these listeners. In this passage of scripture God in the flesh stands before His chosen people declaring ‘miracles passed you by but were bestowed upon foreigners who knew Me not’. Israel suffered in a state of rebellious disregard for God’s Word. They had rejected the prophets sent by God and would they now reject God’s Son. In verse 29, following Christ’s rebuke, rather than repenting, the congregants were enraged,

“They got up, drove Him out of the town, and took Him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw Him off the cliff.”

Rebuke provokes the heart toward repentance or pride. The cry of a prideful heart, however desperate, will call upon God as servant – challenging God to prove Himself, discarding Him when He declines.

God speaks through healing and miracles. Not public service acts, His work in us is deliberate, for His purpose and glory. It is work with a view of eternity – that which brings reconciliation and salvation – that man might dwell with Him forever.

Assuredly God speaks through illness, pain and suffering. “Pain is God’s megaphone” calling many into a living faith and presence of God only possible through suffering. In a culture entrenched with the love of self, preservation of self, promotion of self – the worship of self – pain, suffering, incarceration, and even anguish are often used by God to separate us from the flow of the world and draw us unto Himself. “No” is the beginning of God’s answer into our lives if we are faithful enough to wait on Him through our pain. For the surrendered heart, His work in the storm, through the pain, and during the grief is powerful and intimate.

The move of God upon our lives, His answer to our prayer – be it ‘yes’ or ‘no’- is a call. It is a call into His presence and a call to glorify Him in this dark world. Physical healing is temporary – all will eventually die. The most neglected miracle is that almighty God humbled Himself and in love, stooping low enough to speak to man at all.

Are we hungry for His call upon our lives or is our prayer and cry to Him conditional, based on the right answer at the right time?
Like Israel, our society has rejected the ways of God and would indeed throw Him off a cliff. If ‘God exalts the humble but opposes the proud’ we must choose our camp carefully with deliberation. Is God still healing? Is He willing to heal? Yes and yes. If our cry is to know Him, to live in His shadow and walk in His Spirit we will always receive answer to prayer – an answer that upholds the promises of God in our life, speaks personally to our heart, and sends forth His glory through our life into this world.

Crushed By God

“Why? Why, why, why!!?” cried my anguished heart toward God, “What kind of God are you??!!” “How could you let this happen!!!!”

After a personal acceptance of God, trauma and suffering can be the most fiery trial of faith. At this cross road, many become embittered and cold toward their Maker. Their faith, once alive – now dries up like a dead leaf.
Be assured of two things at this juncture – God can handle our anger, our accusation and disbelief. He will not take on our challenge – the powerless clay rising up against the potter. As He Himself entered into every realm of suffering and temptation, He does not judge our anguish before Him. But He waits.
You may be at this juncture, have crossed this point, or perhaps will face a time of crisis in life and in your faith. When in the fire, we cannot see clearly nor can we think or meditate when the flames rise up around us. But no fire burns forever. When we step forth from it, still smoldering and weak, will we turn our back against God or will we ask – with heartfelt quest, “What kind of a God are you?”
He is waiting for this because He is ready to answer. He holds the powerful salve for our heart which alone can reach the inner recesses of sorrow and bitterness. Only God can prepare us to hear from Him. The Lord does not waste any of our afflictions, our pain, our loss – through the fire comes a powerful presence and revelation of God. We must go from the faith that God exists to the faith that He is sovereign.
For the Christian, surrender brings victory. Affliction and grief are not random nor has calamity occurred outside of God’s providence. These are challenging milestones of faith – battles with great reward. Only in the sovereignty of God can we begin to accept and see divine purpose. And only in deliberate seeking can we glimpse beyond the natural, towards eternity, where glory comes from being crushed by God.