The following devotional thoughts by Christine Wyrtzen were sent to me today by my good friend Phyllis. I trust you will be encouraged. ~ David
"Behold, we count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful." James 5:11
How has your 2008 been so far? We are often poised on the brink of a new year and with great optimism, expect God's blessing in the form of ease. We can be taken back when crushing times hit and we are called to endure. Have you fallen to your knees this year in anguish? Have you said to a trusted friend, "I can't take anymore! This is too hard? I don't see where God is working at all." I have.
Finding the strength to endure would have been impossible without God granting it, one day at a time. I am confident that if you or I had been able to speak with Job in the middle of his darkest hours, he would not have been able to see any blessing ahead. The nature of loss and grief is that it is all consuming. Pain fills your range of vision completely. Yet, there was an ending to his story that he couldn't possibly have written. He learned that God is a Redeemer.
He gives, takes away, and gives back more than he took because the gift of Himself is in the equation. Where would our theology of pain be if Job's story were not part of Scripture?
I don't know where you are on the continuum of suffering. Perhaps you see storm clouds brewing and you are intuitive enough to know that dark times are ahead. Panic is in your soul. Or perhaps you are already in the battle of your life. You looked in the mirror this morning and thought, "Who is this old woman?" These days have taken their toll and there are no signs that things are going to change. Or finally, perhaps you are beginning to see God's deliverance. By God's grace and the power of His Word in you, the storm is abating.
The last few months are a blur but you have lived long enough to awaken with palpable hope in your soul. It's no longer just faith-talk; you can feel it. What would be my words to each of you? Make up your mind to be the tree planted by springs of living water. That means fighting for your life to stay in the Word of God when your trust in Him could very easily be shaken off its foundation. "Living Water" must be washing over your doubt constantly. Your thoughts must constantly be sifted. Throw out ALL that don't align with the life of faith.
Job had some serious crisis moments during his journey through the valley of suffering. He was encouraged to curse God when all the evidence was stacked against his faith. He didn't. He could have resented the poor compassion of his friends and refused to forgive. He didn't. He could have taken his life. He didn't. He took up his issues with God and heard God speak back, personally and powerfully. That was his turning point. It has always been the personal Word of God that clarifies, strengthens and sustains.
“May nothing else satisfy me today. You not only get me through what seem like impossible days but you promise to make them productive in my life. I trust You. Amen.”
Living in the glory of Jesus,