Often it is in the mundane Mondays, the random times you least expect it, the moments that don’t seem to hold much weight. It’s the time when the Lord reveals more to you than you can grasp. It’s not an overwhelming super emotional, mystical experience, but the slow peeling away of the old paint on our heart’s walls. The chopping off of branches that don’t belong. The petals floating off a flower that doesn’t belong in your garden.
I know I’m growing. It’s not a one and done experience. Not a huge rescue mission where I’m plucked from this desert I’m in, but a steady thorough journey in my heart and soul that Jesus is taking me on and guiding me through. He’s revealing my pride. Seen and unseen. My hidden bitterness I didn’t even realize I had. My awful sin blatant and unrealized. That the smallest is still an offense to a pure and holy God. In one sense I want to run far knowing how dirty I am and unclean my lips and mind, for He is holy beyond what I even comprehend and in another I want to run hard after Him throwing my arms around His neck in a hug and never letting go. What do I do in these times but take one step at a time knowing he has promised to be with me through it all. That in each moment I break down he’s breaking off the parts that don’t belong.
I’ve been going through Psalms 119 in small sections. The other week I encountered the old pastor of a church I knew and he kindly remembered who I was. That meant a lot to me, but even more so was the “coincidental” (not really) verses we talked about. He said he had been asking people to finish what this phrase said and that no one answered the following from Psalms 119…”It was GOOD for me that?” Answer: I was AFFLICTED that I learned his statues.
Recap from last week about knowing and believing: this resonated in my heart: “I KNOW oh Lord (and BELIEVE) that your judgements are right, and that in FAITHFULNESS you have afflicted me.” (Psalm 119:71/75) I bet most of us don’t see His affliction as a sign of His faithfulness. Had I not experienced some I never would have agreed nor truly understood. He has and is slowly drawing me towards His presence in a deeper way every day. Despite my confusion, my anxiety, my worry, my fear, my disobedience, and childish rebellion. It hurts, it’s hard, it’s dark and an uphill battle, but man I can praise Him for it!
The other day I finished the last chapter of a neat little book given to me by my dear British friend who thought I would benefit from it during my depression while in the hospital. It’s called Spurgeon’s Sorrows, by Zach Eswine. It’s a neat little book whether you have dealt with depression or not. When I began to read benefits of sorrow something in me broke and clicked together as if finally accepting all I’ve been going through. I hope the following also help some of you out there experiences your own sorrows.
– Sorrows deepen our intimacy with God. Uhm yes. I may not always feel Him, but I’ve come to seek and know Him on a level I never would have if not for my trial. Spurgeon quotes “I have found there is a sweetness in bitterness not to be found in honey; a safety with Christ in a storm which may be lost in a calm. It is good for me that I have been afflicted.”
– Sorrows enable us to better receive blessings. As Spurgeon puts it, “This very casting down in the dust sometimes enables the Christian to bear a blessing from God which he could not have carried…standing upright.” I know my pride gets in the way of me accepting blessings; I had a friend once say the hardest thing for me to accept was gifts. The ones poured out during my accident made me cry from being so overwhelmed with thankfulness knowing I did not deserve them, but I was weak enough that He broke my pride to accept them. The prayers and support received still make me emotional to think about.
– Sorrows shed our pretenses. Rationality, logic, masks…forget it. It comes down to “self-examination” as he puts it- what is our foundation really made of?
– Sorrow exposes and roots out our pride. I felt like the Lord was doing winter cleaning in my heart…He exposed so much pride I didn’t realize I had. I’m glad He did and still continues to. It is humbling.
– Sorrow teaches us empathy for one another. There is only so much we can understand about a situation until we go through something similar ourselves. I know now what it is like to live life for awhile in a wheelchair, to be a vegetable in bed, and using a cane to walk. There is so much in between the spaces of those letters that experience holds that will only resonate with a few.
– Sorrows allow small kindnesses to loom large. There are so many little things people did that will never know how deep they touched me. From my favorite Kinder Bueno bar to the random hug from a nurse in the states who learned of my story. It’s the little things.
– The last two are as follows: Sorrows teach us courage for others who face trials. Sorrows teaches us to resist trite views of what maturity in Jesus looks like.
I want to desire his law statutes and commands like the psalmist of 119. I want to love them and obey them, but only if it be by the power of Christ in me or else I am weakly attempting on my own pitiful “strength” that will fail. In all of this I must be willing to be surrendered and humbled everyday. Not with false humility that fools the people, for God sees the heart. Not with a halfway heart or humbleness, but full on surrender to dying to myself and picking up a cross that my Savior died on to make all this possible. And lastly, remember our sorrows are NOT wasted my dears.
As I love sharing music here are 4 songs to reflect on.
Though You Slay Me, Shane & Shane (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qyUPz6_TciY)
Hungry, Mercy Me (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OH0EeVmU2Ns)
You Alone, Seth Condrey (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tynh8b3t4yU)
Be Still, Steffany Gretzinger (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAPpunj-dMM)