The Lord is good and gracious in everything that He does, including the times when He walks us through seasons of deep suffering. We can see His goodness and grace even in the deep suffering because it leads us to trust Him and know Him more. It serves to shape us more into the image of God. It helps us to see the temporary nature of the world and the lasting satisfaction found in God.
I know this is a topic that we don't really talk about. It's a topic that I, even though I have been a regular church-goer for all 26 years of my life, didn't hear mentioned in the church even once until a few years ago. It seems that in most churches, sexual sin is considered one of the "darker" or "worse" sins, so we don't talk about it, we keep it in the dark. But I'm going to talk about it here because I believe that Satan works in the darkness.
I drop a load of heavy grocery bags on the kitchen counter and walk out the front door to grab the last of the bags. I look back over my shoulder at our two-year-old puppy as he tilts his head at me, asking me (in his adorable dog-way) where I'm going. "Sit....... Stayyyyy," I say. These are daily words in the Bowerman household as we try to train Chief, our adorable rescue pup.
You know that feeling when something so deeply resonates and you feel this unexplainable sense of rightness? That deep deep conviction that God is real and true and good and faithful. And sometimes you can't even tell if that deep conviction is your own or if it's the faith of the people around you upholding yours. All I can think to describe it is the deep encouragement and sustaining of faith that comes from community. And it is beautiful.
In asking me to stay, God expanded my understanding of missions to be not just going to an overseas country to share the love of Christ, but rather leveraging any opportunity or situation to make disciples and share the gospel where I am.
Do you ever have those days when everything seems to be crumbling? When things are just falling apart left and right and you don’t have the strength to hold it together anymore? When it seems like everything is just too much and you want to give up?
My tendency when I approach Scripture is so often what can I get out of this? How can I apply this? How does this relate to me? While those are questions that sometimes (and often should) come out of our study of the Word, those should never be our initial questions. The Bible was not first and foremost written as a guidebook for our lives or an encouraging balm for our souls. No, the Bible is God’s divine and gracious revelation of His character and works to His people.
The songs we sing cannot be vague and imprecise because worship cannot be vague and imprecise. We are worshipping a specific person who has saved us in a specific way. Therefore, worship should magnify our view of God by highlighting His characteristics and His work of salvation through Christ.
Why do the righteous suffer? Is all suffering for the sake of God? How do we reconcile the fact that God is good and God is sovereign with the fact that there is evil in the world? Does God somehow ordain evil and suffering? Why do the plans of the wicked prosper?
Everywhere we look we see the effects of the brokenness of the world. You can barely scroll through your Facebook feed without seeing a news article or a comment thread about the latest tragedy, protest, or act of injustice. There is tragedy, unfairness, and devastation everywhere and it is truly heartbreaking...
Hope in God. David proclaims what I would do well to remember – that even if everything around me gives way, even if evil and darkness rule my life, there is still hope because God is unchangeable and steady and unshakeable, “His grace is the ground for unshaken hope” (Spurgeon). Even if you are in a place where you don’t feel God’s love, it does not mean that He is not present. Even if the darkness does not lift, “the darkness is not dark to him” and there is still hope.
This glaring juxtaposition between majesty and lowliness paints a picture of a King that is unlike any other. The first distinction of the Messianic King is that He is not only a King, but He is also God. Lord over all the heavens and the earth. Eternally existing, full in authority, glorious in majesty, wonderful in power. The second distinction is that it is this same King, this God, who also chose to be made lowest. And not just low to live outside of heaven, but low to be mocked, ridiculed, despised, scorned, rejected, and hung on a cross.
Even amidst the doubts and questions, Abraham believed God and walked in obedience. Even though He couldn’t fully understand how the promise would be carried out, he fundamentally trusted the character of God.
Our Father does not look for moral competency – for crossed t’s and dotted i’s and straight-line walking. Instead He takes the sin and the shame, He lovingly deals with them on the cross, and He promises to walk with us as we seek to follow Him and know Him more. His grace. It saves and sustains. It redeems and it reminds. It is forever and it’s also right now. In every moment, over and over and over. It is available in abundance.
It seems like the enemy has tirelessly worked to bring me low and make me believe lies. And I confess, I’ve allowed him to bring me low and I’ve believed the lies. But like firm ground underfoot that can’t be seen through the thickness of low-settled fog, with every step I have been able to rest firmly in the knowledge that He is sure and steadfast.