Friday, January 7, 2011

Discomfort and Blessing

From the morning reading of the Daily Light, January 7: Thus says the LORD: "I remember you, the kindness of your youth, the love of your betrothal, when you went after Me in the wilderness." I will remember My covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish and everlasting covenant with you. I will visit you and perform My good word toward you. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Nehemiah 5:19; Jeremiah 2:2, Ezekiel 16:60; Jeremiah 29:10-11)

Recently I sent a text message to a young friend of mine on his birthday. In the text I said, "Excited to see what the Lord has in store for you this year!"

His reply: "Thanks Tiff. My guess would be discomfort or really just opposite of what I would typically want! :)"

I laughed at his reply - as he had intended and reflected with him how that has often been my experience, but not necessarily the general rule.

This morning as I read the scriptures listed above, I was both encouraged and frustrated. Encouraged because I know those scriptures to be telling the truth. I know God loves me and thinks his good word toward me. I believe that God is keeping his covenant with me. And I trust that His plans will bring me to a good end, not an evil one.

I was frustrated because I can remember how often my will, the future and the hope that I want for myself, has not been fulfilled. And it made me think of that text message from my young friend.

This morning as I encounter the world, and God in the world, I want to remember that much of walking with Christ is about my attitude toward my experiences. Like little Much Afraid, who met the Great Shepherd's will with fear and trembling at first and later with acceptance and joy, I need to continually place my trust in the Shepherd's love for me. Trusting him is the only way that I can agree with what the prophets wrote thousands of years ago.

However, I don't have to let is be uncomfortable or the opposite of what I want. The Scriptures tell us that if we seek God, we will come to know him, we will find him - that if we obey God, he will love us and show himself to us. The real question for me is, what do I value more - God and his love for me, or my secret hopes and plans? If I was being honest, its most often the latter. I value my hopes and plans and hope that in God's love for me, he will provide them. But this kind of conditional love is out of sync with the Gospel, which tells us simply to love God and then love others. The chief end of man, the catechism says, is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. If that is really true, then my attitude is the only thing that separates my experience of God as a cruel taskmaster who wants to humiliate me from my experience of God as a benevolent father who is using every encounter as a teaching experience.

Reflecting on her experience living and writing "Hinds Feet on High Places", Hannah Hurnard said, "Everything around me seems to have been designed to emphasize this lesson. I have been brought to a place where all God's creation appears to be uttering things in a language which only becomes clearly audible and understood by hearts that have been learning in the school of suffering. It is the language which one begins to spell out in one's innermost soul when one is on a cross to which self is being transfixed by nails of pain and anguish of heart."

All humans will suffer. That is evident around us in so many ways. But as a follower and lover of God, my best response is to believe that these sufferings (or in some cases, just these little discomforts or denials of my hopes/expectations) are truly good. Can I meet God's path with acceptance and joy? Can I believe in 2011 that God really is working toward my good, to give me a hope and a future - even though that future may not look as I had expected or planned or intended? Can you?


fblife said...

I downloaded this to my Kindle! Thanks for the post, it reminded me this is a book I have wanted to read for awhile.

Erin said...

Clearly, I both understand and am walking the journey to the "High Places" myself. Love you!