When Life Sends You Reeling
"For the enemy has persecuted my soul, he has crushed my life to the ground, he has made me dwell in darkness, like those who have long been dead. Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is distressed." Psalm 143:3-4 Every believer is going to walk through times so painful that it will cause him to stagger. He feels absolutely crushed, and it seems like all is darkness around him. He is overwhelmed. Why is this so? Well, for two reasons. First, Satan does all he can to destroy the believer, and he very nearly succeeds; do not underestimate him. The believer can be brought down to where he is totally helpless, and he's shocked, having never expected this. He staggers under the weight of the emotion that engulfs him, whether it be through loss, rejection, death of a loved one, illness, loss of his/her job with no other recourse, the unexpected turn-around against him of someone in the family or someone he thought was a close friend. The stories are endless but the bottom line is that every believer will pass through a time when the rug has been pulled out from under him and he is left reeling. The second reason is that there are things we need to learn that we can learn only through suffering. Suffering changes everything. It sobers one up. The lessons learned through suffering are deep and profound, and the believer will never be the same afterwards. When I was new in the Lord, I told him that "I want it all, Lord," I wanted to grow as close to him as one can be close to his God. I realized that this passage through this lifetime is boot camp, a preparation, and I trusted the Lord to the degree that I wanted anything and everything that would conform me to his image. At that time I had no idea how much pain would be involved in the answer to that prayer. As it turned out, I journeyed through every one of the things listed above, every single one of them, one at a time. Had I known how painful it was going to be, I wonder whether I would have prayed that prayer. But ...it brings me to the bottom line and that is that I wanted all that is needed to mature me to the greatest level I could attain to, because we only get one passage through this life, and then it's eternity. I was willing to invest all, for the sake of eternity. And now, years later, I know I'd do it again, for the treasure gained is incomparable, indescribable, and it is eternal. So how does one walk in times of great suffering? One thing that helps greatly is to bring back to mind all that the Lord has done in one's life in the past. We go on day by day, and we seldom stop and remember the great stories in our lives, and how the Lord made all the difference in our world. It's a time to think back. For those who keep a journal, it's a time to go back and refresh your mind on the stories you might have forgotten if you had not written them down. Rereading what the Lord did in those stories will refresh one's awareness that we never, EVER, walk through the stories of our lives alone. vs 5-6: "I remember the days of old, I meditate on all your works; I muse on the work of your hands. I spread out my hands to you, my soul longs for you like a thirsty land." When we're in a time of great learning, we are to pray that the Lord lead in every aspect of what we're going through. He is our source, sometimes our ONLY source. It becomes very clear that it matters not what anyone says, only what HE says. The counsel of friends is unsure, but HE is sure. It strengthens our faith, and solidifies the knowledge that this story is between him and me, and only between him and me. The only role friends may play is in the sympathy they offer, but that is moot compared to the knowledge that this is between me and my God alone. It has to be this way. All others will fall short, only he has the knowledge of all that has made up our lives, only he has the perspective and understanding of the goal this story is leading to. He is the ONLY one who can bring us through to the desired end. vs 8: "Cause me to know the way in which I should walk, for I lift up my soul to you." Later, when the story is complete and we are returned to some semblance of peace, we look back and see what the Lord accomplished even though he seemed so absent at the time. He never was absent, but when darkness overwhelms us it SEEMS that he is absent. When he does not speedily solve the problem, it SEEMS that he is absent. When the time through suffering is long, it SEEMS that he is absent. But later we will come to see that he was very, very present, and we rejoice in the changes that our passage through suffering brought about in us and in our lives. vs 10: "Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. Your Spirit is good, lead me in the land of uprightness." Yes, teach me Lord. Teach me all I can know about you. Teach me, because truly you and you alone are my God. You are everything to me and I surrender all to you because I have learned to trust you, and you alone ... and gladly so.