"Though he slay me, I will hope in him."
It's only officially Day 1 (since it's Monday) of my time off from work, and I feel like the Lord has spoken so much into my heart today. I don't even know where to begin right now. I feel like my heart and my mind are overflowing with some hard convictions and precious Truth.
I decided to listen to a sermon by John Piper about suffering. I quickly found a sermon series he preached back in 1992 entitled, "Called to Suffer and Rejoice". It is a 4-week series and the first one is called, "For Holiness and Hope".
He is speaking from the angle of suffering for Christ in the cause of carrying the Gospel to the world, but his message can be easily applied to any form of suffering or tribulation you may be walking through.
I am not going to walk through or summarize the message. If you would like to listen to it you can CLICK HERE - I would highly recommend to anyone who may be walking through a difficult season. I do want to talk about some things the Lord has revealed to my heart today.
So often, we beg and plead with the Lord to give us the most comfortable life possible. I don't know that I can put it any better than Laura Story put it in her song "Blessings":
We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family
Protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for your mighty hand to ease our suffering
These aren't bad things to pray for. I mean, hello, I prayed for healing for my Mom for almost 2 solid years. I begged and pleaded with Him to not take her from me. Why? Because I love my Mom, and I wanted her here with me. I wanted her to be here when the day comes that I find out I'm pregnant. I wanted her to be by my side in the delivery room. I wanted my children to know their G-ma. I wanted to be able to call her when I'm bored. I wanted to be able to text her pictures of my newest redecorating projects. I just wanted my Mom here with me. When I pictured my life without her, it was the most unbearable thing I could imagine. I wanted comfort. I wanted God to receive glory through Him performing a miracle in her healing - the easy way for me to give Him glory. It's easy to give Him glory when He gives us what we ask for. But it is hard to give Him glory when our dreams are broken and crushed and shattered. I knew He was going to receive glory either way - either in her healing or in the healing of my broken heart. But I was really hoping for the former. Why? Because it would have been much easier than this.
"Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?"
It's easy to receive good. It's easy to receive the answers to our prayers when they provide us with comfort and peace. But what about when God says, "I have something else in mind. I have something greater for you than the easy road."
It isn't bad to pray for healing. It isn't bad to pray for blessings, for peace and for protection. But it is bad to put your hope in these things. God doesn't promise the easy road. But He does promise His Spirit. He promises to never leave us or forsake us.
I've written lately about my struggle to find joy. Something God revealed to me today is how much hope I was putting in comfort, in the easy road. Since I'm not walking the easy road, I don't have joy. As a Christian, this should not be so! For His Word says, "...we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God." Romans 5:2b. We rejoice in hope. Hope is not something now. Hope points to something that lies ahead. "Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." Romans 8:24-25. I want my joy now. And I can have that joy - but my joy is to be found in HOPE - NOT in the things and comforts of this world - not in the healing of my Mom from cancer. Even though she was not healed here, I can still rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
We are not created for this world. We are not meant to be comfortable and satisfied here. This place is temporary. The pain we experience here points us to our longing for something greater.
John Piper prayed these words over his congregation, and I now pray these same words for myself and for you:
"God, take out other hopes that are squeezing
away hope in the glory of God, and replace
those hopes with the glory of yourself."
I am begging God to change my perspective. Up until today, I have felt cheated and stolen from, wronged and short-changed. I am still battling these feelings. But I am desperate for God to do a work in my heart. To help me see the grander purpose in all this. That this life is not about me and my comfort. I do not want to only receive "good" from God, but I want to receive hardship as well. I want my joy to be found in the hope of His glory. I want my life to count for something far greater than the here and now. I want to stop thinking I deserve more than what He's already given me. I want to be thankful for what I have but not place my hope in any of it.
Piper ended his sermon with this, and through my own suffering, I want to hear God say:
"I have a godly purpose for you, and it's a soul-work that, in my eyes, is so much more important than you were up to. Don't complain. Receive the blessing of my hand. I am going to make you gold."
"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."