There is an old saying: “Trouble never comes to us except she brings a nugget of gold in her hand.”
As long as we’re on our pilgrimage through the years of time, while we are on this earth, trouble will be a part of our lives. One day it won’t be so any more, but while we are here, it is.
In ways we may not yet comprehend, living in this “land of trouble” is a valuable opportunity. For it is only when we are weary, that we can learn the sweetness of rest. It is only when our hearts are breaking, that we can experience the preciousness of Love’s healing of our aching hearts. And it is only when our souls hunger and thirst, that we can know the richness that alone can satisfy our deepest need.
God’s angels don’t know these things. We human beings can.
Perhaps, in the end, we will not only conclude that the lessons were worth it, but we will even thank God for all the way that He chose to bring us. As extreme as it may seem, I believe with all my heart that in that day – when the “suffering chapter” in the book of our lives is over forever – we will be able to perceive His loving wisdom in such fullness that, if we could, we would not want to change anything in our lives.
And so Trouble comes. We walk through desert places - low, dreary places, lonely places, parched places of burning heat and drought. But, God has no road without itssprings. He does not leave us to traverse alone our valley of suffering. All His good promises to His children are unfailing springs. He made a covenant to be a Father to those who covenant with Him to be His people, and God’s promises are never revoked. Throughout all of human history, His people have found the springs of strength and comfort which their God has faithfully provided for them. “As your day, so shall your strength be.” (Deuteronomy 33:25)
His promised provision for our journey is not like a stagnant pool, but it is as an ever-flowing spring that does not shrink in times of drought. In fact, it is the time of trying drought that most reveals the spring’s rich fullness, and it is the hour of my need that confirms the promises to me as sure. And thus it was that Paul came to “rejoice in his infirmities/ weaknesses”, because it was through his weakness and need that he discovered the rich supply of his Father’s grace. (II Corinthians 12:9-10) The greater our need, the larger the pitcher we can bring - and always fill! “There is a river…” (Psalm 46:4) Ah, how precious are its waters for our thirst - and how much more there is to be possessed of our God’s fullness!
No, Trouble, I will not go looking for you. But, inevitably, you will find me. When you come to me, though, I will look for the gold nuggets that you bring to me in your hand!
There is a promise of the Lord that when we pass through the waters they will not overflow us. (Isaiah 43:2)
Not once or twice, but many times in life, we will pass through deep waters – circumstances that feel as though they will surely overwhelm us, swallow us up. The waters of trouble rise, and we fear that we will sink.
But, according to God’s Word, He has a gift for us - and because of it, we will not sink, we will not drown. It is the grace of “aboveness”. He does not promise that deep waters of affliction will never gather around us, but He does promise the believer that he can keep his head above the water. He promises us the precious gift of “spiritual buoyancy”! Read more!
Inside the Rough Oyster Shell
I read of a man early in the last century who sold diamonds. He sometimes had to mail the diamonds to buyers, and when he did he wrapped the boxes in rough brown paper. He did not want there to be any hint of the valuable things that the package contained. I believe that our God sometimes sends us costly packages that at first we may not recognize as having any value, because they are wrapped up in rough exteriors. But, in reality, precious gifts of His love, and kindness, and wisdom are hidden within.
Oftentimes, circumstances that to our natural eyes look dark and terrible can be unwrapped by the trusting eyes of faith in a good God, and we can, by looking deeper, perceive the hidden meaning. We can discover that harsh difficulties in our lives can mysteriously be for our good. The sting of winter makes us shiver, and moan, and long for warm springtime. And yet the biting cold freezes out pestilence, and the bitter frost breaks up and loosens the soil for future planting, and the stormy winds cause the roots of plants to go deeper, providing a better foundation for growth. We understand that in many ways wintertime is a "need be". Life's worst calamities can provide a better foundation for our growth, too, depending on how we receive them.
When trials press in hard against us, it is possible to have many different perspectives on them and reactions toward them, but I have found that one of the most consistently productive responses is not asking "Why?" but instead asking "What?" "What, Lord, do You want to teach me through this? Please help me not to miss anything that You, my faithful Teacher, want me to learn." Although my natural man wants to balk at suffering, my spiritual man wants to grow and produce more yielding to my Father's will in my life. When I elect not to push away the pressing trial, it is then that I may discover that it is actually the Potter's hand. When I have chosen to endure its discipline, I have found that the pressure I had the tendency to want to resist was purposed to mold my life into a thing of beauty and of usefulness.
Among the jewels of earth, the pearl is the only one drawn from a living creature, and in a sense the pearl is an outworking of life overcoming death. A pearl is only produced when one of the little mollusks living within the oyster shell is wounded. There is one "Pearl of great price" that is infinitely precious to the Father. It was through the wounding of Jesus - for our transgressions - that His life was released to us. Thus, it is much more than a mere principle that treasures can be hidden within the rough wrappings of suffering; it is a reality, a secret of inestimable value. In our difficulties, if we cast our cares upon such a Savior, trusting He is working out His good plan for us, we will assuredly extract from the rough oyster shell of our adversity a rare and priceless pearl.
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