Monday, July 16, 2007

July 16, 2007

"We are pressured in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed.....for our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory." I Cor. 4: 17

Stress....I HATE IT!!!! And the older I get, the less able I am to tolerate it. Yet it seems to be a way of life any more. Everyone you talk to is stressed. Either you are in the midst of a trial, coming out of a trial or about to enter one. Some days I find myself thinking "Lord, I am so tired of this. I just want to ENJOY life, ENJOY my family, smile and not WORRY about anything!" Then I realize, that will be HEAVEN....and I'm not there yet!

Just yesterday as we sat in our Sunday School class and listened to prayer requests, I was reminded of how many burdens others are carrying, too. Here is just a sampling:

A wayward child
Aging parents
Marriage of 25 years ending in divorce
Facing cancer surgery
Recovering from surgery
Troubled teenager
Decisions regarding business
Death of wife and daughter within 6 weeks
Job loss

Each of these has someone weighted down, heart broken, filled with worry and anxiety over those they love. Jesus told us that in this world we would have tribulation, BUT, he said "Behold, I have overcome the world!" We can take comfort in knowing that for THIS we have matter what our THIS is, HE is big enough!!

Notice what the above verse says...these are "momentary", which means they will only last a short time. And they are "light afflictions". Now for most of us, when we are in the midst of a stressful situation, we do not consider it LIGHT! But compared to what Jesus suffered for each of us, whatever it is, it is light by comparison.

Our pastor once preached a sermon about Jesus and the disciples who found themselves aboard a ship in the midst of a storm. He made the comment, "When Jesus is in your boat, you can rest assured the boat won't sink and the storm won't last forever!" We find that hard to believe when the storms are raging in our lives. But it IS true.

I can think back on several who have found themselves in storms in just the last few years and where they are today.

A dear friend lost her mother unexpectedly. Her father was devastated and thought his life was over. Now, four years later, he has healed, moved on and even remarried a wonderful woman. He is very happy.

A young woman my son graduated with was heartsick to learn several years ago that her little boy had leukemia and the prognosis seemed grim. This young mother cared courageously for him as well as his younger sister. In the midst of this battle, they learned that her husband also had cancer. Soon she found herself caring for TWO cancer patients and a young toddler. Her husband was unable to work and she was needed to care for all of them so she could not work. This Saturday, they will celebrate a NO MO CHEMO party for this little boy, now 6 years old and entering kindergarten this fall!! The Dad is back at work and they are in the midst of a move to Texas where the mother will begin teaching again in the fall.

Just one short year ago, the church we were a part of was in the midst of huge controversy and conflict. It was a hard time for all involved, especially the pastor who resigned. As difficult as that was for him and his family, the timing of that resignation allowed them to be available to their daughter and her family when their precious grandbaby was fighting for her life. Then, in God's perfect timing, He opened a door of ministry to them in another church. God is using him in amazing ways and He has only just begun!! Many who were affected by this same situation, have moved on and God has continued to bless in so many church families and friends, new opportunities for ministry and even a marriage is resulting from all of this!!

God truly does work ALL things for our good..the good and the bad, the happy and the sad. It is SO hard to see it when we are in the midst of it. And we would much rather NOT go through those dark valleys. But, God in his mercy, will see us THROUGH to the other side. He will not let the waters overflow us, He will not allow our boat to sink and most importantly of all, He will never leave us. He will go through the storm WITH us, comfort us, guide us, and hold us close til one day, the winds begin to subside, the waves die down and the sun breaks forth in all its brilliance to reveal a beautiful rainbow of hope and peace.

I shared in one of my first blogs about the summer I got braces and what an ordeal that was for me. During that summer of preparing for that, I ran across this little poem that I have never forgotten. I pray it will be a blessing to you.

God hath not promised skies always blue
Flower strewn pathways all our lives through
God has not promised peace without pain
Joy without sorrow, sun without rain.
BUT...God HAS promised strength for the day
Rest for the laborer, light for the way
Grace for the trials, Help from above,
Unfailing sympathy
Undying love.

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