The divine faith I felt a few weeks back... that "woosh" of faith, left after the first day. The super-filled-feeling of faith came in a very real instance; and, then the road has been one of trusting, asking and reaching out. The fight to keep faith, to keep hoping, and to be expectant has been difficult. But that is another blog, I suppose.
Last night I had pain. I had significant pain last night. And with pain came discouragement and sadness. Okay, my heart lamented, it is clear that He didn't heal me! The barrage of doubt and hopelessness assailed my heart and mind. Intense was the disappointment and doubt. Did I really even hear Him at all that day? Did He call me to reach out in faith?
In my journal I wrote, "Fear, worry, sadness, doubt, and anger all crouch at my door. They nudge me, they poke my heart!"
Oh! the struggle of faith and hope. How is it that one keeps hoping, trusting, believing that all things are possible... while at the same time accepting from the Father's hand pain and suffering, which He does allow and He uses (clearly in Scripture)? The tension of knowing that today, today!, I could be healed AND today He might allow pain... that tension is beyond-words difficult to hold. It is so much easier to slide to one side or the other rather than stay strained in the middle of it.
This morning His word to me was like a light into this darkness. This morning as I sat, as I listened, as I looked and asked Him for His truth ... He spoke deeply and directly to my heart. His words jumped of the page and slapped me in the heart. Awakening me from the slippery slope of discouragement, He awoke me with a kind slap. A kind, love-filled discipline came out from His word and to my heart.
Jesus says to Peter in Matthew 16:15... or does He say it to Stephanie (I could swear this was written for me, spoken to me this morning!) ... "But, what about you? Who do you say I am?"
Earlier in the chapter he rebukes the Pharisees for demanding a sign and tells them the only sign He will give is his resurrection. Then, He asks Peter what people are saying about Him. Peter answers Him. And, then He asks Peter ..."what about you?"
Stephanie, What about you? Who do you say I am?
With Peter, and with tears, I say to the my brother Jesus, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!"
And He whispers, "Is this enough?"
Yes, Lord Jesus! Your resurrection. Your saving blood. You are the Son of God... and that is enough for me! I will not demand anything else from You! What You have done in my heart, in my life, ...on the cross .. is enough!! I say, YES! You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!
After this beautiful interchange this morning, I opened a small, tender book written by Amy Carmichael, Roses From Brier. Her first words in Chapter 3 made tears stream: "pain, like sin and cruelty, is the work of the enemy. If it were not so we should, I think, have no right to resist it." (p.27)
Yes! my heart cried. Pain and suffering are "not as it should be!". This death entered our Father's perfect world with rebellion and sin. It is not as it should be!! Isn't that what our hearts cry out when we hear of pain and suffering. And, I think He agrees!
And, yet, there is a "peace in acceptance" (p.27) that allows for the truth that our kind Father "shall sit as a refiner and purify us as silver" (Malachi 3:3). There is a surrender of heart and a trusting that releases our bodies, our minds and our hearts into a loving Father's hand and His will. We can say, "Be to me as You will. You are good."
But, Amy Carmichael points out, "acceptance is a word of liberty, peace and victory. But, it has never meant acquiescence in illness, as though ill-health were from Him who delights to deck His priests with health" (p. 28)
Acceptance but not acquiescence.
To release. To surrender AND at the same time to keep fighting, in faith, for wholeness and freedom.
This is the tension.
To, with Dylan Thomas, say, "And to say, with Peter, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!" ...that is enough. To say both. Both at the same time... with a unified heart.
Jesus took Peter's statement that day as a statement from God. A statement coming from faith. And, still Jesus healed. The next chapter, in fact, at the request of His disciples, He healed. Being enough didn't mean He wouldn't do amazing things for His friends.
He still does heal. He still does offer other signs along side, "the sign of Jonah". But, Who He is and What He did at Calvary is enough sign. And it is enough for me today.
I accept what He has for me in pain. But, I do not acquiesce to this pain. I do not call it "mine" or own it as forever. I will keep reaching out.... with a submissive heart, I will keep reaching out!