November 13, 2013 - Serious Struggles

Sometimes we don’t understand what God is doing.

I believe this is partly by design to keep us from thinking we have the answers or even the general plan—we don’t.

God’s sovereignty is enough, right? It may not take the hurt away when our lives are crushed by tragedy, but it carries us through. We may not be able to make sense out of life as we sit in the valley of the shadow of death—but we won’t be there alone, and we won’t be there forever.

As we finish the race one day at a time, we are given the gift of His presence, His comfort, and His sustaining Grace. We don’t have to earn it—we have to accept it.

Then, in the middle of our suffering and enduring and pain—long after we have given up hope, something incredible happens—He gives us the desire of our hearts.

One of the incredible wonders of God is that His Grace doesn’t depend on us—it depends on (and is a gift from) Him.

One of my heroes in history is Jim Elliot, a missionary who gave his life for the Huaorani people of Ecuador. He offered himself up that this people might come to know Christ.

Although God revealed His Grace through Jim and his wife Elizabeth and brought salvation to these lost souls, the incredible Grace offered to them is no different—no greater—than that which He offers the man serving his last days on death row. The Grace of God is a gift—a free, priceless gift to which nothing can compare.

A song we often sing in church says,

“He gives and takes away, He gives and takes away, but my heart will choose to say, ‘Lord blessed be your name.’”

My wife and I sang that song for years side by side, but the first time I had to sing it alone, I could barely get the words out. I wondered how one could possibly trust God through the valley of the shadow of death when two go in and one comes out.

Then I remembered the promise of the 23rd Psalm:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, 
for you are with me;

It was not only two of us that walked into the valley that dark Friday afternoon in June of 2007, it was the three of us; Gwen, Jesus and me. And when I walked out on July 21st, 2008, I didn’t leave alone—Jesus walked with me.

As I looked back at the valley, I knew Gwen wasn’t there anymore. He had taken her home for the first time, and her suffering was over.

So how can we trust God in the midst of it all? The words of the song say it clearly. My heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be your name.

We don’t have to bless his name. We can live in bitterness and remember nothing but the pain if that is what we choose.

Just remember—that’s your choice, not His.