Jeremiah 23:35 NLT, "You should keep asking each other, ‘What is the Lord’s answer?’ or ‘What is the Lord saying?’"
Recently a dear friend came to stay with us for a couple of weeks. On her arrival, she caught up with all the family news. Serene told her of her recent miscarriage at three months pregnant and she responded with, "And what did you learn through it, Serene?" Serene told me later that Sally’s question really provoked her to think more about what she learned from this experience and of all that God taught her.
It was a growth question. Too often we ask negative questions of ourselves and even of others. "Why should I have to go through this experience?" "Why has this happened to me?" "What have I done to deserve this?" "Why do I have to live in this cramped house, I deserve a better one?" These are negative questions that come from a root of self-pity or a misunderstanding of the nature of our God.
When the children of Israel came into the wilderness, God miraculously and daily provided them with manna. But they soon got tired of it and longed for the food they ate in Egypt. Numbers 11 tells us that they wept tears as they cried out, "Who will give us flesh to eat?" God was displeased with their complaining question. He said He would answer their cry and send them flesh, not just for one day, but for a whole month, so much that it would come out their nostrils! But He sent judgment upon them at the same time. Complaining displeases God because it undermines His faithfulness.
Don’t you think it would be a good idea to get into the habit of changing our questions to a positive level? Instead we could ask, "Lord, what are you trying to show me in this situation?" “Lord, in what way are you wanting to change me and enlarge my understanding of you.” Not one of us can avoid going through difficult times in our lives. However, if we sulk and groan in these circumstances, we’ll never grow.
We mature through adversity. Maybe God wants to expose something in our lives that is not pleasing to Him. Maybe He is stirring up our nest in order to lead us in a different direction. This is often the only way God can get us to change. Maybe we have been trusting in our own abilities and possessions and this situation will cause us to seek His face and learn to trust Him.
It is not easy to go through hard times, but it is always for our good. David wrote Psalm 4 while he was going through one of the most heart-wrenching times of his life. His very own son, Absalom had risen up against him and was seeking to take his crown and kingdom from him. I am sure there could be nothing more grieving than to be betrayed by your own son. But as he was fleeing for his life from Absalom, he wrote the words, "Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress." (Psalm 4:1. Read also Psalm 18:19; 31:8 and 118:5)
The Psalmist also confesses in Psalm 119:67,71,75, "Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word." "It is good for me that I have been afflicted." "Thou in thy faithfulness hast afflicted me."
Many years ago I remember reading in one of Watchman Nee’s books about a woman who noticed another lady crying profusely. She went up to her and instead of the usual, "What’s the matter, dear?" she asked her, "Who are you crying for?" Was she crying for herself or were her tears for another? Many times our questions lead to self-pity, rather than growth. Often we use all our tears upon ourselves so that we have no emotions left to pour out in intercession and care for others.
May God help us to change our questions to those that will help to bring us into growth, rather than leave us in the rut, or the pit of despair. God loves us too much to leave us where we are. He is not content with letting us stay the same. He wants to lead us on. He wants to change us into the likeness of Christ, from one degree of glory to another. If God did not allow difficulties to come to our lives, we’d stagnate instead of grow.
Let’s ask this question continually, "Lord, what are you saying to me? I am listening as I read your precious Word. I want to hear you speak into my heart. What are you telling me through these circumstances I am going through?"
Love from NANCY CAMPBELL
"Oh dear Father, I pray that you will lift my eyes off myself and how things affect me. Lift up my eyes to see what you are doing in my life. Help me to hear what you are saying to me. Help me to see what you are doing. I know that your ways are higher than my ways and your thoughts are higher than my thoughts. Please, lift me up to your ways and thoughts for I want to move on with you. I don’t want to stay in the ditch of despair. I don’t want to crouch in complaining corner. I want to lift up my eyes, my soul, and my hands and praise you in the midst of my affliction. Thank you, Lord. Amen."
"But to act
That tomorrow finds us further than today."