4 Treasures in Dark Places

Today I welcome a writer who shares the same publisher with me, Cross River Media. Angela D. Meyer is the author of “Where Hope Starts,” a story about God’s redemption in the middle of a crumbling marriage. Angela lives in Omaha, NE with her husband of more than 22 years. She home-schools their daughter and recently graduated their son who is now off to the Marines. She has taught Bible classes for over 35 years and served for almost three years on the leadership team of her local Christian writers’ group. Angels loves God, her family, the ocean, good stories, connecting with friends, taking pictures, quiet evenings and a good laugh. Someday she wants to ride in a hot air balloon and vacation by the sea. 

 “I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” Isaiah 43:3 (NIV)

I worked in the kitchen and attempted to bury my emotions. I don’t remember the exact circumstances, but I do remember feeling sorry for myself. I tried to dump chicken bones into a garbage bag, but spilled them onto my freshly cleaned floor. Angela Meyer

Past overwhelmed, I bent to clean up the mess and began to cry out to God. His peace crept into my heart.

God used a moment of despair to bring me to my knees: the place I needed to go to find my strength. I couldn’t help but laugh. The method was not my favorite. Who wants to clean up old chicken bones? 

God’s ways may not be conventional or expected, but He does redeem our seasons in the valley. Some of the blessings I have uncovered when I turned to God during the dark times include:

Strength. When we stop trying to do everything ourselves, God steps in and supplies the strength we need. He is stronger than anything we face.

Peace. Once we experience His presence with us through the dark places, trust comes a bit easier. We can rest assured that no matter the circumstance, He keeps us in the palm of his hand.

Wisdom. Experiencing God’s provision first hand gives us an understanding of His character. This translates into other situations and teaches us how to behave in a way that brings glory to God.

Gratefulness. When we intentionally take notice of all that God is doing around us, even in the middle of a trial, it helps us pull our head out of the muck and be grateful.

The times I need Him the most seem to be the most difficult to let go of my will. But it’s worth it to allow Him to fill my heart with blessings.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:2 (NIV)

 What blessings have you found in the dark places of your life?

Going Through Trials Alone

Some things we just have to go through by ourselves.

Although we enlist the prayers of other saints and often feel the power of their intercession, we still have to go through it alone. Somehow we must find our own courage to deal with the trials and struggles of life.

Yes…God is with us. He promises to never leave us or forsake us. But when we lie on a sterile table and let the dermatologist shave skin off our mortal bodies, we feel alone in the fear of wondering – is it melanoma? Will he get all the tissue and scrape away that mess of toxic cells?

We go for a mammogram and pray that everything will turn out all right, but basically – we are alone with that brutal machine. Even the radiologist hides behind a safe partition and quietly reads the screen that might change the number of our days while we wait for the verdict – alone.

As parents, we want to change places with our children – but we can’t. We have to wait in surgical emergency rooms, knowing our child is behind that steel door – alone. We can’t help him through the surgery. We can’t will him to live a full life. We can’t take away the nasty tumor that threatens to destroy his very being. He’s alone in that cold room, and we’re alone with the fear.

Like Reverend G when she received her Alzheimer’s diagnosis, we sometimes have to do the hard things alone and hope that God in his mercy will grant us a special measure of his grace to do it courageously.

So how do we deal with those alone times – when we have to make it through the struggle all by ourselves?crying angel

  • Prepare now. When the times are good or at least reasonably half-way good – spend time getting to know God better and stock up on prayer and Bible promises. What we prepare for now, just like exercise, will help us use our spiritual muscles later – when we’re alone.
  • Surround yourself with a community. Whether it’s a group of saints who know how to pray in the Spirit or a special cell group that you trust, surround yourself with a community of people who will be there when you wake up from the surgery, when that steel door slams, when the mammogram comes back positive. Build relationships now that will encourage you later.
  • Live in gratitude. If you’re not going through a struggle today, then enjoy the sunshine and the dew on the roses. Journal your thoughts and take pictures you can relish when you’re faced with the unbelievable. Make each day a Hallmark expression of gratitude so that your hope won’t turn so quickly to despair. When the tough times come, you’ll be practiced at looking for something good.

Even when you’re feeling alone in the trial, hang on to Psalm 43:5, “Hope in God for I will YET praise Him.”

A day will come when the trial lifts and you can return to peaceful joy. Live in the YET and hang on to hope, especially when you’re feeling alone.

©2013 RJ Thesman – “The Unraveling of Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/11QATC1

I Can’t Stand It

It happened again this week. I heard someone say, “God won’t give us more than we can bear.”

This is theologically and biblically incorrect, yet many people believe it. They probably are thinking about 1 Corinthians 10:13 where Paul writes, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.”

God does not allow us to be tempted above what we can bear. He provides an escape so that we can have victory over the many things that tempt us and prevent them from becoming strongholds.

But God does not promise that we will not experience trial after trial and horror so difficult that we cannot bear it. In fact, God didn’t even do that for his son, Jesus, who cried out “Why?” from the cross. Holocaust victims, sex trafficking victims, burn victims – who of us can bear that kind of pain? Yet God allows it.

What God does promise is that his grace is sufficient. This type of grace is not the saving grace that rescues us from an eternity in hell. Rather, it is the grace that empowers us when we’re going through hell on earth. He sometimes allows us to go through situations that we – in our own strength – cannot deal with. We cannot bear it on our own, and that is why we need his powerful strengthening grace. He allows us things we cannot bear so that we move away from our self-sufficiency and depend on him.

This is why Reverend G often says, “I can’t stand it” – usually within a prayer. She cannot bear the thought of forgetting her son’s name or losing the ability to pray. Reverend G, a life-long minister, cannot bear the very real possibility of losing all her sensibilities through Alzheimer’s. So she prays to God and reminds him that she can’t stand it.

She knows that she needs the powerful hand of God to uphold her even during the times that he has allowed her more than she can bear.

So let’s remember that when we face the next trouble that we absolutely cannot deal with, that is the time to focus on God’s strength and ask for his help. When we absolutely can’t stand it anymore, he can.