I have written a bit in previous entries about times of great hardship in my life, and how God has been turning them for good. Perhaps this would be a good place to add a link to a bit of free verse that I wrote to express the pain of those times. You can find it here if you're interested. I've been told that it is very painful to read, and I wrote it some 6 years after the worst of it was already over. I don't think I could have found the words when I was in the midst of it all. Nor would I have had the time or freedom to write back then. I'm so grateful to be able to write now!
God brought at least two great blessings from that time. One (covered in an earlier entry) was allowing me to see my sin more clearly. The second was making me feel His grip on me.
Without that divine grip I would be lost, because I wasn't holding on to Him. I couldn't.
"Hebrews 3:14 [says] we have become [note the tense of the verb!] partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance [well-grounded assurance, not false assurance] firm until the end. (NASB). Note carefully: it does not say that you will become a partaker of Christ if you persevere. It says you HAVE become a partaker if you persevere. The point is that persevering does not earn your participation in Christ; it verifies your participation in Christ. Perseverance is not a payment for getting into Christ. It is a proof that you are in Christ." (Emphasis added.)
If we belong to Christ, it's not because we were strong enough to hold onto Him. It's because He's strong enough to hold onto us. I know this is true, because it's exactly what happened in my life.
I was SO ANGRY with God! I wanted to reject Him as much as I felt He had rejected me. I felt like an animal in a very small cage, surrounded by tormentors who poked electric prods through the bars and sent jolts of agony through me at every moment. I had no reserves to draw on anymore. I was spent, drained, hopeless, under seige, seething with fury...and trying to mother three small children in diapers, two of whom had special needs. I lived in a new town where I had no support network at all. And my husband's new employer, who had hired him with the promise of "very little travel," had immediately changed his job description and started sending him out of the country for weeks at a time.
I never got more than a few hours of sleep in every twenty-four. Just a few, snatched in between marathon sessions of holding my screaming son.
I pleaded with God endlessly, but there was no relief. I didn't reach out to any of the strangers around me, or to any organizations, because I didn't know how to trust anyone. I didn't feel like I had a right to burden anyone, either.
God could have done something. He should have done something, shouldn't He? I couldn't imagine any good reason for it all, and I couldn't take it. I just couldn't bear it.
But I had no choice. And so I said those awful things to Him, and decided I would never waste my time speaking to Him again, since He couldn't be bothered to answer me. I wanted to tell Him to get out of my life and leave me alone...but I couldn't. When I tried, my heart would break.
I could feel His Spirit holding me. He gave me no comfort at that point. He gave me no insight, no noticeable growth, no relief of any kind. But He held me fast. That much I could feel. And sometimes I was even able to thank God for that. Sometimes.
Don't tell me that my faith was stronger than I thought. Don't tell me that God put all of this on me because He knew I could handle it. Don't tell me that He must have had confidence in me. Don't you dare.
He held me. Period. I felt Him, and I felt my own utter destitution. My life depended on His grip, because mine was long since gone. It was all of Him, and none of me.
What an unspeakable gift!
He held me. He held me! Through it all, even when I tried to push Him away, He held me. Yes, He held me in a painful situation instead of taking me out of it, but that was for my good, and that is a different point.
When I think back to that time, I don't think of God as cruel, heartless, or unjust. I think of Him as loyal, utterly committed, gracious, and trustworthy.
He held me! And if He found it in His heart to hold me through all of that, then He'll never let me go. That's far greater comfort than anything you could tell me about my own supposed strength or merit.
I'm safe in His hands because of who He is.
(Photo from Stock.xchng by andreyutzu)(Blurring effects added)
Because God, in His inscrutable wisdom, has chosen to put treasure in clay pots.
I can't be a superstar, but I can be a pot.
Remember the story of Gideon, and how he and his rag-tag army took on the Midianites? Their lights were hidden in clay pots until the right moment, and then they smashed the pots to let the light shine. God then miraculously routed the enemy before them.
God has given me plenty of good hard whacks in my life, and at times I've felt like he's completely smashed me for good. Maybe one of His purposes for doing that is to let some light out.
I don't have any light of my own, but He is the light, and it's my hope that He'll shine through just a bit on these pages, "that the excellence of the power may be of God, and not of us."