Monday, November 8, 2010

what I'm reading: escape or endurance from The Briefing

When life is hard, how we long to be delivered! Whether it's a niggling health issue, ongoing grief, the pressure of sickness or disability, or just the wearying, unrelenting demands of life, how we long for our difficulties to end!

We pray, asking God, "Why haven't you taken this away? What are you trying to achieve? It's not glorious, no-one sees it, yet you ask me to bear it day by day. Why don't you deliver me?".

I was reflecting on these things recently when I read these words in The Briefing:

There is something real about the Psalms. As you read about the Psalmist's world, it still looks the same as your world...But in the midst of this realism, like a cool breeze on a stifling summer's night comes the quiet promises of God. Despite the rhetoric in so many of 'his' churches, these promises don't really tell you how to escape; instead, they help you to endure.

The apostle Paul once begged God - three times! - to take away his "thorn in the flesh". Instead of delivering him, Jesus said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:1-10)

We would choose escape; but often, what God gives us is strength to endure. Even when no human sees our patient endurance, God sees it, and his name is glorified.

Quote is from Peter Bolt's article "Delightful breezes from the Psalms" in The Briefing; emphasis mine.

images is from ashley rose at flickr


Nicole G said...

Thanks for your post today. It was something I really needed to get through today. Thank you for your efforts with your blog. I really benefit from your hard work.

Jean said...

Thanks, Nicole. I've also benefited from your blog, so I'm glad what I wrote encouraged you - I prayed God would use it to encourage someone who needed it. Praying for you right now, in fact.

Nicole G said...

Thanks Jean, Actually i don't have a blog, there are few other Nicole's out there who do. In fact i don't think you even know me.I'm one who benefits from others hard work. I commend you as i have no idea how i would find the time.Sometimes i don't even have time to read your one. But i keep subscribed because i know God uses all things to to point us to him. At the moment he is using you for me. I don't often comment or respond but i thought I'd just like to give you this encouragement today as I'm at the computer today. Thanks for praying for me anyway and I will pray for you to. XX

Jean said...

Aaah, got it, I clicked on your name and got you mixed up with the blog at the top of your "blogs I follow" list (No reading at the breakfast table) and that's by Jenny, not Nicole! Whoops!!

Don't worry, I don't have time to read blogs much either, and I'm not sure I have time to write one. I just love writing and find it relaxing (most of the time), that's all.

Rachach said...

Hi Jean,
I've been thinking about this recently. This might seem like a really dumb question, but I really need to get it sorted out:
There have been times when I have felt angry at the kids and helpless to do anything and I'd ask God to help me and then nothing would change, I'd get more upset and more angry and then sin in my anger. I know God isn't a magical genie, but he does say that when we call out to him he hears us and helps us (I'm thinking of a number of psalms here, Ps 34 comes to mind). How is he keeping that promise when nothing seemed to change in that situation? I've found it hard to trust God in prayer as a result of a few of the above situations.
Love Rachel

Jean said...

Hi Rachel,

I had the same experience myself over many years with the whole over-spending sin. I'd ask God to change me, and he just didn't seem to.

Looking back now, I think it's because he was dealing with deeper problems:
- my pride
- my perfectionism.

Those many years of struggle humbled me so that I'm far more sympathetic to those who are struggling. They also brought me face to face with my perfectionism and God's grace.

On the other hand, change only came when I got so desperate that I was prepared to do whatever it takes to change. I stopped shopping pretty much altogether for a time!

Now, I'm not sure how any of that applies to your situation. Only, when God says "no" to a prayer like this (which seems so clearly his will!) he is still growing you in godliness, just maybe not in the way you want him to.

Like you, over-spending was affecting my kids e.g. setting them a bad example and leading to me spoiling them.

Okay, okay, the microwave just beeped, back in a minute to these ramblings...

Jean said...

Which makes you wonder even more, why doesn't God change me the way I need him too?

I don't have all the answers, except to say that God has the good of you and your children in mind. They see his grace as you model receiving it to them: when you apologise and ask forgiveness, and talk to them about how you've received forgiveness.

If anger continues to be a major issue - especially if it's affecting your children badly - I'd seek the counsel of an older Christian on this, get some advice and accountability, ask them to pray for you, and SMS them when you're struggling. In other words, take it seriously and take hold of the means God gives you to change.

Really, Rach, I'm just rambling. The main thing I want to do is reassure you that God is loving and answering your prayers even when you can't see it. You'll look back on this one day and understand what he was teaching you - and even if you don't, be confident that he is, and keep fighting hard against sin, trusting that he is changing you even when you can't see it.

Tomorrow's post might be relevant!

Love Jean.

Rachach said...

Thanks jean for your honesty and thoughts.
What you said about God changing me even in ways I can't see is really helpful. I guess I do want God to deliver me from a difficult
situation, but ultimately even if he doesn't, I want him to make me more dependent on him and for him to make me like Christ, which you are saying, he is doing.

By the way, this all happened last year and I did see a counsellor about my anger issues and she was really helpful. I took, and continue to take steps toward preventing those situations.

I, like you, also look back at that time as a time where God humbled me, to see my sin and need for his forgiveness, to see my pride and to help me to understand and empathise with others better.


Jean said...

Good on you, Rach, for taking all those sensible steps, and it sounds like you came to many of the same conclusions I did! It seems that it's those of us who seem to have it all "together" who need this kind of humbling. But it's not always easy to see all this when you're in the middle of it. God is amazing, isn't he? These days, I sin just as much, but I don't despair: I spend every day in his grace.