I was with some friends praying for Floyd in his hospital room last weekend. It was a precious time of prayer. The Lord's presence was close and sweet. I almost expected to see angels hovering over us. Maybe they were. :)
Floyd was particularly alert - joining in our prayers with "blinks" and smiles. I think he was praying with us in his heart.
A friend reminded me recently of a quote from a teaching Floyd gave in April 2011 to our school here in Cape Town. He wrote down Floyd's words verbatim in his notes:
"A gospel of prosperity will not bring transformation to the world. Rather, a theology of suffering and sacrifice will. It wasn't prosperity that drove Paul to the nations. It was suffering. It wasn't prosperity that led Jesus to Calvary. It was suffering and sacrifice."
The friend said these words seemed to flow right from Floyd's heart. I've reflected on them a number of times in recent days. Perhaps they were prophetic. I can't say, but I know Floyd believed them.
Suffering and hard times are a "gift" that isn't appreciated. I can't say that I'm a fan. And yet I see the beauty, the good things that come out of suffering that can't come any other way. There has been beauty on this long unexpected journey. I'm grateful for it even though it has been hard.
And now, after fresh prayers last weekend - we wait to see if God will release Floyd from this suffering. We wait in His presence with expectant hearts. Perhaps the answer will be grace to continue to persevere rather than release. All I can do is keep trusting our good Father!
"Rejoice and exult in hope; be steadfast and patient in suffering and tribulation; be constant in prayer." Romans 12:12 AMP
"Be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord." Psalm 31:24
"The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8
"Consider it all joy....when you encounter various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." James 1:2,3
"Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge." Psalm 62:8
"Jesus looked at them and said to them, 'With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.' " Matthew 19:26
We often pray for the "mountain" of difficulty in our lives to be moved. We've struggled with a problem, a conflict, a trial, a suffering. It feels like a huge mountain in our life. I've learned that God usually doesn't change or remove the mountain - He changes us. I've been changed by this journey we've been on. I'm grateful for the changes He's brought in my life.
On this long unexpected journey that we've been on with it's roller coaster dynamics, there have been so many emotions. There have been good days. There have been hard days. There have been times when it seems like the sun is shining brightly. And there have been times when it feels like the darkest of nights.
I was having one of those down days recently when it seemed like so many things were weighing on my heart - and my body was struggling with some of the treatments I'm walking through. I was choosing to worship and praise the Lord in the midst of the hard day, but I could feel the heaviness of things.
I found myself meditating on Psalm 139. It's such a beautiful, powerful psalm. There are words of encouragement all the way through it! But I was particularly struck by this passage in verses 7 - 12:
"Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say 'Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,' even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you."
Verse 12 stood out to me like it was printed in bold type! When we feel we're going through darkness, through hard days - God's light is continually shining in all it's might and brightness into our souls because darkness and light are the same to Him. His presence, His power, His strength, His help, His grace is the same 24/7. There is no "dark" time of the day in His provision. The "night shines like day" with our wonderful God.
Last year when I was so weak and frail from my treatment, and I wasn't sure I was going to make it - there were times in the lonely hours of the night when I would lay awake. I would think of the light of His presence shining into my room, warming me, keeping me company, holding my hand, and helping me get through the night.
It doesn't matter how hard, how dark our trial seems to be.....the light of His presence is always shining because "darkness is as light" to Him. What a comfort and strength that is on the hard days! I am so grateful that His "right hand holds me fast!" We can't "get away" from His presence. He is with us continually!! How faithful He is.