Floyd has had a good week. He has been peaceful - but alert and responsive with the carers. The chest congestion has been mostly good, but continues to go up and down. We continue to pray for this.
A friend made a statement in a recent letter that caught my attention. "The circumstances don't alter the calling." I've meditated on that in relation to the circumstances of our 30 month unexpected journey. It's been quite a roller coaster ride - so many ups and downs, so many challenging circumstances.
Floyd and I have had a calling on our lives to reach the unreached and to train others to do that - but mostly our calling is to love the Lord, to trust Him, and to follow His direction for our lives. That certainly hasn't changed regardless of what we are going through. In fact, that calling has taken on new depth of trust and a new intimacy of love and devotion. We're walking a path I wouldn't have chosen, but one that He has allowed into our lives. I'm so grateful for His help with each step of this journey.
I've known, in fact I've taught, that how we respond to trials and tests (the circumstances) in our lives is more important than the test itself. The responses in our heart have eternal value. They "stick" with us.
Amy Carmichael has said "The eternal essence of a thing is not in the thing itself but in one's reaction to it. The distressing situation will pass, but one's reaction toward it will leave a moral and spiritual deposit in his character that is eternal." I first read that statement decades ago, but it has always remained vivid in my mind.
We'll always have hard times. Trials are part of life. Tests come when we least expect them. And suffering - most of us face it at some point in our lives. We can't escape these things here on earth. The key is how we respond to them. Do we set our heart towards trust in God? Do we choose not to become angry or bitter? Do we cling to His hand in faith as we walk the difficult path? Do we persevere no matter what? These responses are the real test!!
I've wanted to respond the right way to the sufferings we've been walking through - but I'm keenly aware I can't do it in my own strength. I've had to call upon His grace, His help, His strength. He has been faithful to come alongside and help me walk through our circumstances, helping me respond with eternity in mind.
I've listened to a song by Shane & Shane - "Though You Slay Me." There's a powerful passage in the middle of the song from John Piper. He talks about our trials and suffering being meaningful. That God is doing something through them that we don't see or understand. That God uses these hard times to prepare us for "an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison."
I don't want the circumstances to alter my calling, and I want to respond in the right way to every trial that comes along. I'm trusting God to help me with this.
"For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:17,18
"The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and He knows them that trust in Him." Nahum 1:7
"Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love HIm." James 1:12
"The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you." Psalm 9:9,10
"We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3,4
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4
"The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:17,18
"If we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." Romans 8:17,18
These verses have all been so special to me. With every bump in the road, with every challenging circumstance - I want to hold tightly to His hand in trust. I want to persevere in our calling.