Our Unexpected Journey

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Floyd's days have been a bit up and down.  Two friends that he hasn't seen in quite a while were with him for a sweet visit.  He was very responsive, and seemed to enjoy their time with him.  On another day, he seemed weak and lethargic.  Then the following day he was feisty. There's no way to know what is happening in his heart and mind.  All we can do is take "clues" from what happens.  I have felt to pray afresh for peace, comfort, courage, and grace for him.  

In a recent time with our All Nations staff, we had a teaching and time of discussion on the testings that come into our lives.  It's something I have been reflecting on personally too.

I don't think God causes the trials and testings that come our way.  We live in a fallen world, so we'll have lots of things thrown at us without God having to cause them!  But God, in His goodness and faithfulness, uses those trials for good.  He teaches us through them.  He brings growth into our lives.  He develops our character.  He "redeems" the testings in ways that only He can.

In the last 2 1/2 years it seems like almost every area of my life has gone through some kind of trial and testing.  It's been hard - beyond belief hard!  But it's also been good.  God has used these trials in so many positive ways in my life.  The most precious has been that it's drawn me so much closer to Him.  I've grown deeper in my walk with Him and trust in Him.

In the midst of our trials and testings, God's love is bestowed upon us in special ways.  He has compassion on us.  He understands that we are weak, that we grow weary, and that we often lack understanding.  He brings good out of all of this through His great love for us.  His love and care for us in the midst of the trials in unending and unfailing.

Too often we blame God when a hard time comes.  We distance ourselves from Him because of anger - and by doing so we can miss the very things we need......His grace, His strength, His care, His wisdom, His protection, His tender mercies.  He's not upset or displeased with us.  He's right with us!  I'm not a fan of trials and testings, but I am so grateful for His provision to me when I'm walking through them.

I've been listening to a song by Wintley Phipps.  He gave a short testimony before he sang.  A statement he made has impacted my heart.  "It is in the quiet crucible of your personal, private sufferings that your noblest dreams are born - and God's greatest gifts are given in compensation for what you've been through."

I wrote before in one of my early updates that God brings compensations into our lives.  It's His way of balancing the scales, so to speak.  "The Lord is just in all His ways."  Psalm 145:17.  He doesn't take something away or require something of us without replacing it, compensating us with something of equal, or usually greater, importance, value, and significance.  I've seen it time and time again in my life.  If we open our "eyes" to see it, it's there.

God is the Master of balancing the scales in our lives.  I trust Him to bring gifts that only He can give from the trials and testings of our lives.  He is abundantly faithful to do that!  

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."  Lamentations 3:22,23

"Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all."  2 Corinthians 4:17

"Consider it all joy....when you encounter various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance."  James 1:2,3

"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior."  Habakkuk 3:17,18

"Friends, when life gets really difficult, don't jump to the conclusion that God isn't on the job.  Instead, be glad that you are in the thick of what Christ experienced.  This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner."  1 Peter 4:12,13  The Message

As long as we are on this earth, we'll face trials and testings.  How we respond to them is more important than the test itself - because the response of our heart carries our eternal values.  The test will eventually come to an end, but the impact of it will last with us for eternity.  On this long, unexpected journey with all the trials and testings we've encountered, I've asked God to help me respond in a right way.  I believe He is using this season for good in my life!  I'm so grateful to Him.

This week we had a national holiday in South Africa - Heritage Day.  I woke up thanking the Lord for the wonderful heritage we have in our family.  My mother and Floyd's parents were such Godly examples to us in their walk with God.  And they were powerful intercessors!  They modeled for us how to pray - how to trust God for answers to our prayers.  I'm so grateful for their impact in my life.

Recently I've had conversations with some people about the delay in seeing answers to some of our prayers.  It can be frustrating, disappointing, and can cause us to give up hope when we don't see answers to the prayers we are lifting up to Him.  

When we petition God for things, He may say "yes."  He may say "no."  Or He may say "wait."  I think the answer we find the hardest to deal with is the waiting!  We live in a time when everything is instantaneous.  We're not used to waiting - and we often don't do it very well.  

We have been faithful in asking God for some things, for healings, for miracles.  Many have prayed!  We haven't given up.  So why aren't we seeing more of the answers we're asking God for?  I certainly don't have all the answers.  But there are a few things that have helped my heart in looking at this.

I think one reason is we don't see things from God's perspective!  We see things through our "finite" eyes.  God sees the "big" picture.  He may already be answering our prayers, but we just can't see it yet.  The delays aren't because God doesn't care, and they're not because He can't answer.  The delays are for our good - even if we can't see or understand the delay.

His timing is often different from ours too.  There may be some important reasons why our prayers have not been answered yet.  God may be doing things in the interim.  He may be preparing for the answers.  He may even be planning to answer in a different way.

It's so important that we don't allow our trust in God to be undermined through delay in the answers to our prayers.  The enemy would love that!  God is good and faithful!  He loves us, He cares, He suffers with us.  The circumstances don't change who He is.

I find it important to thank Him for things He IS doing!  I'm surrounded by them.  I need to thank Him for those things while I wait for the answers to prayers that I'm still lifting up to Him.

I hope someday that God can explain some of the delays to us......but I'm convinced that one of the things He is teaching me, and all of us, is perseverance.  In this day and age of everything being "instant" - we can forget what it means to persevere.  Perseverance is one of the ways of God that are found all through the Word.  It's an important character trait for us to have in our walk with the Lord.  Being willing to persevere in prayer, and in other ways, is often a test for us 

I've been listening to a song by Elevation Worship called "Won't Stop Now."

"I give you glory through all you've brought me through

And now I'm ready for whatever you wanna do.

In every season your grace has been enough.

I'm believing the best is yet to come.

I know breakthrough is coming."

I'd love to see the miracle answers that we're praying for.  I'd love that encouragement for everyone who is praying.  But the delay is where our faith comes in.  I don't understand the delays, but I trust our wonderful Lord.  He's faithful.  He's brought me though.  I'm ready for whatever He's going to do.  I won't stop praying now!

"Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up."  Luke 18:1-8  The parable of the persistent widow in these verses is a powerful example to us of persevering in prayer.

"Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer."  Romans 12:12

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths."  Proverbs 3:5,6

"Pray without ceasing."  1 Thessalonians 5:17

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:6,7

God is not going to get upset with us for praying - for continuing to ask Him for answers to our prayers.  He's given us an open door to come to Him with our petitions.  He loves for us to ask.  He wants us to persevere.  And He has answers in store for us - in His perfect way and in His perfect time.