Tag Archives: suffering

Giants of Faith.

Hebrews 11.1Do you ever look around you and really admire the people that God has placed in your life? Whether they are family, life-long friends or friends He brings you only for a season, look at those people and learn from them and thank God for them. I know I do. As I was reading in Chapter 6 of The Fire of Delayed Answers this week, I was reminded of so many amazing people.

Chapter 11 in the book of Hebrews is often called the “faith chapter”—and for good reason.

Hebrews 11:1-2 says “What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead. Men of God in days of old were famous for their faith.” (The Living Bible)

The rest of the chapter goes on to list giants of faith—Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Rahab, among many others. All of these examples are given as a testimony of faith and an encouragement to those of us who have come behind.

I love the pillars of faith of the Bible. But as I look around me, I see giants of faith every day—people I have known for years, who are incredible people of faith. Many of them have walked, and are still walking, through circumstances that would tear many people apart, or cause them to turn away from God because it seems their struggles never end. Some of these people have endured the same struggles for years.

Illness and disease. Loss—loss upon loss. Estrangement from children. Death of children, of parents. Mental illness. Deep emotional pain. Raising children with special needs. Suicide. Financial struggles. Legal struggles. Joblessness. Divorce. Living in the middle of aging parents and growing children.

But these people, all the ones who are in my mind right now, have never wavered in their faith. They all wait with certainty, with hope, with confident assurance. I think these are the ones Bob Sorge is referring to when he says, “In the face of delayed answers, it takes great faith to persevere in seeking only the face of God—to ‘cry out day and night to Him.’” (Chapter 6, The Fire of Delayed Answers)  And perhaps Jesus would include them in the blessed servants “whom the master, when he comes, will find watching.” (Luke 12:37 NKJV)

These are the ones who are persevering, crying out to God and are given over completely to “vigilant watchfulness” and “intense, prayerful alertness in the Spirit.”  These people are watching and waiting and praying without ceasing in great faith, while they wait with expectation for God to bring them through. All the while, they continue to press forward. It amazes me and blesses me.

There is a great reward for each of them, whether their answers come now or later or in eternity. In the meantime, each of them is an encouragement to me. They minister to me and some of them don’t even know it. I watch them and I learn from their examples of great faith and strength and I say to myself, “THIS is how you walk through the darkest valleys of life. THIS is faith.” And though my heart breaks for their sufferings, and I pray for their deliverance, my heart is also filled with awe and gratitude for their great faith and strength.

Look around you and be encouraged by how the giants of faith in your life walk through the fire of delayed answers.

Thank You, Father, for blessing me with such people and may You act swiftly and send their answers speedily. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

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I am excited to be joining in on a weekly book discussion led by Jason Stasyszen  and Sarah Salter. Please visit them to see other posts in response to The Fire of Delayed Answers by Bob Sorge, at Jason’s blog—Connecting to Impact, and Sarah’s blog—Living Between the Lines. And even if you are not reading the book, please feel free to jump into the discussion!

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The Legacy

“God’s purpose was to do such a deep work in Job that every generation after him would benefit from it.” ~Bob Sorge, The Fire of Delayed Answers

what is my legacy

Through the fires of this life and the waiting for God’s answers, we are inevitably changed at our core—one way or another, for good or for ill, toward the face of God or away from it. We have a choice about which kind of change will come. And that choice can leave a legacy of faith and victory or a heritage of bitterness and self-pity.

Before all Job’s afflictions, he was a man of faith and great material success and wealth. But Sorge says Job “was living in a dimension of limited fruitfulness spiritually” and was unsuccessful in “igniting his own children with his love for God.”

After he had come through the fire, we see in Job a radical transformation—from a man who genuinely loved God, but was missing out on that deep, intimate understanding of who God really was and what His purposes were, into a man whose “faith had survived the crucible, and now he owned an intimate knowledge of God that would radiate to others a profound confidence in his Lord.” He had come forth as gold. And that spilled over into his new life and children.

The father Job can be on the other side of his suffering is a father who gives his second set of children a glimpse into the Father’s Heart, a testimony of deep and abiding faith and obedience to God and the knowledge and understanding that God will accomplish His purposes. He can teach his children about God’s love and mercy, about restoration and about perseverance and victory in difficult circumstances.

Because of his suffering, Job could be a man who bore spiritual fruit and could reach his children and every generation after, for God’s Kingdom.

And so I ask myself, what kind of legacy am I giving my kids?

Am I lighting a spiritual fire in my children and showing them what true and deep faith and utter dependence on God looks like? Am I living a life that produces fruit in the kingdom of God? When times are tough, do my kids see a mom who perseveres and is faithful and willing to suffer according to God’s will?

Maybe, but is it enough?

And if it is not, I am not only cheating my children, but I am also cheating myself by merely scratching the surface of the deeply intimate relationship that God desires to have with us. I want to show them that there is more.

It is hard to acknowledge my inadequacies as a parent. But it is only more proof of how desperately I need Jesus and His mercy and His work in my life. I want to go deeper and I pray that He will do that deep work in me that will produce lasting changes that bear fruit, so that I can pour that out into my children to the glory of God, for His Kingdom, and for the generations to come.

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I am excited to be joining in on a weekly book discussion led by Jason Stasyszen  and Sarah Salter. Please visit them to see other posts in response to The Fire of Delayed Answers by Bob Sorge, at Jason’s blog—Connecting to Impact, and Sarah’s blog—Living Between the Lines. And even if you are not reading the book, please feel free to jump into the discussion!

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Who can you trust in the fire?

When I see people struggling, hurting, suffering, I want to help them. I am a fixer. I want to fix and make things better. It seems to be a “thing” in my family—a need I am pretty sure I inherited from my daddy, who is Mr. Fix-It!

trust His heartOn the other hand, when I am struggling, I find myself wanting someone who will listen to me, encourage me and want to help me. I have a select few friends and family members I will reach out to in those difficult times. Sometimes those who love me and know me well, will recognize that something isn’t quite right and will offer their support unasked.

Think about Job for a moment.

Job, of Old Testament times, the blameless and holy man, who suffered unspeakable pain and loss at the hands of the Accuser. Job, who had done nothing in his life to deserve such atrocities, lost everything—his home, his family, his property. And then, he was left with his body covered in horrible boils. And yet, Job remained faithful to God. Job said, “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him.” (Job 13:15 | NIV)

Enter Job’s friends.

Job’s friends came to his aid. Three guys showed up to sit with Job and they began to talk to him. Now, some things they said were not wrong, just misguided. In fact, in The Fire of Delayed Answers, author Bob Sorge says that “Eliphaz and his friends spoke godly truth. They laid forth many biblical principles that are supported throughout the rest of Scripture. The problem was they had the right words for the wrong situation.”

Job’s friends did not know the whole story. They were offering advice based on what they could see going on in front of them. They were unaware of the spiritual battle going on behind the scenes. They also did not know that Job did not need to hear any scriptural platitudes to ease his suffering because Job, even though he was suffering beyond anything I can begin to imagine, was keenly aware of the fact that what was happening to him was not due to any sin on his part, but it was because God had chosen to test him in this way. Remarkably, Job recognized God’s desire to refine him.

Job had to be careful, though.

Even though he knew in his heart the true reason behind all that was happening, he still had his friends chirping in his ears. Of course, they were only trying to help. What if Job had been distracted those guys? Perhaps he would have missed the whole point of what God was trying to do.

We have to be careful too.

In the midst of our trials, we have to be able to filter out the advice we may be getting—no matter how helpful and godly it may seem to be. We have to be careful of what voices we listen to as we walk through the fire. They may be the voices of those who love us very much. But they may distract us from the One Voice. The only voice that matters—the voice of God.

How do we do that?

I have to remind myself, that in times of struggle, I need to reach for God first and not the phone. Open His instruction book. Seek the counsel of God Himself. Be still and know and trust and listen for His voice. Then I will know His voice and I will be better equipped to filter through the helpful, or perhaps misguided, offerings of others. I can seek godly counsel, but filter that based on His Word and on what I know to be true about the heart of God for me.

Likewise, I need to be cautious in my desire to help others. Before I jump in and make the same mistake Job’s friends made, I need to, as Mr. Sorge suggests, “stop first and ask the Lord how [I] can pray according to His heart.” Then I can help as the Lord leads.

“I desire greatly to bring the mind of the Lord to needy situations now rather than simply pooling from the reservoir of my own experiential wisdom.” ~Bob Sorge, The Fire of Delayed Answers

I don’t want to be like Job’s friends who rushed in spouting off words at people without thinking it through and praying about it.

I want to be like Job, who trusted in God’s design for his sufferings and who remained steadfast and believed he would hear God even when he felt that God was silent. Even though he could not hear God’s voice, Job knew God’s heart and trusted in His ultimate plan.

And so can we.

8 “But if I go to the east, he is not there;
if I go to the west, I do not find him.
9 When he is at work in the north, I do not see him;
when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.
10 But he knows the way that I take;
when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.
11 My feet have closely followed his steps;
I have kept to his way without turning aside.
12 I have not departed from the commands of his lips;
I have treasured the words of his mouth more than  my daily bread.                    

Job 23:8-12 | NIV

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I am excited to be joining in on a weekly book discussion led by Jason Stasyszen  and Sarah Salter. Please visit them to see other posts in response to The Fire of Delayed Answers by Bob Sorge, at Jason’s blog—Connecting to Impact, and Sarah’s blog—Living Between the Lines. And even if you are not reading the book, please feel free to jump into the discussion!

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