Read Chapter 4, Treasures in the Darkness. In fact, we are going to take 2 days for this one. I think we will need it. Read it once Monday and highlight portions. Then read it again on Tuesday, making notes in your journal of what God is giving to you as you read.
Yesterday I was feeling very discouraged about everything in my life. I almost didn’t bother with reading Chapter 4, but I did. Then I read this part:
What I discovered was that just because I believed in God and lived a good life did not guarantee I would not experience deep pain and suffering. God’s Word, in fact, states the opposite. It plainly says that painful trials are a part of God’s plan for my life: “Do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12). Page after page of Scripture reveals stories of God’s chosen people suffering painful and difficult trials. Adam and Eve, Abraham, David, Joseph, Job, Daniel, Paul, John, and many others endured tremendous hardships and suffering: delayed answers to prayer, unanswered prayer, impossible circumstances, personal challenges, great temptation, persecution, and seemingly senseless tragedies. *
That was when I started to weep and I wrote this:
There are people in my church who say, if you’re praying for healing for example, to thank God for the healing you will receive. That is nearly impossible for me to do. How can I thank Him for something He hasn’t done yet? I realize now that it all comes down to trust. I guess I don’t really trust God. I don’t trust anybody, so I guess that shouldn’t come as a big surprise. I’ve had so many people betray my trust that when my trust is broken once by someone, even one of my kids, it’s very difficult to earn it back. There’s been so many times where God has seemed so silent that I can’t trust that He wants to help me. I have suffered for months and even years at a time with debilitating physical pain that God just let me suffer with. I had so much pain that I was pretty useless at doing anything. And I’m afraid to try a lot of things when I am pain-free because the pain always comes back and sometimes it happens because I move the wrong way. So how can I trust God when it seems He won’t let me move forward in any way? I try to do something and then I’m suddenly crippled. Why?
I almost didn’t continue on. But I did. And God spoke to me. Here are some quotes from the book and notes of my own:
In Romans 5:3–5, it says we endure suffering “because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” * How can this produce hope when the suffering has no end?
“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6–7). Notice the words “for a season” and “if need be.” Peter tells us that sometimes it is necessary to walk through the fiery trial. Our suffering is not meaningless because God has a plan. He asks us to trust in that plan, and we can because we trust in Him. ** Why can’t He then give some hint to this plan?
Francois Fenelon writes, “Faith is being willing to let God act with the most perfect freedom, knowing that we belong to Him and are to be concerned only about being faithful in that which He has given us to do for the moment.”*** But sometimes it seems like He gives me nothing to do but suffer
God alone knows exactly what you and I must endure in order to form His character in us. It is in our trials that God refines us and removes our impurities. *** Have I that many impurities?
The tough question for us as His children is this: Are we willing to accept His refinement? Even when we choose not to accept it, it happens…We can determine in our hearts not to cooperate with God but to rebel. However, when we choose this path, we endure double suffering. Fighting God guarantees greater and longer pain than if we humble ourselves, submit to His will, and ask Him to help us. We must be willing to wait on Him during times of refinement. **** I have been rebelling, haven’t I?…I keep resisting God’s work within me.
Then I began to be encouraged.
Trusting is particularly difficult when your trial or hardship is due to no fault of your own, such as the death of a child, the loss of a job, or a devastating illness. You so desperately want an answer to “Why me?” You want a tangible reason. Did you do something wrong? Did you not pray hard enough? God wants you to take your questions to Him. It may be that God sees a place in your life that needs refining or transforming, or it may be that you live in a fallen world where bad things happen. The promise you have from God is that He will use the difficult circumstances to perfect you and make you more like Him.***** I realize that I’m afraid to let go of the areas of my life that need refining; it’s part of my lack of trust that I have troubles believing that allowing God to change me will make me better than before
“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown” (Isaiah 43:2a NLT). He is with me
Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us that God has planted eternity in our hearts, a place that longs for God, and a place that only He can fill. To free up that place for Him, He will allow experiences in our lives that seem unfair, difficult, and sometimes tragic. Often our pain and heartache prohibit God from filling that place with His treasures. We harbor so much negative emotion that we cannot get beyond it. ****** I don’t want that anymore…I want a hunger to know God fully and to know His Word to penetrate my heart
Although the Israelites could not see or hear God, He was working in the midst of their darkness. I too could not “see” or “feel” God, but He was at work around me in invisible ways through the stories and Scriptures I have shared with you.******* I have to trust Him even if it seems that He’s silent…Even when He seems silent He is still working in me
We can open His Word, and in that Word we are guaranteed healing and wholeness. ******* Dear God, give me a hunger for Your Word and the discipline to study it regularly and with an open heart and mind.
Sometimes, when I think I’ve done well, I’m brutally reminded of how much more I have to go.