Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Dealing With Life's Circumstances

Beau here. So I recently started another blog that I am using with some guys I am "doing life with" as we try to spur one another on. Each of us in the group takes turns "taking the lead" on different roles. A couple weeks ago, I took on the role of EQUIPPING, helping challenge one another in our Bible study and siritual disciplines. Anyway, I just posted the below on the other blog, but I thought I would post it here too, hoping it would be an encouragement to other families on the journey of adoption. Praying for us all...

A bit long...sorry.

“God is great, God is good, thank you for this meal. Amen.” I have heard Caleb (my boy) say this so many times that I hardly process it when he says it. I want to unpack that a bit in this post and challenge all of us as to whether we really believe this.

So I spent my quiet time this morning in 2 Corinthians 1:1-11. I was specifically drawn to verses 3-10. I have included them here.

Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we may be able to comfort those experiencing any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow toward us, so also our comfort through Christ overflows to you.  But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort that you experience in your patient endurance of the same sufferings that we also suffer. And our hope for you is steadfast because we know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you will share in our comfort. For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters,  regarding the affliction that happened to us in the province of Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of living. Indeed we felt as if the sentence of death had been passed against us, so that we would not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead. He delivered us from so great a risk of death, and he will deliver us. We have set our hope on him that he will deliver us yet again.

In looking at this, I have to keep as my perspective what Paul says in verse one, which is that his life is guided “by the will of God” (see also Psalm 139:13-16, 2 Corinthians 4:7, Romans 8:26-30, Deuteronomy 8:11-18, Psalm 100). Do I believe God is sovereign (self-governing, supreme power, in control, etc)? In other words, do I believe God is great (all-powerful)? This is a foundational issue, and my perspective on this question affects every experience in my life. I am a black and white thinker. Sort of like the guns on a fighter plane. You know what I mean from the movies (think Top Gun) where they show the cross-hairs, it takes a while for the red cross hairs to lock in on target, then you hear a beep, the cross hairs turn green, and there is no way to unlock the missile from its target. When it comes to my belief in the Word of God, that is how I tend to operate. When I understand a truth from God’s Word, I can fully, emotionally lock in on the truth. While my black and white mentality gets me in trouble in lots of areas of life (disagreements with wife, making social plans, etc), in the area of accepting God’s truth, it is a great blessing. So, how are you doing? Do you think God is sovereign?

So as you cats know, we have been going through an adoption process for about twelve months now (actually filled our first document one year ago Sunday). It has lasted way longer than we had originally anticipated. To be honest, I thought we would have been done by January or February. Natalie and I have been asked lots of questions (or really people sharing presumptive statements with us) such as “You must be so frustrated. You have got to be upset that this isn’t happening quickly enough. Why is your agency taking so long?” I have consistently shared God’s truth on this which is something like “God is sovereign. His timing and His plan are far better than my plans, so while this is not the timing I had originally hoped for, I am convinced this is the timing the Lord has willed.” I will then often be asked “But when do you think it will happen?” Clearly, the listener didn’t fully understand what I had just said. So then I often answer, “I don’t know. God knows the exact day, but He hasn’t told me about it.”

I have heard and seen lots of people get really frustrated with the timing of things in life, most recently the timing of adoptions has been a frequent one. When I hear most people get frustrated like this, I really feel sorry for them and hurt for them. I am not surprised, as most people don’t believe in the mighty power of the Lord. At the same time I hurt for them, because I know this world is fallen and not understanding sin and the ultimate victory of Christ can make this world and life pretty hopeless. But when I see Christians get frustrated, it is really disappointing to me. As we see in 2 Corinthians 1:1-11, how we respond to the trials of life is an integral part of our witness to the Lord. For example, in verse six Paul says “ But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort that you experience in your patient endurance of the same sufferings that we also suffer.” Later in chapter six, Paul says something similar “We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry.” Colossians 4:5 says it more directly as it pertains to our witness to non-believers when Paul says “Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity.” You see, when we don’t believe in the sovereignty of God, everyone suffers – I suffer, those I lead (family, etc) suffer, and those who don’t know Christ suffer.

So why do Christians respond this way (other than the fact that we are all sinners; see Jeremiah 17:9)? This is tied to a pivotal way the Lord has grown me over the past twelve months. I have believed in the sovereignty of God (God is great!) for quite some time. I believe that many of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who are quick to get frustrated with life’s undesired circumstances also believe God is sovereign. So I don’t think that is always the issue. So what is it? I think the question goes one step further. ARE YOU COMFORTABLE RESTING IN THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD? Do you think His ways are better than your ways. In other words, do you think God is good? It is one thing to believe God is sovereign; it is another thing to rest in that sovereignty.

As we have waited quite some time for our adoption, I have frequently told myself “God is in control (great). God loves me and has my best interest at heart (good). I may not have planned it this way, but why on earth would I desire to be outside of God’s holy and perfect will? I will rest, knowing my Savior is my leader.” I often listen to the song “Blessed Be Your Name” by Tree63 which is so full of theology and best expresses the idea of how we as followers of Christ need to face life’s circumstances. All of the verses are here (http://www.christianlyricsonline.com/artists/tree63/blessed-be-your-name.html) but I will note the following line “You give and take away; you give and take away; my heart will choose to say; Lord, blessed be your name.”

So what is the application of this long rant of mine…
1. Do you believe God is sovereign (great)? List any areas of your life where you have little hope that God is in control.
2. Are you resting in God’s sovereignty, wanting His ways to be your ways (good)? What areas of your life are your struggling to control instead of resting in the hands of your Daddy?

I will wrap up with three passages that really strike home for me.

Joshua was leading the Israelites soon after Moses died as God’s people had just entered the promised land. Many people were complaining about their life’s circumstances. Joshua stood before the people and reminded them of God’s greatness and God’s goodness. Then he said “If you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve…But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). In Matthew 6 we see Christ tell us that we cannot serve multiple gods in life. Only one can be preeminent.

Job was the man stripped completely of every earthly privilege – family, health, wealth. All of it taken away from him. He got lots of questions and advice from others similar to recent questions we have gotten. Remember earlier I said “You must be so frustrated. You have got to be upset that this isn’t happening quickly enough. Why is your agency taking so long?” So how did Job respond. Job 42:1-6 says,

Then Job answered the Lord: “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted; you asked, ‘Who is this who darkens counsel without knowledge?’ But I have declared without understanding things too wonderful for me to know. You said, ‘Pay attention, and I will speak; I will question you, and you will answer me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye has seen you. Therefore I despise myself, and I repent in dust and ashes!

Finally, Paul spoke later in 2 Corinthians (chapter 12) about the “thorn in his side.” As he wrestled with God to understand why he continued to struggle with the thorn, I love what God lovingly told Paul “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” Then Paul realizes this truth and says himself “So now I am glad to boast about my weakness, so that the power of Christ can work through me…For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (see also Philippians 4)

Praying we all rest in the greatness and goodness of God, no matter life’s circumstances, and praying that like Job and Paul, we come back to the foot of the cross when we stumble in our pursuit of trusting His plan, becoming all the stronger in our faith.


graceling said...

Thanks Beau, for posting that here. I needed a reminder of God's sovereignty today.

Thank you to both you and Natalie for setting such a Christ-centered approach to adoption... and all of the unforeseen circumstances it entails.

nebraskaridge said...

Wow - am I resting in God's sovereignty? Definitely not or I would feel peace instead of anguish. I would love to be resting but then it feels like I'm telling God it's ok my son is over there and I can't go get him. Thank you for your words. I'm hoping I can truly accept that He is in control and that it's ok if His timing and my timing are not the same.


The Albertsons said...

I love this. Thanks so much for posting. It encourages me and hopefully it will encourage many others. It is the truth. It's interesting how we can get so caught up in our own plans, when we truly can't even know what tomorrow brings. You guys are on my heart every day. I pray that God will reveal (soon!) the day when you are able to receive your children- I know there will be grand celebrations here and in heaven :).

solas4me said...

Well done. We all need to be nudged along by God's words. Thanks for being the iron I needed today.

Holli said...

I just read these verses yesterday in my bible study (chap 9- the lies woman believe and the truth that sets them free) I needed them so badly yesterday and it truly gave me new hope in my circumstances but as I sit here tonight I needed them again like I had lost the peace the Lord had given me last night. Thank you for the words as God has used you!

These Three Kings said...

oh wow!!!! you have just said a lot brother!! The LORD knew what I needed to hear.. My husband and I have been struggling with infertility for over five years now.. the LORD in HIS grace did entrust us with one miracle child out of our trial and we are so eternally grateful. But I still struggle a great deal with wanting to have more to raise for HIS KINGDOM. Learning /Reminding myself of HIS SOVEREIGN hand has brought comfort to us. Its HIS KINGDOM, and the scriptures are so true.. HE CAN do whatever HE pleases with it. Not my will but HIS be done.. I was just telling my husband today, its amazing what PEACE the LORD gives you when you are drowning in knowing the CHARACTER of GOD.. boy do I have some studying to do!!

thanks so much for posting this here!!


Jason said...

Amen Beau! Thanks for pointing to the only source of refuge, rest, and reliable hope!

Clinging to Him!