Aug. 9, 2009
“It grieveth me much …that the hand of the Lord is gone out against me.’”
Ruth 1: 13, King James Version
“Dealt A Hard Blow”
(Ruth 1: 13, The Message Bible)
“Troubles are often the tools by which God fashions us for better things.”
Henry Ward Beecher
What troubles in my life have made me feel bitter and as though God has “dealt me a hard blow?”
Have I ever considered that the trials I am bearing are preparing me for a special work for God?
“Grace grows best in the winter.”
“Among my list of blessings infinite stands this the foremost – that my heart has bled.”
It was 9:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning in September, over five years ago. My sister-in-law, Irma, called sobbing uncontrollably. My first thought was, “Who has died?” In this case, the news was just as bad. Her son, Scott, my nephew, who was in his early twenties, thought he had the flu and went to the neighborhood Urgent Care where he was informed he had Leukemia. Three months later, Irma called again. She had also been diagnosed with a different form of Leukemia. And in Irma’s case, the only treatment which could prevent her death was a “stem-cell transplant.” Fortunately, both my husband, Jim, and his brother were “matches.” While Irma was in isolation after the transplant, things got even worse for Scott, her son. While enduring chemotherapy, he developed a life-threatening fungus infection that infiltrated his left sinus cavity, left eye and nose. After repeated surgeries which disfigured Scott’s face for the rest of his life, we were told to prepare for the worst. The doctors felt the fungus had invaded portions of his brain and they believed he would die.
None of us could tell Irma that her son, our nephew, was so ill for fear the shock would only make her worse. So we waited and prayed. Having lost her sister to pancreatic cancer several years earlier, Irma told me she couldn’t imagine anything more crashing down on her. And yet, she was not only fighting for her own life, but had a son who was fighting for his life, as well.
Trouble. Trials. Disappointment. Calamity. And finally, death. As Naomi described to her two daughters-in-law, “The afflictions of life are a bitter pill to swallow. Not only did I lose my husband and sons, but now I’m losing my daughters and I’m going home penniless and alone.”
Do you ever feel as though your cup of affliction is overflowing and the hand of God is bitter or as Ruth 1: 13 says, “You’ve been dealt a hard blow?”
I believe every one of us, at one time or another feels as though we can relate to Job and the trials that befell him. And we look at God and say, “Wait one minute. I’m one of Yours. I’m not the enemy. So why is all this bad stuff falling on my head?” If you haven’t said this, I have!
“Hold on, God! I’m trying to do what’s right. Where are You? Don’t You care? What have I done to deserve all the troubles that have hit me?”
Frankly, it’s only normal to feel bitter like Naomi did. She probably wondered whether things could get any worse. And don’t most of us feel this way? “How much more can I take,” we cry out in the midst of sorrow, grief, and pain.
I’m so blessed by the words of Peter Marshall who reminds us, “God will never permit any troubles to come upon us unless He has a specific plan by which great blessings can come out of difficulty.”
I know this to be true for I’ve seen this fact played out in my own life, day after day. And I’ve watched as those I love struggle to see heaven’s rainbow shine through the rain.
Two days ago, Irma called and we talked on the phone for nearly an hour. It’s been five years since her stem-cell transplant and while she still has to cope with the side effects of anti-rejection drugs, like she said, “I’ve lived a lot longer than I ever thought I would. And God is still faithful.” Then she told me about a conversation she had with her son, Scott, whose leukemia is in remission, but who will live forever with the facial scarring as a result of the infection he had in his face. “You know Dorothy,” she told me, “I reminded Scott that someday his face will be perfectly healed again. God will make, ‘all things new.’” Then she continued with this most beautiful thought: “while we will be perfectly healed, our loving Jesus will forever carry the marks of pain in His hands and side. Our scars will be gone forever! But His will remain as a reminder that by His stripes we’ve been healed.”
As you and I face days of bitterness and heartache, let us never forget as A.W. Pink so beautifully penned, “One breath of paradise will extinguish all the adverse winds of earth.”
Right now, many schools around the world are having graduations where diplomas, honors and awards are being bestowed on the “deserving.” May you and I never forget, as we face the challenges of life that, in the words of Elbert Hubbard, God won’t be looking us over, “for medals, degrees or diplomas, but for scars.”
“Why should I complain
of want or distress,
temptation or pain?
He told me no less;
the heirs of salvation,
I know from His Word,
through much tribulation
must follow their Lord.”
“No affliction would trouble a child of God if (she) knew God’s reason for sending it.”
G. Campbell Morgan
“O blessed Jesus Christ, who bade all who carry heavy burdens to come to You, refresh us with Your presence and Your power. Quiet our understandings and give ease to our hearts by bringing us close to things infinite and eternal. Open to us the mind of God that in His light we may see light. And crown Your choice of us to be Your servants by making us springs of strength and joy to all whom we serve.”
“Praise God for the hammer, the file and the furnace!”
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, ChristianBook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal.
If you would like to purchase When A Woman Meets Jesus at a 30%-50% quantity discount for your Women’s Ministry Program or for Bible Study Groups, please visit: www.direct2church.com or email direct2church@Bakerpublishinggroup.com.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.