November 10, 2014

june's tears dried

I have been looking back at this old draft of a blog post (below) which I began on June 1st this year.
    I was kind of surprised by it, because presently, my thoughts are so joyful and thankful that I can scarcely imagine having ever been in such a wicked, selfish, despondent state of mind! I have to admit that a little over five months ago, I really was nearly hopeless. I was still experiencing the effects of the most difficult trial I have ever endured, and was at possibly the weakest point in my faith in my entire life. Well, read it for yourself and see what I mean:

Hopes shattered. Dreams lost. Heart broken. It just sounds like a recipe for despair.

I have had innumerable voices in my head, tempting me to replay my miserable experiences over and over again, and other voices shouting over the former din that hope is just around the corner and I just need to stop being miserable for myself.
    Both kinds of voices are exceedingly annoying.
    I have never needed this much time to process a trial and where to go next as right now. I have never felt lonelier, and I have never been more tempted to hold on to bitterness and anger and pain. My eyes are sore from crying, from pouring my heart out to God. In my loneliness, I long for a friend who will listen to my outpouring of confusion, but I fear that all I will receive is advice and encouragement about the future. An aching heart in this condition does not want assurance about the future, which is unsure - a person with a broken foot would never believe that walking on the fractured bones will promote healing - what the heart longs for is peace, rest. Fear about the future may be tied in somewhere, but that is not the issue; it is letting go of the past.
    Praying and praying, I have been begging God to direct my thoughts out of selfishness and into His control. Today, I stopped making excuses and picked up "Passion &; Purity" by Elizabeth Elliot, which offered me exactly what I needed to hear:

The important thing is to receive this moment's experience with both hands. Don't waste it. "Wherever you are, be all there," Jim once wrote. "Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God."
    A lovely moonlit night, but I am alone. Shall I resent the very moonlight itself because my lover is somewhere else?
    A cozy candlelit supper with friends - couples, except for me. Shall I be miserable all evening because they are together and I am single? Have I been "cheated"? Who cheated me?
    The phone rings. Oh! Maybe it will be he! It's somebody selling light bulbs. Shall I be rude because he ought to have been somebody else?
    A letter in the mailbox that (for once) doesn't look like junk mail or a bill. I snatch it eagerly. It's from Aunt Susie. Do I throw it aside in disgust?
    I know all about this kind of response. I've been there many times. Something I wrote to Jim once must have revealed my resentment, for he wrote, "Let not our longing slay the appetite of our living." That was exactly what I had let it do.
    There were times, I'm sure, when if anyone had tried to talk to me of the happiness of heaven I would have turned away in a huff. The painful thing was that other folks had not only heaven to look forward to, but they had "all this and heaven, too," "this" being engagement or marriage. I was covetous. When the Apostle Paul wrote to the Roman Christians about the happy certainty of heaven, he went on to say, "This doesn't mean, of course, that we have only a hope of future joys - we can be full of joy here and now even in our trials and troubles."
    Even when I'm feeling most alone - on that moonlit night, in the middle of the candlelit supper, when the phone call and the letter don't come - can I be "full of joy, here and now"? Yes, that is what the Bible says. That means it must be not only true, but possible, and possible for me.
    "Taken in the right spirit these very things will give us patient endurance; this in turn will develop a mature character, and a character of this sort produces a steady hope, a hope that will never disappoint us."
    Taken in the right spirit. These are the operative words. The empty chair, the empty mailbox, the wrong voice on the phone have no particular magic in themselves that will make a mature character out of a lonely man or woman. They will never produce a steady hope. Not at all. The effect of my troubles depends not on the nature of the troubles themselves, but on how I receive them. I can receive them with both hands in faith and acceptance, or I can rebel and reject. What they produce if I rebel and reject will be something very different from a mature character, something nobody is going to like.
    Look at the choices:

    rebellion - if this is the will of God for me now, He doesn't love me.

    rejection - if this is what God is giving me, I won't have any part of it.
    faith - God knows exactly what He's doing.
    acceptance - He loves me; He plans good things for me; I'll take it.

    The words "full of joy here and now" depend on the words "taken in the right spirit." You can't have one without the other. Taken in a spirit of trust, even loneliness contributes to the maturing of character, even the endurance of separation and silence and that hardest thing of all, uncertainty, can build in us a steady hope.

{End quote}

So, the issue I have been dealing with is actually not having anyone at all. Elizabeth was lonely for Jim Elliot, the man she hoped but did not yet know that she was going to marry. I am lonely for my friends who have been gone eleven days on a long road trip, but I am even lonelier for a man; the man God has set aside for me, which this morning at church, I admitted in prayer that I had stopped believing even exists out there somewhere for me. Anyway, regardless of this difference in circumstance, the truth rings out just as clearly for me.
    I am so grateful for women who have been encouraging me, who have known the heartbreak I have been going through and are seeking to support me according to God's Word. I have been so tempted to seclude myself, but I know that is unwise.

{back to the present}

Wow. All this over a boy!

I'm certain that if I could have seen where the Lord was going to lead me just a couple of months after I wrote those sorrowful words, lifting my head in hope would have come far faster. But He had a lesson to teach me, and it could not have been learned any other way except through suffering.

Even just seven days after I wrote those sorrowful, struggling words, God taught me how to hope again. He showed me my foolish depression, and reminded me of His good plan and all the ways in which He had already proven Himself in the past. He corrected my doubtful thinking - I dishonored Him by disbelieving - and gave me a reason to begin hoping again.

I can barely remember those painful days, so much so that they feel more like one long, awful dream that I have been awake from for some time. Now, a bruise on my arm is just a reminder that when I pinch myself, I am wide awake, and the beauty of each day is real.

I thank God that I am not the person I was then in those old days of despair; that even in so short a time, He has grown and strengthened me. The pruning was indeed exceedingly painful, but I am beginning to see the fruit. Rooted and dependent upon Christ, He is giving me the desires of my heart, above and beyond what I could have ever dared ask for!

June's tears have long since been dried, and I find myself smiling at the future! What next, Lord? I will take whatever brings You the most glory! Help me to be faithful.

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