Thursday, April 16, 2009

Faith During Affliction

I recently read an excellent book by Phillip Yancey called, "Prayer--Does it make any difference?" On my more cynical days, it feels like the answer is no. But then God takes me by surprise. He allows me to get a glimpse of His workings in my life and the lives of my family. Prayer really does make a difference--just not always the difference I'm looking for.

One of my favorite quotes from Phillip Yancey is, "Faith during affliction matters more than healing from affliction." I don't always get the surface healing I'm looking for, but God is so faithful to reveal Himself in the midst of affliction. That, in itself, is my answer to prayer. And that is enough.

My most important goal in life is not healing, deliverance, perfect children or happy-go-lucky days. My most important goal is to know God. That must be my number one desire. If it's not, sooner or later, I will be deeply disappointed. Sometimes life is just hard. Sometimes my emotions get the best of me. Sometimes it feels like grief will swallow me whole. But usually if I can eek out one tiny pitiful step of faith--and that is sometimes the best I can do--I get a glimpse of God. He'll lead me to a passage of scripture or a book or a poem that helps me adjust my perspective. I begin to see how this one little piece of the puzzle fits into His grand scheme. And that is enough for me to eek out another little step of faith--maybe one that's just a little more faithful than the one before.

So often, we look for God in the whirlwind or the earthquake. We want to see lightning bolts from heaven that solve our problems. We want Him to write the answers to our questions in neon lights across the sky. And sometimes God is that obvious. But more often, it takes a more keen eye to see His handiwork. Usually, we have to search for it as if we are searching for a hidden treasure. If we're not careful, we'll miss it. Most of the Jews in Jesus' day missed Him because they were looking for a warrior to lead them in an uprising. Instead, He came as
illegitimate child, born to a dirt poor family far from home. Instead of speaking with His voice like thunder, God often whispers, calling us closer, desperately desiring to reveal Himself to us. But we're so busy looking for the great and powerful wind, earthquake or fire (1 Kings 19:10-13) that we miss that still small voice.

Lord, help me today to seek faith during affliction rather than relief from my affliction. Help me to listen closely for Your still small voice, calling me closer. Let me have just enough of You to keep me wanting more. And I will use every ounce of faith I can muster to do what You're calling me to do. Today it may be one pitiful step, but add it to the steps from my life in the past and future and I'll have a journey of faith. And that is the definition of life--a journey, made up of many steps--some tiny, some giant leaps of faith. It really doesn't matter how big each step is, just that it's full of faith and added to many others. And so for today, the journey continues...

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I would love to hear from you! Let me know what you think and how I can pray for you. Most of us are carrying some pretty heavy baggage and the good news is, you don't have to carry it alone! You can lay it at the feet of Jesus, and sometimes we need help just letting go of our baggage and not picking it up again. We're in this together!