The Francis Asbury Society

FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 6/19

Posted on | June 19, 2015 | Comments Off on FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 6/19

Scripture reading: Romans 5:1–5

Good Grief

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord. (Isaiah 6:1)

During the four centuries of her history, the nation of Judah had many kings. But only eight of them were “good.” King Uzziah was one of those kings whose blessed influence was so positive in the the life of his people. During his reign of 52 years the nation of Judah experienced prosperity and security. When he died, it was a national catastrophe. What would happen next? Everything seemed to be up for grabs. The foundations were shaken. And yet that was the context in which Isaiah had his greatest spiritual experience! He saw God the clearest when his pain and uncertainty were the greatest.

Americans have been conditioned to think that pain and suffering are always bad. We believe “the pursuit of happiness” is an “inalienable right” to which we are all entitled. To experience pain and loss is almost, well, unpatriotic! So we invest millions in avoiding suffering and suppressing pain. Through entertainment, counseling,
and mind-numbing medications we do everything possible to live free from that awful enemy of pain.

The Bible, however, sees pain in a very different light. For example, look at how the psalmist viewed suffering:

Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word. . . . It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees. . . . I know O Lord, that your laws are righteous, and in faithfulness you have afflicted me. . . . (Psalm 119:67, 71, 75)

What about you? Is there pain in your life today? Perhaps a physical challenge, a relational rupture, an emotional trauma, a hurtful memory, a tragic loss, or a spiritual disappointment has filled your life with a deep ache that simply won’t go away. Could I make a suggestion? Before you ask God for pain relief, or before taking a spiritual narcotic, pause and ask him what his purposes are in permitting this suffering in your life. There are gifts God wants to give you that can only be discovered in the valley of adversity. These “treasures of darkness” (Isaiah 45:3) may well be the greatest spiritual blessings you will ever receive.

The year of Isaiah’s greatest loss was the year of his greatest experience of God. His world fell apart when good King Uzziah died, but that was the very year he saw the Lord. Many fellow Christians I have known have a similar testimony: In the year of my divorce, I saw the Lord. In the year of my cancer . . . of my depression . . . of
my unemployment . . . of my mother’s death . . . of my son’s rebellion . . . I saw the Lord!

The writer of Hebrews understood well the surprising blessings that come to us through pain:

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Heb. 12:11)

Today, don’t curse your pain. Allow God to use it for good!

From prayer that asks that I may be sheltered
from winds that beat on Thee, from fearing
when I should aspire, from faltering when I
should climb higher, from silken self, O Captain,
free Thy soldier who would follow Thee.
—Amy Carmichael

point to ponder • Today, rather than asking God to remove your pain, why not ask him to use it.

prayer focus • Someone whose world just fell apart.

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