In my distress I
called to the LORD;
I cried to my God for help.
temple He heard my voice;
my cry came before Him, into His ears.
He parted the
heavens and came down (Ps. 18:6,9)
Cast your mind
back over the troubles that have come
your way during the past year or
two. Can you discern what form and guise they came in? An onslaught of batterings, physical and psychological?
Have you noticed
how often Satan manages to send trouble our way just when we are already
at full stretch? He isn’t playing around. He waits for us to be physically
or psychologically vulnerable before attempting to land the knock out
Ten Boom? She and her family were betrayed for protecting Jews from the
Gestapo. She was actually in bed with the ‘flu when the soldiers burst in
to arrest her. Her father died in prison, and so too did her beloved
sister in Ravensbruck concentration camp. Corrie herself was released from
that dreadful hell-hole - as the result of a ‘clerical error! - just days
before she had been due to be executed.
How we can praise
God that He is always on the watch for us. Corrie may have been the only
one to live to tell the tale (and how wonderfully she proceeded to share
the love of God around the world) but all three family members kept their
focus on the Lord right until the very end. Despite the most intense
provocation, they refused to give in to hate. They overcame their hurt and
loss and determined to live and die praising God. The fruit of their lives
and ministry lives on in the countless lives that have been touched by
But the ‘fruit’ of
those who allow themselves to become bitter dies with them.
It is time to keep
the shield of faith high - but don’t chastise yourself for feeling
unsettled when storms come. Anyone who travels regularly on the boat from
Shetland to Fair Isle will know exactly what I am talking about. The Lord
must hear more prayer per mile on this particular stretch of water than
anywhere else in the British Isles!
troubles have been caused by the spite and malice of others. There are,
after all, few if any, relationship breakdowns that do not have a root of
envy somewhere near their epicentre. You are on sure biblical territory if
you can forgive (from the heart) those who have done you down. You are
opening the way for more blessing further down the road both for you and
retrospect, you can look back and realise that at least some of the
troubles that so disturbed you at the time were largely the result of
exaggerated fears and worries. We looked at this in an earlier insight,
‘The Imaginary Stumbling Stone.’ Even harder to bear, perhaps they
came primarily as a result of your own foolishness and recklessness. It
often takes more grace to forgive ourselves than to forgive others!
source of our troubles, it is our reaction to it now that is
all important. Will we allow them to drive us away from the Lord?
Or will we cry out to the Lord still more urgently for Him to reverse the
damage that has been done and yet find ways to use them to further His
purposes for our lives?
Standing back to
tonality of the Psalmists as a guide, Phil Lawson Johnson pointed out that
the Judeo-Christian faiths are the only ones that allow us to ask
‘WHY?’ True, too much asking ‘why’ in the early stages rarely gets us
anywhere. It’s rather like sticking our face a few millimetres away from a
painting and wondering why we can’t make out the details. If our pain and
impatience will allow us to, it is better to skip the tricky questions for
the time being. A clearer perspective concerning our troubles usually
takes time to emerge. But how comforting it is to know that we can always
share what we are feeling, as honestly and openly as we like with the
If the trouble
(hurt, disappointment, betrayal whatever) is very deep, it may take a
great deal of time and effort to refocus our gaze away from it. The
lens of our eye has become blurred. If we have found ourselves drawn to
look for comfort in other directions, may the Lord forgive our
faithlessness and help us to ‘look away unto Jesus.’
from Isaiah 54 for the storm-tossed.
city, lashed by storms and not comforted,
I will build you with stones of turquoise,
your foundations with
I will make
your battlements of rubies,
your gates of sparkling jewels,
and all your walls of precious stones.
All your sons
will be taught by the Lord,
and great will be your children's peace.
righteousness you will be established:
will be far from you;
you will have nothing to fear.
will be far removed;
it will not come near you . . .
"See, it is I
who created the blacksmith
who fans the coals into flame
and forges a weapon fit for its work.
is I who have created the destroyer to work havoc;
weapon forged against you will prevail,
and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.
the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
and this is their vindication from me,"
declares the Lord.
2) The fruit of
Paul’s seemingly untimely imprisonment
I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really
served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout
the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for
Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been
encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and
fearlessly. (Phil. 1:12-14)
Oh and one other thing! May we ourselves not be a stumbling stone for
Your Kingdom, Lord, but rather be the means of advancing and facilitating