Friday, March 23, 2018

Loved Just As Much

It has been a month of unexpected urgent problems and upheaval for us. I will spare you the long stories, but they have involved plumbing, health problems (both the ongoing issues and weird anomalies we didn't see coming), phone service, work, family, and household administration. Many times I have felt like Brother Thomas (I think) in The Hardest Thing to Do from the Hawk and Dove series by Penelope Wilcock: "There are no 'alleluias' in Lent."

In part of my Scripture reading on one of those mornings when nothing seemed to go right, the Lord reminded me that Job was no less loved by Him in the middle of his bereavement, bankruptcy, and  boils than he was in his restoration and prosperity. Just so, I am no less loved by God when things go wrong than when things go well. "He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how shall He not also with Him graciously give us all things?"

All God gives is grace. The unpleasant and inconvenient things are grace to make me more like Jesus, to expose and undermine my idols, and to train me to trust and not to grumble. That any happy things at all come to me is grace, because all I deserve is God's wrath.

And there have been happy things this last messy month too. My dad had the privilege of baptizing two of my parents' ESL students, and I got to be there to see it! One of you crumbles sent an unexpected and perfectly chosen gift. The Lord gave me enough grace to crochet a baby blanket for a new extended family member. Ebony and I experienced His protection when Amore had to go out of town. The Lord gave enough grace for 2+ days without running water (and my parents provided the grace of hot showers). There have been a couple of unexpected and fun breakthroughs in trying to learn more about my dad's family history. The trees are blooming, and the world is greening. Hugs from church friends and texts of prayer and encouragement from long-distance friends are no small blessings either.

Even if the Lord had withheld those encouragements, He is still better to me than I deserve. I am "blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms" in Christ Jesus. That's the reminder I needed that day from Job. I pray it encourages someone reading this today as well.

Lord, thank you for the stresses and strains that force me to rely on You more fully. Grant me grace to glorify You with trust and praise today. Please fight for us on these matters which trouble me and grant peace in the waiting. Thank You for hearing me because of Jesus. Amen.

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