Lately things have been pretty tough in my little corner of the world. Maybe compared to some others, my troubles would seem like nothing, but, to me, they have brought me down, fried me, inside and out, and left me feeling like a kissing cousin to Job. I won't bore you with the details of my trials and tribulations, because I'm sure you have enough of your own. But, suffice it to say, I have struggled to put one foot in front of the other lately. Sometimes, I was so miserable, I couldn't see the truth of God's love surrounding me. I couldn't hear His voice calling out to me to come and rest in Him. I forgot my identity as a treasured daughter of the Lord. In many ways, I was numb. And that was a better alternative than feeling anything. Because then, I felt the pain.
I thought it was the pain of the loss of a loved family member, followed by the pain of family wars that divided us further, followed by the loss of a dream I was treasuring that fell by the wayside, followed by housing problems where I live that made me not even want to go home, followed by financial stress brought on by the housing problems and on and on and on. Job, I decided, had nothing on me. I knew exactly how he felt.
In the midst of all the struggles just to get up in the morning, God sent me a tremendous blessing through the hands and love of some of my children. It amazed me and touched me how tenderly God ministered to me through the love of my daughter and her husband. But, almost as quickly as the blessing came, I fell back into a morose, dark foreboding, as if God had abandoned me. In spite of all evidence to the contrary, I knew I was all alone and nobody cared. Where did I get that idea? Whose voice was I listening to?
Mercifully, God breathed His love so directly on my face, I could not miss the sunshine of His grace. I finally realized that God was loving me through it all. He had never lost sight of me, abandoned me, thrown me overboard, or left me for dead. He hadn't done any of that. I had. I had decided that I would listen to the wrong voice, follow the wrong signs, go in the wrong direction, abandon the lessons He has so lovingly and tenderly taught me. I chose to leave Him, not the other way around. When I read the book of Hosea, a picture of God so patiently and painfully calling out to Israel to return to Him, I hear Him calling to me. It's still the same today, thousands of years later, isn't it? We are so capable of leaving Him behind when we are hurting, to seek comfort in the wrong places.
How lovingly, how faithfully, how constantly, how patiently, how tenderly, but, firmly, He called to me by name and drew me back to Him. As soon as I turned toward Him and saw the beauty of His face smiling down on me, all of the pain dissipated. It was Him I needed, plain and simple. It was Him. His presence. His love. His tender mercies. Nothing else comes close. Nothing else.
I have not enjoyed the storm I have been through. I really haven't. But, I am learning to be grateful for the rough winds and the turbulent sea that brought me to my Savior. "Rock of Ages, cleft for me. Let me hide myself in Thee..."