July 17, 2007

Down but not Out

Part one

Mary Southerland

 

 

 

Today’s truth

Isaiah 45:3 “I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.”

 

Friend to Friend

Trouble…trials…pain…are all part of life in a broken world. There are times when I don’t understand what God is doing or why He is doing it. One of those times occurred in 1995 when I found myself at the bottom of a deep, dark and slimy pit of depression, paralyzed with fear and haunted by insecurities and doubts. I ran to God in search of His plan for my escape, only to discover that He first wanted to deliver me in that pit before He delivered from it! I soon realized that some life lessons and truths cannot be learned in the light. In fact, I am convinced that many of God’s most precious treasures are buried in the dark and difficult times.

 

In the famous lace shops of Belgium, certain rooms are used for spinning the finest and most delicate designs of lace. Each room is completely dark – except for one small window – through which light shines directly on the pattern of lace. A solitary spinner works in the darkness, sitting where the narrow stream of light will fall on the thread. The choicest pieces, the most exquisite designs are created when the worker himself is in the darkness and only his work is in the light. The same is true in our lives. The most beautiful life is often the most broken life. The ashes of death may very well be the fertile soil from which a new life of victory and promise will grow. God is Friend of the wounded heart, covering each pain with His infinite love and mercy, offering hope and encouragement.

 

First encouragement: Remember who God is!

 

2 Corinthians 1:3 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort!”

 

We serve a big God who cares about the smallest details of life. A little girl listened attentively as her father read a passage from the Bible; then passionately described God’s love and power. "Daddy," she asked, placing her little hands on his knees, “How big is God?" Her father thought for a moment and answered: "Honey, he is always just a little bigger than you need."

 

God’s encouragement fills our hearts with joy when we understand that God really is in control. As we begin to recognize His power at work in our pain, we naturally praise Him as God, as Lord and as Savior. Remember that Paul wrote 2nd Corinthians from jail, after being beaten. Even his love for Christ was in question. In fact, one of the reasons Paul wrote this letter was to answer insinuations about his lack of commitment, his motives and his love for Christ. Paul probably experienced more dark times than you and I ever will, and yet, he begins this book with praise. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ...” Amazing! I’m afraid I would have begun my letter with a list of complaints instead of praises. Paul couldn’t rejoice about the circumstances…but he could rejoice in the Lord of the circumstances - because of who God is!

 

Paul learned by experience that praise changes things. As the Psalmist writes, we were created to praise God. “Let everything he has made give praise to him.” (Psalm 148:5)

 

Over the years, praise and worship have become precious gifts from and to God in my life. The freedom to praise Him came as I began to understand what true praise is! Praise is simply a celebration and comes from a Latin word meaning “value” or “worth”. To praise God means to celebrate His worth and His value. Jesus didn’t come to eliminate the dark times nor did He come to explain suffering. Jesus came to fill darkness and suffering with His presence. Praise is simply an acknowledgement and celebration of God’s presence in the midst of every circumstance – good or bad. Praise is neither a feeling nor emotion but a choice of viewpoint. Praise selects an eternal perspective and dictates our heart attitude. Tucked into the core of praise is an element of acceptance, accepting a situation He has permitted without insisting that He change it.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:18 “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

 

When we choose to praise God, even in troubled times, we are choosing to trust Him by making the deliberate choice to yield the responsibility of the outcome to Him. Praise may or may not change the trial but praise will certainly change us in the trial because it reminds us that God really is God!

 

(Today’s devotion is the first devotion in a four-part-series by Mary Southerland on what to do when life is hard.)

 

Let’s pray

Lord, I give You praise! You are worthy of praise, Father. Help me keep the reality of Who You are before me each day…in every thought, in every action, in every word and in every attitude. I celebrate the light Your presence brings even in the darkest times and choose to trust You through it all. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Now it’s your turn

What circumstance is present in your life today that needs a good dose of praise?

What has been your natural response to this difficult circumstance?

Choose to praise God for His presence in this circumstance.

When you go to sleep tonight, review the day and celebrate the differences praise made.

 

More from the girlfriends

Oh, this is a hard one! To praise God when it makes no sense…to trust Him with the unseen and the unspeakable…to keep going when you cannot see what lies ahead. But no matter what you face, my friend, remember that even though you may be down in the pit of despair, you are never out of His sight or His care. So praise Him, knowing that His deliverance is at hand. And know that we, Sharon, Gwen and I, love and care for you, girlfriend!

 

For more on this topic, read Mary’s book, Hope in the Midst of Depression.

 

 

Girlfriends in God

P.O. Box 725

Matthews, NC 28106

www.girlfriendsingod.com

 

 

 

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