God's Favor--The Gift of Presence
(Appeared first on WhollyLoved.com; reposted with permission.)
If God’s favor meant great health, I’d missed it. If it meant worldly success, happiness, prestige and anexpanding ministry, God had abandoned me. But if favor—if grace—meant a vivid revelation of my Father’s heart and a deepening intimacy with Him, then even as I lay in bed sick and fatigued, I rested squarely in my Daddy’s hands. Right where He wanted me to be.
It just took me a while to see it, cherish it. In fact, it wasn’t until my body started to recover that I saw the precious gift God had given all those mornings months before.
Sometimes it takes a crisis—an illness, a tragedy, having one’s life tilted upside down—to grab hold of what really matters. In 2011, after a lifetime of great health and athleticism, after nearly two decades of walking closely with Jesus and two years of surrendering to His call, colitis knocked me flat. Shifted my identity and for a while, left me grasping for answers.
If I could no longer run, who was I?
If I couldn’t push through this physical obstacle, was I still a woman of strength? An overcomer?
Why would God allow this? I’d been serving Him, writing for Him, speaking for Him, but now I was reduced to a tired, thin woman who often couldn’t make it to the bathroom on time let alone serve outside the home. Wasn’t I more effective when well?
I was failing. I wasn’t using the gifts God had given me. I wasn’t tending to my family as I felt called to do. I hadn’t touched my keyboard in months and wasn’t sure I ever would again.
I wasn’t any good for the body of Christ. I wasn’t any good for my family.
This was an incredibly painful time. A period of refining and stripping. A year I will always remember. The time when, as I read my Bible each morning and I clung to God’s Word lovingly preserved through the ages, He drew me to Himself and held me close to His heart. Those moments between us, when all the rest of the world faded from view, are precious beyond what I can express.
... there’s nothing so precious, nothing that can soothe the heart, quite like being held by the One who knows and loves you most.
There’s nothing so precious, nothing that can soothe the heart, quite like being held by the One who knows and loves you most.
Perhaps this is, in part, what James meant when he said, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds …” (James 1:2, NIV).
I’ve known joy. Not the momentary elation our world teaches us to chase after, but the deep, unyielding, persevering joy of knowing God, truly knowing Him, and being known by Him.
If favor is found in what I can do or the wealth I attain, if it’s found in prestige and accolades, I failed. And I’ll gladly fail again, to gain something much more enduring and fulfilling.
Time with Christ. To be held and to know His hands are strong and firm and ever-present, that’s joy. And that’s the greatest gift Christ died to give us—unhindered access to Himself. He’s always there, always reaching, always loving. But sometimes He needs to help us see that, rest in that. Sometimes that help comes through pain; a pain with the sweetest of dividends.
Let’s talk about this! When has God turned a difficult time into an enduring blessing? Share your thoughts in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another.
Before you go, I encourage you to sign up for my free, quarterly newsletter to receive short stories, devotions, recipes, and more sent directly to your inbox. When you sign up, you'll also receive a free, 36-lesson study (ebook, sent separately) that springs from 1 Timothy You can sign up HERE. And make sure to visit me at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud to read more encouraging messages from myself and other authors. You can find my site HERE.