Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“But let all those who take refuge and put their trust in You rejoice; let them ever sing and shout for joy, because You make a covering over them and defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You.”
Psalm 5: 11
“I heard a robin singing in the rain,
Its bird-soul pleading low. Again, again
It called to those sore-spent with Life’s dull sting
To open their soul-windows to the Spring.
Surely it seemed those vibrant notes might lend
Fresh courage; my heart defend
‘Gainest utter numbness, yet all sound
First touched my senses, sorrow-bound, in vain,
Even as the tranquil cadence of the rain
Upon a home deserted, lone, remote.
And then there fell one low, pulsating note,
That jarred a slumbering hurt and freshly smote
My soul, awoke the old, insistent pain;
New consciousness and heart to fight again.”
Today’s Study Text:
“Yet these are but a small part of His doings, the outskirts of His ways or the mere fringes of His force, the faintest whisper of His voice! Who dare contemplate or who can understand the thunders of His full, magnificent power?”
Job 26: 14
“Furnace of Affliction” – Part 22
“A Small Part of His Doing”
“Nothing transcends the power of God. Whether our difficulty is from Satan, others, self-inflicted, or experienced in the process of our obedience, it is God’s prerogative to rearrange, reconstruct, reinterpret, and realign the situation to bring glory and praise to His name.”
Through the Fire
When I look at what plagues me in my life, how do I limit God’s power because my thinking is too small?
“No matter what has happened, it doesn’t spell the end of God’s ability to make it good. God is completely capable of taking leftovers and making a gourmet meal. He is never left without options. And He never leaves us hopeless.”
“It is God-dishonouring to forget that He still has power, although our armies are defeated, and all seems dark and gloomy.”
D. L. Moody
Recently, Jim and I were blessed to have received two tickets to a classical concert. Knowing how we enjoy music, especially classical music, my mother had “saved up” and for our Christmas present this past year, she purchased Jim and me tickets to Arizona Musicfest. One concert in particular featured the world-renowned violinist Joshua Bell. It was obvious from the moment Mr. Bell walked on stage with the orchestra conductor, Robert Moody, that we were in for a treat. The music was heavenly. You could have heard a pin drop as the new Lutheran Church was filled with the strains of the orchestra and the brilliant melodies which came from Joshua Bell’s exceptional Stradivarius violin. Mr. Bell’s skill is truly breath-taking. He brings the most expressive tones from his violin. But one has to also remember that the instrument he is playing took many years and much effort to make.
We are told that in years past, when the leading violin-makers of the Middle Ages wished to form a perfect instrument, they caused a specific tree in the forest to be felled at a particular period of its growth. The wood was then planed and cut into small pieces which were exposed to the heat of the sun and to the winter’s storms. Then the wood pieces were “bent, rubbed, polished, and finally fastened together with incomparable skill.”
Does this sound at all like what is going on in your own life right now? Are you being cut into pieces; exposed to high temperatures in a hot oven; and then bent to fit into a special mold? Or quite possibly, you are being polished and rubbed until the shine that radiates from you is the perfect reflection of your Maker!
As one author notes, “by countless touches of pain and sorrow, God fits us to bear our part in the great harmony with which true and earnest souls shall ultimately fill the world.”
During the intermission of the program which Jim and I attended, my curious husband, whose gorgeous smile and friendly spirit has let him in more places than I can count, walked haltingly with cane in hand up where several orchestra members were sitting and Jim engaged them in conversation about their own violins. One young man, pointing at the violin held by the individual sitting next to him remarked, “This violin isn’t a Stradivarius but it was made by a famous French craftsman and what a wonderful tone it has.” When Jim related this conversation to me, I thought about the care that was put into that instrument by the gentleman whose goal was to craft a violin that resonated the clear tones of a handcrafted musical instrument.
In our study text today, the lead character, Job, responding to the immense greatness of God, not only God’s depth but His power as well, after looking at the grandeur exhibited in the sky, this man who had tasted from a cup of pain, grief and suffering concluded that what we see and know of the Almighty is but “a small part of His ways.” As Matthew Henry poses in his commentary on Job 26: 14, “We are much in the dark concerning God…Something we hear of Him by His works and by His Word; but alas! how little a portion…we know but in part. When we have said all we can, concerning God, we must even do as the Apostle Paul does in Romans 11: 33 where he exclaims: “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unfathomable are His decisions. And how untraceable are His methods.”
As I read Paul’s description of God it reminded me of the unspeakable ways we as humans try to portray with words the beauty that comes from a musical instrument crafted oh so carefully by its creator. How does an individual explain how a master craftsman can combine time and expertise to produce a note that takes your breath away? Yet, our heavenly Father, takes His time and His expertise and puts it into molding me into the person He knows I can be.
When looking through the visual acuity of an expert, I cannot fathom how one makes something so awe-inspiring. And it is because of my earthly thinking that perhaps, I am not able to sort out my Master’s intent as He bends and presses me always keeping me within the palm of His hand so that He personally is able to never let the pressure be more than I can take.
I’ve lived long enough in my life now to recognize that many beautiful people have come forth from the fires of affliction to radiate their Master’s face and to live their lives, glorifying their Father in heaven.
One of my favorite writers, Amy Carmichael, was the founder of Dohnavur Fellowship in 1901. Living in India she dedicated much of her life rescuing primarily young girls who were forced into prostitution at Hindu temples. After years of service, one night coming home in the dark, Amy was unaware that construction had taken place within the compound where she lived and unfortunately, a fall led her to be bedridden for the last 20 years of her life. One biographer noted that she asked that no stone be placed on her grave when she died, rather the children she loved and cared for put a bird bath they had made over her burial place with the inscription, ”Amma” which in Tamil means mother.
When speaking about trials and those times in life which leave us with a feeling of confusion, Amy wrote: “To anyone who is under trial, give God time to steep (your) soul in His eternal truth. Go into the open air, look up into the depths of the sky, or out upon the wilderness of the sea, or on the strength of the hills that are His also; or, if bound in the body, go forth in your spirit. Give Him the time and, as surely as dawn follows night, there will break upon the heart a sense of certainty that cannot be shaken.”
No wonder Job could look at the clouds and the earth’s horizon and the “pillars of earth” and say that we have so much more to understand about the works and ways of God, especially in those times of trial when His purposes appear hidden. In the words of Terry Esau from the book, Be The Surprise: “Trusting God trumps understanding God. The train will have long left the station and left us on the platform if we determine to ride only with full understanding. Life will have passed us by. I’m choosing to trust the conductor and the track He’s laid down for me.”
During life’s perplexing times when the bending, firing and polishing is all I can see or feel, I want to stand with God’s servant Job and take away from my furnace of affliction exactly what Job retrieved – a portrait of God’s grand power and a willingness to recognize that what I see as well as understand is just “a small part of His doing.”
“Whatever storm cometh, you will find His bosom the surest place of retreat.”
Thou Hast Enlarged Me
“’Thou hast enlarged me’ –even when in distress!
‘Thou hast enlarged me’, - made me more like Thee,
Sorrows which came, and things of painfulness,
Thou has employed me – yea, but to develop me.
‘Thou hast enlarged me!’ – Thou dost behold
Need for enlargement, deep within the soul;
And Thou doest use, not always things of gold,
Things oft times dark – when sorrows billows roll.
‘Thou hast enlarged me!’ using things of pain,
Things I would fain have had Thee take away;
Things which, to me, betokened naught of gain,
Thou hast used these, enlargement to convey.
‘Thou hast enlarged me!’ Yea, ‘tis all clear now!
‘Thou hast enlarged me,’ even when sore distressed.
‘Thou hast enlarged!’ I worshipfully bow,
And gladly sing of the discipline which blest.”
J. Danson Smith
“God understandeth the way…and He knoweth.”
Job 28: 23
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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