“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
As I had the opportunity recently to sit quietly and reflect back over this past year of 2011; I was reminded of many things of which I am thankful for. Our newest granddaughter, Zoey, was born. Our grandson, Mason, started school. Our youngest daughter, Kara, started high school and made District Honor Band, once again. Our daughter, Amber, turned 20, started her senior year at UGA; and God used her to do many great things in Peru. I am also very thankful for those of you who prayerfully and financially supported her through this outreach.
In this process of recalling events of the past year, it was also brought to my remembrance the likes of things which I would rather not have experienced as well; physical and emotional pain, were the first to come to mind. But, the scripture does not say to “rejoice only when you feel like it, and give thanks when things are good.”
We as Christians were not promised a life without problems; matter of fact, Jesus said in John 16:33 that we would “have trials and sorrows”, but to “be cheerful because He has overcome the world.” He also says that we can “have peace in Him”, if we choose to do so.
Through my physical issues and our financial difficulties, certain characteristics seemed to surface from within me that I did not like. I was unable to do things as I used to. That frustrated me. In time I became angry with myself. I am the kind of person that when something needs to be done, I usually do it right away, and everything has to be just right (if you know what I mean). Now; I had to take my time or rely on someone else to do it. This did not come easy at all for me.
Then I felt as though everyone else thought I was not fulfilling my duties as I should. They were lashing out at me. I was hurt; but I kept it inside. As time passed, I noticed I became critical and judgmental; and the anger was beginning to show as well. I would be angry at everything, the stupid remote, the dog, the person driving right on my bumper when I was already going 5 mph over the speed limit; you name it. I did not like this person that I was becoming. I asked God, “What is going with me?” “I don’t like who I am.” He led me to this book, The Bait of Satan by John Bevere, which I had read about four years ago.
Jesus said in Luke 22:31-32 “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you; that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” Notice that Satan requested that he be allowed to sift, (shake) or test Peter. Jesus did not pray for Peter to be spared from that, only that his faith would not fail. Jesus knew that Peter was going to deny Him; so He prayed that when he returned, Peter would be a source of strength for the others.
John Bevere writes in The Bait of Satan,
God showed my wife Lisa five purposes for shaking an object:
1. To bring it closer to its foundation
2. To remove what is dead
3. To harvest what is ripe
4. To awaken
5. To unify or mix together so it can no longer be separated
Through this sifting or shaking process that I have been experiencing; I was awakened to my true heart condition. It seemed as though there were wounds that had not been dealt with from long ago; then more recent wounds were piled on top of those. I had allowed that to build into anger, resentment, bitterness and offense. Growing up, there was so much tension and strife in our family. Our parents divorced and our mom worked, leaving me, the oldest, to care for my two younger sisters most of the time, which I do not begrudge at all. I love my sisters dearly! Being the oldest sibling, I felt the need to be strong for them, so if ever I was hurt, I didn’t feel that I could acknowledge that. I would deny the pain, thinking that would make it go away. So learning at a very young age to deny my pain, caused for a lifetime of wounds in my heart that needed to be healed.
John Bevere writes that denying the hurt is a form of pride. He, himself, experienced this; and God revealed it to him. He said,
“I knew it was wrong to be offended so I denied and repressed it. I convinced myself I was not, but in reality I was. Pride masked the true condition of my heart. Pride keeps you from dealing with the truth. It distorts your vision.”
He continues, “There was a time in my life when I went through intense trials such as I never faced before. I became rude and harsh with those closest to me. I cried out to the Lord, “Where is all this anger coming from? It wasn’t there before.” The Lord responded, “Son, it is when they liquefy gold in fire that the impurities show up.” He then asked me a question that changed my life. “Can you see the impurities in the gold before it is put in the fire?” “No,” I answered. “But that doesn’t mean they were not there,” He said. “When the fire of trials hit you, these impurities surfaced. Though hidden to you, they were always visible to me. So now you have a choice that will determine your future. You can remain angry, blaming your wife, friends, pastor, and the people that you work with, or you can see this dross of sin for what it is and repent, receive forgiveness, and I will take my ladle and remove these impurities from your life.”
I am not thrilled to have gone through these trials this past year, but for what God has brought to my attention and the healing that has taken place, I truly am thankful. Do I still have a long way to go? Yes, indeed. I have to say that through all of this; I have, and am still learning a lot about myself. I have definitely grown a lot closer to God; and for that; I am ever so thankful for, as well! To say that you forgive someone is one thing, but to acknowledge that you have been truly hurt and allow God access into your heart to bring healing to that wounded area, is a totally different thing. I do hope that you will take the opportunity to ask God if you have any wounds that you may have denied or tried to forget about, and then quietly wait on Him. If He reveals anything to you; then allow Him to bring healing into that area.
May you be extremely blessed,