Friday, July 16, 2010

Troubles



  “Double, double, toil and trouble…”
William Shakespeare, Macbeth

I find myself in a strange place again, still mulling over my impressions of Europe, while trying to get back into a routine. (Which will promptly and happily be interrupted this afternoon, when I drive halfway to Montgomery to pick up precious cargo. Katherine is coming home. With James. It will be the first time they’ve been here without Jay since the AVM rupture. Please pray about the stairs…and other safety issues.)

Jet lag has made the re-establishment of a morning Quiet Time much easier than usual: 4:00 a.m., and I’m wide awake. Perfect time for prayer and study. I’ve felt a vague, creeping sense of unease…almost dread…without it.

First, I checked the prayer requests on Margery. I am grateful that people have been open to sharing their needs…and that others have been willing to intercede for them. We are building community.

People have poured out their troubles, and those of people they care about: heart-breaking infertility issues…life-threatening and life-destroying illnesses…traumatic brain injuries…various life challenges and changes. I spent some time praying for each one. The growing list is a wonderful aid for me in terms of consistency and persistence in prayer. I hope that it will become a tool in developing spiritual discipline for some of you as well. Personally, I need all the help I can get. (“The spirit is willing, but the flesh (and aging brain) are weak.”)

As I prayed, I tried not to enter into what Oswald Chambers refers to as “the agony of intercession,” but it is difficult for me to avoid. As I mentioned in “The Weight of Tears,” it is sometimes a struggle for me to relinquish the heaviness. Although my head knowledge tells me to lift up the intercessory prayer, and leave it there, I have a tendency to bring part of that weight back down to earth with me.

After I prayed, I stayed still for a while, thinking about how many troubles and heartaches there are in this world. So many things that seem unfair. Happy, productive lives interrupted by injury or devastating illness. Loving couples who desperately desire a child, but are unable to conceive…while unwed, unfit teenagers churn out baby after baby. Young people cut down just when they should be blossoming.

Why, God? Why?

I picked up my Bible, left behind for 10 days, like a long-lost friend. Turned to where I’d left off. This is what I read:

 “Finally, when we could stand it no longer…we sent Timothy to visit you. He is our brother and God’s co-worker in proclaiming the Good News of Christ. We sent him to strengthen you, to encourage you in your faith, and to keep you from being shaken by the troubles you were going through. But you know that we are destined for such troubles. Even while we were with you, we warned you that troubles would soon come—and they did, as you well know. That is why, when I could bear it no longer, I sent Timothy to find out whether your faith was still strong. I was afraid that the tempter had gotten the best of you and that our work had been useless.
But now Timothy has just returned, bringing us good news about your faith and love… So we have been greatly encouraged in the midst of our troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives us new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord.
 How we thank God for you! Because of you we have great joy as we enter God’s presence. Night and day we pray earnestly for you…”

(1 Thessalonians 3: 1-10, nlt)
We are destined for trouble???
Are you kidding me?
I go to one of my favorite online resources, BibleGateway.com, and hit the Keyword Search for “trouble.”  There are 179 separate entries…and it is not even a complete concordance.
This one hits me: “Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.” (Job 5:7)
Inevitable.             
When you are young and happy, you don’t want to hear stuff like that.
I remember going to hear a Christian speaker with some of my friends early on in our faith experiences. We were young mothers with adorable toddlers and babies. The speaker told her story. She quoted the scripture “…in this world you will have trouble…” She spoke of the inevitability of trials coming: not if, but when. I don’t remember it all, but the climax was that her son was killed. I think he must have been hit by a car or in a bad wreck. At the end, she held up his sneaker, found on the side of the road. My friends and I sobbed.
Her story was one of triumph from tragedy. She told of how God had sustained and comforted her and her family in their time of grief. But I remember how my friends and I looked at each other, wide-eyed and horrified. I think I said something like, “I don’t care how strong my faith was, I could never, ever survive something like that. You’d have to just throw me in the coffin, too.”
I simply could not imagine surviving a trouble like that.
But life has since shown me that we can survive many unsurvivable things with the help of God’s spirit. Troubles we could not, in our wildest imaginations, envision surviving. We are given the grace we need when we need it, not before. This has been tested and proved in my own life.
I don’t fear and dread the future as much as I did when I was younger. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I will experience much more suffering in this life. It is the inevitable result of living in an imperfect world where separation, pain, and death exist. But I also believe, without a shadow of a doubt, that I will be given the strength to endure. And not only endure, but to continue to experience some joy along the rocky way.
The majority of this post was written on Tuesday morning; many divine interruptions have occurred since then. When I had to stop writing, I quickly checked my email. Someone had written this to me: “I hope this is a good day for you (meaning the presence of God's strength rather than the absence of trials.)”
I pray that for you as well.
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 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

 “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (Corinthians 4:16-18)

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Remember... to post your prayer needs, just click on the praying lady on the right and hit “comment.” Is there any techie out there who knows how to reverse it so that the most recent requests will appear at the top? Thanks! Kim

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Among the many divine interruptions this week: Alphabet Soup.







                                                                            




7 comments:

masterdesigned said...

First - love the Alphabet Soup photos! Second, I have come to really lean into John 16:33 - especially as stated in the Amplified version which states:

"I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]"

Praying blessings to you today!

Laurel said...

Welcome home! And drat! You are so close...I'm not far from Montgomery and will be there this weekend. I would love to take you to lunch sometime.

My mom got to meet Katherine at her Bible study on Monday. She was every bit as impressed with the real thing :)

Travel blessings on the last leg of your trip. May James sleep on the plane!

Bridgette said...

Hi Kim. My name is Bridgette and I attended Samford with Katherine. I'm not sure we ever actually met, but I always knew who she was, as she was such a bright light on campus.

When my husband, Raleigh, and I learned of Katherine's injury, we began feeling God leading us to pray for her full recovery in ways we have never prayed before. We started having lots of conversations about what it means to pray without ceasing and truly intercede for others.

Then about a month later Maria Sue Chapman, the youngest daughter of Steven Curtis tragically died. Once again, the Lord used this in a mighty way in our lives and started opening our eyes and hearts to desperate needs.

This is a short version...but basically the Lord used Katherine's story and the story of the Chapman family to lead Raleigh and I to adoption. We are now in the process of adopting our first child from South Korea.

Please know that God continues to use Katherine in mighty ways. We continue to pray for her and all of you that surround her in love through this journey.

Callie said...

loved this post...and james is too cute!! hopefully i'll run into you guys while you're in athens...i'd love that!!

Cheri said...

I have been re-reading the book Prayer by O.Hallesby. It's a classic that was first published in 1931. I love this quote, "To pray is to tell Jesus what we lack. Intercession is to tell Jesus what we see that others lack." He uses Mary's request at the Wedding of Cana as the perfect example of intercession. Mary saw a need, went and told Jesus with just a few simple words what it was. She gave no suggestions nor did she try to persuade Him to act. She knew Him and that the need would be safe with Him. Even after Jesus gave her some very hard words, she was still convinced her request was safe as she went and told the servants to do whatever Jesus told them to do. Her part was done. Hallesby also said that because we do not believe that prayer is just telling Jesus what we or others lack we become burdened and weary by our prayers. We believe that it can't be so simple. There must be more to it.
You are right. There is trouble all around. Gut wrenching, heart breaking trouble. I feel so overwhelmed trying to find the time to pray for others like people have prayed for us. I am going to try to follow Mary's example. Seeing a need, sharing it with Jesus and believing it is safe with Him. After all, that water did get turned into wine, didn't it?

Cheri said...

And oh yeah, I could eat up that Alphabet Soup!

allison guyer said...

Kim - I wanted to send a personal email to you. I thought I had your address from a much earlier blog entry but I can't locte it. If you don't mind providing it, would you send me a quick email at allisonguyer@gmail.com so I will have your address. Thanks!!