We human beings, in a vain attempt to keep suffering from touching our lives, search about for something or someone to blame when things seem to go wrong. We think that if we can isolate the cause and control it, we can ensure it stays far away from us. It is really in God’s hands from first to last, but how desperately we grasp for any illusion of control.
God called Jesus Christ to what seemed absolute disaster. And Jesus Christ called His disciples to see Him put to death, leading every one of them to the place where their hearts were broken. His life was an absolute failure from every standpoint except God’s. But what seemed to be failure from man’s standpoint was a triumph from God’s standpoint, because God’s purpose is never the same as man’s purpose.
~Oswald Chambers, The Bewildering Call of God
Dear Lord Jesus,
Through the battlings and pourings-out and strippings-away of the past months, You have shown me that I was mixing You up with my own perception of ideal.
A commitment to excellence in every area of life.
These are good things, right? Therefore Your will, right? You wouldn’t call me to anything less than excellence.
So working toward the highest ideals I can is basically the same thing as following You.
Not only had I confused following You with seeking excellence, I was holding my high ideals in a death grip.
How excruciating, how devastating is the stripping away.
Does Susanna serve God for nothing? Look at her! You’ve been hovering over her, giving her every good thing from her earliest days. Just let me bring some chaos and agony into the picture and then we’ll see what she really trusts in.
Was I really following You no matter what? Or did I only have the courage to obey Your call because I’d never questioned my childish understanding of Psalm 91? You are the God who can do anything and You have my back, so…no fear! I’m resting in You!
I have it all researched. It’s obvious where everything should ideally be. You can set that family culture of truth, goodness, and beauty over there. This educational plan goes over here with this child, and that one is ideal for those children. I’m trusting You to make it all possible, because I know You can do anything and only the best will bring You glory.
Oh, and could You drop a few things out in the trashcan for me? Distress, deprivation, desolation, disaster. None of this will be Your plan for me, because You always do what’s best and those are clearly not it. How could they bring glory to You?
Can I recognize Your will by judging its past or present success, or even its probable future success, using my own criteria?
Would You ever deliberately lead me into apparent disaster?
But…last July thirty-first.
To You and to Tommy, his homecoming was all good. But it wrought massive destruction at the core of who I was as a mother and human being. It laid bare the very foundations and is forcing me to search through and face down every tear-stained, blood-stained, pulverized layer of wreckage that was left of me.
To look up from the devastation toward the Hand that sent it, forcing me to ask who You really are.
You knew it would.
You designed it down to the smallest detail to do exactly that.
A thousand may fall at my side,
And ten thousand at my right hand;
But it shall not come near me?
I trusted You.
You gave me Your Word on it.
What does Your promise mean in the face of life-altering trauma, loss, and suffering?
It means that abundant life cannot consist of anything that can be taken away from me.
What You have taken from me was not bad. It was excellent, lovely, heart-rejoicing and God-glorifying. Worth working for and fighting for!
There is so much more You have left behind that You could take away at any moment.
But none of those things are Life, nor do they impart Life, because they are not You.
You will not take Yourself from me.
If You have to take away more and more in order to give me more and more of Yourself, then pry open my death grip and take it, whatever it is.
…what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for You.
Yet indeed I, Susanna, also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of You…and count them as rubbish…
That I may gain You and be found in You, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in You, the righteousness which is from God by faith…
That I may know You and the power of Your resurrection, and the fellowship of Your sufferings, being conformed to Your death.