Thursday, August 7, 2008

Believing without seeing

I'm deep into a couple of real gems right now, and I have to pass along a recommendation for at least one of them. While we were in San Antonio, I read a marvelous book called In the Presence of My Enemies It's a memoir written by Gracia Burnham, who, along with her husband, was held captive in the Philippine jungle by Muslim extremists for an entire year. They were missionaries who were taking one night away in a hotel for their anniversary, leaving their three children in the care of friends, when the resort was raided. Their tale works both as a suspenseful adventure story, replete with sometimes-gritty details of how they survived in harsh circumstances, and as refreshingly honest recounting of the spiritual journey she underwent through suffering. The final outcome isn't a secret, so I guess I won't be spoiling it for anyone if I tell you that her husband was eventually killed in the rescue operation that saved her. But the book is such a tribute to him and to what they went through together. Highly recommended!

You know, the whole question of why God allows His people to suffer is a popular and absorbing one. Reading this incredibly moving post several days ago has me thinking all the more. Just today I had a couple experiences that brought the issue to mind again. At the water park this morning, I was having a ball splashing around with my two girls and just feeling so blessed to have them and be with them, sharing that moment. Then I quickly realized that while I may FEEL blessed (and I am), what about the moments that aren't so picturesque? What about an hour earlier when I didn't have much help packing up the car, or an hour later when one of the kids started complaining of being hungry but didn't like what I'd packed? Still blessed? Still thankful?

Well, if God is just as Santa Claus kinda guy who passes out the presents and whooshes away, then no. But if blessing is more than an emotion, is in fact an unchangeable Person, then yes. I AM blessed in those Other Moments, because they remind me, almost force me, to turn to Him as the source of joy, rather than relying on the temporary bliss of my outward circumstances. And while my feelings may change like the Boston weather, the facts of who HE is, and who He is for and to us, remain unchanged. A conversation with a friend this afternoon who's struggling with God's mysterious timing in her life reminded me yet again. Some of her friends around her seem "blessed" with the very gift she's longing for herself. And yet God, in His infinite love toward her, says, "Not yet." A different kind of blessing, as it causes her to grow deeper into Him.

Dear friend, since I know you're reading this, I want you to know that after we hung up a verse came to my mind: "Whom having not seen, we love, in Whom, though not seeing at present, yet believing, we exult with joy that is unspeakable and full of glory." The Burnhams, stuck in the jungle and feeling abandoned as their fellow hostages were ransomed, learned the truth of this the hard way. We all have burdens, some more dramatic and pressing than others. But when we can't see Him -- yet -- can we still believe? Still love? Even exult?

Joy that is unspeakable and FULL of glory sounds pretty good to me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This entry had me reaching for the tissues (AGAIN!).