Don’t intend to spam with blog posts but I was so blessed by a friend that I wanted to share.
Backstory: friend by friend, my mom and Cynthia (who had Linc during appt) and Scott were joined by friends who came and hugged and laughed and loved and prayed and laughed some more. As in life, joy mixed with sorrow and blessings amidst heartache. Someone asked how Scott was doing and he shared that he is realizing he is going to have to have faith that he’s never had to have before – faith that heaven is real as God promised, faith that the Lord will take care of me as He promised, faith that the Lord will protect Linc as He promises…
Scott then talked about James 1:2-4:
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
… And how we don’t understand but have to believe and expect the Lord to connect the dots between joy and suffering for His glory and our good.
So, as a (long) backstory, those are the questions and conversation we had with friends and this is the text I woke up to (written at 4:57am) from my kind and faithful and humble friend, Jeff Ward:
Jennifer – hope this text doesn’t make a noise and wake you guys up 🙂 but I’ve been up praying for you all and wanted to send this before I left. Ironic that I’m speaking to Porch leaders this morning about “time management.” Just read your latest blog post (maybe I’ll just read your blog post to them and sit down) and hurts my heart for you guys. I’ve thought often about what I would say standing before the furnace. I’ve also meditated on James 1:2-4 a bunch this year and stood in a sweaty room while my Iranian friends told me story after story of what “coming to Christ” has meant for them – jail, loss of family, loss of jobs, death threats and yet their joy in the Lord unmistakeable. They really have an “anti-prosperity” gospel. In fact one man grabbed my arm when I asked if he was leaving to go somewhere “safe” (dumb question) and said “Brother Jeff, I believe in two blessings – the blessing of salvation and the blessing of suffering.” The more I’ve thought about that the more I see that in my bible. I don’t like it. In fact I really hate it. I hate cancer. I hate what it does and what it represents. But I know that somehow God uses it to James 1 us…to make us whole and complete, spiritually mature. So hard to connect the dots… Just know that you are greatly loved by the Wards and countless others who will continue to lift your family up as you stand before the furnace. God is able to deliver. He’s able to give joy even in the midst of that. He is good. He loves you. He loves your family. He has, is, and will redeem the pain…trusting the guy who said “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world!”
And, because I am in this season where I deeply desire to know and trust Him more I can’t resist urge to point out that Scott used the exact same phrase ‘connect the dots’ and the same Scripture reference from James 1 and God is more than able to provide answers to our questions through His children (He is our Provision). He also woke my second mom (some would say stepmom but she’s far too dear and close so I prefer to explain that I was gifted with a second mom who loves me and our family, including my first mom, very much) with an offer to help with my grandmother (dad’s mom who is 95 and Thursday is Lincoln and my day with her) but she is already taken care of because He woke our friend Hite even earlier and he had already called my grandmother and arranged to take her to doctor. He’s provided. And as we left doctor yesterday our ‘next steps’ related to a bunch of tests and bloodwork that need to be done on Monday or Tuesday before I can start on the trial (pending confirmation in Houston) … And as I looked at my phone after doctor, my friend Amy had written: ‘Lewis, can the kids and I help with Lincoln on Monday or Tuesday?’ More provision.
I expect, if you choose to walk this road with us on the blog and in life, you will get a wide range of realities and emotions and joy and sorrow and laughter. Today, on the heels of last night, I wanted to share our journey related to suffering and faith and how the Lord can (and will) ‘connect the dots’ … And use friends like last night and Jeff’s text to help us. I suspect that when we ‘connect the dots’ it will be straight line pointing us to JESUS and the heart of the Father and His love for us. And you.