Friday, August 24, 2012


Isaiah 26:3-4
“3 You keep him in perfect peace 
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
4 Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.”

I was listening to a song the other day that talked about how God is our refuge in times of fear and trouble and I realized that it has very personal meaning to me. I began thinking specifically about certain times of trouble and how God has been my refuge in them, but then I began looking back over the course of my life, and I realized how much deeper the concept of refuge actually is. It is not just in times of fear and trial that I need His refuge, it is always. 

I don't attempt to claim a 'favorite verse' per se, because I think sometimes we can tend to pull out favorite or well-known verses and mangle them out of context, but I do try to marinate my thinking in the whole counsel of His word rather than grabbing a few favorite verses and repeating them like a kind of mantra. However, there are still passages I find myself returning to often at different stages of life, and those verses from Isaiah that I quoted at the beginning of this post are true, and I find myself pondering them often. But something you have to keep in mind is that these verses are not a blanket promise that the one who keeps his or her mind on God and trusts Him will never face trials or that nothing ‘bad’ will ever happen.  Another passage I find myself returning to ponder often is Philippians 4:6-7, “6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  There is hope in His peace. And when I say ‘peace,’ I mean so much more than simply ‘calm in the storm.’ I can testify to that peace and its depth. He has given me a story of His faithfulness and grace to tell for His glory, and I’m grateful. 

Those of you who’ve been reading my blog for a while or know me in real life know that I’m married to Drew and we have three children, two boys ages 13 and 11, and a little girl age 6. What you may not know about us is that we also have 4 children we did not get to meet this side of heaven because of miscarriages. I try not to bring that up too often because that is not something I want to unduly burden others with and, though it is a big part of my husband’s and my life, we don’t need to make it the defining thing about us or dwell in depths of emotion over it more than we should.

 I say that, though, to say that as I listened to that song I mentioned, the first thing I thought about was how true it is that God was my refuge during those difficult times when I lost 4 babies. I thought about how I’ve been allowed to learn from James 1:2-3 “2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness,” that there is joy in having persevered because I know that the faith to persevere was a gift from Jesus because I know how wretched my heart would be on its own, that only He could grant me the faith to persevere and demonstrate that that faith is real

I thought about the second miscarriage, when I had already been working before it happened to memorize Psalm 34, and how during some of the most difficult moments I literally cried out Psalm 34:1, “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth,” through wracking sobs and breaking heart, and once again experienced that peace that passes all understanding as He continued to grant the faith to persevere and trust Him, though I didn’t understand the whys. 

And I remembered the third one, when we found out just days after learning I was expecting that Drew had been tasked to go to Iraq for the Army for six months. How I feared the timing of his departure, knowing my history and that we weren’t guaranteed we’d never face another miscarriage. I remembered how I learned in that time that though I feared, Jesus was with me, even when what I had feared did, indeed, happen and I lost that baby just days after Drew left for Iraq. Yet God surrounded us with a church family who prayed for us and helped me with childcare while I went for test after test after test which yielded no answers. 

And the fourth, when I learned, yet again, that I could sing, I could praise, even when my heart was sad, and I could say, “The Lord gave and the Lord took away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” Before that last pregnancy, I had the opportunity to co-lead a little women’s Bible study through the book of Hebrews. In Hebrews we learn about our great High Priest, Jesus, and that He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7:25), and if He knows the days of my life before ever there was one of them (Psalm 139), then surely He was interceding for me, His child, on that day too.  And I remember that in all things, the good and the bad, the things I've listed here and so many others I could list besides, God is good, all the time, and He has always, always, always been so kind to grant me the faith to persevere and to trust Him, that faith that comes from God alone through faith in Christ Jesus alone.

As I was flooded with these memories of God’s faithfulness and what He has taught me through these things, I was struck by the realization that not only do I need the kind of peace He has abundantly showered upon me during trials, but I need, so much more than that, the peace He has given me with Himself in the forgiveness of sin. The reason I press on to make this my own is because Christ Jesus has made me His own (Phil 3:12). Because here is where I am brought to my knees in wonder, when I look back over my life and ponder the grace that allowed Him to save me and to make me His own, to be amazed at the fact that He would look with favor upon me, wretched sinner that I am, and have mercy and grace to save me to be His own, reconciled to Him in faith.

See, as a five-year-old, God allowed me to express a childlike faith and profess faith in Jesus. I do not know how much I could have possibly understood at that age. As I’ve grown in faith, I realize I couldn’t have understood much. But God, who is rich in mercy, took that childlike faith He granted and grew it until I did understand about repentance and was able to place my full trust in Him in a mature faith. I look back at the girl I was in high school and college, who had such an immature faith and such a huge pride that if you’d asked me if I were a good person, I would have proudly said, “Yes,” knowing that any good was only there because of what Jesus had done for me, but not having much understanding, even then, of just how wretched my sin really was. But now I see it, my wretched, sinful self, and I know that God, in His mercy, grew me in faith to recognize and repent and trust that what Jesus did on the cross really was for me. He took my sin and took the wrath I deserved and has counted me righteous. He took that childlike faith of the five-year-old and held me, guarded my heart and mind, and kept me from straying in spite of my immaturity, and will continue to hold me to the end. 

And, my friends, now I plead with you to consider Jesus. Examine your heart. Have you repented and placed your trust in Jesus alone? That is the peace that passes all understanding which guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. That is why we can count it all joy when we encounter various trials, because He is. He is glorious, He is merciful, He is loving. And He, in mercy, reached down and saved this sinner so that in trial and in sunshine I can sing His praise. Halleluljah! What a Savior!

1 comment:

Lisa Spence said...

Hallelujah! And amen!