Monday, October 21, 2013

Acceptance Leads to Growth


Dear Friends, 

When I was young, I used to play with caterpillars.  There were cute little ones and ugly ones and furry ones and smooth ones.  Such variety!  But they all had one thing in common:  They all formed a chrysalis and spent time becoming a beautiful butterfly. When the time came, the struggle would begin as the little bug fought its way out into the world, a new creature.

One day I saw one little chrysalis jumping around on the tray.  I felt so sorry for the little bug inside its “prison”, obviously wanting to escape, and I wanted to help.  So, running to the house, I found a pair of scissors and carefully cut off the top of the chrysalis to help it out.  When the bug popped out, I discovered my mistake.  Its wings were deformed, and it was colorless!

How was I to know the color came into the little thing’s wings in the triumph of the struggle?  How was I to know that it took that deathly struggle to release the wings in order for that little bug to soar above the earth that had been its natural habitat?  When I have been unable to save my children the hard things in life, I have observed that in the struggle the color of their Christian character has come into their wings, and they have risen above their dire dilemmas.

So it was with Job.  He had been a “good” man, but through his tragedies he became a “gold” one!  And whereas the things that he feared had anchored him to the earth, his deathly struggle raised him to a new dimension of living.  The Bible calls that victory!

What things that God has allowed in your life do you need to accept today? Where has God caused growth in your life as a result of hardship? Thank Him for not abandoning you through the trials and for making you more like Him.                                             


Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine




Sunday, October 13, 2013

Accepting What We Can't Change


Dear Friends,
Some years ago, I heard a well-known Christian leader talking about his eldest son, who had a heart condition.  The young man was suddenly taken seriously ill at college and was rushed to the hospital.  As the parents sped toward the emergency room, the father said to his wife, “Pray hard; maybe God will be good and our boy will live.”  His wife replied, “Isn’t God good if he dies?” 

That world-renowned Christian leader spoke quietly about the affirmation of faith in God’s character and about ways that he was made anew at that moment of personal crisis.  “God is good,” he said to his wife, “whether our boy lives or dies.”  The boy died, but his parents were able to say with Job, “The Lord gave me everything I had, and they were his to take away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Most of us have trouble believing “the messenger” when he arrives with bad news.  In the story of Job’s misfortunes, messenger after messenger arrived, each with a more devastating report than the last.  We don’t see Job going into a state of denial; he believes what he has been told.  I saw this response modeled years ago by a friend of mine.

When we first came to pastor the church in Milwaukee, my new neighbor and her husband had been married well over forty years.  Both of these dear people had come to faith in Christ soon after we had come to know them and were as fresh and excited about their newfound Savior as little children.  Then the husband died.  I stood with the widow at the funeral home at the side of the casket as relatives and friends filed past.

The sister of the old man was inconsolable.  She mourned without hope, standing alongside the widow and murmuring to each guest, “There he is… There he is” as they came past.  I shot a look at my new friend to see how she was doing and noticed that she was becoming somewhat agitated.  Looking briefly at her husband’s corpse, she said to his sister, “If I believed, ‘There he is,’ I would be of all people most miserable.  Do you know what makes this possible instead of impossible for me?”

“No,” replied the startled sister.

“There he isn’t!” my friend replied with great gusto.  “There he isn’t – he’s with Jesus,” she repeated.  “Absent from the body – present with the Lord,” she concluded.  My friend had certain hope of the Resurrection.  She knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that she would see her beloved husband again.  In accepting death as an inevitable part of life, she began to cope much better than the old man’s sister, who couldn’t accept the fact that her brother had died.  And my friend was just a new believer!  She had been able to believe the messenger and accept the sudden death of her husband and, therefore, had been able to be a help to others.

When we accept that the “unacceptable” has come to us with the full knowledge and permission of a God of integrity, we can stop trying to push the trouble away.  The sooner we can accept what we cannot change, the sooner we are ready to experience the peace and healing that we need.

Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine


  

Monday, October 7, 2013

When Trials Touch Those We Love


Dear Friends,

In the life of Job, the “everything” that Satan was permitted to touch included Job’s precious children.  Possessions are one thing, but people are quite another – especially people whom we love very much.  As Henry Gariepy says in his excellent book about Job, Portraits of Perseverance,

“We will not only have our own problems – the problems of those we love and care for and for whom we have such high hopes and dreams, hit us with full force as well.  When tragedy strikes them, the quakes in their lives are registered on the Richter Scale of our own hearts.”

I know that in my own experience I do a halfway decent job of trusting the Lord until something touches one of our children.  In a way, our children are my Achilles’ heel, and Satan knows it!  I have always worried about the kids.  When they were little, I worried that they would fall into the washing machine and drown.  When they were teenagers, I worried about the friendships they made.  When they went away to college, I worried about the life partners they would choose, and when none of my worries materialized (and it has been said that 90 percent of our worries and fears never do), I began to worry all over again about their children falling into the washing machine and drowning – and so on!  Like Job, I pray fervently for them, but I have seldom been free from the “dread” Job experienced and testifies to in chapter 3:25-26. 

Only recently has God released me from this fear.  Partly, the acceptance of the fact that trouble, in some measure will come, has helped.  But more important, peace has grown out of the conviction that when, not if trouble comes, God will Himself be all that my children need in order to cope.

What loved one are you agonizing over today?  Surrender your loved one over to the Lord, trusting Him to be all your loved one needs in the midst of this difficult trial. God is close to the brokenhearted!  Pray that God will give you peace and spectator grace as you watch your loved one suffer.

Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine