Thursday, September 06, 2007

Desert Thoughts

Trials come in many shapes and forms. Some tend to be a gathering of inconveniences or menial problems that combine in snowball fashion to form a problem much bigger than me. At other times, a boulder comes out of nowhere, knocking me off my feet. Often in conjunction with that, there are times when a fog settles over me, leaving me in the position of wandering about, lacking clarity on my calling and sense of purpose.

That seems to be where I've been for over a month now. I've had some minor inconveniences recently: running out of cell phone minutes, minor relational difficulties, running out of checks, etc. I've had some boulders come my way: my car breaking down (over $1200.00 in repairs), my new glasses breaking, having to find a new place to live (yet again!), struggling to make ends meet, difficult relationships, loneliness/singleness and feeling left out, etc. In the midst of all of this, I feel somewhat left in the dust, pondering the larger issues of my purpose(s) in life.

Thankfully, the psalms give expression to my thoughts. In Psalm 6, David writes of a miserable existence. He is "languishing" and "greatly troubled" (v. 2, ESV) to the point where he writes: "I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. My eye wastes away because of grief; it grows weak because of all my foes" (v. 6-7, ESV). I rarely hear Christians admit feeling this way, and the hymns that we sing reflect little of the full breadth of Christian experience and these desert experiences of the Christian life.

It is no coincidence that David begins with a plea for God not to rebuke him in anger or discipline him in wrath. During desert experiences when bombarded with trial upon trial, we are tempted to believe that we are bearing the wrath of God. However, as a Christian, I know that God's wrath toward me was focused on His Son, Jesus Christ, at the cross. When I face times like these, I know they are trials that are used to conform me to Jesus Christ and/or they may be chastening blows from His loving hand. Either way, everything in my life has a good end now (Rom. 8:28), something that was not true prior to my conversion to Christ. Therefore, I must and will accept from God whatever His hand ordains to give me.

My loving Father has ordained that these various trials come my way, and I must not buck that or argue with Him. He truly knows best. In spite of what may seem to the contrary at times, what He sends my way comes from His heart of love. I accept what He gives me, because He is a good Father. He has ordained that I am single at this time, and in spite of the loneliness that sometimes creeps my way, I recognize that He has ordained this. Because I see His love in my lack, I trust him and have the faith to pursue a wife, knowing that His love for me and His goodness may also bring my wife and me together soon enough.

Let us cry to God from the desert, seeking to be faithful to serve Him when the feelings are not there and when life is not "peachy." We must remember that those who do not bow the knee to Jesus Christ are watching how we respond to the trials that our King sends our way. Pray that I'll respond in a godly manner in all of this.

Let us also read and sing the psalms. They are inspired cries from the hearts of many believers long ago. Carl Trueman's defense of psalm-singing--"What Can Miserable Christians Sing?"--provides some food for thought, and I encourage you to click here to read an excerpt at the Tolle Lege blog.

Thank God that He cares to listen to us, giving us this reminder from David in Psalm 62:8 (ESV): "Pour our your heart before him; God is a refuge for us."

Let us be obedient and pour our hearts out to Him daily and consistently...He cares!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Book Giveaway

Tim Challies is giving away some books in a drawing this month. Click here to access the page, and please enter my name when asked who referred you to the drawing.