My daughter's cat, Edmund, has a skin dermatitis he is making worse by licking it so the vet prescribed antibiotics and a cone to heal him up.
It's been interesting to watch Edmond. He lays in a crouch position with his head up, resigned to his cone, but I occasionally hear him grumble and twitch his tail in annoyance with the cone around his neck.
He was obviously discontent today.
As I watched him the verse Lamentations 3: 1- 9 came into my mind: "I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of his wrath; He has driven and brought me into darkness without any light;...He has walled me about so that I cannot escape;...though I call and cry for help, He shuts out my prayer; He has blocked my ways with blocks of stones; He has made my paths crooked" (Lamentations 3: 1-9)
Edmond doesn't understand the cone he's wearing is to help him heal up. I'm sure he feels it is a cone of shame. He just wants to rid himself of it.
We don't always understand that the dark paths God takes us on are for our healing, to draw us closer to Him.
I think Job had deep confidence of God's love for him and was able to pour out his complaint to Abba God. He understood the road where joy and sorrow meet, he was not silenced (see Job 23:17).
Though our souls are wounded and cry out for help (see Job 24:12), we can rest in His love knowing He does not break a bruised reed (Isaiah 42:3). He gives treasure in the darkness (Isaiah 45:2-4)
Treasure In The Darkness
Treasures in the darkness; healing, though the way is painful.
Character, though the building of it hurts.
Endurance, though the obtaining is through suffering.
Hope, though the way
hope – though the way is so dark is so dark.
God gives treasures in the darkness.
God gives healing in the darkness.
God reveals Himself in the darkness. I walk secure through the darkness in Him. He calls me by name. He knows my name. (Tenacious, 2013).
But when I hoped for good, evil came, and when I waited for light, darkness came. Job 30:26
I will give you treasures of darkness....that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who call you by your name, I call you by your name. Isaiah 45:2-4
Jesus told us we'd have trials in this life (see John 16:33). His word lets us know trials produce character, perseverance, hope. (Romans 5: 1-5)
In the dark trials of life, as I meditate on His love for me just as I am how I am, my soul can say, this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
(Lamentations 3: 22-23)
He Himself is our peace.
Watching Edmond struggle with and resign himself to his collar of healing, I thought about Jerard. I'm working on a book about the path of joy and sorrow and my soul's journey during the time from when we took Jerard and James in to Jerard's death.
A new script is being developed and operating as my paradigm.
I used to think hard times were because God was mad at me and wanted to punish me.
He's not punishing me or abusing me.
He's not mad at me.
Even his own son He says, “it was His desire to crush him” Isaiah 53
As I operate more and more out of mindfulness and giving of thanks in all things
I remember, “the Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of Your hands.” Psalm 138:8
He hasn't forsaken me.
He is searching me, trying me, knowing my thoughts and He is leading me in the way everlasting.
The hard times do make us strong.
Edmond's cone will help his skin heal and fur grow back.
God walls us in (Job 19:8; Lamentations 3:7); He afflicts us (see Isaiah 30:20, 48:10; Psalm 34:19).
But our light and temporary afflictions are preparing for us an eternal weight of glory (2 Corinthians 4:17).
He is teaching us His ways, His ancient paths (Jeremiah 6:16).
Isaiah 30: 19 – 21
He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. ...And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
We do encounter divine goodness in the midst of pain. These struggles of life are God-ordained.
I have the right to come boldly into His throne to receive mercy and grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
I can approach God with boldness, freedom, and confidence. (Ephesians 3:12)
He does love me. He is not ashamed of me. He is not just tolerating me.
He embraces me fully as His own. (Tenacious, 2013).
“Whate’er my God ordains is right:
Here shall my stand be taken;
Though sorrow, need, or death be mine,
Yet I am not forsaken.
My Father’s care is round me there;
He holds me that I shall not fall:
And so to Him I leave it all”.
Rodegast, Samuel. 1676. Whate'er My God Ordains Is Right
Symanzik, Beth. 2013 Tenacious. Unpublished book.
On any given day, according to http://earthquaketrack.com/, there are over 100 earthquakes registering 1.5 or greater on the Richter scale.
As I type this, the current stats are as follows:
100 earthquakes in the past 24 hours
636 earthquakes in the past 7 days
3,332 earthquakes in the past 30 days
38,969 earthquakes in the past 365 days (http://earthquaketrack.com/)
It truly is amazing to dwell on the fact the earth crust is not this solid, steady, never-moving piece of rock that most of us believe it is.
Which makes me ponder even deeper on my loving Abba's Words -
Psalm 60:2 states, "You have made the land to quake; you have torn it open;"
Psalm 99: 1-3 states, "The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble!
He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!
The Lord is great in Zion;
he is exalted over all the peoples. Let them praise your great and awesome name!
Holy is he!"
There are at least 17 references in the Bible to the mountains and earth quaking in the presence of God.
Do we? Do we stand in awe of Him and His greatness?
Hebrews 12 encourages us in this. The chapter is titled "The Kingdom That Cannot Be Shaken". We are to be grateful for receiving His salvation, His Kingdom. We ought not to refuse Him and His leading.
"28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,"
I'm back in Davao now. To be honest, I'm not sure I like being here.
It's hard to leave a daughter in a country half a world away from where I am.
I'm sure some of this unsettledness is the start of the empty nest season as children grow and venture out on their own.
In the USA I felt better physically. I had more energy, my thyroid wasn't swollen, my joints did not ache, I was not hot and sweaty all the time.
I've been in Davao now five days and already I feel hot and sweaty, my thyroid has swelled to the size where it feels like a constant pressure on my esophagus and creates a sensation of choking, my joints ache, and my energy level is way down. Part of that could be because I'm still recovering from jetlag.
The Internet is incredibly slow. The traffic is jammed. Noise is high with dogs barking, chickens crowing, loud jeepneys and motorbikes traveling.
As I state these realities of life in Davao it could sound like complaining. It's not. It's just the way things are here.
And this time of adjusting back to my host country provides yet another context to incorporate the centrality of the Gospel into my life.
He wants me to give thanks in all things (1 Thess. 5:18).
"All problems, personal or social, come from a failure to apply the gospel in a radical way, a failure to get 'in line with the truth of the gospel' (Gal. 2:14)." Tim Keller
I'm finding this path hard at the moment, but Job 23:10 assures me He knows the way I take and when He has tried me I shall come out as gold.
The way forward is in giving thanks in all things, in applying His truth to all of life.
I rest in Him.
So, I call to mind and have hope, knowing the steadfast love of my Abba never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning and His faithfulness is great. He is with Kirsten in the USA, He is with us here in Davao, He is with us in the length of time it takes obtaining of James' US Citizenship and passport.
He is my portion and my soul rests and hopes in Him. (Lamentations 3:21-26)
I write. I find writing enjoyable, therapeutic.
I've been organizing some of my writings into a compendium. I came across this one I wrote when we were in the process of selling items to move overseas. Hope you enjoy it.
MOVING SALE DAY
Moving sale day.
Items once treasured now marked for sale at less than emotional value.
How can you put a price on attachment? It is a grief a heart bears in itself.
Little griefs mark our lives.
Selling a blanket used for years, selling dishes many happy meals were shared on, selling towels used for
drying and cleaning. Selling appliances, furniture, carpets, clothing. All aspects of daily life marked
with magic marker price tags of masking tape and low money amounts.
Needing to get rid of these daily life items to move on to another location, another continent, another
Life is letting go and accumulating and letting go, endless cycle.
Like Ecclesiastes talks about - a time to live, a time to die, a time to cry, a time to keep from crying,
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down,
and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek,
and a time to lose; time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear,
and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love,
and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
Cycles, ebb and flow, waves on sand, beach ever changing shape;
sand dunes remade in every blowing wind,
baby growing and changing from helpless infant to adult to old person to death to eternal life.
Nothing stays the same. Change is constant.
The chatter of yard sale customers brings me back from reverie.
How much for this? Can I get this and this for this amount? Bargaining.
Customers happily carrying wares home, thankful for good finds;
sellers left relieved to have stuff gone but saddened at its disappearal.
Grief is constant. Not only death of loved ones, but death of life lived in certain area, loss of
contact with friends when they or you move away, sadness at broken bowl or lost ring that represents
so much more than words can say.
A time to mourn. A time to embrace change. A time to grow. A time to let go.
(By Beth Symanzik 2006)
I just finished reading a refreshingly honest newsletter from a missionary friend of ours. Missionaries are very prone to put forth a "good front" and not share the hard so much. My friend's honesty about his struggles, his family struggles, the fact that the honeymoon period of being in a new country is over has given me the courage I need to say I am having difficulties as well. It is hard to be a mom separated from three children while the child I'm with struggles through depression and transitional issues. It is hard to keep giving out encouragement in the face of resistance, fear, and anger. It is hard to face holidays with most of my family half way around the world from me. It is hard to be living in someone else's house and not be able to just relax. It is hard to stay patiently waiting on God's timing in James' immigration visa being granted when with my whole heart I desire all of us to come to the USA this coming summer. I don't look forward to another time of family separation even for just 6 - 8 weeks. But, apart from divine intervention on James' immigration visa behalf, we will have another time of separation while I help another daughter transition to the USA.
As my friend in his news letter stated, "This would normally be the point where I shift gears and quote some uplifting passages of Scripture - say, 2 Cor. 4:16-18 - in order to give you some inspiration. 'Look how our family is being sanctified by experiencing difficulties...' That may be true, but right now, we (I) don't feel like we're (I'm) being sanctified by these things. Rather, we (I) are/am experiencing them as practical problems to be solved."
I did call our senators office a while ago and discussed with someone knowledgeable about adoption and immigration issues my concern and frustration over the length of time things are taking to get an immigration visa for my adopted son - my son who's been in my care since he was 9 weeks old and is now 9 years old. She listened, and after I'd shared about our situation and our lawyer's advice, she concurred we were on the right track. It was good to talk with her, it settled this momma's heart a bit to know we are doing things in good order and that despite media coverage that makes it seem as if immigrants are easily entering this country, that is not the case. She said most immigration visas, even for adopted children who are not adopted through international adoption agencies, take 3 - 10 years.
Restlessness and impatience change nothing except our peace and joy. Peace does not dwell in outward things, but in the heart prepared to wait trustfully and quietly on Him who has all things safely in His hands. (Elisabeth Elliot)
I am willing to wait on His timing, yet moments of frustration arise even in the resting grace of knowing and believing with all my heart that "God's providence is his almighty and ever present power, whereby, as with his hand, he still upholds heaven and earth and all creatures, and so governs them that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, food and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, indeed, all things,come to us not by chance but by his fatherly hand."
I am thankful and glad when our family's mission work and adoption process encourage others, but right now, we, I, really need your prayers.
"Preserve them from every danger to which they may be exposed; from perils by land and sea, from persecution and pestilence, from discouragement in their labours, and from the devices of the adversary. May they see thy work prospering in their hands..." – prayer for Missionaries, from the Book of Common Prayer