Psalm 107:2, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, those he redeemed from trouble”.
I feel that today would not be complete without marking the miracle that happened to me a year ago. It was the day that I collapsed. That is really the best way to explain it. I was standing and then I couldn’t. My legs finally gave out from this new shooting pain caused by the swelling of my spinal cord. My nerves were being strangled out. It was the day that we scheduled my back surgery.
I had been reading Job, mainly for the need of a fellow sufferer. I had seen all kinds of faces, sympathy, discomfort, fear…but I wanted to see someone who could speak my words for me through the nights. As I literally groaned through hours of darkness, he was my companion.
Job said, “Why is light given to one who cannot see the way, whom God has fenced in? For my sighing comes like my bread, and my groanings are poured out like water. Truly the thing that I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me. I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest; but trouble comes (Job 3:23-26, NRSV).”
I do find it interesting to see the change in Job as the book progresses. As his wealth and children were taken away, he makes simple statements of blessing to God in chapter 1. As the physical attack wears on, and some would say that his friends didn’t help, Job grows weary. Trouble makes us weary. Affliction makes us weary. In spite of this, Job keeps talking to God, pleading His case. I am convinced that is what kept me talking night after night.
There is a point in our Christian walk that we have to really look at God’s word and take it for face value. The people that God chose were not affliction free. I was reading about Paul in Acts, this morning. He was a roving affliction magnet. That is what we signed up for.
I, also, remember reading Job 6:17-19, NRSV, “What are human beings, that you make so much of them, that you set your mind on them, visit them every morning, test them every moment? Will you not look away from me for a while, let me alone until I swallow my spittle?”…Essentially, “Can you just leave me alone for a little while? I need some rest from this.” The answer is always, “No”. God allows affliction and God glorifies Himself as the result of it.
In affliction, there always comes a point which you long for relief. You just want a break. I saw the affliction of Job. I knew that God had allowed it, literally given permission for it. Job 7:3, NRSV, “so I am allotted months of emptiness, and nights of misery are apportioned to me.”
You and I are allotted months of emptiness and nights of misery, whatever that will look like for us. God is accomplishing His purpose in the world and refining us for heaven. Sometimes these lessons carry more weight and more dark nights than we can imagine. In the midst of it, God is still good, and above all He is still merciful.
Jesus showed me why He would not leave me alone when I was on the bathroom floor. He was about to reveal His power to me.
It was several hours after I had collapsed. I was still in the same spot. I remember that I could barely breathe and when I would whimper, shots of pain would electrify my body. I saw the rest of my life happening right there, next to the toilet. My husband stood over me, helpless.
Then, it was like the room just got still. I was overwhelmed in an instant with who God is. Jesus was there with me, powerful, in that room. He is Creator, Redeemer, Steadfast, Sovereign, Emmanuel, and big. I just started thinking about the promises that Jesus made to the disciples. They could move mountains with enough faith, even faith the size of a mustard seed.
I don’t think that my mantra started loud, but it got that way. I just started saying, “Jesus, raise me up; Raise me up, Jesus”. I got up, propping myself on everything I could touch, especially my husband, and made it, not prettily however, to my mattress on the floor. This was only a few steps, but I knew that I had just experienced the hand of God lifting me to rest.
Trouble comes in many forms. You might have physical or financial or relational trouble. It might keep you up at night, making you tired and hopeless. You probably know if you are in those appointed nights of emptiness and misery; they are hard to miss.
At the very worst, we have to remember that this is all about Him. What is the purpose that He has for us? What are we going to take away from these moments on the bathroom floor, when we ask questions like, “Can you just leave me alone for a while? Can you send Satan away so that I can breathe for a minute?” The answer is no. It is for His purpose and He will not let go. He wants to show us His power.
So, I celebrate today. I know Him in a new powerful way. My life has not been the same since that day. In fact, I am going to clean that bathroom floor today, because my mother is coming to visit. A year ago, I was stuck on that floor and today I am cleaning it! Hallelujah! He is glorified through my affliction.
Father, thank you for our afflictions. Thank you for not leaving us for one moment. Thank you for the healing that you have given me. Teach us how to worship you through our appointed emptiness and misery.