January 7, 2013

But God…

One more day the devotional that I am reading speaks about the brook that dries up. God’s prophet Elijah is taken to a place of protection during a drought that plagues the land…
So he went and did according to the word of the Lord. He went and lived by the brook Cherith that is east of the Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook. And after a while the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land. (1 Kings 17:5–7)

God may wean me from whatever I rely on other than Him by taking it away. He may bring me into greater relationship with others who suffer. He may use the loss for good in several ways and by teaching me that grace is sufficient. Yet sometimes the brook has been that sense of His grace — and even that dries up.

I cannot speak of my worst experiences for that would cast a pall on the reputation of others. I can speak of being devastated to the core, of seeing no options and feeling great fear, pain and horror. Bread, meat and the brook were dried up and so was my soul. 

Then two words lifted me: “But God.” These words are repeated more than two hundred times in the Bible. Some of my favorites include:

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:26)

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

We were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved…. (Ephesians 2:3–5)

For (our fathers) disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. (Hebrews 12:10)

The deepest truth found in the story of the dried up brook is that all else fails, but God remains. For me, the end of my own resources meant the beginning of a deeper, closer relationship with God, a God that never fails. 

The devotional writer talks of the “faith that runs through the green fields of childhood” and some never lose that, but for most of us the brook dries up. Whatever the cause (moral failure, doubts, financial reverses, loss of loved ones or other losses) we struggle and yet eventually discover that the loss of our brook is nothing compared to the God that we gain in that battle. 

Yes, those who experience devastating loss may limp forever afterward, yet nothing can take away what is gained. Even the loss of health, prosperity, love, or anything else that finds no comfort in condolences or substitutes, is a gain when the end result is not mere good but God Himself. 

I know that the blessings I enjoyed before and those now are nothing compared to seeing the face of God in the worst situations of life. Whatever I have or everything I’ve ever wanted might be represented by a stream of refreshing water, yet all of it is a mere empty brook compared to that ocean that is eternally full.

No one enjoys the pain of loss, but when God fills the void with His own amazing self, who would trade that back for the way it was before? Not I. No, not I.

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