March 6, 2016

By Great Endurance

This morning my alarm woke us up and my first thought was, “I don’t want to do today.” Yesterday was long and the weekend filled with sorrowful realities that seem worse than the death of our brother-in-law. He is with Jesus, a joyful thing. That sorrow-stuff is not, and weeping brings no release. Plans and efforts cannot change any of it. It simply must be waded through.

Chambers’ Scripture for today (italicized) is pulled out of this passage. Again, God gives me His Word that speaks to my very deep emotions . . .

We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; (2 Corinthians 6:3–9)

I must quote what Chambers says, for it has my name on it: “It takes Almighty grace to take the next step when there is no vision and no spectator—the next step in devotion, the next step in your study, in your reading, in your kitchen; the next step in your duty, when there is no vision from God, no enthusiasm and no spectator. It takes far more of the grace of God, far more conscious drawing upon God to take that step, than it does to preach the Gospel.”

He goes on to connect this to Jesus: “Every Christian has to partake of what was the essence of the Incarnation; (she) must bring the thing down into flesh-and-blood actualities and work it out through the finger-tips. We flag when there is no vision, no uplift, but just the common round, the trivial task. The thing that tells in the long run for God and for men is the steady persevering work in the unseen, and the only way to keep the life uncrushed is to live looking to God.”

I know that keeping my eyes on Jesus Christ is the way to keep one foot ahead of the other, even when I feel like there is a steep climb ahead. It isn’t the drudgery of the next task or the trivial that burdens me but the days and perhaps years ahead of watching and trying to help in a situation that is not only gut-retching but irreversible.

This is not the first time for me, and for many it is far too common. We have to watch a decline and final chapters of a loved one’s life. Perhaps exhaustion makes it worse. Certainly being there and seeing the large neon signs brought it into focus. Now I just feel helpless, in a calamity, something like watching another person being beaten up or run over, feeling horrid yet knowing the other person is in far greater need than those who helplessly watch.

But as I read the Word of God, I’m thankful too. He gives deep sleep, understanding, patience, love, truth. I desire His patient kindness. It is possible to be filled with His Spirit and power and enable to meet with grace the challenges of my responsibilities for the days and years ahead. As Chambers says, the only way to keep life uncrushed is to live it with my eyes focused on God.

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