Now I know better. Living a life of faith in Christ as often as not means there's a nice, big bull's-eye on your chest. And the one aiming at it as often as he can is Satan. No, the devil doesn't cause every trial. But I do believe he jumps in when bad times come and does all he can to make them worse, piling drama upon drama to drain and exhaust the spirit and discourage the heart.
Take the last week and a half here. It's been a really, truly bad week and a half.
A week ago Tuesday, just as the gals in my Tuesday night coffee group were arriving at my house, my sweet dad, who lives with us, accidently ran over our 14-year-old Siberian Husky, Bo. When I went to help Bo, he chomped down on my right forearm 6 or 7 times, out of pure panic, I know, but there was blood everywhere. And it was all mine. From what I could see when Bo calmed down, his back was broken. We had to call the vet to come and put him down. Don was at work, but when I called him, just this side of hysterical, he came right home. The irony here: Don and I had decided we needed to talk about having Bo put down because he hadn't been doing well for the last month or so. I'm pretty sure his back legs, which kept going out on him, made him fall and not be able to get up from in front of Dad's car.
There were other things too that heaped on us over the last 10 days. It's been once crisis after another, all of which have been exhausting. Finally, night before last, I crawled into bed, on the verge of tears again, and opened my Bible. To Lamentations.
Talk about perfect timing.
I read page after page of what the Israelites went through, of their grief over seemingly being abandoned by God, of the deep struggles they face:
3:16 He has made me chew on gravel. He has rolled me in the dust.
17 Peace has been stripped away, and I have forgotten what prosperity is.
(Man! Can I relate!)
18 I cry out, “My splendor is gone! Everything I had hoped for from the Lord is lost!”
19 The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words.
20 I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss.
(Never, ever. This loss and despair will always haunt me. At least, that's how it felt...). And then I read it. That sweet reminder...
21 Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:
22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease.
(Not even when it seems they have. That's just my human mind and heart struggling to understand. But the truth is, God is right here. Weeping with us. Hurting with us. Seeking to help us heal...)
23 Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”
(Amen! I read those words and my heart leapt. HE is my inheritance. HE is my hope and peace. Why do I so often forget that?)
25 The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him.
26 So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.
(Ah. Wait quietly. Not in anger. Not steeped in frustration and resentment for what you're suffering. Because, when it comes down to it, as terrible as my trials have been lately, they pale in comparison to what He endured for me. And none of them are greater than His ability to help and heal.)
27 And it is good for people to submit at an early age to the yoke of his discipline:
(I read that over a couple of times, because at first I thought it was saying the trials are His discipline. But I don't think that's the case. I think the yoke of His discipline is about our response in the trials. Our trust. Our resting in Him...)
28 Let them sit alone in silence beneath the Lord’s demands.
29 Let them lie face down in the dust, for there may be hope at last.
30 Let them turn the other cheek to those who strike them and accept the insults of their enemies.
31 For no one is abandoned by the Lord forever.
Amen and amen. He's here, with us, even in the deepest, darkest moment. In those moments when I held Bo as the vet shaved his leg, when Bo leaned his forehead against my chest as the needle went in, when my dear, beloved companion's breathing slowed...and stopped...
In every moment of pain and sorrow, every loss and frustration, every turbulent drama...God is there. Loving. Guiding. Ever vigilant. Ever faithful.
Ever my hope and peace.
So while Don and I have asked God to block the drama from our lives for awhile, to let us catch a breath before the next crisis, whatever happens, we know we don't face it alone. And we know God will use it to refine us, and to remind us that He is with us--just as He's with each of you.
No matter what.
P.S. God is so gracious for having led us to bring a puppy home in November 2007. Dasha, our now 4 month old Siberian, reminds us so much of Bo both in appearance and personality. It's like having a little of Bo still with us. And that's a true blessing. So I wanted to share our joy as well as our sorrow. Here she is.