Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I Can Do (Without) All Things...

I was eating dinner the other night and as I pushed my plate away, I thought about the food still on my plate. Growing up, I was told to finish all my food so that my mother wouldn't have to throw it out. Since then, there have been few times I have finished a meal with any food remaining on the plate...until last summer.

Last summer I was diagnosed with pre-diabetes and insulin resistance, which necessitated a dramatic change in my eating habits. Since then I have lost weight, but more importantly, I have learned that I can do without so much more than I thought I needed.

Nine months ago, if you were to tell me that we would have cupcakes with butter-cream icing at work, and I would be able to walk away from them without the sticky icing still clinging to my lips and fingers, I would have been incredulous. I would not have thought it possible for me to live, much less be satisfied, on the smaller amounts of food that I consume now. But I am satisfied. I believe the Lord has allowed me to walk down this path and He has absolutely strengthened me to do what needs to be done, and I feel better than I have in years because of it.

So if I can become satisfied with less food...let's face it here, I'm talking sugar, less sugar... and butter, less sugar and butter...and pasta, less sugar, butter and pasta... and bread, less sugar and butter and pasta and bread...oh, and potatoes. OK, less sugar and butter and pasta and bread and potatoes, if I can be content without those things through the strength of the Lord, what other things that I mistakenly think I "must" have to be happy, could I really do without?

We have an elderly friend who is a missionary to Siberia. He leaves the balmy climate of the sub-tropics of this country that he knows and loves and travels to Russia where it can be forty degrees below zero. Now for a guy from the Deep South, that's pretty impressive. He is content to do so, in fact, when he is in the States, he can't wait to get back to Russia and the people he loves to minister to there. He has sacrificed much, but he is greatly content.

At the Convalescent home where we do church services, we see people who have lost their ability to move around. Stricken by injury or stroke, they are wheelchair or bed-bound. But many still have a song on their lips and praise in their hearts and are a great source of blessing, encouragement and testimony to us. Their bodies have been stilled, but their hearts are content.

I have had dear friends move away and out of my life, and I thought when it was happening that it would break my heart, but the Lord "...healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds." (Psalm 147:3) He was sufficient to soothe the pain and heal the wound, and to give the song in the night.

Sometimes, as most mothers are I suppose, I am tempted to fear that something will happen to one of my family members. "What would I do then?" is often the voice that sounds fearfully in my heart. I have already lost both parents, and while I miss them and have grieved for them, I am not discontent. Their passing did not shake the solid Rock upon which my faith is founded.

Loss and grief is not something that our Lord is unacquainted with. The cry of "My God, My God, why hath Thou forsaken me?" must surely ring throughout the heart of the Trinity as a scar that will never heal. The Lord Jesus IS the "Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief" (Isaiah 53:3), "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5). Still He calls us to "cast our cares" further upon Him, for He cares for us.

Is there a grief we are bearing tonight? He has borne it first. Is there a loss we are suffering? He has suffered the loss of all for us. Is there a sacrifice we are called to make for someone, for some circumstance, for some purpose? We must remember the One who strengths us to continue, to persevere, is this same Jesus:

"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour;
that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things,
in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings."
Hebrews 2:9,10

Through His suffering we were brought unto glory, and by our sacrifices and sufferings, we can then comfort others, knowing a contentment and peace that the world can never understand.

"And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. " 2 Corinthians 12:9,10

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