“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.” Isaiah 43:2
The author C.S. Lewis talks about suffering and its paradox. During Holy Week, for example, he says we move from a celebratory entry into Jerusalem to the cruelty of thorns, whips, nails and crosses. Lewis explains that suffering is not good, in and of itself. The good, he says, comes when the sufferer bends toward God’s will and the onlookers commit themselves to “acts of mercy” as a result.
This was so very true when our family flooded in Kingwood, when we joined thousands who experienced a similar catastrophe across several states. The blessings became apparent from the first moment of our rescue by boat by three young people who traveled across the state to be of service to us. “Then we shall be seeing (God) face to face.1 Corinthians 13:12
I marvel that so many wonderful folks were ready to give and serve selflessly. It turns out that the only time I shed a tear was not over any loss of possessions, but rather, when I finally began reflecting on the unbound “acts of mercy” we were experiencing at the hands of total strangers. In our case, those three young people traveled, risking their lives driving through dangerous roads, and then in their boats, maneuvering treacherous rapids in those filthy flood waters. They didn’t have to do it. They didn’t have to leave their lives of comfort in east Texas. They and so many, many others are examples of those who “committed themselves to acts of mercy” and love.
We were blessed in so many ways. Friends didn’t understand why I would sometimes point out the fact I felt we had been blessed. “But you flooded!” one bystander finally insisted. “How can you say you are blessed?” This seems like blatant ignorance of Christian faith, his truth which becomes obvious to those receiving his blessings.
On the first Sunday after the deluge, our pastor quoted French writer Antoine de Rivarol, “We never go as far as when we don’t know where we’re going,” which was perfect because we had all been stripped of many earthly anchors.
Sometimes God’s blessings are not in what he gives, but in what he takes away, according to spiritual inspiration.
I would like the remainder of this column to include some Bible verses that have and continue to bring solace. I use them to fill my mind, in times of stress, to correct my thinking and focus on faith in God as follows:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
“I have made you, and I will carry you, I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” Isaiah 46:4
“The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still.” Exodus 14:14
“But He knows where I am going, and when he tests me I shall come out as pure as gold.” Job 23:10
“When you feel unloved, unimportant or insecure, remember to whom you belong.” Ephesians 2:19-22
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Romans 12:12
“Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
“He delivers the afflicted by their affliction, and opens their ear by adversity.” Job 36:15
“Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16
“The crucifixion is the best, as well as the worst, of all historical events,” C.S. Lewis says. “If we are patient through everyday life – the joys and suffering – who knows? God may be intricately weaving our devotion into a beautiful plan we could never perceive or imagine.”