Thursday, October 06, 2005

O Rejoice!

There's a beautiful Peter Jon Gilquist song that starts out,

"This valley is deep and the shadow of death is all around.
But this girl has climbed to higher ground and she sees with the clarity with which I long to see.
In your prayers, O my sister, remember me.
When you were born, you cried, and the world rejoiced.
Live your life so that when you die, the world will cry.
While you rejoice.
In your prayers, O my friend, remember me..."

I was reminded of this song when I read a letter by Lynne Hoppe, an Orthodox missionary who is very sick with cancer, and she is so thankful, so happy. She definitely sees with the clarity that all Christians long to see. Here:

"One of the gifts God has given me recently is a spirit of deep contentment. I am contented with the cross I have been given, because I know that it is rooted in the goodness of God. Because God is good, all that he sends us is for our good. I love Hudson Taylor's comments about this. He says, "All God's dealings are full of blessing: He is good, and doeth good, good only, and continually. The believer who has taken the Lord as his Shepherd can assuredly say 'Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.' Hence we may be sure that the days of adversity, as well as days of prosperity, are full of blessings." (Hudson Taylor was an incredible missionary, who spent over 50 years serving in China during the 19th century.)

This means, then, that even if the thing given to us looks “bad,” it is given so that we might learn to detach ourselves from this world and cling to God. To be given a cross, then, is an honor, for it is God's way of wooing us. We listen better when things are difficult because we suddenly become aware of our desperate need for God.

I have experienced such delight in the nearness of God these past few months, and this makes my illness so worthwhile, but I want to love God, not for his gifts and for the consolation he brings, but for himself. I have days when I feel spiritually dry, but these are precious, too, because at such times I choose to love God and to pray anyway. I know that my feelings will come and go, but my love must remain an act of the will. I enjoy those days when my spirits are riding high because I feel profoundly the presence of God and hear his voice in the wind as it passes through the trees, but I am more thoughtful and sober when I don't feel such things and simply choose to believe that God is near because he has said so. This, I think, is the beginning of faith.

In conclusion, I want to comment on all the prayers that are being offered up to God for my healing. I know it is tempting for people to think that their prayers are not being answered because I have not been healed of cancer. But the truth is that prayers are being answered in the most miraculous ways—perhaps not for healing of body, but certainly for healing of soul. Nathan and I can attest personally to the real transformation that continues to take place in our own lives and in our marriage. We've also seen people close to us undergo dramatic changes for the good. In my mind, healing of soul is the greater gift, for it has bearings on eternity, whereas healing of body is only temporary."

In Thy Kingdom, O Lord, remember us!


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