I’ve been through a lot of emotional ups and downs in the last few weeks. The sudden loss of our eight-year-old dog, fun visits with friends, job struggles, vacation and seeing a lot of God’s creation, extended family difficulties and disappointments, children growing in faith, and so on.
You get the idea. Life constantly has its ups and downs, but there are times when the downs seem to outweigh the ups, or we end on a down note and can’t seem to recover. This seems to happen more often when we are in a struggle that involves family relationships.
For the last week or more I’ve been in one of those bottomless gullies – you know them, the ones that you think you will never get out of. It seemed that we had trouble on every front. My husband’s job is very difficult right now, to the point that we may need to seriously consider making some changes, and the loss of our beloved dog Strider. Add to that news of relationship issues that could make some huge changes in our family. In addition, knowing how much many members of our family still need Jesus consumed my thoughts as I lifted each of them in ongoing prayer.
Sad, I felt sad to my very bones. Everywhere I looked there seemed to be loss – job, family relationships, holiday celebrations, but even more the loss of my loved ones for eternity.
You see, we are the only believers in our small extended family. We hold the light, so when anyone wants to do something sinful we are the first to be excluded, because they know what we would say and they don’t want to hear that what they want to do is wrong. So often it’s easier to just eliminate the naysayers from their lives and spend time with those who agree that their happiness is more important than doing what is right.
Then I read this devotion by Hanna Whitall Smith.
Chariots to Carry
Even to your old age, I am He; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you; I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you. –ISAIAH 46:4
The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels; the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place–PSALMS 68:17
I have not a shadow of doubt that if all our eyes could be opened today, we should see our homes, and our places of business, and the streets we traverse, filled with the “chariots of God.” There is no need for any one of us to walk for lack of chariots. That cross inmate of your household, who has hitherto made life a burden to you, and who has been the Juggernaut car to crush your soul into the dust, may henceforth be a glorious chariot to carry you to the heights of heavenly patience and long-suffering. That misunderstanding, that mortification, that unkindness, that disappointment, that loss, that defeat,–all these are chariots waiting to carry you to the very heights of victory you have so longed to reach. Mount into them, then, with thankful hearts, and lose sight of all second causes in the shining of His love who will carry you in His arms safely and triumphantly over it all. — Hannah Whitall Smith
I realized that all that is happening in our families is not unusual – in context! And what is that context? We are in a war, a spiritual war that is as real as any of the physical wars that our country is currently fighting in. Just as in the physical wars, there are causalities—but not just physical causalities. Our enemy is seeking to destroy our very souls and one way he does that is to tear apart our families.
John 10:10 says, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
On a recent trip we were listening to a book by Brock and Bodie Thoene titled, “The Gathering Storm” *. It was about World War II and followed several families as they realized the need to run for their lives. The authors did an attention-grabbing job of showing how unimportant things became as the risks grew greater until the only things they had were their lives and their faith.
This must be a constant process for us as believers, letting go of those things that matter less and less as Jesus becomes more and more to us and we become more like Him.
What do you need to let go of to become more like Jesus?
Finding Joy in the Journey, Phyllis
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*Disclaimer: We only listened to the first part of the first book in “The Gathering Storm” series and in quoting it here I am not recommending it. We have loved the Thoene’s historical fiction, but this one turned into a fantasy-romance and we were not really interested in listening to that.