Tell What He’s Done for You
Receiving a Blow at the Master’s Hand
When God hits the nail on the head, truth sinks in. But to be on the receiving end isn’t so easy. It stings and pierces. It leaves you feeling weak in the middle and wondering “what next?” And that is the critical question. How we respond to God’s dealings is the difference between usefulness and decay—between life and death. But let me not speak of theories when I could show you the marvelous skill of the Master craftsman in action. Oh, let Him be glorified!
I wasn’t expecting to be tried about another day of sick-bed service. After all, the Lord had given me a beautiful scripture that morning about receiving His plan for my day. I drove off on my early-morning call to duty with a willing mind to help where the need was greatest. I was prepared to learn “in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” (Philippians 4:11) Or so I thought. But the previous days of interrupted schedule (the usual place where God must correct my spiritual value system) must have been working on my subconscious. And so, to my own mortification, the bitter words came out.
It was mid-afternoon. I had rather thought I’d be back home by now. After several hectic hours of managing needy children and trying to prepare something edible for their sick mother, my sister’s words triggered something. “When will you be home?” she asked over the phone. “I really don’t know—I’m stuck here,” I replied, with a note of hopelessness. I hung up with a bitter taste in my mouth, as if I had just failed on my character test. I’m sure my sick friend had heard. Poor sort of ministering angel you are! my conscience accused. I spent the rest of the day trying to shake the gloomy feeling, wishing I could recall those words of defeat.
Why had I said them anyway? The Lord had arranged my day so that I really had no other obligations. I was in good health and had slept well the night before. There was no earthly cause to be balking at my post. In all my aspirations I was the undaunted victor, rising to any emergency, surmounting all obstacles with songs of triumph. Where were my flying banners of joy and peace? I could dream of serving dirty-faced orphans in a mud hut across the seas. Why couldn’t I flit with angel wings through this comfortable dwelling and cheer the sick and needy around me? I rather felt like I was marshalling myself to a unwelcome duty, and I didn’t like the feeling one bit.
I was in a trial. Perhaps yours have been bigger. Perhaps yours have lasted longer. But the reality of a trial is that it tries you. You feel a sinking weakness in your middle. The Master had me just where He wanted me: with a nail in my head. Or was it my heart? I couldn’t tell, but it seemed the trouble was all in me and I didn’t know what to do about it. But I did know where to turn, and the Lord was there to answer my plaintive cry: “I’m a failure! What has gone wrong?”
It was the Master’s faithful Word that steadied me. He wasn’t outsmarted or outdone. And I was in His hand. Others had suffered trials before and the symptoms were the same: “if need be… heaviness… manifold temptations,” and “the trying of your faith.” (1 Peter 1:6; James 1:3) And He gave me my answer. It wasn’t time to analyze myself. It was time to suffer in hope, not despair, because He had something valuable in mind. It was time to be “yet believing” (1 Peter 1:8) when I could not see. He had more for me than correction and reproof. It was my privilege to “greatly rejoice” in His power that could keep my soul. By faith.
What I couldn’t see at the time was the Master’s intense interest as the fiery trial worked on me. He knew I had a choice in my response. He knew I could receive the truth of my need to depend more fully on Him, or I could harden myself and become bitter. It all hung on the balance when I felt the inner pain. Would I humble myself to believe in His purposes? Find in His presence the joy and victory my soul desired? Or would I turn away in unbelief, relying on my own observations to utterly discourage and disarm me? I had tasted defeat, but would I allow bitterness to crush my soul and poison me?
The lesson of this trial is valuable to me. I want the Lord to build upon it. I want to receive His touch, whether it be the outer rubbing of sandpaper or the inner bite of steel. And this revelation of God’s working gives insight to many more. To the embittered and hardened people I care about. To the suffering sisters and brothers who are feeling the inner blows. To the tender lives that the Master assigns for me to correct. The pain of acknowledgment is necessary, but it is only the beginning. Who will humble themselves to receive correction—that inner loss that brings the eternal gain? Will we believe in a wiser and more loving Heart than our own? If we don’t, the pain only hardens us. The Master considers all the possible results and strikes the blow. Will it produce usefulness in my case, or destruction? It all depends on my response.
A Spiritual Exercise in Trust
I am thankful for the Lord’s help in a trial of affliction that I had recently. It was a Friday and I had to take a trip into town. Since I had been sick all week, my friend came along to help. I felt like the Lord had encouraged me from scriptures in Daniel that He would give me strength, but when I came back, I was really sick.
I was so sick I could hardly function. On top of the stomach virus that I was recovering from, I had a severe allergy attack and was hardly able to breathe. I knew that my friend had other things to do, and I wanted to be able to care for my responsibilities. So I was feeling discouraged as well. I felt like maybe I had made a bad mistake, but I had gone in faith. It seemed like the verses the Lord gave me weren’t coming to pass, because I certainly was not strong. The affliction was stretching on and on, and I wasn’t getting much out of it.
I prayed, and then asked my pastor to come over and have prayer for me. One of the things he mentioned was about these trials exercising us, and we need to be willing to be exercised in trusting the Lord. Since I have done water aerobics for exercise, that illustration clicked with me. There’s usually a period of time at the start that I feel like I’m just dying. It’s so awful that I ask myself, “How could I ever even think of coming here? I pay money to do this?! How can I last a whole hour?” But I can’t just hop out of the pool in the first five minutes, when everyone else is still doing it. It feels like my lungs are going to burst, and that I’m going to die any second. About then the exercises calm down for a minute and I can catch my breath before it starts up again. But in the end, I feel so much better. When the hour is finally finished—it’s amazing. I’m not dead, I feel better, and I have energy for the day!
The Lord used that to talk to me about the truth of our spiritual trials. During the twenty or so times I was afflicted this year, the feelings are usually horrible. I can’t breath. I’m overwhelmed, wondering how can I ever keep on top of my house, or meet the needs of my family. But the Lord always designed spiritual good in them. From that recent incident, the Lord used it to build my faith and trust for what He had for us for the following week. The affliction prepared me for trusting Him in the next trial.
The Lord also helped me to grab hold of how to take the trial right. I needed to rejoice in what the Lord was doing and what He was going to do, no matter how I felt about being sick again. And the Lord really blessed that evening. Even though I was very sick, He helped me to be cheerful and thankful that He was going to do something, even though I could hardly breathe. Later that evening, the Lord brought to my mind that using hot onions on my chest might help with my breathing. That wasn’t very appealing to me, since the last time I had used steaming onions it had caused a bad burn. But I realized that this was something that the Lord was encouraging me to do. So my husband and daughter helped me, and within 15 to 20 minutes of applying the onions, I was able to breathe normally. I still didn’t sleep as well that night and continued to have some trouble breathing, but the Lord gave relief. And more than that, He had given me a blessing in a trial, assuring me that He knew how to manage it.
I am thankful that the Lord gave me that trial at that time. He was preparing me for more trials coming up. He helped me to realize that we don’t have to rejoice in bad things that happen, or the awful feelings, but in His purposes. He’s working the trials for our good, and we can rejoice in what He is doing, because He sees the whole picture.
God Using Conies
The original idea was to sing to lonely gas station attendents on Christmas Eve, and pass out tracts to them as well. As the time drew closer, alternate ideas were suggested (such as standing in front of a store with signs and songs and tracts), and others in our congregation wanted to join in as well. Time was short, and I was trying to pray and select an appropriate tract and the decisions and organization required was beginning to overwhelm me. We had determined to go while it was still light (and warmer), and the mental image of the lonely gas station attendant began to evaporate. As we headed out to meet others in our congregation, I asked for prayer, and we called on God to direct our steps, that we could somehow shine some of His light to others. God (of course) heard.
As we went into town, it was evident that the gas stations were too busy, so we headed for a grocery store. After praying again, we found the manager, and were given permission to sing in front of the store. The entrance and exit were next to each other, so we caught folks “coming and going.” We sang songs with some spiritual “meat” in them, and the sign “The grace of God that brings Salvation has appeared unto all men” added to the focus of the message. We found great blessing in singing for the Lord, and gave tracts to those who lingered and showed an interest.
After trying two other grocery stores,we found out just how much favor the Lord had been granting us. Both stores declined permission, and neither had an entrance and exit setup that brought as much exposure anyway. Thank the Lord, He knows how to help His “conies” do His work