It is often in our darkest times that God makes His presence known most clearly. He uses our sufferings and troubles to show us that He is our only source of strength. My friend, life’s a story, stayed tuned for more on This Passing Day.
There was particular remodeling project I remember from years back that started out simple but turned out complicated as it posed a real challenge from a rough framing perspective. I was putting a shed dormer on a roof and it was getting late in the year. The weather had turned cold, and there were snow flurries in the air. It was imperative that I finish framing the dormer and getting the sheathing on before late Fall became early Winter, and there was no way I would be climbing up on a slippery roof. I had one rafter to set in place and discovered at this point that none of the 2 x 10s I had on hand fit properly in that last rafter slot. It was getting dark, the wind and snow were swirling and I began to wonder how I was going to get the sheathing up. I had reached the bottom of the barrel in terms of patience and hope. Suddenly I no longer felt harried or even concerned. A vacant despair overwhelmed me as I climbed down the ladder, walked over to the scrap pile of lumber that had accumulated over the past several weeks, and laid my hand on a crooked 2 x 10 I had discarded. I climbed the ladder, laid it in place and it miraculously fit; one crooked end perfectly fit to the base plate below. I let out a yelp of satisfaction that in my despair I had found a most unlikely redeemer: a discarded, crooked piece of lumber.
Over the course of my life there have been a number of times when I’ve felt that kind of calming despair. Always at rope’s end, these are the times when you say to yourself: “It can’t get any worse. I’m at the bottom of the well and there’s only one way to go–up!”
Here’s a story. During the Thirty Years’ War in the 17th century, German pastor Paul Gerhardt and his family were forced to flee from their home. One night as they stayed in a small village inn, homeless and afraid, his wife broke down and cried openly in despair. To comfort her, Gerhardt reminded her of Scripture promises about God’s provision and keeping. Then, going out to the garden to be alone, he too broke down and wept. He felt he had come to his darkest hour. Soon afterward, Gerhardt felt the burden lifted and sensed anew the Lord’s presence. Taking his pen, he wrote a hymn that has brought comfort to many. “Give to the winds thy fears; hope, and be undismayed; God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears; God shall lift up thy head. Through waves and clouds and storms He gently clears the way. Wait thou His time, so shall the night soon end in joyous day.” (Our Daily Bread, May 7, 1992.)
When things seem at their worst and we’ve lost the light of day in our lives, that’s the time when God is often closest to us. God uses our sufferings and troubles to show us that he is our only source of strength. So, when we get to the end of our rope, the bottom of the emotional barrel, like Gerhardt, we often gain new hope, a special kind of despair, that restores our confidence and motivates us to keep going. Are trials, sorrows and tribulations mounting up in your life? Seek God in the despair waiting for you at the end of the rope and in the bottom of the emotional barrel. It’s a “feel good” brand of despair that will lift you up above and beyond your fears and sorrows. Wait on the Lord and he will make things fit together the way they were meant to fit. Rely on his ability to make what seems hopeless, hope filled. Sometimes finding yourself in the scrap pile of life is just where you need to be.
We pray. Thank you Lord for making our despair your priority. To feel your hand on our shoulder when we are at the end of our emotional rope is the most comforting thing in the world. Forgive us Father when we forget to call out in prayer at these times of spiritual and emotional emptiness. Help us to remember that you use the tough times in life to bring us closer to you. In Jesus name we pray. Amen!
Therefore my friend, Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry for itself; each day has enough trouble of its own. This Passing Day. (Matt 6:34)
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