Earlier this week, on my drive into work I was pleased to find out that they would be rebroadcasting one of the most powerful messages that I had ever heard from one of my favorite pastors David Jeremiah. At the time of the original broadcast he had recently returned to the pulpit after battling Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL) for over a year to share a sermon entitled “A Bend in the Road“.
It forced me, just as it did a year ago, to revisit how I look at the moments in our lives when we think we’ve reached the end of our rope, tied a knot, and are just hanging on. The sermon was based loosely around 1 Kings 12:24 that states “this thing is from me“. It request that we look at the weakest moments in our lives differently; that we instead view them as divine interventions, and opportunities to draw closer in faith, and learn something. I believe this goes directly against what the “world” would have to say or have us to feel. When we are faced with interruptions in our lives it is simply human nature to cry out “Why Me?”, “Why Now?”. I know for myself it is difficult to imagine a loving God that would allow such heart ache in our lives. As our wait has now crossed the 18-month threshold, it would be very easy to fall into the trap of being discouraged and frustrated, throwing up our hands defeat.
Hebrews 12:4–11 states “In this all-out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus went through—all that bloodshed! So don’t feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children? My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline, but don’t be crushed by it either. It’s the child he loves that he disciplines; the child he embraces, he also corrects. God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.“
“What this sermon inspires me to do, is ask a different question. “What would You have me learn from this heart ache?” I want to take this opportunity to learn everything I possibly can, “Teach me, I stand as your ready pupil willing and able to learn” What a powerfully different way to look at a down situation. When you come to the realization that God is treating you as his child, that he hasn’t allowed this interruption in your life to break you down, but instead to build you up. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10, “Wherefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in injuries, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
These words also strike against the modern misconception that if you are close to the Lord you will not have any problems in your life, but quite the opposite is true. Everyone will have bends in the road. The important thing to remember is that you will never be given more than you can bear. David Jeremiah looks back on two key figures from the Bible, Job and Paul. Both of these men were buffeted by Satan, but only to the point that God would allow. Satan is powerless without permission. David says this extremely powerful statement “Ultimately, everything that happens to us is filtered through the hands of a loving God“. Wow! IF that doesn’t force you to take an alternate perspective on whatever your bend in the road might currently be.
David reads aloud a letter that he was once given from a 1981 published article entitled “This Thing is From Me“, which takes an interesting perspective on a letter from God.
Have you ever thought that all that concerns you, concerns Me too? For “he that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of Mine eye” (Zechariah 2:8).
I would have you learn when temptations assail you, and the “enemy comes in like a flood,” that this thing is from Me, that your weakness needs My might, and your safety lies in letting Me fight for you.
Are you in difficult circumstances? This thing is from Me. I am the God of circumstances. Your surroundings and companions are only working out My will.
Are you in money difficulties? Is it hard to make both ends meet? This thing is from Me, for I am your purse bearer, and I would have you draw from and depend upon Me. My supplies are limitless (see Philippians 4:19). I would have you prove My promises.
Are you passing through a night of sorrow? This thing is from Me. I am “The Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” I have let earthly comforters fail you so that by turning to Me you may obtain everlasting consolation (see II Thessalonians 2:16, 17).
Has some friend disappointed you? One to whom you opened your heart? This thing is from Me. I have allowed this disappointment to come so that you may learn that I am your best friend.
Have your plans been all upset? Are you bowed down and weary? This thing is from Me. You made your plans, then came asking Me to bless them, but I would have you let Me plan for you and then I take the responsibility, for “this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone” (Exodus 18:18). You are only an instrument.
Have you longed to do some great work for Me, and instead been laid aside on a bed of pain and weakness? This thing is from Me. I could not get your attention in your busy days, and I want to teach you some of My deepest lessons. “They also serve who only stand and wait.”
Some of My greatest workers are those shut out from active service, that they may learn to wield the weapon of all-prayer.
Are you suddenly called to occupy a difficult and responsible position? Launch out on Me. I am trusting you with the “possession of difficulties,” and for “this thing the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto” (Deuteronomy 15:10).
This day I place in your hand this pot of holy oil; make use of it freely, My child. Remember, “interruptions are divine instructions.” The sting will go as you learn to see Me in all things; therefore, “set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day … for it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life: and through this thing ye shall prolong your days in the land” (Deuteronomy 32:46, 47).
I must admit that we have struggled over the past 18 months, and as the wait grows longer, it becomes harder and harder to remain positive and not grow weary. I do know that God has a divine purpose and that ultimately we will receive clarity and understanding when we look into the eyes of our little blessing(s). We are continued to be blessed this year as the Lord has worked miracles in our lives and so many family and friends have given us strength and encouragement. “What will God teach us?” This will continue to take shape and form as each day passes, and we continue to remain ready and willing to go wherever He take us next. Just as our fundraiser puzzle is beginning to take shape as each little piece falls into place, so does our journey. I believe God has taken this 18-months to strengthen so many areas in our lives and I can see His hand in all we do. We have a renewed strength in our marriage as we have had to lean on each other everyday. We have been truly blessed in our faith to find Bethany UM, which has allowed us to grow stronger, find a sense of community, become involved once again in a congregation, and work towards hopefully one day forming a strong Orphan and Widow ministry long beyond our adoption.
I will end this blog post, just as David ended his 2 part message, with the amazing poem below. I pray that this message has helped you if you are going through a bend in the road to find a renewed sense of encouragement and patience as it has for me. Being a part of the AGCI Facebook group, I have seen God work so many miracles in the last 18 months. Each day I continued to be amazed by His presence and I smile from ear to ear to know that our day of victory is coming. It’s just around the bend.
A Bend in the Road (Helen Steiner Rice)
Sometimes we come to life’s crossroads
And we view what we think is the end.
But God has a much wider vision
And he knows that it’s only a bend-
The road will go on and get smoother
And after we’ve stopped for a rest,
The path that lies hidden beyond us
Is often the path that is best.
So rest and relax and grow stronger,
Let go and let God share your load
And have faith in a brighter tomorrow-
You’ve just come to a bend in the road.