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A few weeks ago, I remember praying that God would help me learn to remain joyful even in the face of affliction.
I didn't realize, ahem, that this prayer would mean I would have to take on some affliction. It's kind of going the way of praying for patience...
I'm not going to rehash the last few weeks, but the new development is that the large neighborhood down the road from our church is burning. In fact, several cities in Central Texas are burning. It's windy. It's beyond dry. There is no rain in the forecast. Three out of the four fires are less than 25% contained. Half of one of the national parks is completely burned.
As I let the worry and the fear creep in, as I almost lost it in a downward spiritual spiral, I confessed to Craig the prayer I had so innocently prayed. As I was lamenting the fact that these words had ever resounded in my heart and crossed through my lips, I realized this -- there are always two choices when suffering or the threat of suffering rears its head:
Joy or Fear.
I can't maintain joy if I give into fear. Giving into fear means giving up trust in God. If I cannot put my trust in God, there is no way that I can be joyful, for He is the wellspring of joy. The truth is this: I know that God is big enough to make rain. I know that He is big enough to put out fires. There is nothing in this world more powerful than He. I don't understand why this is happening or why He doesn't stop this, but to continue down this road of trying to figure it out only leads back to fear -- I fear what I do not understand.
At the crossroad, I simply pray. I ask for Him to move me where He needs me. And I look for evidence of His Presence because even though He is not appearing in the way I would like Him to appear, He is still there, working, moving, healing, touching, providing, acting, loving.
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. Romans 5: 3-4, NLT
And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads all to truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it isn't looking for Him and doesn't recognize Him...No, I will not abandon you as orphans -- I will come to you. John 14: 15-18, NLTPlease pray for us in Texas...I just got word that fires are starting to break out in the outskirts of Houston.
Also, linking with Shanda...