I don’t give too many personal testimonies on this blog (maybe I should give more?), but I was recently asked to write one for the seniors at the school I teach at. I figured i’d might as well share it. I hope its a blessing to you.
If the eyes of our heart are open, if we wait with patient faith, and if we’re faithful each day to step back and reflect, it is amazing what we can see. God is working! And, I’m amazed at how intimately and personally He works. The small things in our small lives actually matter to Him. Each hair of your head is numbered (Matt. 10:30), all your pain accounted for, and every tear bottled, written, and retained in the book of God (Ps. 56:8). You are truly loved, and no pain, no tear, is ever wasted when you follow Christ. Instead of writing you guys a traditional testimony, I’ve chosen to share a picture of God’s faithfulness with you in hopes that you will be assured of and encouraged by His ever-present care in time of need (Ps. 46:1).
As many of you already know, late last summer I was infected with some unknown illness that, for months, wrecked havoc on my body. I won’t detail the ins and outs of the illness, but I will say that there were days when I had no motivation to get out of bed. There were days filled with tears from morning to evening. There were days when I really struggled to feel God’s presence though I searched for it high and low. Around the same time, I went through a painful break-up that sent me into a bit of a tailspin. Feelings of depression, confusion, and hopelessness that I had never before experienced became a day-to-day reality. And, my family, those whom I love the most, took the brunt of my uncontrollable emotions.
But, has not God promised to be near the broken-hearted and close to the crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18; 147:3)? He has, and He was! He whom said, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20) was there all the while! Moment by moment, God breathed grace upon me, and I was able to put one foot in front of the other. Sometimes we need to wait, but its in these times we learn how to believe, we learn courage.
At the start of the current year, I decided that I needed to begin to pick up the pieces and get back to work, so to speak. I flippantly signed up for an Old Testament Prophets course at grad school, thinking nothing more than ‘Well, I don’t know much about that’ and, if I’m honest, ‘Might as well get this one out of the way.’ Little did I then realize that God, in His perfect sovereignty and with His loving arms, had quite literally picked me up and plopped me into this class.
More-than-that, the course demanded that we pick one minor prophet (Hosea-Malachi), write a thorough research paper on it, and give a presentation. Again, I flippantly chose the book of Habakkuk, thinking ‘Well, Hab. 2:4 (“The just shall live by His faith”) is quoted three times in the New Testament. I bet there’s a lot written on that. That will make the research process a little easier.’ Little did I know that my keeper, the shade on my right hand (Ps. 121:5), was working mightily on my behalf once again.
I am convinced, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that of all the sixty-six books of the Bible, none could have met my existing need as specifically and as powerfully as did the book of Habakkuk. Its message ripped me out of my dismay and gave me a completely new perspective. It was perfectly timed gospel truth, perfectly suited to my need. I could never, I will never, believe that it was I who chose that book to study. My savior had chosen that book for me, and it hit me with the power of the Holy Spirit. That “decision” was a gift, crafted deliberately and compassionately just for me. Never before had I so clearly experienced the power of God’s word to transform and make new. Is it any wonder that the writer of psalm 119 wrote “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word” (119:67), “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes” (119:71), and “in faithfulness you have afflicted me” (119:75b)?
If it were up to me, I would have done things differently. Thank God I’m not in control! All of me wants to cry from the heart, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:33-36 ESV)!
My heart burns with love for Christ and with love for all of you. I would have no greater joy than to hear that each one of you is walking in the truth of the gospel. I pray that your lives will be made rich through faith in Him.
With love for each one of you in Christ,
For more on the message of Habakkuk go here.
For some precious lessons I learned in and through this experience go here.