Thursday, August 11, 2011

Streams















"When is the time to trust?
Is it when all is calm,
When waves the victor's palm,
And life is one glad psalm
Of joy and praise?
Nay! but the time to trust is when the waves beat high, when storm clouds fill the sky,
And prayer is one long cry,
O Help and save!

When is the time to trust?
Is it when friends are true?
Is it when comforts woo,
And in all we say and do
We meet but praise?

Nay! but the time to trust
Is when we stand alone,
And summer birds have flown,
and every prop is gone
All else but God.

What is the time to trust?
Is it some future day,
when you have tried your way
And learned to trust and pray
By bitter woe?
Nay! but the time to trust
Is in this moment's need,
Poor, broken, bruised reed!
Poor, troubled soul, make speed
To trust thy God.

What is the time to trust?
Is it when hopes beat high,
When Sunshine guilds the sky,
and joy and ecstasy fill the heart?
Nay! but the time to trust
Is when our joy is fled.
When sorrow bows the head,
And all is cold and dead,
All else but God.
-streams

Streams in the Desert is most likely the best devotional for any heart of anguish. It was birthed by a woman named Lettie B Cowman, or most commonly known as Mrs. Charles E. Cowman. Mr. and Mrs. Cowman were both strong towers in the faith, being remembered for their missionary hearts for China and Japan. After returning to the states when Mr. Cowman's health began to subside, Lettie cared for him. After his death she went on to pen many books, one of which was Streams in the Desert.

In hearing the trials of exceptional loss and pain, I am drawn to recollect my own life. What do I consider to be the most problematic? Where is my pain? Where is my struggle?
If I were face-to-face with Lettie Cowman, I would undoubtedly be ashamed to express my struggle as anything worth sheding a tear over.
However, I recollect further, back to the days of my youth (namely, the dredging years that make up the "high school days") and I recall the pain, the tears, the anguish. I also vividly recall those with many more years than I, stating: "this too, shall pass" and "oh just wait - this won't hardly mean anything at all in years to come."
But what is that? That is nullifying the place that I felt stuck (and sinking) into. Which yes, ultimately, we need to spend more time de-magnifying our doubts and fears, and heightening the power of faith in a God that loves us unconditionally.
However, my 18 year old brain could not see past the hopelessness. I couldn't escape the feeling that this would n e v e r end. The drama would always continue, people would always say hurtful things, I'd continue to give my heart to those that never should have it, and I would forever be my own worst enemy.
The point being:
In seasons of pain, and dryness, there is no use to say these times will not matter in the future, and that they shouldn't matter right now.
Although in the face of another's tragedy, we may be able to simply relocate our pains to a shelf labeled "not AS bad" or "be thankful you aren't going through THAT" .. but the truth of the matter, is simply the truth of the matter: We all have our personal fears, pains, and hurt.
We must be true with the trials of our own hearts, in order that we can rise and press through. To use another's pains and trials as a realization of what we have to be thankful for is a good thing- but to slip past dealing with where we're at in our walk, is a foolish road to take.
The bible says that God leads us on sometimes unfamiliar paths, and that means for each of us this path may look much different!
Same problems? Yes.
Death
Pain
Hurt
Rejection
Fear

But these manifest in different places of each heart, so if we're in the process of being conformed to look more and more like Jesus, we must be true with where he has us.

I once heard someone once share a story pertaining to strength.
He shared about his youth days, and his desire to appear strong (literally).
At the gym, this young man asked his older brother if he would spot him on the bench press, as he gave him a little wink. You see, by "spot him" he actually meant: I'm going to get WAY more weight than I can push, and I want you to pull it up with me, so that I can look macho for all of the pretty ladies here.
So, the older brother did as every older brother should do - and as his younger brother pushed that bar up as high as he could, he let that bar fall as hard on his younger brothers chest as it could. Afterwards, he looked to him and simply stated: If you never admit where you're weak, you'll never learn how to be strong.
How harshly true.

Some people may look at this man with the judgement that he was just young and selfish and cared only to external things. That he was shallow. Did he have cancer eating at his bones? No. Did he suffer the great loss of a spouse? No. But the point is that his struggle was the mask he wore, to appear greater than he really was. A mask we all wear well - and a mask that, if we don't learn how to shed the disguise, will in time eat away at us.
This is truth. We must all face the deepest place of emptiness and weakness within us, no matter the magnitude. If it's a sin or struggle - it's worth getting out!
Do we then continue on in our weakness? Well, ultimately, yes: for
In our weakness God's strength is made perfect.
However, as his Spirit abides in you, there in an unknown
strength and power carrying you through the seemingly trivial, to the undeniable tragedy; oft with a Grace that can only come from above.

So, if you're suffering the loss of a loved one, stuck in a messy fight with a best friend, consumed by the thoughts that you're overweight, or wishing you didn't desire to look macho around girls; I encourage you to read once more the poem from Streams, and remember there is a stream to be found in y o u r desert.

For God has made
promise
after
promise
after
promise,
and He, my friends, is faithful.
So trust Him, with, well - whatever.

"What is the time to trust?
Is it when hopes beat high,
When Sunshine guilds the sky,
and joy and ecstasy fill the heart?
Nay! but the time to trust
Is when our joy is fled.
When sorrow bows the head,
And all is cold and dead,
All else but God."

See also: 2Corinthians12:9

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