I had started this post a week ago, the thoughts echoing through my mind, thinking I understood what the lesson was all about. . . . Patience . . . it was a “hard word” that I heard from the Lord almost a year ago. On that day at the Doctor’s office, the Rheumatologist agreed with my husband and myself that we needed to stop my current medication, that it had become ineffective, and we should try another one. I was eager to find some relief, so I thought that better days were ahead. But as the Doctor went to check out his supplies of new samples, the hard word echoed in my head.
I hoped that maybe I hadn’t heard correctly, so later that night I asked the Lord if the words were really from Him. “You have need of patience,” did not feel like a comforting word that day. But sure enough, there was the Scripture that confirmed what He had whispered in my heart:
For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. Hebrews 10:36 KJV
What began as high hopes for medication success, dwindled down throughout the year to medication failures, time after time. So much so that the Doctor finally agreed that my body needed a rest from all of the harsh drugs before we tried the last two possibilities. The statistics can be scary if I look at the road ahead for this disease being untreated. The low dose of daily prednisone that keeps the swelling and pain at a bearable level is not a healthy long-term solution either.
Have you ever received a hard word from the Lord? Has He abandoned us in the place of trial, with an “I told you so” kind of speaking?
When my thoughts took the bitter fork in the road, Jesus pulled me back from the edge, and listened to my aching heart that cried out in longing: “I have no patience for this any longer. How can You tell me that I have need of patience? I want this to be finished!”
He opened my heart and reminded me once again of my #oneword for this year: #Sufficient. “Of course, Lord, I know I am not sufficient in this. I know I need Your sufficiency even here. But how I am to receive that?”
And in the middle of pondering what I thought I knew, another flare from this disease halted me in my tracks. Days of hand-locking pain, and exhaustion that numbed my thoughts to barely functioning caught me off guard.
But the state of my heart shook me more than the disease had. How was this bitterness lurking so close? I thought I had been pulled back from the brink months ago as I contemplated the failed medications. But what is felt at the brink follows close on the heels of the trail if it is not dealt with. And there is only one sure way to deal with bitterness. As my heart cried out for help in the flare, no words would come.
Have you been in the place of brokenness when even speech fails you?
From the depths I felt the presence of Jesus lifting my eyes to look at Him. I felt His gaze centering me, and I knew He would speak when the time was right to hear Him. I rested and waited for the higher dose of prednisone that the Doctor prescribed to begin its work. Except that it didn’t.
As I lay in bed, not even able to hold a book open, I listened to music and tried to still my aching joints. The words rolling in my head stilled. The verse that settled in my heart took on a meaning I had not felt before:
“See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Hebrews 12:15
What had seemed harsh to this church-girl’s mind suddenly took on a sweeter meaning. “Falling short of the grace of God,” had always spoken to me of judgement, a spurning of God. But no, there it was, the Grace of God, freely offered. We are unable to stop the bitterness on our own–God’s grace is what keeps us from falling off that precipice.
Grace that is sufficient is what He had been trying to offer me all year. Oh yes I had need of patience! I knew it all too well. He had been waiting for me to receive it, standing by for the moment I would open my pain-clenched hands, and receive the gift of grace He was offering:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 NASB
Patience is a fruit given by God, as He strengthens us with His glorious sufficiency. All that time I was striving, knowing I needed patience, He was waiting on me to receive what He wanted to gift me. His own dear Spirit had been interceding for me in the midst of my weakness.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Romans 8:26-27 NIV
And the bitterness? I am unable to keep that away either. His sufficient grace sweeps away the bitter roots every time I fix my gaze on Him. He fills me with Himself, He gifts me with His strength.
Are you in a place where the old answers are not meeting your needs? Has the brokenness swallowed up the words you thought you knew? Can you join me in prayer?
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank You that You are sufficient for everything that we need. Thank You that You know we are broken, poor, and helpless as we struggle so hard to make the way clear for ourselves. Thank You that You look on us with compassion, waiting to give us such blessed help from Your own hands. We lay down our striving, once again, and receive the fruit of Your grace. Our hearts praise You here as we run to You, embracing the gift of Your Son’s purchase for us.
In the Name of Your Son Jesus we pray,
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