I’m happy to report that six weeks of silence ended up being only four. This past Friday my doctor used the “up the nose and down the throat” torture device which doubles as a larynx scope and determined that my vocal cords have healed sufficiently for me to begin talking again, albeit in “light use, no singing” mode. I am so very glad. That is an understatement. I thank you for your prayers: they have made all the difference as our Father has graciously answered them! Lord willing, in four more weeks of healing, I’ll be back to singing His praises! Please continue to pray to that end.
I have gained so much in this time of difficulty. Over the past several weeks I’ve sought to share with you several of those things, and now, to wrap this up I’m going to take the shotgun approach and share some final tidbits of grace that Christ has floated my way in the wake of this trial:
- The Lord has placed one of his crown jewels by my side. Proverbs asks the question: “an excellent wife, who can find?” (31:10). To that question, I can assuredly answer at the top of my lungs: “I did, I did!” Times of trouble and suffering bring out those whom are most valuable and critical to my spiritual encouragement, and Brenda outshines them all. She has been a true companion, born for faithfulness in adversity. I love that woman. And as is always the case, our love has deepened through distress.
- I don’t need to talk to commune with God. Whether during times of corporate song while the church was belting it out to God’s glory, or during a time of solitude during my workday, no matter: God’s Spirit was working, stirring and encouraging me, and my soul was able to talk freely and worship, all without speaking. What I faced was but a trifle of a trial compared to others, but nonetheless, it was so encouraging to encounter the Lord through it. Such comfort to know that even if all my abilities were to be stripped away, Christ would visit me with his incredible sweetness in my distress.
- Priorities are a precious few. The fact that Jesus boiled down the entire law into two commands is a loud statement of the simplicity for what life should be all about (see Matt. 22:36-40). Unfortunately for our sinful hearts, with sinful cravings and all, our priorities in life become muddied and our ears are met with so many voices that cry out: “hey!! look at me!” And that is why the Father sends in trials and tribulations in a variety of shapes and sizes. This time of my distress, like any trial, had a way of distilling life down to what matters most: Christ, church, my marriage and family, and the people whom the Lord designates as my neighbor in any given situation. Vision is made sharper by distress.
- Now go and comfort others. Paul tells us that the comfort we receive from him as we face particular sufferings will eventually flow from us towards others who then suffer after us (2 Cor. 1:3-7). The Lord will make use of our distresses. They truly are one of the more useful tools that we are equipped with. For what else can encourage a brother or sister more than to have a comforting word, in season, from a fellow believer who has also walked the dark valley and who was met by Christ’s comfort there? Distress softens and informs our hearts on how to bring greater comfort to the afflicted.
- Time and space fail me. I’ve not time to mention the effect this season has had on my role as a father and the need to speak into my children’s lives (nothing has revealed this more clearly than not speaking!) Nor do I have space to talk further about the preciousness of Jesus Christ, who shines brighter to me now that I’ve suffered for a little bit.
May the Lord help us all to embrace every ounce of distress and every inch of the road marked with suffering. Jesus is worth it all.
One last thing: it occurs to me that there may be some questions out there, and I’d love to “open the lines” and talk! If you have a serious or silly question about what I’ve been experiencing and blogging about, comment and I’ll take each question as they come or possibly expand this series further if necessary. It’s been a joy to share these things.