On the afternoon of Tuesday, January 28 a fire began in the attic of our home. By the time the fire trucks left at 8 p.m. our home was unlivable and our lives were turned upside down. But in the midst of all of this, my crazy, control-freak, doesn’t-like-to-be-overstimulated heart remains calm. When friends ask how we’re doing, all I want to do is tell them about all that God has been doing. Our house burned. We are so blessed. These two statements should be incompatible but they are not. Praise God, they are not.
Praising God for His Protection….
Nathan’s classes were cancelled for the day. Since he was home, I asked him to help me rearrange the furniture in Emma’s room. Because we were working upstairs, we were able to detect the fire much earlier in the middle of the afternoon. The epicenter of the fire was right above Anna’s closet. If the fire had gone undetected or had broken out at night, we might have lost one or both of our daughters. We are all safe. Everything else is just stuff.
Praising God for His Provision…
Before the fire trucks left our yard, my friend Lisa was texting me with an offer to stay in a house they had not yet sold while our home was being rebuilt. She could only do this because months earlier, the Lord had laid it on her husband’s heart not to pursue selling the house because someone may have need of it. It shouldn’t surprise me. I believe and teach that God is omniscient—He knows everything and that God is eternal—to Him all moments are “now”. But I have to admit, every time I think of it, my heart skips a beat to know that God was at work providing for my needs long before the first spark.
My brothers Justin and Jason were on the scene the next day to begin the process of clean up and demolition. They are both highly competent men of integrity and God has gifted each of them with unique abilities that work well together. It has been so comforting to me to have them at my side, not just because they are my brothers, but also because they are good at what they do and I know it will be done well.
Praising God for the Gift of Health…
While we wait to move into the rental house, we are staying with my parents, their dog Molly, and their five cats. I am highly allergic to cats. To be fair, four of them live in the basement waiting to be relocated in the spring; but as we learned the year we hatched baby chicks and kept rabbits in our basement, basements count when it comes to breathing. I am very thankful for a warm place to stay while we are waiting, but by all rights my health should be a wreck. To the contrary, I can count on one hand the number of times I have needed to take an OTC medicine. I can only attribute this to God’s sustaining grace.
Praising God for The Body…
John and I have been overwhelmed by the love of God as expressed through His people toward us. Our church, my mom’s church, our homeschool group, our community, saints near and far, we are a part of the Body of Christ and every meal, every card, every collection, every prayer, every hug, everyone who stops to ask “how are you?” is God saying “I love you…I love you…I love you…I love you,” and we have been so loved! I think this is how the Body is supposed to work. They have wept as we wept, they have rejoiced as we have rejoiced. They have held us up in prayer, cared for our needs, and done good unto us. We live in a time when the Church is ridiculed as being hypocritical and dysfunctional. From my perspective there has been a sacredness in being part of the Church functioning exactly as it was designed to and to quote Eric Liddell, “I can feel God’s pleasure.”
Praising God for His work in our Lives…
“…we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Ro. 5:3-5)
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Ro. 8:28)
“Consider it all joy my brethren when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
“God always looks upon me and treats me with gracious favor, always working all things together for my ultimate and eternal good. God’s grace abounds to me even through trials. Because I am a justified one, He subjugates every trial and forces it to do good unto me.” (Milton Vincent, A Gospel Primer for Christians, p.63)
I have to confess it is not my natural inclination to exult in this trial but I can exult in my God. I do not know what God is doing in our lives, but I know that He is at work and that it is good. I am confident of this because I know that He is faithful and His Word cannot fail.
I’m not sure where this quote came from. Maybe when we move back in our house, I can unpack my box of Bible studies and give the author proper credit; but in the margin of my Bible above James 1 are written these words, “When we endure trials by faith, with joy, it brings glory to God.” That much I can do. I don’t know what God is doing, but I know that He is at work to bring about my good and bring Himself glory.
Praising God for the Gift of Himself…
When we came back to my parents’ house the night of the fire, my youngest daughter asked me, “Why did this happen to us?” That is a totally normal question and we talked about Job and how he never lost his love for God or his hope in God and how God restored all that Job had lost. But for me, the question “Why me?” is very unsatisfying because the inevitable answer is “Why not me?” As I have been reading the books Be Still, My Soul by Nancy Guthrie and Glorious Ruin by Tullian Tchividjian (I highly recommend both of them), I have discovered a better question is “Who?”
“Thankfully, the good news of the gospel is not an exhortation from above to ‘hang on at all costs or ‘grin and bear it’ in the midst of hardship. No the good news is that God is hanging on to you, and in the end, when all is said and done, the power of God will triumph over every pain and loss….(God) loves you; his chief concern is to be himself for you….we don’t need answers as much as we need God’s presence in and through the suffering itself. For the life of the believer, one thing is beautifully and abundantly true: God’s chief concern in your suffering is to be with you and be Himself for you.” (Glorious Ruin, p. 10-11)
This is a great and glorious gift and it is the one theme which keeps coming back to me over the past several years—that God is my Enough and my Enough is more than enough.