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Joshua 1:9 ERV Remember that I [Have I not…?] commanded you to be strong and ·brave [courageous; resolute]. Don’t be afraid or ·discouraged [dismayed], because the Lord your God will be with you ·everywhere you go [or in all you do].”
1 Chronicles 28:20 CEB “Be strong and courageous,” David said to his son Solomon. “Get to work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, because the Lord God, my God, is with you. He’ll neither let you down nor leave you before all the work for the service of the Lord’s temple is done.”
If you haven’t already stopped and closely read the verses given above, please do that now before reading the rest of this letter*. And as you do that, please remember and remind yourself again, there are people praying for you with much love, just like I am as I write…
Yes, those verses may seem unusual for me to send you today but they are very applicable and appropriate to where you are right now. This new life is one you (probably) wouldn’t have ever chosen or dreamed of. It’s a different kind of unimaginable than ones we’ve been instructed in praying for with verses like Ephesians 3:20-21. Yet this life is where you are now and where I’ve been for some time now.
A life in a new land of the unimaginably hard and undeniably challenging.
With chronic illness, we’ve been called to enter a new land just like the Israelites were in the book of Joshua. They were called to a Promised Land full of milk and honey and delight. Ours doesn’t seem to have milk or honey, much less, delight. But this land is full of the goodness of God, no matter how we may feel about it or us living in it. This land is good because our Good God is with us for today and forever (see Hebrews 13:6). And because He is good, where He is and what He does is good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (see Romans 8:28).
I know you love Him. I know you know He loves you.
I know you know you are called according to His purpose.
Then, I know you know He is working good for and in you now and for the not-yet.
Yet, do you know (really know) that God wants to work through you for good for His glory and the good of His people here in this land? (see Ephesians 2:10)
It’s one thing to say that God is good when all is good. It’s something else altogether to proclaim God is good when everything else seems not good.
Do you know (really know) that God will show you this land is good if you trust Him without leaning onto your own understanding but trust Him in all your ways? (see Proverbs 3:5-6)
It’s one thing to hold to God when all is good. It’s something else altogether to hold fast to God and His goodness when everything and everyone else says this land isn’t good.
It is our choice every day in this land to believe God is good (or not
I say all of that from a place deep in my heart that has been dug out by years of pain and loss. But the digging out has made room for what’s lasting, true, and vital – joy! I claim the truth that the prospect of the righteous is joy (Proverbs 10:28 NIV) and the joy of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10 ESV). Joy, not happiness or bliss or easy, has come. Joy here in the hard is but a tantalizing glimpse of the joy kept there in the heaven yet to come. An aperitif to make us even more hungry for that which lies behind the veil and our imaginations of the life present full to the uttermost of Jesus (see Hebrews 7:25).
Oswald Chambers tried to capture this idea with his book title of “My Utmost for His Highest” yet he falls short, just like the rest of us. The uttermost of Jesus is far beyond what we can achieve or attempt, dream or delineate, perform or perceive. It is beyond because He is beyond. He is beyond in all His ways – be it power or Presence, love or leading, grace or goodness, and all that which cannot begin to be written down or thought up.
God cannot be contained. And since He is good, neither can His goodness be contained.
There is no land not full of His goodness because there is no land where He is not. This land of pain, grief, and loss from chronic illness has a different kind of goodness than we’ve known before. Yet this goodness has a different and sweeter kind of joy than we’ve ever known before.
So, I say all of that to say this – start claiming this land as given to you and as good for you. Search for ways you can proclaim God as good in this land to yourself and to others. Pray for others and yourself. Reach out past what seems do-able into what requires a deeper trust than you’ve ever imagined. You can’t wait until you feel good to do what you know is good. He has called you to this for now. His grace is and always will be enough (see 2 Corinthians 12:9).
Your tears and your times of grief aren’t wasted with God; they are watering the joy planted here for you in this good land by our Good God.
Much love from your friend,
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written by and copyrighted to Beth Madison, Ph.D., 2023
2 thoughts on “Sarah – part 3”
Needed to read this post today. Praying for a young family member who needs a live liver transplant. God knows.
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Yes! He surely does!