So, tonight in my home group we talked about 1 Peter 4:12-19 and how we are to give glory to God even in the midst of suffering. I mentioned that I couldn’t seem to get away from that theme lately. Here is just another example of that. I hadn’t read anything out of my Streams in the Desert devo for awhile, but I decided to pick it up and read it tonight. I’ve been in a real funk lately, fighting anxiety and depression and exhaustion. Sick and tired of things breaking and needing repair, unexpected bills arriving, and generally one bad thing after another happening.
At the same time, I have been seeking and desiring the Holy Spirit like never before. It occurred to me today that I might possibly be on the verge of a spiritual breakthrough, and the enemy might be throwing whatever he can at me in order to make me give up and keep me from experiencing God more fully.
Anyway . . .
This is the entry for today – September 8.
I think God is trying to hit me over the head with this.
“Thou has enlarged me when I was in distress.” (Psalm 4:1 KJV)
This verse is one of the greatest testimonies ever written regarding the effectiveness of God’s work on our behalf during times of crisis. It is a statement of thanksgiving for having been set free not FROM suffering but rather THROUGH suffering. In stating “Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress,” the psalmist is declaring that the sorrows of life have themselves been the source of life’s enlargement.
Haven’t each of us experienced this a thousand times and found it to be true? Someone once said of Joseph that when he was in the dungeon, “iron entered his soul.” And the strength of iron is exactly what he needed, for earlier he had only experienced the glitter of gold. He had been rejoicing in youthful dreams, and dreaming actually hardens the heart. Someone who sheds great tears over a simple romance will not be of much help in a real crisis, for true sorrow will be too deep for him. We all need the iron in life to enlarge our character. The gold is simply a passing vision, whereas the iron is the true experience of life. The chain that is the common bond uniting us to others must be one of iron. The common touch of humanity that gives the world true kinship is not joy but sorrow – gold is partial to only a few, but iron is universal.
Dear soul, if you want your sympathy for others to be enlarged, you must be willing to have your life narrowed to certain degrees of suffering. Joseph’s dungeon was the very road to his throne, and he would have been unable to lift the iron load of his brothers had he not experienced the iron in his own life. Your life will be enlarged in proportion to the amount of iron you have endured, for it is in the shadows of your life that you will find the actual fulfillment of your dreams of glory. So do not complain about the shadows of darkness – in reality, they are better than your dreams could ever be. Do not say that the darkness of the prison has shackled you, for your shackles are wings – wings of flight into the heart and soul of humanity. And the gate of your prison is the gate into the heart of the universe. God has enlarged you through the suffering of sorrow’s chain. – George Matheson