A Chinese Bible Woman shares the following situation that helped train her and her children in righteousness while her husband was in labor camp:
One day I said to my children, “The Lord has told me that today I will go to prison for Him. Father is also in prison so please behave. Love each other and don’t forget to bring food for your mom!”
During that time there were so many prisoners that the government could not provide for all of them so family members provided their food. The children cried when they heard this. Daniel replied, “But mom, we have only five catties of rice left. How can we have rice and also send you some? When it’s all gone, we’ll die!” I told the children, “The Lord can turn nothing into something!” and I reminded them of the story of Elijah and the widow. They had a simple child-like faith and believed that God could provide for their need. So they concluded, “Even though our rice is not enough, we will cook for you too!”
After talking with the children, The Public Security Bureau police came to the door and arrested me. Daniel followed me to the prison to find out which cell I would be in. The younger two children knelt in prayer. As I was taken away, my heart was wrenched as I heard their little voices trailing off.
I was in prison on that occasion for thirty days. All the while Daniel faithfully sent rice for me. When I returned home I asked, “Is there any rice left?” Daniel’s response was, “Mom, our rice container is overflowing!” It really was. Those five catties had inexplicably grown to about forty catties and were literally overflowing the container. I said, “Praise the Lord! Now we can continue to cook for the other inmates and feed them as well.” The Lord’s grace is beyond measure.
“Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness”
God does not keep His own from the dark places, but He does keep His own in the dark places. There are treasures to be discovered in the fearful and gloomy paths we must sometimes walk. As we hold on and walk uprightly even in the darkness, we can trust that the God of all grace will cause His Light to arise in those circumstances.
The Christ of our hope and our strength, the Christ who cannot fail will come to us in unexpected ways. There will be an unveiling of Himself which could not have been appropriated in the light. There are graces to be formed within our hearts which require dark and foreboding places. Courage and tenacity find their roots in the testings of life. In these perilous experiences we learn our weakness and discover His strength.
This is how character is built within the hearts of the upright. It is in these places that the disciple sees and hears of the greatness and mercy of our God. As the metal of a heart is forged and the reliance on other things purged, God’s work of preparation is accomplished.
“He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant: Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron: Until the time that his word came: the word of the Lord tried him…”
Has God spoken a word to you? Has that word been a trial and a source of consternation? Have you felt the fetters of confinement, the rejection of friends and family? Have you sat in darkness alone and seemingly barren? Rejoice in the ways of God! Let His light arise in the darkness. Trust in Christ alone and walk uprightly before Him. Do not let despair rule; stay strong and purposed in God. The Word whereby He has caused you to hope will surely come. As the night must give way to the dawn, so will He surely arise in thee.
“O love the Lord, all ye his saints: for the Lord preserveth the faithful”
“Think of Him now, at this moment – the great Angel of the Covenant, with the censer full of much incense, in which are placed your feeblest aspirations, your most burdened sighs – the odour-breathing cloud ascending with acceptance before the Father’s throne. The answer may tarry; – these your supplications may seem to be kept long on the wing, hovering around the mercy-seat. A gracious God sometimes sees it meet thus to test the faith and patience of His people. He delights to hear the music of their importunate pleadings – to see them undeterred by difficulties – unrepelled by apparent forgetfulness and neglect. But He will come at last; – the pent-up fountain of love and mercy will at length burst out; – the soothing accents will in His own good time be heard, “Be it unto thee according to thy word!”
– J.R. Macduff
“The life that intends to be wholly obedient, wholly submissive, wholly listening, is astonishing in its completeness. Its joys are ravishing, its peace profound, its humility the deepest, its power world-shaking, its love enveloping, its simplicity that of a trusting child”
– Thomas Raymond Kelly
“You reap what you sow — not something else, but that. An act of love makes the soul more loving. A deed of humbleness deepens humbleness. The thing reaped is the very thing sown, multiplied a hundred fold. You have sown a seed of life, you reap life everlasting.”
― F.W. Robertson
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap”
“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not”
Endurance is the secret to reaping. Endurance is the womb from which faithfulness springs. Faithfulness implies “being full of faith”. Faithfulness speaks of sowing in hope, believing God for the harvest to follow. It needs no seeing or evidence to continue steadfastly in the things at hand. It believes God, trusts God and rests in God knowing He is faithful. Our faithfulness is proportional to our trust in His faithfulness.
“But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully”
2 Corinthians 9:6
“He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him”
Like a sailing ship at sea, the soul fixed upon God is ever dependent upon the winds of His Spirit for movement and purpose. When the wind is withheld and the sails are no longer filled with the wonder of His breath our ship may seem adrift in the depths of obscurity. A cry rises from those whose hearts are set upon Him and Him alone.
“As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?”
These precious verses describe one who loves Him with a desperate love. The religious have no conscious need for this; life goes on with or without His presence in their lives. It is the heart that is aflame for Him, ever mindful of the need for His presence and His Life beating within, from which this cry arises. It is in these moments that God would have us take great encouragement. The cry for His presence is of great delight to Him. It is the revelation of a heart that understands its dependency upon His Life within. The concealing of His evident presence is a picture of what it would be like to live without Him. It is a gentle reminder for us to remain mindful of His Spirit within the sphere of our life on earth. He graciously brings our attention to the real issues of life and our paramount need to abide in the wonder of His ever-present grace.
Do not fear the times when the winds cease and our ship seems to be adrift in a sea of futility. Do not let the voices of the enemy speak of desolation and abandonment; rather let it be a time for our redeemed soul to rise through the mists of unbelief with the tenacity and longing of pure love unto Him. It is this atmosphere from which the deepest and most fragrant acts of worship ascend unto Him.
“In the day when I cried thou answered me, and strengthened me with strength in my soul”
Job’s declaration in the trial of his faith was one of trust and submission. Though he could not see the purpose nor the end of his seemingly random and senseless suffering he did not fall into the pit of blaming God.
There are many things which go on in heavenly places far past the sight and the reasoning of man. The suffering encountered by Job was due to heavenly things where God was displaying in Job the manifold wisdom and wonder of His grace. Job’s steadfastness was God’s victory over the accuser of the brethren. In all that transpired it is declared of Job:
“In all this Job sinned not,
nor charged God foolishly”
God’s dealings with us are to His ends and purposes. His ways are past finding out. He is not only working into us the life, beauty and wonder of His Son, He is also putting us on display to principalities and powers in high places to show His wisdom and His handiwork.
“…so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places”