Thursday, May 31, 2012

The black in my painting

Yesterday, a dear friend sent me a letter I wrote to her from long ago. I had forgotten about this letter.

On brighter days, we often forget how it was like when the days were dark. This letter was written when her world was very, very dark.

The light has been dim in our world these past few weeks, our future unclear. It is good to be reminded that when the night is deep, grace is deeper still.
Dear friend,

My heart grieves with you. I know all too well how it feels to be harassed by my own sins and self. Just the other day, in my "apology" to Hans, I burst into tears with self-disgust  as I realized that even in my attempt to act rightly, my words were tainted with self-righteousness and selfishness. I felt, as you said, so helpless.
On this side of eternity, we cannot know the reasons for all our afflictions. Some afflictions are caused by our own sins, some are not. Learn to distinguish these well. If it is the first, we must repent and seek after forgiveness. In either cases and all the more in times of joy -- wait upon the Lord, sing his praises, fear him -- for this the the whole duty of humanity.
Suffering and sorrow in our lives is like the color black in paintings. Our lives are as a canvas before the Lord, rebels and children alike. He is sovereign, he is good, he loves perfectly, and he does all things well. The black in our lives was no mistakes, every stroke is a part of the whole.
In Psalms 33, the psalmist sings a "new song" in the face of death and famine, suffering that was not due to his sins. In Psalm 40, he again sings a "new song" as he is rescued from the miry bog that is his own unrighteousness. In both psalms, Yahweh is the cause of the new song that comes forth from his lips. We are to wait upon our deliverer, for he is faithful, good, and true.

Flee from thoughts with the tendency towards "if only." They ultimately come from a heart that is discontent, and discontentment comes from a heart that does not trust in the goodness of our Lord. When thoughts such as these like ravens fly above our heads, do not let them build a nest on your head! Run away, fill your minds with thoughts of Christ.

My desert drew me to the fountain. It was so dry, so barren. Let us have the faith of Hannah, singing her victory song and raising her horn in midst of her affliction.

Learn to die well. Learn to lament well. Learn to praise well. For this is the path of the cross, this is the straight and the narrow, where our souls are trained to love the Lord above all things. Our Lord Jesus is a man of sorrows, follow him.
Dear friend, you would not be wanting that world so badly, if it was not for God's hand that is readying you while you are in this one. For this and much more, I give thanks. 


E! said...

Seriously lovely letter.
Thanks for singing doxologies in the dark...

Wait, the dawn will come!

Seda said...

Dear Esther, If you noticed, I made a few changes and deleted some sections. My theology of suffering slightly shifted since my class on Job. =) Thanks again, for your love.

thetoddlerwhisperer said...

Beautiful post. Thanks.

N. said...

Great reminder to get through tough times with your eyes on God instead of self! Thanks for posting.

Ruth@GraceLaced said...

What a significant thing--for a friend to remind you of what you've said to encourage! "As sure as God puts His children in the furnace of affliction, He will be with them in it." (Spurgeon) Praying for you!

Michelle said...

I've been contrasting Jesus, "who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross" with the Thessalonians who received the Word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost. I was suggesting to myself that future joy is enough, that I could embrace suffering without joy by considering the future, but then was challenged by the example in I Thessalonians 1:6. And, I was also rebuked by Asaph in Psalm 78, who reminds me that when I forget how God has graciously tended my needs and guided me in the past, I am not doing well. Praying for you today.

E! said...

I thought you omitted the Judson bit out of repetition (since you have written about them elsewhere). I think their confession that all their joy was bound up in their little earthly all did apply to me -- but not necessarily to abstract suffering in the general.

Where is this shift in theology?