God uses the difficult circumstances in our lives to do many, many things. He promises in Romans 8:28 “to work all things for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.” I firmly believe that to be true. But I have to confess that in the midst of times where you are hardpressed on every side and feel crushed in spirit, it is hard to believe any good is going to come from the situation.
I have hated seeing those I am closest to in so much pain. My mother has poured herself into this ministry because God laid it on her heart. She is not a perfect leader, of course, but she is most certainly a leader who has sacrificed much over the past 23 years. And her love for every aspect of the Yahweh Center, most especially the children, families, and staff, is strong. To know the woman that she is and see her pain through this has been difficult. And to know the hearts of the staff that also work so hard and to see how this is affecting them is hard.
So where is the good in this? I believe that first and foremost, it has given glory to God. It has renewed the conviction in many for the need to continue praying for this ministry and the children it serves. It has shifted the apathy that can hit and infiltrate our spirit and has dug it out, making room for a longing to cry out to God and draw close to Him, praising Him for his faithfulness to walk with us in the midst of our pain. Many, many members of our community have stepped up to speak on behalf of the agency and its leadership. Former staff have written of their support for the agency and many current staff are stepping up to the challenge during this time. Even the NC department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) wrote an email clarifying a statement made to the media, correcting themselves to state that the Yahweh Center has done well with submission of Medicaid claims and that use of the word “erroneous” was inappropriate. (Unfortunately, to my current knowledge, our local station has not chosen to air this correction, which would do much to clear the Yahweh Center from a few of the major inaccuracies that were reported).
On a personal level, I see opportunities for growth all over the place. I have learned about my tendency to try and “fight back” without always remembering to use God’s word. Not to try and harm anyone, of course. Well, okay, when I fight back sometimes I want to do harm. But I never want to use God’s word to do harm. Just need to clarify that. So what I have learned is the importance of taking time to really pray about what needs to be said (if anything!) and making sure I say it with the right motives and right intent. I mentioned in my previous post on this topic that I did edit myself, but I didn’t edit quite enough. Because I didn’t take time to really think through what should be said and I didn’t incorporate scripture.
Ephesians 6:13-18 says, “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
If the “sword of the spirit” is the one offensive weapon in God’s armor (*as my pastor pointed out in a timely sermon last Sunday- it is GOD’S armor, not ours!), then it would behoove me to use it. That, in combination with prayer, should be my focus in times such as these. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve felt so frustrated because I have wanted to DO something. Write emails, send letters, go work some shifts for weary staff, take my mom’s pain away, to easy the frustration and pain of my father as he watches his wife get hit with one thing after another, to ease the frustration and weariness of my husband, to talk with the people who are causing this and shout DO YOU REALIZE WHAT YOU ARE DOING?!?! Yet, more powerful and effective than all of that is the seemingly simplest yet most difficult of all actions. Get into the Word of God and Pray.
And by doing all those other things that I wanted to do, by trying to be some hero and do things my way, I would be depriving my mother, my father, my husband, and all the staff of the work God is doing in them. In some ways, the current staff are weighing heavier on my heart than my family. I hope and pray they will hang in there and fight this fight by sticking things out. The same opportunities for growth that I see in myself I see for them, and all those involved wherever they may be in their walks with the Lord.
To learn to wait on the Lord. To go deeper into His word. To pray. To love our enemies (and to pray for them-I have been working hard on lifting up all the accusers in prayer and need to work more on this). To praise God in all circumstances. To trust that He has begun a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).
What I am trying to say, and probably quite poorly, can be summed up by the following verse.
“To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.”—Isaiah 61:3.
The Lord desires to take our ashes (perhaps from burned reputations, burned out staff) and make them into something beautiful. Scripture speaks of breaking the pots in order to rebuild them into something stronger and more beautiful. Of being refined by the fire so that all blemishes are removed. Of being content in all circumstances (Philippians 4:11).
God inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3). I have learned that if I want to feel God’s presence in all of this, then I’d better get to praising. What a wonderful promise this is!
As I write, another verse comes to mind– “This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger. (James 1:19
Which leads to these:
He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city. Proverbs 16:32
Do not be eager in your heart to be angry, For anger resides in the bosom of fools. Ecclesiastes 7:9
Yeah, so tons of opportunity for growth here. 🙂 And all those verses certainly aren’t saying that you can’t be angry. In this situation, righteous anger was and is justified. But we (read: me) can’t let our emotions rule and we aren’t supposed to act rashly. And I need to check the motives behind my anger so that I can be angry without sin. There is a way to defend and speak truth- and I need to let God’s word do most of the talking.
Thanks to everyone who has been praying and please continue to do so! Please join me in putting on the armor of God and battling on behalf of the Yahweh Center. For our battle isn’t against flesh and blood. And as Christians, we can expect persecution. But, we are in good company! And we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37)!