Monday, June 22, 2015

Blessings Amidst Trial

I once heard an analogy that went along the lines of this:

There once was a girl walking through the jungle. Suddenly a tiger jumped out and began chasing her. She ran until her path abruptly ended at a cliff. With nowhere else to go, she jumped and grabbed onto a vine on the way down. Temporarily out of harms way, she breathed a sigh of relief and looked down to see how far the cliff went. On a ledge below her stood a second tiger, snapping up at her feet while the one above stared down at her.
"At least the vine will hold," she thought before noticing two mice, one black and the other white, gnawing at the vine.
The tiger above represents the past. The one below, the future. The mice are day and night, the uncontrolled passage of time that brings us ever closer to our end. But this isn't the whole picture. For before the girl on the vine is a bush of strawberries growing out of the side of the mountain. She plucks one and eats it and how sweet it is.

"What's the point of this story?" you may be asking yourself.
The point is simple. Sometimes we are too caught up by the fear of our past and future, or the anxieties of the day to day life that we fail to notice the blessings placed right before us.
This is more common than you'd realize. In fact, there's a story in Genesis 21 that shows a similar sort of point.

The beginning of the chapter shows Isaac being born. As the chapter goes on, we see some tension between Abraham's family and his wife's maidservant, Hagar, and her son. Feeling like her son's inheritance might be in jeopardy, Sarah tells Abraham that she wants Hagar and Ishmael to be sent away. God promises Abraham that He will take care of Hagar and Ishmael, so Abraham does as Sarah wishes and sent them off into the desert with some water and food for their journey.
When the water runs out, Hagar and Ishmael begin to sob, knowing they would soon die in the harsh desert air if they couldn't find any water.
Verses 17-19 say this:

God heard the boy crying and the angel of God called out to Hagar from heaven and said to her, "What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid, God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand for I will make him a great nation."
Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.

Just like in the tiger analogy, Hagar didn't notice a blessing right in front of her (the well), because she was too busy grieving over their apparent demise.

I think the key to noticing these blessings is praise.
Too often, our first response to poor circumstances is fear and despair. But in our fear, we forget who God is, what He has done for us in the past, and what He can do for us in the future.
But when we find ourselves afraid, the best thing we can do is bring our fear to God. Don't resist it, just say to your Father, "I am afraid," then remind yourself of who He is.

Someone who has seemed to have mastered the art of praising God through the trials is King David.

Countless times in his Psalms expresses his deep fear and anguish only to turn right around and start praising God despite his present circumstances.
But David isn't the only one who I've seen be able to do this on more than one occasion. Just recently, a good friend of mine released a book of poetry entitled Flowers In The Darkness where she does just what David did in his Psalms.
It's refreshing to read Davidic Psalm styled poetry about life, God, struggles, and beauty from a current and relevant voice. From someone living in my day and age, facing similar trials as I have.
We all could learn from David just as Denica McCall has.

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