Recently my eldest daughter turned 6 years old. She is truly a gem and becoming such a sweet young lady. But I still think back to the day she was born and the days after in which she needed to be fed, changed, burped and put to sleep. She needed care in every aspect of her life and she let us know through the only way she could communicate. In the middle of the night I would hear a cry and I would run to the crib and pick her up. Since my wife was a sound sleeper I would gently wake her for the midnight feeding. This nightly ritual continued for several months until the time came that she needed weaning. Baby girl was pretty content during this transition, but it can be more difficult for other babies to be weaned as well as difficult for mama's. Mother and baby had an attachment that led to each persons contentment for this time. However change was inevitable for growth.
How do we relate to God during trials and hardships in our lives? There may have been times that we are "...like an infant crying loudly for his mother's breast," but someday there should be a maturing "like a weaned child that quietly rests by his mother's side, happy in being with her..."
"And just as the child gradually breaks off the habit of regarding his mother only as a means of satisfying his own desires and learns to love her for her own sake, so the worshipper after a struggle has reached an attitude of mind in which he desires God for himself and not as a means of fulfillment of his own wishes. His life's centre of gravity has shifted. He now rests no longer in himself but in God." (A Long Obedience in the Same Direction - Eugene Peterson).
Our family is going through a lot of change and uncertainty as my wife continues to go through treatment for metastasized breast cancer to the brain and lungs. I also transitioned in my vocation from campus ministry to uncertainty of what is next. Besides this my car continues to have mechanical issues, I sprained my ankle and I just go word of a former student of mine going through a personal trial.
We go through various trials in life that are tests meant to mature us in our relationship to God. If God allows the things and people in my life that I love most to be taken away or threatened will I still be content with God alone? If God weans me from expecting Him to give me all that I think I deserve, will a relationship with Him be enough? If I don't accomplish any big task or I don't climb any ladder to a seemingly successful ministry career, will my salvation in Christ be enough? What will satisfy me and fulfill me? Will anything or anyone other than God Himself bring fulfillment? Perhaps in this test God is doing something like weaning me.
I can look back in my life and see how God has granted many graces and gifts undeserved. But somewhere through these years I began to believe I was entitled to these extravagant gifts; even that I deserved or earned them. But no, these are gifts that have not been earned and they are not payment for good deeds or my best behavior; that's our sin nature and the worldview of secular culture talking. God's extravagant love has been pouring down my entire life'; on your life too if you stop and think about it. It's been there for all of us, even those that don't believe in Jesus. He gives food, shelter, a job, good health, a family, education, friends, abilities and beauty surrounds us in all creation. He gives freely to all. But we don't deserve any of it.
At some point however, we get tested to see if we love God or if we just love the stuff He gives us. Is God enough? Is salvation through Jesus enough? God "gives and God takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." Many of us sing the line of this song in worship, but when tested will we still praise Him?
I can't see the end or know for certain the outcome of these trials and waiting periods. But I can keep my eyes on Christ, enjoy Him, worship Him and trust Him to finish the work he began in me and in the ones I love. Weaning is a difficult process, but God's desire is that we delight ourselves in Him and grow into the maturity and stature of Christ. (Ephesians 4). And as we suffer, we endure; we long more and more for God and for Him to restore order on this earth which has been stained by sin, death and the devil. But fear not, Jesus has overcome these and we can find contentment in Him. Come Lord Jesus!
Father, most Holy and precious God. I love You for You, Almighty Lord and Savior. Help me also to know you love me and that nothing can separate me from Your love. Help that I would delight in your will and walk in your ways to the glory of your Holy name. In Jesus name. Amen.
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Your brother in Christ,
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