By Katie Nix
The following has been written over the course of a week or mulled over for the last three years or so. I am not the best of writers, so it is likely jumbled and I use way too many commas, but if you feel so inclined to read about how the promises of the God of the Bible has brought me through, please read.
Seeds of discontent or seeds of plentiful harvest? (I’ve been in the gospel of Mark thinking about seeds a lot lately)
Lately we have met more trials in our lives – some of conflict, some of death and pain. It feels like another wound has just been carved deep in my skin. One part of me wants to let it sit open and fester, but to do so would mean infection. Without medicine, infection leads to death.
Wounds so deeply afflicted before have healed, though I can still feel the scars. I have a choice I suppose: To be thankful for all there is around me, all that I’ve been mercifully given, and all the promises that will hold true beyond this breath that I call life Or I could let this wound start to stink and ooze by sowing seeds of discontent. This last option can only lead to war, destruction, violence, and death.
Gaining depth in the promises set before me in the Bible will sow seeds that can produce a great harvest. Not only can it do so within myself but hopefully in others as well. God often uses the pain of His people for their growth and to help others. So, I choose to be thankful and cling to the promises set forth in the Bible.
Only the words of the Bible, the words of multiple authors over thousands of years, each writer so very different and yet the story is all a whole, only these words can express what I so want to say aloud.
How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.
Maybe I love this because it says so well what I cannot. It questions and answers when I don’t have the will. Psalm 13 keeps me here: “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock” (Isaiah 26:3-4 ESV). This is where I land day after day and hour after hour. For I have found when I focus on my circumstances, I cannot stand, even when there are a thousand things to be thankful for right in front of me. To have my mind stayed on him, to recall who he is, what he has done, the overwhelming promises; this is of first importance, this is where my roots must be sunk deep.
My favorite story remains that of Joseph (Genesis 37, 39-45). Each person we encounter is so imperfect yet magnifies the attributes of God through these failings. God is shown strong through the weak and He is the one who makes them strong. God has a plan for Joseph. Will Joseph see the outcome as his own brothers sell him to be a slave or as he goes through multiple hardships? Do any of us see the outcome while we are in the midst of our trouble? His brothers certainly did not see that God knows what He is doing. They would not forgive and so desired to kill their own brother. Yet, God was still there with his plan. Read the story and then fall on this: “And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt” (Genesis 45:5-8 ESV). Joseph sees. With wisdom he has seen all that is around him – all the circumstances of his life – and discerned that God truly did have a plan, not only for him but for all of his people. God knows what He is doing, He’s not just some clock maker in the sky that caused some random particles to come together. He designed everything and every moment and yet he cares even for the smallest particle because it so lovingly points to Him. It points us to Him too.
For the believer, these words hold true, reading in context is key (if you have not read these passages before, read more than just the one verse):
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
John 16 and 17 – again, God’s plan is clearly seen, Jesus is shown to be one with the Father and has all understanding of what is about to happen. A great passage as we remember holy week, especially if you continue on with John 18-21*.
We live for eternity.
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18 ESV).
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” (James 1:2-3 ESV).
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6 ESV).
When we face these trials with our eyes fixed on Christ and all the promises of the Bible we become stronger. We know Christ deeper. Life becomes richer. *Grief and mourning have brought about a depth of soul and heart that I would otherwise still be wanting.
So now I plan. I plan to sit in the dirt, to amend the soil and to slowly do what I can to build it up. Both in my own life and the life in our physical garden. And yet mostly I wait and watch, for it is not I that causes the fungus to sweeten the fruit or I that causes the seed to grow. And yet I don’t do so alone. Our church has held us up when we were weak, prayed for us when we couldn’t pray for ourselves, and listened when we had to spill it all out. Christ has given us the church. I am so grateful for all that have come alongside us during these hard times. I am so grateful that they pointed me back to Christ again and again. I am so grateful for the healthy churches that have so intentionally taught biblical truths over and over that we might stand when life happens. I am grateful for the promises of God that have been told throughout the Bible and faithful teachers to help us see. I am grateful for this misery, though it is still tough and I still cannot fully understand. I am grateful.
Additional Bible passages (and verses) that have brought me hope or help:
Jeremiah 29 (verses 11-13)
1 John 4 (verses 7-9 “…that we might live through him”) and 5
Ephesians 6 (verse 10)
Remember Christian, our identity is in Christ.