When all kinds of trials hit our lives, we sometimes feel crowded in a corner — unable to escape. Listen to Joni as she shares encouraging words from Mrs. Margie Hamilton.
Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and welcome to "Joni and Friends.”
I have found that the quotations I most oft remember are ones penned by believers who have suffered the most. Like Margie Hamilton. Soon after a wartime marriage, Margie's husband was killed. Then a little later, her baby was born with a serious disability. After about forty operations on her child and insurance had run out, poverty followed. Still Margie Hamilton said:
“All this trouble has crowded me to Christ. It's simply mud around the gold.”
I don't know who this remarkable woman was, but her story is as precious as gold to me. It's easy to run happily and willingly into God's arms when health and prosperity and abundance bless our days, isn’t it? … But what praise to God does that show? Even Satan knows that. In the book of Job, he points to Job as someone who really has it good; no wonder praise to God from Job comes easy. I like the way it’s paraphrased in The Message where the devil inasmuch says to God, “So do you think Job [worships you] out of the sheer goodness of his heart? Why, no one ever had it so good! You pamper him like a pet, make sure nothing bad ever happens to him or his family or his possessions, bless everything he does — the guy can’t lose! But what do you think would happen if you reached down and took away everything that is his? Job would curse you right to your face, that’s what would happen.”
And, of course, we know that’s not what happened. The trials and tribulations that Job suffered made his praise to God much more weighty, more heavy, more glorious! And so, like Margie Hamilton and, yes, even Job, I praise God for the trials and pain which keep crowding me to Christ. It's one reason I'm glad for this wheelchair. If I were on my feet, I'd either be checking out the sales, maxing out my credit card, coffee-klatching with too many girlfriends, or flicking through daytime soaps. But this wheelchair, thank the Lord, changed my destiny and, for that, I’m not only thankful, I’m rejoicing.
It’s like I Peter chapter 1 where the apostle is talking to some followers of Jesus who are really going through hard suffering, and he tells them:
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
I like that part where it says that we greatly rejoice in the "all kinds of trials." And I mean all kinds: the headaches and hardships that thrust me flat-on-my-face before the throne of grace where I find divine help. Often, the help God gives is comfort, grace to endure, a stronger sense of His presence, a more keen awareness of His purposes, but always, always, it’s an increased measure of faith. I am able to believe God more, as well as act on it. What circumstances are crowding you to Christ right now? Can you “rejoice greatly” in these things that force you to lean on your Lord? Can you recognize that the testing of your faith is more precious than refined gold?
You and I may feel weary and tired now, but one day the mud and dirt of our earthly heartaches will be washed away, revealing the gold of refined faith. Thank you for the reminder, Mrs. Hamilton. And if you, listening friend, need a visual reminder, I encourage you to go to my radio page today and watch a brief but incredibly inspiring video of my friend Jasmine — a young woman who also has been crowded to Christ. It’s all there for you at joniandfriends.org.
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