When our life is hit by crushing circumstances, we may feel lost, hopeless, or be troubled by anger and despair. Scripture tells us that God not only allows suffering, but also provides a purpose for our trials.
Oh my, you should see the roses in my backyard!
Hi I'm Joni Eareckson Tada and this June, I have been picking and plucking my Double Delight roses; in fact, take a minute when you have the chance and go to my radio page at joniandfriends.org would you, because I’ve posted a photo of these incredibly beautiful roses. Over the last month, I’ve been asking friends to help me cut a few stems and place them in a vase or two around the house. Earlier this week, I placed a single stem of peach-colored roses in my bathroom, and this morning when I was getting up, I noticed that little arrangement had just about had it. A bunch of the petals were lying on the bathroom counter, but as my friend reached to sweep them up in her hand to trash them, I said, "Wait a minute; here, crush a couple of these petals and let me smell." My friend went ahead and smashed them between her fingers, cupped the torn petals in her hand, and lifted them to my face. I inhaled and, oh, what a glorious scent: like some expensive perfume, it was. Intoxicating: that something dying, something torn and crushed could exude such sweetness. Wow!
And that metaphor was not lost on me. It reminded me of one of my favorite lines by an anonymous author who wrote:
In the closing moments of this age, the Lord will have a people whose sole purpose for living is to please God with their lives. The Lord will take them farther and through more pain and conflicts than other believers. Outwardly, they'll seem ‘smitten of God, and afflicted,’ as it says in Isaiah 53, yet to God, they are His beloved. When they are crushed, like the petals of a flower, they will exude a worship, the fragrance of which is so beautiful and rare that angels will weep in quiet awe at their surrender to the Lord.
Wow, that’s a beautiful quote! And I have to ask, is that you? Could I be describing you today? Do you feel the overwhelming pressure of being plucked and crushed? I know I sometimes do. I’ve told you before: I deal with pain now and then, and the other week it was a sinus infection. Like, hello? But years in this wheelchair have taught me there’s a rhyme, there’s a reason, there’s a plan and purpose. And my life—your life—is to please God: to exude the fragrance of a life yielded, submitted, acquiesced, surrendered and deferred to Him, and to do it so sweetly, not with a sour disposition; not with dragging your feet, but no, with a sweet surrender. No room for an attitude that grumbles and whines. Nothing pleasing when you smile on one hand, but on the other, are simmering with resentment deep down inside.
Our guide is Ephesians chapter 5, verses 1-2 where it says, “Be imitators of God, therefore … just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Friend, did you get that? You and I are to be imitators of the Lord Jesus who if He gave Himself up as a fragrant offering, should we do or be any less? When we feel crushed by painful trials, it should help to know we are cupped in His hand. So, friend, today you just may be one of those petals of a flower that God is crushing. Yes, it will hurt but, can you exude the fragrance of worship? Will you? And, hey, I would really like to hear from you on this topic—especially if you need prayer in the midst of a crushing time. Just go to my radio page at joniandfriends.org and post your comments: how we can pray for you, what your needs are. Let your confidence in God be a sacrificial offering, because you are one of the highly beloved of the Lord!
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