“My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration! Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!”
~ King David | Psalm 42 (NLT)
Back in 2009 I faced a major health scare, seemingly out of the blue. An intense 5 days started with an ugly blood test. I was immediately referred to another doctor, then ultimately a blood specialist. My mind raced as I tried to figure out causes and consequences. Nothing good. My wife was a wreck too.
Then, in my morning devotional on the Saturday before my Monday appointment with the specialist, I read a story of King Hezekiah. The prophet Isaiah had just informed him that he was going to die. As Isaiah left, the king turned against the wall, begging God for mercy. I felt Hezekiah’s anguish as my own. Ugh! Suddenly, Isaiah heard from the Lord, returned and informed the grieving king that he would live for 15 more years.
I didn’t experience the last piece of Hezekiah’s story until my appointment on Monday. After what seemed to be hours waiting in the lobby, and then in the exam room, the doctor finally arrived. “Your blood looks perfectly fine… what are you doing here?” What a relief!
But the full story was not over until the next day. A heavy weight seemed to still be hanging on me. While praying, huge emotion welled up from within and everything came out. The Holy Spirit pieced me with the scripture I had just read and a bitter root was exposed. You see, I had become angry with someone and let it go unchecked. The bitter root took such a deep hold that my health was threatened. Now exposed, I confessed to my wife and the weight of the world was lifted. It was over. The Lord had corrected me.
How could I hold this story in? I told everybody about what had happened and what the Lord had done to expose my bitter root. As King David said, I was “singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration!” Out of times such as this come our greatest testimonies.
“My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you.
For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.”
King Solomon | Proverbs 3:11-12 (NLT)
Though I could not feel it until that powerful day of prayer and confession, I did come to understand the tremendous love the Lord expressed to me through this event. He drew me close to him, like never before and it was good; I was wildly contagious.
Fire up the ovens
It gives me great solace to remember this time; brings me warmth and confidence. There is nothing like that closeness to the Lord I experienced at that time, but the story has cooled down a lot since those days immediately after. Isn’t that the way it goes? It’s a cycle…we can’t seem to stay hot all of the time.
What does the Lord do? Fires up the ovens! He loves us too much to let our testimony grow cool, so stand by for some correction.
The Lord brought David to this place again. “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad?” Clearly, he was in the midst of a great struggle, a low point of desperation. You might find yourself at this point of surrender shouting “Lord Help!” Like King Hezekiah or me with the blood test results, where else is there to turn? When we are being corrected, though no one wants it, we cannot avoid this point of surrender. Through it is the only way to get to the joyful singing again.
The Lord does not rest. Be sure that he will take you through the cycle again. He works from a perspective of great love and an endless desire for intimacy with us.
As a man after the Lord’s heart, David knew this. Drawing from his past, he set his thoughts, remembering what it was like when he passed through the correction cycle before. Inspired and full of faith, he makes his choice. “I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!” He embraces his correction, choosing to have faith in the confident outcome God planned for him. This pleases God very much!
“…it is impossible to please God without faith.”
The Apostle Paul | Hebrews 11:6 (NLT)
Correction comes in many forms. Never pleasant, but always fruitful for those who love God and who are living according to the purpose he made them for…
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.”
The Apostle Paul | Romans 8:28-30 (NLT)
O’ the fruit! Though we must endure correction, it ends up good for us, making us more like Jesus. Plus, we are drawn close to him, experiencing unsurpassed intimacy. Then God rewards us, giving us right standing with himself and the fullness of his glory. What could be better? The icing on the cake – a hot testimony that can draw others to the kingdom of heaven. Doesn’t get any better than that!
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