Dug up this phrase from message 2 of the 2016 Summer Training. I was considering sister R’s story of how her husband was out of the church life for 11 years. She said something that I’ll never forget, along the lines of “If I had known he would eventually be recovered, those 11 years wouldn’t have been so full of suffering”.
That’s the problem, isn’t it? We don’t know. We don’t even know tomorrow, let alone 11 years into the future. So we struggle. We’re bewildered. We ask “Why, Lord?”
I like Jeremiah 48:11 because it explains —
Moab has been at ease from his youth;
And he is settled on his lees
And has not been emptied from vessel to vessel;
Nor has he gone into exile.
Therefore his taste remains in him,
And his scent is not changed.
It’s a sad thing to be settled on our lees, to have our scent unchanged. It’s a mercy when the Lord doesn’t leave us “at ease”. His emptying-from-vessel-to-vessel hand is His transforming and conforming hand. When I pray for my taste to be changed to the flavour of Christ, my scent to be changed to the fragrance of Christ, the Lord is faithful to answer that prayer. He empties from one situation to another situation, from one person to another person, from one matter to another matter. It seems like “things come up” non-stop — that’s because there’s yet another vessel to be emptied into, yet more self to go out and more Christ to come in.
It’s never easy in the situation. A situation like not having our listing sold after nearly 3 months and 2 price drops. But, after the fact, it’s all so clear: “Wow, the Lord really knew what He was doing.” And so come the belated amens and retroactive hallelujahs.
The funny thing is, we forget so quickly. After having witnessed the Lord’s marvellous hand time and time again, I still am of so little faith. Oh Lord! I don’t want Your lessons to go unlearned. How I need You to make known to me not only Your acts but also Your ways (Psalm 103:7), so that I would worship You and Your ways — not just after the fact but before I see the end.