BLOG site of Amy R. Maxwell

I am the wife of B.J. Maxwell (married August of 1997) and mother of our four adopted children.
I am blessed with the awesome privilege to care for & love my husband, invest in & love our children, and keep our home.
May I steward these gifts well, for the glory and praise of Christ Jesus our precious Lord & Savior!

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus . . . sweetest name I know!

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Joy in Suffering

"Consider it all JOY, my brethren, 
when you encounter various trials."
James 1:2

"When God calls us to suffer He is not 
calling us away from JOY but into JOY."
John Piper

As I look back on 2013, the last word I would have used to describe it would be “joy”. This past year has been really hard. We have shed many tears, questioned God, questioned ourselves, raised up our fists in anger, fell on our knees in exhaustion & despair, and wondered if the trials would ever end. We have been more than ready to leave this year behind in hopes that brighter skies are just around the corner in 2014. But, the more I reflect on this year, the more I am humbled at God's goodness & faithfulness.

If I believe God's Word to be true, He has a lot to say about trials & suffering. In fact, in I Peter, we are called to “share in the sufferings of Christ” and “rejoice” (4:13). In Romans 5, verse 3, Paul says we are to “exult in our tribulations” knowing that this will ultimately produce the glorious fruit of “hope”! Paul even goes as far as saying we should boast in our weaknesses (and boy do my weaknesses flow in abundance during trials) so that “the power of Christ may dwell in me”. How can this be? Because His “grace is sufficient” and His “power is perfected in weakness” (II Corinthians 12:9).

Ahhh, this makes me reflect upon a beautiful hymn Charles Wesley composed in 1738, And Can It Be?
Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Lydia Brownback says the following in her book, Trust: a godly woman's adornment:
Real faith is the conviction that God is good, no matter what He does.

This statement has stuck with me a lot this past year. Our suffering (which has been quite minuscule) has pushed me time and time again to ask myself, “Do I believe God is good and glorious in all that He does?” And every time, I am brought to my knees with an astounding, “YES!” Oh Father, You ARE good and You are ALWAYS faithful!

For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100:5

Barbara Hughes, in her book, Disciplines of a Godly Woman, reflects on this glorious truth as well:
“When the path ahead was unclear and it seemed as if God were silent for a long time, or when circumstances overwhelmed me and I felt like crying enough! this verse [Luke 22:32] turned my heart from fear to faith. God's purpose for the sifting was to prove and perfect my faith. That perfection is not to be completed in this earthly life. But here and now, He gives everything we need to face whatever sifting HE allows – He gives HIMSELF.”

Comforting & glorious, isn't it?

As I reflect back on 2013 I desire to praise God because He says that the testing of my faith “develops perseverance. And perseverance must finish its work so that [I] may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:3-4) However, this new me (being mature and complete with nothing lacking) has very little to do with me, but everything to do with Christ Jesus.

Oh how my soul desires to be more like Him. But often my flesh gets in the way as I whine and complain about these silly ol' trials. How I pray to keep my eyes on Jesus – “the author and perfecter of [my] faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” May I “consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that [I] will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:2-3)

So, I will boast in Jesus and REJOICE as 2013 comes to a close.
Come and see what God has done, how awesome his works. Psalm 66:5

God is good, glorious, and faithful in all things!
He is faithful in sickness (in kidney stones, stents, skin cancer, dry sockets, pinched nerves, seizures, viruses, failing health, heart disease, and nagging coughs.)
He is glorious in the destruction of reputations, hurtful slander & gossip, and the loss of dearly loved family & friends.
He is good when children die, when adoptions fail, when jobs are lost, when bank accounts are empty, when cars are totaled, or the house starts falling apart & needs repairs.
Yes, this is what God has done for us in 2013. He has been most glorious and gracious!

From the hymn, On Jordan's Stormy Banks, written by Samuel Stennett (1787),
On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand,
And cast a wishful eye
To Canaan’s fair and happy land,
Where my possessions lie.

I am bound for the promised land,
I am bound for the promised land;
Oh who will come and go with me?
I am bound for the promised land.

When I shall reach that happy place,
I’ll be forever blest,
For I shall see my Father’s face,
And in His bosom rest