What I've wanted most is a steadfast heart. I get so frustrated when I'm buffeted back and forth by every circumstance, and the hard-won peace is ripped away yet again. A week or so ago, God led me to this verse in Isaiah:
This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it." (Isaiah 30:15)
When I found the verse, I immediately added it to the sticky note collection on my bathroom mirror. Every day I look at it and ask God to make that rest, quietness, and trust a reality in my heart.
This week, I've felt that rest. I've reveled in the quietness and trust and rejoiced that God has been teaching me through my struggles. I've relaxed. I've told him each morning that I would gladly receive whatever comes from His hand.
And then came yesterday, when I was knocked flat on my face by something totally unrelated to the struggles I've been facing. I was confused, heartsick, broken yet again, and without hope. I spent most of the day whining. "Why now, God? Can't I just get one break? It's too much. It's not fair."
I still felt the same way at bedtime. I wept on the floor of my closet, but I couldn't really pray because I couldn't even put into words exactly why I was crying, or why irrational anger surged through me.
But oh, this morning! I crept down to the porch around 7 and wrote it all out in my journal. I asked God to forgive me for my self pity, asked Him to give me that quietness and trust I need so desperately. I sat and watched a tiny bird enjoying our overgrown garden. I listened to birds' chirps, to the wind, and to Lola's grunts as she chased the birds around the yard. I felt the gentle warmth of the rising sun. I looked at the photinia hedge that is slowly turning green again after being ravaged by some disease.
And my heart was still. I saw myself as a sheep nestled against my Shepherd's side.
At last I turned to Isaiah and asked the Holy Spirit to teach me. I almost missed the message at first, had to do a double take and read it again:
I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. (Isaiah 45:3)
Tears of joy washed away the tears of pain that I'd shed just minutes before. Oh, oh, oh! The treasure of darkness! Would I ever have discovered the secret riches of God's love and peace if I'd never walked in the darkness? Would I have known my desperate need for Him if my life was always cozy and comfortable and safe?
"Thank you for the darkness," I breathed. "Thank you for allowing me to find you here. Lord, I submit to you. Not my will, but yours. Keep working on me, conforming me to your image."
Now, nothing has changed in my situation, but my heart overflows with thankfulness. And I believe that hope is coming. I believe I'm going to "overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:13).
So be it.