"Our sorrow upon any account is sinful and inordinate when it diverts us from our duty to God and embitters our comfort in him, when it makes us unthankful for the mercies we enjoy and distrustful of the goodness of God to us in further mercies, when it casts a damp upon our joy in Christ, and hinders us from doing the duty and taking the comfort of our particular relations. We ought to take notice of our comforts, to keep us from grieving excessively for our crosses; for our crosses we deserve, but our comforts we have forfeited. If we would keep the balance even, we must look at that which is for us, as well as at that which is against us, else we are unjust to Providence and unkind to ourselves. God hath set the one over-against the other (Eccl. vii. 14) and so should we."
Someone else said to me, "I fell deeply in love. He fell deeply in love too -- with someone else."
Another letter tells of the agonizing desire of one couple for a child. Since God had not removed the desire, they ask, may we not conclude that He wants us to use any viable means we can to have a child?
God's not having taken away a perfectly normal human desire does not by any means mean we are free to pursue its fulfillment in any way we choose. A woman who had, after years of struggles, quickly lost sixty pounds told me she had been expecting God to take away her appetite. When she realized He did not intend to (she had been asking for the removal of the God given protection from starvation!), she stopped gratifying that appetite in the wrong ways.
Will the young woman find a mate? Will the couple have a child? Maybe this year will be the year of the desire fulfilled. Perhaps, on the other hand, it will be the year of the desire being radically transformed, the year of finding, as we have not yet truly found, Christ to be the All-Sufficient One.
"Why won't God let someone into my life? I feel left out, abandoned. When will it be my turn?" The letter goes on. "I feel deprived. Will He deny me the one small desire of my heart? Is is too big a treasure to ask? I sit in torture and dismay."
Life is likely to hold many forms of torture and dismay for that unhappy person, and for all who refuse to receive with thanksgiving instead of complaint the life God has chosen for them. The torture is self inflicted, for God has not rejected their prayers. He knows better than any of us do what furthers our salvation. Our true happiness is to be realized precisely through His refusals, which are always mercies.
In Moses' review of God's leading the children of Israel he said,
"And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live. Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee. For the LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; A land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass."
~ Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 5, 7-9
The cause of our discontent; we simply do not believe God. The wilderness experience leads to the Promised land. It is the path God chose for us. His word is established forever, and He tells us in a thousand ways that His will is our peace, His choices for us will lead to fulfillment and joy, the way of transgressors is hard. Do we suppose that we could find a better way than His? Instead of seeing His everlasting love, tenderly bending down to our humanness, we sometimes think of Him as indifferent, inaccessible, or just plain unfair.
The worst pains we experience are not those of the sufferings itself but of our stubborn resistance to it, our resolute insistence on our own independence. To be "crucified with Christ" means what Oswald Chambers called "breaking the husk" of that independence. "Has that break come?" he asks. "All the rest is pious fraud." And you and I know, in our heart of hearts, that that sword thrust is the straight truth.
Here is the opportunity offered. Be patient. Wait on the Lord for whatever He appoints, wait quietly, wait trustingly. He holds every minute of every hour of every day of every week of every month of every year in His hands. Thank Him in advance for what the future holds, for he is already there. "The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot." (Psalm 16:5). Shall we not gladly say, "I'll take it, Lord. I'll trust you for everything."
~ Elisabeth Elliot, from Keep A Quiet Heart