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God’s love shines through the dark times

Candle377God’s love for us can provide immense support when life is tough. Ruth Tong speaks from the heart.

God and I have a deal. I accept that He loves me completely: therefore when I have a situation of anguish in my life I know He wouldn’t permit it lightly. Lamentations 3:33 says ‘God doesn’t willingly bring affliction to the sons of men’.
My deal with God is pretty simple and it’s this - In the midst of turmoil, if I start digging He will produce something of worth from it. My job is to dig on various levels – to dig into Him and His comfort, to dig out the precious stones of wisdom and meaning from the rubble, and to persevere in the dig until I find hope.
The hope that I am mining isn’t transient or temporary; it’s solid and strong like diamonds, but like diamonds it needs to be cut and polished, and that process can hurt like hell.
How we dig matters, because as we emerge from the dust we are carriers of hope. Me and my God have been through some big deals together. I’ll not bore you with the details but what I do know is that when I’m digging and my spiritual fingers are raw I know my God in a depth of reality that I don’t on my “zippity-do-da” days. The deeper the dig the more I know God and I wouldn’t trade that for the world.
We too easily forget that ours is a gospel of suffering. Ours is a gospel that hangs on the fact that Jesus understands, because He too suffered. He too was tempted, rejected, betrayed. He shares the experience to the fullest measure with us – He feels our pain…
Four years ago my younger sister Judith was diagnosed with colon cancer – she died on October 5 this year. At the time of writing this only 2 weeks have passed since her death and I’m trying to find the treasure from dark places. It’s hard. Lamentations 3 is where I started the current dig a few months ago, when Judith’s pain became intolerable. The first 20 verses spoke right to the heart of the awfulness as I sat on the side-lines, spectating from the comfort of the uncomfortable hospital chair, helpless to help…
I found that the name of Jesus really is a strong tower; equipped with what you need at whatever moment you need it. I found that it’s ok not to have the right words but simply to share. I found that small things, like an unblocked catheter, became wondrous and worth celebrating. I found immense comfort in watching Judith’s face change expression as the drugs took over and she slept, happy, pain-free dreams. I found peace in knowing her suffering was over when the end came.
In death, time really does take on a different perception; your consciousness slows to a crawl while the rest of the world keeps spinning.  I found starkness in the transience of life, in one instance so forceful, colourful, present; juxtaposed with certainty so absolutely final it hangs in the air like an echo of a salute to its former self.
As I grapple with the slippery substance that is hope, just like the Lamentist, I call some things to mind (V21)… ‘The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning, great is His faithfulness, the Lord is my portion says my soul, therefore I will hope in Him’. 

Ruth TongRuth Tong is the Coordinator of Women’s Ministries at Downham Market Christian Fellowship and the author of ‘Love Drops from Heaven’.  Ruth regularly blogs at http://lovedropsfromheaven.blogspot.co.uk

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