In the midst of current struggles, a colleague wrote us a very helpful and encouraging note. He too had been through some tough times and he took the time to write down (for his church) some of the lessons he had learned. I offer here the headlines...some of them really need a little more explanation but there is not really room - perhaps I will encourage him to write it up in a form we could publish...?
Anyway. with "the important caveat that sometimes the most profound lessons defy neat explanations in words" here are the lessons he learnt:
God is infinitely sovereign and kind, even in the midst of difficulty when it doesn't seem like it.
God is the only One who is control of my life and to desire control is, in effect, to desire to be God.
To be conformed to Christ who was bruised, necessitates being bruised ourselves.
It is a good thing to consider [one's own] death.
It is good not to cross bridges until you have to cross them.
Physical illness is part of a much bigger spiritual battle.
God is more interested in building character than giving us explanations.
The local church is a wonderful instrument in the Redeemer's hands.
Above all else, guard your heart.
The weight of glory far outweighs any number of momentary afflictions.
These have been really helpful for us. And here is John Ryland's great hymn (ALL the verses!):
Sovereign ruler of the skies!
Ever gracious ever wise!
All our times are in thy hands
Ordered by thy wise commands.
His decrees who form’d the earth,
Fixt my first and second birth;
Parents, native-place, and time,
All appointed were by him.
Thou didst form me by thy power;
Thou wilt guide me, hour by hour;
All my times shall ever be
Ordered by thy wise decree:
Times of sickness and of health;
Tines of penury and wealth;
Times of trial and of grief,
Or of triumph and relief;
Times the tempter’s power to prove;
Times to taste the Saviour’s love:
All must come, and last, and end,
As shall please our heavenly Friend.
O thou gracious, wise, and just,
In thy hands our lives we trust:
We and ours are all thy own,
Let thy holy will be done.
Thee, at all times, will we bless;
Having thee, we all possess;
may we still submissive be,
Pleased with all that pleases thee?
May we always own thy hand,
Still to thee surrender stand,
Know that thou art God alone,
We and ours are all thine own!
Plagues and deaths around me fly;
Till he bids, l cannot die;
Not a single shaft can hit,
Till the God of love sees fit.