Some years back I was walking through a time of great loss in my life and ministry.  I could not make sense of any of it, didn't know of any place where I had consciously disobeyed Him, and had a desperate desire to come out of this place of suffering, a place I felt I didn't deserve to be.  Eventually, I came across a book written by a brother who had and continued to walk through his own place of loss and trial.  Naturally, I was drawn to it and to the premise of the author, which was that in the pain and sorrow of life, his and my part was to hold onto Him, persevere in our desires through prayer, and that in His time and way, the Father would bring us through and give us all the desires of our heart.  Among the writer's examples was of course Job, who at the end of his time of deep trial, we are told in Job 42:12 that God "blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first,"
giving him twice the amount of everything he had lost.  If I would believe and persevere as had Job, God would also come through for me, and all that I had lost would be restored, and then some.
This seemed a right theology to me, yet I was missing by a wide margin something very key, and that was in what I would gain.  In the midst of the losses of life, I wanted to gain back what I'd lost.  The Father's great desire for me was that I would gain more of Him than I had ever had or known.
    In his book, Walking With Christ In The Details Of Life, Patrick Morely writes, "Our hope is not to gain prosperity, but to gain Christ.  Job doesn't model enduring pain for an expected outcome, but to show us how to respond to tragedy.  In due time, God restores, but sovereignly.  Surrender your expectations to God and wait patiently for Him to restore you.  Our hope is Christ."  Ultimately, my focus had been on myself.  What I'd lost, what God would be obligated to give back to me, if only I would go through the prescribed "steps" of "perseverance and faith" and so "earn back" all that I had lost, and even more.  The deep desire of my heart was to gain "stuff".  The deep desire of His heart was that I would gain Christ, that I would have in my heart the same attitude that was in Paul when he said that he counted the loss of all things as nothing but "garbage" for the surpassing joy of knowing and having Christ.  In my pain, I had thought that I'd surrendered to Him by my "willingness" to go through it, not seeing that all the while I was bargaining with Him, seeking to convince Him that by enduring it all, I was worthy to have Him restore everything exactly according to my plan, not His.
    It's been more than a decade since that time.  The Father has restored, but not in the manner of which I once hoped.  Much of the "stuff" that was lost has not been brought back, but what I gained through that time can never be lost to me.  I gained more of Him, more of His life, His hope, His joy, peace, and hope.  Had He brought back all that I had thought lost, I see now that I would have lived, consciously or not, in fear of losing it again.  What I gained in Him can never be lost.  There is road yet to be walked with Him, and what He will choose to add on to my life is in His hands, but I have learned, and continue to learn to trust Him in it all.  My plans for myself will always turn to dust, but His plans for me will endure through eternity.  They will for you as well.  What is it that you really seek to gain today?

Blessings,
Pastor O
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  April 2018  
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