“It is a safe thing to trust Him to fulfill the desire which He creates.” -Amy Carmichael
Since returning from Micah’s second spine surgery in April, my heart has been restless. The surgery was a success and Micah did really great recovering. We arrived back home and got back into our normal routines, but I struggled and continued to struggle with my emotions, disappointments, and just day-to-day life. You would think that after the boys’ successful surgeries, Teagan doing well with having her adenoids and tonsils removed, and Billy learning the cause of the PVC’s he’s been experiencing, I’d be on an emotional high; but instead, I struggled emotionally.
To be honest, I have been struggling for the last two years. I’ve had lows where nothing seemed fixable and highs that seemed all was well. It has often seemed as if the doors of heaven were barred closed and prayers just ricocheted off them. It was not because I had not been seeking help from God; it just seemed like heaven was silent.
I heard a sermon recently in which the pastor spoke about Hannah and her sincere prayers for a son. There were a few statements he made that really got me thinking and started me on a quest to draw closer to my Savior. Here are a few of the statements that started me on my quest:
- We all must decide what we’re going to do with our brokenness and disappointments.
- Are you ready to worship before the Lord before you have your answer?
- Can you continue to worship the Lord while you’re still broken and the answer hasn’t come?
- Can you worship the Lord while you’re seeking an answer?
- We can be renewed even in our brokenness if we are willing to keep taking it to God.
- It’s our brokenness that God uses to draw us to Him so that He can heal us.
- God will turn our brokenness into a blessing if and when we bring it to Him.
- We need to remember what we know to be true about God; His unchanging character, His infinite love, and His endless pursuit of a relationship with us.
Aren’t those statements thought provoking? Thankfully, those statements pierced my tired soul and opened my heart to wonder what God was trying to awaken within my soul and to see with spiritual eyes what exactly was missing and broken in my life.
Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and wipe not out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God, and for the offices thereof. – Nehemiah 13:14
In my quest for answers, I came upon a verse in Job that I totally didn’t understand, and it caught my attention so much that I just stopped and reread that same verse over and over. I knew He was speaking to me, but I needed clarification on exactly what was meant by that passage. The passage read: “And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.” “Turned the captivity of Job?” I couldn’t understand it, but I knew it was something I needed to understand. Daddy would often say to make sure you get the context of the passage. Read the verses before and those that follow, seek out godly men’s commentaries, and above all, ask God to open your eyes and heart to hear and understand what He’s saying to you.
So, I found a message by Charles Spurgeon titled, “The Turning of Job’s Captivity.” Oh boy, was I excited; I immediately printed it off, sat down with highlighter in hand, and began to read. Whoa, this was like a person-to-person call to Heaven.
“Captivity is a bondage of the mind, the iron entering the soul.” -Spurgeon
“I suspect that Job, under the severe mental trial which attended his bodily pains, was, as to his spirit, like a man bound hand and foot and fettered, and then taken away from his native country, banished from the place which he loved, deprived of the associations which had cheered him, and confined in darkness. I mean that, together with the trouble and trial to which he was subjected, he had lost somewhat the presence of God; much of his joy and comfort had departed; the peace of his mind had gone, and the associations which he had formed with other believers were now broken: he was in all these respects like a lone captive. His three friends had condemned him as a hypocrite, and would not have association with him except to censure him, and thus he felt like one who had been carried into a far country, and banished both from God and man. He could only follow the occupation of a captive, that is, to be oppressed, to weep, to claim compassion, and to pour out a dolorous complaint. He hung his harp on the willows, and felt that he could not sing the Lord’s song in a strange land. Poor Job! He is less to be pitied for his bereavements, poverty, and sickness than for his loss of that candle of the Lord which once shone about his head. That is the worst point of all when trouble penetrates to the heart. All the bullets in the battle, though they fly thick as hail, will not distress a soldier like one which finds a lodging in his flesh.”
I haven’t freely shared that before the pandemic, our family had suffered the loss of our home church. The details don’t need airing, but there was hurt and loss of fellowship with people we’d come to love and admire. To this day we still haven’t found a home church, but we’ve certainly not stopped pursuing that place where we can not only worship, but have the freedom to serve our God in spirit and truth. I’ll admit we’ve felt so alone on this journey. We had no pastor or church family to walk alongside us, and that was tough. But I’m not here to complain; only to share that God can, and will, turn your captivity.
Job’s life was a mess. He lost his family, wealth, and his health. His wife even told him to curse God and die. It was pretty bad. BUT “The Lord maketh sore, and bindeth up; he woundeth, and his hands make whole.” (Job 5:18) Spurgeon said, “No captivity is so terrible but God can bring us back from it; no chain is so fastened but God can strike it off, and no prison-house is so strong, but God can break the bars and set his servant free.” Often, it’s when God allows difficulties in our lives to shine a light on those imperfections and faults that otherwise we wouldn’t have seen or tried, with the Lord’s help, to correct. Often our turning point is when we’re completely broken.
I love this passage from Spurgeon’s sermon:
“Many of God’s promises need to be held before the scorching fires of adversity and personal trouble, and then we read the precious secret of the Spirit’s consolation. You cannot see the stars in the day time upon the surface of the earth, but if you go down into a well you can, and when you go down the deep well of trouble it often happens that you see a beauty and luster in the promise which nobody else can see, and when the Lord has brought you into a certain position in which you can see the glory of his grace as you never could have seen it anywhere else, then he will say, “It is enough; I have taught my child the lesson, and I will let him go.”
Spurgeon went on to explain that often those trials we endure are used by God to give us a sympathetic spirit. All of us can think of various times when we’ve experienced a situation and were able to use the wisdom gathered during that time to help others who encountered the same situation; our wisdom then helped them to navigate the situation more quickly and without so much pain. Personally, I know of situations I’ve walked through, trials I’ve encountered, or pains I’ve endured that nearly crushed me. However, instead of crushing me, they softened my heart. It was that softened heart that allowed me to speak encouragement into others’ lives in their season of pain.
In Job’s case, God turned his captivity when he prayed for his friends. You have to remember– these were not the kind of friends who encouraged, uplifted, or interceded to God on Job’s behalf; they were quite the opposite. Instead, they lied, accused, and berated Job in his time of pain and suffering. That’s tough stuff! Yet Jesus Himself prayed for those who mocked, berated and crucified Him. Job didn’t have the New Testament example to read about, but he did have a close relationship with the Lord and knew His Father’s will. Spurgeon said it well:
“You should feel that however treacherous, dishonorable, unjust, and detestable the conduct of your enemy may have been to you, yet still it is forgiven, quite forgiven in your heart, and, as far as possible, forgotten, or wherein remembered, remembered with regret that it should have occurred, but with no resentment to the person who committed the wrong. When we get to that state, it is most probable that the Lord will smile upon us and turn our captivity.”
I loved how Spurgeon encourages believers that they’re not losers for God. Although trial may change circumstances in your life, take family and friends, or even death should knock at your door, believers are not losers. The closing statement in Spurgeon’s sermon sums up this thought totally:
“You shall never lose anything by what you suffer for God. If, for Christ’s sake, you are persecuted, you shall receive in this life your reward; but if not, rejoice and be glad, for great is your reward in heaven. You shall not lose anything by God’s afflicting you. You shall, for a time, be an apparent loser; but a real loser in the end you shall never be. When you get to heaven you will see that you were a priceless gainer by all the losses you endured. Shall you lose anything by what you give to God? Never. Depend on it, he will be no man’s debtor. There dwells not in earth or heaven any man who shall be creditor to the Most High. The best investment a man makes is that which he gives to the Lord from a right motive. Nothing is lost which is offered to the cause of God. The breaking of the alabaster box of precious ointment was not a wasteful thing, and he who should give to the Lord all that he had would have made a prudent use of his goods. “He that giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord,” and he that giveth to the Lord’s church and to the Lord himself lays up his treasure in heaven, where it shall be his for ever.
I don’t have it all figured out, but I am learning every day that the Lord can and will turn my captivity if I remain faithful in prayer, consistent in forgiving others, and rest in the fact that He loves me and He doeth all things well!