Wednesday, August 31, 2016

And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress

I’ve been thinking about inner beauty for over a week now. And today as we watched “Wish You Well” (a film based on David Baldacci’s novel of the same name) I found it in the character “Louisa”.

Kind, wise, strong…  everything I want to be. Although maybe not the shotgun.


The storyline runs roughly along these lines:  famous author living in New York City (and writing about his boyhood home in mountains) is killed in a car crash so his family goes back home to live with Great-Grandma Louisa in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia. Life is hard, and harder. However, Louisa shows them it still a good life – the mountains will take care of them.

Then the coal company comes to grab the land.

It was a good thinking story to keep our minds off the approaching typhoon – both the literal and the figurative.

But the story cut a little close to home after Louisa’s stroke – a stroke which leads ultimately to her death.

After her stroke the coal company goes for  Louisa’s land. The courtroom scene seemed to mirror a recent scene in my own life. It’s much like the courtroom scene in “To Kill a Mockingbird”:   although the defense lawyer presents a clear case, the jury remains unmoved. The children are stunned. “How could they?”

I was still contemplating the injustice of it all when a happy ending rolled by.

Because unlike “To Kill a Mockingbird” this miscarriage of justice ends happily. They lose in the courtroom, and Louisa dies, but Mama wakes up, marries the lawyer and they get to keep the land for reasons that escaped me.

I was still thinking about the courtroom scene.

And for some reason a phrase from an old hymn started playing through my head, “What more can He say than to you He hath said.”

We sang it at supper.

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

And I thought about what He says to us:  Psalm 30, Psalm 35:1-6, Psalm 40:10-17, Psalm 85:1-7….  so many, many promises of mercy and vindication. A God who doesn’t shame!

I love the rest of the hymn:

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.

It’s so easy to be frightened, dismayed and I so often need to be reassured that though the water may be deep we won’t drown, and though trials are fiery the fire won’t hurt us. He won’t desert us to our foes!

But tonight the part that really touched us was the thought that He will actually BLESS our troubles and sanctify to us our deepest distress.

Yes, Lord! Do!

Our eyes are on You – shine Your face upon us.

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