Wisdom Seeker: Days 17-18

Proverbs 17 and 18

There is so, so much in both of these chapters that I hope will prayerfully read through them! I don’t normally blog on Sundays but I had to take a moment to share two verses today – one from each chapter.

Though it’s hard to narrow down in such rich chapters, there is a single verse in each one I want to focus on. First, from chapter 17, let’s peek at verse 3:

The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the LORD tests hearts.

Proverbs 17:3

Now I’m not sure how much you know about assaying, but it’s the process of testing a metal ore to determine its purity and quality. It’s done by application of either heat or chemical solvents which break down the metal or ore and separate any impurities.

This is the idea behind the phrase, “The Lord tests hearts.” It isn’t like some spiritual ACT test or college placement exam. He’s applying the heat or solvents needed to break us down into raw parts in order to determine what is actually in our hearts.

This process is often painful, but well worth it in the end. A person whose faith has been broken down into its fundamental parts and assayed is a person who knows what he believes and why.

And that, my friends, is where the going gets good. One reason this verse grabbed me, though, is that it reminds me of the very first passage that ever leapt off the pages of Scripture and pierced my heart:

Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.

Isaiah 48:10-11

Early in my walk with God, He showed me that all the affliction I had endured to date, whether self-inflicted or circumstantial, was meant by Him to draw me to Himself. It was a refining, a revealing of the impurity of my heart, and a stone-cold reminder that glory is due Him, not me. It gave me hope, perspective, and purpose all in one.

Now that’s a rather long story, but I promised to address another verse so it will have to wait. Time is short, so let me just say the following verse was one of the early ones that followed the passage from Isaiah in stabbing me with conviction and beginning the process of sanctification in me.

It’s these powerful, convicting, purposeful, and personal words from the Scriptures that make this book a Living Word. It’s what I love, even when the process hurts my pride. Who am I kidding? It kills my pride, but the thing needs to die anyway.

Oh, how I love my God! And He continually reminds me how I need to be vocal about it. Why? Well, let’s look at today’s verse:

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

Proverbs 18:21

When Life Is Not a Box of Chocolates: A Migraine Story

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
(2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

Once again, it’s confession time here on RTR… It has been some time since I’ve written a migraine post – in part because I have been struggling through a period of loathing migraine.

In some seasons, I embrace this part of my life as a gift – a useful pruning, a thorn in my flesh to keep me from becoming arrogant. A tool in the hands of the Potter as He shapes me.

In other seasons… well, let’s just say I can be a vine who talks back, clutching the discarded branches in resentful hands and questioning the Vinedresser’s skillful trimming. Such is the heart prone to wander…

There were a few weeks in which the severity (if not the frequency) was somewhat reduced. Yet one of the most vexing things about dealing with a chronic “invisible” illness is the residual symptoms. Even on days where the headache is mild, there is an ever-present fatigue. Some days it, like the headache, is pretty ignorable. Other days, I can barely function.

Last night, a mild migraine-like headache decided to roar into full throttle around 2 am. Because I am limited in the types of medication I can take, I had hoped to sleep it off but ended up fumbling for one medication around 2:15 and searching for another an hour later.

The crummy thing about migraine is the confusion which hallmarks each attack. I do not always know when the line between “ignore” and “take medicine” has been crossed. And this bleeds over into all sorts of other areas – like my hip problem which I ignored for over a decade before it, too, kept me awake nights.

But I am not here to complain. I’m really not. Today, after a pretty rough night and cancellations of highly-anticipated activities, I have been able to recover. In the past two days, I’ve slept a ridiculous amount even with last night’s interruption. And now after a nap and on the hangover (or postdrome) side of my latest migraine adventure, I feel wrung out and limp.

It is easy to feel useless when dealing with any chronic disease. It is so simple to look at all the great and wonderful things others do with their lives – homeschool moms who balance educating their kids with a career, ladies my age who have opened a business of their own, published authors, successful women. Supermoms who can raise their kids with one hand and serve at church while working full-time with the other.

It can be easy to compare…and to despair.

Another temptation is to watch my man come home exhausted after another 80 or more hour work week and feel it is my fault. If I could only bring home an income. If I could write a book worth publishing or if I had just finished college, maybe he wouldn’t feel such pressure to provide for us. For me.

But even in the aftermath of a pretty nasty neurological storm, I am thankful for my God. I am reminded my value is not in any worldly success – not even in what I do for the Lord. My value is in Him. 

He is my reward and my impetus for continuing. He and He alone comforts me – but He does not comfort me so I can feel cherished and complacent in my war against a stupid and frustrating illness.

No, He comforts me so I can comfort others.

So today, child of God, if there is any reason you feel despondent, alone, useless, or afraid, know you are not alone. Even if you do not know God, even if you have rejected His Son, Yeshua, or even mocked the very idea of His existence, there is hope.

No matter what, you are still not alone, and your rejection of Him does not guarantee His rejection of you. In God’s bewildering grace, there is always a chance for repentance. There is always a chance to turn to Him.

And He longs for you to come to Him. If you will surrender to Him, He will comfort you. And He will bring purpose to your affliction and give you an eternal hope so you may endure this life even if it grows more unendurable by the day.

Even still, I do not worship Him today because of the comfort He gives nor the hope I have, but because He is worthy. Even when I have nothing of worth to offer Him.