"I wonder if all the bad brokenness in the world begins with the act of forgetting - forgetting God is enough, forgetting what He gives is good enough, forgetting there's always more than enough and that we can live into an intimate communion. Forgetting is kin to fear. Whenever I forget, fear walks in. We're called to be a people known by our remembering - a remembering people. Forget to give thanks - and you forget who God is. Forget to break and give - and it's your soul that gets broken. Forget to live...into communion - and you end up living into a union of emptiness."
Okay...so my soul and yours need this reminder today. Whatever adversities and heartbreaks we may be facing, whatever fears may be pressing in hard, whatever struggles may be causing you to lose hope in the sovereign plan of God...remember this: those fully praise Him who do so when they have every reason not to. Choosing to thank when life indicates otherwise is what defines a surrendered heart. The author of this hymn had nearly everything taken from him...but he chose to bless God - even in the midst of his greatest sorrow. He knew that his tragedies weren't the end of the story and that God's love would ultimately triumph and His will would have the final word. Keep open hands. Stay open to Grace...because with God, it can always be well with your soul!
"...To renounce self, to live upon Jesus, to walk with God, to overcome the world, to live against hope, to trust the Lord when we cannot trace Him, and to know that our duty and privilege consist in these things, may be readily acknowledged or quickly learned; but, upon repeated trial, we find, that saying and doing are two things. We think at setting out that we sit down and count the cost; but, alas! our views are so superficial at first, that we have occasion to correct our estimate daily. For every day shows us some new thing in the heart, or some new turn in the management of the war against us which we were not aware of; and upon these accounts, discouragement may arise so high as to bring us (I speak for myself) to the very point of throwing down our arms, and making either a tame surrender or a shameful flight. Thus, it would be with us at last, if the Lord of Hosts were not on our side. But though our enemies thrust sore at us that we might fall, He has been our stay."
"Jesus is the only one who lays down his life for you first, before He asks for yours. He pursues, He dies, He gives up everything and then calls us to Himself...His love is so great that it compels us to lay down our lives in return."
"We are by nature at variance with Him. We are too proud to be indebted to His grace, too wise in our own conceits to desire His instruction, too obstinately attached to the love and practice of sin, to be capable of relishing the beauty and spirituality of His commandments. And our love of the world, and the things of it, is too strong and grasping to permit us to be satisfied with the lot and with the dispensations He appoints for us. We wish, if possible, and as far as possible we attempt, to be our own carvers. We are unthankful when He bestows, impatient if He withholds, and if He sees fit to resume the gifts of which we are unworthy, we repine and rebel against His will. This enmity must be subdued, before we can be pleased with His government; in other words, we must be made new creatures. To produce this change, this new creation, the gospel is the only expedient; and when revealed and applied to the heart by the power of the Holy Spirit, the miracle is wrought. The sinner who is first convinced of his guilt and misery, and then reconciled to God by faith in the great atonement, willingly yields to His administration. He owns and feels the propriety of his proceedings, is ready to acknowledge, in his sharpest afflictions, that the Lord is gracious, and has not dealt with him according to the desert of his iniquities. He considers himself no longer his own, but bought with a price, and brought under the strongest obligations, 'to live no longer to himself, but to him who loved him, and gave himself for him.' And what was before his dread and dislike, becomes now the joy of his heart, the thought that the Lord reigneth, and that all his concerns are in the hands of Him who doeth all things well."
"In our sufferings, we need to be more concerned about our duty than our deliverance. We should seriously consider what it is that God desires in our present dispensation. There is no condition or trial in the world but we have opportunity to exercise some special grace or duty. To desire deliverance alone is self-love and quite natural to man. In affliction man seeks to be delivered and released from his burden. Men make more haste to get their afflictions removed than to be sanctified in them. Men should sit down, consider their ways, and make new resolutions for better things...God intends good to the soul by the present chastisement, and He directs the soul to discern His aim."