Blue and I turned toward home to beat the approaching storm. A stiff breeze was kicking up, carrying ominous black clouds over the mountain ridge.
We picked up our pace as darkness veiled the afternoon sun.
Birdsong rang out across the forest canopy. Loud chattering crossed back and forth among the trees. I suppose my feathered friends were warning one another of the impending danger. The breeze morphed into strong wind. The darkness grew darker, flanked by rolling thunder in the distance.
The closer the storm got, the quieter the birdsong.
Except for one.
A cardinal perched alone at the very top of an old oak tree — the flutter of bright red feathers disclosing his location.
Through the rising anxiety in my heart and my quickened pace to reach safety, I heard his song. His beautiful, confident song. There, all alone — a choir of one — the cardinal sang to his Creator despite the deep charcoal gray of the summer afternoon, despite the rush of wind blowing through the trees. The thunder didn’t stop him. The raindrops beginning to fall didn’t discourage him.
His beautiful, confident song continued to rise above the impending danger.
My spirit quickened and my heart smiled. From deep within, a song by Shane and Shane titled Though He Slay Me, welled up and escaped my lips: Though You slay me, yet I will praise You. Though You take from me, I will bless Your Name.
Over and over again I sang the lyrics that had become Truth to me during an enormous season of loss.
A gained trust.
A gained knowledge of the beauty found in God’s sovereignty.
A gained revelation of the Father’s heart.
Blue and I got home just in time before the heavens opened and released a torrent of rain. Turning on my computer I went to Youtube to find the song I sang all the way home. In the middle of the video, John Piper is recorded speaking the following:
Not only is all of your affliction momentary, not only is all of your affliction light in comparison to eternity and the glory there, but all of it is totally meaningful.
Every millisecond of your pain, from the fallen nature or fallen man, every millisecond of your misery in the path of obedience is producing a peculiar glory you will get because of that.
I don’t care if it was cancer or criticism. I don’t care if it was slander or sickness. It wasn’t meaningless — it’s doing something! It’s not meaningless. Of course you can’t see what He is doing.
Don’t look to what is seen. When your mom dies, when your kid dies, when you’ve got cancer at 40, when a car careens into the sidewalk and takes her out, don’t say, “That’s meaningless!” It’s not. It’s working for you an eternal weight of glory.
Therefore … therefore … do not lose heart. But take these truths and day by day focus on them. Preach them to yourself every morning. Get alone with God and preach His Word into your mind until your heart sings with confidence that you are new and cared for. ~ John Piper
Powerful, isn’t it? This kind of declaration is born of tremendous trust in the One who loves us. It comes from knowing Him … not just knowing about Him. It comes from spending time in His glorious Word, understanding the precepts there, and writing the promises upon our hearts and minds.
Does loss still hurt? Yes! Absolutely.
Does uncertainty stand outside my heart and taunt me? Sure does. But not as often as it used to.
Like all of us, my feet were once on a very crooked path weaving through a vast wilderness. But God … He is making my crooked paths straight. He is placing streams of Living Water in my desert places and He, Himself, holds the cup from which I drink.
He, Himself, makes the bitter water sweet.
And even if He slay me, yet will I praise Him for He alone is worthy of praise!
My pain — our pain — is not meaningless. We live in a fallen world where bad things happen to good people, but the Lord IS with us. He goes before us making the crooked places straight.
He is Jehovah-jireh, our Provider.
He is Jehovah-rapha, our Healer.
He is Jehovah-shalom, our Peace.
And He is El Roi, the God who sees me and knows all about it.
As my heart learns to sing a confident song of praise, even in the most difficult places, I look forward to experiencing His peculiar glory reserved for those who choose to trust Him at all times and lean not into our own understanding.
I suppose a peculiar glory could be described as a glimpse of the Lord our God as He passes by and allows us a moment in His Presence so bright that we, in turn, radiate and reflect His brilliance.
A peculiar glory.
A confident heart-song.
I hope I never forget the lone cardinal singing her confident praise. I think there may be some courage mixed in too.
Yes. Courage, confidence, unwavering trust … I’m looking forward to that peculiar glory.
Thank you so much for stopping by. I would love for you to share what’s on your heart in the comments below. Scroll a little farther down and you’ll see where you can leave your comments. Together, we can find the nearness of God in our darkest moments.
Sweet blessings to you,