Well, I try to avoid noticing when "the 13th" rolls around. And I'm usually pretty successful, but not today. I woke up at 4 AM this morning (definitely not planned) and couldn't fall asleep as I laid there listening to K-Love (on my iPhone, because it's the only way to get K-Love in Harrison) for at least 2 hours, I heard somebody mention that it was Friday the 13th and it hit me. Then on comes one of Steven Curtis Chapman's new songs that he wrote after he lost his daughter. 21 months ago, my older sister left this earth. As good as she was at getting on my nerves, I absolutely loved her. As kids, we apparently spoke a language that only we understood. Growing up, we played together: her barbies and my ninja turtles. We would later go to movies together, church together and usually hung out with the same friend group from church/school. In college, we lived together for two years and were teased that neither of us would ever marry and just live together for the rest of our lives (and here I am...still single). I would gladly accept "the call of Paul" to have her back. I think today has hit me hardest since the first one, or God has thrown the most "reminders" my direction; I'm not sure which one it's been. I turn 25 a week from today. Kiley never got the opportunity to be 25. I have lived to be older than she did, but she still saw the age "24" but never experienced "25." Here I am, only a week away, and 21 months after she died and I don't even know what to say, other than I hurt.
Another one of God's reminders today, was a email devotional that I get everyday, only this one addressed this particular day. I'd thought I'd share it with you.
"For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance." (Psalm 66:10-12)
How do you deal with the undeniable reality of painful moments in your past when you are praising God? What's the best approach? Should you pretend like those moments never happened? Is it impolite to bring them up in the middle of praising God for His goodness to you?
Right in the middle of this great psalm of praise to God, David reaches back to a painful time in Israel's history -- and says that God did it to them on purpose. He makes a choice to believe that God was responsible both for bringing them into that terrible season and bringing them out of it again.
Would a good God really "test" His people and use hard times to "refine us like silver"? Yes, He does -- and the fact that He does is evidence that He is good and loving and powerful. David saw that God cared about His people too much not to use terrible circumstances to draw them into the place they would find the most meaningful and satisfying life -- in closer relationship with Him.
Can we praise the God who takes us into and out of life's most difficult times?
Think: Have you noticed that God has used some of the harder times of your life to draw you closer to Him? Do you believe the best life is lived in leaning more closely on God?
Pray: Ask God to help you to praise Him for being your good God even during the most difficult times of your life.
Do: Read Job's shocking statement about this idea in Job 13:15, then listen in Hebrews 12:7-11 says about hard times and our Father's loving discipline.
So, as I approach my 25th birthday in two weeks, I think I may be going through a quarter life crisis...or else I'm only going to live to 50 and am having my mid-life crisis. I've just recently had these desires to do ridiculous things like get a motorcycle and cruise across the country.... Weird, I know.