Many Afflictions

IceTreesBig

A friend shared this scripture with me during my cold, dark January:

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations” (James 1:2)

Divers=”many”        Temptations in the Greek translation=”afflictions”

Count it all “joy” when you’ve fallen upon many afflictions????

Some afflictions are self-created, some are created by the free agency and choices of others, and some just plain HAPPEN.

The ones that just plain happen hold great potential to catapult us into spiritual maturity.  Why?  Because they are not created by the arm of flesh, they are generated as divine tutorials under the omniscient micromanagement of heaven.  Created exclusively – brilliantly – as the EXACT life lesson(s) we need for our ultimate “joy.”

These seasons of affliction become Sacred Stations when we receive the intended lesson without resistance.

The Sacred Station of affliction is not prettily packaged.  In fact, it can manifest as downright ugliness.  It seems to unearth our greatest weaknesses as a grand gesture that they be healed, cleansed.  Or as a wise friend states, “To burn the dross right out of us.”

It may not seem Sacred or spiritual to be brought to your knees, experiencing a range of uncomfortable and painful emotions.  Crying to the heavens, pleading for deliverance, asking why you’ve been abandoned…

It may not seem Sacred or spiritual to be human.  But it is what it is.  And we are who we are.

The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.  The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.  Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.  (Psalms 34:17-19)

I love that this scripture promises afflictions to those who are righteous.   I don’t love the fact that the righteous get hit with them (!), I just love knowing that having “many afflictions” is not a reflection of one’s personal unworthiness.   What we allow doing our moments of humanness, these Stations of affliction, determines whether we ascend or descend.  Allowing yourself to be emotionally and spiritually vulnerable through a “broken heart,” and allowing yourself to recognize your utter powerlessness and need for a Savior through a “contrite spirit” is the catalyst for deliverance.

Jeffrey R. Holland said,

“You can have sacred, revelatory, profoundly instructive experiences with the Lord in the most miserable experiences of your life—in the worst settings, while enduring the most painful injustices, when facing the most insurmountable odds and opposition you have ever faced.”

He goes on to expound on how such Stations can become a “temple-prison” experience, the place where you are finally – finally – at a place where the divine can speak and work with you.  Is that not Sacred?

Count it all joy.

Loss

angel_of_grief-280x280

One of the layers of meaning to Sacred Stations involves discerning and honoring the Sacred within your current life Station…even amidst soul-wrenching emotional devastation.

Sacred Routines, Spiritual Surrender, Self Nurturing…   I was teaching these concepts early last month at my workshop, Nourish Thyself.   I remember having the distinct impression during a group exercise that He was going to be taking me to a new level.

It’s one thing to teach divine principles and quite another to be taught them.

At the time of this workshop, I was living in a beautiful home, 6 weeks pregnant (after a difficult miscarriage 4 months prior) and on a spiritual and temporal “high.”   Within one WEEK of said workshop, we lost our business, our income, our home, my health, and the baby.

Going from 5,000 square feet of living space in a bright and lovely home to 1,000 square feet in a dark, cramped basement (with our family of five) has had its challenges.  I may go there during a later post…(in fact, it’s almost a given)…

Going from a potentially lucrative business that my husband labored over for months to a costly litigation process (almost overnight) was troublesome and stressful.

Going from stable health to an ovarian cyst the size of Texas (and a raging infection) was painful and inconvenient.

But going from carrying a long-awaited little life form to a cavalier ultrasound tech announcing, “Your uterus is completely empty,” was almost unbearable.  My pregnancy was last on the list to be taken away that week, becoming the proverbial straw that seemed to (at least temporarily) break this mommy’s back.

It was like I’d experienced loss on just about every mortal level within 7 days’ time.   Home, Health, Abundance, Life….going, going, gone.   I was angry with Father.   He had planted the promise of all these things in my heart over many years’ time only to promptly revoke them within one week.

How could I trust Him to follow through on His assurances, now?   Was the peace I’d felt about my promised blessings a feel-good hope that I’d self-generated?  Had I been deluding myself to believe that He had a plan for my happiness and security?   Why would He not honor the faith I was trying to muster to save that baby?

WHERE was my God of miracles?

Then I remembered, about 2 weeks after-the-fact…after the pouting, and the “whys?” and the wallowing:  Had I not been praying for months to be placed on the path of sanctification?   Was I not teaching others what it means to place your soul on the altar of God?

The lesson behind these losses may not have been to teach me how to cope with loss, but how to cope with His program.  Whether He gives or takes away is not the issue.  The issue is whether I could keep standing in faith, holding out hope, and trust with my whole heart when my agenda does not match His.  THIS was my real miracle.

It took losses of this magnitude, in rapid succession, for me to internalize that the path of sanctification is the path of Sacrifice.

It’s the path to the Loss… of Self.

Lifeline

I recognize this first post will be cast into cyber-sea, fluttering aimlessly before anchoring where it needs to. Truthfully, if it only anchors ME, it’s accomplished its mission.

My purpose in sharing the deep musings and offerings of my heart through a blog is primarily to secure a personal lifeline – to cling to a source of peace, direction and comfort – as I try to drown out the screaming voices of the world and connect to the whispering voices of heaven.

Somehow this post has miraculously found its way to your shores (aka your Sacred Station). Out of curiosity, how are the waters?  Calm, troubled, raging?  Were you last: swimming, floating, splashing, paddling, diving, treading water or drowning?

I’ve done, and continue to do, all of the above methods. You’re in good company.

What to say next as I invite you to join my expedition?  Hop on board?  Way too happy and cliche.  Umm… I think if I was going to stick with cliches, I would have to go with, “Let’s chart a course together.”  Let’s explore the Truths surrounding the feminine.

As we let The Captain navigate.