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An Unexpected Cross
by pamela spurling

I pray that you are well and that this message will be a blessing to you today wherever you are.

Do you see that the LORD is going before you? O, how I praise the LORD that He goes before us, that He prepares and guides our paths. What a loving and merciful God. I want to share with you today a few things I am learning in a message the LORD has laid on my heart. I want you to know that in no way do I equate what the LORD is bringing us through with all the devastation and tragedy occurring in our world. I simply and humbly share with you a little slice of life here these days.

This past summer when our baby was six weeks old, we had plans to go to Family Camp for a week of rest and play mixed in with training in God's Word. We have noticed that the LORD does deep and exciting work in "camp settings" and I was looking forward to this time because the previous couple of months had seemed so difficult---seemingly so many things to take care of, a new baby, traveling, many plans on the "to do" list, and through it all my husband had an unusually full schedule of work---a schedule I thought was too full and taxing during the early days of our new baby's life. I am ashamed to say that I sometimes felt feelings of resentment toward my husband---I had all these expectations and preconceived notions of how the summer would go, what things would be accomplished, etc., and things were surely not working out the way I'd thought they would or should(!). You see, I knew in my head that the work was necessary, but in my heart and because of my expectations, I was feeling dismayed and sorry for myself. Some days I cried to the LORD that the squeeze was too tight and yet not one day (because of His grace being sufficient) was too overwhelming---in fact, I remember wondering at times why was I was fretting(?!) for everything had been taken care of! I sought forgiveness of my husband for not resting in his care, for being discontent and for fretting over insignificant things. I had no way of knowing how necessary those days were for the preparation for the next season. We did not know that the LORD was about to allow an unexpected cross---a situation that would unfold over the next several weeks would require much time, much emotion and above all, great faith.

And so it was, that the evening before we were to leave for camp, we would make two different stops---life changing visits to friends of ours. The first was to our friend who was so very ill that he had called us to tell us he was dying... an unexpected cross. The second visit was to a hospital in Seattle where we would sit and pray and cry with our dear friends in whose arms lay their precious newborn who, by the mercy of God, had just died... an unexpected cross and a mountain of sorrow. You know, there is a song that I've loved so very much that now has a greater depth of meaning. Some of the words are: "Sometimes we have to bear an unexpected cross... that leads us to a mountain of sorrow...there's always a reason for an unexpected cross..." And so, that's what I want to share with you today, times when we have to unexpected cross.

Oh, how I praise the LORD that He never tells us in advance of the trials that we will undergo. I praise Him and can praise Him because I trust in His Word that He will never give us more than we can endure nor require of us more than we will be able to bear. You can trust Him in this way, too. We read in the Word: "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: "But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy." (1Peter 4.12-13)

Though countless illustrations have resulted from the account, very little is written by way of explanation about Simon the Cyrenian who bore the cross of Christ, only a few verses, yet we surely understand what it means and its symbolism transcends time and space. Simon, it says in the Word, was passing by, coming out of the country when he was compelled to bear the Cross of our Lord. And so it might be with us... we might be going along, just passing by...passing through the day, when an unexpected cross comes our way: an unexpected cross we're called to bear, and as we read in the 1 Peter verse above, we rejoice because we are partakers of Christ's sufferings... why? That we may be glad with exceeding joy. Now we know that at the time it is, or may be, difficult to see that the LORD is indeed in control of the situation or that we will endure it. However, if we continually keep in mind that God is working the situation for our benefit, we will see that the trying of our faith is for our good and is exactly the thing that will bring forth precious fruit in our lives---that we may be glad with exceeding joy.

O, how grievous trials have been to me in the past. I used to think God was mean... that He'd sometimes purposely bring about events in our lives to crush us, to squeeze the life out of us... that every test was a test to prove that we couldn't make it. O, what a terribly wrong perception of our High King of Heaven---what a scary picture of my loving LORD. How much I missed by having that errant view. Now, I see when trials come along how much He dearly and tenderly, yes tenderly, loves us. He allows the fiery trials to deepen our faith and conform us to the image and likeness of our Lord Jesus---which will not perish but bring Him more honour and more glory. I am in awe of Him when I think of how He loves us. I see that in the pruning, growth is spurred on and rich fruit is produced-and it is through the fruit in our lives that our Heavenly Father is glorified.

1Peter 1.7 "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:"

It has been acutely evident to me throughout the last several weeks that the Hand of the Lord has been underneath our feet. From early morning, to and throughout the night, it is evident that our Saviour is working all things together for our good. That little baby, whose life on earth only spanned three days, brought more glory to God in those three days than many bring in decades. Though the grief is immeasurable, praise and glory is given to God day by day by the mother and family of this little rose bud of a child. From this, we are all learning more of what it means to bear an unexpected cross.

We would never have thought that we, who were "just passing by" would need to personally care for our friend who has been so deathly ill, and yet, it is God who designed this situation and it is He who sustains us. I needed the preparation of this past summer to strengthen my resolve to follow and trust in the LORD for I couldn't have known how it would be to have my husband be away at the hospital all day, week after week, nor could I have known the gamut of emotion we would experience as our friend's life seemed to hang in the balance. I needed the training... remember I shared with you last week how for an evening a few weeks ago I was gripped with gripping fear---fear that came over me like a flood? This was when the possibility was presented that our children could become gravely ill---something I hadn't even considered... an unexpected cross. I'm now grieved at my lack of faith and trust in our precious LORD, but you know, it was that gripping fear that prompted prayer and now a deepened faith has replaced that gripping fear and the unexpected cross is lighter day by day. God is faithful. It has since become evident that there was never a hint of danger to us... and this is what makes me more sure of God's design in this situation... this testing of our faith... this unexpected cross. We see the LORD asking, "Will you follow me wherever I lead you?" and our answer remains, "Yes, LORD, we will follow You." There's a long road ahead for our friend who's camped at death's door for two months. There are many plans and many adjustments to be made as we prepare to bring him home to care for him. Our family would likely never have considered this possibility until recently, but here we are passing by the way... with an unexpected cross.

1Corinthians 10.13

"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."

There's much left to be written in this story, and should the LORD tarry, many more stories to come. Things we said or thought we could never do have indeed come to pass. We can trust in our savior that He, who sustains the Universe, whose eye is on the sparrow, without whom nothing was made that was made, surely can and will watch over His flock. Our light and momentary struggles are nothing compared to the glory which shall be revealed in us. This knowledge doesn't come without faith.

In my Bible I have underscored Nahum 1.7: "The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him."

I write you very often about standing still in the LORD, and about waiting in faith and abiding with trust. I write these things because these are the lessons and these are the foundations of my life. I pray that they would be so with you also. I pray that the Lord Jesus will use these messages to encourage you and to help you as you travel this road. I'm so grateful to God, for "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. " (Psalm 46:1) I pray that your faith will be strengthened day by day and that you'll trust in Him to care for those things that are difficult for you and to go before you and strengthen you and that if you are passing by the way and should come upon an unexpected cross that you will trust Him to enable you to bear it. God Bless you.

by   pamela spurling  2001   19992010   PO Box 2130 Snohomish, Washington 98291 USA
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