LESSON FROM A STAR
By: Mary E.
The other night, as I was
driving to church, it was already dark. Yet there were faint shades of
pink on the tops of the mountains as a fading sun retreated behind me.
The stars would be especially brilliant in the cold, clear artic air. As
it was now December and Christmastime, I thought about that star that long ago
led some wise men to load up their camels with provisions and gifts and head
in its direction toward Palestine. It must have been a spectacular
site...that star. Balaam had prophesied about it in Numbers 24:17: "I
shall see Him, but not now: I shall behold Him, but not nigh: There shall come
a Star out of Jacob, and a Scepter shall rise out of Israel".
Perhaps that was why these wise men asked Herod the King, "Where is
He that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen His star in the east, and
are come to worship Him".
But my thoughts quickly drifted off in another
direction. That star...God had created it billions of light-years before
for that special purpose...to announce the arrival of His Son. In His
infinite wisdom and power, He had calculated the exact time in the exact place
for it to shine with that particular brilliance. But it could not come
forth until the passing of eons of time, through long journeys
of empty space and dangerous objects hidden in millions of galaxies. It
was not a star like Jude spoke of; wandering stars, (shooting stars) that
appeared in the sky only to fly off into eternal oblivion, but a star with a
PURPOSE, hidden in God's plan. It would never depart from its course.
Who am I, but a speck of dust...lodged on
planet earth? My time has come, but one day will be gone.
Life is only a preparation for death, and it was decided eons ago when I would
appear, and when I would leave...just as that star. And so it was,
that I felt a sudden quickening in my spirit when the speaker for that evening
service opened his sermon with a quote from Daniel 12:
"And many of them that sleep in the
dust of the earth shall awake,
some to everlasting life, and some to shame
and everlasting contempt.
And they that be wise shall shine as the
brightness of the firmament;
and they that turn many to righteousness as
forever and ever".
Most of you who have been
receiving my writings know that for the past 8 months, I have been undergoing
chemotherapy for cancer. During these eight months, I began to see this
experience as just one of many that have brought me through times of
learning. This month, I will be finished with the treatments, and I
feel very, very good. I am anxious to return to the work God has for me.
And so, during this season of separation, I felt I should let
my dear friends come along with me on this journey. How wonderful it has
been to receive so many letters in return, from people who have been
encouraged and helped in their personal struggles with disease and sickness. I
do know this: God is a healer, and wants us well. But I am also aware of the
testings and trials He sometimes allows.
Personally, I believe the story of Job was
written for that very reason. I began to re-read this powerful
story once again. For here we find that God allowed Job, a man He
himself declares to be "perfect and upright", to be touched
with physical disease and suffer the loss of his children and personal
wealth. Satan recognized that as a truthful fact, but put forth the
notion that the only reason Job served God was for the benefits of these
blessings...that if these things were suddenly withdrawn, Job would
"curse God to His face." So God allowed this to be proven in
How often I have seen people turn from God when
trials come. "If God were truly a God of love, would He then
let me suffer?" "If God loves us so much, how come He
allowed my son to die...He could have prevented it!" "If God
was so merciful, why did He do this and that..." "God does not love
me...He does not answer my prayers"..."After all I have done, God
let me suffer loss." Once faithful and God-fearing
saints that suddenly run the opposite direction, forsaking the church and
becoming bitter and disillusioned...out of fellowship with God's people.
I recognized these were all the same questions
addressed as Job lay sick and diseased in sackcloth and ashes, his goods taken
by robbers, his children destroyed in a storm. His own wife urged him to
do exactly what Satan had told God that Job would do: "End
it all! "Curse God and die!"
In many countries of the world, people daily
put sacrifices of food and light incense in front of their idol altars,
hoping to gain favor from their gods. The quest for good fortune is
so extreme that people pay thousands of dollars just to have certain
"good luck" numbers on their license plates! So when someone meets
with misfortune and sickness, they are often considered to have done some
great sin or offended their gods in some way. And as the story of
Job unfolds, we find that the men who came to "comfort" him, had the
same thoughts in mind...Job had committed some hidden and unconfessed sin
which had brought upon him the wrath of God. Yet Job knew he had done nothing
worthy of such an extreme punishment.
You who read these words and are at this time
suffering from disease and sickness or other misfortunes, may recognize
much of what I have written. Your mind has unanswered questions,
and like Job, consider the arguments. Job thought of death, and
wished he had never been born. He cried for a personal audience with God where
he might "order my cause before him and fill my mouth with
arguments." Yet God had remained silent. Yet never, for one
instance, had God's promise of healing and restoration been taken
away. His blessings had merely been withdrawn for a season, to prove
him...to answer Satan's statement.
A friend reminded me of Abraham...whom God
called His "friend." In every aspect of his life, Abraham had
put God first...yet God had withheld from him the desire of his heart...for a
son. And when he finally miraculously gave him one when he was an old
man, He later was asked to sacrifice him on an altar to prove that
Abraham would obey him, no matter the situation. The test went to the
very moment that Abraham stretched forth his hand and took the knife to slay
his son. Then the angel of the Lord suddenly spoke, "lay not
thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him; for now I know
that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son
I have a dear friend in India, Francis Jackson.
He was a good Christian man, serving God. But he wanted to become an engineer,
and studied to obtain a degree. One day, the professor announced the
date for the final exam...on Saturday. There would be only one exam...if
you missed it, you did not pass. But in the meantime, during prayer, the
Lord spoke to Francis: "I want you to go to the mountain on Saturday...I
will meet you there". An awesome thing! Yet Francis was in a
quandary...of course he wanted to meet God, but he also wanted to pass the
exam for that degree! What to do? As he debated the issue, it came
down to the point of decision. Francis decided to go to the mountain.
As he climbed to the top, suddenly he was engulfed with a cloud, and God spoke
to him that He was calling Him to serve Him. Then the lower half of Jesus'
body came through the cloud. He saw Jesus' nail scarred hands! And the
Lord gave him an experience in the Holy Spirit that lasted well over two
hours. It was then that Francis yielded his life to serving God.
As he came down the mountain, his brother was
running to meet him. "Francis! the school called. There has
been a cancellation of the test today!" Even today Francis recalls
with horror how easily he could have missed this experience.
God loves us enough to allow trials and tests.
He never tempts us, but he will sometimes test us in order to confirm our
faith or prove our commitment... taking us deeper into an understanding of His
love. James wrote: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you
face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith
develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may
be mature and complete, not lacking anything. Blessed is the man who
perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive
the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him."
Would God allow these kinds of tests in
OUR lives? We have no reason to think otherwise, for Satan will fight
to the bitter end to destroy our faith and trust in God, especially
those (as Eliphaz remarked) who have been "the instructors
of many, who have strengthened the weak hands of others, and upheld those
with faltering and feeble knees"...his dedicated servants!
It is also always God's will for us to "prosper and be in
health". I KNOW the healing power of God! He has healed me so
many times, sometimes instantly, and seen others miraculously healed in
an instant of time. But I also believe that because we pray and are not
instantly healed, this does not mean we have a God who has abandoned us, for
this would deny His promise to never do that.
Job's suffering would soon end. God
would restore his health and return double his losses. The accusations,
the anger, the frustration, the self-pity, would come to an end as well.
Job said, "My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes". We who
are of the household of faith must also come to full maturity...not only to
have heard of Him and to have memorized certain sweet promises, but to see
Him with the eyes of faith and spiritual understanding...which means we can
therefore accept God's plan for our lives...which may also includes times of
Having weathered this present
"storm" in my life, I know now that the battle was not so
much about my sickness as it was about steadfast faith.
Not the kind of "faith" that is pumped up with favorite memorized
scripture. Nor "faith" that lasts only until we feel God has
abandoned us and no longer works in our behalf. Not "faith"
that crumbles apart when our greatest treasures of this life are taken from
us and we seemingly have no friend or family who knows our suffering.
But a faith that sees God's plan in everything, and continues on,
despite any perception of denied justice.
It is then that we obtain an awareness and
understanding that we, like the Star of Bethlehem, were created
with purpose...and that our awesome, all-knowing Father's plan, as Daniel
wrote, is to "make us shine like the brightness of the heavens
and its stars as we lead others to righteousness".
We must consider our thoughts about God's
dealings...they will either continue us on our way to fulfilling His
ultimate purpose, or lead us to become wandering stars in the
abyss of blackness we chose for ourselves.
"Therefore, my dear friends, as you
have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now much more in my
absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it
is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become
blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved
generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe...."
MARY E. ADAMS
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