Susan Rodgers

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


This picture was taken from our back porch. A while back I blogged about rainbows and their significance to me. It is God’s signature in the sky, a reminder of His unbroken Word. What He says He will do, He will do.

The past 18 months or so have been, by far, the hardest in my life. Not void of good events, but certainly full of trials that pushed me to my absolute limit. Familiar passages in the Bible about trials serving to refine our faith have taken on a much greater meaning to me.

You see, I had a big ole’ bitter root in my heart. A couple of them, even. They were so big, had existed so long, and were so much a part of me that I didn’t even realize they were there. If you’d have asked me if I were bitter about anything, I’d have sincerely said, “No.”

But our wonderful Heavenly Father, Who loves us just as we are, also loves us enough to not leave us that way! He knew that the bitter roots in my heart were poisoning me and all my relationships—especially my relationship with Him! How did He expose them? Trials. Fire. Ouch.

I Peter 1:7
“Trials have come so that your faith—of greater value than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

The Lord used difficult circumstances to expose the strangling bitterness, and then forced me to look things in the eye and deal with the junk. Wow, I have cried so much. He performed open-heart surgery on me, and I made it much more difficult by resisting Him. I felt secure in my little walled-in world. I was protecting myself from being hurt again, so I thought. Really I was just making myself a prison, with the hurt right there living and breathing down my neck!

I’ve had a series of turning points over the past few months, though. What has it taken? Really surrendering to the Lord. Obeying His nudges, no matter what the cost. I’d been trying to do the “right thing” for so long without a right heart. God saw through it all and made me face stuff that I couldn’t do unless I had a right heart. There was no will power big enough for it. Am I making any sense?

Do you know that old song, “To be like Jesus, to be like Jesus, all I ask, is to be like Him. All through life’s journey, from earth to glory, all I ask, is to be like Him”?

Mom and Dad had John Starnes singing that in their car one day a few weeks ago. The Lord used that simple song to remind me of how I need to be. Jesus gave His life for me, knowing it would be painful. He knew the hours of torture He’d endure. Yet the Bible says He never made a sound through it all. He never resisted the pain. He loved me so much that He gave His all for me.

Then He said, “Will you do that for others? Will you open yourself to the people who have hurt you? Will you trust Me to comfort you if they hurt you again?” I wanted to say, “Yes,” and I did, but I also begged God for strength. I knew I didn’t have that kind of resolve. I had used will power to do so much, but I’d always been guarding my heart. This kind of love wasn’t in me. God had to do it through me.

And you know what? He did! He really did. He showed up, showed Himself faithful to His Word. His Words are true. He promises to help us, that we can do all things with Christ’s strength. Every promise He has ever made is trustworthy, unbroken like a circle, like a rainbow.

Now everything I experience is with a whole new filter over my spirit. I didn’t realize how much my bitterness had peppered everything. I remember recently driving to Durban with Kristen and Carol in the car with me, and constantly exclaiming, “It is so good to be doing this without any junk tainting my heart!”

Oh, thank You, Jesus! The joy that has now replaced the sorrow in my heart is indescribable.

When I was jet-lagged in Sidney and up in the night, I read these words:

Isaiah 48:10
“Look, I have refined you, but not as silver. I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.”

Oh, yeah.

v. 17
“I am the LORD your God, Who teaches you for your benefit, Who leads you in the way you should go.”

So, all this is for my benefit? He says, “Yep.”

v. 20 - 21
“Declare with a shout of joy, proclaim this, let it go out to the end of the earth;
announce, “The LORD has redeemed His servant Jacob!”

And in the next chapter…

Isaiah 49:12
“Shout for joy, you heavens!
Earth, rejoice!
Mountains break into joyful shouts!
For the LORD has comforted His people,
And will have compassion on His afflicted ones.”

He WILL DO what He says He will do. Oh, I do want to shout it to everyone!

Can I encourage you, if you are facing a trial, to cling to Him? Stay in the Word, though it might be the last thing you feel like reading. It’s much easier to channel surf and try to ignore the pain than it is to plow into the Bible. But it’s the only way through it. And what you read is life-giving and TRUE. He might bring things about in ways we are not anticipating, but HE NEVER LIES. He can do the impossible, and delights in doing it quite frequently.

It took greater faith for me to believe He could change my (emotional) heart condition than anything in my whole life (not even moving to Africa challenged my faith like this!). But He did it. He has been faithful to me through it all, even when I deliberately disobeyed Him. Oh, be encouraged, my friend. If He’s allowing the affliction, that means He’s loving you as a Father. (See Hebrews 12.)

Oh, and if you see a rainbow, may it remind you of His unbroken Word, His faithfulness to fulfill His promises, and His HUGE love that will never, EVER leave you. He’ll see you through it all. Just keep believing Him.