2 This is what the LORD says: "I will go before you, Cyrus, and level the mountains. I will smash down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. 3 And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness -- secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.
The reason I have chosen the name for my blog and for my tiny ministry to be "Treasures from Darkness" is because of this verse and because of the significance this verse has held and continues to hold in my life. My life has not been easy--it has been filled with darkness; darkness caused by severe mental illness in the form of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder of the depressive type...There were months, in fact , years, when I was locked in an inexorable dark depression that was so deep I could not function, eat, sleep or even talk. There have been many times when in the confusion of psychosis, I've attempted to end my life and have spent a total of many years locked up in psychiatric hospitals, often in restraints there and so "insane" that the "me" whom you and my acquaintances know, was nowhere to be found.
And then too, there has been masses of physical suffering. I had my first back surgery - the first of a total of six - when I was 25, after a year of being bedridden by insufferable pain due to a severe back injury. This pain has haunted me through out my life, as disc after disc has collapsed and degenerated putting pressure onto nerve roots in my spinal column. And now, in addition to three more of these degenerations, my spine has been decimated by Psoriatic arthritis and the spinal cord and all of the nerves growing out of it, are being compressed and slowly pinched off and flattened by the encroachment of this disease.
I've been at death's door from asthma, spinal meningitis, pneumonia more than once, endocarditis, and MRSA....I've had three hip replacement surgeries and soon will have a shoulder replaced. Shall I go on?? I could!
You see, I am well acquainted with darkness. It is something that daily I must struggle with and hold at bay. And yet, through these harbingers of darkness in my life, I have come to know the Lord my God in a way that I don't think many people who have not suffered can know him. When I am lying frozen in pain, not even able to breathe because of its severity--and I whisper his Name...he never ever fails to answer and to be nearby. When Death stalks the room, I am held secure in the grip of the God of Israel who loves and cares for me.
I am not the most patient person in the world, but I'm a heck of a lot more patient than I would be had I not had to struggle with the difficulties that I've had. I am more empathetic also than I was. And my faith has grown in ways that only a faith tried by fire can.
Even this past weekend, while I was at the Writers' Conference, the enemy of my soul lurked and stalked, whispering to me that I am not good enough, not experienced enough, not mentally able nor physically able to pull of the writing of a book that was not laughable. He had me in a state of near panic as I was an hour away from my first appointment with an editor. Then, cutting through those dark thoughts, like a sabre, came the voice of my Friend who whispered to me, "Come away beloved, come outside and talk with me."
So I wheeled my chair out into the bright warm Philadelphia sunshine and there, on a walk way, alone, my God had a talk with me. He told me to read these verses, Isa. 45:2-3, which I did...and I began to see that God had placed a calling on Cyrus, a totally unlikely candidate to be used and then blessed by God, because he was a foreign king, who did not know or worship the God of Israel. Yet God was going to give him a job to carry out, and along with the commission came promises of empowerment and protection...and then one of Great Reward...Why? Just to get the job done? NO, anyone could have done God's work for him. God did it so that Cyrus would get to know, who it was with whom he was dealing; the one true God. And this God wanted to have a relationship with Cyrus.
Then God told me to read the whole chapter. God scolds Cyrus for not believing in his ability to carry out the task; for despising the way he was made - perhaps he had some kind of disability which he felt would hinder him. It is not up to US to decide whether or not we will carry out the will of God or whether or not we will accept his commission and call on our lives. If we are called; then we are empowered; and after we've been obedient and gotten to see God go to work on our behalf; we will see great reward; even if it is "only" the treasure of "secret places" and not overt wealth.
And this has been so true in my life. And it was to prove true to me this past weekend. This was my very first "pitch" of my manuscript to an editor....And he WANTED it! He wants to publish it! How very amazing is the Lord of Israel! You'd think I would have learned by that.
But once again at home I was again beset by doubts and the knowledge of my paltry insufficient resources to get this job done. What??? Did you hear that??? Me, a commissioned daughter of the King of all things, is worried about not having resources! Oh Lord, forgive me for my doubts and fears....go with me, cut through these iron bars and gates of bronze. Help me to accomplish what you've given me to do. And I know, O God that you will be faithful to carry through with your end of the promise.
Anyway...this is MY experience with God's unexpected and unlikely treasures that he wreaks from the suffering and hardships of our lives. What about it? What has been your darkness and have you encountered yet, the treasure God has promised?