He makes the bitter things sweet


I had forgotten, or maybe never even noticed…I sat transfixed one morning  this week by words in an old journal, a little book dedicated to recording moments in the life of my last-born child…

It was ten years ago this week that she had prayed after me a prayer asking that she might go to Heaven.  She had been frighteningly sick.  There had been nightmares.  Her big sister had prompted her to think of Hell—it’s real, and it’s not a nice place to end up.  And she had come to me days later to ask how she could be assured of Heaven…

Funny, I had not remembered the association of these events. (She had never told me of her big sister’s words until this very morning as we read ‘her’ book together.)  I had remembered the scary seizure, the slow coming back to us, the tangible relief in the household that night: “It’s so good to hear Rachel’s voice again!”.  I had resented this traumatic interlude in our lives.  That I did remember.  But now, reading that only days later she had come meekly to ask the way to Heaven; this connection I had not seen.

How gracious God is to take the bitter things and make them sweet—to use them for good, and to do so even when we are not grateful.  I had feared for this child. She was born a stubborn one—two weeks overdue and then despite being delivered in the comfort of our own home  bawling for all she was worth and not easily comforted. She was prone to fits of temper from a young age so that  I recognized long before she turned two that I had more than met my match.  This dogged will outstripped mine.  She was persistent. I easily cowed. 

But too, she was always the enthusiast shaker and mover among us.  She made things happen.  She insisted I try drawing an oversized Paddington bear so we could play “Pin the pocket on Paddington” for her birthday.  I had no idea I could recreate such a thing.  She brought it out of me and I marveled.

.PIC00016Pin the pocket on paddington

What was this child to become?  I used to wonder.  I read an entry tonight in her little book, where I was marveling at this one’s ability to bring herself under control—to determine a change of mind and carry it out by sheer will to do so.  “I’m being brave” she said and her demeanor in the face of pain was transformed from hysterical pain avoidance to a resolute calm.
“Wow”,  I had written, ‘this will of yours, directed toward doing God’s will, will be a great asset for you.  The difficult part is channeling it for good and not as an occasion for the flesh—yelling, protesting, fussing, complaining and such.” Then came a prayer: “May the Lord so mold your heart and strengthen us to be consistent and firm, so that you will grow to set your face as flint to do His will alone!”

And all the while, by His good Spirit, God was at work—molding that will, using the bitter things to bring sweetness. She’s just pulling into the driveway now; I better wrap this up. Where have the years flown?  My eye lights on this entry shortly before her 6th birthday and I quote: “Mom, after I grow up—and leave home—and organize my home—after a day or two I’m going to come over and visit you.” And there I had sat meditating on Psalm 90, reflecting on the remaining years I would have her, aware even then how short the years would be…

The entry ended with: “It won’t be long and you’ll be off and flying”. Ah, how true.  Today we filled out her application for Bible School. I’m grateful tonight for the years, for the grace and for the bitter things God makes sweet.

Rachel chick


“So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom…

Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children. And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.” Ps.90:12,16-17

PIC00024Rachel 6thbirthday


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