HERE WE GO — AGAIN

Julie got a rude wake up call early Monday morning—and I mean that literally. It was her landlady. She had returned from Denver and had stopped by to see them—and the house, obviously—a few days earlier. Julie picked up the phone to hear a cold, hard voice say:
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“I want my house back. I know we have a contract and if I have to, I’ll finish it out but I’m just letting you know, I want my house back and the earlier the better. You’ve done a beautiful job with the house, but I’ve moved back here now and I want my house back.”
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Not a shred of apology or concern for them. Just a very nasty tone of voice and a spoiled child, adamant attitude.
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It seems she left her husband in Denver and moved back to Alabama. He is due to be deployed to Afghanistan in March, but apparently that doesn’t matter to her. Just three months after they told Julie and David they were looking for renters that would be willing to stay for at least four or five years, she was telling them that she wants her house back now.
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Of course, their first response would naturally be to say, “We have a lease that is good until the end of May 2010. We’re not going to uproot our family after just putting so much time and effort, not to mention money, into settling in this house. The costs of moving again, in every sense of the word, are just too great.” They love that house. It is so perfect for their family and they felt at home immediately, making the move from their beloved home in Shreveport almost painless.
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So why are they even considering conceding to her demands? Well, they have a problem. The very next day they were to go in for an interview for their adoption and set up a time for the caseworker to come out and do another home study. Being transferred from Louisiana to Alabama threw a kink into their adoption, causing more delays and costing a lot more money in an already extremely slow and expensive process. They must do another home study right now because of the transfer. If they move again in nine months it would mean yet another home study, which means more red tape, delays and money (about $1500 – $2000 for each home study.)
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They are caught in a dilemma. Do they bite the bullet now and try to find another house quickly so they can proceed with this home study and be done with it, or do they ride out the lease and go through their fourth home study in nine months?
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At this point they are out house hunting once again and asking God to give them wisdom and guidance in what to do. They have dealt gently with the landlady, not because she deserves it, but because they have tried to be a witness to her and all her relatives who live around them. They have some firm conditions that they will insist she accept if they let her out of the lease, but they refuse to respond to her ugliness in like manner.
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I couldn’t believe it when Julie called me that morning and told me what had happened. As you may recall, Laurie and Fernando are going through almost the same scenario. After they put forth a huge amount of effort and expense to fix up and settle into a house that is perfect for their family, their landlord, who lives in the States, decided he’s going to sell it out from under them, despite the fact that they had only gone through eight months of their two year lease. Because they had been trying to witness to the landlord’s father, with whom they deal, they did not want to fight it out in court. They have been house-hunting now for a couple months and still have not found a place that will meet their family and ministry needs.
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I guess our first question in both cases is, “Why is God allowing this?” Laurie and Fernando are heavily involved in doing the Lord’s work there in Cuenca. The Lord is blessing their labor in giving much fruit for the harvest. To draw away their time and resources into making another move seems like such a waste and a detriment to the ministry. David and Julie live their lives whole-heartedly for the Lord, and are raising their children to do the same. Their desire to adopt two or three more children stems from loving, generous hearts that want to rescue little ones in obedience to Jesus’ command to care for “the least of these.” Yet another obstacle in the arduous journey to adoption is difficult, to say the least. For both families, it is tempting to question God when we see the homes that they love and that seem so perfect for them taken away.
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To question God. Is it ever okay to question God? I think it depends upon the question. First of all, the question should never be “Why me?” As our Creator and Heavenly Father, He has every right to work however He wills in our lives. The question, rather, should be simply, “Why?” Even then, if we are questioning God’s love for us, then we are off base. He has said, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3) If we are questioning His wisdom, then we are mistaken. “For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.” (Proverbs 2:6) If we doubt His motives are anything but pure, we do not know Him. He is not “tormenting” us, as if we were little bugs at His mercy, just for the fun of it. “As for God, his way is perfect.” (Psalm 18:30) When we ask “Why?” we should be asking, “What is God’s good and pure and loving and wise purpose in this? What is God telling me? What am I to learn from this?”
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There are many reasons why God allows us to go through testing and trials. I believe they boil down to seven basic purposes, but today I only want to look at three of them as they seem to apply here.
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The first is that He tests our faith—not for His benefit, but for our own. He already knows our hearts. Laurie and Fernando had to fight off weariness and discouragement when they heard the news that they were going to have to start all over again in moving for the third time in a year. Julie and her family were heartbroken at being asked to give up the home that they had come to love so quickly and rejoiced in every day. In each case they had to make the decision to set aside those very human feelings and choose to trust that the Lord had allowed this to happen for His very good purposes in their lives. They may not ever know the exact reasons, but they know that in His wisdom and love He will lead them when they trust Him enough to follow. In His omniscience He sees the beginning from the end; in His tender lovingkindness He has only their best in His will for them. Abraham trusted God when the Lord asked the ultimate sacrifice from him—the life of his only son, Isaac. “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead…” (Hebrews 11:17, 19) Job said, when God allowed Satan to afflict him, “Though He [God] slay me, yet will I trust in him.” (Job 13:15) It is when we cannot see the reasons for the hard things of life, and when we do not know what to do next that we need to put aside the discouragement and fear and make the choice to take the blind step of faith and simply trust in the Lord. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” We grow in our spiritual maturity and strength as we grow in our faith.
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The Lord’s purposes in allowing testing in our lives may not be for us at all, but for the sake of others. How God works in our lives and how we respond is a witness to those around us. Fernando and Laurie had developed a relationship with the landlord’s father and tried to be a witness to him of true believers. Julie and David had been praying since they first met the landlords that God would show them how they could witness to them and their family who lived in the houses around them. In both cases they could have chosen to assert their rights and put up a fuss, but they decided even losing their homes was not worth marring their Christian testimony. I Thessalonians 5:15 says, “See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.” I Peter 3:11 tells us to seek peace by turning away from the evil others do to us, and do good, while Romans 12:21 says that the good we do will overcome their evil. Then, “Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.” (I Peter 2:12) Our good response to testing is a witness to unbelievers and an example to other Christians.
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The third purpose I see in God allowing testing and trials to enter our lives is that it gives Him the opportunity to show us and all those around us His mighty power at work. We do not know yet where the Lord will lead my children and grandchildren to live, but I know He has a place for them and when He reveals it, I am sure we will be praising Him for His great provision and love. Psalm 34:8 says, “O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” It is exciting and a blessing to us when we see Him at work in our own lives. “And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power.” (Ephesians 1:19) and when the Lord leads us through the fires and the floods, others are watching. Psalm 106:8 says, “Nevertheless he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known.”
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We do not always understand why the Lord allows some things to happen in our lives, but it is comforting to know that they are there for a purpose and that He is in control. Psalm 92:5 says, “O LORD, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep” and Psalm 139:17 adds, “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!” It gives me peace to know that He is always thinking of me. It gives me joy and an eager anticipation to know that my future is in His hands. And it fills my heart with hope to know that He sees the end, and is leading me and my family to His best for us.
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“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.” (Lamentations 3:22-26)

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