“Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. 2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy, 3 And gathered out of the lands, From the east and from the west, From the north and from the south” (Psalm 107:1-3).
This year has been nothing less than a year of trials, setbacks and delays. And yet, it has been a year of blessings as the Lord has used the trials to strengthen Heidi and me in the Faith.
Our hearts are filled with deep gratitude toward our heavenly Father, who has provided for our every need, whether it was spiritual, material or physical (Ephesians 1:3). The Lord gave us grace to endure the extreme trials, reassuring us by His word and Spirit. Just when we would begin to doubt or lose hope He would answer our prayers in ways we could not (would not) imagine. We learned to cry out to the Lord in our desperation and distress knowing that it would only be by God’s grace that we would be delivered from the depths of the stormy waters that surrounded us to drown us and the miry pit of sin we felt ourselves sinking into (Psalm 69:1-2).
The Lord rescued us and delivered on more occasions than I can recount, providing also for our material needs. The Lord put it into the hearts of many of His children and churches, brothers in Christ, to help us in our time of need. His grace abounded toward us though there were times we felt as though we had been abandoned by the Lord (despite that being impossible – Hebrews 13:5). He proved His promise sure and true, and we repented of our sin of doubt with tears of joy for His goodness and faithfulness through Christ Jesus our Lord. We learned that our expectation is from Him and through Him according to the riches of His glory in Christ (Psalm 62: 5-8; Philippians 4:19), as He provided for us financially, materially, a ministry work through Hope Haven, and most recently a house for us to live in as we serve Him, our great and mighty King.
The stress of the trials that the Lord sent us also weakened our bodies. Our immunes systems were greatly compromised. As a result our bodies have suffered illness and sickness, especially Heidi’s. Not long after arriving in Iowa, Heidi came down with the shingles on the left side of her face. We are so grateful it has not spread to her eye, which could mean the loss of it, such as what happened to her dad. She is doing better but still suffers from some break outs from time to time. Heidi still suffers from extreme headaches, choking on her medication and food, and other physical ailments. Through it all, the Lord has strengthened our bodies so that we might be able to do the things He has called us to do. We have learned to look to the Lord by faith to strengthen us in our bodies. We are by faith able to say with the apostle Paul, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me [us]” (Philippians 4:13).
Finally, we are thankful to the Lord for the work that He has given us through Reformation Gospel Ministries (RGM) as I wait on the Lord to call me to a church to serve as a pastor to His sheep. The work has and is seeking ways to help brothers in Christ to witness His great and mighty work for those who sit in darkness; reaching out to those who remain in a state of condemnation because of sin, in a state of hopelessness and helplessness, calling to repentance of their sins and faith in Jesus Christ, who obtained on behalf of sinners everywhere through the ages by His death and resurrection the forgiveness of sins, salvation, righteousness and everlasting life. RGM seeks to reach out with the good news that through Jesus Christ alone there is hope and help. He did what no man could or would do for himself, much less for others. We continue our efforts both in California and Iowa. In fact, through the Bible study that is on-going it was reported to me that someone came to the Lord in faith and repentance this past week – a soul saved from the condemnation of sin and for which the angels are rejoicing and with tears we are too.
In all that the Lord has sent our way we have come to truly understand the lovingkindness of the LORD (Psalm 107:43) – He has saved us and redeemed us by Christ’s blood, and will keep us until the end by His abounding grace and mercy through His word and Spirit to His glory Romans 8:31-39).
“Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!” (Psalm 107:15) – indeed we do! Soli Deo Gloria!