Welcome! This is the first post, of what will be an ongoing series here at Heavenly Springs. To learn more about The Legacy Series, and find out how to participate, click here. Today I am honored to share this article, written by JoAnn Muterspaw. JoAnn is both a dear sister and a mother in the faith. In this piece, JoAnn reminds us that afflictions are gifts from a loving Father who always has our spiritual good in mind. Behind every hard and painful providence is a blessing. Please join me in welcoming, JoAnn Muterspaw.
In the good Providence of God, at the age of 35, the Lord ordered my steps to a PCA (Presbyterian Church in America) in Birmingham, Alabama. It was here that God would call me to Himself. He supernaturally created a hunger & thirst for His Word. It was in studying and coming to understand the Reformed doctrines that my knowledge and devotion to Christ was developed and nurtured. I certainly didn’t come from a Christian background and my salvation is proof that God will have mercy on whom He wants to have mercy (Romans 9:15). You see, my sins were as many as the sands on the seashore. There wasn’t a Godward desire in me. Tennis was the god I worshiped. I lived to play tennis 7 days a week. I loved it more than anything else in this world. But God, in His mercy, used a terrible hip injury to bring my world to a screeching halt.
This was the beginning of God doing a very deep work in my heart. That work continues to this day! Many times our greatest progress and growth in grace happens through trials. No one likes to acknowledge that because we like soft and easy things, but God uses troubles to sanctify us. Hebrews 12:10-11 says:
but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
The first storm that God would walk me through was my daughter’s below-the-knee amputation. As you can imagine, this was a hard thing for a mother to endure. Though it was excruciatingly painful, today I can look back on this and say with all my heart that whatever my God ordained was good and right. You see, God brought me to this place of spiritual safety. In fact, I will also tell you that not only did God hear every prayer that we uttered, God did exceedingly above what we prayed for. One of my greatest joys in life is being able to share, alongside my daughter, this testimony to other saints!
As God continued to work in my life it seemed like it was, literally, one trial after another. In fact, I remember one of the deacons observing, “I have never seen anyone have as many trials as you have had at one time.” So many times, I found myself backed into a corner with nowhere to turn but Him. Time after time, He proved Himself faithful! 2 Timothy 2:13 says that “if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.” Even when I could not see “the forest for the trees”, there were traces of His invisible hand and I knew that He was right there with me. Though the suffering was severe and many times I wondered why God permitted certain things to happen, I saw that out of the greatest affliction God was perfecting something eternal in my soul.
The biblical teachings of the Reformed church helped me see just how beautiful the Sovereignty of God is. Even the “bad things” that we will never understand and that feel so terrible at the time are all under God’s Divine control. In times of suffering and trial, God will bless the true Christian with a spiritual peace. This peace is greater and more valuable than any earthly treasure!
The last major trial I went through was colon cancer. Suddenly I found myself dealing with so many practical decisions. What surgeon do I go to for the surgery? Which hospital? Decision after decision overwhelmed me. Once again, I saw Him leading me every step of the way and I saw how He was at work behind the scenes on my behalf. Today, I am almost 70 and I have been cancer free for almost 5 years!
Thomas Secker, a famous Puritan, once said,
God takes away the world, that the heart may cleave more to Him in sincerity.
Isn’t that the truth?
If you are going through a trial or hardship remember that sanctification is not an easy process but in the end it will yield something good. Trials are actually blessings from God designed to conform us into His Son’s image, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 8: 28-29). If you feel yourself growing weary remember that the One who started your faith is going to finish it! (Heb. 12:2) His Word will never fail!
Life’s great lessons are very long, and cannot be learned in a day; nor can they be learned easily. But at whatever cost, they are worth while. It is worth while for the gold to pass through the fire—to be made pure and clean. It is worth while for the gem to endure the hard processes necessary to prepare it for shining in its dazzling splendor. It is worth while for a Christian to submit to whatever severe discipline may be required—to bring out in him the likeness of the Master, and to fit him for noble living and serving. – J.R. Miller
Soli Deo Gloria!
These are some verses that point to the Sovereignty of God. The Truth in these verses will help take your eyes off of yourself and your situation and put them where they belong, on God!
The LORD reigns; he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed; he has put on strength as his belt. Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved. – Psalms 93:1
The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! – Psalms 97:1
The LORD reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake! – Psalms 99:1
About JoAnn: JoAnn and her husband, Mike, live in Charlotte, North Carolina with their beloved Dachshund, Charity. In June, they celebrated their 50th Anniversary. They have two wonderful children, a son and a daughter. They are members of First Reformed Presbyterian Church and each summer they enjoy attending the Ligonier Ministries Conference in Orlando, Florida.