I'm going to interrupt my posts about our travel for something far weightier. I read the following quote by Thomas Case this morning in Voices from the Past: Puritan Devotional Readings:
"God teaches His people in afflictions. He teaches us to feel compassion toward others who are suffering. We are prone to be insensitive toward others who are suffering when we are at ease. He also teaches us to prize our outward mercies and comforts more, and yet dote on them less. We are to be more thankful for them but less ensnared by them. Next God teaches us self-denial and obedient submission to His will. In our prosperity we are full of our own wills, and usually give God counsel as if we could tell God how it might be better. We dispute our cross, when we should take it up. By bearing a little we learn to bear more. The bullock unaccustomed to the yoke is impatient. After he is accustomed to labour, he willingly puts his neck under the yoke. God works out by degrees the delicate spirit we learned in our prosperity. One way or another, God works His children into a sweet, obedient frame. At length, God brings His children to subscribe: 'What God wills, when God wills, how God wills; Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.' Finally, we can learn humility and meekness of spirit. Pride naturally runs in our veins, and it is nourished by ease and prosperity. By trouble we come to know our own heart. God seeks to develop meekness in His people by affliction, then save them from affliction." (pg.145)This past year has held some hard things for our family: the decline of my health followed by major surgery, Russia's decision to close adoption to Americans just as we were on the verge of adding four older siblings to our number, and the sudden and traumatic death of our beloved Aunt Jean which necessitated re-situating Mr. Beaver's 82-year-old mother due to her Alzheimer's. And then about two weeks ago, Mr. Beaver underwent surgery for a large growth in his palate. We thank God daily that the tumor was benign! Still, he is looking at a prolonged and painful healing process after having about 1/4 of the roof of his mouth removed.
The quote was a sweet reminder that while it is so easy to focus on the thorns, God also gives the rose. Suffering has value! For now we'll take comfort in that as we continue to put one foot in front of the next following our Savior through the trials.