Weekly Newsletter – November 15, 2021
FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE
Count It All Joy
There is no easy road to satisfaction. One reason for this is that no one has ever lived a life free from difficulties. Everyone faces trials, and all of us know suffering in one way or another. I’ve noticed that wherever I am, in every culture and every geographical region, when I mention the subject of suffering, there is an instant rapport, a bond of mutual understanding.
Suffering: A Door to Finding Satisfaction
We can take comfort in the knowledge that Scripture teaches that God’s perfect plan for each of us includes suffering, trials, and pain. The wonderful truth is that our most frustrating trials can be a source of great joy. James wrote:
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing (James 1:2-4). Trials will make us either bitter or better.
I know what it is like to be broken — literally. Jack and I experienced a terrible automobile accident in Brussels in 1979. We were in Europe for our wedding anniversary and planned to celebrate the joyous occasion with members of Jack’s family.
That particular afternoon, we had traveled to Brussels to shop for anniversary gifts. We leisurely walked and talked, truly enjoying our visit to this fascinating city. We even stopped for afternoon tea and shared a sandwich. (A cousin was preparing a feast for our anniversary dinner that night and we didn’t want to ruin our appetites!)
The afternoon ended all too quickly, and we soon found ourselves driving back to the home of the cousin with whom we were staying. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, a bus traveling 50 miles an hour struck our vehicle with such impact that my side of the car was ripped away and the rest of the automobile completely demolished. I remember saying, “Jack, there’s a bus!” He attempted to swerve, but it was too late. My last thoughts as I fell out onto the busy street was, This is what it’s like to die.
Everything went black. I felt no pain until my husband’s warm tears falling on my face revived me. His voice was choked with emotion as he wept and prayed over me. “Lord, must it end this way? Don’t let it happen. Please work a miracle!”
I felt that I was slipping away from him, and I wanted him to know how much I loved him. “Honey, I think I am dying,” I whispered. “I don’t want to leave you.”
“Oh no,” Jack cried. “Oh, God, please help us, Somehow spare her life.”
I wish that in some way I could convey the peace that I experienced from God during this time. Even Christians sometimes wonder about and perhaps are somewhat afraid of the unknown — that valley of the shadow of death through which we must one day pass. I would love to stand on a mountaintop and call to every believer everywhere, “Don’t be afraid!” At the moment of departure, He is there to give us peace and sustain our hearts. What a comfort to know that we are the Lord’s most prized possessions and that He will never allow us to go through the transition from this world to the next in fear. I rejoice over this experience today because I can say with David, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me (Psalm 23:4).
Suspended in God’s sweet peace, I was almost in the presence of the Lord. Then suddenly, I was pulled back from going over. A hand grasped my wrist and a man stood beside me. He tenderly placed a blanket over my body and in perfect English said, “Don’t move her. She will be all right.” Immediately, my mind began to clear and I knew that I would live.
As quickly as he had appeared, he was gone. The Lord had sent a man or an angel (only He knows) to provide perfect comfort and to minister to us in a special way Hebrews 1:14 says: Are they [angels] not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
An ambulance rushed us to the hospital. I looked at Jack and was reassured to know that he was all right. I knew that somehow God was doing something special in our lives — something that would ultimately glorify Him if we would not faint (see II Corinthians 4:16).
I had sustained a severe head injury. X rays revealed that I had a broken collarbone and two broken ribs. I had also sustained numerous cuts and bruises, and fragments of glass were embedded in parts of my body. In fact, the doctor spent four hours removing glass from my legs, head, and ears. God had divinely and miraculously spared my face and eyes, for which I shall forever be grateful.
Because of my head injury, I was unable to receive any pain medication for 18 hours. In addition, I was told that if the bleeding from my head wound did not stop during the night, doctors would be forced to shave my head in order to suture the extreme abrasion. Jack remained by my side every minute of that entire night, praying with me, comforting me, and talking with me. We asked God for a miracle, and He gave us one. By morning, the bleeding had stopped.
Neither of us slept during that long, unforgettable night. As we talked about why it happened, I felt a kinship with Job. God had allowed Satan to test us but not destroy us or our ministry together. He allowed the test to go so far, and no further. I knew that my Father was in control and that my Saviour was not leaving me alone. Indeed, I knew that He was feeling my infirmity with even greater intensity than I.
Jack spent the next 48 hours trying to get the doctors to release me for our return to America.
British Airways agreed to fly us and graciously provided wheelchair and ambulance service all the way to Detroit. Still, the hours in flight were painfully long, Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me (II Timothy 4:17).
During the next three months, I received extensive medical treatment and stringent therapy. Adhesions formed as the damaged muscles and tendons in my crushed shoulder healed. Doctors said that without corrective surgery I would never use my arm again. Instead, I underwent months of excruciating rehabilitative exercises to correct the situation. Still, I would not want to look back upon this experience with anything but rejoicing and praise — rejoicing in the Lord’s protection and love in bringing me through this trial and praise that He counted me worthy to be put to the test.
Resistance to Suffering is Counterproductive
It would have been easy, I suppose, to resist in my heart and be bitter against the Lord for allowing such a thing to happen. Yet it never occurred to me to question what God was doing. Years earlier Jack and I had committed ourselves to pursuing the Lord’s will whatever the cost — and when we made that commitment, we knew it could involve suffering. It has, but the rewards have been rich. God has filled our lives with blessings that exceed anything we could ask or think.
Unfortunately, instead of counting problems and trials as joy and allowing them to work patience and maturity, many people tend to follow their natural inclination, and the difficulties produce bitterness and resentment. That, in turn, only amplifies dissatisfaction, until finally they are caught in a never-ending cycle of devastatingly negative feelings.
The only effect resistance has on our trials is to make them more difficult to bear. When we rebel against God and turn from Him, we shut out the One who can enable us to carry whatever burden He gives us. How tragic it is to see someone who has gone through grief and pain who then turns sorrow into bitterness against God! That is not what God wants. He wants to make the burden light and the yoke easy to bear (see Matthew 11:30).
I know that it is normal to want to resist problems, and, of course, it is right and even necessary to resist some things. For example, we should not give in to immoral acts, so we must resist temptation. Scripture tells us to resist Satan (see James 4:7; I Peter 5:9). Nevertheless, when we are confronted with trials that are beyond our control, we need to see ourselves as Paul did — like clay in the hands of the Potter, submissive to His will for our lives. We must realize that through these trials He is molding us. shaping us. and perfecting us — until we become vessels that He can use.
Have you ever watched a potter work on a pottery wheel? He squeezes and pinches and applies pressure, and from what was an ugly lump of clay comes forth a beautiful, useful piece of pottery. The potter knows just where to poke and just where to rub — it is a fascinating process to watch. Occasionally, the potter will decide a radical change is in order, and he will smash a nearly molded pot and begin again from the beginning.
Jeremiah described the process:
I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it (Jeremiah 18:3-4).
Perhaps you feel like the Potter has smashed you that way. I have good news for you. God is one Potter who always rebuilds the vessels He allows to be broken so that they are better than before. It may not always be in the way we desire or think is best, but in the process, it is nonproductive for us to resist and become bitter. Instead we should try to see what is happening from God’s perspective, even though we may not understand what He is doing, and yield to His will for us. Paul wrote, Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay? (Romans 9:20, 21).
Acceptance: A New Name for Satisfaction
How much better it is to accept our trials as from the Lord who permits them! Job accepted his trials, as hard as they were for him. This incredible man lost all his earthly possessions and all his children in a series of disasters that happened in just one day. Soon after that, he lost his health as well. He was reduced to a mass of sores, sitting in a pile of ashes, scraping himself with a piece of broken pottery (how appropriate!). He did not understand what God was doing. but his response was, The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord… Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? (Job 1:21; 2:10).
Yes, Job bore all the pain — in his case both physical pain and mental anguish — and did not sin with his lips. He never accused God or spoke bitterly against Him. Quite the contrary, Job accepted the negative things as graciously as he had accepted the good things. Though the task was not easy, out of Job’s afflictions came some wonderful fruit. The first is the book of Job — a good source of comfort in times of despair and doubt. In addition, Job grew wiser and closer to the Lord through his ordeal. Even his so-called comforters learned from his sufferings.
What became of Job. The answer is recorded for us in verses 12 and 13 and chapter 42: So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning. After this lived Job an hundred and forty years…
The “secret” of Job’s success and blessing is rooted in the fact that he endured his suffering. He never turned from God. Instead, he repented! Why would a man who was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil (1:1) do such a thing? Because Job, through his suffering, was privileged to get a glimpse of God in His holiness. As a result, he saw himself as completely unworthy so that he said, I abhor myself(2:6). And in doing that, he discovered yet a third way of responding to trials.
Rejoicing: A Perspective You May Have Overlooked
This third type of response is what James referred to in the opening passage of this chapter — rejoicing, or glorying, in our trials. Admittedly, rejoicing in the midst of tribulation is not an easy thing to do. A woman wrote to us a short time ago:
I am having a very hard time adjusting my life. My husband died not too long ago at age 53, and I just can’t seem to get my life together. I never worked in all the years we were married. I was a family person and never made many friends outside our home, I am lonely and frightened. Please pray for me.
My heart goes out to this dear woman and many others like her. In fact, one might well ask how she could possibly rejoice in the midst of such a difficult trial. She cannot rejoice that her husband has died. How then can she find joy in the midst of her deep loneliness, fear, and doubts?
The answer is found in the perspective we choose to take. No one rejoices in the death of a loved one. Job didn’t, and even Jesus wept at the grave of His friend Lazarus. Scripture acknowledges that sorrow and grief are appropriate and normal responses to death.
Bitterness comes when we focus on our sorrows or trials themselves rather than on the Lord and what He is attempting to accomplish through them. From this perspective, we can easily become discouraged. Unfortunately, this is exactly the place in which many dissatisfied people find themselves. However, if we look beyond the trials and understand that God is working in the midst of them, if we focus our hearts on Him, a miracle begins to occur. He brings peace in the midst of pain, and joy in the midst of sorrow. Truly, His grace is sufficient.
My Grandmother Shelton taught me firsthand the meaning of glorying in tribulation. She knew trials all her life. She was the mother of eight children and, as a diabetic, had to take insulin shots every day of her life. She was a tall, vibrant, robust lady who would pick me up (literally) and shake me like a rag doll and say, “I love you, Rexella.” What a shock when she lost first one leg, then the other, to amputation because of complications from her disease. She would never walk again; yet, I never heard her mention her trials or complain. Her focus went far beyond them. And as she looked to the Lord and leaned on Him, she was actually able to glory in her infirmities! She was always rejoicing. I remember her often taking out a little harmonica and playing it. Just being around her brought me great joy, and I seldom thought of her as being in pain, although I’m certain she suffered greatly.
There is something to be said for pain. Trials are not pleasant, but they are valuable. A flower must be crushed before it yields perfume. A grain of wheat must fall to the ground and die before it can bear fruit (see John 12:24). And we must suffer for the Lord if we are to be glorified with Him (see Romans 8:17).
If you are going through a trial, don’t resist it. And don’t just accept it or endure it. Learn to glory in it! God is doing something through your trials. You may not understand it fully, and He does not always give us explanations. But He does give us promises — and He always keeps them.
God must have broken things — throughout all plant life, all history, all the great biographical accounts, and in all spiritual life, this fact is preeminent.
Why should we then shrink from those things, which may break us at some point? If we will but allow Him, the brokenness we experience can be used for our purer good and for God’s glory. Such brokenness may come in the form of being broken in wealth, half-will, ambitions, ideals, reputation, affections, and even brokenness in health. Remember the final tally of life is not seen in the here and now. Can you, like James wrote, “Count it all joy?”
A CLASSIC MESSAGE OF HOPE FROM DR. JACK VAN IMPE
World War I – The Threat to Survival
While traveling on a train the West, Leon Tucker spoke to a Jew about Israel. The Jew said he was perfectly satisfied in the United States. His home was here, his business was here, and his family had become established here. He was not interested in Jerusalem of the building of the nation of Israel.
“Stretch out your right hand,” Tucker said. The Jew held out his right hand and Tucker looked at it. Then he said, “Stick out your tongue, please.”
“Are you trying to make a fool of me?” the Jew asked.
“No,” Tucker replied, “but I would like to see your tongue.” The Jew stuck out his tongue.
Tucker looked at it and quoted from Psalm 137:5,6: “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.“
The Jew bowed his head and with tears said, “I have never been so rebuked in my life.”
The Young Idealists
The years following the founding of Zionism demonstrated that many Jews had indeed forgotten Jerusalem. Having become comfortable, especially in the West, most Jews preferred to stay in the nations to which they had wandered.
Just before the turn of the century, however, there was a wave of Jewish immigrants to Palestine. Moved by Herzl’s book and his eloquence, a number of young idealists came as pioneers to the land of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Many of these new arrivals were students. The education they were to receive in their chosen land was to be a difficult one. Palestine was under the control of Turkey, a nation hostile to Jews. The land was denuded of forests and most of it had returned to desert. Ancient terraces that had once protected the soil of Israel had long been destroyed, and erosion had conquered much of the are a. The vital partnership of soil and farmer, so needed for agricultural success, had been broken for centuries and conditions were deplorable.
Mark Twain, who visited Palestine in 1867, described it as:
…a desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds — a silent mournful expanse. …A desolation is here that not even imagination can grace with the pomp of life and action…. We never saw a human being on the whole route…. There was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.
Even as late as 1913, the report of the Palestine Royal Commission quotes an eyewitness account of the Maritime Plain as follows:
The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer track suitable for transport by camels and carts. …No orange groves, orchards or vineyards were to be seen until one reached Yabna village…. Not in a single village in all this area was water used for irrigation…. Houses were all of mud. No windows were anywhere to be seen…. The ploughs used were of wood…. The yields were very poor…. The sanitary conditions in the village were horrible. Schools did not exist…. The rate of infant mortality was very high…. The western part, towards the sea, was almost a desert…. The villages in this area were few and thinly populated. Many ruins of villages were scattered over the area, as owing to the prevalence of malaria; many villages were deserted by their inhabitants.
But this hostile land would be tamed. The desert would yet blossom as the rose.
As the years passed, trained people would arrive — scientific farmers, irrigation experts, builders of factories and cities, educators, and thinkers. These immigrants of diverse abilities and interests would in the next three- quarters of a century bring the dead land to life a gain. But what a task lay before them!
By 1914 there were about 100,000 Jews in Palestine, mostly in the area of Jerusalem. Though Herzl was no longer living, his dream was beginning to materialize. Foundations were being laid. Preparations were being made for the birth of a nation. Then World War I broke out.
Caught in the Middle
World conflict was especially unwanted by the Jews. Being small in number and finding themselves caught in the middle of strategic territory held by Turkey and desired by Great Britain, many Jews feared the worst — death of their nation before its birth, the abortion of Israel, the destruction of Zionism.
Turkey’s alliance with Germany threatened disaster to Jews in Palestine. Work had to be halted on the homeland. Jews with citizenship in any of the Allied nations were deported. Some Jews were forced to accept Turkish citizenship. Dozens were executed, accused of spying for the Allies.
Another problem for Jews in World War I was a division of loyalties. Jews fought on both sides of the conflict, and with equal patriotism. Unlike World War II, when Germany was an enemy of all Jewish people and thus unified them, World War I offered no such clear-cut decision. Jews in Germany were generally loyal to that land and served with devotion.
War Does Not Take God by Surprise
Although World War I brought great difficulties to the Jews and made the development of their homeland precarious, there were some important positive results from that tragic conflict. Students of the Bible understand that all events work out God’s great plan. Even war does not take God by surprise. The working out of His program is not affected by the violence of man: “Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain” (Ps. 76:10).
The first positive spin-off from World War I was the issuing of what is known as t he Balfour Declaration. Eager to involve the Jews on the side of the Allies and being especially concerned about their strategic location near the Suez Canal, British foreign secretary Arthur James Balfour, on November 2, 1917, sent the following declaration to Lord Rothschild expressing British sympathy with the cause of Zionism:
His Majesty’s Government views with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.
British support for the establishment of the State of Israel was now on paper and declared to the world. If the aim of that move was to gain Jewish participation in the war, it was successful. The publication of the Balfour Declaration produced Jewish volunteers for service from Great Britain and other nations, especially the United States. It appeared now that instead of destroying Zionism, as had been feared, World War I would actually play an important role in establishing the Jews in their land.
Freedom for Jerusalem!
The second important development in the wartime drama was the arrival there of British General Allenby. The conquest of Jerusalem became one of his first objectives, and the success of his effort is well known.
The Balfour Declaration had been issued on November 2, 1917. One month later, General Allenby freed Jerusalem from the Turks. On December 9, 1917, Allenby’s forces liber ated Jerusalem without firing a shot. When the Turks had discovered that a general was on the way whose name was Allenby (to them “Allah Bey” — the Prophet of God), they had taken this to mean God was against them and they evacuated the city. It is also said that seeing airplanes in battle for the first time panicked the Turks because they were aware of Isaiah’s promise of Jerusalem’s deliverance: “As birds flying, so will the LORD of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also he will deliver it; and passing over he will preserve it” (Isaiah 31:5).
Whatever the reasons, Jerusalem was free and the Jews rejoiced. And what a great occasion that victory must have been for General Allenby! He later told how as a boy as he knelt to say his evening prayers he had been taught by his mother to pray: “And O, Lord, we would not forget thine ancient people, Israel. Hasten the day when Israel shall again be Thy people and shall be restored to Thy favor and to their land.” At a reception given for him in London, Allenby said, “I never knew that God would give me the privilege of helping to answer my own childhood prayers.”
CHANGED LIVES-one at a time
Thank you Rexella for your teaching Yeshua’s gospel. I have learned so much from you over the years. I pray God’s blessing over you and your ministries.
Dear Dr. Rexella,
I have been listening to your teaching for about 20 years now. I have learned so much. I am looking forward to the Rapture because of your teaching. I praise the Lord for you. I am very excited about meeting you someday here or in heaven. Thank you for being such a warrior of the Faith. I love you so much, I also know Jesus does too. Keep up the good work.
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