“Streams in the Desert”

Years ago, when my wife and I were beginning to serve the Lord, a wonderful woman mentored my wife and, in the course of time, gave her a daily devotional book called Streams in the Desert.  The book was written by Mrs. Charles Cowman, who worked with her husband as a pioneer missionary in Japan and China from 1901 to 1917. When Mr. Cowman’s poor health forced the couple to return to the United States, Mrs. Cowman turned her attention to caring for her husband until his death six years later. Out of her experiences arose Streams in the Desert. The devotional is a compilation of her own thoughts, as well as excerpts from other writers that ministered to her during the lonely days and nights laboring in obscurity at her husband’s bedside. For a number of years, Streams was the daily spiritual piece Lucinda and I partook of together. Even now, she routinely reads to me a daily offering that particularly touched her. The following she shared with me in the pre-dawn hours this morning. I hope you are encouraged by it half as much as I was.

Blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended by me. (Luke 7:23)

It is sometimes very difficult not to be offended in Jesus Christ, for the offense may be the result of my circumstances. I may find myself confined to narrow areas of service, or isolated from others through sickness or by taking an unpopular stance, when I had hoped for much wider opportunities. Yet the Lord knows what is best for me, and my surroundings are determined by Him. Wherever He places me, He does so to strengthen my faith and power and to draw me into closer communion with Himself. And even if confined to my dungeon, my soul will prosper.

The offense that causes me to turn from Christ may be emotional. I may be continually confused and troubled over questions I cannot solve. When I gave myself to Him, I hoped my skies would always be fair, but often they are overcast with clouds and rain. But I must believe that when difficulties remain, it is that I may learn to trust Him completely—to trust and not be afraid. And it is through my mental and emotional struggles that I am being trained to tutor others whom are being tossed by the storm.

The offense causing me to turn away may be spiritual. I had imagined that once within His fold, I would never again suffer from the stinging winds of temptation. Yet it is best for me the way it is, for when I endure temptation His grace is magnified, my own character matures, and heaven seems sweeter at the end of the day. Once I arrive at my heavenly home, I will look back across the turns and trials along my path and will sing the praises of my Guide. So whatever comes my way, I will refuse to be offended in my loving Lord. (By Alexander Smellie)

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