The Third Woman

 

The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy. Zephaniah 3:17

It may be that while reading this there is a crushing sorrow, bitter disappointment, or heart-breaking blow going on in your life right now, something you did not expect. In the midst of it you are seeking the Lord’s loving hand, help, and wisdom as you have done in the past. Yet there seems to be silence from Him this time around, and you wonder why? As your situation develops, for it seems to have gotten worse, the Lord’s silence almost becomes deafening. You ponder, over and over again, “What have I done and why is the Lord so silent?

But from God’s end He is fully aware of your heart breaking circumstance, and even though He is not doing with you as He has done before, that does not mean He doesn’t love or care for you any less.

In respect to this there is an old and beautiful story I ran across several years ago of a Christian woman who had a dream one night. In it she saw three other women kneeling in prayer, and as they prayed the Lord drew near.

As He approached the first of the three, He bent over her in tenderness and grace, smiled, put His hand on her shoulder, and then spoke words of encouragement and comfort.

Leaving her, He came to the next, but only placed His hand upon her bowed head, and gave her one look of loving approval.

With the third woman He passed almost abruptly by without stopping for a glance or a word.

While still dreaming, the woman thought to herself, “How greatly the Lord must have loved the first, and even the second to whom he gave strong approval. Yet to the third, there was almost nothing given to her at all, no outward demonstration of love, or a word.

The woman sought the Lord out and voiced her concern as to why there was a different response to each of the three women, especially to the last one. “What has she done to deserve Your silence,” she asked?

The Lord responded, “O woman! How wrongly have you interpreted Me. The first kneeling woman needs all the weight of My tenderness and care to keep her strong in the faith. She needs My love, thought and help every moment of the day. Without it she would fail and fall.

“The second had a stronger faith and a deeper love, and I can trust her to trust Me however things may go and whatever people may do to her.”

“The third, whom I seemed not to notice, and even to neglect, has faith and love of the finest quality, and she I am training, by quick and drastic processes for higher service. She knows Me so intimately, and trusts Me so utterly, that she is independent of words or looks or any outward intimation of My approval. She is not dismayed nor discouraged by any circumstances through which I arrange that she shall pass; she trusts Me when sense and reason and every finer instinct of the natural heart would rebel; she knows that I am working in her for eternity, and that what I do, though she knows not the explanation now, she will understand hereafter.”

The woman woke up from her dream, and realized that she was that third woman. She was greatly encouraged and rarely fretted again about God’s silence in her life.

Reference

This devotional was inspired by Streams in the Desert, Cowan, February ninth.