So I spent about 4 hours tonight in the er…being poked, prodded and tested. I went in with severe pain in the right side of my abdomen. I left 4 hours later with the same pain, despite 2 morphene shots. Once again, I heard those gut-wrenching words “we don’t know what’s wrong with you…can’t explain why you are in pain. But here’s a prescription for narcotic pain meds…”. That’s the point where I stop listening. I’ve heard all this before. I’ve heard this at just about every doctors visit I’ve been to for the past two years. I don’t understand why God is choosing to allow me to suffer and yet giving neither me nor the doctors the wisdom to know what to do. It is so frustrating. I am so weak and yet at the same time so angry. I’m 28…is this what I have to look forward to the rest of my life? Why won’t God answer the thousands of prayers that have been prayed for healing of my body? Why do we have to keep going through this? And in the middle of all this God just calmly says “look to me. I am faithful.”. Honestly right now that doesn’t seem enough. I don’t want faithful. I want answers. And yet at the same time I know like Job, I cannot demand from this all-powerful God. He does as he pleases. He does not have to explain his ways to me. But then I come back to the Psalms “do the dead rise up to praise you, God? Where is the faithfulness you showed to our fathers? Has it ceased?”. And yet I know those spats hold no bearing. Of course his faithfulness continues. I know it in the fact that I’ve been given the right to call Him my Father. Its been shown through every breath He’s given me…even the ones where it hurts to breathe. How much more did Paul understand of this Jesus than do I. He rejoiced in the prison. I bring my feeble and weak complaints to an almighty God who has the power to strike me dead. Yet he doesn’t. Even that is mercy. Do I want healing for this body? Absolutely! I’m tired of living life in pain day after day just doing what you can to get by. But then what I wrote this morning comes back into mind…bless the Lord. My soul that is so prone to despair, bless His holy name. Sigh. Exhausted and weary, I pray for grace to fall asleep resting there…
lately i seem to be back into a season where the dots just don’t seem to connect. i’m weary. physically i’m weak. emotionally i’m tired. spiritually i’m worn down and dry. mentally i’m… well, i guess i’ve never been right in that area… :)
i have failed to cling to my hope in Christ. i’ve failed to trust Him to provide. i’ve questioned whether God really wants what’s best for me. i’ve accused Him of forgetting me… or simply leading me on only to later disappoint.
i’m powerless to lift myself from the pit that i am in.
and then i’m reminded of the gospel… Christ came to lift me from my own self-made destruction and misery. He came to give me a rock of hope to cling to that will never fail… not in physical pain, loneliness, confusion, darkness… never. He promised He would never leave me.
that applies not only to the day He redeemed my soul 4 years ago but for today as well. in the middle of a migraine, He holds me. In the middle of my questioning His goodness, He holds me secure in His arms of love. In the middle of loneliness, He never leaves my side. In my tired weariness, He reminds me that He is the God who watches over me and He never sleeps. There is never a moment when He is not in control of every event of my life.
I’m reminded of the hymn “Be Still my Soul.” While visiting Covenant Life a few weeks ago, we sang this song… its been in my head ever since. It is such a great example of “talking to yourself” instead of “listening to yourself.”
I think my favorite line is “be still my soul your Jesus can repay from His own fulness all He takes away.”
In the past few years, its obvious with even a brief glance at my life that God has taken much. He’s taken friends. He’s taken people I looked to and respected. He’s taken a sense of belonging and home. He’s taken my health. He’s taken much more.
But I have the promise that He will never take His presence from me. And knowing that, nothing else matters. I’d rather Him take my health, security and comfort than to leave all those and take His presence..
That is the reason that my soul can be still. That is the reason my weary soul can find hope. I am just praying for grace that God will connect those dots…
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. (Psalm 62:5-8)
Be still, my soul: the Lord is on your side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to your God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: your best, your heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Be still, my soul: your God will undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Your hope, your confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.
Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt you better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe your sorrow and your fears.
Be still, my soul: your Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.
Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and blessèd we shall meet at last.
Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
On earth, believing, to your Lord on high;
Acknowledge Him in all your words and ways,
So shall He view you with a well pleased eye.
Be still, my soul: the Sun of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.
ever have those times where you ask “What are you doing, God?” I know His ways are higher than mine. I know that He loves me and give and takes for my good. I know what He’s given me, He also has the right to take away when He should choose. And I know looking back that every time God has taken something from me its always been for my good, even though immensely painful and gut-wrenching at times. I know that though things can be taken, that nothing can separate me from His love. How I need that love to hold me close today. How I long for my war-torn heart to rest there.
God seems to be shifting me from one furnace to another. And I am as unhappy with this appointment as I was with the last. How I long for it to end. Trials are a funny thing like that… you beg and beg for them to end and as soon as they do you realize that you’ve learned so much more than ever possible had you not gone through that trial. So as incomprehensible as it seems to your feelings, you find yourself thanking God for what you just walked through. And simultaneously you pray that you’d never have to go through it again. In many ways, that’s where I’m at. I’m grateful for the trials that God has carried me through because I know to a greater degree the depths of His love, care and compassion towards me. But as I face yet again another trial, I approach it with the same dread and horror as I faced the last. Horror because as God is calling me to pick up my cross and follow Him, I’m seeing the death, pain, suffering and heartache that accompanies that cross. And nothing in me wants to go there.
Yet somehow my loving Shepherd has promised to be with me each step of the way. He has promised to complete what He has begun. He has already cared for me time after time and He is faithful. Because of that, through His strength to hold me, with His help, I will rest in His control over this. I am choosing to look past the pain, to look past the cross to my Strong Deliverer, who defeated the power of death and the cross. He will preserve me by His mercy. He is my Rock in the middle of the storms. God has promised to complete what He’s begun, therefore I can have hope that He will keep me safe and true in Him…even here, even in this, even though nothing in me wants this.
Somehow I’m excited to see God provide. As He keeps taking and in my mind its getting even more difficult for Him to provide, I look to my Jehovah-Rophe with hopeful anticipation to meet my needs and comfort my sorrows. I haven’t really known what to say lately because it seems there are no words to describe the unutterable ache in my soul. Nothing seems sufficient other than crying to my Maker… the One who knows me and will never leave me alone. So, in my loneliness, I look to the One who will never leave, abandon or forsake. In my pain, I look to the One who suffered in my place. In my despair, I look to the only One who was ever forsaken by God with gratitude that He will not leave me here. And in my moments (or days) when I just want to complain, I remember how good He has been to me. The God who restored my broken soul and gave me life, the God who gives me a reason for joy in my mourning, the God who drew me through His kindness and irresistable love… that God will not quit. So I look to Him.
God, give me grace to trust you
When I cannot see the way.
The faith to place my hope in you
Though all around gives way
It is a gift and how I need
Your guidance and your care
Please help me Lord to trust in you
And not give in to fear.
Please, be my strength and confidence
Though I don’t understand
When nothing here makes any sense
I know you hold my hand
Lord, be my Advocate and Guide
Protect me as we go
Give my heart hope to realize
That I am not alone.
Let that truth shape reality
Though I don’t see your plan
E’en when I cannot hear your voice
Still you hold me in your hands.
This video is a song that was sung by Jon Payne at the Worship God 08 conference. It was directed towards folks who have lost a child. The reason I’m sharing it here is because of the chorus. God has used the words to encourage me many times since I first heard it in August.
Currently I’m in a season of trial that has been extremely challenging for me. I’ve found it nearly impossible to put my hope in God and to see Him as bigger than the circumstances He’s walking me through. I’ve struggled to hear His voice, struggled to see His guiding hand and felt often that He has abandoned me to figure this all out on my own. I’ve found myself doubting His goodness, failing to cling to His grace, and accusing His charachter.
And then He brought this song to mind… “you are lonely but never alone, afflicted but not abandoned. You are suffering but not severed from my love.”
So, how I feel is like Martin Luther did once… that God is dead. Functionally, that’s how I feel. But praise be to God, how I feel doesn’t dictate what is true. Rather, truth is unchanging… no matter what storms and doubts arise. What is true is what is written in Psalm 46:1
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
My God is intimately acquainted with my ways (Psalm 139:3), He keeps me (Psalm 121), He is the reason I don’t have to fear (Psalm 27), He shepherds and guards even when I lack trust and faith (Psalm 78), He upholds me as I cling to Him (Psalm 62).
I am praying that God would do for me what He did for Jeremiah… that He would allow these words to come to life in such a way that would give me joy in my despair. That He would feel very present in this time of trouble and that like Peter wrote, He would allow me to rejoice in my suffering because I’m aware that He is loving and always gracious to me.
This is part of an e-mail that I just sent to a friend of mine… but i so constantly need the reminder as well…
Remember – the faithful God who called you is the One who is working now in your life (even in the so many ways you don’t understand and don’t like) and He is the One who has promised to complete what He began (lovingly, tenderly, passionately, and with more care than you’ve ever experienced before in your life).
You’re not lost, simply wandering all alone … you’re being led down this path by a Sovereign Shepherd that cares for your emotions and heart. He wants what’s best for you and is gently, tenderly leading you right now.
I just feel that you need to be reminded of that. Don’t turn away from that care… keep minute by minute entrusting your soul to Him who judges rightly. He is trustworthy. Read Psalm 139. (to help you out, I’ve included it below… as well as some additional thoughts that I hope and pray are a help and comfort to you)
1 O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.
5 You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
(this is not a scary God that simply keeps track of all our thoughts and deeds. He is a God that understands our weakness and loves us wholeheartedly. That’s why this knowledge is wonderful. Do not be afraid of the fact that He knows all your thoughts. Do not fear that He has hemmed you in – though confined beyond what you would choose, His hand is upon you.)
7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
(find comfort in this truth, do not fear His presence. Do not fear His Spirit. He is a Comforter and He longs to comfort your weary heart!)
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
(even when all seems dark. Even when I feel swallowed up by the darkness, He is holding me)
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
(in the midst of darkness and confusion, I can praise God for His awesome sovereignty!)
15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.
19 If only you would slay the wicked, O God! Away from me, you bloodthirsty men!
20 They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD, and abhor those who rise up against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
(even when He searches and finds something in me that is offensive, do not forget the gospel – don’t forget “it is finished” applies there too because I am a beloved, cherished child of the almighty God that is overwhelming with compassion and forgiveness.)
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”- Ephesians 3:20-21
– immeasurably beyond what we ask or think… this is just ONE LOOK!!!! He is a Comforter… find 9 more of these, and find rest in the midst of the battle you are facing.
He looks up to his Father. His Father looks back, but Jesus doesn’t recognize these eyes. They pierce the invisible world with fire and darken the visible sky. And Jesus feels dirty. He hangs between earth and heaven filthy with human discharge on the outside and now filthy with human wickedness on the inside.
The Father speaks: “Son of Man! Why have you sinned against me and heaped scorn on my great glory? You are self-sufficient and self-righteous—consumed with yourself and puffed up and selfishly ambitious. You rob me of my glory and worship what’s inside of you instead of looking out to the one who created you. You are a greedy, lazy, gluttonous slanderer and gossip. You are a lying, conceited, ungrateful, cruel adulterer. … You are lukewarm and easily enticed by the world. You covet and can’t have so you murder. You are filled with envy and rage and bitterness and unforgiveness. You blame others for your sin and are too proud to even call it sin. You are never slow to speak. And you have a razor tongue that lashes and cuts with its criticism and sinful judgment. Your words do not impart grace. Instead your mouth is a fountain of condemnation and guilt and obscene talk. … You have no self-control. You are a betrayer who stirs up division and factions. You’re a drunkard and a thief. You’re an anxious coward. You do not trust me. You blaspheme against me. …The list of your sins goes on and on. And I hate these things inside of you. I’m filled with disgust for you and indignation for your sin consumes me. Now, drink my cup!”
And Jesus does. He drinks for hours. He downs every drop of the scalding liquid of God’s own hatred of sin mingled with his white-hot wrath against that sin. This is the Father’s cup: omnipotent hatred and anger for the sins of every generation past, present, and future. Omnipotent wrath directed at one naked man hanging on a cross.
The Father can no longer look at his beloved Son, his heart’s treasure, the mirror-image of himself. And he diverts his gaze.
Jesus pushes himself upward and howls to heaven, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Jesus pushes himself up again and cries, “It is finished.” And it is. Every sin of every child of God had been laid on Jesus and he drank the cup of God’s wrath dry.
-following post originally posted at http://www.theblazingcenter.com/
When the storms of life strike with fury it can seem like God has turned on his answering machine and dozed off. We can doubt if he hears our prayers. Does God really know how bad we have it? We may think Hey, we’re suffering down here – is there anybody up there?
The Israelites probably felt like that. They groaned under the whip of Egyptian thugs and cried out to God for rescue. But they received no answer. The heavens must have seemed like brass. Could God see them suffering? Was he off running the universe with no time for them? Was anybody home?
During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew. Exodus 2:23-25
This passage tells us 4 things to remember in our trials.
First of all, God heard.
Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to him. He heard their prayers. He wasn’t tuned out, listening to his iPod. He wasn’t distant and uninterested, but nearby and attentive. Not only did God hear their cries, he heard their groaning. What a wonderful God we have – he hears not only our prayers, but our sighs and inarticulate groans. Just as a father hears the groans of his suffering child and has compassion, so does God hear our groans with pity. We should never think God doesn’t listen to our prayers. The God who heard Jonah’s cry from the whale’s belly and Israel’s cry in Egyptian slavery hears us. The Lord who collects our tears in his bottle hears our every whispered request.
Secondly, God remembered.
He remembered his covenant. Not that God had forgotten it. But he remembered his covenant with intent to act upon it. God remembers his covenant that he made with his children through Christ. He remembers his promises to never stop doing good to us. He recalls his promise to work all things for our good. He remembers his promise to never leave us nor forsake us. If Christ has saved you, never ever think that God has forgotten you.
Third, God saw.
He saw the Egyptian bullies beating his children. If I saw someone picking on one of my kids, I’d be on it like a hawk on a field mouse. Nothing in all creation is hidden from his gaze. God has his eye on your suffering and has compassion on you. He’s not asleep. He sees the sparrows in your back yard. How much more does he see you, the apple of his eye, his child through Christ.
Lastly, God knew.
He knew what was happening. And he knew what he was going to do. He knew he would bring Egypt to its knees and deliver Israel with a mighty hand. God looks at you and knows. He knows what you’re facing in infinite detail. And he knows exactly how he’s going to help you. He knows the second your troubles began and the second he will stop them.
God hears, remembers, sees and knows. Cry out to him today. He’s waiting to help.
I was reading on Carolyn McCulley’s blog this morning and came across the post listed below. What struck me was God’s faithfulness despite Naomi’s complaining. Even in “Marah” God was faithful. Even through the bitterness there, He turned the waters sweet… How kind of God to provide for his stupid dull disciples like Naomi and me…
God’s Grace to Grumblers
Last month, I mentioned Iain Duguid’s commentary on Esther and Ruth. It was one of the best books I read in 2007. There are so many wonderfully wise nuggets in it. One insight I particularly enjoyed was about Naomi. I often use Naomi’s life as an illustration when I speak, encouraging women not to survey their circumstances and conclude that what they can perceive is all the God is doing. But I’ve never noted this particular aspect of God’s mercy being revealed even in the new name that Naomi gave herself (“Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara”) when she returned home to Bethlehem:
Like Naomi, we may be so busy complaining about our emptiness that we miss the fact that God has emptied our hands only in order to fill them with something so much better. Without Naomi’s emptiness, she would never have left Moab behind and returned to the land of promise. Had she stayed contentedly “full” (as she thought) in Moab, Naomi would have missed out on the far greater blessing of a prime place in the history of redemption. She was so caught up in what she had lost, however, that she could not yet see the far greater treasure she had been given in Ruth, a token of God’s grace to her. . . .
Even calling herself Mara should have caused Naomi to ponder more deeply the events that took place in that wilderness location, where in spite of his people’s grumbling, God nonetheless turned the bitter water into sweet, and thereby demonstrated that he was “the Lord, your healer” (Ex. 15:26). Was that deliverance from their pain a reward for their goodness? Certainly not! It was a landmark measure of God’s unfailing goodness and mercy upon an undeserving, rebellious, and grumbling people. Marah was not just the definitive place of grumbling bitterness, it was also the place where God’s grace to grumblers was definitively displayed.
For some of you, the turning of the year may have been bittersweet. Perhaps you were able to close the door on a year dotted with loss and difficulty, but you look into the blank canvas of a new year with doubt and maybe even distrust. Like Naomi, you don’t want people to call you pleasant any longer. But before you assign yourself the name of bitter, I hope you will take time to ponder God’s quiet providence to both the wandering and grumbling Israelites and the despairing widow Naomi. God’s grace to grumblers is evident throughout Scripture and even throughout our own personal experiences.
So it is with more confidence in the Father of mercies than in our present circumstances that I wish you the happiest of new years.
original post can be found at http://solofemininity.blogs.com/posts/2008/01/from-empty-to-f.html
Job Replies: Where Is God?
Then Job answered and said: “Today also my complaint is bitter; my hand is heavy on account of my groaning. Oh, that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his seat! I would lay my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments. I would know what he would answer me and understand what he would say to me. Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power? No; he would pay attention to me. There an upright man could argue with him, and I would be acquitted forever by my judge. “Behold, I go forward, but he is not there, and backward, but I do not perceive him; on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him; he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him. But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold. My foot has held fast to his steps; I have kept his way and have not turned aside. I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food. But he is unchangeable, and who can turn him back? What he desires, that he does. For he will complete what he appoints for me, and many such things are in his mind. Therefore I am terrified at his presence; when I consider, I am in dread of him. God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me; yet I am not silenced because of the darkness, nor because thick darkness covers my face.