Light in the darkness
That is who you are” – Way Maker
Yesterday I got news that a friend died from cancer. He leaves behind a wife, family and friends who are grieving his death. Tonight at church I had a hard time singing these lyrics to this song as I was processing my friend’s death. All a sudden I could not sing these words because I started to question why God did not heal my friend. If He is the miracle worker and promise keeper, why did He not heal my friend on this earth so that his family and friends do not need to feel this pain of him not being on this earth anymore?
There are many questions you ask when you are grieving and hurting. And it is hard to understand why God did not heal my friend on this earth. Why did my friend’s healing needed to include his death on earth? Why did he have to die at such young age? Why does his family and friends have to go through this pain? I do not have answers for these questions. I am a person that likes to know why. I do not know why my friend died and this truth is hard to grapple with.
Death has a hurt associated with it on earth as we as humans grieve a loss. Because this pain hurts and it is so real. I have felt it in the past and feel it now. Emotions are real and they are given to us by God to help process and experience life. But sometimes we have to be careful that we do not get caught in the hamster wheel of hopelessness when we are processing and experiencing our emotions.
In a time of grief, we can feel hopeless in our pain. But reality is that we can feel hope in a hopeless time. Tonight as a wrote out what I was feeling in my planner, I came to the conclusion that Jesus is my hope. Because He the source of my hope, I can have hope even when it seems hopeless. He does not break His promises to us. He is the source of miracles whether they are received here on earth or in heaven. He is a way maker when it seems like there is no way out. And my feelings do not negate these truths in this moment or any other moment.
Hannah in the Bible experienced this. In the midst of her pain of being barren, she cried out to God with her emotions but she anchored her hope in God even though her situation and pain did not change immediately. Her situation was hopeless and seemed impossible. Eventually she did receive her miracle of a son.
“In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”
As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.”
“Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”
Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”
She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.
Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the Lord and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.” 1 Samuel 1:10-20
So tonight as I write this blog post, I may not understand why my friend’s death occurred. And the emotions I am feeling are real but tonight I chose to believe God’s truth over my emotions. And I choose to anchor my hope in Jesus because He helps to carry my emotions as I walk this journey in what may seem hopeless at times.
Recently I have been faced with one of the hardest things that I have had to go through in my adult life. While I am still in the midst of it all, there are a few things I have learned in last couple weeks.
He is here with me in my sadness.
He is here with me in the joyous moments.
He is here with me in the moments that I don’t understand.
He is here with me when I pretend to be ok and ignore my feelings.
He is here with me when I don’t understand my feelings and can’t put a name to it.
There is a song that I have been identifying with the last couple weeks.
Maybe it’s ok if I’m not ok
‘Cause the One who holds the world is holding onto me
Maybe it’s all right if I’m not all right
‘Cause the One who holds the stars is holding my whole life
“Maybe It’s Ok”by We are Messengers.
While I don’t know when this will end, I do know that God with me in the midst of the storm. He is teaching me new things in this storm. I trust Him in the midst of the storm.
If you are going through a hard season in life, look at what you can learn through it all. Look to the peace in the storm rather than focusing on the storm.
You knew the shame and guilt I would struggle with and you still chose to create me!
You knew my failures in my life and you still chose to create me!
You knew the fears that would hold me back and you still chose to create me!
You knew my frustrations and you still chose to create me!
You knew my struggles and you still chose to create me!
You knew the insecurities I would struggle with and you still chose to create me!
You knew the pain and hurt I would carry and you still chose to create me!
You knew there were things I am going to choose over you and you still chose to create me!
You knew everything about me and you still chose to create me!
I created you because I knew that this world needed you in it. I created you for a purpose that only you can fill. And guess what, when I created you I told all of heaven with delight “look there is my beautiful daughter!” “My daughter, I love you more than you can imagine. Daughter, just as the grains of sand at the beach, the stars in the sky and the rain drops in a rain storm can not be counted. My love for you can not be counted.”
In life, we have some days when we are celebrating and other days when we are struggling. But no matter where we are at in any particular day, we can have a peace in our Father. The song “It is Well with my soul” was written in some of the toughest circumstances. But yet the writer, Horatio G. Spafford, was still able to say it is well with my soul.
Although Horatio was a successful business man in Chicago, him and his wife had several loses within a couple years. They lost their son at a young age in 1871. Then went on to lose most of his business the same year in a fire. Two years later, Horatio’s wife Anna and his 4 daughters were on a ship headed to Europe from the U.S. The ship they were collided with another ship. As a result of the collision, his four daughters died. Anna was the only one that survived from the family. Anna sent a message to Horatio “Saved alone, what shall I do?” Horatio booked a passage to join his wife. While he was on the ship headed to his wife, he wrote this song.
“When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
What ever my lot you have taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul
Though the devil will ruin, though trials may come
Let this blessed assurance control
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate
And He shed His own blood for my soul
It is well, with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul
My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought
My sin not in part but the whole
Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, oh my soul
And Lord haste the day when my faith shall be sight
And the clouds be rolled back as a scroll
The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend
Even so, it is well with my soul” by Horatio G. Spafford
This is one of the most beautiful hymns written in history. Some of the most beautiful things come out of the most broken people or circumstances. This song was written by a man whose heart was broken and lost almost everything in a short span of time.
After hearing this story, this song has become my favorite hymn. It is also reminder to me that even when life is hard and it does not make sense, it is well with my soul. Because of who my Savior is. He is Sovereign, Prince of Peace, the ultimate Lover, Comforter, Rock, Redeemer and Deliver.
So when life is tough, confusing, uncertain and painful, we can say it is well with my soul because of who our Savior is. I challenge you to find joy and peace in your Father as Horatio did in tragic times. It is in these moments that when we find what we need in God, we are hopeful And hope is what gives the strength to go to the next moment and to keep going from there.
Recently I went away with 100 some young adults and the weekend was filled with fellowship with others and God. The theme was come alive. And the weekend’s passage was on the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37:1-14.
“God grabbed me. God’s Spirit took me up and set me down in the middle of an open plain strewn with bones. He led me around and among them—a lot of bones! There were bones all over the plain—dry bones, bleached by the sun.He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “Master God, only you know that.”
He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones: ‘Dry bones, listen to the Message of God!’ “God, the Master, told the dry bones, “Watch this: I’m bringing the breath of life to you and you’ll come to life. I’ll attach sinews to you, put meat on your bones, cover you with skin, and breathe life into you. You’ll come alive and you’ll realize that I am God!”
I prophesied just as I’d been commanded. As I prophesied, there was a sound and, oh, rustling! The bones moved and came together, bone to bone. I kept watching. Sinews formed, then muscles on the bones, then skin stretched over them. But they had no breath in them.
He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath. Prophesy, son of man. Tell the breath, ‘God, the Master, says, Come from the four winds. Come, breath. Breathe on these slain bodies. Breathe life!’”
So I prophesied, just as he commanded me. The breath entered them and they came alive! They stood up on their feet, a huge army.
Then God said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Listen to what they’re saying: ‘Our bones are dried up, our hope is gone, there’s nothing left of us.’ “Therefore, prophesy. Tell them, ‘God, the Master, says: I’ll dig up your graves and bring you out alive—O my people! Then I’ll take you straight to the land of Israel. When I dig up graves and bring you out as my people, you’ll realize that I am God. I’ll breathe my life into you and you’ll live. Then I’ll lead you straight back to your land and you’ll realize that I am God. I’ve said it and I’ll do it. God’s Decree.’”
We were encouraged to look at the dry bones(areas) in our lives and ask for life to be brought to that area. And I thought of a few areas that I knew already that needed life but they were areas I have thought about before. And part of me thought I have this in the sense that this is nothing new. Until Saturday night Bryce Taylor preached, God grabbed my heart. He showed me through Bryce that I had a victim mentality with my past. Not in a way most people think but in a way of my relationship with God.
You see I struggle so much with people who have a victim mentality and who live in that. I live by this quote because there is so much truth in it and I have seen countless time where it has played out. “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it,” Charles Swindoll said this. And I do understand there is a time where someone needs process what has happened in their life. But I also believe that you can’t stay in that moment because we wouldn’t move forward in life and we will miss some of the great things God has in store for us. While I do not say this aloud it does sometimes go through my head, when I think the person should have worked through the hurt and pain in their life, my thought is that you just need to work through it and move on in life. What right do I have to say that? I have not walked their journey in life so I do not have the right to see when the person should not be living in the moment of their hurt and pain anymore.
Let’s go back to me now. That Saturday night God showed me that I will use my past as a crutch when I relate to Him. And the very thing that frustrates me when I see it in other people. He showed me that I am doing the same thing with Him. I see Him through this filter of my past hurts and pained how others have treated me. And I only allow God so close because if He gets any closer He might hurt me like other people in my life. And as a grow older and more mature in my walk with Him, I might let him a step closer but that is still a wall that I did not let Him past. Reality is that He will not hurt me and He will not leave me. “Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 Wow what a great promise! I decided that night that I am going to believe Him at His promises even when it is hard. And live in His truth not in the lies I have been told about me or about Him. Even when I may not fully believe it, I am going to tell myself these promises till I believe them with all my heart. And I am going to allow God to come closer than ever and no longer hold Him at an arm’s distance.
What area in your life needs life? Is there an area with your relationship with God where you are using your past as an excuse to not allow God to get past your wall?
Why do we feel the need to always give our opinion or give our take on a situation or a person? (I know its ironic that I am asking this questions on a blog.) But today I read a Facebook post that someone made a judgement about a different religion. As far as I know the person that made the judgement did not know the people they made the judgements about. It got me thinking why do we feel the need to make judgements about others just because of our differences. Too often we use our differences to make judgements to put a divider between us and the person we make judgements about.
When Jesus was asked about the greatest commandments, this is how he answered this question. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40 Jesus did not say that you don’t need to love the person that believes different than you. Or you don’t need to love the person that looks different than you. Or you don’t need to love the person who has hurt you and does not deserve your love. Or you don’t need to love the person the homeless person that crosses your path. Or you don’t need to love the person who decides to love differently than you. There were no exceptions in this commandment. God made every person on this earth different. We are called to love others. Too often we find a reason to not show God’s love to others. We should take time to get to know someone who we may want to pass a judgement on. If we did this we would find the person is not as different as we think. And most likely we would find this person is amazing and they can add a great value to our life.
Another thing to remember is that our words have impact. Too often we say words without thinking about the impact they have. Too often the words we say carelessly have an impact for a lifetime. It is up to us if we want our words to impact positively or negatively.
“While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.
Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.”
Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.
“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”
In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.” Matthew 26:46-56
I read this passage this morning in my devotions. And after I read it, I started to think about the emotions Jesus went through in this moment. Jesus built a friendship with a man who He knew that was going to betray him. Jesus did this to fulfill His purpose on earth.
I had to think if I knew someone was going to betray or hurt me, I would stay away from this person and not build a friendship with this person. But then I think to myself what if I knew building a friendship with someone who is going to betray/hurt me, will lead them to be introduced to His love or the friendship will lead them or me to their or my purpose in life. Would this make the hurt and the betrayal worth it if this would happen? While I am not advocating for us to willingly put ourselves in situations that we are going to be doormats and we are going to be abused. What I am saying Jesus still chose to build a relationship with Judas, so that our sins can be forgiven.
Sometimes we are asked to do hard things in life. Like show mercy and grace to a person who has betrayed us over and over again so this person can see the unconditional love of Jesus or to adopt a child that might have medical issues because of the choices of the biological parents. While God does not call us to an easy life, we can have the comfort that He is with us in those hard moments of life. And we are not doing it alone.
So what hard thing in life is God asking you to do?
Who will hurt for the little girl
that has been hurt so many times?
Who will hurt for the little girl
that sees the abuse and represses it to move on?
Who will hurt for the little girl
that sees hope in the future but doesn’t believe she deserves that hope?
Who will hurt for the little girl
that is crying out?
Who will hurt for the little girl
that wants to look past her past and not live in it?
Who will hurt for the little girl
that doesn’t believe she deserves what she has been given and what she will be given in the future?
Who will hold the little girl the next time she has been hurt?
Who said I will?
Me, Your Father, and I always will and always have whether you knew it or not. Your not alone despite your belief.
This poem I wrote when I was in college as I started to began to deal with affects of my past. Sometimes we need to just know that God is there holding us in the midst of pain and the tough times in life. It is in this comfort, He gives us peace for the situation we are going through. It is in His unconditional love for us that we have the strength to keep going. And the hope for a better future. In His love, healing happens if we allow Him to heal that hurt. So whatever your going through know that you have a Heavenly Father that loves you more than you can imagine. And He wants to walk through this journey called life with you. We are not created to live life alone.