Friday, December 30, 2016

When Death Feels Hopeless

My grandma died this week.

As far as we know, she died without Jesus.

The news of her death brought immediate heartache, pain and tears....and a genuine feeling of hopelessness. The weight of "it's too late" pressed down and left a numbness in it's place. A void that can't easily be filled. An unsettledness that drives words away and leaves a loud silence.

What hope is there in the knowledge that one I have loved so dearly may forever be separated from God? How could mourning and grieving ever give way to peace, let alone joy, when I consider my grandma and her soul?

These are questions I have been asking myself.

And as I contemplated the Word of God, as I read some wise thoughts from others*, and as I began to preach truth to myself...I was reminded that hope and joy and peace are never found by looking horizontally at others. True hope and joy and peace only come from one Source. They come from God. They come from fixing our eyes on His character and His truth. "Search for the Lord and for His strength; seek His face always." (I Chron. 16:11) Only when I start there, can I see the horizontal through a proper lens and, only then, can I find hope in what seems hopeless, joy in the midst of pain, and peace where there seems to be no peace.

Here are just a few of the truths that are helping me to see this situation through a Biblical lens:

God is good: "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever." Psalm 107:1

God always does what is right: "The Lord is righteous in all His ways and gracious in all His acts." Psalm 145:17

God's plans have been ordained before time began: " I have planned, so it will be; as I have purposed it, so it will happen." Isaiah 14:24

God's ways are not my ways: "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways." This is the Lord's declaration. "For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9

God is compassionate and merciful: "Therefore the Lord is waiting to show you mercy, and is rising up to show you compassion, for the Lord is a just God. Happy are all who wait patiently for Him." Isaiah 30:18

God is enough: "I say: The Lord is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in Him." Lamentations 3:24

"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Parts I Leave Out

"Lord, be gracious to us! We wait for You. Be our strength every morning and our salvation in time of trouble."  Isaiah 33:2

I read this passage last night and realized how often, in my own life, I find myself leaving out the middle section of that verse as I go about life. 

Oh, I want the Lord to be gracious to me. I desperately need His undeserved favor and kindness. I know there is no hope without His grace in my life...but do I wait for Him? Do I seek to "be still, and know that He is God"? Do I patiently fix my eyes on the Lord and look to Him with joyful expectation...even when the Lord sees fit, in His grace, to withhold what I desire for days, weeks, months, or even years? Or do I try to manipulate situations to achieve the outcome I am looking for? Do I grumble and complain and seek to drag others into my misery or worse, blame them? Do I doubt the goodness of God and profane the very name that gave me life instead of clinging to Him because He is my life and length of days?

And then there is the Lord's salvation. How my heart rejoices that the Lord is my salvation in times of trouble! There is nothing that will ever come to me that has not first gone through His mighty hands. His salvation has ransomed my life and keeps me. With such a great salvation, you would think there would never be a moment's worry or fear about the details of daily life. After all, God's grace is enough and His Word tells us it's sufficient at all times, in all things, for all that we need (2 Cor. 9:8)...but, how often do I show my very doubt of that belief when I do not seek Him and cry out for His strength each and every day? How often do my feet fly out of bed with thoughts of how much I need to do, how overwhelmed I'm already feeling, and how full the day at hand will be? Somewhere, in those moments, I have forgotten to take my thoughts captive to obey Christ, to cling to His Word, and renew my mind with His thoughts. For He says that my days are already numbered and ordered...even down to the good works He has planned for me to do. His Word reminds me that His strength is perfected in my weakness. His truth beckons my heart to not worry about anything but pray and give thanks in all things. 
What amazing grace! What a great salvation is ours! May our lips declare both those truths, while not neglecting the precious commands to wait on the Lord and find our daily strength in His almighty hands. May we be women who do not have imaginary holes in our Bibles because of the parts we have left out but may we be those who obey and cling to the whole counsel of God's Word and may His decrees be our delight and our counselors! (Psalm 119:24)