Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Difficult Week Ahead

I've lost something dear to me this season.

The loss is yet very close to me, so I will keep the details to myself. But it now looks thoroughly, irrevocably gone. It was something about which I'd prayed long and hard, had others rooting and praying, really felt God was moving. Now I don't know. I may never know the mysteries of all that now. I won't try to sort it out; that just gets you tied up in knots.

But the disappointment is real. It's not the worst that one could imagine - I know many folks whose trials make this pale in comparison. But it's real for me. (And it does not help that it's twenty below outside and my pipes are frozen.)

I want to do something a respected mentor and friend of mine did recently in a loss of her own: she asked others to "be sad with her". Seems like a small detail, but I admired her for asking. Many of us are fearful to ask that much of others. I sure am. But God's grace should be sought in every corner it can be found - including his church.

"Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." - Romans 12:15

So...I'm just gonna say it. I need love this week. (Heck, we need it every week.) I need friendship. I need a little hope and encouragement. Save your strongest prayers for those undergoing true trials unto death, of course...but even so, pray for me a little this week, if you'd be so kind.

I didn't get what I hoped for. But you want to know the miracle I DID get?

I know exactly how this would have felt just two years ago. Honestly, it would have been dark. I was in a difficult place. I'd felt abandoned and unheard by God for a long time. The disappointments and challenges of life were feeling like rejections on his part. Back then, something like this would have been an enormous weight, an intense despondency. It would really, truly have challenged my faith.

Now...lightness. Stillness. Tears within a calmed soul.

The hurt is still present, mind you. But something inside just knows God is here. It knows. It's not worried. The tears come and go, and I'll probably remain tender for a little while. But no despair has taken root. No discouragement has clamped on.

I know what this is. Something deep down has been healed.

"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." - Psalm 147:3

For months now, I've been forcing myself to confess what I know to be true of God, out loud, when I pray and meditate. To challenge those unspoken lies that accumulate in the soul like mildew. It changes you. It shifts you deep down, carries power with it, renews your mind. There's zero power in praying to a Jehovah that doesn't exist...a distant one, an uncaring one, a powerless one, however the lies of loss, of religion, and of the world have painted him for you.

And now I'm seeing the work that truth has accomplished. It's night and day.

I still have questions. Where is God in this? What can be learned here? What does this mean for the future? But...they're just questions. There's no fear or grimness in them anymore.

God puts us back together. He binds up our wounds. And, like any wound requires, he then strengthens those parts of us so that they bear a load. What an incredible promise, even more than his perfect comfort. This is the life he offers.

Mourn with those who mourn this week. But there is something for which to rejoice as well.

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