So far NOT the “Happy New Year” we were lookin’ for?
Some things we just can’t FIX. Can’t even think what WOULD fix it. Don’t even know WHAT to pray for. We feel the pain in our actual physical heart, JUST like thorns.
Took me this long to crawl back to the computer and share what I’ve learned from the Lord’s own ever present mercy. Hope it helps you somehow too.
Early in this recent dark tunnel, reeling from shock and despair, I poured my heart out to a friend. “I don’t even know WHAT to PRAY for!” I sobbed.
God spoke through her straight into my heart. “Well, how did Job feel when he lost everything? What about Abraham’s gut pain when God told him to kill his own son? Did THEY know what to ask God for?”
No. They didn’t either. Suddenly I didn’t feel so alone.
Misery DOES love company. And such good company! Two icons of the Bible right there, hopes dashed, hearts broken, no clue what to ask God for.
That gave me the strength to sit before the Lord WITHOUT any “answers” of my own. WITHOUT a request for a specific thing. Just with my broken heart and confused faith. Was able to OPEN myself to Him and WAIT for the “why” and the “what.” You know…TRUST HIS LOVE.
The Lord led me to a scripture that reassured me and shocked me at the same time. Isaiah 41 where he promises His love and care, then His judgment against faithless perpetrators. As people of faith, none of us being hurt were fighting back. We offered love and help and forgiveness every way we knew how. All rebuffed. Leaving us shocked and dismayed. But never seeking revenge or knowing what to do at all.
Spiritual mentors for hundreds of years have called these hard times the “dark night of the soul.” We feel alone and wonder what we did wrong. The World says “get over it” and some say “be grateful” and friends say “get even” and none of it works in the darkest places.
We feel shame because our faith doesn’t instantly fill the void with peace and joy. We even try our own toxic little cures: food, drugs, sex, shopping… Nope. Nuttin’ works. I felt shame because I had a hard time loving someone who could do those things to us. Felt like I should try harder to accept them, get help for them.
On the ninth day of our stunned suffering, the one wounding us did it to themselves. Revealed themselves to everyone, did the one thing that gave us peace to walk away.
God protected us while they did it. Got us the help and affirmation we needed.
It was like a popped pimple. Pus all around and complete healing yet to come. But opened in a new way I never knew to ask for or expect. Only the WORK of healing yet to do. Not the fear of what or why or how. Because God did what needed done. Like He said.
And what am I learning?
–Well, not to ASK so much as TRUST. Was more into BEGGING before. Figuring it out myself and begging God to do it. This one I couldn’t figure out. Good to know, Lord! And thank You!
–Learning to quit worrying what other people think of me, sit before the Lord and ask Him instead. His “Beloved” answers my “ashamed.” Huge. Try it.
–Learning He does, indeed, “turn it all to good.” Even the impossible seeming things. (Romans 8:28)
–Learning to walk in a new FREEDOM … we don’t have to have the answers. Don’t have to be theologians. Just have to choose His way, do the best we can, trust His love. “It was for freedom Christ set us free” Galatians affirms. And there’s all kinds of freedom.
–Learning a bit more about “good vs evil” too, I don’t mind saying. Those NOT laying their lives before the altar of God’s Truth and love are handy tools to the spirits NOT of Him. We tend to think the devil is just a joke in a red satin suit for Halloween. Uh….no. Him and his fallen cohorts are still here, “prowling around like a lion, seeking someone to devour.” (I Peter 5:8). Whispering to some more than others. But GOD is still in control.
–And that we do not have to be PERFECT. He sets our holy GOALS and we study and admire them. But only He was ever perfect and came down here to take us across that rickety bridge because He knew we couldn’t.
–Mainly, learning to trust that God is is doing the very thing we ASKED Him to do when we CAME to Him in the first place—shaping our SOULS to live with Him forever. A high and holy thing. And sometimes very painful, like any surgery.
So what do we do, when we wash up on the shore of that lake of tears? What DO we do with our fragile faith?
Same as ol’ brother Job, from the top of the ash heap after he lost everything—children, money, health: “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” (Job 1:21)
Praise Him ANYWAY. Hope and pray. Wait.
When we reach around the pain, He is there. Slowly the darkness lifts. We hear His voice: “There is now no condemnation.” What? Not even our own? We AREN”T bad? He loves us ANYWAY?
The tears still leak out, but we let them cleanse, not drown us.
Feel that pain? The holy shaping of an eternal soul. WHEW. NOT all for nothing! All for EVERYTHING!!!
So take heart, my fellow pilgrims. The dark is very confusing at first. Hard. But when our eyes can ONLY SEE GOD and NOTHING ELSE, it opens a new treasure in our souls.
All that we have and all that we offer
Comes from a heart both frightened and free.
Take what we bring now and give what we need.
All done in his name.
(Gary Ault, 1969)
I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
11 “All who rage against you
will surely be ashamed and disgraced;
those who oppose you
will be as nothing and perish.
13 For I am the Lord your God
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you. Isiah 41:9-13
So we do not lose heart. .. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison II Corinthians 4:16-17
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; Colossians 3:12
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1