When It’s Hard to Read the Bible

Over the years I have fallen in love with reading the Word of God.  I love the truth that I find there, the promises, the grace, the freedom.  But when my heart is heavy and I get depressed, I feel a war on my spirit that tries to keep me from the Word.  I get caught up in sadness and loneliness.  I know that in the Word I can find truth and comfort, and yet I get so sad that I don’t want to read.  And I sure don’t want to write about it.

I’ve been in that place over the last few weeks.  I have days when I want to read and write and pray, and other days when I can’t even hardly look at the Bible on the table, let alone read it.  There is life there and I push it away in frustration, anger, hurt, sadness, or doubt.  Why?

Because the Bible is no more an instant fix to my problems than Jesus.  While it is a comfort and it holds truth and life, it doesn’t change the situations I’m in.  It doesn’t fix all the worry or struggles I’m facing.  It doesn’t shoot out twenty dollar bills when I open it, or cause wars to cease in the world or in my heart.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
1 Corinthians 13:12

Because the Bible is only a glimpse of God.  It’s only a taste of things to come.  It offers the answer to life’s biggest problem: what can be done about the evil in the world, and how can we be saved from the evil in our own hearts.  But the final judgement is yet to come.  And until then, I’m stuck in this world, with the promises of God warring with the evil in my own heart.

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
Romans 7:18-20

So my sin will keep acting within me.  I know the promises of God are true.  I know that my only salvation from the evil of my own heart and the world is found in Jesus.  And I know that He has given me the promise of His salvation by putting a deposit of His own Spirit within me.

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
Ephesians 1:13-14

And until that day that Jesus returns and I receive that full inheritance promised me.  I must accept the fact that I’m going to have bad days.  I’m going to have days of sin and doubt.  Then enemy continues to war against me.  My own sin wars against me.  The sin of others wars against me.  All of the things of this world war against me.  I’ve got to be patient.  I’ve got to wait it out.  I’m not alone.  We suffer together, struggling with the war that rages all around us.  And we’ll all get through it.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
1 Peter 5:6-10

So, have hope.  It’s not over yet.  And Jesus will restore us.  That’s a promise.

Set Your Face Toward Jerusalem

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?
Luke 9:23-25

Father, the cost of following You is great.  It’s so great that most of the time we don’t even get it.  I don’t get it. It’s the complete opposite of my nature. Yet, You have given me Your Spirit and so in the depth of my soul I know Your Truth.  I know the path. And I know the cost. I’ve felt it. I’ve experienced it. The longer I walk on Your path, the more I see how much the world doesn’t understand it.

51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. 53 But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54 And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”55 But he turned and rebuked them.
Luke 9:51-55

You fixed Your eyes on Jerusalem, Jesus.  And I, too, will keep my eyes fixed there.  Because Jerusalem meant death in the eyes of the world, but it means glory to You.  Jerusalem is Your Majesty revealed. It’s where Heaven and earth become one. It is Your city.  It is Your Kingdom. It is the place where Your promise to the world is fulfilled.

Sometimes it becomes hard to understand that Your eyes are fixed on the prize for us when we think You don’t see our needs or our pain.  Like the Samaritan village that rejected you, or the disciples who pondered which one of them was greatest, we look at You and say in our hearts, “What have you done for me?”  Your disciples were ready to destroy that village! They didn’t even know that they were being hypocrites. They weren’t being like children, ready to accept Your will and Your plan without an explanation.  They could only see the rejection.

A child doesn’t question your intentions toward them, or Your intentions toward anyone.  They just see Your face, accept Your love, and find the peace and joy that You offer. But, Lord, it’s really hard to put reason and logic of the world behind.  Living in this world hurts! From the moment of our birth we are moving toward death. Our lives become filled with obligation and work and a chorus of demands that tries to drown out Your peace.

46 An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest.47 But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side 48 and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”
Luke 9:46-48

Lord, the one who is least among us, is the one who stops focusing on the praise of men or the world.  The one whose eyes are focused on You and Your Kingdom first is the one who finds peace. So, Lord, help me to keep my face set toward Jerusalem.  Your majesty is revealed there. And I will trust Your plan!

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Matthew 6:33

Trust

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

I am having a hard time processing things, God.  It’s been brought to my attention that I’ve not had humility in regard to all that has happened over the last few weeks.  Lord, my heart is to lift You up. My heart is to acknowledge your sovereignty amidst the trials and tribulations of this world.  You said to us that in this world we would have trouble. And Lord, we have had our share of trouble. But is it trouble to magnify your name when my world is collapsing around me?  Is it trouble to focus on your redemptive power and your reconciling love when I’m being tossed to and fro by the seas of chaos that dominate this world?

Jesus, my friend, I’m struggling with all of this.  I’ve been told I need to repent, that I need to reflect on how I let this all happen.  I’ve been told that there must be holes in our defenses that allowed this attack to happen.  

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
   you discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down
   and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
   behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
Psalm 139:1-4

So, how did this happen God?  I know that I haven’t been a perfect parent, God.  I’ve made mistakes. I’ve set a poor example at times.  But, Lord, when all of this happened, when the world was a tumult of accusations and insults from the enemy, I saw Your glorious hand at work.  I saw your mighty arm stretched out over me as a shield. I saw the real result of my parenting in my children. Not in their failures, Father, but in their victory through You.  

Lord, I just want to lift up your name.  I want to show the world that you are faithful even when we are faithless.

if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself.
2 Timothy 2:13

But Lord, was I faithless?  Lord, you came in my weakness!  Shouldn’t that be what I lift up to the world?  Lord, was my weakness a failure? Have I been lying to myself to think that I did nothing wrong?  Is it a lie to acknowledge to myself and to others that you are at work even though I’m not perfect?  Am I supposed to pick apart and second guess my parenting because this all has happened? I don’t know, God.

I will continue to read and follow Your Word.  I will continue to work through my issues in Christian counseling to set my eyes on You and what you are doing, instead of on my failures.  I will continue to confess and reach out for help from my community of Christian friends when I need help. I don’t know that there’s anything more I can do or should do.  I know you hear me, God. And I know your plans for me are good. I will trust you.

In my distress I called upon the Lord;
   to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
   and my cry to him reached his ears.
Psalm 18:6

I will trust You, God.  You have heard me and Your plans for me are good.  I will trust You.

Favored by God

Trust is a gift from you, God.  Zechariah and Mary both received unbelievable messages from the angel Gabriel about giving birth by a miraculous act of God.  Both received the fulfilled blessing that had been promised to them. But only Mary trusted the promise. Zechariah doubted the promise and suffered the personal consequences for it.  

In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah,of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.
Luke 1:5-7

Your word says that Zechariah and his wife were both righteous before you and “walked blamelessly in all the commandments”. Yet, because of his doubting, he was silenced.  This silencing kept him from sharing in the blessing that he had been given, but it didn’t stop the blessing.

So often I’m ready to doubt your promises, God.  I get so used to calling them promises that I forget that they really are promises and you are faithful to fulfill them!  Help me to trust you, God. Help me not to doubt the blessings that you are sending to me. I think Zechariah doubted because Elizabeth was barren.  Instead of remembering that you fulfilled your promise to bring a child to a barren woman with Abraham and Sarah, he was stuck in the current circumstance of Elizabeth’s inability to conceive.  

By no means should he have been putting his faith in Elizabeth’s body!  But instead he should have trusted in your power! He was a man who knew you!  And yet his fear and the sorrow of his current circumstances kept him from trusting You.  He was well versed in the knowledge of your faithfulness and yet the familiarity of his personal troubles kept him from fully trusting in the message that he had been given.

And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”
Luke 1:28

How favored indeed was Mary!  Her childlike faith and trust in Your message were evident in her from the start.  Her circumstances were simple and humble. She was favored by God, because she didn’t put her trust in her humble circumstances.  Sure, she questioned Gabriel when he said she was favored, but when he told her what that favor was going to give her, she recognized her place as Your servant.  If you wanted to call her “favored” that was good enough for her. So she trusted you.

And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
Luke 1:38

Lord, I am highly favored by you.  I know this because of what you have done for me.  You gave me your Son as a ransom for my life. And you gave me your Spirit as a deposit of your promises to be fulfilled in me.  Lord, let me trust you. Let me walk in the favor you have pronounced on me. Let me know Your promises are true and walk in that truth instead of the turmoil of my corrupted circumstances.  

Oh, Jesus!  My love! Help me trust You so that I can share with the world the blessings You provide instead of being silenced by the doubt in my own heart.

Regarding Psalm 5

“O Lord, in the morning You hear my voice.”
Psalms 5:3

Lord, you hear my prayers.  When I call to you, you are quick to answer.  You have made yourself known to me and I am yours.  I love you, Jesus. You provide comfort when I am weak and tired and afraid.  I cry a lot to you, God, because I know that you hear me and that You never grow weary of hearing what I have to say.  

I get bogged down in the trials and tribulations of life sometimes.  It seems like all around me the same groanings. The world is in a turmoil of sin and death and wickedness and everyone is suffering the same horrible fate.  Death stalks us and longs to consume us, and your little ones are not immune. The innocent still suffer. The righteous still get hunted. I am maligned by my own thoughts.  Even alone in my room I am confronted with it. Death and sin are dauntless enemies.

But you have conquered sin and death.

57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:57

I will lean on your Holy Word. I will trust in your promises.  I will wait on your deliverance and trust in your counsel. You protect me from the dangers of the world, even when I am overcome.  You turn what the enemy intended to harm me into good lessons, into teachable moments, into patient endurance. One day the evil of this world will be destroyed forever.  Until then I can trust you to use it for my good.

For you bless the righteous, O Lord;
   you cover him with favor as with a shield.
Psalms 5:12

I recognize and reiterate your promises, God.  You will bless the righteous with favor and cover them with a shield.  And I am your righteousness. I will not be afraid. I am yours.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21

 

The Full Fruit of Your Living Tree

There is so much in my heart, God.  So much longing, so much need. In the depth of my heart you hear me.  You hear my tiny voice and rejoice over me with singing. You prepare a place for me.  You lead me and hold me up. You keep me from drowning. You dry my tears. You release me from my shame and from my sorrow.  

I know your justice will come quickly.  Once it starts it will be quick. Your justice will come and our hearts will be glad.  We will rejoice forever with you. We will never cry again. We will sing songs and be glad.  We will dance. We will laugh. We will rejoice in the eternal glory of your presence and your love.  

No more will there be suffering or pain.  

No more will there be betrayal or heartache or weariness.  Those days will pass away and be forgotten. Your justice will be swift and complete.  How sad for those who don’t know you. How sad for those who will feel the brunt of your wrath because they chose to stand with the false idols.  

You have made your glory and your salvation known.  

But the people reject you for their own gain. They reject you for money, power, and fame.  The fabricate glory and honor from the work of their own hands, and fail to see the majesty of your creation.  They can’t see what you have given them and created for them. They have blinded themselves to your love because of their own desire and lust.

Lord, how free I feel to know that your love is even bigger than my own.  How happy I am to know that when I looked beyond myself and my own desire for love and acceptance, I found deeper love and acceptance than I could have ever known apart from you!  You offer to all people the things we long for most and yet the enemy has convinced the world that joy can come from their own power. But your joy is so much better!

Bring wisdom to your people, God.  

Show the world your deep and powerful love through your redeemed children.  Help the world to see that if they can look beyond themselves they can find and receive a love and mercy and peace that they could never know apart from you.  Whatever they have found on their own is nothing compared to what you offer. Let them see that, God.

Let them know the full fruit of your living tree.

Bring life to the nations, God.
Thank you for Jesus.
Make him known!

 

 

Even in the Chaos

Lord,  I’ve been thinking about everything that has happened over the last couple of weeks.  At one point I had both of my daughters in the hospital at the same time, and as I began to list off all the things in my brain that have happened just in the last two weeks, I started to really feel like Paul, bragging about all my afflictions to boast about my weakness.  I know I’ve been talking to people a lot about my weakness lately, and all the joy you’ve given me, but God, I’m feeling the pressure, too. I’m feeling the weight of it all. My heart breaks to look at my girls and all the suffering they have endured just in the last two weeks.  And I hate the enemy for what he has tried to do to our family! And here I am, boasting about all this trouble!

But whatever anyone else dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?
2 Corinthians 11: 21-28

I understand why you’ve let this happen.  You have shown us so much grace and blessed us beyond measure through it all.  Money, friendship, joy, peace, security, you’ve given it all! Every time I tried to fall into sorrow, you would bring your peace.  When the desire to wallow in self-pity wanted to erupt from every pore of my body, you brought your joy. Miracles were happening, Jesus.  So many miracles in my flesh, there are too many to count, as time and time again your faithfulness endured when my heart faltered.

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
Galatians 5:23-25

Yet, here I am Lord.  I’m struggling. I’m irritable.  I’m tired. And I find myself asking: where’s the miracle in my flesh right now?  And I realize I haven’t had solid time in the Word over the last two weeks. I’ve managed a few minutes everyday, but I’m used to a few hours.  I’m used to solid, deep, meditative time. That first night in the ER I had hours and hours of reading the Psalms. It sustained me in the pit of Hell that the enemy wanted me to see with all of the human suffering happening all around me.  We were in a “bed” in a hallway next to a delirious homeless man, and in the bed beyond him, another man just like him. But your Word sustained us. I read it aloud. I prayed aloud. I prayed with those men. I brought them water. I held their hands and prayed for them.  I shared your love and your promises, as my suffering daughter, between bouts of her own suffering, did the same! Because your Word sustained us and comforted us. And most importantly, it empowered us. That ER became our mission field.

I’ve missed your Word, God!  The distractions have seduced me away from you and I’m struggling without it.  The reading of your Word is a luxury whose denial has hurt me worse than the any of the other trials I’ve had to deal with.  And it amazes me that so many of your kids struggle to give you five minutes a day. Don’t they know that Jesus is the Word made flesh?  That his flesh made words is your scripture? That your promises, your love, your glory are all revealed in the Word? They are content with milk, not even ready for anything else, because they are caught up in the desires and demands of their flesh alone.

But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready,3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?
1 Corinthians 3:1-3

And people think that a few sips of “milk” on a Sunday morning offered by some summary of someone else’s meditations on you is enough to nourish them?  No wonder they’re still babies! No wonder they fall into despair over such minor things! You’ve seen all the well intentioned people asking us how we’re doing.  You’ve seen the curiosity on their faces when we showed your strength, your joy, your peace! And now I know why they don’t understand. They’ve never experienced it before, God!  These babies in the faith, drinking sips of milk once or twice a week, proud of how many times they’ve walked through the doors of the church in seven days time, and never once finding the rest of your Sabbath.  Never once have they found the joy of your salvation. They work in the spirit of their own flesh, and fight battles with foam swords and paper shields.

I choose your sword, God.  The sword of the Spirit that is the Word of God.  I choose your shield. The shield of faith that extinguishes all the flaming darts of the evil one.  

16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
Ephesians 6:16-20

God, I am your righteousness, made by the blood of Jesus.  

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21

I will walk in that truth and in that promise.  Though I float adrift a night and a day at sea, I will boast again and again in your power and strength and joy revealed in me.  I will sound like a fool and boast in my weakness and boast in my suffering, and boast in my many, many struggles, Lord.

Because in my weakness you are strong.  

Lord Jesus, show the world the power of your promises through my suffering.  Show them what your peace looks like through me. I am so jealous for my time with you, God, and even this morning, I’ve had a million interruptions.  Just now, writing about interruptions I was interrupted five times. Hashtag momlife. But God, I’m not going to stop. I’m not going to let this be another shipwreck if I can’t boast about it to the world and show them your power made perfect even in my interruptions.  I choose you, God. I choose your peace. Even in the chaos.

 

Boasting in Weakness

I am so weak, God.  My life is in a constant state of turmoil.  My babies are beaten against the rocks. My heart breaks.  My world is shaken. And yet the audacity of your love is to pour out strength, pour out peace, and pour out love.  It makes no sense in human standards. It makes no sense to me. I can’t even begin to explain the logic behind it. I’ve read it and quoted it in your Word a thousand times.  I’ve bragged on your power! I’ve bragged on my weakness. But you still keep showing me more and more and more. The weaker I get, the harder things get, the deeper the struggles I must endure, the stronger my peace, my joy, and my love because of you.

For when I am weak, then I am strong

 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Certainly if I tried to explain it, I would fail.  People would laugh and call me a fool if they didn’t see it with their own eyes.  If they hadn’t watched it all play out in front of them, they would never have understood it.  hey would think I am strong. They would think I was great. Because they can’t see my heart and my struggle and my peace, except by the work of my hands that you have blessed.  Your light shines through the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. That describes my experience. That embodies my joy.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1:5

Your light shines.  Your peace rules. Your power abounds in my weakness.

So, here I am boasting in weakness, because:  WOW! Your power really is made perfect in weakness.  I have seen it first hand. And I have felt the joy and peace that have come from your Spirit.  It makes no sense, but it has happened. Why would I ever want to be anything else but weak? The power of God is beyond joy and love and peace.  It is the perfect testimony of God’s Spirit within me. It has built my faith in ways I could never have dreamed of. It has created deeper bonds of love and insight and connection between us, God!  I want more! Let the world see my weakness, Jesus. Let the world see how mighty you are to save!

From Strength to Strength

“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.”
Isaiah 41:10

God, it’s been a rough week, but you have “upheld me with your righteous right hand”. It’s true, every moment felt worse than the last. The onslaught of the enemy was vicious. It was cruel. It was painful. It seemed to go on forever. Yet through it all, you were there. Your enduring and steadfast love was a triumphant sound that shook the heavens. Your banner over me was love, and your peace washed over me time and time again.  

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Romans 5:1-5

For a long time I’ve known that suffering produces endurance, then character, then hope, but God I really never had a grasp on how it could possibly make me happy, or how I could “rejoice in my suffering”.  Sure, I knew that I should rejoice, but actual rejoicing was a real struggling. I don’t like hurting. I don’t like suffering. I’m not a masochist! Why on earth would I want to suffer?! But I couldn’t reconcile that with how Jesus suffered, or how he willingly went to the cross, allowed himself to be tortured and mocked, and then murdered.  I knew it was because of love, but I couldn’t figure out the joy part. There’s joy in the resurrection, not the suffering, right?

Wrong.

There is joy in both.  One leads to the other.  

 “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
   I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.”
Isaiah 48:10

It all hit me this week.  It hit me so hard, it would have knocked me down if I hadn’t been held up by your righteous right hand.  This furnace of affliction was no different than the literal furnace of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo. It was terrifying, but you stood with them, and you stand with me.  Through it all you were there, and you are here now. Amidst all this incredible trial, suffering, and pain, I watched the springs of living water burst forth out of the desert.  Every time I’d falter, you’d raise me up again. Your strength would fill me. Your endurance sustained me. Your joy sprang forth! Your love permeated my steps, and all around me people were blessed.  The peace and strength and joy you gave me to endure, blessed everyone who witnessed it! Everyone! And that brought so much joy.

I remember collapsing onto my bed after so many hours with my daughter in the hospital, and the people who came around me to be with her so I could go home and sleep.  Instead of sorrow, I was filled with joy. You provided and sustained me. And you provided peace and rest. I fell asleep speaking your praises. Your presence filled my vision and my heart.  Your love endured. And as the days went on, and I traveled back and forth to the hospital day after day, you continued to provide: not just for me, but for everyone around us. And you’re doing it still.  Your strength refreshes daily within me.

And so I will go from strength to strength, trusting in your provision of steadfast love, and the strength you provide.  I will rejoice and be glad, because your strength always renews.  And that strength brings rivers of living water to everyone who sees it.

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
   in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
6 As they go through the Valley of Baca
   they make it a place of springs;
   the early rain also covers it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength;
   each one appears before God in Zion.
Psalms 84:5-7

 

The Struggle is Real

I am struggling, God.  I feel like I’m drowning.  Nothing brings me any solace.  My heart is so heavy with sorrow.  I read the Psalms and I still feel empty.  My moaning is hollow.  The truth that I know isn’t bringing any comfort.  I know you are there and yet I am in such pain.  The world taunts me.  It laughs.  It mocks.  It takes its shots against me.  And I find myself just submitting to it.  I know that’s not what I’m supposed to do.  I know that doesn’t help me.  It just leads to more sadness.  A real struggle.  A vicious circle of torment whips around my thoughts, my heart, my mind.

I’ve hidden your word in my heart, God.  It’s not helping.

I’m pouring over your word: meditating on it day and night.  It’s not helping.

I call out to you and you answer.  It’s not helping.

I blare worship music.  I sing.  I ponder.  It’s not helping.

Where am I falling short?

But the struggle is real, God.  It hurts.  And to think that I don’t even really know what real struggle is.  I don’t know real persecution.  I don’t know real suffering.  And yet here I am pouring out my tears and anguish to you.  I guess my hope in you to hear me is enough.  Collecting tears in a bottle.  Writing volumes and volumes of my struggles turning into faith.

I know this is all the enemy attacking me and trying to steal my joy.  But I’m so tired of fighting.  I’m so bloody tired.  Can you give me some new mercy?  Can you give me more faith.  Can you give me something?

“Because of the Lord’s great love for us, we will not be consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3:22-23