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Posts Tagged ‘hope in suffering’

 

I close my eyes, allowing its power to wash over me. Loose particles of sand dance up from the shoreline, pelting my feet where I’ve rolled the cuffs of my jeans to ankle height and the waves, placid earlier this morning, protest loudly.

God’s presence is palpable to me; His magnificence tangible–and the taste of my tears mingles with the briny sea. Releasing a sigh, I take in the vastness of the ocean and wonder if I’ll ever move beyond the profound loneliness. The sense of brokenness. The loss.

Planting myself on an abandoned stretch of sand, I gaze across the miles of steel grey. Even the ocean reflects my emotions today.

Lord, I feel so lost. Please help me.

As if in response, the wind batters against my frame and I breathe in the scents of the ocean. Absorb the rush of waves and the call of the terns. I watch as tiny sandpipers scurry on spindly legs dip their beaks beneath the crust of packed sand near the water’s edge in search of dinner.

I know God hears me.

While the answers to my simple prayer involved a slow unfolding of healing, I know many others struggle in the same way. I wonder what lonely place you have found yourself visiting today. Have you, too, been bruised and worn down? Have you been abandoned by someone you love? Are you asking God to meet you in your loss?

Even in the loneliest of places, He resurrects hope.

Ezekiel, one of God’s prophets, knew about isolation and grief. Heartache and pain. He’d suffered the death of wife, “the desire of [his] eyes” (Ezekiel 25: 15 NKJV) and been taken captive by the Babylonians. Not only was he grieving the loss of his beloved, but Ezekiel was enslaved in a foreign country.

No family. No freedom. No future.

But God…

The Wind of Heaven

Opening Ezekiel’s eyes to an amazing vision, the Lord provided His servant the hope for which he longed. He showed Ezekiel a valley filled with brittle bones and said,

“Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.” ’ ”

Ezekiel complied and the bones, once disconnected, were joined together and cloaked by flesh. Then God used some interesting words in His next command to Ezekiel,

“Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” (Ezekiel 37:9)

The word used for breath in these verses is haruah, which means wind of heaven or spirit.  The Spirit of God is the enabler of all life. He was able to reconstruct a valley of bones into an army of men and resurrect the martyred Messiah as victorious King.

When we feel as though, “our hope is lost” (Ezekiel 37:11), we can call on the Spirit who resurrects hope and life-even in the valley of dry bones.

Haruah God,

You are the One who breathes life into my spirit. I know you see my heart; you know my thoughts.

My tears pour out before you until I feel as though I’ve wept the last of them.

Hope is wrenched from my heart and I feel adrift in my loneliness.

I don’t know where to turn or which steps to take, but I trust you.

When you created man, you brought life from nothingness.

When you raised Christ from the dead, you broke the power of sin in my life.

Today, will you quicken hope inside of me?

I believe, Lord, “help me in my unbelief”. (Mark 9:24)

Amen

Peace and grace,

Tammy

I often link up with the following wonderful bloggers.

Mondays   InstaEncouragements Mandy and MicheleKingdom Bloggers,

Tuesdays RaRa Linkup /GraceFull Tuesday / Tell His Story/Anchored Abode,

Wednesdays   Worth Beyond RubiesRecharge Wednesday Welcome Wednesday /LetsHave Coffee/

Thursdays Heart Encouragement  /  Tune In Thursday  /Salt and Light /  Five Minute Friday

Friday Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network, Grace and Truth Linkup

 

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Each of them drew strength from the other. We might have done the same if our lives had been stripped of our closest companions, comfort, and convenience.

Poverty and starvation loomed in the future and, desperate, the women were forced to leave the home they’d shared with those who now lay shrouded in graveclothes—the men who once offered love and protection.

Some of you might relate to the Old Testament figures of Naomi and Ruth. Perhaps you’ve been widowed or dealt with the pain of divorce. Maybe you know the struggles of an empty bank account and bare cupboard. The heartache of an empty womb or the imprint of soil wedged beneath your knees as you weep at your child’s graveside.

Emotional pain can drive us to become someone we never imagined we might become; a person coddling and stroking feelings that only grow more intense and hurtful unless given over to the truth of scripture.

In Naomi’s case, bitterness toward God consumed her life and impacted her faith. She said, “…the Almighty  has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.” (Ruth 1:21 NKJV)

I empathize with this dear lady. I’m not much different. In fact, seven years ago I’d repackaged her words as, “Why me, God? Why my children?”

I once walked in Naomi’s bitter shoes, blaming God for the assaults the enemy sent my direction through various avenues. But there is a way to rediscover hope in a season of suffering. Like Ruth, who affirmed her commitment to both her mother-in-law and God, we can cling to our faith.

Ruth was a remarkable young woman. She’d suffered the same circumstances as her mother-in-law but approached them differently. Rather than blame-shifting or abandoning either her new family or her budding faith, she doubled-down on commitment. Ruth famously said, “Your people will be my people and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:16 NKJ)

She might have returned to the comforts and familiarity of family and to the gods she’d worshipped as a child. Instead, Ruth chose the companionship of a grieving woman, a land filled with people who considered her an enemy, and a God who would bless her bloodline for her faithfulness.

Though it may be tattered or worn thin, He is able to increase even a mustard seed faith (Matthew 17:20) and grow beauty through hardship and perseverance.

When we walk through a season of suffering, we have a choice. Will we choose bitterness or faith?

 

A prayer if you’re struggling with faith today-

Father,

Life has been so difficult and my spirit is grieved. Some days, I feel as though my faith lies in tatters and I’m not sure it will ever recover. I know you “have plans to give me a hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11) and I ask you to help me believe that will mend what is broken and restore what has been stolen. Give me a mustard seed faith, Lord, to trust you in all circumstances and root out any bitterness or other emotion that dishonors you.

In the powerful name of Christ, Amen

 

Peace and grace,

Tammy

P. S. I often linkup with these other wonderful bloggers.

Mondays   InstaEncouragementsMandy and MicheleKingdom Bloggers,

Tuesdays RaRa Linkup /GraceFull Tuesday / Tell His Story/Anchored Abode,

Wednesdays   Worth Beyond RubiesRecharge Wednesday Welcome Wednesday /LetsHave Coffee/

Thursdays Heart Encouragement  /  Tune In Thursday  /Salt and Light /  Five Minute Friday

Friday Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network, Grace and Truth Linkup

Read Full Post »

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