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Posts Tagged ‘the problem of suffering’


I know that you can do all things- no purpose of yours can be thwarted.

It’s been a year of quiet and I’m reminded of the calm that hovers over the earth after the winds of a mid-summer hurricane. I heave a deep spirit-sigh, breathing out stored up soul poison; releasing fear and bitterness. God-directed anger and doubt. I inhale God’s truth scribed by man, but formed by the mind of I Am.

I will restore the years the locusts have eaten.

My heart responds in rhythmic worship. Thank you, Lord. I believe.

Yet, a few years ago the howling winds sent me reeling. Loosing me in dark storms of despair, hopelessness, and helplessness. I questioned the Maker. Why, how, and when cluttered my heart and left little room for praise.

One evening, overwhelmed by the struggle, I knelt in prayer and begged God for the slightest hope of restoration. In that moment, His presence grew thick around me like a blanket just pulled from the warmth of a dryer. Comforted, my weeping slowed and then stopped.

I will restore the years the locusts have eaten.

The words weren’t audible, but my spirit understood. He saw me.

In that moment, my faith was forever altered. I surrendered the pain. Surrendered the broken bits of my heart. Surrendered those I most loved into His care. Surrendered the woman I’d been for the one He was re-shaping to more clearly reflect His redemption, restoration, and reformation.

Opening arms wide to receive the fullness of grace, I cried out for more and waited expectantly. There were no sudden changes in the converging of difficult circumstances, great revelations of knowledge, or immediate answers to pray. But, God was working in the midst all along.

Through the challenge of it all, I thought often of Job–a man whose suffering is renowned. Everything Job ever esteemed or cared about was ripped from his life. Beloved children. Prosperity. Health. Until finally, Job sits in a pile of ashes, scraping boils from his flesh with sharp-edged pottery as his wife mocks his faith.

Job’s circumstances aren’t mine, but I do understand what it is to lose hope. To live with heartache and sadness. To question Him.

Why? When? How?

In the midst of those recent, painful years, I looked to Job for encouragement. While my faith danced on the edge of a thread, the man called ‘blameless’ turned from his overwhelming reality to humble submission and his relationship with the Father stretched larger than Job’s restored fortune.

Then Job replied to the LORD: I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. (Job 42:1)

You, too, may be living Job moments. If so, I’m truly sorry for your hurt and struggle, Friend. My own experience has taught me that God is in the business of restoration.

Won’t you surrender your brokenness to Him today?

You may not know why. 

When may seem too long.

How may be unexpected.

But, our Who is greater than all of it and He is faithful to His children, true to His promises, and with you from beginning to end.

 

Spiritual Strategy to Help Navigate Through Job Moments

  1. Stop asking ‘why’, ‘when’, and ‘how’. You and I will likely never know the answers this side of heaven. This fallen world lends itself to heartache, but God is actively restoring now and will one day restore all.
  2. Turn to God when the enemy slings his fiery arrows your direction. Our emotions, doubts, and pain have a way of narrowing our perception and threatening that which we know to be true. Copy favorite Bible verses on notecards and hang them around your house where you’ll see them frequently (i.e. bathroom mirrors, refrigerator, etc.)
  3. Pray with expectation. Keep a journal of prayer requests and mark off those God has answered. This practice will remind us of His faithfulness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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-Jesus gives us hope because He keeps us company, has a vision and knows the way we should go.-

I grimace at the deep gash above the young woman’s eye. It stands out angry in dark shades of green and purple against pale skin and her mother chokes on emotion as she pulls back the curtain on her soul. “I know He could make things right for her, but He doesn’t. I keep praying and hoping. Maybe I’m praying the wrong thing. I can’t afford to be bitter toward God.”

I hear the questions buried in her words and pull them forward, examining from every angle.  Doesn’t He hear me? Why do my pleadings go unanswered when others’ receive the gift of God’s grace?  And I understand. I’ve often shared these same thoughts.

One family rejoices at the renewed opportunity their depressed teenager has at living fully after a dance with death and proclaims, “God answered our prayers” while another weeps by the mound of fresh earth–uncertain how to experience joy again now that a child gone too soon lies six feet below in the dark and their hearts barely seem able to propel them ahead.

Did you disregard those dear ones? Is any one person more spiritually worthy than another? Are words of desperation only considered worthy of your throne when uttered by spiritual giants or the most penitent of saints?

Not at all, dear friends.

Christ came as the Lamb that He might return one day soon as the conquering King. On the day of His arrival–every vestige of pain, each remembrance of suffering, and all cries for justice will find their answer in the nail scarred hands and the power of One who could not be restrained by any of it.

And He’ll gather us close and these times will somehow make sense in the eternal landscape of His love and we’ll drink deeply of unmatched joy in His presence. Our prayers–once offered as a holy sacrifice–will find their answer in the restoration of life whole and eternal.

You are not left alone. You are not abandoned. Your prayers will not remain unanswered.  He is the unchanging One who eradicated death by His own and invited us into Life. Jesus has not brought us this far to leave us without hope, dear daughters of Christ.

Take the next step. Keep praying. Trust Him. He is walking with you to the end.

 

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