Weeping in the Passing Lane

Because we indeed live in “terrible times”, as warned by the Apostle Paul, there is plenty of life to lament and regret.  The “terrible times” described in II Timothy 3 are not rooted in natural disasters or even Christian persecution but the woe that comes from abounding sin within and around us.  Believers and unbelievers suffer from personal failure and defeat as well as the destruction of others’ sins against us.

rough-road-ahead

Although God warns, we are often crushed under fiery trials

The promise of healing and restoration is intrinsic to our covenant relationship to God.  But how does that work?  How does this happen when we are convinced, ‘no job is better than the one I lost’, ‘my marriage will never be what it was’, ‘I cannot overcome this grief’, ‘I cannot live with this pain’, ‘the ministry was utterly destroyed…

“No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise.”  Ezra 3:13

Contextually, the Israelites here were being restored to their homeland after 70 years of exile and captivity.  All God’s people suffered due to prevalent sin and rebellion.  But restoration is glorious, as God moves even the hearts of world powers to bring His people back.   Ezra and Nehemiah describe not only the return of the Jews but the rebuilding of the altar and temple.  The magnificence of the first temple of God however, was lost forever, “…many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud…” when they saw this new temple foundation laid.

It is natural to weep and lament for what or whom is lost, to anguish over sin that robbed and destroyed, to regret life opportunities that seem forever gone.  But even as we’re weeping, God is building a new thing within the life of His Body, His believers.  It is okay to deeply lament even as others are rejoicing if together we grasp the truth and trust that God is doing a new thing – He is not refurbishing the old but building anew. 

When true believers weep and lament while choosing to believe – a more genuine faith arises for the world to see.  We have a sure anchor that the world’s culture cannot promise – God is faithful to His people and will once again renew.  Later in Ezra, after the completion of this new altar and temple, “…the priests, the Levites and the rest of the exiles – celebrated the dedication of the house of God with joy.”

We are surely suffering the fruits of sin in these “terrible times”, we may be broken down and trampled upon but we need never be out of the race.  God honors the faith of those that cry out to Him, that move toward Him, no matter how ‘bruised the reed’ or how weak the ‘smoldering wick’.

If we set our hearts to believe with a will to seek Him, we can move in the ‘passing lane’ – not surpassing those around us but moving past the loss, regret, and wounds that would stop us.

Following the Lord Jesus and holding onto God’s word, we can journey into this passing lane.  Even moving inch by inch with tears abounding, we can and will surely win the race.

passing lane

 

 

When God Lifts You Up

I wrote most, if not all, of the posts on this site from a season of intense trial and emotional pain.  The details of personal loss, deep betrayals, and painful unraveling remain vague as  my intent is never to expose people, especially those who are forgiven.  I hope, rather, to share this reality:  God allows, even orchestrates, painful crushing in our lives for the purpose of molding, maturing, and changing us for His service and glory, conforming us to the image of His Son.     The Lord may lead us into a confusing wilderness, strip away all personal foundations, and take away our health, ministry and possessions.  We may cry a million tears, be wrapped in anxiety and turmoil, and sojourn alone but our confidence must lie in the sovereignty of God and His utter control over every circumstance.  For quite sometime I gripped onto this truth:

“Grain for bread is crushed but no one threshes it forever.”

I did not die during those recent years although some emotional pain was so intense I feared brain damage or heart attack.  No counselor, friend or elder brought relief, only clinging to the Lord, shutting away with Him in prayer, searching and studying His word. 

Then, one day I took off my wig – (did I mention that my hair fell out?) and saw and felt…could it be…that, after two years of wearing wigs my hair was suddenly coming back?  With much trepidation, “Yes, I think so!”  While gradual inner healing and restoration came from the Lord, this was a personal touch from His hand – and the hair that grew back was better than what I lost!

But there was more.  This month, as a significant birthday approached, there was talk of a ‘party’.  I had not felt an inner place of ‘celebration’ for a long time and certainly did not care to celebrate just getting older.  Somehow, though, a ball started rolling and would not stop with my protests.  One night anxiety rebounded and woke me, and I cried to the Lord in prayer.  This scripture pressed upon my heart,

“So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.”  (I Peter 5:6)

Was this party from the Lord?  I believed and accepted it,  peace came over me and I sought to honor Him.  I did not know the details of this ‘party’ but prepared a handout for my guests, most if not all of whom do not know the Lord, many are seniors…”Over the Hill” like me!Scan0062No one except the Lord knows how the evening touched me – real joy took root in my heart.   I had the rare opportunity of addressing all my relatives in one place…

my party speaking

“There’s no need to celebrate me, all I did was get a bit older!  It’s the Lord who deserves all the praise and celebration….” 

 

With the Armenian band and joy in my heart I felt truly festive!

And a fabulous cake as well!

my party close to cake

What Isaiah spoke of Jesus, “…it was the Lord’s will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer” can also pertain to Christ’s followers who are called to pick up their cross and follow Him.  Trials and tribulations on this journey are purposeful,  with eternal value.  We are His own.  We have every supernatural promise to believe that He will protect us, sustain us, speak to our hearts –  heal and restore.  And what’s more, at the right time, He will lift us up!