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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Grief

For the few of you that might read my blog; you've probably noticed I haven't been around much the past few weeks. Let's just say things have been a little crazy. But, I'm back and I want to write a little about what God is teaching me about grief.

I think it's safe to say that I have never experienced real grief until this year. For most of my life, grief hasn't been an emotion I've had to deal with very much. But, over the past few months; I've been experiencing it in abundance.

Grief is a powerful emotion. It affects the you on every level - physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc. I never knew how much it could literally seep into every area of your life and transform each one.

But, I've also been learning that grief is a gift from God. Never in my life have I've fallen so far into the pit but never before have I had to be so dependent on God to pick me up. Now, don't get me wrong, I have good days and bad. Some days I wallow in the pit of self-pity and some days I actually allow God to come in and work His miracles in my life. It is a daily process and a conscious decision I have to make every day.

During this time, I have started to identify more closely with the prophet Jeremiah. Of course my life is not anywhere near as hard as his was, but his words, especially in the book of Lamentations, have spoken to me in profound ways the last few months. In chapter 3 of that book, he spends a good portion of the chapter expressing his deep sadness and grief over the state of his life and ministry.

"So I say, “My splendor is gone
and all that I had hoped from the Lord.”

I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me." Lamentation 3:18-20 (NIV)

But, the instant he realizes he is in the deepest darkest pit is also the instant he remembers the faithfulness and mercies of God. As I read and study verses 21-23, I can't help but cry tears of hope and thankfulness. Oh, what a great God who loves us and is faithful ALL the time, no matter our circumstances. I pray you will be encouraged and blessed by these words as well, no matter the size of the pit you find yourself in today.

"Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:

"Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.” Lamentation 3:21-23 (NIV)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

He's Got The Whole World In His Hands

One of my daughter's favorite songs is "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands". She actually calls it the "Wind and Rain" song because her favorite verse is "He's Got the Wind and the Rain in His Hands". I must admit, ashamedly, that I usually sing this song without putting any thought into it. I know, I know, bad mom. But, when you sing the same song over and over and over, you tend to start singing mindlessly. Anyways, when we were singing it last night, it struck me for the first time what great theology this little children's song actually contains.

He´s got the whole world in His hands,
He´s got the whole world in His hands,
He´s got the whole world in His hands.

He´s got the wind and the rain in His hands,
He´s got the wind and the rain in His hands,
He´s got the whole world in His hands.

He´s got the the tiny little baby in His hands,
He´s got the the tiny little baby in His hands,
He´s got the whole world in His hands.

He´s got you and me, brother, in His hands,
He´s got you and me, brother, in His hands,
He´s got the whole world in His hands.

He's got ev'rybody here in His hands.
He's got ev'rybody here in His hands.
He's got the whole world in His hands.

Nothing is outside of God's sovereign control. Everything - nature, historical events, tiny babies, adults, every grand and minute detail - is in His hands. Wow! Do I really believe that? Do I really believe that God has EVERYTHING under His control. No, probably not.

As I sit and often wallow in my circumstances, I can't help but think about the life of Job. Man, my daily troubles pail in comparison to his suffering. He had everything and it was all taken from him. Even with all that had happened to him he is still able to express his faith in God's sovereignty.

"The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong." (Job 1:20-22 ESV)

But, Job does struggle in the days that follow. He obviously trusted God, believed in the promises of God, but he also questions God. He asks God, "Why?" Oh, how comforting those passages are to me. This great man of God with unwavering faith is still human and still has questions in the midst of his suffering. And his most gracious God is so patient with his questions and reminds Job continually of His sovereign rule over everything.

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?" (Job 38:4-7 ESV)

“Have you entered the storehouses of the snow,
or have you seen the storehouses of the hail,
which I have reserved for the time of trouble,
for the day of battle and war?
What is the way to the place where the light is distributed,
or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth?
Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain
and a way for the thunderbolt,
to bring rain on a land where no man is,
on the desert in which there is no man,
to satisfy the waste and desolate land,
and to make the ground sprout with grass?" (Job 38:22-37)

"Who has put wisdom in the inward parts
or given understanding to the mind?
Who can number the clouds by wisdom?
Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens,
when the dust runs into a mass
and the clods stick fast together?
Can you hunt the prey for the lion,
or satisfy the appetite of the young lions,
when they crouch in their dens
or lie in wait in their thicket?
Who provides for the raven its prey,
when its young ones cry to God for help,
and wander about for lack of food?" (Job 38:36-41)

God continues for another couple of chapters to remind Job about how every creature and every situation is under His control. He created everything and He sustains everything. It is all "In His Hands."

Job answers God, after all of this, by saying “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted." (Job 42:2 ESV) Amen and amen!

I don't think I will ever be able to sing that song the same way again.